Alcohol Abuse Vs. Alcohol Dependence: Is There a Difference

What is alcohol abuse?

Abusers are typically heavy drinkers who continue drinking regardless of the results. Alcohol can be an addictive substance. Not everyone who consumes alcohol will become addicted. However, certain people may be more susceptible to addiction.

It should be noted that alcohol addiction and abuse are not the same. It’s important to understand the facts on alcohol abuse. Alcohol addiction refers to a psychological and physical dependency on alcohol. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction may build up a tolerance to the substance, as well as continue drinking even when alcohol-related problems become evident.

Alcohol abusers are not necessarily addicted to alcohol. Abusers are typically heavy drinkers who continue drinking regardless of the results. Abusers of alcohol may not drink on a consistent basis. For example, an individual who abuses alcohol may only drink once a week. However, when that individual drinks, he puts himself into risky situations or drinks enough to cause problems, such as alcohol poisoning. Certain individuals who abuse alcohol may eventually become dependent on it.

What is Alcohol dependence?

Alcoholism is the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. Symptoms include repeated alcohol consumption despite related legal and health issues. Those with alcoholism may begin each day with a drink, feel guilty about their drinking, and have the desire to cut down on the amount of drinking.

Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) consists of four symptoms:

Craving: a strong need, or compulsion, to drink.

Loss of control: the inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.

Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.

Serious dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, starting eight to twelve hours after the last drink. The delirium tremens (D.T.’s) begins three to four days later where the person becomes extremely agitated, shakes, hallucinates and loses touch with reality.

Tolerance: the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get high.

The Differences of Alcoholism Vs. Alcohol Abuse

Signs of Alcoholism

Someone who is dependent on alcohol needs it to get through the day. They also have a high tolerance, needing increasingly drinks to feel any effect. Alcoholics also suffer from withdrawal and will drink to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal, which include anxiety, tremors, sweating, insomnia, nausea, depression, fatigue, headache, and irritability.

Tolerance and withdrawal are very telling signs of alcoholism (alcohol dependence). There are others too, which include:

  • Losing control – you cannot stop yourself from drinking too much and too often, no matter how hard you try.
  • Drinking despite the legal, financial, and personal problems that it is causing you.
  • Allowing alcohol, drinking, and thinking about drinking to dominate your day-to-day responsibilities and activities.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is a matter of degree. If you are abusing alcohol, but are not yet dependent on it, you may experience a little bit of tolerance or a small degree of withdrawal, but nothing as severe as what a true alcoholic goes through.

As an abuser, your first signs will more likely be neglecting responsibilities so you can drink. For instance, you must call in sick to work often because of hangovers, or you don’t spend enough time with your kids because you feel the need to go out drinking with friends.

Other signs of abuse include:

  • Taking serious risks while drinking – maybe you drink and drive or you mix alcohol with prescription drugs to enhance your high.
  • Continue to use alcohol even when you get sick or hurt from drinking.
  • Your drinking is attached to emotions, such as drinking to destress or to cope with feelings of depression.

Although alcohol abuse and alcoholism are very similar there is a difference between the two and alcohol abuse can very easily turn into alcoholism, it is very important to seek help right away if you or someone you love may think they are developing a problem.



When to Get Help for Drug Addiction

Getting help for drug addiction takes a lot of courage. Before wanting to seek help, a person must first realize they have a problem. A lot of people who have an alcohol or substance abuse problem are in denial and do not believe they have a problem. They may think they are not dependent but unbelievably they most likely are. Not everyone is able to realize they have a problem right away, it can and may take some time. It could be while they begin receiving help and they realize they do have a problem and that they are doing exactly what they should be doing. Getting help!

Recognizing There is an Addiction Problem

As you probably know, it can be very difficult to recognize early on that your friend or family member is involved in drugs or another addictive behavior. You should also know that your loved one is unlikely to admit to a problem. Addicts tend to cover their tracks. But there are a variety of signs that you might be seeing now even ones you may have brushed aside, not wanting to believe that an addiction could be at play. See how many of these common warning signs of addiction that your loved one may have:

  • A shift in mood, attitude, and motivation
  • A new friends and new hangouts
  • Poor performance at school or work and/or being absent
  • Secretive behavior such as lying
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • A sudden, unexplained increase in spending
  • Bloodshot eyes or enlarged pupils
  • A giving up once-favorite pastimes and hobbies
  • Strange body odors; trembling hands
  • Unusual changes in sleeping patterns or schedule

In addition, you may notice that your loved one now has angry outbursts and is more volatile or unpredictable. He/she may be inattentive and not follow through on assignments or obligations on time or at all. You may find your loved one making secretive, unexplained phone calls or cash withdrawals, concealing what’s on his/her computer screen, or creating new bank or online accounts. His/her schedule may change frequently, often without your knowledge. Your loved might also be sleeping more or suffering from insomnia, choosing to wear sunglasses often, trying to cover up unusual breath or body odors and in general is changing in ways you cannot explain, excuse or understand.

It’s also possible that your loved one is not paying the bills, asks to borrow money, or is taking or stealing money from you and others. You may notice your partner, friend, or relative feeling more melancholy and depressed (these can be psychological symptoms of withdrawal). And then there are common physical symptoms when an addict tries to quit a substance; these withdrawal symptoms may include muscle aches, vomiting, sweating, trembling, fever, insomnia and/or diarrhea.

What to do When You Realize your Loved one has an Addiction


If simply talking to the person with the problem doesn’t work, a group intervention is an effective next step. Interventions also show addicts how their actions affect those they care about. The goal is to help the person struggling get into addiction recovery and rehabilitation. It can be hard to approach someone struggling with addiction. Although friends or loved ones mean well, they might not know what to say. The addicted person might also deny that they have a drug or alcohol problem, making open conversation difficult.

But it is very important they get help right away. The sooner a person receives help for their addiction, the better. That does not mean it is ever too late. Fatal overdose is possible at any time and unexpected.

If you or your loved one may have an addiction problem, do not hesitate to call for help today!


Is There a Such Thing as A Functioning Addict

Addicts are often thought of as not being able to function in normal society. They may be considered thieves, homeless, or otherwise at the fringe of mainstream society. Believe it or not, addicts can be found in places such as hospitals, law offices, and teacher’s lounges. Addicts are frequently highly driven people who seek extremes in life. They may perform surgery and then step out for a shot of heroin.

How Would You Define a Functioning Addict?

A functioning addict is most likely a person whose drug or alcohol use hasn’t caught up to them yet. It’s a person who can hide the severity of their addiction to the people close to them, often at tragic cost. A functioning addict can fulfill obligations while being addicted to drugs or alcohol. They can go to work, pay their bills and still handle living expenses, provide necessary care for their families and stay away from criminal activities.

Today, an addict is viewed as a person who cannot control their addiction, a person whole steals, lies and no longer cares about their well-being. It is not often you know of someone who is an addict that still properly functions for their well-being. For a while addicts are able to maintain their lifestyle and obligations while being addicted to drugs and alcohol. Sometimes it can continue for several years, until the addiction becomes more severe, then they become less and less able to balance their obligations with the growing compulsion to seek and abuse mind-altering substances.

Functioning addicts are often able to perform their tasks on a daily manner, but there can be tell-tale signs. Some of these signs include making excuses for their behaviors, trying to justify their drug use. Who they hang out with says a lot as well. If all their friends are using drugs or alcohol or they don’t want to attend events unless drugs or alcohol will be there, that’s also a sign of a bigger issue. And if they suddenly lose interest in their hobbies, the addiction could be starting to take over their life.

What Allows an Addict to Be Functional?

One of the main differences between an addict who’s high-functioning and one who’s not is in the perceptions they have of their substance use. For the high-functioning addict, the abuse of alcohol or drugs is usually still seen as being a reward or to unwind after a long day. A functioning addict might not see that they have a problem because they are able to function how they should.  For these individuals, there will occasionally be times when they cannot justify alcohol or drug use, especially when it would prohibit them from fulfilling some type of obligation, so they refrain from use in those instances. On the other hand, addicts who aren’t high-functioning don’t need to justify their substance abuse because it has taken the central place in their lives. Alcohol and drugs have already become more important than a career, relationships, and other such things.

Here are just a few of the things a high-functioning addict may experience:


High functioning addicts and alcoholics must live in a world of denial in order to keep their ruse afloat. Addicts often think that if they drink fine wines, beers, and liquors that they must not be alcoholics. They believe alcoholics only drink bottom of the barrel liquor. They may also rationalize their substance abuse by pointing out that they have important jobs, despite the fact that they experience blackouts on a regular basis. However, they are often only fooling themselves. The people who see the truth of the situation, often those closest to them, must endure the wild mood swings, frantic lifestyle, and perpetual instability of life with an addict.


A high functioning heroin addict is often confined to a set routine. He needs his fixes at certain times of the day and he has to rely on his dealer being available when he needs to score. High functioning heroin addicts often are loath to travel, because any time away from their fix will mean dope sickness (early withdrawal) and a frantic search for more. A high-functioning alcoholic may not own a car for fear of DUI charges, despite having a license and even driving a company car during working hours. The alcoholic might also attempt to cover daytime drinking with breath mints or other ineffective methods. Prescription drugs and high functioning addiction often go hand-in-hand. There are many people who think they are functioning ‘just fine’ since their drug of choice is prescribed to them.

Double Life

High-functioning alcoholics and addicts often need to lead a double life in order to satisfy all of their needs. They cannot afford to have one life spill into another and so may go to great lengths. Some will find bars on the other side of town from where they live in hopes of not running into any ″straight″ friends or colleagues. Others will hide in shame of their drug addiction and may disappear during off-work hours, only to reappear at home or work appearing frazzled, tired, and bleary. Family members might look for signs such as mysteriously disappearing funds, extra credit cards, and even secret bank accounts.

Are you a functioning addict or know someone who is? The first step is realizing you have a problem and that you need help. Do not hesitate to call for help today, there is help for everyone.

Intensive Outpatient Program

outpatient program

Intensive outpatient programs or IOP’s are treatment programs for those who are suffering from any number of disorders including chemical dependency. These programs offer support to those who are unwilling or unable to commit to an inpatient treatment program. The services that are offered in these programs are similar but limited as a result of the patient only committing to 9 to 20 hours per week. This is a minimally structured program that allows patients to maintain their normal lifestyle. Intensive outpatient programs do not include detox, which makes them ideal for those without the need of medically assisted detox; IOP’s are great follow up programs for those who complete a detox program. Recovering addicts are encouraged to continue to participate in public gatherings, events, and activities such as self-help meetings and group therapy.

Living at home during chemical-dependency treatment is a great way to get sober and healthy. Studies show that inpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment is the best way to overcome this issue, but any treatment is great treatment. Those who are able to continue to participate in treatment in an IOP can continue to grow as a sober person and maintain their normal routines. This program allows patients to begin the healing the relationships with family and friends. It can be especially difficult to enter a long-term program, which requires a 24-hour stays, for those with demanding lives. As such, entering an IOP drug rehab can allow patients to continue to carry out their daily responsibilities and attend the necessary treatment.

Is Intensive Outpatient Care the Right Choice

Choosing a treatment program can be difficult as a result of the strains that addiction and substance abuse place on life in general. It is also a hard decision to make due to the lack of available treatment centers and number of styles. IOP drug rehab is designed for those with addiction, substance use, and abuse disorders, as well as co-occurring disorders. Placement in an IOP can be determined by a specialist in an initial assessment. Here the trained professional will assess the addiction and the person. If they are mentally, physically, and emotionally capable of maintaining their normal lifestyle, while attending the four-hour sessions, several days a week, then they can use this program. Those addicts with more severe addictions or co-occurring disorders are more likely to be advised to enter an inpatient treatment program.

Why Choose Intensive Outpatient Care

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction or substance abuse problem, then treatment is necessary. If they can barely hold onto their lives; missing work, assignments, stealing, lying, cheating, have deteriorating health and in general decrepit, then inpatient treatment is necessary. For those with milder addictions or those who are unable to commit long-term residential care, an IOP is the right choice. These programs offer all the necessary therapeutic services of inpatient care, but recovering addicts are able to return to work and home. Recovering addicts who can sustain their everyday responsibilities and commit to the several hours a week schedule of treatment can successfully overcome their addiction.

Goals and Services of Intensive Outpatient Programs

First and foremost, the goal of IOP drug treatment is to get an addict to sobriety. Those under the thumb of their addiction must regain stability in their lives and control over their decisions. In intensive outpatient programs, the recovering addicts learn techniques and skills that promote healthy living. They learn to avoid temptations, enablers, and other obstacles in their way to sobriety. It is not simply discussions on the dangers of continued substance abuse, but lessons on life activities that will help them develop a healthier lifestyle and be more success in all aspects of life. While in treatment (both inpatient and outpatient) the likelihood of a participant to use drugs in that situation is impossible. During a meeting, no one is using dangerous substances. The problem is when they leave treatment; therefore the goal of treatment is to help recovering addicts become more self-sufficient. Chemically dependent people must be able to keep themselves sober because individuals are responsible for their actions, not others. An important aspect of the IOP drug treatment program is to help recovering addicts’ psychosocial problems. Patients, with the help of trained professionals, learn and address the issues of housing, employment, education and community support.

The services provided at Intensive Outpatient programs are offered four hours a day for a few days a week. Similar to inpatient treatment programs, the service provided is individualized and consistent with the abilities of the patient. This treatment is based on scientific studies, uses the most advanced practices and is aligned with all state regulations. The main difference of an Intensive outpatient program and an inpatient program is that IOP’s are not 24-hour residential treatments. The patients return to home, work, and life after the four-hour sessions.

Long Term Effects Caused by LSD Abuse

What is LSD?

LSD is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in the ergot fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It is one of the most potent, mood changing chemicals. It is produced in crystal form in illegal laboratories, mainly in the United States. These crystals are converted to a liquid for distribution. It is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste.  LSD Is known as “acid” and many other names. It is sold on the streets in small tablets, capsules, or gelatin squares. Sometimes it is added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into small squares decorated with designs or cartoon character. No matter the form it is abused in, the same affects still take place and gives the user a serious disconnection from reality.

Short Term Effects of LSD

The way that LSD affects an individual can vary from one person to another. It is highly unpredictable, and the effects can depend a lot on the person’s mood or attitude at the time of use. Because LSD is placed on blotter papers, it is often hard to tell exactly how much of the drug is taken at one time. During manufacture, it may be difficult to determine an exact measurement of the drug. The slightest deviation can affect the way the drug reacts. The drug itself is not addictive, but an individual can develop a tolerance to it, which can lead to addictive behaviors.

The most common short-term LSD effect is a sense of euphoria. This is often described in terms of trips. If an individual has a good experience while taken the drug, it is referred to as a “good trip.” If the individual has a particularly bad episode, it is referred to as a “bad trip.” The trips can vary from day to day in the same individual. On one day, a person may experience an overwhelming sense of happiness. On another occasion, the same individual may experience scary images and feelings of danger. The goal is to have as many good trips as possible.

The most common short-term effects of LSD use include, but are not limited to:

  • High-blood pressure
  • Hallucinations; an individual may taste, smell or see things that are not there
  • Becoming out of touch with reality
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sleeplessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia

LSD users can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug. This leads to LSD addiction, which can have long-term effects on the individual. Some of the long-term LSD effects are:

  • Drug tolerance
  • Flashbacks
  • Delusional behaviors
  • Vision problems
  • Lack of motivation to participate in daily activities
  • Lack of enjoyment in things that once caused pleasure
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to communicate well with others
  • Irrational thinking
  • Difficulty in distinguishing reality from hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Extreme feelings of depression
  • Overwhelming feelings of anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Inability to cope with life circumstances
  • Problems in relationships
  • Lack of success and motivation in work or school
  • Promiscuous behaviors
  • Criminal charges
  • Accidents
  • Pregnancy
  • Violent behaviors

Dependence to the medication can lead the individual to react in much the same way as a meth addict. The individual will spend much of their time trying to figure out how to get more of the drug. Their main goal in life may seem to revolve around taking the drug or finding more. They lose any interest in relationships and those who are closest to them.

Individuals who develop a strong tolerance for LSD are usually so out of touch with reality that they may end up in serious accidents or compromising situations. The drug can intensify feelings of belonging, and an individual may feel that they love everyone. This can lead to increased sexual activity.

If you or someone you love has developed a dependence to LSD it is important for them to get help right away. Do not hesitate to call for help and more answers to your questions today. Even if someone is using LSD recreationally and here and there for fun, they need to seek help before unwanted dependence develops.

Finding a Healthy Balance – Cassie Jackson at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance - Cassie Jackson overcoming addiction

More Than Just Quitting Drugs and Alcohol, Overcoming Addiction is About Finding Harmony in Life.

When addiction takes control over someone’s life, the effects are widespread. Drug and alcohol abuse affects the individual physically, causing toxic damage to the body and brain and affecting eating habits and sleeping routines. It also warps a person’s perception of the world around us and alters thought processes, reducing their ability to think logically and rationally about things. Addiction also has devastating effects on an individual spiritually, causing isolation from others and a sort of selfish and self-serving lifestyle.

To be perfectly clear, when we speak of spirituality, we are not talking about religion or and particular religious dogma. We understand that all of our patients come from unique backgrounds, and there are many different belief systems in our world. When we look at spirituality, we view it more as an understanding of the role we fill in the lives of others and our connection to the world around us. We don’t ask our patients to adhere to any form of spirituality that they are not completely comfortable with, and we do not base our treatment strategy in any particular religion.

One of the biggest parts of overcoming addiction is realizing how those personal connections have been damaged, straining friendships and damaging family bonds as the person places themselves and their addiction more and more at the center of the universe. When we realize that, we can begin to work on repairing those bonds wherever possible, and how to form new healthy and functional relationships that are not centered around drug or alcohol abuse. As we progress on the path to recovery from addiction, we begin to realize how important it is to share this message with others who may be struggling with substance abuse, to provide hope and inspiration and maybe even to save a few lives in the process.

That mission took us halfway across the country to Park City, Utah where the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was underway. We teamed up with our good friend Debbie Durkin of Durkin Entertainment, the leading producer of sustainable product placement in television and film, as a sponsor of the EcoLuxe Lounge, a special red-carpet event that she organizes at various awards ceremonies and festivals throughout the year. Showcasing some of the world’s top providers of holistic and eco-friendly goods and services, the 2017 Sundance EcoLuxe Lounge was held inside The Blue Iguana in Downtown Park City.

We were joined in the Choices Recovery Media Center by another good friend of ours, Gretchen Rossi of reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” She filled the role of special guest host, spending her time speaking with dozens of the entertainment industry professionals and Hollywood insiders that stopped by The EcoLuxe Lounge that day. Among those guests was Cassie Jackson, a rising young actress, and daughter of Shar Jackson, another acting professional who had spoken with Gretchen earlier in the day.

Cassie talked about her experiences with substance abuse and how she was able to maintain friendships without getting caught up in that hectic and dangerous lifestyle. “I see what drugs have done,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to bring that into my life for the sake of the people around me. Everything that you do affects those around you, so I just try to keep that in mind whenever I make my decisions.” Far too many young people have this idea that they are not affecting anyone else when they make the decision to use drugs or alcohol, but they’re only fooling themselves. The consequences of their actions and decisions affect everyone else around them, too.

Cassie also spoke about the importance of setting personal boundaries. “If someone’s influencing someone negatively to do something that they’re uncomfortable with, definitely get away,” she advised. “My friends don’t try to pressure me into anything, but if someone’s trying to make you do something that you don’t want to do, eliminate them from your life.” Cassie’s message and advice is extremely valuable, especially in the modern age of constant influence through television and other media.

In overcoming addiction, finding harmony and balance in life is vital, and this will often require getting rid of our old “friends” that we used to use drugs or get drunk with. Even though we may miss them and the times we used to have with them, we must realize that our sobriety takes priority, because our decisions affect so many more people than just us.

Looking for Signs – Janell Flack in the 2017 Sundance EcoLuxe Lounge

Sundance - Janell Flack substance abuse

Addiction is not Always Easy to See, Especially when it’s Someone We Love.

Addiction is very sneaky. People who are struggling with substance abuse often become very good at hiding their drug or alcohol use. They can become very good at manipulation, and lying can become very natural. There is no end to the excuses that they can come up with for using, for ignoring their responsibilities, or for their broken promises. Denial is a very powerful thing.

Denial isn’t just limited to the person who is using, either. Many times, close friends and family members will also struggle with denial about the substance abuse of a person they care about. This is just as dangerous. It can enable their addictive behaviors, and in many cases will lead to avoiding reaching out for help. This is the most dangerous of all because sometimes we don’t realize just how badly someone needs help until it is too late.

Raising awareness about these issues and helping people identify when drugs or alcohol have become a problem in their life or in the life of someone that they care about is a big part of the fight against addiction that faces our society today. While the main role that Choices Recovery fills in that fight is offering effective treatment programs for those struggling with addiction, we understand that this is just one part of a mush bigger picture. We understand that there is much more that we can and should do to be a strong force in this battle.

Our commitment to being a source of hope and inspiration for those struggling with the effects of addiction is their lives took us to Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a sponsor of The EcoLuxe Lounge, a red-carpet event that makes appearances at various awards ceremonies and festivals throughout the year. Organized by Debbie Durkin of Durkin Entertainment, the top producer of sustainable product placement in film and television, the EcoLuxe Lounge gathers some of the world’s leading producer of holistic and eco-friendly goods and services.

Inside the Blue Iguana in Downtown Park City, where the EcoLuxe Lounge was held, “The Real Housewives of Orange County” co-stars Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley spent the day hosting the Choices Recovery Media Center, chatting with dozens of the entertainment industry professionals who stopped by to visit. But producers, actors, and directors aren’t the only people who had stories to share with us. We also spoke with Janell Flack, a young lady who was working with the EcoLuxe as a Guest Ambassador.

Janell had heard why we were there as a sponsor of the EcoLuxe, and she wanted to tell us about her own personal experience with a loved one who was struggling with addiction. Having been adopted, she was very close in age with her brother, and they were basically raised as twins. The story she told us was about him.

“I knew that there was an issue going on,” Janell shared. “Me and my brother were best friends. We grew up as twins. After high school, he got a really good job and had all this money. As a 19-year-old, you don’t make the wisest of choices. It was very evident in his life that’s what was happening. It was very hard to see. It grabbed him so fast, I don’t think he saw what was happening.” Her story shows quite clearly the importance of knowing how to identify when someone that we care about is falling down the slippery slope of addiction – even when they are trying to hide it from us.

A few of the things we can look out for include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Irritability
  • Changes in attitude/personality
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Dramatic changes in habits or priorities
  • Financial or Legal problems

Choices Recovery is committed to helping in the fight against addiction in any way that we can. Knowing the signs and symptoms of substance abuse can help us to know when someone we care about is struggling with addiction and may need help. If we have suspicions, it’s always better to engage them than to sit in denial until it’s too late. Every day that passes in addiction is a gamble, but if we can identify the problem, we can work towards a solution. We can find a path out of darkness to a brighter, healthier, and more positive future.

Enjoying Sobriety – Nancy Yoon at Sundance 2017


Addressing a Common Fear of the Inability to have Fun Without Drugs or Alcohol.

One of the biggest fears we hear from people that come to Choices Recovery seeking help in overcoming an addiction is that they think they won’t be able to have fun without using drugs or alcohol. A lot of people start on that dangerous path by using socially – getting high at parties with friends, or maybe a few drinks after work to relax and let loose. It has become such an ingrained part of their routine that they begin to believe that life is boring without it. But this is simply not true.

Anybody who has gone through the recovery process can tell you that addiction is not fun. Though they might think that they are living life to the fullest and that things are so much more exciting when they are using, that is just the addiction lying to them. Only when they have broken free from the bonds of dependency on drugs and alcohol do they begin to realize just how trapped they were, and how hectic and terrible life really was when addiction was in control. They begin to understand that a clean and sober lifestyle is so much more enjoyable, especially when they can actually remember the fun times from the night before.

It is important to let people know that they will not only be able to have fun after they stop poisoning their bodies but that their lives will be so much more fulfilling once they have left that lifestyle behind and started living to their full potential. There are so many messages from all sides – through music or television or social media – that tell them how fun substance abuse is. If we hope to make a difference in the fight against addiction that our society faces, we must battle those messages with our own message of leading a more positive and enjoyable lifestyle through healthy decision-making.

This mission led us to Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a sponsor of a special red-carpet event known as The EcoLuxe Lounge. Organized by Debbie Durkin of Durkin Entertainment, the top producer of on-screen sustainable product placement, the EcoLuxe makes appearances at several awards ceremonies and festivals throughout the year, gathering together some of the world’s leading innovators in eco-friendly and holistic goods and services.

Our good friend Gretchen Rossi, star of reality TV’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” was the special guest host of the Choices Recovery Media Center, and she spent the day chatting with dozens of the Hollywood insiders, industry professionals, and entertainers who visited The Blue Iguana in Downtown Park City, where the EcoLuxe Lounge was held. One of those visitors was Nancy Yoon, who has been seen in several TV shows and feature films over the years, including “Days Of Our Lives” and “CSI.”

Nancy and Gretchen talked about the substance abuse that is so prevalent, not just in the entertainment industry but also throughout our entire society. Many great performers have been taken from us far too early as a result of addiction. Yet, the problem still persists, and many people, especially our youth, seem to emulate celebrities, which can be very dangerous when it comes to using drugs and alcohol.

Nancy had a message for young rising stars in the entertainment industry, but it is a message that can be applied to anybody, young or old, rich or poor, inside Hollywood or in the rural communities across our nation. “I literally don’t drink, smoke, drugs, anything – I do nothing,” she says. “But I still have so much fun at every party, every event. You don’t need that. You just gotta bring your own spirit out, and be joyful.” True happiness and fulfillment in life come from within, not from something that you put into your body. And, with sobriety and healthy living, even the little things in life can bring joy and happiness. It’s all about perspective.

At Choices Recovery, we help our patients to find the things in life that bring them happiness and serenity. We help them to understand that life is so much better when they can see things clearly and think without drugs or alcohol clouding their minds. They learn that there are so many things in life to be grateful for and that there is so much beauty just waiting to be found. They understand the role they fill in the lives of others and the connection that they have with the universe around us. They graduate from our treatment center with a renewed feeling of self-confidence, strength, and hope.

Moving Forward – Julia Verdin at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance - Julia Verdin

Combating the stigma attached to addiction is key in fighting this social epidemic.

Anybody who has watched a person that they care about struggle with substance abuse, or who has personally gone through that struggle, understands how difficult it is to ask for help. Often times this is a result of feelings of shame or guilt, sometimes because of the decisions they have made, or other times because of the damage they have caused. Sometimes, however, these feelings come from not wanting to be seen as one of “those people.”

There is a certain stigma attached to addiction – often people think of drug addiction or alcoholism as being limited to the guy living under the bridge drinking from a brown paper bag or hiding in a dark alleyway waiting for someone to rob. And these false preconceived notions can sometimes make people refuse to reach out for help and seek treatment when their lives have spun out of control.

It’s important to break through this stigma if we are going to effectively combat the epidemic of addiction that our society faces. Sharing information and educating people on the truth regarding addiction and recovery is the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal in these efforts. By reaching out to others to open discussions regarding these issues, we can show others who might be struggling with addiction that there is no shame in admitting that there is a problem and that they need help.

One of the best ways we have found to do this is through sponsorship of various events that allow us to speak frankly with people about addiction and recovery. Recently, we travelled to Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as the sponsor of The EcoLuxe Lounge, a showcase of some of the world’s leading innovators of holistic and eco-friendly services, technologies, and products, organized by Debbie Durkin of Durkin Entertainment, the industry-leading producer of on-screen sustainable product placement. The EcoLuxe Lounge, which makes appearances at various awards ceremonies and red-carpet events throughout the year, was held in The Blue Iguana in Downtown Park City and was visited by hundreds of entertainment industry professionals and Sundance Festivalgoers.

Hosting the Choices Recovery Media Center inside the EcoLuxe Lounge was our good friends Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley, stars of reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” who spent her day speaking with dozens of actors, producers, and Hollywood insiders. Among them was Julia Verdin, who’s career has spanned over 30 years and has included acting, producing, casting director, and writer. Her most recent work, “Lost Girls,” is about the tragedy of human trafficking, and she understands how important the influence of her industry in the world.

The trio talked about how the two causes of addiction and human trafficking intersect. “There’s a big recovery element because when teenagers are trafficked, they’re often drugged,” she explains. “So, they have to go through extensive rehab, and organizations struggle with having enough resources to support.” This is very true in many aspects of addiction – and one of the ways we can combat this is by raising awareness. The more people know about the issues surrounding substance abuse, and about the various options in treatment that are available today, the better prepared our society will be to handle these problems in effective ways.

Julia also touched on the problem with stigmas. “People’s perception is that trafficking is something that goes on in third world countries, and it’s right here in our backyard,” she says of the cause behind her film. “People just want to kind of turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t exist.” The same is true with addiction. People may want to ignore it or pretend it isn’t that bad, which will only make things worse. “Families often struggle with enabling,” Julia points out. “They give them money, or more leeway, or keep bailing them out. People have to make that choice to recover. Whatever happens in life, we all have to make a choice.” Fighting the stigma that makes people want to ignore substance abuse until it is too late in perhaps the most important part of our mission in the battle against addiction.

At Choices Recovery, we are dedicated to making a difference in the world through working towards a safer, healthier, and more positive environment for everyone. With the help of people like Julia Verdin, we can continue to share our message of leading a clean and sober lifestyle, reaching more ears and touching more lives than we could on our own.

Understanding What it is Like for a Person to Relapse


The Path to Recovery

Making it through recovery treatment is one of the most rewarding feelings for a person. Gaining the confidence and courage to begin a path to recovery takes a lot for a person to do. Nothing beats the feeling of counting the days, months, and years clean, knowing that the hard work a person has put in for the recovery is paying off. It is something that is never easy for a person and can make the rest of their life more than they ever imagined.

Avoiding a relapse during recovery can be very tricky for people. Some people have abused substances for so long that they don’t know anything else in life. The life they once had has gone so far behind them they have lost hope to ever get it back, and begin to accept the life in their addiction. Addiction takes over someone’s life, every aspect of it.  While in recovery there are many things that will always temp a person to go back to their addiction. It takes strength for a person to get past these temptations. There are many things people go through to get the strength to deal with these temptations and get past them.

Learning Self-Control

During recovery addicts must learn self-control when tempted to use again. There are going to be many things that will tempt that addict. Self-control can be distractions, reminding yourself of what the consequences are and reminding yourself of how far you have come. It doesn’t matter if it has been 10 days in recovery or 10 years, a person will always come across temptations.

Loosing Self-Control and Relapsing

There might be a time where something happens in a recovering addict’s life that they were not prepared to deal with, or times may become too hard for a person and they give up. They relapse. Just because a person relapses does not mean that they weren’t trying or that they are not able to recover again. People may relapse many times before they finally get it and can recover from it. Relapsing can be shameful, embarrassing and disappointing. A person who tried to stay clean and relapsed is not proud of themselves.

What matters is what they choose to do after a relapse has occurred. It is ok to seek help again, it is ok to try again. No one is perfect and no one can fight addiction that easily! Relapsing isn’t something that someone simply chooses to do, it is simply a reality. The problem is, once it’s happened to you, it’s not so easy to face what’s happened. The tendency is to heap blame on yourself, to feel that somehow you should have been able to avoid a relapse. That’s counter-productive. There are more constructive way to face yourself after relapse.

Respond to Relapse Immediately

First, you need to act immediately. After your relapse, you can’t delay for several days or weeks. That will just compound the problem and prolong your relapse – maybe even make it worse. It’s also a mistake to think to yourself, “Oh, this is it. I’m going downhill and there’s nothing I can do about it.” That’s just not true. In fact, only you can take the steps to resume your recovery. Recognize that you slipped and double your efforts to overcome your cravings or urges. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. What’s most important is your desire to move past your slip-up and forward with your recovery.

Prepare to Make Major Changes

During treatment for addiction, you most likely worked out a game plan, a list of goals, and worked on effective coping skills. Once you entered the recovery stage, you may have become a bit overconfident in your ability to resist urges and cravings. You may have thought that you could have just one drink, or do a little bit of drugs, or gamble a set amount, or indulge your addiction in some small way. Even if you didn’t delude yourself that you could handle your urges by going slower, reducing your consumption or addictive behavior, you may have let your guard down. Perhaps this was an instance of you falling back in with friends you used to drink or do drugs with, or go gambling with, or whatever. It may be that you didn’t purge your surroundings of any temptations, which now serve as triggers.

Whatever you were doing, however, it’s obvious to you now that it didn’t work out quite like you planned. If it had, you wouldn’t have relapsed. You’ll need to make some major changes in your life now.

Some of the changes you should plan to make include making a list of the people, places and things that are dangerous to you. These are the situations that remind you or prompt the need to drink, do drugs, gamble, or engage in compulsive sexual activity, overeating, overwork or other addictive behavior. Next to each, start writing down ways that you can deal with these situations as they arise. This is your plan of attack, how you will navigate your way through the minefield of obstacles that are a threat to your sobriety.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and/or relapsing do not hesitate to call for help, there is help for everyone and it is ok to need help at any point in recovery!