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Intervention HELPS to Save Lives

intervention

If you have a loved one or employee struggling with substance use disorder or other dysfunctional behavior, then the information in this blog post could literally save their life.

You have probably heard that someone with a substance use disorder needs to hit a rock bottom before they will be open to help. There is truth to that. But the part you may not be aware of is that we do not have to helplessly wait around for our loved one to hit that bottom.

In fact, doing so could lead to their suffering a fatal overdose. Harvard University, in conjunction with the Boston Police Department, did a study where they sent undercover officers to multiple locations in the Boston area to purchase illegal drugs on the street. The drugs were then taken back to a lab for analysis.

The findings were very scary–most of the drugs purchased by the undercover officers tested positive for substances other than what the dealers claimed they were. For example, what was sold as heroin was often a synthetic opioid or some other combination of substances which often included the very deadly drug fentanyl.

These findings show that loved ones with a substance use disorder may just be one use away from a fatal overdose. And with 160 fatal overdoses daily in our country, simply waiting around for our loved ones to hit rock bottom may prove to be a fatal decision. All too frequently these days, rock bottom can be death.

Ken Seeley, interventionist on the long running, multi Emmy Award winning TV show A&E’s INTERVENTION has developed the HELPS model to guide interventionists and families to work together in raising the bottom, or creating a rock bottom, to help save a loved one’s life and move them into recovery. The HELPS model looks at five areas where the consequences of addiction take their toll.

HELPS Model

Health–Addiction is a physical disease affecting the user’s body from the inside out. Consequences range from liver disease, skin abscesses, premature aging, psychiatric disorders, memory loss, central nervous system damage, and eventually death. Sometimes it is a health issue that motivates the loved one to move towards recovery.

Environmental–It has been proven that environmental factors strongly influences or arrests the development and subsequent behaviors of someone with substance use disorder. Are you supporting the recovery of the loved one, or enabling their addictive behavior?

Legal–Addiction frequently involves legal consequences such as DUI’s, arrests, marital separation, divorce, loss of child custody, and exclusion from wills. Often times the loved one will engage in illegal activities in order to support or maintain their habit.

Personal finances–Addiction creates financial crisis including job termination, eviction, foreclosure, and even bankruptcy. Supporting a loved one by giving them money, paying their bills or employing them can enable their addiction.

Spiritual–Has your loved one lost faith, hope and peace in their life? Addiction is also a spiritual affliction that robs the loved one of their spirituality leaving them to feel hopeless and alone.

By identifying which of the five areas above are affecting your loved one, then determining how to leverage that area and set healthy boundaries and consequences in a respectful and family-unified manner, HELPS manually raises the rock bottom instead of playing the deadly game of waiting for the loved one to hit rock bottom on their own–which could mean a fatal overdose.

The disease of addiction is taking too many lives and we have to find smarter, more effective ways to save our loved one’s lives. Using the HELPS model is a smart way to go.

If you think you or a loved one may have an addiction, please feel free to call or email me for a free consultation. Addiction is serious, but intervention and treatment can save lives.

Call me at 949-303-8264 or email me at randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites:  www.carepossible.comwww.randymoraitis.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RandyMoraitisCoach/
Twitter:     @rmoraitis

About Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CIP

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)

Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues through counseling, coaching and interventions. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been leading groups, individuals and families to mental, physical and spiritual healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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10 Facts About Opioids

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the United States is in the midst of a prescription painkiller overdose epidemic. The most commonly abused opioids are:

  • Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin)
  • Oxymorphone (e.g., Opana)
  • Methadone (especially when prescribed for pain)

Frequently, when an individual no longer has access to prescription opioids, they turn to heroin which is both affordable and easy to acquire.

Presented here, with the goal of increasing awareness, are some basic facts about opioids.

1. Opium is the latex secreted from the seedpod of an opium poppy. Raw opium contains about 10 percent morphine and about 2 percent codeine. These are the opiate drugs, which just means that they’re natural products of the opium poppy. A number of other drugs, including heroin, are not contained in opium itself but are made from natural opiates or have very similar effects. These are sometimes called opioids.

2. The opiate drug morphine is among the most effective painkillers available today. Codeine has similar effects but is weaker than morphine. It’s often used to treat minor pain and as a cough suppressant. Of course, opium and drugs derived from opium are also often used recreationally, because they can produce a dreamlike, euphoric state.

3. People have known about those effects for a very long time. In fact, there’s evidence that the Sumerians knew about the psychoactive properties of the opium poppy plant as early as 3400 B.C. The Ancient Egyptians used opium medicinally. In the 1700s and 1800s, a mixture of alcohol and opium called laudanum became very popular and was widely used as a pain reliever, as a sleep aid, and to treat a variety of ailments. In the mid-1800s opium trade became a big business and even led to two wars, known as the opium wars, between the British and the Chinese.

4. In 1804, a German pharmacist isolated a pure alkaloid from opium and gave it the name morphine, after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine was more potent than opium or laudanum, and it became an invaluable tool to doctors in the treatment of pain. Morphine was administered to injured soldiers during the American Civil War.

5. In 1898, Bayer pharmaceutical company began selling a synthesized opioid that was one-and-a-half to two times more powerful than morphine, and it was marketed as a nonaddictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant—heroin. Bayer sold heroin for more than 10 years before its harmful effects were recognized and it was removed from the market. Heroin is now recognized to be among the most addictive drugs in the world.

6. Opioids are narcotic analgesics, which reduce pain without eliminating sensation. They’re distinguished from anesthetics, which reduce all sensation and often produce unconsciousness. Opioids also produce a dreamlike, euphoric state, which is what makes them attractive to recreational drug users, at least initially.

7. At higher doses, opioids produce a rush of euphoria. But the nauseating effects can become more severe, and some people also experience anxiety and restlessness. The most dangerous effect is a significant suppression of breathing. In fact, in an opioid overdose breathing can be suppressed enough to lead to death.

8. About 45 people in the United States die every day from overdosing on a prescription painkiller—that’s more than the number of overdose deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

9. Similar to other drugs, opioids overstimulate the brain’s reward circuit and trigger a large release of dopamine. The brain interprets that dopamine as a reward prediction error, or an indication that taking the drug was better than expected. That reward prediction error in turn backs up to environmental cues that are associated with drug taking, so when the user encounters those cues in the future, he or she experiences a very strong craving to use the drug.

10. There are some very effective treatments for opioid overdose. If a drug user overdoses on opioids, is barely breathing, and is close to death, if someone administers an opioid antagonist drug, such as naloxone, the drug user will recover almost immediately, because the opioid will be blocked from binding to the opioid receptors.
If you have any prescription opioids in your home, be sure to keep them stored securely so any guests or visitors to your home will not be able to access them as these meds are frequently stolen.
In my next blog post we will look at treatment for opioid addiction. Special thanks to Professor Thad Polk of the University of Michigan for contributions to this blog.

If you or a loved one are affected by an opioid addiction, please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com or 949-303-8264 to discuss options for healing.

You can visit my websites at www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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Self-Care for the Caregiver

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Are you in a role where you care for others? If so, you may experience burn out, compassion fatigue, or even vicarious trauma (if you haven’t already!). I believe that if you are a caregiver, then you must have a self-care plan in place to prevent or repair burn out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma!

The goal of this blog post is to raise awareness of the need for self-care, and to encourage everyone, especially caregivers, to have an effective self-care plan in place.

Caregivers are so important to society and take many forms:

  • Counselors/Therapists/Psychologists
  • Physicians/Nurses
  • First Responders–police, fire, paramedics, EMT’s
  • Social Workers
  • Pastors/Ministry Workers

If you are in one of the above roles, then a good self-care plan is vital to your long term health, your future success, and your personal relationships.
Compassion Fatigue is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is a common occurrence in most of the roles listed above. Compassion fatigue is also known as secondary traumatic stress. Ask yourself if you may have some compassion fatigue.

Vicarious Trauma is defined as “a transformation in the helper’s inner sense of identity and existence that results from utilizing controlled empathy when listening to clients’ trauma-content narratives. In other words, Vicarious Trauma is what happens to your neurological (or cognitive), physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health when you listen to traumatic stories day after day or respond to traumatic situations while having to control your reaction.” (Vicarious Trauma Institute http://www.vicarioustrauma.com/). Ask yourself if you may have experienced vicarious trauma.

Start Self-Care Now!

One of the most important aspects of an effective self-care plan is consistency. Below are suggestions for self-care. Whichever options you choose–be consistent and put these activities on your calendar to ensure they happen!

Self-Care Activities:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Exercise/Fitness Activities
  • Martial Arts
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Church
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Nutrition

I recommend choosing at least two to three items from the above list. As someone who has been a caregiver for many years and has heard and experienced many traumatic experiences, I have done all of the above, over time, to help me stay healthy.

Additionally, caregivers must have a healthy support network of several friends, and/or mentors, that can be counted on for conversation and support when needed.

Finally, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the caregivers out there! You are loved, appreciated, and worthy of good care!

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on this topic. You can comment below or contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com or 949-303-8264. Visit my website www.randymoraitis.com for info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation at www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

8 Tools for Relapse Prevention

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Hardly a day goes by that I am not approached by someone–either an addict in recovery who is struggling to stay clean, or the loved one of an addict concerned about their loved one relapsing and overdosing.

These are people from all walks of life, yet they usually ask the same question—a question truly born out of desperation, and that question is: “What should I do?”

To help answer that question I offer these 8 Tools for Relapse Prevention. If an addict in recovery sincerely works in these eight areas they will greatly reduce the likelihood of a potential fatal relapse. This is important for both the addict and the family to know.

8 Tools for Relapse Prevention

1. Meetings—addicts need to go to recovery meetings such as AA, NA, CA, Celebrate Recovery, or Lifelines.Meetings are where you learn new things to help the brain heal from the damage caused by the addictive behaviors, and where you can find encouragement from hearing the experience, strength and hope of others staying clean. There is great wisdom in attending 90 meetings in 90 days for those trying to get and stay clean.

2. Counseling—addicts often have some deep down issues that, if never addressed, will continue to
rear their ugly heads and possibly trigger relapse. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma can be processed with a good counselor or therapist and the addict can be given tools to grow in healthy ways. The counselor may also recommend a medical exam for a complete assessment and treatment plan.

3. 12 Steps—the 12 steps are an amazing tool for healing and spiritual growth. I highly recommend everyone work through the steps as they are even beneficial to those not in recovery from addiction. Here is a great site with info on the 12 steps: http://12step.org/

4. Sponsor—addicts need a sponsor to guide them through the 12 steps. I recommend a sponsor be of
the same sex, have one year or more of sobriety, and have worked through the steps with their own sponsor. The addict should find a sponsor they trust who meets these guidelines, then take direction from the sponsor.

5. Health and Wellness—this includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, stretching, and relaxation/meditation. I highly recommend those in recovery find a healthy activity that they enjoy such as crossfit, martial arts, running, surfing, or yoga. This will give them some good clean fun, get those endorphins flowing, and often lead to making new, healthy friends.

6. Family Support—addiction is a family disease. If you have a family member or loved one impacted by addiction, guess what? You are impacted by addiction! Family members of addicts will help the addict, and themselves, by attending Al-Anon or CoDa meetings. Seeking counseling to learn healthy ways to support the addict
without enabling, as well as how to have healthy self-care is also recommended.

7. Recovery Coach—a good recovery coach will give the addict numerous tools to stay clean and sober and hold them accountable in their growth and sobriety. Additionally, a recovery coach will guide the addict to find purpose in life. Once a person has purpose and they are passionate about it, they are more likely to stay focused on achieving their purpose and less likely to relapse.

8. God—the 12 steps were designed to take people on a spiritual journey and trust in a higher power. Many addicts fresh in their recovery have no idea who their higher power is. That’s normal and to be expected. My personal experience is that I have seen thousands of addicts over the years have great success choosing God as their higher power. Having a spiritual foundation gives one much needed strength during times of temptation and triggers. The Life Recovery Bible is a great resource to learn more about the intersection of faith and recovery, and prayer can be a powerful tool for healing.

I would love to hear if you have any tools you recommend for relapse prevention. You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or visit my website for more info on counseling and recovery coaching www.randymoraitis.com, or visit our nonprofit foundation CarePossible at www.carepossible.org for info and resources for those in need.

An Introduction to the 12 Steps

By Randy Moraaitis

If you have never been to a 12 step meeting, then you probably have no idea what the 12 steps are all about, other than perhaps associating the steps with addicts. Following is a very brief overview of the 12 steps to help spread awareness.

The 12 steps are a set of guiding or spiritual principles originally designed to help those struggling with alcoholism. The steps have proven to be a very effective tool for many people struggling with, not only alcoholism, but addictions and compulsions of many varieties including drugs, food and pornography.

The following are the original twelve steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:

1.  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4.  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7.  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.  Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

A great benefit of the steps is that those who sincerely work through the 12 steps can live healthier and more honest lives than those who do not. There are numerous types of 12 step groups and meetings where one can find the steps being put into practice including:

  • AA—Alcoholics Anonymous
  • NA—Narcotics Anonymous
  • CA—Cocaine Anonymous
  • MA—Marijuana Anonymous
  • SA—Sexaholics Anonymous
  • OA—Overeaters Anonymous
  • CoDa—Codependents Anonymous
  • Al-Anon—for friends and family of addicts

12 step groups are a great source of free therapy. If someone cannot afford traditional therapy or counseling, they just might find a lot of healing in a 12 step group related to their struggles.

There are many variances between 12 step groups, so if you try one that is not a good fit, don’t give up—try another one. A simple Google search will lead to meeting schedules and descriptions.

Bottom line—the 12 steps are a great tool for healing, so if you’re new to the steps read through them a few times and see how they could grow you—even if you’re not an addict.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. For more info, or for help finding a meeting, please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com.

Websites: www.carepossible.org and www.randymoraitis.com.

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FAQs About Addiction

addiction

Here is a brief list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) I receive about addiction:

1. How do I know if it really is an addiction? 

When a person requires increasing amounts of a habit forming substance, or compulsive behavior, they likely have an addiction. If there are negative consequences because of the substance use or behavior, this is usually a clear indicator that there is an addiction requiring treatment.

2. What should I do if think I am addicted?

According to the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) addiction is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual affliction that is very difficult to treat without help. If you think you are struggling with an addiction, seek help immediately! A great first step is to attend a support group such as AA or NA. Depending on the addiction, a medically supervised detox may be necessary, so consulting with a physician or checking into an addiction treatment center is advised.

3. What should I do if I suspect a loved on of having an addiction?

  • Confront them in love and let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Do not pretend as if nothing is wrong.
  • Do not enable your loved one! Do not give them money and do not cover for them. Let them experience the consequences of their choices.
  • Go to an Al-Anon meeting or similar support group for friends and families of addicts.
  • Do your best to get your loved one into treatment. Different parts of the treatment program include: detox, rehab, sober living, working a 12 step program with a sponsor, counseling, and having a recovery coach to aid in relapse prevention.
  • Consider an intervention if you have difficulty getting your loved on into treatment.

Addiction is a life and death problem. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, get help now. For a list of resources to get you started click here.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to email me or visit my website.

 

Codependency

Couple arguing

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Have you heard the joke, “A codependent is a person who, when they die, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes?”

That joke is really an unfortunate sign of the times and indicative of just how widespread codependency is.

So exactly what is a codependent? Melody Beattie, a leading expert and author on the subject of codependency, offers up this definition:

“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling, and behaving toward ourselves and others that causes us pain.”

Causes of Codependency

The roots of codependency can often be found in one’s family of origin. If a family is dysfunctional, a child may grow up to be codependent. Physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual abuse can all lead to the abused person becoming codependent.

With the proliferation of addiction to drugs and alcohol in our society, a byproduct is that we see an increase in those who struggle with codependency.

Five Core Symptoms of Codependency

1. Difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem.

2. Difficulty setting healthy, functional boundaries.

3. Difficulty owning one’s personal reality: body, thoughts, feelings, behavior.

4. Difficulty acknowledging and meeting one’s own needs, wants, and being
interdependent.

5. Difficulty experiencing and moderately expressing reality.

Moving Toward Recovery and Away from Codependency

There is hope for the codependent! By learning to detach from the person who is the focus of codependency one can begin to be set free and start living their own life. It is important for the person struggling with codependency to learn to love themselves, find their purpose in life and learn the art of acceptance.

If you or someone you know struggles with any of the above five core symptoms, please consider taking the following steps to begin the healing process:

1. Attend a CoDa (Codependents Anonymous) support group www.coda.org.

2. See a counselor or therapist to work on pain from your past.

3. Work with a recovery coach who can help you get unstuck and have a healthy
breakthrough.

I would love to hear from you on this important topic. Contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.thecrossing.com.