Advice for Living Sober in Chicago | Stairway to Freedom

Opioid Abuse: Deadly Statistics To Know

Statistics on Opioid Abuse

While some research reports indicate that the opioid crisis is beginning to level off, for millions the opiod problem is only getting wrose and the impact will undoubtedly be felt for generations.

Now is the time, however, to turn around and ascend the stairway to freedom, unshackling yourself or your loved ones from the chains of this devastating epidemic.

The more that everyone knows about opioid abuse and opioid addiction (and the steps to opioid recovery) the easier it will be to change course. Consider the following statistics on opioid abuse and the devastating impact it has already had on our communities.

  • The probability of dying from opioids has surpassed the likelihood of being killed in a car crash (National Safety Council).
  • Opioids contributed to the overwhelming majority – 69 percent – of fatal drug overdoses in 2016, totalling 37,814 deaths, according to the NSC.
  • In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999. (Annual Review of Public Health)
  • On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose (National Center of Health Statistics)
  • In 2016, health care providers across the US wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication—a rate of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people.
  • The CDC estimates the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the US is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
  • The U.S. could have 81,700 opioid overdose deaths per year by 2025

These are scary numbers but there are steps that we can all take to minimize and prevent these problems from getting worse. Improving access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services is the best way prevent the many health, social, and economic ills that are caused by opioid addiction and enable individuals to start out on the road to long-term recovery.

Advancing the practice of pain management to enable access to high-quality, evidence-based pain care that reduces the burden of pain for individuals, families, and society while also reducing the inappropriate use of opioids and opioid-related harms.

For those struggling now with opioid addiction, the best course of action is to review the steps to recovery and join a sober living community in Chicago that is committed to your success. Learn more about sober living at Stairway to Freedom and get started today on the road to recovery.


Mindfulness Meditation and Addiction Recovery

Addiction comes in many forms and the effects it can have on physical and mental health can be substantial. Fortunately, there are some practices that those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction can engage in to dramatically improve their chances of recovery.

Most people abuse drugs and alcohol because they believe it provides a “distraction”. It is one of the few things that addicts routinely claim offers them any true comfort. Relief from the irritations and agitations experienced in a normal daily life. Addicts in essence want to “fill the void”, the hollowness that is so incredibly common in modern society – that overwhelming sense that things are just ever so slightly out of reach.

Drugs and alcohol, however mistakenly, are essentially seen and used as solutions to the problem of this inner angst. Regardless of the substance you or a loved one are struggling with, there are better options available that can be used to improve mental and physical health and someone’s station in life – and it has been used for millennia as a way to feel more connected with ourselves and our place within the universe; it’s called meditation.

Any mention of meditation, of course, often conjures up images of yogis sitting with crossed legs on a mountain top. There are actually many ways to meditate – transcendental meditation, breath awareness meditation, progressive relaxation, and the type that has captured the attention of health and wellness experts the world over recently, mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully immersed in what is happening. That means being aware of what you are doing in a particular moment and to your surroundings – and nothing else.

Using mindfulness meditation for addiction recovery is a good option because the practice requires people/addicts to be fully present, aware of where they are and what they are doing and not reacting to everything happening outside of their own mind – which can be distracting and lead to situations where less than optimal decisions are made.

Take a look at the benefits of mindfulness meditation and how you can to get started with the practice.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Addicts

In addition to a generally improved level of health and quality of life, those in recovery that start to meditate also notice reduced anxiety and depression. The better concentration leads to a better ability to cope with typical stresses. With such a strong foundation, it is easy to see how the practice of mindfulness meditation can improve the long-term chances of recovery from addiction.

Mindfulness meditation does have its detractors, of course, primarily because it is seen as trivial, but the benefits of regular meditation are often proven significant and its impact on addiction can be notable.

Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Everyone does mindfulness meditation a little differently. Here are some basics:

+ Designate a certain time of day and the length of time you will meditate.

+ Find a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.

+ Sit up straight with your hands laid gently on one another in your lap.

+ Intentionally relax your muscles and take several slow, deep breaths.

+ As you exhale, physically imagine you are dropping your worries like a heavy bag.

+ Focus on your breath; it’s pace, volume, even temperature.

+ Start with a few minutes each day and keep building.

The Secret to Mindfulness Meditation

As your mind and body have begun to relax, the next step is to bring your attention back to your thoughts and feelings. Everything – from the memories and images in your mind to the wishes and life plans is critical to address. That might seem counterintuitive to the concept of meditating but mindfulness meditation is not about thinking. Instead, it is about being aware these feelings exist and becoming comfortable with them.

Meditation is not a substitute for a formal recovery plan but it can provide those suffering from addiction greater confidence and peace of mind.

Can meditation really help with addiction?

The reason that mindfulness meditation is so powerful is that it helps those recovering to focus energy on what is important. This includes your relationship with yourself, a sense of connection with others and the world around us.

Substance abuse is a serious issue but those suffering from addiction have options. While mindfulness meditation is effective, recovering addicts should consider the services of a halfway home, which is where Stairway to Freedom Sober Living can help. Located in the Chicago area, our sober living community is an alternative to a traditional halfway home and offers the support and structure that you or your loved one needs for long-term recovery.

Learn more about our sober living facilities in Chicago and get started on the road to recovery.


Read more about addiction recovery and sober living from Stairway to Freedom:


What is Substance Abuse?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, illicit drug use costs the United States approximately $181 billion every year, while excessive alcohol use costs the U.S. approximately $235 billion annually, so to say that substance abuse is a problem in this country would be an incredible understatement. Literally millions of people abuse drugs and alcohol on a daily basis, and while substances like heroin and cocaine often are front and center of this epidemic, even the more “innocuous” substances like marijuana and alcohol can be just as problematic.

What is the Definition of Substance Abuse?

The overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.

Substance abuse often is used interchangeably with drug abuse for this very reason, but more and more often people are finding ways to abuse other substances, such as household cleaners and gasoline, in an attempt to get high. In other words, substance abuse occurs when someone is using a substance not intended to be ingested as a means of intoxication.

Drug Dependence & Drug Addiction

For many people who experiment with drugs and other substances, recreational use is how addiction cuts its teeth. What starts as something that could be perceived as kind of fun turns into dependence and a constant need to maintain those highs. This recreational use quickly can turn compulsory, which is where addiction begins to rear its ugly head.

Once a person moves from occasional recreational use into depending and ultimately addiction, the effects on a person’s social, emotional, and physical well-being can be disastrous. By the time addiction sets in, a substance abuser may require serious medical treatment and counseling to kick their habit.

Prescription Drug Abuse

As dangerous as drugs like heroin and cocaine are, one of the fastest-growing areas of substance abuse in the U.S. is prescription drug abuse. Most often, these come in the guise of painkillers that appear safe because they have been prescribed by a doctor for legitimate means. However, people can develop a dependence on these drugs fairly quickly, largely because they are perceived as being safer.

Unfortunately, these can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs. In 2010, opiate painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and morphine were responsible for nearly 60 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. Addiction to prescription drugs is a real and growing problem and is one of the most common examples of substance abuse today.

Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse

While substance abuse obviously is a prevalent problem in the United States, it’s not as if those suffering from addiction are without options. There are a number of options available for people hoping to get clean and sober, including everything from detox to rehab to counseling.

After going through a treatment program or rehab, recovering addicts may seek out the services of a halfway home, which is where Stairway to Freedom Sober Living can assist with the process of getting clean. Located in the Chicago area, our sober living communityis an alternative to a traditional halfway home and offers the support and structure that you or your loved ones need for long-term recovery.

Learn more about sober living in Chicago and get started on the road to recovery.

Four Potential Addiction Relapse Triggers


Getting sober is not easy, but statistics continue to show that staying sober is even harder. Recovering addicts put so much time, sweat, pain and energy into getting healthy, but all of that hard work can disappear incredibly quickly, often without the person in recovery even realizing it’s happening. As many as 60 percent of people in recovery relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and that relapse can start long before someone actually returns to using.

Knowing how fragile recovery can be, we here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living have put together this list of four potential addiction relapse triggers to help those in recovery avoid those drug and alcohol relapse triggers by understanding the warning signs that come along with them. Stress and anxiety obviously are two of the largest problems, but there many others, including:

#1 Overconfidence

There is a certain level of exhilaration that comes on the heels of finishing a rehab program and putting oneself on the right course toward recovery, and self-confidence is a really important part of that process. However, growing overconfident, believing you are “cured” and no longer need to make use of the services that have been so helpful to date, can be a big problem. Be confident, but stay humble. No recovering addict should ever tell themselves they are “cured” from substance abuse disorders. Addiction just doesn’t work that way.

#2 Ending a Relationship

Stress is one of the biggest triggers in addiction recovery, but seeing a relationship of any sort fall apart is the sort of thing that can push someone in recovery to use again. Losing an important person in your life causes a swirl of confusing emotions, and someone in recovery may take that as an excuse to start using again.

#3 Television

We look at TV as a distraction, but escaping from reality and going mindless behind the television can take away one’s focus on recovery. Not only that, but some recovering addicts have found that seeing drug or alcohol use on TV can trigger their desire to begin using again, so there are a number of ways that watching TV could trigger someone in recovery.

#4 Troublesome Anniversaries

There are dates on everybody’s calendars that bring with them a certain measure of grief and stress, whether that be the anniversary of a loved one’s death or an estranged family member’s birthday. Whatever the troublesome anniversary may be, knowing it’s coming, practicing the proper coping skills, and seeking help for those days can help people in recovery avoid a relapse.

While people in recovery will do their due diligence by staying on top of their treatment program and attending support groups, the fact is that there are certain alcohol and drug relapse triggers that can cause big problems for people working so hard to get their lives back. Here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living, we want to see every person in our halfway house and sober living homes making the most of the recovery process, and that means avoiding some of these triggers. Of course, knowing what those addiction relapse triggers are is the first step in avoiding them.


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