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Our Accreditations and Memberships

The employees of Recovery First Treatment Centers’ 3 facilities in Florida are committed to their patients and are passionate about their journeys to sobriety. To prove our dedication to addiction treatment and recovery, as well as the exemplary nature of our facilities, we are always on the lookout to become members of or earn accreditations from top organizations in the country that monitor the health and human services industry.

Below are the honors our facilities in Florida currently hold.

Accreditation from The Joint Commission

The Behavioral Health Care Accreditation from The Joint Commission demonstrates to those we serve, as well as their families, our staff, and the community our “organization’s ongoing commitment to safe, high quality care, treatment [and] services.”

Our parent company, American Addiction Centers, has several facilities around the U.S. accredited by The Joint Commission. This Gold Seal of Approval is incredibly meaningful to Recovery First and validates our promise to continually improving patient care.

Read more.

National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH) Member

Just like Recovery First, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare “advocates for behavioral healthcare and represents provider systems that are committed to the delivery of responsive, accountable, and clinically effective prevention, treatment and care” for people with mental health and substance use disorders.

By being a member of the NABH, Recovery First and its parent company American Addiction Centers demonstrates our dedication to excellence and quality patient care.

Read more. 

Fair Care Promise Signee

“We stand together in the notion that safe, ethical standards of care are a universal right,” the Fair Care Promise website states. Recovery First agrees.

That’s why we’ve signed the Fair Care Promise, which means we’ll never sell a referral or broker a client. This promise proves our dedication not only to our patients, but to their support systems too. Abiding by FCP standards is just one of the many ways Recovery First proves we put the patient first.

Read more.

Accreditation from CARF

When an organization has an accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), it’s a demonstration of “accountability and conformance to internationally accepted standards that promote excellence in your services.”

Recovery First’s three facilities in Florida meet CARF’s standards and have proven our commitment to being among the best available options for addiction treatment.

We are proud to have such recognition.

Read more.

Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Family Services

American Addiction Centers and all of its facilities understand that choosing a treatment facility for addiction is a difficult task and that you have a lot of options. Florida’s Department of Children and Family makes sure that when you’re making that difficult choice, the facility you chose provides the quality care you’re looking for.

As a facility licensed through the Florida Department of Children and Family, Recovery First meets the state’s requirements for health and human services related to addiction care.

Read more.

BBB A+ Rating

An A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau not only means you have a top tier business, but that you are an organization that customers can trust. And when you are considering an addiction treatment facility, trust is paramount. American Addiction Centers, Recovery First’s parent company, proudly holds this prestigious rating from the BBB.

Through integrity, continuous improvement, and high performance, Recovery First has a track record for delivering results—treating patients who suffer from addiction and guiding them on their path to recovery.

About The Contributor
Laura Close
Senior Web Content Editor, American Addiction Centers
Laura Close is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert at Recovery First Treatment Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and has nearly a decade in professional editing experience... Read More

Florida: Among States with the Highest Toll from Opioids

“Every eight minutes someone dies from a drug overdose. Most of the time it’s from an opioid, like heroin or illicit fentanyl, but also opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone – the ones prescribed by doctors.” This is how Dr. Sanjay Gupta started the video that accompanied CNN’s news brief on “These states have been hit the hardest by America’s opioid epidemic.”

Dr. Gupta went on to explain how taking too much of these opioids can be fatal. Although they dull pain and boost dopamine, they come with a downside. Make that “many downsides.” That’s because the body builds up a tolerance to opioids and, as a result, users need increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effects. What’s more, habitual users become dependent on them because they override the amount of these substances that the body naturally produces on its own. Ergo, if you suddenly stop taking opioids, you may go into withdrawal.

Prolonged use of high doses of opioids is the making of a vicious cycle. The more you take, they more you need. The more you take and need, the higher the risk becomes for overdosing. On that last note, Dr. Gupta ends his video clip by saying: “More Americans now die from opioids than from guns.”

Other sources weighed in on this crisis too. A recent study that addresses the high mortality rates from opioids from 1999 to 2016 is a case in point. The postdoctoral fellow who led this research, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open, summed up the findings succinctly. He reported: “We found that, in general, mortality is skyrocketing.”

What led this researcher and his team to come to that conclusion? The details are telling.

For raw information, they turned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics and the US Census. They worked with this data to identify the number of opioid-related deaths over the 18-year study period. The total came to 351,630 mortalities; that, in turn, represented an increase of 455% over this time. As for the gender breakdown, men died, on average, at age 39.8; women expired at 43.5 years.

What’s even more stunning is the declaimer the researchers added. They noted the number of deaths from opioids likely is underreported. The deaths from synthetic opioids is at issue here.

Pinpointing them is not a simple step; it requires additional testing by a medical examiner.

Geographical Spread, Including Florida

As alluded to directly above, not all opioids are the same. By way of background, synthetic opioids are manmade. Fentanyl is one example of a drug that falls into the category of synthetic opioids. There also other kinds of opioids. Semi-synthetic opioids is one of them; hydrocodone and oxycodone are in this bucket. There are natural opioids as well, which include codeine and morphine.

Opioids differ. So too do areas of the country in how they have fared in the opioid crisis. In eight states – Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Ohio – opioid-related deaths at least doubled every three years. Take special note here: three had rates that at least doubled every two years. Those states/jurisdictions are Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The other in this triad is Florida.

“To talk about solutions, you have to frame the problem the right way,” suggests the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University. That entails viewing the opioid crisis not as an overdose epidemic, but as an addiction epidemic.

The leader of the reference study agrees. “We need to make treatment at least as accessible, available and affordable as heroin,” he stated. And he added: “It shouldn’t be harder to get help than it is to get heroin.”

Recovery First Is Here to Help

In south Florida, Recovery First stands by its motto: Your Recovery Begins Here. This premier drug and alcohol rehabilitation center operates in Hollywood. All offer clients customized care to achieve their goals. From medically-monitored detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment, clients receive the services that best suit them. Whatever they require, client needs are the focus at Recovery First.

Part of the trusted American Addiction Centers’ network, Recovery First has earned the distinction to display the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission. Do you need help? Does a loved one? Visit our admissions page. Start the process to sobriety. Read about rather than become one of the statistics reported in this post.

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Read More from Sherry M. Adler:

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk for Opioid Addiction Awareness

Shhh…Not in a Quiet Way, Libraries Help Victims of Opioids

About The Contributor
Sherry M. Adler covers a wide range of industries and topics as a freelance writer. She has a passion for her craft and the world at large. Dedicated to using the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders, she named her business WriteResults... Read More

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk for Opioid Addiction Awareness

She’s not only walking the walk, but also talking the talk.

According to a news clip on WPTV West Palm Beach, Jessie Grieb, a young woman from South Carolina, is doing both. On a self-proclaimed mission, she is on the path – literally and figuratively – to enhance awareness about opioid addiction. And she is racking up many miles to highlight the devastation that can befall those in the grips of this scourge.

A local reporter caught up with Jessie in South Florida recently. When they met, she had covered about 2,000 miles by foot. Calling her trek the “East Coast Overdose Awareness Walk,” Jessie started her journey on July 23, 2018. Since then, she has averaged 15 to 20 miles per day on the route from the Canadian border in Maine to Key West.

That’s the walk. The talk involves speaking at events and to groups along the way. For example, she addressed a seminar at Palm Beach State College. Jessie is well equipped to engage and inform audiences. She has firsthand experience with opioid addiction. She’s lucky that she achieved recovery. Her brother and her boyfriend didn’t. They overdosed and died.

Those tragedies set her plan and her feet in motion. She took inspiration from a friend’s walk across country for the same purpose. Jessie chose instead to focus on the Eastern seaboard. The latter portion of her course holds special significance for her. For south Florida is where she lived for five years to receive substance abuse treatment in rehab centers and stay in halfway houses. So did the ones she loved, who fell victims to their struggles and departed the world within a month of each other.

Jessie is walking to honor those she lost to opioids and to heal. She’s also sharing her own story and hoping to inspire those in need to seek help.

Quick Dip into the Data

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show an alarming trend. From 1999 to 2017, drug overdoses took the lives of more than 700,000 people in the U.S. During that period, opioids were responsible for almost 400,000 deaths; and that involved both prescription and illicit opioids. In the last decade alone, the number of deaths from drug overdoses rose dramatically. How much? Twofold. In 2017, more than 70,200 Americans succumbed to overdoses from opioids. That amount is six times higher than in 1999. What accounted for the steepest increases? Fentanyl and fentanyl synthetic narcotics.

On average, 130 people in this country die every day from opioid overdoses. The CDC refers to the problem as “an epidemic.” The data shows this crisis affects both genders. Overall, however, more males have died from drug overdoses than women.

Awareness First

Drawing attention to this issue, as our hero Jessie strives to do, is the Recovery First frontfirst step toward a solution. Accessing treatment services comes next. There are many options available in the south Florida area for those suffering from substance abuse. Recovery First, which proudly bears the gold seal of approval from The Joint Commission, has a facility in Hollywood. We offer a full continuum of care, including medical detox, residential treatment, a partial hospital program, intensive outpatient programs, and sober living program. Our focus is on customized treatment based on a person’s needs.

Visit the admissions tab on our website to get help for yourself or a loved one.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Should Possession of Cocaine Be a Felony in Florida?

 

When police did a sweep of three fire stations across Key West, a firefighter was arrested for possession of 0.02 grams of cocaine – or about 22 milligrams of coke, a few granules. A search of his phone revealed a history of texts to an unidentified drug dealer through whom he arranged to exchange money for cocaine. A search of the bedroom where he was staying revealed a duffle bag that contained supplies to fake a clean urine test: a bottle containing urine and heat wraps sold over the counter to treat back pain that would bring the bottle of urine to the right temperature for a test.

This firefighter and one other were fired after the investigation, but only the firefighter found with the cocaine granules and test faking supplies was arrested. Though possession of any amount of cocaine is considered a felony in Florida, it is unclear whether or not the former firefighter will be prosecuted.

State Attorney Dennis Ward had not seen the arrest reports and would not comment on the specifics of the case when interviewed, but he said that criminal charges would hinge on whether or not there was enough of the drug to be tested at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s drug lab.

Said Ward: “Depending on what happens at the lab, if there’s enough to go forward, we’ll go forward. If there’s not, obviously we can’t go forward.”

What do you think? If the amount seized in the drug bust does withstand testing at the lab, do you think felony charges are appropriate?

Behind the Times

Due to its proximity to South and Central Americas, Florida is very often the point of entry for major drug traffickers entering the country. As a result, lawmakers have drawn a very heavy line in the sand when it comes to prosecuting those who are busted with any amount of what are considered to be “hard” drugs. Mere possession is no excuse in the eyes of the court, and they want to make it clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy for drug dealers.

However, those hardest hit by these laws are often people who are grappling with drug abuse or addiction issues. Going to prison for a felony charge that carries a minimum sentence of multiple years in prison for using and abusing drugs seems like it will do little to help someone who has already lost their job and needs help to get back on solid ground. Laws like these are a holdover from the War on Drugs years that have been proven time and again to only exacerbate the problem of addiction rather than to limit the problems associated with addiction in Florida.

Is Change Coming to Florida?

With Jeff Sessions urging Florida prosecutors to seek the death penalty wherever possible in drug trafficking cases, the current political climate does not seem to be very lenient when it comes to addressing drug-related charges. However, political winds continually shift, and with the burden of an overpopulated and underfunded prison system, legislators may be more swiftly moving toward changes that will lighten the load of prisons across the state. Money spent on housing prisoners would be far more effectively spent on connecting those same people with addiction treatment services that will help them to free themselves from the harm caused by chronic drug use. With the right intervention and support as well as the incentive of staying out of prison, arrest for possession could be a positive and life-changing event rather than the leveling blow to the individual and their families that it currently is.

Treatment Now

If someone you love is putting their life, their job, and their freedom at risk with continued use of substances, the time is now to help them get treatment that will help them to heal. Comprehensive care that includes medical detox as well as exposure to a variety of different types of therapies and holistic treatment is recommended, especially when it is followed by long-term aftercare and support transitioning into sobriety in the community.

Are you ready to help your family member take a step closer to treatment that can change their life?

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Don’t Let a Breakup Destroy Your Recovery

inforgraphic on way to recovery from a breakup while in recovery

You’ve heard it time and again: Don’t date in early recovery. But maybe you decided to continue with a relationship you were in before you entered treatment, or maybe you’ve been in recovery for a while and thought you were “safe.” Or maybe you thought, “What do they know? Alex and Terry got together during their first month in treatment, and they’ve been together for 10 years. Why can’t that be me?”

However you got to this place, here you are – with a broken heart, depression, low self-esteem, and wondering if relapse is right around the corner.

The bad news is that breakups suck. There’s no two ways about it. The good news is that, while feelings in recovery can be deep and extreme, this, like all other overwhelming emotions, will pass.

Here’s how to get through that post-breakup period without losing your recovery.

Maintain a wide berth between you and your ex. There is no need to keep texting your ex, seeing them at meetings if they go, or trying to be “friends.” At least not now. Right now, your focus needs to be off the relationship completely and on things that matter in sobriety.

Find new meetings. If you used to go to meetings with your ex, change things up and hit some different meetings. Meetings should be focused on building stability in recovery, not a time to focus on your ex sitting across the room.

Give yourself permission to grieve appropriately. Breakups can be sad. They can hurt or make you angry. You don’t have to silence these feelings. In fact, talk to your therapist and/or your sponsor and work through your feelings in a safe place with safe people.

Address the pain aspect. Many experts say that feeling physical pain is normal during a loss – and that taking acetaminophen may help. Otherwise, you can also get a massage, go to yoga, or do other gentle exercises designed to help you strengthen and stretch your body.

Strengthen the other important bonds in your life. Your friends, your family, people you know in recovery – they are the ones who are going to be there for you to let you know that you are supported in recovery and to help you stay sober as well.

Refocus on Recovery

Once you’ve given yourself some space and started to put important friendships and recovery into focus in your life, it’s time to really amp things up in your recovery. This means thinking hard about how you began to lose traction in your recovery plan, what areas you feel need the most attention, and how best to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

In order to do this, you can:

  • Work with a substance abuse treatment professional. A therapist, a life coach, or another professional who is familiar with helping people find their way in recovery is the best choice as you embark on your new journey. It is helpful to have an objective viewer assist you as you determine what your next goal in recovery should be and how best to create a plan that will help you accomplish that goal most efficiently.
  • Keep an open mind. It may be that your therapist or life coach suggests you do some things that feel uncomfortable to improve your health, your focus, or your friendships. It’s okay to feel the fear associated with that – but do it anyway. You never know when you will stumble into something amazing.
  • Give your best effort. No matter what it is that you are trying to do or what part of your journey toward your new recovery goal you are currently in, give it everything you’ve got.
  • Regularly assess how you are doing and what, if anything, needs to be changed. Even if you feel that things are moving along or you are not concerned about your progress, make sure to keep checking in anyway. Meeting regularly with your therapist, case manager, or other substance abuse treatment professional can help you to better understand how to move forward and grow stronger in recovery.
About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

‘Zombie’ Drug No Laughing Matter in Florida Prisons

Rows of prison cells, prison interior.

Inmates, corrections officers, and the Florida Department of Corrections agree: Synthetic drugs are a serious problem in the Florida prison system. Inmates are using these drugs regularly enough that it is normal to see them walking around like “zombies,” passing out into their food trays, or having a seizure and foaming at the mouth.

Unfortunately, a former employee at Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp reports that the situation is seen as a joke by both inmates and employees alike. However, drugs are killing inmates in Tomoka Correctional Institute and in other facilities across the state, and action needs to be taken now.

The drug most commonly found in Florida prisons is a synthetic drug that most often goes by the name K2 or Spice. Experts estimate that this substance causes the bulk of the hundreds of overdose death that happen among inmates annually (as many as 500 deaths total are expected in Florida prisons this year). It is the same drug that caused the 70+ overdoses in Connecticut over a four-hour period this month, and families are scared that their loved one will be the next victim of the drug.

Hard to Treat

Unlike the overdoses caused by opiate drugs like heroin or painkillers, there is no medication available that can stop an overdose caused by K2 and save the life of the individual in crisis. Synthetic cannabinoids sold on the street and smuggled into prisons do not have a specific chemical makeup, which means that they can contain any number of compounds and chemicals. For medical professionals arriving on the scene to help, there is no way to know exactly what was ingested and respond accordingly. To make matters worse, many inmates try to cover for each other or otherwise stop corrections officers from finding out what is happening in order to avoid punishment, which can further delay or stop them from getting the care they need.

Understaffed, Underfunded

The budget has been an ongoing issue, not just in Florida but in prison systems across the country. The budget set aside to run state-managed prisons has been cut and cut until there is very little left to manage the basic care and upkeep of inmates and the buildings they live in. This has led to a host of problems, including:

  • Not enough staff members: With low budgets, there is not enough money to provide the amount of staff needed to ensure that prisoners and visitors are not smuggling contraband into the facility, much less to intervene immediately and effectively when mental health or medical issues flare up.
  • Low-paid staff: Not only is there not enough money to hire enough staff, the staff members who are employed by the prison are underpaid. This means a high turnover rate and an increased likelihood that staff members will seek to augment their income by smuggling cellphones, drugs, alcohol, and other contraband into the prison.
  • Little to no mental health or drug addiction treatment for inmates: When there is not enough in the budget to pay employees well and manage the grounds effectively, there is almost nothing allotted to mental health treatment or drug addiction treatment services for inmates – even though a significant portion of the inmate population struggles with drug abuse issues and/or mental health issues that often played a role in the crimes they committed to end up in correction facilities.
  • Lack of oversight: With everyone on staff stretched thin, there is not enough time to continually train employees and update training as needed or for upper-level employees to be everywhere they are needed at once. This means that those in charge may not be available to recognize a problem in its early stages or to be proactive when addressing issues that are increasing in severity.

Where Do We Go from Here?

It is not just the inmates who are struggling due to the conditions of Florida corrections facilities but also corrections officers and the families of all involved. Exposure to drug use and violence on a daily basis is difficult, and for families at home who never know what to expect, it can add to the stress and trauma associated with imprisonment.

Is your loved one living with an addiction while incarcerated? Are you concerned that jail or a return to jail may be coming next for your family member? The time is now to learn more about treatment options that can help turn things around for the whole family.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Pro Tip: Do Not Bring Drugs to Jury Duty

Empty jury box in court room

Does the reminder not to bring drugs into a courthouse seem unnecessary? To many, it seems as obvious as saying, “Don’t forget to drive on the right side of the road.” For people living in active addiction, it is one of those things that can happen accidentally and ultimately serve as a blessing in disguise.

At West Pasco Judicial Center in Pasco County, Florida, a woman recently reported for jury duty with a pocket full of drugs and paraphernalia. She set off alarms as she went through security screening at the courthouse entrance. When searched, Pasco County officers found that she was carrying packets of white powder and a straw that carried traces of methamphetamine. The white powder was determined to be cocaine.

The woman was arrested and booked at the Land O’Lakes Jail and will face charges of possession of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and meth. She reportedly told officers that she “forgot [the drugs and paraphernalia] were in her pants pocket.”

She has the opportunity to make some life-changing choices and improve her life for the better now that an addiction that was previously undercover has been revealed.

Small Mistakes, Big Consequences

Though it may sound like a ridiculous mistake to many, everyone who has spent time in active addiction can relate. There are many stories about people inadvertently forgetting a metal pipe in their bag and trying to board a plane, running a red light with open containers in plain view, calling the cops to ask for help dealing with people who stole their drugs, and other seemingly improbable events. But it doesn’t stop there.

Everyone in active addiction has said or done something to a loved one that hurt the relationship, gotten behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, stolen a precious object from a loved one, hurt someone physically, or otherwise taken risks due to chronic and heavy use of substances. This focus on sustaining addiction above all else is par for the course in an addiction disorder. The longer that one uses mind-altering substances, the more the function of the brain is altered, with a steady shift toward increased cravings and impulsive behaviors chosen based on their ability to address those cravings.

It is only with treatment that includes medical detox and intensive therapeutic support that someone living in addiction will be able to safely stop using all drugs and begin making choices that are based on clear thinking and a focus on wellness.

The Blessing in Disguise

Though in the moment it may feel like terrible luck to make a mistake that results in life-changing consequences like arrest, that moment has the potential to be the catalyst for incredible and positive growth. When it is clear to you, law enforcement, and those who are close to you that your use of substances has reached a crisis point, action can be taken to connect you with the services that will help you to heal. In many cases, Florida police can help to connect those arrested on drug-related charges to treatment right away. If accomplished through the Florida drug courts, depending on the specifics of the case, the choice to enroll in treatment can ultimately result in no jail time and potentially an expunged record.

If there is no support through the court system, private drug rehab programs here in Florida can be of assistance. In the months and years following an arrest for a drug-related crime, entering drug addiction treatment and staying sober can demonstrate to your probation officer and/or the court that you are genuinely working to make positive changes and support your community – perhaps even by serving on jury duty.

Additionally, because you are sober, you can get and maintain steady employment, find a safe place to live, support your kids if needed, and show that you are growing in recovery – not only to the courts but to yourself and your family.

What will encourage you to take the steps necessary to get the help you need? Arrest? Overdose? Accident? Don’t wait for the worst to happen. Take steps to help yourself in recovery now.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

5 Reasons Not Having Kids in Recovery Might Be the Right Choice for You

infographic about the downsides thinking about having kids while in recovery

If you do not already have a child but you are thinking that having a baby is one of the things you “should” do in recovery to have a family and a “normal” life, think again. This is one of those decisions that sounds like a no-brainer, something that “everybody” does and has nothing to do with staying sober, but in actuality, it is a huge and life-changing decision that can have a significant impact on your recovery.

Raising children is not for everyone. No matter how many people have shared that having a baby “saved their life” in recovery, this is not a viable methodology for sustained sobriety. More people have been unable to stay sober despite having one or more kids and ultimately hurt themselves and their children.

Here are just a few reasons why choosing not to have kids may be the key to freedom in recovery that you are looking for.

1. Stress

Stress and the ability to avoid relapse in recovery are intricately connected. In fact, a large part of drug rehab and aftercare services focuses specifically on helping you to identify sources of stress and deal with them healthfully. Then, the goal is to keep your overall level of stress as low as possible.

Babies are stressful. Children are stressful. They almost constantly demand your attention, and just when you think you have a moment to yourself, they interrupt and ask for just one more thing or the same thing you’ve said “no” to 100 times. Or they spill something. Or they start climbing on something, touch something toxic, or otherwise make a choice that will threaten their life if you do not intervene. They require 24-hour supervision, and when you are in recovery, the weight of knowing that this little person is dependent on you to stay alive can be heavy indeed.

2. Money

Everyone knows that kids are expensive. As much as diapers and childcare cost during the baby through preschool years, kids actually get more expensive every year. If you have a child, you can no longer justify crashing on couches, being around anyone who drinks heavily or uses drugs, or making choices that put your job at risk. In addition to staying sober, you have to make sure that you have enough money coming in at all times to ensure that your children have a roof over their heads in a safe neighborhood and, if roommates are a necessity, with sober people. You can’t live off ramen during rent week and expect them to do the same. Kids need stability, which means that, in recovery, you are tasked with creating stability, not just for yourself but for your child as well.

3. Health

While it is true that pregnancy takes a toll on the body and on your emotions, it is the months and years after the baby comes home that are arguably more treacherous for your physical and mental health. Hormonal changes can last for the first couple years after giving birth, and for mothers and fathers alike, continually interrupted sleep can deeply harm the ability to think clearly, maintain priorities, manage emotion, and otherwise handle the stressors associated with building a new life in recovery. All of this can make it harder to stay sober while simultaneously creating more triggers for relapse.

4. Leaving the House

If you enjoy taking impromptu road trips in the middle of the night, taking long plane rides or car trips anywhere, or even just putting on your shoes and going for a walk with no destination – or a destination that is quiet like a movie theater, a library, or a museum – put those plans on hold. Babies and young children do not travel easily, and there is nothing spontaneous about bringing them anywhere unless you are willing to stop and buy diapers, clothes, food, and whatever else they need as they need it.

5. Goals

Do you want to go back to school and get a degree? Write a book about your experience in addiction? Become a substance abuse treatment counselor and give back to your community? It’s not impossible, but it will be harder and take longer if you have kids. With limited sleep and money, and one more distraction, it will certainly be more of a challenge to get where you want to be in sobriety.

Are you considering having kids in recovery? Have you taken the time to think it through, talk to your therapeutic team, and come up with a plan to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your recovery?

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Is Marco Rubio Responsible for the Nation’s Heroin Epidemic?

woman looks into camera holding needle out in front of her

Recently, The Palm Beach Post released a series of stories that delved deep into the role that Florida played in the development of the opiate addiction crisis in the US. According to the investigative series, it is Florida legislators who did nothing to stop the proliferation of so-called pill mills for 10+ years that are most to blame, Marco Rubio included.

During that period, Florida pill mills were legendary and often a tourist destination, with people coming in from out of state by the busloads to get easy access to addictive pills. This made it simple for people who developed an addiction to their medication and those who abused opiate painkillers recreationally to connect with a steady stream of drugs to maintain that addiction.

In this way, opiate addiction spread across the country rapidly. Though started by unsafe practices by prescription drug manufacturers and loose prescribing procedures by doctors, it was proliferated by people in power in the medical community and the government who saw what was happening in terms of increasing rates of overdose and families destroyed by addiction and did nothing.

Though the investigation is ongoing into who exactly is responsible for the opiate epidemic, it is clear that government officials in Florida played a significant role, and Marco Rubio personally was a player in that process.

It’s All about the Prescription Drug Monitoring Database in Florida

Currently, like most states, Florida has a statewide prescription drug monitoring database for doctors and pharmacists to monitor the use of addictive medications by patients. Called the Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation, or E-FORCSE, doctors use it by entering the medications and doses as well as other controlled substances that they prescribe to patients. This allows other doctors to check the database and avoid doubling up on similar scripts. It also offers pharmacists the opportunity to double check the dosage and make sure that no mistakes or fraudulent attempts to divert the pills are slipping through the cracks.

It is a wildly successful system that Marco Rubio reportedly blocked with his single vote back in 2002 when the painkiller abuse problem was building up steam. Some say that it was not an opposition to the system that caused him to vote against it and stop the legislation from moving forward, but a revenge move pointed at another politician who had blocked one of his measures with his single vote.

We can’t know whether or not there would have been another barrier to the bill further down the line if Rubio had not blocked it. What we do know is that the process stopped with him. Between 2002 and 2011, when E-FORCSE was finally implemented, about 35,000 people in Florida would die of a painkiller overdose.

This Is Not a New Revelation

Surrounding state governments have long been frustrated with Florida’s lack of action against the opiate painkiller problem exploding within their borders, not because they are concerned about Floridians but because the pills from Florida have caused serious health problems with addiction in their own states. In 2011, Governor Rick Scott considered putting the brakes on E-FORCSE, and government officials in Kentucky spoke out against the move.

Many experts say that more than half of the illicit pills in states like Kentucky during that time came straight from Florida, but the fact is that pills from Florida drove illicit painkiller use and abuse not just in neighboring states but across the country. For this reason, federal lawmakers weighed in as well.

Congressman Hal Rogers was chairman of the US House Appropriations Committee at that time. He reportedly wrote to Scott on two separate occasions, “alarmed and dismayed” that the governor was trying to repeal the database in a bill that he connected with his budget proposal.

Rogers wrote: “The notion of canceling Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program is equal to firing firefighters while your house is ablaze … Your state’s participation is paramount to the success of our nation in fighting this problem, helping addicts get treatment and prosecuting pushers.”

What Do You Think?

Who is responsible for the opiate epidemic in the US? Did Florida officials play a role? Is enough being done today to save the lives of people living with an addiction to opiate drugs?

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Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

It’s Happening: Florida Court Arrested Drug Dealer on Historic Federal Charges

Man arrested by police after committing a crime

A few months ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Florida and met with prosecutors, urging them to apply the death penalty whenever possible when dealing with drug dealers. The idea behind this was that if a drug dealer could be linked to an overdose death caused by their product, then they were in fact murderers under the law and should be treated as such in court proceedings.

Fast forward to this month, and Hillsborough County is putting this concept into practice. Working together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, detectives charged a 22-year-old drug dealer with distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, a federal charge. The mandatory penalty for this charge is life in federal prison.

Do you think this is an appropriate legal response?

Proponents

This is the first case in which someone has been charged with the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, and for those who support this attempt to get the drug epidemic in the United States in check, it has been too long in coming. Supporters say that there are a number of benefits to connecting drug overdose deaths and life sentences or even the death penalty for those who played a role in that overdose, including:

  • Removing one more drug dealer from the streets who is selling poison
  • Disrupting the organizations that are selling drugs.
  • Deterring others who might step up and take a jailed drug dealer’s place.
  • Stopping those who are actively selling drugs across the country.

Ultimately, the idea is that if the penalty for drug sales is steep enough, it will stop people from dealing, removing these substances from the market or significantly limiting their supply. This would then theoretically encourage those living with addiction to get the help they need when they can’t get the drugs they want.

Naysayers

Others look at the increased and harsh penalties for any drug-related crime and see a replay of the so-called “War on Drugs” that was launched in the 1970s by President Richard Nixon. Over the next 20–30 years, naysayers point out that the problems associated with drugs continued and increased, and new problems compounded the issues, including:

  • Overcrowding of jails and prisons.
  • Destruction of families that were torn apart for years by prison sentences.
  • Criminalization of addiction since many who sell drugs or had it in their possession only did so because they were living with an addiction.
  • Overrunning of prisons by drug cartels and gangs.
  • Increased pressure on the foster system, welfare system, Medicare system, and nonprofits in support of the individuals who cannot take advantage of government social support systems because they have a history drug convictions.

In short, those against the proposition would say that this 22-year-old drug dealer’s life will be ruined based on a single mistake. He will have no chance of rehabilitation or access to the mental health and drug addiction treatment that might save his life, literally and figuratively, and give him the opportunity to give back to the community he once harmed.

Those who support this man’s lifelong incarceration in response to the part he played in the drug overdose victim’s death would say that locking him up will save countless lives of those on the street who are living with an addiction and save their families as well.

Where Do You Stand?

For most people, the decision on how best to deal with drug dealers and drug traffickers in the courts is significantly impacted by their personal experience with addiction and overdose. Those who have lost a loved one to overdose may find great relief in the notion that the person who contributed to the death of their family member will suffer for their choices as much as they are suffering from the loss. Those who have loved someone who turned to criminal behaviors, including drug sales, in an effort to manage their use of drugs may wish for lighter sentences and the hope that it brings for their families.

Unfortunately, no conviction will remove the pain of loss of a loved one, and prison terms, no matter how long, will not repair the underlying issues driving the choice to sell drugs and put the lives of others at risk. For those who are driven by addiction or who have substance abuse issues in response to grief, the best possible path forward is through comprehensive drug addiction treatment that includes treatment for co-occurring mental health issues if necessary.

Do you or your loved one need treatment to begin the process of moving forward in life and away from the consequences of addiction? Is now the time to find out more about available treatment services for you and your family?

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Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

All the Things You Don’t Know About Addiction

If you have lived in active addiction for a while, or you have spent months or years living with someone who has an active addiction, you may think you know everything there is to know on the subject. The fact is, however, that those who are closest to it may not even realize that they are making life and death choices based on fictions that are not accurate.

Here are some of the truths:

Addiction is bigger than you. The impact of your drug use and abuse goes so much further than you and your family. Though you bear the immediate physical brunt and your entire family suffers emotionally, the financial cost hits your community and the rest of the country hard, and your use may even be contributing to the deaths of people you have never met before. It’s a harsh truth, but if you are interested in radical social justice and believe that you have a “right” to do what you want with your body in terms of getting high, you are actually making a decision that costs billions of dollars and an untold number of innocent lives.

If you are living with addiction, you cannot “cure” yourself. We’ve all heard stories of people who walked away from heavy, long-term addictions using nothing but willpower and never looked back. Those stories are either fabricated or untrue. If it were possible to simply decide to get sober and make it happen, far more people would do it.

Addiction is a chronic disorder just like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, and as such, it is not something that can be fixed without medical intervention. For those who experience withdrawal symptoms, medical detox is necessary to stop use of substances safely. For those who have mental health issues contributing to their use of substances, drug rehab must include treatment that addresses those issues. For those who use substances as a way to cope with trauma, difficult emotions, or even boredom, treatment is the best possible way back to balance in recovery.

Addiction treatment does work. Addiction treatment is not a cure-all for addiction, but persistent engagement with a comprehensive and well-resourced drug addiction program will empower anyone living with active addiction to move toward long-term and sustainable sobriety. This is not a magical process that is guaranteed to occur within a 30-day, 90-day, or year-long program. Each person is different, each person’s response to treatment is different, and each treatment program is different. There are no guarantees other than it is necessary to find a drug rehab that offers a range of research-based treatment services, that can be tailored to meet your needs, and that provides the follow-up care and support you require to make the transition into sober life.

Not everyone needs a heavy-duty treatment program. It is not necessary for every person living with addiction to enroll in a year-long residential treatment program in order to build a solid foundation in recovery. Addiction occurs along a spectrum, meaning that there are some people who are addicted to a low-dose amount of a single drug after a short period of use as well as people who have been heavily addicted to high-dose amounts of several drugs of abuse for decades—and everyone in between. Depending on your needs, it may be a more effective approach to start with an outpatient treatment program, choose a drug rehab that is out of state, or find one that offers intensive mental health treatment.

Relapse does not mean that addiction treatment was unsuccessful. Addiction is a disorder that is often defined by relapse. There are a number of medical disorders that fall into this category, including diabetes, asthma, and more. When compared to the relapse rates experienced by patients living with those disorders, people in recovery for drug addiction relapse no more frequently than they do and in fact less frequently than people living with asthma and hypertension.

If drug and alcohol use is causing you to struggle in your relationships, to have run-ins with the law, or to fear for your job and financial stability, it is time to learn more about what type of treatment services will best support you in turning your life around. Are you ready to find out more about what you don’t know about addiction, treatment, and recovery?

Infographic of addiction in the US stats and facts
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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More