25 Sep 2014
It might seem like an odd way to think about substance abuse and addiction, but the behaviors are childish and immature. No one can claim ignorance of the negative consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, yet people do it anyway. Being impulsive and lacking self-discipline are traits that are common in children and which we are expected to outgrow. So why do drug abusers act like children and how can they learn to grow up?
Impulsivity, Self-Control And Drug Abuse
Controlling impulses is something we all have to learn as human beings. We are not born with self-discipline. As young children we reach for what we want. As we grow older we learn to control our impulses. Those who fail to learn the skill, for whatever reason, are not as successful. For instance, a study found that teenagers that exhibited strong self-control were more likely to be positive, achieve goals and be self-motivated and successful in academics than their impulsive peers.
Research has also found that being impulsive and lacking self-control are traits that may be inherent in some people. We also know that having these traits makes some people more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction. If you can’t control your impulses, and if you lack the self-control to turn down a pleasurable drug because of negative consequences, you are more likely to be an addict.
Growing Up And Learning Self-Control
Just because addicts act more childishly and are more impulsive than non-addicted adults, does not mean they cannot learn to control themselves and be more emotionally mature. One powerful, yet simple, tool is distraction. People who have good self-control are good at distracting themselves. If something pleasurable is set before you, but you know you should resist, distract yourself. Think about other things or engage in an alternative activity—whatever you do, make the distraction positive. You will be more likely to control your impulse if you can distract yourself with something that is pleasurable and good for you.
Another good tool that emotionally mature adults use is stress-management. If you are stressed out, you put yourself in a negative cycle of bad behaviors and poor health. When stressed, you are more likely to be impulsive. Meditation, exercise, adequate sleep, good nutrition and mindfulness all help to manage stress and help you to make better choices, not ones based on impulses. The better you feel, the better able you will be to make good choices.
People with good self-control are good planners. Thinking about the future and planning for situations in which your self-control may be tested can help you to resist your impulses. For instance, if you are trying to cut back on drinking, consider all the possible situations you may face. If you’re going to a party, make a plan for how many drinks you will have and how you will resist the impulse to have more. Plan out how you will handle people who urge you to keep drinking. Making these plans can help lead you to successfully control your impulses.
Finally, maintain a positive attitude. Some people believe that willpower is a finite resource, but this isn’t true. You may be faced with a number of temptations, but you can learn through practice and experiences to control your impulses. You are not a child anymore, and although you still act like one at times, you do have the power within you to grow up and act like a mature adult with self-control.
18 Sep 2014
If you have an addict in your life you have been through some trying times. Your addict has a disease, but it’s a tricky one. She may cheat on you, lie, neglect you, steal from you or even hurt you. For those in close relationships with an addict, lying is one of the most hurtful behaviors to experience. You expect honesty in your intimate relationships, but addicts lie all the time.
Reasons Addicts Lie
To help you cope with the lying and to learn to forgive and move past it, it helps to understand. Although it may not be right, there are real and valid reasons addicts lie.
Addicts Lie To Avoid Confrontations
As you watched your loved one slide into addiction and ruin her life, you probably made numerous attempts to get her to stop. At times you may sound like a broken record and a nag. Maybe the issue has led to increased conflict. The stress of these confrontations is overwhelming and destructive for both of you. While you want to be honest, get the problem out in the open and find a solution, she just wants to avoid your hurt looks and anger. In order to get out of these conflicts and to avoid them, she will tell every lie imaginable.
Addicts Lie To Maintain The Addiction
Lies also help your addicted loved one to perpetuate her addiction. Most addicts are afraid to stop using for a number of reasons. They fear the idea of stopping because they feel like they need drugs or alcohol. The pain and discomfort of detoxing are scary and so is the possibility of failing. The idea of trying to live a sober life, and what that might be like, is even scarier. To keep the addiction going, your loved one will tell many lies. Lying becomes a tool for self-preservation.
Addicts Lie Because Of Shame
Addicts feel a great deal of shame. Although societal attitudes are very slowly changing, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to addiction. Many of us still view an addict as a person who is morally weak. It’s no wonder that addicts feel ashamed of what they do. Especially in sober moments, your loved one feels a huge sense of guilt, embarrassment and shame. Instead of working through these feelings, she uses more and then lies about it. She doesn’t want other people to realize just how badly she is doing.
Addicts Lie Because Of Denial
Denial is a powerful force and most addicts use it to cope with their problems. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, most addicts refuse to admit to having an addiction. They lie because they don’t want to make that admission. Your loved one probably thinks that she is different from other users. She can handle it, she says. She is in denial that her problem is no different from that of other addicts and as a result she lies to you and to herself.
As you cope with having a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol, realize that her lying to you is not a personal attack. This is her coping mechanism and a rational part of the disease of addiction. This doesn’t mean that you should accept the lies. To help your loved one, you have to push through the falsehoods and ask her to face up to the truth. Don’t let her get away with lies when you catch them, but do provide ongoing love and support.
10 Sep 2014
People enter rehab for many reasons: some by way of external forces such as family, friends, legal obligations or employment requirements, while others are personally committed to turning their lives around. Once people walk through the doors, they are in a contained environment that may feel dramatically different than life at home.
Looking around the group therapy room or dining hall, the newly sober person may lock eyes with someone and feel a familiar flutter in the heart and butterflies in the stomach. Serotonin and dopamine that are activated in the brain when a person is using an addictive substance are not all that dissimilar from the chemicals released in human attraction. Add to it the brain chemical oxytocin, known as the “cuddle hormone” and the “tend and befriend hormone,” and there is a set-up for what is colloquially called a “rehab romance.”
Is It Really Love?
The dynamics of rehab romances are infatuation masquerading as love. Of course, there is loneliness and fear that wants to be comforted into submission. In such a setting, there is the common thread of loss, trauma, abuse and addiction that binds people together.
Comments such as “S/he gets me like no one else,” “We can stay sober together,” and “I need a place to stay when I leave here and s/he offered hers,” are commonly heard and used as justification for establishing a relationship that almost universally becomes a recipe for disaster. Why is that so?
The Perils Of Romantic Relationships During Drug Rehab
Consider that someone in the throes of addiction has a relationship with their substance(s) of choice that superseded all others in their lives while they were using. They put it ahead of their partner, children, career and health. Saying goodbye to it is not a one-and-done event. It is an evolving process. Think of getting involved with someone in an addiction treatment program as a rebound relationship. Are you willing to be the rebound guy or girl and risk playing second fiddle to the addiction should they relapse?
Many in recovery are also dealing with codependence and have a need to be in a caregiving role. Meeting another struggling soul is the ideal opportunity for those patterns to surface. There are likely as many who are willing to be on the other side of the equation, and surrender to being enabled.
For some, dishonesty went hand in hand with the other addictive behaviors and if someone is in a monogamous relationship outside of rehab, there may be a temptation to lie about interactions behind those doors.
Safer sex practices may not have been a consideration out in the community and may be only an afterthought in an inpatient drug rehab setting. Predatory behavior may also have been part of the addiction cycle for some in treatment and might evidence itself behind the doors of the program they are in.
Short-term gratification is part of an addict’s pattern and seeing another person who seems available in the moment is like being a proverbial “kid in a candy store.” There is often no time to think about the long-term consequences of indulging in the sweets on the shelf.
Peers in treatment may show one face in the program and another once they are discharged. The best advice is: “Don’t take anybody in. Don’t take anybody on. You don’t know what someone is like in their daily lives.”
Worth The Wait
In 12-Step recovery, the newly sober are encouraged to refrain from engaging in budding romantic relationships for at least a year, primarily because they need to focus on their recovery and create a healthy bond with themselves without the distraction of another person. Ask yourself this: “Would you want to be in a relationship with you now? Are you stable enough to sustain positive interactions with someone else?”
Take the time to really get to know, love and respect the woman or man in the mirror before reaching out to bring in a partner, particularly one who, like you, is a newborn, vulnerable infant entering into the world of recovery. Relationships are not 50/50. They are 100/100 with each person bringing 100% of who they are to the table. Wouldn’t you rather be truly prepared to bring the best of who you are to a relationship and welcome in a partner who can do the same? You are likely to find that it is worth the wait.
29 Aug 2014
Kids today have unprecedented access to technology and devices, which can be both positive and negative. Having access to the Internet and using tablets and smartphones can provide a wealth of educational opportunities. The dark side to all this access is the potential for obsessive behaviors. Video games and Internet gaming tend to lead to addictive-like behavior, and it can start early. If you’re wondering if your child spends too much time playing games, learn more about the potential for addiction and how to curb it.
Are Video Games Addictive?
Experts in the field of addiction have debated the existence of so-called behavioral addictions for years and how they compare to chemical addictions. The latter refers to a “true” addiction to a mind-altering substance like alcohol or illegal drugs. A behavioral addiction is considered to occur when someone exhibits addictive behaviors with respect to anything other than drugs or alcohol. Some of the more common behavioral addictions include gambling, sex or pornography, shopping and eating. Behavioral addictions can cause similar symptoms to chemical addictions, such as withdrawal, lack of control and impulsiveness.
Internet and technology-related behavioral addictions are naturally on the rise as more people have access to the devices that enable the problem. Gaming can become a behavioral addiction, although some experts might refer to it as something different, such as Internet gaming disorder or an impulse control disorder. In fact, one study has reported that as many as one in ten children show signs of addiction when it comes to playing video games.
What Are The Signs Of A Video Game Addiction?
So how can you tell if your child is at risk or already showing signs of addictive behaviors? The main criterion is that the gaming is interfering with a child’s life. This could mean that your child’s gaming is causing his grades to deteriorate because he no longer has time to study. It could be that he spends so much time playing games that he doesn’t interact socially with his peers outside of school. It could also mean that he has damaged relationships with family members because of his habit. Other signs of addictive behavior include a preoccupation with gaming, thinking about it constantly, playing whenever possible, and feeling restless or irritable when not playing.
My Kid May Be Addicted To Gaming, Now What?
If you see signs in your child that he may be addicted to gaming, try to cut back the amount of time he spends playing. Cutting him off entirely doesn’t make sense, but you should be able to limit his time by setting certain gaming hours. It is also important that you model responsible technology use because actions speak louder than words. Insist that everyone in the family turn off devices at specific times of day, such as over dinner or when studying. Seeing everyone cut back on technology will help your child to be able to do the same.
When you try to cut back and find that your child just can’t do it, or that his responses to the limitations are irrational and severe, you may need some professional help. The addiction itself may not be the root of the problem either. Some experts have found that, as with drug and alcohol addiction, compulsive gaming often masks underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety disorders. If you are concerned about your child’s use of video games and his overall mental health, see your pediatrician for referrals. You may have to get an evaluation and a diagnosis from an addiction specialist to truly get your child the help he needs.
You’re married to the life of the party. You probably have a lot of fun with him. He loves going out with friends and entertains everyone with funny stories and goofy antics. Everyone loves him, right? But you see him the next day, worn out, hung over, unable to remember all the details of the previous night. Your husband or partner is paying a high price for his social status. Being the fun one is great, but if it is forced through the veil of drunkenness, he may have a serious problem with alcohol.
What Is An Alcoholic?
The idea of your spouse as an alcoholic is scary. The odds are he isn’t one, but it is worth educating yourself about alcoholism if you suspect he drinks too much. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a true addiction and a serious disease. It takes a lot of drinking over a long period of time to become an alcoholic. If your husband binges and regrets it on weekends, he may not be an alcoholic — yet.
One of the most characteristic attributes of alcohol addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. These are real, physical symptoms that result when an alcoholic stops drinking. They include tremors, anxiety, nausea, sweating, insomnia, headaches, depression and fatigue. Alcoholics severely crave alcohol to make these symptoms go away.
What Is A Problem Drinker?
While your husband may not be an alcoholic, it does not mean that he doesn’t have a problem at all. He could be a problem drinker or an almost alcoholic. Problem drinking can often look very much like being the life of the party. A problem drinker may also be that tired working mom who needs a couple glasses of wine to relax at the end of the day, but then can’t sleep well or loses her cool with the kids. A problem drinker may be someone who has symptoms of depression and drinks to feel better instead of getting help.
Any type of drinking that causes problems is problem drinking. Your husband has fun at parties and may never drive home afterward, but the next day is shot because of his hangover. He regrets the fact that he started a stupid argument with you while he was drunk. You ask him to slow down his drinking at parties and he won’t do it. Your relationship gets to be tense as a result. These are all problems caused by his behavior.
Should I Ask My Spouse To Stop Drinking?
If you have determined that your husband is indeed a problem drinker, it’s time to sit him down for a talk. Understand that he will probably be defensive so approach the topic carefully. Do not bring up the idea of alcoholism and even avoid the term problem drinker if you think that will help. Lead with how his drinking makes you feel and how you fear it will damage your relationship in the future. Discuss how much better he will feel in the morning without a hangover.
His counter arguments are likely to be that he only drinks on the weekends to de-stress or that he drinks only socially and that it isn’t a big deal. Remind him of how he feels the next day, of the regrets he usually expresses and emphasize that his drunkenness impacts you. Tell him that you hope he will slow down, but not that you need him to quit drinking altogether. Suggest that you skip one party and do something together instead to strengthen your relationship. By being honest with him you can begin to address and correct the problems that his drinking is causing.
If his drinking gets worse, it may need to come down to a professional intervention. Call us now for intervention help. You and your partner’s relationship and physical/mental health are worth it!
12 Aug 2014
Traditionally, the term addiction has been restricted to the description of dependence on a chemical substance, such as drugs or alcohol. Today we have a broader view of what addiction is and many experts recognize what they call behavioral, or process, addictions. Certain behaviors, like gambling, eating, or shopping, can become habitual in a similar way to drug abuse. If you feel you may be starting to cross a line when it comes to your shopping and spending, recognize your behaviors and learn how to curb them before you really get out of control.
Shopping As An Addiction
There is nothing wrong with enjoying shopping. Even shopping as a regular hobby is not necessarily a bad thing. As with any behavior, though, you may cross the line into addictive territory. Some of the aspects of chemical addictions are similar to what people with a shopping addiction experience. For instance, engaging in a shopping spree may be associated with strong emotions. People who shop compulsively often continue to do so in the face of financial problems. They may let their habit interfere with relationships. These are all commonalities with drug and alcohol addiction.
How Do You Recognize A Shopping Addiction?
You have had a bad day at work. You got in a fight with your boyfriend or your husband. The kids are really getting on nerves. What do you do to relieve your stress and boost your mood? If your automatic answer is to go shopping or make a purchase, you might have a problem. Using a behavior, like shopping, to regularly boost your mood and regulate your emotions is a sign of an addictive habit.
Other signs that your shopping is becoming a real problem include buying in spite of financial woes. Compulsive shoppers keep going even when they have drained the bank account. They rack up huge credit card debt. Some even lose their homes because of their habits. Maybe you’re hooked on bargains. Do you buy a new pair of black heels that are half off, even though you have ten pairs in your closet? If so, you could have a problem. Is your shopping disrupting your relationships? Are you hiding your purchases from your partner because you know they will start a fight otherwise? These are all signs that you have a very bad habit.
How Can You Curb Your Shopping Addiction?
The good news is that you can take steps now to reverse your compulsive shopping. Unless you are in so deep that you really can’t stop, these actions will help.:
- To limit how much you spend, only use cash
- Cut up all your credit cards to avoid the temptation to build more debt
- Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it strictly
- Eliminate all impulse buys
- Stay offline if you are a compulsive Internet shopper
What is most important and oftentimes most difficult is figuring out why you shop. When you feel the urge, stop to think about what is driving you to go shopping. Are you stressed? Depressed or anxious? Is there a particular event that is making you feel bad? Face these things head on rather than drowning your emotions in a shopping binge. When you face what you’re feeling you can find better ways to cope. Instead of going shopping, go for a jog. Have a cup of tea and read a book. Take a hot bath or talk to a friend. Whatever you do, don’t give in to the urge to shop. If you still can’t control your urges, seek professional help.
14 Jul 2014
Eating disorders are typically thought of as women’s issues, but the truth is that men deal with these serious problems too. The struggle is sometimes worse for men because of the extra stigma attached to being a man who has food issues. Among the recognized eating disorders, binge eating is one that many men battle. Sometimes also referred to as food addiction, this disorder involves compulsive eating and usually also causes weight gain. If you are a man who binges on food, you are not alone and there is help for you.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder, or BED, is called food addiction too because it is a lot like an addiction. It is characterized by out-of-control eating binges, obsessive thoughts about eating, and feelings of guilt and shame associated with binges. Like drug or alcohol addicts you probably turn to food to cope with emotions. Maybe you eat because of stress. It could also be anxiety or depression that triggers your eating binges.
BED is more common than other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. One in 35 Americans struggles with binge eating. This statistic amounts to around five million women and three million men. While anorexia and bulimia are much more common in women than in men, BED is not rare in the male population.
Being A Man With An Eating Disorder
Having an eating disorder means coping with a difficult mental illness. In the case of BED, it also means dealing with addictive-like behaviors. Add to this being a man, and your battle becomes even greater. Women are more likely to get help for an eating disorder, while men are more likely to be in denial because of the added stigma. The statistics should assure you that you are not alone and that you are far from the only man dealing with binge eating. Here are some ways to help you cope and heal from your food addiction:
- Get Professional Help – If you can’t control yourself around food, you will never get better without the help of an experienced professional. It isn’t easy to ask for this help and you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit to your problem. It may help you to work with a male therapist, but make sure he has experience working with binge eaters.
- Find Support – One of the most important ways to successfully heal from an addictive disorder is to rely on the support of others. Overeating and binge eating support groups that are similar to AA are available. You should be able to find one that caters to men to make you feel more comfortable. If you can’t find a group in your area, look for online support groups for men with eating disorders.
- Stop Eating Alone – Binges typically occur when you are alone. Because of shame and embarrassment you are more likely to control yourself around other people. In addition to the support and professional help you get, force yourself to always eat with other people around. This will help you to control your urges.
- Replace Binges With Healthy Activities – Without eating binges to indulge in, you may be left with a void. Fill that hole with new and healthy activities. Exercise is a great choice because it will help you lose weight and give you more confidence. Any kind of hobby or new interest is a good way to replace your food binges.
Binge eating disorder is not easy to cope with for anyone. But as a man you face the added stigma of being a male with an eating problem. It’s time to face your fears and get the professional help you need. With the right therapist, support from other men and your own strength, you can conquer binge eating.
If You Or A Loved One Is Struggling With An Eating Disorder – Call Our Counselors Now – We Will Get You The Help You Need!
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common behavioral disorder in childhood. If you have a child with ADHD you are far from alone. Many kids use medication as part of the treatment for ADHD and there have been some concerns that these drugs could lead to later problems of substance abuse. Whether ADHD medications cause an increased risk for later addiction is not fully known, but what is certain is that you as a parent have the biggest influence over your child’s choices.
ADHD Treatment And Medications
Experts agree that the best way to treat the symptoms of ADHD, which include hyperactivity, inability to focus or concentrate, and impulsive behaviors, is with both therapy and medication. Using drugs alone is not the best solution to helping kids with ADHD. When they learn to modify their behaviors and are given medications to help them better focus, they have the best odds of success.
The medications that are used to treat ADHD are stimulants. Although it may seem counterintuitive, these stimulants actually help children to focus, to concentrate on one thing at a time, and to be able to control impulses. There are different kinds of stimulants used for ADHD, including Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall, among others. Children needing one of these drugs may have to try a few before finding the right one and the right dose that maximizes benefits while minimizing side effects.
Will ADHD Medications Cause Future Drug Abuse?
There has been controversy surrounding the use of stimulant medications to treat ADHD in children, but nothing has yet outweighed the benefits that these drugs have given kids. Some claim that kids are overmedicated and the drugs can cause lasting harm, although there is no evidence for this. One very real problem is abuse of ADHD prescriptions. It is not uncommon for teens and college students to use these drugs (which are mostly amphetamines) in large quantities to stay up late for studying and writing papers. This abuse can definitely lead to addiction.
Another controversy has been the fear that even the use of ADHD medications by kids following a doctor’s instructions could lead to future addiction. A few studies have made this connection, but have failed to show whether it was conclusively the drug or other factors that led to later drug abuse. A more recent review of these kinds of studies failed to find real and substantial evidence that ADHD drugs cause a child to abuse drugs or become addicted to drugs later in life.
The review included 15 separate studies and more than 2,000 participants. The result was that being medically treated for ADHD has no connection to future drug abuse. It neither increases nor decreases the risk of drug addiction. An interesting finding is that simply having ADHD can increase a child’s risk of future drug abuse; it seems likely that treating the disorder could therefore reduce the risk.
Good News For Parents Of Children With ADHD
The good news for parents of children with ADHD is that stimulant medications are largely helpful. As long as there are no serious or disruptive side effects the drugs can help kids focus in school, get along with peers better, and be more successful. The risk of developing substance abuse problems later in life is not related to medication.
In fact, what all experts know is that parents’ influence and behaviors is the biggest determining factor in whether a child abuses drugs. Talk to your children about drug abuse and develop a healthy relationship and you can steer them in the right direction.
Read More About Mental Health, Teens And Addiction