Why Does My Therapist Ask Me About My Family?

Although there are commonalities among people who suffer from addiction to drugs like amphetamine, just as there are commonalities among people with heart disease or cancer, it is important that treatment be individualized and based on each patient’s unique needs. In addiction treatment, therapists will seek to learn as much as possible about their patients and their life circumstances. Knowledge about both an individual’s family of origin and current family situation can help in tailoring a treatment plan. Continue reading Why Does My Therapist Ask Me About My Family?

How to Accept Good With the Bad

It has been said that life is less like a hike through mountains and valleys as it is a journey by train, with one rail representing life’s positives and the other the negatives. Joy and pain will both always be part of the human experience. Learning to see blessings in seasons of pain and accept challenges during times of joy is an important skill to master. Continue reading How to Accept Good With the Bad

How Continued Drug Use Leads to an Overdose

People begin taking drugs like amphetamine for a number of reasons. Sometimes drugs are originally prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition. Sometimes people begin using drugs to manage negative emotions and to escape from the difficulties of life. Often, people originally begin using drugs out of curiosity or a desire to be part of a group. Continue reading How Continued Drug Use Leads to an Overdose

Does My Addiction to My Depression Meds Count as a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis is a term applied to the condition of suffering from both a mental health condition like depression or anxiety and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. When people have a Dual Diagnosis, the best treatment outcomes are seen when the conditions are treated concurrently, in an integrated manner and preferably within the same treatment facility. People who have been diagnosed with depression are often prescribed medications, and it is common to develop some degree of dependence on them. Continue reading Does My Addiction to My Depression Meds Count as a Dual Diagnosis?

Learning to Believe in Yourself During Addiction Treatment

There are many factors that contribute to success in meeting goals such as recovery from addiction. Motivation is important, as is a sober support network. One important characteristic is people’s belief that they have what it takes to overcome challenges. This is sometimes known as self-efficacy.

The American Psychological Association defines self-efficacy as the belief that people hold that they are capable of doing what is necessary to produce given results. They note that people’s evaluations of their capabilities influence the setting of goals and the amount of energy spent on them. They also affect the likelihood of reaching the goals that have been set.

Self-Efficacy in Addiction Recovery

A 2015 study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse  examined factors associated with recovering from addiction. The study identified variables that helped patients become abstinent and those that helped them remain abstinent for an extended period of time. There was overlap between the lists, but they were not identical.

One personal characteristic that appeared on both lists was self-efficacy. Patients with higher self-efficacy were confident in their ability to use the skills they had been taught in treatment. Patients currently in outpatient treatment who were still using cocaine were interviewed. Those with high self-efficacy had a 35 percent likelihood of being abstinent at the next interview, compared to almost no likelihood for those with low levels. Among patients who were already abstinent, those with high levels of self-efficacy had more than an 80 percent chance of remaining abstinent for the next interview, compared to 40 percent for those with low scores.

Developing Belief in Yourself

Self-efficacy is thought to develop in a number of ways. The website Education.com explains that the psychologist Albert Bandura developed self-efficacy theory. He posited that beliefs come from mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasions and physiological reactions.

Mastery experiences involve the interpretation of past success. Performing a task successfully builds confidence that future attempts will also be successful. Vicarious experiences, or social modeling, involves drawing confidence from the successes of others. Social persuasion is the encouragement individuals get from other people, and physiological reactions are the moods and feelings that are the backdrop for the way in which people interpret events.

Ways to build self-efficacy include the following:

  • Build on small successes. Make a small, manageable change in order to boost your confidence. Set another small goal, and when it is reached, set another.
  • Remember past achievements. Taking time to remember when past goals were met can build a sense of confidence and belief in yourself. It is especially helpful to think of times when goals were accomplished that initially seemed too difficult or unreachable.
  • Follow someone’s lead. Finding role models with whom to identify can help build a sense of possibility. If others who share characteristics with you can overcome challenges, it can bolster the belief that you can do it, too.
  • Find ways to boost your mood. Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Address any mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
  • Pay attention to your support system. Some people are more naturally encouraging than others. Try to spend more time with people who encourage than with those who don’t.
  • Acknowledge and address negative thought patterns. It is natural to have periods of self-doubt, but all thoughts don’t need to be accepted as truth. Acknowledge the thoughts, examine their validity and counteract them.

The Support of Others

Self-belief may develop somewhat differently in males and females. A 2005 article in the American Journal of Community Psychology reported on a study of social support and self-efficacy for patients recovering from substance addiction. The study found that time in treatment related to increased self-efficacy and to decreased support for alcohol and drug use. The authors found, however, that for women, social support mediated the link between treatment and increased self-efficacy, but the same was not found for men.

There are a number of practices that therapists may use to help their patients build belief in themselves. One is motivational interviewing (MI). A motivational interviewing assessment notes that MI is intended to help patients resolve ambivalence. Treatment providers aim to express empathy, develop discrepancy, roll with resistance and support self-efficacy.

We Can Help You Begin a Recovery Journey

If you are ready to begin an addiction recovery journey, we can help you get started. Our toll-free helpline is staffed 24 hours a day with knowledgeable consultants who can answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options. They can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. There is nothing to lose by calling, and much potentially to gain. Why not call now?

How Stress Management Can Aid Rehab

Stress and substance addiction are closely related. Stress can contribute to the development of addiction and is a significant relapse risk. Learning to manage stress in a healthy way is an important recovery goal.

The American Institute of Stress notes that stress is a subjective concept that is difficult to precisely define. It was originally defined as the response of the body to any demand for change. Over time, it became synonymous with strain or tension or with demands that overwhelm personal resources. The Institute notes, however, that there are elements of stress that can be helpful. To a point, increased stress results in increased productivity, but there is a level at which the trend reverses. The tipping point differs for each individual, however, so paying attention to early warning symptoms of stress overload is vital. If you are struggling with an amphetamine addiction, learn how stress management can help you succeed in rehab.

How Stress Contributes to Addiction

Stress and substance abuse interact in multiple ways. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains the way in which stress can contribute to an increased risk of alcohol relapse. They note that alcohol can cause dysfunction in stress responses. Both chronic abuse and acute withdrawal are associated with increased activity in the brain’s stress systems. This involves higher levels of stress hormones in specific areas of the brain.

Chronic alcohol use can also change the brain’s reward pathway. This altered pathway can increase alcohol craving when people are exposed to alcohol-related stimuli, and also when they are under stress. In other words, people suffering from addiction may have both an overactive stress response and a tendency for stress to increase substance use cravings.

Stress may increase the addiction and relapse risk directly or indirectly, through its effect on other variables. A 2008 article in the journal Pain reports on a study indicating that stress can affect pain tolerance. Substance abuse sometimes begins as an attempt to address pain.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) entitled Managing Chronic Pain in Adults with or in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders notes that chronic pain and addiction frequently co-occur.

Higher levels of stress also correspond to an increase in negative emotional states. A 2010 article in the journal Personality and Individual Differences examined stress in adolescents. A strong association was found between stress and negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.

Managing Stress

Dealing with stress can take many forms, including the following:

  • Addressing conflicts – Some degree of stress is inevitable, but recurring conflicts that cause higher than normal stress levels can often be addressed and resolved. Relationship issues, especially within the family, are common contributors to increased levels of stress. Family or couple’s therapy can be very beneficial.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT involves becoming aware of the beliefs and thoughts than underlie emotions. Stress can sometimes arise from or be intensified by unhelpful or untrue beliefs, such as “Things never work out for me” or “No one likes me.” CBT involves examining beliefs for their truth and counteracting or discarding those that are harmful. Viewing a situation from a different and more positive angle is sometimes known as reframing.
  • Breathing exercises – Focusing on breathing when the stress level begins to rise can turn down the body’s stress response. When under stress, the body tends to take quick and shallow breaths. Taking deeper and slower breaths can communicate to the body that there is no danger. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing exercises can vary. One common technique is to breathe in slowly, hold the breath for a defined period of time, then slowly exhale.
  • Muscle relaxation – Muscles tense when stress levels rise. A helpful relaxation technique can be to focus on one muscle at a time, tense it, and then let it fully relax. Receiving a massage is another way to address muscle tension.
  • Music – Listening to any enjoyable music can be pleasurable, but there are certain musical styles that have been shown to lower the stress response. Classical music can be very calming. There are also music-based audio programs using music based on binaural beats, which can slow brain waves.
  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practice of focusing fully on the present moment, becoming aware of physical and emotional states without judging them. Stress can often be heightened by a focus on the future or the past, and focusing on the present can release unnecessary tension.
  • Gratitude – Becoming consciously aware of and thankful for circumstances, relationships, belongings and other positive aspects of life can be very powerful. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress and improve sleep.
  • Exercise – Physical exercise can boost endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, and help counteract stress. Even moderate or low-level exercise can be beneficial.
  • Meditation – Meditation can take various forms. A common technique is to choose a positive affirmation, such as “I am at peace” and to slowly repeat it to yourself, either out loud or silently. This is often timed to coincide with taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Laughter – Laughter can lower stress hormones and increase endorphins. Taking time to watch a humorous movie or television show or deciding to read a funny book or webpage can enhance wellbeing.

By incorporating a few of these techniques into your daily routine you can learn to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Give Us a Call

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to start an addiction recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you understand your treatment options and find the one that is best for you. We can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Addiction is a treatable disease and we can help you find your road to recovery. Why not call now?

7 Reasons to Have an Intervention

It is often difficult for friends and family members of people who suffer from addiction to know how best to help their loved ones. One option is to hold an intervention. There are many good reasons to consider the possibility.

The Benefits of Addiction Intervention

If your loved one is struggling with amphetamine addiction, you may want to hold an intervention for the following reasons:

  1. Addicted individuals may deny or fail to realize the existence or extent of the problem. Denial is a hallmark of addiction. Once thought to be simply a psychological defense mechanism, it is now believed to be caused by the effects of drugs or alcohol on the brain. A 2009 article in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences states that more than 80 percent of addicted individuals fail to seek treatment on their own and that this may be due to impaired recognition of the severity of the addiction. The authors postulate that the impairment is related to malfunction of brain networks associated with self-awareness and insight. An intervention can help people dealing with addiction to see the situation more clearly.
  1. People struggling with addiction may not understand the effect of their addiction on their friends and family members. Even people who recognize their own addiction may think of it as a personal issue that doesn’t influence others in a significant way. An intervention is often a time when people’s eyes are opened to the many ways in which the issues they face can affect their friends and family members.
  1. People struggling with addiction may not know how to find treatment. Addiction can be all consuming, and people may spend large amounts of time sourcing, acquiring, and using their substances of choice. It is often difficult for people in that situation to find the time and initiative to research treatment options. If a treatment program is located and arrangements made as part of an intervention, it makes the process much easier logistically.
  1. The sooner that treatment is sought, the better. Addiction is a progressive condition with potentially serious consequences. Consequences can be physical, emotional, social, financial and legal. They can be long lasting or even permanent. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that incentives and sanctions from family members and others, such as those that may be presented in an intervention, can significantly increase the rates of treatment entry. They also affect the rate at which people remain in treatment and their ultimate recovery success.
  1. Friends and family members may need help in dealing with the issue. Although it is possible for friends and family members to hold interventions on their own, it is often wise to hire professional interventionists. Although training and experience vary, many interventionists were once counselors or social workers. They may be certified by the National Association of Drug and Alcohol Interventionists or by another organization. Interventionists not only have the training and experience necessary to manage interventions, but they can also be objective. Friends and family members often have too many strong emotions tied to the addiction issue to handle interventions successfully.

When addicted individuals have a history of violence, either to themselves or others, it is always wise to hire professional interventionists. It is also prudent to bring in professionals when people have co-existing mental health conditions. The strength of the addiction should be considered, as well as whether individuals are addicted to multiple substances. Bringing in a professional is also indicated if there has been a previous, unsuccessful intervention attempt.

  1. Intervention letters are something that addicted individuals can read over and over again. Having the thoughts of their family members in written form preserves them for future use. They can be used after treatment to help prevent relapse. When interventions are not successful, and addicted individuals choose not to enter treatment, the letters may help them decide to enter treatment later.
  1. An interventionist can help with follow-up, whether the intervention was successful or not. Interventionists vary in the services they offer, but many will monitor the progress of individuals who decide to enter treatment and help develop aftercare plans. They can help family members learn how to help their loved ones during the recovery process. If the individuals choose not to enter treatment, interventionists can help family members and friends determine how best to proceed.

If your loved one is struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance, holding an intervention can help him to get his life back on track and make a full recovery.

Find Addiction Help Today

If you have questions about planning an intervention or hiring an interventionist, or you would like to talk about addiction treatment, give us a call. Our helpline is toll free and available 24 hours a day. Our caring and knowledgeable consultants can help you understand your treatment options. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if desired, at no cost or obligation. We can join your team. Why not call now?

3 Determining Factors for Choosing Gender-Specific Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there is no one right path to recovery that is the best choice for every individual. It is important to consider individual characteristics when making treatment decisions. For some people, the best treatment program is one that is gender-specific.

If you are ready to recovery from addiction to amphetamines, some possible reasons to consider gender-specific treatment include the following.

Emotional Comfort

For a variety of reasons, people may simply feel more comfortable in a same-gender environment. Sometimes this is due to a history of abuse. When people experience abuse at the hands of someone of the opposite sex, it can affect their view of the opposite gender and their ability to fully relax in a mixed-sex group. This can be addressed in treatment, and addressing it within the context of same-gender treatment may be the best approach.

Sometimes, no abuse is involved, but other elements of personal history make people feel more comfortable among others of the same sex. This may be simply due to family makeup, such as having all brothers, but no sisters, or attending an all-female or all-male school. Recovering from addiction takes focus and emotional energy. If people feel that their emotional energy will be drained by being in a mixed-gender environment, they may choose a gender-specific program to avoid that.

Gender-related Physical and Emotional Needs

Women may have specific needs related to childbearing or childcare. Women who are pregnant may benefit from a program that focuses on specific pregnancy-related concerns. Those with infants may want a program that provides for childcare and the ability to continue nursing a baby during treatment.

There are physical differences in the ways that men and women metabolize and are affected by drugs and alcohol, and some people may wish to choose a gender-specific program that recognizes and focuses on these differences. A 2013 BU Today article notes that alcohol abuse decreases the white matter in brains of both men and women, but that the area of the loss differs. For men, the corpus callosum is affected, while the cortex is more affected in women. The article also notes that there are gender differences in the rate of brain healing, with women recovering more rapidly than men.

Men and women may also abuse substances for different reasons, and understanding these can help focus treatment. Gender-related reasons for abusing substances may be due to physical, emotional and social differences. A 2014 article in the Hartford Courant reports on a study finding that the neurotransmitter dopamine is activated in both male and female smokers, but that in women, the part of the brain associated with habit formation is affected, while in men, it is the part of the brain that reinforces psychoactive effects.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that substance abuse among women is often related to interpersonal relationships. They are often introduced to drugs or alcohol by friends, boyfriends, or family members and view shared substance use as a way to maintain ties. Women are more likely than men to relapse as a result of interpersonal conflict and to relapse in the presence of a significant other.

Less Distraction in Rehab

For heterosexual patients, same-gender rehab programs may reduce romance-related distractions. When people become abstinent from drugs and alcohol, there is often a tendency to fill newly available time with romantic relationships. For a number of reasons, most recovery experts recommend against forming new romantic relationships during rehab and early recovery. While people are learning new habits and skills, it is wise to maintain focus, and a new romance can steal time and energy from the goal.

Romantic relationships formed during rehab may not be as healthy as they could be, because the people involved are still working on issues raised during treatment and have not had enough time to resolve them. Emotions also tend to be unstable during early recovery. It is not uncommon for people to experience depression or anxiety as part of withdrawal, and episodes can continue for a while as the brain heals and regains balance. When people have been in recovery for a while and are emotionally stronger, they make better romantic partners. When relationships are formed too soon, there may be a degree of volatility and pain that is counterproductive to the recovery process.

Begin to Break Free

If you are ready to overcome addiction to amphetamines or other substance and would like to identify and discuss your options, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are knowledgeable and compassionate and understand the issues involved. They can answer your questions and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. You have nothing to lose by calling—and much to gain. Call now and begin to break free.

Why Patience Is Important in a Loved One’s Rehab

Patience during rehab is an important attribute for both the patient and the patient’s family. Although society in general is accustomed to quick results and instant gratification when it comes to life’s changes and challenges, patience can protect family members from discouragement and frustration while their loved one is going through rehab. Patience helps all of those involved in the process gain a greater understanding of what it means to adopt the one-day-at-a-time philosophy necessary for successful recovery.

A Look at Amphetamines

Amphetamines are drugs used as appetite suppressants and stimulants. Certain weight-loss drugs as well as drugs used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are examples of amphetamines. Amphetamines are highly habit forming. Addiction can develop when the body and brain become dependent on the feelings the drugs produce. Tolerance to the drugs build up over time and the body needs more of the substance to produce the same level of symptom control or desired results. Amphetamine addiction requires treatment in a drug rehab facility in order to be successful. Treatment programs can be either inpatient or outpatient, depending on your insurance coverage and specific situation. You or your loved one’s intake counselor can help you understand your individual coverage and benefits where drug treatment is concerned.

The Importance of Patience

Patience helps families and their loved ones in rehab keep expectations under control. Unrealistic expectations about the time it takes to get clean and sober and how difficult it can be to stay that way can cause unnecessary frustration and anger and lead to depression in both the person being treated and his or her loved ones. Patience helps families grasp what recovery looks like and the life-long commitment to sobriety it requires. Patience during recovery also helps control the need to judge, blame and expect more than is reasonable when and if relapse happens. Understanding the step-by-step, one-day-at-a-time philosophy so important when it comes to rehab can create and nurture patience where it did not exist before.

Finding Help for Amphetamine Addiction

Using amphetamines in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed by a physician can lead to addiction. Getting proper treatment for amphetamine addiction involves understanding how addiction treatment works and the patience you need to see it through. If you or a loved one struggles with amphetamine abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.