All posts by Concerted Care Group

Five Successful Sobriety Strategies for the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and with them come the challenges to stay sober and still have a good time. The good news is: It can be done!

Thanksgiving and Christmas should never be looked upon as a depressing time for those of us who are sober and want to remain that way. There are millions before us who have not touched a drink or drug over the holidays and made it just fine. However, just like our becoming sober and staying that way, it can’t be done it doesn’t have to be done alone. We have a few strategies for you to employ during the next six weeks that should help you not only keep stay sober but still enjoy the holiday season yourself, substance-free:

  1. Don’t sit still for too long. Idle time can be where the trouble starts dangerously. Instead, get up and get moving! Hike, walk, run, bike, and just be of service to your family and friends. Run in the annual turkey trot race. Set the table, cook the stuffing, or clean the house. There are hundreds of productive things you can do with your time.
  2. Set boundaries and keep them. We all have our “emotional triggers” and most of them can come from our loved ones. One heated conversation with a family member can set tick us off and send us to the local bar to seek old comforts and fall into bad habits. Don’t let that happen. Instead, set boundaries. Make sure they know that your loved ones know politics, religion, relationships, or any other topic you outline that may be contentious and should not be brought to are not on the table for discussion. Keep conversations with family members on lighter, kinder,  and more respectful friendlier topics. Let them know that you don’t want to get into anything that may cause you anyone irritation. If you need to, leave the table and take a walk to cool off. Let them know you have boundaries now and you are keeping them.
  1. BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage). Going to a party is fine. Going to a party without your own preferred beverage is a mistake. Run to your favorite grocer and get the non-alcoholic drinks you like whether it’s a soft drink, sparkling water, iced tea, it doesn’t matter orange juice or chocolate milk. Bring it with you to the event and enjoy it. You will be less tempted and have fun anyway!
  1. Be thankful. Whether you have been sober for three weeks or thirty years, you should be thankful that you have made it this far. Life can be difficult and you aren’t perfect. Accept what you cannot change and work on those areas that you can change. There is no need to be in control of everything around you. It’s impossible. Your sobriety has opened your eyes to the fact that you have your space and it’s better now. Be grateful for that.
  1. Keep your friends close. Have a friend or two you can reach out to when you are feeling stressed. Your sponsor, spouse, BFF, pastor, rabbi, or neighbor whom you can trust and confide in whenever you need to do so. Make sure they have your back someone you can trust knows you’re depending on them. Keep a journal, too. Write down your thoughts or record them. Whatever you do, don’t keep it all inside.

There’s an old saying about sobriety: “I’d rather stay clean than have to get clean all over again.” If you do the 5 steps listed above you won’t have to get clean all over again. Don’t let the upcoming holidays get you down. You can do it.  It’s one more milestone to celebrate with your success.  

If you or someone you know needs substance abuse treatment, consult one of our experienced counselors. The Concerted Care Group of Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn, MD, has a compassionate behavioral health team that includes therapists, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychiatric and medical providers a nurse practitioner, and a psychiatrist. Services include individual, group, and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Group therapy and psychiatric services are available for adults.

Contact us at (833) CCG-LIVE to make an appointment.

Substance Abuse Treatment: Opioid Addiction and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on opioid users as overdoses in the United States have increased by 18% since quarantine orders were issued in March. *** Depression, lockdowns, anxiety, unemployment, deaths, and erratic news stories have all been factors in the spike of these numbers.

So, now that we have experienced this pandemic, once it’s over will the COVID vaccinations work? Most opioid addiction treatments (OUD-Opioid Use Disorder) include methadone and Suboxone for long term management of what is known to be a chronic disease. 

More than forty states have reported a steep increase in opioid-related deaths. Mental health issues have been heaped on drug users as they turn to illegal drugs to cope with the pandemic. The federal government is providing assistance for treatment options but states are responsible for providing and monitoring treatments to people to avoid leaving their homes, to avoid congregating in clinics, because of fears of COVID, and due to mandates to reduce exposure risk. Maryland, where Concerted Care Group is based, had a slight increase in deaths from drug and alcohol intoxication during the first quarter of 2020 as the lockdown was getting underway.

Opioids, however, caused almost 90% of the fatalities in Maryland during the first half of 2020. The synthetic opioid fentanyl killed 1,100, or 83% of “overall cases”, a 12% uptick from 2019.

What are we to make of these statistics? How can we possibly reduce opioid-related fatalities during a pandemic? 

There are ways we can help friends and loved ones who are struggling during this time. Here are five ways you help:

  1. If you notice someone you work with or employ is continually renewing an opioid prescription for lower back pain – please work together with employers, friends, and health insurance consultants to ensure we plan and design programs to meet employees’ underlying health conditions. They should also be assigned a treatment counselor to follow the course of their care.
  2. Employees should not flush their unused prescriptions or throw them away as this is a hazard, both environmentally, and to those who may come in contact with controlled substances inadvertently. Instead, distribute drug deactivation and disposal pouches for scientifically proven, safe, at-home drug disposal.
  3. Employee education programs that explain opioid addiction, treatment, and safe drug storage and disposal should be implemented. 
  4. Make individuals who are prescribed controlled substances accountable by visiting them at least weekly to make sure they are not relapsing into addiction. If they are not a member of Narcotics Anonymous, they need to get a sponsor and join as soon as possible. Ask a physician for a referral to a medical professional in addiction medicine. Then, take the patient in for treatment yourself. Asking them to go on their own may be too great a step to do.
  5. Be encouraging.  Let your friend or loved one know that opioid addiction can be managed successfully, even during a pandemic. Don’t be confrontational. Be compassionate and strong. Insist that they get help and that you and others will be with them from the consultation with the physician to the treatment. Studies have shown that support goes a long way.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a complicated life and opioid addicts have paid the price. Many of them have hit new lows and have suffered. But, even in these times, there is help and recovery. Substance abuse is a treatable disease and recovery is possible.

The Concerted Care Group of Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn, MD, has a compassionate Behavioral Health team that includes therapists, psychiatric care, and nurse practitioners. Services include individual and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Group therapy and psychiatric services are available for adults.

Contact us at (833) CCG-LIVE to make an appointment. 

For more information on how the COVID pandemic has affected Opioid users, click here. 

Inside Baltimore City

Today the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will take a step in a positive direction to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. The HHS will announce a regulation to permit doctors to treat more patients with buprenorphine. The medication, which has been approved by the FDA for nearly 15 years, is the only drug whose prescription by a physician is limited by congress. The Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, applauded the HHS stating: “I commend HHS for making a decision based on science, not stigma.” Dr Wen explains, “When prescribed properly, medication does not create a new addiction, but rather manages a patient’s disease so that they can successfully achieve recovery.”

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