Stress & Addiction: How they fuel each other

In the United States, 8 out of 10 people consider themselves stressed. Whether it be an internal force that causes their stress, like overthinking or fear of missing out, or external factors like family problems or troubles at work, there are a myriad of ways that stress can creep into our lives. According to the American Psychological Association, the top stressors of Americans are money, work, the economy, family responsibilities, relationships, personal health concerns, housing costs, job stability, health of loved ones, and personal safety, in that order.

With that in mind, what coping mechanisms do people utilize in order to manage their stress? Some might exercise more to alleviate their stress. Others might meditate. But for those with addiction, stress could become a trigger for their vice.

What is Stress?

Stress is the feeling of pressure mentally and how the body responds to it. Stress can be due to strenuous circumstances that make life more difficult, but it could also be the body’s inability to cope with its surroundings.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the brain choosing a substance or behavior for the feeling that it provides despite the often negative consequences of use. The first addictions that come to mind are typically drugs or alcohol, but there are many other types of addiction. Addiction is not about the use of a bad substance, but the mind’s dependence of use of any substance. Here are some examples of substances that people can become addicted to:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Inhalants
  • Opioid
  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Tobacco and Nicotine

Here are some behaviors that people can become addicted to:

  • Binge-eating
  • Shoplifting
  • Sex
  • Gaming
  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Smartphone Use

While it is possible to see that the excessive use of a substance or action is bad for your health or wallet, it is important to understand that treating the addiction is not about what you are addicted to but the feeling that you are addicted to.

Are Stress and Addiction Related?

Yes. In the cases that stress can affect addiction, stress is referred to as environmental factors. Think about how many people say they need a drink after a bad day at work. There are people who need to smoke a cigarette after an argument with a coworker or family member. There are others who insist that a day at the casino or some consumer therapy will help alleviate any stressful situation that they may have. While not all people who exercise this use of substance or behavior in response to stress are addicted to the substance or behavior, these environmental factors can be a trigger to those with addiction to use their vice as a way of coping with their stress.

Addiction Treatment

There are many ways of treating addiction. People who require addiction treatment can consider each of the following options as a way of treating their addiction:

  • Detoxification
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy
  • Therapy (Group, Cognitive, Recreational or Family)
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Medication and Withdrawal Management

There are numerous other addiction treatment plans available. It is important to understand that managing the triggers of addiction, such as stress and stressful environmental factors, is essential in creating a successful addiction treatment plan. In addition to residential treatment plans, there are after-rehabilitation support groups that can share and compare addiction treatment journeys to ensure a sense of accountability and encouragement among those with stress and addiction.

At Quest 2 Recovery, the addiction recovery program starts with detoxification and ends with aftercare planning, to ensure that recovery continues to be a part of your life even as you leave the rehabilitation center. While stress might trigger your addiction, Quest 2 Recovery can give you the tools to find healthier ways of coping with your stress.  Contact us today if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction.

5 Signs It’s Time To Intervene

Addiction will not only affect the life of an addict, but also those around them. Alcohol and drug addiction can break families, leaving lives in wrecks.

You might be having someone battling drug or alcohol addiction, and you don’t know how to help. In most cases, talking to the victim might not provide excellent results. That is because the majority of people suffering from addiction are still in denial about their addiction state. In that case, doing an intervention for a person strolling with drug or alcohol abuse is the best solution. It will help the victim to transition into the treatment procedure safely and swiftly. Before you stage the intervention, make sure you invite a doctor to help you through the process. Also, have non-attacking letters to your loved ones, and have a treatment plan in case the victim refuses to get help.

Importance of intervention

  • Assists the victim to realize that alcohol and drugs have become a life-threatening threat
  • Identifies addition or abuse as a medical disorder
  • Offers an alternative for instant treatment
  • Determines what will be affected in a relationship, at work, at home if the victim refuses to be helped

Timing

Addiction can be a life-threatening event to the individual battling with alcohol or drug dependence and the family as well. But, what is the perfect time to perform an intervention to increase the chances of getting the required results?

The ideal time to stage an intervention is determined by:

  • The capability of the participants to come together for the intervention
  • When the victim is sober and available
  • When it’s evident that the victim’s life is in danger
  • Let’s look at the signs; it’s time for an intervention.
  • The victim’s destructive behavior subjects his or her family at risk

People struggling with addiction encounter challenges related to taking care of their families. In most cases, they engage in vicious habits, like passing out and overdosing. They might also endanger other family members by driving under the influence or using drugs in the presence of kids.

Once you start to see an increased incidence of failure to make informed decisions about their health or your own, it’s the right time for an intervention. In most cases, drug or alcohol abuse will escalate before getting better.

Failure to tell the truth

Where they spend their free time is a secret to you, and you don’t know the substance they are using. Once you realize that your loved one is trying to dodge the truth, ensure you understand why. Addiction tends to create a physical and chemical dependency that makes it hard to make the right decisions. However, your loved one realizes they are doing something wrong by using the substance. Drug or alcohol abuse triggers lies that build upon each other and worsens over time.

The use of substance becomes uncontrollable

The consumption of drugs or alcohol will increase as the abuse of these substances worsens. You might various signs of a controlled level of consumption like:

  • Making stopover to get a drink on when going home from work and coming home late
  • Using the drugs in the morning
  • The urge to look for more drugs since what they have is not enough

Typically, those with addiction find themselves creating tolerance faster. That means they want drugs with more intense effects to get a similar feeling.

They act or look sick

Those with addiction problems strive to make it a secret. While some might think they are successful, they will feel horrible most of the time and look sick. You might realize they don’t wear clean or wrinkle-free clothes anymore. They will also look pale and appear to have lost a lot of weight.

Remember that you might notice mental health changes like being east to anger or avoiding other family members.  That withdrawn personality is a symptom of addiction, indicating that they need help.

The financial hardship is worsening

Maintaining a substance abuse condition is a costly affair. You might be struggling to balance your cost and finding it hard to make ends meet. The victim might go to work, and your revenue might be the same, but his or her bank account is always dry. You might also realize that your loved one is finding it hard to maintain a job. This will result in financial hardships like having their assets repossessed. Your loved one might also be lending money frequently and promising to pay back, but defaulting later on.

Final word

Before you decide to stage an intervention meeting, make sure you have a plan. You need to understand what issues you need to address and rehearse saying them without any anger. Being accusatory and raising your voice towards the addiction treatment victim will push them away. You can invite an interventionist in the event the situation worsens. Make sure there is a treatment plan such that the victim will be admitted right after the intervention.

 

How You Can Enjoy Life More after Becoming Sober

Addiction can be a truly crippling disease.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.3 million deaths per year result from alcohol abuse. Somewhere around 31 million people all over the world also struggle with disorders related to drug use.

Becoming addicted to substances that can cause such irreparable damage to your body may seem so illogical, but when you are in the throes of your downward spiral, all that really matters is satisfying your dependency. Your wellbeing probably won’t rank high on your list of priorities at that point.

Still, many are afraid to let go of their dependency. They fear that sobriety will rob them of their joy and make it impossible for them to have fun in any meaningful way.

That is far from being the case of course. There is indeed fun in sobriety and by following the tips included below, people in recovery and those who have already become sober will be able to understand that there’s life after overcoming the challenges of addiction.

1. Start to Develop More Meaningful Relationships

One of the things that tends to happen when you become addicted to any harmful substance is that you start to alienate the people around you. When your mindset 24/7 is just about how you can satisfy your urge, you don’t often spare a second thought for the people around you.

It takes a lot of courage to admit you’re wrong to the people who care about you and ask for their forgiveness, but those are all parts of the healing process. By doing those things, you can begin to better understand what you were missing as you throw yourself fully into the arms of toxic substances.

Connecting with people, hanging out with them, and sharing a few laughs are all fun activities you won’t be able to enjoy fully as long as you’re addicted.

Being sober will also help you create new relationships with new people. You can expand your network and welcome more people into your life now that you are no longer dependent on a substance.

2. Become More Active

Being dependent on certain substances can really take a toll on your body. Even if you were a relatively healthy and fit individual before, your dependences may have changed that.

Now that you are sober, you can begin to reclaim what you lost.

Take up a team sport such as basketball to get in better shape and to get a better sense of what it’s like to be part of a group. If you’re not up for that just yet, you can also try out other physical activities such as hiking or camping. You won’t need any mind-altering substances when you have the wonders of nature stimulating your senses.

On top of all that, becoming more active can also reduce post-acute withdrawal symptoms, according to VeryWell Mind.

3. Indulge Your Creative Side

It’s not just your strength and the vitality that’s drained from you when you become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol. Your mind also loses its edge as well.

Some say that they use those substances in the first place because they want to alter their state of mind, but there is simply no need for them if your goal is to simply experience something truly special.

Devote your energy into coming up with a story that deserves to be told or if you’re more skilled with a sketch pad, draw whatever it is that is running through your mind. The mind can become so muddled when it is dependent on foreign substances, but now that it is returning to normal, it can come up with such wondrous works again.

4. Beautify Your Home

So, what’s the best way to leverage all those inspired ideas that are floating around inside your head? Well, one thing you can try is to start changing things around your home.

In the past, your home may have seemed like a sanctuary for your substance abuse, so changing it up quite a bit is not a bad move at all. Feel free to go all out with the changes you want to make as well. You’re fortunate to have a fresh start and your home deserves one too.

If you do have a knack for drawing or painting, you can even put your works up around your home as reminders of what you can accomplish now that you’re sober.

5. Relax

You’re always running after something when you’re addicted. Perhaps you’re running after that substance that can provide that artificial high or something else that can eventually help you capture that elusive sensation.

There’s no need to constantly run anymore. You can now relax.

Take the time to breathe, meditate, and reflect on how far you’ve come since those days when your addiction overwhelmed you. Sobriety itself is the greatest reward, but even just being able to relax again is something you’ll be able to appreciate greatly.

Conclusion

The notion that becoming sober means no longer having fun is just flat out wrong. Using harmful substances is not a prerequisite for enjoying your life. Now that you’ve broken free from the clutches of those substances, you can start to see what living life truly is about.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it is not too late to get help. At Quest 2 Recovery, it is our goal to help you get off drugs and live a better life. Contact us today!

The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

An inpatient, residential treatment program has significant benefits that cannot be matched by an outpatient approach when it comes to addiction, no matter how well-constructed the outpatient approach might be. This is because there are no gaps between treatment phases with inpatient rehab, the environment is controlled, and the patient doesn’t have much in the way of practical ability to fall back to the addiction. This, in turn, allows for a smooth move from detox to recovery therapy as a result.

Patients who are assigned or choose the inpatient approach are going to find that the structure works in their favor. The potential for peers bringing them temptation is reduced to almost none, and they have the ability to finally focus on getting past withdrawals. Further, there is constant monitoring and medical support, unlike at home when the detox phase gets really bad before it starts to improve. For those who have been addicted for a lengthy period of time, the inpatient approach is absolutely a must for a successful break of the addiction. Time and again, long term recovery happens more often and with greater permanency when inpatient treatment is applied.

The benefits of inpatient treatment are threefold:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Emotional

The Physical Improvement

There’s no question, the first break in the addiction cycle is to get past the physical demand for the addiction that keeps a patient in a downward spiral. Fundamentally, the addiction break is ultimately made mentally, but the body has to be released from its addiction hold first. That generally happens best in a medical environment where the patient can be kept separate from addiction material, but he or she can also be cared for if the withdrawal process itself creates a medical hazard (which happens sometimes with certain addictions such as opioids for example). Each addiction is tracked and prepared for so that the patient receives the right care needed during the detox phase.

The other big aspect of physical benefits is the literal separation from what the patient is addicted to. There is no guarantee this can competently occur with an outpatient drug rehab approach. With an inpatient process, however, the harshness of the withdrawals can be addressed with immediate medical help, allowing the patient to relax and get through the cravings. This won’t happen at home or in an outpatient scenario; the patient either has to make it through to the next office day or go to the local emergency room. Neither usually happens in a lot of cases. In extreme withdrawals reactions, a licensed medical professional can guide the treatment hands-on with inpatient cases, resolving the reaction before it gets bad.

The Mental Improvement

The fundamental presence of addiction involves a mental capitulation to the addiction. So, the patient has to be convinced that it can be broken and recovery is possible for recovery to stick. However, everyone is different, so a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t necessarily work. Inpatient programs can align the right psychological treatment to the patient. This is critical because many times other conditions tend to go hand-in-hand with addiction. Depression, nervousness, attention deficit disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia can be coupled with addiction. Again, an outpatient approach won’t necessarily spot these issues or even provide treatment at all. An inpatient treatment, on the other hand, can accurately identify parallel issues present in a given patient and couple psychological treatment with the physical medical help during detox and recovery phases. This approach can also put the patient on the right long-term track of psychological treatment as well.

The Emotional Passage

Detox and recovery can be scary. And what makes us human involves our emotions. Fear, stress, anger, sadness, and disillusionment all find their root in emotions. But so do hope, happiness, joy, passion, and confidence. Inpatient treatment helps patients move from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. And when patients achieve the most important step, building up confidence that their recovery is possible, then the addiction break sets in. The patient realizes he or she is not alone, support is right nearby, and they are not lost. The downward spiral can be reversed. And it’s possible to think about tomorrow again.

A Center That Combines All 3 Benefits

Located in Lancaster, CA, Quest 2 Recovery involves a holistic approach to breaking the addiction and providing recovery treatment. With a focus on healing the body, mind, and spirit at the same time, the program provides an effective inpatient approach that can be customized to each individual addiction case. The goal is to break the internal personal lock of addiction, not just the physical craving. By identifying the real causes and providing a complete treatment, Quest 2 Recovery provides a far more successful approach for addiction recovery than many other options. When you or a loved one needs a completed substance abuse program, it’s time to call Quest 2 Recovery for help.

Treatment Programs Specific to Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism and alcohol use disorder is often described as a downward spiral. The alcoholism leaves a person miserable, who then seeks more alcohol to feel better, only getting worse instead. The vicious circle destroys health, careers, relationships, friendships and ultimately family bonds. No surprise, many patients literally feel like they can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel anymore. Fortunately, even the worst of alcohol addictions can be helped. A number of treatment approaches are available, and patients can get back to a healthy, normal life again.

Factors Contributing to Addiction

Many times, alcoholism and alcohol abuse don’t occur on their own. Multiple factors and elements can put a person in a vulnerable position to develop a drinking addiction. These include medical conditions, psychological factors, family issues, personal history, career pressures, stress, social issues and more. As a result, an effective alcohol addiction treatment program needs to approach patient treatment as a multi-factored approach versus just trying to treat the physical addiction alone.

The Difference in Professional Treatment

A professional approach to treatment will involve a well-trained medical specialist team that works best out of a rehabilitation program and facility. Even if the treatment will be outpatient, medical specialists are essential to identify the nature, scope, and extent of addiction and how to customize the treatment for the specific needs of the individual. And, when one commits to an inpatient program, the support provided by such a team is 24/7, day and night, through the detox phase and smoothly into the recovery and sustaining phase.

Real Recovery is Rooted in the Mind

However, even with the best help, people have to remember that recovery from alcoholism and alcohol abuse is very much a process, not a simple treatment reaction such as taking a pill for pain relief. Under half of the number of folks who try to achieve sobriety and recovery tend to relapse within a year of starting. Those who do succeed are able to do so because they engaged in ongoing counseling and group therapy for ongoing support.

Like any addiction, ultimately the recovery starts when the person realizes he or she needs to stop the condition and try to heal. This mental switch is essential for any physical recovery to begin as well as to continue. The recognition can happen in a number of ways. It can be self-induced. It can happen through family or friend intervention. Or many times it occurs through social response such as getting in trouble with the law or suffering negative career impacts due to alcoholism. Whichever the case, when the person begins to accept help is needed, the detox and recovery phases can begin.

Getting Treatment and Types

There is no bad time to start trying to get treatment. Ideally, as soon as an addiction is identified, treatment should be sought. However, many times folks have been addicted for a long time before it became a serious problem. And such conditions come with complicated relational problems such as financial problems, family disorder, marriage dissolution, legal problems, career problems and more.  This can make a person feel like treatment needs to wait until the other problem is solved, but in reality, the treatment should come first. And that starts by reaching out to medical experts for help.

As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways treatment can be applied. These include:

  • Alcoholism Detoxification – Probably the most recognizable treatment, this phase involves the separation of the individual from the physical effects of alcohol so the patient can break from the physical cravings. It involves separation, withdrawals, medical treatment for symptoms, and re-establishment of physical health. Many times patients suffer physical reactions to the detox process, which is why the close monitoring of medical experts is essential for success. Otherwise, patients frequently seek out their addiction for quick relief.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation – This type of treatment involves a combination of detox, medical treatment and recovery help all in one. The patient is contained in a medical facility with expert medical staff on hand, and he or she goes through a full process that can take weeks or even months before an initial recovery condition is reached. The benefit is that the care provided is 24/7 and doesn’t allow the patient to quickly seek relief through the addiction again. It tends to be the most successful method of physical “drying out” for patients.
  • Alcoholism Counseling – Because the mental condition ultimately drives or loses recovery, alcohol counseling is a long-term followup treatment approach that keeps providing support for individuals to stay away from the physical sources of their addiction. To work out the problems that drove them to alcohol abuse, and to provide peer support. A therapist guides the counseling and group sessions often give patients a peer outlet for emotional and mental release. This, in turn, builds resilience and the confidence to stay away from relapse.

Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster CA provides a Southern California comprehensive approach to alcohol abuse addiction treatment. It is designed as a holistic treatment that insures both short-term and long-term treatment are applied specific to the individual needs of the patient versus cookie-cutter recipe. When you or a loved one realize it’s time for help, Quest 2 Recovery is ready to help. Contact them today for more information.

Why You Should Build A Support Group In Early Sobriety

Whether we realize it or not we all have support groups of many kinds. We surround ourselves with people that validate us, and who help us in various ways.

When you get on the road to sobriety, one of the first things you are told to do is to cut ties with those people who are a bad influence. These are people that enable your addiction, validate your behavior, and encourage you to make bad decisions.

Once you begin treatment for addiction, you may rid yourself of bad influences, but then you will find a hole, or something missing. That something missing is a support group that can help you on the road to recovery.

Why You Need A Support Group

It is true that the journey to sobriety, and staying sober, is an individual journey you must take for yourself. Even so, that does not diminish the importance of having a support group. We need other people no matter what we are doing.

We all need a support group. Many of these are formed unconcsiously as we select a group of friends to associate with. This group will influence you for the good or bad. When on the road to sobriety, you can choose the support group you need intentionally. Choosing new friends is just one part of the road to recovery.

A support group gives us a sense of community. It is a social network where you can get support, friendship and hope that you will indeed overcome. Seeing other people struggle and overcome can inspire us to keep trying when the road gets rough. We can also be helped as we help others with their struggles. It is easier to fight against an enemy when you feel like you have allies in the struggle. Being alone, or feeling alone, is one of the things that makes addiction hard to beat, and makes sobriety hard to achieve.

The Benefits

People

One of the main benefits of a support group is sharing with each other. As you listen to other people’s stories, and as they listen to yours, you can become inspired to keep going. Part of the problem of addiction is seeing yourself as alone, which makes the addiction worse. Having that group around you helps you realize you are not alone. You may also learn something from the stories of other people, which also helps with recovery.

When you were under the control of addiction, you had friends that shared a similar interest and maybe even the same addiction. You may not have been aware of it, but they were influencing you to make bad choices. With a positive support group, you can have other kinds of friends, the ones that support you and encourage you to make good choices.

The friends are there every day, and you need that support. There are also times when the going gets rough and you need more than a casual friend. In those times you can get the encouragement you need through your support group or network. They are there to help you when you are struggling most. Another benefit is mutual support which gives motivation. You can help motivate others in your support group, and they can help you. By talking about issues you help and encourage each other.

Accountability

Accountability is another aspect of having a support group. Encouragement and validation that friends provide is great, but there is another side. You need to have someone in your life who will question you when you start slipping into old ways that could lead you back to addiction. The group supports you and encourages you, and it also holds you accountable and points it out when you do not do well. You will be doing the same for other members of the group. There is then, both a benefit and a responsibility in a support group.

Being part of a group gives you a chance to be around individuals who are struggling just like you are. it also gives you a chance to be around people who are recovering and they will be a great inspiration. It is easier to relate to people who are either in or have been in, the same situation you are in. It is easier to relate to each other on many levels.

Connection

The group also gives you someone to talk to who can understand your struggles. it is very discouraging to try to talk to someone about your struggles if they are judging you or giving you simplistic answers, which is what you do not need. The more you talk about your addiction, the better you will be able to control the addiction. Secrecy is part of what makes it so strong, so talking about it defeats that before it has a chance to grow.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to reach out. At Quest 2 Recovery, we want to be there to help you on the right path of sobriety. Contact us today.

How To Reach Out For Help While Struggling With Addiction

Facing Facts

One of the most damaging things about addiction is how it alienates us from those who care about us the most. It’s difficult enough admitting we have a problem for ourselves, let alone those around us. We may go through cycles of guilt and despair, determination and denial, almost ready to reach out but somehow never quite doing it.

The climb to recovery is not a journey to be taken alone. Asking for help is essential to breaking those cycles and genuinely moving a better direction. And yet… it can seem so difficult! How do we reach out, even when we don’t feel like we can?

1. Stop focusing on blame, guilt, regret, etc.

There will be plenty of time to feel whatever you feel once you’re getting help and working through your recovery. Right now, all that self-hate and doubt is just getting in the way. We live in a society still trying to break free of a shame-driven past; not everything we believe about ourselves is based on reality so much as our collective cultural baggage.

You may not be able to turn those thoughts and feelings completely off, but you can make the decision to ignore them for two minutes – long enough to reach out. Who could you call if you weren’t overwhelmed with those feelings for a few moments?

2. Let someone else be the “good guy.”

One of the excuses we make when we should be asking for help is that our partner won’t understand, or our family will be so disappointed, or our friends don’t need to be burdened by us. That mindset doesn’t really give the people around us enough credit. Most people want to help, especially if they know what’s needed. Most people want to be useful and to do right by those around them. Wouldn’t you do it for them?

You’ve probably helped someone move, listened while they talked through a big decision, or fed their dog while they were out of town. If sobriety starts with asking someone to make a few calls or drive you to an appointment, is that really asking so much in return?

3. Try someone professional.

If coming clean with those closest to you seems impossible, try someone outside your immediate circle. Talk to your family doctor, even if that’s not what the appointment was originally scheduled to be about. Tell your chiropractor, or lawyer, or pastor, or dentist. Talk to the nurse or even the receptionist. Maybe your workplace benefits include some sort of helpline or referral service.

I promise you, most people get it. They read the research. Primary care folks, especially, have heard it all. They don’t judge. In fact, they want to help; that’s why they became doctors and nurses.

4. Try someone far away.

This is the age of social media and long-distance communication. It might be easier to start with a friend who no longer lives in the area or a family member you don’t see as often. Even reaching out to a “virtual friend” is better than not reaching out, although it’s harder to predict how involved they’re willing or able to be.

Who could you message right now?

5. Seek help online.

If you do a search for “addiction recovery” or “help getting sober” or any variation thereof, you’ll be inundated with more results than you can possibly use. Some will be promoted links (paid ads) – and that’s OK, as long as they’re legitimate organizations. If your search engine does its job, many of the real results will be close to where you live or work – and that’s even better.

Pick one. Open the link. Click the ‘Chat Now’ button or find the phone number which is most likely in a large font near the top of the page. This is what they do. If they can’t help you directly, they can probably help connect you with someone who can.

6. Put it in writing.

Sometimes an email or handwritten note sets us free when speaking face-to-face just feels impossible. If you start writing and a dozen pages of confessions and fears and hopes and apologies pour out, that’s completely fine. It’s also OK if you grab an index card and barely manage “I can’t stop ___________. I need your help.”

Hit send. Tape it to their mirror or laptop. Drop it in the mail. You don’t need to redo it or edit it; you need to share it.

7. Send them this article.

If you can’t think of any other way to say it, cut N paste the link to this page and tweet it, email it, message it. No need to elaborate. You did it.

If you’re receiving this from someone, they need you. Thanks for stepping up.

How to Know if a Dual-Diagnosis Program is for You

Real life is complicated. Our minds, our bodies, our feelings, even our experiences – on paper, it seems things should be so clear-cut. We think this, we want that, we feel X, Y, or Z…

In reality, of course, it’s rarely that simple. Feelings crash into thoughts which disrupt our plans which then change our feelings – we are complicated creatures, it seems.

Diagnostic Challenges

The same is true when it comes to diagnosing disruptions to living our best life. Mental health issues and behavioral disorders are very real, and often very damaging, conditions. We don’t choose them, and they don’t always each stay in their box. They interact and complicate one another without asking our permission.

Substance abuse is a harsh disruptor as well. Sometimes it’s just one thing, but it’s not unusual for substance use disorder (SUD) to take a variety of forms for the same individual. Like I said, real life is complicated.

People wrestling with mental health issues or behavioral disorders are more likely than the general population to seek relief or solace through the misuse of alcohol or drugs, whether they come from pharmacies or neighborhood dealers. That’s certainly not a good thing, but it makes sense – things feel messed up and out of control. We don’t always know what to do or how to feel, and the false promise of whatever substance is available can prove overwhelming. And sometimes, mental health issues just plain make it harder to make our best choices.

Conversely, individuals struggling with substance abuse are more likely than the general population to have mental health issues or behavioral disorders. The disruptions of addiction can lay the groundwork for latent issues to manifest themselves unexpectedly, or otherwise trigger thoughts and behaviors which otherwise might have remained dormant.

The cause-and-effect of it all isn’t always clear, but the correlations are undeniable. And if you’re the individual, your chances of sorting it all out by yourself are statistically slim. You need someone with training and experience in just this sort of difficulty.

Dual Diagnosis Experts

The good news is, you’re not alone. You’re not even some rare exception to how struggle is supposed to work. There’s a name for what you’re experiencing: “co-occurring disorders,” sometimes referred to simply as “dual-diagnosis.”

Either term simply means you’re dealing with a combination of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health or behavioral issues. It’s unlikely you’ll find your way out on your own, but there is a way through this to a better version of you. And we can help you get there.

Dual-diagnosis situations require experts with both the training and experience to recognize and understand the many factors at play in the same individual. The symptoms for many types of substance abuse and many varieties of mental health or related issues overlap and impact one another in innumerable ways.

How Do I Know If I Need Help?

That’s a great question, although there’s not a single, simple answer. In general, however, there are common warning signs that should at least prompt a phone call or setting up an appointment:

  • You no longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy (and maybe you don’t enjoy much of anything).
  • Your mood or overall attitude has changed dramatically without obvious external reasons.
  • Anger, depression, defensiveness, paranoia, or any other intense emotions or perceptions “take over” from time to time
  • It’s hard to think clearly or to focus for extended periods of time.
  • You’re no longer motivated to take care of yourself or your surroundings.
  • You used to “self-medicate” to deal with stress or extreme situations; now you do it just to feel “normal.”
  • Friends or family members have started asking you a lot of questions about what’s going on with you or commenting that you don’t “seem like yourself.”
  • You have strong thoughts, feelings, or urges, which are destructive or dangerous or which drive you to do things that don’t make sense
  • Performance at work or school drops off suddenly, or you find yourself having trouble with things that used to be easy – keeping up with the bills, buying the right groceries, etc.
  • You’ve become impulsive or unpredictable.
  • You find yourself thinking about suicide or self-harm or talking about suicide even without intending to.
  • You have a family history of mental illness or substance abuse.
  • Friends, family, or co-workers urge you to get professional help, even if you don’t think you need it or don’t understand why.

When In Doubt…

If any of these describe you, or if you’re still not sure, don’t wait. Reach out. Let us help you figure out the best way forward to confront mental health challenges as well as providing effective addiction treatment. No matter what you’ve done or how you feel, you are not alone.

The Link between Depression and Substance Abuse

The relationship between substance abuse and depression is bidirectional. This means that individuals who have depression do experience an increased chance of having a substance abuse problem and those with addiction are at a greater risk of having depression.

Many people who suffer from depression will abuse drugs or drink in order to boost their mood or escape feelings of misery or guilt. However, certain substances, including alcohol, have depressant properties, which escalate feelings of sadness. Using substances to alter any negative feelings can become part of a cycle, which hinders the ability to get treatment for depression.

Does Depression or Substance Abuse Come First?

It can be hard to say which comes first since the results will vary from person to person. Some will develop drug addiction or alcoholism while others develop depression first. A study published in the National Institute of Health’s U.S. Library of Medicine shows that alcohol can actually induce depression. This is because it alters the level of serotonin. When serotonin levels rise, the symptoms of depression can sometimes decrease. Those who have depression can sometimes self medicate in order to treat the problem. Over time, substance abuse will worsen depression. Alcohol dependence and drugs can cause a lot of hardships across every aspect of life and these hardships can make depression worse.

Both alcohol use and mental illness will have a similar underlying cause. Genetics play a role in both substance abuse and depression. Someone who has a sibling or parent with depression can be two to three times more likely to develop it than an average person. Both addiction and mental illness can stem from issues in the brain. When someone is vulnerable to one type of brain disease, they can also be vulnerable to other conditions as well. Both mental health disorders and addiction affect the same chemicals and molecules in the brain. Trauma and childhood stress can put a person at a greater risk for depression and substance abuse. Further research is needed to determine the exact reasons why this can occur. Stress can be triggered by neglect, domestic violence, sexual or emotion abuse, or the death of a parent at a young age. Regardless of a person’s age, stress can be a risk factor for depression. When the body releases the stress hormone cortisol, it stimulates symptoms that are similar to depression.

Can Drug Abuse Be a Cause of Depression?

Drug addiction and alcoholism may be able to cause mental illness because they change the chemical balance in the brain. If a mental health specialist doesn’t diagnose and treat the mental illness quickly, it can also encourage the use of substances. Addiction can be a dangerous cycle once it starts.

How Drug Abuse Can Hinder Depression Treatment

Those who have co-occurring substance abuse disorders and depression usually receive specialized treatment to manage both disorders to be able to improve symptoms and increase the effectiveness of rehab. If someone with depression is getting treatment, such as therapy or medication, and notices that drinking numbs feelings, he or she may still be inclined to continue engaging in that activity and avoid evidence-based treatment. This patient may think that substance use works better than medicine or therapy and stop prescriptions or therapy visits. The substance abuse can then create other symptoms of depression, making it even harder to treat the individual.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Depression

Using drugs or drinking to wind down at the end of the day can lead an individual to think that symptoms are improving. Instead, this can just be creating more health problems. Reaching for alcohol or drugs to help lift spirits can cause depression symptoms to worsen. Depression poses risk such as a suppressed immune system, self-harm, a weakened body, and accidental injury. When a mental illness occurs alongside substance use, risks to emotion and physical health increase.

How Having Both Affects Treatment

When an individual suffers from both depression and substance abuse, this is called a co-occurring disorder. These disorders require a more comprehensive treatment plan that will effectively address both disorders. One shouldn’t be treated without the other since an individual that isn’t treated for both can have a higher rate of relapse.

It can be common for people to be unaware of either condition. If only the substance abuse is treated then a person can go back to abusing substances whenever they feel depressed. When only the depression is treated, an individual can continue using substances, which can lead to more depression symptoms. Drugs that are used to treat depression can be affected by alcohol intake. The person can still feel depressed and even develop anxiety when drinking and taking the medication. Alcohol can also cause an individual to become sedated or feel drowsy. Treatment for both substance abuse and depression will usually involve a combination of therapy and medications.

What To Expect When Coming Down From Alcoholism

The dreaded alcohol come down. Anyone who has experienced symptoms of withdrawals has an idea of what lies ahead when deciding to get sober, once and for all. It may have taken months, or years, to finally arrive at this important fork in the road, but no matter, you are here and have chosen the right path.

Deciding to get sober is one thing, but following through can be another story altogether. You are psyched up and mentally prepared for this first step in seeking recovery from alcohol use disorder, but the idea of coming down from alcoholism is a daunting one.

The best way to approach the goal of achieving sobriety is with the support of a trained team of detox experts. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can become erratic and intense, so it is never wise to take on the challenge alone. A medical detox program will provide the safety and comfort to get you through the detox and withdrawal process and prepare you for the treatment phase of recovery.

What is a Medical Detox?

When coming down from alcoholism there are is a diverse range of symptoms, the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms dictated by the length of history engaged in alcohol abuse, the level of daily alcohol consumption, general health status, and whether there is more than one substance involved. All of these factors will determine the severity of the detox process.

To help ease the detoxification process, while the body is purging the alcohol and toxins, detox specialists provide clients with medications. Because each person’s detox experience will vary, these interventions are determined based on the observable symptoms, vital signs, and psychological status throughout the process. Benzodiazepine is commonly administer to help minimize the risk of seizure, anxiety symptoms, and to aid sleep. Over-the-counter medications provide relief for gastrointestinal distress, headache, and fever.

What Are the Symptoms of Coming Down From Alcoholism?

Coming down from alcoholism happens gradually over a period of days, with the peak withdrawal symptoms occurring on days 2-3, before beginning to subside. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms emerge between 6-12 hours after the last alcoholic beverage, and the detox usually lasts for 5-7 days.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Hand tremors
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Where Should I Get Treatment for the Alcohol Problem?

Getting treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) may be somewhat confusing at first glance. There are different types of treatment programs, most falling into two camps: outpatient or residential treatment. The outpatient option is appropriate for a recently acquired AUD, one that is mild to moderate in severity. Outpatient programs offer far less structure and oversight, so for someone with a more entrenched AUD, this format will probably not be advisable.

The residential treatment option is appropriate for moderate to severe AUD, as these rehabs offer structure, 24-hour oversight and support, and have a physician on staff. A residential program will likely feature a full daily schedule of various therapy sessions, classes, and groups, which are all designed to promote success in recovery. A residential program lasts from one to nine months, depending on the needs of the client. In general, the longer someone can remain in treatment, the better their recovery outcome.

What to Expect in Treatment

An effective alcohol recovery program will utilize a variety of treatment elements that are designed to work together in helping clients overcome the AUD and transition to a new sober lifestyle. Each rehab has its own “personality” and philosophy, but most will offer most of the following treatment modalities:

Evidence-based therapies: These are scientifically studied therapies that resulted in statistically significant results. Clients will engage in the therapy best suited to their own specific needs and underlying factors. All of these therapies work toward assisting the client to change their behaviors by guiding them toward recognizing disorder thinking that fueled the AUD. Some examples of evidence-base therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and contingency management.

Group sessions. Peer interaction in group therapy sessions is essential while in treatment. These sessions offer the participants a supportive space where they can share their stories, their fears, their disappointments, and their hopes.

Recovery classes. Learning about how addiction happens, how the brain is affected by alcohol, and how to avoid relapse, is helpful in teaching clients how the disease of addiction develops. Recovery tools are taught, equipping clients with new coping skills and better communication techniques that will benefit them when encountering challenges in recovery.

Holistic activities. The mind-body connection is important to address in recovery. Learning techniques that help to regulate stress and anxiety are essential coping tools to be incorporated into life after rehab. These activities might include mindfulness meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, aromatherapy, and art therapy.

After Treatment, Then What?

Leaving rehab after an extended stay can be very stressful. After a prolonged stay in a highly structured environment, clients may leave rehab feeling vulnerable and lonely. Attention should be paid to aftercare planning from the outset of treatment. Such services as sober living housing, continuing outpatient therapy, and locating a recovery community for social support are critical in maintaining sobriety for the long term.

Quest 2 Recovery Provides Evidence-Based Treatment for Alcoholism

Quest 2 Recovery is a Los Angeles-based rehab, located in a private home setting. This family-type environment provides a comfortable, secure setting for obtaining a medically supervised detox, and then transitioning into treatment. The treatment program is customized to align with each client’s unique recovery needs and goals, and is based on a comprehensive plan that combines several treatment methods for best results. At Quest 2 Recovery, clients find a caring, compassionate staff that is highly supportive throughout the early recovery process. For more information about our program, please reach out to the team at (888) 453-9396.