6 Benefits of a Recovery Lifestyle

Substance addiction to drugs like amphetamine is a disease with wide-ranging consequences. When people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, almost every area of life is touched in some way. Conversely, when people address addiction and begin to recover, life improvements are also seen in multiple domains. Benefits of living a substance-free life in recovery include the following: Continue reading 6 Benefits of a Recovery Lifestyle

4 Reasons Addiction Is Considered a Disease

Although addiction was once considered a matter of character or morals, it is now understood to be a disease and classified as such by most medical and research associations. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the World Health Organization all agree that addiction is a chronic yet treatable disease that affects the brain and body. Addiction is considered a disease for many reasons, including the following.

  1. Addiction Changes the Structure and Function of the Brain

Advances in brain imaging and other research tools have led to a greater understanding of the ways in which the brains of people who suffer from addiction are affected. These include changes in multiple brain regions.

The World Health Organization notes that drugs and alcohol produce immediate effects in neurotransmitter systems, but that there are also many short- and long-term changes at the cellular level. They note that long-term effects are usually associated with changes in gene expression and synthesized proteins. The proteins alter the function of neurons and lead to changes in behavior.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that drugs use the brain’s communication system to disturb the way that nerve cells process information. They can do this in various ways. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, imitate the brain’s natural chemicals and fool the brain into sending abnormal signals. Other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, cause the release of abnormally large amounts of neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitter most often associated with the development of addiction is dopamine, part of the brain’s reward system. When the reward system is overstimulated, a reinforcing pattern is put into place. The brain adapts to the surges in dopamine by producing less or by reducing the number of receptor cells, which leads people to use larger and larger amounts of their drug of choice.

The glutamate system is also affected. Glutamate is associated with learning, and when the concentration is changed, cognitive function can be altered. NIDA reports that in drug-addicted individuals, there are changes in areas of the brain associated with decision-making, memory, learning, judgment and behavior control. NIDA concludes that while the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary in the majority of cases, the brain changes caused by substance use severely affect an addicted individual’s ability to exercise restraint.

  1. There Is a Strong Genetic Component to Addiction

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that about half of the risk of developing addiction comes from genetic factors. Studies of adopted children and twins raised apart have confirmed that the tendency of addiction to run in families is not solely due to environmental considerations such as parental modeling.

  1. People Vulnerable to One Addiction are also Vulnerable to Others

Because a predisposition to addiction is due to brain changes, any potentially addicting substance or activity can become a problem. It is not uncommon for people to replace one addiction with another or to relapse on their drug of choice because use of another substance affected the same brain regions involved in the primary addiction. The tendency towards cross-addiction can also be seen in families where there is a strong history of addiction, but not always to the same substances.

  1. Addiction Can Be Effectively Treated with Medications

Medications have not been developed to treat every addiction, but for those suffering from addiction to opioids, opiates, or alcohol, pharmaceuticals can be a very important addition to a treatment protocol. Medications are currently in development to treat addiction to other substances as well.

Medications for addiction alter the way in which neurotransmitters affect the body by binding to receptor sites. Drugs that mimic the action of natural neurotransmitters are known as agonists. Other drugs, known as antagonists, bind to receptor sites, but do not activate them. In that way, they block the actions of other drugs on the same receptors. Drugs approved to treat addiction to opiates and opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Medications for alcohol addiction include naltrexone, acamprosate, disulfiram and topiramate.

You Can Take Back Your Life

Addiction is a serious disease, but one that can be treated effectively. If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an addiction to amphetamines, give us a call. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day and the call is toll-free. Our employees are compassionate and knowledgeable and understand the issues involved. They 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. Don’t let addiction take any more of your life from you. Call now and begin to take it back.

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.

Therapy, Reprocessing and Healing from Trauma

The American Psychological Association  (APA) defines trauma as an emotional response to an event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. The website Helpguide.org  explains that traumatic events are generally those that shatter people’s sense of security and cause feelings of helplessness and vulnerability. The site notes that trauma is often experienced when there is a threat to life or safety, but that other types of overwhelming situations can also be traumatic, and that the subjective emotional experience is more important in defining trauma than the nature of the actual event. Trauma is more likely if an event happened unexpectedly, repeatedly, in childhood or if the person who experienced the trauma felt powerless to prevent it. People may be exposed to trauma from a wide range of experiences, including surgery, car accidents and other types of injuries, relationship breakups, the sudden death of a loved one, the discovery of a disabling or life-threatening illness, or humiliating or deeply disappointing experiences.

An event that would not be experienced as trauma under one condition may be experienced as traumatic in another. People already under heavy stress are more likely to experience a new stressor as traumatic. A history of childhood trauma, which can lead to an underlying feeling of helplessness, can also contribute to the experiencing of trauma in adulthood.

Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Trauma

Traumatic experiences can cause people to undergo a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms. The APA lists some of these as shock, denial, flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, headaches and nausea. People may feel disconnected from their emotions or they may experience anxiety, hopelessness, shame, overwhelming sadness or a sense of being in constant danger. They may find it difficult to trust others and therefore withdraw from relationships. Tension may manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tightness and achiness, insomnia, nightmares, a racing heart and being easily startled. People are often edgy and agitated and may experience confusion and difficulty concentrating.

Sometimes people gradually recover from the effects of a trauma without professional help. Other times, however, people get stuck and symptoms do not improve on their own. Professional help may be necessary when people find that their symptoms are interfering with their daily functioning or they are dealing with them in unhealthy ways, such as through the use of alcohol or drugs.

Trauma Treatment

Treatment for trauma often involves both focus on physical symptoms and on the emotions and beliefs that underlie them. Therapies include the following:

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – During EMDR sessions, patients recall traumatic memories while rapidly moving their eyes back and forth. A 2012 article in Scientific American reports on a number of studies validating the therapy’s effectiveness. The article notes that EMDR has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Departments of Defense and of Veterans Affairs.

Despite the effectiveness of EMDR, its precise mechanisms of actions are not fully understood. One theory is that EMDR interferes with memory reconsolidation. When people recall memories, they are changed subtly before being filed away again. When patients move their eyes while recalling an event, the eye movements may compete for space in their working memories. This may allow the event to be re-filed in a changed form and be less intense when next recalled.

  • Somatic experiencing (SE) – During somatic experiencing, the focus is on the physical body. Patients learn to recognize trauma-related tension and sensations and release them. The theory is that trauma symptoms are based on a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system. The developer of SE modeled the therapy on the way in which animals in the wild deal with excess energy.
  • Psychomotor therapy – During psychomotor therapy, patients are led to give names and voices to their memories and to re-write them in a more positive way. It may involve role-play and group interaction. A 2014 article in the New York Times Magazine describes a session in which a patient recreated a trauma and asked other people to play certain roles. The participants responded to the trauma patient in the way he needed, by forgiving, apologizing or validating his feelings.
  • Prolonged exposure (PE) – People who experience traumatic memories often try to avoid recalling them as much as possible. In exposure therapy, the memories are consciously recalled in an attempt to reduce their power. The therapy involves learning about trauma reactions, intentionally relaxing through breath exercises and other techniques, talking through the trauma, and intentionally practicing real-world exposure to triggering events.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT involves identifying and addressing thoughts that prompt feelings and behaviors. For trauma-related events, CBT is often used in conjunction with other therapies.

Integrated Treatment for Trauma and Addition

Trauma and addiction often co-exist and are best treated in an integrated and coordinated manner. If you would like to find a treatment program that integrates trauma and addiction treatment, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you identify your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Why not call now?

Journaling’s Effect on Wellness in Recovery

Throughout history, people have made a habit of writing down their thoughts, activities, goals, and other mental processes in a journal or diary. The fact that the practice has endured throughout time speaks to its power. More recently, researchers are discovering ways in which journaling can improve physical and mental health. If you are struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or other substance, learn how journaling can be an effective recovery tool.

Benefits of Journaling

Benefits of journaling include the following:

  • Identifying thoughts and emotions not fully brought to consciousness – All of us have thoughts and feelings that affect our behavior without us being fully aware of them. Journaling, especially the form called “free writing,” can help us identify these thoughts and emotions. Free writing involves writing whatever comes to mind for a given period of time without stopping to re-read or think about what is being written. The thoughts and emotions identified in this way can then be evaluated and addressed.
  • Expressing gratitude – A 2012 Psychology Today article emphasizes the power of thankfulness. The author notes that gratitude has been linked to increased optimism and a decrease in physical ailments. It is associated with better sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression. The article points out that the brain cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli at the same time. Journaling thankfulness and gratitude can be a powerful tool for improving mental outlook.
  • Reducing the power of strong emotions – The University of Rochester Medical Center states that one way to deal with overwhelming emotions is to express them in a healthy way. They note that journaling can help in that process. Writing about stressful events can even provide physical benefits. A 2002 article in the journal Monitor on Psychology reports on studies showing that writing about stress and emotions can boost immune functioning in people dealing with illnesses. The article reports that suppressing trauma-related thoughts can compromise immune functioning and that people who write visit the doctor less often.
  • Identifying patterns – When people keep journals for a period of time, patterns may begin to emerge. People may notice that they regularly feel angry or depressed after being with certain people, or that urges to use substances are stronger when they are tired. Identifying patterns can help people change them.
  • Helping to prioritize issues – Journaling can help people recognize when certain emotions or problematic behaviors are occurring more regularly. If people begin to realize that they are feeing angry more often than they are feeling depressed, for instance, they may want to focus on learning anger management skills.
  • Setting and achieving goals – Journaling can help identify desires and areas in which to set goals and objectives. It can also help people reach those goals. A 2015 Huffington Post article notes that writing something down signals to the brain that it is important. The reticular activating system then helps identify opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.
  • Promoting mindfulness – Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment while being non-judgmentally aware of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The Huffington Post article notes that there is a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness and that journaling can help people achieve a mindful state.
  • Improving communication and relationships – The skills developed in journaling may translate into better communication with others. This can improve personal and business relationships. Writing about disagreements can also sometimes help people see all sides of an issue and better understand the point of view of those with whom they are in conflict.
  • Providing an outlet for self-congratulation – Positive reinforcement for achievements is a strong motivator. Sometimes, for various reasons, others don’t provide the positive feedback that people in recovery need. Often, others are simply unaware of the victories or fail to recognize their importance. It is not always a good idea for people to verbally congratulate themselves for achievements, but writing them down in a journal can provide positive reinforcement.
  • Practicing self-discipline – Becoming disciplined in one area can help people build confidence and skill in self-control and can lead to increased self-discipline in other areas, as well.

There are many ways to journal. Some people prefer to use a computer or other electronic device and some prefer pen and paper. Some people like to write whatever comes to mind and others find it helpful to answer a given set of questions or follow another structured form. The most important thing is to write as often as possible and to set up a routine that makes it easy.

Change Can Begin Today

Recovery begins with the decision to make a change. If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to recover, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. Our consultants are caring and knowledgeable and can answer your questions about addiction treatment. They can help you identify the treatment option that best meets your needs and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Addiction is treatable. Call today and begin your journey to freedom.

Common Withdrawal Side Effects and How Not to Be Afraid of Them

Withdrawal symptoms occur because of the human body’s natural desire to maintain homeostasis, or balance. When something within the body is outside of normal parameters, the body attempts to compensate. Most psychoactive drugs work by affecting the levels of certain neurotransmitters, usually by raising them, and the body reacts in various ways, such as by reducing the amount produced or by making receptors more sensitive.

When people begin consuming drugs like amphetamine, the body quickly begins to adapt and push back against the effects. The adaptation is the basis for drug tolerance, in which larger amounts of the drug must be taken to achieve affects once achieved with a lower dose. As an individual continues to abuse the substances, the body begins to see their presence as normal, and in some ways is only balanced when the drug is in the system.

The drug’s effects and the body’s pushback act as opposing forces. When the drug is not present in the body, the user will feel the body’s reaction intensely, which is experienced as the symptoms of withdrawal. The New Zealand Drug Foundation describes it as two balanced people playing tug of war and one person dropping the rope and sending the other person flying.

The Nature of Withdrawal Symptoms

Because withdrawal symptoms are caused by the body’s adaptations to a drug, they are generally opposite in nature from a drug’s primary effects. This means that for drugs that depress the central nervous system, withdrawal effects are generally stimulatory. For stimulating drugs, withdrawal symptoms generally depress the body. There are also withdrawal effects that are common to many psychoactive substances, such as cold and flu-like symptoms.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence lists the following common withdrawal symptoms: headaches, fatigue, sweating, insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, irritability, trembling, nausea and vomiting. They note that in severe cases people may experience seizures, fever, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Severe symptoms require medical attention.

How quickly people begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms depends on personal metabolism and on the nature of the substance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that withdrawal from crack cocaine can begin within hours of the last use. Alcohol withdrawal can begin 24 to 48 hours after the blood alcohol level drops, and heroin withdrawal within 24 hours of last consuming the drug.

Medically Supervised Detox

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of undergoing withdrawal until the body is clear of the addicting substance. It is always wise to do this under medical supervision. Detox can be undertaken in different ways and in different settings. Sometimes, an outpatient detox is possible. At other times, the best choice is for patients to undergo treatment in a hospital, freestanding clinic, or addiction treatment facility.

Sometimes an insurance company will cover residential detox for some substances, but not others. This is due to the fact that withdrawal from certain substances is considered more medically dangerous. Often, withdrawal from sedative substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines is most problematic.

How Withdrawal Symptoms Are Treated

Although it is natural to be leery of undergoing withdrawal, medical personnel work very hard to make detox as safe and comfortable as possible. Symptoms are monitored and addressed as needed. A SAMHSA publication entitled “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment” lists the following possible interventions.

  • Alcohol – For alcohol withdrawal, slowly metabolized benzodiazepines may be given. The drugs may be given intravenously or orally. When patients are stabilized, the benzodiazepines are slowly tapered over the next few days. Other medications that can be used include barbiturates, beta-blockers, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants.
  • Opiates and opioids – Withdrawal from opiates like heroin and opioids like prescription painkillers is often treated with methadone or buprenorphine. In addition, patients may be given medications to counteract gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Clonidine may also be used, along with drugs to treat insomnia, headache, and bone and muscle pain.
  • Benzodiazepines and Other Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs – Patients who have abused short-acting benzodiazepines may be switched to longer acting drugs in the same class. Phenobarbital may also be used.
  • Stimulants – Withdrawal from stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine is often treated symptomatically. People may be very hungry and in need of large portions of nutritious food. Headaches may be evaluated and treated. Drugs that have been used for stimulant withdrawal include amantadine, modafilinil and mirtazapine.

Although the duration of detox varies, undergoing the process is always a matter of facing short-term discomfort for long-term rewards. The price of continuing in addiction is much higher: physically, emotionally, socially, and financially.

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