Now is The Best Time to Begin Your Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery Starts Now

The best time to start your addiction recovery is now. If you’re wondering if you should do something about your drug use or dependent behavior, then it’s high time you start looking for help. The past is the past, whether it’s a year ago or a mere five minutes ago – and there’s no way to go back and do something in a time that’s already gone. But you can do something now, in this moment, a moment wherein you’re alive and have the means to live. The future is uncertain and not set in stone and putting the choice to get better into the future’s hands means not knowing whether that time will ever come.

If you are at the point where you’re asking yourself if you need help, you probably need help. Start your treatment today.


Define Life by the Now

Mindfulness techniques are an important part of mental healthcare. That is because a big part of struggling with mental illness – including addiction – is the fear of tomorrow, and the lingering regret from yesterday. Anxiety and depression are fed in part by twisted visions of what was and what could be. You get caught up on old mistakes and become anxious of repeating the past, filling your mind with what-ifs and what-abouts. These questions and scenarios worsen over time, and addiction amplifies them, making you crave release from the pain and confusion.

By letting go and focusing on the moment – on making things right, right now – you gain the incredible ability to pull your focus away from past and future and define your life by the present.

Mindfulness techniques, like breathing, focusing on a physical or mental task at hand, reflecting on your current feelings, and trying to meditate – more than just ways to pass the time, these techniques teach you to relax and stop worrying over what cannot be changed, or what could be, but does not have to be. Life is not predestined or set in stone – every moment is forged by the actions we take and choose to take, and once you start your journey into recovery and move away from addiction, you gain the ability to choose what you want to do, instead of spending every waking moment struggling for the next high, the next release.


The Importance of a Question

If you have asked yourself if you should get help, then it is likely that you need help. Addiction is not just a disease that attacks you from the inside, fighting against your brain, your personality, and your behavior – addiction often comes with the tragic side-effect of denial.

We live in a society where struggling with addiction is not very much like struggling with sickness. Instead, it is often seen as an incurable disease associated with violence and weak moral fiber. As a result, being addicted often means being judged, shunned, and looked down upon – for many, the stigma of addiction is too much to bear, and would jeopardize their positions in life, including their job, or their relationships to others.

To avoid the ostracizing that addiction often unfortunately causes, many people deny their symptoms, and even go so far as to involuntarily turn a blind eye to their own behavior. It is not until other people make it clear to them that they are being self-destructive and harmful to others than many people begin to realize how far they have come. Sometimes, that triggers the realization that they need to get help – at other times, it can trigger the realization that there is a discouragingly long road ahead to getting better. People fear that addiction cannot be cured, or that they are too far along. Or, possibly, that it just is not the right time.

The truth is very different. Addiction has nothing to do with a person’s morality. And there is no such thing as too late when it comes to treatment – if someone is alive, they can get better. While addiction is not a choice, addiction recovery is – you must choose to get better, and that starts by acknowledging that you need to get better. It starts today. It starts here.

Addiction is a scary nemesis to face for anyone. It can affect anyone, anywhere, and while it disproportionately affects people in high-stress and low-income situations, addiction can also be a problem for the affluent, the socially and financially successful, and other individuals we might see as fulfilled or otherwise happy and privileged.

Regardless of what your lot in life is, there are many resources to help you fight the disease and get support in your effort to stay clean. Some people think that part of addiction is the disciplined and strict effort of abstinence, and that a single failure spells the doom of your entire concerted effort. But addiction recovery is a process that takes years, bringing you from a dark place to a place of understanding, forgiveness, and self-love – often, over the course of several relapses and bitter lessons.

It begins with a question. Should I get help? The answer, if you are asking, is yes. More specifically, you need to get help now and start the road to addiction recovery.


Addiction Recovery Going Forward

As previously mentioned, addiction recovery takes time. During this time, there will be moments of weakness and doubt. Times when you want to desperately give in. Times when the stress of the outside world and everything in your life is so overwhelming that the need for release seems too much to resist.

Treatment, therapy, steps, and lessons will not do you much good when the craving becomes unbearable. But that is why we need friends and family – support to keep us on the straight and narrow, care for us and our sobriety when we feel our control slipping away and be there for us when we feel at our most alone, and at our most vulnerable. Surround yourself with trusted loved ones and keep them close in times of stress. Repay them with gratitude, and a commitment to your own accountability and growth as a person.

With time, it becomes easier to resist the relapses – you begin to tell when one is coming, and why it is coming, and you learn to live with the cravings, denying them, starving the addiction of every hope of returning, so you can completely focus on living a life worth living in sobriety.

Again: it begins with a question. The answer is simple. The best time to get clean is now – and no matter how long your journey takes, no matter how often you may circle back, as long as you start moving and never stop, there’s ultimately no where to go but forward.


How to Determine the Best Sober Living for You

Best Sober Living for You

The best sober living homes are communities designed to provide a drug-free environment for individuals struggling with addiction. Unlike residential treatment, sober living homes are structured similarly to the outside world, necessitating social participation, housework, and the fulfillment of certain responsibilities – from finishing school to seeking employment – in order to help tenants build a good work ethic, find self-discipline, and take control of their lives. Sober living homes also often work with residential clinics and other facilities, to provide a better and more comprehensive recovery plan.

Yet sober living homes share different philosophies, amenities, programs, and facilities. Finding the right one will take some time, and a lot of reflection.


Shop Around For The Best Sober Living

There are hundreds of sober living homes around the country, catering to individuals from all walks of life, struggling with all manner of addiction. However, some specialize, or set themselves apart with specific rules and philosophies. Some are stricter than others, abiding by principles that are not universally shared.

Don’t be afraid to look around, compare, and figure out what kind of structure you need in your life and which is the best sober living for you.


Gender-Specific or Co-Ed?

Men and women face different challenges in addiction, and addiction treatment. Men are more likely to struggle with addiction in general and consume more drugs. But women are more susceptible to addiction after beginning drug use, and they struggle more with mental health issues, as well as symptoms of depression and self-harm. While a substantial amount of men struggle with addiction due to a history of risk-taking and experimentation, many women begin their drug use as a way to cope emotionally with pain.

For women, addiction can also be one of many consequences from a long life of violence and loss, and treatment for them is best sought among other women. For men, living in an environment separate from women can help them focus entirely on their recovery and develop a brotherly bond with other men, fostering a kind of encouraging environment not always found in co-ed sober living facilities. By catering to a specific gender, certain facilities and communities can focus on the unique differences between male and female cases of addiction, while addressing each individual.

It’s important to note, however, that statistics don’t determine a person. There are women who first got addicted not because of violence or pain, but risk-taking. And there are men with deep histories of trauma, suicidal tendencies, and depression, for whom addiction had been a way to cope with terrible loss and sorrow. People come from all walks of life, and all sober living homes realize that on top of treating an entire community as a single unit, they have to cater to each person and their unique issues.

Co-ed environments provide the benefit of a more realistic mixed experience, where men and women can go about their day together, returning to split living quarters afterwards. Some might suggest that transitioning from a single-gender community to the outside world is harder than a co-ed environment, but all sober communities focus on teaching their tenants how to cope with the challenges of living a sober life out in the real world, regardless of what kind of gender structure the community follows. Determining the best sober living for you is about your needs in a recovery community.


How Supportive is the Staff?

A knowledgeable, caring, and experienced staff is crucial in the best sober living option for you. If you cannot trust the people working for the community, and cannot trust in their ability and know how, then you won’t be able to make any progress.

Part of recovery is finding someone who can guide you through the hoops to come to the conclusions you need to commit to your sobriety – but if you feel conflicted by the staff’s philosophy or commitment to tenant care, then you’ll be uncomfortable, and not in the right state of mind for recovery.

Being uncomfortable with certain stages of recovery is normal. But there’s a difference between being uncomfortable with the message and its implication and being uncomfortable and anxious about the person conveying the message.

It’s important to like your therapist. There will be times when you will be told things you may not want to hear, and your mind will search for ways to discard these things, by attacking the person’s credibility and eroding their trustworthiness in your eyes. But if you can trust in them, then you will be able to overcome these initial feelings and come to see that they have your best interests at heart.


Best Sober Living: Keeping Reputation in Mind

At the end of the day, a medical practitioner, tax attorney and artist all have one thing in common – no matter how passionate or skilled they are, they are running a business, and offering a service. It’s important to feel comfortable with the prospect of your sober living home, and excited at the idea of giving it a go – but be sure to do your research. If you’re looking for the best sober living environment for yourself or your loved one as your next step in recovery, be sure to sniff around.

In the past, doing so was not exactly the easiest thing in the world. You could ask around and hope to get lucky, but it’s only with the information age and the beginning of social content and communication like forums and instant messaging services that people began to realize how the ability to publicly share and compile data could push businesses to be more honest, transparent, and consumer-friendly. This goes for all businesses across all industries presenting themselves online – and a poor online reputation is often a red flag.

Dig into any sober living homes and see just what former tenants have to say. Tempering your expectations and hype with real reviews from real people can give you a better insight into what to expect. Remember that there will always be people looking to malign others through the internet, so take in several reviews and make a judgment call on which reviews are most likely to be genuine.

Ultimately, moving into a sober living facility for the first time can be scary – so it helps tremendously to set your worries aside by hearing first-hand what others thought about the staff and scheduling. While horror stories do exist, the best sober living homes are renown for outstanding facilities and amenities, solid treatment, a strong and forward-thinking philosophy, and a long list of former tenants whose lives have changed considerably and for the better after staying at a sober living facility.

This will be your new home for a while, so choose wisely. With the tips above and some help from friends and family, you’ll be sure to find the best sober living for your recovery journey.

The Point Of No Return

Point of No Return from Addiction

It stars off as a hobby, or a habit. Maybe it’s just a little something you do every now and again to take the edge off. Or maybe it’s helped you through a part of your life, and you know you need it to function. Regardless of what shape or form it takes, addiction is always a slippery slope, and most people only realize their habit has become destructive and has shackled them a long time after they reached that point of no return.

There is a moment when an addiction is born, and the brain clicks in just the right way. Understanding how and why is the key to defeating it – and freeing yourself.

But make no mistake. There is no going back to the past after that invisible point of no return. The person you once were is gone – but you can choose to become someone better.


What Is Addiction, Truly?

We are at a significant crossroads in the battle against addiction where the neurobiological condition of addiction through substance abuse has gone through decades of research and thorough analysis to arrive to today’s definition and understanding, while we still struggle to accurately define or explain addiction caused through repetitive harmful behavior.

Food, sex, and gambling addiction causes changes in brain chemistry similar to drug use – but because of their rarity, most definitions only focus on substance abuse and the impact it has on the brain, bringing about the neurological factors that put a person in a state of addiction.

In that sense, DSM-5 has recently included gambling as a form of behavioral addiction, suggesting that further research is needed for other common forms of compulsive behavior, such as internet addiction and sex addiction.

Yet our definition for addiction through substance abuse is quite firm – addiction is a brain disease characterized by an inability to stop craving and taking a specific drug, despite clear and harmful consequences and an understanding of them. Common symptoms of addiction include lying often to cover their habit up, denial, excessive risk-taking, diminished problem-solving and critical thinking, and career and relationship problems brought about by an excessive amount of time and energy spent seeking the next high, neglecting responsibilities and social duties.

Rather than a moral problem, or a matter of choice, the psychiatric community in the US recognizes addiction as a brain disease that changes the brain to think and feel differently, because of drug use. Understanding how these changes occur, and how people end up at the point of no return can help you better comprehend addiction and find a way to overcome it.


A Slippery Slope To The Point Of No Return

When you take an addictive drug for the first time, your mind may react very powerfully to it. Drugs bind to receptors in your brain’s cells, mimicking naturally occurring neurotransmitters. This causes your brain to send unique signals through your cells, telling you to feel happier and feel less pain through opioids, for example. However, these drugs are also often so powerful that the body immediately tries to adjust to them, getting used to their effects and diminishing their efficiency. In other words, it learns to metabolize these drugs quicker.

At the same time, continued drug use changes your brain’s chemistry, turning the drug from a foreign substance into a need. You begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, and powerful cravings approaching the point of no return. Each high is a little less powerful than the next, so you up the dosage. In a controlled environment, substance dependence can be treated medically and professionally. Yet out on the streets, one bad hit from a batch of heroin infused with something as deadly as fentanyl can kill you in minutes.

The point of no return – that moment when your drug use becomes an addiction – it’s different for everyone, and depends on several factors including gender, body size, mental state, genetics, and the drug you’re taking. Families with a long history of addiction are predisposed to develop a substance abuse disorder if exposed to drugs, while other people are resistant to one form of addiction, but not another.


The Difference Between Using And Addiction

It’s important to distinguish between using and addiction – but to emphasize the danger of using. Millions of people across the globe use drugs without developing a substance disorder – the most obvious example being the casual consumption of alcohol throughout the world.

Alcoholism exists anywhere where alcohol exists, but it’s always a fraction of the population. The same works for other drugs, yet with different figures. Not everyone who takes a drug is predestined to get addicted, either.

But that does not change the danger of drug use. Alcohol remains a poison to the body, and many struggle with moderate use, even if they don’t fit the bill for an addiction. Drugs like cocaine or heroin are stronger than a beer, but all forms of addiction can be equally dangerous, depending on the person and the circumstances.

Prescription painkillers caused today’s opioid crisis, but it’s not the patients who become addicted, but their friends and relatives. A very small fraction of people getting legitimate prescriptions for opioids get hooked on them, yet the overabundance of opioids on the street because of drug pushing has led to easier access to these powerful drugs.

The point is to understand that addiction does not happen immediately – it’s a gradual change, with a tipping point that is hard to come back from. We cannot see it coming, and we usually do not notice that we’ve gone over the edge until we’re deep in the abyss.


Getting Help

If you think you’re struggling with addiction, or you know you are but are hesitant to seek out help, stop hesitating. Realizing you have a problem is a big and important step, but you must gather the courage to open up about your problem to a professional and sign yourself into treatment. You can step back from the point of no return, you just need to take the first step.

Addiction treatment has come a long way – treatment facilities today address each patient individually, foregoing cookie-cutter treatments and instead utilizing careful diagnostics and probing to determine what kind of treatment you really need, and why.

Some people respond best to individual treatment, while others prefer group therapy. In some cases, art and music is the answer – for others, it’s pounding the pavement or hitting the weight rack. In some cases, medical assistance is absolutely required during withdrawal, and some people need medication to wean themselves off their addiction.

Some manage just fine checking in once a week with a professional to help manage their cravings and stay sober, while others check into a residential treatment facility to get away from it all and seek sobriety in a guaranteed drug free environment.

Your path will be unlike any other, and ultimately, you alone must walk it. But you can seek help and support from professionals, friends and family, to make sure that despite every little stumble and fall along the way, you’ll always get back up, ready to keep going forward.


Mental Health Month: A Critical Eye on How Drugs Affect the Mind

Drug addiction is a scourge – but we must rationally separate the disease from the person. For decades, this country has operated under the guise that addiction corrupts people and marks them as worthless to society due to their inability to provide economically. It gives up on many who become addicted, and in general, society looks towards people struggling with addiction as flawed or dangerous, or both. Despite advances in human rights, there is still a powerful stigma against not just addiction itself, but those whose mental health suffers under it.

Rectifying this is paramount to a society where addiction is less of a problem, and potentially eliminated. Often, addiction is identified as a chronic brain disease and can affect mental health. While food and sex addiction exist, it is very rare and separated from drug addiction through the distinction of addictiveness. Things like sugar, sex and gambling can turn into an emotional dependency, but physical dependency to drugs like alcohol and heroin is caused by how your brain interprets and reacts to these substances.

Understanding how the brain reacts to drugs – and understanding the mental health of people struggling with addiction – can help people distinguish the disease from the person, and set aside moralistic ideas for a better, more scientific approach.


Drugs And Your Mental Health

Drugs affect the your mental health because they bind to specific receptors in your brain’s cells. Basically, the structure of a cell is as such that it has certain ports for the entry and exit of different intracellular elements. In the brain, brain cells have ports that receive neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters affect the way you feel and think and play a role in many other physical and autonomous functions.

What drugs do is they bind to the cells in the guise of natural neurotransmitters, thus making you feel a certain way.

Taking alcohol as an example, once alcohol enters the bloodstream, some of it passes through the blood-brain barrier – a special membrane to keep most foreign elements out of the brain – and it attaches itself to the neurons’ GABA, serotonin, NMDA (memory) and acetylcholine receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that affects the way you move – as an agonist, alcohol’s effects on the brain through the GABA receptor lead to slurred speech and trouble walking.

As it also binds to serotonin, on top of releasing your inhibitions and slowing you down, it also makes you feel good – being tipsy is the combination of alcohol’s effect on your chemical happiness, combined with the way it alters your brain’s ability to control movement.

A separate effect happens with each drug commonly used today. Opioids slow the body’s respiratory system and numb pain, while inducing euphoria. Stimulants like cocaine give you a massive jolt in both happiness and motivation, while taxing the heart muscle and reducing appetite.

These drugs are all highly addictive, and completely different from hallucinogens like LSD or magic mushrooms, but all impact your mental health in a negative way.


How Addiction Starts

Psychoactive drugs include anything that manipulates or changes the way you think drastically. Sugar isn’t psychoactive, even though the consumption of sugar naturally releases endorphins. Caffeine, however, is psychoactive, even though its effects while consumed as a beverage like coffee or tea are negligible and cannot be classified as clinically addictive.

LSD is also psychoactive, but not addictive – while it also binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain, LSD has not reportedly been the cause of any overdose or addiction, and its main attraction is its ability to induce vivid visual hallucination.

What sets drugs like alcohol and heroin aside from the rest is the sheer overwhelming power with which it attacks your brain. Caffeine can make you feel a bit more productive and increase anxiety slightly at high dosages, but alcohol will change the way your brain functions and alter your brain’s structure through repeated excessive use. The same goes for heroin, cocaine, nicotine, and other addictive drugs. Their effects cause the brain much stress, and as a coping mechanism, it tries hard to develop a tolerance against said mental health effects.

This tolerance backfires, however, as it also deadens your brain towards many other sensations. In short, as an addiction progresses, it becomes the only thing in life that still satisfies you, and this produces an emotional and psychological obsession that affects your mental health. Addiction is born.


Why Addiction Is Hard To Beat

Addiction is a matter of both emotional and physical dependence. As an addiction progresses, the brain and the body have a harder and harder time to let go of the drug and live without it. Attempting to do so without waning off first might lead to symptoms of withdrawal, which range from flu-like with drugs like heroin, to possibly fatal for drugs like alcohol.

Emotionally, addiction either causes or is caused by a need to escape from reality, making the prospect of completely committing to reality through sobriety both very daunting, and not very attractive.

Getting high keeps you happy and staves off the shakes and the pain. Going sober only makes your body crave the drug more, to the point where you feel like a thirsty man in a hot desert, with no sign of water or civilization in view anywhere, on any horizon.

The mental health and motivation necessary to overcome that feeling must be immense, which is where addiction treatment jumps in.


Getting The Help You Need

Addiction treatment has come a very long way from the days of old, and we’ve developed countless psychiatric and medical tools to help combat the effects of addiction, in some cases lessen the power a drug has over a person and utilize therapeutic tools – from alternative medicine to talk therapy – to develop a patient’s mindfulness and get them through the early days of recovery.

A unique mix of factors surrounds each case of addiction: causes, circumstances, possibilities, and more. Reputable professionals evaluate these factors and develop a treatment plan concurrent to each case, without opting for a cookie-cutter approach. To combat addiction effectively, the medical and mental health community recognizes that specificity matters.

All roads lead to Rome – choosing the one right for you may take time, but if you don’t stop moving forward, you will get to your destination. In the case of addiction, that destination is the point at which you’ve become completely comfortable with your sobriety, and no longer fear relapse. It can take months, years, or decades – but each step of the way is worth the effort it took to make that step.

The Negatives Of Addiction For Those Around You

Negatives of Addiction | Transcend Texas

A common misconception for addicts in denial is the idea that their habits are only hurting them, and no one else. They see themselves as in-control and capable of stopping if they wanted to. Yet the negatives of addiction, regardless of whether you’re in denial or completely aware of the nature of your actions, is deeply damaging not only to you but to those around you as well.

As a disease, addiction primarily affects the user. Drug users are all susceptible to developing an addiction, with numerous factors contributing to the chances of becoming physically dependent on a drug, and psychologically addicted to its effects. But addiction is more than just a disease – or just a choice, for that matter. It’s a complex condition, one that affects several lives per case. Here are some of the ways in which the negatives of addiction affects those around you.


Generate Conflict Between Spouses

Partners will feel it first and feel it the hardest. Being in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction can be incredibly frustrating and at times very painful – especially if they fail to acknowledge their problems.

Spouses or partners may at first begin doubting each other, harboring suspicions, and eventually feeling betrayed when realizing that their significant other has been stealing away to use or drink or has been drinking excessively. If they happen to react defensively upon being confronted, things will only get worse. Fear and shock turn into contempt, as fights draw out, and eventually, the the negatives of addiction grow to the point that help is needed.

Before getting treatment, an addicted person can cause a lot of havoc in their relationships with other people.


Destroy Relationships Between Generations

Parents using drugs can have a direct effect on their relationship with their kids, while teens using drugs will strain the relationship they have with their parents. Some parents might feel like they can successfully hide the negatives of addiction from their children, only using while away or not in their presence.

But drugs have a lasting effect, reducing a person’s capability to think and reason, sometimes leading to reckless behavior. Their drug use will noticeably affect their ability to carry out their parental responsibilities, and the aftermath of a high can be a painful and traumatic experience – not just for the parent, but the child as well. In most cases, only one parent struggles with addiction while the other deals with parental responsibilities and tries to help their partner, creating an incredibly stressful situation due to the negatives of addiction.

When teens use drugs, their parents begin to worry and cast blame. They seek an explanation for why their child might be caught up in this issue, worried that they’re to blame and that drug use was a direct consequence of their upbringing. In other cases, parents might resort to extreme and ineffective parenting methods to stop their kid’s drug use. However, punishment and anger usually cause the development of more issues piling on top of each other, rather than resolving addiction.

It can be difficult for parents to communicate with their children in general, but that’s made virtually impossible through addiction. Many parents seek professional help to get their kids clean, as they struggle to find a way to talk to them and have them open up.


Create Strife Over Finances

A family’s coffers will always take a massive hit when addiction is involved. Supporting a drug habit can be very expensive, a situation that becomes even worse when children are involved. Many families struggle financially to help their loved one get better and have been struggling for as long as the problem is ongoing.

Outside of treatment, many people while first struggling with the negatives of addiction will find clever ways to siphon off financial resources with which to procure more drugs. Not only is the financial aspect damaging, but the betrayal of trust is another big issue.


Produce Several Health Risks For Others

Smoking in the presence of others increases their risk of lung cancer significantly, as does drinking while pregnant or in the operation of dangerous machinery – including cars. Drunk driving kills over 10,000 a year and leads to over a million arrests. Far too many drivers drink and swerve, putting themselves and everybody on the road at danger.

Drunk or drugged while at work can also lead to severe injuries and death, and about a quarter of the workforce drinks during the workday at least once a year, while a solid tenth of workplace fatalities involve victims under the influence of alcohol.


Getting Help With The Negatives Of Addiction

If you’re struggling with the negatives of addiction, then the best thing you can do is get help immediately. Recognizing that you have a problem is a solid step in the right direction and deciding to adamantly combat this problem is the next one. There are different treatment options, clinics, and rehab centers all over the country, offering programs specifically suited to each individual’s addiction and circumstances.

Addiction can be overcome, and a sober life isn’t just possible – it offers so much more than a life filled with drug use.


Intervening For A Loved One

Interventions can effectively help you convince your loved one that they need help. They could also set off an unexpected outburst of anger if handled poorly. However, if you do it right, you could help them make their first constructive step towards a better life. The key is that they must make that step.

What you must do is point out that that step exists. It’s a good idea to consult a professional before deciding to stage an intervention, first to determine if your loved one truly exhibits signs of addiction, and secondly to help you set up an intervention that will work. There are therapists, family counselors and interventionists, all of whom are qualified to help you identify problems with your loved one and stage your first intervention.

Some suggest to first try and talk to your loved one alone, if you notice strange behavior. If they’re clearly struggling with the negatives of addiction but don’t acknowledge their need for help, then the next step may be to stage a group intervention with friends and family. It’s important to clarify why their behavior is troubling, and how it has been affecting everybody. Sometimes, an outside perspective can help someone realize how far their behavior has gone.

If you are going through a hard time trying to help your loved one fight their addiction, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.


It’s Not Your Fault: Addiction Is A Slippery Slope

Addiction is a slippery slope | Transcend Texas

Addiction is a disease. The brain is sick, and the way it works has been warped and changed. To break out of an addiction, you must consistently and vehemently oppose your desires and instincts – it takes time to dig yourself out of that hole, and most people don’t do it without help.

On this path to getting sober and staying sober, most people will encounter one challenge after the other. Like any disease, addiction requires treatment, downtime, and recovery. One of the worst roadblocks on the way to recovery is a person’s own guilt and shame – in a way, for many people struggling with addiction, they’re their own greatest enemy. This stems from the innate belief that, somewhere and somehow, addiction is your fault.

People who take drugs to begin with are at risk of developing an addiction. But very rarely do we take drugs while in our right mind. In some cases, people get addicted growing up around drugs and violence. In other cases, it’s a matter of self-medication and excessive stress – developing alcoholism from stress at work or strain in the marriage. In yet other cases, many teens find themselves slipping into addiction due to peer pressure, party behavior, and mistakes that they regret deeply later in life.

To understand why addiction isn’t your fault – and why it’s important to internalize that for a successful recovery – we need to go back into how addiction takes root to begin with.


Addiction In The Brain

Addiction is a condition marked by the repetition of behavior that was once enjoyable and is now a source of grief or pain. Despite the clear detrimental effect, an addicted person cannot stop themselves from going through with said behavior.

Repetition does not mark an addiction. Instead, it is the dangerous and negative side effects that simply do not discourage the patient that act as a telltale sign. For example, if you spend countless hours a week training and obsessing over your sport, then you are not technically addicted. You are simply dedicated. If you spend hours a day on the internet, but still lead a healthy life, you are not addicted. Millions of Americans own smartphones, carrying them on their person and compulsively checking them up to fifty times a day on average. Yet that does not mean the average American has an addiction.

Addiction occurs when behavior in the brain – sometimes compulsive behavior like gambling, yet usually behavior involving substance use – causes your brain’s reward system to become skewed. There comes a point when you want to stop but can’t – giving up an addiction brings about feelings of pain through withdrawal symptoms, and intense cravings akin to hunger and thirst. Addiction is also accompanied by tolerance, which forces addicts to up the ante on their addictive behavior/drug of choice to experience the same high/relief, and it is accompanied by a growing lack of interest in anything besides the focus of the addiction.

This change in the brain can be documented, and visually confirmed in brain scans. Thankfully, it can be reversed – but the process takes months and years of recovery.


Choice And Addiction

Choice as a factor in addiction has been the subject of countless debates. Many want to hold people accountable for their actions and see addiction and the guilt it brings as punishment for drug use, no matter how incidental.

While it is reprehensible, uncompassionate and short-sighted to morally judge people for their addiction, choice does play a role in addiction – both before and after. We choose to start using, even if that choice was a mistake we regret. And we must choose to stop using – and hold true to that choice for the rest of our lives.

You have the power to choose – and that truth should empower you to be stronger than the addiction and seek help on the days when it feels like too much.

After treatment, when early recovery is over, and the cravings subside, it is your choice to stay true to sobriety. Post-rehab programs like sober living help in this regard, by outfitting you with the tools you need to stay clean.


The Ineffectiveness Of Blame

For some people, the realization that their choices played into their current situation can be too much – it can drive them into a spiral of guilt, depression, and relapse. It is useless to pretend that choice plays no role in addiction – but it is just as fruitless to be paralyzed by blame, or guilt.

The only thing that matters is today, tomorrow, and the future – and you have the choice to help yourself or get help and continue fighting against your addiction no matter what choices you made in the past.


Your Responsibilities In Recovery

Responsibility in recovery begins the day you come out of rehab, clean and free from drugs. From that day onwards, you owe it to yourself and those around you to stick to your recovery.

Recovery is a different journey for everyone who goes through it. Some individuals do best with one-on-one therapy, while others need to be in group therapy for the most effective treatment. For some, their addiction is tied to childhood traumas and depressive symptoms going back decades. For others, they need to confront their past by cutting themselves off from old friendships and moving away from old memories.

For most people, now and again, relapses will happen. The relapse rate for common addictions – including opiates and alcoholism – is quite high. When and if relapses happen, it is your responsibility to get back on the horse and continue your recovery. Do not let a relapse discourage you from potential permanent sobriety in the future – and know that relapses are common in early recovery, as part of the lingering cravings in your brain.

With time, it will be easier to fight them – and eventually, you will have the support system and the surroundings to help prevent them completely. By embracing your responsibilities to yourself, and your accountability towards others, you can fuel your recovery with the knowledge that everything you do is important, for your future and the wellbeing of those you care about most. You matter – and your fight against addiction matters.

What Is Sex Addiction?

Sex Addiction Issues | Transcend Texas

Due to the recent opioid crisis and years of pop-culture discussions, our concept of addiction is at times flawed. As a nation, there is still an undeniable stigma against addiction – some see it as a moral weakness rather than an illness. And as a nation, addiction is still too often tied to substances, especially illicit ones, given the role prescription medication and alcohol have played. Yet beyond that, many still see addiction as a matter of substance abuse only. That’s not true however. Addiction comes in many forms, and affects many people, regardless of background. For some, addiction is at the bottom of a wine or pill bottle, while for others, it is in the annals of a pornography website, or the seedy room of a local motel in the form of sex addiction.

Sex addiction, like many other behavioral addictions, can be just as destructive and problematic as an opioid addiction or alcoholism. But to understand why people get addicted to something as commonplace and natural as sex, it is important to clarify our definitions of addiction and understand where it starts.


Defining Addiction

Addiction can be defined as detrimental obsessive behavior. It is when a person experiences a compulsive need to do something to soothe themselves, to the point that it may hurt them and others around them. Yet unlike OCD, addiction is caused by an external trigger and tied to the reward center of the brain. It is intricately tied to pleasure and stress-relief, and to the concept of motivation. Compulsions are tied to fear and anxiety.

Addictive drugs are defined as addictive because they mimic certain neurotransmitters in the brain related to pleasure, happiness, and motivation.

Just like how drugs can become addictive, certain behavior can become addictive due to maladaptive coping. This makes behavioral addictions work like substance addictions in terms of brain chemistry and individual differences in neurobiology, but while substance use can go from innocent experimentation to full-blown addiction, behavioral addiction is typically tied to stress or trauma.

For example: food addictions, or food disorders, are often tied to self-esteem issues, and codependency with depression and anxiety. While substance use can also be a matter of self-medication and maladaptive coping, it often is not.


How Sex Addiction Affect Lives

The important thing to know when talking about sex, addiction and healthy behavior is stress. Stress is a normal part of daily life – and dealing with it is a big part of being human. Everyone copes differently to different stressors – we have our own rituals, living standards and traditions to cope with everyday stress, and we have our own ways of grieving and coping with loss and significant pain.

Yet when the stress is too great, we can get locked in a loop of needing constant relief from that lasting trauma. Certain traumas leave a psychological fracture in people – if not treated or personally overcome, that crack will leave lasting symptoms, including flashbacks, suppressed memories, depression, self-esteem issues and anxieties. Many seek out pleasurable activities to fight the symptoms, from exercise to sex to food and drugs.

While it often is, sex addiction does not have to be linked to trauma. The brain tells us sex is good, because part of our blueprint is the desire to procreate. So, we use sex to deal with stress, until that repetitive behavior becomes a loop we cannot escape from. Some people are more prone to this than others, due to unique intricacies in the brain that vary from person to person.


Healthy Behavior vs. Addictive Behavior

Sex is healthy, and for most people, it is an important part of leading a healthy life. As much as we like to avoid the topic, many of our desires and social behaviors are tied to concepts like libido and sexuality – embracing the importance of healthy, safe, and communicative sex can help address relationship issues and more. Suppressing or avoiding the topic can have negative consequences, and lead to miscommunication, and even sexual violence.

Yet just like any other enjoyable activity, sex can go from being a healthy part of life to becoming a dependence, an issue of self-control and obsession. Sex addiction implies a massive dependence on sex for happiness, fulfilment, and stress relief, to the point that it becomes an unavoidable need for many addicts, to the point where many would go so far as to sacrifice careers, relationships, and fortunes to address this need. Once a behavior crosses the line from being positive to having a massive negative influence, it is time to get help and examine things with a greater perspective.


Treating A Sex Addiction

Treatment for addiction often implies sobriety, but in the case of something like sex or food, it is hard to stay “sober”. Instead of setting patients up for failure with concepts like lifelong abstinence and chastity, the emphasis in sex addiction treatment is put on fixing a patient’s relationship to sex and others and helping them understand where their thought process went wrong – so they can catch themselves in the act and correct their thinking accordingly.

This makes specific treatment difficult to describe, as everyone must find methods that suit themselves best. Developing better coping mechanisms for stress is important, so as not to misuse sex to run away from pain or problems. Relationship counseling can help broken marriages and relationships, while therapy can help you better understand your addictive behavior and give you the tools to stop specific thoughts before they turn into actions.

Addiction treatment always begins with a desire for change. While the law has provisions in place to allow family members and the courts to forcibly send someone into treatment, treatment itself can only begin when the patient acknowledges the issue and wholeheartedly takes their first step towards a better, healthier understanding of sex.

Sex addiction, like food addiction, cannot be solved through sobriety or even abstinence. There is a natural inclination in most people to seek out a partner and procreate, just as we all go hungry eventually.

The key lies in understanding what led to this twisted relationship with sex, and finding a way to fix it, overcome the issue, and live a psychologically healthy life surrounded by supportive individuals and strong, effective coping mechanisms for stress and struggle.

Some people find their best route towards a life like this lies in group meetings, 12-step programs, or God. Others take a clinical approach, utilizing medicine and talk therapy. Others yet channel their frustrations into productive and creative endeavors. There is no clear-cut way, no tried-and-true method that fits any set of circumstances and necessities. But by working with professionals, you can find the methods that suit you best and overcome your addiction in time.


How Addiction Changes Behavior

Addiction Changes Behavior | Transcend Texas

Addiction changes behavior because it is a disease of the brain, wherein chemical changes introduced by a reaction to a certain behavior or substance cause a lasting change on the way the brain works, sometimes developing into an unmanageable and unhealthy habit. The brain cannot get addicted to a drug on the first hit. But the first often leads to the second, and so on. If nothing stops the behavior, or if anything encourages it, then a few bad choices can cause can lead to what feels like the loss of choice itself.

Addiction treatment is a route to retrieving the ability to choose a better life and reinforce that choice above the ruinous alternative. It takes time, though, because of how addiction changes the brain. Understanding that can give you keen insight into the disease, and help you see just why it can be so difficult to fight against.


How Addiction Changes Behavior In People

Addiction changes behavior, not by forcing them to do something, but by heavily encouraging it. People who struggle with addiction are just that: people, from all walks of life, with a unique and varied list of problems and concerns, living with the symptoms of a disease that compels them to do anything and everything for the next high due to how addiction changes behavior.

This disease does not transform a loving and kind person into a stereotype. But going through an addiction and coming out the other side can change someone. It takes a lot of strength and a lot of time to beat an addiction, and for many, this journey causes them to reflect, consider, reprioritize and, in some cases, relearn what it means to live life.

It is difficult to pinpoint when exactly an addiction begins, but the telltale sign for when an addiction has taken hold of a person is when they try to stop doing something and find that they just cannot. The horror of that realization might be prefaced with justification and excuses for a while – we are all very good at lying to ourselves. But at some point, the truth becomes undeniable, and by then most people are in the thick of it.

The brain’s reward pathways are at the center of it all. Drugs and certain behavior cause the reward pathways to essentially get confused – addictiveness correlates strongly with how pleasurable something is, and the high of an illicit drug is essentially so powerful that the brain is desensitized to other pleasurable stimuli and begins to strongly crave that same high repeatedly. Addiction changes behavior because of the constant need to find the next high and that’s what makes it so easy to fall into the trap.

Other hobbies fall to the wayside, relationships falter, and focus becomes harder to come by. In addition to completely hijacking and manipulating the way the brain keeps you motivated, addictive drugs often damage the brain as well, reducing cognition and problem solving, increasing risky behavior, cutting down on inhibition and memory. These issues all contribute to how addiction changes behavior in a person, making them less reliable, less attentive, cutting into their focus and determination, and changing their motivations in life.

The likelihood of someone suffering an addiction depends on many possible factors, some of which are external (mental health, emotional state/stress, peer pressure, the addictiveness of the drug), and some of which are internal (genetics). But once it happens, getting out is tough.


Seek Out A Professional

Addiction treatment is not an exact science, but it is still best left to professionals. Treatment for addiction comes in dozens of shapes and sizes and determining what to suggest and what to leave out depends entirely on a patient’s circumstances, the logistics of the situation, the extent to which addiction changes behavior in them, and the skills and specializations of available professionals and treatment centers in the area.

Professional help is more than a prescription and some therapy – addiction treatment is a long road, unique for every individual, tailored to their needs. Professionals communicate across all levels of care, helping patients find a path that will get them the best results. While some people have had success in fighting addiction on their own, with the help of friends and family, it never hurts to seek a professional opinion – especially when nothing else seems to work.


Why Is Addiction Shunned?

The mind and the body affect each other, and trouble in one brews trouble in the other. In the same way, a mental illness can be as much a “physical illness” as a compound fracture or the flu. A mental illness can be caused by, or can cause physical change, just as how physical change can cause mental illness. Sometimes it is a matter of genetics, and at other times, external factors (i.e. environmental factors) play a major role instead.

Addiction is a condition caused and linked ostensibly to “feelings”. The inner workings of the brain and the way it struggles to work the same way after substance misuse is hard to see in everyday life, and it makes addiction harder to “see”. Someone struggling with addiction invariably feels certain things differently to others, which makes it an incredibly difficult thing to relate to, something quite difficult for many to feel naturally compassionate towards. When someone has a major gash in their leg, the visceral nature of the injury and its healing process evokes sympathy – an “unseen” condition is harder to empathize with, but it is every bit as real.

Awareness plays a big role. While many lives are touched by addiction indirectly, fortunately only a relatively small percentage of people have struggled through this issue. It is important for others to realize what it truly means, and why it deserves a little more sympathy rather than judgment and prejudice.

Only by approaching addiction both individually and on a larger scale from a place of care and love can we find a solution to it. Individually, support and care are critical for successful recovery. And in society, we could use a little sympathy for the people who struggle with the condition.


Quitting An Addiction

Addiction relies on support. Cravings are a big part of addiction, especially early on in recovery right after quitting, and the key to maintaining sobriety is having people around you who encourage you to stay sober, such as in a Houston sober living community.

The only prerequisite to getting better is wanting to, even after a relapse. From there, your path differs. Some people have incredible success stories, going through decades of addiction and then going sober for one goal or purpose, never looking back and never relapsing. Others have longer journeys, in and out of rehab, through several different treatment methods and centers. Some think that addiction is a life-long battle, while others see it as a chapter.

Regardless of what your recovery journey will look like, quitting addiction is always hard – and always worth it.


Why Is Drug Addiction So Prevalent In Cities Like Houston?

Drug Addiction In Houston | Transcend Texas

Like any big city, Houston has its fair share of problems – crime and drug addiction among them. As serious as drug addiction is, it only affects a very small fraction of the total adult population of the US, despite lax attitudes towards alcohol, and in some places, marijuana.

However, in Houston, Texas as well as other large cities in states across the country, the concentration for drug abuse grows and becomes more apparent. So, what it is about big cities like Houston that seems to make the phenomenon of addiction grow?


Drug Addiction In Houston

As is the case with many other big cities in the country, drug addiction is a substantial and growing problem. In Houston alone, heroin and meth are particularly troublesome, causing the most deaths and drug-related crimes in the city for decades. On the flip-side, to accompany high drug usage, Houston also has a prodigious selection of rehabs and treatment centers.

Many factors affect why Houston is struggling with drugs, the biggest being that it is a.) an incredibly populous city in a country with well over a quarter billion people, and b.) the most populous city in the state of Texas, a state that has established drug issues, and struggles to fight against the illegal trade of drugs out of Mexico.

Among other substances, gangs produce and smuggle marijuana, meth, and cocaine over the border into the United States, with meth being the biggest problem in the region, while street heroin and prescription opiates take a second spot.

Methamphetamine has grown to become an issue in Houston. The amount of meth seized from 2014 to 2015 grew by other 400 percent, while Houston reported over 780,000 cases of addiction in 2008 throughout the entire Houston area. In schools, about a third of students report having been sold/offered drugs on school property.

Aside from being the most populous city of Texas, Houston also struggles with growing poverty, a possible factor that contributes to the growth in addiction alongside an explosion in the local drug supply.


Drug Use And Big Cities

Cities grow organically through a continuous cycle of supply and demand in the workforce – opportunities are created by industries pioneering in a region, bringing jobs, and creating a need of real estate and residences around the industry. Decade after decade, the city grows because of its people, and its population grows because it is a city.

But with this growth comes the many downsides of living in an urban environment, especially in poverty. Large cities can become incredibly cramped, destitute, and unhealthy places to live in. For many, drug addiction provides a relief from that lifestyle that otherwise cannot be afforded.

Aside from there, where there are many people, there are many different people problems. Drug dealers specifically target urban neighborhoods to reach a large density of people and sell as much as possible, as quickly as possible, turning cities into the areas in the country with the largest drug problem.

Drug addiction is not only an issue in large cities. All of America is struggling with drugs, particularly opioids, methamphetamine, alcohol, and marijuana. But there are distinct differences in the way urban and rural addictions work.

Reports show that, among other key differences, ages between rural and urban addictions were very different with rural admissions to treatment being typically much younger. In addition, rural addictions primarily revolved around alcohol and non-opiates, while urban addictions had the countryside beat with its opiate abuse.

Why Texas Is Struggling With Drugs

Aside from the methamphetamine problem out of Mexico, another big issue hitting the streets is the recurrence and abundance of black tar heroin being sold, alongside an increase in opioid overdoses, and a decrease in the average age of both overdose victims and patients on opioid medication.

The overall demand for heroin in Texas has increased dramatically, alongside a larger number of reported calls to the Texas Poison Center Network regarding heroin. Although heroin usage has increased, opioid prescription abuse has decreased, suggesting perhaps that some addicts have moved on from getting their fix through street heroin rather than painkillers.

While these drugs picked up, others have dropped in usage. Both synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids have dropped in overall usage since their peak in 2011, and emergency calls due to ecstasy (MDMA) have dropped since 2009.

With its proximity to the border, large population, and its reputation as a major economy, it is no wonder that Texas is a common source of business for drug dealers and manufacturers.


What Can Be Done?

Enacting major political and economic change to help shift the state of healthcare and poverty in the US is not something most people can hope to affect in their lifetime – but there are little differences we can make to create a drastic impact in our own little communities, and with a little luck, within entire towns and city districts. You do not have to look towards politics and policy for answers, nor do you need a lot of money.

All it takes is to spread awareness on recent facts around drug addiction, dispel old myths, build a better understanding of addiction among your friends and family, and most importantly, help those around you who struggle with addiction to this day.

Over 6% of all Americans over the age of 12 struggle with substance abuse and drug addiction. Many of them are our relatives, our friends, our colleagues, or neighbors. Just by reaching out and offering help, addressing the issue without judgment, or by promoting local causes that focus on outreach and change, you can make a little difference and help change lives. In a city of over 2 million people, there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to helping others – but everyone focuses on helping those in their immediate vicinity better take on their life’s challenges, we can all build stronger, better communities. Men and women’s sober living facilities can also provide a safe haven for those trying to stay sober.

Not every attempt will be a success, and not everyone will reach and maintain their sobriety. But anyone can. And no one deserves to be given up on.


Sex Addiction: Addiction Isn’t Limited to Just Drugs

Sex Addiction | Transcend Texas

Addiction comes in many shapes and forms. For some people, it’s drugs. For others, it’s gambling. Some people even consider obsessive behavior, like the obsession with falling in and out of love, to be a kind of addiction. Sometimes addiction also comes in the form of some of the things we all love – sex and food, for example. For some, it’s hard to imagine the line between loving sex and food and being addicted to it – but if you have ever seen someone struggling with the issue of food or sex addiction, you’ll know that there is absolutely no mistaking it.

To understand what sex addiction is, and how it is every bit as real as any other behavioral or substance addiction, we have to go back to the roots and examine addiction itself.


How Addiction Works

Addiction works similarly across the board, with differences here and there in terms of circumstances, triggers, and reasons. For example: while there is a myriad of risk factors that contribute to why someone might get addicted, their actual reasons may only include peer pressure, and genetics.

Drugs are commonly more addictive than habits because they’re designed to be addictive. Their effects on the brain create a powerful craving and make you more susceptible to addiction than anything else through the unnatural and high release of dopamine.

But behavior can be just as addictive under the right circumstances, given the right emotional and psychological condition, and the right genetic makeup. Gambling, video games, sex, food, thrills – there are a million enjoyable things in life, all of which give you a “natural high”, which can potentially become addictive under the right circumstances.

Addiction is affected by the addictiveness of the drug or activity (some habits, like food, are naturally enjoyable, while others like gambling and certain video games are purposefully designed to create addiction and “customer retention”), the genetic makeup of a person (people with family histories of addiction are more prone to it), their mental state (self-medicating after a trauma or during a depression is a gateway to a larger problem), environmental factors (high-stress work environment, getting fired, an abusive household), and peer pressure.

The mechanism for addiction takes place in the pleasure centers of the brain: pathways of nerves that activate and respond to behavior by rewarding or punishing you, in order to make you learn or adapt to certain situations. For example: your brain rewards you for high-calorie foods but punishes you with pain for doing something risky. Your natural instinct will make you crave the food and be reluctant about repeating the risky activity.

With addiction, that part of the brain is overstimulated by a massive release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that triggers joy, as well as a series of other reactions in the brain triggering the characteristics of the high. Alcohol and sedatives like barbiturates/benzodiazepine affect the GABA neurotransmitter, making you sluggish, sleepy, and lowering your inhibition. On the other hand, opioids slow your breathing and kill off pain.

For some people, activities can produce a similarly powerful effect, as well as a subsequent craving, and with time, an addiction.


What is Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addictions do not involve the use of substances and revolve around an unnatural obsession with a specific activity, to the point that it becomes ruinous for you. An addiction is most reliably characterized by how much of your life it touches and threatens, and how far you’re willing to go to hide it, and deny its existence, while being unable or seemingly unwilling to give it up.

The final straw is when you do try to stop and find out that you can’t.

This happens often enough with activities like casino gambling and video gaming, but it can also occur with natural behavior, like sexual intercourse.

These addictions are not easier to break than substance abuse just because they lack a chemical component that ties them to the pleasure center of the brain. In some cases, people are simply extremely susceptible to an abnormal release of dopamine to certain activities, or their addiction might be driven by an outside factor, such as a comorbidity with depression, or a hormone imbalance causing hypersexuality and sex addiction.

A behavioral addiction can only reliably be diagnosed by a professional, like any other disease or condition, but it is safe to say that if your hobby or habit has grown from being a constructive part of your life to becoming a major source of stress and obsession, then you’re on the verge of a big problem. If you or your loved ones are exhibiting an inability to stop their destructive behavior, even after multiple warnings and consequences, professional help may be warranted.


What a Sex Addiction Looks Like

Sex addiction can be exceptionally brutal, because of how quickly it destroys relationships and ruins relations with people in general. Sex addicts will be heavily tempted to sacrifice everything they’ve worked for to get off, including cheating on multiple partners, jeopardizing important business with inappropriate behavior and sexual conduct, and engaging in incredibly risky sex despite the potential consequences.

Sex addiction and hypersexuality are two different things. There is nothing wrong with having a specific kink or sharing in a healthy sexual relationship. Two people with matching libidos who agree to an open relationship may be highly sexually active, but as long as they can operate within boundaries set by both parties and respect the concepts of consent and limitations, they are in control of their desires and ultimately have the ability to draw the line when they feel that their behavior is having severe consequences on the relationships they care about.

Someone suffering from sex addiction is unable to control their behavior, or their urges. Their libido is no longer high, it is driven by an obsession with getting off at all costs, no matter what the consequences might be. And, unlike many who feel the ability to be confident in their sexual choices, no matter how unorthodox, sex addicts often feel shame because of an inability to control how they feel or what they want.


Addiction Treatment for Behavioral Addiction

Addictive behavior is not inherently bad. Gambling can cause addiction, which is why it is regulated – but it isn’t illegal, and for a good reason. Video games can be addictive, but they have their share of benefits, and can be excellent devices of stress relief. And sex is arguably an important part of a successful relationship, and a natural thing to desire, to the point where a low libido can be a problem for many.

But sex addiction is more than desire – it’s an unmitigated problem. Thankfully, addiction treatment works for behavioral addictions as well, giving people the tools they need to tackle their obsessions and overcome them.