President Obama commuted the sentences of 8 Americans as part of an effort to commensurate the great differences in the criminal justice system. As New Hope Recovery Center discussed previously in America's Failed Drug Policy, crack cocaine and powder cocaine held dramatically different sentences, while both substances were harmful and illegal and were essentially the same drug but were different in form. If these offenders were charged with having powder cocaine they would have a much lessor sentence. The law was changed in 2010 to remove these drastic differences, but for those who are already locked up, the change had no meaning as they were sentenced when the law did not stand. Although 8 offenders is a very small amount of people compared to the thousands are that still unjustly incarcerated, we are happy to see any type of movement in the right direction.

The House I Live In is a documentary that points out the many flaws in the United States' "War on Drugs." Most importantly it points out that criminalizing drug users and incarcerating them is not going to help us win the "War on Drugs." The United States has put money towards more prisons (which has become an extremely lucrative business for the private prison systems), bonuses and paid overtime for police enforcement that make arrests related to drugs, and spends little money on education, treatment, and early intervention practices. The House I Live in also shines a light on the unique laws that were put in place for each substance, from marijuana to heroin. It also provides information about what drugs specific races were more likely to use and how the races were treated differently by the criminal justice system.

This year another movie came out called The Anonymous People. This film also provided evidence that the United States needs to change its current methods in trying to fight the "War on Drugs."  It also proved to be a great way to inform people that alcoholics and addicts are not criminals who need to be put in jail to get "fixed." Alcoholics and Drug Addicts need treatment, therapy, support, and fellowship to gain sobriety. These resources cost significantly less than it does to incarcerate someone for years. Incarceration is useful at times, but when non violent offenders are getting numerous years without the chance of getting treatment and help, its useless. We are not treating alcoholism and drug addiction like the disease it is, we are only criminalizing it.

Some interesting facts about the War on Drugs provided by The House I Live In:

1. The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world – both per capita and in terms of total people behind bars. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it has almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.

2. 1 in every 8 state employees work for a corrections agency.

3. It costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up, more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation.

4. Even though White and Black people use drugs at approximately equal rates, Black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses. Today, Black Americans represent 56% of those incarcerated for drug crimes, even though they comprise only 13% of the U.S. Population.

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago, IL. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please call New Hope Recovery Center to find out how you can get help or help a loved one. You may also email at info@new-hope-recovery.com. Call us at 773.883.3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Harm Reduction and Moderation Management are terms that are often thought of as controversial in the addictions treatment world.  As the majority of top recovery centers are abstinence based, does Harm Reduction have a place in today's treatment world?

The concept of Harm Reduction with regards to drugs and alcohol represents a philosophy that illicit and inappropriate use of substances is not preventable and emphasis should be on assisting people to use substances in a less problematic way, as opposed to criminalizing it.  Proponents of Harm Reduction with regards to drugs and alcohol see this as a way to protect many from the dangers of illicit use, while critics reject this philosophy, viewing it as fatalistic and dangerous.

Many addictions professionals believe that Harm Reduction may be able to be used with an individual who is encountering difficulties managing his/her use but has not yet met full criteria for a diagnosis of substance dependence.  In these cases, it is possible to begin with thorough psychoeducation on inappropriate or excessive use of substances, moving on to set up a detailed plan which outlines more refined or curtailed use, and closely monitoring the individual's use from that point on.  Harm Reduction does not address the origins of one's use and abuse as does the Disease Model, but instead focuses on the consequences of continued high-risk behavior and aims to lessen these via education and intervention.

The Harm Reduction model is not for or against abstinence, but rather acknowledges that many people openly reject the Disease Model and/or are not yet ready to embrace total abstinence.  By following a Harm Reduction plan, one may be able to slow down the progression of consequences.  In addition, by trying and not succeeding at Harm Reduction, an individual may come to realize, on his or her own accord, that abstaining from any and all use is the only way to ensure health, peace and serenity in life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, please call New Hope Recovery Center for help (877-707-4673). We specialize in treating people with substance abuse and addiction problems, we also specialize in working with family or friends of loved ones that are struggling with addictions.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

The holiday season is stressful time for everyone. In this audio interview from Big Oldies 93.7 Dial-a-Doc, Charles Brookover MS, LCPC, CADC speaks about how to best handle holiday gatherings and properly set your expectations for holiday celebrations. Charlie Brookover works at FHN Family Counseling Center - Jo Daviess County at 300 Summit Street Galena, IL 61036.

FHN Website: http://www.fhn.org/

FHN Contact Number: 815-777-2836 (Galena Location)

 

As 2013 comes to a close, we wanted to review our most popular articles during the year.  In reviewing the most viewed articles, four major themes emerge as the top concerns and focus of our readers during this year.

Warning Signs

It is clear that many people are interested in determining if they or a loved one suffers from addiction.  Several of our most-read articles dealt with warning signs for various potential addictions.

 

Heroin, Heroin, Heroin

If there was one prominent addiction theme during 2013, it was definitely heroin.  Heroin received both local and nationwide focus.  Its availability and low price seemed to put it at the forefront for many addiction treatment centers.  Sadly, too many lives were lost due to heroin use this past year, including Cory Monteith from Glee.  Many Chicago-area counties have seen a large increase in the number of heroin/opiate related deaths. Several of our most reviewed articles dealt with heroin.  In addition to the Heroin Abuse Warning Signs mentioned above, these two articles were also very popular:

 

Parents Concern for Their Children

Another area that received the many readers involved articles written for parents about their children's addiction.  The number of late teens and early twenties in treatment has been drastically increasing in recent years.  The following were our most popular articles geared toward parents:

 

LGBTQI

The final area of our most-read articles dealt with LGBTQI issues and concerns:

All of us at New Hope Recovery Center wish you a Healthy and Happy New Year.  We are looking forward to 2014 and will continue to provide helpful articles on current issues and concerns seen by us and our clients and their families. You can reach New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707-HOPE (4673), or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

The stages of change are a conceptualization that change is not a singular event; rather it is a series of steps someone progresses through.  The idea can be applied to any number of behaviors but it is especially helpful to view it through the lens of addiction.  Change is difficult.  People get comfortable with where they are at and it is much easier to stay immersed in that life, even if it is a destructive and detrimental one.  Learning more about how change comes about can be a helpful push in raising self-awareness and normalizing the recovery process.

Precontemplation

In this first stage the person affected by addiction does not see their problem and therefore does not have any consideration for changing.  Loved ones, coworkers, and health professionals may perceive the need for change but the person with the addiction feels safe with the status quo so they are resistant to recognizing the problem. They will most likely justify their behavior because they don’t see their actions as problematic.  The most viable option for others during this stage is to try to raise awareness about the risks of the problem.  The hope is that by expressing doubts and increasing education on the topic it will assist the person in becoming more self-aware about their addiction and consider changing.

Contemplation

If the person starts to consider change they have moved from precontemplation to contemplation.  The individual might start to notice that they have a problem but by in large they are still ambivalent about actual change.  They may be experiencing anxiety and avoidance about the idea of changing.  A common tool to address the ambivalence surrounding change in this stage is to write out or discuss the pros and cons about changing.  This may be enough to tip the scales for the individual if they believe the benefits outweigh the costs. Some people spend their entire lives in the contemplation stage because they do not see the costs as costly enough.  At the very minimum it will allow for a discussion about where the individual sees barriers to change.

Image Credit Found Below.

Preparation

This stage is evident once the individual makes a conscious decision to do something to change.  This stage is crucial and often overlooked because people jump right into action without realizing the energy and commitment it will require to change.  An effective preparation stage involves reaching out for help and researching worthwhile options of assistance.  It is essential to address the individual’s anxiety about change because during this stage the idea of changing becomes more concrete and it can be overwhelming.

Action

When the individual is ready to put their plan into place and pursue it they are actively working towards change.  This overt effort comes down to willpower and determination by the individual.  If the individual truly does not want to change they will revert back to an earlier stage, often contemplation.  Change is uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing but if the individual can receive proper support while addressing their addiction real change may start to come about.  It is important to recognize even the smallest of changes because seeing progress can be motivation for continued improvement.

Maintenance

The ongoing goal of this stage is to sustain the positive change in the individual’s life long term.  Change is fluid and therefore it is important for the individual to have an awareness of their triggers and subsequent coping mechanisms in order to address new challenges as they arise.  Acquiring new skills to avoid relapse is ongoing however relapse does still occur.  Relapse can be discouraging but it is not the end of the road.  No matter how spiraling the relapse may be a person can re-enter the cycle at any stage of change.  The knowledge and insight gained about the addiction is not erased in a relapse and therefore all is not lost.  Recovery is life-long and the path is not straight and narrow, there are detours.  It is helpful to continuously be mindful of one’s needs in order to not become complacent.  Working an active recovery program by staying connected with a sober network are good tools for achieving long term sobriety.

No matter which of the five stages you or a loved one are currently in, New Hope Recovery Center can be a resource and an agent for change.  Please call for more information 1-888-707-4673.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Image Credited to: Adult Meducation. American Society on Aging and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation; adapted from DiClemente and Prochaska, 1998. Photo. <http://www.adultmeducation.com/FacilitatingBehaviorChange.html>

Read related posts about Addiction:

Family Roles and Addiction

Addiction and Family: Acceptance as a Step Towards Healing in Treatment

Addiction: Shame, Guilt & Dodgeball

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 1)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 2)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 3)

Cocaine, also known as coke, is an illegal stimulant. It is usually found in its powdered form and is mixed with a variety of other white powdered substances. Cocaine is inhaled through the nose (most common) or mixed with water and injected into the bloodstream. Although cocaine is not physically addictive, it does have many side effects. It is important to be aware of the warning signs for Cocaine Addiction.

Physical Warning Signs of Cocaine Use

  • Nosebleeds
  • Chapped lips
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Racing heart
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss
  • Post nasal drip
  • Dehydration

Behavior Warning Signs of Cocaine Use

  • Grinding or clenching Teeth
  • Excessive talking, rambling
  • Paranoia
  • Periodically going to bathroom, or leaving momentarily
  • Decreased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance
  • Anxiety (during crash)
  • Depression (during crash)
  • Lack of pleasure (during crash)
  • Fatigue (during crash)

Indirect Warning Signs of Cocaine Use

  • Financial Problems
  • Missing or Stolen Money or frequent requests to borrow money, particularly with nothing to show for it
  • Unusual sleep schedule
  • Loss of friends/family/employment
  • Plastic bags with white powder residue
  • Rolled up paper or money (used for snorting)
  • White residue on credit cards or other flat edged items (to prepare lines with)
  • Missing alcohol (cocaine provides a “sobered” feeling and will be able to drink more excessively)
  • Short straws or other such items in places not consistent with normal use (eg. Straws in bathroom)
  • Keys with powdered residue

If you suspect your loved one is using cocaine, get help immediately.  It is a deadly drug.  Because of its many caustic chemical components, it can seriously jeopardize your loved one’s health and body.  Persuading your loved one to go to treatment or at minimum visit a doctor is very important.

New Hope Recovery Center has helped many clients with cocaine addiction.  We are happy to answer your questions.  Contact us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

For additional articles on Warning Signs:

Warning Signs for Crystal Meth Abuse

14 Warning Signs of a Secret Alcoholic

Heroin Abuse Warning Signs

Shopping Addiction: 5 Warning Signs

The 12 steps are the framework and foundation of every 12 step program. Originally started by Alcoholics Anonymous, these steps have helped millions recover from all types of addiction. Adapted to fit just about any type of addiction recovery program, the basic premise still remains the same today; come to accept your condition, come to the realization you can’t overcome your addiction on your own and began to clean up the damage your addiction caused. The first step is widely considered to be the most important part of the steps.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.”

Acceptance and honestly are the key components to this step. Two words always seem to stand out when new comers see this written on the walls of meetings, “powerless” and “unmanageable”. You will hear people say, “I have a great job, I’ve never been arrested. This isn’t me!” while others will immediately relate. Remember that those two words can have a lot of different interpretations. The important thing to remember is that regardless of how one interprets this it usually boils down to one simple truth, alcohol (or drugs) have negatively impacted your life in such a way, you need help. It means you have accepted the outcome of your addiction and are ready to change; this is the honesty the first step is hinting at.

Powerless: Alcohol controlled you more than you controlled alcohol

  • Do you drink or use more often than intended?
  • Do you drink or use in larger quantities than you intend?
  • Have alcohol or drugs become a focal point of your life?

Unmanageable: You could no longer try to fix this problem on your own

  • Have you tried to stop drinking or using drugs with no success?
  • Are aspects of your life damaged from your alcohol or drug use?

If someone is walking into a 12 step meeting, it is usually safe to assume they have made it to this point, or are close to accepting it. Once someone accepts this, a burden is lifted from their shoulders. They realize they no longer have to fight, and there is an answer. By honestly taking this step, it opens new doors which hold keys to long lasting sobriety and happiness within that sobriety. You will hear in the rooms of 12 step meetings that relapses occur when you don’t fully accept the first step, you will hear people say “I wasn’t honest with myself”. People hold on to the idea that they will one day be able to drink or use like someone who doesn’t suffer from alcoholism or addiction, they have the notion they are just in a rut and need to learn to control things. More than not, these people are back at the first step, ready to be honest. With honesty and willingness, the first step can be taken.

Everyone in addiction recovery moves at their own pace with the 12 steps, and some people are ready to be honest sooner than others, but the fact remains, if you can be honest with yourself there is nothing stopping you from improving your life and achieving sobriety. The most severe and chronic of alcoholics and addicts have stayed sober all because of this first step. The steps are in order for a reason, and without the first step, no other steps can follow.

For more information about the 12 Steps or for a list of meetings in the Chicago area go to: http://chicagoaa.org/  Step 2 is the next step in addiction recovery.

If you are concerned you wont be able to do this alone and think treatment will help you get started in recovery, please call New Hope Recovery Center and schedule an assessment that is completely confidential. 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center was featured on the OWN Network.

Photo Credit: www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life

Iyanla: Fix My Secret Addiction

About the episode: Life coach Iyanla Vanzant travels to  Chicago to help Shannon, a 28-year-old crystal meth addict who is in denial  about the full extent and destructive power of his addiction. Shannon's drug  abuse has led to three overdoses as well as high-risk sex, and it threatens his  life unless he can accept the gravity of the situation and get help. Iyanla also  works with Shannon's mother, father and sister, who are concerned about him but,  in many ways, have enabled his downward spiral by supporting him financially  while he was hitting rock bottom. Before Shannon can get back on track, Iyanla  must get him to come clean to himself and his family about the full extent of  his addiction. Only after this happens can the mistrust and lies stop and the  healing begin. Iyanla shows Shannon a path to a brighter future, but ultimately  it us up to him whether he can overcome his addiction.
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life/Iyanla-Fix-My-Secret-Addiction#ixzz2lPienO4r

November 11, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team investigates easy access to drugs and sex on your smartphone. These apps show you exactly how close you are to others who want to meet up. Drug users have come up with code words to make it known they are looking for more than a date.

Jeff Zacharias, our Clinical Director, commented on the story, "With smart phones it's become very easy. They're able to do their hook ups and find their dealers through apps."

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See the entire story on ABC7 News.

New Hope Recovery Center Proudly Sponsors Exclusive Chicago Screening of Acclaimed Documentary

Date: November 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Location: 1471 W. Webster Ave., Chicago

(Webster Place)

New Hope Recovery Center is proud to sponsor the only Chicago screen of the groundbreaking film “The Anonymous People”, which explores how deeply entrenched social stigma and discrimination have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades.  Courageous addiction recovery advocates are coming out of the shadows to share the truth and reality of recovery.  These joyful stories encourage those in recovery and bring hope to those new to recovery and the family and friends who support them.

Seating is limited for this single showing.

 Tickets are complimentary. To reserve your tickets, please contact Bradd at New Hope Recovery Center: 773-883-3916 or bradd@new-hope-recovery.com.

Want to find our more about the movie? WWW.THEANONYMOUSPEOPLE.COM