Mental Health

view from mental health treatment facility

Mental health is an extremely important component of a person’s overall wellbeing. It affects our behavior, emotions, and thought processes. Mental illnesses are among the most common health issues in the US, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans experiencing mental illness within a year. While mental health is frequently overlooked, there is help and the possibility of recovery for those suffering from mental illness. If you’re dealing with mental health issues, please contact Transcend Recovery Community and see how we can assist you.

Does Transcend Provide Mental Health Treatments?

Every person deserves to live in a state of the best possible mental health. To perpetuate this belief, we offer one of the best mental health treatment programs available.

Thanks to our partnership with our sister program, The Heights Treatment, Transcend offers one of the best mental health treatment programs available. We rehabilitate our clients with a layered approach that considers their unique set of circumstances. Our top priority is to understand each client’s situation and isolate the underlying causes of the problems. Doing this allows us to help clients to conquer these hurdles in the most effective way possible.

Our treatment offerings include Anxiety Disorder Treatment services and Dual Diagnosis Treatment. The former is for those who suffer from chronic anxiety, while the latter assists those who struggle with a combination of substance abuse and mental health issues.

What Does Treatment for Mental Disorders Include?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating mental illness, and individualized care is of the utmost importance for mental illness recovery. With this in mind, our program always begins with a thorough evaluation in an effort to understand the person’s current mental state and to identify their needs. From there, we develop a suitable treatment plan with the client to maximize engagement and inclusion. We have found that people who feel included and engaged in their treatment are more willing to commit to the process. We also address various essential topics in our program, such as life skills, self-care, community, and spirituality, as these foster greater chances of successful rehabilitation.

What Are Some Mental Health Interventions?

Mental health treatment comes in various forms, and the appropriate interventions are determined by the client’s needs identified during the evaluation. We utilize an assortment of intervention techniques, which include but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Equine Therapy

Can Mental Health Be Cured?

Currently, most mental illnesses are not curable; however, there are a large number of effective treatments available. Many people suffering from mental illness go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives after receiving treatment.

Mental illness treatment is often compared to that of chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart disease. While the disease is not necessarily curable, it can be managed to restore the quality of life and functioning for the person suffering. If a person does not maintain treatment, relapse can and often does occur; as a result, symptoms will return and the person will struggle to function again. With regard to mental illness, developing adequate skills and coping techniques are excellent strategies to combat possible relapses.

Are There Mental Health Treatments Near Me?

Transcend is dedicated to our clients’ holistic health, and places a high priority on appropriate mental health treatment. We currently offer mental health treatment at our facilities in Los Angeles and Houston. Our work with The Heights Treatment has aided numerous clients to get back on their feet. If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness and are seeking treatment, we urge you to call us to discuss how Transcend can help you.

Call the recovery specialists at Transcend today at 800-208-1211 or use our contact us form to see how joining the Transcend community can change your life.

Mental Health Month: Why Drinking While Depressed Leads Downhill

Depression & Drinking - Transcend Recovery Community

The great English poet G. K. Chesterton wrote: “drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.” More than just a saying, there is a profound and applicable truth to this, even in the modern day. Depression and drinking go hand in hand, and one makes the other worse. It’s a terrible relationship, one you would never want to entertain – and just as abusing alcohol can make you miserable, abusing alcohol because you’re miserable will only make both worse.

Alcohol is a common coping mechanism for the simple reason that it does, to a degree, make us happier. To be more precise, it makes people worry less. As an anti-anxiety drug of sorts, alcohol soothes the mind and calms the spirit – but at a cost. Not only is alcohol addictive, but it is poisonous. Too much at once, or over one’s life, will kill you.

And despite alcohol’s ability to make you forget for just a moment, nothing will have changed once you wake up. The way out of misery – the way out of depression – is by fighting through the pain and pushing against the problems. Therapy and treatment are in preparation of these two things – and drugs like alcohol will present you with setbacks in your depression, and other problems. Here’s why.


Alcohol And The Brain

Anyone who’s had more than a few drinks knows that alcohol clearly has a perceivable effect on the brain – one that does not take long at all to kick in. From slurred speech to difficulty thinking and slower reaction, the consensus between all drinkers is that it makes you slow – regardless of whether you are a happy drunk, a sad drunk, or an angry drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces anxiety, with the specifics differing from person to person based on their history with alcohol, and their genetics.

Outside of the effects of a single binge drinking session, alcohol also leaves lasting effects on the brain – negative ones. Alcohol slowly eats away at the brain and at several of your organs, primarily your heart, liver, and kidneys. But in the brain, rapid and severe drinking will lead to memory loss, slowed cognition, and increased risk-taking – followed by problems with decision making, caused by a combination of nerve damage and grey matter damage.


Why Does Alcohol Worsen Depression?

This all goes hand in hand with mental health issues, as alcohol not only induces brain damage, but worsens the effects of depression by increasing feelings of guild and helplessness and presenting a risk of addiction.

The damage is long-lasting, but not permanent. Abstinence can give your body enough time to heal, but the process takes years. Just like the battle against alcoholism, improving your brain and organ health after excessive drinking takes time.


Finding The Motivation To Do Anything

Depression is more than occasional sadness. Sometimes, it is defined as the inability to feel joy or pleasure. To paint a picture, people struggling with depression are fighting an existential battle that, from an outsider’s perspective, is completely invisible. They struggle with thoughts of suicide, and some days, getting out of the bed can seem like an impossible task – let alone getting a change of clothes, taking a shower, or cleaning up.

There are ups and downs for everyone, but for people with clinical depression, the downs slip far below the limits of the chart, off the board, into unseen realms.

Telling someone with depression to simply feel better is asinine, but the ultimate goal of treatment and therapy is to make this very task possible. Fortunately there are treatments for depression available, including new depression treatment methods like TMS, that can help without feeling the need to drink due to depression. People with depression sometimes lack the motivation to do what most would consider the most basic things – and they feel all the worse for it. Friends or family may tell someone with depression to just do it – regardless of whether it means getting dressed, walking the dog, doing the dishes, or making coffee – and finding themselves unable to, the feeling of worthlessness grows, and the disease becomes crushingly difficult to shake off.

There are days when things are better, and the depression is not as dominating. Days when a person might wake up and have just enough energy to start the day.

These are the most important days, especially if your depression is coupled with a dangerous habit like drinking. When you wake up, make it a goal to immediately jump up and out of bed. Summon as much visceral vigor as possible to complete the most basic and fundamental task of the day – before your mind can find a way to talk you out of it. In most cases, depression manifests as a long list of self-defeating thoughts and voices – by starting the day quickly before the voices can take hold, you can get dressed as hurriedly as possible and get to the first task of the day.

That task should always be something therapeutic. Exercising, walking in sunshine, listening to music, or starting your day with a comedy podcast are all quick and easy ways to achieve an initial mental boost, right out of the gate. Choose something depending on how you feel that day and make it a morning ritual to infuse your day with a spark of joy.

With time, you can set up a more complex schedule, and draft some goals. It can start with something like completing two chores in one day, or folding laundry faster. It may be something like increasing the time you spend walking, finishing a project for one of your hobbies, completely reading a book, or progressing to a harder exercise. Accomplishing things – no matter how small they might seem – can feel like adding notches to your belt, as well as improving both your physical and mental health. There may be times when motivation is harder to come by – but in the long-term things will get better if you work at it, and get help for addition and mental help.


Dealing With The Mental Effects Of Prolonged Addiction

Mental Effects Of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s much more than a choice. Addiction can best be described as a mental illness or a brain disease, a powerful compulsion that pushes patients to seek out drugs even if they know it’s detrimental and carries heavy mental effects and consequences. Drug users will go out of their way for the next high, to the point of risking something like prison again – repeat offenders prove that even a correctional system as harsh as America’s isn’t an effective deterrent for many.

What does help, however, is treatment. But to understand why treatment helps, it’s important to understand what addiction does to you – and how mental illness and the mental effects of long-term addiction play into why it’s so hard to stay clean for many.

There’s more to addiction than the fact that you feel the urge to get high. Prolonged drug use can physically harm you and cause mental damage, and the financial consequences of addiction can be ruinous.


What Mental Effects Drugs Have On The Brain

Drugs interact with the brain in many ways, but most of them work on the same basic principle. The best way to simplify how drugs work is to think of them as impostors of existing crucial neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals. They hijack the receptors in your brain’s cells and act as certain neurotransmitters, transmitting specific signals throughout the brain to elicit feelings of joy and happiness, but also other reactions, such as weakened coordination and slowed movement, as with alcohol, or a numbing effect that reduces the body’s ability to feel pain, like opioids. Whichever one is used, the mental effects are always negative.

All drugs have something in common, and that is their addictiveness. From nicotine to heroin, drugs elicit a response in the brain that is unnatural – this effect causes the brain to adjust. Most drugs invoke mental effects that condition the brain towards further usage, to the point where you begin to crave a drug. But as you take it more often, its effects are also severely diminished, causing you to need to take more. The two effects go hand in hand, making addiction particularly dangerous as the risk of overdosing is built into the nature of the disease.

Over time, it becomes harder to quit. Not only do most drugs cause physical damage to the brain and other organs, making it harder to think rationally and fight against the addiction, but as the brain normalizes drug use, it becomes reliant on it. Suddenly quitting can elicit painful withdrawal symptoms – sometimes, these mental effects can be fatal.

Aside from these complications, perhaps the biggest deterrent to recovery is the fact that drug use actively diminishes a person’s ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be critical. Drug use is also seen as a very effective short-term coping mechanism, drawing in people with high levels of stress caused by work or mental illness. At other times, due to its very poor performance as a long-term coping mechanism, and the fact that it can be mentally and socially ruinous to get addicted, addiction also leads to mental health problems including depression due to the consequences of getting addicted. A person who experienced years of loss due to their alcoholism may find it harder to quit because of the emotional (and physical) pain they endure while sober because of their drinking.

The only way out is through. One of the harder truths about recovery is that the mental effects and emotional pain are something everyone must process and overcome if they want to stay sober and successfully abstain for the rest of their lives.


Addiction, Anxiety, And Depression

Research shows that people with mental health issues – particularly forms of anxiety and mood disorders like depression – struggle with addiction more often than the general population. This is because people with mental health issues often try to self-medicate to deal with their issues without seeking out help or treatment, either to avoid stigma or for other reasons.

In other cases, excessive drug use may lead to the development of depressive symptoms and a diagnosis of major depression, because of the mental effects of addiction and the events that followed.


Seeking Comprehensive Treatment

Addiction treatment and mental healthcare have come a long way. Even though we’re not the best in the world at tending to our mental health, we do have a great understanding of the detrimental effects of stress and emotional pain, and the correlation between addiction and mental illness.

That is why many addiction treatment facilities utilize the knowledge of in-house experts to recognize the mental effects of addiction and formulate a comprehensive treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all in addiction treatment or in mental healthcare. But a treatment plan that addresses both issues as one – and even tackles physical issues through proper diet and exercise – can achieve wonders.


The Importance Of Strong Support

Ultimately, a person’s sobriety is as strong as they are – but when your strength falters, it’s important to have people in your corner backing you up, ready to help you get back on your feet and back into the ring. Some wrestle with addiction much longer and much harder than others, but regardless of your story or your circumstances, having people who love you and want you to stay clean and healthy can make a world of difference. A solid support system will give you a shoulder to lean on, an ear to speak to, and a fresh perspective whenever you feel the negativity catching up with you.

It’s one thing to have people around you ready to help you stay clean, but it’s another to be willing to ask them for help at the right moment. It’s important to recognize when you’re slipping and get the help you need to stay on the straight and narrow.

Beyond your support system and immediate circle of friends and family, consider sanitizing your relationships and removing yourself from relationships that you feel hurt you, or pull you down. Sometimes we retain friendships from the old days before the treatment, hoping to help them as well, but some people won’t accept help and have to find their own way to recovery. Knowing when it’s time to move on is important both for staying sane, and for staying clean.

In the end, it is possible that you will be struggling with the aftermath of addiction for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t have to impede on your ability to lead a colorful, exciting, and awe-inspiring life. Once you’re clean and the reigns are in your hands, it’s all up to you.


6 Tips To Resist Temptation

Resist Temptation

When all traces of a drug leave the body, a certain legacy is left behind. That legacy is the physical effect drugs can have on the brain, and the psychological scarring left behind by addiction and its consequences. To many, a marked and powerful aspect of that legacy is the craving and extreme difficulty to resist temptation.

Cravings remain long after rehab, and the only thing that helps them wane is time. But until they do, trying to resist temptation and fighting the urge to use again is central to any one person’s addiction recovery – and everyone has a different approach to ignoring the temptation.

Regardless of what your drug of choice was, cravings are a natural part of the recovery process. They come to you when you least expect it, and when you’re at your weakest. Anyone entering recovery must be prepared to resist temptation of these cravings, and you’ll need both short-term and long-term strategies to resist temptation and fighting off an urge when it appears. Here are a few applicable tips.


Find Something Else To Do

Addiction is tied intimately to the reward center of the brain, affecting what motivates us and makes us happy. Reclaiming that is an active process – finding new hobbies and spending time engaging in them can help people in recovery resist temptation and avoid struggling with cravings by instead focusing on other passions, such as painting, music, or sports.

From creative endeavors to intellectual pursuits or workplace ambitions, it’s important to find something that satisfies you, makes you feel accomplished, and keeps you busy and motivated.


Understand Your Triggers

Relapses rarely come out of nowhere, especially after early recovery. If you have been clean for a while, then the urge to use comes mostly during times of great stress, or when you are somehow reminded of your drug use. Positive memories of previous highs, places and things that remind you of the past – everyone carries different emotional triggers, based on memories or feelings.

It is important to recognize these triggers when they appear, resist temptation, and find a way to avoid them in the future. For example: even if you move to a new neighborhood, you might still take a similar route to work. That route might bring back memories, making it hard to focus and giving you a craving. Avoid that route and try to get to work through a different path.

Not all triggers can be avoided, and no one wants to live their life running away from places and people out of fear of certain memories. Understand that this is a temporary measure, and that with time, you can desensitize yourself to certain triggers and, with the help of therapy, eliminate their effect on you completely. However, this takes a lot of time and effort, and it is best to minimize the work you have to do by first taking the steps to resist temptation and avoid triggers wherever you can.


Talk It Out

Over the course of time, it is normal for events, feelings, and thoughts to weigh heavily on us. What might just be a passing casual thought in a fleeting moment could turn into a major issue in retrospect, an instance you feel ashamed or worried about.

Talking it out with others going through addiction recovery and hearing their perspective on it can help you better understand and accept your cravings, and learn to overcome them with time, rather than live in fear of them.

Sharing such moments with others also creates the opportunity to hear from them how they deal with their urges, learning new things that you might be able to apply in your own life.

It’s okay not to be entirely open to others at first. It is difficult to talk about addiction to others, especially early on. But something as simple as getting your worries and negative thoughts off your chest in a group can help you feel better, and even round up a few ideas on how to dispel and debunk those thoughts.


Try Therapy To Help Resist Temptation

Cognitive behavioral therapy allows patients to learn how to better control their thoughts, defeating negative thinking and replacing it with more positive, logical thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not based on hearing what you want, but it is based on helping you create mental bridges to come to logical conclusions to eliminate negative bias.

Addiction can often bring with it shame and self-doubt, and cravings can make you further feel bad about yourself. But through cognitive behavioral therapy, you learn to resist the temptation of a craving by living out the consequences in your mind, being mindful of what you risk and what you care about, and helping you make a calm and sound decision to resist temptation and ignore the craving rather than give into it.


Overcome Your Past

Early addiction treatment relies on avoiding certain triggers to prevent recurring urges, but that does not mean that facilities or treatments advocate avoidance in the long-term. The only thing you need to avoid is drug use – but it is critical to confront your past, your actions, and their consequences.

Making peace with past events and coming to terms with everything that has happened over the course of the addiction is important. It gives people peace of mind and allows them to ultimately forgive themselves after asking others for a little forgiveness.

The urges and cravings are not just tied to events and places, but to mindsets as well. Being in a certain state of mind not only due to external stressors but due to an internal argument can cause a relapse. Coming to terms with your past and overcoming it – growing past it – is an important step in long-term recovery.


Learn How To Surf The Urge

Urge surfing is a therapeutic technique based on mindfulness, developed by the late Dr. Alan Marlatt. When urges begin, they can last up to half an hour depending on the intensity of the urge. Feeling an urge is accompanied by certain physical reactions, including sweat, jitters, shallow breathing, and an increased heart rate.

Urge surfing recommends taking an outsider’s perspective on these physical reactions, focusing on your breath, and taking note of every sensation and change that occurs as your urge begins. If you find yourself getting angry or otherwise emotional over the urge, stop and refocus on your breath. In, and out.

With time, the urge will subside – your controlled breath will help normalize your heartbeat, and by staying calm rather than reacting cholerically, you do not let the urge linger.

The reason surfing applies so well to this technique is because urges and cravings come in waves. They crash over you, steadily and powerfully. But by taking a deep breath and by riding it out on top of the wave rather than under its wrath, you can observe it from a safe distance and wait for it to subside. The key is not to do battle against the urge.

Research suggests that the longer someone stays sober, the lower their chances of relapse. This rests on the idea that as you continue to stay away from drugs, you develop ways to keep yourself sober and happy, limiting and even eliminating the need for drugs in your life, and resisting any urge to go back. To get to that point will take time, but with support and proper treatment, it can be done.

What Does Having an “Addictive Personality” Mean?

Addictive Personality | Transcend Recovery Community

Having an addictive personality doesn’t exist. As we learn more about personalities, addiction and psychology, it becomes easier for us to dispel certain myths and go into much more detail about what a disorder is and is not – and what might be considered normal or acceptable behavior, and what should be considered cause for worry, both on a personal level and on a psychiatric level.

Just because someone has unsavory personal characteristics does not mean they need therapy – but a certain combination of characteristics paired with harmful or destructive behavior can point towards the possibility of a condition that might require a diagnosis and further treatment.

When it comes to addiction and the addictive personality, a lot of assumptions already exist in people’s minds. Today’s stigma against addiction has a lot to do with stereotyping and discrimination, which feeds into the addictive personality concept. A person’s personality does not determine their likelihood towards addiction. Neither do certain “kinds of people” always get addicted.

There are, however, behaviors and markers that statistically point towards a relationship with addiction, causal or otherwise. For example: men are more likely to use drugs than women. That does not mean, however, that being a man inherently makes you drawn towards addictive drugs. There are other factors specifically tied to the male gender that make drug addiction a greater issue for men than for women.

For example, men generally like to take risks. However, this is both biologically motivated, as well as socially and culturally. Workplace deaths are also a far bigger issue among men than among women, and men suffer from a higher suicide rate. A bad economy and other stressors may contribute to risky behavior, and the backlash may come in the form of addiction, depression, and other mental disorders.

The difference is that while being male puts you at a greater risk towards addiction, it does not mean being a man can cause addiction. Noting this crucial difference is important to understanding how the additive personality concept can be valid, while at the same time, many notions around an addictive personality are outdated and false.


What An Addictive Personality Is

An addictive personality does not really exist. Even certain traits are not universal – meaning, while some traits like anxiety and a low self-esteem, are common among people with addiction issues, there are also many who struggle with addiction despite having a healthy self-image before getting addicted.

Furthermore, even something as basic or destructive as deceit isn’t a clear indication of addiction, or addictive potential. Only 18 percent of addicts have a personality disorder with symptoms such as stealing, lack of conscience, or antisocial behavior. While this is higher than in the general population, it still means that most addicts get addicted without having a prior psychiatric condition associated with some sort of addict stereotype.

The closest generalization you can really make for addictiveness is extremes. People of low and high IQs are more likely to get addicted, just as they are more likely to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, people who are overtly curious as children have a higher risk towards addiction – but so do overly cautious and compulsive children, who fear any sort of new stimuli.

In other words, any sort of neuroticism as a child tends to create a higher likelihood for addiction. But it gets more complex the longer you consider all the factors. Both genetics and environmental factors, such as peer pressure, family ties, parental relationships, experiences and traumas factor into how a person’s personality may contribute to their eventual addiction.


It’s Not A Condition

There is no such thing as a psychiatric definition for an addictive personality. While people like to talk about having an “addictive personality” because they have trouble staying off the phone or quitting smoking, there is no real scientific indication that this has much to do with personality.

The best we can tell you is that being a well-adjusted individual gives you the best chances with addictive drugs – but anything, from an inborn trait to a set of circumstances, can turn a well-adjusted person into a nervous wreck.

There are genuine factors that affect addiction – and understanding them can give you a better idea of how addiction functions, why it affects us the way it does, and what we can do to better protect ourselves and others from the effects of addiction, and help those who struggle with addiction today.


Factors That Affect Addiction

Risk factors are not necessarily signs that someone is going to become an addict – rather, they’re factors that increase a person’s likelihood to struggle with addiction, for one reason, or another, or a combination of several. Many people struggle with one or more of the factors listed below without developing an addiction. Some people become addicted without any of the risk factors below. This can, however, be helpful in giving you a better mental picture of how addiction works.

Aside from genetic predisposition and a family history for addiction, other risk factors include:

Peer pressure: This is especially common among teens, who are less likely to behave rationally and do not recognize risks or long-term consequences, and are thus more likely to engage or propose dangerous behavior for peer approval including drug use.

Mental health issues: Depression, ADHD and post-traumatic stress are all significant risk factors, as patients are likely to self-medicate.

Family problems: A lack of a healthy relationship with friends or family, and general anti-social behavior is a significant risk factor, especially because it often implies a lack of parental supervision, and loneliness.

Teenage drug use: Teenagers are more likely to struggle with addiction than older people, and drugs affect a developing brain differently, making it more susceptible to progressive drug use and eventual addiction.

The drug itself: The addictiveness of the drug is a massive risk factor. Drugs like heroin and crack cocaine are more addictive than marijuana, and certain methods of drug use – such as injection or smoking – make a drug much more potent than ingestion.


Getting Help

There is no way to know if someone is going to become an addict until they do – but you can always prepare yourself and your loved ones by giving them the education they need to stay away from drugs. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to get help with addiction, then the sooner the better.


Acupuncture’s Role In Addiction Recovery

Acupuncture's Role In Addiction Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

If you’ve ever researched alternative medicine for addiction, you’d know that the entire subject can be…a bit contentious, at best. For some, it seems like one of the best possible solutions to the associated symptoms, especially when it comes to emotional health concerns. Others find it little more than an unnecessary expense. The truth, as with most forms of medicine, really lies somewhere in the middle and is different for each patient.

In no form of alternative medicine is this truer than with regard to acupuncture. This ancient practice involves placing tiny needles into the skin at specific points; by doing so, practitioners believe they can alleviate illness or disorder throughout the body. It’s difficult to know if this approach works, or if it’s simply another form of snake oil.

Plenty of anecdotal evidence does exist; plenty of people in recovery have had excellent results with acupuncture, especially when the treatment is paired with regular therapy.

If you’re considering adding acupuncture to your sober living arsenal, understanding the practice more thoroughly and how it may or may not help is an important step to take. Let’s break down the basics and take a deeper look.

What Does Research Say?

You’re smart; science-minded, even. You know through your own history that it’s important to research treatment of any kind, be it medication or therapy, before you dive in. Making the wrong choices could jeopardize your sobriety or simply not protect you from relapses at all. You should celebrate your dedication to understanding the treatments you use, and be proud of your willingness to learn.

Unfortunately, turning to clinicians and researchers isn’t terribly helpful when it comes to acupuncture. Most studies show an approximate 50/50 split right down the middle in its efficacy. The majority of studies show the same level of symptoms with or without acupuncture treatment, especially when acupuncture is used alone without other treatment methods. Essentially, this means that (at least from a scientific standpoint) we really can’t be sure just yet if it works or not. It also means that acupuncture is unlikely to serve as a standalone treatment for addiction at any point in the near or distant future.

That said, acupuncture is overwhelmingly safe when given by a qualified practitioner. In terms of treatments you should attempt, it isn’t likely to harm you or poison you. The only real risk with acupuncture lies in infection or excessive bleeding, both of which are caused by extraneous treatment issues like reusing needles or having a blood disorder. As long as your doctor agrees, you should feel comfortable trying acupuncture at least once or twice to see if it works for you.

What Do Practitioners Say?

Practitioners of acupuncture naturally have a more favorable opinion of the practice and how it can benefit those with addiction. Reported benefits are many and include everything from better digestion to better sleep, both crucial elements of recovery and sober living. Even an article by the U.C. San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine agrees. “Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites–commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints.”

The article also highlights that, although research so far has been largely inconclusive, there is enough evidence to support at least some benefit to the body.

“Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to resolve pain, and improve sleep, digestive function, and sense of well-being.”

How Acupuncture Can Benefit Addiction Treatment

A few studies, including this one, link acupuncture’s benefits to the fact that the barely-noticeable pain it produces triggers the same neurochemicals implicated in addiction and withdrawal: serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and endorphins. Deficiencies or dysregulation in any of these chemicals can and often does produce chronic pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, and a host of other symptoms that may take place in both acute withdrawal and Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This is especially common after using meth or opiates like heroin.

So does acupuncture really make sense in addiction treatment? Well, yes and no; it seems to very much depend on when and how you use it. As an adjunct to other forms of treatment, there is enough evidence to its benefits to give it a shot.

Adding Acupuncture to Your Arsenal

Acupuncture is a bit like massage therapy in that it won’t necessarily fix things, but it certainly can improve the results found within more assertive treatment protocols like detox, psychotherapy, or physiotherapy. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically, it can improve the condition of the body in small ways that make recovery easier to deal with in the first place.

In the case of conditions like PAWS, symptoms may continue for as little as a few months or as long as several years. Proper symptom management is vital if you want to stay on the right path; there’s nothing more dangerous than ignoring your symptoms and trying to just muddle through all on your own.

Typically, doctors would prescribe psychotherapy or medications to help you get through these after-effects. And to be clear, this isn’t a recommendation that you should give up those attempts in your journey. It is important to recognize that medications alone aren’t right for every patient, and sometimes psychotherapy isn’t enough. Following a multimodal treatment approach is by far and large shown to produce the best results.

When you simply want to try everything possible, adding one or two session of acupuncture to your toolkit is an excellent place to start.

At worst, you won’t see any changes; at best, you’re simply providing yourself with one more shield against relapse. Even if it turns out to be the wrong approach for you, it’s a bit like “no harm, no foul.” You can simply stop and move on to something else. Taking steps to properly care for yourself – something many recovering addicts have to learn from scratch – is something you should be immensely proud of. You deserve it!

Ultimately, only you and your care team can decide whether acupuncture is right for your recovery journey. What it is not is a replacement for regular medical care; what it is is a remarkably gentle treatment method that won’t overtax your system. Unlike opiates or stimulants, it is gentle enough to work within the confines of what your body can tolerate without requiring extensive recovery time. Depending on how your body reacts to it, you may just find that it improves your mood, energy levels, and comfort as you move forward with your new life.

Alcohol Hits Harder with Age

When a person is young, their bodies can more easily face the unhealthy effects of alcohol. There are times of course when a teen or young adult might drink excessive amounts of alcohol and suffer from alcohol poisoning. But for the most part, young people can handle the unhealthy ways that alcohol affects the body. As one gets older, however, the body handles alcohol differently, and this may be important for anyone over 65 years of age to remember.

The pressures to drink don’t stop with adolescence. There can be pressure to have a drink in your hand at business meetings, parties, and during retirement. According to U.S. News, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognized a growing problem with alcohol abuse among those over 65 years of age. It’s an “invisible epidemic” SAMHSA called it.

One of the biggest problems is that because alcohol impairs the body in more significant ways with age, drinking can bring more serious consequences. Aging can lower a person’s body tolerance to alcohol. This can mean that older adults feel the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. And this can create incredible risks for an elderly person to experience falls, car accidents, and other forms of accidental harm.

To make matters worse, there are more and more people aging with the baby boomer population. For instance, the 65-and-older population is estimated to be at about 83 million people by the year 2050. And in 4 years – by the year 2020 – the baby boomers will help double the rate of those over the age of 50 who have an addiction, raising it from 2.8 million in 2006 to 5.7 million in 2020. Furthermore, the resources for providing treatment for addiction, especially among the elderly, will have to expand in order to meet the projected needs of those addicted to alcohol and drugs.

And when it comes to those over 65 years of age, it’s  not only treating addiction, but it’s also treating the illnesses that come with addiction – or that have been made worse because of alcohol use. For instance, drinking alcohol for a long period of time in one’s life can affect coordination, thiamine deficiency, and other forms of poor nutrition. Alcoholism can lead to illnesses having to do with the heart, such as hypertension and an irregular heartbeat. It can also cause impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, pancreatitis, stroke, confusion, and amnesia. Other illness associated with chronic drinking include:

  • Cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Gout
  • High blood Pressure
  • Nerve Damage

Furthermore, because many elderly men and women already have health concerns, they may be taking medication and undergoing forms of medical treatment. The mixture of medication and alcohol can also be a concern. In fact, it can create internal bleeding and heart problems, among other risks.

If you or someone you know is over the age of 65 and drinking alcohol on a regular basis, seek professional help. Without alcohol, those in the latter part of life can think clearly, experience less health problems, and have more energy. If you’re drinking, speak to your doctor or mental health professional for assistance.


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Alcohol Is a Poison That the Body Works Hard to Eliminate

For some, it might be hard to realize that alcohol is actually a toxic chemical. Sure, it can make a party more lively and it can bring out the social side of people, but at what cost? The body is severely affected by the continued use of alcohol, and it’s important that the general public know this.

Essentially, there are two toxins in alcohol that the body needs to work hard to eliminate. These are acetaldehyde and acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is a colorless liquid created by oxidizing ethanol. And alcohol is a colorless, flammable liquid that comes in various forms. However, the form that is used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor is known as ethyl alcohol. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol.

No matter the type of alcoholic drink, however, alcohol is dangerous to the body. The liver does the majority of the hard work in processing alcohol and removing it from our system. However, about 10% of alcohol is also eliminated through our breath, sweat, and urine. Whatever is left in the body will slowly be eliminated over the next 7-12 hours following drinking.

Although the liver does the hardest work in eliminating toxins, alcohol use impacts all the other major organs as well. In fact, the head scientist of a study on alcoholism reported the following: “Clearly alcohol abuse can compromise the structure and functionality of several human organs, thus directly increasing the risk of death,” The study mentioned here also revealed that alcoholics may be more at risk for certain types of cancers. This study and other research studies have found that alcoholism can contribute to the following health problems:

  • Hypertension
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Impotence
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stroke
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dementia
  • Seizures
  • Gout
  • High blood pressure
  • Nerve damage
  • Night sweats

Furthermore, regular use of alcohol can contribute to glucose intolerance as well as obesity, which are both linked to Type II diabetes.

It should be noted that most countries have a guideline for alcohol use for men and women, For instance, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse, men should avoid drinking no more than 4 drinks in a day or no more than 14 drinks per week.  Women should avoid drinking no more than 3 drinks in a day or no more than 7 drinks per week. However, these guidelines are put into place to minimize the damage that alcohol already has on people’s health and well being.

It goes without saying that alcohol also contributes to crime, deadly car accidents, and other forms of substance use. It can also play a role in suicide attempts and one’s overall psychological health.

If you or someone you know is regularly drinking alcohol, consider the above health risks. If you feel you need support in bringing your drinking to an end, contact a mental health provider today.


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Why Some Have a Spiritual Crisis in Recovery

When a person gets sober, life turns upside down. You uncover aspects of your life that you’ve forgotten, and you let go of parts of your life that are unhealthy. Everything is different. And because of the grand change that takes place, some recovering addicts might go through a spiritual crisis.

Interestingly, there’s a saying in the mental health field that addicts are very spiritual people, but that they are knocking on the wrong door. Perhaps some addicts found a connection to the transcendental through drugs and drinking, and if all that needs to come to an end, then how is someone to experience that kind of spiritual connection again?

Some of the symptoms of a spiritual crisis might include:

  • Life feels meaningless.
  • Fear of losing one’s identity.
  • Fear of “going crazy”.
  • Life feels unreal or like a fantasy.
  • Feelings of great anxiety.
  • Fear of death.
  • Feelings of being a stranger in the world.
  • Urges to connect with a higher being or a transcendental source.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling the world to be threatening.

You might define a spiritual crisis as a time in life when you question yourself, your beliefs, and your view of the world. You might experience a significant change in your identity, which can leave you feeling disoriented and lost. You might go through a dark night of the soul or feel like a different person. You might not only feel like a different person, but you might not know who you are at all. This lack of identity can feel like a spiritual emergency.

In fact, many studies reveal that spirituality plays a significant role in one’s healing and transformation. For this reason, more and more treatment centers are including meditation, yoga, and other alternative type of practices to help foster meaning and purpose. In fact, a study done by Florida Atlantic University showed that the lack of certain spiritual factors (such as meaningful relationships and a connection to a higher power) is associated with alcohol abuse and drug addiction. According to the study, these same factors are also associated with other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well.

If you feel like you are undergoing an identity crisis and a spiritual emergency, there are some resources available to you. First of all, you’re not alone. This experience is not unheard of among those in recovery. So, you can feel safe to talk about your experience at a 12-step meeting or a recovery group. Here are some additional steps to take if you feel like you are experiencing a spiritual crisis:

  • If you have a sponsor or therapist, talk to them about your experiences. They would want to know what is going on anyway.
  • Spend time with others, such as friends and family. You may or may not feel comfortable sharing your experience but at least the presence of others can keep you safe.
  • Visit a doctor for a medical checkup. You might be having symptoms of an illness.
  • If you’re not seeing a therapist, contact a mental health provider to be sure you’re not experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.
  • Talk to your priest, rabbi, or spiritual teacher.

In addition to the above, keep in mind that, in many cases, having a spiritual crisis is a stepping stone to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.


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