What is Acudetox, and why has The Council decided to offer it?

By Lori Fiester, Clinical Director of the Center for Recovering Families

I have been in the social work field for approximately 32 years and have seen trends come and go in substance abuse treatment settings. Treatment for substance abuse was primarily geared to the 12 Steps when I first entered the field, along with licensed chemical dependency counselors. Today we have a plethora of providers that give a vast array of therapeutic interventions that can assist those seeking help. Recently, I stumbled upon an opportunity to learn another intervention that can assist people who want to get sober, are sober, or are in sustained recovery, called Acudetox.

Acudetox is a five-point acupuncture protocol specifically designed for those struggling with substance use issues. The acupuncture needles are gently placed in the ear at specific points. This helps balance the body’s energy and assists the healing process. It is referred to in Eastern medicine as a yin tonification, restoring calm inner qualities like serenity. This process is best done in a group setting lasting from 30-45 minutes and is non-verbal with minimal interaction from the facilitator.

Acudetox has shown to decrease cravings for alcohol and drugs, withdrawal symptoms, relapse episodes, anxiety, insomnia and agitation.  Even more exciting, the effects can be immediate. There are usually no side-effects and the intervention is inexpensive.  Clients report relaxation, stress and craving reduction, mental clarity, an increased sense of wellbeing and more energy.  Programs have reported more successful completions and less client discharge against medical advice, along with higher client satisfaction improvement.

This seemed too good to be true, so off I went to get trained in Acudetox. As a result, I’m a firm believer that this intervention can assist anyone in the process of recovery. While practicing the protocol, I experienced immediate relaxation myself and noticed later that my mindless eating wasn’t as mindless. As I practiced on friends and colleagues, they reported decreased blood pressure, better sleep and more concentration. Even those who chose not to have the intervention in the group setting experienced a meditative state. As a therapist, it’s an interesting shift from talk therapy to inserting needles, but I see the value as clients become more aware of their body and their thoughts, and are able to settle more quickly to begin their work.   

The Council is offering Acudetox to clients in The Center for Recovering Families’ Intensive Outpatient Program, and is also now offering appointments open to the general public.  Click here for more information on Acudetox or to register for a session.

What is CBD and How is it Different from Marijuana?

Clinical Director for the Center for Recovering Families Lori Fiester answers your burning questions about CBD.

If you’ve driven around town lately, you might have seen all the CBD shops that have burst on the scene, or may have seen ads on your favorite social media site selling CBD oils and other such related items.

This surge recently came about due to hemp being legalized in 2018. There seems to be a lot of confusion about that too, especially when you realize that hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant. The difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp can only contain 3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Past that percentage, it’s considered marijuana, which is illegal in Texas. While I see the effects of recreational marijuana abuse in my work, I had limited understanding about the what the differences between the substance were, the legalities, and was Cannabidiol (CBD) just another silver bullet. So I thought I’d dip my big toe in the river.

The Science of CBD

First of all, THC and CBD are chemically the same! Twenty-one carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. The difference is in a single atom structure. And that single-atom difference is about feeling the psychoactive effects of the substance or not.

There are about 85 known cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant, which include THC and CBD. A cannabinoid is a compound that interacts within the network of receptors in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which assist to maintain vital functions within the body. There are two receptors in the body called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found in parts of the brain that is responsible for mental and physiological processes such as memory, cognition, emotion and motor skills. CB2 is found throughout the central nervous system and the immune system.

While both CBD and THC bind to the CB2, they interact with the CB1 receptors differently.  THC binds to the CB1 receptors that signals the brain to feel pleasure or ‘high’ feeling. CBD doesn’t bind directly to the CB1 and even its presence will negate the effects of the THC on the brain, meaning you won’t feel high. 

Use and Effects

CBD has been linked to assisting with pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, and inflammation, just to name a few. CBD is not regulated by the FDA and there have been no long term studies. There are no known side effects except in drug to drug interaction, i.e. medication.

THC is psychoactive which gives the ‘high,’ and its effects can include relaxation, altered senses, fatigue, hunger and reduced aggression.  Long term effects include addiction, impaired thinking and reasoning, a reduced ability to plan and organize, altered decision making, reduced control over impulses and correlates with significant abnormalities in the heart and brain.

Medical THC has been seen to help with the side effects of chemotherapy, MS, HIV/AIDS, spinal injury, nausea/vomiting, chronic pain, inflammation and digestive issues.

Marijuana is illegal in Texas although many states have legalized it for both recreation and medically.  Medical cannabis is legal in Texas in very limited situations. The Texas Compassionate Use Act came into law in 2015 allowing those affected with epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease have access to cannabis oil with less than 5% THC.

The Bottom Line is…

While CBD and THC come from the same plant, one is legal in Texas and one is not. It appears that CBD can have positive effects on a person’s health, it is not a psychoactive drug, there are no known side effects, and due to the changes in the law, it is readily available.  However, with that being said, there are no guidelines for manufacturing the substance, and there are no long term studies on the effects from taking the substance. I stress the issue of manufacturing due to the serious illness and even deaths we have seen from vaping when this delivery system was off-brand/market and often involving marijuana.

Marijuana is still illegal in Texas, it is a psychoactive and addictive drug and there are many side effects from its use. 

To make an appointment for a clinical assessment, or if you have any questions about how we can help you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse, call 713-914-0556 or contact us online.

If your campus, workplace or community would benefit from a presentation, contact us at 281-200-9273 or comm_education@councilonrecovery.org.

Learning to Love Yourself on the Journey of Recovery

This guest post is written by David Sunday, outreach coordinator and veteran liaison for The Council on Recovery.

As we move into a month that celebrates love and relationships, I couldn’t help but think how confusing loving myself was early in my recovery, or that I couldn’t fully love anyone else until I loved myself. I would hear things in meetings like “We’ll love you until you’re ready to love yourself.” I remember thinking to myself, “What does that even mean? Aren’t I my problem?” 

As I worked my program and grew in my sobriety, I gradually learned to put others before myself. Even this within itself was confusing. I spent a good amount of time helping others and doing service work, but I never realized the only way I could truly help another was by helping myself. If I’m being honest, I still had a difficult time looking at myself in the mirror. I had no idea how to have a healthy relationship with myself or anyone else. I still put expectations on people, places and things, and when they didn’t fit into my agenda I walked away “to protect myself.”

Photo by chester wade on Unsplash

I can’t exactly put my finger on when the light turned on, but the little boy inside of me that was crying out for help was not the problem. The problem was the man who still hadn’t separated himself from his ego, who was standing in his way and wouldn’t allow him to fully heal. This person was the problem! This is what it meant to love myself – to be kind to myself in this process of healing, and to not always need to do or say everything right, but to know that if it came from my heart, it was enough. To make an effort to take care of myself the best I know how with the tools I have, physically, mentally and spiritually.

As I sat in a support group the other night and listened to people share their gratitude, struggles and fears, I knew in that moment that this is what people meant by loving myself- being in a space with others who are on this journey with me and who value what I have to bring. It’s not perfect, but it’s real, and it’s love. It’s loving the life I have today without the need of escape, because I am able to show up and be who I have always been. Real love of self isn’t comparing myself to anyone else’s journey but looking in the mirror with my head held high and saying to myself “I’m the one I’ve been waiting for!” And so are you!

The Promise of Intentions

This guest post is written by David Sunday, outreach coordinator and veteran liaison for The Council on Recovery.

As we move into another exciting year full of possibilities and opportunities, I was struck by the number of New Year’s resolutions the crossed my social media. It brought up the question, what is a resolution? Merriam Webster defines a resolution as the answer or solution to something, a firm decision, to do or not do. That was very intriguing to me. As a person in long term recovery, working a program and involved with the recovery community, I often hear sayings like “one day at a time” or “easy does it”. There’s even an old joke poking fun at the disease of addiction that quotes, “The three words you never want to hear from a person in recovery say are ‘I was thinking…’”

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Today, we’re able to laugh at ourselves, but we also recognize that we are works in progress, and that every day we try to be just a little bit better than we were the day before. Some days we have clarity, and others, we simply know that tomorrow is a new day! We try our best to be gentle, first with ourselves and then with others. 

Maybe it makes sense to simply change our language a little.

Using the word intention instead of resolution reminds us that today we will make every attempt to show up as our true and authentic selves, and in doing so knowing that we have done our part. After all, there is only today, we no longer live in yesterday and tomorrow is not a guarantee. Our intention is all we really have, as psychologist Ram Dass has taught us to “be here now” in this place together.

This writer’s love for the people of the recovery community stems from acceptance that we are all enough, perfectly imperfect. We no longer need to measure up to a standard because we are already there, but maintaining the intention that there is always room for improvement. Every single day is a new beginning and a new chance to create a life well lived!

The Gift of Recovery

This guest post is written by David Sunday, outreach coordinator and veteran liaison for The Council on Recovery.

What is the gift of recovery? I think we can all agree that recovery is not just about learning to live a life free from drugs, alcohol or other compulsive behaviors. Sobriety is a byproduct of the gift. Recovery is about choosing a better way of life in which we no longer need to use these behaviors to cope. The gift that recovery gives us is that today we choose to feel everything. That’s where growth happens. We no longer choose the same coping mechanisms that the world has deemed useful. After a bad day, we no longer choose to go home to a glass of wine or a cold beer. Today we choose to learn and to grow from the adversity and pain, from the smiles and the tears.

Our greatest treasures lie on the other side of fear.

People in the recovery community choose to go there and they choose to do it together in fellowship. Recovery is absolutely about joy but it’s also about struggle and trust- trusting that our lives will be a blessing to someone else if we are brave enough to share it with them. “We can’t keep it if we don’t give it away” is our mantra. This is the gift of our recovery and what we have to teach the world. To somewhat quote recovery advocate, Bill White, in the process of burning ourselves to ashes we have emerged as people who love and appreciate life. We recognize it as our greatest treasure and view it in a new way- as survivors of a disease that almost defeated us!

Because we have been to the darkness and we are now warriors of the light. The gift of recovery is our presence in the world, in our families and in the lives of each other. We have become the change! Is there any gift more powerful or more redeeming? What each and every one of us boast about in our new lives is that we want to give what we have to you so that we may live!

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety… The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 64

Guest blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 64 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the 1999 movie, The Matrix, a group of rebels are fighting a desperate war against a machine that has enslaved humanity in a sophisticated virtual reality system.  Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus, the leader of the rebels, and he has recruited Neo, played by Keanu Reeves and Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss as his archetypal warriors.  The operatives of The Matrix have been unbeatable, led by Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, such that most rebel warriors have little chance in head-to-head battles with the machine.

But Neo and Trinity have developed and honed their skills. A series of confrontations toward the end of the movie have Neo and Trinity performing incredible athletic feats to avoiding being hit by a barrage of bullets and simultaneously firing back in explosive bursts.  In one scene, Neo contorts his body to impossible extremes as the bullets fly by in slow motion.

A friend of mine, in a meeting one day, commented on this scene as reminiscent, to him, of how, in our continuing growth in recovery, we learn such adroitness, we develop evasive moves to avoid letting the pitfalls of life destroy us as they once had.  What a spectacular vision it created for me.  How often in our diseased states and even in early sobriety did we let everyday mishaps and normal challenges penetrate our fragile exterior and drive us to difficult ends.

Some of us, like me, may have reacted to minor mishaps with near explosive rage.  Maybe family members pushed long-set psychic buttons with idle remarks; maybe a friend or acquaintance made a snide comment that stirred some long forgotten pain; or maybe some external unrelated event had a similar effect. 

Our recovery demands that we learn to deal with these events.  As we work the program with sponsors and with fellow recovering heroes we learn to let these events, these triggers, to slide off or around us much as Neo dodged the Matrix’s bullets.  The image is powerful…we just need to learn the intricate evasive moves for ourselves, using the tools we hear over and over again from all our Fellows.