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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Addiction: The Guitar Versus the World

Many consider Eric Clapton one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Few people can deny his contribution to rock and roll and the Blues. Those of you working in the field of addiction medicine or are working programs of recovery might be aware that Clapton’s career came with a lot of heartaches. You may also know that the former Yardbirds' guitarist also founded an addiction treatment center on the island of Antigua in 1997.

Eric Clapton, like many star musicians, struggled with alcohol and heroin for a long time; but as he said in a 60 Minutes interview back in 1999, his desire to be an excellent father to his son helped him decide to seek addiction recovery.

"When he was born, I was drinking and he was really the chief reason that I went back to treatment because I really did love this boy," recalled Clapton. "I thought, 'I know he's a little baby, but he can see what I'm doing, and I'm tired of this.'"

On March 20, 1991, Clapton’s son fell to his death from the 53rd-floor window of his mother's friend's New York City apartment. Such a tragedy would be any parent's worst nightmare, yet Clapton found a way to carry on with life.


Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars

"I thought that if I stopped drinking and I stopped using drugs… I would not be able to play anymore."

One could argue that tragedy is a prerequisite for becoming a blues musician, with that in mind Clapton is certified. In a new documentary, Clapton’s life is brought into focus, both the good and the bad; the first half of the feature shows the road Clapton took to make it in the music industry, the second part is about how music saved his life.

Clapton gave an interview to Rolling Stone recently, where he talks about the Showtime documentary "Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars." He discusses the difficulty of finding recovery in an industry where, at the time, one could count on little support. It was his manager Roger Forrester who finally confronted the brilliant guitarist for Cream. When Clapton finally decided to seek treatment, it was his manager that he called in 1982.

“He packed me up and sent me off to [the rehab facility] Hazelden. When I got to Hazelden, I had to sign this thing saying who is your significant other,” Clapton told Rolling Stone. “Anyone else would have put a family member—or my wife. I was married. But I put him. Because he was the only one who would stand up to me and call me out.”

Sober now for decades, Eric Clapton found that he didn’t need substances to write music after all. He is currently working on his next studio album. Please take a moment to watch the official trailer:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Addiction Treatment

Deciding to seek help takes tremendous courage, but it’s a choice that will change your life and allow you to have a future. Please contact Whiteside Manor to begin the journey of recovery.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Supporting Recovery This Thanksgiving

People in recovery have a substantial amount to be grateful for today and every day. When you woke up, you got on your knees and prayed for guidance, rather than plotting how you will get drunk or high today. On this day, you asked yourself how you can be of service to your fellows in recovery, as opposed to asking what others can do for you. In recovery, we are no longer driven by self-will or consumed by self-defeating behaviors; instead, we endeavor each day to be a better version of ourselves.

Everything mentioned above is accomplished by remaining steadfast and committed to a set of principles. Through honoring the traditions of those who came before us, we can be an example to the brave men and women who will follow. We achieve our goals by committing ourselves to something higher, acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers and, at times, what we think is the right next move is not in our best interests, after all. Through working a program of recovery, we begin to see our errors in reasoning and learn how to look at life in a new and different way. In time, people in recovery discover their real potential made possible by their daily commitment to improvement.

Recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum; each of us relies on one another for guidance and clarity regarding the right action. Isolation is no friend to abstinence, left to our own devices we drink and drug. Together, people in recovery work the problem of self and are benefited significantly by collective insight. In any given room of recovery, one finds hundreds of years of examples of how not to handle a situation. This network allows us to learn from the errors of others, lest we make the same choices. With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, and all, it’s important that those new to the Program utilize the tool that is fellowship. Together, we can make it to Friday without using drugs or alcohol.


Grateful Support

In active-addiction, it’s everyone for themselves; in active recovery, it’s all for one and one for all. If you intend on abstaining from drugs and alcohol this Thanksgiving, then we implore you to plan your day around your recovery. Doing the opposite will likely present problems, potentially leading one on a collision course toward relapse. It’s entirely vital your recovery remains priority number one, turkey and cranberry sauce can wait—your program can’t.

Addiction recovery takes precedence over everything else; which is a fact you’re probably aware of already. However, gentle reminders never hurt in putting things into perspective and refocusing your efforts for recovery. You probably have plans for tomorrow, maybe they involve friends and family. If so, be sure not to stretch yourself thin, in every family, there is a member who taxes one’s serenity to the nth degree. Spending time with family is nice during holidays, but we implore you to go to a meeting before (preparation) and after (decompression) family gatherings. Loved ones can trigger a slew of emotions which can affect your spiritual connection. Taking preparatory measures to protect against such an eventuality and taking time to debrief afterward will protect you from veering off course in the program.

Attending meetings tomorrow will give you an opportunity to discuss what helps you manage holiday stress. What you share with others might help someone who is struggling; your words might bring another back to reality. Once again, we are a fellowship, and all of our successes in life are inextricably connected. Your achievements and guidance empower others and vice versa. All of us should take a moment tomorrow and appreciate the gift that is fellowship and be grateful, remember that when it comes to addiction—we are the lucky ones.


Help Is Close

Even with a plan in place, some people might encounter problems. It’s important to have your phone charged and handy at all times. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, call your sponsor; or get to a meeting, you may want to do both. Whatever you need to do to protect your sobriety, do it; even if that means cutting family time short, your loved ones will understand. All of us at Whiteside Manor wish you a safe and sober Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Opioid Epidemic Affects Native Americans, Too

opioid addiction
The scourge of opioid addiction in America is a crisis that can’t easily be solved. Addressing the situation has proved to be a real challenge for at least three Presidents, especially regarding opioid addiction. Alcohol and substance use disorder have been and will always be a problem in the United States. The best that anyone can hope for is mitigating the number of new cases and treating individuals already plagued by the disease.

On numerous occasions, we have discussed how the epidemic faced today is somewhat different than drug scourges of this nation’s past. Specifically, how drug use was mainly considered an inner-city problem, with suburban and rural cases few-and-fare between. The opioid epidemic, on the other hand, disproportionately affects people living in rural America.

A couple weeks ago we spotlighted a story in The New Yorker about how opioid-use is killing off generations in small-town America. Just as “crack” cocaine was widely viewed as a poor-black American problem, opioids are affecting poor-whites. Further evidence that addiction doesn't discriminate, everyone is eligible regardless of their background or skin color. However, the general focus on opioid use disorder and overdose in America has not covered a couple demographics.


Scope and Scale of the Opioid Epidemic

Over the years we have discussed how Native Americans have been affected by prescription opioids. Reservations across the country have been hit especially hard by opioid use and overdose deaths. Unfortunately, the discussion about opioid addiction in rural America often glances over peoples with a long history of disenfranchisement. Native Americans and native Alaskans are underrepresented in discourse about opioid addiction, The Washington Post reports. Even though of all the minority groups affected by opioid use disorder, data indicates Native Americans have been impacted the most.

“The epidemic is especially centered outside cities and among Native Americans and whites,” writes The Washington Post's Paige Winfield Cunningham. “Deaths rose by 325 percent over the same period when you look only at rural areas, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. Death rates among black Americans have more than doubled, though they have risen at a lower rate than among other races.”

Such startling statistics dictate the need for increased addiction treatment funding on or near reservations. If Native Americans can’t access treatment, the chance of recovery is slim to none. Expanding access to substance use disorder treatment in rural America has proved to be one of the biggest challenges to combating the epidemic.


Native Americans Addiction and Recovery Program

At Whiteside Manor, we have treated Native American men and women for alcohol and drug dependency problems for more than a decade. We understand the unique needs of Native Americans and can help you or a loved one find recovery. Please contact us today.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Opioid Addiction in Small-Town America

opioid overdose
In this week's issue of The New Yorker, the “Faces of an Epidemic” were on display. You probably know which epidemic is referred to here, the opioid addiction epidemic. The article is comprised mostly of pictures from photographer Phillip Montgomery, with four paragraphs provided by essayist Margaret Talbot.

Phillip Montgomery took his camera to the front lines of the opioid crisis, small-town America. He captures solemnly the devastation wrought by opioid use disorder, the rifts it leaves in communities. Nothing is uplifting about this article, but it’s eye-opening and should be digested by as many readers as possible.

With all the national attention this issue has received, there has only been limited progress. Overdoses continue to mount, addicts struggle to access treatment, and the death rate grows. Talbot points out the quietness of this tragedy and the “delayed sense of calamity.” Or, as the Montgomery County, Ohio, coroner says: it’s a “mass-casualty event,” but one played out in slow motion.


Refrigerated House of The Dead

The article provides some figures worth keeping in mind, data that will hopefully lead to greater action. Well over 50,000 Americans die from overdose every year. Opioids are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Just to put that into perspective, overdose takes more lives than:
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Gun homicides
  • and AIDS at the height of the epidemic.
The bulk of photos taken and on display in The New Yorker are from Montgomery County. The area lost 127 people to overdose in 2010; a number that nearly tripled last year with 349 deaths. There were sixty-five overdose deaths in January of this year, alone. The morgue is short on space; as a result, the coroner is renting refrigerated trailers and space from local funeral homes. Talbot writes:

“If there’s hope at this moment in the epidemic, which killed more than sixty-four thousand Americans last year, it’s that many people in the harrowing center of the crisis want it to be witnessed. They want the depths of the problem acknowledged. There is courage in the willingness to be seen, and that courage is on display in Philip Montgomery’s photographs…”

Please take a moment to watch an interview with Phillip Montgomery:

If you are unable to watch, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

Overdoses are reversible, but there is no guarantee that naloxone will work, especially when synthetic opioids are involved. The most effective way to avoid overdose is to seek addiction recovery. Those who seek help find that life in recovery is possible; they discover that living life on life’s terms is possible.

Please contact Whiteside Manor to begin your journey of recovery. We will teach you skills and provide you with tools that will help you keep your disease at bay. With the help of a program of recovery, you can live a life free from drugs, alcohol, and the risk of overdose.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Promoting Mental Health At Work

mental health
October is an important month for people in addiction recovery, particularly for those with a dual diagnosis. Hopefully, you were aware that last week was Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), and this past Tuesday was World Mental Health Day (WMHD). The critical events, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) respectively, raise awareness about mental health conditions.

During MIAW, the goal was to raise public awareness about various mental health conditions, including:
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Depression 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Psychosis 
Those of you in dual diagnosis recovery understand that mental health is dependent upon treating the substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorder. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish, but with the right kind of help, it’s achievable.

Most people go without treatment for far too long resulting in disease progression. Thus, people arrive at treatment facilities barely clinging to the will to live. Putting off recovery is overwhelmingly dangerous, and it’s quite often the result of stigma. The shame people feel about their condition(s) hinders their ability to seek assistance. Individuals fear repercussions from deciding to do something that will improve their quality of life. That may sound paradoxical, but it’s no less valid.


Consequences of Mental Health Treatment

People fear that which they can’t understand. Mental illness, and being diagnosed with one, is terrifying to most individuals. Psychological health conditions feel like a curse to those who are afflicted. The average person touched by psychiatric disorders fears what will happen if they seek help; they will no longer be able to deny the existence of a problem—treatment makes it real. Conversely, if they don’t recover, they may lose their job because of their abnormal behavior. The symptoms of depression or anxiety can make getting to work a real chore. Even arriving at one’s desk does not make the symptoms less burdensome.

Such people also have the fear of talking about their problems with a boss. They are afraid of how they will be viewed moving forward. If they ask for time off to address their disorder, people speculate that they will get fired, even when it’s unlikely. On Tuesday, World Mental Health Day was about encouraging employers to be supportive of their employees' mental health. The World Health Organization asks employers to exercise compassion concerning mental illness. WHO provided some statistics to highlight the prevalence of anxiety and depression:
  • More than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide.
  • More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders.
  • Struggling with both conditions at the same time is not uncommon.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
A failure to promote mental health results in people turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated mental illness. The outcome of which is never positive, substance use only makes one’s problems worse. What’s more, many substances have the power to cut life short. On the other hand, WHO writes:

“Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.”


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance use is not an efficient way to cope with symptoms of mental illness. It’s a behavior that often leads to dependence and addiction. If that happens, one must receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously to achieve recovery. Do you have depression or anxiety disorder and substance use disorder? Maybe you have loved one who fits this description? Please contact Whiteside Manor to discuss treatment options. Please do not let shame and fear stand in the way of recovery.