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Does Gender Really Matter in Addiction?

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In recent years, researchers have learned a lot about how addiction affects men and women. Thanks to this research, we know about the biological, psychological and social factors that affect how men and women experience addiction.

Both genders struggle with addiction, though women tend to progress faster and often face more significant consequences. On the flip side, women are less likely to suffer from addiction. Both sexes do equally well in recovery, providing that their individual needs are met.

Let’s look at some of the main ways that addiction affects men and women differently.


By the numbers, drug and alcohol addiction is more common in men than women. However, this gap has been narrowing in recent years. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, men are twice as likely to meet the criteria for drug addiction as women (the rates of prescription drug abuse are similar). Men are also more likely than women to abuse alcohol.

Risk Factors

Men and women have various risk factors for addiction. Research shows that men tend to use drugs and alcohol to alter their mood and cope with social problems, whereas women are more likely to self-medicate and deal with psychological issues. Additionally, mental disorders like anxiety, depression and PTSD are more likely to affect women than men, which can increase the risk for substance abuse.


Addiction causes major consequences for both genders, though women tend to experience more significant hardships. First, women tend to progress faster from recreational use to dependency. Women are also likely to have addictions that are just as severe as men’s, even though they haven’t been using as long. Additional factors that affect women more than men include the risk of cancer, victimization, abuse, depression and PTSD.

Barriers to Treatment

Both genders have barriers to treatment, and some of these barriers depend on the socioeconomic status of the individual. That said, women tend to have more barriers standing in their way, such as child care arrangements, the cost of treatment and a lack of support at home. There is also a greater stigma for female addicts versus male addicts.

Response to Treatment

When men and women commit themselves to recovery, they are equally likely to succeed. Women and men have similar abstinence and relapse rates, though some research shows that women have shorter relapse periods and are more likely to seek help if they’ve relapsed. The most important thing is that addicts receive individualized care that addresses their specific needs.


It’s important to pay attention to the needs of female and male addicts. Knowing that women benefit from highly personalized and engaging therapy, a women’s only treatment program is an excellent alternative to a traditional program. It addresses the unique needs of female addicts and is conscious of the barriers they face. For more information on an exceptional gender-specific treatment program, call The River Source.

Why Our Success Rates are Higher than Most

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Addiction treatment centers help those who are struggling with substance abuse. However, not all rehabilitation facilities are the same. Some are more effective than others.

When selecting a rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to compare apples to apples. Treatment centers that address the whole self are more effective than ones that only treat the substance abuse.

The types of therapies offered also make a difference, as people respond differently to various treatments. When you choose a treatment center that delivers effective, research-based treatment, the chances of success at your recovery are higher.

How Can I Determine the Effectiveness of a Program?

Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the effectiveness of a treatment program. One factor that we are going to look at today is success rates. Why are success rates important? How are they determined?

Success rates are given in percentages. For example, if a rehab center has a success rate of 85 percent, it means that 85 out of 100 patients were treated effectively.

You can learn about success rates by visiting a treatment center’s website or by calling them directly. Not all rehab facilities openly share their success rates, but they should all be able to provide you with this information at your request. This shows that the program follows up with its patients and is able to validate the effectiveness of their treatment.

What are Average Success Rates in this Industry?

The River Source is happy to share our success rates, which are proudly posted on our website. We keep track of our success rates each year, and currently, we have a 76% success rate after one year. This sets a high standard for our industry, as anything over 50% is considered very good.

The average success rates for addiction treatment centers are roughly 30%, which is more consistent with overall relapse rates. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent.

How Do You Come Up with Your Success Rates?

When using terms like “85 percent effective” or “works in 85 percent of cases,” we have to ask ourselves what is working. Is it stopping the use of drugs? Decreased criminal activity? Improved social and emotional functioning?

While our goal is to return patients to normal functioning, it’s more difficult to measure this. Therefore, success rates only look at how many people remained sober compared to how many relapsed. For example, in 2015, The RS had 589 patients who remained sober within 12 months after treatment, while 170 relapsed. This brings us to our 76%.

When are Sobriety Checks Made?

Another important element to consider when evaluating success rates is how often sobriety checks are made. Many treatment centers will draw their numbers from immediate sobriety rates, which tend to be higher. A recovery program that delivers effective treatment will have high sobriety numbers a year or more after patients have completed treatment.

The River Source stays with our patients for 12 months. We make sobriety checks at:

  • 2 weeks
  • 30 days
  • 60 days
  • 90 days
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months

Unlike other treatment centers, we see consistent success rates throughout the first 12 months. In 2015, we saw a 79% success rate after 2 weeks and a 76% success rate at 12 months. We believe that patients have a greater chance of sticking to their recovery goals thanks to our strong continuing care program.

Why are Your Success Rates Higher than Most?

Our success rates tend to be higher than the industry average for a couple of reasons. First, we focus on healing the total person – mind, body and spirit. Other programs simply focus on stopping the substance abuse, but they don’t do anything more to address social and emotional issues.

While it’s more common for addiction rehab centers to deliver holistic treatment, many are new to this approach and just beginning to offer holistic therapies and counseling for social and emotional issues.

The River Source has been providing these types of services since our launching in 2003, and we were one of the first to provide nutritional IV therapy and infrared sauna sessions. Like other treatment centers, we have expanded on our program with new therapies, but the core of our program has always remained the same.

Second, The RS provides a full continuum of care that follows patients after they complete treatment. Our continuing care program makes this possible, and we maintain contact with our patients for up to one year. This allows us to make suggestions where appropriate, and it holds patients accountable. Included with our continuing care program is the use of our naturopathic clinic, alumni accountability, sobriety checks, 12-step meetings and online support.

The majority of our patients maintain their sobriety as long as they work at their recoveries. The doctors, nurses and counselors at our facility prepare them for the long road ahead by giving them the tools and life skills they need to transition into the real world. Unfortunately, not all addicts are ready to change or find themselves relapsing. For these patients, we have help available.

What Happens if Myself or a Loved One Relapses?

Recovery is a long term process, not something that is achieved with a 30 day stay in treatment. That’s why The RS has a comprehensive addiction treatment program that includes continuing care, but even this isn’t enough for everyone.

For patients that need to return to our treatment center, we have discounted rates. We hope that this makes subsequent treatment less intimidating and more affordable. Though it can be discouraging to relapse, it’s important to know that relapse is not failure. Some addicts need multiple rounds of treatment before they are able to stick to their goals.

When patients return for treatment, we don’t throw everything away and start from scratch. Rather, we build on the treatment that was received and work on some of the issues that haven’t been resolved. This means that no time spent in treatment is wasted. Subsequent treatment builds on past treatment, which is why additional stays in our residential facility can make the difference between staying sober and further relapses.

Another aspect of our program that we want to highlight is our recovery guarantee. If you complete our 90 day treatment program or our full continuum of care and you relapse for ANY reason within 12 months from the date you leave our center, you may come back for an appropriate, individualized treatment program at NO COST!

Thanks to our holistic approach, wide range of therapies, continuing care program and recovery guarantee, we are able to maintain consistently high success rates that other centers cannot compete with.

What are the Characteristics of a Strong Treatment Program?

The River Source cares about addicts and their families and wants to see people getting the help they need. While we hope that you choose our program for yourself or a loved one, the most important thing is that you get some form of help, even if it’s not through us.

To assist in your research, we’ve compiled a list of features that a treatment center should have to be successful. The time, energy and money that you put into treatment should set you on the track to sobriety, so it’s important to make your selection carefully.

Below are the elements that we find most important for a successful treatment program. Never hesitate to ask about the program’s success rates if they aren’t posted on the website.

  • Holistic Care: The best treatment centers address all aspects of health – mind, body and spirit. Simply addressing the substance abuse and not the underlying issues leaves a person at risk for relapse.
  • Naturopathic Detox: Detox is the first step in getting clean and sober. Look for a program that offers a medically supervised detox program with 24-hour support. Both conventional and alternative therapies should be offered to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Dual Diagnosis: Many people who suffer with substance abuse also have underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. These conditions need to be diagnosed and treated, otherwise they will interfere with a healthy recovery.
  • Personalized Treatment: Each patient is entirely unique, so cookie-cutter treatment plans are never effective. After receiving a full assessment and diagnosis, an individualized treatment plan should be written for each patient.
  • Wide Range of Therapies: Since people respond differently to treatments, it’s important for addiction treatment centers to offer varied therapies. Some of the most effective include IV therapy, infrared sauna, acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga. Nutrition, exercise and traditional counseling are also staples of any good program.
  • Family Support: Having a strong support network is highly important to staying sober. Unfortunately, not all recovering addicts return to a healthy environment. Look for programs that offer support and education to families in need.
  • Staff with Experience: Who better to understand what patients are going through than people who have already traveled this path. Some programs employ staff who are recovered addicts and capable of delivering the care, compassion and unique perspective that patients in recovery need.
  • Continuing Care: Treatment does not end when a patient walks through the door. It’s an ongoing process, and recovering addicts need extra help in their first year. The best programs deliver continued care and keep in contact with their patients.


The treatment center you choose for yourself or a loved one will have a significant impact on the success of your recovery. When you finally make the decision to seek treatment, make sure that you are thoughtful about the program you choose. Not all are created equal, and some deliver more effective treatment than others.

The success rate of a program is a quick way to determine how reliable the treatment is, but be sure that you pay attention to how the number is determined. If a treatment center has a high success rate after one month but not after one year, this tells you that sobriety tapers off. It could be because the program doesn’t offer enough continued care or follow up with their patients.

Ideally, a treatment center should have consistent success rates and be able to document their follow ups with patients throughout the first 12 months, just as The River Source does. For more information about our success rates and the effectiveness of our program, please call us today. Your call is confidential!

Emerging Drug Trends in 2017

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Drug use evolves each year in the U.S. Some of the most popular drugs at this time are synthetic or designer drugs. They are popular because they can be acquired in a number of ways (no need to hit the streets) and because they are technically “legal” and sold at affordable prices. Drug manufacturers are constantly tweaking their formulas so that users can abuse them in different forms and potencies.

As we move into 2017, we encourage you to keep on top of the latest drug trends. It never hurts to be informed!

“Pink” (U-47700)

In November, we wrote this blog post about Pink, a synthetic opioid that is eight times stronger than heroin. It’s a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has a high potential for addiction and no known medical use. Over the past year, Pink has been linked with 46 confirmed deaths in New York and North Carolina.

Pink is made synthetically in Chinese labs and imported to the U.S. The drug is extremely potent, even in small doses. You can learn more about Pink in this press release from the DEA.


Carfentanil is used as a sedative for large animals such as elephants. In the fall of 2016, the DEA issued a nationwide warning to the public and law enforcement about the misuse of carfentanil. The drug is one of the strongest opioids available – approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It’s also been linked to a high number of overdose deaths.


In August, the CDC released an alert to the public warning of the increase in fentanyl-related deaths. The synthetic opioid is extremely powerful – 50 times stronger than heroin.

Fentanyl-laced heroin was linked to an increase in overdose deaths in Indiana and Ohio in August. Counterfeit pills mixed with the drug gained attention from the DEA as well. This DEA report will tell you more information about the types of medications that may be affected.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic marijuana like K2 and Spice continue to be on the radar for law enforcement. These synthetic drugs can cause adverse health effects and land users in the emergency room due to extreme lethargy, suppressed breathing or agitated behavior. Though synthetic cannabinoids are sold under a number of names and made to look like “fake weed,” they are much more powerful and can lead to death in some cases.

As we enter 2017, we expect to see more of synthetic and designer drugs because of their accessibility, availability and attractive price points. However, these drugs are highly dangerous and extremely addictive. A small amount can be fatal. If you suspect that someone is abusing these drugs, call The River Source to learn about treatment options.

Pink: A New Drug That’s Stronger Than Heroin

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Pink is a drug that is already popping up in the news because of its devastating and potentially deadly effects. In September of this year, two 13-year-old boys from Park City, Utah died within 48 hours of each other. The synthetic opioid, Pink, was delivered to their homes by U.S. mail and done so legally. Investigators discovered that teens from the area were discussing the drug on Snapchat and other social media networks prior to the boys’ deaths.

What is Pink?

Pink is known to chemists as U-47700, and it’s eight times stronger than heroin. It’s a synthetic opioid that is similar to carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl and ifentanyl. All of these synthetic drugs are stronger and more powerful than heroin, and they are often mixed with other drugs or alcohol to create more profound effects. Drugs like Pink are killing people across the country and have become a serious public health concern.

Isn’t it Illegal?

At this time, only four states have made Pink illegal. It can be purchased online and delivered legally to the home because it is made from compounds found in laboratories. These compounds are not meant for human consumption, however.

Keeping Pink out of people’s hands – at least right now – poses a challenge. What health officials hope to do in the meantime is spread the word about just how dangerous Pink is. It’s estimated that 80 Pink deaths have occurred across the country in just nine months. That number is probably even higher because of the various synthetics on the market that can be difficult to separate from each other, as well as delays in toxicology reports.

What is Being Done to Fix the Problem?

On September 7, the DEA took initial steps to make Pink illegal in all 50 states. The DEA gave notice that it will be scheduling Pink temporarily as a Schedule I substance. Of course, not all states are waiting for the federal ban. Florida, Ohio, Wyoming and Georgia are four states that have banned Pink, and other states are looking to follow.

Pink has similar challenges to other synthetic drugs, however. Law enforcement is just becoming aware of it, and it takes time to uncover what the structure of the drug is. By the time that it is discovered, illegal drug manufactures are usually on to other variants.

The first step in this process is to place temporary bans on certain compounds, as is the case with U-47700. The ban gives the DEA three years to research the compound and decide if it should be controlled or not.

Prevention Starts at Home

As always, prevention starts at the home. Talk to loved ones about the dangers of synthetic drugs. If you have young kids or teens in the home, monitor their screen time. Know what they’re doing online and on social media, and be aware of who they’re hanging out with. Educate yourself on the signs of drug abuse, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a treatment center such as The River Source.

Celebrate November Month As National Gratitude Month

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National Gratitude Month is conveniently celebrated in November, and you’ve probably already seen some of the many “30 Days of Thanks” challenges on social media. This exercise is wonderful for all individuals, but it’s especially constructive for recovering addicts.

Importance of Gratitude in Recovery

Whether you’re a newly recovering addict or a long-term one, we can all appreciate the meaning behind gratitude. As we take the time to be grateful for what we have, we become happier in our lives.
As you probably already know, gratitude is more than saying ‘thank you.’ It has the amazing power to shift negative thinking into positive thinking. By practicing gratitude each day, you can develop a deeper connection with yourself and the world around you.

Ideas for Expressing Gratitude

We strongly encourage you to take part in a “30 Days of Thanks” challenge. It doesn’t have to be one on social media. Your journey is a very personal one, and we understand that you might not want to share that online. Instead, start a journal or personal blog and take the time to write down one thing that you are grateful for each day.

Aside from writing things down, you can also express gratitude in your daily life. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Thank someone for being a positive influence on your recovery.
  • Call someone that you haven’t talked to in a while. Let them know how important they are to you.
  • Take a picture of something or someone that you are grateful for.
  • Smile at others and offer to assist with small tasks, such as holding a door open or offering to help load groceries. You can turn someone’s day around!  
  • Send thank you notes to those who deserve recognition. Has anyone helped with the kids? Given you a ride to work? Brought over a meal?
  • Enjoy the people around you. Appreciate their personalities and unique qualities.
  • Donate your time to helping others. Food pantries, homeless shelters, animal shelters and toy drives are in special need during this time of the year.
  • Model patience and wisdom throughout the month of November. It will be hard – but imagine the behavior changes that can be made!
  • Choose one of your five senses to focus on for the day. Use it to further experience the things around you.
  • See the world through the eyes of a child. Better yet, spend some time with a child. Take in each moment, let your guard down and stop worrying about what’s not in your control.

It’s not too late to start a “30 Days of Thanks” challenge. Who knows – it might get you thinking more positively and regularly expressing gratitude each day!

Is Spice Safer than Marijuana?

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Cannabis Flowers Hydroponics Indoors

Spice is a type of synthetic marijuana that gives users a similar high. Yet just because it’s “fake” does not mean that it’s any less dangerous. As a matter of fact, Spice is more dangerous than weed and has a wide range of severe effects that include seizures, heart palpitations, fever, dehydration and even psychotic episodes.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Marijuana comes from the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant, otherwise known as the hemp plant. The dried, shredded leaves are often smoked, and the compound THC is what gives users a “high” feeling. Though marijuana can be addictive and is abused by some, it generally does not make people sick.

Spice is a whole different story. It’s made from various chemical compounds and is very easy to manufacture. The DEA has taken steps to ban the chemicals used to make Spice, but different versions have come out over the years. As much as law enforcement tries to keep up, illegal street chemists seem to be one step ahead.

What Makes Spice So Dangerous?

Marijuana is by no means considered safe, but Spice takes things to a whole new level. Cannabis is a natural substance, whereas synthetic marijuana comes from a basil or oregano type plant and is sprayed with chemicals to give users the “high” effect.

When a person obtains a package of synthetic marijuana – which might be sold in a head shop, gas station or small grocery store – they have no idea of what they are getting. The chemical compounds are not regulated, so users don’t know what types of chemicals are contained in the batch or their quantity.

Most of the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana were never intended for human consumption in the first place but rather for use in a laboratory. Not only can these compounds have harmful effects on the brain and body, but also they have deadly interactions when combined with other drugs, including legal and illegal substances and alcohol.

What if I Know Someone Using Spice?

Synthetic marijuana is contributing to the growing problem of designer drugs. The fact that they are accessible and legal doesn’t make the situation any easier. However, you can help by sharing information about the dangers of Spice. It is NOT the same as marijuana and is actually more dangerous and harmful. Also, if you know someone who may be using synthetic drugs, encourage them to connect with a treatment center such as The River Source.