National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a month dedicated to uniting communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying and preventable measures. According to statistics one in five children admit to being bullied and bullying is not only isolated as a childhood problem but also affects adolescents and adults as well. Bullying comes in many different shapes and sizes from physical attacks and verbal insults to cyberbullying, social manipulation, and inappropriate sexual advances, some forms of bullying can be discrete enough to go unnoticed by many. The intent of the bully is to assert dominance, power, and social control over the victim. Individuals who are bullied often appear anxious, withdrawn, or depressed. They may be too embarrassed to tell others about their torment and as a result, will often turn to drugs, alcohol, or food to cope with their feelings.

“People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” ― Dan Pearce

Bullying and mental health

Bullying can take a toll on one’s emotional and mental well-being over time. Bullying breaks down one’s self-esteem and distorts their self-image, which can trigger a host of negative and dangerous feelings. Individuals who do not have a strong support system or who have an underlying mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety are more at risk of damaging their mental health. Victims of bullying are at an increased risk of isolation and loneliness, which can often drive them to fight back and act out, potentially resulting in violent outbursts or illegal activity. Bullies are also at extreme risk of engaging in illegal activity and developing mental health disorders including anti-social personality disorder. Bully-victims—those who both bully and are bullied—suffer the most serious effects. They are at greater risk for mental and behavioral problems than those who are victims or bullies alone. Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation and behaviors are greatest in this group.

 

Duke University recently conducted research that shows the rates for agoraphobia and panic disorders greatly increases with bullying. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low esteem haunt many adults who were once bullied in childhood. Additionally, a new study out of King’s College London in the United Kingdom suggests that that bullying may cause physical changes in the brain and increase the chance of mental illness. The results showed that severe bullying was linked to changes in brain volume and levels of anxiety at age 19. Bullying may decrease the volume of parts of the brain called the caudate and putamen. The caudate plays a crucial role in how the brain learns, specifically how it process memories. This part of the brain uses information from past experiences to influence future actions and decisions. The putamen regulates movements and affects learning.

Long-term risks associated with bullying

With immediate and proper mental health treatment and support systems in place, the prevention of long term consequences associated with bullying can be minimized. Without intervention, however, kids are at risk for the following:

  • Chronic depression
  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans, and suicide attempts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Poor general health
  • Self-destructive behavior, including self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulty establishing trusting, reciprocal friendships and relationships

Bullying and substance abuse

If an individual is experiencing constant teasing, social exclusion, or any other form of bullying, he or she may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. Being a victim of bullying takes a toll and can lead to a great deal of emotional turmoil and trauma creating the need for an “escape”. Drugs and alcohol can have temporary mind-altering qualities that can allow the individual to escape from reality, which can allow them to forget about their bully and have temporary relief from emotional pain. Mind-altering chemicals such as drugs and alcohol may provide temporary relief but they also result in a dangerous slippery slope that can lead to addiction. The more the individual holds onto drugs and alcohol as an emotional crutch, the more the individual will feel they constantly need a fix. Soon enough, drugs and alcohol are at the forefront of their life and their bully does not only torment them but they are also tormented by their addiction.

Bullying in treatment

Many individuals who enter substance abuse treatment are often uncomfortable sharing about their addiction and experience with others out of fear they may be shamed or ridiculed. Stigma and shame both go hand in hand with bullying and unfortunately bullying in treatment is a silent pandemic. Family members, friends, co-workers, and strangers may spew hurtful comments, pass judgment, and portray passive-aggressive behaviors towards their loved one who is in treatment. Although they may do this subconsciously, out of anger, or because they are hurt; this is a form of bullying that can hinder their loved one’s treatment and recovery.

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder or are currently in treatment or recovery, it is imperative that you step away from anyone who is causing you emotional, mental, or physical harm. Often times, we are so focused on our recovery that we don’t recognize that these individuals are bullies and as a result, we allow them to continue to wreak havoc on our emotional states.

Seeking help at Quest 2 Recovery

Our philosophy at Quest 2 Recovery is simple: heal the mind, body, and spirit in a family-like environment. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, one that caters to each individual’s distinct needs. As a trauma-based treatment program, we believe in resolving the underlying issues that brought the onset of substance use. Our team of clinicians helps each client identify the faulty belief systems stemming from childhood, then psych-educate clients on the symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”.

LGBTQ Pride Month

Stigma, Addiction, and Mental Health within the LGBTQ Community

“Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against LGBTQ people is a deadly carcinogen. We are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other’s differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation.”

-Leslie Feinberg

Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are more at risk for substance use and mental health disorders compared to the heterosexual cis community. As we dive deep into LGBTQ Pride Month, it is important to honor this minority community and gain a deeper understanding of why these individuals are at a higher risk for addiction and mental health concerns. We want to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction and mental health in this special community, and we want to break down the barriers to entering treatment.

LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots took place in New York after the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. This raid sparked a six-day violent protest between the community and law enforcement and catalyzed gay rights across the globe. As with many minorities, the LGBTQ community is marginalized and stigmatized and often discriminated against, causing this community stress and anxiety. In recent years, we have made giant steps forward in terms of equal rights for the LGBTQ population, but there is still enormous progress to be made as we move forward and eliminate the stigma.

Taking a look at the statistics

  • Among all U.S. adults aged 18 and over, 96.6% identify as straight, 1.6% as gay or lesbian, 0.7% as bisexual, and the remaining 1.1% as “something else.”
  • 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation.
  • An estimated 20-30% of LGBT individuals abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. 25% of LGBT individuals abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
  • Approximately 8 percent of LGBT individuals and nearly 27 percent of transgender individuals report being denied needed health care outright.
  • More than 1 in 5 LGBT individuals reported withholding information about their sexual practices from their doctor or another health care professional.
  • LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm than straight youths.
  • LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • The LGBTQ community is at a higher risk for suicide because they lack peer support and face harassment, mental health conditions, and substance abuse.
  • Compared with heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder.
  • 25% of LGBT people abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
  • An estimated 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population.
  • The LGBT community is at a higher risk of bullying and has even been the center points for violent attacks.

Why are substance abuse and mental health disorders so much higher in the LGBTQ population?

  • Stress: The LGBTQ community and other minority communities are under constant stress and tension. Our society does not view them as equal, and as a result, they are continuously enduring social prejudice. Whether it is in public, in the workplace, in relationships, in their family, or within the political system, the LGBTQ community struggles with being seen and heard. Often, their family members and close friends will disown them because of their sexual orientation. This community is at risk of loneliness, stress, and discrimination, and as a result, they are more likely to use alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with their feelings. Drowning out rejection, sorrow, and depression with alcohol or heroin can be a temporary unhealthy Band-Aid to relieve their internal pain. With increasing use, this can turn into a habit, which can quickly snowball into an addiction.
  • Stigma: The stigma associated with identifying, as LGBTQ, is unfortunately still very real and powerful. This community is often brutalized, isolated, and harmed simply because of how they choose to identify with their sexuality. The stigma associated with addiction and mental illness is still prominent today. When a member of the LGBTQ community is struggling with depression or an opioid use disorder, the stigma rises exponentially, putting this community at risk of even more rejection, isolation, low self-esteem, and physical threats of violence.
  • Limited access to treatment: Unfortunately, many therapists and treatment centers are not aware of the specific issues that the LGBTQ community faces. Nor can they relate to this community for the following reasons: their cultural norms conflict with this community, they do not recognize this community is a high risk, and fail to look past the client’s gender and sexual orientation. As a result, members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to seek out treatment for their substance use and mental health disorders out of fear that they will experience discrimination, worsening stigma, and lack of being understood by their providers.

Resources for the LGBTQ community 

Breaking the mold

As treatment providers and mental health specialists, we can do better. We can educate ourselves about the LGBTQ community and try to understand their views, opinions, and internal struggles. We can learn the proper vocabulary and erase the hateful jargon that is often used to stigmatize this population. We can create LGBTQ, specialized treatment programs that are inclusive, empowering, and educational for this population.

If you are part of the LGBTQ community and are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, we want to help you. We at Quest2Recovery, want to treat you, the individual, and not just your disorder. We want to break the mold, set the standard, and be role models for the rest of the addiction treatment industry. We want to invite you to seek help in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.

Feelings of Hope During COVID-19

Feeling of Hope: What We Will Never Take For Granted Again

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted: 

A handshake with a stranger

 Full shelves at the store

 Conversations with the neighbors

 A crowded theatre

 Friday night out

 The taste of communion

 A routine checkup

 The school rush each morning

 Coffee with a friend

 The stadium roaring

 Each deep breath

 A boring Tuesday

 Life itself

 

When this ends: 

 May we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way, better for each other because of the worst.”

– Laura Kelly Fanucci

 

There is no telling when this global pandemic will come to an end. Millions of us are unemployed, thousands of us are sick, and many of us are fearful of the unknown. We are scared of the virus, terrified of the effects it will have on our economy and our mental health. Many of us are forced to work on the front lines while others have the luxury of staying home. There may never be a return to normal, a new normal is on the horizon, but what is a new normal? Will we always have to wear masks in public? Will we still be bumping elbows instead of shaking hands? Will we always be encouraged to practice social distancing? There are so many unknowns that have driven unwanted fear, hate, anxiety, stress, and sadness. But there is also so much hope that has brought into the world because of this global pandemic. 

 

We have adapted

We have learned to communicate virtually through social media and video conferencing. We have clapped for each other, sang with each other, and cheered for each other on our balconies to communicate, “we are still here.” We have become accustomed to masks in public and keeping our distance, six feet to be exact, as a courtesy to protect others. We have visited our doctors and therapists via computers and phone calls, and we have learned to take advantage of curbside pickup and delivery. Our lives and circumstances have changed drastically, but we have not given up. Instead, we have learned to adapt. 

 

We have come together in community

It is not uncommon to see groceries left on doorsteps, encouraging chalk art on the sidewalks, artwork hanging in windows, people volunteering to run errands for the sick and weak, people donating their time and money to help others. Celebrities have provided free virtual comedy shows, concerts, and entertainment to the public. The rich and famous have donated large sums of money to help develop a vaccine and medications to fight COVID-19. Politicians have fought hard to provide financial cushions, debt forgiveness, and forbearance to those who qualify. Regardless of our gender, social class, or race, we have all been affected either directly or indirectly from this virus. As a result, we have all learned to come together as a community to lend a helping hand and choose hope and happiness. 

 

We have slowed down

Travel has been postponed, vacations and sporting events canceled, our social calendars have been cleared, and we have been asked to stay home from work and play. We have learned to appreciate the comfort of our homes, the company of our immediate families, and the value of time. We spend more time nourishing our bodies with home-cooked meals and virtual living room workouts. We can now sip our morning coffee with ease, enjoy long conversations with loved ones, take time to read books, listen to music, and watch the seasons change with ease. We are no longer running the rat race, stuck in traffic on the freeway, and trying to “get ahead of the game”. We are slowing down, reflecting, and taking the time we need to rejuvenate our bodies and minds. 

 

We have practiced kindness

Whether its running errands for strangers, dropping off food for our loved one, supporting our front line workers, or donated to those in financial need, so many of us have gone above and beyond to practice kindness during this trying time. Generosity and kindness are beneficial to our happiness and mental health. Kindness is linked inextricably to joy and contentment, at both psychological and spiritual levels. 

 

We have become resilient 

Everyone has been affected by COVID in one-way or another. Whether we have succumbed to physical illness, mental turmoil, or have reaped the financial repercussions from job loss and the economy, COVID-19 has done a number on our society. However, we are still standing. This is not the first time our society has survived a global pandemic, and more than likely, it will not be the last. We have found ways to keep going, even when reality seems grim. We are strong and resilient, and we have shown that through these trying times. We are finding ways to occupy our time, to entertain each other, to connect, and to make ends meet. 

 

We have asked for help

Many of us are stubborn in the sense that we take pride in being independent and strong. Many of us view asking for help as a weakness when, in fact, asking for help is a sign of strength. Asking for help shows humility, reveals the value in teamwork, and shows that we are trying to learn and gain different perspectives. Asking for help, in the long run, makes us smarter, broadens our horizons, and can do wonders for our mental health. Many of us have asked for help during COVID in more ways that one. We have asked for help financially, we have asked strangers, neighbors, and friends for favors and errands, and we have asked for help from our government, family members, frontline workers, and professionals. Sometimes asking for help can be difficult, especially if we are natural leaders, self-sufficient, and strong-willed, but asking for help during COVID has shown the importance of teamwork, humility, and the willingness for change. 

 

During this trying time, our world has come together to support each other. We have adapted to change, strengthened our communities, offered our helping hands, portrayed kindness, learned to be still, and have become more resilient than ever. It is easy to see the hardships and adverse effects of COVID-19, but even through the darkness, we can still have feelings of hope. Hope for the future, hope for our health, and hope for the next generations to come.

What It’s Like to Be a First Responder in Quarantine

Our first responders currently have the added stress and trauma of COVID 19. With that comes the unfortunate risk and exposure leading to many of our first responders being quarantined. Many of our first responders are not only quarantined but contract COVID 19 from those they encounter.

Sasha Lefler’s Story

Sasha Lefler, a paramedic of Summersville, WV became ill suddenly with a sore throat, fatigue, and fever. When her strep and flu came back negative, they tested her for COVID 19. Sasha was informed she must quarantine while awaiting results. Sasha struggled with whether or not to quarantine at home because she was terrified of exposing her family if she had COVID. After speaking to several professionals, she made the difficult decision to quarantine and isolate herself at home in a bedroom away from everyone. Testing in WV was very slow to deliver results. Sasha spent many days isolated in her room, hearing her husband and children on the other side of the walls. At one point, her children and husband ate dinner outside her bedroom window so they could talk to each other while they ate. Many days she sat in her room researching COVID and the best treatments so she could be prepared. For 11 days she listened to her husband and children on the other side of the door from her. She wanted so desperately to open the door and be part of the family dynamics on the other side. Eleven days is a lot of days and hours for the mind to race back and forth. It took eleven days for Sasha to get a negative result. The first thing she did was to leave that room and hug her family.

John Feal’s Story

John Feal, of the Fealgood Foundation, tested positive for COVID 19 in March. The Fealgood Foundation is the driving force that brought insurance coverage to those first responders of 9/11. John spends his days helping the first responders of 9/11 and fighting for their rights. This past March, John found himself so sick he was unable to help anyone. John began to feel sick with what he thought was a stomach virus. As soon as he thought he was over that, he noticed he had a sore throat which quickly escalated to a cough and chest pain. Every day seemed to bring more pain and worsening symptoms. He fought it off as long as he could before getting tested for COVID 19. Within 36 hours of testing, it was confirmed, he had COVID 19. When he thought he could not possibly get any worse, he did. He quarantined himself at home alone. John tells us that for a period of four days, he was so sick he has no recollection of anything. He feared he might die at home alone in quarantine. He remembered the 11 weeks he spent in the hospital after 9/11, and he absolutely did not want to end up back in the hospital or even worse, put on a ventilator. He was fighting pneumonia and COVID 19. John says that every part of his body hurt from his hair to his toes. John said he wasn’t ready to die. He has way too much work left to do. But, in the back of his mind, he was worried he might die because COVID 19 was ravaging his body. For three weeks, he fought COVID 19. During that time, he also could not taste anything, not even the cough drops he was using by the dozens. He had no taste at all. It wasn’t until day 17 or 18 that he felt better. John fought COVID 19 with every ounce of strength in him.

Thankfully, John had a lot of family and friends checking on him during those 18 days although he was too sick to remember some of those 18 days. Quarantining alone is the only way to prevent the spread to family and friends, so John did just that. John stayed in quarantine until he was medically released and deemed not contagious. John didn’t mention it to us in our interview, but we know as soon as John was released from quarantine, he began to donate plasma to help others overcome COVID 19. John is a humble man so we didn’t expect him to tell us about that, but we wanted to mention it because it is who John is, a helper to those in need. John wasted no time in getting back to work with the Fealgood Foundation pouring food and supplies into NYC personally delivering them to healthcare workers and first responders. We are so thankful that John survived COVID 19 and continues his work supporting those out there on the front lines.

In our interview with John Feal, he reminded us that not only does COVID 19 endanger our first responders and health care workers, but so many of those first responders who survived 9/11 have compromised immune systems. John tells us because of their compromised immune systems, many retired NY first responders of 9/11 have been lost to COVD 19. Our first responder and health care workers across the nation both retired and active are fighting in this COVID 19 pandemic.

Get Help Now

The Safe Call Now hotline, the National Crisis Hotline for first responders and healthcare workers, has received a significantly higher volume of calls from first responders in the New York and Seattle areas which have been hit hard with COVID 19. We are thankful our first responders are utilizing the hotline. We understand that currently, our first responders and healthcare workers have the added trauma of COVID 19 along with all the destruction COVID 19 brings with it. We encourage our first responders and health care workers who are struggling to call the hotline. Another first responder will answer your call to talk to you or to give you resources if you need them.

If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-405-8014 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008

Mental Health Awareness Month: Staying Mentally Healthy During COVID-19

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and self-care, eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, and educating the public on the importance of routine mental health care. Mental health goes beyond the scope of diagnosing and treating mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental health also includes being aware of our moods, our thought patterns, our social connections, our ability to solve problems, our ability to overcome tricky hurdles, and our ability to comprehend and navigate the world around us.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Our mental health can positively or negatively affect many areas of our life including our professional life, our home life, our social life, our sleep and eating patterns, our energy levels, our ability to think clearly, and how we feel about ourselves.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”

Our mental health is a fluid state of equilibrium between our innermost workings and the outside environment. 

Taking care of our mental health during a pandemic

For many, COVID-19 has been a trying time. Many of us have struggled with staying home and keeping our distance from our friends and family. Many of us are struggling financially due to the economy shutdown or job loss, and many of us are struggling to find peace amongst this stressful time. We are struggling to find a healthy daily routine, we are struggling to find happiness, and we are struggling to find purpose. There are so many unknowns during this time of uncertainty, which can negatively affect our mental health by leading us to feelings of anxiety, anger, or depression.

We must take care of ourselves both mentally and physically, especially during this trying time.

Ways to practice kindness towards ourselves to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls:

  • Connect with others: Even though we are practicing social distancing and we may feel physically isolated from our friends, family, and neighbors, we can still connect virtually. Staying connected with our friends and family is essential for our well being as healthy social connections are known to improve our mood and boost our self-esteem. There are many great virtual platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Face Time that can help us connect with our friends, family, and coworkers. Virtual game nights, virtual storytime, virtual birthdays parties, and celebrations are all great ways to stay connected with each other, while still respecting the social distancing orders.
  • Nourish your body: The body and mind are tightly connected, and therefore physical health is a huge component of mental health, especially during stressful times. Learning new recipes, cooking at home, eating nutritious whole foods, daily exercise, drinking plenty of water, and getting eight uninterrupted hours of sleep each night are all crucial ways to nourish our bodies so we can have a healthy mind.
  • Sharpen your mind: While many of us are at home during COVID-19, we may find that we have more free time. We can spend this free time learning a new hobby, reading a book, working on home improvement projects, and completing unfinished tasks. Learning new things, reading, completing puzzles, and working on arts and crafts are all great ways to exercise our brains. Mental stimulation is anything that activates or enriches the mind. Stimulation can be provided internally from thought or externally from the environment. Education, occupation, social and leisure activities are all essential contributors to mental stimulation. Enriching mental activity can help improve our memory and problem-solving skills, which are essential skills to have when we must focus on our mental health.
  •  Continue therapy: Mental health is more than a mental health disorder. It encompasses our thought patterns, our behaviors, our relationships, and our self-esteem. Even if we are not diagnosed with a mental health disorder, many of us can benefit from professional therapy.
  • Maybe we are experiencing a stressful time or a loss in the family. Perhaps we are more sad than usual or are struggling with finding a healthy way to cope. Therapy is an integral part of taking care of our mental health, especially during COVID-19.
  • Adopt a daily routine: Getting into a routine is essential. It helps us focus, helps us stay busy, and helps us be productive. When our habits are thrown off, we can often find ourselves in a rut or feeling bored or depressed. Our daily COVID-19 routine could be much different than before, but it is still important to adopt a regular daily schedule so we can continue to feel good about ourselves.

Seeking help

Our philosophy at Quest 2 Recovery is simple: heal the mind, body, and spirit in a family-like environment. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, one that caters to each individual’s distinct needs. As a trauma-based treatment program, we believe in resolving the underlying issues that brought the onset of substance use. Our team of clinicians helps each client identify the faulty belief systems stemming from childhood, then psych-educate clients on the symptoms of PTSD to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”.

Why Dual-Diagnosis Programs Are Beneficial For First Responders

First responders are the true American heroes. Paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officials such as police officers, work tirelessly so society can feel safe and secure. First responders are the solution to situations that seem like they have no solution. They display a level of courage that is almost unfathomable during the typical ‘work day’. At Quest 2 Recovery, we feel it’s important to acknowledge and honor these individuals, so we created an addiction program specifically for first responders. We want to thank them for everything they do and hope to take care of them the way they take care of us.

Due to the stressful and traumatic nature of the job, first responders are prone to developing issues related to addiction, drug abuse, and mental health disorders. Often these disorders co-exist amongst each other, thus the creation of dual-diagnosis programs in addiction treatment.

What Is a Dual-Diagnosis Program?

A dual-diagnosis program is the term used to describe a treatment center that has the capabilities of treating addiction and mental health disorders. Common disorders that are treated together are addiction and anxiety, addiction and depression, and addiction, and PTSD. On average, 67% of alcoholics are diagnosed with a depressive disorder and 75% of opioid addicts receive a similar diagnosis. That’s a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended. 

Dual-diagnosis programs function similarly to non-dual-diagnosis addiction programs. Our clients at Quest 2 Recovery will start their recovery journey with detoxification (if needed), then progress to inpatient treatment. During this time their addiction will be addressed through individual therapy and group therapy while utilizing therapies such as cognitive-behavioral and dialect behavioral to address mental illness. 

Mental Health and First Responders

It’s no secret that stress and trauma have a negative impact on physical and emotional health. Because first responders perform a job that requires troubleshooting and mitigating emergencies, mental health issues are all too common for them, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is triggered by a terrifying event. Since everyone is different and processes trauma in different ways, symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person. Symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. At Quest 2 Recovery we provide individualized care for all of our clients so we can effectively address these symptoms. 

Chemical Dependency and First Responders

It’s also common for first responders to develop substance abuse disorders. Sometimes it can develop relatively innocuously. Generally speaking, working professionals look forward to unwinding after work with a drink. Sometimes it’s in the comfort of their own home or sometimes with friends. The same goes for first responders. The difference between the two is the person working a desk job probably doesn’t have trouble sleeping at night, whereas the first responder may be up all night reliving the trauma they experienced during the day. The one drink the first responder uses to unwind after work could turn into drinking an entire bottle so they can fall asleep.

No one wakes up randomly one day and becomes an addict. Addiction is something that develops over time, especially when unresolved trauma and stress build up. We hope if you’re a first responder struggling with mental illness and addiction and reading this now, you’ll reach out to us for help. We know it can be challenging for first responders to seek help because they’re worried about the stigma of ‘not being able to handle the job’, but getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. 

Quest 2 Recovery Is Here for You

At Quest 2 Recovery, we are a dual diagnosis, substance abuse program that offers detoxification and residential inpatient levels of care. We are here to also serve first responders who are located in the Los Angeles and Southern California area. We know that first responders often suffer from both substance abuse disorders as well as mental health issues. We believe that both should be addressed together in a safe environment. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with addiction treatment, please give us a call today! 

A Day in the Life of a First Responder in Addiction Treatment

addiction treatment and first responders

Addiction is one of the most pressing issues facing the public health system today. Some people are at a greater risk of developing addiction and mental health disorders than others, such as individuals who are exposed to traumatic events. This includes first responders; the first people to show up at the scene of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or serious crime. 

Most people cannot fathom what first responders see on a daily basis, therefore it’s common for first responders to not know where to turn for help. As a result, they end up coping in unhealthy ways. This is one of the biggest reasons why first responders end up developing mental health and substance abuse disorders at a higher rate than the average population. For this reason, there are specific addiction treatment centers that focus on the treatment of first responders.

What Does Addiction Treatment Look Like for First Responders?

If someone has been enrolled in addiction treatment for a first responder, the day is going to follow a typical framework. At a residential inpatient facility, the morning will involve a healthy breakfast which can include a mix of meat, grains, and fruit. Then early meetings are going to take place. Meditation, yoga, or other wellness activities are common during this time. After, group meetings are going to take place where first responders can learn from the experiences of others. There will usually be a counselor or therapist leading the group. They help someone learn about the treatment process, addiction, and recovery. 

After lunch, there are usually one on one therapy sessions. These sessions are going to be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. For example, someone will participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective method used in the treatment of addiction. This treatment therapy focuses on identifying people’s individual responses to triggers. This will also help prevent relapses from taking place. 

Others may participate in specialized sessions. These can be tailored to help someone deal with grief or stress management. More group therapy is also offered at this time of the day or family therapy, helping someone rebuild his or her relationships.

During free time, first responders have the option to enroll in alternative types of therapy. Art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, exercise therapies, and equine therapy, are all great options for first responders.

Dealing with Mental Health Issues for First Responders

One of the major issues that accompanies addiction in first responders is the development of mental health disorders. Two of the most common mental health disorders that first responders develop are:

PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is one of the most common mental health disorders that develops among first responders. Symptoms include flashbacks, emotional lability, crying fits, trouble sleeping, and anger issues. People suffering from PTSD encounter triggers that transport them back to the scene of the event. PTSD is best addressed by trained professionals who know how to handle these delicate issues.

Depression: Depression is another mental health disorder that develops among first responders. People with depression often have trouble sleeping, feel guilty about past events, experience changes in appetite, and have issues finding enjoyment in activities that previously put a smile on their faces. Depression can be addressed by a well-rounded treatment approach that involves counseling, therapy, and medication. Of course, it’s up to the discretion of trained professionals about what medicine and therapy should be prescribed. 

How To Find Addiction Treatment for First Responders

It’s critical for anyone who is suffering from mental health or addiction disorders to find treatment. There are a number of ways first responders can find treatment. First, it’s always a good idea to talk to friends and family members. They may know people who have sought out treatment in the past. The internet is also a great tool to research different facilities. The best way to see if a treatment center is right for you is by researching and calling the facility to ask questions.

We Can Help You!

At Quest 2 Recovery, we’re a substance abuse and addiction treatment center that provides specialized treatment for first responders. We are located in the beautiful area of Lancaster, CA. We blend proven therapies with an innovative approach. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today. We would be honored to help you with your healthcare needs and we’d like to thank you for your service. 

How Neurotherapy can help with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often shortened to PTSD, is a significant problem that impacts countless people across the country. Individuals can develop PTSD following a car accident, a traumatic experience, childhood trauma, or even experiences related to combat. Those who suffer from PTSD are often subjected to flashbacks that might be triggered at any time. Symptoms of PTSD often include shakes, sleepless nights, emotional lability, depression, anxiety, and changes in appetite. The quality of life issues that are created by PTSD can make it hard for someone to go to school, hold down a job, or even carry out their daily routine. Therefore, it is important for everyone to understand the various treatment options available for PTSD. Individuals who suffer from this disorder are often asked to take prescription medications. Unfortunately, these medications can also have serious side effects. This is where Neurotherapy can be helpful.

An Overview of Neurotherapy and Neurofeedback for PTSD

Neurotherapy has become a popular treatment option for those who suffer from PTSD. In this treatment, an EEG machine is used to monitor brain function. Using this machine, medical professionals are able to track what is going on inside someone’s head. This machine will be used to track the improvement of the various functions of the brain three series of exercises. Even though this technology is incredibly advanced, the treatment of PTSD using this process is straightforward. Furthermore, it is also painless and noninvasive, which is a nice change of pace from other treatment options.

In essence, this treatment option should be viewed as a learning process. Individuals who go through the treatment process for PTSD will be able to learn how to control their brain activity in the same way that any other skill is learned. The same way people learn how to read, write, speak, and eat through practice, individuals will learn how to control the activity of their neurological processes through feedback, patience, practice, and continuous exercise.

Research Studies have Shown Its Effectiveness

This technology has been studied extensively by research professionals. Multiple studies have been completed looking at this treatment option for PTSD and adults. One study even indicated that multiple sessions of Neurotherapy or affective at reducing the symptoms of PTSD in adults. One study was even completed in children. All of the studies have shown that this treatment option takes a promising approach to PTSD. These studies are important because they demonstrate that, even though existing treatments can be quite difficult to tolerate and individuals suffering from PTSD, this treatment option is not invasive, produces minimal side effects, and can still be effective. Sessions of Neurotherapy lasting ten weeks have led to improvements in PTSD symptoms in children and adults on a consistent basis. These treatment sessions have even been performed and individuals on an inpatient basis as well. The versatility of this treatment option only adds to its effectiveness.

The Importance of Controlling Brain Activity

The goal of Neurotherapy is to help someone better control the activity inside their brain. It is this brain activity that often leads to the symptoms of PTSD. Research performed in this field has consistently shown that there are signals that are triggered in the brain that lead to the symptoms of PTSD. EEG studies have been performed that have shown that activity in the cortical regions of the brain is closely related to PTSD; however, not everyone who has PTSD has the same symptoms. Therefore, the brain activity that can lead to PTSD is different from person to person.

This is why neurofeedback must be measured in every patient before any Neurotherapy is started. This will produce a map of someone’s brain so that the individual difficulties can be identified. Then, the treatment program can be tailored to meet the individual needs of that person. This allows the treatment program to be as effective as possible at helping someone control the symptoms of PTSD. By identifying the root of the problem, individuals are provided with a maximized chance of recovering. This is the goal of Neurotherapy and it has the potential to help numerous people.

Rely on Neurotherapy for PTSD

Clearly, Neurotherapy can be helpful for people who suffer from PTSD. Those who suffer from this disorder need to take a well-rounded treatment approach to PTSD. This will provide people with an appropriate chance at reversing the quality-of-life issues that have been created by this worker. Anyone who lives in the Lancaster, California area should rely on Quest 2 Recovery. Quest 2 Recovery offers a wide range of treatment services including inpatient programs and detoxification programs to countless people in the region. Those who would like to learn more about overcoming mental health issues, including PTSD, should check out the latest treatment options from Quest 2 Recovery. Contact us today!

PTSD And Addiction In First Responders

First responders have a grueling job. They see things that most people may not ever even have nightmares about and many first responders do not have access to the therapy and the help that they need to be able to effectively deal with these horrible circumstances and the stresses they deal with each day.

First Responders and PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is far more common in first responders than you might imagine. These brave men and women go headfirst into circumstances that most people would run from. They see people hurt, they see people dying, they see people that have lost their fight and they deal with the carnage that is left behind. As a result, PTSD is terribly common among first responders and is more likely to develop the longer a first responder is on the job and the more that they deal with.

On top of all the things they see, they also have a job that is high in stress which can have adverse effects on the overall health and mental state of our first responders. For some, drugs and alcohol are a welcome reprieve from the pain, suffering, and mental anguish that they deal with on a daily basis. To add insult to injury, many first responders also deal with depression and have no real means of being treated and of seeking therapy or other means of help for these disorders.

Treatment Options

The first step to treating addiction in anyone is to determine what the addiction is and to take the time to address it on a person by person basis. What might work for one person may not work for a first responder and vice versa making an individualistic approach important. Once you have established that there is a problem with substance abuse and that treatment is needed, it is important to find an approach that is right for each addict.

Depending on what type of first responder you are working with, you may need to talk to supervisors and other higher officials to determine just what type of treatment is needed so that the first responder can return to work should the want to. With PTSD, it is going to be necessary not only to treat the addiction to any substances that might be being used, but also to treat the PTSD, depression or any other mental diseases that the individual might be dealing with at the same time.

These first responders may want a private treatment that is not going to put them in the public eye, they may need special care that allows them to continue work when they are not in treatment, and they are going to need special handling. Being a first responder is difficult, being a first responder that is also dealing with drug and alcohol addiction is even harder.

Unique Approach

A treatment facility like Quest 2 Recovery offers unique treatment options that are tailored to the individual rather than to the masses. They create treatment plans that are both inpatient residential and those programs that allow the patients to go about their daily lives while still getting the treatment that they need.

They use therapy, detox, group support, exercise and more all in an effort to create a program that is going to work for each particular patient to provide the most success and the best rates of healing. It is the goal of recovery to allow patients to have the treatment that is going to work best for them and that is going to promote life long healing and recovery.

PTSD is not something that can be healed in one fail swoop. It is an ongoing battle and if the patient is continually exposed to the conditions and events that encourage and foster the PTSD it will only get worse. There are plenty of first responders that have gone down the path of substance abuse and many that have not been given an adequate chance to recover. Exclusive rehab options that take into account the type of work these people do each day, rehab that takes personality and disposition and more is going to be far more effective than a one size fits all rehab that does not really make a difference.

Specialized care is something that can help first responders to deal with their addiction and to actually get better. Addiction is not something that we have to deal with, if you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, drugs or other substances and they are also dealing with PTSD, a specialized approach is going to make a big difference. With the right treatment, anyone can deal with addiction and become happy, healthy, and free of the burden of addiction and the pain it causes.

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.