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Does Meditation Really Work?

March 5, 2012

You’ve probably heard that meditation can help with stress relief and other conditions. What you may not know is that there is actually clinical evidence that meditation is effective. The evidence shows that meditation may help to rewire the brain, effectively helping to modify behavior, cravings, and triggers. It is also being proven over and over again that meditation is very helpful in battling mental illness.

Meditation is a big part of the treatment at Serenity Acres. Our patients report it helps them to feel centered, grounded, and ready to tackle the day. We integrate meditation into our morning groups, yoga, acupuncture, and encourage patients to practice during free time.

In many cases, people turn to drugs and alcohol to self medicate. They are often trying to minimize the effects of anxiety, depression, trauma, or pain. Meditation can help to bring you into a state of awareness where you can then use other tools to deal with the issues above, rather than being stuck in a cycle of pain (mental and physical). Meditation does not eliminate your problems, but it does provide a valuable way to evaluate them and then deal with them accordingly. This helps to minimize everyday stress that is contributing to a drug or alcohol addiction.

The best part is that unlike therapy, massage, acupuncture, and other modalities, meditation is free. So once you learn how to effectively meditate, it can become a lifelong process to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, depression, and many other emotions.

Why wait? Start today! To learn more about the program at Serenity Acres, call 800-335-7440

Dissociative Identity Disorder and Addiction

February 27, 2012

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is commonly known or referred to as multiple personality disorder. When we think of DID, we generally think of extreme cases (Sybil comes to mind). However, as with any disease or illness, there is a spectrum, from the mild to the severe.

In the general public, it is estimated that up to 3% of the population is suffering from DID. In the substance abuse, eating disorder, and OCD population, it is believed that up to 5% of the population suffers from DID.

Symptoms of DID
The symptoms of DID include the following:
Current memory loss of everyday events
Disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states
Distortion or loss of subjective time
Flashbacks of abuse/trauma
Frequent panic/anxiety attacks
Identity confusion
Mood swings
Multiple mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs
Pseudo-seizures or other conversion symptoms
Psychotic-like symptoms such as hearing voices and other Schneiderian first-rank symptoms
Self-alteration (feeling as if one’s body belongs to someone else)
Somatic symptoms that vary across identities
Sudden anger without a justified cause
Spontaneous trance states
Suicidal and para-suicidal behaviors (such as self injury)
Unexplainable phobias

Often, it is believed that DID develops from PTSD or other traumas. This is not proven, however, but in clinical experience, they often go together. Whether or not the trauma causes the DID is up for debate.


It is believed that DID is under diagnosed due to several reasons. Most clinicians have been taught that DID is very rare and presents dramatically. The reality is that the signs are generally subtle and can seem to come and go. There is generally a “window of diagnosability” that is easily missed. A typical DID patient shows a variety of symptoms that mix dissociative and PTSD symptoms that generally also come along with non trauma-related symptoms (depression, panic attacks, substance abuse, etc). The non trauma symptoms are more familiar and present more consistently than the DID symptoms, often leading to misdiagnosis.

Practitioners also often use the same standard diagnostic interview tools that often do not include questions about dissociation, PTSD symptoms,or a history of psychological trauma. DID patients rarely volunteer information about their symptoms, so if a practitioner does not specifically screen for these symptoms, the diagnosis will not be made. Even if a patient volunteers information that would suggest DID, practitioners are not trained to recognize the symptoms and may tend to misdiagnose the patient according to other more common symptoms.

Getting Help

If you think you may have DID along with your substance abuse problem, it’s important that you choose a treatment program that is well versed in diagnosing and treating both. As always, being honest and up front about what is going on in your life will help you to get the best treatment.

At Serenity Acres, our counselors and therapists are trained to screen for DID as well as other co-occurring disorders. We can then provide the most individualized and specialized treatment possible. If you have questions or would like more information, please call 800-335-7440

Anxiety and Drug Addiction

January 12, 2012

One of the most common co-occurring disorders that we see is anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders come in many forms: panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress syndrome, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal feeling. From time to time, everyone experiences some level of anxiety no matter how calm or relaxed they are in general. Financial stress? Fighting with your spouse? Car trouble? Your kids having trouble at school? Anxiety is a normal and natural reaction.

But for some people, anxiety comes without an obvious stressor. Sometimes the level of anxiety can be continuous or above and beyond the intensity of the issue at hand, so much so that normal life stops completely. This is generally a sign of an anxiety disorder. Each anxiety disorder has its own symptoms and characteristics. A dual diagnosis drug rehab facility can help no matter which anxiety disorder you suffer from.

How Does Anxiety Affect Addiction?
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders turn to drugs and alcohol to self medicate. They may want to forget, “turn off their brain”, or just use something to make them sleep. This can lead to abuse and addiction of drugs and alcohol.

With proper treatment, you can often find relief from your anxiety and learn new ways to manage it when it does occur. This can help you stop abusing substances and improve your overall quality of life.

At Serenity Acres, we use many techniques for managing and controlling anxiety. These techniques range from meditation, physical activity, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, and many more. When you leave Serenity Acres, you have many ways to manage your anxiety disorder in a healthy way. Our goal is to not only get you off of drugs and alcohol, but also to improve the overall quality of your life in every aspect.

If you have questions about anxiety and addiction, please call an experienced member of our team at 800-335-7440. We are here to help!

Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

December 2, 2011

When you are suffering from addictions to drugs and/or alcohol along with a co-occurring disorder, you may struggle with the knowledge that something is wrong and with the fear and worry brought on by this awareness. These problems are often characterized by odd behavior and unhealthy thinking patterns. It can be very upsetting to not know the cause of these behaviors for both the addict and their loved ones. The awareness that your life experience is not “normal” can create many emotions like fear and shame.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A person struggling with these issues often wishes to be like everyone else and hopes that their issues will resolve themselves and go away. Loved ones who recognize that someone is struggling with addiction may also sense there are multiple layers to that suffering but are unsure and reluctant to broach the subject out of fear. Acknowledging the addiction and the co-occurring disorder is the first step in getting treatment that works. At Serenity Acres, we have a team of specialists that work specifically with co-occurring disorders to ensure that everyone on your treatment team is providing well rounded treatment tailored just to you.

There are many approaches to treating both addiction and psychological disorders. Typically, co-occurring disorders have been treated separately in non-integrated services. This course of treatment is beneficial for an individual with one condition, but for those suffering from addiction on top of the co-occurring disorder, it can cause the treatment process to be unsuccessful or to take much longer than necessary. Lasting recovery for the individual committed to change and healing can be delayed while time, hope and money slowly fade. At Serenity Acres, we use a wide team of specialists in addition to many different modalities such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 12-Step education, and more. Utilizing this unique approach is very effective and can shorten the amount of time a person needs to spend in treatment.

The term co-occurring disorder (or dual diagnosis) refers to an individual having one or more substance abuse disorders and one or more psychiatric disorders at the same time. These psychiatric issues can be depression, anxiety, bi polar disorder, or any other type of psychiatric disorder.

Diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring conditions focus on both addiction and the psychiatric conditions that interfere with the person’s ability to function effectively and their physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being. While the co-occurring conditions are separate and independent, interaction between the conditions makes treatment and recovery more complex.

The prevalence of co-occurring conditions is difficult to accurately capture; however, a well-designed study of addiction and psychiatric disorders* found a 79 percent rate of co-occurring disorders among individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for any single disorder. These diagnoses included severe to mild-moderate psychiatric diagnoses such as severe conditions of schizophrenia to mild-moderate conditions of anxiety or panic, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder.

The Serenity Acres Difference

It is our goal to provide the best clinical practices to serve individuals and their families in the treatment of co-occurring conditions. Our treatment model is based on taking the most effective holistic and traditional practices and blending them to provide a completely unique way of understanding and treating these conditions.

Starting the Healing

Successful treatment of co-occurring conditions creates awareness, understanding and the opportunity for change. Education and research on conditions that affect the body, mind, and spirit provide hope to those who experience a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. The many modalities offered at Serenity Acres treat the mind, body, & spirit simultaneously. If the individual is not ready for change, acknowledgement of the conditions by loved ones will nonetheless help to create an environment conducive to future wellness and healing.

If you or a loved one need help with addiction or addiction along with a co-occurring disorder, please call us 24 hours a day 800-335-7440

The Signs Of Alcoholism

November 10, 2011

Am I an Alcoholic? That is a good question. Unfortunately only you can determine if you are or not. However if you’re asking that question than chances are you at least may have a problem with drinking. There are signs that can help confirm a self diagnosis.

Early signs of alcoholism include frequent intoxication, heavy drinking and drinking in dangerous or careless situations, such as when driving. Progressive signs of alcoholism include black-out drinking, violence and drinking while alone. Of course the main symptom of alcohol abuse occurs when someone continues to drink after that level causes recurrent problems. Continuing to drink after it causes missed work, driving drunk, avoiding responsibilities or trouble with the law is considered alcohol abuse. The next stage would be dependence.

The alcohol dependence stage is when the person experiences at least 3 of 7 symptoms including neglect of activities, excessive use, impaired control of alcohol consumption, persistence use, large amounts of time spent in alcohol-related activities, withdrawal symptoms and tolerance of alcohol. Alcohol dependence is serious and is life threatening.

Alcoholism can be treated. That said that it should be under the supervision of a medical doctor and/or licensed treatment center. Serenity Acres provides a structured and supportive environment to help you stop drinking. Your comfort is our concern. We want to help you get your life back. If you or a loved one has a problem we would welcome the opportunity to work with you. Please call us with any questions you may have. Alcoholism is serious and you don’t have to do it alone. Are you ready?


YOU the Individual

August 30, 2011

Ever wonder why so many addictions treatment centers fail? Because they treat the addiction and not the person. Addiction is a complicated disease. And usually with addiction there is often a co-occurring disorder. Treating addiction with a “one size fits all” philosophy will often lead to a relapse because the individual may not receive key areas of treatment that will be important to them.

Did you know that in many treatment centers you will only see your counselor for a individual session one maybe two times a week? This can be achieved on an outpatient basis, so it seems wasteful to spend the huge extra expense to do this in an inpatient setting. How can you effectively be treated without personalized attention? You really can’t. Here at Serenity Acres you will see your counselor individually at least 5 times a week. That is our commitment to you. In addition to your groups and other therapies, you will get the individual attention that you deserve and need.

We also have specialized therapists for co-occurring disorders that our patients see as needed. We find out what YOU need and then make your schedule based on that, not a template schedule that everyone follows.

Our strength lies in our customized program. Yes we follow a schedule. But as we learn about you and your needs, we work hard to see that those needs are met. Having your primary counselor that you work with daily will assure you that nothing falls through the cracks. Your counselor will help coordinate additional therapies that meet your needs in a timely manner. Without your daily check-ins with your counselor, some needs would get missed.

Serenity Acres embraces you the individual. Find out for yourself how working with a counselor daily can make the difference between relapse and staying clean. Of course we know that there are no guarantees, but we do like our odds.

If you or someone you love could benefit from this type of individualized and intense treatment, please call us 24 hours a day to discuss their needs: 800-335-7440

Prescription Painkiller Addiction

August 26, 2011

Prescription pain medication addiction is a growing problem in the US. An estimated 5.2 million people used prescription pain relievers in 2006 for nonmedical reasons, up from 4.7 million in 2005, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s more than twice the 2.4 million people the department estimates use cocaine nationwide. It is believed that nearly 5 percent of the total adult population in the Unites States abuses or misuses prescription drugs and painkillers, like OxyContin, morphine and Vicodin. When improperly used or misused, these types of drugs cause severe addiction and dependence, and if a person becomes addicted and stops taking the drug, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The longer someone takes or abuses prescription pain meds, the more and more they require in order to achieve the same effect or feeling in their body. If they finally choose to stop, the withdrawal symptoms they experience will be proportional to how addicted they are and how long they have been taking the drug. Serenity Acres helps people recover from the disease of drug addiction , including prescription painkiller addiction. Using a unique combination of holistic and traditional techniques allows us to effectively meet the unique needs of each of our patients, and our expertly trained staff of physicians and therapists helps people make the journey from addiction to recovery.

Prescription Painkiller Withdrawal: Physical Symptoms to Expect

During withdrawal, drug use is ceased to allow the body to rid itself of all toxins and chemicals that built up during the addictive cycle. Withdrawal occurs during detox, and can include things like depression, anxiety, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, migraines and night sweats. The symptoms produced during withdrawal/detox are the polar opposite of those that are experienced while taking the drug, but it is necessary to go through detox in order to help the body heal.

Prescription Painkiller Detox: Fighting Physical Withdrawal

Although prescription painkillers form a physical addiction and dependence in the body, there are ways to fight back. There are several FDA-approved medications that are used during detox to help fight both the withdrawal symptoms and the physical cravings for prescription painkiller drugs. Most of our patients will use Suboxone therapy for a period of about 3 weeks in order to help ease the physical symptoms and cravings for prescription pain meds. This, combined with supportive treatments such as massage, acupuncture, a healthy diet, etc helps to ease withdrawal and promote recovery.

Prescription Painkiller Detox: Possible Complications

The complication that most people are at risk for during detox is that they will return to their drug habits after detox has concluded. This puts them at risk for accidental overdose which can lead to serious injury or death. Overdose can occur because, during detox, their bodies have become less tolerant towards the drug they were taking. Thus, if they suddenly start taking the drug again at the same level they were when they previously stopped, their body will be unable to handle the levels and they can suffer from overdose.

Prescription Painkiller Treatment

Serenity Acres can help you or your loved one recover from your prescription painkiller addiction. We have an extremely experienced treatment team who utilize the best of Eastern and Western medicine to help patients through this difficult time. We use our sauna detoxification program to help eliminate residual toxins and drug residue from the body, limiting the future cravings for those drugs. We will teach patients to re-establish a positive relationship with themselves and their life, and find new goals and ways of living that may have become lost or buried due to your addiction.

If you or a loved one would like more information about recovering from a prescription pain medication addiction, please call us 24 hours a day at 800-335-7440

Marijuana Addiction

August 22, 2011

By Vance Larson C.H.H.C.,, CTC

We often hear that marijuana is not addictive. Not only is it addictive, but there are some very real consequences that come along with its use. A vast majority of people lean on the side that marijuana should be legal. Legal or not, marijuana use will eventually take a toll on the user.

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug which ranks as the most popular illegal drug used in the U.S. Studies show one-third of Americans have used marijuana at some point in their lives. A combination of dried flowers, leaves and stems from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, its active ingredient is THC. Yes there is some therapeutic value from marijuana, but the long term use often results to respiratory problems, infections and increased risk of certain cancers. Short term risk are anxiety, paranoia and memory loss.

Cravings and withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana user to stop abusing the drug. Although not as dangerous as quitting alcohol, it can be a very unpleasant experience. Whatever stance you take on marijuana use, know that it can indeed lead to addiction. And if you feel that you are addicted, please seek treatment from a licensed treatment facility or physician.
Marijuana use can lead to addiction.

Yes its real. Yes its addictive. 800-335-7440

Women and Addiction

August 15, 2011

Though drug addiction affects both men and women, it affects women differently. The differences show up during addiction and it is through a treatment plan that is geared specifically toward women.
Serenity Acres treats both men and women with an emphasis on individualized treatment that deals with gender issues as well as other unique issues. Because we mix traditional therapy with holistic methods, our treatment is comprehensive and all encompassing.

The Physical and Mental Dangers of Addiction and Women
The likelihood of a woman using and becoming addicted to drugs is just as high as that for a male. Women typically become addicted more quickly and more severely than men. Significant problems for women due to drug addiction include extreme weight loss and poor nutrition, depression and other mental disorders, low self-esteem, infectious diseases including sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, heart health and blood pressure problems. A history of physical or sexual abuse often contributes to addiction issues in women.
The Silent Danger: HIV/AIDS
In any addict, male or female, the risk of contracting infectious diseases through sex or IV drug use is higher than that of the general population. HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death for women between the ages of 12 and 45 in the United States. Whether they share contaminated drug paraphernalia or have sex with infected partners while under the influence, drug addiction increases a woman’s chances that she will contract HIV. About 62 percent of women with HIV contracted the virus due to needles or by having sex with an IV drug user. If these women are pregnant or become pregnant while infected and don’t know their status, the risk extends to the baby as well.
Getting Help Before It’s Too Late
Women, in general, are less likely to get the drug addiction treatment they need than are men. Reasons for this include wanting to avoid the stigma associated with drug addiction and drug rehab and trying to “self-treat” or quit at home without help. Women may fear losing their children, losing their job, going to jail or other consequences. Women may need assistance with childcare or medical attention if they are pregnant that many drug rehabilitation centers may not offer.
Serenity Acres and the Addicted Woman
At Serenity Acres, we offer everything that a woman needs to get the treatment that she needs. From an specialized, woman focused treatment plan, therapists trained in women’s issues, specialized nutrition plans, and more. Treatment plans are constantly re-assessed and altered as necessary to make sure that each woman receives the attention she needs. If you have questions about what we have to offer women at Serenity Acres, contact us today at 800-335-7440

Three Key Truths

August 8, 2011

There is no denying that drug and alcohol addiction can be devastating. However with that said, with addiction being a life long disease, you can increase your chances of getting and staying clean. I like to refer to them as the 3 Key Truths.

The first and most fundamental truth is that you have to admit that you have a problem. Without this truth you cannot be helped. It is for this reason why so many interventions do not work. Secondly your treatment should address the whole person. For example treating just addiction for someone with a dual diagnosis will most likely result in relapse. It is important that the Treatment Center that you attend is qualified to address and treat co-occurring disorders. Here at Serenity Acres we have an expert team of doctors, therapist, counselors and facilitators to work with and treat those with a dual diagnosis. And the last Key Truth is take your treatment seriously. As you respect your process you begin to respect yourself. Many addicts have become disconnected to personal care and develop a poor self image. By giving yourself the respect of getting treatment, you begin to develop a healthier you.

In addition to the 3 Key Truths you can do so much more to enhance your sobriety and clean time. Getting a supportive network will be extremely helpful. I recommend the 12 Step model, but there are other programs that are effective if the 12 Steps are not for you. Take an active interest in diet and exercise. Years of abuse often take a toll on the addicts body. Work with your doctor to see which kind of exercise program would be a good fit for you. Lastly get into an aftercare program.

If you have any questions at all, give us a call at Serenity Acres and one of our trained counselors would be more than happy to assist you. Let our years of experience put you on the road to lasting recovery. 800-335-7440