What Does Heroin Look Like?

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin, a commonly abused illegal drug in the U.S.,  is a member of the opiate family and is derived from the opium poppy plant made from morphine. Heroin addiction is a rampant disease that claims countless lives every year, and as the opioid crisis has risen, so has the continued illegal use of this heavily addictive drug.

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin is an opiate made from morphine that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Otherwise known as smack, dope, junk, or horse, heroin is an extremely addictive substance that comes either in the form of powder or a black, sticky substance. Heroin is made from morphine and changes back into morphine when it enters the brain. 


When heroin enters the system, it binds to opioid receptors, which are the parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and mood. Heroin strikes the brain stem, which is responsible for controlling bodily functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and arousal. The potency of heroin is so extreme that those who use it feel the high very quickly. 


Heroin is most commonly ingested in powder form through snorting the substance into the nose. The substance can appear either white or brown in color, and it varies based on the purity level of the drug. On the other end, heroin is also seen in a solid, sticky form that can be hard to the touch. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a powerful opioid that causes a shift in a person’s brain, causing a person to experience intense cravings for the drug and leading them to abandon former interests and other parts of life. There are many signs and symptoms that may be indicative of someone who is suffering from a heroin addiction that loved ones should look out for. 


Some of the behavioral signs and symptoms of a heroin addiction include stealing money or items to pay for heroin, asking family or friends to borrow money for drugs, experiencing eviction, foreclosure, or bankruptcy as a result of spending money on heroin, avoiding loved ones, forgetting or ignoring family responsibilities, failing to go to work or attend school, becoming uncharacteristically violent, and lying to avoid being caught.


Some of the other physical signs and symptoms of heroin addiction include loss of appetite and lack of eating, losing a significant amount of weight, wearing long sleeves even when it is hot out to hide needle marks, unexpected changes in mood, and a change in the appearance of teeth and skin. 


Although it may be difficult to confront a loved one who you suspect is experiencing an addiction to heroin, it is important to bring up your concerns. Heroin is a dangerously addictive substance that can take over a person’s entire life after using the drug once. The long-term effects of heroin use include severe damage to a number of different organs in the body including a person’s lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain. Sharing needles also adds a layer of danger that can lead to infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Therefore, it is extremely important to confront a loved one who you suspect is abusing heroin. 

How To Get Your Loved One Help With a Heroin Addiction 

Heroin addiction can be difficult to treat, and therefore it is important to open their eyes to getting help. Heroin addiction can be treated through rehab at treatment centers that offer varying levels of care depending on the level of addiction someone is experiencing and how they respond to treatment. 


Some of the different types of rehab for heroin addiction include inpatient rehab for heroin abuse, outpatient rehab, residential rehab, teletherapy for heroin abuse, dual diagnosis treatment and more. Some of the types of therapies that one should expect include a 12-step facilitation therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, community reinforcement approach, contingency management, family behavior therapy, teletherapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, and more. 

Reach Out to the Team at Footprints of Serenity Today

Footprint of Serenity offers intervention services for people looking to help their loved ones to overcome a heroin addiction. Confronting your loved one will be life-altering for them, and they will end up thanking you when they ultimately overcome their battle with drug addiction. Heroin is an extremely powerful drug that can cause life-threatening side effects, and confronting your loved one about it will show how much you care and they will feel better knowing that someone has faith in their potential. Contact us today for more information. 

Knowing When It’s Time to Have an Opioid Intervention

Knowing When It’s Time to Have an Opioid Intervention

Watching someone you love suffer is among the hardest things there is in this world.

The despair that comes with it, the uncertainty, the feelings of helplessness and the unending worry all grow worse by the day.

Emotions run raw and you look back wondering what you could’ve done differently to have avoided this scenario.

It’s a natural reaction.

While the past can’t be changed you can influence the future. There is a chance to right the ship so to speak and an opioid intervention can be a powerful motivator.

The question is when to make that move.

We’ll circle back to that in a moment.

What Are Opioids?

It’s instructive to know more about opioids and what an opioid addiction looks like.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines prescription opioids as “a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea”

You’ll know prescription opioids aka legal opioids, from brands like OxyContin or Vicodin.

An Illegal opioid on the other hand is heroin which has essentially the same effects.

The definition also mentions lab-made opioids or synthetic opioids. This is referring to an opioid like fentanyl which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

From 1999 to 2019, nearly 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They add that “overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2019, and nearly 73% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids”.

What Are the Signs of An Opioid Addiction?

This is critical.

Understanding when someone transitions from being in control to being controlled by an opioid is huge when it comes to knowing when to step in.

Here are the signs of opioid addiction:

  • Unable to cut back or stop using
  • Work, home and school life are hurting 
  • Relationships with family and friends begin to fall apart, increased isolation
  • A tolerance develops meaning that they have to take larger and larger doses to get the same high
  • Experiencing intense cravings
  • Financial difficulties
  • Legal troubles related to finding more opioids, i.e., stealing
  • Doctor shopping in order to get more prescriptions
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene
  • Decreased motivation 
  • Drowsiness and slurred speech
  • Depression
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Shift in sleeping patterns
  • Constipation
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms if not using

You may not notice all these things all at once but as soon as they begin to crop up, don’t dismiss it as a phase. Opioids are intensely addictive and once someone is hooked it tends to get worse when left unimpeded.

How to Know When It’s Time to Stage an Opioid Intervention

That all brings us back to the question of when. When do you reach a breaking point as a family member or friend?

There’s no specific point, to be honest. Each individual is an individual and their circumstances are all unique. A key consideration is about control; can they control their opioid use or is it controlling them?

Once an addiction truly takes hold it begins to dictate the choices a person makes. Life becomes about the pursuit of opioids, if your loved one is at the stage or you feel like they’re nearing it, it’s vital to talk to someone about the next steps and if it’s the right time for an intervention.

At Footprints of Serenity, we have decades of experience that can help guide you to an answer that’s right for your loved one. Reach out to us and let’s talk about it.

How to Stage an Intervention for Young Adults

How to Stage an Intervention for Young Adults

There are few things more heartbreaking than watching the potential of a young adult be whipped away and shattered by drug abuse or early alcoholism.

It can crush you as a parent, making you wonder where you went wrong or what you could’ve done differently to avoid this fate. As a friend, you can’t figure out where your paths diverged so dramatically.

It’s a tough reality to live in and whether you’re a family member or friend, there’s a sense of utter hopelessness that permeates the whole thing.

Just by being here and reading this though, you’ve clearly not given up on the pursuit of bringing them back from the brink. To that end, an intervention for young adults is very much something you should be considering if all else has failed up to this point.

Perhaps you’re not sure if this is a “phase” they’ll grow out of or if they’re well and truly addicted.

Signs a Young Adult Is Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Knowing what addiction looks like is the only way to stand a chance at getting your loved one the care they need for it.

Here are some big things to keep an eye out for:

  • Change in their friend group, either suddenly or gradually, to people you don’t know or are of questionable character
  • Relationships with family and friends become strained
  • Becoming increasingly secretive and lying about what they’re doing and with whom
  • Preferring to be left alone
  • School, work and homelife are suffering i.e., skipping school or a decline in performance, being reprimanded at work, skipping family dinners
  • Overtaken by a lack of motivation and general apathy
  • Communication becomes sparse
  • Losing interest in activities they typically found joy in
  • Disregarding curfew if they have one
  • Getting in legal trouble, like stealing to fund drug or alcohol purchases
  • Eating habits shift dramatically, accompanied by weight gain or loss
  • Significant changes to sleep patterns, either sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Mood swings, irritability, and emotionally unstable
  • Increasingly poor hygiene, not showering or changing clothes for example
  • Slurred speech and drowsiness
  • Bloodshot eyes dilated or pinpoint pupils depending on the drug of choice
  • Needle marks if they’re injecting drugs or suspiciously wearing long sleeves even when it’s hot 
  • Picking at skin
  • Finding drug paraphernalia 

It’s a lot and not everyone will experience all of these but signs but the longer addiction to alcohol or drugs is left to linger, the worse it will get and the more of these will crop up.

If you’re noticing more and more of the signs, it may be time to consider an intervention.

How to Stage an Intervention for Young Adults

Critically, you should not stage one on your own.

Interventions are delicate and highly charged situations that can easily get out of hand if not guided by a trained and professional interventionist.

They require detailed planning and attention to detail that’s unwavering.

First, they’ll meet with you to discuss the goals of the intervention, i.e., go to rehab, and build the intervention around that.

Then they’ll help you assemble a group of family and friends who will participate in order to create the maximum effect.

At this point, an interventionist will also help you research treatment centers that align with the needs of your loved one and make sure everything is lined up so they can go straight to treatment if that’s the goal.

From there it’s about preparing what you’ll say in terms of how substances have taken a toll, expressing the emotional effects, problems they’ve caused, the strain on relationships, etc.

Among the toughest parts, aside from holding the intervention itself, is defining specific consequences for if they refuse help – this is a core part of the process and they need to be enforceable despite how hard it may be.

The whole point of the intervention is to show them how their drug or alcohol use is decimating not only their life but also the lives of the people around them. To jolt them into change by seeing the devastating all at once.

If you’re worried about a young adult in your life and think an intervention is right for them, get in touch with us at Footprints of Serenity, and let’s talk about it.

Alcohol Intervention Programs Explained

Alcohol Intervention Programs Explained

You can find alcohol anywhere. Baseball games, grocery stores, birthday parties, work events, etc. It’s everywhere.

That fact alone – that drinking is such a widely accepted and even cherished vice – makes it all the more difficult for folks to quit, let alone acknowledge that they have a problem.

That’s where alcohol intervention programs come into play.

An intervention is designed to “shake” a person awake so to speak and open their eyes to what alcohol is doing to themselves and those who love them so much. It’s like turning a mirror on their addiction, forcing them to face something they’ve been avoiding or introducing formally to the problem for perhaps the first time.

Alcohol Takes a Lot of Lives

Alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, unnecessarily taking around 95,000 lives a year according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put that number into further perspective by calculating that those 95,000 deaths equated to “2.8 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2011 – 2015, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 29 years”.

Globally speaking, 5.3% of all deaths – 3 million people – were attributable to alcohol consumption in 2016.

Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted to Alcohol

To that end, understanding the signs of an alcohol use disorder, the formal name for alcoholism, in a loved one makes it easier for you to help them.

  • Drinks for longer than intended or having more than intended
  • Wanting to quit or cut back but unable to do so
  • Constantly intoxicated and spending an inordinate amount of time getting, drinking or recovering from alcohol
  • Planning days around drinking
  • Avoiding activities they once enjoyed because they can’t drink
  • Strong cravings for a drink
  • Continuing to drink despite the clear and abundant negative consequences
  • School, work and homelife are suffering due to drinking
  • Repeatedly and frequently blacking out
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Building a tolerance so needing to drink more to get the same effects as before
  • Denying a problem exists
  • Weight loss
  • Decreasing personal hygiene
  • Pulling back from friends and family
  • Drinking alone and/or at unusual hours like first thing in the morning
  • Financial problems related to overspending on alcohol
  • Legal problems due to crimes committed while drinking
  • Engaging in riskier behavior like driving drunk
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking like insomnia, nausea, depression or anxiety

Of course, these symptoms will vary from person to person depending on how severe the addiction is and how long it’s lasted.

How Alcohol Intervention Programs Can Help Your Loved One Find Addiction Treatment

If your loved one, be it a close friend or family member, is exhibiting more and more of these signs over time, it may be time to take action.

The prospects of staging an intervention are understandably nerve-wracking and overwhelming which is why it’s recommended you do not do one on your own. Working with a professional interventionist like Footprints of Serenity takes the burden of planning and execution off you.

Working with a team who truly understands the process and can adjust in real-time based on previous experience is truly a game changer in terms of achieving the desired results of getting your loved one into addiction treatment.

In fact, a core element of putting an intervention together is assisting you in doing the research and helping you pinpoint a rehab facility that would best suit your loved one’s needs. The idea is to have that locked in and set up so at the end of the intervention they can choose change immediately.

The last thing you want is to convincingly make the case for treatment and then have to figure out the where and when. You want to be able to present them with a lifeline and have them act on it at that very moment.

Reach out to us to learn more about interventions and how we can help you find the right treatment for your family member or friend.

Intervention Specialist Near Me

Intervention Specialist Near Me

Addiction doesn’t often resolve itself.

Actually, let’s rephrase that slightly, addiction doesn’t often resolve itself positively.

In 2019, drug overdoses took nearly 71,000 lives according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Roughly 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each and every year as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) points out.

So, addictions and substance use disorders very much can and do resolve themselves…negatively.

Nearly 170,000 die annually from the use of substances in some way, shape or form. The despair that those deaths rain down on the family and friends left to cope with that sort of unfathomable loss is impossible to quantify.

You’re left with emptiness and an unending stream of soul-crushing questions, like; “what if I’d stepped in?”, “what if I’d done more?”, “what else could I have done?”, etc.

There are actions you can take now to prevent that outcome and save a life, considering an intervention is one of them.

What Is an Intervention?

You may already have a vague idea of what an intervention is based on the word itself and perhaps even the TV show of the same name, but let’s put a real definition to it.

The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health does a good job of succinctly explaining it, noting that interventions are “a professionally delivered program, service, or policy designed to prevent substance misuse or treat an individual’s substance use disorder”.

A critical note about interventions though is that you should not try to organize one on your own. It’s a very delicate process with lots of moving parts and an extremely emotional and charged event. Getting it wrong could have dire consequences in the opposite direction. Your loved one may feel attacked, betrayed, resentful and so on which may actually lead to them closing themselves off further and falling deeper into their addiction.

What Does an Intervention Specialist Do?

An interventionist, or intervention specialist, is someone who’s trained and well-versed in designing and organizing interventions. It sounds simple but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

An intervention isn’t just a confrontation about addiction built on hope. It’s a guided process and the odds of it being successful go up exponentially when it’s done correctly.

An intervention specialist first and foremost helps you, your family and friends formulate a plan of action and how to mitigate adverse reactions.

They’ll assist you in the research phase regarding which treatment centers and what types of rehab would suit your loved one best as well as work with you to make arrangements for admission and transportation.

An intervention specialist will then lead you through choosing who exactly will participate in the intervention to create the maximum effect. Once that’s been decided, they can help you pick meaningful consequences in the event the person going through the intervention refuses treatment (and it’s imperative to stick to your guns here no matter how difficult it may be).

Lastly, they’ll help steer what you’ll say in the intervention.

As you can see, there’s quite a lot going on and this was just the briefest of overviews.

Why You Should Let Footprints of Serenity Help Your Loved One Today

You might be wondering “how can I find an intervention specialist near me?”

Easy. You can reach out to us at Footprints of Serenity.

We have decades of combined experience in the world of interventions and have a proven track record of tactfully turning a mirror on someone’s addiction and getting them to make the right choice in seeking treatment.

If you’re not in the Southern California area, no worries, get in touch with us anyhow and we can offer advice or perhaps even connect you to an interventionist in your area. The goal is to help your loved one get better, doesn’t matter where you or they are.


The Warning Signs of Alcoholism

The Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol is a killer that lives right out in the open. One we welcome into our homes, sporting events, celebrations, and more.

It’s among the most, if not the most widely accepted substance we have in our society and it’s notoriously deadly; the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) points out.

The jarring stats don’t end there though. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 24,000 people died from alcoholic liver disease in 2019 and the number of alcohol-induced deaths (excluding accidents and homicides) was over 39,000.

The NIAAA adds that as recently as 2019, 14.5 million people aged 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Alcohol abuse is very much a real problem in the country and knowing the warning signs of alcoholism is imperative to saving the life of a loved one.

Alcoholism Defined

Prior to getting into the signs and symptoms, it’s instructive to define what alcoholism is in the first place.

For starters, the official name for alcoholism is alcohol use disorder or AUD and the NIAAA defines it as such:

“Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and the colloquial term, alcoholism. Considered a brain disorder, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe”.

That there at the end is a critical point to understand, that alcoholism is a brain disorder in the same way drug addiction is. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) takes it a step further and sheds some light on the disorder concept, noting, “it is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control”.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism to Look Out For

As mentioned, alcoholism exists on a spectrum – mild to moderate to severe – and where that person you care about lands is based on how many of the following criteria they meet:

  • Consuming more alcohol than anticipated or for longer than expected
  • Wanting to quit or at least cut but weren’t able to
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time drinking or being hungover
  • Cravings for a drink so bad that you can’t think of anything else
  • Drinking, being sick from drinking, or recovering from it gets in the way of your responsibilities to family, friends, school, work, etc.
  • Carrying on drinking despite problems it creates with family and friends
  • Skipping or going less often to activities you once enjoyed in order to drink instead
  • Finding yourself in dangerous scenarios while drinking like getting behind the wheel, being in unsafe areas, unprotected sex, etc.
  • Drinking despite the fact that it makes you depressed or adds to other health problems
  • Building a tolerance to alcohol so you need to drink more to get the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms – trouble sleeping, nausea, sweating, seizure, etc. – when the drinks wear off

Mild AUD would be meeting 2-3 of those criteria.

Moderate AUD would be 4-5.

Anything over 6 is considered severe AUD.

How to Get Someone Help With Their Alcohol Addiction

Quitting alcohol and beating addiction is a tough battle to face on your own and your loved one doesn’t have to go that route.

Getting help for someone with an addiction to alcohol is possible and readily available. The key to increasing the odds of success is making sure that person – your brother, mother, father, sister, uncle, friend, etc. – are truly aware that they have a problem and accept the help and dedicated treatment they need to overcome it.

An intervention is something that can create that awareness and be the inciting incident they need to change their lives for good.

If you want to learn more, need advice or information, reach out to us today at Footprints of Serenity.

Support Groups for Family Members of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics Explained

Support Groups for Family Members of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics Explained

Drug addiction and alcoholism don’t solely affect the user. Substance abuse is very much a trauma that spreads itself across the entire family.

Of course, the user is the one who needs help the most of all in righting their ship so to speak, but family members don’t come out unscathed in this.

Growing up or even just existing within the confines of a dysfunctional family can take a massive psychological toll.

That’s why it’s important to look into support groups for family members of drug addicts and those dealing with alcohol use disorder. As much as your loved one needs support in getting to the other side of addiction, you need assistance too because your “normal” has also been shattered.

What Are Support Groups for Family Members of Addicts?

Family members of addicts have a uniquely difficult and different experience with addiction, not necessarily as harrowing as the user, but distressing nonetheless. The mental price paid in the form of constant worry, anxiety and stress is high and needs to be addressed. 

Without taking time to work through your issues, you can find yourself overwhelmed with all you’ve been dealing with. Support groups offer an environment where people who are going through or have gone through similar situations with addiction in their families can come to find solidarity and a place to talk. A place to build positive and healthy relationships.

Different Types of Support Groups for Families of Addicts and Alcoholics Available

Fortunately, this need for support has been recognized and several groups have been created to help. 

Among them are:


Started in 1952 by the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon describes itself as, “a mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. By sharing common experiences and applying the Al-Anon principles, families and friends of alcoholics can bring positive changes to their individual situations”.

Crucially, they add this can happen “whether or not the alcoholic admits the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help”.

This really drives home the idea that this is a support group for family and that you can get better even if the addict can’t.


Also related to Alcoholics Anonymous, Alateen was founded in 1957 by Al-Anon and focuses on the children of those struggling with alcoholism.

As they note, Alateen is “a fellowship of young people (mostly teenagers) whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking whether they are in your life drinking or not”.

The core goal is for it to be a place where young people can “share experiences, strength, and hope with each other to find effective ways to cope with problems” as well as “discuss difficulties and encourage one another”.

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Founded in 1973, Adult Children of Alcoholics describes themselves as a support group “focused on understanding the specific behavior and attitude patterns we developed while growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional environment.  These patterns continue to affect us today.

By attending regular meetings we come to a better understanding of our past so we can more effectively restructure our lives today.  We begin to see more clearly what is positive and healthy in ourselves”.

Similar to Al-Anon and Alateen, the idea of attending Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings is to be among those who truly get it. People who’ve been in exactly the same place you were growing up and who need help getting past it too.

Why You Should Go to Support Groups for Family Members of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics 

The important thing to takeaway here is that support is critical for both the addict and you, the family. You have your own trauma to work through and it shouldn’t be ignored just because you aren’t the one who’s addicted.

If you’re looking for support, reach out to us Footprints of Serenity and we can help you find a place that works for you.

What to Do After Drug Treatment Is Complete

What to do after drug treatment is complete

You’ve just finished rehab and the whole world is laid out before you.

What do you do?

Are you truly ready?

Are you overwhelmed? Scared? Excited?

All of the above?

Completing your program is a monumental moment. Truly a grand achievement. What you do after drug treatment though is what makes the difference in the long run.

Truth is, to some degree you will feel prepared to take on the world because part of your treatment program is dedicated to life after rehab. You may be nervous, which is normal, but you won’t be going into the unknown without thorough preparation.

Moreover, there are plenty of positive and affirmative steps you can take to ensure you stay the course.

Steps to Take to Maintain Addiction Recovery After Drug Treatment Is Complete

Recovery, as you well know by now, is a lifelong endeavor. Just because your inpatient treatment or outpatient care is finished, it doesn’t mean you can stop paying attention or ease up on actively working to maintain your sobriety.

Here are a handful of steps that make the journey easier:

Join a Support Group

Whether it’s a 12 step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or something without the religious angle like SMART Recovery, a support group can be a gamechanger and a lifesaver.

Being surrounded by people who genuinely understand you and have been in your shoes makes a big difference. You all are working through the same things together and there’s power and inspiration to be found in that.

Not to mention the built-in accountability that comes with connecting with those in your support group.

Create a Group of Sober Friends

Speaking of connection, it’s important to develop a sober group of friends.

It can be folks you meet in your support group or through new activities you’ve taken up, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the people you choose to spend time with don’t default to drugs or alcohol in their free time.

Identify Your Triggers and Manage Stressors

In treatment, you’re in something of a stress-free bubble and you’re active in pushing back against triggers. Back in your real life, you need to stay vigilant – actually, be even more vigilant – and identify people, places, and things that could trigger you to use them.

Once you’ve identified them you can work on managing those stressors and developing a plan of action to cope.

Recognize Warnings of a Relapse

This is more or less a continuation of the previous step, once you know what can trigger you or stress you out, you can use it to recognize the signs of a potential relapse. The more aware you are of these things, the more you can quickly react to the warnings of relapse and remove yourself from the situation.

Develop New Habits and Find Activities That You Find Meaningful 

To maintain sobriety, you ultimately need to find meaningful ways to spend your time. The more meaning you can derive from whatever you fill your day with – the people, the events, the places, the hobbies, everything – the better.

Keep a Schedule

They say idle hands are the devil’s playthings, which is to say that if you have nothing to do, you’re more likely to get yourself into trouble, especially if you’re recovering from addiction.

Keeping a schedule and making it a full one is an easy thing you can do to keep your mind and body occupied and away from thoughts of substance use.

Celebrate Your Sobriety Achievements 

Regularly acknowledge how far you’ve come!

Celebrating wins is so psychologically gratifying and it gives you a chance to reflect on how far you’ve come. Better yet, celebrate in your support group and be an example for others to follow because helping others truly does help you too.

If you’re unsure about how to handle life after rehab or would like to learn even more steps you can take, reach out to us at Footprints of Serenity.

Knowing When It’s Time to Find a Drug Rehab for Young Adults

Knowing When It’s Time to Find a Drug Rehab for young adults

Our teenage years are formative in so many ways; they help shape us, serving to define our interests more finely and determine our likes & dislikes. The young adult years are when we lay the groundwork for what’s to come.

It’s an invigorating and exploratory time in any person’s life.

It’s also a time of experimentation and increasing independence which is no doubt a cause for concern for all parents around the world.

This is a period in life when your son or daughter will encounter and perhaps even try drugs and/or alcohol for the first time and the statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) bear that out:

  • By 12th grade, nearly half of teens, 46.6%, will have tried illicit drugs
  • 43.7% will have tried marijuana by 12th grade
  • Almost 2/3rds, 61.5%, reported trying alcohol by their senior year

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 1/10th of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people aged 12 to 20 years old. That’s 10%.

Whether it’s curiosity, peer pressure, coping with stress or another reason, experimentation doesn’t necessarily mean addiction or dependency. There are so many tough parts of parenting and knowing when to make that call about substances is among the hardest.

Fortunately, there are signs you can look for to know when things have gotten out of hand.

Signs Your Teen Is Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Addiction isn’t something that happens overnight, it may seem that way but in actuality, it builds over time presenting many symptoms along the way which can be broken down into physical and behavioral components.

Physical Signs of Addiction 

  • Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • Itching
  • Sniffling
  • Injection marks
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes in skin color, pallor
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Atypical or unusual body odors
  • Issues with sleeping, getting either too much or too little
  • Poor hygiene
  • Looking generally unkempt and increasingly disregarding physical appearance


Behavioral Signs of Addiction 

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Lethargy and lack of motivation
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Paranoia
  • Lying
  • Borrowing money
  • Change in habits and more secretive about what they’re doing
  • Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
  • Engaging in more dangerous, risky and possibly even criminal activity
  • Missing curfew
  • Neglecting responsibilities at school or work

If you’re noticing more and more of these signs and symptoms, it very well could be time for you to consider drug rehab for young adults. There’s no harm in learning more about how rehab can help and seeking information from experts on the next steps to take.

How a Drug Rehab for Young Adults Can Help Your Teen Find Recovery

Once you’ve identified a potential issue with drugs or alcohol, it’s time to seek solutions and among the best options available to you and your teen is rehab.


Because that’s the sole purpose of it; it’s dedicated and specialized treatment for addiction under the care and guidance of trained and licensed professionals.

Your inclination as a parent might be to scold your kid, get angry and confrontational about their drug or alcohol use. That’s just not helpful though because addiction is a disorder of the mind and that type of reaction could have the opposite effect and further cement their behavior.

It’s worth defining addiction here to understand another reason how rehab, in particular, can be incredibly helpful. According to NIDA, addiction is “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control”.

There’s more to undoing that than just a stern talking-to.

Rehab allows your teen to work through the issues that led them to substances in the first place and equips them with new tools and coping mechanisms to be able to overcome those same situations in the future, but in a healthy way.

If you’re worried about your child, give us a call at Footprints of Serenity and we can help you find the treatment option that’s right for them. 

What Are the Alternatives to 12 Step Programs in Addiction Recovery?

What are the alternatives to 12 step programs in addiction recovery?

12 step programs and addiction recovery seem like they go hand in hand, to the point that you almost might think it’s required to be a part of one in order to successfully stay sober.

Developed and started by Alcoholics Anonymous well over half a century ago, the twelve steps have truly been revelatory for many and have indeed helped countless men and women, millions over the years, stick with their recovery.

That said, it’s not ideal for everyone and that’s fair enough. Not everyone likes the same flavor of ice cream, after all. Certain aspects might not click for each person in recovery, the religious and spiritual parts of it, for example, may turn people off. Another big factor that may strike people as negative, or that they object to, is that 12 step programs require an admittance that you’re powerless over addiction (it’s the first of the steps).

Again, that’s not to say AA isn’t a fine program for some. 

Fortunately, there are alternatives to 12 step programs for those that are seeking them.

SMART Recovery

Whereas the 12 steps have a higher power at the core, SMART Recovery is rooted in science. An acronym, SMART stands for “Self-Management And Recovery Training” and, like AA or NA, is a global community of support groups.

Rather than 12 steps, SMART operates on a 4-point program:

  1. Building and Maintaining Motivation
  2. Coping with Urges
  3. Managing Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
  4. Living a Balanced Life

They add, “our science-based approach emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance. There’s no lifetime commitment; you decide when the time is right to move on. You choose how to personalize your own plan for successful change”.

Refuge Recovery

While Refuge Recovery is inspired and informed by Buddhist ideas, it’s a non-theistic program. Moreover, you don’t have to be well versed in Buddhism, or know it at all, to get the benefits of what they offer.

Refuge Recovery is rooted in the idea that “Buddhists commit to the path of awakening by taking refuge in three things: awakening (Buddha), truth (Dharma), and community (Sangha)”.

Additionally, it incorporates the Buddhist concepts of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Four Noble Truths

  1. Addiction creates suffering
  2. The cause of addiction is repetitive craving
  3. Recovery is possible
  4. The path to recovery is available

Eightfold Path

  1. Understanding
  2. Intentions
  3. Speech/community
  4. Actions
  5. Livelihood/service
  6. Effort
  7. Mindfulness
  8. Concentration

The recovery program includes meetings, meditation, mentorship, and retreats.

Non 12 Step Rehabs

Some rehabs are fully committed to the 12 step cause, and that’s OK. If the ideology and principles of the 12 step program don’t gel with thought, you don’t have to go to a rehab where that’s the cornerstone, quite frankly.

The point of rehab is to do what works best for you.

If you’re uncomfortable with any part of it, it stands to reason that you’ll be reluctant to commit wholeheartedly because of that inherent skepticism. Without total commitment, whatever program you choose won’t be nearly as effective. It can’t be.

Non 12 step rehabs, like their 12 step counterparts, start with detox and from there move into evidence-based approaches to treatment that are personalized to your particular needs.

These mainly focus on various types of psychotherapy or talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with the aim being to get to the root cause of why you started using substances in the first place. The emphasis is on empowering you to change your way of thinking and behavior rather than the notion that overcoming addiction is beyond your reach or control.

If you’re on the fence about 12 steps or non 12 step options, give us a call at Footprints of Serenity and we can talk you through them both in more depth.