Alcohol and Methamphetamine Addiction Resurface as Prominent Substance Use Disorders

Alcohol & Methamphetamine Prominent Substance Use Disorders

Alcohol and Methamphetamine Addiction Resurface as Prominent Substance Use Disorders

According to U.S. News & World Report, methamphetamine use has skyrocketed over the last 7 years, from 1.4% of urine samples testing positive in 2013 to nearly 8.4% in 2019. That is a staggering statistic. Methamphetamine (meth) is a central nervous system stimulant that increases feel-good dopamine in the brain, which is one of the reasons people become addicted.  

Unfortunately, alcohol use is also trending up. In fact, a recent USA Today article reported global alcohol consumption has increased 70% just in the last 27 years—not only due to higher populations increases, but also increased individual consumption. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages that go between the brain and the body.

Alcohol and methamphetamine are two dangerous substances that, when combined, can have serious and potentially fatal consequences.

Treating alcohol and methamphetamine addiction

Most often, those who use these two drugs together find themselves feeling nauseous, depressed or even suicidal. If you or a loved one is caught in the unhealthy and dangerous cycle of an alcohol and methamphetamine addiction, there is a safe way out. 

The skilled clinical team at Gateway Rehab offers a variety of individualized treatment programs to restore your health and help you each step along your path toward recovery. Our progressive and innovative therapies are gender-specific, age-specific and tailored to the unique needs of each person and his or her family. We offer individualized programming for:

  • Adolescent patients between 13-18 years old
  • Gender and Age-specific programs for ages 19-34 and 35-49
  • Programming specifically structured for individuals over the age of 50

It’s time to get the help you need to break free from alcohol and methamphetamine addiction and start living the life you deserve. At Gateway Rehab, there is help, there is hope and there is lasting recovery—just for you. Call 724-218-3896 to get started.

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Inpatient Rehabilitation: Phase Two of a Lifetime Journey to Recovery

Inpatient Rehabilitation: Phase Two of a Lifetime Journey to Recovery

Inpatient Rehabilitation: Phase Two of a Lifetime Journey to Recovery

Inpatient rehabilitation is phase two of recovery. The first phase of addiction recovery is medically assisted detoxification, a closely monitored process that helps rid your body of harmful substances and manages your withdrawal symptoms. Once you’ve walked bravely through the symptoms of withdrawal, you are in active recovery. It’s a big moment to be celebrated and a chance to strengthen your resolve as you prepare for phase two of a lifetime journey to recovery: inpatient rehabilitation.  

What are inpatient rehabilitation recovery services?

Inpatient rehabilitation recovery services provide skilled therapy in a rehabilitation facility. It is typically used for those who have more complex rehabilitative needs, which include 24-hour medical care, emotional and psychological support and protection from outside triggers.

During inpatient rehabilitation, residents are able to completely focus on getting well without the distractions or pressures of everyday life. A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and accounted for to help those in active recovery establish a new routine and healthy habits. Psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists meet with patients individually and in group settings to guide inpatient recovery. A typical inpatient program runs anywhere from 28 days to 6 months and is tailored specifically to your unique needs. Here is what a day at Gateway Rehab might look like:

  • Breakfast
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Lunch
  • Alternative therapies (Gateway offers Music Therapy!)
  • Fitness (Gateway offers an amazing outdoor ropes course and indoor basketball court!)
  • Dinner
  • Group discussion
  • Bedtime

Creating and following a daily or weekly schedule is often an important part of the recovery process for those in active recovery. Continuing to follow a daily routine beyond treatment has shown to encourage abstinence, minimize triggers and assist in the overall recovery process.

The Gateway Rehab inpatient rehabilitation recovery services provide a safe environment in which people can get the medical and emotional support they need around the clock to overcome drug or alcohol abuse. Call 724-218-3896 to learn more or request an assessment.

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Effective Evidence-Based Practices to Manage Symptoms of Withdrawal (Detox)

How to Manage Symptoms of Withdrawal

Gateway is an essential business and plans to continue treating addiction throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Unprecedented changes—both in number and magnitude—have left many people feeling helpless, nervous, uncertain or anxious in the wake of the pandemic. Addictions are expected to rise in the United States as people turn to substances like drugs and alcohol to cope with job loss, social distancing, isolation, crisis schooling and financial concerns.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction during this time, the skilled team of specialists at Gateway Rehab can help. Call 724-218-3896 to get the help you need and find healthier, safer ways to cope in our new reality.

Effective Evidence-Based Practices to Manage Symptoms of Withdrawal (Detox)

When you take steps toward a path of recovery, you may have concerns, questions or anxiety—particularly about what happens when you stop using drugs or alcohol. Though the process of recovery may seem overwhelming, take comfort in knowing millions of Americans have walked along the path that lies before you and are now in active recovery. They did it, and so can you. There is always hope—and with Gateway Rehab, you don’t have to do it alone.

Evidence-based practices to help manage symptoms of withdrawal (detox)

Our skilled team of specialists offers effective evidence-based drug detox programs and treatment protocols in a safe environment to help rid your body of harmful substances and manage your symptoms every of withdrawal.

There are different treatment programs depending on the type of addiction, including:

  • Short-term inpatient care
    After an initial assessment, your clinical care team may recommend short-term inpatient care, which may include 4-5 days of withdrawal management, 28 days of acute management or 90 days of long-term rehabilitation that includes life skills and transition planning.
  • Long-term outpatient care
    Long-term outpatient care is recommended after your initial assessment, or, following your short-term inpatient care, your clinical care team will create an individualized treatment program to support your continued recovery success.
  • Extended Recovery Support
    As part of our extended care program, we also offer specialized support programs. Recovery Support Specialist link with patients entering the program for up a full year after admission to treatment. They assist with important recovery issues such as housing, transportation, employment, meeting attendance and other medical, psychological and social services. We want to help you stay the course—and these programs will help you achieve success one day at a time.

 

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our recovery programs or have questions about possible symptoms of withdrawal (detox), please call Gateway Rehab at 724-218-3896. We offer life-changing support and safe, effective recovery services to anyone who needs our help.

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The Importance of Recognizing and Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

The Importance of Recognizing and Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

The Importance of Recognizing and Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

People who struggle with substance abuse disorders will typically have one or more co-occurring mood-related or anxiety-related health disorders. In fact, nearly eight million people in the United States struggle with both mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Common co-occurring disorders include major depression, persistent mild depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, social anxiety, generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Treating co-occurring disorders

It may take time for mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors to properly diagnose each co-occurring disorder in someone with an addiction. For example, if someone is struggling with marijuana abuse and schizophrenia, the signs and symptoms of these disorders will be drastically different from someone struggling with a cocaine addiction and bipolar disorder.

Treating addictive disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders at the same time is important for many reasons, including:

  • Mental health disorders are often compounded, or made worse, by substance abuse.
  • Mental health disorders often contribute to excessive use or abuse of alcohol and illegal substances.
  • Chronic drug and alcohol abuse increases our chance of becoming a victim of physical or sexual assault, which can in turn create serious mental health issues.
  • Methamphetamines and alcohol exacerbate mild depression, causing it to worsen over time.
  • Poor-decision making is often linked to substance and alcohol abuse, which can lead to anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Our skilled team of specialists offers a variety of specialized inpatient and outpatient programs that are tailored to the unique needs of each patient and his or her family. Gateway’s residential programs offer access to behavioral health specialists to effectively manage many co-occurring mental health conditions. Likewise, coordination of care for individuals with more complex behavioral health issues is supported in the outpatient programs and as a part of recovery support services. For more information about how Gateway Rehab can help you along your path toward recovery from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, call 800-472-1177.

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Important Notice About Coronaviris and COVID-19

Important Notice About Coronaviris and COVID-19

To Our Patients:

As your healthcare provider, we value—and are committed to—your health and the health of your family. We also understand that you have concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has now been designated a global pandemic.

At all times, we prioritize optimal health, safety and infection control. During this outbreak we are continuing to do so with special vigilance and focus.

We are closely monitoring the evolving situation, carefully following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and taking specific measures to protect you, your family, our employees, and the communities we serve. These include special precautions, such as intensive cleaning of our office and monitoring patients and staff for potential signs of illness.

As things change, we will adjust our policies and practices to respond appropriately to new developments. At the same time, we will keep you informed about best infection-control practices and what you need to know to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

How can you limit your exposure to the virus?

The best way to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is to avoid being exposed to the virus, which at this time is thought to spread mainly person-to-person. How do you do that?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water – frequently and for at least 20 seconds each time
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Maintain “social distancing” between others (about six feet apart)
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze (and immediately wash or sanitize your hands)

What should you do if you’re sick?

  • Stay home except to get medical care – avoid public areas, transportation, events, etc.
  • If you’re around or caring for others, wear a facemask (N95)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes, wash/sanitize hands, and clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces daily
  • Monitor symptoms – seek prompt medical care if symptoms worsen
  • Call your doctor before seeking care, including for appointments scheduled for other reasons
  • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency

Rest assured that we are taking this outbreak, and our responsibility as your trusted provider, seriously. We will continue evaluating developments and taking appropriate actions to reduce exposure and keep you up-to-date.

A Message from the CEO

In response to the ongoing developments of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we have put a number of precautions in place to protect the safety of those we serve, as well as our staff and community at large. Please know all Gateway Rehab locations remain open, continue to accept patients, and have established the following guidelines until further notice.

Evaluations will only be conducted over the phone. Walk-in assessments have been suspended. We are screening patients over the phone regarding symptoms, recent travel and exposure. Family visitation has been suspended. We have been coordinating alternative options to still provide family interaction throughout treatment. Items permitted to be dropped off for an individual in a residential program will be limited to money, cigarettes and hygiene products. Drop offs must be scheduled between 12 – 8 p.m. daily. 12-Step meetings will only be provided on-site, no outside meetings will be permitted. Outpatient programs will be provided through telehealth, continuing to conduct morning, afternoon, and evening groups. Sessions will be held at a frequency consistent with every level of care. Individual sessions, case management and MAT management may also be provided through telehealth.

We understand how difficult and uncertain these times can be. At any stage of recovery, isolation has the potential to challenge one's sobriety. Gateway Rehab remains mission-focused in providing everyone we serve with the tools to be successful in their recovery, traditional or personalized. We will continue to monitor and communicate recommendations provided by the PA Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. We appreciate your help to take the appropriate steps to support everyone’s well-being, and allow us to continue to provide proven, quality addiction treatment in western Pennsylvania.

Paul Bacharach
President and Chief Executive Officer

Gateway Rehab

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Finding Employment After Recovery: The Truth About Returning to Work After Getting Sober

shutterstock_52972894_20200226-151303_1 Finding employment after recovery

Finding Employment After Recovery: The Truth About Returning to Work After Getting Sober

We understand a healthy return to work may be just the right structure someone in recovery needs to stabilize his or her new way of life. In fact, it can be a crucial part of recovery. We also understand it may put others face to face with unhealthy triggers, stressors and anxiety.

Returning to work after substance abuse treatment isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. The team of specialists at Gateway Rehab is skilled in providing the guidance and support you need to make your transition back to work as smooth as possible. Our Extended Care, Outpatient Programs and recovery support service (Opioid Use Disorder-Center of Excellence) can help you with personal challenges such as relationship conflicts, stress, anxiety, grief, substance abuse or finding quality services.

Returning to work after getting sober

If you took medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and plan to return to your employer after getting sober, there are a few things you need to do to help make your transition a positive experience, such as:

  • Establish a return-to-work agreement (RTWA)
    Before returning to work, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends an RTWA be in place. This is an important accountability tool for the employee as it clearly outlines expectations from their employer.
  • You don’t need to explain your absence to everyone
    It’s up to you if you’d like to share details about your recovery. If not, your employer and fellow employees should respect your privacy.
  • Find a workplace confidant
    It may be helpful to have one or two workplace co-workers who understand and respect your situation. They can also help stop rumors or inappropriate water cooler talk.
  • Avoid workaholism
    While developing a strong work ethic isn’t a bad thing, it’s important to recognize when you may be using work as an excuse to avoid dealing with painful feelings and broken relationships post-rehab. Take time to reconnect with friends and loved ones, attend meetings and enjoy sober-related social activities.

Finding employment after recovery

Like returning to a previous employer, finding a new job after substance abuse treatment can also be a challenge. Understanding barriers in advance can help you prepare for any situation. Here are a few common issues that go along with finding employment after recovery:

  • Explaining a gap in employment history
  • Feeling uncertain about revealing past substance abuse
  • Worrying about discrimination from potential employers

Don’t let your recovery stand in the way of your professional goals. If you stay on top of your sobriety and take good care of yourself, the job or career you want will be well within reach.

To learn more about services offered by Gateway Rehab substance abuse treatment in Pittsburgh, contact us at 800-472-1177. We are eager to help you get started on the road to recovery and will be with you every step of the way, which includes finding employment after recovery.

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Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction, Western Pennsylvania

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Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction in Pittsburgh, PA

Opioids are substances that produce morphine-like effects. Medical doctors often use them to treat moderate to severe pain that has not responded well to other pain relief medications. They are highly effective at treating pain symptoms because they trigger the release of endorphins—your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.

Unfortunately, what makes them so effective also makes them extremely addictive. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure. This creates a temporary, but powerful sense of well-being.

Do I have an opioid addiction?

Unfortunately, the pain-relieving effects of opioids can diminish over time, causing increased pain and discomfort as well as increased dependence. This dependence may lead to increased use—both in amount and frequency—and therefore addiction. Opioid addiction is usually self-diagnosable and includes the following signs:

  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Inability to control opioid use
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Changes in personal hygiene
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Low libido

What are treatment options for opioid addiction?

Every person is unique, which means their addiction and the way in which they’ll recover will also be unique. At Gateway Rehab we are listening to our residents needs and designing a tailored treatment program to help them break free from opioid dependence. Here are a few treatment options we offer:

  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
    We offer our residents buprenorphine or naltrexone to treat dependence and/or addiction to opioids in conjunction with psychosocial counseling from our skilled therapists. These medications help prevent withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping other opioids and reduce cravings for dangerous euphoria-producing opioid compounds such as heroin and fentanyl.
  • REST Extended Habilitation Program
    Our main treatment center offers a unique on-site three-month program in which people with addiction can completely remove themselves from their unhealthy situations and triggers. This program allows them to focus on overcoming their addiction and advancing life skills in order to make strides toward a healthier life.
  • Exploration therapy
    Our residents are encouraged to use any or all of our amenities to help keep their mind off the detox process. We offer lounges, snacks, television, and non-alcoholic beverages as well as plenty of opportunities to socialize with other residents. We believe a social atmosphere in which people can communicate and feel a sense of camaraderie is essential for recovery. Exercise, yoga, music therapy and other enrichment activities also support the patient’s ability to focus on long-term recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about our treatment options for opioid addiction, please call 800-472-1177 and speak to one of our skilled specialists. Gateway Rehab is dedicated to helping you or your loved along the path to recovery with compassion, skill and dignity.

 

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When You’re Ready to Stop Drinking: A 10-Step Guide During the Holidays

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When You’re Ready to Stop Drinking: A 10-Step Guide During the Holidays


For most people, the holiday season is a fun time of year filled with parties, celebrations and social gatherings with family and friends. For others, however, it can lead to feelings of sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety. Either way, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time for those who are ready to stop drinking.

How to get through the holidays sober
Here is a 10-step guide to stay sober this holiday season:

1.    Avoid the riskiest parties
If you’ve recently stopped drinking, it’s best to avoid events that center on alcohol. Instead, celebrate with friends and co-workers at potlucks, cookie exchanges or afternoon get-togethers.

2.    Drink something festive (and non-alcoholic)
There are plenty of fun, festive and alcohol-free drinks to choose from like fancy juices, flavored ice teas, non-alcoholic beer or ginger beer. If you’re going to a party, these are not only fun gifts for the hostess, but they ensure you have non-alcoholic choices while you’re there.

3.    Know your ‘no’
Get good at saying no and have a short response ready when friends and family pressure you to drink like, “No thanks, I’m trying to get healthy.” This not only gets your point across, but it doesn’t invite further conversation.

4.    Bring a sober buddy
Take a friend, loved one, mentor or sponsor to events. It will be easier to abstain from drinking if you have someone who is supportive by your side.

5.    Be aware and prepare
Be aware of your triggers (and try to avoid them as much as possible) and prepare a plan of action, especially if you are travelling. Find and attend local AA meetings or recovery groups to help keep you on track. 

6.    Forgive yourself
If you a have a glass of wine with dinner or a bartender accidentally put alcohol in your drink, practice self-love and understand this is not a relapse. Honor your progress and get back on track the next morning.

7.    Stay busy
Plan your fun and choose activities that you enjoy so your mind won’t be on alcohol. Try a new winter sport or volunteer to keep your mind off alcohol.

8.    Find new ways to have fun
If your holiday gatherings typically center on alcohol, suggest something new like ice skating or going to a holiday movie.

9.    Take care of yourself
Never let yourself get too hungry, too angry, too tired or too lonely. Eat well, stay hydrated and recognize possible triggers before they get out of control.

10.  Make a list and check it often
When you stop drinking, it’s important to take a moment and write down all the ways in which your life has improved—and keep it with you. Read through it as needed to remind yourself how much better your life is without alcohol.

If you or a loved one wants to stop drinking, there’s no better time than now. Gateway Rehab has helped thousand of people overcome alcohol addiction while instilling them with a new sense of self. Our highly trained experts provide gender and age-specific treatments in individual and small-group settings. In these treatments, patients are provided the tools they need to bring themselves back to life and to stay on the path to recovery. Call 724-218-3896 to learn more.

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Seven Tips for Supporting Your Loved One Through Addiction

Seven Tips for Supporting Your Loved One Through Addiction

Seven Tips for Supporting Your Loved One Through Addiction

Addiction can happen at any age. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) nearly one in four 18-20 year olds abuse illicit drugs. If your loved one is one of the millions of people struggling with drug addiction, you may feel sad, confused, worried, and alone. It’s okay to have each of these feelings, but we want to remind you that you’re not alone—and you and your loved one are loved.

Parent tips for helping those struggling with addiction

The caring, experienced team of clinical and support professionals at Gateway Rehab are eager to help your loved one along the recovery journey and prepare his or her mind, body, and spirit for a new, healthy, positive way of living. Here are seven tips to help you support your loved one at home:

1.    Communicate
Those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol will do or say anything in order to get access to more. These actions may often damage relationships— however, it’s important to maintain good communication with your loved one to help strengthen and rebuild the relationship.

2.    Listen without judgment
If your loved one decides to talk to you about their struggle, its important to listen without judging, interrupting, criticizing or offering advice. They want to be heard, understood and valued. Let them know they are important by giving them your full attention and focus.

3.    Encourage
Encouragement and optimism help build a sense of teamwork between you and your loved one while reducing conflict and negativity. This strategy helps him or her feel safe to try new healthy coping skills, try new activities, rebuild peer relationships and face challenges.

4.    Set expectations
The best guidelines are clear, leaving no room for interpretation. You can set them up like cause and effect statements: If (action) occurs (response) will be your consequence. Establishing guidelines for the most common events will reduce emotional reactions and improve positive outcomes.

5.    Set boundaries
People with drug addiction are very good at testing boundaries, especially with those they love. It’s important to build strong, clear boundaries with your loved one, so he or she understands what you will and will not do for them.

6.    Practice self-care
Caring for someone with an addiction can be emotionally and physically taxing. Take time for yourself so you can be the person they need as they journey toward recovery. Practicing self-care allows you to model desirable behaviors for your loved one.

7.    Avoid harsh responses
Harsh punishments, like changing the locks or refusing to answer the door when they come home drunk or high, will only make a bad situation worse. Those with drug addiction need love and compassion more than ever—as well as positive influence and values.

If your loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and you’re not sure what to do, we can help bring hope and healing into their life. Gateway Rehab is the most comprehensive and experienced drug treatment center in the region and we are ready to help your loved one today. Call 412-500-9851 to speak to one of our skilled support specialists.

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Nine Hidden Benefits of Completing Your Drug Rehab Program

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Nine Hidden Benefits of Completing Your Drug Rehab Program

Imagine your life, drug-free. Whether you’re thinking about beginning a drug rehab program or are already enrolled, you’re on your way to getting your life back on track­­—and we are so happy you’re here.

Once treatment begins, the challenge is usually staying in long enough to break free of your addiction and learn the tools needed to build a productive, joyful life.

Don’t worry, you can do it and we’ll be there to help each step along the way.

Nine hidden benefits of completing a drug rehab program
Drug rehab is so much more than breaking the addictive cycle, it can also help you to do the following:

1.    Erase temptation

Drugs and alcohol are simply not an option at drug rehab. This environment is essential at the start of treatment as it helps those with addiction find long-term success.

2.    Understand addiction
When you are free from drugs and alcohol you have the ability to think more clearly and learn why you became addicted.  

3.    Learn about underlying issues
There are many reasons people get addicted to drugs, and drug rehab is a good opportunity to understand the behavioral reasons behind your drug habit. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism, a way to avoid responsibility or belong to a group.

4.    Identify your triggers
During drug rehab you will learn how to handle triggers that result in an unwell mental state and drug use. Common triggers include: people, places, dates, holidays, medication and events.

5.    Overcome obstacles
Completing a drug rehab program will give you the confidence and pride necessary to overcome obstacles like new addictions, lifestyle changes or triggers after the program.

6.    Build new habits and practices
Throughout the program you’ll learn how to practice self-care and build habits that prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

7.    Set new goals
A drug rehab program will help you end the cycle of abandoned recovery goals. You will learn the tools necessary for the best way to achieve your goals in the near future.

8.    Understand and establish healthy boundaries
Learn how to build and navigate healthy relationships with friends and family.

9.    Establish lifelong relationships and mentors
Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of completing a drug rehab program is the support you continue to receive at the end of the program. Having a lifelong sponsor or mentor is the best way to resist temptation when you re-enter the real world.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction it’s time to get help. Gateway Rehab has been providing proven and personalized services in and around the Pittsburgh area for decades.

We are ready to provide the life-changing opportunity of recovery to anyone who takes the first step through our doors. You can break-free from addiction. Your life can get better. We can do it together. Take the first step toward a healthier, happier you. Call 412-500-9851 today.

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Where is my Yoda? Sponsorship in the Twelve Step Fellowships

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We rise by lifting others” – Robert Ingersoll


Have you ever asked this question—"Why does American have such a bad addiction problem?” Now take a moment for yourself and consider that question, perhaps even write down an answer. Naturally there are many answers, no doubt you probably came up with a variety of answers including availability to money, the health care system, and mental health issues. However, did you consider the answer of our culture’s attitude of cowboy up, rub dirt in it and take a lap, or simply applied “be tough”. The John Wayne attitude of die on your horse before you fall off it can make it difficult for those who suffer from addiction and can impede recovery. So, in an environment that tells you to be tough where has the role of the mentor gone and what are 12 step and peer support programs doing to bring it back?
Anyone that has dealt personally with addiction and faced those demons understands that falling into addiction has nothing to do with how tough or weak you are. As with many diseases, being tough and working hard might not be enough. In fact, evidence would say that many people who survive addiction are some of the toughest I know, but what got them out of the cycle is just the opposite. What frees most of us from the shackles of addiction is letting going of toughness and giving in to vulnerability and help from others.
Ancient cultures revered and raised up the role of the mentor, from the spirit guide to the shaman. Modern stories express the role, Merlin to King Arthur; Rafiki to Mufasa and then Simba; Spock to Kirk and perhaps greatest expression of the roles in modern media, the Jedi Order in Star Wars. Even in the beginning of the classic piece of literature The Divine Comedy the narrator finds himself at the foot of the mountain he must climb which is wrought with danger. Suddenly, a light shines on the path and he realizes others had walked the path before him and it’s not so scary after all.
Enter the guides in the form of sponsors in 12 step programs. A person who has walked the path before us and helps guide us along the way, so the path doesn’t seem so wrought with danger. An ancient role and one with a current resurgence is being filled in the rooms of recovery and mental health support groups. The role allows for vulnerability as we share our tales with our sponsor and our sponsor share their tales with us. We are given someone to lean on and we have someone in our lives to holds us accountable. The beauty and importance of the role of the sponsor is cyclical because by the time someone fills the role of sponsor, he or she is ready to do so because of the guidance of the sponsor before them and the sponsor before them. So, the student soon becomes the teacher. The quote I leave you with sums up the beauty, honesty and vulnerability of the mentor process. Yoda teaching Luke a lesson as Luke struggles with being a mentor is timeless.


“Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

By D. Scott Burke

Gateway Rehab Recovery Specialist

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Whisper of Hope

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How do we look at our current situation and see hope? How can hope propel us forward?  When we talk about recovery we are really talking about hope.  We feel like our situation is hopeless, but something tells us it can be better.  We are miserable, depressed, fearful and ashamed, but somehow we grasp onto some little thing that moves us forward and tells us there is something else out there. 

Hope is described as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”.  When we are at our lowest point, this feeling can be faint, barely perceptible and fleeting at best.  We look around and all we see is pain.  Sometimes hope can come in the form of another person, even an unwitting person.  It can be as simple as a smile or a kind word.  It could just be someone who comes along side us and just listens to us.  Maybe it’s a friend we haven’t seen in a while who gives us a hug and says, “Nice to see you!” 

Hope also can come from within us.  It’s that brief moment of clarity that whispers quietly to us and tells us maybe it can be different this time.  It’s not usually loud, no it’s quite the opposite.  During our hopelessness, we get a scampering thought that there is something better in store for us.  It can be drowned out by our fear, insecurity and shame as quickly as it appears.  We remember all the other thoughts of hope we had and how nothing changed.  How we are still the same person, in the same life, with the same problems as we always have been.  How can one feeling of hope make a difference?  How will it be different this time? 

No matter where it comes from, hope is a gift. It’s a life preserver thrown our way when we least expect it.  It’s a flicker of light that fights its way through the darkness to be the spark that ignites wonderful changes in our life.  Just because things haven’t worked out before doesn’t mean they can’t.  Tomorrow doesn’t have to be the same as yesterday.  We can choose to focus on that glimmer of hope we get instead of the thousand negative thoughts that fight it off.  We don’t have to make dramatic strides or heroic movements.  A simple choice to listen, even for a moment, to that quiet, hopeful whisper can make a difference.  Just a few precious seconds away from the drumbeat of negativity in our mind can move us forward.  If the critic in our head can be silenced even for a moment, it can make a difference.  It’s a gift, those subtle moments of peace that flutter by. 

That’s what hope can do.  It can take us just one more step.  It can move us ever so slightly toward a miracle in our lives.  We want the big change, the burning bush, the dramatic rescue.  Maybe we will get that, but we can’t miss the gift of that faint whisper of hope.  Listen to it.  Whether hope comes from another person, or springs up within us, it is what keeps us moving forward.     

 

-Anonymous

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Q&A with Gateway Rehab COE Patient

What follows is a Q&A with the first patient of Gateway Rehab’s Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence (COE).  One of 50 recognized Centers of Excellence in Pennsylvania, Gateway Rehab treats those suffering from opioid use disorder and provides specialized and coordinated care for individuals with Medicaid.

 

What brought you to Gateway Rehab and the COE?  

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m totally clean and sober for 15 months.  I am a miracle.  But my life before entering recovery for the first time progressively fell apart because of my drinking and using drugs.  

I am an alcoholic and drug addict, but I always had excuses for not seeking or asking for help: I didn’t have health insurance, or I didn’t want my employer to know.  But, I finally had the courage and humility to ask my family for help and they were right there for me.  My sister contacted a friend, who contacted Gateway Rehab.  

My memory is a bit hazy about this particular part, but I was admitted into Mercy Hospital in November of 2016.   I am quite certain that it was the Gateway Rehab Center of Excellence (COE) that helped me and my family through this part.  They got me into detox with no health insurance and I was there for I believe seven days.

Mercy detoxed me from the alcohol but not the methadone I was also dependent on.  After detoxing from alcohol at Mercy, a driver from Gateway Rehab picked me up and I was taken directly to Gateway’s detox.  I did not have to arrange any of this myself; Gateway’s COE arranged it all.  

What was your experience like at Gateway?  

So, when I arrived at Gateway I was a total mess, so terribly sick and broken.  I realized I was way worse than I initially thought.  But everyone was so very warm and welcoming, and I remember being told that I was the first patient to go through the Center of Excellence program.  

I believe I was in detox for seven days and then inpatient for almost a month.  My counselor, Mark, made me feel comfortable and not so alone.  Immediately, he suggested a halfway house and I believe, at this time, I was a little resistant.

As the days went by, I was really struggling.  I sometimes shook so much I could hardly feed myself.  I saw Dr. West a couple of times, but I mainly saw Dr. Capretto, who never quit on getting me better.

About halfway through my stay at inpatient, Shannon from the COE came to meet me.  She was pleasant and encouraged me to go to CeCe’s Place, Gateway’s halfway house for women.  I took her suggestion.

It was another smooth transfer to CeCe’s Place, thanks to the COE.  This is where my real healing began.  All of the women there were amazing.  I learned so much about myself in a short amount of time.  Yes, trust me, looking back now, it’s like a blink of an eye and was necessary.  With the help and support of many at Gateway and the women at CeCe’s Place, I learned how to live sober; I surely didn’t know how to before.

I left CeCe’s and went back to Pittsburgh to stay in an awesome three-quarter house.  I also enrolled in Gateway’s intensive outpatient program.  I went back to work, stayed accountable, and shared my thoughts and feelings.  I believe I was at the three-quarter house for six months.  

During this time is when Janice was designated as my personal recovery specialist by the Gateway COE.  She has been undeniably an essential part of my recovery.  She called weekly, sometimes daily, and visited me countless times.  She also helped me with my insurance, to make and get to appointments, and accomplish other things that I haven’t wanted to but had to do for my recovery.  Janice was always there for me and helped keep me accountable.  

What did you learn about yourself throughout this process?

I learned that I have had anxiety my whole life, even as a child.  I learned that I can’t expect people to know what I’m feeling if I don’t tell them.  I learned that I lied all the time, simply because I didn’t know how to put my feelings into words.  I learned that I was in an abusive relationship.  I learned that I have a messed-up sense of obligation that has kept me stuck.  But most of all, I learned how to cope with all of this.  Before entering a life of recovery, I didn’t have one coping skill my entire life besides drinking and using drugs. 

How has your life changed since leaving Gateway Rehab and living a life of recovery?

So, finally, I am out in life all on my own.   Since being back to work, I have received two promotions, an all-expense paid transfer out of state, and a rent-free furnished apartment. I am a productive member of society.  I know … miracle!  

And, through all of this, Janice has always been there for me.  She has visited me three times since I moved out of state.  I have a suspended driver’s license, so, this has been so helpful.  With her in recovery as well, her help is unparalleled.  She has always been and, I believe, will be readily available to me.

I am eternally grateful to Gateway Rehab and its COE for helping guide me through this journey.  The promises are real, and I realize them every day.     

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Q&A with Center of Excellence Recovery Specialist

What follows is a Q&A with Recovery Specialist Janice Olson from Gateway Rehab’s Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence (COE). One of 50 recognized Centers of Excellence in Pennsylvania, Gateway Rehab treats those suffering from opioid use disorder and provides specialized and coordinated care for individuals with Medicaid.

 

What is a Center of Excellence?

Gateway Rehab’s COE is administered through its Care Coordination Program, which helps to ensure that people with opioid-related substance use disorders have access to treatment and may receive follow-up care and support from their communities. The Care Coordination team puts comprehensive recovery plans into action for people who are uninsured or receiving Medicaid. Care is team-based and “whole person” focused, with the explicit goal of integrating behavioral health and primary care.

Who is eligible and what services can be expected?

Anyone who is diagnosed with an opioid use disorder and is uninsured or receiving medical assistance. A person does not have to be receiving treatment from Gateway Rehab.

Along with comprehensive care management and coordination, a person will receive transitional, follow-up care for one year, family support, referral to community and social support services, and, peer-to-peer support from certified recovery specialists.

What is a certified recovery specialist?

Certified recovery specialists (CRS) are individuals who have completed specialized addiction training from a state accredited school or institute, and who have passed the state examination for certification. We are in long-term recovery and work with drug and alcohol patients on a peer-to-peer basis. The primary function of the CRS is to help individuals gain access to needed resources in the community by assisting them in overcoming barriers and bridging gaps between their needs and available resources. As a CRS, I use unique insights gained from my own personal recovery experience, plus skills and knowledge learned from earning my state certification. As such, I meet my patients where they’re at; I have a sense for what they’re going through and can help empower them to make better, healthier decisions.

What does a CRS do?

Once enrolled into the COE, an evaluation of needs is completed for each patient. I then help them prioritize their needs based on what needs immediate attention. Usually, a patient’s immediate need is for treatment and housing, but we also help them connect with a primary care physician, mental health providers, and other substance use disorder treatment providers.

If a person is ready for treatment, I review the options for treatment with them and, upon completing treatment, I help them make a decision about transitional housing that will support their recovery, such as a half-way house, three-quarter house, and or other appropriate housing.

How else can a CRS help?

There are times when a patient has never been to a 12-step meeting before and taking them to their first meeting helps to break the nervousness or stigma about 12-step fellowships. I do want to stress, though, that a CRS is not a 12-step fellowship sponsor. A CRS helps a patient overcome barriers and bridge gaps between their needs and available resources within the community. For instance, many of my patients don’t have a vehicle or a driver’s license and need help with transportation. I can help them sign up for travelers’ aid and also help them get to know the bussing system within their community. Also, some of my patients have criminal charges pending stemming from their drug use. I may go with patients to their legal hearings and advocate for them … helping to break the stigma.

How often do you meet with patients?

We will meet with our patients at least once a month for a face-to-face to see how they are doing and help them connect with any resources that they may need; however, we’re always just a phone call away.

We also are responsible for obtaining monthly drug screens from our patients and, if a patient does prove positive for any drugs, we will help them seek treatment if they are receptive to receiving treatment. We always want to let our patients know that if they are not ready for treatment, that we are still here to support them until they are. It’s asking the question, “what can we do to help you now?” It’s important to remember that not everyone’s recovery process is the same and we support any path our patients choose. Our goal for our patients is for them to achieve full and lasting recovery, however they may accomplish this.

How can a person enroll in the Gateway Rehab Center of Excellence?

It’s easy. A person simply has to pick up the phone, call 724-218-3896, ext. 1191, and express their interest. That’s it. We realize that sometimes picking up the phone and calling someone for help may be difficult, but, we’re here to help and assist those that may feel hopeless, helpless, and don’t know where else to turn.

 

Our next blog post will feature a Q&A with a Gateway Rehab COE patient.

 

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The HOW of the Program

Blocks spelling HOW   How does the process of recovery begin and work in any 12-step fellowship? This is a common question to those new to recovery and the families of those affected by the disease of addiction, which many see as a seemingly hopeless state of mind, body and spirit.

   Recovery can be defined as abstinence from all mood-altering substances plus a change in attitudes and behaviors. It is written in 12-step literature that a daily reprieve from using drugs or alcohol is dependent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. So, how do we begin to change our attitudes and behaviors, as well as evolve and maintain our spiritual condition?

   A solid foundation is the basis for constructing anything stable and sound, and this is no different to begin the process of recovery using the 12 Steps. Three spiritual principles – honesty, open mindedness and willingness – are indispensable to begin the process and with these, “we are well on our way.” These three spiritual principals form what’s known as the “HOW” of the program: Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness.

   A profound sense of honesty begins the journey of working the 12 Steps. As we begin on this journey, we must first get honest with ourselves and admit that we are powerless over drugs and alcohol. In so doing, we gain the power to incorporate a new sense of honesty with others, as well, and we can consider asking for and accepting their help. The WE, as it is mentioned in the first step, suggests that we are not alone and don’t have to go through anything alone ever again.

   Beginning to believe that there is a way out of the madness of addiction by being open-minded to receiving the help of others and a power greater than ourselves is paramount to the recovery process. Open-mindedness in step two leads us to accepting the self-centered nature of our disease and humbling ourselves to ask for and seek the help of others, as well as a power greater than ourselves, whatever this may be. When we are open-minded to a power greater than ourselves relieving us from the insanity of the disease, we receive hope and begin to believe that changing and doing things differently can lead us away from the painful past we had once experienced.

   Our surrender deepens in step three as we become willing to let go of our self-centered nature and actions to experience the care and will of our higher power. To some, this step may be difficult or complicated; for others, it may not. Regardless, working with our sponsors, we all come to a personal understanding of this step and become willing to continue working the Steps to better ourselves and our spiritual condition. The willingness practiced in this step can provide us with the willingness to handle many other and different aspects of our lives successfully, without using drugs or alcohol.

   The indispensable truths of the HOW of the program lay the foundation for our recovery and a life that is spiritually focused. Working the first three steps is key to begin living a life worth living. 

- Anonymous

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The First Few Steps: Only the Beginning of Our Journey

 

StepsSome of us come to treatment looking to simply stop using drugs or drinking. But many of us come into treatment looking for a new way of life. Regardless, while in treatment, we learn that we cannot stop using or find a new way of life “on the outside” without some sort of guidance and support.

   The core of any 12-step fellowship is the 12 Steps themselves. As Narcotics Anonymous literature states, "these are the principles that made our recovery possible."  While 12-step fellowships do provide us with listening ears, kindred spirits, and a new way to have fun, without the the 12 Steps we would not have a roadmap to improve our lives, a path we are told that will help us to lose the obsession to use if we remain steadfast and not stray from their guiding principles. Through working and practicing the 12 Steps with our sponsor, we learn that if we are honest with ourselves and others, open minded and willing, we can lose the self-centered obsession and compulsion to use or drink.

   But the Steps do not stop at only removing the self-centered nature of our disease. The first few powerful steps are only the beginning; subsequent steps free us to become who we truly are and find our ultimate purpose in life: to love and help others. They teach us how to become a better person while “not regret[ting] the past nor wish[ing] to shut the door on it,” as penned in Alcoholics Anonymous literature. Through personal inventories, self-examinations and amending our wrongs, we eventually arrive at a place of acceptance with ourselves and others and we can take full ownership of our actions without wishing to repeat them.

   However, the work does not stop once we have worked the Steps once through. We continue to work through them throughout our lives so that more can be revealed. Each time working through the Steps, we uncover new developments in ourselves that we may not have seen the first time through, or that may have surfaced since coming into recovery. With each new step that we take in this journey of self-discovery, the closer we come to truly achieving self-acceptance and inner peace.

   Ultimately, we discover that we do not face the manifest of the disease of addiction with the same fear that brought us initially to recovery, but, rather, that we are able to see it for what it is and that we can also help others that are affected. It can be embodied through service to and love of others. We discover lessons learned from ill-gotten decisions and actions that once plagued us and learn to live a new way or life, how to help others, and become invaluable members of our respected fellowships through service.

   As we are told in 12-step fellowships, “we can only keep what we have by giving it away.” If we do not share with others what was freely given to us, we will surely lose it. As we gain experience in our 12-step programs, we learn that we, too, have something to give back to others still suffering: our experience, strength and hope. Through our experiences in recovery, we gain perspectives that can help others who are struggling, if they have the courage and humility to ask for help. Through our perseverance and diligence, we give rise to hope and inspire others to remain steadfast and strong while continuing on their personal never-ending road to recovery.

   Recovery is available freely to us all … the first few steps are only the beginning.

 

- Anonymous

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Join the Voices for Recovery

Voices for RecoveryJoin the Voices for Recovery

 

“True love is a love of giving, not receiving”

- Dr. Abraham Twerski

 

    Each year, the month of September is designated as National Recovery Month and this year the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.”  The 2017 theme highlights the value of family and community support throughout recovery and invites individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes to encourage others, as well as educate the public about treatment, how it works, for whom, and why. Because these successes often go unnoticed by the general public, these personal stories become the Voices for Recovery.

    Those of us in recovery all know that recovery doesn’t happen alone in a vacuum.   Our disease wants us to shut others out and suffer in silence, only taking from and using others when it serves our selfish purposes.  But we learn rather quickly to welcome, appreciate and value family members and others in our community that were initially and still are supportive of our recovery.  Without our families, churches, judges, therapists, first responders, nurses, doctors and all those who gave us a chance and still lend us a hand, we would still be selfishly silent and not a voice of recovery. 

    Ultimately, we can only keep what we have by giving it away. If we keep selfishly this precious gift of recovery to ourselves, we are certain to lose it.  Recovery is not meant to be inconsiderately kept in a vault, never to be shared; instead, we need to share it freely with others and allow others to share theirs with us.  Ultimately, we need each other – all those who have gone before us and showed us the way, and those who are still struggling and want what we have. We even need those who don’t share our disease of addiction, but love us and want to help make our lives worth living.

    As part of National Recovery Month, the City of Pittsburgh will be holding its second annual Pittsburgh Recovery Walk on September 16.  The Pittsburgh Recovery Walk celebrates the many roads to recovery from addiction and all those who have traveled them. It aims to dispel negative stigma and recognize recovery as a positive force in our community. 

    Likewise, the Gateway Rehab Recovery Community allows all those who have been affected by addiction in one form or another to associate with others to gain support and encouragement, celebrate recovery, and give something back. This Gateway Recovery Community is open to those in recovery, family members and loved ones, friends, treatment professionals, and anyone else who is concerned with or has been affected by addiction. 

    During the Pittsburgh Recovery Walk on September 16, we will have a Gateway Rehab Recovery Community team and would love for you to join us. Registration is free and not only will you receive a Pittsburgh Recovery Walk t-shirt, but you will also get a Gateway Rehab giveaway for joining our team. 

    The Pittsburgh Recovery Walk will be a day to set aside the pain associated with addiction and simply celebrate recovery in all of its forms.  Please consider joining us and walking with the Gateway Rehab Recovery Community. All of us, then, can become Voices for Recovery, bringing addiction out of the shadows, celebrating life and strengthening our community. 

 

 

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The Roads to Recovery ... A Lifelong Process of Discovery Available to Us All

Road to RecoveryWhen first entering rehab, a lot of us think that we just have a drug or alcohol problem but we soon hear from others in recovery and realize that, “drugs or alcohol are only 10 percent of the problem, the rest is you.”

     Recovery from addiction involves the healing of all dimensions of ourselves, not only the physical but, also, the intellectual, emotional, social, vocational and spiritual dimensions of ourselves. Involving an improvement in self-awareness and self-image, we realize and accept gradually that recovery is a lifelong process of restoring ourselves to better health.

     But, while this may sound easy, recovery doesn’t happen overnight and for many of us, it is a tall order. As the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text says: “This sounds like a big order and we can’t do it all at once. We didn’t become addicted in one day, so, remember, easy does it.”

     A simple comparison could be restoring one’s self to health to that of restoring an abandoned house to a livable condition, a process that definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It takes the right tools and resources. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes effort.

     Likewise, recovery takes patience, empathy, forgiveness and compassion. It takes honesty, open mindedness and willingness. It takes loving and accepting one’s self unconditionally. And, it takes dedication and perseverance – not giving up, no matter what, even if one stumbles and falls once, twice or even multiple times.

     Moreover, just like a house, which needs constant upkeep and maintenance, so does our recovery. Without constant attention, our recovery can stagnate and our foundation can crumble and collapse. In other words, “if you’re not working on your recovery, you’re working on a relapse.”

     But, while this process may seem daunting, we learn early in recovery that help and support are readily available.

     Our family and loved ones can be great supporters of our recovery, but sometimes they might not understand this lifelong process of recovery. So, in addition to family and loved ones, 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can provide a collective strength, encouragement and hope to those in recovery.

     By hearing and sharing life experiences with each other, recovering addicts and alcoholics can learn how to handle life on life’s terms without using. Additionally, 12-step programs provide the opportunity to build new and healthy relationships; to learn new and change behaviors through self-examination and the practice of guiding principles, and; to serve and help others in recovery.

     However, because we all came to a life of recovery differently, and all are unique in our own ways, recovery can never be quite the same for one another – no one way to recover is better than another. And, because it is lifelong requiring constant attention and maintenance, it’s not a race, nor do we ever graduate.

     Ultimately, recovery is a personal, lifelong journey of fulfillment and purpose – discovering a renewed sense of value, purpose and self-awareness. It is available to us all as long as we first have the humility and courage to ask for help, and then stay the course by being true to form – true to others and ourselves.

 

- Anonymous

 

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