Tag Archives: Mental Health

Compulsivity and Addiction

Man with his hand on a barbed wire fence. Text: Compulsivity & Addiction

Compulsivity describes involuntary actions done despite an awareness that the behavior is not positive or helpful.  

 

Some actions appear harmless, but they are detrimental to one’s quality of life because they are done against the person’s desire to stop the behavior.

 

Compulsive behaviors are the kind you have the urge to do repeatedly. 

 

While this description could also apply to a simple habit, compulsion differs from habit in that the task must be completed in order to relieve a feeling of anxiety or unease

 

In essence, the compulsive action serves as an ineffective solution to a problem or discomfort.

 

This might look like :

 

  • Inability to deviate from a strict routine
  • Excessive cleaning of external surfaces or washing oneself 
  • Obsessive orderliness – (re)arranging objects in a particular or precise way
  • Repeatedly checking things like phones, locks, appliances, etc.
  • Persistent tapping, touching, or rubbing
  • Compulsive counting

 

In the context of addiction, someone who suffers from a compulsive disorder may seek out drugs to alleviate the anxiety of these urges. 

 

Unfortunately, the very nature of the urge they are trying to escape increases the likelihood that someone given to compulsive behaviour will develop an addiction to a harmful substance.

 

Compulsion and addiction resemble each other in that the person often experiences substantial mental anguish over the desire to be in control of their actions. 

 

Whether the root cause is a compulsive disorder or chemical dependency upon a substance, Reflections Recovery Center is equipped to help you discover whole-person, life-long recovery. Contact us today

Stages of Addiction

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stages of Addiction

In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 1 in 12 American adults suffer from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). So what are SUDs and how does someone go from experimental use to a full blown addiction? While everyone may have a different story, the causes and stages of addiction can be generally categorized into a few recognizable steps. Being able to identify the steps can be crucial in preventing SUDs.

What is a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?

Drug addiction or medically known as SUD, is a disease where an individual is unable to control their desire to use legal or illegal drugs. Drugs are anything that has a physiological effect when introduced to the body (such as snorting, drinking, smoking, etc). Some common drugs include alcohol, nicotine and marijuana.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Most addictions start with experimentation. It is not unusual to see experimentation occur early on in someone’s life. While it may not directly lead to an addiction, it does open the door for future use. According to a 2013 survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 3.841 million people tried alcohol for the first time between the ages of 12-20 years old. Experimentation may occur for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Peer pressure
  • Pure curiosity
  • Availability of drugs (opportunity)
  • Mental health issues

Most people who experiment with drugs are looking for the social benefits they have heard about, whether it is because a friend recommended it or media and culture presents it as a positive experience. For example, alcohol is prevalent in media and most cultures around the world. People usually view it as a fun substance that takes the edge off in social situations. Many teens and young adults likely see no harm in trying a few drinks. A lot of media depicts alcohol use while rarely showing consequences. You could even binge drink and still technically not move past the experimentation phase as college students and party goers will typically binge drink at parties and social atmospheres. 

Fight Addiction Now - Stages of Addiction

At this stage, there are no cravings and the desire to continue use may not even appear with some drugs. However, the possibility remains that further experimentation with other drugs occur. With certain substances, like alcohol impairing judgment, people are more open to risk. This is likely why a great number of people are open to trying other various substances. That is not to say alcohol use alone absolutely leads to experimentation or addiction to other substances. Simply it is a potential factor.

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stage 2: Regular Use

At this stage, individuals will incorporate a drug into their daily routine whether they are aware of it or not. Everyday use may not occur but there is a pattern to your use. Even if it becomes a weekend-use drug or it is purely circumstantial (ex. you use it when you’re stressed or bored), it is still considered regular use. 

You may not be fully addicted at this point but it is possible for regular use to lead to addiction. 

Stage 3: Problem/Risky Use

With risky use, the drug has now become a negative influence in your life. It is possible this is because you are missing school or work or engaging in dangerous behavior such as driving under the influence. Your relationships begin to deteriorate and your behavior begins to change for the worse.

Stages of Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Stage 4: Substance Use Disorder/Addiction

SUD is a chronic disease which means it is slow to develop and may be hard to notice at first. You begin to have desires and crave the drug and feel as if you cannot function without it. Depending on the drug, you will develop a tolerance which means you will not be able to use the same amount every time as the ‘high’ you experience decrease. This will cause you to use higher doses in order to achieve the desired feeling. Unfortunately, the risk of overdosing increases once you develop a tolerance because you will be chasing that first high experience. 

Psychological dependence will fully develop at this stage because you feel as if you cannot function or be happy unless you take the drug. Physical dependence will also develop at this stage in the form of withdrawals.

Criteria for SUDs

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently updated its manual on SUD diagnosis (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- DSM-5) to help better understand what is medically considered as an addiction. It is divided into 3 categories with a list of traits which determine which category an individual would be considered under. 

Those who meet:

  • 2-3 criteria are considered to have a mild disorder
  • 4-5 criteria are considered to have a moderate disorder
  • 6+ criteria are considered to have a severe disorder

Some of the criteria includes:

  1. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance.
  3. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance, occurs.
  4. Continual use of substance results in issues with significant obligations in work, school or home
  5. Use of the substance continues despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.

More information is available in the APA DSM-5 guide. Knowing the criteria and the stages of addiction are helpful in recognizing one’s own problems or their loved one’s potential issues.

What causes addiction?

Addiction is often confusing at first glance because it is hard to wrap your mind around why you have desires to do things that you know are not good for you. It comes down to the chemistry of your brain. Our brain contains a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is known as the ‘feel good’ chemical. It releases in our body when we do things that are pleasurable such as eating, drinking or having sex. In our primitive days, it is what would motivate us to hunt, gather and produce offspring.

Drugs such as alcohol promote the release of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is responsible for a feeling of euphoria commonly associated with drug use. Our desire to feel a sense of euphoria or feel good in general will cause us to replicate or continue those actions which produce it- such as drinking alcohol. As our bodies develop a tolerance to a drug, our desire to chase that dopamine high will encourage the use of higher doses.

Treatment

The stages of addiction are not universal, nor are they complete for every individual’s experience. Nonetheless, knowing the stages of addiction is helpful for many people to be wary of substance use and abuse. Treatment for SUDs can be challenging but it is most certainly possible. The very nature of addiction means that relapse is not only possible, but likely. It is important for treatment to include a plan to prevent and manage relapse.

Completely curing an addiction takes time and dedication as well as a very fundamental change in the behavior of the individual. Addiction to multiple substances does make treatment more challenging. That is why it is more important than anything to find a competent treatment center equipped to handle all of your needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

 

Resources:

The National Council – SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health

SAMHSA – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

National Institute on Drug Abuse – The Science of Drug Use and Addiction

What You Didn’t Know: Suicide Is a Bigger Threat to Your Loved One than Homicide

Suicide Warning Signs

Deaths by gun violence garner a lot of media attention, as do homicides by other means. Because of this, many don’t realize the risk of suicide happening to someone you love is much higher than the possibility they would die from homicide.

In fact, deaths by suicide are twice as common as ones by homicide, and many Americans don’t even realize this truth. Part of that is likely due to the portrayal of deaths in popular media; we hear about or see homicides all the time in the news and in movies, but the realistic portrayal of suicide is much lower by comparison.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the reported cause of death for nearly 45,000 Americans in 2016. It was the 10th-leading cause of death overall that year, as well as the second-leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 34. For Americans aged 35 to 54, suicide was the fourth-highest cause of death.

Suicide vs. Homicide

Warning Signs Of Suicide

While both are tragic causes of death, suicide and homicide differ greatly in prevalence. The aforementioned CDC report said that the number of suicides in 2016 was more than double the number of homicides (19,362) that year. Among all age groups, homicide consistently accounted for fewer deaths than suicide.

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death between ages 10 and 44, and it’s the third biggest cause of death across all age groups. Heart disease accounts for the most deaths, while malignant neoplasms (cancerous tumors) are a close second. Despite these numbers, people continue to think of homicide as one of the leading causes of death, even though it isn’t.

While not everyone thinks the same way, assuming one is at a high risk of death by homicide can lead to individuals purchasing firearms for protection. However, there are more deaths by suicide involving firearms than there are homicides and accidental firearm injuries, according to the CDC.

As you might expect, people who attempt suicide by firearm are much more likely to die than those who use alternative methods, such as poisoning or suffocation. These numbers can help explain why more men die via suicide than women, as men are more likely to use firearms.

Recognizing Warning Signs of Suicide

While many people who are struggling with thoughts of suicide don’t speak openly about their feelings, it’s still possible to recognize risk factors for suicide. Doing so can be the key to helping someone receive the care they need. If you’re concerned about a loved one, pay attention to these symptoms:

Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation involves a person experiencing thoughts about death, dying, wishing for death, or imagining death by suicide. While not always present, such reoccurring thoughts can be the first sign of potential risk.

Most signs of suicidal ideation remain internal, but you should pay attention to any threats, comments or even jokes that someone makes about killing him- or herself. Even harmless thoughts like, “I wish I could disappear,” have the potential to become more dangerous over time. Though not all people who experience suicidal ideation will attempt suicide, it’s better to recognize it and respond early, rather than letting it drag on.

Looking for Ways to Commit Suicide

This won’t be as obvious as it sounds. It may be your loved one laughing about the least painful ways to die or seeking out movies that have suicide as a theme.

If you are uncomfortable with such discussions and are concerned, check out his or her browser history – if it’s legal and accessible. Parents or romantic partners, for instance, may consider this option. Online searches for weapons or suicide how-tos may indicate a serious issue.

Increased Alcohol and Drug Use

Many people who struggle with mental illness are at a high risk of suicide. Mental illness can also correlate with dangerous levels of alcohol and drug use, especially if someone regularly uses a substance to try to escape their symptoms.

People who are considering suicide may engage in substance use for similar reasons, which can lower their inhabitations and reduce the hesitation to follow through on impulsive thoughts or plans.

Sudden Changes of Mood

Someone who is considering suicide may be under extreme stress, which can cause drastic changes in mood. This can involve feeling hopeless, going through agitation and anxiety, and experiencing episodes of rage and anger, to name a few.

Don’t assume a change from sudden sadness to peace means safety. One of the biggest warning signs to watch out for is if someone’s mood shifts from despair to a sudden calm, which can indicate that the person has decided to act on their suicidal thoughts.

Who’s At Risk?

Almost anyone can be at risk for suicide, regardless of their age, gender, outward appearance or social status. Many people who appear happy may be masking their true thoughts. Women have thoughts of suicide more often than men, but suicide numbers for men are 3.5 times higher than for women.

Many other factors can increase someone’s risk of suicide, such as:

  • Family history
  • Substance abuse
  • Access to firearms
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Age
  • Severe, chronic physical and mental illnesses
  • Prolonged exposure to stress

Common Myths About Suicide

While suicide awareness has increased over the past years, there are still several myths about suicide in our culture. Here are a few of them:

  • Successful or Famous People Have No Reason to Commit Suicide. No matter how successful someone is, there may still be a risk for developing suicidal thoughts.
  • There’s No Way to Stop Someone from Committing Suicide. No matter how determined someone may feel about taking their life, it is possible for them to respond to proper treatment. People who experience suicidal thoughts due to mental illness can often improve through treatment for their disorder.
  • Talking to Someone About Their Suicidal Thoughts Will Make Them Worse. Contrary to popular belief, it can help to talk to someone who is feeling suicidal because it can make them feel like someone cares and that they should seek help. Similarly, asking a non-suicidal person if they are having thoughts of suicide will not suddenly cause suicidal behavior.

Reasons Why People with Mental Illness May Commit Suicide

Mental Illness May Commit SuicideSuicide and mental illness are intimately related, and those struggling with mental illness are often at high risk for suicide. While the reasons for considering taking one’s life will differ from person to person, many are trying to escape the symptoms of a physical or mental illness. To some, death may appear to be the only reprieve from the symptoms of mental illness.

For others, suicide may happen not because of a desire to die, but instead from a misunderstanding that the actions they plan to take may actually result in their death. Sometimes, a person may only be “crying for help” or planning to hurt themselves, rather than trying to instantly die.

Suicide can also happen as an overreaction to extreme stress. Such stressors can be enough to cause someone with mental illness to have an intense reaction, which, in turn, can make suicide seem like an appropriate solution, even if it truly isn’t.

Avoiding Suicide, Beating Addiction

If you’re thinking about seeking help for a suicidal family member, it’s better to seek appropriate care when you sense something is wrong, rather than waiting until it’s too late. It is possible for those struggling with suicidal thoughts to improve their outlook on life.

And for those dealing with suicidal behavior along with a drug or alcohol problem, Fight Addiction Now can help steer their search for the most appropriate dual diagnosis treatment to facilitate recovery and healing.

Learn About Dual Diagnosis Care

 

Gambling and Process Addictions that Can Catch You Off Guard During Substance Abuse Recovery

You’re six months into your recovery from heroin, cocaine, alcohol or another addiction. Smooth sailing from here, right?

Not so fast.

OK, maybe you’ve learned to hold off your cravings for that substance, but that’s not the only threat lurking around the corner. Many people in recovery take the compulsive behavior that once revolved around substances and inadvertently apply it to a new source of entertainment or pleasure. This “source” is usually innocuous on the surface, but in large doses, it becomes a problem.

What we’re talking about are process addictions, which are a threat to almost anybody in the midst of substance abuse recovery. This article will explore the different kinds of process addictions, how they form, and healthier activities to explore instead.

What Are the Different Kinds of Process Addictions?

Process Addiction:
The obsession to take part in certain activity or behavior. A compulsion or dependence on a rewarding behavior.

Each type of process addiction likely needs little explanation, although you may wonder how certain ones can turn into addiction. The top five most prevalent process addictions are to the following activities:

  • Gambling
  • Food/eating (such as binge eating)
  • Shopping (also known as compulsive buying disorder or shopaholism)
  • Sex
  • Internet use/video gaming (also known as computer or screen addiction)

It’s worth noting that gambling is the only behavioral addiction that the American Psychiatric Association currently recognizes, although internet addiction appears to be not far behind.

Lesser-known process addictions and those still being studied include:

  • Love or relationship addiction
  • Porn addiction (independent of sex addiction)
  • Work addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Social media addiction (independent of internet addiction)
  • Plastic surgery addiction
  • Risky behavior addiction (the “Jackass” mindset)

A theme you might notice in almost every process addiction listed is that each can be costly. Process addictions lead many to financial ruin. Not to mention, they threaten relationships, careers, mental health and other aspects of life.

How Do Process Addictions Develop?

People in recovery are often taught to find substance-free activities that give them new purpose in life and are intrinsically rewarding. You’ll notice that none of the aforementioned process addictions need to involve drugs or alcohol (although you could argue that a couple of them often go hand in hand with substance use).

However, when those in recovery begin pursuing these passions, some take it too far. That’s because compulsive behaviors can rewire the brain in ways similar to how drugs and alcohol do. The activities listed above can trigger a flood of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, and this can be addicting. After repeated occurrences, the brain’s natural pleasure and reward system can get off kilter.

Some addiction experts argue that compulsive behaviors can’t really be addictions at all, but that they are simply bad habits. Others note the similarities in behaviors between people with process addictions and those with drug or alcohol addictions.

Whether shopping, eating, video gaming, etc. can lead to true addictions or not, the fact is you will have to seek therapy if one of these behaviors begins to take over your life, and if you want to stop the compulsion, but can’t – at least without outside help.

The Similarities Between Gambling and Sex Addictions

What may come as either a little or a big surprise is that gambling addiction and sex addiction share many similarities. A 2014 study in Spain that took into account the self-reported personality characteristics of gambling addicts and sex addicts found that there were very few differences.

What the study found was that gambling addicts and sex addicts both suffered from symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • Sensitivity
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Psychoticism
  • Obsession and compulsion

And it wasn’t like sex addicts reported high anxiety while gamblers reported mild anxiety. The two groups showed similar degrees of the same symptoms! So even though the two groups basically experienced the same symptoms, the way they expressed themselves and tried to alleviate those symptoms is the major difference.

Another similarity between sex and gambling addicts is that both types of individuals tend to lead double lives; their coworkers and even family members may be wholly unaware of their compulsive pursuits. The entire process becomes addictive to these individuals, even the planning part, which is why these are called process addictions. The thrill of the next conquest becomes the driving force.

6 Different Types of Shopaholics

Did you know that there are at least six distinct types of shopaholics? Not everyone with a shopping compulsion spends hours in retail stores as a status symbol or for the purpose of filling their closet (or entire home) with the latest, trendiest, high-dollar items.

Not sure what we mean? Check out the six main types of shopping addiction and it will make sense:

  • Flashy shopaholics: The most renowned type of shopping addiction. These individuals spend big and opt for the gaudiest items with the intent of impressing others.
  • Bulimic shoppers: They’re addicted to buying items and returning them, a vicious cycle. These are the type to buy a high-dollar outfit, wear it once, return it and then repeat the cycle.
  • Trophy hunters: They’re out to find the perfect items. The thrill for them is in the hunt for the best product, either rare or of the highest value.
  • Bargain hunters: Those who buy things they don’t even need simply because the items are on clearance or a special discount. These individuals relish getting a great deal.
  • Collectors: They’re out to get multiple versions of the same item in different colors, sizes, editions, etc. The addiction is in diligently filling out their collection.
  • Compulsion-shopping addicts: These individuals turn to shopping to relieve stress, anxiety and difficult feelings. They’re not out to necessarily buy the flashiest items, but the act of shopping is their self-medication.

The Idea of Replacement Addiction

Once people stop using alcohol or drugs, they may be at risk of developing a “replacement addiction.” They may no longer be ruining their body by drinking or drug use, but they are chasing a different kind of high. Their indulgence in a certain activity is impacting their quality of life.

As we noted earlier, process addictions change the chemical makeup in the brain in the same way that substance abuse does. The process addictions listed at the beginning of this article can all be considered a replacement for the original chemical dependency. Make note that these are called “substitute addictions,” as well.

Healthier Alternatives to Addictive Processes

There are reasons why addiction treatment programs don’t bring clients on “experiential” outings to casinos and high-end restaurants, and why they limit computer/internet use and discourage starting a new romantic relationship in rehab.

Clients may cling to one of these behaviors or activities, and that can turn into an addiction in itself. An ensuing process addiction could raise the risk of substance abuse relapse, as well.

Instead, rehab programs generally lead clients in, or at least encourage, the following activities:

  • Healthy, portion-controlled eating
  • Meditation
  • Fitness training and exercise
  • Hiking
  • Swimming or boating
  • Art or music creation
  • Sports participation
  • Reading

Notice that these are interests that the client can easily take with him or her beyond the treatment program and into everyday life. Some even call these “positive addictions,” although, like anything, you want to be mindful of doing everything in moderation.

Therapy for a Process Addictions

If you find yourself overindulging in any one activity or specific behavior, you may not need to enter a full-blown treatment program, but you should seek help from a trusted therapist. There are even support groups you can join, such as Gamblers Anonymous, for a variety of compulsive behaviors.

Process addiction is a vast subject, and if you would like to learn more
about these behaviors, we’ve prepared a resource just for you.

See Our Process Addictions Fact Sheet

Real People Explain What Anxiety and Panic Attacks Feel Like

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Real People Explain What Anxiety and Panic Attacks Feel Like

Anxiety and panic attacks are awful. For those that suffer from anxiety and panic disorders, the feeling of an anxiety attack creepy up slowly and slamming you with fear and worry is all too familiar. What’s worse, is that it is all happening in your head and body, unbeknownst to those around you.

You struggle to catch your breath, rub at your chest, and hope it will be over soon – all while fighting off the very real feeling that you are going to die. Meanwhile, your family, friends, and co-workers don’t know what is happening, and likely think that you’ve lost your mind or are having some sort of mental episode.

This is the very real situation for 40 million adults in the U.S. suffering from anxiety and panic disorders, which translates to 18.1% of the population. Even though anxiety and panic attacks are the most common mental health illness in the country, only 36.9% of those afflicted seek any sort of treatment for the disorders.

Anxiety and Panic Disorder Facts and Statistics 

Before we get into what it feels like to have a panic or anxiety attack, let’s learn more about what these disorders are, and how they affect so many in the United States.

  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks Usually Accompany Depression – Doctors aren’t exactly sure why, but both anxiety/panic disorders and depression seem to go hand-in-hand, with sufferers of one having increased chance of suffering the other.
  • 264 Million People in the World Suffer from Anxiety Disorders – According to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Women Are More Likely to Suffer from Anxiety Disorders than Men – With an average of 4.6% of women and 2.6% of men suffering from the disease per WHO research.
  • Anxiety Symptoms in Men Tend to be More Severe than in Women – Just because the disease tends to afflict more women than men doesn’t mean that men are suffering less.
  • General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is By Far the Most Prevalent Form of Anxiety Disorder – with 5% of Americans having suffered from the disease at some point in their lifetime.
  • Anxiety Disorders are More Common in ADHD Sufferers – Along with depression and eating disorders.
  • Panic Disorder Is Seen in 2.7% of Americans – A whopping 15 Million Adults.
  • OCD is More Common in Those with Anxiety Disorders – OCD affects 2.2 Million Adults in the U.S.
  • Research Has Shown that 31.9% of Children (Ages 13-18) suffer from an anxiety disorder – Ages 13-14 (31.4%), Ages 15-16 (32.1%), Ages 17-18 (32.3%).

What is the Difference between and Panic Attacks?

Anxiety and panic, both attacks and disorders, have similarities and differences. In many cases they are two parts of the same disorder, with anxiety often leading to a panic attack. The best way to explain it is by explaining what anxiety and panic both are.

Anxiety – is a feeling that something is wrong, subtle at first, and increasing slowly. It is a creeping feeling that something bad is about to happen, and anxiety can build and last for days or weeks. It can also wax and wane, with anxiety building for several days before hitting a peak or plateau before slowly subsiding again.

Panic – is that feeling when you touch your pocket and realize that your phone or keys are missing, only it happens for seemingly no reason. It is a chemical reaction to stimuli and usually negative stimuli. It happens quick, peaks quickly, and drops again just as quickly. Though it progresses more quickly than anxiety, the symptoms are much more intense.

For most people with panic and anxiety disorders, the anxiety and the panic are just two forms of the same thing. An anxiety sufferer will usually feel an anxiety cycle building for days or weeks before it begins to subside. When the anxiety peaks, a panic attack is likely to also peak. After the peak, the symptoms usually subside and offer a person temporary relief, until the cycle repeats again.

Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack Experiences

For someone who has never had a panic attack, it can be difficult to understand why so many worry about the attacks and say that it is the worst feeling you can ever have. The best way to get an understanding of what a panic attack and anxiety feel like is to hear real people give their accounts.

Panic Attacks Feel like You Are Going to Die

“When I first got panic attacks, I didn’t know what they were. I would be feeling fine, and all of the sudden, I would get the sense of impending doom. Like something bad was about to happen. Since there was nothing around me that should make me feel like that, I thought it meant I was dying, and my body knew it, but my brain didn’t.” – Lee | Gainesville, FL

“It definitely feels like you are dying, but you don’t know what of… One moment you are fine and the next you tell yourself: ‘great, I am about to die in the middle of a F***ing Wal Mart.’” Trent | Sterling, CO

“I have an arrhythmia, and get heart palpitations every few days or so. It gets worse as my anxiety peaks, but during a panic attack, my heart goes wild. I can have multiple palpitations the few minutes that the panic attack lasts. Because of my pre-existing condition, I never know if it is just a panic attack, or if it is a heart attack or something more serious. Every time, it turns out to just be a panic attack, but every time I think I am about to die.” – Kelly | Worcester, MA

“I drank every single day for at least 5 years. I decided to quit drinking after I was arrested, and had my first “real” panic attack the first day I was sober.” I thought I was dying so my girlfriend called an ambulance and they took me to the hospital and told me I was having alcohol withdrawals. I didn’t quit completely after that, and ended up having increasingly bad panic attacks for the next few years until I was able to get sober. I still have them, and they still feel like I am about to die, but the first was the worst. – James | Columbus, OH

Panic Attacks Show Up at the Worst Times

“It was the first day at my new job, and they were making us go around the room and tell a little about ourselves. I am a shy person, so I was nervous anyway. As they went around the room, and got closer to me, I felt my nervousness turn into anxiety. By the time it was my turn, my panic attack was just peaking. I tried to think of something to say, and instead of saying anything, I burst into tears. I was hyperventilating and kept apologizing. Thankfully, the training manager recognized that I was having a problem and moved on to the next person. I have never been so embarrassed, but I got through it and had 3 wonderful years with that company – even though my first day was a literal waking nightmare.”  – Jean Marie | Salt Lake City, UT

“I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time at a fancy restaurant for dinner. I had been feeling the anxiety pressure all day, so I knew that a panic attack was looming. The restaurant was attached to a shopping mall, so I walked around the whole mall before going to the restaurant – hoping to force the anxiety attack and get it over with before having to meet his parents. It didn’t work, so I went in to meet his parents. The panic attack never happened, but I was nervous the entire time, and I wasn’t acting myself. My boyfriend told his parents about my anxiety before we met, so they were overly nice to me, and it ended up working out. That whole dinner was hell though.” – Caty |La Mesa, CA

“I had the worst panic attack of my life in the emergency room of the hospital. I had food poisoning, and for some reason my body felt that was a good time to have a panic attack. I wanted to leave the hospital because I just couldn’t deal with the doctors and nurses being too close to me. They wouldn’t let me leave and tried to hold me down, which made the panic worse. Long story short, a nurse got punched and I got sedated and introduced to bed straps.” – Jane | Bakersfield, CA

Other People Don’t Understand What is Happening When you are Having A Panic Attack, and they Make it Worse 

“Why is it that if you tell someone you are having a panic attack, their first instinct is to touch you? That is the worst possible think you can do! Give me space and let me just deal with it. I’ve learned to just keep it to myself, walk away and go to the bathroom or somewhere I can be alone, but in the beginning, I made the mistake of telling people, ‘hey I am having a panic attack right now.’ And my parents or friends felt the need to try and touch my shoulders or tell me to just relax, or some other stupid thing that does not help” – McKenzie | San Antonio, TX

“I was a sophomore in high school, and I had just walked into English class when Boom! I was hit with an intense panic attack. The teacher noticed I was acting funny and put me on the spot. I couldn’t even formulate the words, so just mumbled something and told her to leave me alone. She was pissed and called the high school officer on me, suspecting I was on drugs. Even the cop didn’t believe I was just having a panic attack, telling me that I was showing the signs of a person who is on drugs. It took a drug test and note from the doctor to avoid suspension from school and that whole scene haunts me to this day. – Rebecca | Highlands Ranch, CO

“We were at a party at a friend’s parent’s house in high school, and everyone was drinking. I wasn’t really a big drinker in high school, so I only had a few sips of a drink. I got a panic attack and I still didn’t know how to handle them back then.  I got scared and started crying. I told my friends I wanted to go home. My friends didn’t want to leave, so I asked the guy whose parent’s house the party was at if he could give me a ride home. He was suspicious of me and for some reason thought I was going to tell my parents about the alcohol and smoking. He told everyone to not let me leave, and some of his friends were even forceful, trying to keep me in his room and talk me out of leaving. I couldn’t explain myself, because I couldn’t even find the words. This went on for a while before the cops actually showed up because the neighbors had complained. The worst panic attack situation I have ever had.” – Anonymous

Should You Get Help for Panic and Anxiety Attacks?

Real People Explain What Anxiety and Panic Attacks Feel LikeAnxiety and panic attacks make for more than just awkward situations, persistent anxiety can take over your life, keep you from doing what you want in your personal life and your career, and can cause the quality of your life to drop. Only 30% of those with anxiety disorders ever reach out for help with their symptoms, and many feel like there is nothing that can be done for panic disorders.

The danger in not seeking treatment for panic disorders is the fact that anxiety and panic can quickly and easily morph into more dangerous co-occurring disorders. Those with panic attacks are more likely to have mental health issues like OCD, depression, severe depression, suicidal thoughts or feelings, and substance abuse issues.

There are many ways to battle the symptoms of anxiety naturally and holistically if you so choose. Medication is not the only treatment for anxiety, and in many cases, medication is not the best option for treatment.

In the end, it is up to you, but you should never feel alone or helpless. There are many others that share your struggles with anxiety, the awkward moments, the frustrations, and even have developed tricks to help deal with the symptoms. As anxiety sufferers, we are a community that understands each other’s stressors and embarrassing moments, and as a community, we can help each other as well.

Read About Stress Managment and Preventing Relapse

Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

From the beginning of time, humans have dealt with physical and mental ailments. It’s part of being human. The body, the mind and the spirit inevitably break down. But there are things we can do to take care of ourselves and minimize the damage. One impactful way we can take care of ourselves is through meditation.

If you think about it, for centuries humanity did not use synthetic medications. Humans and animals have not even always had access to plants and herbs for medicinal use. Meditation, on the other hand, has likely been around since the dawn of civilization.

Can we really fix things with medication?

Certainly, there are some conditions to make us grateful for the advances in modern medicine. But we are not talking about flushing your beta blockers down the toilet; we are talking about managing your life without potent meds when other options are available – options that may even lead to a better result.

Managing addiction recovery without having to resort to any type of drugs, including prescriptions, is a worthy cause. Who likes antidepressants and the side effects, anyway?

What Is Meditation and Mindfulness?

We know all ailments are not solved with drugs, and in recovery, we are trying to avoid taking any drugs again. We have found a better way of life without substances, and many of us seek to extend that better way of avoiding prescription medications that may or may not work.

In an effort to achieve a healthier body, mind, and spirit, people around the world have adopted the Eastern practice of meditation and mindfulness.

A relatively new concept for Westerners, meditation refers to looking inward to improve ourselves. It is about changing our world through changing ourselves.

Mindfulness is the embodiment of reflection and contemplation. Clearing the mind of ruminations and focusing on the five senses is grounding. It shows us what is real – the feel of the earth beneath our feet, the smell of the open air, the view of a tree, the taste of a sweet piece of candy, the sound of relaxing music, etc.

What is not real is living in our heads. Overthinking, letting our thoughts race, is not reality. It’s an imagined world inside, and most of the accompanying worries will never come to pass.

Mindfulness Treatment via Daily Meditations for Recovering Addicts

In the still, quiet moments does a man (or woman) come to know their own heart. It is about self-discovery and rediscovery. Continually knowing ourselves keeps us grounded in our core issues, which keeps us healthy in recovery.

Being mindful means letting unhelpful thoughts flow in and right out, allowing ourselves to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad…but as merely thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness as a form of therapy has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. Here are a few diagnoses that mindfulness improves:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Eating disorders
  • Other mental health conditions

Mindfulness for Mental Health

Besides the cost and side effects, many people don’t want to go on antidepressants. Psych patients are notoriously uncompliant with taking their meds for various reasons, chief among them being the side effects.

Meditation teaches us to feel, think and be OK with it. As ironic as surrendering to a higher power is empowering, permitting ourselves negative thoughts and feelings – without judgment – allows us to face and release them.

Meditation for ADHD

Research suggests mindful meditation can help ease the symptoms of ADHD. The ability to focus one’s attention and concentrate are two advantages that come from mindfulness training. A lack of focus and concentration are chief complaints in ADHD patients, so it follows that meditation can be beneficial to those with an ADHD diagnosis.

Self-regulation is a typical problem for people with ADHD. Mindfulness improves that too.

Meditation for Anxiety

Anxiety disorder culled is stress and worry. The natural response to anxious thoughts and feelings is avoidance. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel it. And ultimately, not feeling got us into a hot mess.

Researchers have evaluated the effects of mindfulness meditation for patients’ biological reactions to stress. Blood tests and studies show definitive results that mindfulness training reduces stress hormones, which effect anxiety.

Mindfulness for Spirituality

“A higher power of our own understanding” is a fluid and flexible concept that can be as definitive as the God of the Bible and as abstract as a force of nature. A higher power can be as simple as a 12-step group itself. God, spirituality, a higher power, religion or anti-religion, mindful meditation fits into each person’s lifestyle.

Some people who have traditional values are afraid this alternative philosophy will be at odds with their religious beliefs, but it’s simply not true. Meditation complements any concept of spirituality, not just Buddhism. Meditation opens your spirit to receive exactly what you need in that moment, regardless of what beliefs you may possess.

Meditation for Physical Ailments

Did you know that there are serious meditation gurus that have perfected the art of meditation so completely they are able to control autonomic nervous system functions like heartbeat and digestion?

We know that people living with high levels of stress are more apt to getting infections, colds and flu, and more illnesses in general. Reducing stress via meditation, therefore, improves general physical health. Add to that the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that deep-belly breathing produces, and it’s not hard to see how pain reduction can happen by meditating.

Inflammation

A 2013 study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health indicated that eight weeks of mindfulness training can reduce stress-induced inflammation better than a health program that includes physical activity, diet education, and music therapy! That’s quite the testament to the healing power of mindfulness.

Make note that inflammation is the culprit for many problems in the body:

  • Arthritis
  • Idiopathic pain
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Transplant rejection

Chronic Pain

Regular mindfulness practice decreases pain. It reduces stress hormones, inflammatory markers and the patient’s perception of pain more than narcotics.

Addiction Issues Treated Without Medication

It takes a great deal of strength to stare down addiction and live to tell the tale. Death follows so many that have struggled with addiction. Many of us who are in recovery have known people that did not – and those that have not yet – found the strength to slay the beast of addiction. Any help along the way is valuable, including mindfulness.

In addition to scientific evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness for clinical diagnoses, some other aspects of life that meditation improves include:

  • Spirituality
  • Focus and attention span
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Smoking cessation
  • Empathetic abilities
  • Quality of life
  • Stress reduction
  • Mood stability
  • Self-esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Inflammation

Summoning the power to live in recovery begs a new skill set, one that includes serenity, courage and wisdom. Developing and exercising this new skill set keeps us healthy and focused on recovery.

If we are to stay clean and avoid relapse, our recovery has to be – and stay – the No. 1 priority in our lives.

Otherwise, no other priorities will matter. Our lives will become ugly and unmanageable again.

Meditation for addiction helps us practice the tenets of the serenity prayer that we need to stay sober. While some people have a spiritual awakening within a particular religion or church, many are finding another way. Non-traditional forms of spirituality are appealing, as they can transcend a specific faith.

Meditation vs. Medication

Peace and understanding come from meditation. This beneficial habit is now evident in brain scans, advances in the understanding of neuroplasticity, blood work and physiological results. Science and spirituality have aligned at last.

Whether we need meditation for depression, addiction recovery or something else, it is a more favorable option than medication. Even if we decide to use medication too, mindful meditation done right is life changing.

Let’s give ourselves permission to just be. To live in the present moment. And to experience the profound healing power of meditation.

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10 Daily Affirmations for Addiction Recovery

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10 Daily Affirmations for Addiction Recovery

Anyone who’s been through rehab has learned we need a heck of a lot less than we thought we needed to live. When it comes down to the bones, we can live on food, water, and shelter. Clothing is even optional.

And if we have those basic needs, we can be OK — happy even — if we’re OK with ourselves.

One way we can be OK and take care of ourselves is by using positive affirmations. It may sound cheesy and we may not even believe them at first, but like any recovery skill, the more you practice it, the more you ingrain it in your soul.

Tips for Staying Sober

Recovery takes work. The pink clouds of joy eventually drift away and reality hits us — sometimes like a dark cloud, sometimes like a dark bus.

Maintaining a successful recovery, whether in rehab in Prescott or in rehab in Colorado, demands we never forget why we chose to get sober and why we choose to remain that way.

Reading daily affirmations, creating our own positive statements (in the first person), or adopting a set of affirmations that resonate personally reminds us who we are and why we are passionate about getting that next-level sobriety coin.

Top 10 Daily Affirmations

Affirmations work well when we start our day looking in the mirror and say them out loud to ourselves. We talk to ourselves all the time in our heads. Why shouldn’t we talk to ourselves with the same loving kindness we would show a friend?

Here are some of our favorite daily affirmations with some explanative tidbits of wisdom. Drumroll, please!

Our top ten affirmations for addiction recovery are:

  1. I am loveable. Just as I am right now.

When we work down to our core issues, most of us find that our deep-seated fears revolve around feeling unlovable or feeling like failures. These are two of the most basic human fears, and triggering those fears propels us toward our addiction.

  1. I already have everything I need inside of me.

It seems to be human nature to look for something outside ourselves to make us feel better, feel that we are someone special and that we can be more. Maybe instead we should look inside ourselves and find someone special waiting there all along.

  1. I face and overcome my challenges.

Every breakdown carries an opportunity to break through. When we view challenges as opportunities to grow, optimism reminds us of the challenges we’ve already surmounted.

  1. I am courageous.

It takes courage to change. We’ve already changed a lot, and we can continue growing and changing our whole lives. Courage leads to success.

  1. I am living an extraordinary life.

Most people live mediocre lives. But we have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life…because our sobriety requires we do. Those of us in recovery are chosen to create a life so good we wouldn’t want to give it up, and we are chosen to help others who are still lost in their addiction.

Eventually, our pain dissipates and risking the loss of this beautiful life prevents us from going back to a life of using.

  1. I am mindful.

Mindfulness is linked to happiness. Letting the negative thoughts pass out of our minds and then pausing to convert them into positive thoughts reminds us that thoughts — and feelings — are transient.

  1. I am finding my authentic self and living with a purpose.

It takes strength to take off our masks and be at peace with who we really are. If we think about the strength it has taken us to get this far, we know we can stay strong even longer.

Even if some of us haven’t found our life’s calling yet, we have found things to live for and we are living determinedly, purposing to do the right thing.

  1. I am proud of myself.

We have already mastered some emotional sobriety skills, and we need to praise ourselves daily for it. Our Higher Power is proud of us.

  1. I am successful.

We have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to get where we are today. We are OK just as we are right now. Addiction doesn’t mean we are bad or worthless people – quite the contrary: It means we have an unrelenting disease that we are fighting tooth and nail.

  1. I am a miracle.

Some of us have looked death in the eye and been brought back to life. Some of us have survived the unthinkable. And some of us have escaped before our lives imploded. No matter what, we are all created wondrously.

Tips for Addiction Recovery

Using affirmations for addiction recovery helps us hold onto positive beliefs about ourselves.

Problems drive you to ask for help…

Pain drives you to change…

The enjoyment of life keeps you sober.

Repeating daily affirmations to stay sober validates the good in you and reinforces an optimistic perspective on life. Viewing things optimistically helps us find the enjoyment of life.

No matter how tough the days get, we are doing so much better than we thought possible. We are better people sober, can lead better lives for ourselves and our loved ones, and can hold hope in a better future.

Let’s stay passionate about our sobriety!

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Minimizing the Risk of Developing Process Addictions in Recovery

Prevent Process Addictions Replacing One Addiction With Another - Fight Addiction Now

Overcoming substance use disorder is only one step in the process of addiction recovery. When a recovering addict can’t get their fix through the use of drugs and alcohol, they’ll often turn to pleasurable yet destructive behaviors to satisfy their addictive urges, leading to bad habits in sobriety. When done in excess, these behaviors and activities can become what are known as process addictions.

Let’s take a closer look at the unique dangers that recovering addicts face when it comes to developing process addictions, as well as strategies for minimizing the risks and ensuring complete addiction recovery.

What Is a Process Addiction?

Process addiction – also known as behavioral addiction – refers to a class of mental health disorders in which a person compulsively engages in certain activities or behaviors, regardless of the negative consequences.

Unlike an alcoholic or drug addict, a person with a process addiction doesn’t rely on a substance to get high. However, this doesn’t mean that breaking a process addiction is easy. In fact, process addictions can be just as strong as any other type of addiction.

What Are Some Common Process Addictions?

Almost any activity or behavior that causes the brain to release dopamine can become the source of addiction. Some of the most common process addictions include:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Video game addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Kleptomania
  • Pornography addiction
  • Internet addiction

What Are the Causes of Process Addiction?

You’ve probably heard many people describe themselves as having an “addictive personality,” but what exactly do they mean? Why are some people able to keep their gambling habit limited to a monthly game of poker, while others pour money into slot machines until their bank account is completely empty?

Three of the biggest factors associated with the development of process addictions are personality type, genetics and history of substance abuse.

Personality Type

Behavioral addictions are more commonly seen in people with specific personality traits. For example, people who score high on tests for impulsiveness often engage in harmful addictive behaviors because they don’t stop to think about the consequences. People high in the personality trait neuroticism will often turn to addictive behaviors to soothe their frequent feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt and depression.

These personality traits can pose problems even in sobriety. People high in the personality trait sensation seeking, for instance, are at risk of developing sex addiction in recovery to satisfy the rush drugs once provided.

Genetics

If you have a parent or sibling who struggles with a behavioral addiction, then you are at an increased risk of developing one yourself. In fact, research performed on both identical and fraternal twins has shown that a person’s genetics account for between 12 and 20 percent of the risk of developing an addiction to gambling.

It’s also been shown that genetics account for more than 60 percent of the risk of developing a dual addiction to both alcohol and gambling.

Substance Abuse

There is strong evidence that substance abuse and process addiction often go hand in hand. For example, a recent study found that 71 percent of male sex addicts also suffer from substance use disorder. Gambling addicts are also almost 4 times as likely to abuse alcohol.

It’s hard to tell whether drug and alcohol abuse leads to process addictions, or if certain people are drawn to addictions of all kinds. Regardless, understanding that these two types of addiction are strongly linked is important when trying to achieve recovery.

The Risk of Replacing One Addiction with Another

Fight Addiction Now Addiction Is A Disease QuoteIndividuals who are recovering from substance use disorder frequently end up channeling their addictive urges into other activities. These can either be healthy activates like personal hobbies and exercise, or they can be destructive activities like binge eating and gambling.

When you think about it, has someone really recovered if they jump right into an unhealthy sugar addiction after drug and alcohol addiction, for example? Even though a process addiction may look like a healthier alternative to drug and alcohol use, addiction of any kind can have the same disastrous consequences.

Some signs that a recovering addict has developed a behavioral addiction include:

  • Giving up sleep in favor of the new activity
  • Damaged relationships caused by the activity
  • Prioritizing the activity over financial and social obligations
  • Stress or anger when they can’t engage in the activity
  • The inability to think about anything other than the activity

Healthier Ways to Replace Addiction

After overcoming the initial pain of quitting drugs and alcohol, recovering addicts are frequently hit with the terrifying question, “What do I do now?” Drugs and alcohol had consumed so much of the addict’s time and energy that their absence leaves a massive void.

In the first few months or years of recovery, it’s very easy to fall back on old, addictive habits and pick up a sex, food or gambling addiction when sober. However, there is a better path.

Remember What Your Passions Are

Think back to a time before addiction. What hobbies and activities did you abandon to make time for drugs and alcohol? What were you passionate about? What brought you joy?

Perhaps you used to love dancing, writing or painting. Recognize that your struggles with addiction do not define you, and that those things that used to bring you happiness likely still can.

Discover a New Hobby

It’s possible that as you’ve grown and changed throughout your life, so too have your interests and passions. Making a fresh start in your life is the perfect time to find out what you really care about. This process can seem daunting, but you can start by asking yourself a few questions.

Do you love art? Consider taking a few classes, or just buy some supplies to blow off steam at the end of the day.

Does helping others make you feel fulfilled? If that’s the case, there are likely plenty of volunteer opportunities in your community.

Go Forth

Remember, you are not alone in the struggle to achieve addiction recovery. Others have been there before and can help you on your journey. If you would like to share your experiences with addiction replacement or a process addiction, come and join us on our forum here at Fight Addiction Now!

Read Our Process Addiction Fact Sheet and Then Find Treatment

Process Addiction Treatment Resource

What Are the Best Therapies for Treating Addiction?

What Are the Best Therapies for Treating Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Scientifically Backed Methods for Successfully Treating Addiction

Searching for effective therapy for drug and alcohol addictions can be daunting. When you begin the search for yourself or a loved one, look for a program that features evidence-based addiction treatment practices. These types of behavioral therapies are based on scientific evidence and have the highest success rates for addiction recovery.

Behavioral Therapies for Addiction

Let’s take a look at the most common behavioral therapies that should be strongly considered for a successful recovery:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR has been shown in studies to combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a common disorder found in those facing addiction. Many people who have struggled with addictions also have a history of trauma and abuse, which can make EMDR an even more effective option.

EMDR treatment includes desensitization of past traumatic events and the changing of associations for current emotional triggers. The desensitizing process takes the form of talk therapy along with a series of therapist-led eye movements. After the completion of eight phases, patients typically report significant improvement in their thought processing and subsequent behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Negative thought patterns are commonplace in those struggling with addiction, which is why CBT is a prime treatment option. This type of therapy is shown to be effective in treating addiction, eating disorders and depression.

CBT is conversationally based with a therapist or in a group setting. In conjunction with a therapist, the client will explore his or her thought processes, identify destructive behaviors and then gradually work to create healthier strategies for living. This requires therapy session work, but the patient must also commit to following new strategies in day-to-day life outside of the therapist’s office.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was created to combat suicidal thoughts. The method has since been found to effectively treat borderline personality disorder and other serious psychological disorders. Suicidal patients are notoriously difficult to treat due to their passive, often defensive, behaviors in therapy.

The DBT model includes group therapies, activities based on the above-mentioned CBT practices, but it also offers immediate phone consultations with therapists. Patients keep their therapist on speed dial, calling them as situations are unfolding in their lives. This is a useful tool for those struggling with addiction when a patient is tempted to fall back into old habits.

The therapy addresses issues in order of their impact on the client’s life, according to American Addiction Centers. Issues involving suicidal tendencies are first priority, followed by therapist-guided activities to reach personal goals.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

So far, this type of behavioral therapy has been successful in treating alcohol, marijuana and nicotine addictions. MET is based on CBT methodology, but typically moves at a faster pace.

Traditional CBT therapy is a slower, step-by-step process, whereas MET can incite internally motivated change within the first two sessions. With regular sessions, the therapist monitors change and helps the patient set incremental goals in his or her life.

Effective Therapies Used in Conjunction with Evidence-Based Practices

In addition to behavioral therapies, many patients credit supportive therapies as being helpful during and after rehab participation. When used in combination with behavioral therapies, these supportive therapies create well-rounded and enjoyable treatment plans.

Learn about various supplemental therapies by browsing through the items below:

Wilderness Adventure Therapy (WAT)

You don’t need a national park near you utilize this method! WAT can be experienced in rural or urban settings. The idea is just to get patients outside, moving and learning new skills. This is a very active form of therapy, intended to engage all of the senses.

Acupuncture Therapy for Addiction

Eastern medicine has found a way into all aspects of the West, including addiction treatment. Those who have undergone acupuncture therapy have reported physical and emotional pain relief, as well as help with withdrawal symptoms.

No one knows exactly how this method works, but thousands of years’ worth of success makes it a viable option. And don’t worry: Clients say it doesn’t hurt.

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is exactly what it sounds like. It allows patients to interact with horses on a regular basis, build trust with them and then be rewarded with a nonjudgmental equine friend. It is a wonderful learning experience with the potential to become a full-time hobby or possible career.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

This method is based on Gary Craig’s EFT Handbook (1993), employing alternative medicine practices that don’t require patients to leave their homes. The practice involves verbalizing a personal affirmation statement while tapping one’s finger in a specific pattern over the body.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease featured a 2016 study that showed significant decreases in anxiety after patients performed this ritual.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is a system that includes group meditation and breathing exercises led by a therapist trained in the technique. It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and also help with some physical conditions. In addition to meditative practices, the therapist guides patients through techniques to improve positive thinking.

Art Therapy for Addiction

This type of therapy is a wonderful option for both creative and noncreative people. Painting, drawing, sculpting and dancing are just some of the activities that qualify as art therapy.

The idea behind this method is not to create a masterpiece, but to express feelings. This is a group-based therapy, but the method offers a popular nonverbal opportunity to express emotions that may not come easily through the spoken word.

Biofeedback/Neurofeedback for Addiction

Science fiction always finds its way into real life. This method involves sensors placed on a patient’s body. The sensors then track bodily functions such as:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Muscle contractions

The therapist then sets the patient up to hear pulsing sounds, images or a series of light patterns that follow heart rate. Ultimately, the combination helps the patient visualize his or her stress level and create effective relaxation methods.

Psychodrama Therapy in Addiction Treatment

This is an opportunity for patients to become actors, but also express a lifetime of pent-up emotions. Psychodrama is simply acting out details or emotions about one’s past.

The therapist will set the scene and encourage patients to act out the emotions involved. Psychodrama can feature just the patient and therapist present, but it can also be effective in a group setting.

The Best Therapies for Treating Addiction Depend on the Person

All of these therapies have proved to be successful to varying degrees, but it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all model for therapy or addiction recovery. The best therapies for addiction treatment are the ones in which individual patients show the most noticeable progress.

It may take some shopping around to find the right type of therapy or combination of therapies that work best. Without a doubt, there is a program out there for every person struggling with addiction.

What experiences have you had with these therapy types? What other options are available that we may have missed? Comment below or in our forum, and then explore the different levels of care available in addiction treatment centers by clicking below.

Explore Levels of Care

Is Smartphone and Social Media Addiction the New Face of Dependence?

Is Smartphone and Social Media Addiction New Face of Dependence - Fight Addiction Now

Neurochemically, Smartphone Addiction Is Real –
Now What?

We’ve all seen it: crowds of people walking with their heads bent, thumbs frantically scrolling, eyes glazed. Smartphones and social media take up hours of time in the average person’s day.

Now, scientists have found a connection between smartphone use and neurochemical imbalances in the brain. Explore the possibility of smart device addiction, and whether it could affect you or someone close to you.

The Staggering Statistics on Smartphone Use

A recent Pew Research study found that 77 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone – up from 35 percent in 2011. More than half of young adults live in households with three or more smartphones.

When surveyed, the majority of respondents said it was “generally OK” to use a cellphone while walking down the street, on public transportation and while waiting in line. Almost half (46 percent) of smartphone owners say they couldn’t live without their phones.

Another powerful wakeup call about how much society relies on and uses smartphones comes from Apple data. According to Apple, the average smartphone user compulsively checks in around 80 times per day. A different report from Kleiner Perkins estimated the number at 150 times per day. In such a strong digital age, is it really so surprising that smart device addiction is making headlines?

For years, scientists and researchers have warned about the possible negative effects of staring at screens for too many hours a day. From the very first video games to the latest virtual reality experiences, every new piece of technology has come with pundits questioning their safety.

Yet, no smart device has sparked the word “addiction” more than the smartphone. Many recent articles state that smartphone and social media addiction isn’t just real, but that it’s commonplace.

Is Smartphone and Social Media Addiction Really a Thing?

Is Cell Phone Addiction a Real Thing?

According to a pioneer study presented at the 103rd Scientific Assembly, smartphone addiction has a correlation with neurochemical imbalances in the brain. Hyung Suk Seo, professor at Korea University in Seoul, led the study. Researchers used a special type of MRI to measure the brain’s chemical composition, and they conducted a survey to determine how often the test subject uses a smartphone.

The results found that smartphone-addicted individuals had significantly higher levels of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impulsivity
  • Insomnia.

The ratio of GABA to Glx neurotransmitters was also significantly higher in smartphone-addicted individuals. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that slows down brain signaling. Glx (glutamate-glutamine) is the neurotransmitter that makes neurons more electrically stimulated.

Professor Seo speculated that increases in GABA related to smartphone and internet addiction “may cause function loss of integration and regulation of processing in the cognitive and emotional neural networks.” Too much GABA can lead to side effects, ranging from insomnia to anxiety, as the brain’s signals reduce in speed.

On a positive note, Seo noted that GABA-to-Glx ratios in smartphone-addicted individuals normalized or improved after cognitive behavioral therapy. It appears, therefore, that reversal is possible.

Possible Ramifications of Smart Device Addiction

Smartphone, social media, internet and gaming addictions could be the new faces of dependency. While Seo’s soon-to-be-published study needs other extensive studies to refute or confirm the correlation between smartphone addiction and neurochemical changes in the brain, it does give food for thought. If smartphone addiction is real and can cause changes in the brain, it means a brand new category of addictive behavior.

You could be one of many people who suffer from smartphone addiction…or perhaps you have a particularly phone-obsessed family member. Signs that you could have a cellphone addiction include:

  • You feel uncomfortable without your phone.
  • It makes you nervous or irritated not to be able to use your phone.
  • The thought of a dead battery scares you.
  • You spend a lot of time thinking about social media.
  • You use social media and the internet to escape personal problems.
  • Cutting down on your smartphone or social media use feels impossible.
  • Your smart device use is so great that it’s negatively impacted your job or relationships.

Smartphone addiction can disrupt relationships, lead to job termination, present financial difficulties and harbor many of the same adverse effects as a drug, alcohol or other addiction. Spending too much time on a smart device could be damaging to mental health. This is especially true if it causes sleep disturbances and depression, as studies seem to indicate.

Smartphone Addiction: Do You Believe the Hype?

Smartphone addiction is a developing theory that could have some basis in scientific evidence. The more data that becomes available about smartphone use, brain activity and addictive behaviors, the more the world will know about this alleged problem. If smartphone addiction can affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, is it therefore comparable to drug or alcohol addictions that do the same?

Do you believe the hype about smart device/social media addiction?
Is there someone in your life who you believe could have this issue?
Or do you believe these “addictions” are unfounded, and simply speculation with little supporting science?
Could smartphone addiction be a developing problem for the younger generations, who have had access to these devices for a longer portion of their lives than adults have? Please give your thoughts on any or all of these questions in the comments below, or get the discussion started in our online forum.