Breaking Down the 12 Steps for the Addict

A 12-step program provides just the roadmap some recovering users need to get back on track after substance addiction. This common approach to addiction recovery keeps many people focused on their long-term health and sobriety as they work toward rebuilding their lives and strengthening their resolve to put down the drugs and alcohol for good.

Some popular 12-step programs are:

  • Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
  • Al-Anon and Alateen (a group for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking)

Twelve-step programs are used to address various kinds of addictions and are incorporated into treatment approaches “always or often” or “sometimes” at about 73 percent of treatment centers, according to the 2016 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

These free or low-cost programs require participants to meet regularly at a scheduled time in a public place, such as a church, to share stories about their experiences with alcoholism and drug addiction. They do so in hopes of encouraging one another in working toward shared goals.

These meetings are intended to be safe spaces for people in recovery who wish to use their weaknesses, doubts, fears, and personal truths and perspectives to help other people who are going through similar experiences. Each of the 12 steps must be worked in the order they appear though there is some flexibility in how sponsors can walk their sponsees through the steps.

Alcoholics Anonymous, an international fellowship Bill Wilson founded in 1935 to help people struggling with alcoholism, is the original 12-step program, and its blueprint has provided the foundation for other programs, both secular and nonsecular.

For some who are on the fence about joining a 12-step fellowship whose foundation is faith-based, the biggest obstacle to adopting the 12 steps is the spiritually focused language wording of the steps. There are, however, objective ways to look at the steps for them to be adaptable to any belief system.

If you will are entering a treatment program or have gone through treatment, you may come to realize that the basic concepts outlined in the steps can be applied to your daily life. This article will focus on the original 12 steps and explain them to help people who are interested in giving them a try.

An overview at the 12 Steps

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.

In the first step of the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous, it is realized that people who are struggling with addiction must admit our lives have become a mess and that we are responsible for creating the messes our lives have become because of our addictions. This step is about admitting the truth, the pull of addiction is greater than us, and that we need outside help.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The second step is about hope, faith, and ultimately, realization. This is a step toward God or what our conception of God is to us. Ultimately, this step is about the process of stepping outside of ourselves and give up control. Whether recovering users are agnostic, atheist, or former believers, everyone can stand together in this step. True humility and an open mind can lead us to recovery. Click here to learn more about how the second step can help people recovering from substance abuse deal with cravings as they abstain from substance use.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

The third step does two things. First, we decide to turn our will over to the care of God, or a Higher Power of our understanding, and to trust God or a Higher power with our recovery. Second, we decide to turn our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him. This step calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will and ego that prevents us from being humble and seeking help.

Some have said the third step is an affirmation to take action and finish the rest of the steps, whether your belief that you will is strong or not. It is a step that requires us to engage in a great deal of reflection and acceptance of ourselves.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and the contradiction of our lives so that we can find out and face the facts of who we are. This is important as we aim to understand the new path we are creating for ourselves. This is also a time to reflect on past and present relationships with people who have played a significant role in our lives and think about how our actions have affected them. In the simplest terms, the fourth step is the soul-searching step of the 12 steps, and we chronicle both the good and bad in each of us.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 5 has been called the key to freedom. After we complete the moral and personal inventory in the fourth step, we now have to admit our shortcomings to God, our Higher Power, and others whom we have wronged. This can be hard after believing our own half-truths, excuses, rationalizations, and justifications of what we do for so long. Despite that, this step must be done. For many, this step is the most difficult one, but once it is completed, we have nothing left to hide. We will be on our way to attaining relief on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

The sixth step is one about preparation and reflection, and upon closer examination, the theme of the sixth step is willingness. Willingness occurs between the time we are ready to make changes in our lives (preparation) and the time we make the change in our lives and behave in ways that support those changes (action). It is also the step where we as newly recovering addicts realize that the journey of recovery is marked by small victories and gradual improvement and progress.

Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

The seventh step indicates a change in attitude that allows our humility to be our guide. According to, Step 7 is similar to Step 3. “[Step 7] is more specific, however, because now I have completed my personal inventory, and so I have a better idea of the roots of my addictive behaviors. I do my best to not play games about these defects of character. In this step I surrender to the ‘surgery of God’ and ask God to remove these defects of character,” it writes on its website. This step is also one of action as it requires us to remove the sources of addiction and temptation that cause us to stumble or fall.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

The eighth step is about making amends to all the people we have wronged. It promotes healing from past hurts and reaching out to others who have been wounded by hurtful actions.

We are putting into action what was started in Step 4. During this step, we must make a list of everyone we have wronged and set out to make amends with these people. This list is a good place to start for having those difficult conversations. It may help to write down any thoughts that come to mind next to each person’s name and reflect on what the proper amends might be for that person.

It is important to note the difference between amends and apologies. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation site writes, “An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged—or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can’t do it directly.” It is a sincere change in how we behave and treat others.

The site goes on to explain that borrowing $20 from someone and apologizing for not paying it back is one thing, but giving the person’s $20 back to them is actually making amends.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

The ninth step completes what was started in the eighth step. We should make amends when the first opportunity presents itself. However, there is one exception, and that’s when making amends will cause more harm than good. Sometimes we cannot make amends; it is neither possible nor practical, and we just have to accept that. However, we should never fail to reach out to someone out of embarrassment, fear, or procrastination.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 10 lays out the foundation for the rest of the recovering person’s life. In this step, we are vigilant against addictive behavior and the triggers for the addictive behavior. If we engage in this type of behavior, we admit our shortcomings and move past them.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

The 11th step provides a continual reality check, and we focus on spiritual needs as our base. Whether it is meditation, prayer, or another spiritual way of connecting with your Higher Power, the 11th step is where you begin your journey of spiritual growth.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 12, the final step, involves being of service to those who are struggling with abuse by carrying the message that recovery is possible. This mainly points to taking another through the steps the same way your sponsor took you through them. Sharing the message can be as simple as speaking at a meeting, to being a sponsor to just being a nice person. The 12th step is not an end, but a beginning. It is the beginning of the ultimate journey for growth and continued freedom from drugs and alcohol.

Need Help With Ending Addiction?

To truly understand the power of the steps, one must be in a clear frame of mind. The Palm Beach Institute begins educating and assisting our clients through the journey of the steps as soon as they enter treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction, call us today at 1-855-470-2050 and take the first step towards continued recovery with The Palm Beach Institute.

Can You Cure Addiction and Alcoholism?

Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is fraught with challenges. These challenges involve the physical and emotional aspects of recovery as well as the philosophy of recovery itself. Some in the addiction recovery community have made the controversial claim that addiction is curable. This point of view goes against the grain of the traditional school of thought, which asserts that addiction is a complex, chronic, and progressive “disease” that has no cure but can be addressed with effective professional treatment.

Treatment involves detoxification (the process of ridding the body of toxic substances), behavioral counseling, medication, relapse prevention techniques, and other methods that promote a life free of drugs and alcohol.

Can The Cycle of Addiction Be Broken?

People in the recovery community who believe addiction can be cured point to the biopsychosocial model of addiction that can be used to break the cycle of addiction, thus curing those who have the disease. The model takes a holistic approach to addiction and looks at factors in three main categories. They are:

Biological—refers to the genetic predisposition to develop an addiction and how addiction affects the physical body. Biological factors include birth, adoption, and genetic vulnerability, among others.

Psychological—refers to the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings as they relate to addiction. Many psychological theories have provided a lens to examine addiction, including personality theory, classical conditioning theory, social learning theory, learning theory and, of course, psychoanalysis.

Social–these factors include the influences of family, friends, and other relationships. Addiction usually has a negative effect on relationships and affects how people who are recovering from addiction relate to the people around them.

People in the recovery community who use the biopsychosocial model believe that using a multidisciplinary approach to the study of addiction should lead to the development of a more accurate picture of the causes of addiction. From that understanding, and through the development of treatments specific to these roots, addiction could have the possibility of being cured.

Why Some Believe That Addiction Can’t Be Cured

For others in the recovery community, including health experts and scientists, the question of whether addiction can be cured doesn’t square with the disease model of addiction. This model asserts that addiction and alcoholism change the brain’s structure and function, which makes it difficult for people in active addiction to control or end their use and abuse of addictive substances. A voluntary decision to use addictive substances can turn into a compulsive need to use those substances.

While professional treatment is recommended for people who are battling addiction and alcoholism, the reality is that treatment will not look the same for everyone. Everyone has a unique history of substance use and abuse, so a “one size fits all” approach will not work. There are three main reasons why this may be the case:

Programmed for pleasure. The quest for pleasure is fundamentally human, and humans in search of pleasure often resort to experimenting with drugs and other substances to invent ways to get high. Addictive drugs provide instant gratification through the release of dopamine and that process conditions us to seek out the next high.

Pain. Just as humans are hardwired to seek out pleasure, they also are hardwired to avoid painful experiences. People often turn to drugs to escape the pain, sadness, and depression that may be present in their daily lives.

Drug use isn’t just about drugs. Addiction is an illness that has a strong behavioral component. Those who are susceptible to addiction experience drugs and alcohol in a very different way than average people. Addicts seek the high more, but they enjoy it less. Furthermore, the cravings, rituals, and other behaviors associated with drug use continue even after a person stops using.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) asserts that addiction is a disease that affects the brain and behavior. It also asserts that addiction is a treatable disease but cautions that the treatment process is not as simple as it may sound.

“Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives,” it writes on its website.

Addiction treatment can help people in recovery stop using drugs, remain abstinent and drug-free, and be productive members of the family, the job, and society, according to NIDA’s view on the issue.

Its list of key principles of effective drug treatment, which it says is based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, include the following:

  • People need to have quick access to treatment.
  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just their drug use.
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
  • Medically-assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
  • Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

One in seven U.S. adults battle addiction, according to a 2016 federal report, and of the nearly 21 million Americans battling substance addictions, only 10 percent will receive treatment. The report lists some of the reasons why so few get help, including high health care costs and lack of screenings that can detect addiction.

Can You Cure Addiction?

It depends on whom you ask. Some people have claimed to have successfully quit using drugs on their own without professional help, an assertion Scientific American writer Nina Bai explores in an article titled, “Can You Cure Yourself of Drug Addiction?”

Bai highlights a “survey that found that between 60 to 80 percent of people who were addicted in their teens and 20s were substance-free by their 30s, and they avoided addiction in subsequent decades.”

The article also includes a Q-and-A interview with Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, who said it is possible to cure yourself of addiction without professional help. “Most people recover and most people do it on their own,” Satel told Scientific American.

However, she also said, “That’s in no way saying that everyone should be expected to quit on their own and in no way denies that quitting is a hard thing to do. This is just an empirical fact. It is even possible that those who quit on their own could have quit earlier if they sought professional help.”

Some may disagree. But consider this: How people arrive at the point where they are either freed from the clutches of addiction or seeking help to put drugs and alcohol behind them is perhaps more important than how they got to the point where they knew they needed help and got it.

Are You Ready to Leave Addiction Behind?

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, call The Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456 or contact us online. We know that while society is inclined to pursue the “quick fix” for addressing addiction, the truth is once addiction sets in, there are no easy or quick solutions.

The Palm Beach Institute has helped many people rebuild their lives after addiction. Don’t take our word for it. Read what others have to say about how we have helped them rebuild their lives as they recovered from addiction. We are here to help you or your loved one figure out your best move to leave substance addiction behind for good. Give us a call today.

Top 5 Relapse Triggers

Relapse is never an easy concept to come to terms with for anyone in recovery. Obviously, no one wants to relapse, but statistics show that roughly 40 to 60 of people with addiction and substance abuse disorders will at some point relapse.

When broken down into specific substances, research shows that the relapse rates for heroin and opiate addiction near 90 percent, with one study finding that of the 109 subjects who had completed rehab and were sober, 99 relapsed, 64 of them within the first week of leaving treatment.

An estimated 88 percent of former methamphetamine users relapse, and as for those in recovery for alcohol dependence, 90 percent are likely to relapse at least once over the course of a four year period.

While these numbers can feel overwhelming, the important thing to take away from them is that relapse does happen, but it does not mean that you or your treatment have failed. Addiction is a chronic disease, and treating chronic diseases requires lifelong monitoring, management, and significant behavioral changes, which don’t happen overnight.

Lapsing back into substance use can and will happen, but that just means that it’s time for you to reevaluate what isn’t working, seek out new tools and different forms of support, and readjust how you manage your addiction.

One key way to learn from a relapse and avoid the risk of another is to learn to recognize your relapse triggers: those feelings and situations that can cause someone to return to using.

While every individual will have unique triggers based on their personal experiences, there are some common relapse triggers that nearly everyone in recovery will encounter. By understanding your relapse triggers, you’ll be more prepared to handle them, should they occur, and substantially increase your likelihood of long-term sobriety.

1. Emotional Dysregulation

Sobriety can be a disorienting and difficult experience, especially early on, and your emotions will most likely be all over the map, which is perfectly understandable. However, this emotional instability can leave you vulnerable to relapse. After all, up until very recently, your brain had been trained to seek out drugs or alcohol in response to negative feelings.

While it’s impossible to avoid any stressful or emotionally fraught situations entirely, it’s still smart to try to take things slowly and keep yourself isolated from what you know might set you off. Eliminate everything that is not essential to your recovery, if necessary. Choose low-key, calming activities like yoga, meditation, baking, or even just listening to music if it helps you to keep centered.

Developing emotional coping skills takes time and work, but it is possible. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed, stop and examine what it is you’re feeling and why. Irritation and anger can be masks for fear or embarrassment, and if that’s the case, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put ego aside and reach out for help, whether it’s from family, friends, or others in recovery.

2. Lack of Acceptance and Insight

Acceptance is a sizable part of recovery, to the point where it’s the most crucial aspect of the first step in the 12-Step Program. Being able to accept your situation, your circumstances, and the fact that there are things in your life that are outside of your control are all necessary for successful rehabilitation.

One major roadblock to acceptance and long-term sobriety, in general, is a lack of insight, in other words, understanding the meaning and motivations behind your addictive behaviors. Many people are under the impression that recovery ends after detox, but that is merely the first step. Detox focuses only on the physical aspect of addiction, and in order to avoid relapse, the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects need to be addressed as well.

Treatment program mainstays such as cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of relapse and to help you not only learn to better understand and change negative patterns and behaviors but also give you the tools to become self-reliant and better prepared for stressful situations and other potential triggers.

3. Relationship Problems

“Don’t date during your first year of recovery” is a frequently-heard recommendation, and there’s a good reason for it. Although a romantic partner can help quell feelings of loneliness, provide support, and distract you from negative feelings you might be experiencing in the early stages of sobriety, dating early in the recovery process is still a risky proposition for several reasons.

Early on in the post-rehab phase, many people will be searching for a replacement addiction, and a relationship can fill that need, with new love providing feelings of euphoria during the “honeymoon phase.” Trading one addiction for another doesn’t solve the underlying problem, and allowing yourself to become as dependent on a person as you were on drugs or alcohol creates a situation that, should the relationship end, can easily trigger a relapse.

The distraction a relationship can provide is also a problem in and of itself. Now is the time when you need to be focused on your recovery first and foremost, not seeking comfort in a relationship that you are most likely not emotionally stable enough to handle.

Instead, find the comfort you need by surrounding yourself with a reliable support group of friends and family. If you feel like you can’t be trusted not to seek out romantic entanglement, make a commitment with someone else who’s in recovery that neither of you will date so you can keep each other honest and focused on what’s most important during this time.

4. Holding On to Resentments

This relapse trigger might not seem as obvious as the others, but it is still a common trap that people in recovery can fall into without realizing it. You can start to feel resentment for many reasons:

  • Recovery is more challenging than you first expected
  • Feeling like people are trying to interfere too much with your life post-recovery
  • Continuing trust issues with family and friends
  • Family and friends seeming to not give you enough credit for the effort you’re putting into your recovery
  • Comparing yourself to someone who seems to be doing better in their recovery

But in the end, it doesn’t matter what causes these feelings of resentment, if you allow them to them build up inside without addressing them or attempting to deal with them, it is an almost guaranteed recipe for relapse. What’s important to remember is that learning to be sober requires new ways of thinking and reacting to situations and that includes letting go of negative emotions before they can do any serious damage and trigger a relapse.

Some things you can do to keep resentful feelings at bay include reaching out to your support system and talking about your feelings. You should also practice keeping yourself in the present instead of dwelling on the past or the future. Focus on gratitude and mindfulness and remember the meaning behind the Serenity Prayer: there are some things that you cannot change, and that’s okay. Learn to let them go.

5. Lack of Involvement in Recovery Programs and Complacency

As we previously mentioned, getting sober is just one part of recovery. If you want to stay sober, you have to make a concentrated effort to do so. It’s more than just going to therapy or regularly attending support group meetings like AA; there needs to be active participation and involvement. You’re going to get out of these programs what you put into them, and if you’re going just to go or because you’re “expected to,” they won’t be nearly as useful in helping you stay abstinent. Full commitment is essential to successful recovery.

Similarly, becoming complacent or ambivalent can be a relapse situation waiting to happen. While you are absolutely allowed to feel accomplished about the progress you’ve made in your recovery, you still need to keep yourself in check and remember that addiction is a disease that will always require managing. Believing that you “have it under control” and can handle just one drink or one hit or one dose is the kind of thinking that can cause a relapse and spiral back into abuse. In order to remain sober, you have to completely give up on the idea of ever using drugs or alcohol again.

Recovery is Possible with The Palm Beach Institute

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, The Palm Beach Institute can help. Call today at 1-855-960-5456 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our expert specialists will get you connected to everything you need to get started on your recovery journey.

How Binge Drinking Affects Your Blood Alcohol Level

Alcohol is a very powerful substance. As a society, Americans are some of the most indulgent in alcohol in the world. With how commonplace its use and even abuse is, it’s easy to see how our outlook on alcohol can be skewed. In fact, Americans are actually more prone to binge drinking than most other countries.

Having so much cultural acceptance of dangerous drinking habits can, perhaps, be a key reason that alcohol-related health issues and injuries top the list of causes of death. With this in mind, it’s important to educate yourself on the reality of what actual binge drinking is and just how it affects your body.

What Actually Qualifies as “Binge Drinking”?

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Forgetting everything you think you may know about alcohol and drinking culture, what actually qualifies as binge drinking may shock you.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking crosses over from casual consumption into binge drinking territory whenever a man consumes five drinks or more in a two-hour period. For women, the magic number is four drinks. Basically, it’s a pattern of drinking that will bring the individual to a blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent grams or more.

For anyone who’s ever gone to a college party or a sports bar on game night, this number may seem unbelievably low. That’s because 1 in 6 adults in the United States binge drinks about four times a month, with an average binge drinking session being approximately eight drinks. The age groups most likely to engage in binge drinking is (not surprisingly) 18 to 24-year-olds and 25 to 34-year-olds.

With these numbers in mind, you may be re-evaluating your own drinking habits. The issue isn’t necessarily the number of drinks per say, but the subsequent effect the drinks have on your blood alcohol level. Since a person’s blood alcohol level is directly correlated to the percentage of alcohol in their bloodstream, various amounts of alcohol affect people differently.

Factors like body weight, gender, medications taken, and even the amount of food eaten can all impact how quickly or slowly your body metabolizes the alcohol, thus raising or lowering your blood alcohol level, respectively. For example, if you’re a woman of slender build who hasn’t had a hearty meal, your blood alcohol level will be a lot higher after one drink than a heavier-set man who just finished a three course-meal.

What Happens to the Body as Your Blood Alcohol Level Changes?

As a result of the circumstantial nature of one’s BAC, cycling through different stages of drunkenness can occur at various rates. Rather than focusing on how quickly your BAC increases, understand what happens to your body at differing levels.

From the seemingly minimal symptoms of being “tipsy” (mildly drunk) to the overwhelming state of blacking out, or alcohol-related amnesia, as you climb the scale you’ll observe different effects on the body:

1. 0.020-0.039 percent BAC:
No loss of coordination, slight euphoria, and loss of shyness. Relaxation and depressant effects are not apparent.

2. 0.040-0.059 percent BAC:
Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions, and sensation of warmth. Euphoria. Minor impairment of judgment and memory and lowering of caution.

3. 0.06-0.099 percent BAC:
Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Reduced judgment and self-control. Impaired reasoning and memory.

4. 0.100-0.129 percent BAC:
Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, peripheral vision, reaction time, and hearing are impaired.

5. 0.130-0.159 percent BAC:
Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control. Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reducing and beginning dysphoria (feeling unwell).

6. 0.160-0.199 percent BAC:
Dysphoria predominates, nausea appears. Drinker has the appearance of being “sloppy drunk”.

7. 0.200-0.249 percent BAC:
Need help with walking and is in a state of complete mental confusion. Dysphoria with nausea and vomiting; possibly blacking out.

8. 0.250-0.399 percent BAC:
Alcohol poisoning, loss of consciousness.

9. 0.40 percent and above BAC:
Onset of coma, possible death due to respiratory arrest.

For reference, the legal limit according to the DMV and state law in all 50 U.S. states to operate a motor vehicle is 0.08 percent blood alcohol level. That means by the time you reach the middle of the third group of BAC levels listed above, you’ve met the allotted BAC to legally drive yourself home.

Driving with a BAC over 0.08 percent is considering driving under the influence or a DUI. Receiving a DUI is not only a criminal charge, but driving under the influence can lead to a number of other negative consequences.

Every day in the United States, alone, 28 people die in a motor vehicle accident that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. Essentially, there is one death related to drunk driving every 51 minutes.

What Does Binge Drinking Do to Your Blood Alcohol Level?

The reason that binge drinking can be so dangerous is that it raises your BAC higher, quicker. As opposed to steadily drinking fewer drinks across longer spans of time, a binge drinker will consume more alcohol in short period of time. Getting drunk at a faster rate means that you will experience more severe symptoms of drunkenness without giving your body the opportunity to process the alcohol and recover.

While not all binge drinkers are alcoholics, most alcoholics are binge drinkers. The frequency and rate at which alcoholics drink is what has such stark effects on the body. Alcoholism has terrible long-term side effects on the body, and can, in its worst forms, be deadly.

Due to over-consumption of alcohol, the body does not get a chance to heal or process the alcohol at a healthy rate, which ultimately lead to severe damage to the liver and brain.

What Can You Do?

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with binge drinking and/or alcoholism, The Palm Beach Institute is here for you! With almost 50 years of experience in treating substance abuse disorders, we can help you conquer your drinking problem. Don’t delay—contact us at 855-534-3574 or contact us online and be connected to an admissions professional 24/7 who can help you get started on your journey toward recovery today!

13 Signs You’re Suffering from PAWS

The first step in any effective addiction treatment plan is medical detoxification, in which someone is closely monitored by medical professionals as they purge their body of the substances they have become dependent on.

This process involves both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, which are typically very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Though the length and intensity of these symptoms will vary depending on factors such as the substance they were abusing and the severity of the dependency, the symptoms will lessen and eventually end in the span of roughly two to three weeks.

However, this is not always the case. After someone has undergone detox and the acute withdrawal phase has ended, they may enter a second phase that can last for months or even years known as Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. PAWS serves as an umbrella-term for a range of long-term withdrawal symptoms, mainly psychological or mood-related, that persist long after someone has stopped using drugs or alcohol.

Because the mostly mental symptoms of PAWS are harder to measure than physical ones and are largely based on self-reporting by those experiencing them, there is some controversy as to the validity of the disorder. While there has been documented research on persistent and protracted withdrawal in substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, PAWS is not currently recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Don’t go through this alone CTA

What are the Signs of Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome?

So how can you know if you are experiencing Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome? While each experience will vary, which is part of what makes PAWS so difficult to pin down and validate, there is a list of symptoms that are most commonly reported across the spectrum of protracted substance withdrawal. If you have stopped using drugs or alcohol for more than several weeks and are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may be suffering from PAWS.

#1 – Unstable and Unpredictable Moods

One of the most frequently noted symptoms of PAWS, and part of why this syndrome is often mistaken for depression, are major and uncontrollable swings in mood. This can happen intermittently in episodes that can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before disappearing again. Sometimes, those suffering from PAWS who are experiencing these mood swings can appear to be exhibiting an undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

#2 – Symptoms of Depression

The most affecting of these changes in mood are depressive symptoms, in which individuals experience an extreme and overt melancholy that can feel like an anchor tied around their necks. These symptoms can last only minutes or linger for days, with no apparent trigger behind them. This can be an understandable source of frustration, and even cause a relapse.

#3 – Experiencing Anxiety or Panic Attacks

While depression is at one end of the mood-swing scale, anxiety and panic attacks are at the other. While these anxious feelings can be triggered by cravings and a reduced ability to handle stressors, similar to the depressive symptoms, there is no outside motivator required to cause anxiety or even something as severe as a panic attack.

#4 – Anhedonia

Anhedonia is a term used to describe a condition in which someone has lost, either partially or entirely, the ability to experience pleasure. Anhedonia goes much further than just a loss of interest in activities and pursuits someone previously enjoyed and is often described by those experiencing it as the feeling that their ability to enjoy almost anything has been switched off. A typical symptom of withdrawal, those with PAWS are likely to suffer longer and more extreme bouts of Anhedonia, losing interest in not only hobbies or socializing, but also in relationships, sexual activity, and even basic desires like eating.

#5 – Strong Drug Cravings

Even if it is not the most common, perhaps the most expected symptom of PAWS are cravings for the substance that the individual was previously dependent on. While these cravings will eventually fade in strength, they can still sometimes persist for long periods of time after someone has achieved sobriety. Cravings can be extremely problematic, either serving as a trigger for other symptoms of Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome or putting an individual at risk of a relapse.

#6 – Poor Coordination and Clumsiness

Individuals experiencing Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome will often exhibit a general loss of physical coordination, including dizziness, slowed reflexes, poor balance, and issues with hand-eye coordination. Because of this, they will often be seen tripping or bumping into things, dropping things, or spilling food or drinks. Apart from simply being the manifestation of another PAWS symptom, a secondary reason behind this lack of coordination is distraction caused by comorbid feelings of depression and disinterest.

#7 – Difficulty Falling Asleep

Similar to becoming clumsier due to being distracted by feelings of depression, those suffering from PAWS will also usually have a great deal of difficulty getting to sleep at night. This can be due to feelings of anxiety and restlessness, as well as a lack of stimuli to keep them from focusing on the negative psychological symptoms that are characteristic of Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome.

#8 – Sleep Disturbances

Unfortunately, even once someone experiencing PAWS manages to fall asleep, they’re unlikely to stay that way. Individuals will often have their sleep interrupted, either from withdrawal cravings, unusually vivid and unpleasant dreams, or altered sleeping patterns causing them to wake up for no particular reason. Because of these disturbances, people with PAWS will often oscillate between going as long as several days without sleeping to sleeping for days at a time once their exhaustion has caught up with them.

#9 – Inability to Concentrate or Think Clearly

Similar to the loss of coordination, those with PAWS can have difficulty focusing or thinking clearly due to the distraction from cravings or feelings of intense depression. The lack of sleep can also cause them to struggle with concentration, creating a vicious cycle, as their minds’ inability to focus on something other than the negative feelings manifested by PAWS is part of what makes sleep seem so impossible. It becomes quite difficult to concentrate for anyone experiencing Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome.

#10 – Thoughts of Suicide or Suicide Attempts

If the depressive symptoms of post-acute-withdrawal syndrome have become frequent and severe enough, they can progress to a stage where the individual can begin to have suicidal thoughts or ideations, and may even make an attempt to commit suicide. If this is the case, professional help should be immediately sought to ensure the individual’s safety and help to treat them. Thoughts of or attempts at suicide should always be taken seriously.

#11 – Increased Sensitivity to Stress

As part of post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, individuals often become extremely vulnerable to stress and situations that might provoke feelings of stress. Like a raw nerve or an exposed wound, even the smallest contact with a stressful situation can be enough to overwhelm them and cause an outburst. These symptoms are only magnified by the presence of mood swings and an increased vulnerability to panic attacks.

#12 – Increased Sensitivity to Pain

In addition to becoming more sensitive to stress and anxiety, individuals experiencing post-acute-withdrawal syndrome will also frequently exhibit increased sensitivity to physical pain. While it decreases a person’s capacity to feel joy, PAWS can conversely heighten their capacity for pain, making even the most negligible injuries feel excruciatingly painful.

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#13 – Intensified Emotions

While the symptoms of depression and Anhedonia can make those suffering from PAWS feel numb or empty inside, the other extreme is also possible: namely, an intense overflow of emotional feelings. Individuals with Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome will often exhibit the most extreme level of any given emotion. This can mean becoming overly excitable when happy or excessively confrontational when angry, which can occur in very close proximity to each other if the individual is also experiencing sudden shifts in mood.

Palm Beach Institute Makes Sobriety Accessible and Attainable

When presented with such a formidable list of symptoms, it’s no wonder that the most common question about Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome is how long it will last. While, unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, for most people, Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome will last somewhere between six months and four years.

However, it’s important to know that if you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of PAWS, there is hope. At the Palm Beach Institute, we have many resources available to help individuals struggling with PAWS. If you or someone you love would like a free consultation, call the PBI today at 855-960-5456. Our specialists can help anyone in need find the treatments and programs they need to beat a deadly substance abuse problem. Call PBI to begin the journey to sobriety as soon as possible.

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Dating in Recovery: The Pros and Cons

In the millennial world, dating is difficult, to say the least. Thanks to the complications of the modern conveniences, the dating world has become convoluted by endless chasing games, being left on read, and likes on your photos. The emotional roller coaster ride that comes with the territory can be overwhelming. If you factor in sobriety, it can get even more complicated. While dating in recovery is totally possible, it’s imperative to weigh the pros and cons before diving in.

Getting Your Priorities in Order Before Dating in Recovery

One of the most classically patronizing phrases used when describing dating in recovery is “Two dead batteries can’t start a car”. As irritating as that may be to hear over and over as a newcomer, it does hold some weight. Essentially what the old timers are trying to say is if you have nothing to offer and neither does your partner, the relationship is doomed.

When we first enter sobriety, we may start working out and taking pride in our appearance again. We start to feel and look good for the first time in years. Our priorities quickly begin to shift from keeping the focus on ourselves to taking note of the attractive people all around us.

When it comes to dating in recovery before you even attempt to start, it’s crucial you have your own house in order. For instance, if you only have thirty days sober, you should be focusing on your recovery. Anything you put before your recovery you’ll ultimately lose. Staying on task is necessary in the very beginning.

You want to work on yourself and become the very best you before embarking on a journey for love. You, as well as your potential partner, deserve that! Most people typically recommend avoiding dating in recovery for the first year. The reason for this guideline is to give yourself a chance to grow before diverting your attention elsewhere. While plenty of people don’t actually wait the full year, it is best to at least allow for stabilization prior falling head over heels for someone.

The Good

If you’ve made the executive decision to begin dating in recovery after careful thought and consideration, then it’s time to get out there! Just because we’re in recovery doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life!

For as much negativity that surrounds dating in sobriety, there is so much good that can come from it as well.  It’s important to give just as much attention to the numerous benefits that recovery dating has to offer.

1. Having a Partner Who Understands You

If you decide to date a fellow addict in recovery, a unique bond and relationship can form from it. Someone else on the same path of recovery can not only understand the struggles and triumphs sobriety offers first hand but can also offer advice and support. While it’s important to always keep your recoveries separate, as you are two individual people, it’s nice to have a significant other you can really talk to about the program.

2. Going on Really Unique Dates

Adventure is out there! And who better understands that than an addict in recovery? Dating in recovery is awesome because, without the distraction of drugs and alcohol, creativity in date planning is a must!

Since I’ve embarked on recovery dating, I’ve had some of the coolest experiences of my life! Between spontaneous trips to the zoo or trying something new together, people in recovery are definitely more fun to date.

Instead of using alcohol as a crutch on the anxiety-ridden first date, you actually get to know the person and are forced to do something besides meet at a bar or restaurant for drinks.

3. Engaging in Consistent Self-Improvement

Another benefit when it comes to dating in recovery is that the program is constantly calling for personal growth. As you progress through the steps and program as a whole, positive internal change naturally takes place.

Learning about yourself in an honest manner and making adjustments to detrimental behaviors is a main point of the steps. This is great for dating because it’s never a dead-end relationship. When both parties are actively working on themselves, relationship issues can be addressed and resolved in a healthy manner.

4. Leading Separate Lives

When it comes to recovery dating, being able to live individual lives is easy. As stated above, having separate programs is vital. Going to your own meetings and spending time with your support system is necessary to your recovery.

This allows for plenty of individual time apart from your significant other. Having your own space at times is one of the main ingredients for a healthy and happy relationship.

5. Having A Great Support Network

An integral portion of recovery is having a sober support system. These are people who you associate with in recovery who you can turn to in times of difficulty for nonbiased, positive advice. Thanks to having these recovering addicts in your life, your support system can greatly benefit your relationship.

Getting positive third party opinions and advice can help when it comes to any arguments or challenges in your romantic relationship. Sometimes it takes an outside opinion to help us see where we were wrong. Rather than staying stubborn and stuck in your point of view, you can get a better panoramic look at your relationship, helping to resolve issues with ease.

The Bad

As unfortunate as it may be, dating in recovery is not without its drawbacks. You must carefully consider the negative aspects with equal attention. As much as you may want the relationship, make sure you weigh out the potential cons as well.

1. Relapse

Okay, so this is the most glaringly obvious and important con when it comes to dating someone in recovery. Relapse is a sad but very possible situation that comes with sobriety. Whether the relapse occurs as a result of the relationship (one of the top 5 relapse triggers) or due to separate issues, it will still affect the relationship.

It’s important to put your recovery first, and if your partner is actively using, it’s important to make sure you and your recovery are safe. Many people are often taken out of the rooms as a result of their romantic partner.

2. Running in Similar Social Circles

Let’s face it, the local recovery community is usually rather small. Knowing many of the same people as your partner is almost unavoidable. This can be counterproductive for a number of reasons. Any ensuing drama that’s occurring in your social circles can directly impact your romantic relationship. It can also make breakups an absolute nightmare.

Although you’ve done your best to keep your recoveries separate, you run the risk of consistently running into your partner after the end of the relationship. Whether you see them at meetings or hear them mentioned on a regular basis, it can be hard to get away from them. Also, the possibility of your ex dating someone you know on a personal level is very likely, which can cause a lot of discomfort for you in the recovery community.

3. Growing Out of Sync

On the flip side of constant self-improvement, it can be possible that you and your partner may grow at different rates. This can cause a rift between the two of you.

When you may have once had so much in common, it may seem as if you’re two completely different people due to your spiritual growth and their complacency. Unless you’re both actively working on your programs, this is a serious problem many couples face when dating in recovery.

4. Codependency

Addiction comes in many forms. One particularly nasty channel addiction takes is in codependency. Codependency is basically the reliance on another person or thing for happiness and stability.

As opposed to learning to be self-sufficient, one partner may begin to become codependent on the other when dating in recovery. This unhealthy behavior often leads to the development of toxic relationships, and codependent behavior is extremely common among addicts.

5. Losing Focus on Recovery

I cannot stress the importance of putting your recovery first. If you’re not really ready to be dating in sobriety, it can be very easy to lose sight of your priorities. Recovery needs to come first, always. When you enter a romantic relationship, it’s very easy to allow it to consume most of your time, especially in the beginning.

But when it starts to interfere with step work, meeting attendance, and overall participation in your program, you’ve entered dangerous territory. It’s okay to have a life outside of recovery, but it’s important to remain focused on your sobriety.

The Beautiful

Dating in recovery is a complicated endeavor. It is a very individual and variable experience. What works for one couple may not for another. What is important is that we take an honest look at the pros and cons of dating in recovery. We need to ask ourselves what our true intentions are and to make sure they line up with our spiritual program. Dating in recovery can be a beautiful and amazing experience. It doesn’t need to be characterized by insanity or unmanageability. It’s completely up to you. Sink or swim.

Do You Need Drug or Alcohol Treatment? Call Us Now!

If you or your loved one are in need of treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call the Palm Beach Institute today. We have a full staff of high-quality addiction professionals that have extensive experience getting people on the road to recovery. From residential treatment programs to counseling on dating in recovery, we have everything you need to start your new life in sobriety. Call (855) 534-3574 or contact us online to speak with one of our specialists today.

Burying the Hatchet: Resentments in Recovery

Having a program of recovery and behaving as such is an integral part of participating in a 12-step fellowship. They say we must practice our principles of recovery in all of our affairs. Does this mean that we are absolutely perfect in every situation? Of course not! First and foremost, before we are recovering addicts and alcoholics, we are human. We are imperfect people attempting to work a perfect program, and sometimes we fall short. So, what do we do when we develop resentments in recovery?

Life on Life’s Terms

Sometimes, things just happen. We know we are powerless over addiction and life in general, but that doesn’t quell the negative feelings that occur as a result of an injustice against us. Whether it’s the infidelity of a partner, a friend who betrays us, or the loss of employment, resentments in recovery are bound to crop up once in awhile.

We may feel completely aghast at the unfair circumstances that have befallen us. If we feel completely without fault, this can foster the resentment ever further.

These resentments can have negative impacts on your life, whether physically or spiritually. In the fallout of the whatever seismic event has unfolded in our lives, we find ourselves seething. Just the thought of the situation is enough to make our blood boil.

Our minds begin to drift from the spiritual principles of recovery to the ideations of revengeor even worse, using. We are in full resentment mode. Unwilling to give up our sobriety, what do we do now?

Resentments in Recovery vs. Resentments in Active Addiction

Resentment, in general, is a fickle beast. In the past, before we found recovery, our method for handling our resentments was completely different. We might turn to the bottle or our drug of choice in an effort to swallow the poison of resentment and hope it dies. Other times, we make it our life’s work to get back at whoever or whatever wrongs us.

We may have even turned our rage and turmoil inward, fueling our self-loathing and causing further demoralization. We were living a life of sick attempts at causing pain in retaliation.

The way we handle resentments in recovery, however, is vastly different. While it may be easy to fall back into our old mindset, it’s crucial that we avoid the trap of old behaviors at all costs even if it seems completely unnatural and goes against all our instincts.

Implementing a program of recovery is the only healthy method of surmounting resentments in recovery. This means engaging in all of the aspects of the program that we know work. If we want to get through life sober, we need to handle resentments in recovery hastily and correctly.

So, how do we do it?

Navigating the Resentment

Now that we have identified the fact that we are developing resentment, it’s time to spring into action. Resentments in recovery cannot be allowed to fester, the longer we wait to act, the deeper the roots of resentment take hold in our lives. Here are some tips on how to deal with resentment. You may notice that they share some similarities with the 12-steps of addiction recovery.

 1.  Identify the Problem

Whenever we are feeling any sort of negative emotion, it’s important to first identify the source of the discontentment. We can’t begin to tackle the issue at hand without a complete understanding as to why we are upset in the first place. When it comes to resentments in recovery, sometimes the cause is easier to spot than others.

Resentments are insidious. They can creep up on us over time, building and growing until we finally snap. What we may have brushed off as a minor incident may have burrowed itself deep within the confines of our subconscious, taken root, and begun to grow in silence. Recognizing our resentments as early as possible is the best course of action in the removal process.

2.  Reach Out

Once we have put a face to our resentment, it’s time to take a proactive approach to removing the poison from our lives. The benefit of being a member of recovery is that no matter what we are going through, we are never alone. It is during the more challenging times in our recovery that we must reach out to our support systems such as our friends in the program, our sponsor, sponsorship family, or people in the meetings.

Pain shared is pain lessened, and by reaching out about our resentments in recovery, we are allowing ourselves to remain open to suggestions on how to deal with the situation from other more experienced members. By openly talking about a resentment we may be harboring, we are taking away some its power it extends over us. We need not suffer in silence.

3. Write, Write, Write

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Writing is one of the best tools we have in recovery and life when it comes to managing feelings, good, bad, or in-between. The pen is mightier than the sword, and this is especially true when dealing with resentments in recovery. Rather than lashing out, if we look inward and reflect upon the feelings we are experiencing, we can get a complete picture of ourselves and the situation at hand.

If we take all of the negative energy we have raging inside of our bodies and unleash it upon the blank paper in front of us, we can funnel that very energy into creation rather than destruction. Much like an artist with a canvas, we transmit our feelings onto the paper and out of ourselves. We may be able to lie to ourselves and others, but we can never hide the truth from paper- it always abides by sincerity.

4.  Recognize Your Part

There are always two sides to every resentment: your side of the street and theirs. While it may be far easier to point the finger, remember, there are always three pointed back at us. We would be naive to think that we are completely without blame when it comes to fostering resentments in recovery.

So, it’s crucial to ask yourself this question:what was my part?

Sometimes this is easier said than done. We may feel completely justified in our resentment, that we are without fault nor blame. This is a common occurrence but you can’t expect to ever overcome the resentment with this attitude. Sometimes turning to our sponsor can provide us some insight into how we were wrong. We completely usurp the power a resentment holds over us when we identify our part in the situation. Only then can we enter into solution.

5. Make Amends Wherever Possible

We do not need to be on our 9th step in order to make amends in recovery. When we develop resentments in recovery, it’s best to take care of the problem at hand in a timely manner. Merely shrugging it off and “saving it for your 9th step” is still allowing the poison to lurk in your life. Obviously, depending on the strength and stature of the resentment, this will impact the method in which you make amends.

Sometimes making amends directly to the individual is the best course of action. Other times, a living amends may be the better alternative. At your personal discretion and the discretion of your sponsor, you can make that judgment call. Making the amends as quickly as possible is typically better. Any resentment you incur in recovery shouldn’t fester to 4th and 9th step proportions. If we address them soon enough, and obviously, of course, depending on the severity of the situation, resentments in recovery do not need to take over your life and can be handled sooner rather than later.

6. Learn the Lesson and Let It Go

Finally, after everything’s said and done, the resentment is identified, we share our feelings, we write a hundred pages on it, we see where we were wrong, and we make our amends, it’s time for the final, and most important part: we learn and let it go. This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the healing process. As addicts, we love to cling to things.

But as they say, let go or get dragged.

If we do all the work on the resentment but refuse to engage in this last step, we were unsuccessful in removing the resentment.

Learning the lesson from the resentment is vital to keep from making the same mistake repeatedly. Nothing is a mistake if we learn from it, but if we refuse to take away anything from our experience, we are bound to repeat it. Whether it’s something simple or a life-altering experience, we must not allow it to go unnoticed. Every lesson we learn is another way we grow in life and our recovery.

In the end, how we manage our resentments in recovery will ultimately determine the quality of life we will lead. If you allow those resentments to build up over time, relapse is inevitable. Once we relapse, and we find ourselves in active addiction, we lose all hope of being to do anything about the resentments in our lives.

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Palm Beach Institute a call today for the help you need! You are not alone! Call us at 855-534-3574 or contact us online.

Non-Addict Friends In Recovery

Having Friends in the Program

When it comes to being in a 12-step program, being involved in the community of other recovering addicts and alcoholics is vital.

One of the main points of focus in a 12-step program is being “in the middle”, or very involved in, both commitment positions and actively taking part in activities hosted by the program. Between going to meetings and staying active in recovery, most of the people we tend to meet and associate with are also our fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics.

But what does this mean for the friendships you had prior to recovery or if you meet non-addict friends outside of the rooms? They say surrounding yourself with other sober people is a great way to maintain recovery, but can we not have non-addict friends outside the rooms? Does this automatically mean relapse?

It doesn’tand here’s why.

People, Places, and Things?

When we first enter the program, we’re told we need to immediately change people, places, and things in order to prevent relapse and to focus more completely on recovery. This means cutting ties with people you used to use with, avoiding the places we used to use, and staying away from things that may trigger us to want to use or that we associate with drug/alcohol abuse.

While in my early recovery I can definitely say that completely severing ties with the people I originally got high with helped me stay clean and sober. After a while in the program, I began to question the relationships I once had with my friends from high school who were non-addicts. Obviously, the people who were also in the midst of active addiction weren’t safe, but what about the others?

Now that I’m several years in the program, I have a different perspective. While changing people, places, and things are imperative in early recovery, I don’t think it’s necessary to cut off everyone who isn’t in the program.

The best way to determine if someone is safe to have in your life is to make it clear to them that you absolutely cannot be around any drug or alcohol use and gauge the person’s response. If he or she has absolutely no problem catering to that request and even supports your efforts in recovery, then that non-addict friend is safe to have in your life.

If they present any hesitation or question why you even need to be in recovery in the first place, then you have your answer. The people from high school who were non-addict friends were not only compliant with my request for sober hang out sessions when I would come home to visit, they were so proud of my sobriety in general after seeing me in thralls of my addiction,they insisted upon it.

Realistic Expectations

As I have progressed in my recovery and it’s become more than just not using or drinking on a daily basis, I’ve grown far more comfortable being around alcohol. The realistic truth is that there is absolutely no way to completely avoid drugs and alcohol in the real world.

Every other TV commercial is the newest beer or vodka and as marijuana is legalized throughout the country, advertisements for weed are on their way. We see drug and alcohol use in movies on a regular basis and as much as we may not want it to be, they are a part of life. As you grow and flourish in recovery, you learn to not avoid this unfortunate truth and instead, you embrace it.

Living Together

I, for one, enjoy live music. Attending concerts is something I do quite frequently in recovery now that I have disposable income from not drinking or using drugs. At these venues, I often witness drug and alcohol use by non-addicts.

Why deny myself something I enjoy because I may potentially come across normal people doing what normal people do? The same principle comes with being friends with people who are not in recovery.

Some of my closest friends are non-addicts. In fact, I even dated a non-addict for the first two years of my recovery! During this, I have had some of the best times with people who are not technically sober. Recovery is supposed to teach you how to assimilate back into normal society without the hampering weight of drug and alcohol dependence, not vacate it all together!

Know Your Limits

While being several years into sobriety has given me the necessary separation from alcohol and drugs to feel completely unphased by it when I see it, that does not mean that it’s like that for everyone.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual what his or her tolerance for being around drugs and alcohol is. While I wouldn’t suggest hanging out with someone doing hard drugs, especially if they’re using alcoholically, it’s your choice where you draw the line of acceptability for yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone else does, and possessing the self-awareness and self-honesty to know when you’ve reached your limit is the only sure-fire way to keep yourself out of dangerous situations.

As I stated previously, your non-addict friends who are also non-toxic friends will both respect and encourage your recovery enough to willingly abstain from drinking or using drugs around you. Setting safe and strict boundaries for yourself and the people you surround yourself with is important to an effective and healthy recovery.

The Best of Both Worlds

Recovery is an important part of my life, but it’s not my whole life. Part of growing up in this program is learning that there is more to life than drugs and alcohol. So even though you may not be using, you’re still allowing it to consume you by avoiding it so adamantly.

Acceptance of other people who are not in recovery is just as important as their acceptance of us. I love my friends in recovery and I love my non-addict friends. Sometimes I even combine the two, and we all have a great time togethersome with a beer in their hand, some without. Life and recovery are all about balance, and it’s up to you to find yours.

If you know someone who is currently struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to contact us today and get access to the help that they need! 

Give Palm Beach Institute a call at 855-9534-3574!

Staying Sober at Work: Know When it’s Time to Leave

For adults in rehab who struggle to balance a family, career, finances, and drug treatment, switching jobs is probably the last thing they want to worry about.

Yet, those same jobs that they may have fought to keep through policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may have been the catalyst toward their addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), from 2008 to 2012, full-time construction (17.5 percent) and mining (16.5 percent) workers had the highest rates of past month alcohol use. The same survey also found that when it came to the construction industry, the percentage remained the same even when age and gender differed.

When it came to illicit drug use for full-time employees ages 18 to 64, the accommodation and food services, and arts and entertainment industries surpassed other workplaces at 19.1 percent and 13.7 percent.

Whether you are a construction worker or work in the entertainment and arts industry, substance abuse is a prominent effect of the environment.

But just like rehabilitating from an addiction, you can learn to control your response to enabling factors like stress, unrealistic expectations, and negative influences.

Construction Workers Drill Deeper Into Alcoholism, Hollywood Produces Addiction

After a 30- to 90-day drug and alcohol treatment program, expenses are racking up, so it’s only right to rush back to a reserved job as soon as possible.

For some in the entertainment industry, taking time off from work may cost them record deals, deadlines, and the ability to expand their talents.

In an article published by The Fix, “Trouble in Paradise— The State of Addiction in Hollywood,” Dae Medman, Employment Assistance Director of the Actor’s Fund, depicted how actors and creatives in Hollywood are secretly seduced by drugs and alcohol in the light of attention, pressure, and rejection.

“Hollywood is a microcosm of that macrocosm, but the backbone of the industry has always been the creatives. The personality types of such people seem to have a propensity to abuse substances. The pressure to succeed, an underlying need for money and a diet of constant rejection exacerbates the problem,” Medman said in the article.

And that same dedication and loyalty invested in those jobs may cost the sacrifice it takes to remain sober.

Last February, ABC7 NY took a look at the correlation between construction work and drinking. What an undercover reporter discovered for one New York construction site’s noon break was comparable to a bustling, after-work happy hour.

In the video, a construction worker is seen taking a shot of Bacardi for what he deemed a “liquid lunch.” And a carpenter sucked down five beers before being seen at his construction site with a chainsaw in hand.

The construction workers give a glimpse into high stress and rigorous blue-collar jobs that drive some to substance abuse even while on the job.

For those who are working to remain sober in an environment riddled with substance abuse, the inquiry may be posed: Do I have to switch careers?

Sobriety vs. Stability: Tips to Remain Sober While Career-Oriented

Deciding to make a career shift is not an easy choice, especially if that means giving up a steady salary. Yet it’s important to weigh the costs of going back to enabling environments that may cause a relapse.

But even if you choose to stay in the same industry, there are ways to make necessary changes that will protect your sobriety.

1. After drug and alcohol treatment, consider working part-time so you can fit aftercare organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, into your daily routine.

2. Listen to motivational podcasts in the morning and decline those invitations to happy hour get-togethers at a local bar or lounge.

3. Find what you’re passionate about. If you don’t want to go back to your job but want to reroute your skills for something positive, discover the things that ignite your purpose. For instance: a musician in recovery may decide to abandon the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to start teaching music lessons to children with disabilities. A construction worker may ditch their 9 to 5 job to start building homes for struggling, impoverished families.

4. Stay in the same industry, but switch employers. A solution to maintaining similar work with the same pay is to switch companies. This way, you can get a new start without feeling alienated at a completely different company. Also, a different company’s location will force you to stay away from former favorite bars and drug dealers.

5. When stress is starting to poke at old habits, don’t be afraid to express this to your boss or mentors. You can receive the necessary help without soothing your work anxiety with alcohol or drugs.

Looking for Drug and Alcohol Treatment? Call Us Now

If you, or a loved one, are looking for drug and alcohol treatment, Palm Beach Institute can help you with inpatient care. Our family of counselors, nurses, and addiction professionals are dedicated to quality care. Call our 24-7 hotline at (855) 534-3574 or contact us online to speak with one of our specialists to learn more about inpatient treatment. Make the call that can ultimately help you uncover new dreams within your career. Recovery can be your source to true internal success.

Rehab Myths That May or May Not Be True

The idea of walking into a treatment center to get professional help for a drug or alcohol addiction can be numbing for some people. The desire to get better may be overwhelmed by the “what if’s” and other questions as they grapple with the unknown. And it doesn’t help that the battle going on in their minds may be fueled by beliefs or ideas they may have heard from others about what it’s like to go to a treatment center.

Below are a few rehab myths that top the lists of reasons people think about backing out of addiction treatment before they even start. Some are grounded in fiction while others are rooted in fear. But all of them must be ignored if one wishes to gain the strength to go through with the call for help that can change their life for the better.

rock bottom drug recoveryMyth: You Have to Hit ‘Rock Bottom’ First Before You Start Treatment.

Truth: Not necessarily. The myth of “hitting rock bottom” promotes the idea that people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol must hit a dramatic, devastating low in which they lose everything and everyone before they are motivated to seek help for their addiction and achieve real transformation. While this is a romanticized story of the addict or alcoholic, the idea that one must risk it all before they can live life sober is not true.

Everyone’s “rock bottom,” if they ever reach it, will look and feel different. The idea of waiting until things get really rough doesn’t help anyone, including family members and friends who see their loved one headed down a dangerous path. Hitting “rock bottom” discourages people from seeking the help they need when they need it, and their loved ones may unknowingly contribute to the feeling of powerlessness that addiction brings. This is one of the top rehab myths that keeps many from making the call, but there’s no need to wait until things fall apart.

Myth: If You’ve Tried One Treatment Center, You’ve Tried Them All.

rehab mythsTruth: Not all centers use a one-size-fits-all approach to drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Each person who enters treatment will require different things to get the most out of their experience. Research the treatment center to find out what methods and practices are available there.

Some places use holistic therapies and faith-based programs while others offer traditional hospital inpatient programs. Find out who its clientele is, what methods are used to treat substance abuse, and what that center’s philosophy is in treating people in active addiction as well as those who enter an aftercare program. It is a possibility, however, that a person may have to try more than one treatment center before finding one that offers the right care and aftercare to ensure a person stays on the path to recovery.

Myth: Treatment Will Cure Your Addiction.

Addiction, a chronic disease that affects the brain and behavior, is treatable, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse, but treatment will not cure it.

“Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives,” NIDA says.

While it is not guaranteed to be curable, addiction can be managed successfully, according to the agency. Aftercare programs as well as alumni recovery groups, which can provide long-term support, are some ways to reinforce the commitment to living drug- and alcohol-free. Whether one seeks help from a treatment center or opts to do it own their own, the motivation to change and stick with the program to end dependence on substances must be present.

Myth: Rehab is Like Jail: There’s No Freedom There.

Truth: This is a popular misconception that may be rooted in people’s personal experiences with rehab centers. Some treatment centers may be stricter than others, but keep in mind that rules are put in place to keep clients safe and to ensure that everyone gets the most out of their experience.

Before entering treatment, it is important to research what it is like to complete treatment there, if possible, and find out how the daily routine is structured. Palm Beach Institute welcomes clients into its warm and inviting family-style environment, where people can relax and focus on getting well.

There are guidelines in place, but PBI focuses on keeping the day running smoothly so everyone gets what they need out of the experience. Family members are encouraged to be a part of their loved one’s recovery so everyone can learn about the disease of addiction and work on healing together.

Myth: Treatment Centers Are Expensive.

Truth: Rehab facilities can be pricey, but the price tag depends on several factors, including where one decides to complete their treatment program. Some things to consider are:

  • Location of the rehab center (will it be near the beach, in the city, in a remote area?)
  • Whether the person will be in an inpatient program, which costs more because the person will be living on-site, or an outpatient program
  • Program length (30-day, 60-day, 90-day, or longer)
  • Treatment services offered (detox, therapy groups, aftercare programs)
  • Program size, amenities, etc.

Finances can be a major hurdle to pursuing addiction treatment, but getting help should be the main concern. The Palm Beach Institute is ready to help prospective clients explore their insurance options to make programs as affordable as possible.

Myth: If You Relapse After Treatment, Then Treatment Was a Waste of Time.

Truth: This is not true. According to NIDA, the chronic nature of addiction makes it possible, or even likely, that relapse will happen and that relapse rates for people with addiction are similar to relapse rates for other chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Entering treatment for addiction is still your best shot at overcoming addiction. Relapse, the act of returning to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstaining from using it, is not a personal failure and treatment is not a waste of time. NIDA says relapse just means something needs to change. It writes, “Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and relapse does not mean treatment has failed. For a person recovering from addiction, lapsing back to drug use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or that another treatment should be tried.”

Don’t Let Rehab Myths Keep You Out of Treatment

palm beach instituteIf you, or someone you know, have a parent, spouse or other family member or friend who is battling addiction, call 855-960-5456 now to speak with one of our Palm Beach Institute specialists.

They can help you find a treatment program tailored to your specific needs today. They are standing by around-the-clock, waiting for your call.

Gaining Back the Trust of Friends & Loved Ones

People who become addicted to alcohol and drugs experience a wide variety of effects as a direct result of dependency. Unfortunately, these profoundly negative effects include the deterioration of physical health, mental and emotional changes due to an altered brain structure and function as well as spiritual effects. Additionally, since most individuals suffer from active addiction for years or even decades, the self-destructive behaviors acquired as a part of one’s addiction become thoroughly ingrained in an addict’s life and are quite different—even virtually impossible—to overcome on their own.

Although addiction is considered quite different than most other diseases, one of its most unique features is that it has a major effect not only on the addict, but on an addict’s family, friends, and other loved ones. In essence, an addict’s loved ones much witness the deterioration and self-destruction from which he or she suffers due to chemical dependency.

Addicts tend to try to hide their addictions from their loved ones and oftentimes even from themselves in the form of denial but loved one notice the changes in appearance, behavior, and personality. Meanwhile, the development of an addiction causes increased desperation, making addicts more and more likely to stop to astonishing lows in order to sustain their addictions. Over the course of active addiction, many addicts break the trust that their loved ones had in them, causing potentially irreparable damage to many of their important relationships.

However, an important component of the recovery process is learning healthy, respectful social skills and how to maintain positive relationships with others. As such, the following will explain the effects that addiction can have on relationships and how addicts can restore the broken trust of their loved ones.

How Alcohol & Drug Addiction Affects Relationships


One of the most prominent feelings in an addict’s life is desperation. At the onset of a substance abuse habit, the amount of a substance that an individual need is still somewhat manageable. However, with the passage of time an individual’s tolerance increases and causes him or her to need more of the substances, making one’s habit increasingly expensive.

Even the most inexpensive substances quickly become a major financial drain while increasing absenteeism and poorer job performance decrease or even eliminate one’s income. With the threat of withdrawal constantly imminent, individuals begin to cross lines that they would never have crossed before. As a result, addicts begin resorting to rather extreme means in order to obtain what they need to continue their substance abuse.

Unfortunately, family members and other loved ones are a convenient target for desperate addicts, becoming victims of theft as addicts resort to stealing in order to support their habits. When they’re not stealing from their loved ones, addicts are dishonest with them, which results in the loss of trust and, ultimately, damage to or destruction of relationships.

The First Steps Toward Restoring Trust After Addiction

There are many reasons that addicts commonly give for being resistant to treatment. This typically includes fear of withdrawal and the belief that they will be stigmatized for admitting to their addictions and entering a rehab. Additionally, each addict fears the change of opinion that loved ones will have once they realize that he or she has developed and been suffering from an addiction.

However, it’s difficult for them to conceptualize the fact that admitting to their addictions often has the opposite effect on most addicts’ loved ones. Having witnessed the downward spiral firsthand, loved ones often reach a point of realization in which they understand what has been causing the deterioration and feel betrayed and hurt due to the individual denying the reality of his or her addiction. Therefore, admitting to one’s addiction can be a major first step toward regaining the trust of family members, friends, and other addicts as they see the admission as being an important precursor to investing effort into overcoming a substance abuse problem.

Another important step toward regaining trust and rebuilding relationships with loved ones comes with the time and effort of recovery. When loved ones see that an individual has devoted him or herself to the recovery process wholeheartedly and are able to see the amount of work that he or she is investing, the individual becomes more credible.

He or she is no longer in denial of a substance abuse problem, but rather has accepted it and is proven him or herself ready and willing to overcome it. Moreover, as an addict progresses through recovery and accrues more sober time, loved ones will slowly begin to see him or her as being more responsible. Credibility and responsibility are essential precursors to trust in relationships.

Maintaining Healthy, Trusting Relationships in Recovery


Having completed treatment and returned to the community as someone with newfound sobriety, an individual has proven him or herself capable of achieving sobriety and must not prove him or herself able to sustain it. A natural effect of maintaining sobriety is that an individual will seem increasingly worthy of the trust of others; however, there are ways to help the process of regaining the trust of loved ones along.

It’s often said in marriage counseling and family therapy that establishing and maintaining open, healthy lines of communication is an essential part of strong relationships. In fact, communication is an essential part of many types of relationships in which trust plays an important part. This is also true of individuals who are in recovery and are trying to repair relationships with loved ones. Over the course of active addiction, individuals become withdrawn and significantly less communicative, which tends to make individuals seem secretive and untrustworthy. As such, being open and communicative—which includes making sure that one is available for communication with others as they need it—will go a long way in helping loved ones to see a recovering addict as being worthy of their trust.

Over the course of active addiction, individuals become withdrawn and significantly less communicative, which tends to make individuals seem secretive and untrustworthy. As such, being open and communicative—which includes making sure that one is available for communication with others as they need it—will go a long way in helping loved ones to see a recovering addict as being worthy of their trust.

Believe in Life After Addiction — Contact the Palm Beach Institute Now

The recovery process doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s frequently said that the real recovery doesn’t even begin until after an individual has completed an addiction treatment program and returned to the community with his or her tenuous, newfound sobriety. However, there’s no single route toward lasting recovery that is better than others since each individual who suffers from chemical dependency can only recover at his or her own pace.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and would benefit from learning more about the available treatment options, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. Call us today at 1-855-534-3574 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced recovery specialists who have helped countless individuals return to lives of health, sobriety, and happiness.

Why Do Transitional Living and Aftercare Go Hand-in-Hand?

Much like the development of alcohol or drug addiction, recovery is a complex process with many independent yet interconnected parts. When an alcoholic or drug addict chooses to begin the recovery process, the first step is generally to determine the most appropriate, effective, or preferred type of treatment program and find the facility that meets one’s needs. The selection of a drug rehab and program is an incredibly personal process and will involve different considerations for each individual. For some, the location of treatment might be a central consideration while others might feel they would respond best to recovery programming that caters specifically to the needs of women or members of the LGBTQ community. However, finding the right facility and program isn’t the end of the personalization process.

As part of the intake process for virtually all inpatient—and even most outpatient—drug treatment centers, individuals work with a recovery counselor to develop personalized treatment plans, which is a planned treatment regimen that takes into account and plans for each stage of the recovery process, from detox to treatment to transitional living, aftercare, and beyond. The specific components of one’s treatment plan become tailored to an individual’s specific needs, ensuring that the recovery process address all aspects of one’s suffering in order to optimize the potential for success in lasting sobriety.

Most people are familiar with the actual treatment stage of recovery, which sees individuals receiving extensive psychotherapy and counseling, participating in group sessions, and learning crucial life skills that will allow those regaining their sobriety to achieve lasting recovery. However, concepts like aftercare, as well as transitional living options, are less familiar to those who have not personally been through the recovery process. As such, the following will define transitional living and aftercare, explaining how they’re related and why they commonly go hand-in-hand as an important part of many individuals’ recoveries.

What Exactly is Aftercare?

group therapy

As mentioned above, an individual treatment plan functions essentially as one’s blueprint for recovery. When a recovery counselor works with an individual to create a treatment plan, he or she has to take into account some very important considerations, including the length of time the individual has spent in active addiction, whether he or she has had treatment experience that didn’t result in lasting sobriety, the substance or substances to which the individual is addicted, and even things like whether the individual lives in a home with other individuals who suffer from substance abuse problems. Each consideration of a treatment plan will determine things like the type of treatment, length of time required to complete treatment, and what type of aftercare an individual requires to maximize his or her chance of achieving lasting sobriety.

Like its name suggests, aftercare is the continued care that an individual receives after completing an initial addiction treatment program. All individuals require some sort of aftercare treatments whether their treatment programs were inpatient or outpatient, but aftercare that contains some sort of transitional living facility is especially important for graduates of inpatient programs for reasons that will be outlined directly. In addition to transitional living and halfway house facilities, individuals who complete their treatment programs often consider things like ongoing counseling with a professional therapist and membership to a nearby twelve-step group as an integral part of aftercare, but most facilities also offer special aftercare meetings on an ongoing basis to the graduates of their programs. In short, aftercare is intended to be a vital strategy for sustaining long-term recovery after completing a treatment program; as such, it’s a versatile component of recovery that can include many different types of treatments, support groups, or meetings that an individual uses as a resource for preventing relapse.

Transitional Living Facilities

transitional living

Also commonly referred to as halfway houses, transitional living facilities are group homes that are intended for individuals who have just completed a residential or inpatient addiction treatment program, but who are not yet ready to return home, reintegrate into the community, and assume total responsibility for remaining abstinent from alcohol and drugs. Individuals can move into a transitional living facility upon completing a treatment program and are required to pay rent—typically a reasonable weekly or monthly fee to cover utilities and other costs required to sustain the property—while also having to prove their ongoing sobriety through drug screens. Transitional living facilities can either be managed by professionals or run by residents in recovery, but in virtually all cases individuals who are in residency maintain the home, which includes chores and basic upkeep as a means of learning or relearning essential life and survival skills.

Moreover, most transitional living and halfway facilities require individuals to either be employed or looking for a job, attending regular counseling sessions and twelve-step groups, and oftentimes have an on-site career and financial counselors to help individuals learn to be more independent, responsible, and self-sufficient adults. Typically, transitional living facilities have a few rules about which they are very strict and which could qualify an individual for eviction if broken; this often includes the nightly curfew, passing routine drug screens, and maintaining participation in treatment and twelve-step groups. Although some facilities allow individuals to invite loved ones for family counseling sessions, not all transitional living facilities allow residents to have guests; those that do allow residents to have visitors have rules against guests staying overnight.

The Relationship Between Transitional Living & Aftercare

Fake Dictionary, definition of the word Pragmatic.


The ultimate goal of a transitional living facility is to give individuals more time after completing their treatment programs to regain their independence and learn responsibility. For a period of up to two years—or occasionally longer—individuals can reside in a transitional living facility as long as they remain employed and sober, during which time they learn the life skills that are vital to be a self-sufficient, stable adult in the community. The reason that transitional living and aftercare go hand-in-hand is because transitional living is a form of aftercare. Moreover, transitional living is considered one of the most effective forms of aftercare that has shown some of the highest rates of success at helping an individual to transition into the community while maintaining stable sobriety. Sober and transitional living environments are reassuring to individuals who may still be lacking confidence in their newfound sobriety and who can benefit from the safe, stable, drug-free environment that transitional living can offer, making it an essential part of aftercare that is instrumental in many individuals’ successes in recovery.

The Palm Beach Institute Can Help You Achieve a Healthier, Drug-Free Lifestyle

As mentioned, there are many ways to achieve lasting sobriety. However, transitional living facilities are an effective form of aftercare that offer stable, drug-free environments in which individuals in recovery can readjust to the lifestyle of sobriety while relearning a number of life skills that are essential to a long-lasting recovery. However, if you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to learn more about treatment options, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Call today at 855-534-3574 or contact us online for a consultation and assessment from one of our experienced recovery specialists. Our team has helped countless individuals make their ways back to lives of health, sobriety, and happiness.