By Frank Sanchez, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Director, Promises Young Adults Program
I’m not good enough. There’s something wrong with me. I’m defective.
While people of all ages and backgrounds suffer from shame, young adults especially can be easily derailed by it because they don’t have enough life experience to know that things do get better and so much of their focus is on the external — what other people think and how other people may react.
There is evidence that the brain is not fully developed until a person’s mid-20s and this can lead them to make decisions based on feelings rather than logic. So when shameful episodes arise, or shame is triggered, reaching for drugs and alcohol can be the simplest solution for feeling better.
By Frank Sanchez, PhD, LMFT, Clinical Director, Promises Young Adults Program
We all experience shame in our lives. It’s a natural human emotion when you mess up, say something you regret, or disappoint someone, or if someone says something you find embarrassing. But for some people, shame can be debilitating, destructive and toxic.
Shame can be especially pervasive in the life of someone struggling with addiction.
Because shame covers over the real self like a blanket that blocks out reality, an individual may not have the awareness that it is the underlying culprit and cause of their unhappiness.
Sadly, left unattended, shame keeps people from their dreams, paralyzes them from fulfilling their potential and interferes with recovery. Awareness is the first step to lifting the veil of shame.
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug that can be snorted, smoked or injected. It causes an intense high that doesn’t last very long, triggering an intense compulsion to obtain another dose. If you use cocaine habitually, you will find that as time passes it takes a higher dose to attain the same effect. This can cause you to keep increasing the amount you are using, and you may end up using dangerous amounts of this powerful substance, leading to a cocaine overdose.
Pool parties, patio barbecues, picnics in the park and, if you are in sunny Los Angeles, afternoons on the beach!
As the days get warmer, we begin thinking of all the fun activities that make the summer season special. Unfortunately, for people who are trying to embrace a sober lifestyle, those summer activities represent environments that usually include a cooler full of beer, chilled wine or a pitcher of margaritas — huge triggers for relapse and not conducive to a sober summer.
Denial and resistance to change is one of the insidious hallmarks of addiction.
It’s not uncommon for addicted individuals to resist getting help and to reject the notion that they need help. You may have heard the phrase, “I’m not going to rehab,” countless times because your loved one truly believes they do not have a problem.
And as the sober family member suffering through the devastating behavior brought on by a loved one’s addiction, you might even be in denial yourself, at first.
By Kenneth England, MFT, Primary Therapist, Malibu Promises
Many people grow up with underlying pain, fear, or shame that becomes a looming influence in their lives. It hurts and makes them behave in a certain way, but they may not even know what is eating them up inside. If left unresolved, these feelings can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to stay present in their own lives.
They look for ways to self-soothe. This can lead to maladaptive behaviors, such as abuse of drugs and alcohol or trying to drown out real life with activities like gambling, eating and sex.
Addiction, for the most part, is about running away from feelings and painful emotional states.
Studies have shown that external triggers can haunt people on a daily basis and lead to relapse. For example, the sound of an ice cream truck driving down the block can lead to binge eating and the site of a white substance may trigger cocaine use.
Mindfulness has become a staple of addiction treatment because it gives people new skills that provide an optional way to behave and react.
Adolescents from the suburbs and other upper middle-class communities are two to three times more likely to misuse, or abuse, alcohol, marijuana, stimulants such as Adderall, and club drugs like ecstasy and cocaine, according to a study that followed two groups of students through high school and four years of college. The study results emphasize a link between growing up in affluent communities and developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol in adulthood.
The concept of codependency was initially used to define behaviors and relationships in family members of drug abusers and alcoholics. Similar patterns have been seen in family relationships involving chronically or mentally ill individuals. At one time, debates ignited about whether codependency was a dysfunctional relationship or a personality problem. Eventually, some studies contradicted the stereotypical view of a chemically-dependent spouse having a personality disorder responsible for these codependent behaviors. Instead, it was suggested in many cases, these behaviors were normal reactions to overwhelming stressors of living with an addict. Today, the term has been broadened to encompass codependent members of any dysfunctional family. Subsequent research has also uncovered different patterns in codependency, based on gender and other variables.1,2
Drinking too much alcohol can take a serious toll on your health, with widely documented side effects on the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, immune system, as well an increased risk of oral, esophageal, throat, liver and breast cancer.1 While multiple studies have investigated the long-term effects of alcohol on the gastrointestinal tract (GI), this topic has not been as widely covered in the mainstream media as other alcohol-related health repercussions. The GI tract comprises the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon).2 These body parts are intrinsically linked and also interact with the pancreas and liver, which can be severely damaged by long-term alcohol use. Starting at the top of the GI tract, here is a summary of the devastating effects alcohol wreaks on the entire GI system.
If you’ve ever experienced a wicked hangover, you’re certainly not alone. No doubt, the first hangover occurred soon after prehistoric humans discovered the delightful nectar of the vine. Indeed, hangovers are so dreadful, humans have been seeking miracle cures going back to ancient Assyria, when those who imbibed excessively were given a mixture of ground birds’ beaks and myrrh to alleviate the after effects. In Medieval times, European doctors recommended raw eel and bitter almonds, which sounds like it would exacerbate the bouts of nausea often accompanying a hangover, tenfold.1 Fast forward to 18th-century England.2
“My first return of sense or recollection was upon waking in a strange, dismal-looking room, my head aching horridly, pains of a violent nature in every limb, and deadly sickness at the stomach. From the latter I was in some degree relieved by a very copious vomiting. Getting out of bed, I looked out of the only window in the room, but saw nothing but the backs of old houses, from which various miserable emblems of poverty were displayed . . . . At that moment I do not believe in the world there existed a more wretched creature than myself. I passed some moments in a state little short of despair . . . .” —William Hickey, 1768
You’ve made the important decision to enter inpatient rehab and understandably have questions and concerns. Addiction has been a long road full of angst, bouts of depression, health problems and a host of personal problems, but it’s familiar. For first-time clients, rehab represents uncharted territory, so it’s natural to feel some trepidation, not to mention all of the everyday matters you must attend to if you are employed and/or a parent. You’ve already toured the facility and talked to others who have been in rehab, but you still have questions. Below are practical tips including steps to take ahead of time (e.g. employment, childcare and financial issues) and what to bring to rehab.
By Jody Trager, PhD, Program Director at Promises Malibu Vista
One of the greatest gifts of this world is nature. But with so much focus on working indoors and living in cities, there is a disconnection from this great source of beauty and grounding.
Humans were meant to dwell in natural environments and separations from that can add to mental health issues.
A few minutes in nature can help turn a bad day around. It can clear the head, calm nerves, lower blood pressure and help with concentration. It can also reduce depression, anxiety and stress, and lift your mood.
Americans have made headlines for having the highest number of drug overdose deaths in U.S. history in a single year. In 2016, it is estimated that more than 60,000 people in the U.S. died from drugs — a 19% increase over the country’s 2015 drug-related deaths. In fact, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50 — ahead of car crashes, gun deaths and HIV/AIDS.
The death rate from drugs is expected to climb still higher in 2017, due mainly to the opioid drug epidemic that is sweeping the country. An added problem is that more powerful drugs like fentanyl and its analogs (i.e., carfentanil), are being used by drug dealers to create cheaper opioids or to extend supplies of cocaine and heroin — sneaky practices that drive up drug trafficking profits, but raise the risk of overdose for desperate buyers. Emergency medical responders report that people taking drugs laced with these stronger substances are harder to save — even multiple doses of the anti-overdose medication naloxone/Narcan doesn’t always revive them.
A drunk driver is no longer the biggest danger on the road. A drugged driver is even more likely to drive erratically and cause an accident. Case in point: the 2017 Memorial Day drugged driving incident involving golf legend Tiger Woods, who banged up his car and then fell asleep at the wheel before he managed to pull off the road. Later failing the sobriety field test, Woods claimed his intoxication was not due to drinking, but a result of “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”
According to traffic statistics, drugged driving leads to more fatal crashes than drunk driving.
When you suffer a devastating personal loss it will change your life forever. In most instances you will find the strength to move on despite the heartbreak, but not before undergoing an extended period of grief.
Intense grief can be triggered by the death of a loved one, but also by divorce, job loss, serious illness or disability, significant financial setbacks, fractured friendships, the loss of your home or becoming a victim of violent crime. Loss and grief are universal human experiences, and all of us will encounter them at one time or another.