Mindfulness Techniques to Help With Addiction

Posted on June 20th, 2017

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.

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Kids in the Suburbs May Have Higher Risk for Future Addiction

Posted on June 19th, 2017

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.

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The Difference Between Support and Codependence

Posted on June 16th, 2017

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

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Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Intestines

Posted on June 15th, 2017

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.

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5 Hangover Symptoms You Didn’t Know About

Posted on June 14th, 2017

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

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Inpatient Rehab Checklist

Posted on June 13th, 2017

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.

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4 Ways Greenery and Nature Can Ease Anxiety and Depression

Posted on June 12th, 2017

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.

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As Drug Overdose Deaths in U.S. Reach All-Time High, Addiction Treatment Becomes Essential

Posted on June 8th, 2017

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.

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Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Leads to More Crashes Than Alcohol

Posted on June 7th, 2017

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.

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The 5 Most Destructive Ways to Respond to Grief and Personal Loss

Posted on June 6th, 2017

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.

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Anger Management: Exploring Impulsive Aggression and Anger Disorders

Posted on June 5th, 2017

Our language has many idiomatic expressions that describe a person with anger management issues, perhaps because impulsive anger is something we frequently witness or experience.

Loses his cool. Has a quick temper. Has a short fuse. Blows his top. Busts a gasket. Has a temper tantrum. Has a cow. Foams at the mouth. Sees red. Goes ballistic. Goes through the roof. Bristles with rage. Flames with anger. Bites your head off.

Most of us know someone volatile who seems to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat.

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In the Danger Zone: Combining Medications for Insomnia, Anxiety & Depression

Posted on June 2nd, 2017

“I can’t sleep. I might have to take a couple of Ambien to go to sleep,” actor Heath Ledger told his sister on the phone the night before he died. She knew he had received prescriptions for co-occurring anxiety, depression and insomnia, and warned him not to mix his medications — she understood the dangers.

Ledger’s overlapping conditions were not unusual. It is common for someone who suffers from anxiety to suffer from depression — more than 50% of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety. Insomnia occurs in 50% to 90% of people with these mental health conditions, so it is not unusual for a person to receive coinciding prescriptions for insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Like many people, Ledger took multiple prescription medications together. Ledger told his sister not to worry, but 24 hours later, the talented performer and aspiring film director was gone at the age of 28. The cause of death? Accidental “acute intoxication” from the combined effects of six prescription medications, including sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications and opioid painkillers.

The medical examiner reported that Ledger’s death resulted from the misuse or “abuse of prescription medications,” but it was their toxic combination that killed him.

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ER Visits: Illness or Intoxication? How Drug Use Drives Up Medical Costs

Posted on June 1st, 2017

Millions of people abuse drugs, and millions end up in the emergency room because of the harmful effects these substances have on the human body. Inevitably, the use of ERs for drug treatment drives up the nation’s overall medical costs. With the help of data collected by federal researchers, we can roughly estimate how much money goes to drug-related ER visits.

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What’s It Like to Have Social Anxiety Disorder? Please Don’t Ask.

Posted on May 30th, 2017

It has often been said that if you want to know more about a particular topic, it’s best to go directly to the source, or the horse’s mouth — as it were.

But with social anxiety disorder, things aren’t so easy. Ask me about it and the chances are I won’t be able to tell you much of anything. Not because I don’t know — I do, I’ve suffered from it my whole life.

No, the problem is that those of us who have social anxiety disorder don’t like to answer personal questions. Or many other types of questions, for that matter. We see no upside but plenty of downside in doing so.

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Women, People Under 35 at Greatest Risk of Anxiety

Posted on May 26th, 2017

People from all walks of life suffer from anxiety disorders. Now a new study sheds light on who is most affected by this oftentimes debilitating condition. The research, published in the journal Brain and Behavior, suggests that women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Led by Olivia Remes, PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, this study also found that people from Western Europe and North America are more likely to suffer from anxiety than people from other cultures.

“Anxiety is debilitating, disabling, and can increase the risk for suicide,” Remes said. “It can cause significant distress in many areas of someone’s life … [it] can make people less productive at work and can also increase the risk for other serious conditions such as depression and alcohol abuse.”

It is important, she notes, that people who think they might be suffering from the symptoms of anxiety — restlessness, muscle tension, an inability to focus, insomnia, constant worry and fear, among others — seek help. If left untreated, anxiety can become quite severe and lead to other mental health problems, which makes treatment of any of the disorders more difficult.

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