Category Archives: Therapy

Sober Living: Benefits and How to Choose

What is Sober Living?

 

 

Sometimes known as a halfway house, sober home living facilities act as a bridge between the in-patient care facility and going back to the real world. These facilities are designed to assist individuals to learn how to function again in society by participating in various responsible tasks, such as paying bills, household chores, meetings, and participating in events and activities that are drug-free. 

 

Before leaving the drug/alcohol rehab, physicians, mental health professionals, and the client will discuss the rehabilitation and recovery afttercare process. For many who suffers from drug/alcohol addiction, going straight from the in-patient care to the real world is not a good idea. Life issues may arise that may be too challenging to the recovering addict. And as a result, the newly, drug/alcohol-free person can easily return to his/her old ways. So, physicians and mental health experts will usually inform the patient about aftercare at a sober home especially since the recovering addict will stay in the drug/alcohol rehab for only a short period. And if the person has been on drugs/alcohol for a long time, it may be in his/her best interest to get involved in this type of facility to have a better chance in recovering. 

 

The Benefits of Sober Home Living

 

While these types of facilities can be very helpful, these organizations don’t have the same structure level as an in-patient facility. These facilities, however, have curfews, household chores, and other obligations. When living at these facilities, clients will adjust to normal life through accountability, therapy, and support. 

 

Having said this, the following includes the benefits of sober living: 

 

  1. They are a peaceful, warm, and stable living environment.
  2. They are completely free from harmful influences. 
  3. There is usually a house manager of staff who works and lives on-site to assist the residents and run operations. 
  4. There are usually other healthy activities, depending on the type of facility. These activities can include yoga, hiking, mindfulness, or meditation programs. 
  5. Group counseling and individual therapy are required. An example of group counseling is the 12-step sponsorship programs. 
  6. These homes have strict rules which are a good thing. Recovering addicts must get used to following strict guidelines. They typically have random drug testing. 
  7. No overnight guests are allowed. 
  8. There must be sobriety for the entire stay. 

 

How to Choose a Sober Facility?

 

One main thing to do is that the loved ones of recovering addicts must choose a sober home facility that is a safe residing place. When families are choosing a facility for their spouse, their child, or a relative, it must be a safe living environment that is favorable for their recovery. There must be supportive people going through and went through similar issues of substance abuse. There must also be professionals to guide them. The following includes more details in choosing a facility: 

 

  1. Structure

 

It’s imperative to investigate how structuralized these facilities are. Even if some of these programs have the loftiest amenities and perks, they don’t necessarily provide the top-notch structure needed to ensure the clients have the best tools and gain the most strength to be healed and recover holistically. 

 

Having said this, top-notch facilities enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward alcohol and drugs by them establishing random drug tests, regular house check-ins, and a curfew. Clients should always feel comfortable asking team members how they maintain schedules for residents. Every program has its own distinctive routine on an individual and collective scale. 

 

A collective routine for a community can range from assigning chores around the house to group activities. When it comes to an individual scale, many communities assist residents in working toward keeping a schedule that encourages recovery, like attending therapy and a twelve-step program regularly. With this schedule, the client can thrive at school, work- at life! 

 

  1. Safety

 

The neighborhood where the sober home living facility is located, may also have an effect on your decision. Along with your family member staying sober, you want to know that they’re safe at the facility. A house should ensure the safety of residents and have some form of security. Safety within the house is also important. Your family member may need medication management, or you may want to know about specific risk-reduction and plans in case of emergencies. You can always ask the people in charge of a sober living about any of the above and feel that your questions are fully answered.

 

  1. Team

 

Meeting the staff in charge of these facilities will also give a great impact in deciding whether this program is the right choice for the loved one. As previously stated, all places don’t have the same staff structure. Some may have inexperienced team members in handling clients who have a dual-diagnosis. Some communities have a clinical nurse. So, in choosing a high-quality program, clients/their loved ones should consider one with good clinical support, strong administration, and some experienced team members. These team members should be experienced in handling many situations, such as having different personalities under one roof, and remaining calm and diplomatic when handling conflicts and tough situations. Also, there should be some experienced team members with experience in the 12-steps program. These members will understand the addict’s mindset and are helpful in assisting clients with their struggles, and in sharing their own experiences that continually helped them on their successful sobriety path. 

 

  1. Community and Culture

 

There are a different community and culture in every sober home that is based on its residents and staff. A facility with all-female or all-male is highly recommended. However, there are also co-ed facilities available in most cities. Nevertheless, the sober house should foster cooperation, friendship, and unity between residents. A program with regular group meetings provides residents the opportunity to discuss issues in the house and to constructively and openly speak about their feelings to promote a positive environment. The goal here is to assist residents to adjust to this new lifestyle and to let them know that they are not alone in their recovery process. 

 

Conclusion

 

Many times, it is best for people suffering from substance abuse to get afttercare once they complete drug/alcohol rehab. This fact is especially true for those who have been experiencing substance abuse for a long time. Getting involved in a safe and effective sober living community is the way to go. 

 

With these types of facilities, there are various benefits. The most costly ones don’t necessarily mean they are the best ones. And thus, it’s imperative that these facilities meet the qualifications mentioned above to ensure great success in recovery.

 

Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT)

Rapid Resolution Therapy is a gentle and effective therapeutic modality, created by Dr. John Connelly, LCSW that resolves trauma and other distress in as little as one session. Because the root causes of problems are pinpointed and cleared, positive changes endure. Negative emotions and destructive behavioral patterns are eliminated. 

Unlike other forms of treatment, with Rapid Resolution it is not necessary to relive past events or experience any pain. Rapid Resolution therapy integrates hypnosis, cognitive and playful techniques, to name a few, allowing for optimal healing through multiple levels of the mind. This type of therapy leads to dramatic improvements in thoughts, feelings and behavior. Rapid Resolution Therapy has effectively treated PTSD, other trauma/stress related disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, frozen grief, guilt, resentment and even aided in successful recovery from addiction.

Along with creating Rapid Resolution Therapy, Dr. Connelly has also founded The Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence, a non-profit (501C3) organization providing mental health professionals with state-of-the-art training in advanced clinical methods of eliminating the negative influence of trauma. You can learn more about Rapid Resolution Therapy and how to find providers in Austin, TX and all over the country by contacting me directly for a referral or by visiting the main Rapid Resolution Therapy website: www.rapidresolutiontherapy.org

Schedule a Free Consultation with: Julia Thompson:

 MSW NBCCH

TEXAS LMSW #66100

FLORIDA LCSW #SW14616

NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPIST

https://juliacthompson.com/rapid-resolution-therapy

RESOURCES

Article on Army website discussing RRT:  http://bit.ly/2ZTmQxh

Ted Talks video: “Life Changing power of words.” http://bit.ly/2GZDQuw

Julia Thompson: https://juliacthompson.com/

Texas Opiate Crisis

 

The increasingly prevalent use of opioids has triggered one of the most serious drug crises in the country’s history. In almost every state, fatal overdoses are being reported on an almost daily basis. Here’s what you need to know about the crisis in Texas.

 

The Use of Opioids appears to be Most Prevalent in East and North Texas

 

Reports show that opioid-related admissions and fatalities are concentrated in East and North Texas, which includes a lot of rural counties. Overdose fatalities due to opioid use in some counties in Texas surpassed 24 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

 

Various counties by the Red River have also recorded increased rates of drug overdose mortalities. For example, Baylor County has recorded over 30 fatalities per 100,000, which is the highest in the state.

 

Half of all Opioid-Related Deaths Are as a Result of Legally Prescribed Opioid Medications

 

Interestingly, the majority of people who have an opioid use disorder trace their addiction back to legally prescribed opioid painkillers. The leading sources of these opioid prescriptions include doctors, dentists, and surgeons. Consequently, reports indicate that drug overdoses are most prevalent in areas where most opioid prescriptions are made.

 

And because prescribed opioid painkillers are becoming increasingly harder to get, individuals who developed a dependency on those medications transition to the use of illegal opiates such as heroin. Heroin produces a similar sensation to the medication while being easier and cheaper to obtain. What is even more concerning is that this drug is being laced with lethal synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Drug traffickers are lacing heroin with fentanyl to make their product even more potent as fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than morphine. As a result, the likelihood of an overdose is dramatically increased. In fact, deaths that were fentanyl-related almost doubled between 2015 and 2016.

Of the 1,174 opioid-related deaths reported in 2015, prescribed opioids accounted for 517, heroin had 516, while synthetic opioids resulted in 153 deaths.

 

Texas’ Opioid Crisis Could Get Worse

 

While fentanyl-laced illegal opiates are the leading cause of recent overdose fatalities nationally, in Texas, fentanyl has only caused about 4 percent of heroin-related deaths. This is because the most common type of heroin available in Texas, known as blacks tar, is a lot harder to mix with the synthetic opioid as compared to white powder heroin.

 

However, that safety bubble is about to bust as reports indicate that white powder heroin is becoming increasingly available in Texas. Moreover, drug dealers are already mixing fentanyl with black tar. Additionally, more and more illicit drugs are getting laced with fentanyl, thus increasing the risk of fentanyl-related overdoses.

 

As we have covered, opioid use is very likely to result in dependency and addiction. This addiction is eventually what leads to an overdose as the addict needs to take more and more to achieve the same level of high.

 

What Happens When You Take an Opioid?

 

Upon ingesting, inhaling, or injecting an opioid into their body, the opioid enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. There, it attaches to an opioid receptor which reduces the perception of pain thus having a sedating effect.

 

For most people, the stimulation of opioid receptors causes a mild pleasurable sensation. Others report feeling a sense of well-being while others say they feel motivated or energized. Others might experience unpleasant side effects such as irritability, nausea, and vomiting.

 

There are also those who experience an intense euphoria upon taking an opioid. Unfortunately, these are the individuals who are likely to develop a dependency on the drug thus leading to addiction.

 

Nonetheless, the body gradually builds a tolerance towards the drug. As such, the individual has to take larger quantities of the opioid to achieve their desired euphoric sensation. This results in long-term changes in the brain’s structure and function. Consequently, this results in changes in their behavior as well.

What is Opioid Dependence?

 

This is an addiction to opioids. Thus, it is a brain condition characterized by both a physical as well as a psychological need for the drug and therefore requires opioid addiction treatment. A dependent or addicted individual is one who exhibits compulsive opioid use despite the obvious harm the drug poses. They cannot seem to stop their use even though they know that they should stop.

 

An opioid addiction is typically characterized by intense cravings and the subsequent loss of control over their usage. Behaviors that signal a need for opioid dependency treatment include:

 

 Loss of control over usage

 Denying that there is a problem

 Spending a lot of time looking for and using opioids

 Missing out on important obligations because of opioid use

 A persistent desire to quit but failing frequently

 Continued use despite the harm it poses.

 

Getting over an opioid addiction can be a challenging endeavor. This is because, as mentioned earlier, an opioid addiction typically results in long-term changes to the brain’s configuration. Consequently, the individual is unable to stay long periods without using.

 

Moreover, the withdrawal effects that follow the stoppage of use are dangerous and can even be fatal. As such, professional help is necessary to help the addicted individual to get over their dependency safely while reducing the chance of a relapse. The following are some of the most effective opioid addiction treatments available in Texas:

 

  • Inpatient Opioid Rehab

 

Here, the patient checks into a rehab facility where their treatment is overseen by a team of medical specialists. First, the addict is helped to cease their drug use through structured pain management programs that help them deal with the withdrawal effects that follow stoppage. Additionally, the patient receives psychological treatment that aims to address the root of their addiction while helping them find better ways to cope so as to prevent future relapses.

 

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs

 

Also known as partial hospitalization programs, people who opt for intensive outpatient programs will still receive the necessary medication to help them manage their withdrawal symptoms and to aid in recovery and sober living. Thus, the patient will still be living at home, going to work, and spending time with their loved ones.

 

Nevertheless, they will have to make regular clinic visits up to 6 times a week so their progress can be monitored. The individual will also receive mental health assessments as well as therapy.

 

Partial hospitalization programs are a good substitute for inpatient rehab in certain cases. Your doctor should help you determine whether they are a good fit for the addicted individual.

 

  • Partial Hospitalization

 

An ambulatory detoxification program is a type of outpatient treatment as it provides the benefits of inpatient detoxification but at a less restrictive and more cost-effective setting. Ambulatory detox programs typically offer all the services expected in an outpatient program.

  • Ambulatory Detoxification Program

Nevertheless, this treatment is only suitable for patients who have or are expected to have, mild to moderate symptoms of withdrawal. Therefore, a person who experiences severe withdrawal symptoms needs inpatient treatment as this will allow for medical oversight to ensure that the withdrawal symptoms do not result in a fatality.

With opioid use becoming more prevalent in Texas, it is necessary that we do what all we can to prevent unnecessary deaths. If you have a loved one suffering from opioid use or abuse, getting them to an addiction treatment center sooner will help you turn their lives around, so they do not end up as another opioid-related statistic. Guide them to the path to sober living.

 

 

Navigating Safely into the New Year while in Recovery

While recovering from any addiction, it’s important to avoid anything that can trigger a relapse. This is especially difficult during the winter holiday season because it tends to be longer than the others. Also, there are more celebrations, family and friends reunions scheduled for this time of the year than at any other time of the year.

 

To stay sober, you should start your transition on to the New Year with a resolve to stay sober. As hard as it might be, especially for a person who has just gone through intensive treatment for an addiction, it is crucial that you discipline yourself and be aware of negative habits that might crop up as you try to avoid the primary addiction. Here are strategies for staying sober during the holiday season.

 

Have a Plan

 

It’s the festive season and just because you are in recovery does not mean that you cannot have some fun as most of the world is. The only important thing is to have a plan. Only attend important meetups or celebrations and have with you someone close to watch and offer the support system you need. Some alcohol addiction patients may get an urge or temptation to taste alcohol just by seeing or smelling it at the party. If you think you can have these tendencies avoid such parties. Most family gatherings are relaxed and have less alcohol served. These can be ideal for a start. However, when going to such parties, prepare your mind for any eventuality. You might come face to face with alcohol, smell it and even watch people as they enjoy the drink. You can carry with you an alcohol-free drink that soothes you and helps keep your mind off alcohol.

 

Reduce Stress

 

Stress can trigger a relapse. Some situations are unavoidable but being prepared can make a lot of difference. Apart from the celebrations, sibling rivalry, fights with friends and other misunderstandings are a normal part of the festive season. You cannot avoid people because this can lead to other problems like screen addiction or tech addiction as happens to people who stay indoors for too long. To avoid stress, always be in the company of people who understand, support and are ready to help you through the setbacks. If you reach out to stress-relieving pills every time you experience anxiety or stress, you are at  risk of dependency or drug addiction.

 

Avoid Old Friends

 

As much as you can, avoid friends you used to party with or who drink or abuse drugs. The more you associate yourself with them, the easier it will be for you to slip back to your old ways. Sober living requires you to drop as many of your old friends as possible and get new ones, probably those who are walking your journey. When you have like-minded people, the journey becomes easier, and there are fewer temptations along the way. If you can’t avoid drinking friends, let them know of your intentions to stay sober, the effort you have been putting to fight alcohol addiction and ask for their help. Most probably they already know you were drinking way too much or were battling other addictions such as tech addiction or screen addiction. Ask them to avoid bringing alcohol along when they visit you.

 

Eat

Hunger is one of the triggers for most addictions including alcohol,video gaming addiction, and drug addiction. Having a meal or snack every three hours ensures that your blood sugar levels are optimal, your thinking is not affected and you have the energy to make the right decisions. Before joining a party, make sure you have eaten well, you can even carry a snack along. Other triggers include anger, loneliness, and fatigue. If you find yourself idle, your mind can go back to the things it was accustomed to.

 

To avoid tech or video gaming addiction, keep yourself busy with meaningful things. Being in control of your mental and physical health is important for your wellbeing. When you overwork, your energy levels go down which can trigger a relapse. Holiday festivals demand that you sleep late, party a lot and work hard to entertain guests. Having a plan ensures you get enough sleep and take breaks to avoid burning out.

 

Learn How to Say No

 

Most often, recovering patients shy away from telling their extended families or friends about their healing process. This puts them into awkward situations in parties or family gatherings where alcohol is being served. A well-meaning aunt or friend can hand you a glass or a whole bottle of wine, how do you politely say no? You need to have rehearsed this before. This gives you the preparedness to say no and settle for it. You don’t have to say no to the offer outrightly but can use a clever way to get out of the situation. Not involving everyone in this journey can be an advantage because you don’t have to endure the judgment that comes with such a revelation but you need to have a plan that gets you out of any tricky situation. To be on the safe side, always have an accountability partner every time you attend parties.

 

Evaluate Your Progress

It’s not an easy journey. Sometimes you will fall, other times you will have relapses, and in some instances, you will feel desperate and ready to give up. The urge to drink at times will be so strong that sober living will seem like an impossibility. Do not be too hard on yourself. If you slip once or twice, dust yourself and keep pushing forward. With time, things will get better. To be on the safe side, book yourself into more stay sober treats and make sure you attend all your therapy and counseling sessions. If possible, stick close to the support groups, make friends within the circle and find entertaining but safe ways to spend the holidays within the circle. This is especially important if you have just come out of an intensive treatment plan.

 

What you should always remember during the New Year season is that there are busy and not too busy triggers. Busy triggers include friends and family parties and old friends visiting you. Not busy triggers include loneliness, shame, guilt, and loss.

 

Conclusion

 

It’s essential to identify each emotion and take the necessary steps to deal with it. One of the things you may experience when around the extended family is low self-esteem. Addiction comes with a loss of earnings, poor health, marital and family problems that cannot be hidden. People may judge you, others may not be willing to forgive or accept you back or even help you on the journey to recovery, but you need to be strong and always stay close to positive people who embrace and love you just the way you are. If all fails, opt for sober living houses. This will significantly help you transition into the new year sober and focused on your long-term goal of kicking out the addiction.

Video Gaming Addiction

Addiction is a term that most people associate with drugs, alcohol, and junk foods. Getting addicted to something, especially if it is unhealthy can be detrimental to your mental and physical development. People not only get addicted to substances and drugs but also video games. Let us discuss in detail what video game addiction is, its causes, effects and how to help anybody trapped in their world of video game addiction.

What is Video Gaming Addiction?

Video gaming addiction is the inability to control oneself from playing video games. According to a study , 1.4 percent of gamers are addicted to playing video games.

In recent times, many video game companies release games on a yearly basis. Each version of an upgraded game promises players better graphics and increased in-game control among a host of other upgrades. Gamers, especially on the online platform, feel immersed into the virtual world and forget what is happening in the real world. The more you play, the more intriguing the gameplay becomes. Meeting fellow players online and making friends with them from the comfort of a seat in your bedroom accelerates the process of addiction. This makes it difficult to withdraw from gaming.

According to Game Quitters, a website that helps parents fight their children’s video game addiction, some of the most addictive video games include first-person player games such as Fortnite, Strike Team, Bullet Force, etc. A study done by a group of researchers from the Oxford university states that 2-3 percent of gamers are heavily addicted and display diagnosable symptoms associated with gaming.

The Proof of the Danger?

In some cases, they can be debilitating addictions and clinical disorders that have ruined peoples lives. A whole generation of “Failure to Launch” Millenials have seen their schooling, job prospects and/or interpersonal relationships suffer–or even destroyed–as a result of their screen or technology addiction.Now there is a dedicated specialized program at Omega Recovery to effectively treat this issue.

Dr. Kardaras, our Co-CEO and Chief Clinical Officer, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on digital addiction (social media, video games, smart phones, etc.) and its treatment. He is the author of “Glow Kids” (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), the seminal book on the clinical, neurological and sociological aspects of digital/technology addiction and, over the past 10 years, he has clinically worked with hundreds of young people struggling with this issue. And now he has bought his years of expertise and developed the best evidence-based treatment protocols at Omega Recovery to address and treat the addiction of this millenium: technology addiction.

What causes video game addictions?

One factor stands out when it comes to video game addiction: video games are designed to be addictive. What other way is better than to keep players coming back for more? Video game addiction is also caused by the need to clear a mission and move to the next level. For example, some video game designers have their games structured in such a way that the gamer misses to proceed to the next level by a slim chance. As such, gamers have to repeat the mission until they are successful. Missions are usually harder as you proceed with the game, consequently resulting in addiction.

Video games become addictive by satisfying a gamer’s need to make social connections. Online video games offer gamers an opportunity to network and make friends with other players on the same platform. Players who lack social skills in the real world will be quick to jump into the virtual world and make friends with whom they share the same interests.

Other video games offer in-game rewards, which are seductive pursuits for some gamers. More rewards translate to more power, respect and ultimately ranking in the overall standing of the games table.

Symptoms of video game addiction

Research is still underway to disclose real symptoms of video games addiction. However,

studies published in the American Online Journal of Psychiatry indicates that there are more than five symptoms that can be used to identify an addicted video gamer.

Isolation
Many video game addicts will be quick to isolate themselves from social gatherings or events in order to play their favorite video game. They will come up with excuses to help them isolate themselves and play their favorite game.

Dysregulated gaming
Dysregulated gaming leads to significant distress, which is the first symptom of video gaming disorder. Online video game players will concentrate more on their gaming and procrastinate other duties. They are always preoccupied with the game they are playing or a new game that has just been released.

Observable shifts in interests.
Another way to tell if somebody is addicted to video games is by observing a shift in their interests. For example, if someone who would be happy to attend family functions prefers to play video games during such occasions, it is a clear indicator that they are getting addicted.

Lying
Most addicted gamers have been caught playing their favorite game after giving an excuse that they were preoccupied with some other different activity. Moreover, if all somebody can talk about is gaming and how good they are at a given game, it might point out to some significant extent that they are addicted.

     5. Treatment and cure from video game addiction        

Video game addiction always causes anhedonia, which is the loss of interest in things that excited or made someone pursue rewards. For an addicted gamer to find cure and treatment, they should:

Understand why they are playing a game.

Experts advise that to get out of video game addiction, a gamer should understand why they are playing the game in the first place. Most people play games to escape reality. As a result, gamers should set aside a limited amount of time to play video games. For instance, say, three to four hours of video games during weekends will go a long way in curbing addiction problems.

Find alternative hobbies

A gamer can find alternative hobbies and focus more of their energies indulging in them. Different hobbies take away the focus on video games and can allow someone to concentrate more on other things.

Cognitive behavior approach

Cognitive behavior approach is another way to treat video game addiction. Experts advise that you can overcome addiction by staying away from your playing station. Delve into the real world by driving a real car or attending social events that will cover up most of the time you use for playing video games.

Finding Help

The World Health Organization recognizes addiction as a condition in its international classification of diseases. And with numbers increasing, it is imperative that we address this societal problem. It is important for gaming addicts to speak to a professional if they are unable to overcome it by themselves. However, getting out of video game addiction narrows down to the addict and the amount of effort they are willing to put in recovery.

At Omega Recovery in Austin we’ve had success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in helping the addicted gamer find more adaptive ways of managing moods, feelings and thoughts that may trigger impulses to game. Counseling supplemented with a good 12 Step program in a structured sober living environment is ideal to help overcome the addiction and return to society.