Saturday, May 18, 2013

You Know You Hit Rock Bottom When...

“I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.”

Hitting rock bottom of an addiction is a little like that old joke – you might wonder why your drug problem keeps getting bigger. Then you hit rock bottom.

It is easier to recognize rock bottom when watching someone else hit it – just drive down any inner city alley and assume everyone laying in the gutter has nowhere to go but up. While it is more difficult to recognize your own fall, there are a few ways to know when you have hit rock bottom.

You know you hit rock bottom when:

You know a hundred ways to get high at work… if you had a job. It takes a lot of lost work and loss of dedication to earn one’s way to rock bottom.

You have no idea what you meant with that FaceBook posting or tweet – you were blasted out of your mind and likely to say just about anything. Rock bottom is littered with garbled graffiti insulting people you used to care about.

You have already pawned off all of your family’s good stuff to support your habit. It takes a lot of money to travel all the way to rock bottom; your family will need to provide a lot of financial aid for your drug habit. Rock bottom causes widespread financial devastation.

You had to ditch your old friends because they did not want to travel to rock bottom with you. They were becoming downright unforgiving lately too – what are a few drug-fuelled fistfights or psychotic rages between friends anyway?

Your current friends are also at rock bottom and cannot afford nice stuff for you to rip off. Someone once said you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – you know you hit rock bottom when you find yourself surrounded by nothing but drug addicts.

You are too stoned to understand what your kid learned in kindergarten that day. Rock bottom is stupid – it wipes away your ability to think clearly and understand simple conversations.

You punch holes in the walls, cry like a baby, pick fights with people, or go on a drug-seeking binge because you have an unreliable drug dealer. There is nothing worse than waiting all night for your drug dealer to come through, just to hear the same old lame promise of dope in the morning.

You know that chick who dances topless or that guy who sticks a gun in someone’s ribs for money? Yeah, that’s you. You know you hit rock bottom when you start doing incredibly embarrassing or even illegal things to keep your habit alive.

Drug addiction seems to change someone’s sense of motion: many people do not know they are plummeting until they hit rock bottom. Learning the signs of a substance abuse problem helps you recognize a growing drug addiction before you hit rock bottom. 

By Corey Snyder
Director of Hitting Rock Bottom, a new webseries portraying real people and their stories of addiction and recovery, at

Help us finish the season! Together we can raise awareness about addiction. Please donate at

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Growing Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

Illegal drugs are no longer the problem among teens; it is the legal kind they can get at any drug store. Obviously, there is still a problem with illegal drugs among teens. The problem involves drug abuse and drug addiction. In years past, the problem of drug addiction centered on illegal drugs such as marijuana, heroin and “party drugs” such as ecstasy. In communities across the nation, the unspoken problem is prescription drug use and abuse.

The numbers are staggering relating to drug addiction. More than 8.7 million people have an addiction to prescription drugs. This number exceeds the number of teens addicted to hard narcotics. A recent survey brought to light the need for recovery services aimed toward teens. The study stated approximately 60% of teen in the 12th grade obtain and use prescription drugs.

Why is prescription drug addiction a problem?
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are several factors as to why prescription drug addiction is becoming a nation-wide problem. There is a misconception relating to the safety of the prescription drug. Parents and teens assume the medication prescribed by the doctor is safe. What is not considered in the implications of the drug. Several medications cause reactions similar to those of illicit drugs.  

An additional factor relating to the problem of prescription drug addiction is the availability. Prescription medications increased by more than 40 million users in the past two decades for stimulants and more than 134 million for analgesics.

What are the solutions?
There are several ways to help teens cope with addiction. It is imperative to communicate with a doctor, counselor, teacher, family friend or a hotline. Contact the Treatment Referral Helpline for services in your area.  The service connects teens and family with licensed facilities, organizations and support groups designed to assist with drug addiction. An anonymous source available is the National Suicide Prevention Helpline. Consider the available drug rehab and recovery programs. There are several free and low-cost services available such as Sundown Ranch, Marworth and Hazelden.

Hitting rock bottom does not mean giving up. When teens and families understand the horrors surrounding drug addiction and learn various ways to seek recovery, the outcome is positive. Teens are the lifeblood of the future. We need to provide assistance and guidance and stop them from hitting rock bottom.

By Corey Snyder
Director of Hitting Rock Bottom, a new webseries portraying real people and their stories of addiction and recovery, at

Help us finish the season! Together we can raise awareness about addiction. Please donate at

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hitting rock bottom from drinking: 7 signs and symptoms

Drinking is not bad in and of itself. But how frequently you drink and how alcohol affects your life can become not only unhelathy, but dangerous. Plus, problem drinking can isolate you.  Problem drinking can affect your career. And your health. So what are the signs that you've hit rock bottom from drinking?

Here, we review 7 signs and symptoms of hitting rock bottom from alcohol. They're organized in terms of what we think is most important to know that you've hit a wall. But know that there is hope. If you've hit rock bottom, you can only go back up again.

Signs of hitting rock bottom from alcohol

1. Acknowledging that you have a problem
The first symptom of hitting rock bottom is to actually identify the drinking problem in the first place. Lots of times, we can be in denial, thinking that we are drinking normally. We might think that we are social drinkers and are in control of ourselves. However, if you are drinking more than 4 drinks a day for men or more than 3 drinks for women, you have an alcohol related problem.

2. Emotional pain
Hitting rock bottom from drinking can feel impossible to change. But those that truly hit rock bottom NEED to change. And their desperation for something new is motivated by pain.  But this is a mixed blessing. Pain snaps us out of the addictive cycle and get us living correctly again.

3. Readiness to change
A vital way to evaluate whether or not your "bottom" has arrived is to evaluate your readiness for change. If you're re-thinking your drinking...this is a great sign!  And one that can serve you well.

4. Problems, problems, problems
Another characteristic sign that you've hit rock bottom from drinking is that you have not fulfilled your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of drinking. You might also have recently put yourself or others in dangerous situations (like driving under the influence) or have legal or social problems (such as arrests or arguments with family members) due to drinking.  The bad new is: you have to deal with them. The good news is that if you've really hit rock bottom and are ready for change, you dont have to deal with them ever again.

5. Physical or psychological dependence on alcohol
Those who have hit rock bottom are not always physically dependent on alcohol. While some people may need to go through detox to pass through alcohol withdrawal, others experience only cravings for alcohol or the loss of control while drinking. Still, what people who hit rock bottom have in common is alcoholism - a chronic condition that can be avoided by abstaining from alcohol.

6. Telling others about your drinking problem
A true bottom occurs when you open up and let others in on your pain. Telling someone you trust like a doctor, or friend, or family member about problem drinking shows that you're not holding on to the past. It's likely that someone can relate to you and your story, or connect you with someone who's been in your shoes. As bad as it's gotten for you, someone else's bottom may have been worse!

7. Guilt and shame
The "negative" emotions of guilt and shame can be healthy for someone hitting rock bottom.  However, we don't need to be stuck in the past. Whatever that has happened as the result of problem drinking can be avoided in the future. And while guilt and shame can be present during a rock bottom, dwelling there is not useful. Feel them, and get out!

Hitting rock bottom from alcohol questions
Got questions about hitting rock bottom? Leave them here. We are here to help, and can refer you as best as we can to treatment for alcohol problems.

Reference Sources: NIAAA: Rethinking Drinking, Alcohol and Your Health

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Addiction and Dependence - Two Ugly and Very Different Siblings

Addiction and dependence are two ugly siblings born of the same temptress mother- substance abuse. While addiction and dependence seem identical at first glance, or even joined at the hip, these twin conditions are really quite different.

Someone can be addicted to something, dependent upon it, or both. Some drugs, like cocaine, cause addiction but not physical dependency. Other drugs, like OxyContin or heroin, are more likely to produce strong dependence and only moderate addiction.

Dependence is the predictable outcome of using a drug for a long time. Anyone who uses a certain drug regularly for more than a few weeks can become physically dependent on that medication, whether he uses it for therapeutic or recreational purposes. In time, his body starts to rely on a certain amount of that drug to feel normal – his body becomes physically dependent.

When he stops using the drug, his body struggles to adjust to the new chemistry. Doctors refer to this chemical battle as detoxification. The drug-dependent person experiences detoxification through unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Once the patient completes detoxification, his withdrawal symptoms subside as he completes the detoxification process. Withdrawal symptoms do not return unless he starts using drugs again and returns to a drug-dependent state.


In contrast, an addicted person feels cravings and engages in drug-seeking behaviors when his supplies run low. The American Society of Addictive Medicine calls addiction, “a primary, chronic disease” that affects the circuitry of the brain’s reward, motivation, and memory areas. Addiction causes these circuits to malfunction, resulting in certain changes in the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. These changes can last for months or years and the patient may suffer many periods of relapse and recovery.


Dependence and addiction respond to different treatments. Recovery for a drug-dependent person always includes a detoxification process of lowering drug levels and fighting withdrawal symptoms. Addiction requires rehab that usually includes counseling and behavior modification. Rehabilitation teaches the addict how to avoid relapses by recognizing situations that could lead to drug abuse. Rehab also gives him the tools he needs to refuse drugs when offered.

Addiction and dependence are sometimes Siamese twins, co-joined through substance abuse. Many addicted people suffer a certain degree of dependence, and most dependent people show signs of addiction. These folks benefit from treatment that combines detoxification and rehabilitation.

Hitting rock bottom is not a prerequisite for seeking help for either addiction or dependence. In fact, waiting too long can cause a series of unnecessary dramas including, illness, legal problems, homelessness, divorce or loss of child custody, overdose and death.

The twisted sisters of addiction and dependence do not always have to tear families apart. With proper treatment including detoxification and rehab, recovery is always possible.

Written by Corey Snyder
Director of Hitting Rock Bottom, a new webseries portraying real people and their stories of addiction and recovery, at

Help us finish the season! Together we can raise awareness about addiction. Please donate at

Monday, April 8, 2013

House of Cards and Day Counting - "F#@! the Zero"

House of Cards, a political drama series on Netflix, tackles issues of alcoholism and addiction in the lives of its powerful political characters. The show features AA meetings, discussion of recovery, and the up-and-down journey of people fighting for their sobriety.

In an AA meeting, Doug Stamper, a key character played by Michael Kelly, shares about counting days:

“One of the things I do for a living is count. Yays, nays, neutrals, obstaining. And I’m good at it. But the most important count I do has nothing to do with work. It’s the number of days since April 4, 1999. As of this morning, that’s 5,185. The bigger that number gets, the more it frightens me, because I know all it takes is one drink to go back to zero. Most people see fear as a weakness. It can be… I have to use my fear. It makes me stronger. Like everyone else in this room, I can’t control who I am. But I can control the zero. F#@! the zero.”

House of Cards portrays different characters the mistakes they make, the lessons they learn, and the different approaches they take for their recovery. For some, counting days is their recovery tool. For others, it is taking it one day at a time.

In recovery, we discover what works for us as individuals. Through honest and open sharing at 12-Step meetings, we discover our own recovery tools while also listening to others reveal theirs. It’s not about giving advice or directions to each other, it’s about using our own personal experiences, strengths, and hopes.

Hitting Rock Bottom takes you into the life of one recovering addict as he tells it all, honestly and openly. A different show than House of Cards, different backdrop, different plot, and different characters but with the same goal - to fight for sobriety. Whether in House of Cards, Hitting Rock Bottom, or a real-life meeting, every person has his own story to tell, and we all listen, and we learn.

Written by Corey Snyder
Director of Hitting Rock Bottom, a new webseries portraying real people and their stories of addiction and recovery, at

Help us finish the season! Together we can raise awareness about addiction. Please donate at

Monday, April 1, 2013

Russell Brand - A Funny Man with a Serious Problem

Russell Brand is a funny man but he has one very serious problem – he wants to change how stubborn minds think about addiction before any more people die.

Brand knows addiction is a greedy disease that will not give up until it puts you at the bottom of a hole. First, it takes your money then it takes your car and your house; later it steals your friends and robs you of bits of your body.

Now Russell Brand wants to rescue others by bringing addiction out of the shadows and into the light.

The Early Days

Russell Brand showed promise early on, accepted by the respectable and esteemed Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. Despite his obvious talents, the school tossed Brand out in his first year for bad behavior and drug abuse. Determined and talented, the young comedian barely managed his addiction through acting school at the Drama Centre London, who promptly kicked him out in his final year.

Brand struggled with addiction throughout his meteoric rise as a comedian and actor in the UK and in the United States. In those years, he has had many run-ins with the police and arrested 12 times. His addiction has gotten him kicked out of some of the nicest gigs on earth, including the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh. He even introduced singer Kylie Minogue to his drug dealer.

Russell Brand was pulled from rock bottom by his agent, John Noel, who found his client on Christmas Eve, strung out on heroin on a bathroom floor. Brand has been clean since 2003 but he is not done battling addiction. In fact, he has only just begun to fight.

The Mission to Save Others

Brand got clean at age 27 – the same age as his friend, Amy Winehouse, was when she died. Her death still haunts Brand, who feels he should have done more to rescue her from the depths of her alcohol addiction.

Since the death of Winehouse in 2011, Brand has been on a personal campaign to rescue others from the depths of addiction. In April 2012, the entertainer appeared before the British Parliament to stress the importance of love and compassion for addicts. He argued that medical treatment and education lower crime rates and provide more benefits to society than do harsh jail sentences or treating addicts like scum. Later that year, the BBC produced Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery in which the comedian watches early footage of himself smoking heroin, barefoot in a dingy apartment.

Russell Brand continues on his quest to rid the world of junkies through compassion and proper medical treatment. “The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”

Written by Corey Snyder
Director of Hitting Rock Bottom, a new webseries portraying real people and their stories of addiction and recovery, at

Help us finish the season! Together we can raise awareness about addiction. Please donate at