Providing hope in addiction recovery

By The Health News Team | August 31, 2023
People holding hands in support group

Drug overdoses have become a major public health issue in the United States, causing numerous deaths each year. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2022.

An overdose can occur when someone intentionally or accidentally consumes too much of a drug, a combination of drugs, alcohol or other substances. In San Diego, the opioid epidemic has caused a surge in overdoses and fatalities, largely due to the use of fentanyl.

“We continue to see a tremendous increase in the number of people seeking services for fentanyl use,” says Serene Carruthers, manager of Sharp McDonald Center. “Some enter treatment at our center after a nonfatal overdose.”

According to Carruthers, the effects of a drug overdose can be severe and impact not only the individual but also their family and community. This is why it’s crucial, she says, for everyone to be able to recognize the signs of an overdose and seek help from addiction treatment centers for substance use disorders when needed.

Seeking treatment in San Diego

In times of need, addiction treatment centers provide hope for recovery, Carruthers says. It's essential to find the right fit for each patient.

Sharp McDonald Center is on the same campus as Sharp Memorial Hospital, allowing collaboration between the two facilities and providing hospital-based addiction recovery services. The program offers comprehensive care with a wide range of treatment options in one central location.

"Our compassionate care team consists of highly trained professionals who are dedicated to guiding individuals toward a healthier and more fulfilling life," Carruthers says. “Among the team members are board-certified addictionologists, psychologists, registered nurses, licensed therapists, and certified alcohol and drug addiction counselors.”

The first step on a journey to recovery

Recovery, Carruthers says, is a string of small decisions, moment by moment, that turn into a journey. The choice to enter treatment can drastically change your life.

She recommends that people who seek treatment remember:

  • A primary benefit of entering a treatment center is breaking the cycle of one’s habits and forming new ones.

  • Entering treatment is not selfish but is instead a life-changing decision that can positively impact you and those around you.

  • The objective of seeking treatment is to make progress rather than striving for perfection.

  • It’s important to take care of yourself, learn how to experience big emotions, connect, and have fun while sober.

  • Surrounding yourself with individuals who actively support your recovery and being open to accepting help when it's offered is vital.

  • Engaging in activities that promote your recovery can help you get through each day.

  • Recovery continues even after you leave the treatment program.

At Sharp McDonald Center's Continuing Care Program, free ongoing support to help patients beyond the initial treatment stages is offered. This includes weekly group sessions and an alumni association to recognize relapse warning signs.

Supporting a loved one with a substance use disorder

Substance use disorders impact families in a multitude of ways, Carruthers says. Honesty, vulnerability and communication are critical to the healing process.

She recommends loved ones of an individual in treatment actively engage in their own resources and support programs. “You will be more prepared to navigate the journey,” she says.

Carruthers also shares important ways to help a loved one going through treatment:

  • Remember it’s not beneficial to pass judgment or criticize an individual dealing with substance use disorder.

  • Embrace change.

  • Establish and uphold healthy boundaries.

  • Provide support and encouragement.

The Family Care Education and Counseling Program at Sharp McDonald Center emphasizes the importance of involving families in substance abuse treatment. By utilizing various resources, such as therapists, lectures, discussions, meditations, peer feedback and support, families can create a loving, supportive and healthy environment for a drug- or alcohol-free home.

Learn more about addiction treatment at Sharp; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

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