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Melissa P SuccessI had been a hopeless person for a long time, well over ten years.  I had hit the ultimate rock bottom a few years ago but nothing changed in my world.  I continued the same lifestyle of breaking the law, using any drug with no regard for others or myself. I had tried numerous times to get clean and I always ended up with the same results.  I had to believe and have faith that I was capable and willing to do something different.

I arrived here on Christmas Eve 2015. A couple of weeks prior, I was presented with Narconon and I can still remember the text message I got from my aunt.  My birthday is the 23rd of December and she had told me that she had a gift for me.  I wasn’t working so I was scheming family and my so-called friends to continue getting high.  I always had something brewing in my head on how I could keep from getting sick which, in my eyes, was staying afloat.  My standards for my life were far from acceptable to either my family or myself but I didn’t care.  I had given up on life or ever being happy again.

I didn’t smile or laugh anymore and that is what I missed the most. I could still remembered vaguely what that was like.  I wanted that again and I wanted to feel free from this ball and chain of mental and physical imprisonment. So, the day my family asked me to get help I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to break free from the lifestyle either.  I was addicted to drugs and the lifestyle that came with them. I was miserable and scared of change. I was headed to the grave fast if I didn’t find the courageous person within me.  I didn’t feel courageous.  I felt weak, hazy, depressed and not far from doing myself in or praying one last shot would kill me.  It had ripped me of everything else so it could at least do me the favor I thought I wanted.

I got here in the evening after long lay overs and withdrawals starting.  I could not wait to land and get picked up and get to detox.  I weighed 115 lbs. and I was tired and hungry.  The alcohol I consumed on the flight made me feel worse.  I spent ten days in withdraw and I remember feeling impatient.  I was always used to that instant fix so anything else was painful and uncomfortable to deal with but I knew this was my last chance.  I knew I didn’t have another relapse in me.  I fought everyday as hard as I could.  Of course it was different from med detox but after I moved on to sauna I realized how it made me appreciate that pain and discomfort.  It made me realize even more that I would never want to put myself through that hell on earth again and I’m very appreciative of that being my view point on it today.

The Sauna Detoxification Program was really cool to me.  That is when I started to feel good again.  It took a couple of weeks, but loading my body up with vitamins, water, food and knowing I made it over the hump kept pushing me to get more of the desired life I wanted and that young girl back I remembered that was so full of life.  Don’t get me wrong, sauna wasn’t easy.  For many, many years I thought getting off drugs was all there was to a sober life but that is actually the easier part.  I felt great physically but yet I still knew there was more work to do and I was more than willing to keep pushing because my alternative would be me trying to handle things on my own and that was not an option because my way always ended with bad results.  I started objectives and of course I wasn’t a 100% believer that this would help me, let alone make me reveal things about myself that could have possibly led me to drugs in the first place.

I had many realizations in objectives, a lot about my behaviors that affected myself negatively and realizations that led me all the way back to my childhood and the events in my life that changed my view point on my parents and myself.  When I got to ethics I knew getting people out of my life that I considered friends was important and crucial for my recovery.  These people were not my friends and deep down I always knew that staying in contact with them would only bring up that lifestyle I was done with.  I realized in the Ethics part of the program how my attitude hindered me.  I had been selfish, disrespectful, dishonest and that really is not who I am.  After writing up my past transgressions and getting honest, I felt lighter.  I didn’t feel like the weight of the world was on me anymore. The person I was three months ago and the person I am today is night and day.  I still have moments where I can’t believe it.

I have the Narconon Program to thank for this.

Melissa P.

shooterEach of the Narconon residential addiction treatment centers now has a four-legged chief of security included on their staff.  The purpose is of course to keep the center safe from in-coming illegal substances and let the students know everything is going to be just fine.

When an addict makes the decision to come to rehab, the majority decide to get high a few last times, often arriving intoxicated to the max.  “It seemed the only way to confront getting off drugs and alcohol was to do it high,” said one student at Narconon Suncoast.  “At several of the 28-day centers I’d gone to it was really easy to sneak in pills and some pot. Not at Suncoast. Shooter sniffed it out and left me to do a real drug-free program. I guess I’m really grateful to him, because otherwise I would have messed up my chances and never gotten sober at all!”

Our drug detection hound, Shooter is a beagle who has been training on detecting drugs since he was 8 weeks old.  He is on property every day and helps staff security go through every new arrivals’ belongings, sniffs deliveries, mail, packages, and even guests.  He sniffs his way through the center each day including course rooms, student bedrooms, common areas and even the kitchen in search of any substance that might interfere with a student’s drug-free rehabilitation program.

The combination of having a professionally trained drug dog on premises and doing random drug testing helps Narconon Suncoast ensure that we can maintain a truly drug-free environment.  Additionally Shooter adds an extra element to the program.  If anyone gets nervous around him, it’s time to find out why.

His playful, loving, yet watchful disposition allows him to be a pet therapy dog.  He notices more than most humans can and reacts accordingly.   He has a unique ability to calm anyone who pets him and gets their tail wagging!  As the clients reach the end of their stay with us they are also allowed to do rounds with him and take him for walks on our beautiful 7-acre property.

If you or someone you know needs to give up their drugs and handle their addiction in a drug-free environment, please give us a call.  Shooter will be more than glad to welcome them and help ensure they make it through the program safely without any drugs.

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Narconon New Life Detox Program – What is it and Why Does it Work?

Narconon Suncoast Detox CenterThe New Life Detoxification Program is a unique aspect of the Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program.  For years it has been known that toxins apparently store in the fatty tissues of the body, but not until the discoveries of L. Ron Hubbard in the late 1970’s was a systematic method developed to dramatically reduce the unwanted effects of these stored toxins in the body.   Why this step is key to helping handle the physical effects of addiction is that these trapped toxins might become reactivated even years after someone had taken drugs and cause harmful mental and physical effects.  The sauna detoxification program was created to eliminate toxic substances from the body while decreasing the physical cravings related to drugs and alcohol.

The New Life Detoxification Program includes running to stimulate circulation; time spent sweating in a specially ventilated, low-heat, dry sauna to sweat out toxins; nutrition, including specific vitamins, minerals and oils are taken in exact quantities; and a properly ordered personal schedule that allows for adequate sleep.

The program’s physician approved course of vitamins includes a gradual increase of niacin (one of the B complex vitamins), along with other vitamins (A, D, C, B, and B complex) and multi-minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper and iodine.  All students are supervised so that they are taking adequate salt, potassium and water to ensure they remain properly hydrated throughout the program.  The students also take a blend of oils. Each participant is monitored by Narconon nursing staff with vitals being taken before and after their daily program.

The purpose of the program is to rid the body of drug residues and eliminate the negative physical an mental effects they can cause, including cravings.  Below is a success story from a student who used LSD and other drugs.

Sauna Success Story

Student In the Sauna Program“In completing the New Life Detoxification program, I feel like my body is clean of all toxic substances. I feel like I ran out all the traces of LSD and marijuana that was stored in my body. I feel like I have a clearer mind and a new outlook on my future without the desire to use drugs. I now sleep and eat normally, and I feel as if I can smell things much better. I feel great thanks to the Sauna program!”




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Help a veteran today

Veterans make up a large percentage of individuals who suffer from addiction.

Narconon Suncoast is now offering a 30% Discount off all program services for Military personnel and their families.

Don’t let them suffer in silence.


Veteran quote


Call 1-888-968-2124

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Heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania

There were 25 reported heroin overdoses in a two-day period last summer in Washington, PA.  Abuse of heroin in this rural area of the Pennsylvania had finally gotten so bad that the Washington Post took notice and featured this afflicted portion of the “Rust Belt” in Washington County in an article.  The article served to draw attention to how bad heroin abuse can get in one community.  For the rest of the Washington DC readership closer to the Beltway, the ever-escalating numbers of overdoses and deaths were harder to believe, but not for local Pennsylvania families who’ve experienced it firsthand.

One such recovered 23 year-old man, “J.L.” lived and abused drugs in Washington County for 10 years.  “This article really hit home for me.  There is such a high volume of heroin available in the greater Pittsburgh area now, that it is way too easy for anyone to get it.  In my hometown of Washington, PA, it’s not like you need to go to an open air market, particular club, gas station or certain person.  Every second person at the mall or grocery can point you to your next fix in our county. The only thing that can halt this tidal wave are more drug awareness programs.”

J.L. started like most opiate addicts do, using alcohol and a “little weed.”   As to how to help parents better understand what to look for and how to help kids avoid the trap of drug addiction?  This recovered addict replied.  Because of Washington, PA’s geographic location on the major interstates, there were plenty of people and parties to get anything I needed all through high school.  Looking back I think I hid my drug abuse pretty well, but I left a string of tell-tale signs, that my parents didn’t see  and just didn’t understand.

When it comes to helping kids stay drug-free, here are six guidelines families need to adopt.

  1. Ask lots of questions and stop being reasonable or too trusting of your kids.  Everyone wants to believe their child isn’t going to do stupid things and get addicted, but when you see things that don’t match up, ask about them and then ask again.  For instance, what about a teenager who is working a 40-hour week, but never seems to have enough money?  Or a 17 year-old who wants to suddenly stay out all night with “good” friends? All are indicators of changes that are most often associated with destructive behaviors.
  2. Know who they are hanging out with and don’t assume they are safe friends just because you know them.  Check in with the other parents.  Find out how they feel about underage drinking and social drinking practices.
  3. If you are suspicious about any activity, follow up on your hunches and find out the truth.  Confronting the situation in a non-confrontational way is key. You have to make it safe for your child to be honest with you.  Addicts and users lie. Once they’ve started that web of lies and you ask any question about their habits or whereabouts, you can expect an explosive reaction.  Those angry and snarling reactions usually indicate that they’ve already done something they don’t want you to know about. Now is the time to find out what it was. Waiting and letting these lies and misdeeds add up only create more distance in the relationship and further seal off the truth and willingness to let anyone help.
  4. Be willing to set rules on drugs and alcohol use and enforce them.  Parents hate to be unpopular, but setting the rules and enforcing them is part of being a parent.  While showing up unannounced in their teenage life, asking tough questions and even drug testing are not popular, they are often needed gradients in this day and age, if you want your children to stay off drugs.
  5. Be there for them.  They need to know you love them and will help them.  That means “having their back”, but having it to help them, not to continue destructive behaviors. Addicts isolate themselves from everyone except other users or people who let them use.  Your child needs to know that they can come to you, no matter what they’ve done or might do, and that you love them and will help them.  You will not enable their continued slide down the scale of actions that might endanger them, but you will help them.  The most confusing parenting advice out there is for parents to be their kids friends.  The truth is kids need parents to BE parents for them, and that isn’t always the “popular” friend type of person.  It’s not tough love, it’s parenting. Guiding, assisting, setting the rules and being a role model.

“When things got really bad,” said J.L., “I felt all alone.  I knew it wasn’t really true, but because of all the lies and harmful things I’d said and done I had to make my parents or anyone offering me help, into my enemy.  It’s one of the most twisted things about addiction. Addicts lash out the most against those who could help them.   Until I studied what was behind this behavior at Narconon, I had no idea why I acted that way. I couldn’t stop it.”  

“Like so many parents, mine were always “hounding me and harassing me about MY life like I wasn’t an adult.  In truth, I see they were doing what good parents should do.  I was just not able to accept their help because I was such a scumbag, lying addict at the time.  It took some real work on my part to get to the point where I could believe they would ever be able to forgive me or love me again.  But the truth is they never had stopped

  1. If you suspect or identify drug abuse, get your loved one to long term treatment immediately.  Overdoses are all too prevalent to wait to get help.  Clinically, studies have shown that long term treatment has the best success rates for permanent opiate cessation.  Finding a program that treats both the physical and mental aspects of addiction is key to stable recovery.  Permanent recovery requiresfinding a program that treats both the mental and physical aspects of addiction and the reason the person turned to drugs in the first place.

Getting me to a treatment program that worked, was the hardest thing my parents had to do.  I went to three of the best 28-day programs in the Pittsburgh, PA area.  While at those programs, I never learned anything about myself and why I used, but I went to a lot of meetings.  When I finally got to Narconon, the difference in personalized treatment was incredible.  Physically I recovered and then I got to look at my life and what problems I had tried to solve with drugs.  I clearly saw what I had done and then got to handle my life in such a way that I knew I’d never have to use drugs again, no matter where I lived.  It wasn’t about the area, it was about me. 

Seeing where I messed up trying to solve my problems with drugs was part of a new beginning for me. I also saw where others were making the same mistake and how we could help them.  I’ve gotten active in my community to help other families avoid the trap of heroin addiction and free themselves if they’ve already gone there.  There’s nothing better than helping someone else learn from my mistakes and build a sober and productive future for themselves and their family!



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Helping a family member

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2013 an estimated 17.3 million Americans were dependent on Alcohol, 4.2 million were reported dependent on marijuana and experiencing problems associated with its use and another 22.7 million were reported addicted to opiate painkillers, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit substances (

Needless to say you would be hard-pressed to meet someone in this day and age who hasn’t been touched by addiction in some way, shape or form. It seems that everyone knows someone who is an addict. Families all over the country experience sleepless nights and anxiety attacks not knowing if their son, daughter, mother or father is going to be killed by their addiction.

Once it is found that a family member is addicted the first reaction is upset, anger and disappointment. After these initial emotions subside the search for help commences. Many times the addict has been beaten down by their addiction so severely that the opportunity to enter into a rehabilitation program is a Godsend and a reprieve from their daily suffering. Other addicts wallow in denial, thinking everyone around them is crazy and they are “doing just fine the way they are.”

After a family puts their loved one into a treatment program a palpable sense of hope flows through them. They feel that their loved one finally has a chance to create a good life with a sense of normalcy, leaving their addiction in the dust.

But what happens if the addict fails at rehab?

What if they relapse after returning home?

What if they get dismissed from the treatment center due to poor behavior?

What does the family do then?

Families are faced with dilemma after dilemma, crisis after crisis when dealing with an addict. Sometimes an addict doesn’t “get it” the first time they go to treatment. Some addicts feel as though they can “handle” their drug use successfully or that they’re just not done with the lifestyle. Or they say

“I definitely won’t do heroin anymore but I’m still going to drink and smoke weed.”

Whatever the case may be relapse is a stark reality for many addicts and families. What is the family to do if their loved one fails treatment and relapses or they get dismissed from a program? A family surely cannot turn their backs on their loved one.

The tough love approach can be a problem for some families whereas other families have no other method of dealing with their addicted son, daughter, mother or father other than using this approach. The definition of the “tough love” approach is: 

Ceasing to enable an addict to continue their abhorrent behavior by not allowing the addict to stay at home, not giving the addict any money and basically cutting them off all together while maintaining a level of emotional support.

Some families cannot bring themselves to kick their loved one out of the home or cut them off because they are more afraid of what will happen to the addict if left out on the streets alone. A mother once said:

“He’s (her son) going to use drugs regardless so I’d at least rather have him at home where I know he’s at least somewhat safe.”

I’ve known families to go so far as to provide an apartment, car or insurance, cell phone, etc. to sons or daughters so that they are not “bothered” by these things so that they can “get themselves together”.  Meanwhile the addict continues on his not-so-merry way down the spiral toward eventual imprisonment, death or worse.

On the flipside of the coin some families have absolutely no issue with the “tough love” approach and will do absolutely anything to get their family member into treatment.

The question that remains is:

“Does a family ever give up?”

The answer is a resounding “no.” Families never ever give up hope of their loved one salvaging themselves from ruin and conquering addiction. Sadly, many families deal with relapse after relapse, promises to stop using and get things together to no avail. The mental anguish and torture these families endure is sickening. But they will never give up. Even after an addict succumbs to their addiction the family continues to fight, to speak out against addiction and to prevent other families having to suffer through such tragedies. Relapse does not have to be a part of the recovery process. An addict can receive the right treatment and the right help and not endure the heartache of relapse and destroying their families hope.  Addiction is NOT an incurable disease.

If you or a loved one have dealt with constant relapses and not received the correct treatment for themselves, call Narconon Suncoast today.

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Tampa Drug Summit 2016

Tampa, FL. –  This week, more than 250 representatives from drug education, drug rehabilitation, law enforcement, and family services gathered at the Fourth Annual Tampa Drug Summit. The agenda was filled with experts from all segments of the drug awareness field who updated attendees on the latest trends in drug abuse and new information on how communities can fight back. The summit, held at T’Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, focused on successful collaborative efforts and strategies that could be applied in any area to help create safe and sober neighborhoods.

In the spotlight at this event was the potential impact on Florida communities if medical marijuana is legalized later this year. Narconon Suncoast’s Community Services Director, Yvonne Rodgers remarked, “The negative public impact data coming from states where legalization has occurred needs to be confronted. We have to raise public awareness on the increases in high school marijuana use numbers, increased crime and accidents caused by drivers who were impaired by marijuana use. States like Florida still have a chance to ensure the future safety of their children and communities.”

Summit attendees learned how the reputed benefits of this industry are not being achieved in real life. Examples of skewed statistics used by pro-legalization lobbyists and advocates were presented. For instance, in Colorado, there are claims that fewer high school students are using marijuana since the drug was legalized. These figures do not take into account the steep increases in expulsions and drop-out rates since availability to the drug increased. With the heaviest drug users being left out of the statistic, pro-marijuana advocates can show that the remaining students have lower overall drug use.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Larry Morrell, who visited the largest legal pot growing facility in Washington State, provided graphic descriptions of what a large scale marijuana production really costs a community.  His detailed account revealed:

  • Employees were habitually using the drug they were growing and hard to motivate
  • Even with the best regulatory systems in place, there is plenty of room for theft and loss
  • Black market pot supply has increased, not decreased
  • Vehicular fatalities are increasing
  • Gang and cartel activity has not decreased as promised before legalization.

Inspiring the summit attendees was Shirley Morgan, a resident community activist from Oregon who helped get rid of a meth lab in her neighborhood, created community coalitions in her state and activated citizens to get drug dealers and growers out of their communities. Her systematic and persistent approach encouraged all to increase their community activities and collaboration with others. The message was clear: One person can make a difference and by working with friends, can promote real change and a saner, healthier future for all.

Narconon Suncoast promotes drug-free and healthy communities. It is a long-term residential treatment center located on seven-and-a-half tropical acres in Clearwater, Florida. The newly opened state-of-the-art facility is fully licensed as a residential treatment center by the Florida Department of Children and Families and accepts those who are ready to leave their lives of addiction in favor of new drug-free lives. If you know someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, or for admissions information, call (877) 841-5509.  All calls are confidential.

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depressed person

In today’s modern world full of happy pills, the need for instant gratification and quick fixes, addiction is striking more families than ever. In earlier times addiction was much less prevalent and the existence of an addict within the family unit was a rare occurrence. Sure, there were families with an uncle or cousin that just “couldn’t get right” but they were easily swept under the carpet and kept out of view because having such a family member was a stigma and shameful. There has been a major shift as of recently from where it was few and far between to find an addict in the family tree to innumerable localized support groups all over the country with a hundred families in attendance all whom which have a son, daughter, mother or father who struggles with substance abuse. At one point having an addict in the family was a lonely feeling. When dealing with the sleeplessness nights, arguments, anxiety and heartache families would feel as though no one else out there could possibly understand their struggle and what they’re going through. Back in the day that would probably be an accurate assessment. Currently an estimated 65% of American families are dealing with alcohol and substance abuse.

When a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs it become all about them.

“No one understands me!”

“You just don’t know what I’m going through!”

“Why are you doing this to me?”

An addict, in the midst of their addiction, fails to see how their actions and behavior truly affect those around them. The addict is so consumed with themselves they fail to see their mom having frequent anxiety attacks and their dad starting to get chest pains. The family eventually becomes completely consumed with helping the addict, handling all the crisis situations, trying to fix them and holding out hope for their future recovery.

When family members finally find a rehabilitation program for their loved one a sense of hope returns.

“Maybe he’s going to be okay after all.”

“I hope she gets it this time because we have no money left.”

What a lot of addicts fail to see is how close to death they really were. The family saw it, probably denying the addiction’s severity at first but after the second overdose they finally realized their loved one could potentially die. A drug addict, to some degree, feels completely invincible and immune to death or they are just completely apathetic about whether or not they live. They may have survived through situations where they should have been murdered or killed. Getting robbed, dealers shoving a gun down their throat, driving their car head on into a telephone pole and walking away with only a scratch are just a few examples. Very rarely does an addict consider what would become of their family if they died. Would their parents be able to move on? Would the family ever be the same?

One thing a parent will never get over is the death of their child. Parents spend most of their lives making sure their children are safe and cared for. When addiction takes over the scariest thing to a parent is that something could kill your child and you have absolutely no control over it. All parents can do is to try and help their child, get them therapy, get them rehab, get them help of any kind. Until the unthinkable happens. An overdose takes the life of a once shining star.

I am going to repeat myself. Parents very rarely ever get over the death of their child. Once their child has succumbed to addiction the family unit is forever distorted and torn. When alive the addict never considered what would happen if they died. And it’s worse than they could have imagined.

The family’s grief and despair is immeasurable.

“What could we have done to save him?”

“Why wouldn’t she just listen to us?”

“Were we bad parents?”

Deep depression, mental and emotional torture and sadness is what is felt for years to come. Some families have left their child’s room the same for years after they passed away, unable to move forward and accept that they are gone. Parents torture themselves about what they could have done differently, what they could have not done or changed. The fact remains that a life lost to addiction is unnecessary. Help exists and help is out there. There is no right or wrong way necessarily to deal with addiction. Opinions on the matter vary widely. Help your loved one the best way that works for you and works for them. There is no cookie-cutter method of dealing with addiction. Attaining recovery is individual to the person. What works for one may not work for another. The main idea is to help the person. No family should ever have to endure what thousands of families have; losing a child to the grip of addiction.

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Nowadays, especially within the United States, you would be hard-pressed not to see, on a daily basis, at least two to five advertisements for a pharmaceutical drug on a daily basis. A study conducted on the frequency of pharmaceutical commercials found that the average American will watch 30 hours of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising each year.

While sitting back and relaxing after a long day, I decided to throw on the television and veg out with mindless programming. Within two minutes of turning on the TV, a pharmaceutical advertisement came on. The commercial began with “Do you sometimes laugh at inappropriate times? Do you uncontrollably cry or sometimes express the wrong emotion for a given situation…?” This actually has a name. It’s called “Pseudobulbar Affect.” Jeez…

“Do you have ups and downs in life? Do you have energy and then become extraordinarily tired? Do you find yourself depressed for no reason and then experience a surge in energy? Does your antidepressant alone not work? Abilify may be for you…”

That’s when it hit me…pharmaceutical companies are now creating and marketing drugs to take away those emotions which make us human. This isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that we, as consumers, want this stuff. We no longer live in a society where if you are depressed, you seek real help for the source of your depression.  For example if you’re overweight you would see a nutritionist or physical trainer or if you are a drug addict, you would go into treatment for substance abuse.  Why would you, when you can just pop some magic pill that fixes everything? Here’s an interesting article written by Linda Caroll of NBC News:

I personally come from three generations of physicians. I remember when I was growing up, we had a large cabinet above the oven in our kitchen that housed close to 130 different bottles and samples of medications. To me, having a makeshift pharmacy in your house was normal. We probably had a medication for any and every possible ailment plus a host of narcotic medications. When I would have a really bad “tummy ache” as young children often experience, my parents would give me a dose of Phenobarbital and Belladonna. I love my family, but that was ridiculous.

At the age of 12, I had a common pre-teenage anxiety about being accepted and liked by my peers, fitting in and being “cool.” However my doctor apparently didn’t agree with how normal this was, so I was prescribed 2mg of Alprazolam (Xanax ), 1mg before school and 1mg after. The next year at school my teachers expressed concern that I seemed to have a short attention span and day dreamed a lot. Wow, shocking since at that point I was taking hard core narcotic anxiety meds before school. Bring on the ADD diagnosis. Now add Ritalin to the Xanax and anti-depressants. I was also diagnosed as being obsessive – compulsive by the way. So at that point, at 14 years old, I was legally speed balling on a daily basis.

Fast forward to my college days. I’m now taking anti-depressants, atypical antipsychotics, adderall and benzodiazepines. All prescribed by my physician. I was pretty doped up, commonly describing it as feeling “zombified.” After being introduced to illegal drugs as most university students are, I was off and running with an uncontained cocaine addiction that led me down a path of destruction I’d rather not discuss.

Presently, I do not take any medications. I’m not addicted to drugs either. The question in my mind was, did the constant drugging on psychiatric medications create the perfect storm? My guess is that being medicated from a young age helped but there’s a bit more to it. When you’re young and impressionable and a medical professional sits directly across from you and informs you that there is something wrong with you, it cuts very deeply.

A lot of our youth today are over – medicated, over – diagnosed and are told they aren’t “normal.” The search of a drug addict is trying to achieve “normal” so they feel “normal.” Ask any drug addict when they last felt “normal” and they’d find it difficult to recount any point in the past where they felt like “other people do.” Drug addicts use drugs to solve a problem. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, anxiety, sleep problems, learning difficulties, not fitting in with their peers, etc. become insurmountable problems that need a resolution. What’s the easiest way to get drugs? Well, your family doctor has a prescription pad and a pen ready to go to help you feel better.

The behavior of popping an antidepressant to feel “better” is the same action of a heroin addict doing a shot of heroin to stave off the withdrawals.

Just because your doctor prescribed it and its “legal” doesn’t make it any less of an issue than if you were to snort an 8ball of cocaine every day. You’re taking a drug to solve a problem. Plain and simple.

We as a society need to determine our priorities once again. We need to make informed decisions before not only taking these medications ourselves but before giving them to our children. Hippocrates once said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Doctors also take the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” I think we’ve all lost sight of this.

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health shopping -- vitamins

Often people in early recovery develop a new-found sense of health, wellness and a strong drive to finally treat their bodies well after ravaging it through years and years of substance abuse. Weight lifting, exercise, weight loss, physical healing and mental wellness commonly become priorities where a single thought had not been paid to such things in the person’s recent past. I have seen individuals in early recovery be the pinnacle of health and wellness, spending a lot of free time in the gym, being concerned about losing or gaining weight, researching the latest supplements and herbs and seeking out new methodologies to establish mental wellness. While physical and mental health are surely important, I believe this can unknowingly reawaken old demons.

Let’s take up weight training and exercise. The amount of supplements, thermogenic metabolism boosters, fat burners and concoctions of short-chain amino acids that promises to get me off the couch and inspire me to go to the gym is mind boggling. We live in a day and age where people will take the word of the 6 foot 3, 230 lb. guy behind the nutrition store counter rather than read the 7 warning labels and laundry list of un-pronounceable substances on a bottle of work out supplements as long as it promises to get them “fit” and “healthy.” This is the danger zone in my eyes. Why? Because for an addict in early recovery heeding the advice of those warning labels and understanding what exactly it is that they are about to consume is vital. Way more important than losing 10 pounds in 3 days or getting an energy boost. A common misnomer is:

“Well I bought it in a vitamin store so it can’t be bad for me.”

What the vitamin store employee doesn’t tell you is that this particular substance is banned in the entire European continent, has a high incidence of heart arrhythmia and stroke associated with its use and contains multiple ingredients that can be intoxicating and prove addictive.

Unknowingly or purposely pulling the wool over his eyes, the addict purchases the supplement, takes it home and can hardly wait to get to the gym so he can use his new “Super Supplement!” So the next day, he gets ready to go to the gym and takes the supplement. Within 10 minutes, his pulse races, his muscles swell with blood and he feels completely pumped and energized to rearrange the entire gym. He gets a great workout, lifted 10 more pounds than usual and within a week he’s lost 10 pounds.

“Hey, this stuff is pretty good!” he says and assigns a lot of value to this supplement.

“Where has this stuff been my entire life?” he asks himself (not remembering that he asked that same question to himself the first time he did OxyContin).

Soon, he finds himself taking the supplement outside of gym workouts. He takes it to get up in the morning. During the workday, he doses himself up just to get through the rest of the day. Now he’s buying 2 containers a week and 1 is supposed to be an entire month’s supply. Boom, his addictive behavior is taking hold again.

After a really hard workout, he wakes up and his muscles are very sore. So he goes back to the vitamin shop and says:

“That workout supplement you recommended was awesome. What do have for muscle soreness?”

The vitamin store employee reaches behind the counter and produces a bottle of a new herb called Kratom, which is used “specially used for pain and muscle soreness.”

“Don’t worry. It’s all natural herbs, so it can’t hurt you” he says.

Here is an article about Kratom:

Excited about his new find, he gets home, opens the bottle and swallows a few capsules. Within minutes he feels the slow, warm, intoxicating wave that is all too familiar to him. Unaware, he has just consumed an all-natural, legal herb that acts in the brain identically to heroin.

Once the Kratom supplements lose their efficacy, he’s back to Oxy. Completely relapsed, destroying his life and finds himself shooting up with a dirty water puddle yet again.

What happened here?

The person’s endless search for a “magic bullet” or a “cure-for-what-ails you” can led a them down the same rabbit hole that once found them sucking up water from a dirty puddle to shoot their next fix of heroin.

This is an all-too familiar situation where a person in early recovery falls victim to “natural” and “safe” herbs and supplements that are just as dangerous and intoxicating as illicit drugs. If you are going to take herbs and supplements please do your research. Know what you are taking and what peril may await you should you choose to consume it. Read labels, educate yourself and never compromise your new found life with quick-fixes and pick-me-ups.  Get advice from a medical practitioner who knows your substance abuse history.  Above all, find out so that you are smart through your recovery.

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