The prescription drug problem in the United States has become an epidemic. Around 2.1 million Americans used drugs nonmedically for the first time last year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health [1].
The problem is, prescription drug addiction can happen to anyone. It affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It wrecks lives.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Around 20 percent of the American population has used prescription medication in the past [2]. Many patients are able to come off prescription drugs successfully. Other people, however, are unable to control their use of these drugs. That’s because many of these pills are extremely addictive.
Fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone — these are just some of the most addictive prescription drugs out there [3].
Doctors prescribe prescription medication to patients. Some of these patients, however, will experience withdrawal symptoms after their prescription has come to an end. As a result, they will crave more prescription medication and might try to get a repeat prescription or seek out drugs from other sources.
“Many of these drugs continue to be prescribed legitimately, yet continue to end up in the hands of those intent on abusing them,” says [4]. “As would be expected, the resale value of some of these medications can be quite high. The price to society as a whole, however, is also taking its toll, as more and more people find themselves in the ER or hospitals for prescription drug overdoses or worse, deaths.”

How Widespread is the Problem?

Prescription drug addiction affects millions of people in the U.S. Over the last 15 years, significantly more people have visited the emergency room because of prescription medication misuse [5]. Moreover, unintentional overdose deaths from opioid rain relievers have increased four-fold since 1999 [5].
“People who take opioid painkillers for too long and in doses too large are more at risk of addiction and more likely to die of drug poisoning,” says the National Safety Council [6]. “The numbers are staggering.”

Solving the Problem

There are two main treatments for people who abuse prescription medication.
“Addiction to prescription opioids can additionally be treated with medications including buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse [7]. “These drugs can counter the effects of opioids on the brain or relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings.”
As well as medication-assisted treatment, people can seek behavioral treatments for their prescription drug problem. Typically, this includes individual or group therapy. Rehab centers specialize in prescription drug addiction and can help people on the road to recovery.

What Does the Future Hold?

Many people know the dangers associated with “street” drugs like heroin. However, there are still many misconceptions that surround prescription drug use. As a result, more people are campaigning for better prescription drug misuse prevention.
“Part of the reason for the rise in abuse is the increased availability of these medications,” says Live Science [8]. “Between 1991 and 2010, prescriptions for opioid painkillers increased from 75.5 million to 209.5 million, while prescriptions for stimulants increased from 5 million to 45 million, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.”
Many doctors are quick to prescribe prescription medication and patients are unaware of the consequences of these drugs. The truth is, some prescription pills are extremely addictive and result in serious health problems and even death.



When one ponders how to achieve the progression of our fellow man it suffices us to say various things that are perhaps more based on opinion than actual fact. Meaning that a point of view arises that can easily be dissected into both and yet still meet the qualifications for a scientific method conducted within a social prism, that we could identify simply as communication. Apologies if my presentation sounded a bit winded. I simply wish to draw your attention to the complexity of an art form that we all often take for granted. It is within this framework that a person grows from infancy through to adulthood. The words of our loved ones are often the first sound that we hear that are actually meant to engage us and embrace our attention for the purpose of creating a conduit of love. That is if our early years are based in a positive context with loving parents who make us a priority, so often this goes awry and quickly the developing mind is wrapped in dysfunction and mayhem and Erickson’s first step of bonding on the continuum of Trust vs. Distrust is slanted away from the most advantageous and sent crashing down into the quagmire of doubt and pain which in turn becomes a negative self-concept that lays a fertile ground for the creation of a fake self.

I am aware that this seems a laborious segway into what I intend to achieve with the progression of this work. The meaningfulness is centered in the intent to foreshadow if you will the genesis of man’s inhumanity to man and how in what seems to be a simple format we engage our clients in a cathartic exercise most commonly referred to as ‘process group’. As clinicians, we muster these people of pain into an interactive dynamic where we intend to guide them through their anguish and toward the more positive side of the emotional development scale. It is here that the opportunity for change becomes paramount as we seek to connect therapeutically with all the participants and still accomplish individual goals while not misaligning any of the growth that has gained purchase in the new fields that have been plowed and enriched by insightful exploration of self.

A process group becomes the new incubator within which you can grow a person with a perspective that they have never had knowledge of or simply only seen in others and thought that they could never achieve. This process should be organic and allow for the ebb and flow of ever changing perspectives to be acknowledged and cultivated toward the concept of the greater good. A north star is symbolic with the direction a person would willingly travel or incorporate in a manner that would allow them to find their bearings in the world to avoid the deep sense of dread that can befall someone adrift in a sea of disconnection. The greater good becomes that northern star and can be used as the fulcrum for the realignment of flow in building a purpose driven therapeutic dynamic.

Once achieved, the clinician must become in synch with the groups emotional movements and work to elicit conversations that can be developed into fruitful gains for all members. For this to be accomplishable the clinician must be centered and grounded as the person they are and have the intuition to see the potential in each of the participants as they create a new path of progression. While maintaining the group dynamic and weaving the independent threads of each member a tapestry appears where the means and measure of growth become intertwined in a cohesive melody of conviction, arching over the hemisphere and into the horizon where the enigmatic fulfillment occurs resulting in the casual factor of the greatest progressions. Simply stated ‘love of other’, it is when this harmonizing feature becomes an achievable inundate of self that all will grow and move forward from distrust to trust, thus accomplishing the first step of Erikson’s developmental theory and synchronizing the members future endeavors with the concepts of the greater good.

Written by: Brian “Happy” Bryanson, LPC.

Serenity View’s Family Education Program provided my family with the tools we needed to begin healing.

Dealing with an addict is never easy. Just as an addicted person changes in the course of an addiction, so does the family. Spouses, siblings and parents of addicts often absorb many of the consequences. Often, family members become distant. They can’t talk openly about the issue that’s harming them, so they end up not talking about much of anything at all.

These silences and blame games can cripple a family when help is desperately needed. They may not have the tools to assist someone in active recovery, and they may not have the energy to help themselves. Serenity View Recovery Center offers a Family Weekend. The Family Education Program at Serenity View is designed to be both educational and interactive. This program opens healthy lines of communication and helps family start the healing process.

A family therapy program, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is designed to break down that sensation of distrust, guilt, and stress. Families that were once defined by anger and by addiction can be transformed into tight, well-oiled units that support one another.

As an alumni member and an employee I can testify that the Family Education Program gave my family the tools to a healthier, more satisfying relationship. I am forever grateful for Serenity View’s Family Education Program.

Serenity View Recovery Center strives to adapt and change with the growing needs of our patient community, while maintaining integrity in working with the tried and true, evidenced based and therapeutically sound methods, which we know have proven effective in addiction recovery. One trend we have recognized has been the “pink cloud” a patient will get on when they have been in treatment for a few weeks, begin to feel better, and feel like they are “good to go”. These patients are adamant that they have all the tools they need in order to stay sober, regardless of what the treatment team has recommended. In an effort to keep the patients engaged in treatment, we have re-vamped our programming mid-way through treatment to include more exposure to outside meetings, followed by service work out in the community.

Finish Treatment

We also offer a sober outing. During this outing, the patients leave campus with staff and alumni and have a night out where they are exposed to potential triggers and “life outside of the bubble”. Examples of outings include, going to a restaurant with a bar, going bowling, going to the movies, going to a ball game, etc. The following morning, there is a designated process group to discuss and process with their peers how they handled their night out. Alumni are invited to attend these outings, which can not only offer the patients another supportive relationship to be bolstered, but they can also talk to someone who has gone through this very program and maintained sobriety. The more sober, supportive contacts the patients can make while in treatment, the greater their support network will be when they leave treatment. We offer a foundation for recovery, and because of the nature of this disease, the short amount of time they are allotted in treatment must be maximized in order to offer the patients the greatest chance of recovery for life.

Sunspire Health Texas, a community-based addiction treatment center which is part of the Meadows Behavioral Healthcare network of nationwide specialized behavioral healthcare programs, is excited to announce that, effective immediately, it will be known as Serenity View Recovery Center. As Serenity View Recovery Center, the facility will continue to offer personalized and comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for addiction, trauma and co-occurring mental health disorders to people of all walks of life, as well as provide specialized and discrete treatment for executives and professionals in high-intensity careers as part of its unique Professionals Treatment Program.

“As Serenity View Recovery Center, we remain committed to providing the highest level of patient care and clinical excellence to the people and families we serve, helping patients achieve long-term sobriety and disease management” – Selena Stockley, Executive Director of Serenity View Recovery Center.

To read the press release in its entirety, please click here.

Think of substance addiction as a pebble flung into a puddle—its effects ripple outward to everything within its range. People with addiction believe they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, which isn’t true. So, when it comes to confronting someone about their own drug and alcohol issues, that conversation can quickly become radioactive. This fallout as a result of their addiction, especially on those who love them, is devastating—and sometimes permanent unless handled properly.

What is Addiction?

One thing needs to be clear—people with substance addiction have no control over what they’re doing, taking or using. They become dependent on whatever they’re taking to help cope. Addiction and the lack of control that goes with it damages friendships, disrupts families and impacts the workplace. Those of us who have not experienced addiction often wonder what caused their loved one to become that way in the first place? There’s no one reason why someone becomes addicted. There are many variables that can be present, such as

Mental Illness: When people with addiction are admitted to treatment programs, they are usually found to also have what’s called a co-occurring disorder, or mental illness alongside their substance use disorder. This could be anything from depression to anxiety to bipolar disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 29 percent of those diagnosed as mentally ill are also addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Environment: These influences come from both your adult and adolescent backgrounds. What your family and friends do directly influence what you do, whether you’re aware of it or not. Places, where substance use takes place frequently and is accepted, can promote addictive behaviors. Neglect and abuse can also be common in households that see a lot of addictive behaviors.

Genes: Heredity also factors into addiction. Despite being proven that substance addiction is a disease—much like diabetes and heart disease—it’s still thought of in many circles as a weakness of will. However, about half of a person’s vulnerability to addictive behaviors can be traced to genetic factors. So, addiction isn’t something organic that appears from out of nowhere but rather a progressive disease that develops in a person over a period before a life event triggers it.

 A Relationship Built on Quicksand

When substance addiction appears in relationships, the elements that once made things click begin to deteriorate. Those battling addiction begin focusing on getting the drugs to maintain their habit—and their high—at whatever the cost. They will raid bank accounts, college tuition funds, even tap their IRA and 401k’s to satisfy the cravings. Secrecy and deception also creep into the mix. This secrecy may increase to the point where your loved one will begin isolating and distancing themselves from their significant others. These relationships, once built on trust, mutual respect and love become filled with doubt, mistrust, and lies—they become, in essence, relationships built on quicksand.

Helping vs. Codependency

Co-habiting with people consumed by addiction will test the emotions of those around them—increasing their frustration and anger levels, which cause them either to act out towards the one with the addiction, which leads to further isolation, or cause the one with the addiction to act out towards them.

To maintain some sort of relationship, loved ones will sometimes transform themselves into enablers, who will:

  • Take on responsibility for the behavior of the addicted loved one.
  • Accept blame for their loved one’s addiction
  • Make constant excuses for them.

Sometimes this can morph into a codependency. Codependents engage in relationships that are one-sided. While they’re bothered by the actions of their addicted spouse or offspring, they have this compulsion to still care for them. The codependent needs the addict as much as the addict needs them. They will often cover for the addict or resolve their issues instead of allowing them to face the consequences of their actions. The codependent will also embrace this image of the ‘victim’ feeling the need to ‘sacrifice’ themselves for their addicted partner—while simultaneously fulfilling their own needs for attachment, no matter how dysfunctional. Remember, addiction can train those with the disease to be masters of manipulation as the disease further inflicts on them.

Supporting Your Loved One in Recovery

That first step in recovery can be rough, with cravings constantly teasing those in recovery with thoughts of how good it felt when indulging in their habits. Healthy relationships can make the difference between a positive life spent in recovery, or one spent in relapse and uncertainty:

  • Encourage responsibility: You can’t recover for someone else. While you can offer support and advice, they’re responsible for their own recovery efforts.
  • Focus on the person, not their addiction: As recovery takes hold, help your loved one reclaim all the goals, interests and dreams they once had. Their addiction should never be seen as what defines them as a person.
  • Give honest feedback: Offer constructive comments and suggestions about things they are and aren’t doing well to help them stay on their road to recovery.

Yes, those in recovery might deserve a lot of the blame for their previous behavior, but remind ourselves only keeps us angry, hurt and powerless. Just know that they are probably steeped in shame already because of their behavior when addicted, so be careful not to contribute to those feelings. Remember, for those in recovery it’s two steps forward, one step back. Never look at that backward step as a failure because recovery is a long-path that celebrates success one step at a time, day by day.

Since 2015, well over 30,000 American parents have had to bury a child due to drug overdoses. Everyone suffering from addiction was once a child—it can happen to anyone at any age from any social background. Drugs waste your brain, hijack your soul and, if left untreated, can last a lifetime. Sunspire Health has been bringing hope and recovery to those who walk through our doors—so that another parent does not have to lose a piece of their heart to addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering, call us now.

Close to 23 million Americans are struggling with addiction and yet only a handful get the quality drug and alcohol treatment they so desperately need. There’s no doubt that treatment is important and necessary in today’s world, but what constitutes quality treatment and what needs to be offered to these patients for them to achieve long-term recovery and a full life.

Quality Staff Equals Successful Outcomes

Treatment centers with specialties that focus on addiction counseling, medication-assisted treatment, psychiatry, and even spirituality can help patients uncover and address any wide-ranging needs that could aid in their recovery. Some additional things to consider:

  • Medical Detox Onsite: Having this onsite is closely linked to having experienced and qualified staff onsite. It also ensures that patients will begin their treatment clear-minded, comfortable, and focused on self-discovery.
  • Nutritional Support: As they say, “You are what you eat” – Healthy eating directly correlates to a positive recovery process. Treatment centers that prioritize nutrition help patients establish healthy lifestyles for long-term wellness.
  • Customized Care: Everyone’s circumstances are unique; the one-size-fits-all approach to treatment neglects to consider the individual’s strengths, weakness and medical history. For example, co-occurring disorders like depression and bipolar disorder may need to be addressed. Quality centers will tailor their treatment in ways that can most benefit the patient.
  • Post-treatment: The center you choose should offer a plan of action to follow up on the patient after completing the program. It should include ways to manage recovery-related stress to tips on how to avoid toxic people and situations. Additionally, many treatment centers offer Alumni support groups and meetings to build a community of recovery that patients can attend for support and motivation.
  • Involving the Family: Choose a place that offers the patient a chance to reconnect with their family while in treatment since household environments often play a part of in the patient’s addiction.

When looking for a treatment center, look for counselors with graduate degrees that incorporate license and board certifications. That’s a pretty good indicator you’re dealing with a blue-ribbon addiction treatment center. Also, these centers will have clinical supervision and team meetings twice or more a week for those in their outpatient-recovery programs, and even more for residential and inpatient programs. While addiction treatment may be overwhelming, a competent, licensed staff will give their patients the reassurance they’re there to heal, seek clarity and assist them in finding their road to recovery.

Trying to Quit on Your Own

No one ever intends to become addicted. There’s always some reason they begin using drugs or alcohol—stress, anxiety, depression. Nearly everyone with addiction believes—in the beginning anyway—that they can stop using any time they want, and most will try at one time or another. As most addiction specialists will tell you, nearly all these attempts will end in failure. Studies by National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that long-term drug addiction results in changes in brain functions that persist long after the individual begins using. Going ‘cold turkey’ can not only be difficult but dangerous. There’s no way to judge how you’re going to react to abruptly quitting drugs —quitting suddenly can bring on seizures, convulsions and result in your nervous system shutting down. The best and safest way towards recovery is through proper medical supervision combined with a long-term addiction treatment plan. Remember, your body is stressed enough because of prolonged drug use. It needs to be rehydrated and properly nourished to regain its health. For this reason, it’s better and safer to opt for a long-term treatment program. Remember, it won’t happen overnight—there are never any shortcuts to recovery, but with a high-quality treatment center, you will have a qualified team behind you to achieve success.

 Spotting Substandard Addiction Treatment

While the signs of high-quality care are more obvious, less-than-standard drug and alcohol treatment can be subtler—but potentially more disastrous. If correctly conducted, addiction treatment can transform lives and has a huge impact on the greater community. It can literally mean the difference between life and death and productivity or despair. When researching various centers, spotting these red flags will help you make a more informed decision:

  • Accreditation or certification: Good centers will be registered licensed by the state they operate in. Accreditation by the Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities is also a good indicator that you’ve found a quality center.
  • Vague generic websites or online advertisements: These websites are run by companies that are called “patient brokers”—people who connect you to whichever center is paying them, and not necessarily one that is suited for your clinical needs.
  • Free travel offers: This incentive is illegal in many states. If someone is offering to pay for your travel to the addiction center, make sure they’re an employee.

The lesson here is that not every center is a good fit for everyone. If you have the time, try and schedule a tour and do your due diligence online. Look at the various center’s websites and social media presences, read their reviews, find people who have gone through a center and what their treatment experience was like. Above all, remember to check to see if its programs are fully accredited and offer what you need.

Final Thoughts

With so many options open to people today it’s not surprising that choosing the right place could be the most difficult decision of your life. With each passing year more and more centers are appearing on the addiction scene. Educating yourself before venturing forth will pay huge dividends in the long run in the form of a positive recovery and a life spent clean and sober.

Since 2015, well over 30,000 American parents have had to bury a child due to drug overdoses. Everyone suffering from addiction was once a child—it can happen to anyone at any age from any social background. Drugs waste your brain, hijack your soul and, if left untreated, can last a lifetime. Sunspire Health has been bringing hope and recovery to those who walk through our doors—so that another parent does not have to lose a piece of their heart to addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering, call us now.

Drug overdose deaths have become such a serious problem that they are now cutting the nation’s life expectancy. Figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put drug overdose deaths at 63,600 in 2016—up from around 52,000 the previous year—with a full two-thirds of those occurring from opioid addiction. These are devastating numbers particularly when you gaze at the age of the victims showing up in the nation’s emergency rooms. People as young as 15 and as old as 54 saw their mortality rates jump in 2015 and 2016.

The CDC figures also chronicle how potent synthetic drug blends such as fentanyl mixed with heroin and opioids are becoming more common—and more dangerous. And now, even stronger versions of this concoction have made the opioid crisis in this country even worse, the CDC data indicated.

The Face of Modern Substance Addiction

Ironically, the modern opioid epidemic has its root in the 1990’s. Doctors began prescribing painkillers to treat chronic pain more aggressively. Over time their patients developed a tolerance to the drugs and needed larger doses to control their aches while at the same time exposing their brains’ ‘reward circuits’ to large surges of dopamine. Doctors, already being worn out from battling with difficult-to-treat pain, kept plying patients with painkillers. In some cases, filling out enough prescriptions for every person in America. As the patient’s brains were bombarded with dopamine from the drugs, it lowered their thresholds for pain but increased their need. This drug use ballooned, with prescriptions landing in the hands of not just patients, but kids rummaging through their medicine cabinets, relatives, friends of the patient and eventually entering black market, street dealing. Despite being aware of the harm they’re doing to themselves, people continued using, which is the textbook definition of addiction. So, the chronic pain problem of the ‘90s has developed into the opioid epidemic of today, which is leading to fatal results faster.

The signs and symptoms of a drug overdose can include;

  • Skin may be hot and dry or cold and sweaty.
  • Stomach pain nausea vomiting and diarrhea
  • Pulse and breathing may be slow
  • Sleepiness and confusion
  • Short of breath slow or shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Chest pain from lung and heart damage.

 The Face of Addiction is Getting Younger

Among all the age groups, the young seem to be the most affected. Substance addiction among the young is an epidemic. They are using at earlier times in their lives and the reasons for their use are many. The younger the person is addicted, the more harm is done to their still-developing bodies and minds. Using drugs and alcohol before the brain has fully developed increases the risk of addiction. Recent studies have documented that children as young as 12 are now using alcohol and drugs to cope. According to numbers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 9.4 million kids between 12 and 17 were found to be misusing prescription opioids—getting them through a parent, relative or friend, who often share their unused prescription opioids:

  • In 2015, 276,000 kids between 12 and 17 were found to be abusing prescription opioids, with another 122,000 addicted to the painkillers.
  • Prescribing rates for prescription opioids among kids 12-17 nearly doubled from 1994-2007.

It’s sobering once you begin looking at the numbers and see the true scope of the epidemic and who’s at risk.

The MAT Method Offers Hope

Increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) makes sense since the science and the various studies support this approach towards treating substance addiction. Evidence indicates that MAT can cut drug overdose mortality rates among patients by half with higher success rates and can have the added benefit of improved health and function. One common misunderstanding is that it substitutes one drug for another. However, these medications relieve the withdrawal and craving symptoms that can cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT gives a safe and controlled level of medicine to replicate the feeling the patient had on the abused substances to cease craving and help the patient stay focused on treatment and therapy. SAMHSA and other research have shown that when the patient is given the proper dose, these MAT medications show no adverse effects on the patients physical or cognitive abilities.

Never Wait for Rock Bottom

Waiting for someone with addiction to hit rock bottom before helping them can be a dangerous and often fatal decision. Waiting for the perfect moment to have that talk can have lasting consequences on the addicts’ health, finances, and personal lives.  Think about other chronic diseases like arthritis and cystic fibrosis. Would you wait for an arthritic person to become as immobile as possible before getting them treatment? Would you keep an inhaler from someone with cystic fibrosis until they couldn’t breathe anymore? No, of course not, so think of addiction in those terms. The longer you wait for rock bottom to occur the sicker and deeper into addiction that person becomes. Addiction is a chronic but treatable disease—like arthritis and cystic fibrosis. Addiction as a disease means you can treat it, prevent it, and manage it in treatment and recovery.

 Since 2015, well over 30,000 American parents have had to bury a child due to drug overdoses. Everyone suffering from addiction was once a child—it can happen to anyone at any age from any social background. Drugs waste your brain, hijack your soul and, if left untreated, can last a lifetime. Sunspire Health has been bringing hope and recovery to those who walk through our doors—so that another parent does not have to lose a piece of their heart to addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering, give us a call.