Can a Recovery Coach Help You Beat Addiction?

Peer counselors, sober companions, and life coaches – recovery coaches are often called by these names and they may offer some of the same services. It all depends on the recovery coach and the needs of the person they are serving.

The primary goal of a recovery coach? To help an addicted person remain dedicated to their recovery after they leave drug rehab. Would your loved one benefit from a recovery coach as he rebuilds his life in sobriety?

The Need for Extra Help After Rehab

An estimated 40 to 60 percent of heroin addicts relapse in the first year after treatment. Intensive aftercare support is recommended as a result – a combination of services defined by the patient’s strengths and weaknesses in recovery as well as his long-term goals. A recovery coach can be the glue that adheres the aftercare support measures to the patient, holding him personally accountable for his choices and helping him to recognize when he’s starting to veer off track long before it leads to a relapse.

Recovery coaches may:

  • Accompany the patient to places where they may feel tempted to use
  • Maintain tabs on the patient via GPS tracking and notify them when they are in areas where drugs are commonly sold
  • Check in with them regularly, even multiple times a day, to assess their emotional state and strategize on how to deal with stressors
  • Assist with day-to-day needs like applying for jobs, gathering identification documents (e.g., Social Security card, driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.), applying for vocational or college programs, and finding a place to live
  • Help the patient to choose specific therapies, treatments, and wellness support services to improve growth in recovery

Robert Lubran is the director of the Division of Pharmacologic Therapies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He told WBUR: “This is an evolving field. [We are] learning more and more about the best ways to treat addiction and certainly the use of peer counselors, or peer coaches, has become more and more widespread.

Finding the Positive in Recovery

Often, a recovery coach’s primary service is to continually redirect the person in recovery to focus on the positive as opposed to dwelling on the negative. It’s no small thing, nor is it an easy feat. It is easy for those in early recovery to be thrown off balance by day-to-day stressors or stumbling blocks that appear as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Learning to continually reframe negative experiences in order to hone in on their positive gifts can be the most effective weapon against relapse.

Learn more about what it takes to beat addiction and how we can help set up your addicted loved one for success in recovery when you contact us at Alta Mira today

More and More States Trying to Fight Epidemic of Heroin Addiction

pain management concerns

Opiate addiction has been a growing problem in the United States for the past 10 years, but with new regulations limiting the prescription of addictive painkillers, the drug of choice has shifted from prescription medications to heroin. States that had formerly worked hard to limit the harm caused by painkiller addiction through statewide drug databases, increased regulations for pain clinics, and more are now turning their attention to heroin addiction in their respective states, according to USA Today.

At least 18 state legislatures have introduced new bills that directly addressed the problem of heroin abuse and addiction. Some of the bills looked at such issues as:

  • Increased access to treatment for low-level heroin users or first-time offenders
  • Increased access to naloxone among emergency medical providers
  • Increased access to naloxone for friends and family of addicts
  • Heavier penalties for heroin traffickers

Addressing Problems at Home

Different states have introduced bills or made political moves to overcome the specific problems facing their states due to increased rates of heroin abuse and addiction.

For example, Governor Peter Shumlin called Vermont’s opiate addiction issues a “full-blown heroin crisis” and said, “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us.”

Similarly, when the rate of opiate overdose in Massachusetts increased by more than 90 percent in 10 years, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in the state. To address the problem, more than $10 million was allocated in the state budget to creating a drug court program that would connect nonviolent drug offenders with the treatment that would help them heal.

The Push for Treatment

Access to effective treatment is the focus of most of the new proposals hitting state legislatures across the country. Unfortunately, in the states where heroin addiction and opiate dependence in general are the biggest problems, there is often little to choose from in the way of effective drug rehab. For this reason, many families opt for out-of-state treatment, offering their addicted loved ones the space and time to undergo thorough medical and psychotherapeutic rehabilitation so that they can get the help they need to successfully return home ready to face the challenges of sobriety.

If your family member is struggling with opiate dependence, contact us at Alta Mira now and learn more about how our uniquely designed treatment program can help.

Doctors Don’t Know Everything About Opiate Abuse and Addiction


Painkiller abuse and addiction are becoming larger and larger problems among those who have health insurance and access to regular doctors. The good news is that this access to health care increases the likelihood that their issues with addiction will be identified by a medical professional who can guide them toward treatment. The bad news is that many doctors simply don’t know all that they could about opiate abuse and addiction, which means that they may:

  • Not recognize opiate addiction in patients
  • Misdiagnose opiate abuse as something else
  • Fall victim to “doctor shopping” scams
  • Inadvertently feed someone’s addiction by increasing their opiate dose

This is bad news for patients who may not even recognize that they are living with an opiate addiction without assistance and worse news for those who go to their doctor hoping to get guidance and/or treatment.

Inadvertent Enabling

Many doctors are unaware that diversion of prescription drugs is such a common practice. As a result, they may take claims of chronic pain at face value rather than investigate with medical testing or follow up continually. Too often, addicts get the drugs to fuel their addiction from legitimate providers who believe that they are helping to ease the patient’s chronic pain. They don’t realize when use becomes abuse and then turns into an addiction and inadvertently become enablers instead of healers.

Directed Treatment

When a patient reports an addiction to his medication, his doctor may or may not respond by trying to get him off the drug. Some may simply say that physical dependence can be normal while others may offer to back down the dose or to try a different medication if the patient is unhappy with the results. Even those who recommend drug rehab to address the issue may not be very helpful when it comes to pinpointing which program will provide the best care specific to the patient’s needs.

If opiate addiction is the main issue, it’s important to choose a drug rehab that offers care not just for the physical dependence but also psychotherapeutic treatment for the psychological cravings for the drug, underlying issues that may have driven the addiction in the first place, and chronic or intermittent pain. Not just any drug rehab will do.

Best Course of Action: Immediate Treatment

If you believe that opiate addiction is an issue for someone you love, sending them to the family doctor will do little good. Instead, connect them with a drug rehab program that offers intensive detox and ongoing psychotherapeutic intervention. Call us at Alta Mira now.

Suboxone Diversion: Just Another Problem Associated With Medication-Assisted Treatment

gir looking over shoulder with mirror
Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is a commonly prescribed drug to treat opiate addiction. It works by “replacing” heroin or opiate painkillers that the patient is addicted to, allowing them to stop the rollercoaster of irregular doses and constant struggle to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

It was thought to be a miracle drug because low-level addicts could take it at home without having to go to the clinic daily as they did with other medications, and it even seemed to provide some antidepressant effects. Overdose-proof, abuse-proof – it seemed like the perfect solution to the opiate addiction problem.

Time revealed, however, that the medication wasn’t as foolproof as it first appeared. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Suboxone is more and more often seized in drug busts as the drug is diverted and abused. In some cases, it is even believed that use of the drug recreationally has been a gateway to the use of substances like heroin and prescription painkillers.

The Benefits

Suboxone has been a lifesaver for addicts who developed a dependence upon a low dose of prescription painkillers through a normal prescription and needed help weaning themselves off. They have a job to go to and cannot go to a clinic daily in order to receive a dose of methadone, so the prescription-based medication fits easily into their schedule.

Some even report that the medication serves as an antidepressant as well, which additionally helps them to stay focused and avoid relapse as they rebuild in sobriety. There are even generic versions of the drug available to keep the cost down.

The Risks

Suboxone is only available to those who have a low-dose opiate addiction. Those who take high doses of heroin or prescription painkillers must first take methadone and then transition to the use of Suboxone later after they have stepped down their dose. Should they attempt to take it on the black market, they often end up using other drugs in addition in order to maintain the “normal” levels of opiates in their systems and stave off withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to abuse of the drug and medical complications.

Other patients who are prescribed the drug may sell their dose on the street if they have no intention of using it to break free from addiction. Their buyers may use the drug recreationally while they use the money to buy heroin.

In 2003, police seizures of the drug numbered about 90 across the country. In 2010, that number had increased to more than 10,500. Additionally, the rate of emergency room visits caused by abuse of the drug increased tenfold between 2005 and 2010, reaching as high as 30,000 in 2010 – more than 50 percent of these visits were caused by nonmedical use of buprenorphine.

True Freedom Through Sobriety

Starting over after opiate addiction is not easy, and the use of medication can just make it more difficult for many patients and prolong the detox period unnecessarily. Learn more about making a clean break when you contact us at Alta Mira today.

Dual Diagnosis Rehab Necessary When Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Collide


An estimated 7 to 10 percent of the American population struggle with a drug abuse disorder at some point in their lives, according to a study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry. Of these, more than half also live with a psychiatric disorder, says the Journal of the American Medical Association. When someone has both a drug abuse issue and a mental health disorder, it’s termed a dual diagnosis, and a new study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry found that when these patients attempt to treat only their drug abuse problem, they often fail in recovery.

The solution? Dual diagnosis rehab.

What’s the Difference?

Standard drug rehab programs may be effective at treating a straightforward drug or alcohol addiction, but when a patient is living with mental health symptoms related to a mood disorder like bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder of any kind, it can make it that much more difficult to find and maintain balance in one’s life. A dual diagnosis rehab can offer intensive and effective treatment for both the mental health disorder and the substance abuse issue, increasing the chances that the patient will be able to stay sober.

Complicating things are the mental health symptoms. Often, patients will seek out drugs and alcohol to escape their symptoms so when they stop drinking or using drugs, the symptoms can be overwhelming and a trigger for relapse. Without treatment to learn how to manage these issues healthfully, it’s only a matter of time before the patient relapses, usually feeling as if there is no possibility that they can successfully live a sober life due to their inability to manage their mental health disorder.

Other Ways to Improve Success Rates in Recovery

If you are dually diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, you can increase your chances in recovery not only by beginning your journey in a dual diagnosis rehab but also by:

  • Including your closest family members in your recovery
  • Showing up and participating during treatment
  • Following doctors’ orders when it comes to medications and other directives to improve your quality of life in treatment
  • Following up drug rehab with long-term aftercare services that hold you accountable not just for substance abuse recovery but also for mental health treatment choices

At Alta Mira, we offer an intensive treatment program that can help you to address mental health issues as well as substance abuse. We begin with a thorough evaluation and diagnosis, follow up with directed treatment options, and provide continued support in aftercare when you complete the program. Contact us now for more information.

Senior Citizens Using More Opiate Painkillers

Sneiors and Drug Use
The number of prescriptions for addictive painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone in the United States was skyrocketing over the past decade – until it became apparent that overdose deaths and opiate addiction rates were going through the roof as well. Since then, changes have been made that limit the availability of prescriptions to those who would abuse them, and as a result, the rate of painkiller abuse has gone down – except among senior citizens.

Seniors and Addictive Medication

According to a report on Medicare data published in USA Today, the use of sedatives and opiate painkillers is increasing sharply in the over-65 age group – an estimated one in five Americans over 65 has a prescription for a painkiller – and they are experiencing high rates of prescription drug abuse, addiction and medical complications as a result. The study found that:

  • Seniors are using prescription painkillers for longer than they used to.
  • The number of seniors with a prescription for painkillers increased 30 percent between 2007 and 2012.
  • An estimated 8.5 million seniors had an opiate prescription in 2012.
  • Use of the most commonly prescribed opiate medications (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) increased by an estimated 50 percent.
  • The amount of each medication per patient increased by an average of 15 percent.
  • Prescriptions for sedatives prescribed to reduce anxiety increased by about 25 percent between 2007 and 2012. The average amount of medication prescribed increased by about 10 percent in that time.

The Problem With Addictive Medication

Sedatives and opiate painkillers can make the user hazy as well as reduce their agility and ability to process information. As a result, their chronic use can lead to an increase in:

When the patient uses these kinds of medications in combination, it can increase the chance that he or she will develop these kinds of problems. Michael Von Korff of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle says: “Misuse and abuse of these medicines is not uncommon among the elderly. They do get into trouble with these drugs.”

Early Help Is Key

Paying attention is the first step to recognizing when there may be an issue with your loved one’s use of addictive painkillers and sedatives. Note the length of time that they have used the medications, their response, and whether or not they abuse alcohol or other drugs as well. If you see a problem, don’t wait to intervene. If addiction or willful abuse of their prescriptions is an issue, we can help. Contact us at Alta Mira today.