Archive for the ‘Alcohol Addiction’ Category

Treating Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Simultaneously

Friday, July 4th, 2014

To some it may come as a shock to learn that roughly 9 million adults who use drugs and alcohol also have a serious mental health disorder. Even more shocking is the fact that only about 7% of them receive effective treatment for both issues which leaves millions of people fighting a losing battle to recover and lead a healthier life. The CEO of New Beginning Adolescent Recovery Center in the southwestern United States believes he has identified a number of factors that can effectively help people who suffer from both a mental disorder and an addiction.

Many rehabilitation centers simply do not see past the fact that the person they are helping is an addict, such a mentality can result in the patient or client not receiving care that affects them as a whole. For patients dealing with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder the style of treatment that only focuses on their addiction may not have the desired effect and could result in a wasted stay at a rehab facility. The mentally ill addict who is trying to recover but did not receive treatment for both diseases may just return to their addiction, therefore it is important that the treatment center be able to treat both problems simultaneously.

Mental disorders like those mentioned earlier can often be connected to some form of traumatic experience that either caused the mental disorder itself or played a major role in the patient falling ill in the first place. Many addiction specialists, however, believe that addicts need sobriety first before they are ready to deal with trauma in their past. The CEO of New Beginnings believes that this method is fundamentally flawed and can be counterproductive. If the trauma and mental illness are not the focus of recovery then many of those also addicted to drugs and alcohol will fail at recovery, and be far less likely to maintain sobriety even if they reach it while in rehab.

Another important focus point for those recovering is group therapy. Many people with mental disorders can become lonely, desperate and scared which is a nasty mix. Therefore it would make sense that providing an individual like that with a safe and comfortable setting with others in a similar situation can help them begin to trust others and improve their confidence. In addition to that many addicts who succeed in group therapy will be more likely to attend meetings and out-patient care if they are treated at least partially in group settings.

With any seriously mentally ill patient, medication is extremely important in the treatment process away from the addiction. If you then toss in a substance addiction to someone already receiving care from their doctor or psychiatrist, things can get tricky very quickly. The advantage to being in a treatment center that understands both sides of the care needed is that the medications can be administered, monitored and be carefully prescribed along with integrating the care for the addiction issues. The medical professionals can work hand in hand with the addiction experts and staff at the treatment facility to make sure that both the therapies and medications are working harmoniously in the patient’s favor.

For a mentally ill patient who also suffers from addiction problems it is important that their care be something of a synergy between psychological treatment and effective rehabilitation methods. The biggest mistake would be to attempt to isolate one problem or the other. The importance is making the patient comfortable enough to deal with both issues and eventually reach better mental health as well as lasting sobriety.


Teenage Substance Abuse: The Signs and How to Help

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Sobriety.caSeeing the signs of drug use in teens can be extremely difficult as many teenagers who aren’t on drugs behave secretly and moodily. In addition to that, many parents are not ready to admit the possibility that their son or daughter could possibly be among those group of teens who smoke pot, drink or worse. It should also be noted that it isn’t always easy being a teenager as things like peer pressure and bullying can be great reasons for some teens to start masking their problems with alcohol or substance abuse. There are signs to watch out for, and some of them can be helpful in identifying a potential pattern of substance use in your teenage son or daughter. Some include inappropriate forms of dress, like long sleeve shirts and sweaters in the summer, as these can be used to hide needle marks for instance. Stealing is an obvious sign, but may not be related as many teenagers do shoplift, but in relation to drug use it can be explained as a means to get money for buying booze, cigarettes and drugs. A sudden change in friends is another thing to watch out for, as a new group of friends may be the ones responsible for introducing a teen to substances. A new group of friends can be a necessary change for a teen experimenting with drugs as their old friends may not be into the drug and alcohol scene. The last, and probably most important sign, is the disappearance of prescription medicine from the medicine cabinet or missing pills from the bottle. Particularly prescription painkillers, which many teens these days to get high.

So what, as a parent, should you do if you find out your teenager is using (Or potentially addicted to) drugs? Don’t freak out! If you lose control of the situation from the start, you may already be behind in the game. The first thing you may want to consider is sitting down with your teenager and listening to what they have to say even if it may be hard to hear or if it doesn’t make sense to you. Teenagers can be difficult to understand at the best of times, but if they have a problem with drugs and alcohol then there is obviously something wrong that needs your immediate attention and support. There are plenty of options to consider in the approach to helping your son or daughter get the assistance they need to free themselves from the world of drugs. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are groups, doctors, therapists, rehab centers and of course family support wherever you may be. The most important thing is not to take on the burden of helping your kid on your own. There are professionals for a reason. A child psychiatrist or addiction experts can help both your kid and you as they will have plenty of valuable insight and treatment advice to offer you as a parent as well as the child in question.

Whether you decide that a mental health professional is the way to go, a youth drug treatment center or possibly an intervention to start things off, you’re already on the right track to helping your child succeed in defeating their substance abuse problem.



Mindfulness Showing Promise In Addiction Treatment

Saturday, February 1st, 2014


To some, mindfulness and meditation do not belong in the serious arena of science. Recently, however, a psychologist named Amishi Jha has been working with the US military in order to help increase mental resilience in a war zone. The results were that if the soldiers designated 12 minutes per day to “meditation” they would improve their ability to pay attention over time. In addition to helping keep the attentiveness of troops in combat, it would seem that scientists believe that mindfulness can be useful in increasing scores on standardized testing in school. Some students were to meditate for 10 minutes per day, for 2 weeks before writing an important exam. The results showed that the students who did their mindfulness training averaged a 16 percentile higher score on the verbal part of the test. And for many others, mindfulness is a way to realize what your brain is up to, and instead on focusing on the actual thoughts, you can let some of them slip away and concentrate on other things, including your physical side. Jonathan Schooler of the University of California conducted an interesting experiment that had participants conduct a task that did not require much focus. He found that the un-demanding task and mind wandering led to more creative success.

Via New York Times:

The trick is knowing when mindfulness is called for and when it’s not. “When you’re staring out the window, you may well be coming up with your next great idea,” he said. “But you’re not paying attention to the teacher. So the challenge is finding the balance between mindfulness and mind wandering.

The practice of mindfulness seems to be, in some cases, an effective way to deal with temptation and addiction. Scientists have observed that over a short period of a mindfulness approach, the addicts studies showed increased blood flow to the part of the brain that controls self-control. In addition to this test, researchers at Yale University saw that over a period of a few weeks their subjects had cut down on their cigarette intake by 90%.

Another approach to mindfulness benefiting addicts is the: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. The method is designed to figure out the triggers of addiction, as well as common patterns and potentially dangerous responses to mental and physical urges. MBRP is modeled after a similar technique used to combat depression, and for the most part it is intended as an “after-treatment” option that doesn’t interfere with cognitive therapy, medicine and conventional treatment options.

Addictive Triggers

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

For decades now addiction has been a difficult problem to deal with, and many feel that it is something that is completely misunderstood and therefore extremely problematic when it comes to successful treatment. Whether it be drinking or some other form of addiction, the addiction itself is not the cause, instead it is a way for many people to deal with feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless. It quickly spirals out of control when one addiction turns into a cycle, and the cycle keeps one feeling hopeless over a new behavior. While it may relieve many addicts to know that their behaviors are more of a compulsion that many ordinary people have, it should be noted that if you have tricked yourself into believing you are powerless over alcohol or drugs, you may be lying to yourself.


For an addict, often times there is a feeling of vulnerability. If a tense situation arises, for instance a problem at home or some other serious ordeal, the addict may turn to their drug of choice to deal with the problem, thus using the pill or bottle as a substitute for dealing with the situation directly. Many addicts often experience a time frame as to when they will be most vulnerable to their urges. It can happen days, weeks or even hours before their next encounter with drugs or the bottle, but many addicts fall victim to the urges again and again because they did not take the time to find out what drove their addiction. Any event or circumstance that come before the impulse to drink for instance may be a clue of sorts to why an addict can feel so helpless. It is somewhat of a distraction scenario that isn’t positive, the addict should instead be asking themselves what made them so vulnerable at that point.

Via Psychology Today:

Paying attention to any single episode of thinking about drinking may not be enough to see the underlying theme behind all of one’s addictive acts. But the more occasions spent focusing on the precipitating circumstances behind that first instant of addictive thought, the easier it is to solve the mystery.

The Self Medication Cycle

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Self medication a dangerous game.

A mood disorder can be an embarrassing issue to deal with. It is tough to admit that we have a problem and even tougher to seek proper treatment. It is no wonder then, that many people turn to alcohol or drugs to sooth their pain. Whether it be a feeling of anxiety, depression or another difficult emotion it may seem easier to us to turn to the bottle for comfort, and in the beginning of a mood problem the idea of self-medicating with alcohol may not be the worst idea as alcohol can have that desired effect of slowing everything down. But where do we draw the line? A few drinks here and there may offer that “soothing” effect at first, but after a while the drinking can become the go-to solution for solving all of our problems and we lose the ability to cope with things ourselves. Soon our anxiety and depression return, but it takes aim at our new medication: The booze. The mood disorders or problems we were drinking away worsen, as there is a new problem in our midst, the solution itself becomes part of the problem and a strong feeling of shame takes hold. It is now very difficult to discern whether the addiction is our main concern or is it in fact part of the evolution of our initial mood disorder.

“Addicts’ inner pain, shame and loss of self honestly becomes more painful to them, consequently their need to self medicate to drown that inner pain increases. Their use and abuse increases, their pain and shame increases, their hiding and projecting increases.” – Dr. Tian Dayton

In Ann Johnston’s book: “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women And Alcohol”. She delves into the tricky situation of self-medication. She admits that at one time she was self-medicating with alcohol and reports that women are far more likely to do so as a result of their relationship with mood disorders. Women are far more likely to become depressed, and twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as well as Bipolar II, resulting in far more depressive episodes than men. Ms. Johnston also points out that women are more likely to walk out of a doctor’s office with a prescription for a controlled substance than men, which raises the worrisome question: Are some women reluctant to use the pills? And are they combining the medication with their own variety of meds, like booze?

Admirably Ms. Johnston achieved sobriety despite her own pattern of self-medication. With the help of a sobriety/rehabilitation program in 2008 she and other women in the program defeated the disease. But it should be noted that in Ms. Johnston’s book a psychiatrist she mentions speaks openly about the problem: “Substance use muddies the water: it makes diagnosis difficult. Says psychiatrist Pamela Stewart of Toronto’s CAMH: “The art— and difficulty— of this field is to untangle what is caused by the substance and what by the underlying mood disorder.”

Over the course of December we will be exploring some of the issues Ann Johnston raised in her recent book “Drink”. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns we can help you with.