10 Effective Ways to Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal

2 weeks ago ·

10 Effective Ways to Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal

Although stopping alcohol abuse is a great decision, it’s not as simple as quitting cold turkey. During alcohol detox, you may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening. 

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can put your health at risk and make it difficult to get through the detox process to start addressing the roots of your alcohol addiction. Keep reading to learn 10 effective ways to cope with alcohol withdrawal if you have an alcohol use disorder and want to stop drinking for good.

1. Tell a friend or family member before you start the detox process.

About six hours after your last drink, you may start to feel some of the earliest alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, fast heart rate and vomiting. Within 12 to 48 hours, you may experience more serious symptoms, including hallucinations or even seizures. Therefore, it’s important to have someone you trust with you during the detox period.

If you don’t feel well enough to care for yourself, a trusted friend or family member can bring you cold drinks, make sure you get enough to eat and talk you through some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms. If you experience signs of delirium tremens (DTs), your loved one can also call for medical attention or take you to the nearest hospital for treatment. 

2. Have medical supplies and comfort items on hand.

It may take 24 to 72 hours to eliminate all the alcohol from your body. During detoxification, you may not feel well enough to go to the grocery store or visit your local pharmacy, so be sure to stock up on any needed supplies before you have your last drink. Have acetaminophen, anti-nausea medication and other over-the-counter medications on hand to control symptoms like headaches, nausea and vomiting. You may want to get a heating pad, a warm pair of slippers and comfortable clothing to wear while you go through the detox process.

3. Talk to your doctor.

Before you stop drinking on your own, ask your doctor if anything can be prescribed to control your alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Depending on your age and history of medical conditions, your doctor may recommend blood pressure medications, benzodiazepines to reduce anxiety and improve your mental health or anticonvulsants to prevent seizures and relieve other symptoms of the nervous system. Your health care provider may also prescribe diazepam, a sedative that reduces anxiety and relaxes the muscles. It’s important to seek medical advice before taking any of these medications.

4. Adjust your lifestyle.

During the withdrawal process, it’s important to avoid triggers that may cause you to relapse and start drinking again. Avoid attending parties or other events if you know alcohol will be available. Let your friends and family members know that you can’t be around them if they’re going to be drinking alcohol. For best results, stay away from high-risk places, including bars, nightclubs and sporting venues that serve alcoholic beverages. This advice applies to anyone with a drinking problem.

5. Stay active.

Another great way to cope with alcohol withdrawal is to stay active. Your first instinct may be to snuggle up in bed and wait for the symptoms to pass, but exercise can help improve your mood and help you sleep better as you go through alcohol detox. You don’t need to run several miles or hit the gym — just go for a walk each day or do some calisthenics in your home.

6. Use relaxation techniques to stay calm.

Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Several relaxation techniques can help reduce your anxiety and keep you calm as you finish detoxification and prepare for the next stage of addiction treatment. Meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and deep breathing are all things you can do at home to increase your comfort. Another good way to cope with alcohol withdrawal is to have a massage therapist come to your house and give you a professional massage.

7. Consume nutritious foods.

Anyone with alcohol use disorder should focus on eating nutritious foods during the withdrawal process. Fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, poultry, eggs and lean meats contain the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients you need to stay as healthy as possible during the detox process and prevent health problems in the future.

8. Stock up on sports drinks.

A smart way to cope with alcohol withdrawal is to keep your fridge stocked with sports drinks. When you vomit, which often happens during the withdrawal process, the fluid contains sodium, potassium and other electrolytes. If you lose too much of this fluid, you may develop an electrolyte imbalance, resulting in dehydration and low blood volume. Sports drinks are made to replace electrolytes lost through sweating, so drinking them during the withdrawal process can help you avoid a serious electrolyte imbalance.

9. Pick up a new hobby.

When you’re ready for substance abuse treatment, it’s wise to develop a hobby that can take your focus off severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms and help you pass the time until all the alcohol has been eliminated from your body. Try doing crossword puzzles, reading, playing online games or practicing your drawing skills.

10. Clear your schedule as much as possible.

Before your last drink, clear your schedule as much as possible. Arrange to take time off from work, ask for help with childcare and do whatever else is needed to ensure you have plenty of time to focus on your sobriety. 

It’s important to have support during the alcohol detox process. Recovery at the Crossroads has experienced, compassionate staff on hand to monitor your health and keep you as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. For more information on treatment options, contact us at 888-342-3881. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs and overall approach to substance abuse treatment.

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3 months ago ·

How to Go to Rehab and Keep Your Job

Young woman feeling tired during a long hard day at work at the computerAccording to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, most of the people who struggle with addiction in the United States are employed. They work jobs, have bills to pay and families to support and a chronic disease that makes everything much harder. Nonetheless, individuals in this situation often feel trapped, unable to seek help because they think they can’t take time off for substance abuse issues.

Thankfully, there are federal laws in place that protect individuals seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction. Read on to find out exactly how to go to rehab without losing your job.

Will My Boss Fire Me If I Take Time Off for Addiction Treatment? 

Luckily, you don’t need to worry too much about how to go to rehab and keep your job. The most challenging aspect of taking a leave of absence may be speaking to Human Resources or your boss about taking time off to attend a substance use disorder treatment program. While there’s undeniably a stigma attached to addiction, rest assured that it’s unfounded and unfair.

In many cases, a modern, professional employer won’t display any negative reaction and will show the appropriate level of support. Not only does drug and alcohol abuse negatively affect job performance, but it also contributes to an unhealthy team environment and stifles your chances of career progression.

There are laws in place that protect you in case you need to attend a treatment center to help for alcohol or drug abuse. Addiction is a health care issue, not a moral problem, and you wouldn’t think twice about getting care for a physical problem. As such, you shouldn’t stress yourself over applying for leave using the following reasons.

Legal Protection for People With Substance Abuse Problems

There are two laws that can help employees get peace of mind when accessing unpaid leave for detox and rehab services.

The Americans With Disabilities Act 

The ADA considers addiction to be a serious health condition that’s equal to a disability within the context of seeking treatment. This means people in recovery are protected against discrimination, and their employers can’t fire them as a result of seeking help at a treatment facility. If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against as a result of substance abuse treatment, you can file a claim against your employer.

Family and Medical Leave Act

FMLA leave is 12 working weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period granted to qualifying individuals for personal or medical reasons. If you need to seek treatment for drug or alcohol use, your employer is bound by law to keep the information confidential.

Employee Assistance Programs 

Some employers offer EAPs, which provide reasonable accommodations to individuals struggling with substance abuse or mental health in-house. Helping employees with substance abuse problems as opposed to firing them is more practical for the employer in the long run.

Inpatient or Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient rehab programs are often more accessible than inpatient rehab, with many centers providing evening and weekend classes to fit around your schedule. However, with an intensive outpatient program or partial hospitalization, you may still need to take some time off from work. Whichever type of program you opt for, you’re covered under the FMLA and ADA.

Work Performance and Alcohol and Drug Addiction

If you’re still worried about psyching yourself up to ask for leave to get help for alcohol or drug use, bear in mind that it benefits your employer as much as it does you. Even if you’re currently able to perform at a decent level, the nature of addiction as a progressive disease means your productivity would eventually suffer.

Workers who take drugs are also at a much higher risk of having an accident in the workplace, which can be extremely damaging and expensive for a business. By seeking the help you need, you’re doing your part to make the workplace a safer, healthier environment.

How to Speak to Your Employer About Attending a Rehab Center

Drugs and alcohol are psychoactive, which means they change the way your brain functions at a fundamental level. Many people with substance use disorders report struggling to focus, oversleeping, forgetting to pay attention to detail and finding it difficult to stick to a routine. These behaviors have an impact on the workplace, and you should make it clear to your boss that your intention is to protect your job and environment by seeking medical attention.

Take the following steps to ensure a smooth transition into the recovery process with regard to work:

  1. Be honest and up-front with your employer so you can get the maximum amount of help available from a legal standpoint.
  2. Speak to your coworkers so they know you’re taking time off, but you’re under no obligation to tell them why.
  3. Make sure you’re diligent about completing any projects you’re responsible for and organizing the appropriate cover for while you’re away.

Don’t Stress!

One of the biggest contributing factors to addiction is mental stress, so try not to be too hard on yourself. The fact you’ve decided to seek help at rehab is an exceptional achievement, and you should celebrate it rather than feeling ashamed to ask for time off to get the help you deserve.

Your boss should be supportive and understanding of your situation, particularly if you take the time to explain your situation and assure them you’ll do everything within your power to maintain your performance at work.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs in New Jersey

Starting a treatment plan is a life-changing event and well worth taking a little time off from work. Recovery at the Crossroads is a supportive and loving New Jersey rehab where you can get the care and guidance necessary to fight addiction and win. Call us at 856-644-6929 or contact us to get help now.

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4 months ago ·

What to Expect During a Typical Day in Rehab

young man drinking whiskey while looking at the laptop screenAlthough millions of people suffer from substance use disorders, only a small percentage of them receive addiction treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20.4 million Americans had a substance use disorder in 2019, but only 2.1 million received any substance use treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use in the same year.

Substance use treatment, such as rehabilitation, is designed to provide a safe environment for people to address problems associated with their use of alcohol or drugs, including medical problems related to substance abuse. To be effective, individuals should participate in a substance abuse treatment program for at least 90 days, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, the entire period doesn’t need to be spent in a residential facility. Oftentimes, an individual may begin inpatient treatment and then transition to an outpatient treatment program to manage their disorder and continue the treatment process.

Specific schedules will vary based on individual needs as well as program or facility, but there are some consistencies between most addiction treatment programs. To learn what to expect, we outline a typical day in rehab and the differences between treatment programs.

Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment 

Alcohol and drug treatment programs generally fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient rehab. While both are focused on rehabilitation, each setting offers unique benefits and qualities. Generally, inpatient rehabs are intensive residential treatment programs for people who require 24-hour care. Outpatient rehab programs are part-time programs that enable people to receive addiction treatment while accommodating family and work life.

Residential Addiction Treatment

Residential treatment, also known as inpatient treatment or residential rehab, is commonly used for individuals with severe substance use disorders, unstable living situations, limited social support or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who need highly structured care. Residential treatment models vary, but all provide housing and medical care in a 24-hour environment. Generally, services at a residential treatment center include detox, medication-assisted treatment, individual therapy, group therapy, recovery coaching, family education and more. Short-term programs often last 30 to 90 days, followed by outpatient treatment. Long-term programs can last six to 12 months.

Partial Hospitalization Program

A partial hospitalization program, sometimes called outpatient rehab, is a structured outpatient service that’s designed to recreate what an inpatient stay offers in terms of treatment but in an outpatient setting. In other words, individuals are not required to stay at a facility overnight; however, the intensity of the program is similar to residential rehab. This level of care typically provides 20 or more hours of addiction treatment services a week, according to the American Society for Addiction Medicine. On average, patients visit an addiction treatment facility five days a week, with treatment sessions lasting from 4 to 8 hours a day. In the evenings, patients return home to be with family or take care of life obligations.

Intensive Outpatient Program 

An intensive outpatient program is a step down from a partial hospitalization program and requires less time for treatment per day or week. Generally, patients are required to attend about 10 hours of treatment each week. An intensive outpatient program, therefore, enables individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders to participate in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction while accommodating other obligations, such as family, school or work. Patients may receive services during the day, before or after work or school, in the evening and/or on weekends. Intensive outpatient treatment may be recommended for people who don’t need medically supervised detox or don’t need to attend rehab daily.

General Outpatient Program

A general outpatient program is usually considered a step down from an intensive outpatient program. It usually involves a reduced number of hours spent in treatment each week. On average, a patient receives fewer than 9 hours of addiction treatment services a week. Treatment typically takes the form of individual therapy or group therapy sessions.

What to Expect During a Typical Day in Residential Rehab 

A typical day in rehab can vary from program to program and depends on the specific needs of the individual. However, the structured part of a day within an inpatient program at a rehab facility for alcohol addiction or drug abuse usually begins between 7 and 8 a.m. and lasts until 8 or 9 p.m. A general format is outlined below.

Sample Weekday Schedule

7:00 a.m. – Wake up
7:30 a.m. – Exercise/Gym
8:00 a.m. – Personal Hygiene/Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Individual Therapy
10: 00 a.m. – Group Therapy
11:00 a.m. – Recreation/Free Time
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 p.m. – Art/Music/Creative Expression Therapy
2:00 p.m. – Psychoeducation
3:00 p.m. – Mindfulness Walk
4:00 p.m. – Yoga/Boxing/Anger Management
5:00 p.m. – Recreation/Free Time
6:00 p.m. – Dinner
7:00 p.m. – Group Session/Discussion/12-Steps (AA)
8:00 p.m. – Chores
9:00 p.m. – Snack/Hygiene
9:30 p.m. – Meditation/Relaxation/Journaling
10:00 p.m. – Lights Out

Daily Therapy 

Addiction treatment commonly consists of a combination of individual and group therapy sessions that focus on teaching those in treatment the skills needed to stop or limit the use of alcohol or drugs. Holistic therapy courses may include:

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy consists of an individual engaging in the therapeutic process on a one-on-one basis with a therapist. Behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly utilized treatment methods used during substance rehabilitation. Forms of individual behavioral therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy, contingency management and motivational interviewing, among others.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a group of patients meets to discuss their concerns and issues together under the supervision of a therapist. One of the most common forms of group therapy for addiction is a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. This form of drug addiction therapy aims to promote long-term recovery by engaging people with a 12-step peer support group. Group therapy may also include family therapy in the recovery process.


The stigma attached to alcohol and drug addictions can hinder positive treatment outcomes. Although addiction is recognized as a chronic disease with biological origins, the detrimental attitude persists that individuals with addictions lack moral principles or willpower. Therefore, psychoeducation, a therapeutic intervention that transfers knowledge about an illness and its treatment to help patients better understand and cope with their illness, is an important component of addiction treatment.

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5 months ago ·

How Alcoholism Can Negatively Impact Your Health

Alcoholism infographic with various diseases

Alcohol use can take a toll on your mental and physical health. The health effects of alcohol are wide-reaching, and some last a lifetime. Health problems can develop if you drink alcohol frequently or if you drink a lot in a single session. 

Factors that Impact How Alcohol Affects Health

Every person responds differently to alcohol consumption, so some people are at a higher risk of developing health complications than others. Genetics, gender, body composition, and your patterns of drinking can all affect how alcohol impacts your health.

How much you drink and how often you drink also affect your health risks. Different health problems may develop if you drink a lot in a single sitting compared to drinking daily for a long period of time. In general, the more you drink, the more your health is at risk.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Binge drinking can cause short-term health effects that impair your ability to function normally, and heavy drinking over the course of just a few hours could have deadly consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking for women as having 4 or more drinks on a single occasion and for men as having 5 or more drinks on a single occasion. While most people who binge drink don’t have alcohol use disorder, they can still suffer from short-term health issues due to excessive drinking.

Some of the health issues that might develop from a single drinking session include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Flushed skin
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Passing out

If you drink too much alcohol in one sitting, alcohol poisoning is a possibility. An overdose of alcohol can be fatal. Some signs of alcohol poisoning include: 

  • Slowed breathing
  • Pale or blue-tinted skin
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Hypothermia
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures

People who drink heavily also may be prone to acting irrationally or impulsively while under the influence of alcohol, which can lead to dangerous situations with significant health impacts. Drinking and driving is a significant cause of motor vehicle accidents, and alcohol use may also put you at higher risk of falls, burns or drowning. 

Alcohol can lower inhibitions, which may make you more prone to getting into fights or engaging in unsafe sexual behavior that could lead to injuries or a higher risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases. Unwanted pregnancy is another potential risk of unsafe sexual behavior while under the influence of alcohol.

Long-Term Health Effects of Alcoholism

People who are addicted to alcohol and those who drink heavily are at higher risk for a wide range of health complications. Women who have more than 8 drinks a week and men who have more than 15 drinks per week are considered heavy drinkers by the CDC. Chronic health conditions that might develop from heavy drinking include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease, including cardiomyopathy and irregular heartbeat
  • Strokes
  • Cancers, including cancers of the throat, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, liver, and breast 
  • Liver disease, including fatty liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fibrosis
  • Pancreas damage, including an increased risk of acute and chronic pancreatitis

Heavy drinking also makes you more prone to developing a substance abuse disorder or becoming addicted to alcohol. 

Mental Health Issues and Excessive Drinking

Depressed Man with Problems holding hand over his Face and CryingExcessive alcohol use can affect your mind as well as your body. Alcohol abuse can cause long-term brain damage, and mental health disorders can occur in conjunction with addiction to alcohol. Long-term alcohol abuse or addiction can reduce the amount of gray and white matter in the brain, which can damage your ability to concentrate and retain memories.

For some people, this damage is permanent, meaning brain function isn’t restored after the person quits drinking.

If you have an existing mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, drinking heavily could make your symptoms worse. Some people use alcohol as a way to cope with emotional or mental distress. This can lead to difficulty developing healthier coping mechanisms, which causes an ongoing cycle of alcohol use that exacerbates your existing problems.

Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol could bring on psychiatric symptoms, such as psychosis and anxiety. If you’ve become addicted to alcohol, you might experience psychiatric symptoms during withdrawal, such as hallucinations.

The Effects of Heavy Drinking During Pregnancy

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy affects the unborn child as well as the mother. Heavy drinking has been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including a higher risk of stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a serious long-term health condition in infants born to mothers who consumed alcohol during their pregnancy. Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome may be born with damage to the nervous system as well as growth problems and distinct facial features associated with the condition. Fetal alcohol syndrome is part of a set of related disorders called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) that range in severity from mild symptoms to lifelong organ damage.

While the long-term health impact of alcohol use are significant, many can be mitigated if you stop drinking. If you or a loved one is ready to begin a journey of recovery, give Recovery at the Crossroads a call today at 888-342-3881.

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5 months ago ·

5 Devastating Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction

Female Psychologist With Clipboard Sitting Near Young ManSubstance abuse and mental health are linked because the psychological effects of drug addiction, including alcohol, cause changes in your body and brain. A careful balance of chemicals keeps the cogs turning inside your body, and even the smallest change can cause you to experience negative symptoms. 

Excessive alcohol and drug use sends your nervous system into disarray, rewires your brain, and causes inflammation — all of which can cause mental illness. Read on to find out more about the emotional effects of substance use disorders. 

Drug Abuse Rewires Your Brain

blue and yellow brain impulse iconOne of the most profound changes that occur in people who struggle with addiction is in the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of motivation, pleasure, and reward — and alcohol, prescription medications, and illegal drugs all hijack this pathway. If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, you’ll have noticed a shift in priorities. 

As an addicted person needs an increasing amount of their substance of choice to get the same high, they become more and more preoccupied with procuring and using substances. This is what leads to the most damaging effects of addiction. To the sufferer, friends, family, work, and being an upstanding citizen become less important than inebriation.

Often, people in addiction treatment centers are recovering from experiencing an endless cycle of guilt, emotional pain, and short-term relief from substances. This negative feedback loop can eventually lead to mental health issues and other side effects. 

Health Problems Associated with Addiction

In addition to the psychological effects of addiction, drug and alcohol abuse have the potential to lead to an array of other health conditions. Chronic substance use is a risk factor for the following illnesses:

  • Disorders that affect decision-making
  • Heart disease including high blood pressure
  • Psychosis
  • Reduced immune function
  • Stomach issues
  • Respiratory problems
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney disease

5 Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction

Dopamine isn’t the only neurotransmitter that affects your mood and mental state; serotonin, norepinephrine, and many more play a part. Just like addiction, mental disorders aren’t usually the result of one trigger or cause. Not everyone will experience the following, but many people do.   

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is best described as a disorder of the fight-or-flight response, where someone perceives danger that isn’t there. It includes the following physical and mental symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive worrying
  • Sweating
  • An impending sense of doom
  • Mood swings
  • ​Restlessness and agitation
  • Tension
  • Insomnia

There are a lot of similarities between anxiety and the effects of stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Conversely, using central nervous system depressants can also increase the risk of a person developing anxiety. Although they calm a person’s nerves while they’re intoxicated, they intensify anxiety when the effects wear off. 

Additionally, many addicts experience anxiety around trying to hide their habits from other people. In a lot of cases, it’s difficult to tell whether anxious people are more likely to abuse substances or if drugs and alcohol cause anxiety.

2. Shame and Guilt

There’s a stigma attached to addiction in society, and there’s a lot of guilt and shame for the individuals who struggle with the condition. Often, this is adding fuel to a fire that was already burning strong. People with substance use disorders tend to evaluate themselves negatively on a regular basis, which is a habit that has its roots in childhood experiences. Continual negative self-talk adds to feelings of shame and guilt.

When you constantly feel as if you’ve done something wrong, it’s tempting to try to cover up these challenging emotions with drugs and alcohol. These unhelpful emotions contribute to the negative feedback loop that sends people spiraling into addiction.    

3. A Negative Feedback Loop

From an outside perspective, someone with an addiction looks like they’re repeatedly making bad choices and ignoring reason. However, the truth is far more complicated and nuanced — so much so that it can be very difficult for people to overcome a substance use disorder without inpatient or outpatient treatment. This is partly due to a negative feedback loop that occurs in the mind.

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they feel a sense of comfort they haven’t been able to get elsewhere. Inevitably, this feeling is replaced by guilt and shame as they sober up and face the consequences of their actions. However, the weight of these feelings forces them to seek comfort in substances.    

4. Depression

Another mental illness strongly associated with addiction is depression. Like anxiety, it’s not clear whether the depression or substance abuse problem comes first — but there is a clear link. The main symptoms associated with depression are:

  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Dysregulated emotion
  • Loss of interest
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Suicidal ideation

Some withdrawal symptoms overlap with the signs of depression, which can make diagnosing coexisting addiction challenging before the SUD has been treated. Most people require ongoing therapy to help them overcome depression.    

5. Loss of Interest

Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy is a key symptom of both addiction and depression, but overcoming the former makes it much easier to gain control over the latter. It’s such a destructive symptom because of how demotivating it is to feel there’s no joy in the world. Everyone has passions and interests, but getting back to finding them isn’t easy for someone with these conditions. 

Treatment programs help you unravel the reasons behind your unhealthy substance use so you can find new coping mechanisms and address any underlying issues in therapy.

Get Help for the Emotional and Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction

If you think the behavior of a loved one is a sign of a serious problem, call Recovery at the Crossroads today at 856-644-6929 for more information about the emotional effects of drugs.

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8 months ago ·

The Five Stages of Addiction Recovery

woman sitting by the ocean looking out into the distanceAlcohol and drug abuse can tear families apart and transform loving and successful individuals into desperate, lonely husks of their former selves. Even though the impact is devastating, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone can overcome addiction with the help and guidance of a substance abuse treatment program.

Understanding the five stages of addiction recovery can be useful for addicted people and their family members. It’s an integrated theory that’s compatible with most evidence-based and holistic treatments, like the 12-step program and behavior therapy.

What Is the Transtheoretical Model?

woman embracing the sunlightProchaska, DiClemente and Norcross created the stages of change or transtheoretical model in 1983 to help people quit smoking. It was then updated in 1992, when it started being used in clinical settings for a variety of behaviors. By studying various mental health and substance use disorder treatment plans, Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross noted patterns that occur as people progress through a major behavioral shift.

The stages of recovery aren’t necessarily linear, and people don’t stay in them for a set amount of time. Of course, some people sail quickly through the stages, in perfect order. Plus, there are certain principles that counselors and therapists on rehab programs can use to guide clients through the recovery process.

It can also be helpful for the addicted person themselves to gain self-understanding using this model. Insight is a powerful tool for change because it makes it easier to be mindful of decisions you’re making in the moment.

What Are the Five Stages of Change?

The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Read on to find out more about the various stages.

1. Precontemplation Stage

People who are in the first stage aren’t yet ready for treatment. This phase is characterized by defensiveness and endless justification of their behavior. There’s a clear lack of insight into the negative impact of excessive drug or alcohol use and a strong focus on the positive effects they experience from using their drug of choice.

Someone might remain in this stage due to a lack of information about addictive behaviors. Another reason we regularly see people get stuck in the precontemplation stage is disappointment with multiple failed attempts at recovery. Most individuals in precontemplation feel that recovery simply isn’t possible for them. The truth is that anyone can recover from any stage.

2. Contemplation Stage

The next phase is characterized by contemplative readiness. This means the person is ready to bring about change in the future, but not immediately. Unlike the previous stage, they’re aware of the pros of becoming drug-free.

However, they are also still acutely aware of the benefits they perceive from alcohol or drug abuse. This is a critical stage for family members and treatment providers because the person is more likely to listen to reason. By avoiding blame, judgment and accusations, it’s possible to guide them to the next stage.

3. Preparation Stage

When it comes to the preparation stage, the individual is building a sense of urgency regarding their desire for sobriety. They’ve usually made steps toward taking action, such as intending to join a gym, seeing a counselor or attempting to quit by themselves without attending a treatment center.

It’s normal for people in this phase to go for a day or two without turning to drug or alcohol abuse, but it’s also perfectly usual to see people jump back to contemplation or precontemplation in case triggers or difficult emotions arise.

4. Action Stage

During the action stage, the person has made significant changes in their lives and is committed to change. This stage of change is characterized by prolonged periods of abstinence and the inclination to turn to professionals for help before or after relapse.

It won’t just be a case of halting the destructive behavior; change will be apparent in multiple aspects of their lifestyle. Self-care and self-understanding are both present in this stage, but counseling is required to keep them on the right path.

5. Maintenance Stage

During the maintenance stage, the individual is working hard to prevent relapse. They’re also keeping up the lifestyle changes they made, like getting regular exercise, paying attention to sleep hygiene and attending support groups. They don’t feel the urge to relapse as frequently as people in the action stage, so their confidence grows and they truly believe in their ability to maintain sobriety long term.

This stage can last from six months to five years, depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s genes and experience. It takes a small minority of people six months of abstinence to reach the point where they don’t go back to their addictive behavior. However, for most people, a commitment of two to five years is necessary to truly break the habit and solidify change.

The Importance of Aftercare

Even when someone has reached maintenance, it doesn’t mean they’re cured of addiction. Like diabetes or heart disease, it’s a chronic condition that requires major lifestyle changes to keep under control. As such, it’s crucial that people in recovery make continuous active efforts to maintain sobriety. Complacency or a sense that the work is done once you reach maintenance is often a one-way ticket to relapse.

Aftercare helps you stay on track and keep practicing what you learned while in rehab. Whether it’s individual therapy, support groups, 12-step meetings or an outpatient treatment program, we recommend staying in some form of aftercare for at least one or two years after you complete a course of rehab.

Find Out More About the Stages of Addiction Recovery

If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse, Recovery at the Crossroads can help you along every step of the way. Call our New Jersey rehab today at 888-342-3881 to find out how to enroll in one of our alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs.

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My Story

10 months ago ·

My Story

Walking down the aisle on a beautiful Spring afternoon, there was no doubt that this was going to be my forever. A journey together that was going to create the future that we’d hoped for. As we embarked on this journey, the road took an unexpected turn. The journey became one of pain, abuse, and what seemed like, no way out.

I am an Orthodox Jewish woman that as a young girl grew up in small rural communities. I was carefree and happy. I come from a big family and always felt loved and cared for. I valued and appreciated who I was as a person. I embraced my flaws as something beautiful about who I am. Those same flaws, as much as I accepted them, were an integral part of the downfall. My greatest gifts were my biggest challenges. I am selfless. I love to give of myself and help others. I want to impact lives. That is all wonderful, but to what expense. It put me in a place where I wasn’t able to stand up for myself, to say no when I didn’t want to do something, to feel that it didn’t make me any less of a person for not always doing everything for everyone.

Over the course of my decade-long marriage, I wasn’t given the ability to be. I didn’t have a voice, an opinion. I wasn’t valued as someone who was important. Everything was conditional. Nothing I ever did was good enough. My children were becoming victims. The day I decided I was leaving, was the day I decided that my worth and value was just as great as his. I wasn’t going to stay and keep going through the abusive cycle, thinking as I always did, tomorrow will be better.

I found courage and strength to have a voice. A voice that allowed me to become a warrior. Nothing was going to stop me from fighting for mine and my 3 beautiful children’s freedom. The journey to get a Ghet, a Jewish divorce agreement, was a long and painful process. Everyday felt like a year. I did not waiver. The support I had from my friends and family was above and beyond. Holding on as I rode the waves of the process, keeping my vision on the goal.

The person I became through my journey is one of strength, self worth, love, and empowerment. I showed my children what it is to stand up, to not only protect them but to protect myself. If I had to go back, I would relive my journey all over again. I appreciate who I am. I developed my sense of self and have become a person that has touched so many lives.

My journey gave me knowledge and understanding into the world of mental health, abuse, and trauma. I took what I went through and empowered myself to go out there and connect with others. I found myself again. I was an empty vessel during my marriage and once I left, I was able to blossom. I was given the ability to recreate myself, combining the old and new self. I took my selfless qualities and went on a new journey, touching lives.

Touching lives is exactly what I did. My home became open to girls who were struggling with substance abuse, mental health, and needed an unconditional space to be. I became involved in an all women’s recovery house. As I continue to evolve as a person, I embrace who I became based on the journey that I had been through. I made me. As my journey continues, I continue to do what I love, every single day. I am currently a Clinical Outreach for a substance abuse and mental health treatment center. A role that has given me the opportunity to continue to impact lives. To make a difference. To empower. To encourage. To guide. To support.

I have been entrusted with a gift that I value and that I am grateful for every single day. We all have a story. A story that started with us being brought into this world, a story that carried us through our childhood, and a story that has pushed us into adulthood. The direction that story goes is up to each one of us. Taking our past and creating our present. A present that is going to evolve into our future. The power is ours and nobody can take that power away. Make that story one that you are proud to live. Make your future yours. It is your story. Own it.

If you or a loved one is seeking help please reach out to, Recovery at The Crossroads – Where you never walk alone.

(888) 342-3881

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11 months ago ·

A Simple Explanation of the Relationship Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental Concept DesignMental health and substance abuse are undoubtedly linked. In the past, there was confusion about whether addiction or a mental health condition comes first. The reality of it seems to be that it’s different for everyone. Some people don’t experience mental health symptoms before using drugs, others use drugs to cover up mental health symptoms or it can be a mixture of the two.

Science is giving us a clearer understanding of mental health and substance abuse, so we’re better equipped than ever to help people with both. If you’re struggling with drug addiction, it’s crucial to diagnose and treat any co-occurring mental health issues as well. Otherwise, the uncontrollable feelings associated with poor mental health put you at an increased risk of relapse.

What Is Mental Illness?

Depressed man holding hand over faceMental illness describes feelings, thoughts, reactions and beliefs that differ from how the majority of people experience them. People who have a mental illness don’t necessarily look different on the outside, and many learn to mask their symptoms, but their brains work differently behind the scenes. This causes some people to start abusing alcohol or drugs in the first place, and those who don’t get treated for a co-occurring disorder are often held back from recovery success.

If you experience trauma, you’re more likely to develop a mental illness. This is because traumatic events are outside the realm of normality for most people in our society. However, the potential must be there in your genes — which is why not everyone who experiences trauma develops a mental health issue. These are the mental illnesses most closely associated with substance abuse:


Anxiety is best described as excessive, inappropriate fear of everyday situations and events. If you struggle with anxiety, abusing substances is appealing because it eases these feelings. Some common symptoms include:

  • Feeling on edge constantly
  • Focusing on worst-case scenarios
  • Nausea, trembling and dizziness
  • Racing heart
  • Jumpiness


Depression is a debilitating condition that clouds the judgment of the sufferer and prevents them from getting joy from life. People who are depressed might use stimulants to feel good or depressants to numb the pain. Of course, the overall effect is that these drugs make the depression worse. Some signs of depression are:

  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Feeling guilty and unworthy
  • Unable to experience pleasure

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder I and II are distinct, with the former often leading to hospitalization. Both include manic episodes in combination with episodes of depression. With Bipolar II, people go through hypomanic episodes, which aren’t as extreme. Symptoms of mania include:

  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs
  • Feelings of euphoria or intense irritability
  • Racing thoughts and talking fast

Conditions such as schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder also have high rates of comorbid addiction. But what is the relationship between mental health and substance abuse? Read on to find out.

What Is the Relationship Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse?

Abstract background with colorful puzzle piecesMental health and substance abuse cross over at specific points, with both drugs and mental illness causing delusions, impaired judgment and physical symptoms. A substance use disorder and a mental health issue can manifest suddenly at the same time, without any actual connection. Causation varies so much between people that it’s impossible to say that one causes the other or vice versa.

Drug and alcohol abuse unquestionably makes mental health problems worse, however. Although it might feel like it helps you in the short term, therapy and psychoeducation can help you to see how misguided that thinking is.

Our mental health is thought to be controlled by electrical connections in the brain. Alcohol and drug abuse tend to cause an influx of these, which feels great at the time but explains why you feel much worse during the comedown. Over time, you can heal your mental health, and therapy can help to retain those electrical connections so they work in your favor.

Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

There’s a striking connection between the most severe forms of mental illness and substance abuse. A serious mental illness is one that prevents you from functioning socially, professionally or interpersonally.

An astounding one in four individuals with a serious mental illness has also suffered from a substance use disorder. This is significantly higher than the one in 10 people without mental illness who have suffered from a SUD.

Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

Addiction appears in the DSM 5, which is the American medical journal dedicated to mental health disorders. People used to think that addictive behavior was the result of poor choices, but science seems to suggest otherwise. A mixture of genetic and environmental factors makes certain people more susceptible to the disease than others, which disproves any moral theories of addictions.

Young People, Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol dependence can start at any point in life but often begin in adolescence. Adolescents are more prone to mental health issues and, while their brains are still developing, they’re particularly at risk of addiction.

Research has shown that people who start any harmful addictive behavior in their teenage years — smoking, drinking, marijuana — are far more likely to struggle with addiction in later life. This was previously known as the gateway effect — which doesn’t go far enough in explaining what actually happens.

When young people use substances habitually, they’re setting up a pattern of behavior that usually requires rehab treatment to break. As such, youngsters’ mental health must be carefully monitored and looked after to give them the best chance of future success.

You Can’t Treat Addiction Without Addressing Mental Health

When performing the initial assessment for each individual, rehab centers must analyze patients for co-occurring mental health disorders. When illness of this kind goes untreated, it creates impulses, thoughts and feelings that make maintaining recovery extraordinarily challenging.

With the help of experienced professionals, you can untangle your mental health and substance abuse struggles. This leaves you free to gain the skills you need in the present to enjoy the future you want to have.

Get Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders Today

If you’re worried that you might be suffering from a mental health disorder that causes you to abuse substances, call Recovery at the Crossroads; a Jewish drug rehab in NJ at 888-342-3881.

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The Importance of Family Support

11 months ago ·

The Importance of Family Support

Isolation is addiction’s greatest antagonist. Without a stable support system an addicts
chances of maintaining sobriety are near impossible. Unfortunately, many of us in recovery are
learning that the hard way during quarantine; with relapses skyrocketing, and overdoses spiking
18.6% since the pandemic COVID-19 started in February (rollcall.com).

A recovering alcoholic myself, over the years I was told many times that I only had to
change one thing in my life to keep sober. That one thing was “everything’’. We are told to drop
our old ways of thinking, attend treatment, work a 12 step program, and build a strong sober
network. But what happens when those supports all seemingly vanish in one day? When
treatment centers can’t accept new clients, 12 step meetings are terminated indefinitely, and
your sober network is isolating in place?
COVID became the point where I realized sometimes family support is all I have, and it
can be enough.

Like most alcoholics, this was not always the case. My binge drinking tore my family
apart. I created a dynamic of dysfunction, blame, enabling, frustration and anger. As mentioned
earlier, isolation is addiction’s greatest antagonist, and isolation befriended me quickly. The
more my family tried to intervene, the more it hindered my ability to drink, and to stop drinking
was not an option.In their eyes I was driven, successful, focused, and unstoppable. I finished college and
started a career in Public Relations, was engaged in a healthy relationship, and had more
friends than they could remember names. They did not understand why I became a stranger,
losing interest in everything I loved, including them, stumbling into an alcoholic depression that
would last the better half of a year.

It was not until I had absolutely nothing left to lose that I decided to complete treatment. I
engulfed myself in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, a program that I was now ready to have
my family be a part of. Although my parents had attended al-anon meetings in the past, it was
important we worked through our emotions together, as I dismissed theirs and buried mine for
so long. In recovery, we often refer to our physical and emotional existence in active addiction
as “self”. We realize we became so far dissociated, that we have to take a step outside of
ourselves to even comprehend the choices we’ve made. It made me think, if we can not even
recognize ourselves, how do we think our families felt about our decisions?
The groups gave a platform for those discussions. They were guided personal
conversations of experience, strength, and hope, from diverse families with the same core
dysfunction. This did not change when the pandemic hit, but every family was able to go
through the new challenges together, so no addict and no family was alone.

COVID brought many to their knees, but I was able to stand on two feet because of the
support I had built over the years with the one aspect of recovery support that could not be
taken away from me. My family support.

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12 months ago ·

Does Insurance Cover Rehab?

Insurance logo and background of two people calculating and filling out formsIn 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, which expanded insurance coverage and created tax credits to make health insurance policies more affordable for low-income and middle-class Americans. With the ACA in effect, insurance companies are now required to provide coverage for drug rehab programs and mental health treatment options, which is good news for anyone considering outpatient or inpatient rehab for substance abuse or alcohol addiction. So, does insurance cover the cost of rehab? Treatment coverage varies by health insurance plans, but many plans now cover the following treatment services.

Inpatient Drug Rehab

When people ask “Does insurance cover rehab costs?” they’re usually wondering if their health insurance covers an inpatient treatment program. Residential drug treatment is ideal for people with severe addictions, as well as people who don’t have an adequate support system at home. In a residential substance abuse treatment program, you’ll receive the support and encouragement you need to discover the underlying causes of your addiction and get started on the path to recovery. Inpatient programs are highly structured to ensure you spend most of your time working on your physical and mental well-being.

Outpatient Drug Rehab

If you can’t take time away from your work or family obligations long enough to attend an inpatient rehabilitation program, outpatient rehab is an excellent alternative. Our outpatient programs in NJ are well-suited for people with strong family support systems as it allows you to receive daily addiction treatment and then return to your home each evening. You may even be able to receive outpatient treatment around your work or school schedule.

Your health insurance may cover a day program or an intensive outpatient program, both of which can help you uncover the root causes of your addiction and learn how to overcome life’s challenges without drinking or using drugs. A day program involves attending daily meetings for five to seven days per week at a rehab center. These meetings may last for several hours and include individual therapy, group therapy, meditation and other therapies designed to help you address your addiction and your overall mental health.

Intensive outpatient treatment involves attending frequent meetings at the beginning of the program and reducing your attendance as you gain control of your addiction. Once you set your treatment goals, you’ll participate in a variety of therapies to help you avoid relapse and learn how to respond to your addiction triggers. These therapies may include group therapy, individual therapy, music therapy and art therapy.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Young man is talking to therapist about his mental health If you have a substance abuse and behavioral health disorder, you have what’s known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses. Research shows that having a mental illness increases the risk for addiction, which means it’s important to treat both disorders at the same time. You may need medication or therapy for your mental illness and inpatient or outpatient treatment facility for your addiction.

For people with co-occurring disorders, drug and alcohol rehab centers typically offer an integrated approach, which involves treating the disorders together instead of receiving treatment from a separate set of professionals. Insurance may cover medications, therapy sessions and other elements of your treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Medication Assisted Treatment

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to recover from an addiction without professional help is because the withdrawal period can cause serious physical and psychological symptoms. When you stop using alcohol or drugs, you may experience nausea, vomiting, shaking, chills or other symptoms that make it difficult to abstain from substance use.

Medication assisted treatment is a safer option, as it involves treatment at a rehab facility staffed by experienced professionals who can help you detox from drugs or alcohol in a supervised environment. At a drug treatment center, you may receive medications to lessen the severity of your symptoms and make you more comfortable while you complete the withdrawal process.

Follow-Up Care

Once you complete the initial rehab process, your health insurance company may also cover follow-up care to ensure you continue to abstain from alcohol and drugs. Follow-up care may include ongoing therapy sessions or continuing care at a treatment provider. Continuing care is important because it can help you avoid relapse and learn how to better manage stress without turning to alcohol or drugs.

Does insurance cover rehab? It’s important to note that, traditionally, insurance doesn’t cover the rent at a sober living home. There is usually a private pay rental fee that can vary from agency to agency. In an outpatient treatment setting, you may be responsible for your rent outside of your treatment in an affiliated facility.

Regardless of your coverage, the compassionate staff members at Recovery at the Crossroads are standing by to answer your questions and get you or your loved one started on the road to recovery. Contact our NJ drug rehab today at 888-342-3881 for help overcoming your addiction.

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