How to Explain Drug Rehab to Your Kids

mother and daughter spending quality time together

Protection Is Instinct

You want to protect your kids. Your roof keeps rain off of them. The walls of your home make boundaries against the outside world. Your fence designates the limits of your property. That innate desire to protect your kids informs your family’s diet. It shapes how you teach your kids about relationships – especially with those outside your home. Protection is the whole reason you ask them to hold your hand when crossing the street. Or when you tell them not to touch a hot stove.

Your Protection Has Limits

But life happens. Sometimes you can’t protect them. Not from some things. Raising children might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done! Having a partner who struggles with substance abuse makes it even harder. When your partner’s life is unbalanced, so is yours. Like anybody who loves somebody else, you prop them up when they fall. You become a pillar. You shift the weight of their life onto your shoulders. That’s devotion. But what about when that lack of balance affects your kids? How do you protect them then? You can’t live in denial. You must face the problem head on. You might hate that. But you must do it nonetheless. You have to explain to your kids, in language they can understand, that their mom or dad struggles with substance addiction. But how?

Practice Empathy

First, practice empathy for your kids. Empathy will help you talk with your kids, instead of just talking at them. To really start this conversation, ask your kid questions. Try something like, “What do you understand about what is happening to Mom/Dad?” Asking an open-ended question like this will motivate your kid to think about their answer. And they’ll be honest – kids are nothing if not honest! Look your kid in the eyes. No matter how much pain you feel – you must put that aside for the moment. You must actively listen to your child’s response. Don’t argue, scold, judge, or critique. Just listen. Once they’ve spoken, then you can begin to dialogue more deeply with them. If they say they don’t know, don’t falter. Keep the conversation going.

Your Partner? Or Your Kids?

You may be angry at your partner. They might’ve done or said something that hurt you. Their decisions might have cost you money. Time. Energy. These internal resources get expended in any relationship. But they really get tested if you love someone struggling with substance abuse. But your feelings about your partner are for your partner. Any anger, any unresolved tension, any conflict. Take those things up with your partner. Focus on what’s right in front of you: your children. Feel their emotions. See the world how they see it. Control your anger. Don’t use this time to insult or belittle your partner. Your family needs unity. Not division. Remember: your children most likely blame themselves for your partner’s choices. If you’re distracted with upbraiding your partner, you will be unable to help your children. No matter what your partner has done. No matter how much you might think they deserve your anger – your children don’t need to hear about it.

Remember The Truth

Your children might feel guilty for your partner’s choices. They might think they are the cause of your partner’s drug abuse or addiction. You must remind them of the truth. Your partner is a human being. Your partner loves your children. Your partner’s choices are theirs, and theirs alone. They are where they are because of things they decided to do. Or because of things they decided not to do. Their life is theirs to deal with. Of course, your children love your partner. Of course, they want your partner to get better. But kids must really believe that they didn’t make your partner do anything. Nor can they make your partner change. They have no control over what your partner does or how s/he acts. They can love and support your partner. But it’s not their job to fix them.

OK, So What Do I Actually Tell My Kids?

Trust is critical at this time. Tell your children the truth about what’s going on. For younger kids (under 10), tell them your partner is sick. They have a disease that’s called “addiction.” They put things in their body that aren’t good for them. They make choices that hurt people’s feelings. They say things that are mean. They sometimes act in ways that confuse the people that love them. For teens and tweens, keep it short and simple. Tell them what’s happening. Fact-by-fact, piece by piece. “Mom/Dad is addicted to _______. That’s why s/he’s been doing _________ or acting ___________.” With older kids, you have more room to be honest about your feelings regarding your partner’s addiction. Remember not to speculate or analyze your partner. Don’t gossip. But do, by all means, tell your child how you feel. “I feel _______ because of the situation.” Own your feelings. Put them on you, not on your partner. But be open, vulnerable, and transparent.

How Do I Explain My Partner’s Treatment?

If your partner is seeking treatment, tell your kids about it. There’s no need to be technical. Use everyday language your kids understand. If it’s intensive outpatient (IOP), explain to your kids how it works. “Mom/Dad will be going to see a doctor on these days and these times.” If your partner needs more serious or long-term treatment, then tell your kids how it works. “Mom/Dad is very sick and will have to go to the hospital to get better.” Tell your kids to expect changes. Tell them it will be hard. If they need to cry, then they should. If they need to talk, make yourself available. You may even consider individual therapy for your kids. Or family therapy if need be. Tell your kids that it’s ok to be angry at your partner. It’s ok to be sad. Those emotions are normal and healthy. There are appropriate ways to express them, but the emotions themselves are ok to feel.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call Recovery In Tune now at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE.

Returning to Work in Recovery

woman working on her laptop after addiction treatment

Work In Progress

You were so desperate. Your decisions felt like they just exploded in your face. No matter what you did, everything just seemed to fall apart. You needed relief. It seemed to take forever to get here. But it did come. You admitted that you needed help. You got treatment. That’s a very significant step. That is a decision you should feel good about. Now, inch-by-inch, you’re starting to put your life back together. Once crucial way for you to continue to recover is to invest in your work. You’ve been in treatment, so you’re familiar with the importance of a schedule. Work helps continue that schedule. Work helps you keep a routine. It lets you know what to expect and when to expect it.

So, what do you do now? How can work aid in your recovery? That depends on the season you’re in. If you’re returning to a job you had prior to treatment, your path will look one way. If you’re job hunting after treatment, your path will look another way.

Punch In, Zone In

If you like your job well enough to continue working there, then you must engage with your work. Commit to being present while you work. You’ve likely heard athletes describe being “in the zone” when they train. Or, maybe you’ve heard something similar from people wrapped up in their favorite hobby. Don’t dismiss that; it’s a legitimate experience. The phrase “in the zone” is short for zone of proximal development. It refers to the space between your current, comfortable skill set, and what lies just beyond it. When you’re at work, do your best to try and get “in the zone.” No matter how menial your tasks, focus intently on them. Sink into your work. Forget about your other obligations for just a little while. And just work.

Around The Water Cooler

Meaningful relationships with coworkers can make a huge impact. You may have a job you don’t like. Or at least one you don’t love. And that’s ok. But chances are, there’s at least one person there you can tolerate. Consider that a win. As your work duties allow, nurture meaningful relationships with coworkers. Use common sense, and keep your conduct professional. Don’t hunt for flirtatious or romantic encounters. But look for people you can invest in. People who will encourage your path to recovery (even if they don’t know you’re in recovery). If your schedule allows, step out to lunch with them. Have discussions about the future, whether work-related or otherwise. Cultivating and maintaining relationships like these makes drab work more interesting.

Educate And Elevate

The road to recovery runs uphill. So does the road to advancement at work. Now that you’re in recovery, you can use your time to think about the future of your job. Is it a feasible career path for you? If so, look for ways to move forward. Check to see if your company offers training programs for promotions. If none are available, try looking for a lateral move. Doing so might provide a way for you to progress faster. Do you need to start (or finish) a college degree? Contact colleges in your area to see what programs they offer for working adults. Many professions have certifications that make you a better candidate for increased responsibility.

Humility Goes A Long Way

What if you’re starting over with work? Maybe you’ve got a gap in your resume and you’re beginning a new career path. Or, what if you’re a young person entering the workforce for the first time? Two words to keep in mind: stay humble. Everyone has to start somewhere. If what’s available to you doesn’t fit with your skill set, or doesn’t pay enough, that’s fine for now. Life has brought you very low. And that’s a good place to be. If you think a job is beneath you, then you must shift your perspective. Carl Jung said that people don’t see God because they don’t bow low enough. You can’t recover upward if you’re looking down your nose at your job. If you aren’t humble, you’ll be aiming down instead of up.

Rate Of Return

Financial investors and business types often mention “rate of return” (ROR). It’s a measure of the loss or gain of money put into an investment. That principle also holds true for life. The amount of money you are paid at work isn’t the only way to measure your success (or lack of it). The very idea of work implies investing in the future – doing something hard or unpleasant now for a reward later. When you punch a clock, you’re actively investing in your future. You’re shaping who you could become tomorrow. What’s your rate of return at work? What level of satisfaction does your job provide? If you’re not getting what you want out of your work, consider what you’re putting into it.

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

In treatment, you stuck to a daytime schedule. Doctors, therapists, counselors, and other medical staff regulated everything for you. In recovery, you must self-regulate. You must lay down the law for yourself, so to speak. When possible, find work that will allow you to participate in evening home groups. This isn’t always possible, especially in job fields like retail, hospitality, or restaurants. But if you can, find work that lets you work daytime hours. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid night shifts. If it’s night shift or nothing – take the night shift. But transition to daytime work ASAP. Regular sleep remains paramount during this stage of your life. Definitely steer clear of bars, liquor stores, and clubs. Even if you’re a young person, you don’t need a night life right now. You’re a person in recovery. You must treat yourself like one.

Work can make a difference in your future. Recovery focuses on the future. Because it’s in the present that we build the future. Finding a job that you like, even just a little bit, helps build that future. Don’t look at your work like something you have to do. View it like an ingredient in your new, recovering life.

Anger Management and Addiction

Woman Suffering from Anger Management and Addiction

Most people struggle with anger. Whether it’s anger that explodes or anger that you stuff. It doesn’t matter. Just about everybody can relate to feeling angry. If you’re in recovery, you’ve noticed a relationship between anger management and addiction. If you’re struggling with anger control, you may likely also struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD).

You may be wondering where the anger begins and the addiction begins. Perhaps you’ve heard of certain drugs that cause anger. Or, you may have begun taking drugs to try and relieve anger. Some antidepressants, though they do not target anger directly, may help you stay calm. You might opt to try Xanax for anger. But some research indicates a correlative relationship between benzos and anger.

In this article, you will learn:

● What is the relationship between anger management and addiction?
● Are there drugs that cause anger?
● What are practical ways to manage anger?

What Is The Relationship Between Anger Management And Addiction?

Uncontrolled anger has a link to the formation of substance use disorders. Consider the role of alcohol in domestic violence. For a person with poor impulse control, alcohol will only make their situation worse. A domestic abuser may experience any number of negative emotions. Drinking may help ease some of those emotions. But alcohol also lowers inhibition, thus keeping the domestic violence cycle turning.

What Is Anger?

Merriam-Webster defines anger as, “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” You might feel it when someone breaks a commitment. Or misses an appointment. You’re likely to anger when someone betrays you. When someone lies to, or about, you. Or maybe when someone discloses something you told them in confidence.

Symptoms Of Anger

Knowing the emotional and physical symptoms of anger can be very helpful. Pay attention to these symptoms, they’ll come in handy later.

Internal Symptoms

We feel anger internally before we display it externally. It might feel like a clinching or burning sensation in your gut. You might feel it a little higher in your chest. Your thoughts will also offer cues to your anger. You’ll think things like, “How dare they…” or “They won’t get away with this…”

When you’re angry, your mind might bring vows to mind. These are absolute statements. Agreements with yourself that you may not even be aware of. They involve phrases that begin with “always” and “never.” This process happens in fractions of a second. But if you’re mindful, you’ll learn to recognize it.

External Symptoms

Once you’ve stepped into your anger, look for changes in your body. Notice bodily sensations like:

● Sweating, typically on your head, face, and torso
● Narrowed eyebrows
● Lowering or raising your voice
● Racing pulse, or tension in your temples
● Stiffness or rigidness in your hips, back, and neck
● Shaking hands or jaw

Verbal Symptoms

Anger will show up in your speech as well. The tone of your voice may either hush to a whisper or elevate to a yell. You may blame, insult, or even threaten people around you. You might even use curse words or other provocative language. Anger can stimulate salivation, so you will likely foam or froth at the mouth when you speak.

Anger And Addiction

By itself, anger may not cause addiction. But it certainly contributes to it. In his essay On Anger, the Stoic philosopher Seneca said that anger was essentially madness. “You have only to behold the expressions of those possessed by anger to know that they are insane,” Seneca wrote.

Is it any wonder that a person would want relief from this kind of insanity? Some drugs, like antidepressants and benzos, may temporarily offer relief from anger. For a little while, they make us feel a little bit better. Or, at least less bad.

Just feeling angry isn’t wrong. On an emotional level, feeling angry is no different than feeling anything else. But because of its toxicity, we must change the way we think about anger. In recovery, we don’t simply become sober as an end. Sobriety is a means. In this case, a means to understand our anger, process it, and express it in ways that are proactive and helpful. This is how we come to understand the relationship between anger management and addiction.

Are There Drugs That Cause Anger?

Methamphetamines show possible links to violent acts like suicide. Women who consume methamphetamine seem to be at least as violent as their male counterparts. Some case studies indicate that steroid users report feelings of irritability and anger.

An inability to control anger may be a precursor for alcoholism, but this doesn’t mean that alcohol causes a person to become angry. Likewise, cocaine can make symptoms of pre-existing mental illnesses more prevalent. Some of those symptoms include violent acts, whether against self or others.

Evidence appears to suggest a very strong connection between anger and addiction. But no specific drug makes a person angry. Rather, drugs seem to amplify how the person feels already. Addiction makes a bad anger problem into a terrible anger problem.

What Are Practical Ways To Manage Anger?

Now, you know what anger is. You know how to recognize how it feels. And how your body expresses it. You also know how anger alters your speech. You know how addiction and anger relate. With those things in mind, here are 3 practical steps you can implement that will help you better express your anger.

Become Mindful Of Anger

To practice mindfulness means to become aware. To pay attention. To see something in your mind with focus and effort. Meditation can help strengthen this awareness. And awareness works just like a muscle. If you train it, it gets stronger. The more you train your awareness, the better you will be at detecting your anger. The earlier you detect your anger, the quicker you can act to express it healthily.

Label Your Anger

Once you become aware of your anger, call it for what it is. Name it. Even if no one is around, say out loud, “I am angry.” But if others are around, saying this aloud is helpful. Speaking your anger provides clarity for you, and for those around you.

Identify The Reason(s) For Your Anger

Once you’ve said that you’re angry, it’s time to say why. To bring abstract feeling into concrete reality. This will help further clarify why you feel what you feel. Say, “I am angry because of ________.” Don’t judge your reason. But don’t defend it or excuse it either. Just say it. Once you’ve done that, you can then examine your reason(s) for being angry.

Getting Help For Anger Management And Addiction

If you have more questions about getting help for anger management and addiction, call Recovery In Tune now at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE.

Alcohol and Major Depression Symptoms

alcohol major depressive disorder

Alcohol addiction and depression are two conditions that have a high likelihood of occurring simultaneously, thus making them a co-occurring disorder. This means that addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms often appear at the same time. Furthermore, these two conditions are known to exacerbate each other’s negative effects, creating an ever-worsening cycle that can cause serious harm if not properly treated.

However, there is a silver lining: treating one condition can make the other better as well. In other words, if you treat alcohol addiction and see improvements, you will see improvement in the symptoms of depression. Keep in mind that this is not an easy or quick process. In severe cases, treatment can last for months or years.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is one of the types of depression. It is the most common type of depression in the United States, with an estimated 6.7% of American adults suffering from this condition at any given time. Women are also more prone to suffering from this condition compared to men. Approximately one in every three women will experience major depressive disorder at least once in their lifetime.
People with major depressive disorder experience such severe feelings of depression that they cannot function normally. These feelings can have significant adverse effects on a person’s personal and professional lives. Some people may only experience it once, but most will have several episodes.

How to Spot Alcohol Addiction and Major Depression Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

• Consuming large amounts of alcohol frequently
• Regular consumption of alcohol, even on a daily basis
• Severe alcohol cravings
• Continued drinking even when experiencing negative health effects
• Consciously hiding alcohol consumption out of guilt or fear of judgment

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

• Feelings of melancholy
• Feelings of worthlessness and guilty
• Continuous fatigue
• Lack of energy to perform daily tasks
• Lack of interest in personal relationships
• Lack of interest in work
• Substance addiction, including alcohol
• Suicidal thoughts
If you observe more than a couple of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help right away.

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

The most difficult thing about finding treatment for alcohol and major depressive symptoms is that they are hard to diagnose. In many cases, the symptoms can overlap and even mask the other. Many people who suffer from major depressive disorder may use alcohol to self-medicate. Those who drink frequently are at greater risk of developing depression, and subsequently increase their alcohol consumption to feel better.
Studies have found that people with a family history of alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder have a higher risk of developing either condition. Those who have suffered trauma or abuse are also more likely to develop this co-occurring disorder.

Can Alcohol Addiction Cause Major Depressive Disorder?

While it has been found either condition can cause the other, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has determined that it is more likely that alcohol addiction can lead to a person developing major depressive disorder. When a person is struggling with alcoholism and fails to cope with their situation, they can develop feelings of depression. They feel weak and inadequate, which leads to more drinking to help manage their negative emotions.

The Relationship between Major Depressive Disorder and Alcohol Addiction

According a study conducted by the University of Otago, addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms are closely correlated. As many as 40% of alcoholics will develop major depressive disorder. This is likely due to two things: the sedative effects of alcohol and its ease of access. Unlike anti-depressant drugs, people don’t need a prescription to get alcohol. What’s more, alcohol is much cheaper compared to medication.
Drinking alcohol can and does relieve major depressive symptoms, albeit temporarily. However, since the effects of alcohol can wear off quickly, people who use it to self-medicate will need to take it on a regular basis to keep feeling the effects. What’s more, they find that they need to take it in ever-increasing amounts as they develop a stronger tolerance over time. This cycle will likely continue and worsen until treatment is given.

Finding Treatment

The first step in treating addiction to alcohol and major depressive symptoms is consulting a licensed addiction counselor. Neglecting to find proper consultation can lead to a misdiagnosis, or worse, trying to self-diagnose. This problem is likely due to the fact that many people mistakenly feel that having either alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder makes them appear weak and open to ridicule from others. Some researchers even believe that this is the reason why men are less likely to seek treatment compared to women.

Once this co-occurring disorder has been diagnosed by a professional, there are several treatments that can be prescribed, such as:

Medication

Both alcohol and major depressive symptoms usually cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly by decreasing the amount of neurotransmitters. Anti-depressants are usually prescribed to help correct this chemical imbalance and relieve the symptoms of both conditions. In the case of severe alcohol addiction, drugs such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or gabapentin can be prescribed to help curb the craving.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapy methods for people with major depressive disorder. CBT helps people identify their triggers and manage their negative thoughts and emotions by modifying their behavior.

Rehabilitation

Many people with alcohol addiction may require rehab to help detox. Detox is a dangerous and long process, especially for those who have suffered from alcohol addiction for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and should be managed in a controlled environment. However, people with mild alcohol addiction can undergo detox as an outpatient.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help by offering group sessions, classes, and call centers. These groups are immensely helpful for people who might not have a strong support system in their private circles.

Getting Help Today

Suffering from alcohol addictions and major depressive symptoms might feel hopeless, but there is always hope! For those who are willing to take that first step, help is available. There are numerous treatment facilities that are able to give the best care possible. Recovery in Tune offers evidence-based treatment for those who are seeking to overcome their co-occurring disorder. Call us for more information, anytime 1-844-7-IN-TUNE

Benefits of Meditation in Recovery

man meditating in a field

Meditation has moved out of the spiritual realm and into the medical field. Studies have shown that meditation assists in recovery from illnesses of the mind and the body. It also helps those in recovery from addiction.

How Meditation Promotes Recovery

People battling addiction have far more stress than the average person. Cravings plague us. Resentments gnaw at us. We live in a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Meditation assists with all of these. Clinical investigations show that meditation alone provides the following benefits:

• Stress relief
• Improved emotional awareness
• More control over anxiety
• Identifying addiction triggers
• Greater compassion towards self and others
• Increase in positive neural transmitters
• More flexible thinking and problem-solving
• Promotion of acceptance
• Cultivation of better coping skills

Add meditation with talk-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise and medication-assisted treatment, and the results are even more profound.

What is Meditation?

In general, meditation is nothing more than training the mind to relax and focus. Then seeing the patterns of the mind from a detached emotional state. It fosters calm and reduces stress by directing thoughts inward or drawing attention to the present moment. Through concentrating on a simple concept, racing thoughts are released. Relaxing physically eliminates strain on the body.

The natural image that occurs when we think of meditation is of a monk sitting in the lotus position, peaceful and tranquil. It conjures images of deep serenity and oneness with the universe. This is only partially true. In fact, there are as many different types of meditation as there are those who practice it.

Types of Meditation

There’s no wrong way to meditate. The methods are easy and require no special training to accomplish.

The most popular types of meditation for recovery are:

Mindfulness Meditation

Typically accomplished by focusing on the breath and merely watching your thoughts and the air as it passes into and out of your body. The goal is to be aware of what you think and how you feel so as to know what thoughts or feelings are troubling you. You detach from these thoughts, and because you are detached you can observe them without allowing them to carry you away. According to scientific research, this style is one of the most useful in addiction recovery.

Mantra Meditation

When picturing a monk sitting serenely in meditation, she or he may be chanting “Om.” This is mantra meditation. A basic word or phrase – called a mantra, taken from the Vedic tradition – is repeated over and over. The goal here is to focus the mind on the word while releasing other thoughts. Transcendental Meditation is one form of mantra meditation.

Relaxation

All meditation involves relaxation, but in this style, the entire goal is to soothe the mind and body by tensing and then relaxing muscles. Start at the feet and strain them, then release. Move up the legs. Then the arms, chest, neck, and face. By doing this, tension releases and the brain focuses on the body instead of stressful thoughts.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Emotions are the focus of loving-kindness making it particularly useful for anyone with resentment or anger. Compassionate thinking and openness toward to love toward one’s self, family and all life is the aim.

Visualization

During visualization, a happy, unworried place is pictured. It allows the person to mentally live in that place and generates the feelings that space creates. Using all five senses helps add texture, which makes the relaxation deeper and the emotions more real.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Not every style is right for every person. Experiment with each, use combinations or blaze a trail to find a new style that allows you to unwind.

Why Just Being Sober Isn’t Enough

happy man sitting on the steps of a building

A Fork In The Road

Sobriety isn’t easy. You tried really hard to get here. Now you’re trying really hard to stay here. That’s significant. Feel the weight of that accomplishment. You’ve made a critical decision. You deserve to feel that sense of accomplishment. But sobriety isn’t the end of your journey. It’s the beginning. You’re at a major fork in the road of your life. You aren’t doomed. You have choices, and those choices matter. You’ve done good work so far. But human willpower is a finite resource. It will weaken, eventually. And remember: sobriety is not the same thing as recovery.

Why Isn’t Sobriety Enough?

If you’re sober, that means you can think clearly. Your emotions are balanced. You can make accurate judgments about external things. That’s your normal state, right? Not exactly. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change itself. The brain works through systems and habits. Whatever your goals are, your brain wants you to have them. It will motivate you to push toward your goals. It will also disregard anything that gets in your way. What does that mean for your sobriety? It means your sobriety is no longer your normal state. Dependence is your balance now. Your mind and body must have your substance of choice in order to function properly. That’s your “new normal,” as it were. Sobriety is about stopping something that’s not good for you. Sobriety is good, but it isn’t enough. It’s just step 1.

Sobriety vs. Recovery. What’s The Difference?

Sobriety is about stopping. But recovery is about starting. Think of someone who can’t swim. Throwing them a life preserver is good. They aren’t drowning anymore. They’re ok. But they still don’t know how to swim. To boot, they’re still stranded. They need to learn how to swim and find land. That’s the main difference between sobriety and recovery. Sobriety involves moving away from old patterns. Recovery is about moving toward new ones. Sobriety draws a line in the sand and says “no more” to things in the past. But recovery creates new thoughts, new patterns, new habits. Recovery rejuvenates. It creates. For that reason, it’s more powerful than sobriety. But it’s also more difficult.

Why Is Recovery Better?

For most people, maintaining sobriety alone isn’t sustainable. It’s a well-intentioned choice. And a good one. But it’s always looking backward. For that reason, it’s easy to get too attached to guilt and shame. Sobriety doesn’t look forward. It focuses on what’s behind you. Recovery allows you to build something better. It engages with the future, and allows you to remake yourself. Recovery paves the way for you to be at peace with yourself. In recovery, you can dig into what’s beneath your addiction. You can heal. You can realize hope. That hope can carry into your relationships and mend them. Recovery helps you see your life from a critical lens. It lets you be honest about your past choices, mistakes, and traumas. Only through dealing with past hurts can you experience healing. Remember: sobriety is good. But it’s just the beginning for you. You’ve done well so far. Keep up the good work. Reach out to learn more about recovery.

If you’d like to know more about recovery and treatment options, call Recovery In Tune now at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE.


Can Benzos Cause Anxiety?

woman wearing a mask looking out of a window

Millions of these drugs are prescribed each year. Classified as sedative-hypnotics, they have an effect on the central nervous system very similar to alcohol.  The withdrawal symptoms and side-effects of benzos are similar to those found with alcohol and barbiturates. The potential for abuse and dependence is very high.

For the past 50 years, benzodiazepines (AKA benzos) have been the premier treatment used for anxiety disorders. Popular benzos include:

• Alprazolam (Xanax)
• Lorazepam (Ativan)
• Clonazepam (Klonopin)
• Diazepam (Valium)
• Temazepam (Restoril)
• Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
• Clorazepate (Tranxene)
• Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)

How Benzos Work

In the simplest terms, benzodiazepines stop the brain from producing fear. They do this by interfering with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. This system is a set of chemical receptors in the brain which absorb GABA. When GABA locks into these receptors, they inhibit the ability of the amygdala to generate flight or fight responses. This, in turn, reduces anxiety, creating a sense of calm.

While drugs that interact with the GABA system are very effective at treating problems like anxiety, insomnia, panic and seizures, they also have a wide range of side-effects.

The Dangers of Benzodiazepines

Increased anxiety is one of the long-term problems that come with benzo use. Because these drugs inhibit anxiety in the short-term, they alter the natural brain chemistry of the user. The brain then becomes reliant on the drug to stop the fear reactions, and produces less GABA on its own. With GABA levels reduced, the person needs the drug to regulate their mood, since the brain is no longer able to do it without chemical assistance. The result is a person who requires increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. Without it, their natural fear levels become overwhelming.

Besides the increase in anxiety, benzos also carry a host of other problems, particularly when abused. They can cause depression, lack of motivation, delirium, aggression, amnesia, hallucinations and paranoia. By inhibiting brain function these drugs also slow reaction times, reduce the ability to think rationally and cause slurred speech. When combined with alcohol or opioids they can suppress the ability to breathe, quickly leading to death.

Dependence, reliance and abuse are also common with benzos, particularly among individuals who already have a tendency to misuse substances. Because the euphoric effects are so similar to alcohol, the allure to use these drugs recreationally is profound.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is also extremely difficult. Since the drug reduces fear, fits of extreme panic, terror and hostility are common because the fight or flight response is overactive. Sleeplessness, physical discomfort, agitation and a sense of impending doom frequently plague users.

Getting Off Benzos

There are severe emotional aspects of withdrawal. Therefore, quitting benzodiazepines without assistance is not recommended. It is strongly suggested to have a therapist, along with other major sources of support. Medication-assisted treatments (MATs) can help reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. Anti-depressants are nearly as effective at reducing anxiety, with far fewer difficulties and risks. Consulting with a doctor on the best path to quitting is always helpful.

Anyone who is fighting with benzo addiction should consider a structured environment, such as Partial Hospitalization (PHP) or an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program. These can help manage the painful mood swings and downright dread that come with stopping. Support and structure are paramount in recovery from benzo addiction. It is impossible to overstate their importance. Don’t try to do it alone.

Effects of Cocaine Abuse on Mental Health

man with hands covering his face

How Does Cocaine Affect The Brain?

Cocaine is a stimulant, which means that it makes the nervous system operate faster. Regular brain functions will amplify, their natural effects seeming more intense. Cocaine works by interfering with the brain’s mesolimbic pathway often referred to as the reward pathway (1). We involve the reward pathway any time we experience something enjoyable. Eating our favorite meal, achieving a goal, physical intimacy – these all activate our brain’s reward pathway. Think of it this way: anything that gives you pleasure, or makes you feel good, involves this part of your brain. The reward pathway also regulates our motivations; the reasons we have for doing things. Additionally, it helps us keep our emotions stable.

When we want something, or when something interests us, our brain produces dopamine. Dopamine propels us toward what we want; it motivates us to pursue that thing, person, experience, or feeling that we’re after. Moreover, dopamine tells our brain when something pleases us. Inside our brain, dopamine flows across a gap between two neurons. This gap is referred to as a synapse. Cocaine prevents the flow of dopamine between different neurons, leaving it stuck in the synapses of the brain. This heightens a user’s feeling of pleasure, creating euphoria (2).

Cocaine also disrupts the function of one of the brain’s most important neurotransmitters – glutamate. Glutamate is significant because it assists your nerve cells (neurons) with performing their specific functions (memory, movement, hearing, vision, etc.). With an appropriate amount of glutamate in your brain, your neurons communicate just as they should. But cocaine causes the brain to make more glutamate than normal. Too much glutamate creates a condition called excitotoxicity. When the brain makes too much glutamate, it can damage (and even kill) your neurons. Consequently, a long-term user of cocaine might experience memory loss, partial deafness or blindness, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

Cocaine and Mental Health

But how might these changes in the brain affect mental and emotional health? In research studies, animals exposed to cocaine are likely to want it when they experience stress (3). The way we respond to stress trains our brain to make that response automatic. So, a user’s brain may respond to stress by craving cocaine for its new “normal” functioning. Since cocaine is a stimulant, some users might notice that they don’t need to eat or sleep. Quality nutrition and adequate sleep are keystones in maintaining mental wellness. Users might also experience more anxiety and paranoia. Panic attacks, irritability, and even auditory hallucinations can occur. For a person who already suffers from an anxiety disorder (panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, etc.), cocaine makes symptoms even worse. Over time, these effects can deplete the body’s ability to heal, which will further aggravate any stressors that already exist. For a user of cocaine, this creates a battle on multiple fronts.

Is Help Available?

Physical health is not the only thing that cocaine compromises. It takes a toll on a user’s mental health as well. However, help is available, without question. No one is too far gone to seek treatment. At Recovery In Tune, we believe in treatments that offer relief to the whole person. Call us now at 1-844-7-IN-TUNE for more information.

 

Sources

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025434/
(2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/how-does-cocaine-produce-its-effects
(3) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-some-ways-cocaine-changes-brain

How to Cope With the Time Between Therapy Sessions

man practicing mindfulness

Perhaps you’ve stepped down from a higher level of treatment. Or you’re attending to responsibilities at home, work, or school. You have a lot of freedom; a good deal of autonomy. And you should have it. Outpatient treatment programs allow for that. Your environment and routine are open. You have authority over your own time. You’re only obligated to meet with a therapist or counselor once a week. That’s 7 days. 168 hours. A lot can happen in that time frame. If you stop and think about it too long, it can feel like a lot of pressure. Struggling with addiction and/or mental illness is no easy task. Remember that recovery is never done. It’s a lifestyle. When you’re counting the days between therapy sessions, how can you proactively practice recovery?

1) Practice Mindfulness

“Mindfulness.” You hear that word a lot lately. It gets used a lot in therapy and self-help circles. You’ve likely heard it yourself. If not in treatment, then in your personal life. It’s one of those words that gets tossed around so much that it might’ve lost its meaning. Mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening. Observing what’s really going on with you. Getting away from pretense, distraction, and business. Making time to really pay close attention to yourself. How can this help you? Where your mind goes, your body follows. If your mind confronts stress, your body responds in kind. One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to anchor your mind to your body. If you’re stressed or overwhelmed, look around. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Smell the aromas. Eat slowly, really tasting your food. These are just a few ways to practice mindfulness. Practice! Mindfulness is a skill. It takes practice!

2) Rethink Control

Aftercare options like Celebrate Recovery make use of the “Serenity Prayer.” If that’s not quite your preference, think of it like this: You can control some things, but not all things. You may read that and think, “Well, of course!” But pause a moment. It isn’t such an easy thing to tell the difference between what you control and what you don’t. What can we control, really? We can control what and how we think. We cannot control other people, but we can decide how we will deal with them. We cannot control tragedies, but we can decide to prepare for them in advance. Rethink what you control and what you don’t. Doing so opens up space in your mind. Now, you can focus on the most crucial parts of your life. And forget all the rest.

3) Create A Schedule

Your therapy session will only occupy 1 hour of your week. And your next one is an entire 168 hours away! To recover from addiction and keep mentally fit, you need a schedule. It needn’t be complicated; there’s no need to buy a planner and budget your day down to the second. You might be an early riser, up at the crack of dawn. On the other hand, you might be a graveyard shifter. There’s no such thing as a perfect schedule. Your schedule must be consistent. It must be tailored properly to your life, so that you know what you are doing and when you are doing it.

Everything discussed above gives you continuity with everything you learned in therapy. You learned new skills that must be repeated. Therapy, no matter how intensive, isn’t your life. You must adapt what you learned in therapy to fit your life. Spend time with people who encourage your recovery. Consume media that aid in your recovery journey. Eat well, move, exercise. Try art, writing, or music. This is how you recover between sessions. This is how you thrive.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction or mental illness, contact Recovery In Tune now. Call 844-746-8836.

What Should I Do to Get Rid of My Addiction?

group of happy coeds celebrating freedom from addiction

“It’s not hurting anyone else.” “What does it matter what I do with my own life?” “Not your body, not your problem.”

Do these ideas sound familiar? Even if you haven’t had these exact thoughts, you may have had similar ones. As addicts, we sometimes like to believe that our behaviors only affect us. We’re whole people. We think our own thoughts, feel our own feelings and act as we see fit. We have a will, the ability to choose what actions we believe are best. What we choose to do with our own minds and bodies is our business, right?

To be sure, addiction can increase the chances of harming your health. We all know this intuitively. However, our thoughts, feelings, and choices do impact others. We may tell ourselves that what we do only affects us – but it just isn’t true. An addict’s lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Lung disease, and mental illnesses (1). That much we may admit. But what about relationships with parents, children, significant others, and friends? How have these relationships been affected by addiction?

In order to begin ridding ourselves of addiction, we must understand that we’re not alone. We’re not merely drifting through life disconnected from everyone else. We are not our own; we do not belong just to ourselves. Our choices matter and they reach beyond us and our bodies. We need the people around us – just as much as they need us. We each have a unique role. We are all endowed with gifts that are specific to us, and addictions all too often rob us of realizing those gifts.

If we believe that we are powerless, we will remain so. If we believe we are beyond help, we will not seek it. But if we can breathe, then hope is possible. We know we can control our breathing. We can breathe short and shallow, or long and deep. If we can grasp that, then we can grasp the power of the present moment. What’s past is a memory, and the future hasn’t arrived yet. Therefore, the present is all we really have.

Remember that recovery is a lifestyle and that it continues after treatment. Aftercare options include 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Other alternatives include Rational Recovery and faith-based programs like Celebrate Recovery.

To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Epictetus (2), it’s not life that bothers us. It’s not other people or circumstances. It’s what we think about these things that cause us pain and discomfort. Our attitudes have immense influence over the quality of our inner lives. How we think about ourselves frames how we act in relation to others.

If we choose hope in the present, we can choose recovery. We need not live in addiction. Our fate is not set in stone; it can be changed. It may be difficult. It might involve having conversations that aren’t comfortable. It might involve new routines and regimens. But it is possible. One single breath, one single choice linked to another. That’s how we begin to rid ourselves of addiction.

If you or someone you love needs help, contact Recovery In Tune now. Read more about our different treatment options here.

Sources

(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health
(2) https://www.gutenberg.org/files/45109/45109-h/45109-h.htm