Prescription Painkillers Drive 91% Increase in Teen Poisoning Deaths

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides a chilling statistic driven by teenage prescription drug use. Almost twice as many teens died from poisoning in 2009 compared to 2000. The reason for the alarming increase, according to the report, is an increase in teen use of prescription painkillers like Demerol, Percocet, Vicodin, and Oxycodone. These powerful painkillers are opiates, classed in the same category of drugs as heroin. They are highly addictive and extremely dangerous.

Love yourself enough to seek help with addictions this Valentine's Day

There is no doubt that substance abuse and addiction is difficult during every season of the year. Once the rush of the holiday season, balancing work and holiday time off, and a long few days of travel to see friends and family is over; all that is left is getting back to ‘normal’. January is a month full of change and resolutions, so making time to cope with personal hardships (like addiction and substance abuse) is put at the bottom of your to-do list. As February approaches, the usual hustle of preparing for a magical and romantic Valentine’s Day for you and a significant other, spouse, or partner takes priority. This reveals the real question: is there ever time to get help for myself?

Realizing that you are important enough to get help is the first step on your journey to navigate out of the dark path of addiction and substance abuse to a healthier life. The problems associated with addiction and substance abuse seem to start out slowly and pick up speed in what seems like no time at all. Using and abusing substances affects your life, the life of your friends, family members, children, co-workers, and everyone else you interact with on a daily basis. What began as a coping method for stress or an activity during your downtime quickly becomes a lifestyle and the center point of many more problems. To take charge of the cycle of use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is often the hardest part of the recovery and healing process; and takes courage and support. The process of recovery requires resources to get the help that you need in order to control the substances that have a strong grip on your personal life. Mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment are the vital next steps in the process of your recovery. Overall, wanting to live your life as the healthiest and most well person you can be is reason enough to seek help for addictions for the holiday of celebrating love. Loving yourself enough to get help is a magical and romantic thing that can give you back a healthy fresh start to your relationship with yourse

Erika McCaghren

What is a Drinking Problem?

Ever have a fight about whether or not you have a drinking problem? If you have, that should be your first sign that you might have one. Here are a couple of the others:

  • You’ve decided to stop drinking for a week, but cannot manage to do so.
  • You regret something you may have done as a result of drinking.
  • You wish people would just stop talking about your drinking.
  • You envy people who can drink without getting into trouble.
  • You “black out” or have difficulty remembering things you’ve done while drinking.
  • You’ve done drugs or engaged in other dangerous behaviors while drinking alcohol.
  • Others have noticed that you consistently seem very different when drinking (unusually happy, emotional, angry, relaxed).

Try not to get caught up in the stigma attached to alcohol abuse. No one chooses to have an alcohol problem.

You can find help here: Addiction Treatment


The first word of this compound word says it all “psycho”. No one wants to be associated with something that is strange, difficult to handle, and perhaps the worst of all: a scary, new experience. If you were to ask a friend or family member what psychotherapy is, they would most likely say something about paying a lot of money to talk about problems (and that’s putting it nicely). If you were to ask a counselor or therapist, we would describe it as a chance to be heard, without judgment through the ears and eyes of a professional, in the comfort and safety of a confidential session. The talking part might be easy…or hard depending on how you view your problems. If providing a safe place where clients can talk about whatever it is that is troubling them is the job of the counselor, what is your job as a client in psychotherapy? What do you have to know before you even walk through the door? Most first time clients wonder how we expect you to tell everything that you are thinking and feeling after just meeting.

These are common questions that can be answered. A client simply has to make the appointment with a counselor or therapist and come ready for the experience. Okay…that may seem a bit more intimidating than helpful, but it’s the truth. If you are open to the experience of psychotherapy as something completely different and refreshing you are on the road to understanding what it is and how it works. Before you walk through the door, you should know that you are not alone. Every single person you pass on the street has a past, a story, a journey. That road is paved with troubles, hardships, and bumps that throw off your sense of balance as you walk the road. This is where you have to believe that there are trained professionals ready to help and to listen to you. Why would a counselor want to listen to all of the “bumps” along the way in your life? Because we are trained to provide the safe haven for you to explore the inner workings of what is really going on in your life. There is no façade, just a real and honest experience with another person to ensure that you don’t trip on the bumps of life and walk, silent and hurting, through the rest of life.

If you are working through the bumps in your life and decide that the word psychotherapy is not as scary as facing it on your own…that is what we are here for.


Erika McCaghren

Drugged Driving

Although fatalities from automobile accidents are declining, a recent traffic analysis from the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicates that 33% of drivers killed in such accidents in 2010 tested positive for illicit drugs. The most popular among these drugs were prescription grade opiates / opiods (Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Clonipin). The illicit drug most frequently implicated in traffic fatalities: marijuana.

Society has become familiar with the terrible consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.  However, many do not realize the hazards of driving under the influence of drugs and medications. The drugs listed above, including those prescribed by a physician, can impair judgment, motor skills, reaction time, and perception, all of which are essential to operating a vehicle safely. Recent surveys by the DOT show that roughly one in four fatalities in accidents test positive for illegal prescription drugs.

Drugged driving poses threats to public safety, as evidenced by the number of fatal accidents on our highways each year. Public education combined with successful substance abuse/education programs can help family members, friends, and loved ones reduce drugged driving.

April is Counseling Awareness Month

April is Counseling Awareness Month! Although many people know generally what counselors do, this is a time for counselors everywhere to stand together to promote the use of counseling services. We do this by reaching out to clients, readers, social media outlets, and through simple word of mouth that “We are here”. Pinnacle Counseling stands in full support of Counseling Awareness Month by showing people that we care and are here to support you. Knowing that there is a group of professionals near you, ready and willing to listen and help you through a particularly hard time or everyday struggles of life is a valuable tool. In any given situation, no matter the cause, difficulty, or time you have been dealing with the issue—we are here. Simply remember…Keep Calm and Call a Counselor!


Erika McCaghren


Sources: American Counseling Association



The myth of hitting bottom

Alcoholics frequently deny their addiction to alcohol. Problem drinkers who acknowledge that alcohol has negatively impacted their lives still resist suggestions that they change their behaviors. What their family or loved ones see as a problem, alcoholics may see as a preference, a lifestyle choice. So they continue to drink despite increasingly negative consequences. Untreated, their alcoholism may cause them to lose their families, friends, jobs, money, and physical and mental health.

This is called hitting bottom. Bottom: the place where the alcoholic has lost it all. It is only after hitting bottom, the myth of hitting bottom tells us, that the alcoholic will be willing to see the truth about their addiction. Only then will they realize that what they thought was a preference is really a life threatening problem.

This pervasive myth has resulted in unnecessary suffering for many alcoholics and their families. The bottom for many alcoholics is the point at which they entered an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program. Maybe they were told by a loved one that the nagging would stop if they went in for an evaluation. Maybe they received an ultimatum.

It doesn’t matter how someone gets into treatment. Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction works. It is possible even for those who don’t see their behaviors as destructive to come to realize that change is necessary.

The Power of Recovery

For the past several weeks and months we have been hearing a lot about the problems caused by substance abuse and addiction. The people that have died, the bizarre and sometimes offensive behavior, and those having legal and professional issues seem to be in the news. We hear and talk about them but rarely hear and talk about those that have had success in recovery from substance abuse.  Substance abuse treatment works.

Here is one person’s story:
He was 17 and had a good life.  He loved school, sports, church, fishing, hunting, and most of all his family.  He loved life and all it brought to him.  Then shortly before high school graduation his world changed.  His mother died in an auto accident, he was driving.  The trauma, grief and guilt were so overwhelming.  Within a month he drank alcohol for the first time and it brought the relief he was seeking.  Finally he could cope with life again, just have a drink.

College started in the fall and his drinking increased.  Alcohol helped him cope with the change and it took away the pain he was feeling. When he went home for winter break he again experienced the unexpected.  His father died of a heart attack as he was giving him CPR in the family home. The emotions were extreme and confusing.  Alcohol was there to help.

He moved back to the family home to live with his sisters so they would be able to live as a family.  The effects of emotional pain, grief, trauma, and guilt led to the experimentation with marijuana. It was great!  The pain would go away, for while.

For the next decades this is how he dealt with life’s complications, with alcohol and drugs.  Even though he was able to complete college, hold down jobs, get married, have children the emotions that come with trauma and loss were never addressed.  He was living an unhealthy life filled with lies, deceptions, alcohol, drugs, shame and guilt.

After 27 years of using unhealthy coping skills, drugs and alcohol, and denial that he needed help he accepted the family support and encouragement (ultimatum) to get that help. Dealing with the issues in his life was now to take a different course.

Changing course in his life included going to an outpatient treatment program for his substance abuse. He accepted that he did not want alcohol and drugs to dictate his feelings and behavior.  For the 6 months in outpatient treatment he received the understanding, guidance and support that he needed. He started to network with others and participated in support groups. He changed his course in life.


He will be the first to tell you that change is not easy and not everything gets better quickly.  He will tell you that if you can be honest, open-minded, and willing, life does get much better. Recovery is a process not an event, some things change quickly and others need more work.  His life continues to evolve by doing so. It has been seventeen years since entering that treatment program and by getting the counseling and using the recovery tools, he has not used alcohol or drugs since. He feels life is great again. Treatment works! Recovery saved his life.

This is my story, a true story of life and the story of changing course. I am Gary Nelson a person in long term recovery since 1997. I accepted help in dealing with the unexpected events in life, facing the addiction and co-occurring issues.  I now again love life and all it brings to me, the outdoors, golf, church, time with friends, and helping others seeking recovery. I am a sober husband, dad and Papa. There’s nothing better than that! There are approximately 23 million other people with long term recovery in the United States today.  We are the anonymous people, your neighbors, employers, your healthcare workers, and your friends.

Substance abuse treatment today includes addressing co-occurring issues in life.  These may include mental health issues of depression or anxiety, relationship issues, or additional behavioral addictions.  Research has provided an understanding of why the disease is so destructive to our brain and how miraculous the healing process is.  For more information on the disease of addiction go to:

Gary Nelson, CCDP

Addiction Recovery: Baby Steps

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction requires a level of self-honesty that many people struggling with alcohol or drug abuse find challenging, if not impossible, to achieve. For this reason, it is good to proceed cautiously, gently. What starts as a tiny glimmer of truth in the mind may grow into the strong conviction one needs to get truly honest and seek help. We’re looking for a statement that the addicted individual can recognize as truth.

Something like this:

  • I really, really love drugs and alcohol. Maybe I need them. But they may be negatively impacting my life.


Nothing in there about change. Nothing in there about what, if anything, will be done to fix the problem. Just a simple statement of the truth.

The fist step is someone seeing and understanding this type of truth in his or her own life. This is not as easy as it sounds. Some people never develop the ability to see the truth in their own lives. The second step is for the addicted individual to share this truth with someone who loves him or her. This is the very earliest part of addiction recovery.