Tag Archives: drug addiction

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.

Dogs Help with Recovery

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is a big step towards reclaiming your life. However, given that addiction is a highly individualized disease, treatment may take several forms depending on your case. During the recovery process, support systems are vital in helping the addict not to relapse into the addiction. One of the popular support approaches is dog-assisted therapy. This therapy involves giving those healing from addiction a dog to aid them during the recovery process. The dog offers the patients a connection to another living being. This is something that most patients lack. For these reasons, Omega Recovery is dog friendly. Just down the street from Omega is a great place to find a new best friend, Austin Pets Alive. Austin is leading the way as a no kill city for over 8 years.

Dogs are compassionate and they love you

Dogs are very good at showing compassion to their owners especially when the owners are low in spirits. A recovering addict will have their moments of low spirits and may lack someone that can give you that touch of assurance. A pet can play this role perfectly. It can curl, perch on your shoulder or lie beside you. It reassures you that everything is okay and will be fine. Dogs are great partners who never get bored with you and can be with you wherever you go or are doing. Given that you may regularly suffer from these moments of loneliness especially if you lack family support, getting a pet to be on your side is a noble idea.

Helps return your mind to the normal routine

Drug addiction alters your normal habits and makes you forget your responsibility. A significant step towards recovery is getting back to your normal routine. For you to form new habits, you need responsibilities that need to be fulfilled on a daily basis.

One of these activities is to take care of a dog. If you have a dog that needs to be fed, a dog that needs to be walked and you are most likely going to push yourself to wake up and get going. This daily commitment eventually turns into a routine. With the basic routine in place, you can add in other routines such as cooking, bathing and so forth. With time, you are able to get your normal life back.

Unlike other activities that you may postpone, a task around a pet cannot be postponed. When struggling to complete the task, you will end up completing other tasks in the process.

Gives you a sense of purpose

Most people are engulfed into a sense of hopelessness when they cannot control their drug or alcohol habit. Over time the hopelessness leads to frustration and more drug use. Unfortunately, you may feel the same when trying to get out of addiction. You may be struggling so much to keep within the recovery boundaries especially if are on extended care at home or rehab center.

Pets can give you a sense of hope, self-worth, and direction. You may be having a hard time getting on with the family members or connecting with friends who may affect your social life as you feel unwanted. However, your pet depends on you for grooming, food, and shelter. It gives you a reason to wake up each morning and do something for it. This reason is what helps you to rebuild your self-worth and a sense of purpose. In the long run, it enables you to regain the confidence of the people around you that you can take care of more than just yourself.

Helps the Whole Family Recover

Dogs help families take time out for play, it’s fun to chase your dog around the yard, go for walks, play fetch, learn new tricks, etc. Dogs provide loyalty, companionship and love. Studies show that owning a dog reduce stress and lowers cholesterol, and can add years to your life. See this article at WebMD for a list of benefits. Dogs greatly enrich the lives and help with recovery for both individuals and families.

Helps in socialization

One of the things that drug abuse kills off is the connection between you and the people around you. Drugs may have ruined relationships through withdrawal, risky behavior or unpredictable temperament. It is always a tough task to learn to socialize again when you get sober again. In fact, one of the aftercare objectives is to get you to become integrated into society and enable you to create friendships with people around you.

Dogs can act as middle persons in your journey to socializing again. You can walk the dog to a pet park and engage in some talk with other dog owners. Friendship with other pets helps you to regain the ability to trust others and learn new ways to handle relationships.

Pets are also known to ease social pressures that your friends and companions feel when they visit you. Friends may not have a lot to share. However, on meeting a pet at home he or she can start a small chat around the dog. Soon, the ice is broken, and other topics come into the foreground.

Keeps you active

As you recover, you need to keep your energy levels up by keeping yourself busy. Unfortunately, you are likely to end up feeling worn-out. A dog can come in to keep you motivated. Animals are exercise ready and awesome exercise companions. You may put off your next activity if you feel like not doing it. However, you cannot keep postponing your dog care activities such a dog walking, playing with the pet, and grooming. You will be forced to compose yourself and do what you are required to do. This motivation slowly turns seemingly tough or boring activities into routine activities. In addition, remaining active improves the rate of recovery and lowers the risk of relapse.

Conclusion

If you are in Austin, sober living is possible. Adopt a dog at Austin Pets Alive within walking distance from Omega Recovery Center in downtown south Austin. Having a pet near you is one of the most effective ways of speeding up recovery. Visit the pets center today and let your new friend walk with you to a drug-free life.

The Dual-Diagnosis Challenge

 

Dual diagnosis is a condition where a person is diagnosed with both substance addiction and a serious mental health problem such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or a bipolar disorder. It also goes by the names co-morbid disorders, co-occurring disorders, and co-existing disorders. They all refer to the same issue. When an individual has a co-occurring disorder, they have to simultaneously deal with both problems which makes their road to sober living and mental health much more difficult.

 

However, having a co-occurring disorder does not mean making a full recovery is impossible. The right help can help make a sober, steady life a reality. Many recovery programs have trained personnel who deal with both types of issues regularly. As such, it is imperative that you ask the treatment center you are seeking for your loved one whether they have expertise and experience in treating both addiction and mental health issues. They must provide assurance that they understand mental health concerns and how to help an individual recover from those as they treat the addiction problem. Not all treatment centers have the expertise and equipment to handle such situations. Failure to treat both issues concurrently almost always leads in one or both of the issues worsening.

 

Why Dual-Diagnosis is Difficult to Treat

 

When the individual increases their substance abuse, managing their mental problem becomes a lot more difficult. The reverse is also true. Moreover, having both mental health and addiction issues makes both problems more difficult to diagnose, as the behaviors and symptoms associated with each disorder will often complicate or mask the symptoms of the other.

 

As such it takes trained and dedicated specialists to untangle the disorders. Determining which condition came first is not as important as ensuring that both are resolved using appropriate treatment and care.

 

Nevertheless, denial is a common factor in both mental health and addiction problems. An addict often has a hard time accepting that their alcoholism or drug addiction is having negative effects on them and their loved ones. The stress of trying to mask the effects of their substance use causes them to feel ashamed and anxious. Moreover, the effects of the substances they are abusing can cause them to be depressed, have mood swings, panic attacks, and other symptoms that will only exacerbate the mental problem.

 

The same also holds true for individuals who have mental health problems. A lot of people find their symptoms to be shameful or as weakness. As such, they may either choose to ignore them and hope that they will go away, or turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to find relief. After depending on these substances to cure their frustrations, it eventually results in alcoholism and drug addiction, thus creating the co-occurring disorder.

 

Thus, even though it is hard to admit that they have these problems, it is the most critical step towards resolving their conditions.

 

Often, individuals suffering from either mental health issues or addiction problems find that other people within their families suffered or suffer from the same issue. It, therefore, seems to be a link between these issues and family ties. However, the exact role that genetics play in the development of these conditions has not been figured out yet. Nonetheless, patients of co-occurring disorders need professional help if they are ever going to overcome these problems and lead a healthy life.

 

Common Mental Health Disorders Linked to Dual Diagnoses

 

Substance addiction does not always lead to mental health issues, nor do mental conditions lead to addiction. However, they often become co-current because people turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate their symptoms. Thus, substance abuse does increase an individual’s susceptibility to mental health problems.

 

Nevertheless, the following are the most common mental health disorders in Dual-Diagnoses:

 

 Depression.

 Anxiety.

 Bipolar Disorder.

 Schizophrenia.

 Attention Deficit Disorders.

 Personality Disorders.

 Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

It is important to note that even the prescription medication for mental illnesses such as antidepressants can also cause more problems.

 

How Many People are affected by Dual-Diagnoses

 

The Journal of the American Medical Association  reports that around 50 percent of all people diagnosed with serious mental health issues also struggle with substance abuse. Moreover, about 37% of alcoholics and 53% of drug addicts have at least one severe mental illness. Additionally, the Journal of Addiction Medicine reveals that nearly 60 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder also suffer from some form of addiction. About 44 million Americans have been diagnosed with some type of mental condition.

 

However, the number of people suffering from mental illnesses but have not sought help remains unknown. Nevertheless, estimates indicate that about 7 million US adults are coping with both mental health conditions and addiction, or have a dual-diagnoses. Sadly, however, it is estimated that only about 16% of individuals with dual-diagnoses ever seek treatment.

 

Treating Dual Diagnosis

 

The past three decades have witnessed a great deal of change on how co-occurring disorders are treated. Up until the mid-90s, people who were suffering from both addictions and mental illnesses were often denied access to treatment for their mental health issues until they were sober. This approach was heavily flawed as substance abuse is one of the major contributors towards mental disorders. As such, a lot of individuals with dual diagnoses were denied the treatment they required.

 

Today, however, treatment is focused on addressing addiction and mental health problems concurrently. It is a growing field of therapy that is more comprehensive and effective at ensuring that individuals suffering from both conditions make a successful recovery. Dual diagnoses treatment utilizes evidence-based programs such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, motivation enhancement therapy, in addition to 12-step programs.

Counseling, in particular, is essential during this treatment as it helps patients learn how to cope with their mental health issues without relying on alcohol or drugs to manage their symptoms. They are taught that these substances actually aggravate their problems. As such, these patients need to be seen regularly by a psychiatrist.

 

Moreover, these individuals are also taught about medication compliance, and the importance of taking their medication as prescribed. Individualized treatment plans and cognitive therapy programs are essential towards addressing the needs of each patient to further enhance the success of the program.

 

Co-occurring disorders require a minimum of a 30-day inpatient program in addition to an outpatient aftercare treatment to realize success. However, the best outcome is usually realized when the patient stays in the inpatient treatment for an extended period. Recovering from dual-diagnoses is not easy, it needs courage and commitment from the patient. This is because it can take months or years to change their maladaptive habits and behaviors. Treatment is essential in helping teach them that basics of sober living, decision making, and coping skills. However, they need to make long-term commitments so that the treatment can be successful.

 

Dual diagnosis is a condition where substance addiction and a mental health condition manifest themselves at the same time on an individual. For a long time, this condition was not handled appropriately, and patients rarely made a successful recovery. However, advancements in healthcare have seen to newer and more efficient techniques of dealing with the disorder. No one promises that recovering will be easy, but in the right hands, your loved one should get their life back on track.

 

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Vintage Anti-Drug PSAs

In the 1980s, several like-minded advertising execs got together to see if they could use their collective powers for good. The Partners for a Drug-Free America formed to do their part in fighting the nation’s drug problem one tv spot at a time. Out of the PDFA came iconic anti-drug commercials. Although these PSAs were meant to address a major problem among youth, many of these commercials seem charmingly off-kilter, out of date, and in some cases, trying a little too hard to push the point.

The “This is Your Brain on Drugs” PSA was short 30 second spot that employs the analogy of frying and egg to doing drugs. Simple message, yet highly effective. This commercial is now an immortal part of American anti-drug culture and a staple of 80s pastiche. They did several rehashes of the same theme in later years, notably the “This is Your Brain on Heroin” ad where a young Rachel Leigh Cook obliterates a kitchen with a frying pan.

Of course, other agencies teamed up to put out their own anti-drug ads, several aimed at the youth of the 1980s and 90s. Some use cartoon ambassadors, like the once popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other take a more straightforward approach.

Then there is a whole wave of more recent advertisements that focus more on the peer pressure aspect of youth drug use than the actual physical damage it does. These two particular ads use wild examples to get their point across, but they might be the most effective. It’s also interesting to note that these later ads take a broader approach to tackle more than just marijuana or under age drinking.