Co-occurring Disorders

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Co-occurring Disorders

Mental Health deserves center stage alongside Addiction

Addiction is a serious issue on its own. It requires a  significant effort on the behalf of the person to seek treatment and go through a rehabilitation and recovery process. Any addiction can significantly affect the individual’s quality of life and can be difficult to treat. However, one of the issues associated with addiction is that it often doesn’t occur alone. Individuals with substance abuse problems frequently have co-occurring disorder, usually other mental health issues, that can make the treatment for addiction much more complex.

What are some common disorders that occur together with addiction? The first category is mood disorders. Problems like depression are very common among individuals who have addiction. Some people with this disorder may also have undiagnosed (or diagnosed) bipolar disorder. Another common category is anxiety. Many individuals who have addiction also have anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, which is characterized by the presence of panic attacks. One particular problem that is significantly associated with addiction is Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. Many people with addiction can also have other mental health issues, which might range from problems like personality disorders to disorders like schizophrenia.

Why do these issues occur together with addiction? This may be because they precede it or occur (or become worse) due to substance abuse. Let’s take a closer look at this.

First, mental health disorders may occur with addiction because they precede it. Frequently, a person can have a mental health issue that remains undiagnosed or untreated. In this case, the individual can use different ways to deal with their symptoms. Someone with depression, for example, can use alcohol to numb themselves or take a stimulant to feel euphoric and happy for a while. A person with an anxiety disorder can use alcohol to relax in social situations and cope with their anxiety. Someone with post-traumatic stress disorder might abuse substances to cope with the symptoms. For people who do not know about treatment options, have never received a diagnosis, or who have limited  funds to afford proper treatment, drugs and alcohol might serve as ways of dealing with the symptoms on the short-term, which can lead to addiction. While not all people with substance abuse problems start using because of untreated mental health disorders, this is true of many individuals.

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However, substance abuse is, at best, a temporary solution for problems associated with mental health issues. Most substances can make the symptoms worse on the long run and may also contribute to the development of mental health issues. For example, there is some evidence that in people who have a predisposition for different conditions, like schizophrenia, using certain drugs, like marijuana, can trigger a psychotic episode. For most, substances can make their symptoms significantly worse or lead to the appearance of new issues even if there were none previously. Why does this happen?

Substances have an effect on the brain. Many drugs change the way the brain functions because they alter the neurochemical balance or the way in which the brain operates. For example, one can take a look at heroin. When a person becomes dependent on heroin, it means that their brain operates normally when there is heroin in their system but abnormally when there is not. The brain becomes accustomed to the presence of heroin and releases a certain amount of a neurotransmitter that is excessive when there is no heroin to deal with it. This neurotransmitter, noradrenaline, can make the person feel anxious and induce symptoms of withdrawal that harm the individual’s well-being and mental health. Other substances act upon the brain reward system. This means that the brain does not release the neurotransmitters associated with reward anymore unless the person is using. This means that the individual can no longer  enjoy other activities, which is associated with depression and make this problem worse.

Additionally, it can be difficult to treat addition when there is another disorder present. It means that this disorder also needs to be addressed, because kicking an addiction puts strain on the brain and the body and can temporarily worsen the symptoms of the disorder. This makes the person more distressed and might make them more likely to use again to relieve the symptoms, especially if the substance was used as “medication” for the disorder previously.

An effective type of treatment for addiction will need to address and accommodate the other disorder as well. In many cases, providing treatment for the co-occurring disorder can be very beneficial for the person and can lead to significantly better results.

Co-occurring disorder are an important feature of addiction. It is essential to see if the person is experiencing the symptoms of other mental health disorder and address it as well as the addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and battling mental illness, Valley Spring can help get you connected to the appropriate professionals! We offer a sober community in NYC and provide recovery services to those struggling with addiction. If you’d like to learn more about the damaging effects of alcohol or learn more about sober homes <– Click here. And please feel free to read our previous blog about if media depictions of drug use have an impact of real-world drug use.

Do Media Depictions of Drug Use Have an Impact on Real-world Drug Use?

Culture is both shaped and shaping

One of the criticisms associated with a lot of media that is blamed for being too violent or too sexual is associated with the way it portrays drug use. When we talk about drug use, we might consider alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco, which are often portrayed in a variety of contexts, and sometimes, portrayed in more positive, enticing, or appealing ways than the real-life consequences of drugs. Many people have protested these media depictions, but do they have an impact? Let’s take a look at some arguments for and against this and whether media depictions might influence real-life addiction.

 

For the impact of media:

  • Drugs are often portrayed as cool or more harmless than they truly are

Media depictions of drug use are often associated with “fun” and enjoyment. Alcohol, for example, might be shown as something that enables the characters to have fun or lose their inhibitions. Even if it has negative consequences, it might lead the characters into an adventure. Smoking is often a trait given to cool or tough characters. The use of illicit drugs is usually portrayed differently, but something like marijuana is often used for comedic effect or associated with positive characters. Drugs might be portrayed in positive ways and the negative consequences are not shown or downplayed. This can create association for the drugs that are more positive.

 

  • Even negative depictions of drug use can be appealing

However, to counter the above depictions, there have also been many negative portrayals of drugs or the characteristic of drug use is given to villains or antagonists. However, this doesn’t mean that the positive associations are not there. Villains or negative characters can also be perceived as cool or appealing, especially if they have desirable things, like status or money. For example, Scarface from the movie of the same name is often taken to be a cool character despite his flaws and, ultimately, his fate.

 

  • Media impacts real life

It is clear that media has an impact on real life. The portrayals of different things and behaviors in the media does impact what people choose to do. For example, after the release of the 101 dalmatians, more people wanted to have dalmatians as pets. After the release of media reports on publicized suicides, there is a spike in suicide rates. So, it cannot be said that media depictions are harmless because they might impact real-life behaviors. This could happen because they expose individuals to the idea of drug use, because they normalize the idea of using a drug (especially alcohol), and because they might show this behavior as desirable or associated with desirable traits.

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Against the impact of media:

  • The impact is not absolute

Still, the impact of media depictions is not associated with brainwashing. It impacts some people more than others and it might have no effect on individuals at all. The impact of media might be greater for people who are more vulnerable to the influence in general and especially on those who are younger or lack critical thinking. For example, children could be more vulnerable to the ideas in the media than adults. So, the impact of media is not universal.

 

  • The impact may depend on the portrayal

As mentioned, many portrayals make drugs out to be more fun and enjoyable while not focusing as much on the consequences.  Some portrayals may go in the opposite direction and portray drugs as pure evil, which could have the opposite effects. Many PSAs that take this approach are frequently mocked online for their inaccuracy. However, more nuanced and realistic portrayals can be deterrents from drug use. For example, something that shows effectively the consequences of drug abuse and avoids glamorizing it can have a positive impact on real-life substance abuse.

 

  • Drugs are a part of life

Ultimately, media is something that reflects the human experience, and drugs are a part of that experience. Banning depictions of drug use completely is unlikely to be effective and might not have the desired effect. Instead, it would be important to encouraged varied, nuanced, and accurate depictions of drugs, being especially careful in relation to the media aimed at younger audiences.

 

So, what about drug depictions and addiction? For some people, media might have encouraged their addiction, so it would be best to avoid media portrayals that are too graphic, positive, or appealing, especially for people struggling with rehabilitation. If you or a loved one needs help and would like to explore next steps in the recovery process, please call one of our professionals at Valley Spring Recovery Services. To learn more general information about sober houses or about Valley Spring’s sober living NYC see the hyperlinks. Feel free to read our previous blog about the pros and cons of AA.

 

 

Happy and Drug-Free

How to become happier without drugs in the equation

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At some point in our lives, we have come across many success stories of how different individuals have embarked on life-changing journeys and have found the true meaning of happiness.

These people have faced some daunting life situations and have come out stronger and happier than they were. They could achieve this fit because of the positive attitude they choose to see all the obstacles that were laid in their path. Drugs have never had anything to do with it and their thinking was never dulled by it either.

Life is full of uncertainties and everybody have their own challenges. Nobody has a perfect life and everyone has a different approach to dealing with life issues. But to ensure your happiness and that of the people around you who really matter, you need to learn how to be positive, how to overcome the difficulties in your life without succumbing to drugs.

Drugs only cloud your sense of reasoning and prevent you from achieving your true potential, making you lose focus of the real essence of life – that is to be happy and be a good ambassador to your society.

When you learn to say no to drugs, you have succeeded in breaking free from the chain that has made you a slave to its desire and you open your mind to a whole new brighter universe. You will be able to be of help to the people around as now you are focused on the things that really matter in your life.

Here are some tips on how to be happy and drug-free:

  • Set realistic targets for yourself: when you know what you want your future to be like and set targets you want to achieve, you are less likely to do drugs. As these targets will serve as a reminder of what you aim to achieve in future whenever the temptation to do drugs arises. It also helps to boost your confidence.
  • Spend time with loved ones: spending time with people who love you that don’t do drugs is a great way to abstaining from drugs. The support, love and advice from your loved will help keep you on the right track.
  • Do things that will make you feel good:  most times people do drugs because they want to “feel good”. But there are so many activities that can make you feel better than drugs, all you have to do is find which one interest you better and pick it as a hobby.
  • Learn to say no and be assertive about it: most times people do drugs due to peer pressure, but when you learn to say no and stick to it, defeating such temptation becomes easy. One thing you should know is that friends who truly love you would not want you to follow the wrong path.

Many people have gone down the path of drugs and caused some serious damage to themselves that they regret every day but that doesn’t have to be you. You can be happy, better, of great significance to someone’s life and most importantly you can be drug-free.

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If you or a loved one is battling with addiction and need help, please call Valley Spring. One of their recovery consultants will help you get plugged into the best recovery services and sober living offered in NYC. If you’re interested in taking the next step or learning more about sober homes, visit the hyperlink here.

Feel free to read our previous blog post about the importance of sober homes.

 

 

The Importance of Sober Homes

Explore the benefits of sober living

For the benefit of those of us that may not have heard of sober homes — sometimes commonly referred to as halfway homes–is a place free from drugs and alcohol that is set aside for victims recovering from addiction. These residencies are home to sober individuals trying to recover at their own pace while remaining within a structured environment before being re-introduced into independent living. These homes are usually privately owned and not covered by insurance.

When substance abuse users decide to stop the negative addiction and cleanse their system, depending on the particular drug, the individual is likely to need  detox followed by rehabilitation. After rehab is completed, it will usually be recommended the individual continues their treatment at outpatient.  This is where sober homes come into play. These homes accommodate individuals seeking recovery–they will work with them at their own pace until they are better positioned to go back into society and begin independent living. Usually sober living houses only accept new residents that come straight from rehab. The sober living home offers many benefits to residents such as a safe, comfortable and recovery oriented atmosphere, surrounded by like-minded individuals all (hopefully) seeking self-improvement.

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After gaining admittance to a sober home, there are rules and regulations which are promoted internally, so that residents can benefit from the full experience each home has to offer. Of course, rules vary from house to house but here are some typical rules:

  • No drugs or alcohol of any kinds
  • Patients are to submit to a drug test whenever they are called forth
  • Patients are to attend a 12 meeting group therapy sessions
  • No violence allowed
  • Participation in school work and school fees paid on time.
  • Guests are not allowed to spend the night. Patients are allowed to go out anytime and come back, but they must adhere to the rules.
  • These homes are very vital in an addict’s life because:

Professional guidance and help:

  • Most sober homes are staffed with professionals that are in-house that have become sober and remained sober. They can understand the addicts and hence offer sincere help with guidance for them to recover and remain sober

Basic life skill:

  • Being in a sober home does not mean that rehab is all you do there; basic home skills are also taught to help you live well when you eventually leave home. They learn basic skills such as patience, self-suffiency, working in a team, etc.

Peace of life for the family:

  • Having to cater for an addict can be a lot of stress on family finances and relationship. The sober home installs some much-needed peace back into families and helps them work together with the sober homes to get their loved ones back on track.

Guarantee recovery:

  • Difficult as it may seem, recovery and living a healthy life after drugs and alcohol is very possible. In fact, millions of people around the globe have doe it! The sober house is one place that can help get your life back on track — only if you are ready to follow through with all that is on the table.

Sober homes are have been around for quite some times and they play a critical part in the recovery process by providing a space for individuals to transition back into the “real” world to independent living.

 

Valley Spring offers terrific NYC sober living and recovery services. If you’d like to read more information about the topic of sober houses do so by clicking hyperlink.  Or feel inspired to read our previous blog post about 5 reasons why using drugs to suppress rage is bad.

5 Reasons Why Using Drugs to Suppress Rage is Bad

When future expectations go unmet.

Anger is an outward, intense emotional response that comes from frustration, malice, provocation, threat, depression or from being or is violated by an external force. Anger is generally a feeling that comes from masking hurt, fear, neglect, and longtime accumulation of hurtful feeling. Physiologically, anger has a dangerous impact on the human body. An anger person experiences increase heartbeat, increase blood pressure, adrenaline pumping through the system, muscle tension, stammering and lack of control. With all this said, anger is the natural way that the body reacts to being threatened.

Suppressed anger is the number one underlying cause of diseases such as depression, anxiety and a host of others that have ruined relationships and lives. Anger is meant to be released as it is the body’s way of warning us of imminent danger, and how we should react in such cases by ‘fight or flight’. When we suppress this anger, there is always a breaking point due to excessive accumulation of provocation.

However, the use of drugs to suppress anger is highly discouraged and not recommended by physicians. Anger and drugs is a nightmare waiting to be awoken. Though there are many drugs to curb anger, they all have side and long-term negative effect on the patient. These drugs used to suppress anger causes rage, which is a symptom when the drugs attack the brain causing the person to be aggressive and a danger to themselves and their immediate environments.

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Some drugs such as statins have been discovered to increase the rate of rage in women by altering their moods making them more aggressive, suicidal, and homicidal rather than calming them down. The drug statins are usually prescribed to women with high cholesterol. Other drugs like birth control pill, asthma drugs were found to harbor a more sinister danger by making you more aggressive, violently jealous and suicidal.

Feelings of anger have been linked to withdrawal symptoms amongst drug addicts. A study has shown that addicts who turn to drugs and alcohol rather than express their anger and rage are heading for a cycle of boundless destruction. Using drugs to suppress rage only makes you more aggressive when provokes which can cause physical reactions such as kicking, punching, and bouts of violence and becoming emotional blackmailers to loved ones and family
Fatigue and chronic pain are some signs of drug suppressed rage.

This is because these drugs calm you by continually forcing yourself to bottle up negative anger and angry situation. This is known as suppression or forceful prevention. Such cases have a negative impact on our digestive system, our heart and other vital organs of the body.
So when provoked to anger, practice breathing exercises or get yourself into an anger management program to be a better person.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anger, Valley Spring can help you get connected with some of the best anger management professionals in the industry. If someone you love is also struggling with addiction, Valley Spring can also help to connect them to recovery services and quality sober living in NYC. To learn more general information feel free to read up about sober living here. And if you’re eager to read more articles related to addiction and recovery, feel free to read our previous post about being there for friends who suffer from addiction.