Author Archives: HUGS Recovery, Inc

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Myth “Drinking Alcohol Will Keep Me Warm”

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By Derrick D. Billingslea.

The cold season is among us now, hot chocolate, tea, apple cider, etc. are drinks we love to sip in the winter. Another drink many like to indulge in is alcohol, and mixing it in something hot is called the famous “Hot Tottie”. Spare yourself from this potential deadly mix of cold weather and alcohol.

Free stock photo of cold, coffee, winter, christmas

Alcohol may feel nice and hot going down but the truth is, drinking alcohol when it’s cold lowers your core temperature.  Basic physics means that drinking a cold beverage will draw heat from your body, and drinking a hot beverage will add heat to your body. So, theoretically, alcohol shouldn’t add or subtract heat differently than any other beverage. The false sense of warmth you feel doesn’t translate to overall body temperature, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, published in 2005, found that after a single drink, the body tries to counteract the brief sensation of warmth caused by increased blood flow to the skin by ramping up its rate of sweating, which only decreases body temperature even further.

Why does it feel like I get warm when I drink alcohol?
The alcohol you ingest widens blood vessels under the skin, so they fill with warm blood. This overrides one of your body’s defenses against cold temperatures: Constricting your blood vessels, therefore minimizing blood flow to your skin in order to keep your core body temperature up. This will make you start to feel flushed or hot.

What effect could drinking alcohol in cold weather have on my body?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, drinking alcohol in the cold can lead to hypothermia. Hypothermia can set in if your body drops below 95 degrees. The Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, says drinking alcohol in chilly weather also reduces the body’s ability and tendency to shiver, taking away yet another method your body uses to help keep warm when it is cold. If you or your love one has a heart condition you should avoid drinking alcohol in cold weather.

What are the signs of hypothermia?

Mild hypothermia

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Moderate to Severe

  • Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens, shivering stops
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion and poor decision-making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Lack of concern about one’s condition
  • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing

Someone with hypothermia is usually not aware of his or her condition because the symptoms often begin gradually. Also, the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness. This confused thinking can also lead to risk-taking behavior.

As mentioned before there are many beverages to keep you warm, try some that will not risk your life. Also read “Foods That Keep You Warm”

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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The Unspoken Killer Of 2016

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By Derrick D. Billingslea.

As of 12/30/2016 8:43am, alcohol has taken the lives of 133,575 people according to United States of American Realtime Death Toll and 390,115 for drug use which includes, tobacco, all drug abuse, prescription drug overdose, and smoking in bed. Source

2016 should not be looked at as just a tragic year but as a wake call on the epidemic of drugs and alcohol the United States is facing. Who did you lose in 2016, was is your mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, daughter, son, friend(s), or a celebrity? For me it was a close friend that had been in recovery for over 15 years, the damage that had been done to his body from drinking and drug use could not be reversed. Abusing alcohol increases the likelihood of suffering atrial fibrillation, heart attack or congestive heart failure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Here are some of the people we lost in 2016 due to drugs:
Rob Ford/Mayor or Toronto: Cancer after years of alcoholism and drug abuse, including crack cocaine.
Prince Rogers Nelson/Musician, producer, songwriter, and actor: Accidental fentanyl overdose
Amber Rayne/Actress: Accidental Cocaine overdose
Axl Rotten/Wrestler: Heroin overdose
Harris Wittels /Actor: Heroin overdose
Jose Fernandez/Miami Marlins Pitcher: Boat crash, drunk and traces of cocaine
We also lost, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie and George Michael whom both fought to overcome their drug addiction.

“Turning Up” in the club today may have you turned up in a coffin 5 or 10 years from now because many fail to realize that addiction is a DIS-EASE.  There is help and addiction can be overcome if the individual wants it. For all the celebrities you saw die in 2016 from drug and alcohol abuse there were just as many that decided to seek help and are in recovery.

Drug abuse and alcoholism has a stigma of being a moral thing, bad choices, weak people, etc. This
is a Lie. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), that drug abuse is a disease, specifically, “Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease…similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease” (NIDA, 2008)

On December 13th 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act in a White House auditorium. The bill is a 6.3 billion dollar bill with allots 1 billion for substance abuse treatment targeting heroin and opioid addiction. President Obama quoted, “This is an epidemic that can touch anybody, blue collar, white collar, college students, retirees, kids, moms, dads,”.

A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but not when compared to the 2.05 billion alcohol companies use to advertise (Source) and 81 billion drug abuse cost employers per year (Source).



Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.






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Alcohol and Your Metabolism

By Derrick D. Billingslea, CCT, CAC II, CCS.

Do you know what metabolism is? Metabolism is a simple concept to comprehend, in a nut shell metabolism is the capacity with which your body breaks down calories. Calories are obtained from the food you consume on daily basis. Hence, the more your metabolism speeds up its process the more your body coverts the food taken into heat energy. Fatty foods are mainly the producers of calories in the body as they get burnt through metabolism the body gets the energy it needs to function.   Generally, about two thirds of the calories in your body are utilized daily. The burning up of calories enables your body to keep functioning. With the amount of energy it gets through the conversion of the calories.

Alcohol has no nutritional value and contains empty calories. Since your body cannot store alcohol it has to metabolize it immediately. This can contribute to malnutrition because alcoholic drinks have high levels of calories that can account for a huge percentage of your daily energy requirements. Just one alcoholic drink per day can contribute to malnutrition. Also because alcohol does not contain any nutrients of its own it can possible impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins from the food you ingest. Each time you make the decision to swallow alcohol your liver has to take time from its main job of fat-burning to remove the chemical intruder. Source 

Nutritionists refer to the activity of the body in which calories are broken down as an individual’s particular Basal Metabolic Rate. Aside from burning down calories to produced energy, calories also help in the digestion process. You can use three methods to speed up your body metabolism. These methods are through building your muscle mass, exercise and good dieting in the form of eating the recommended foods that aid metabolism.

Here are three methods to speed up your metabolism:

1. Muscle mass is one of the body’s mechanisms that most people usually get confused about. Dieters especially the female folks believe that muscles mass is a man affair. Hence, they just don’t care about building their muscles mass. As women try to always build your muscle mass if you want to boost your metabolism.  |If you want to increase your Basal Metabolic Rate which is the speed at which your metabolism runs then you need to work on your muscle mass. This is because on an average day the pound of muscles you have in your body single handedly breaks down about fifty calories. |Do you know that whenever you gain up to about 10 pounds of muscles at any particular rate you will always help the body to burn out 500 or more calories every day? Think about the calories you will be burning every week that is about 3500 in just a single week.

2. Exercise, as we all know is very good for the body. Carrying out physical activities help increase the metabolic process in the body. When deciding on exercises there are several kinds of exercises that a person should engage in, if the aim is to increase the body’s metabolic rate. You can engage in any of the cardiovascular exercises of your choice. |Exercises such as running, swimming, jogging dancing and biking are forms of cardiovascular exercise you can indulge in to boost your metabolism. Cardio exercises are very vital in this respect because they help to use up much energy. This enables your body metabolism to speed up throughout the day or after the exercise.

3. Resistance training is a major exercise for metabolism boosting? It is very important for ladies to hold this and know it as a fact. Resistance exercise enables the body to generate heat after burning down the fat in the body. Resistance training enables the body metabolism to last as long as two days than other kinds of exercises. The exercise also gives an additional advantage of helping the body develop muscles mass which is also instrumental in increasing the rate of the body’s metabolism.  Are you thinking of engaging on resistance exercise? To effectively carry out resistance training, always begin with a simple method that can be performed 3 to 4 times in a week, for 20 to about 30 minutes per session.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Alcoholism and Marriage: Does it go together?

By Derrick D. Billingslea, CCT, CAC II, CCS.


According to statistics, more than one half of families in US have an individual who are abusing alcohol or addicted to it. Be it the husband or the wife, the effects of alcohol abuse on a marriage can be damaging. SO, what are some of the effects of it and how can you avoid ruining your marriage? Source

It causes anger.
Imagine having all the tension simmering under the guise of a happy marriage. As the saying goes, still water runs deep. Heavy alcohol use does not yield warm communication. It yields more negative and hostile communications with your spouse. There is more hostility in everyday conversation and all these factors decrease the couple’s satisfaction in the marriage.

There’s marital distress.
Negative and hostile communication yields to marital distress in the non-alcoholic spouse, adding strain and tension to marital ties. There is less problem solving which leads to more damaging communication.  Problems keep piling up without resolution that leaves room for resentment. This can and most times lead to a greater potential of marital violence or divorce.

Being absent in the family.
The alcohol abusing spouse is constantly absent in the family. They are unable to shoulder everyday family responsibility or daily household tasks. This inability leads to a diminished role in the family as a husband or a wife to the non alcoholic spouse and as a father or a mother to the children. Physiological distress on the family can be extremely damaging to children. An alcoholic father or mother figure increases the children’s social, emotional, behavioral and academic problems.

Marital violence.
The more men are frequently intoxicated, the more likely they are to vent their anger on their wives. Alcohol abuse is linked to increased aggression and more physical violence as their ability for rational thinking is reduced. In addition, the intoxicated spouses are more likely to act on impulse and unable to exert self-restraint.
Among battered women, 40-60 percent reported that their husbands were heavy drinkers.
The abuser: “It wasn’t me, it was the alcohol talking!” “I would never do that if I was sober.”, “I’m not really that person. That’s who I am when I’m drinking.”
The victim: If I could just get them to go to rehab, everything would get better”
Alcohol can affect a person’s judgment and behavior, but using them does not excuse violence and abuse.

Reduced intimacy and sexual desire
A glass of wine may make you feel amorous, but too much alcohol can spoil your sex drive; the same is true for street drugs. Smoking decreases blood flow, which may dampen arousal. Source

Financial Problems
Depleting finances spent on alcohol form money spent on drinks, heavy drinkers may suffer other economic problems such as lower wages and lost employment opportunities, increased medical and legal expenses, and decreased eligibility for loans. A survey in Sri Lanka indicated that for 7% of men, the amount spent on alcohol exceeded their income. Source

Interventions To Consider:

Out-Patient Programs: Provides freedom of movement that can allow client to fulfill some life commitments such as work and education. Client will not have to explain a prolonged absence to co-workers and classmates.

In-Patient Programs: Provides clients with a safe secure environment that shields them from negative influences and daily support.

Peer Support Groups: Groups lead by someone like you that is in recovery, a place where you can discuss day-to-day problems with your peers.

Alcoholism and marriage are like oil and water. Not a very good mix.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Benefits of Yoga For Alcoholism

By Derrick D. Billingslea, CCT, CAC II, CCS.


Yoga through meditation works remarkably to achieve harmony and helps the mind work in synchronization with the body. How often do we find that we are unable to perform our activities properly and in a satisfying manner because of the confusions and conflicts in our mind weigh down heavily upon us? The Big Book, written by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”

Stress is the number one suspect affecting all parts of our physical, endocrinal and emotional system. And with the help of yoga all these things can be corrected. At the physical level, yoga and its cleansing practices have proven to be extremely effective for various disorders such as substance abuse.

Listed below are just some of the benefits of yoga that you can get.

Benefits of Yoga 1: Yoga is known to increase flexibility; yoga has postures that trigger the different joints of the body. Including those joints that are not acted upon with regular exercises routines.
The thing that alcohol does is, aside from being toxic, which it is, what it really does is dehydrates you, which of course is no good for flexibility. Source

Benefits of Yoga 2: Yoga also increases the lubrication of joints, ligament and tendons. The well-researched yoga positions exercise the different tendons and ligaments of the body. Great news for those who suffer from secondary osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis. Secondary OA results from predisposing cause, usually some sort of physical trauma knee injuries, defects present at birth, gout, diabetes, alcoholism, the use of corticosteroids and hormone disorders. Source

It has also been found that the body which may have started doing yoga being a rigid one may experience a quite remarkable flexibility in the end on those parts of the body which have not been consciously worked upon.

Benefits of Yoga 3: Yoga also massages all organs of the body. Yoga is perhaps the only exercise that can work on through your internal organs in a thorough manner, including those that hardly get externally stimulated during our entire lifetime.
Half Lord of the Fishes, “this delicious pose, squeezes and massages the abdominal organs, including the liver and kidneys, which are the top dogs when it comes to detoxing,” yoga teacher Amanda Upton. “This massage of the organs stimulates digestion and elimination.” Source

Benefits of Yoga 4: Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on the various body parts. This stimulation and massage of the organs in turn benefits us by keeping away disease and providing a forewarning at the first possible instance of a likely onset of disease or disorder. Alcohol and your liver are not a good combination for a healthy liver and for some people consuming as little as one glass of wine or beer a day can cause liver problems to develop.
One of the far-reaching benefits of yoga is the uncanny sense of awareness that it develops in the practitioner of an impending health disorder or infection. This in turn enables the person to take preemptive corrective action.
To keep your liver healthy, try some very basic yoga poses that increase the blood circulation in the abdomen. The bridge pose and cat pose are good examples.  Source 

Benefits of Yoga 5: Yoga offers a complete detoxification of the body. It gently stretches the muscles and joints as we massage the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body.

This helps in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny of your body as well as providing nourishment up to the last point. This leads to benefits such as delayed ageing, energy and a remarkable zest for life.
The Revolved Chair Pose stimulates the liver, spleen, and digestive system, while toning the abdominal  and improving the elimination process for your body.  Source 

Benefits of Yoga 6: Yoga is also an excellent way to tone your muscles. Muscles which have been flaccid and weak are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess fats and flaccidity.
But these enormous physical benefits are just a “side effect” of this powerful practice. What yoga does is harmonize the mind with the body and these results in real quantum benefits.
The University of Notre Dame Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, states that drinking alcohol can cancel out any potential physical gains you could acquire from training.

It is now an open secret that the will of the mind has enabled people to achieve extraordinary physical feats, which proves beyond doubt the mind and body connection.
In fact yoga = meditation, because both work together in achieving the common goal of unity of mind, body and spirit which can lead to an experience of eternal bliss that you can only feel through yoga.

The meditative practices through yoga help in achieving an emotional balance through detachment. This in turn creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which also has tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body.

Derrick D. Billingslea, is a certified addiction professional with over two decades in recovery himself and is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Alcohol Use Disorder: Debunking The Myth

By Derrick D. Billingslea, CCT, CAC II, CCS.


Many people have their beliefs about alcohol use disorder. However, most of these beliefs stem from a lack of experience, understanding and perhaps tolerance.  So let us correct some of these common misconceptions.


Myth 1: Alcohol abuse is only a bad habit and the only reason a person suffering with alcohol use disorder can’t quit is because they have no willpower.

At the start of drinking, perhaps it could be a voluntary decision. Consider it a much needed respite from work, bills, relationships and all the drama. However, the more they choose to turn to it, the more dependent they become on it to relieve stress and in the end, they become addicted. This happens because alcohol alters the brain and takes control of the person suffering from alcoholism.
Fact: Alcoholism is a chronic brain disease, not a matter of willpower. People who become addicted to drugs or alcohol are not weak, immoral or tragically flawed.
Source David Sack M.D.

“A lot of people think that addiction is a choice. A lot of people think it’s a matter of will. That has not been my experience. I don’t find it to have anything to do with strength”. _ Matthew Perry
Myth 2: Persons suffering with alcoholism and/or substance use disorders are only people with mental problems.

The statement is untrue. Persons suffering from alcoholism can begin as normal people without previous mental health issues who only started on one or two drinks to relieve stress. The more they seek this as an outlet, the more addicted they become. As we said in myth #1 alcohol alters the brain, creating a need in the user to be drinking all the time. This leads to bad life decisions.
Fact: There are serval factors that can influence the risk for addiction. The more risk factors the greater the chance of addiction. Here are some examples:

Biology:  The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.
Environment: A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.

Development: Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviours, including trying drugs.
Source National Institute on Drug Abuse



Myth 3:  Treatment never works. Look at how many people relapse

The public thinks, that it will be easy to quit alcohol cold turkey however it is not that easy. The rehabilitation of persons with alcohol use disorders or treatment for them is not a one size fit all. The program has to be tailored to suit the needs of the individual. Different people have different issues that they are dealing with and they also respond differently to various treatment.
Fact:  In 1996 George Vaillant, MD published a study, 724 men over a 50 year period were followed. Relapsed occurred 40 percent of the time after two years of sobriety but was rarely reported after five years of abstinence.
Source Jeremy Frank PhD, CADC


Myth 4: Persons suffering from alcohol use disorder are a lost cause once they relapse. Getting off the addiction is easy. Staying off it is difficult. Relapsing does not mean hitting rock bottom. It could be used as a positive thing by analyzing why the individual relapsed, what trigger that triggered the event and learn to avoid it next time.

Fact: The chronic nature of the disease means that a relapsing to alcohol and/or drug abuse at some point is not only possible, but likely. Treatment of chronic diseases  involves changing deeply imbedded behaviours, and relapse does not mean treatment has failed. For a person recovering from addiction, lapsing back to alcohol/ drug use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or that another treatment should be tried.
Source National Institute on Drug Abuse


Derrick D. Billingslea, is a certified addiction professional with over two decades in recovery himself and is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.