Why is Prescription Drug Abuse More Prevalent Today?

The statistics on prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are startling to say the least. For instance, the number of Americans who misused prescription medications in 2012 Prescription Drugsexceeded 12 million. To cite just one state, more Tennessee residents die from overdose of prescription medication than from automobile crashes. Drug deaths across the U.S. have passed up fatal auto accidents in sheer numbers. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that painkiller overdoses are taking more lives today than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

How did this problem take root? Why is it that Americans took 80 percent of the world’s painkillers in 2011?

The Epidemic’s Origins

In 1997, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and American Pain Society issued separate reports suggesting that doctors in the U.S. should prescribe pain medications more frequently. Other newly-formed pain management organizations released similar proposals in subsequent years.

Clearly, many doctors took those recommendations to heart. The number of painkiller prescriptions in the U.S. began to surge during the late 1990s; since then, painkiller addiction rates have risen in roughly proportionate numbers. Doctors in this country are now prescribing almost three times as many painkillers to their patients as they did 20 years ago. According to the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit policy organization, four times as many people died in 2010 as a result of painkillers than in 1999.

Addiction and Medical Ignorance

For years, the vast majority of patients who took painkillers believed that their medications were completely safe. After all, their doctors had approved those treatments. However, prescription opioids are addictive in the same way that heroin is. That is, opioids make people feel high and crave more. At the same time, opioid overdoses often lead to fatal respiratory failure. Therefore, the truth is that many doctors failed to recognize the powerfully addictive nature of certain prescription drugs. Indeed, to this day, primary care physicians often lack training in the area of addiction and pain medicine.

Those points are especially salient in the case of OxyContin, a brand name for extended-release oxycodone manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved OxyContin in 1995. In its initial years on the market, Purdue Pharma marketed the drug as non-addictive due to its time-release nature. Many doctors in the U.S. trusted that selling point and proceeded to prescribe it widely. However, many consumers and addicts soon discovered that they could simply crush their OxyContin tablets and then snort, smoke or inject it.

In the years since its introduction to the marketplace, OxyContin abuse became an epidemic, one that struck rural areas such as southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky particularly hard – earning it the nickname “Hillbilly Heroin”. In August 2010, after nearly fifteen years on the market, Purdue came out with its tamper-resistant OxyContin. So while Oxy abuse has dropped, there are still plenty of opiates – legal and illegal – available to users and addicts across America. The new pure hydrocodone drug, Zohydro, is notably NOT tamper-resistant yet was inexplicably approved by the FDA.

Shifting Attitudes

Another issue relevant to the rise of prescription drug addiction is a general acceptance of prescription drugs among the population. While prescription drug use is nothing new, such as the use of valium, the “Mother’s Little Helper” in the 1960s, by the 1990s many people started to feel more comfortable with the idea of taking pills to cure their ills; there no longer seemed to be any stigma attached to those drugs. The emergence of online pharmacies and the fact that there are now 67,000 brick-and-mortar pharmacies in the U.S. have also contributed to the prevalence of pills.

Another cause of these changing perceptions is that advertisements for antidepressants and other drugs started becoming commonplace on television and in magazines. In the year 2000 alone, drug manufacturers spent a combined sum of $2.5 billion to promote their products. In the process, they helped to normalize such concepts as giving addictive psycho-stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall to children to make them “perform better”, “pay attention” and do as they’re told. This has been combined with programs in schools wherein teachers and counselors essentially give parents “no choice” but to drug their kids, violating the parents’ and child’s rights.

Pill Mills

Pain management clinics have played a role in this epidemic as well. Many people in law enforcement refer colloquially to those establishments as “pill mills”. The typical pill mill functions as follows: A person enters the building and claims to suffer from pain. One of its medical staff members will then prescribe a painkiller in exchange for cash or a money order; the typical charge is between $100 and $400 per visit. No formal medical tests take place, and as you might imagine, no insurance company would ever cover such a visit. Furthermore, customers can keep returning in order to have their prescriptions renewed.

Some of the first of these clinics opened in Florida. When that state took measures to outlaw them, they started appearing in various other states. In many parts of the country, they’re still legal.

Face of AddictionThe Face of Medication Addiction Today

Nowadays, the majority of prescription drug abusers are employed and married; in addition, more women than men are addicted to prescription medication. In many cases, addicts get their drugs from friends and family. Approximately 17 percent of them have prescriptions from their doctors, and about 16 percent steal medications from people they know or obtain them from drug dealers. Notably, a large percentage of drugs are now obtained online.

Can This Plague Be Curbed?

Many people and agencies have offered ideas on how to fight prescription drug abuse. For example, Richard Segerblom, a state senator in Nevada, introduced legislation in February 2013 that would allow patients with painkiller addictions to sue their doctors as well as drug manufacturers. That bill, however, failed to pass.

Another corrective measure would be for the FDA to tighten the regulations that govern prescription drugs – both in what gets approved for the market and how their prescription is regulated. Some progress has been made in this area. The FDA has finally agreed with the DEA and hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin will now be classified under Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act. Other authorities maintain that opioid painkillers should only be available to patients with severe pain, not moderate pain. But in the case of the FDA, it seems a lot like one step forward and two steps back; so we can’t sit back and wait and assume the government will take care of it.

A Human Problem

This is a problem amongst American citizens and human beings in general. No matter the regulations or lack thereof, until drug education, detoxification and rehabilitation significantly surpass the supply and demand, the problem can appear overwhelming. Witness the fact that cocaine, heroin and meth are illegal yet those drugs are still very much a problem.

The answer is to educate our youth and adults alike on the pitfalls inherent in controlled and illicit substances. At the same time, effective treatment is needed in every major city, state and rural zone in our nation. That is why I have dedicated my life to this cause. The more people wake up, the faster we can turn the tide.

Some Facts You Need to Know About America’s Opiate Epidemic

There is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It’s not a contagious disease. It’s a “disease” that largely comes from the prescription pad.

Epidemic is defined as a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon. Opiates are drugs that are derived from the opium poppy or are designed to produce an opium-like or morphine-like effect. The synthetic or semi-synthetic opiate drugs are often called opioids.

A New EpidemicOpiate Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose is now the leading cause of death by injury in the United States. The most common types of drugs involved in overdose are prescription drugs. Out of the 22,810 deaths related to pharmaceutical overdose in 2011, 74% (16,917) were from opioids. Opioid-related overdose deaths now outnumber overdose deaths involving all illicit drugs combined.

In 2011 for example, approximately 1.4 million emergency room visits were related to the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Over 420,000 of these visits were related to opioid painkillers.

Part of the reason prescription painkillers are so popular among individuals abusing drugs is that health care providers write an enormous number of prescriptions. In 2012, enough prescriptions for painkillers were written to give every American adult a bottle of pills.

A Brief History of America’s Love Affair with Opiates

Epidemics, like the one we currently face, often have historical precedent. Opium has been used since before the time of Alexander the Great to treat pain and cause euphoria. The way opium has been consumed and the processing of it have affected the number of people using opiates over the years.

From the 1700’s through the early 1900’s, the British Empire and its colonies were the main exporter of opium. In the 1830’s, England was importing 22,000 lbs. of opium per year for its own use. Ten years later, America was importing 24,000 lbs. of opium per year, at a time when opium was not yet an illicit substance.

A survey done in the state of Michigan in 1874 showed that about 0.6% of the population surveyed were addicted to opium, morphine, or laudanum (an alcoholic solution containing morphine). Another survey was conducted for the East Coast in 1902, showing there were around 0.2% of addicts in that area. It was around this time that a new drug was introduced as a “cure” for morphine addiction in the US.

The name of the new drug: “Heroin”

The word “Heroin” was originally a brand name, marketed by the Bayer corporation of Germany. The word was coined from the Greek heros meaning “hero” or “demi-god” because of its supposed “heroic” effects upon the user. It was also marketed as a cough suppressant, similar to how codeine (another opiate) is today.

Hearing of this new “miracle drug”, concerned citizens and groups began mailing free samples of heroin to morphine addicts attempting to quit. By 1903, heroin was the newest popular drug of choice and addiction rates skyrocketed. It rapidly became evident that heroin was even more addictive than morphine. Heroin is essentially a more processed form of morphine.

The US rapidly tried to control its new drug problems. New legislation required clearer labeling of drugs. Aspirin came out – available as a far less addictive means to control minor to moderate pain. Drugs became increasingly restricted to medicinal use, rather than “recreational” use.

This legislation did little to curb heroin addiction, however. By the 1920’s, heroin was being used more than ever. One survey showed that there were an estimated 105,000 addicts nationally by 1920. Individual cities showed real spikes in heroin users – around 1% of the population of the tiny Louisiana town of Shreveport were addicts.

There is a lot of statistical data missing until 1965-1970 when the estimated number of heroin addicts in the U.S. was up to 750,000. In the early 1990’s there was another spike in heroin use, largely attributed to users snorting or smoking the drug, rather than just injecting it.

The Prescription Painkiller Problem

There are an enormous number of prescription painkillers currently on the market. Most of these are opioids. Just some of them, along with a number of their brand names:

  • Morphine – Brand names: MS Contin, Roxanol, Kadian, Embeda
  • Codeine – Brand names: Cotabflu, Colrex Compound, Phenflu CDX, Maxiflu CD, Rolatuss, Calcidrine, Poly-Tussin AC, Dimetane DC, Nasotuss
  • Hydrocodone – Brand names: Zohydro ER, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Damason-P, Axdone, VasoTuss HC, Endacof HC, Excof, Tri-Vent HC, Mintex HC, Vituz, Vortex
  • Oxycodone – Brand names: OxyContin, Percocet, Tylox, Percodan, Percocet
  • Fentanyl – Brand names: Duragesic, Actiq
  • Meperidine – Brand names: Demerol, Mepergan
  • Hydromorphone – Brand names: Dilaudid, Exalgo, Palladone
  • Methadone – Brand names: Diskets, Methadose

All of the above listed drugs are addictive and many are very heavily prescribed. Additionally, because they are prescribed, there is a false perception that these drugs are less dangerous to abuse than street drugs. Many individuals feel that, because the drugs were given to someone by a doctor, they must be safe for anyone to use.

This misperception contributes to the current prescription drug epidemic here in America. Opioids are addictive and can be life-threatening and deadly when misused. Even small amounts can be dangerous depending on the user.

Despite the warning labels and DEA restrictions, the percentage of visits to emergency rooms resulting in the prescription of an opioid, between 2001 and 2010, went up by around 10% (from 20.8% to 31%). Some specific opioids had a huge increase in prescription rates. For example, prescriptions for the opioid Dilaudid (hydromorphone) went up by 668.2%. This would seem to indicate a significant increase in emergency room visits for pain. However, the percentage of visits for painful conditions between 2001 and 2010 only went up by 4%.

Why the Increase?

Why the Increase

Bad publicity related to Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) addiction and overdose could certainly contribute to doctors and medical personnel prescribing another opioid like Dilaudid.

However, another reason behind the marked increase in prescriptions is related to the ways in which emergency department personnel are paid. Some departments in some hospitals have incentivized pay systems, based on how the patients report their satisfaction. This means that many emergency department personnel feel obligated to give out opioid prescriptions so they can get paid enough, pay their own bills, support their families, etc.

While relief from pain is an important issue in any hospital, and pain-relieving drugs certainly serve a purpose, the issue is severely clouded when pay incentives are offered as a result of drug prescriptions. A related issue is the use of kickbacks for doctors and psychiatrists when they meet a quota of psychotropic drug prescriptions. “Rx corruption” is a very real issue across many strata of the medical profession, including how drugs are approved and rated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Recent Spikes in Heroin Use

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and other tragedies – some high profile, some not – have brought certain situations to light. The rate of heroin addiction in the US is increasing once again. Death due to heroin abuse has gone up 45% over the last five years. Many heroin users attribute previous abuse of prescription painkillers to their new addiction to heroin. Once the prescription or the money ran out, users turned to heroin to satisfy their cravings. Heroin is often much cheaper than prescription drugs and can be easier to obtain.

Not only that, purer grades of heroin are now entering the United States at greater rates, producing a double effect:

First, the purity of heroin allows users to snort it rather than take it intravenously. This means a user who would be unwilling to shoot up may snort heroin instead. This does not mean however that they won’t shoot the drug later after they’re addicted.

Second, the amount of heroin available in the US keeps driving prices lower and lower.

The Dire Need for Real Solutions

Widespread use of opioids, pill addicts switching to heroin, difficulties in treating opioid addiction, poly-drug dependence, and other barriers add up to a formidable problem for those working to curb addiction in the US.

Those dependent on opiates must make the choice between addiction and eventual death, or treatment and a drug-free life. But the detoxification and rehabilitation industry needs to move into the 21st century when it comes to effective treatment. That’s why I created Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery, to provide workable detox and recovery for addicts based upon sound medical and holistic principles.

Through advanced and proven techniques, addiction can be beaten, the opiate epidemic can be a thing of the past, and a new life can be built. And the long history of opiate addiction can be altered for the better!


How the Right Rehab Can Make a Lifelong Difference for You

Lives Cut Short

It is estimated that alcohol dependence (alcoholism) reduces life expectancy by around 10-12 years, quite in addition to reduction in quality of life for the alcoholic and his/her family and associates.

Rehab Can HelpThe average life expectancy for drug addicts varies depending on the drug or drugs in question. But on the subject in general, the former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) had this to say:

What most people don’t realize is that the majority of long-term, hard-core drug addicts are dying in their 40s and 50s. The latest studies show that the life expectancy of a drug addict is 15 to 20 years after they start being a drug addict. So what we see is a replenishment of the population, a new crop of addicts. There are no 90-year-old heroin addicts. Most of those we were recording 20 years ago have died. The numbers are relatively stable, but they’re constantly being replenished.”  Dr. Alan I. Leshner, Director of NIDA (1994-2001)

Drug and alcohol abuse affects the physical health, mental acuity, and spiritual well-being of the user. Even when the addict or alcoholic does manage to stay alive, they pay a heavy price in terms of physical deterioration, broken relationships and a profound sense of emptiness.


Alcohol abuse can bring about irregular heartbeat, stroke, high blood pressure, cirrhosis (liver disease), to name a few of the more serious conditions. It has also been linked to increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, liver, and even breast cancer in women. Chronic drinking weakens the immune system, making the person more susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

And perhaps most tragically, every day in America, 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Drugs, Legal & Illegal

The adverse effects of illicit drug abuse and addiction are notorious. Not as widely known, but gaining more and more public awareness, are the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse, dependence and addiction.

Use of methamphetamine, for example, results in memory loss, aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, violent behavior, psychosis, lung damage, severe dental decay, heart problems and neurological damage, to name a few.

Abuse of prescription opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc.) can result in nausea, vomiting, constipation, slurred speech, cognitive impairment, as well as respiratory depression (slowed or stopped breathing) which can be fatal. Prolonged use can result in tolerance, dependence and addictive behavior. Withdrawal symptoms of opioids include anxiety, depression, cravings, aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, sweating and tremors.

The death toll: 100 Americans die each day from drug overdose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Choosing a Recovery Program

Probably I need not belabor the point any further. Drugs kill. Booze kills, at least when it’s abused or when people are so irresponsible as to drive drunk. So it goes without saying that quitting drugs and ceasing alcohol abuse can make a lifelong difference. But as any addict can tell you, it’s damn hard. Choosing a mode of recovery that you think will actually work is a tough call. Here are some major points to consider when choosing a detox and rehab program:

Compulsory vs. Voluntary Treatment

Very few people enter treatment truly voluntarily. There’s an old saying that all people are in treatment either because they’re court-mandated or “mommy mandated” – someone in their family has insisted on it. There’s a myth out there that you have to want drug treatment in order for it to work. That’s not true.”

-Dr. Alan I. Leshner, Director of NIDA (1994-2001)

Choosing a program that looks the easiest, where one can breeze through without really trying, is not effective criteria. Whether the result of a court order, an intervention, or an addict seeking help, you want something that will WORK – regardless of how easy or hard it appears.

Detoxification = A Drug-Free Person

The first stage is abstinence and detox. Certain drugs require additional medication and gradual reduction in order to safely detoxify. A form of “detox” which puts the person on a replacement drug such as methadone or even antidepressants is not truly detox.

Depression is symptomatic of drug addiction and withdrawal and it can also be the reason a person initially turned to drugs.

Depression is also often the result of nutritional deficiencies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and other medical conditions which are caused or exacerbated by substance abuse. Even allergies and hormonal problems can be at the root of depression. The person’s body can be starved of vital nutrients where it is effectively “eating itself up” – and one of the results of this is depression. Combined medical and holistic detox results in a drug-free person, whose state of mind is eased and who is ready for the next steps of recovery.

More than Twelve Steps

The most common system in use today is the Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). While many have benefited from the Twelve Steps, the idea that one is helpless and must surrender does not ring true for everyone. I personally did four different programs, all based on Twelve Steps, to no avail. Only when I recognized my personal accountability was I able to begin making progress. I found that there are alternatives that work and that each person is wholly unique. By working with holistic and evidence-based modalities, rehab can help resolve a wider swathe of human difficulties associated with drug abuse.

Systematic Progression

Rehabilitation is marked by progress, one step at a time. It’s not a magic pill or a one-shot proposition. A certain percentage of failures in rehab are the result of someone dropping out and not finishing a given program. It takes guts to confront these problems and it takes following through. When people follow through, they may find that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

I have found that an open-ended approach is much more effective. A person is done when they are done. Sending someone back out the door after 28 days because that is all their insurance covers is typically ineffective. It’s also not particularly compassionate. An open-ended, efficient, systematic approach, within the financial constraints of families, is what I aimed for when researching and building our program.

Don’t Be a Statistic

I’ve written several articles that list questions to ask any recovery program you are researching, be it inpatient or outpatient, conventional or holistic. Ask for the success rate, testimonials, types of therapies employed, faith-based components, physical rejuvenation methods, and other pertinent questions. Above all, don’t give up. Whether it’s you or a loved one, life is best lived without a chemical straightjacket. Choosing effective rehabilitation means making life livable again. Don’t be a statistic. Get help!


Tips for Pushing Your Team to Reach for Higher Standards

Striving Higher

Reach Higher

Reaching for Higher Standards

Running a company and having employees is challenging to say the least. Just the hiring process can be trying for all concerned. Firing someone is no fun at all. When someone is getting the exact same paycheck every week or every two weeks, they may be inclined to do only the bare minimum, to clock in, do the work, clock out, and that’s about it. That is valuable in and of itself; some people don’t even clock in; some abruptly give you a two-week notice; some disappear one day without a two-week or any other notice. But if you are an owner or manager, you’d like it if people did more than just show up. You want people striving; you want them reaching for higher standards; you want them aspiring to a something greater.

The People Challenge

Running a private drug rehabilitation facility has an “edge” when it comes to motivation. We help people turn their lives around. We save lives. I am fortunate in that my people are personally invested in what they’re doing. Many of them are former users who got clean and sober. But even if they never touched a drug in their lives, they know that they’re not in a typical 9-5 job. They know what it means when a new person checks into rehab. They know that if they don’t do a good job, it could spell a darker future for someone. So they make a point to reach for higher levels of efficiency and competence. And this goes for everyone from the detox unit to the van driver. There is however the added challenge – and it’s a big one – that we are dealing with human beings and the full gamut of human emotion and reactivity. People are emotional enough – add in drug addiction, withdrawal and rehab and you get an inkling of what we deal with.

Cultivating Motivation

But no matter what you do – fix transmissions, sell lamps on eBay, develop software, clean houses or serve coffee, having people that are genuinely interested and work as a team is truly invaluable. Large corporations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on motivational classes and programs, with varying degrees of success. But chances are you don’t have six figures to spend on that type of thing. Here are some tips:

The Power of a Game

Why do people endure grueling physical training to play sports when they don’t get a dime in return? Why do people spend 75K to risk their lives climbing Mount Everest? The answer is that people will do anything in order to play a game. A game has objectives or purposes. It has rules or barriers. And it has spaces or freedoms. To infuse more life into your business, make it a game! A game need not be complex: “Make the quota and we all go out to dinner” is a simple and effective game that anyone can get behind. But you can get more sophisticated than that: “Expand into a new market and gain international recognition from our peers and the public” is a game many people would work diligently to win. There is no limit in ways to instill life and action through playing a game.

Ensure People Know What They’re Doing

People get hesitant and act uncertain when they don’t really know how to do their job. You have a certain degree of expectancy that people know what they’re doing, and you probably hire based on skill and experience. But do not assume they always know everything there is to know about their jobs. Some companies deliberately hire people who are NOT trained so they can train them the way they want. They’d rather have a blank slate than someone who “knows” how to do something wrong. Regardless of your method, it takes a hands-on approach if you want it done your way. It takes writing up sound company policy and making sure it is comprehensible and that people actually read it. You can get very clever and provide individual job manuals for each position. When people know what is expected and know what they’re doing, they’ll act with heightened certainty and get more done.

Team Orientation

The people that work in a company are not individualized islands that do not communicate or associate with the other islands. A company or any group is a team. You know this and it is often chanted in slogan-like fashion. But it is true and should be manifested in your operations. One way to build a team is through DRILLS. Many drills exist that get people into action and working together. Some people may not fully understand their purpose, but they are extremely valuable in getting people to come together as a team. Another important point in team-building is to understand that the larger you get, the more you will have teams within teams – a large team is composed of smaller teams. Orienting and organizing your staff into teams has limitless impact on how much you can achieve.

Company Culture

Much has been written on how to cultivate a company’s culture. What is company culture? It defines who and what you are. What are your goals? What are your values? What standards do you uphold? What does being a member of your group mean to the individual? Company culture applies to how the company represents itself to its customers and the world at large, but it also applies just as much internally – what employees expect from one another, how they treat each other, the pride with which they conduct themselves. When looking to build your company culture, hold meetings with your people and get their input. Also look to other companies you admire, read about them and even talk to their staff to get an idea of how they operate.

The Creative Spirit

Providing avenues for people to be creative is an effective way to get them reaching and accomplishing more. This can take many forms, such as asking for ways to improve their respective departments, marketing and branding ideas, merging art and multi-media projects to advance the company, and countless other avenues. Creativity is a fundamental component in a company’s expansion. Involve your staff and get their input. When an idea came from within, people get distinctly interested and invested.

Set Clear Standards

It is vital to delineate standards within your company. Right along with familiarity with the know-how and details of one’s job, comes knowledge of the standards expected. A certain percentage of employees will adhere to those standards simply by knowing what they are. Others require more guidance. You also want people enforcing these standards on one another – associated with what we call personal pride. Standards are reflected in the final products but they factually start at the beginning of the “assembly line” and continue all the way to the end result. Ensure standards are clear and work to clarify any questions or confusions.

Quality vs. QuantityQuality vs. Quantitiy

Quality vs. quantity is an eternal question but it’s not too difficult to answer. The truth is that you need and want both. Quality is of course of utmost importance. If someone isn’t happy with the quality, they are not going to come back, speak well of you or refer others. But if they had to wait forever, they may decide it wasn’t worth it and likewise speak ill of you. So you constantly work on both. You’ll find that some people are prone to work for quantity and speed and may compromise quality. Others are obsessed with quality and take too long to do anything. So you work with people to strike a balance.

Reward Initiative

Anyone running a company appreciates individual initiative. You’d probably rather not have to issue specific directives (orders) if you don’t have to. You’d like people to act and fix situations without needing orders to do so. At the same time, if you do issue orders, you need them done. On top of that, if someone wants to implement something, it would be great if they ran it by you so you know what is going on. All these points sum up to initiative, orders, compliance, and coordination. It’s not terribly complex. Make sure people know what is expected. And when they act with initiative and coordination, reward it. You can reward it with a bonus, commendation, promotion, or other means. Reward individuals, departments, or your whole team.

Overall, there are many systems and strategies you can implement to push your team to reach higher standards. But ultimately and ideally, you need and want people pushing themselves without your help. This too can be worked on and achieved. It’s great to behold. Good luck!







10 Tips for Helping Your Employees Love Their Jobs

The more you love your job, the better you’ll do at it. But the reverse is true: The better job you do, the more you love your job. So if you can raise both simultaneously within your team, you stand to gain exponentially in terms of productivity and generally having a good time. Neat and tidy, isn’t it? In reality, it’s not easy. People get disgruntled. You try and help them do a better job and they bark back, go sullen or simply quit. Face it, people react and emote. They aren’t perfect. Despite the best of intentions, they aren’t always in sync with what you’re trying to do. Here are 10 ways to remedy these things:

1. Love your job first.

Happy Employees

Help Your Employees by Loving Your Job!

It’s hard to get someone to adore their job when you despise yours. As an owner or manager, if you are upset about things, it will rub off on people. So how do you love your job at all times when obviously that is impossible? There isn’t any rote answer to that, but a good start is determining why you’re there in the first place and deciding it’s worth it. Another way is making it a game and an adventure. Yet another way is to simply decide that you’re going to have a good time, and going ahead and having a good time.

2. When they aren’t doing it right, tell them.

In general, people appreciate – despite what they might tell you – when you tell them the truth. If someone didn’t do a good job, tell them so. If they don’t appreciate it now, hopefully they will later. Being honest doesn’t mean cutting them down. “You can’t do it!” is not accurate. “You can do it and here’s how…” is a much more helpful statement. The arts, for example, is a field rife with criticism. Without being hyper-critical, help people do a better job. When you do so, they end up feeling better about themselves. In fact, it could mark a turning point in their career.

3. Validate a job well done.

Obviously it works both ways. When someone does a good job, don’t hesitate to let them know. People really appreciate a pat on the back. It reinforces their good intentions and orients them to what is considered a “good job” at your place of business. You don’t have to make it a competition, and certainly don’t pick favorites, but telling the team when someone has done a particularly good job helps to motivate people. People also respond to the employee of the month system with the better parking spot. Just make sure it’s a game that anyone can win if they apply themselves. Additionally, do a survey or take it up at the next meeting to make sure you’re offering something people are genuinely interested in.

4. Find strong suits.

A good manager will note who is good at what and take advantage of it. People generally enjoy things at which they excel. Just because someone was originally hired for a specific job does not mean they must always do that job. A clerk with great communication skills could potentially be more valuable in sales or PR, while someone skilled in computers might do better in IT than in the storeroom. Always be on the lookout for special talents. You help your company while allowing people to expand their horizons.

5. Offer incentives.

There should be reward in doing a good job and reaching higher levels of productivity. Many corporations offer their employees a stake in overall achievement. A number of successful corporations are even employee-owned. Work out what incentives work for your business. You can set goals (targets) for productivity and issue a bonus or reward when they are met. It’s not always a bonus in their paycheck that people want, so doing a survey will help. Offer a number of choices plus a blank line for something not on the list. Get agreement on what they’ll move mountains for, and be sure to make good on any promises.

6. Foster creativity.

People like to work in a fun and creative atmosphere. In fact, such an atmosphere, combined with competence and professionalism, makes for a high-caliber workplace. You can tailor creativity to your own business and brand. Not everyone will do ‘70s Fridays or the outrageous cubicle contest, but you should cultivate creativity that integrates well with your company culture. For instance, I know of an organization that held staff talent shows and a writing contest. In so doing, they provided a fun outlet for their staff while uncovering previously unknown but promising abilities.

7. Be family friendly.

People love and live for their kids. They work long and hard hours all for their children. No matter what, we must enhance and mentor the next generation. Hold a family day where everyone brings their kids in. Tour the youth around the office or plant (adhering to safety precautions of course). Show them how their parents get things done. Many companies offer benefits for employees and their families. Survey your staff and find out what would help them manage their familial and job responsibilities better.

8. Listen to new ideas.

You employees have a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and how to do things better. They are right there at street level, so to speak, and they see up close what may not be visible from a distance. Listen to their ideas. Hold brainstorming sessions. Announce a competition for the best idea to solve a specific problem. Just make sure that in any contest, everyone wins something. When people know that their contribution matters, they feel better about themselves and are motivated to do better.

9. Hold people responsible.

Once you make sure someone knows how to do something, there comes a point where you hand over the reins. It takes trust. People want to be trusted and they aspire to live up to that trust. There are dishonest people around, and yes, you’ll get a few in your company. They either straighten up or they don’t last. Any group is built upon responsibility and trust. When you see that growing, you are witnessing your team maturing into its true potential. Pride is another crucial element in the equation. When people know they’re part of something worthwhile, when they take pride in their contribution, they do a good job because they want to, not because someone told them to.

10. Coordinate your strategy.

Let your team in on your goals, strategy and planning. Make sure these are foremost in people’s minds. Any team should have a clear concept of how their actions, no matter how “small” or “insignificant”, add up to the bigger picture. This is done by setting attainable goals and sound planning and their integration into each echelon of the company. It’s simpler than it may sound and can be summed up in the word strategy. Strategic planning and strategic action necessitate that all concerned are moving in the same direction. When strategy is crystal clear and communicated, organizational confusion will dissipate. Combined with all the above points and people really knowing their jobs, you can’t help but expand – and have loads of fun doing it!


Tips for Marketing Yourself as a Leader in Your Field

Thought Leadership

In our wired, wireless, digitized, cloud-based, internet age, the subject of“marketing” has taken on broader and broader meaning due to the vast number of channels
Leadership with which to market your company, your services, and yourself. While I do not claim to be a marketing expert, I have gravitated toward a leadership position by sheer necessity. I wanted to make a difference and I found that others did too, so I brought them on board. There is a buzzword buzzing around: thought leader. It means someone whose opinions others value. It’s someone regarded as influential on a specific subject (or in general). It’s who people respect and listen to. A lot of people are trying to market themselves as thought leaders by using social media and other electronic means. While this can have value, it can also terribly misfire if done wrong. How does one successfully market oneself as a leader in a given field?

What is Real Leadership?

If you wish to market yourself as a leader, the first thing you’ll have to do is be one. You have to be a leader, period! What is a leader? It is someone who sets out to do something and who elicits the cooperation of others. A leader points to the horizon and says “Let’s go there!” and others follow. A leader isn’t necessarily the one appointed as having power or authority in an “official” capacity. After all, what is “official”? Let’s say it’s a government or learning institution. Who bestowed that authority? People did. People like you and me. Just read some of the documents of America’s Founding Fathers and you’ll begin to see that any “authority” is only bestowed in order to serve others, nothing more. Authority does not exist to benefit the one given authority. Any leadership is a privilege.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Many leaders have the ability to affect people emotionally. That is why artists become leaders. They use art and aesthetics to instill an emotional impact or convey a story or message. But there are different kinds of leaders. Some people influence others by being excellent communicators or making living an art form. Some are simply so good at something, so competent that others fall silent when they speak. A rare breed of leader is all of the above.

So you have to decide what kind of leader you are. What defines you as a leader? What are you offering the world? People want things that make their lives better. Any leader worthy of the title knows that when they are leading, they are really serving. A leader – to be a true leader – has to walk the walk. You have to excel at something, whether it’s an art form, a science, a business, a profession. Maybe you just have a way of reaching people. Whatever your field, you should have a good grasp of what makes you a leader in it.

Personal Branding

You may have heard of branding. It’s another buzzword that means identifying who you are. What are your core values? What is important to you? When people hear your name, what do you want them to think of? What is your message? What is your mission? Personal branding relates to you as an individual or as a leader in your respective field. Working this out requires some soul-searching because you’ll have to talk and act accordingly, and it must be honest. People will detect when it is false. You’ve got to be yourself.

Leading by example means if you represent certain values, you had better exemplify those values in your words and actions. Another way to put it is demonstration of competence. Do you achieve the intended and stated result? And when things do not go as intended or stated, do you then persevere until the result is achieved? You may ask what all this has to do with marketing? Factually, it has everything to do with it or you don’t have anything to market.

Money = Energy

Some seek to achieve leadership status through giving money. This is a valid pursuit but it is not everything. Money is energy. It is a means to an end. When I give money I make sure it is for something I personally believe in. But I don’t leave it at that. I get personally involved in whatever it is. If I’m going to donate to something, whether it’s a school or a baseball field, I want to ensure the results are achieved. If you have the resources to invest or donate, make sure it is something that aligns with your personal brand of leadership.

Marketing Channels

There are an infinite number of channels with which to market yourself or your mission. Be sure to research them out so they align with your aims. If you don’t have the time or know-how to do this, you may need enlist others’ help or hire a firm. Potential channels include websites, blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos, news media, email, infographics, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), PR events, interviews, public speaking engagements, and many others. You can write a book, either by writing it yourself or hiring a ghostwriter. The purpose of writing a book is not necessarily to sell millions of copies, but to identify yourself as an author who possesses knowledge and experience, and to use this fact in an array of other channels. Whatever channels you use, it is important to be consistent and not waver from your personal integrity and unique identity.

Your Message & Your Mission

Act on channels that are near and dear to you. For me, helping young people is the number one priority. In light of this, I focus on the channels of education, sports and the arts. For two decades I’ve been helping people get off drugs and lead better lives. A lot of them are young people. Some are not. For youth, I wish someone had reached them earlier so they never used drugs in the first place. For the older ones, they tell me that if they only knew years or decades earlier what they know now, they never would have wandered down that road. So I work a lot in drug education and awareness.

I use the avenue of sports not just because I love sports, but because it is a great way to get kids off the street and channel that youthful energy into something healthy. I use the arts and music not just because of personal appreciation, but because it gets people’s attention, affects them emotionally and drives home a positive message.

There are many negative messages these days on television, in music videos, on social media, etc., but there are also people who bring positive communication and guidance. I consider them allies and have teamed up with educators, athletes and artists who bring home that creativity and positivity. I work with like-mined individuals and organizations in order to forward our message. Whatever your field, choose channels that relate to your expertise and your mission.

Impart Knowledge

People flock to the internet these days in search of knowledge. Knowledge is a commodity. Unfortunately, there is a lot of dubious information out there. Impart knowledge that people can use. Write articles or blog posts, conduct interviews, and use other means with the purpose of providing people with useful knowledge. Just make sure it is something you know something about. Normally this would be your specific area of expertise, but it can also encompass other fields for which you have a connection or passion. You can utilize all the internet criteria, analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), etc., but remember that you are imparting knowledge and wisdom and making personal contact.


But it goes way beyond the digital realm. As a leader, you are expected to mentor others and guide them toward a higher level of survival and prosperity. You are the one pointing to the horizon and telling people, “Let’s go there!” Don’t let them down.

Why ‘Smart Drugs’ Are Not a Smart Choice After All

A New Drug Trend – Smart Drugs

Nootropic: A drug used in an attempt to enhance memory or other cognitive function.

Smart Drugs

Smart Drugs – Good or Bad?

There’s a new set of drugs gaining popularity and they’re called “smart drugs” or “nootropics”. These drugs are considered the “legal” answer to amphetamines. That is, a drug which is supposed to enhance energy and speed thinking. The concept is that there is a pill that literally makes the individual smarter.

These drugs are used all over the academic world and in other high-pressure industries. According to a study done by Columbia University, 62% of students report using prescription drugs to study, stay focused, play sports or to get an “edge” in some other activity. Another study done by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital showed that prescription stimulant use has increased in the United States by 75% over a seven year period.

What are Smart Drugs?

The name “smart drugs” covers a wide gamut of medications. These include “wakefulness” drugs Provigil and Nuvigil which are commonly prescribed for the serious sleep disorder known as narcolepsy (a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep). However, it’s fairly easy to get a prescription for these drugs. Many individuals tell their doctor they have to travel for work and therefore suffer from chronic jet lag. Others skip the doctor and order it illegally online.

There are other drugs whose manufacturers state will increase the user’s concentration and which fall into the category of nootropics. A large group of these consists of various chemical formulations known as racetams. Drugs in the racetam grouping are believed to improve cognitive function in the elderly and are considered by some as an option in fighting cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. According to studies, these drugs have no cognitive benefit when used by a healthy individual.

There are also vitamin and herbal supplements which are referred to by some as “smart drugs”. Two common nootropic supplements are New Mood and Alpha Brain. New Mood claims relaxation and reduced stress while Alpha Brain states it improves brain function. Both supplements contain B vitamins, which are natural building blocks of the brain’s cells. Vitamins are nutrients which are used or produced by the human body and are by definition not drugs. Herbs however can fall into various categories. Some concern has been expressed regarding the herbal portions of some of these nootropic supplements, specifically an herb known as Huperzine A. One doctor stated in an interview that this extract can induce psychosis if taken in very high quantity all at once.

Do Nootropics Really Make You Smarter?

More people seem to believe they can reach the sci-fi dream of obtaining knowledge through a miracle pill. The question remains: Do these nootropics make anyone any smarter?

The short answer: No. Different types of nootropics have very real downsides. The main one being that, while a drug may appear to briefly increase concentration, this state does not last. The perceived concentration or intelligence is really just a temporary effect or is in fact a delusory effect. Amphetamines or any other stimulant drug, including caffeine and nicotine, will make the brain more active for a short period of time. When a human body has been operating in a state of wakefulness that is not natural, there are always consequences. When the drug wears off, the brain activity slows down to sub-normal. The user will then seek more of the drug in an attempt to induce the same effect, and each time the slow-down occurs. No one gets any smarter. The brain and body just get artificially stimulated. The user will tend to feel rather dull and fatigued after a while.

Other Problems with Nootropics

Prescription drugs which are used to treat sleep disorders, such as Provigil and Nuvigil, have very definite problems.

These drugs do not treat the underlying causes of tiredness and exhaustion. Much like amphetamines, they only boost the individual into a state of wakefulness. This means that the user may be exhausted due to sleep deprivation, adrenal fatigue, malnutrition, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems, viral infection, and even undiagnosed heart disease. Treating only the symptom of exhaustion may cover up severe health problems which need immediate treatment. Treating solely the symptoms rather than the causes is dangerous to one’s health in the long run.

Prescription energy enhancers have serious side effects, which include:

  • Headache, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness, burning or tingling of extremities
  • Peeling skin
  • Difficulty concentrating or exercising good judgment
  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Frenzied or abnormally excited behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Delusion, hallucination
  • Chest pain
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Addictive behavior

There are also adverse side effects associated with the racetam group of nootropics, which include:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Reduced ability to focus or concentrate
  • Decrease in short-term memory
  • Feeling of disconnection from one’s surroundings
  • Depression
  • Dependence upon these drugs in order to concentrate
  • Addictive behavior

The Cause, Not the Symptom

Individuals taking the racetam family of drugs are often attempting to treat an inability to concentrate or some cognitive dysfunction. Such problems can be symptoms of real, treatable medical conditions including: sleep deprivation, dehydration, Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, heart problems, anemia, low blood pressure, a reaction to other medications, multiple sclerosis, thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, hepatitis, diabetes, tuberculosis, problems in the digestive system, and kidney disease.

Those are just a few of the many medical issues which could cause lower concentration levels. Many people suffer from asthma or allergies without even knowing it, and there are a whole series of tests which can be done to pinpoint such problems. Anything going on physically can also have a profound mental effect on an individual.

Real Problems = Real Solutions

There is no “magic bullet” which will allow a human body to work for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with perfect concentration. Drugs can make one feel invincible for short periods of time, while they slowly or quickly bring about physical and mental deterioration.

Problems and Solutions

Real Problems – Real Solutions

The real solution is maintaining one’s health. If you or someone you know has a difficult time concentrating or is chronically exhausted, they could have an underlying physical condition, the treatment of which may resolve the symptoms being experienced.

Your best bet is a practitioner who is versed not only in general medicine but in a field such as nutrition, naturopathy, chiropractic, etc. These studies, while they do not supplant “conventional” medicine, offer a holistic view. Anything focused on the cause of something and not just the symptoms is worth looking into. Similarly, disciplines which do not employ addictive, psychoactive drugs are far more likely to help an individual lead a healthier life.

Maintaining good diet, exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, a healthy lifestyle, abstaining from psychoactive drugs: All of these things add up to better brain health, more energy, and an overall sense of well-being.



Self-Efficacy: What Influence Does It Have on Addiction Recovery?

What is Self-Efficacy?

Per Wickstrom

Success It depends on you!

The term self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations, complete tasks, confront challenges, and achieve objectives. Self-efficacy is synonymous with self-confidence. It means you have confidence in your own abilities and you have a tendency to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do. Self-esteem (a favorable opinion of oneself) and self-respect (proper regard for oneself and one’s dignity and principles) play a significant role in an individual’s self-efficacy and self-confidence. All this talk of self-this and self-that may lead you to believe that someone must be self-centered and narcissistic to get anything done, but that is not true at all. Underlying all these things is another, more fundamental concept: SELF-DISCOVERY. 

Who Am I?

I’ve heard it said that there is one plot to every story and every film, summed up as “WHO AM I?” While one could argue the point, it is true that “Who am I?” is the central plot device in countless books, plays and movies. The hero endures adversity, has trouble dealing with it, and eventually comes to terms with who he really is and realizes his true potential, usually emerging victorious. They come up with some sort of answer to “Who am I?” and this is reflected in their actions. Perhaps it was their actions in the face of adversity that led them to discover who they really are. Arguably, the sole exception is the Clint Eastwood character “The Man With No Name” who has a good grasp of who he is from the very beginning!

Life however does not play out like a movie, particularly when faced with a serious problem like drug and alcohol dependence. What role does self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-discovery play in addiction recovery? As it turns out, quite a bit.


When someone has confidence in their abilities, they have a tendency to persevere on a given course. They are not easily deterred. If someone has tried quitting drugs several times and failed each time, when their willpower was never enough, they will fall into a defeated state of mind. In recovery – when it is effective – the addict or alcoholic is helped through this dilemma. This does not mean “cheerleading” them through it, but rather guiding them through exactly defined steps. The ability to persist on a given course must be built up one step at a time.

Addictive Traits

Many addicts have a specific personality trait, which is that when they decide to start doing something, they have a lot of trouble stopping. This is the other side of the coin when it comes to persistence. The word addiction indicates one cannot stop doing something. When one is addicted to something destructive, it wreaks havoc in their life and the lives of those around them. But someone can be addicted to something beneficial like exercise or be obsessed with their work (called a workaholic). Exercise and work are good things. Anything can be taken to an extreme, but going to the gym all the time is substantially better than compulsively popping pills or shooting drugs in one’s veins.


In recovery, we can take the tendency to persist and obsess and turn it to our advantage. People can find things that interest them and re-direct their attention. It could be virtually anything as long as it is not harmful to the individual or those around them. There is the word sublimate which means to re-direct or modify an impulse or energy (usually one that is unacceptable in some way) into a culturally higher or aesthetic activity. Sublimation is a means by which one can re-direct an addictive impulse into something creative or conducive to survival.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. famously got off drugs and re-directed his impulses and artistry into his career, his family, and his adherence to the martial arts discipline of Wing Chun. Anyone getting off drugs would do well to discover creative and constructive pursuits with which to re-direct their impulses and energies – all part of the equation which starts with “Who am I?”

Positive Orientation

I’m sure you’ve heard the mantra “think positive” and felt more than a tinge of cynicism. The person telling you to “think positive” hasn’t walked in your shoes, so how could they have any idea what you’ve been through? That may be true, but a positive orientation is nonetheless invaluable. If you are convinced you’ll fail, you’ll fail (and if you happen to not fail, it was pure luck!) Positive thinking and positive doing go hand in hand. It’s not enough to think something. It takes doing. Success breeds more confidence – and more success. Failure breeds more apathy – and more failure. So it becomes even more crucial to maintain a positive outlook in times of adversity. In holistic rehab, techniques are employed to help a former addict assemble and reaffirm their positive outlook and re-build their confidence.

From the Ground Up

Success at Work

Achieving success during recovery.

It is often necessary to build self-confidence. Not everyone is born with it nor does everyone maintain it throughout their lives. Drug addiction drains the life essence out of people and with it their sense of self-worth. So, the approach is brick by brick, from the ground up. Two of the fundamentals which must be addressed are confront and communication. By confront I do not mean opposing in a belligerent manner. Rather, it refers to being able to face up to one’s problems and life in general instead of running away or going numb. Communication means being able to listen, expressing one’s thoughts, reaching people, being in harmony with others. Confront and communication work together and form the foundation for a successful existence.

Influencing Factors

When interviewing people who’ve been drug-addicted, one particular factor comes up time and time again: They have associations that fuel and exacerbate substance abuse. They have “friends” who are drug users and it is virtually impossible to stay clean with these associations. These are people that need help just as much as the person trying to get clean, but in order to get clean and stay clean, the user must sort out who to choose as friends. These are the people that are pushing drugs on the user, either because that is just “what they do” or because they are selling drugs. At the very least they are using and talking about drug use. None of this is healthy for someone trying to get cleaned up.

It is similar for the alcoholic but even more delicate. A lot of their legitimate friends are social drinkers; they can have a few drinks and stop. The alcoholic cannot stop drinking. So the friends must either refrain from drinking around the alcoholic, or the alcoholic must stop attending social occasions where people are drinking. Some former alcoholics can refrain from drinking even when there is booze in the room, and some thoughtful groups of friends know how to monitor who is doing the drinking. But the exact strategy should remain at the discretion of addiction specialists and the recovering alcoholic himself or herself.

Secrets & Lies

Nothing cripples self-confidence quite like secrets and lies. People want to be honest with their family and friends. When they aren’t, they punish themselves in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, even without realizing it. Keeping secrets and lying is unfortunately a big part of the addiction problem. But who wants to hear someone moralizing and telling them how to act? The correct angle then involves helping a person realize their own sense of personal integrity, one step at a time. Drugs change personality; people don’t act like themselves anymore. The recovery process helps them re-discover who they are. In the past they didn’t want to find out about themselves because they knew they wouldn’t like what they found. But as they go through the process, they come to see themselves much more clearly – and they like what they see this time.

The Hazards of Labeling

Quite a few “disorders” are diagnosed not by scientific or medical testing but by lists of arbitrary behavioral attributes. Such labeling is detrimental – if for no other reason than it often leads to drugging the individual. And what are those drugs? Psycho-stimulants, benzodiazepines, and others which easily lead to dependence and addiction. So for “rehab” to slap labels on people and give them more drugs counteracts the purpose of rehab. Young people get labeled with various disorders, are put on psychoactive drugs, get addicted, and wind up in rehab to kick the habit. Holistic rehab does not seek to perpetuate this vicious cycle. When young people realize they can succeed and prosper without drugs, they do substantially better in life.


When a person has been told enough times that they are inferior, sick, criminal, and things of this nature, they’ll start believing it and telling themselves the same thing. When others make less of them, they’ll follow suit and make less of themselves. By isolating who told them what, and enlightenment on the truth, we give a person a serious boost in self-confidence. In fact, such self-affirmation can mark a turning point in a person’s life.

Alignment of Forces

Once someone gets a little momentum going in their life, it is wise to “align forces and flows” – meaning to coordinate actions in a positive and constructive manner. Let’s say a recovering addict decided to go back to school and get a degree: A good idea would be a degree which is practical and can be used to build a career. If he needs to work at the same time, getting a job which doesn’t put him in the vicinity of drug users would also be of importance, and a rehab facility’s aftercare department could be of assistance in that regard. Meanwhile, his family may wish to help make things a little easier in the transitional period. These things and many more add up to aligned and coordinated actions.

All told, self-efficacy and confidence are considerably bolstered through self-discovery, perseverance, sublimation, positivity, confront, communication, re-orientation, honesty, self-affirmation, setting goals, intelligent planning, hard work, and team action.

How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction

The Depths of Despair

finding hope during your addiction

How to find hope during addiction.

I for one can speak from personal experience on the subject of hopelessness. I was addicted to alcohol and cocaine for years. I had started using these substances at a young age and for a while thought I was invincible. But gradually things got worse and worse. I hit several points that I thought were “rock bottom” only to find I could sink even lower than that. I tried four different rehab programs but relapsed every time. I was without hope. Later on, I started upon a new program yet again. But something was different this time: It seemed to be working! It helped me come to terms with who I was, versus this “other personality”. It turned out this “other me” wasn’t me at all. It was a personality brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. That was one realization I had.

As I progressed I had many more startling realizations. This was all in addition to full detoxification from the devastating effects of chemical abuse. By the time I was done, I felt like a new person. Only I wasn’t really a new person. I was simply me, but this time I was more than happy with that. A “new me” wasn’t the end of it. I decided my purpose was to help others by using the same principles that had pulled me out of my own personal hell of hopelessness and despair. It became my driving purpose to help others free themselves from the chains of addiction.

Biochemical Causes

Addiction can appear utterly hopeless, and there are many reasons for this. A primary one is the effect drugs have on the biochemistry of the individual. “Biochemistry” refers to the complex interaction of chemicals (substances, fluids) within a living organism, in this case the human body. The body breaks down food, vitamins and nutrients into chemicals which it uses to function properly. Drugs and other toxins are foreign to the body and disrupt its natural biochemistry, in particular the nervous system and the intricate system of over 100 neurotransmitters (chemicals produced and used within the nervous system and the brain).

One profound way that a drug interferes with biochemistry is that it will trigger the release excessive amounts of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals are released in small quantities by everyday actions such as eating an apple or going for a jog. Drugs trigger a flood of these chemicals, which accounts – at least in part – for the “high” the user feels. But as any drug user will tell you, the high is commonly followed by intense depression as the body goes back to its normal (or lower) level of neurotransmitter flow.

The upshot of this is that the body is “fooled” into perceiving it needs more of the drug to “feel good” again. This vicious cycle gets progressively worse and worse as the individual uses more and more of a drug – to the point of severe dependence and addiction. As we all know, some drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamine are known for producing such a level of addiction that the addict will act extremely irrational – even psychotic – depending on the length and severity of the addiction. As if that weren’t enough, drugs deplete the body of vital nutrients and vitamins, making addiction even harder to overcome.

The Value of Detoxification

The addicted individual’s body has been drained of its natural nutrients while at the same time it craves a drug or drugs in order to obtain a chemical high. The person experiences dramatic highs followed by abysmal – even suicidal – lows. It is a roller coaster ride that is – to put it mildly – simply not fun anymore.

The addict who feels hopeless must recognize that they are putting the body through an arduous series of ups and downs and the immediate answer is DETOXIFICATION. Detox is the action of letting the drugs exit the bloodstream. A thorough detox process results in drug residuals leaving the tissues of the body. Detox should be done in a supervised setting for the comfort and safety of the recovering addict. Attempting detox without help is not advisable nor is it safe.

Rehabilitation and Trust

Once the person is off drugs, the process of rehabilitation begins. There are always underlying issues at the root of addiction. In other words, physical addiction is very real indeed, but it is never solely a physical problem. Rehab works to deal with these fundamental problems.

Many people who have fallen into addiction have trust issues. They instinctively do not trust anyone who claims they can “help” them. Establishing a degree of trust, even a little at a time, is essential for the rehab process. That is one reason former addicts do so well with recovering addicts. An addict will often feel that anyone who has never been addicted could not possibly understand what they are going through, and they are in many ways correct. But a former addict understands all too well. No matter the setting, the value of someone who really listens and understands is immeasurable.

Drugs Change Personality

How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction

How to Find Hope in Addiction

Drugs change personality. A once bright and cheerful person can change into one who is depressed, angry at the world, without a sense of hope, without purpose. Anyone struggling with addiction must recognize the fact that the addiction is rigged to perpetuate itself. In other words, addiction is wired to bring about continued addiction. By its very nature, it is difficult to escape. Simply understanding these facts is a good first step. Then comes the recognition that something can be done about it. This is immediately followed by the willingness to at least try.

Change of Environment

An inpatient setting for recovery is usually the best approach. This is because of the value of the CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT. In the person’s current environment, he or she continued drug abuse, thus there is probably something wrong with the environment. So we change the environment and provide a safe space in which to recover. From there we look at what environmental factors have been causing or exacerbating the addiction and take effective remedial action.

The Spiritual Element

Quite in addition to addressing the physical and mental influences of addiction, one must not neglect the spiritual side of existence. Faith, religion and spirituality are of course unique to each individual. No one should force anyone to believe anything. But if a person feels they should be looking at the spiritual aspects of their addiction and their life in general, they should be encouraged and helped in doing so. Countless people have found renewed hope when they have fallen back on faith and sought spiritual guidance. It can make all the difference.

New Friends

An addict often needs to make new friends. Plain and simple, they need to hang out with people who are not drug users. This takes some getting used to, and it is often in rehab where this occurs. They are in there pitching with others in the same boat. Everyone there is bailing water, so to speak, in order to stay afloat. They are part of a group with a worthwhile objective and this makes a huge difference.

A miracle I have witnessed countless times is the addict or alcoholic who starts taking responsibility for other people. They look beyond their own personal problems and see that others have had it just as bad or worse. They start to lead by example. This can mark the beginning of a new life for the individual, one where they care for themselves, their friends and their family. The idea of “hopelessness” doesn’t even exist after that. There is an abundance of hope.

Finding a Purpose

After emerging from the hell that was my addiction, I found a purpose: TO HELP OTHERS WHO HAD FALLEN INTO ADDICTION. This was two decades ago and I have not looked back. Anyone can find a purpose for their life, a higher calling, the thing that gets them up in the morning and motivates them to do better each day. Without a destination, without a strong sense of purpose, we are just drifting with the tide – we are not in control. To take control, it is necessary to decide upon a constructive goal.

The first goal of an addict is to “get more drugs” or “stay high”. Given some insight, they hopefully change that to “conquering the addiction”. When the addiction no longer has a firm grip, it is vital to formulate new purposes or rekindle the old ones that were abandoned. Adopting new objectives, new interests, and a new level of self-discipline in order to pursue those objectives and interests are all part of restoring hope and faith in oneself. There is indeed hope after the hopelessness of addiction. More hope than you could possibly imagine.

Debunking the Stigma About Rehab: How and Why It Works

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, ‘No, no, no.
Yes, I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know.
I don’t ever wanna drink again, I just…I just need a friend.
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks, have everyone think I’m on the mend.
It’s not just my pride, it’s just ’til these tears have dried.”

 -Amy Winehouse (1983-2011) from “Rehab”

Tragic Consequences


Tragic Consequences

British singer Amy Winehouse was a revelation in the music world with her diverse blend of musical styles that included soul, jazz, reggae, and pop, all accented with a soul-drenched voice which at once evoked the best of Motown while sounding altogether modern. Amy Jade Winehouse was found dead in her London home on July 23, 2011. The cause of death, ruled in October 2011 and again in December 2012, was “accidental alcohol poisoning.” Amy’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse was a favorite topic for the cold and twisted glare of the tabloids both in the US and in Britain.

Her award-wining song “Rehab” was autobiographical. On the influence for the song, Amy stated, “I asked my dad if he thought I needed to go. He said no, but I should give it a try. So I did, for just 15 minutes. I went in said ‘hello’ and explained that I drink because I am in love and have screwed up the relationship. Then I walked out.”

Why the “Stigma”?

Why do some perceive there is a stigma about “going to rehab”? Why do people refuse to go to rehab when it could obviously do them a great deal of good and could even save their life? What does “rehab” even mean?

Rehab is short for rehabilitation. To rehabilitate is “to promote or restore happiness, success, health and vitality to an individual by training and therapy after addiction, illness, or imprisonment.” It means “restore to a previous condition,” “bring ability back,” or “return what was missing or lost.”

Some attach a stigma or negative connotation to drug and alcohol rehab because a person who is addicted is often slapped with one or more labels from the get-go. Their “behavior” is deemed unacceptable to society at large and they are already made to feel like an outcast or outsider in various ways.

Let’s get something clear, when “rehab” is in the “behavior business,” when it seeks to judge and label people, it is prone to failure. On the other hand, rehabilitation geared toward helping people to be more themselves, which helps bring out the inherent goodness in people, is prone to success. Rehab should NOT have the purpose of “making someone normal.” Its focus should be on assisting and positively guiding an individual in raising their level of survival, happiness, health and vitality.

UntrDebunking the Stigma About Rehab: How and Why It Workseated Addiction

In a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 23 million Americans, from age 12 on up, need treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse. However, only about 2.4 million receive that treatment. Thus almost 21 million individuals go untreated. Those numbers are conservative at best as they do not take into account the 49 million Americans that take prescription psychotropic drugs on a regular basis. A large percentage of these individuals, though they may or may not abuse these drugs, suffer from what could be termed Rx addiction.

The First Step: Detoxification

While the government’s “War on Drugs” seeks to slow or stop the illicit drug trade, only effective rehabilitation will help the drug addict with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make life a living hell. The first step of rehab is detoxification. “Going it alone” or “cold turkey” is dangerous and highly inadvisable. Modern and effective detox systems employ medical and holistic approaches to help an addict or alcoholic through withdrawal in safety and relative comfort. It doesn’t do much good to talk to a heroin addict about their “relationship problems” while they are experiencing the pain, sickness and nausea of opiate withdrawal. The combination of medical and holistic methodologies makes withdrawal comparatively painless, but only after detoxification is accomplished and the person is reasonably comfortable do we even attempt the next steps of rehabilitation.

Causes and Results

Rehab confronts the CAUSES and the RESULTS. It looks at what caused or motivated a person’s drug or alcohol abuse. And it looks at the results and ramifications of that substance abuse. This should not be done by telling someone who or what they are or how they should think and act. One of the most effective tools for use in rehab is EDUCATION. In countless cases, a person started into drug use because they didn’t know how to handle something and sought an escape, an “out,” through drugs. They sought to numb or suppress an emotion, pain, problem or dilemma. The drug use then overshadowed the original problem. But what if they knew how to treat the original problem? What if they were educated in how to solve problems and trained in skills to effectively deal with their lives? Such education and applied knowledge becomes a primary focus of holistic and evidence-based rehabilitation.

Getting Back Self-Respect

A recovering addict or alcoholic will benefit from looking at the results of their substance abuse, in regards to themselves and others around them. This is not always easy as it requires one look at any wreckage they may have personally caused. Again, this is not accomplished by labeling someone or telling them they’re a bad person. In most cases they are willing to look, which is an excellent start. True, others did things to them which must be significantly addressed, but ignoring what one did to others is a fatal mistake. Why? Because it denies the person the opportunity to restore their sense of integrity, responsibility and self-respect! Recovery of self-respect and self-esteem is integral to the rehab process.

The Whole Approach

Holistic implies addressing the WHOLE person, their BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT. That’s not a catchphrase. It breaks down to providing a number of paths for individual recovery. These include: Dealing with underlying medical issues, physical fitness, healing practices such as acupuncture and nutritional development, cognitive therapy, group workshops, training on personal responsibility and morals, as well as faith-based and spiritual recovery. All these and more combine to form what we term the holistic approach. It is the polar opposite of pigeon-holing people, telling them how they should think, how they should act or what they should be. You will find that when rehab adopts a guiding, helping, individualized, and educational approach, the vast majority respond with heightened responsibility, love for others, and a desire to build a better life for themselves, their family, their friends, and the world at large.

Self-Imposed Exile

The “stigma” of rehab is often self-imposed. A person feels their pride may be shattered if they admit they have a problem or if they admit they are unequipped to deal with the problem alone. But their pride could spell their hospitalization or their death. The primary tool used to get through this first barrier is COMMUNICATION. Sometimes an organized intervention is necessary. Ideally, an intervention is NOT a surprise attack or a bait and switch. A person can be told they are requested at a family meeting or can even be told it is an intervention ahead of time. The approach used depends on the individual and the circumstances involved. But regardless, the purpose of intervention is still communication. If done right, the result is realization.

Freedom from Drug Abuse

Is there a stigma to rehab? Only a false one! Anyone attaching a stigma to it is at the very least not helping and at the worst actively trying to prevent recovery. As far as the self-imposed stigma is concerned, one could ask the question, what is more stigmatizing: “I did rehab and I am living happily drug-free” or “Found dead by overdose”?

Effective rehab techniques have put full recovery squarely on the map. A drug addict or alcoholic can recover and live successfully without the devastating burden of a chemical straitjacket. And no one needs to sacrifice their individuality. Quite the contrary, such things as individuality and creativity are augmented through effective, holistic techniques. A rehabilitated existence is marked by health, vitality, knowledge, and a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment.