By Tiffany Dzioba, PsyD, LMFT, Executive Director of Promises Malibu Vista
Many people with mental illness or addiction feel trapped in their lives. They repeat the same behaviors, think the same thoughts and experience the same pain every day. Sometimes this goes on for years. Several patterns cause people to lose hope and turn to maladaptive coping skills such as substance abuse or behavioral addictions (like sex, gambling or overeating) or self-harm.
By Kenneth England, MFT, Primary Therapist at Promises Malibu
Creative people have long been associated with lavish use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. Many talented people have been molded by the idea that drinking and drugs inspire their craft. Although scientists have long looked for a direct link between creative inspiration and drug use, they have not found one.
By Christa S. Nuber
Did you know that each one of us has the potential for addiction? This doesn’t mean all of us will become addicts, but neuroscience reveals that all of us are wired for it, to some degree. All it takes is a certain environment or an unfortunate set of circumstances, and perhaps a chemical imbalance in our brains and bodies, to tip us in that direction.
This may be a hard pill to swallow for people who believe that addiction is simply the result of moral weakness, poor choices or a debauched lifestyle. The truth is a bit more complicated.
An important thing to remember about addiction is that no one chooses to become an addict. Poor choices may lead a person to first try a drink or use a drug, or even engage in a compulsive behavior. The aim is usually to find some measure of relief from pain, anxiety, fear, agitation, sorrow … any number of feelings that bring discomfort. Addiction is not the goal for anyone.
Addiction education and awareness can go a long way to improving our understanding, reducing stigma and engendering more compassion for people who struggle with alcohol and substance use disorders. Let’s take a closer look at the disease of addiction.
Going to rehab is a vital step to entering recovery and it helps to be prepared with inspiration and information. There are so many books on addiction yet the classics in this field are the ones people always return to for inspiration and understanding.
Here are some of the drug addiction books that can help you on your path.
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.
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.
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
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.
It’s time to hit the pause button on your regularly scheduled life and do some self-reflection. Read the following statements and mark them true or false, based on whether they apply to you.
- I often find myself putting other people’s needs ahead of my own.
- I have trouble saying no to people because I don’t want to disappoint them or have them disapprove of me.
- Making other people happy, having them rely on me, earning their appreciation or praise, is incredibly fulfilling to me.
- I have a tendency to go out of my way to please people, try to get them to like me, or give them what I think they need.
- I frequently go along with what other people want or defer to their preferences to keep the peace or make them happy.
If you marked any of these statements true, you’re personally familiar with the people-pleasing habit. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make other people happy or to have a positive effect on them. But if you find yourself going to great lengths to please other people and sacrificing or shortchanging your own needs consistently to do so, the need to please has become a problem.
Anger is instinctive, or at least that’s how it often feels. Someone cuts you off in traffic? Anger. Stub your toe? Anger. Think you’ve been unfairly reprimanded by your boss? Feeling angry is probably not far away.
“I’d rather cut off my big toe than ask for help,” said a man whose life was in turmoil. He looked across the space between himself and his therapist and put his head in his hands. He continued, “And yet I know I can’t handle all that’s coming down the pike.”
By Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT-C, Executive Director/Clinical Director at Promises Scottsdale
With the pros and cons of recreational marijuana legalization being debated and even voted on around the country, discussing the dangers of drugs as a form of recreation has become more important. Teens and children soak up the prevailing attitude toward drugs and can be influenced to believe that marijuana and other substances are harmless or at least low risk.
If you have friends who abuse drugs or alcohol, you could be in danger of falling victim to the same self-destructive pattern of behavior.