A Fresh Start for the New Year

Many individuals do not subscribe to the idea of making a resolution for the new year. Whether you do or not, celebrating the new year can be an opportunity to make a fresh start in your personal or professional life. However, it is a misconception that we need a new year to make a fresh start. Rather, we can decide any day that we will be a better version of the person we were yesterday.

While every day is a good day for seeking addiction treatment or maintaining recovery, the new year can be a blank canvas for making a fresh start. That goes for whether you are seeking treatment for the first time or looking for new ways to stay motivated to maintain sobriety.

Recovery is a lifelong process, which, at times, can feel daunting. Whether or not you subscribe to the whole new year’s resolution thing, you can use the new year to recharge and reset your intention for sobriety, including seeking treatment if that’s what you need.

Making Resolutions

People make resolutions for a number of reasons. Some of the most typical resolutions individuals make, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), include:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising more
  • Quitting smoking
  • Improve finances
  • Focus on self-care

While good intentions fuel resolutions, the execution tends to be shaky. For example, weight loss is the most common resolution. However, instead of consulting a doctor or making dietary changes, individuals experiment with dieting fads or unhealthy weight loss methods.

Though the DHS indicates that many Americans do not follow through on their resolutions, they also claim making a resolution has “positive effects on behavior change.” They reference a study from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, which found that people who set resolutions are “10 times more likely to change their behavior” than people who do not. However, everyone is different. People should not think there is anything wrong with not making a resolution.

Another reason it can be challenging for people to stick to a resolution is they try to make too many changes at once. Making life changes is not always an easy task. Some believe it takes at least 21 days before a change becomes a habit. Yet, when trying to make five to ten significant changes together, you risk becoming overwhelmed, frustrated, and giving up those changes altogether. Instead of tackling multiple things at once, focus on a single resolution you hope to achieve this new year, and remember, any day of the year can be a good day to change your life.

Seeking Treatment for the First Time This New Year

Some may utilize the new year to make significantly life-saving changes, like seeking addiction treatment. Again, you can seek treatment any day of the year, but if it has been on your mind, this is a sign to take that first step. There are many treatment options available whether you are struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) or behavioral addiction.

Some of the treatment options you can explore include:

Finding the right program will depend on your situation. First, you must reach out to a facility, rehab, or treatment center. During this time, an initial assessment will be conducted so that the facility can get to know you and our situation better. That includes learning more about the substance you are using, how long you have been using that substance, and whether or not you are experiencing co-occurring disorders.

The initial assessment will help clinicians learn the best path to recovery. A treatment plan will be created, and during this time, you will learn how to live life post-treatment. However, sobriety is a long-term process. There will be times when you need to find extra motivation to maintain your sobriety.

Staying Motivated in Recovery

In addition to making resolutions, there are simple things you can do not just in the new year but throughout the year to stay motivated in recovery. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Connecting with a support group and making connections with new people you meet there
  • Setting new goals for yourself that are achievable and can help guide you throughout the year
  • Keeping a journal to document your recovery journey
  • Maintaining a daily schedule for yourself and making a plan to bring more structure to your daily life
  • Consider volunteering for an organization, becoming a sponsor, or helping others in recovery in a unique way
  • Practicing self-care, whether that includes nutrition and exercise, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, or taking up new hobbies

Make Changes This Year

These are just a few changes you can consider implementing this year. If you have not yet sought treatment, decide that this is the year you change your life. The road to recovery can be long, but it is well worth it.

Not everyone subscribes to the practice of making a resolution every new year. However, some research indicates that those who make a resolution are more likely to change their behaviors. One of the changes you may want to make this year is to stop substance use. There are 365 days a year to make this change, but the new year is like a blank canvas you can mold into a newfound life of recovery. To learn more about addiction treatment and program options, contact Excel Treatment Center. Through initial assessments, our clinicians can create an effective treatment plan to help you achieve recovery this new year. Call (833) 883-9235 to learn more today. 

The Dangers of Self-Medicating

Self-medicating is a typical practice nowadays. Individuals often turn to substance use to cope with life stressors despite their awareness of the potential consequences. While there are many dangers of self-medication, the major one you may expect is the development of addiction. The more we use drugs or alcohol, the more the body requires it. If your journey with self-medicating has led to a substance use disorder (SUD), consider treatment immediately.

Causes of Self-Medicating

People may start self-medicating for a variety of reasons. These can include but are not limited to trauma, mental illness, and chronic illnesses. Let’s explore these causes further.


While there are many reasons individuals start self-medicating, trauma is a typical instigator. Trauma occurs throughout life, but traumatic events during adolescents can lead to substance use.

A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showcases the connection between early exposure to traumatic events and intoxication through substance use. Researchers examined self-medication among youths in residential treatment for “antisocial behavior via recursive and non-recursive relationships between trauma history, substance misuse, and psychological distress.”

The study focuses on two hypotheses:

#1. The effects of trauma are somewhat “mediated by substance misuse.”

#2. The experience of trauma causes “a feedback loop between substance misuse and psychological distress.”

At the end of their study, the research supported these hypotheses. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to say that trauma likely creates a cycle of emotional distress and substance consumption.

Mental Illness

Trauma is not the only cause of substance use or the only reason people turn to self-medication. Many self-medicate to cope with mental illness symptoms. In fact, results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that 9.5 million people in the United States were diagnosed with a mental illness and SUD. From this, we can infer that untreated mental illness may be a leading cause of self-medication.

Chronic Illness

Trauma and mental illness are not the only potential instigators of substance use. Other chronic conditions may lead to self-medication. Individuals diagnosed with chronic pain, cancer, or any other chronic illness may turn to substance use to cope with symptoms. Additionally, they may want to numb complex feelings surrounding their diagnosis.

Forms of Self-Medicating

One of the most common ways people self-medicate is with alcohol. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is prevalent across the United States. People drink to escape their problems, have a good time, be more social, and ultimately inebriate themselves. Especially when trying to avoid stress, alcohol helps people temporarily forget their problems.

Drug use is another form of self-medication. Substances, like drugs, impact the reward circuit of the brain. This causes a euphoric effect which only perpetuates further drug use. People begin drug use for similar reasons — escape problems, inebriate themselves, or experience euphoric effects. There are a number of known dangers to drug use, including dependency, overdose, and death though.

Dangers of Self-Medicating

One of the main dangers of self-medicating is the development of SUD. With SUD, there are several short- and long-term effects, as well as the potential development of chronic health conditions and overdose.

Drinking causes several risks. Excessive drinking can lead to the following:

  • Violence
  • Risky behaviors like unprotected sex and drunk driving
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Chronic conditions like heart or liver disease, a weakened immune system, or cancers

There are several potential risks of excessive drug use due to the number of drugs available. However, many dangers are similar to excessive drinking – chronic health conditions, drug overdose, impaired cognitive function, and death.

Another danger of self-medicating is that it does not resolve the underlying problem. Mental illness, trauma, and other distressing events have a profound impact on our overall well-being. Substance use only numbs us to pain and causes an uproar of future problems.

Treatment for Self-Medicating

If you are self-medicating to cope with a deeper problem, we encourage you to educate yourself further on the dangers of self-medicating. As discussed, it can lead to addiction and many other damages. Psychoeducation is the first step. It often helps a person understand the need for treatment.

Dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders is the next step. A mental illness and SUD experienced in conjunction with one another are referred to as co-occurring disorders. It is usually hard to indicate which was present first In either case, dual diagnosis is required, and individuals must seek treatment for all conditions involved.

An integrated dual-diagnosis program offers many benefits. Individuals can begin to understand the relationship between these two disorders. Additionally, they learn coping skills to manage both and engage in treatments that help them heal and maintain recovery.

Lastly, you should find a support system. This can look like a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery. It can also mean reconnecting with friends and family. Moreover, it can involve leaning on others in your treatment program. The support system will ensure you have help building long-term recovery.

Do you drink or use drugs in order to deal with stress, block out traumatic memories, or cope with emotionally volatile situations? If so, we encourage you to educate yourself on the dangers and potential harm of self-medicating. Substance use can lead to addiction, chronic health conditions, and a number of other problems. To truly recover from trauma and mental illness, you must seek treatment. Excel treatment center offers comprehensive treatment to those struggling with addiction and mental illness. We provide a dual diagnosis program led by our expert staff. During your program, you might participate in traditional therapies, support groups, and holistic therapies. With our help, you can cease all self-medication. For help, call us at (833) 883-9235

What Is Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

Most people are familiar with the concept of withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Fewer people have heard of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is a secondary phase of withdrawal individuals sometimes experience when in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). These adverse symptoms can last for weeks or months after ceasing consumption of a substance. Symptoms vary, and learning to manage them is crucial. However, it may help to understand more about withdrawal, in general, before diving into PAWS specifically.

Understanding SUD

As many already know, SUD occurs when your use of alcohol or drugs leads to health concerns or problems in your professional and personal life. People develop SUD for several reasons, including environmental, social, and biological factors.

In many cases, the development of SUD is due to past trauma. Big-T traumas in childhood, like abuse, are connected to higher addiction rates. Even little-t traumas, such as peer pressure during adolescence, can cause immense distress, though. The inability to cope with the trauma or stress causes people to turn to self-medication, often with drugs or alcohol. In this case, a dual-diagnosis treatment program may be necessary to manage both trauma disorders and SUD.

Damaging Effects

Recovery is possible if you seek treatment. However, SUD and excessive substance use can have several adverse effects. Consider treatment sooner rather than later to prevent the onset of these damaging effects.

Some of these damaging effects include:

  • Mental illnesses and chronic health conditions developed as a result, such as depression and heart disease
  • Accidents resulting from risky behavior, like driving under the influence or engaging in unprotected sex
  • Risks of overdose
  • Conflicts with family resulting from behavioral changes
  • Problems at work due to lack of performance
  • Issues, legal or financial in nature, due to substance use

Withdrawal Symptoms

Upon entering treatment, individuals typically go through detoxification. The detox process is meant to remove all toxic substances — alcohol and drugs — from the body before treatment.

Unfortunately, excessive substance use causes the brain and body to become physically dependent. You start building up a tolerance, needing more of the substance to get the same effects. When you stop substance use, the body experiences acute withdrawal. The potency, frequency, and substance highly influence the severity of withdrawal. Typical symptoms include the following:

  • Sweating and chills
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Intense substance cravings

Other symptoms that are more intense and serious include experiencing a heart attack, seizure, or stroke. Some people even begin to hallucinate or experience extreme fits of delusion.

Due to the potential for dangerous symptoms, it is recommended that you seek professional detox services. Detoxing alone can be risky. Seeking professional help can offer you 24/7 supervision, support, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Effectiveness of MAT

MAT is not only utilized during detox. Many facilities or recovery centers also implement it into their treatment programs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT can effectively:

  • Improve client survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Reduce illicit opiate use and criminal activities among individuals struggling with SUD
  • Increase the ability to gain and maintain employment

Additionally, MAT is just one of many treatment options that help manage withdrawal symptoms during treatment. Individuals fearful of withdrawal symptoms should take comfort in knowing facilities can help them through it. Doctors and therapists know how to handle withdrawal. Plus, others in the same treatment program can provide support through shared experiences.

What Is PAWS?

PAWS occurs when an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms for weeks or months after stopping substance use. It is hard to determine what causes these symptoms, though some scientists believe physical changes to the brain from substance use can be a factor.

Some PAWS symptoms individuals may experience include:

  • Impaired memory or cognitive function
  • Experiencing anxiety or depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Compulsive behaviors

People may also experience similar symptoms to those experienced during withdrawal. However, PAWS can sometimes begin long after the initial withdrawal period. These symptoms can last for weeks, months, or even years after an initial withdrawal period.

Luckily, just as there are ways to manage initial withdrawal during the detox process, there are ways you can manage PAWS symptoms.

Managing PAWS Symptoms

Due to the fact that extended symptoms can potentially last for weeks, months, or years, prolonged treatment options may be required. Psychiatric medications can be used to manage your PAWS symptoms. You may also benefit from individual and group behavioral therapy modalities.

In addition to therapy and medication, you can manage your symptoms by educating yourself, consulting health care providers, prioritizing sleep, and taking care of your body. The road to recovery may be long at times, but recovery is possible. Do not let the fear of these withdrawal symptoms stop you from seeking a life of sobriety.

If you are struggling with active addiction, you may avoid treatment out of fear of withdrawal symptoms. To successfully seek treatment for a substance use disorder, you must go through detox. Purging the body of the harmful substance is vital and can be dangerous, which is why you should never detox alone. Detoxing in a facility will help you manage symptoms through many techniques. Unfortunately, some people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS symptoms can last for weeks or months after abstaining from substance use. Once you’ve detoxed, Excel Treatment Center can help you manage and stabilize your symptoms. Through our program, you’ll be on the way to recovery. Call Excel Treatment Center at (833) 883-9235 for help.