The Friendly Sober Skies: 10 Tips for Sober Air Travel This Season

Tips for staying sober when flying, during the holidays, and year round.

Even those of us who “love traveling” would be hard-pressed to say that we love commercial air-transit, with its recycled air, tarmac wait times, and the TSA (with all due respect TSA, but c’mon). No worries though, your trip needn’t compromise your sobriety. We’ve rounded up some tried and true tips from our Workit team.

When Booking Your Trip

1. Pick the best flight time possible.

For most people, this will be early enough in the time of day to not fall into when you are likely to engage in an addictive behavior, but late enough to give you an adequate night’s sleep before, and fall into hours where reaching out to others will be possible. In a nutshell, you want to avoid extremes.

2. Pay or upgrade for the best seat, if you can.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a decent airline seat when you’re booking from the comfy confines of your living room, but best to err on the side of overindulging than under-indulging with this one.

3. Have a supportive travel companion.

If you can, travel with a trusted, supportive person who you are very unlikely to drink or use around (and ideally who is also a calming presence).

4. If you have a severe fear of flying, consider specialized therapy to help.

In the last decade, the mental health field has come a long way in developing effective therapies for phobias such as flying. Your Workit counselor or coach can tell you about more options and even provide some of them.

24-48 Hours Before Your Trip

5. Check-in with someone trusted and supportive.

This might be your Workit counselor, a support group, or a loved one. Go over how you’re feeling, what your concerns might be if you have them, and your game plan.

 Packing the day before will keep you from forgetting any essentials. Packing the day before will keep you from forgetting any essentials.

6. Pack the day before. Use a list.

Many of us find that when we’re stressed we tend to throw the very things that decrease stress to the wind, such as organization and time-management. Pay extra attention to getting organized for your trip; little things like packing in advance with a list and giving yourself ample time to go to the airport will go a long way in helping you keep your sanity and sobriety this season.

7. Stick to at least one part of your usual self-care routine.

Another self-defeating response to stress and routine change is to abandon all or some of your normal self-care staples (think eating, sleeping, moving, seeing a doctor when you’re sick). Now is not the time to find out what your mood is like after eating a giant bag of Cheetos for dinner and going to bed too late. Take extra care of fitting in the basics in the days leaving up to your travel day.

 Sensory Deprivation Demo: This Workiter is tuning out the world around her, and someway way better in her head. Sensory Deprivation Demo: This Workiter is tuning out the world around her, and someway way better in her head.

On Your Trip

8. Use Sensory Deprivation.

Think of it this way. When in life is it socially appropriate to respond to triggers by literally putting on a giant sleep mask to block them from your view, and popping on headphones to drown their sound? Only on the airplane!

Bring these items to have ready to whip out if your seat-mates are cheersing over your head, or otherwise irritating. Soothing podcasts and music can also be a huge help.

9. Enjoy Guilty Pleasures.

Is it an airplane, or just a heavenly opportunity to indulge in guilty pleasures like Netflix, the Sims, and candy crush uninterrupted for hours at a time? The choice is yours. Many a Workit member has successfully sustained serenity in-flight by indulging in safe alternatives to what they are trying to quit.

10. Plan for layovers and delays.

Layovers are the perfect time to take care of needs that are uncomfortable on the plane. Stretch, fit a walk in, sit down to a nice normal meal, call a friend. Mill around souvenir shops if that’s your thing. Intentionally planning activities will make it pass by all the more smoothly. As for delays, never underestimate the amount of entertainment to bring as back-up for your travel day! New music, podcasts, books, TV shows/movies, and Workit activities have smoothed many a travel day for us at Workit.

 

Headlines Of Hope: Inspirational Olympic Athlete Edition

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. In the spirit of the Winter Games, here are the inspirational stories of elite winter athletes in recovery.

Our previous Headlines of Hope shared the stories of 5 people who have been open about their recovery from opioid addiction. The intention was to offer useful, optimistic narratives as alternatives to the gruesome stories of death and prosecution that dominate media coverage around the opioid crisis.

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, and because addiction doesn’t discriminate, here are a few more stories of different paths to recovery to inspire you, all from elite winter sports athletes!

1. Nicole Bobek

Pro figure skater; 1995 U.S. national champion, 1995 World bronze medalist; 1998 Winter Olympics competitor

Nicole Bobek has dazzled figure skating audiences and judges with her rhythm and signature move, a spiral with a free leg extended very high. Trained since early childhood in figure skating, Nicole was wracking up titles and money by her adolescence. Unfortunately this threw her into a world of partying that she was not prepared for. By 2009, her mother had started and abandoned a petition for her to go to rehab, and she had multiple run ins with the law, including one involving a methamphetamine ring.

She began her recovery from drug addiction in 2010, and talked about her story publicly with the intention of preventing youth from falling into the same slippery slope [Chicago Tribune]. At the time, she had just began working as a clerk in a local ice-skating rink in Florida, while attending court-ordered counseling, appointments, and drug tests.

At the time, the Chicago Tribune reported:

“She says she has stopped smoking, and her boyfriend confirms it. Her hair is blond again, the pitting on her face mostly covered with makeup, her eyes bright. The issue remains whether a woman who looks like the old Nicole will act like the old Nicole. A serious mistake, a missed probation appointment, even a positive on the court-ordered random drug tests, could put her in prison for five years.”

So did Nicole’s recovery hold up until 2018? Yep! She’s still in recovery, happily working and married, and in her own words, “Super happy, ridiculously happy.”

On Nicole’s Path to Recovery: A “get-well” job, court-ordered probation requirements

2. Kevin Stevens

Pro hockey player; NHL all-star

Steven pinpoints his downslide into heroin and opiate addiction to a first bad decision in 1993: trying cocaine after an NHL game in New York City, after a devastating on-ice injury. He says drugs quickly became “more powerful than me,” leading to separation from his wife and kids, and in 2016, five days of jail after being busted for selling Oxycodone.

Today he talks about his experience, and especially that first decision, at schools, with the hope of guiding youth into making safer choices. The speaking gigs are part of his probation requirements, but he suggested them.

Former NHL Players’ Association executive director Paul Kelly, who is representing him regarding his criminal legal charges, reported in May, “He’s in a better place than he’s been in decades…He’d like to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis rather than a contributor to the problem. So yesterday was a big step in that direction.” [The Hockey News]

On Kevin’s Path to Recovery: Chronic pain management, speaking publicly about addiction, court-ordered probation requirements

3. Oksana Baiul

Pro figure skater; 1993 World champion and the 1994 Olympic champion in ladies’ singles

Who can forget when Oksana stole the show from the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding drama in the 1994 Winter Olympics?

Oksana attributed her drinking problems to achieving too much too fast. She found herself wildly successful in America without guidance, at a very young age.

After crashing her Mercedes into a tree and being charged with a DUI, her drinking hit a low point and she sought inpatient treatment in Connecticut [New York Times].

‘Life for me is more important than alcohol,” Baiul said.

On Oksana’s Path to Recovery: Inpatient treatment, court-ordered probation requirements

4. Aaron Estrada

Pro extreme skier; three time champion of U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships in Crested Butte

Chris Davenport, a friend and former ski partner of Aaron, described him as “one of the smoothest, most catlike skiers I’ve ever seen. And I don’t say that lightly. He had incredible natural talent from a very young age.”

Estrada grew up in the ski world, where partying was the norm. He also had addiction in his genes, as his father struggled with heroin addiction.

Aaron chalked partying up to part of the extreme sport lifestyle, until he lost control during a run and hit a tree. This accident caused him to use painkillers and other drugs heavily. He stopped skiing, and eventually turned to heroin.

A turning point came for him when he was offered an opportunity to avoid jail time, and stay in treatment for a year instead. Today, Estrada has his own counseling certificate and uses his experience to help others [Mountain Online].

Aaron says of the power of connecting with other addicts and alcoholics: “Most addicts, alcoholics, they don’t trust anyone—especially some dude who’s sitting across from them in a suit. But once they see that I understand what they’re going through, then I can break through.”

On Aaron’s path to Recovery: Inpatient treatment, group therapy, exercise

 

The Friendly Sober Skies: 10 Tips for Sober Air Travel This Season

Tips for staying sober when flying, during the holidays, and year round.

Even those of us who “love traveling” would be hard-pressed to say that we love commercial air-transit, with its recycled air, tarmac wait times, and the TSA (with all due respect TSA, but c’mon). No worries though, your trip needn’t compromise your sobriety. We’ve rounded up some tried and true tips from our Workit team.

When Booking Your Trip

1. Pick the best flight time possible.

For most people, this will be early enough in the time of day to not fall into when you are likely to engage in an addictive behavior, but late enough to give you an adequate night’s sleep before, and fall into hours where reaching out to others will be possible. In a nutshell, you want to avoid extremes.

2. Pay or upgrade for the best seat, if you can.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a decent airline seat when you’re booking from the comfy confines of your living room, but best to err on the side of overindulging than under-indulging with this one.

3. Have a supportive travel companion.

If you can, travel with a trusted, supportive person who you are very unlikely to drink or use around (and ideally who is also a calming presence).

4. If you have a severe fear of flying, consider specialized therapy to help.

In the last decade, the mental health field has come a long way in developing effective therapies for phobias such as flying. Your Workit counselor or coach can tell you about more options and even provide some of them.

24-48 Hours Before Your Trip

5. Check-in with someone trusted and supportive.

This might be your Workit counselor, a support group, or a loved one. Go over how you’re feeling, what your concerns might be if you have them, and your game plan.

 Packing the day before will keep you from forgetting any essentials. Packing the day before will keep you from forgetting any essentials.

6. Pack the day before. Use a list.

Many of us find that when we’re stressed we tend to throw the very things that decrease stress to the wind, such as organization and time-management. Pay extra attention to getting organized for your trip; little things like packing in advance with a list and giving yourself ample time to go to the airport will go a long way in helping you keep your sanity and sobriety this season.

7. Stick to at least one part of your usual self-care routine.

Another self-defeating response to stress and routine change is to abandon all or some of your normal self-care staples (think eating, sleeping, moving, seeing a doctor when you’re sick). Now is not the time to find out what your mood is like after eating a giant bag of Cheetos for dinner and going to bed too late. Take extra care of fitting in the basics in the days leaving up to your travel day.

 Sensory Deprivation Demo: This Workiter is tuning out the world around her, and someway way better in her head. Sensory Deprivation Demo: This Workiter is tuning out the world around her, and someway way better in her head.

On Your Trip

8. Use Sensory Deprivation.

Think of it this way. When in life is it socially appropriate to respond to triggers by literally putting on a giant sleep mask to block them from your view, and popping on headphones to drown their sound? Only on the airplane!

Bring these items to have ready to whip out if your seat-mates are cheersing over your head, or otherwise irritating. Soothing podcasts and music can also be a huge help.

9. Enjoy Guilty Pleasures.

Is it an airplane, or just a heavenly opportunity to indulge in guilty pleasures like Netflix, the Sims, and candy crush uninterrupted for hours at a time? The choice is yours. Many a Workit member has successfully sustained serenity in-flight by indulging in safe alternatives to what they are trying to quit.

10. Plan for layovers and delays.

Layovers are the perfect time to take care of needs that are uncomfortable on the plane. Stretch, fit a walk in, sit down to a nice normal meal, call a friend. Mill around souvenir shops if that’s your thing. Intentionally planning activities will make it pass by all the more smoothly. As for delays, never underestimate the amount of entertainment to bring as back-up for your travel day! New music, podcasts, books, TV shows/movies, and Workit activities have smoothed many a travel day for us at Workit.

Addictive Behaviors Are Impacting Your Workforce And Your Bottom Line

Ditching Denial has Big Payoff When It Comes To Addiction In The Workplace

“Oh no, addictive behaviors aren’t a problem here. We fire people on the spot if we even suspect they’ve been using or drinking.”

“Given our rigorous hiring process and intensive career tracks, there’s no way alcoholics could survive here.”

“We’ve a really robust EAP [Employee Assistance Program] that handles everything we need for people who have drug & alcohol problems.”

All real responses we’ve gotten while talking to people about addictive behaviors in the workplace. All woefully ignorant or in denial about real people and the real problems they face while working in America.

Addiction is a problem in the workforce today.

Reality is, a huge number of people in the workforce struggle with addictive behaviors; over 20 million met the criteria for substance use disorders in 2014 (according to SAMHSA). That’s around 8% of the population, and only includes those who meet the full diagnostic criteria. Millions more struggle with risky use and other addictions.

Common sense, as well as countless other studies, tell us this massive population isn’t sitting at home waiting out their addictions in the dark. Nor should they be. People struggling with addiction are a valuable part of our society and workforce, and that includes jobs across every level and industry. As much as we all can be tempted to believe our own organizations are special snowflakes, denial doesn’t do any favors here. It’s a detriment to employees, employers, and the bottom line.

It’s safe to assume that addictive behaviors are having an impact on your workplace, though it varies by industry (for an extra wake up call, play with our ROI calculator),

The presence of addiction in the workspace is the norm, not the exception. So why does it so often fly below the radar?

Revisiting our earlier quotes sheds some light on what’s going on…

“Oh no, addictive behaviors aren’t a problem here. We fire people on the spot if we even suspect they’ve been using or drinking.”

First off, that sounds like dicey legal ground. But moving on to this sobering reality: it’s not just the risky behaviors on the job that pose problems. Off the clock addictive behaviors have around the clock consequences. Like absenteeism, high turnover, related health problems, and reduced productivity, to start (SAMHSA).

“Given our rigorous hiring process and intensive career tracks, there’s no way alcoholics could survive here.”

Trust us, they can and they do. People struggling with addictions are people. That means they come from all walks of life,  and include the talented and driven.

It’s common to hide addictions, for 3 reasons (2 of which employers can actually help prevent):

  1. By definition, addictive behaviors keep one hooked, and hinder motivation to change. That makes for a natural avoidance of help.
  2. Stigma surrounding addiction prevents people from seeking help. Through tremendous progress continues to be made, we still haven’t shed the shadow of past eras when addicts were routinely shamed.
  3. Appropriate options for treatment don’t exist, or avenues to them are confusing, frightening, or otherwise uncomfortable.

“We’ve a really robust EAP that handles everything we need for people who have drug & alcohol problems.”

Without getting too abstract and existential here, what do we mean by “problem”? Getting help to people only when they most desperately need it is at best short-sighted, and at worst, inhumane. We approach other health epidemics, such as diabetes and smoking, with preventative measures and foresight. It’s time to apply that logic to substance abuse, and stop pretending it’s a black and white, sudden onset condition.

Let’s move it forward: for our people, and our profits.

We’ve established that most organizations have barely acknowledged or addressed the tip of the iceberg of the impact addictive behaviors have on business. The good news is, your business is already functioning under that weight. Accepting the sobering reality puts you in a position to take advantage of it for business impact and for happier, healthier employees. The ratio of savings to costs after investing in effective substance abuse treatment is estimated to be as great as 12 to 1! (drugabuse.gov)  Save money, and lives!

But it’s important not to shoehorn people into treatment and help options that don’t suit them. Rather, we can look to our three points above as a guide for a progressive approach for intervention:

  1. Provide around the clock help for an around the clock problem.
  2. Fight stigma by building a supportive culture. Ease fear and confusion by providing clearly communicated options and discrete, confidential avenues to pursue them.
  3. Provide assistance that adapts to the severity and context of each individual’s unique needs and concerns.

And now for a shameless plug: we designed Workit for the workplace to hit on all these points. Together let’s fix this problem. For the lost and the living, let’s Workit!

 

5 Steps For Talking to A Loved One About Their Pain Med Problem

Do you think a loved one has a problem with pain meds? Want to talk to them about it, but not sure how?

Maybe it’s just a hunch, or maybe you’re absolutely certain — your loved one is struggling with pain meds, a.k.a. opioids, the term most often used in terrifying headlines ripping through the nation lately. So how do you talk to them about it in the most constructive, helpful way possible?

Step 1: Know the ins-and-outs of addiction and opioids.

You’re already on your way by reading this, so good for you! One basic must-know is that addiction is a widely confirmed health problem, despite a persisting longstanding myth that it is some sort of moral failing (you can even check out the 50+ page Surgeon General Report that came out last year on this, if that’s your thing!). Beyond that, other helpful things to know are the signs of opioid addiction and overdose, and options for treatment.

Step 2: Sort through your own emotions around the issue.

Once you’re armed with the facts, it’s time to do some soul searching. Why? Because even when you know it’s a health condition (see step 1), addiction is by nature an emotionally messy and confusing disease, for the addict as well as you, the one that loves them. Sorting out your emotions in advance will prepare you to come into the conversation with a level-head and compassionate heart.

Learn about the common emotions that might be popping up on your end and how to deal with them, as well as why your loved one might not be acting so lovely lately.

Step 3: Prepare in advance for the conversation.

Once you’re in the know from steps one and two, it’s time to hammer out the details of your conversation ahead of time. Choose a time when it is likely to be calm for you and your loved one and totally private. Write down the key points you want to make in advance, to avoid getting scattered in a heat of the moment conversation. Some people even find it helpful to just write a letter and hand-deliver it, have the person read it, and say you’d appreciate if you guys can work through your thoughts together when they are ready. If you have a trusted friend or counselor you can confide in, role play what you plan to say or do in advance, and have them react in different ways to prepare you.

Step 4: Have the conversation.

Above all else, remember to always ground the conversation in your concern and unconditional love for them! Emphasize, repeatedly, that you are doing this because you’re worried for them and want to better understand what is going on and that you love them unconditionally. Addiction and addictive behaviors are so cloaked in shame and secrecy that you really can’t say that enough! Avoid getting sidetracked into a prosecutorial mode where you end up trying to prove to them they have an issue.

I asked Chrissy, Workit’s Director of Counseling, for advice about talking to a loved one with a pain pill addiction. She said: “Always come across as their advocate, you can see they are in pain and know that is not a happy way to live. Even when taking them as directed, you can become physically dependent on pain pills. Not only that but addiction messes with brain chemistry. State that you care about them and want them to be the bright person you know them to be and you want to help them find that light again.”

Step 5: Take care of yourself.

As we say at Workit, “Loved ones need love too!” and it’s very true. Think of it this way: addiction is like a tornado that wreaks havoc on the not just the addict but everyone around it as well! Make sure you pay due attention to your own basics of self-care (eat, rest, move, play), and get emotional support. A little leaning on the shoulders of others who have been there goes a long way! Groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon have helped many and now offer some online meetings if you’re shy about going in person.

 

How To Cope With Public Tragedy When You’re Not Directly Affected By The Event

Violence and disaster affects us all, even when we’re not directly affected. Here are tips with how to cope with the news.

Numerous studies have linked the stress caused by disastrous events to substance use and heightened risk of relapse for those in recovery. Thus, now is the time to safeguard your sobriety and batten down the hatches on your mental health in general!

Let it out

Don’t keep your thoughts and emotions pent up. Acknowledge the feelings you have related to the event, without judgement. Remember, there is no “right” way to feel, and it’s normal to experience both guilt and relief at not having been directly affected. They key is to pay attention to your emotions, so you can work through them healthily; the only way “out” of emotions is through, so take the time to find an outlet.

Tips for letting it out:

  • Journal about the event
  • Pray (religious or non-religious)
  • Attend a support group
  • Talk it over with someone you trust, like a friend, counselor, or therapist

Let it go

Not to be confused with complacency or approval, letting go is about recognizing and accepting what you can’t control. What does that include? Well, basically everything that does not involve your own mindset and behavior.

Tips for letting it go:

  • Write down uncontrollable things and put them in a higher power box to physically “let them go”
  • Read or listen to stories about people who have found acceptance
  • Recite an acceptance mantra or the serenity prayer
  • Meditate or do mindfulness practice

Take Action

You’ve let go of what you can’t control, now focus on what you can. What are some useful actions you can take in the wake of the event? Can you write victims or their families supportive letters? Donate to a related cause? Give blood? Be a political advocate? No matter how small, taking altruistic action helps combat the hopelessness and despair surrounding tragedy.

Tips for taking action:

  • Make your action altruistic, not fear-based (no this is not the time to build your nuclear mini-shelter); make a big list of all the potential options and get cracking!
  • Check out serve.gov for national and community service initiatives
  • Volunteermatch.org lets you search for opportunities in your area based on the interest you’d like to become involved with

Take Care of Yourself

Don’t neglect the basics, like getting a solid sleep, eating well, taking medications, tending to your finances, and making sure to fit time in for physical activity and fun. It might feel awkward to go about your typical routine, but know that you cannot take care of others without taking care of yourself first.

Tips for taking care of yourself:

  • Consider times when you have neglected your self-care. What was the first to go? Make a checklist of the important things that need extra attention during stress. Then, cross these things off your list first.
  • Tune out for a bit. Obsessing over the news isn’t going to help you or anyone else.
  • Avoid making major decisions under emotional turmoil, like relationship or career decisions.

Find Hope

Like action, a little hope goes a long way, both for the individual and humanity at large. If you find yourself going down a dark spiral of news reading, try to find the hope and humanity in the tragedy. Make a list of all the good people out there, both public figures and in your own world personally. Double down on your efforts to remind yourself of the good in mankind and the world.

Tips for finding hope:

  • Create a hope file of inspirational stories, pictures, and quotes
  • Ask somebody you admire who or what they admire and find hope in
  • Make a gratitude list of 10 things you’re grateful for
  • Make a looking forward to list of 10 things you’re looking forward to (can’t fill it up? Time for some scheduling!)
  • If you’re a reader, pick up something with a hopeful theme: The Power of One, Tuesdays with Morrie, religious literature if that’s your thing. More of a movie or podcast buff? Same goes, go for the hope-inducing.
  • Take a walk in nature and admire what life has to offer
  • Spend time with children or animals, and appreciate their wonder at the world and simple enjoyment of each moment.

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a start. Something to add? Leave it in the comments! People cope effectively in a myriad of different ways and by sharing what works for you, you’ll help someone else.

Want more advice on how to cope? Check out:

 

 

Suboxone Too Pricey? 6 Ways To Save On Scripts

You’re ready to quit opiates, and you know medication-assisted treatment is right for you. But how can you afford the Suboxone prescription?

Whether you are uninsured, underinsured, or insured, paying for the medication part of medication-assisted treatment (like Suboxone) can be a daunting task. At Workit, making quality addiction care more affordable for everyone is a central part of our mission, and we’re always here to advocate for you to get the healthcare you deserve.

When you join Workit Clinic, our medically-assisted treatment partnership, you have a personal care team of experts willing and able to help you navigate any and all financial hurdles that pop up.

But there are also some simple steps that anyone and everyone can take to make all prescriptions, and specifically Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), more affordable.

1. Know the ins and outs of your insurance coverage (if you have it).

Insurance plans are confusing (no matter which of the 50 million out there you have), and untangling all those acronyms and percentages is not a riveting activity, to put it mildly. However, it’s well worth the effort. Getting in the know about your insurance empowers you to make the most financially sound healthcare choices possible, ensuring you can make smart financial choices for your addiction treatment, medication choices, and other medical options. Where to start? With your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) which legally must be provided to you by your insurer, and be in plain, easy-to-understand words.

Workit Wisdom: Plan a question blitz! You’ve got questions, you need answers! Write a list of every possible question you might have around your plan, from the basic (How much does my copay to a primary care doctor cost?) to the complicated and even hypothetical (If I need to change my prescription mid-month, how much will that be?). When you’re done, rank in order of priority. Schedule a chunk of time (at least an hour) to take a crack at calling the number on the back of your insurance card, and ask all the questions on your list. Take copious notes and repeat back answers for confirmation until you are 99% you are clear on the answer. Demand answers! Be relentless. The stakes are high.

2. Don’t have insurance? Use a free drug card!

Who? Anyone without insurance prescription drug coverage or who pay full retail price even with insurance coverage (such as during Medicare donut holes, under High Deductible Health Plans)How? Simply download the card at www.freedrugcard.us and use like a coupon by showing it to your pharmacist when purchasing your medication. This card has no restrictions on any medications.Where? Most major chain pharmacies; check yours with their pharmacy locatorBenefits? 15-20% on brand drugs and 40-75% on generic drugs

Workit Wisdom: If the card doesn’t process correctly the first time around, have your pharmacist call the pharmacist help desk number on the card.

3. Research drug prices.

Getting a solid grounding on what to expect price-wise for your prescriptions puts you in a better position to budget for them, and to negotiate with your pharmacy in some cases. Some pharmacies will give you a general idea over the phone. There are also a number of excellent online tools for estimates and comparisons, such as Easy Drug Card Price Checker, Good Rx, and official state resources such as MichiganDrugPrices.com  

Workit Wisdom: Make GoodRX your price matching bargaining chip!

4. Mentally prepare yourself for some sticker shock.

Remember that addiction is a sneaky little monster that is always looking for excuses to drag you away from recovery and back into its killer jaws. While affordability is a very valid concern, it is nothing that you can’t conquer! You’ve already found the will, and together we’ll help you find a way. You deserve this.

Workit Wisdom: Knowledge is power! Getting a solid grounding on what to expect price-wise puts you in a better position to plan to be able to afford it, and to negotiate with your pharmacy in some cases. It can also be an emotional safeguard against sticker shock! If your medication seems pricier than you expected, remember this: where there is a will, there is a way, and you deserve to get the best treatment possible. Also we are here to help you afford it in any way that we can! You got this, and we’re here to help.

5. Keep the price in perspective.

Many of us here at Workit who have gone through medication-assisted treatment ourselves found it helpful to remember to view the price of the medications in contrast to the price of our addictions, which were quite costly both financially and in a ton of other ways.

Workit Wisdom: Do a comparison – how much you spent on street drugs, to how much you’re spending on Suboxone and treatment. You might be surprised at your savings. Take our quiz to find out how much your opiate addiction costs.

6. Keep it legal. You deserve it.

It can be tempting to get it on the streets, but there are so so many hidden costs and cons to that! First off, it’s risky because you don’t know what’s in it, and you’re no longer under a doctor’s supervision. Second, it can expose you to triggers (people, places, things) that make it a lot harder to stay in recovery. Finally, many people find it creates a burden of shame and hiding because of the whole illegal part. The bottom line: invest in yourself, it will repay you for the rest of your life. Quite frankly, you deserve it.

Workit Wisdom: When you’re trying to get clean, ditch your dealer! Entirely.

Have you mastered any brilliant savings tips that we’re missing? Let us know! E-mail kali@workithealth.com and we’ll add them in. In the meantime, save on!

Narcan: The Med, The Myth, the Legend!

Let’s talk about Narcan (naloxone) and how it saves lives.

Tomorrow is International Overdose Awareness Day, and we can’t talk about overdose without talking about naloxone as well (“Narcan” is a brand of it). It’s the powerful, life-saving medication that, like almost everything to do with addiction treatment, has inspired a lot of controversy and confusion. Time to lift that shroud of ignorance a bit so we can all make more informed opinions and decisions.

The Med: What is it?

Naloxone is an antidote to the effects of taking too many opioids, aka overdose. When administered shortly after an overdose occurs, it reverses the cause and symptoms by knocking out the dangerously high levels of opioids from the brain’s opiate receptors.

Important to note, is that although naloxone works quickly, it has a short-half life, so it may not permanently stop an opioid overdose; it should be used to enable survival until emergency medical services are able to be provided.

The FDA has approved several types of naloxone for different use cases. Major ones include nasal spray (under the brand Narcan), auto-injectable (EVZIO), and injectable. Nasal Narcan and EVZIO can be delivered by a caregiver, friend, or family member with proper instruction, and the injectable variety should only be given by trained medical professionals.

The Myth(s): True or false?

Naloxone doesn’t treat or cure the underlying addiction or opioid use disorder. True.

However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an appropriate place in the spectrum of addiction care. Be wary of that faulty twist of logic, because it often pops up amongst Narcan naysayers. Naloxone isn’t a treatment in itself, but it keeps an addict from dying, so they can hopefully get appropriate treatment in the future.

Naloxone can make people violent as it wears off. Partially True. This only occurs in a minority of cases, but unfortunately some have used that as an excuse not to provide the drug at all. Here’s a vivid and disturbing example: an Ohio Sheriff who refuses to equip his deputies with Narcan, on the grounds that it makes them “feel unsafe”. Um, isn’t dealing with unsafe situations a basic competency of the police officer job description? Some additional training (or maybe even rehiring!) could be a more just and effective approach.

Naloxone is used to have more fun with opioids. False.

While it’s impossible to speak for what led up to the 15,000+ cases of naloxone use in the past year, we can safely say that it is not widely used for a good time or for enhancing the (also mythological) “fun” of opioid addiction.

First, the majority of people who are overdosing are likely to have gone far beyond the point of recreational usage. Second, Narcan itself is not a pleasant experience, and not a “rush” as one misinformed emergency responder has publicly suggested. Naloxone puts those with opioid use disorder into the immediate throes of opioid withdrawal, a painful and undesirable experience. To add, there’s the psychological burden of having a near-death experience and a life-ravaging addiction that got them there.

Naloxone is taking up unfair amounts of public funds and attention. False.

Yes, it has a price tag, as does any drug and any emergency service. But the narrative around it being “unfair” that has recently graced headlines is ignorant at best and downright inhumane at worst . Addicts are people too, addiction is a recognized health condition not a moral flaw, and over 52,4000 Americans died from drug opioid overdose last year; based on those facts alone, ensuring widespread access to naloxone absolutely should command a significant amount of public attention and funding. If anything, our government is under-doing it!

Naloxone prolongs addiction or makes it worse. False.

Let’s clear this up, once and for all. Not getting adequate treatment prolongs addiction. Period. Refusing to save people’s lives is not the answer.

Saving people who have overdosed due to opioid addiction does not prolong addiction. Naloxone gives people a second chance at life, and recovery. Those who are dead can’t seek treatment for their opioid use disorder, and have no chance of ever recovering from their addiction. They are lost to the opioid epidemic. Naloxone offers the lost a chance to recover.

This might sound like a statement of the obvious, but unfortunately, it’s something that many people don’t realize. People’s lives depend on shedding this misinformed stigma around naloxone, so spread the word!

The Legend: How can you be a legend by saving a life with Narcan?

It’s all fine and dandy to disapprove of Narcan when you’re only dealing with it in hypotheticals; when it’s your own or someone you love’s life on the line, that usually clears up any reservations pretty fast! We know this well here at Workit; there are amazing people on our staff and in our community who would not be with us today if nalaxone hadn’t saved their lives before they entered recovery and got sober.

Fortunately, access and affordability of Narcan has improved in recent years, and in most states it is now legal without a prescription. There’s a growing wealth of resources out there to to provide you with Narcan rescue kits and training. Below are just a few of many, and please comment or contact us if you are having trouble finding it and we will do our best to help you.

Resources for Narcan Kits & Training

Finally, it’s important that everyone is aware of what an overdose looks like; we all need to work together to get the word out.

Signs & Symptoms of an Overdose (Project Lazarus):

  • Awake, but cannot speak.

  • Slow heartbeat and pulse.

  • Slow breathing or not breathing.

  • Blue lips and/or fingernails.

  • Gurgling, snoring, or raspy breathing.

  • Choking sounds.

  • Passing out.

  • Vomiting.

  • Pale face.

What puts opioid users at higher risk for overdose?

  • Using after a period of abstinence (such as during incarceration, hospitalization, or substance use disorder treatment); this can lower tolerance

  • Rotating between different types of opioids

  • Mixing opioids with alcohol or medications (such as benzodiazepines or anti-depressants)

  • Health-related problems: emphysema, asthma, sleep apnea, COPD, heavy smoking, kidney issues

If you ever suspect an overdose has occurred, the first thing you need to do is call 911. Then, hopefully, bust out your Narcan kit and become a legend by literally saving their life!

You can also become legendary in the eyes of people who have lost loved ones to overdose, by simply being an advocate of this important, life-saving drug. And good news: you’re already on your way by reading this! Thank you, for honoring our lost by caring enough to learn more.

 

Why Is My Addicted Loved One Being A Jerk?

The Truth About Dating an Addict

It’s a question that feels awful to ask, but that’s the reality for so many people who have loved ones with addictions. And yet, it’s a question rarely addressed by quaint “Tips for Friends & Family” out there, so today I want to help fill in the gaps.

The truth is, there are actually many excellent reasons for your loved one acting less than lovely in the throes of addiction. Addiction is a disease that’s practically perfect for bringing out your beloved’s inner demons. How? Let me count the ways:

#1. Addictive behaviors in excess are already a bummer, but full-fledged addiction takes them to the next level.

Any level of addictive behavior changes the brain throughout. Some of those changes are what makes the behavior addictive! But engaging in them excessively really tips the scales towards trouble. They don’t call it “getting wasted” for nothing. You may have witnessed such changes in others before, or even experienced them yourself. For example, getting drunk makes for more impulsive, risky decisions, and poor inhibitions. Excess marijuana distorts perceptions, and can create confusion, paranoia, and sudden anxiety. The list goes on and on.

Now, enter the monster of addiction, and what would be a “bad time” for most of us becomes a regular thing, as does the lead-up and recovery period to that time. Thus, the negative experiences and aftermath ramp up… and things get even worse when the hallmarks of “addiction” enter the scene, like withdrawal (disruptive symptoms from stopping the behavior) and other physical, emotional, and behavioral changes.

#2. Your loved one might not remember being a jerk.

Addiction, you tricky troll you! During a “blackout” or “brownout,” your loved one’s brain is so burdened that it stops making memories. Uh oh! As you might imagine, that does not make for great companionship while it’s happening. As the wise Amy Schumer stated, “Nothing good ever happens in a blackout. I’ve never woken up and been like ‘What is this Pilates mat doing out?’”

So what about when your loved one comes out of a blackout? Ah, then surely it’s time for them to express appropriate remorse, right? Muahahahha! Wrong! Somewhere the demon of addiction is snickering, because like some sort of twisted joke, it’s very difficult to have a healthy reconciliation about destructive blackout behavior. Your loved one doesn’t remember! And you do! And assuming you are not the Giver, that rift between you two is one that will never be bridged.

“It’s very difficult to have a healthy reconciliation about destructive blackout behavior. Your loved one doesn’t remember! And you do!”

#3. Co-morbidities are common and come with their own set of challenges.

Like some sort of cliche Disney villain, addiction does not roll out alone. There is a high rate of co-occurring addictions and other mental disorders. This complicates the issues and proper treatment of addiction. And it gets worse. Sadly many of the most common co-morbidities are ones that don’t align with healthy interpersonal skills, like social anxiety, PTSD, and major depression.

#4. Failures in the current standard of addiction care make the toll on families much worse.

This is not a Cinderella story! More like Sleeping Beauty, and your loved one is surrounded by a thousand obstacles to overcome in order to get well and also treat you appropriately, but anyways I digress. Way to check every Disney villain criteria in the box, Addiction Monster! What’s next? Trying to steal our hearts and cash simultaneously? Psych! The treatment industry has beaten you to it.

The average rehab cost is above the average American family’s salary. How are they getting away with that? Consider this: right now we act like there is no preventative option for addiction – addicts must “hit rock bottom” before “checking into some place to get better.” At that point, you, the family member, are likely to be desperate and panicked, and willing to plunk down whatever it costs.

#5. It’s easier to be angry than sad, or scared.

Anger has an attractive solution-oriented quality — it implies a cause, and incites energy for action and protest to correct that cause. It’s strangely hopeful in that regard; it assumes whoever is making one angry has some level of autonomy and control over the situation. Same goes for guilt, except it assumes oneself has autonomy and control.

But the reality of addiction is that it is by definition loss of control, on the part of the addict. And you don’t have control over it either; you didn’t cause it, can’t control it, or cure it – the “3 C’s” as Al-Anon wisely refers to them. What is left when you can’t be rationally angry at the addict or yourself? Sadness, and fear. Both are uncomfortable, and both leave only one option: acceptance.

So there you have it. The reason your addicted loved one is acting like a jerk? It’s the nature of the disease. It sounds simple, but in reality, it is devastating.

But it’s important to recognize the reality of the situation not to absolve you or the addict in your life of responsibility for your actions, but to be able to make decisions appropriately for what comes ahead. You will have to draw boundaries, and make decisions about treatment. Being informed as much as possible about the reality of addiction will help you do that as best you can for you and your loved one. Addiction is just another health condition that comes with well-studied and documented behavioral side effects, like dementia or narcolepsy.

“Addiction is just another health condition that comes with well-studied and documented behavioral side effects, like dementia or narcolepsy.”

As someone who has been through all this, I have benefited from learning all of the above. I also want you to know that there is hope, and that hope is in what we refer to as “recovery.” Our Workit world is filled with people who have been through the hell that is addiction, turned hellish themselves, and come out on the other side the shining people we always knew them to be deep down.

 Kristin Hayes Damien Francis Workit Health

That means your loved one might come back to you, their lives, and themselves. We are all rooting for that to happen here at Workit. I’m also rooting for you to look at your loved one, who might seem like a jerk now, and look past it. Remember who you know they are deep down. Be that “loved one” who fights for their chance, who honors the life and soul in them even when they are at their worst. After all, what is love, if we only love those who are well and treat us well?