gambling addiction

The Psychology of Gambling Addiction

Activities like gambling are often glorified in today’s culture. Movies mostly portray gamblers as powerful, wealthy, and satisfied when that can be farther than the truth. In our fast-paced world,  gambling, like other activities, produces instant gratification and becomes increasingly addicting overtime. 

Technology is omnipresent, which makes accessibility to gambling, from casinos to various online gambling apps and websites easier than ever. Today, people can gamble in public or the privacy from their own home on a computer or smartphone. 

Therefore, when people look to either gamble at the casino or online, the act itself is not illegal, which is what makes doing so most appealing, and its’ risky and addictive tendencies easy to justify. 

Psychologists call competition-like activities such as gambling an incentive, which means that people make decisions or adopt certain behaviors because we are often rewarded for it. The more we are awarded for a behavior, the more it motivates someone to continue that activity. The theory of motivation proves this notion. 

Why Do People Gamble?

When people gamble, they intrinsically become motivated, which means they experience the sensation of thrill or excitement. On the opposite side of the spectrum, when people are gambling and extrinsically motivated, they are doing so to escape from stress and to socialize. 

Many people have heard of gambling but do not have any real understanding of how it works, and most importantly, how addictive it can be. There have been extensive studies and evidence-based research on how this phenomenon of gambling affects the psyche, (i.e., how we behave and think).  

Approximately 10 million people throughout the United States have a gambling disorder, and unfortunately, reasons such as stigma (feelings of guilt, stress, discrimination, fear), finances, etc, deter those from receiving the help that they need to recover and become healthy.

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our dedicated staff helps individuals with gambling addictions cope and manage their condition and compulsions through various methods of treatment and therapy. Our philosophy of care and the main goal is always for our patients to successfully recover, free from the control gambling addiction once had on their lives. 

Gambling is Like A Drug

What is Gambling? 

Gambling is defined as the act of risking something of worth, in the hopes of getting something of even greater value and reward in return. 

For example, taking part in a variety of games or competitions, where the main objective is to bet something of monetary value to receive some type of prize or money in return. The outcome or success of gambling is usually luck and chance, otherwise known as probability. 

Just like other addictive behaviors such as drinking alcohol and taking drugs, gambling is an addiction very similar to someone with substance abuse. Just as a person feels the rewarding side effects of euphoria after drinking or taking drugs, a gambler experiences the same feelings after winning a huge game of Blackjack at the casino table or betting large on the winning horse at a major equestrian racing event. 

Reaping the rewards of winning and the feelings a gambler gets when they do so, makes them want to keep betting and playing. In other words, the thrill of competition and winning as a gambler is as powerful as getting high for a drug addict and leaves them wanting more. 

However, there is a difference between people enjoying to gamble once-in-a-while, and compulsively gambling to win what they have lost, and going overboard after they lost their money.

What is a Gambling Addiction? 

Gambling addiction is also known as gambling disorder, pathological and compulsive gambling, or problem gambling. There are various signs of gambling addiction, the main one being reward-driven. 

People who gamble love to chase the high of betting and winning. For people who love to go to the casino or go online to have fun, play games, and socialize, that is not unusual behavior. Truth is, while not all gambling is harmful, the real question is what are the signs that someone’s gambling has become a problem? 

Just like chronic illnesses such as diabetes, addiction is also a disease. Gambling is no different, and this addictive behavior often turns into an obsessive-compulsive action that also completely takes control of a person’s life.  

Those who have a gambling disorder cannot function normally like others who gamble more for fun, because it completely consumes them, disturbing how they function throughout their lives, even making simple everyday tasks difficult to complete. Sadly, those affected by this disease rather lie, cheat, and steal to support their gambling habits. 

People with gambling addictions do not realize that their behaviors are not normal and unhealthy. Compulsive and pathological gambling is habitual, leading to experiences of uncontrollable bouts or urges to engage in forms of gambling. 

In other words, gambling becomes a disorder when someone experiences an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on their life. While it is a choice to engage in these addictive behaviors, people with disorders may want to stop, but they feel they can’t. 

Not only do people with a gambling addiction become preoccupied, but, most importantly, cravings and the high of winning and competition, cause them to behave in unorthodox ways. The main reaction being spending excessive amounts of money, despite the expense of quitting or losing everything that was once really important, such as relationships (friends and family), work, school, hobbies, and fulfilling dreams.

Individuals with more severe cases of gambling addiction, they may also not just experience extreme changes in behavior and mood, but also with their personality, as if they completely took on another identity.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

The major sign that someone has a gambling disorder is seeing repetitive patterns of gambling behaviors that are causing significant problems or some type of distress, personally, mentally, and physically. 

Gamblers who are addicted are unable to control or resist their impulses to bet and competitively spend their money in negligent ways, despite the probability that doing so often leads to severe consequences. 

For those with addiction, the urges to gamble become so severe that the anticipation and pressure to act on this behavior can only be relieved by continuing to gamble more and more. An addiction to gambling is most characterized by the following: 

  • Obsession with gambling
  • Inability to function daily without gambling, causing disruption in all aspects of life (i.e., work, school, relationships, mental health, etc.)
  • Difficulty with controlling impulses to gamble, despite trying to stop the behavior
  • Continues to gamble despite social and mental consequences
  • Lying about the extent of your involvement and extent of gambling behaviors
  • Continuing to gamble despite losing money, and trying to win it back (Chasing losses)
  • Having financial problems due to gambling, or stealing to fund a gambling addiction 

Symptoms of compulsive gambling and addiction are not always very apparent, and people who have a gambling disorder often make it their job to hide their addictive behavior. As a result, this exacerbates the condition, making it harder to diagnose and manage without professional help. 

Risk Factors of Gambling Addiction

There are various reasons why gambling addiction occurs, that range from psychological, environmental, and physiological risk factors. 

According to The Mayo Clinic, these are some of  the following risk factors for developing a gambling problem: 

  • Environment: The environment you are in can majorly affect your decisions. Peer-pressure and being around people who engage in gambling behaviors put people with this disorder at major risk. Therefore, the only way out is to leave that environment with those negative influences. 
  • Age and Gender: Younger people are more susceptible to developing a gambling addiction. Men are seven-and-a-half times more likely to become a problem gambler than women. Although, women who start gamble later in life become addicted much quicker. Patterns for men have recently become similar. 
  • Family History and Genetics: Those with a family history of gambling addiction are more likely to develop one. Genetics plays a major role in addiction, as it can be inherited. 
  • Personality traits: Having a highly competitive nature, being impulsive, restless, easily bored, and being a workaholic can increase one’s risk of developing an addiction to gambling. 
  • Mental disorders: People who compulsively gamble also often have substance abuse issues. Underlying mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are a major risk factor for addiction.

Research conducted by The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), and Georgia State University (GSU) showed that having a family history of gambling addiction increases the risk of other family members, especially children, to become addicted to other substances and drugs (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, opioids, marijuana, etc).  The study also showed that 50 percent of people with a gambling disorder, committed crimes, two-thirds being a direct relation to gambling. 

Types of Gambling Behaviors

There are various types of gambling behaviors that are commonly engaged in alone or in social settings on a sporadic or ongoing basis. The forms of gambling include: 

  • Playing casino games: card games such as Blackjack and Poker, and other machines such as slots, etc. 
  • Bingo
  • Betting money on the Lottery or buying scratchcards
  • Sports or event betting
  • Betting on games of skill
  • Raffles 

There are many different forms of gambling. As mentioned before, gambling, depending to which extent, is not a bad thing. It can be enjoyable, yet risky, so people must be aware and informed before it is too late. 

Psychology Behind Gambling Addiction: From Compulsive to Addictive

Gambling is a psychological game of chance and luck, always affecting a specific outcome, including the way individuals think and make decisions, resulting in action and behavior. 

It is one of those activities that give people that rush of excitement and rewards you for playing and taking a chance. However, sometimes too much of something isn’t always good as they say. Gambling behavior ranges from compulsive to addictive. 

Why is gambling so addictive?

Truth is, there’s just something about the nature of gambling that seems to pull people in. But what is it exactly? Here are the motivators behind the gambling mentality as explained by psychologists. 

Compulsive behavior means having excessive and irresistible urges to perform an action or activity. While a person can have normal bouts of compulsion to engage in various activities, there is such a thing as it becoming too overboard and obsessive. 

Someone who gambles often exhibits these obsessive thoughts and urges defined as compulsions. It is the nature of the way a casino or winning money entices people to keep coming back and repeating these behaviors, ranging from an intense preoccupation with competition and winning, betting, winning money despite losing it, etc. 

It is considered abnormal or an indicator of an underlying disorder when these persistent behaviors become increasingly excessive and consuming overtime, negatively interfering and controlling all aspects of one’s daily lifestyle.  

How does gambling addiction develop?

Dependency and addiction to gambling happen very quickly because as humans, we were taught to love the idea of competition and winning so much, that eventually, that rush turns into an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it can take. 

Before you know it, gambling becomes a person’s full-time job, because it takes control over all facets of their life, and they can’t function normally without it. The reasons why gambling is so addictive include:

  • Gambling creates an illusion of control
  • Betting and winning gives people a natural “high” 
  • The social aspect of gambling
  • Reaping the rewards (money)

The Connection Between Gambling Addiction and Substance Abuse

People may not know it, but according to the American Psychiatric Association, gambling was once classified as a compulsive or impulsive disorder, rather than an addiction. This was due to the main fact, that this act is based on obsessive thoughts and urges known as compulsions. 

However, fast-forward to the present day, within the newest 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), gambling is no longer considered a compulsive disorder, but an addictive/behavioral disorder.

Therefore, the DSM-5’s re-classification of gambling as an addictive disorder through various studies and research within the field of neuroscience has proven the theory that gambling has many of the same characteristics and neural processes as drug and alcohol addiction. 

For someone to receive a confirmed gambling addiction diagnosis, the DSM-5 requires at least four of the following to have occurred in the past year:

  1. Having many unsuccessful attempts to control or stop gambling
  2. Gambling with excessive amounts of money to achieve feelings of euphoria
  3. Frequent and obsessive thoughts about gambling, including experiences in the past, planning the next gambling trip and thinking of ways to make money from gambling. 
  4. Gambling to cope with feelings of depression, anxiety, and distress. 
  5. Even after losing money during gambling, you keep going to get even or recover what you lost. This is referred to as chasing one’s losses. 
  6. Lying to hide gambling obsession
  7. Jeopardizing relationships, career, and other opportunities to gamble 

The behaviors of gambling and substance use disorders (SUD) have a close symbiotic relationship. Both addictive behaviors show that the psychological reasons behind why people are addicted to gambling are because their thought processes are distorted. 

These highly compulsive and ritualized thoughts by gamblers are a major characteristic of addiction. Common thought distortions include:   

  • Attribution:  Many gamblers attribute them to winning to their efforts, not because of random chance and luck. 
  • Magical and positive thinking: Problem gamblers believe that their perception, including hoping or thinking positively will make them win or that their outcomes can be predicted. 
  • Superstitions: Most gamblers or people who engage in some type of sport or competition have some sort of superstition. For example, they have a lucky piece of clothing, bracelet, ways of standing or sitting that they think helps them play better or win. 
  • Distorted beliefs and selective recall: Gamblers like to remember their wins and not talk about their losses. They tend to have distorted beliefs where they justify in their minds that they “almost” won, and because of that, it stimulates them to keep going back for more in hopes that they will win. 
  • Chasing losses: This thought distortion is probably the most common. Problem gamblers believe that the money they have lost due to playing or betting can be won back by continuing to gamble. Chasing one’s losses only causes a person to dive deeper into their gambling addiction. 

Stages of Gambling Addiction 

There are five stages that people with gambling addiction go through. They are the following: 

Stage One: Winning

There are more wins than losses in a gambler’s eyes. During the first stage, people with gambling addiction make it known they know how to win. 

Stage Two: Losing 

During the second stage, the stakes start to get higher, and the gambler believes that all the money that they already lost will be won back. In this stage, people tend to begin lying, borrowing money, and boasting about their gambling. As a result of losing in the end, individuals end up going into a downward spiral towards transitioning into the third stage. 

Stage 3: Desperation

During stage three, this is really where the obsessive thoughts about gambling come into play. This includes getting the money to keep gambling, what their next bet will be, ways to beat the system, and how they will win and avoid losing to come out on top. 

Negative thoughts and behaviors start to increase more frequently and intensely due to desperation. This includes patterns of pathological lying, gambling to cope with pain, increased anger, and blame occurs. 

Towards the end of this stage, credit cards and savings seem to deplete, and therefore, the addicted gambler steals or borrows money, saying they will pay it back, but the more money they receive just feeds their gambling spree. 

Stage 4: Hopelessness

In stage four, problem gamblers feel hopeless, which leaves them contemplating giving up, or worse harming themselves or committing suicide. This also leads them to resort to committing crimes and illegal activities that can cause them to wind up in jail. 

Stage 5: Recovery  

The fifth and final stage is recovery. This is where the gambler finally admits that they have a real problem and wants to overcome it with professional help. This is not always the case, as it is often not easy for people with addictions to ask for help. However, in this stage, often after asking for help the gambler enters a treatment facility including detox, 12-step programs, and counseling. 

Gambling Addiction and Dual Diagnosis

Substance abuse and mental illness are linked and are both major risk factors for addiction. Research has demonstrated that there are high rates of comorbidity between gambling addiction and mental health disorders. This means that the presence of these two chronic diseases or conditions is a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. 

For example, the once substance that is connected to gambling addiction and mental illness the most is alcohol. Studies throughout the United States have reported that alcohol use disorders (AUD) are said to be the strongest link to addictive disorders such as gambling, which makes sense because enormous amounts of alcohol are served at almost every casino. 

As a result, alcohol addiction is the most frequently diagnosed co-occurring disorder among people with gambling problems. According to The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), about 76 percent of people who were diagnosed with a gambling addiction also had an alcohol use disorder and most likely to have a major depressive disorder. Other common dual diagnoses include:

  • Gambling and depression
  • Gambling and anxiety
  • Gambling and bipolar disorder
  • Gambling and Schizophrenia

Gambling and OCD

Gambling addiction and mental illness such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) share a strong genetic and behavioral link according to research studies by Yale University and Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Since people with OCD exhibit patterns of compulsion and repetitiveness, so do problem gamblers. 

These findings have helped identify these underlying conditions, aiding with more accurate diagnosis and treatment for addictive disorders, substance use disorders, and mental illness. 

People often turn to gamble to cope with symptoms of mental health and to escape any problems or stress they may be feeling. In other words, gamblers seek excitement or action in going to a casino or gambling online, while others are doing so more, as a means to look for an escape or to numb their pain. 

Underlying problems such as drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness cause further complications in the long-run, and the only way to recover is through professional help.

Gambling Addiction Treatment 

It is important to note that people with an addictive disorder such as gambling can be very high-functioning, meaning they can hide their symptoms and function every day like everything is normal. 

Over time, the condition worsens, as signs and symptoms are being masked and hidden and it appears that there is nothing wrong. In reality, addiction to gambling and mental illness are present and must be treated through various methods of comprehensive treatment and therapies.

Addiction affects not only the person going through it but friends and family as well. Treatment for gambling addiction requires inpatient or outpatient treatment, and other programs to achieve optimal recovery, including detox, 12-step programs, and counseling. 

Gambling Addiction Treatment Programs 

Gambling Addiction Therapy 

If you or a loved one are suffering from a gambling addiction, substance use disorder, and/or mental illness, our multidisciplinary team at Granite Mountain is here to help you recover and take back control over your life! No gambling problem has to be permanent. Don’t wait, contact us today!

References

https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/gambling-addiction/

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gambling-disorder/what-is-gambling-disorder

https://news.yale.edu/2015/02/11/gambling-and-obsessive-compulsive-behaviors-linked

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-pathological-gambling-22016

https://www.casino.org/blog/gambling-psychologist-ask-me-anything/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201603/the-psychology-gambling

https://www.treatmentsolutions.com/blog/gambling-addiction/

https://www.bestcasinosites.net/blog/psychology-of-gambling.php

https://www.begambleaware.org/understanding-gambling/

https://psychcentral.com/disorders/pathological-gambling-symptoms/

https://www.medicinenet.com/gambling_addiction/article.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-gambling/symptoms-causes/syc-20355178

self-esteem

How to Build and Improve Your Self-Esteem During Addiction Recovery

The symbiotic relationship between drug and alcohol addiction and self-esteem is complex and oftentimes hard to understand. While they do go hand-in-hand, many questions need to be answered to fully comprehend the psychology behind self-worth and addictive behaviors. 

The main one being poor self-image, a problem that needs to be solved in conjunction with addressing one’s addiction issues, or will it naturally work itself out when the addictive behaviors don’t occur anymore? 

The answer to this question varies from person to person. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each person’s circumstances or struggles with addiction are different. However, what isn’t contradictory is that professional treatment at a rehab facility is necessary to recover. Treatment can break the treacherous cycle of addiction and improve your low self-esteem.

The addiction specialists and multidisciplinary team at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare in Prescott Valley, AZ, can help break this cycle of addiction, thus, improving one’s self-esteem. 

The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Addiction

While these are various common reasons and risk factors of addiction, numerous evidence-based research studies have proven that the root cause of addiction is the result of low self-esteem. 

Not effectively addressing the major role that self-esteem plays in all aspects of life, including addiction, unfortunately, and all too commonly, leads to various complications health-wise, socially, mentally, and physically. 

Missed signs of addiction and any sort of psychological distress can also deter someone from receiving the professional help that they need, hinder their addiction recovery process, and also cause individuals to potentially relapse. So, why is self-esteem such an important component of addiction recovery? 

What is Self-Esteem? 

What exactly is self-esteem, where does it arise from, and why is it so influential and important in our lives? 

In the world of psychology, self-esteem is defined as a person’s overall self-worth or personal value. In other words, it is how much you value, respect, like, and appreciate yourself. Use the power of positive psychology if you will. 

Importance of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is often viewed as a personality trait, which encompasses a variety of beliefs, including appearance, emotions, and behaviors. It is extremely influential and important because it plays a significant role in all aspects of a person’s life, including mental health, relationships, success, failures, and motivation. 

There are both healthy and low levels of self-esteem, which can fluctuate from time-to-time depending on your genetics, age, environment, people around you, attitude, etc. However, it is often our experiences that form the basis of our overall self-esteem, positively and negatively. Although, it is important to note that there needs to be a balance between too little and too much self-worth a person can have. 

Signs of Good Self-Esteem

If you exhibit the following signs and behaviors, you most likely have good self-esteem. 

  • Having confidence, but knowing the difference between that and being arrogant
  • Being able to accept who you are
  • Can take constructive criticism and feedback
  • Has the ability to say no
  • Has a positive outlook on things, and is always able to do so even when times are hard 
  • Ability to see things from various perspectives, including strengths and weaknesses
  • Expressing your needs, wants, and opinions
  • Does not seek approval from others
  • Not afraid of failure or setbacks 
  • Accepts imperfection

Confidence in one’s value as a human being is something that doesn’t come easy for everyone, which makes it a beneficial psychological resource. Whenever someone exudes confidence, it commands attention and is noticeable.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

If you exhibit the following signs and behaviors, you may be experiencing low self-esteem. 

  • Negative outlook and defeatist attitude
  • Lack of confidence
  • Inability to express your wants and needs
  • Focus on weaknesses and negativity
  • Not being able to see things from other perspectives
  • Trouble accepting criticism or feedback 
  • The belief that others are better than you
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Putting yourself down
  • Intense fear of failure

Self-esteem is a characteristic that inevitably changes over time, and therefore, success or setbacks both personally and professionally can negatively impact a person. 

How Low Self-Esteem Causes Addiction 

The effects of low self-esteem can be detrimental, especially when suffering from addiction. Becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol is a consequence of a choice and compulsive addictive behavior. 

For people who have developed low self-esteem over time due to various reasons, commonly experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, and as a result, they turn to drugs and alcohol to mask their pain and insecurities. Low self-esteem results in self-medicating.

In other words, those with low self-esteem turn to drugs and alcohol to numb pain and escape from reality. These substances are seen as a way to escape. 

What Happens to Self-Esteem When Using?

For people with low self-esteem, drinking, and taking drugs allows these individuals to feel like they appear more confident than they really are. 

Again, the whole reason why people engage in these addictive behaviors in the first place is that they believe that these substances make their problems or feelings disappear, despite the consequences. Easy accessibility of drugs and alcohol also is a major contributing factor. 

However, doing so compulsively, actually makes matters worse, and often leads to dependency and addiction. What some people fail to realize at the time is that these euphoric feelings from the drugs and alcohol are temporary and short-term. 

These substances turn out to not be a permanent solution for their pain and suffering, but rather, a temporary release. Along with health consequences, mentally physically, and socially, addiction resulting from substance abuse, ends up severely affecting a person’s self-esteem, causing their self-confidence to dissipate quickly.    

Eventually, individuals suffering from addiction are incapable of overcoming these challenges that caused them to turn to drink and take drugs in the first place. As their substance use disorder worsens, the lower their self-esteem becomes. 

Simply, the more one uses, the worse they end up feeling about themselves. What was once just a low self-confidence issue has now spiraled in addiction, which has taken control of all aspects of one’s life. 

This cycle of addiction and low self-esteem is only able to be taken hold of with help from medical professionals and addiction specialists. 

Addiction Risk Factors

Oftentimes, people wonder what is it that makes people want to make that choice to use and abuse drugs and alcohol in the first place? The answer to this can be complex, as addictive behaviors vary from person to person, but, mainly because various factors increase the likelihood of developing an addiction. 

The common reasons why people turn to the use of substances include but are not limited to:

  • It’s a choice that results in consequences 
  • Family history of substance abuse (Genetics) 
  • Co-occurring mental illness
  • Coping mechanism (Self-Medication)
  • Environmental factors and peer pressure

Addiction is a chronic disease that severely affects the brain and body. While this is true, neurological functions are not the sole cause of substance use disorders (SUD). Many different components play a role in the cause of addiction. 

In other words, drug and alcohol addiction is not just the result of one factor in a user’s life. Instead, it is a combination of them that exposes people to this destructive path. There are three main areas of risk factors that contribute to dependency and addiction. They are as follows: 

Biological Predispositions

Drug and alcohol addiction is 50 percent attributed to genetics. Research has shown that children who are the product of addicts are approximately eight times more likely to become ones themselves. 

Not everyone who has a family history of substance abuse will be an addict, but the probability and susceptibility of becoming addicted are high. Males are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol than women.  

Environmental Factors and Influences

The environment that you are in has a major effect and influence on people’s behaviors. Being at home or school is very influential on the possible development of substance use disorders. 

As mentioned before, having a family history of drug use and alcoholism increases the chances of someone else having the same genetic predisposition for addiction. 

At school and work, peer pressure and fitting in is a huge risk factor for addiction, as well as stress. Feelings of stress and anxiety in these environments are normal but often result in the gravitation towards substances, as people believe it will help them cope or forget what they are feeling at the time. However, it just exacerbates the situation, resulting in a host of health problems, physically, mentally, and socially.  

Drug Choice and Methods of Use

The likelihood of addiction depends on the drug or alcoholic beverage of choice. Especially with drugs, the potency of certain drugs leads to dependency and addiction. 

With one use of a drug, that is usually all it takes, which commonly leads to polysubstance abuse, meaning the use of one or more substances. The way a drug is taken, the meaning if it was snorted, injected, or in pill form. Drugs that are smoked or injected have a much faster euphoric or high effect on the body. 

As a user takes a drug or drinks more and more, the body becomes tolerant and dependent on the substance, which means that with each time of use, a higher dosage will be required to keep feeling the same drunk or high effect. Thus, tolerance and dependence lead to addiction. 

However, one answer that many researchers have agreed upon is low self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own abilities. This type of self-respect plays a crucial role in the likelihood that a person will abuse drugs, which in turn means that a drug abuse treatment program works to combat and improve the factors that influence low self-esteem.

Mental Health and Addiction

People who don’t suffer from mental conditions associated with self-esteem, such as anxiety and depression, don’t fully understand why people turn to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as a means to cope instead of seeking treatment for their symptoms. 

Mental illness is a major risk factor for substance abuse, and often these conditions occur simultaneously. This is defined as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Someone with mental health issues commonly develops a substance use disorder. 

Unfortunately, but all too often, the underlying mental illness is left undiagnosed and untreated. Thus, conditions worsen, along with a person’s self-esteem.

A major reason that people also don’t receive the proper help that they need is because of mental stigma. Feeling of shame, guilt, and embarrassment often take over, making a person with addiction reluctant to admit to themselves, friends, and family that they need help, or they are in denial that they need help in the first place. 

This avoidance to seek help not only worsens mental health and addiction but, most importantly, an individual’s self-worth. People with low self-esteem feel that they aren’t worth receiving help or that there is no one out there to help them when in reality, there is. 

Importance of Self-Esteem During Addiction Recovery

The drugs and alcohol are no longer in your system as you went through the process of detoxification. Addressing one’s lack of self-esteem is now a priority.

For those in addiction recovery, healthy self-esteem becomes a powerful tool and resource to turn to, which not only helps people stay on the road to long-term recovery, but also prevent relapse.

Think of it in this logical way: When you are feeling good about yourself and value what you have to offer, you are more likely to stay motivated and on a successful path to recovery and avoid entering into the cycle of addiction. 

In the early stages of recovery, people are very emotional and at a very low point with poor self-esteem. That is why building up your self-worth during this crucial time can make a big difference in your recovery journey, increasing the chances of a successful outcome and long-term sobriety.

Improving Self-Esteem Through Addiction Treatment

The good news is that help for addiction, and low self-esteem is available! Steps to rebuilding your self-esteem despite your addiction are possible with the right treatment plan and resources. 

There are three major causes of poor self-esteem in recovery, immorality, instability, and insignificance. Knowing what causes these negative feelings makes it easier for us to build up you or your loved one’s self-esteem through methods of therapy and counseling. 

Whether you are contemplating receiving help or already on the road to recovery from addiction, here are three tips on how to rebuild, boost, and improve your self-esteem during addiction recovery. 

  1. Think positively: I know it is easy for someone to say, but the power of positive thinking does make all the difference in all aspects of life. By using psychological techniques of reframing, meaning flipping a situation to be positive rather than negative, it helps to see things from a different perspective, so that you can handle it effectively. In addiction recovery, maintaining a positive attitude will help motivate you and others to not give up.  
  2. Self-forgiveness: Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t beat yourself up. Think about how far you have come and allowed yourself to be forgiven. This way, you will be able to move forward and focus on recovery. 
  3. Affirmations: Give yourself daily affirmations such as I am receiving the help that I need and doing well, I am a warrior, I am beautiful. Also, give other people a compliment and smile, it will make you and others around you feel positive energy, and that you are all in this together. 

Granite Mountain Can Help You Recover 

To truly understand the connection between low self-esteem and substance abuse, one needs to first understand that low self-esteem is a result of many conditions, including addiction and mental illness. 

Having low self-esteem during addiction recovery is very common in the beginning, but there are methods of treatment to help treat substance abuse and mental illness. With time, your self-esteem, confidence, and worth will all return, as the cycle of addiction will no longer be in your path. 

To learn more about how we can help individuals combating addiction rebuild their self-esteem and prevent relapse, contact us at Granite Mountain today!

References

https://www.safetynetrecovery.com/self-esteem-addiction/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/self-esteem

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-esteem-2795868

https://www.lifehack.org/565816/low-self-esteem

https://www.thecabinchiangmai.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Risk-Factors-for-Drug-Addiction.pdf

https://www.verywellmind.com/five-ways-to-build-self-esteem-22380

essential oils

10 Essential Oils to Aid in Alcohol Detox

Alcohol is a part of everyday life. It has become a social norm, consumed for pure enjoyment, in addition to, tradition and celebrations around the world for thousands of years. Various research studies have proven that two million people drink alcohol, crowning it the most popular beverage consumed worldwide. 

Because of its accessibility, alcohol is, unfortunately, also the most abused substance within the United States. 85 percent of people said they have tried alcohol at least once. 

While having a couple of drinks is acceptable and won’t cause any harm, excessive alcohol consumption has serious effects on the brain and body, resulting in various consequences on an individual’s health and mental wellbeing. 

Alcohol detox is a comprehensive process done at an alcohol treatment facility, which is an essential part of recovery. This method is beneficial as it assists people with substance abuse on the path to recovery, and also most importantly, makes the removal of toxins and alcohol easier and faster. 

It is a process that assists patients on the path to recovery during alcohol withdrawal. It helps make the toxins removal process easier and faster.

Treating your addiction to alcohol is a very crucial step and investment in your future and well-being. The best chance of managing this condition, recovery and long-term sobriety is entering an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, which entails participation in local support groups and continued counseling. 

However, conventional treatment may not work for everyone as treatments for alcohol addiction does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Other methods including essential oils and aromatherapy can help aid with detoxing from alcohol. 

How Alcohol Affects The Body

The liver becomes the most damaged organ due to drinking alcohol. As the alcohol enzymes absorb into the liver’s cells, toxic and harmful byproducts of fatty acids called acetaldehyde to build up within the body, which begins to attack the liver leading to a liver disease called cirrhosis. This impairs your liver’s ability to properly metabolize fats. 

Alcoholism does not only affect the liver but it also majorly impacts permanent damage to the brain, increase risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, pancreatitis, alcohol poisoning, hypertension (high blood pressure), overdose, and death. 

With all of the potential side effects of excessive alcohol consumption, the first step in treating this disease is seeking help. Keep in mind, overcoming dependency on addiction to alcohol is a long process. Addiction affects not only the person going through it but those around them. Help is available, and recovery can make a significant difference in one’s lifestyle. 

Alcohol Detoxification Process

During detoxification, toxic substances, in this case, alcohol, and other toxins are removed from the body for 7-10 days through the use of anti-craving FDA approved medications. 

Due to the increase in alcohol-related deaths, the demand for treatment is at an all-time high. Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not curable, but it can be managed, just like any other chronic disease, such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension (high blood pressure). 

However, recovering from the powerful disease of addiction, from alcoholism to mental illness, can be extremely challenging, both physically and psychologically. Before an individual can officially begin recovery, they go through a process called detoxification. 

Due to the body being tolerant and dependant on the substance, the body has an adverse reaction by producing unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms called withdrawal. These symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and even life-threatening include but are not limited to: 

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Chills/tremors and shaking
  • Diarrhea 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Everyone is different, and these physical and psychological symptoms depend on the following factors: 

  • The amount of alcohol consumed
  • History of alcohol abuse
  • Whether an individual has any underlying medical conditions 
  • Age
  • If there is any co-existing mental illness

Withdrawal symptoms from detox occur about six hours after the last alcoholic beverage. These unpleasant reactions are usually at their worst on days two and three, and afterward, begin to subside. Detox can also be done in a less severe way using essential oils and aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy For Alcohol Detox 

Aromatherapy is a form of holistic therapy and alternative medicine, which involves the use of various types of essential oils to promote the power of healing, both mentally and physically. This ancient practice of medicine is said to have healing properties for a wide range of medical purposes, including addiction to alcohol.   

It involves the topical application or inhalation of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants to restore, rebalance, and enhance one’s health and wellbeing. The term aromatherapy came about in the late 1920s as a plant-based therapy, using scented plants for incense, medicine, and perfumes.  

The multidisciplinary team of medical professionals and addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare in Prescott Valley, AZ, believe in providing people with resources and comprehensive treatment methods to help reduce and manage the symptoms of withdrawal during alcohol detox through the use of essential oils and aromatherapy. 

Our goal is to strengthen the self-healing processes such as detox, by using alternative preventative methods and indirect stimulation of the immune system. 

History of Essential Oils

It was believed that the Egyptians first created the ability to distill essential oils, which were infused with herbs used for rituals, medicine, cosmetics, etc. Years later, the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates studied the effects that essential oils had on health and promoted the use of them for medicinal benefits that we know today. 

Fast-forward a hundred years later, one of the most famous applications of essential oils was thanks to French chemist René-Maurice Gatttefossé. He gave birth to the term essential oils after an accident in his laboratory sparked his curiosity about the healing power of essential oils. 

After burning his arm, Gatttefossé placed it in a container of lavender oil, which ended up healing his burn without causing any scarring. Following in his footsteps was French surgeon Jean Valnet who used essential oils in World War II to help heal soldiers’ wounds, proving that aromatherapy is extremely beneficial in a medical sense. 

Use of Essential Oils For Alcohol Detox

During aromatherapy, essential oils derived from plants, flowers, trees, bushes, and roots are distilled and turned into forms of oils for therapeutic purposes. These essential oils are applied right on different parts of the body, including the feet, wrist, brow, scalp, pressure points, abdomen, chest, depending on the location of a person’s ailment or pain. 

Research has shown, that types of essential oils are highly concentrated, nutrients and natural properties are absorbed by the body through the skin, nasal passages, and digestive tract. As a result, the body begins to return to a more balanced state (homeostasis), delivering the desired effect, ranging from relief, calming, healing, stimulating, cleansing, and soothing. 

When most people hear of essential oils, they think of putting drops of wonderful smelling oils into a diffuser. The variety of these oils and their properties are all dedicated to helping naturally heal and calm through their scents and applying them to areas of the body. Thus, giving off a natural calming and relaxing sensation, helping to relieve stress and anxiety. 

Essential oils and aromatherapy are commonly used in spa treatments, but it is also now commonly used in the field of addiction treatment to aid in the process of detoxification. 

10 Types Of Essential Oils For Alcohol Detox

Essential oils are potent natural plant extracts that contain a multitude of benefits for all sorts of maladies. They are aromatic oils with amazing medical purposes. They are known to be an anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, anti-depressant, among others. 

Essential oils are fragrant, strong, and natural plant extracts that contain a host of medical benefits, as they are known to be not only detoxifying but also anti-inflammatory, stress-relieving, amongst other things. 

Fortunately, there are several other ways to help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Essential oils assist in ridding alcohol and other toxins from the body in a more calming and holistic way. Here are the top 10, which are known to be most beneficial for helping people recover from alcoholism quicker.

Ginger Oil: 

Ginger oil has a high concentration of a plant-based chemical called gingerol, which helps heal the liver after it has been severely damaged from excessive drinking. Thus, this essential oil can help repair your damaged liver quicker due to alcoholism.

Lemon Oil: 

Made from the rind part of a lemon, lemon is a powerful essential oil that promotes healing. During alcohol detox, the chemical limonene helps the body release toxins from the body, especially the liver and kidneys. Lemon oil can also help to alleviate symptoms of depression and strengthen the immune system. 

Lavender Oil: 

Lavender oil is the essential oil that is most popularly used for relaxation and reducing anxiety. Since drinking alcohol causes insomnia, lavender il also assists with improving sleep patterns. 

Black Pepper Oil: 

Black pepper oil helps with alcohol cravings. It boosts the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, improving one’s mood. 

Roman Chamomile Oil:

Going through detox is very stressful, as the body is producing unpleasant reactions. Roman chamomile essential oils induce a calming feeling, relieving symptoms of anxiety, and is a mood enhancer. 

Fennel Oil  

Fennel is similar to the taste and smell of licorice. This essential oil helps the body flush out toxins, and cleanses the body’s tissues and organs during the detox process. 

Grapefruit Oil

During alcohol detox grapefruit oil is very helpful with killing toxins within the body. In the case of alcohol, this extract is a natural diuretic, which helps to flush out the alcohol molecules that have built up in the liver and flushes out other waste. 

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil helps relieve stress, and when going through detox withdrawal symptoms, it helps with pain and sore muscles. Also, this essential oil is a natural diuretic that helps removes toxins from the body a lot quicker than normal. 

Mandarin Oil 

Mandarin oil is made from the peels of oranges and calms the body down before the alcohol detoxification process begins. The liver is undoubtedly the most important organ in the body when it comes to drinking alcohol. Drinking excessively leads to liver damage and disease. Mandarin oil helps with circulating healthy blood and detoxifying the liver. 

Peppermint Oil 

Peppermint oil helps with stomach pain relating to alcohol consumption. Made from the peppermint plant, this essential oil helps with people’s focus and helps speed up the recovery process. 

Alcoholism: A Deadly Disease 

Alcohol abuse leads to alcohol dependence and addiction, which negatively impacts a person’s health in a myriad of ways, contributing to over 200 diseases and health conditions. 

Every day, about 30 people lose their lives in car accidents, and about six people die from alcohol poisoning. Also, binge drinking doubles the risk of mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and dementia. 

For people struggling with alcohol use disorders, our main goal at Granite Mountain is to assist them on their recovery journey and after treatment, so that they will successfully live a sober, stable, and healthy lifestyle. 

Granite Mountain Can Help

Through aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, alcohol detox and withdrawal symptoms can be better managed. At Granite Mountain, know that help is available and we are here for you every step of the way. Contact us today to see how detox can help you recover from alcohol addiction. 

References

https://www.themiracleofessentialoils.com/top-7-essential-oils-for-alcohol-detox/

https://www.biosourcenaturals.com/pure-essential-oils/pure-essential-oils-descriptions-and-uses/frankincense-essential-oil/

https://www.edenbotanicals.com/aromatherapy-a-brief-history

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/822014

https://theessentiallife.com.au/theessentialblog/2016/essential-oils-to-help-with-alcohol-detox

 

 

secondary traumatic stress

The Link Between Secondary Traumatic Stress and Substance Abuse

Secondary traumatic stress is the emotional distress that occurs when an individual hears about the first-hand trauma experiences of another. Secondary traumatic stress can also occur if an individual witnesses a traumatic event that is occurring to somebody else. The symptoms of secondary traumatic disorder are highly similar to those of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Those struggling with secondary stress may find themselves re-experiencing personal trauma or notice the avoidance of triggers related to indirect trauma exposure. Individuals suffering from secondary stress may also experience alterations in memory and perception. Secondary traumatic stress is often experienced by mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors.

Substance abuse, addiction, and secondary traumatic stress can have a complicated relationship when they intertwine. High levels of stress increase the likelihood that an individual will turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of escape. Drugs can temporarily increase pleasure, decrease anxiety, and provide a distraction from painful emotions. However, the consequences are dangerous and fatal.

Stress triggers levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid produced by the brain) to lower, causing adrenaline to increase. GABA can also be stimulated by drugs that suppress the central nervous system, such as opioids and alcohol. Individuals suffering from high levels of stress may turn to drugs for a “quick fix.” Especially when an individual is severely stressed, they may become desperate for anything to alleviate their pain.

Who is Most Often Affected by Secondary Traumatic Stress?

Secondary traumatic stress can be described as an occupational hazard for professionals working with those dealing with mental health disorders and/or addiction. It can be difficult for mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors to separate their patient’s pain from their own. 

Research has shown that 6% to 26% of therapists working with traumatized populations, and up to 50% of child welfare workers, are at high risk of secondary traumatic stress, as well as PTSD.

However, doctors, nurses, first responders, and the loved ones of an individual suffering from trauma are all at risk for developing secondary traumatic stress. We mustn’t overlook these individuals. Those who give the most support are often in need of it just as much. 

Mental Health Care/Social Workers

Mental health care and social workers dedicate their time to helping individuals overcome trauma or work through their internal battles. They’re exposed to the pain of their patients, which isn’t always easy to process. It is no easy task to separate yourself from your patients and the troubles that you hear every day. This can consequently lead to secondary traumatic stress.

Furthermore, these mental health professionals don’t always allow themselves to process the stories they hear. Professionals who are not trained to identify or manage STS-related symptoms can become overwhelmed and less effective at their jobs.

Medical Staff: Doctors and Nurses

Pain, loss, disability, chronic illness, and failure to achieve relief from symptoms are all aspects of medical care that doctors and nurses experience every day. In a study done on PTSD in intensive care units, nurses described the situations triggering secondary traumatic stress. 

These included seeing patients die, patient aggression, involvement with end-of-life care, verbal abuse from family members, open surgical wounds, massive bleeding, not being able to save a specific patient, and much more. 

Doctors and nurses may develop secondary traumatic stress after exposure to such difficult situations. Oftentimes, they may feel like they don’t have the opportunity to heal themselves because of their focus on other individuals. 

First Responders

First responders are repeatedly exposed to severe trauma. Repeated exposures, in conjunction with their intense role in emergency services, can lead to secondary traumatic stress. First responders become more likely to experience distress, worry, disturbed sleep or concentration, alterations in work function, difficulties with interpersonal relationships, depression, and increases in substance use.

The first responders of our nation are first at the scene in many traumatic events. They must take action in these circumstances, thus not having time to process the event itself. 

Family Members of Someone Suffering from Trauma 

Secondary traumatic stress has serious effects on families, couples, and the loved ones surrounding someone suffering from trauma. When supporting a loved one, we can sometimes forget to attend to our own needs. Secondary traumatic stress can occur when we overly identify with the individual’s pain and stress.

Empathy is a huge part of being a human and understanding somebody else’s struggles. However, it can also come at the cost of your mental health when you become engulfed in the other person’s situation. 

Signs and Symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress

Recognizing symptoms of secondary traumatic stress can help you to seek help sooner rather than later. Fortunately, being aware of these signs is half the battle. Once you become self-aware, taking action is the next step. 

Many people suffer from a lack of understanding that there’s an issue at hand. Even more so, many allow their symptoms to get worse and procrastinate in acknowledging what’s bringing them pain.

The effects of secondary traumatic stress range from mild to severe. Although each patient is unique, you can lookout for the following symptoms of secondary traumatic stress:

  • Emotional — feeling numb or detached from reality, feeling overwhelmed or hopeless.
  • Physical — having low energy/feelings of fatigue. 
  • Behavioral — toxic behavioral habits may form, such as engaging in self-destructive coping mechanisms.
  • Professional — experiencing low performance of job tasks and responsibilities, feeling a low sense of motivation.
  • Cognitive — experiencing confusion, diminished concentration, and difficulty with decision making; experiencing trauma imagery, which is repeatedly seeing/reliving events.
  • Spiritual — questioning the meaning of life or lacking a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
  • Interpersonal — physically withdrawing or becoming emotionally unavailable to your co-workers or your family.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to our addiction and trauma specialists today. 

Secondary Traumatic Stress and Addiction 

“More than 60% of helping professionals have a trauma history of their own—we enter the field to make a difference, to give back, and share from our own life experiences,” as stated by a counselor in a secondary traumatic stress study. 

Many mental health professionals are inspired to help others after experiencing their pain and trauma. It becomes tricky when these mental health professionals are repeatedly exposed to trauma from their patients. This can also apply to the loved ones of someone battling with substance abuse or trauma, doctors, nurses, first responders, as well as other fields. 

Consequently, this can lead to substance abuse and addiction amongst the professionals striving to help others. Chronic stress can negatively impact a person’s impulse control, learning, and memory functions. As a result, drugs can become a coping mechanism or a method of self-medication for the symptoms of secondary traumatic stress.

It is important to note that secondary traumatic stress and substance abuse is classified as a dual diagnosis. This is because STS is still a form of trauma. When accompanied by addiction, two disorders must be recognized and treated.

Treatment Options for Secondary Traumatic Stress

The great upside is that there is treatment available to those suffering from this condition. No matter how lost you feel, there’s potential to feel much better. With the right resources and care, you’ll be able to overcome the obstacles setting you back. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment targets secondary traumatic stress and drug or alcohol addiction simultaneously. You’ll be working with mental health professionals and addiction experts who understand your unique situation. 

Dual diagnosis makes sure to treat both sides of the equation. Failing to acknowledge both parts of the issue will result in inadequate treatment. 

Addiction Treatment 

The severity and type of addiction you’re experiencing will play a part in the exact type of treatment that you’ll be receiving. Most treatment programs for addiction begin with some form of detox to clear alcohol and other drugs from the body.

More severe addictions call for an inpatient or residential treatment. Partial hospitalization provides a moderate level of care, and outpatient treatment provides the lowest level of care. After a thorough evaluation of your condition, we’ll decide together what type of care will suit your recovery best. 

Mental Health Treatment 

Addiction is a disease that affects the person from the inside out. It is crucial to treat the underlying roots of addiction, in conjunction with the cravings and temptations. The ability to simultaneously work through any mental health hurdles returns the power in your hands

With our team of trained therapists, you’ll learn coping strategies and address any toxic behavioral patterns. 

Therapy Options

There are several types of psychotherapy used to treat secondary traumatic stress disorder. These therapies include:

  • Cognitive therapy. This type of talk therapy helps you recognize the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are holding you back,
  • Exposure therapy. This behavioral therapy helps you safely face both situations and memories that you find traumatizing so that you can learn to cope with them effectively. 
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.

Long Term Recovery Options for Secondary Traumatic Stress and Addiction 

Recovery from secondary traumatic stress and substance abuse doesn’t stop when a treatment period ends. Aftercare is a crucial part of the recovery journey. Aftercare is continued treatment after the “core” program is completed. There are many different kinds of aftercare treatment options to prevent relapse and expand upon the coping strategies. 

Options for aftercare include: 

  • Outpatient treatment: The individual resides at home while attending treatment a few times a week at a convenient schedule. 
    • Support groups/Group counseling: The patient will listen to and share experiences associated with addiction and secondary traumatic stress. Individuals will work to build social and coping skills in an encouraging group setting.
    • Individual therapy: The patient will meet one-on-one with a therapist to continue progress established during the primary treatment program. 
  • 12-step programs: Fellowship programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), provide support and motivation for the individual as they recover.

Get Help Today!

We encourage you to seek help today if you’re suffering from secondary traumatic stress. From an on-site medical staff to comfortable amenities, we have everything you need for a smooth recovery.

We aim to create a better future for our patients. We pride ourselves on having a truly caring staff that promotes a community of encouragement and hope. Each patient will be a part of our family here at Granite Mountain.

Whether it’s you or a loved one struggling, one of our treatment programs can help today. From individual therapy to medical care, treatment will be tailored to your unique needs. Reach out to us by contacting us here.

References:

http://neatoday.org/2019/10/18/secondary-traumatic-stress/

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/trauma-toolkit/secondary-traumatic-stress

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549333/

http://www.apnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Vicarious-Trauma-and-the-Substance-Use-Disorder-Counselor.pdf

https://www.reflectionsonnursingleadership.org/features/more-features/i-left-nursing-because-of-secondary-traumatic-stress

https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/secondary_trauma_child_welfare_staff_guidance_for_supervisors.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808160/

https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/dtac/dialogue-vol14-is1_final_051718.pdf

https://nursing.ceconnection.com/ovidfiles/00043860-201703000-00009.pdf

https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/secondary_traumatic_stress_child_serving_professionals.pdf

https://traumaawareschools.org/secondaryStress

 

mental health stigma

Dual Diagnosis: Understanding The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

Today, mental health and substance use disorders called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis has become a large topic of conversation nationwide. The most common mental disorders include the following: 

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADD/ADHD

The concern is, most Americans don’t treat people who have a mental illness in the same way as other people who are suffering from other chronic conditions. 

A large part of society is quick to judge people who have a mental illness, often causing alienation and discrimination. Also, oftentimes, people reject the fact that addiction is a brain disease that can be treated and managed. 

Anyone who has had experienced mental illness firsthand, either personally or professionally, can tell you that despite the attempt to clear up misconceptions, along with the advances in psychiatry and psychology, there still is a great deal of stigma that remains. 

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Many people believe that addiction is a result of immoral behavior and that people with substance use disorders just choose to continue using drugs or drinking. While there is some truth to that, unlike people with other chronic conditions such as arthritis, those with addiction and mental illness are blamed or criticized in many ways for having these problems.

Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are extremely common. According to the Better Health Channel, Stigma is defined as when someone views a person with mental illness in a negative way. This negative perception often leads to discrimination, where people with mental disorders are treated poorly because of their condition. 

In other words, mental health stigma occurs when a person defines someone by their illness rather than who they are as a person. For example, one may be labeled psychotic or a schizo rather than the person experiencing psychosis or symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Becoming dependent and addicted to drugs and alcohol can happen to anyone. It is not a matter of willpower or lack of morals, it’s a choice that results in consequences. Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate, and neither does mental illness. 

History of Mental Illness Stigma 

The history of stigma surrounding mental illness has dated back to the Neolithic times, about 12,000 years ago (10,000–4,500 BC). People’s ideologies of the treatment of mental illness have not always made scientific sense. 

One of the most common treatments conducted around that time was known to be brutal and inhumane. For those believed to have mental illness or spirits, a hole would be chipped in their heads, as it was thought to release the evil spirits and cure them of disease. 

Today, mental illness stigma is very prevalent, but, treatment methods used to manage co-occurring disorders are taken very seriously and are backed up by years of evidence-based research. 

Prevalence of Mental Illness Stigma 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that approximately, 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder, making them among the leading causes of disability. One in four people will be affected by mental illnesses or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Mental health stigma is extremely prevalent, as there is a major lack of understanding surrounding these types of illnesses. 

Dual Diagnosis

When there is some sort of little to no understanding, there is neglect. Mental health stigma prevents two-thirds of people from getting the help they truly need. For those with mental illness and addiction, mental disorders are often the part that is left undiagnosed, which is not only dangerous, but can result in severe complications, including coma, overdose, or death. 

Doctor Harlem Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO stated that “Mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is a failure, it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders.” 

Mental health and addiction specialists have been making major strides in bettering the way they are diagnosing mental illness. Technological advances in medicine have allowed for more accurate diagnoses, allowing people to get the help that they need to effectively manage and cope with their condition, in order to properly recover.  

Types Of Mental Illness Stigma 

Assumptions surrounding mental illness only cause turmoil, creating a stigma defined by shame, guilt, and fear. Thus, most importantly, the fear and guilt of having a mental disorder continue to prevent millions of people from seeking the proper treatment that they need to recover and become sober. 

Stigma can also be described as a label that associates a person to a set of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype. These include the following:

Mental Illness Stigma Stereotypes 

There are common stereotypes and kinds of mental stigma, which result in discriminatory behaviors. They include: 

  • Dangerousness: Individuals with mental illness are commonly perceived as being relatively dangerous. 
  • Incompetence: People with mental illness are usually labeled as unable or incompetent. 
  • Permanence: People tend to perceive mental illness as untreatable. 

Mental Illness Stigma Types

The stigma associated with mental illness can be divided into 6 types which are commonly defined by perceptions and internalization, both of which are very real.

Public Stigma

Public stigma refers to a set of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate individuals to discriminate against people with mental illness.

Social Stigma

Social stigmas are commonly related to people’s culture, gender, race, intelligence, and health. Society tends to place people into specific categories and groups based on certain characteristics, differences, and similarities. These are defined as the prejudiced attitudes that others have around mental illness. When someone has a mental illness they often feel not part of a group, and as a result, feel alienated or discriminated against by society.

Self-Stigma

A person with a mental health diagnosis becomes aware of the public stigma placed on them, which in turn, the mind is persuaded to internalize these stereotypes, causing one to agree and believe them. 

Structural Stigma

Societal conditions, cultural norms, and institutional practices that constrain the opportunities, resources, and wellbeing. 

Label Avoidance Stigma 

People who engage in label avoidance refrain from associating with individuals and/or facilities that may place them in a group surrounded by stigma. (i.e. mental health providers and treatment facilities/rehab). 

Courtesy Stigma 

When the family and friends of people who have a mental health problem are also discriminated against because they are associated with them. 

The effects of all these different types of stigma surrounding mental health play a huge role in how people with mental illnesses are perceived, but most importantly, how they perceive themselves. 

Harmful Effects of Mental Health Stigma 

The effects that stigma has on people suffering from mental illness and addiction and their friends and family are harmful and extensive. Stigma means one has a lack of understanding, which can make a person feel invalidated, isolated, and shameful. 

Mental illness stigmas can also lead to discrimination, harassment, violence, and bullying. Lastly, as mentioned before, stigma prevents people from seeking help and receiving treatment, which as a result, their symptoms worsen, and become more difficult to treat. 

Causes Of Mental Health Stigma 

There are a variety of causes of mental health stigma. Everyone’s situation with mental illness or co-occurring disorders, meaning addiction as well as mental health, is unique. Therefore, the causes of each person’s stigma will not always be the same as another individual. The main root or source of one’s mental stigmas include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety 
  • Guilt
  • Lack of understanding
  • Discrimination
  • Neglect 
  • Societal norms
  • Representation of mental illness in mass media 

How To Cope With Mental Health Stigma

While reaching out for help is encouraged, those with co-occurring disorders, especially the mental health side of it, often feel like they can’t ask for help, because they feel ostracized, ashamed, embarrassed, fearful, etc. 

The power of stigma reaches a whole new level when people have mental illness and substance use disorder. Treatment for co-occurring disorders is neither short-term nor straightforward. It depends on the individual and treatment administered. 

These mental illness stigmas make it extremely difficult, as stigma and the discrimination that occurs as a result, do not begin with a request for help, but otherwise is perceived that help is not obtainable or unavailable to them. 

The toughest thing about sobriety is taking that first step, but, Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare is here to tell people that help is available and managing/treating dual diagnosis is possible. 

In general, people can help challenge stigma by speaking up when you hear others around you make negative or wrong comments about mental illness. If you have a mental illness, know that you are definitely not alone. 

We offer educational and supportive resources for people and families affected by mental illness and addiction. It is important to receive treatment to reduce symptoms and have a better quality of life.

At Granite Mountain, our team of highly-qualified addiction specialists prides ourselves in helping our clients learn how to cope with their conditions and the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Tips for coping include the following:

  • Get the mental health treatment you need, don’t let labels stop you. 
  • Try and not believe the myths and stigma behind mental illness. Everyone has problems of their own. It is a sign of weakness and getting help will only help you manage your condition better, and get you on the road to recovery as fast as possible. 
  • Connecting with others and using a support system can help with feelings of isolation and discrimination resulting from stigma, and show you are not alone in your feelings and experiences. 
  • YOU are NOT your illness! Say I have depression not I am depressed. There is a way with words, and they are powerful.  
  • What people say can hurt, but don’t take it personally. It is a reflection of themselves. Remember, sticks and stones. 

Know you are not alone in your fight with mental illness and addiction. The mental illness and addiction specialists at Granite Mountain BHC are here for you every step of the way. Contact us here today to receive help. 

References

https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-illness-and-stigma-2337677

https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/stigma-discrimination-and-mental-illness

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/external/2018/06/breaking-stigma-addiction-mental-illness/

https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/stigma-and-discrimination-vol2/navigating-the-stigma-of-mental-illness-and-addiction

 

positive psychology

The Power of Positive Psychology: Recovering From Addiction

Psychology is a science that studies people’s human behaviors. Human behavior is learned behavior, which is especially true with addiction. Various studies and psychological research has helped people to try and understand the motivations behind substance abuse, and the choice to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking and taking drugs. 

Drug and alcohol addiction are learned behaviors, and recovery from addiction requires individuals to be motivated enough to get help and make significant changes in their behavior and lives. The power of positive psychology has been proven to help people with substance use disorders (SUD) believe they can truly change their lives for the better. But, how? 

The addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare would like to teach you about the power of positive psychology in addiction recovery. 

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology (PP) is defined as the field of study called the “good life” phenomenon. The name refers to just what this notion means. It focuses on people and their beliefs and behaviors, and the makeup of their characters, and how that influences them to act the way that they do. 

Studies conducted at the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania describe the notion of positive psychology similarly to the socio-psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

This theory refers to someone’s belief, prediction, or expectation that something will come to fruition because they believe it will. As a result, a self-fulfilling prophecy indicates that people’s beliefs influence their actions, which is true, just like Professor Jim Orford’s addiction theory stated. This is the foundation for the scientific study behind positive psychology. 

The theory behind positive psychology allows individuals to find a way to build a meaningful life full not just of survival, but one of purpose. It is all based on principles of having a positive mindset and shifting one’s perspective. 

For those with addiction, the use of positive psychology in treatment and recovery helps patients be able to focus on how they can not just survive, but also most importantly, become happier and more fulfilled in their lives, to have an optimal chance of a successful recovery and maintain long-term sobriety. 

Rather than focusing on the pain of one’s addiction and mental illness, the science behind positive psychology has helped addiction specialists, medical professionals, and caregivers understand what it is that helps to make a person truly happy and healthy. The emphasis of PP is to focus on someone’s mental wellness and not solely just their illness. 

Power of Positive Psychology for Addiction Recovery 

Benefits of Staying Positive During Recovery 

Having a positive outlook whether it’s for a situation or making a decision, is undoubtedly a huge predictor of an outcome. It is extremely true when they say if you have a negative attitude the outcome will not be positive. Positivity is extremely powerful.

Vice versa, if you have a more positive outlook on things, the outcome will be a positive one. Things do not always go as planned, but research has proven that our beliefs are greatly influenced by our thoughts. 

In terms of addiction and treatment, positive psychology is an extremely helpful tool. Despite the good intentions, many treatment strategies aim to help a person recover, but, aside from therapy, sometimes those who are going through recovery for drug and alcohol addictions are not taught proper life or coping skills to be able to properly manage and take control over their conditions. 

Therefore, while it is not intentional, some strategies weaken one’s belief in their power and abilities to take back control over their lives and stay sober. The possibility of relapse is always around the corner. 

During effective addiction treatment, positive psychological approaches do play a significant role in achieving long-term addiction recovery goals. Traditionally, people who have chosen to enter a rehab facility for treatment, they are diagnosed with a condition, told they will have to manage it, to expect the possibility of relapse, and that there is also a chance of death. While all of this is true, this negative prognosis can feel extremely demoralizing and can set someone back. 

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our addiction specialists practice positive psychology. Based on our patients and their different needs, we try and suggest that their addiction is a behavioral disorder that was a consequence and result of poor choices. 

We not only diagnose our patients accurately but teach them that with the right help and techniques in therapy and throughout treatment, that these bad habits and behaviors can be changed. 

While we are not denying the negative side of addiction, and the statistics surrounding addiction recovery, we like to reframe a negative situation into a positive one, so people who suffer from substance abuse feel like recovery is possible. 

As a result of positive psychology and encouragement, we have seen a real difference, and most importantly, that with a different perspective and mindset, that people feel more empowered and motivated to tackle their recovery head-on. 

Understanding Addiction From A Psychological Perspective 

The Excessive Appetites Theory of Addiction 

Evidence-based research has demonstrated that much of our behavior as humans are generated from our thoughts and beliefs. This includes addictive behaviors, for example, binge drinking and taking drugs such as opioids.

According to verywellmind.com, in 1985, Jim Orford, an Emeritus Professor of Clinical & Community Psychology at Oxford in the United Kingdom, developed a theory to help people better understand addiction. This “disease” model of addiction was outlined in his ground-breaking book titled, Excessive Appetites: A Psychological View of Addictions.

In Professor Orford’s Excessive Appetites theory, he makes one of the clearest and strongest arguments surrounding behavioral addictions. He states the five core addictions are, gambling addiction, food addiction, drug addiction, and exercise addiction. 

In his research, Orford describes that addiction occurs in two main stages.  

Stage 1: Addiction is a major psychological process rather than a physical disease. 

Stage 2: Addiction occurs as a response or reaction to a wide range of different behaviors. 

In the book, addictions are described as types of excessive “appetites” rather than a dependency on drugs and alcohol for example. 

The theory depicts in-depth the idea that addictions are appetites, which are extremely common, excessive and troubling when strong attachments to the core addictions are developed. He states that addiction to drugs and alcohol are more recognized as examples of addiction. 

Orford’s model describes his main point, that addiction develops as a gradual process and because of compulsive behaviors, the main stage being appetitive behavior.

The whole point of his theory, in conclusion, is that there are negative consequences that occur as a result of our behaviors. As a result, it can cause serious harm to people and those around them. 

This is very indicative of addiction. An individual may or may not like a certain activity that they partake in, it is a choice, and not the act of liking or disliking that is the problem. 

The real reason behind why people psychologically become addicted, Orford states is because addiction is a result of the indulgence to do something, in other words, an appetitive behavior. 

Something we tend to want to do over and over again despite what can happen as a result. It is not because addiction is a disease, it is the degree to which one’s compulsive behavior ends up hurting someone. Despite the person wanting to stop, the behavior still persists, which is what the real problem is more than anything.  

To sum it up, Orford stated in the book, “The uptake of new behavior does not occur in a psychological vacuum, but as part of a constellation of changing beliefs, preferences, and habits.” 

So, in other words, this theory perfectly explains addiction as not just being a complex psychological process, but one in which involves a large number of contributing factors.

Contributing Factors Behind Addiction

Based on Professor Orford’s proven addiction theory, addiction is defined as chronic compulsive behaviors that occur despite the negative consequences that could occur as a result. 

Did you know, that people who abuse substances, such as opioids or cocaine, are four to ten times more likely than those who are not dependent or addicted, to develop other addictive behaviors, particularly to gambling. From discovering this, we can discern that addictions go hand-in-hand, substitute for one another, and reinforce one another. 

Addiction impacts the lives of people in various ways. Everyone is unique, and so is their battle. Due to this negative consequence to behaviors that they chose to partake in, addiction does not only cause health complications but socioeconomic ones as well. 

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It costs people their freedom, finances, relationships, problems at school and work, etc. 

However, the most important repercussion from addiction is definitely the human cost. Not only does this choice cause mental, physical, and emotional stress, what it does to the support system (friends and family) of a person suffering is unparalleled. 

Professor Orford states, that this cycle of addiction commonly begins in a person’s teenage years, as it is when an individual at this age starts to become more exposed to certain activities which tend to have addictive tendencies. 

Teenagers usually like to rebel or become experimental. They begin to gain more responsibility and chance at choosing what they spend their time doing, and how much they spend doing it. 

As teenagers grow into adults, they tend to mature out of addictive behaviors, but some do not. The reason why someone engages in a certain behavior or not is dependant on a few factors including: 

  • Personality
  • Environment
  • People
  • Culture 

Engaging in various addictive behaviors, it often allows people to cope and feel better about whatever it is that they are going through. This is especially true in the early stages of the addiction cycle. 

In other words, acting a certain way in situations all depends on various factors, including personality, environment, culture, socioeconomic status, etc. People tend to drink and take drugs to reduce tension, reduce inhibitions and self-awareness, and to escape from bad situations and negative emotions. Addictive behavior is also a result of the following contributing risk factors:

Mood

When people engage in addictive behaviors they discover that it enhances their mood. Due to levels of neurotransmitters called dopamine and serotonin being released in the brain, individuals can start to see their mood changing. 

Often, when someone has an addictive personality and engages in certain behaviors, such as taking drugs and alcohol. The mood aspects of addictive behavior can also help with self-esteem or social image, and it can help people to cope with past trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, it does not necessarily make them feel better, it just masks it. This is because these addictive behaviors are mood enhancers. When someone takes a substance or engages in these risky behaviors, the feelings of sadness or depression become suppressed, while the body releases endorphins, producing emotions of happiness, pleasure, and euphoria. 

Social Factors 

The act of drinking alcohol especially is a very social activity. Also, alcohol is very accessible and enjoyed around the world by various cultures. The process of engaging in addictive behaviors is known to be a direct result of social and cultural situations. Research has shown that drinking or doing drugs is highly dependent on conforming to social norms and family history. 

The more that people are around family and friends who like to engage in risky and addictive behaviors such as drinking and doing drugs, strongly predicts whether they will go on to develop not just a dependency to the substance of choice, but an actual addiction. The people who usually become addicted, don’t, unfortunately, see becoming addicted as a personal choice. 

Learned Associations

They say from a young age that people, especially babies learn by association. People are natural observers and like to mimic or attempt to mirror other people’s similar behaviors. This is no different for those suffering from addiction and substance abuse. 

Once people have started to engage in certain behaviors, in this case, addictive ones, something called associations begins to develop. This means, that when a person feels a certain way, how they act is very much a reflection of that. 

The behavior and state of mind are closely linked. Therefore, these associations between mood and behavior develop within the brain, along the neurological pathways, and become involuntary. 

Certain things can trigger a person’s memory, and remind them of a certain behavior, which can influence someone to seek out these behaviors. As a result, over time our brain has taught us to associate a feeling with addictive behavior. 

For example, because a person realized that they felt less anxious after drinking, the brain and body crave that behavior, and tell us that it makes them feel better when in reality, it isn’t, and symptoms are just being suppressed. 

Individuals with addictive personalities or tendencies, attribute positive feelings with behavior and construct a whole belief system and explanation of why their behavior makes them feel better. They come to believe that drinking or taking drugs is the key to making them feel better regardless of the negative consequences that often follow, including health complications, coma, overdose, and death. 

Attachment and Commitment 

People who become more attached to their addictive behaviors are more inclined to engage in them and carry them out. This level of attachment gets higher and higher as time goes on. 

Committing and attaching yourself to these risky behaviors repetitively can lead to new ways of breaking down the walls and barriers surrounding these behaviors, automatically increasing one’s chances of increasing the effects of the drugs or alcohol, and becoming not just dependent anymore but addicted. 

Developmental Maturity

Psychologically, the capacity of aligning our actions or behaviors with our beliefs and values depends on someone’s maturity level. Maturity is what ultimately distinguishes one person from another. 

People with addiction or addictive tendencies tend to routinely act without thinking. And, with no regard to the consequences, these types of people are very focused and intent on pushing the limits. 

Ways to Practice Positive Psychology During and After Addiction Recovery 

So, we have talked about how we use the power of positive psychology to help our patients with substance use disorders recover. Have you wondered how you or a loved one can practice positive psychology on your road to recovery? These are some ways in which we have seen a difference:

  1. Meditation
  2. Connect with others 
  3. Keep a gratitude list
  4. Engage in activities that you enjoy 
  5. Talk to someone- know there is always help out there

There have been great strides made in quantifying which behaviors and attitudes foster feelings like, serenity, love, joy fulfillment and peace. Helping yourself practice this idea of positive thinking will then emanate to others going through addiction feel like they are not alone on their journey to recovery. 

Within itself, the idea of positive psychology is another component or resource of support that everyone, not just people with addiction should utilize more. 

Granite Mountain Can Help You Recover!

A life of health and long-term sobriety is attainable with our help. We work with our clients to help them re-envision their lives, putting them on a path of self-discovery, so, they can ultimately regain control over their lives and rekindle the relationships that are most important to them, to achieve optimal recovery. 

The study of positive psychology and its relation to addiction treatment has been proven to be revolutionary. Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare believes in the power of positive thinking and has seen it keep our patients on track and motivated to reach sobriety and empower others to do the same. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and substance abuse, the addiction specialists at Granite Mountain can help. Contact us today to take back control over your life! 

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology

https://www.verywellmind.com/psychological-process-of-addiction-22261

https://www.cascadementalhealth.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=58686&cn=1409

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ending-addiction-good/201407/the-use-positive-psychology-in-addiction-treatment

https://www.verywellmind.com/excessive-appetites-22259

 

what does alcohol do to your liver

The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Liver

Alcohol has toxic effects on your liver that can worsen over time. The effects can even have fatal consequences which are why it’s so important to stop alcohol abuse in its tracks. Regardless of where you’re at, education on the problem is the first step.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is the ingredient found in beer, wine, and spirits that causes drunkenness. Alcohol is formed when yeast ferments (breaks down without oxygen) the sugars in different food. For instance, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, and vodka from the sugar in potatoes, beets or other plants. 

Alcohol is in the ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug class. In other words, it acts to depress the central nervous system at high doses. At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant. This induces temporary feelings of euphoria and talkativeness.

However, drinking too much alcohol at one session can lead to drowsiness, respiratory depression (where breathing becomes slow, shallow or stops entirely), coma or even death. The damage that alcohol does to the liver is another consequence that is crucial to note. Recognizing the dangers now can save you a lot of pain in the future.

What Alcohol Does to the Liver

Before we talk about what alcohol does to the liver, let’s discuss what the liver itself does. The liver breaks down and filters out harmful substances in the blood, and manufactures proteins, enzymes, and hormones that the body uses to ward off infections. The role of your liver is crucial in your body’s internal processes. It also converts vitamins, nutrients, and medicines into substances that benefit our bodies.

The liver is also responsible for cleaning our blood, producing bile for digestion and storing glycogen for energy. The liver processes over 90 percent of consumed alcohol. The rest exits the body via urine, sweat, and breathing. Think about: 90 percent of this toxic substance is being absorbed in your liver. 

Intoxication occurs when the heart and brain begin to become affected by alcohol in the bloodstream. Chronic alcohol abuse causes the destruction of liver cells, which results in scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), alcoholic hepatitis and cellular mutation. 

This may even lead to liver cancer. These conditions usually progress from fatty liver to alcoholic hepatitis to cirrhosis. Although heavy drinkers may develop alcoholic cirrhosis without first developing hepatitis.

How Many Drinks Does it Take to Damage Your Liver?

The University Health Network states that a safe amount of alcohol depends on a person’s body weight, size and whether they are male or female. Women absorb more alcohol from each drink in comparison to males. This makes them at higher risk of liver damage.

Consuming 2 to 3 alcoholic drinks daily can harm one’s liver. Continuing, binge drinking, or drinking 4 or 5 more drinks in a row, can also lead to liver damage.

Mixing alcohol with other medications can also be very dangerous for your liver. We advise you to never take alcohol and medication simultaneously without speaking with your physician first. 

Certain medications, such as acetaminophen, like Tylenol, can lead to severe damage to your liver in conjunction with the consumption of alcohol. Other medications that are dangerous to combine with alcohol include antibiotics, blood thinners, antidepressants, sedatives, pain medications, and muscle relaxants.

Types and Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of what alcohol does to the liver. It is a toxic substance that is very damaging to one’s health. The symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease depend on the stage of the disease. 

 

There are three stages:

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease: This is the first stage of alcohol-related liver disease, where fat starts to accumulate around the liver. It can be cured by not drinking alcohol anymore.
  2. Acute alcoholic hepatitis: Alcohol abuse causes inflammation (swelling) of the liver in this stage. The outcome depends on the severity of the damage. In some cases, treatment can reverse the damage. However, more severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver failure.
  3. Alcoholic cirrhosis: This is the most severe form of alcohol-related liver disease. In this stage, the liver is scarred from alcohol abuse, and the damage cannot be undone. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure.

Understanding what alcohol does to the liver and the stages of liver disease can help you realize you need to quit drinking. No matter what stage you’re in, there is potential for a better tomorrow. We encourage you to call us today to learn more about how we can help you, depending on what stage you’re in.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease Symptoms

Some people with alcohol-related liver disease don’t have symptoms until the disease is advanced. In other cases, signs are shown earlier. Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease may show up more often after binge drinking. 

Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease can include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Increased thirst
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Darkening or lightening of the skin
  • Red hands or feet
  • Dark bowel movements
  • Fainting
  • Unusual agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Enlarged breasts (in men)

Alcohol and Liver Damage: The Statistics

It helps to note that there tens of thousands of Americans affected by liver disease annually, due to alcohol. Many do not realize the severity of alcohol until it is too late. We urge you not to be one of those people.

A few surprising statistics to note include:

  • According to the 2015, National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. 
  • An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 
  • Alcohol dependence and/or abuse rates are higher in white males than in women, although women develop ALD more rapidly than men with the same quantity and duration of alcohol consumption. 

Reducing the Risk of Liver Damage

Completely cutting alcohol out can reduce the risk of liver damage. When you take a look at all the negatives of what alcohol does to your liver, you begin to understand how toxic it is. All liver diseases improve from giving up alcohol.

You should also cut out alcohol if you experience significant liver scarring or cirrhosis. Fatty liver can be reversed and further damage prevented by not drinking alcohol. It is important to note that there is no cure for cirrhosis. However, cutting out alcohol completely gives a much better chance of survival. You can live for decades with cirrhosis if you give up alcohol in time.

There are other healthy habits one can implement to reduce the impact of liver disease. These habits include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Getting regular, adequate exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed food
  • Drinking coffee
  • Getting sunlight – a low Vitamin D level is bad for liver diseases

Treatment for Alcoholism

Fortunately, there are treatment options available if alcohol addiction is negatively impacting your life. It is possible to stop addiction in its tracks before it worsens. Before beginning treatment, you should understand the various services each program offers. We like to focus on treating the person as a whole, not just their alcohol addiction.

Our comprehensive treatment programs employ several or all of these factors:

Alcohol Detox

Detoxification is the first step in treating alcohol addiction. It can also be the most difficult. Within the first few days after you quit drinking, you may experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, the alcohol detox stage should only be completed under medical supervision. After detox, you will be able to move forward with other forms of treatment and therapy.

Inpatient Rehab

An inpatient rehab facility is the most structured treatment environment for those overcoming alcohol addiction. Our programs typically last anywhere from 30, 60 or 90 days. Treatment specialists provide around-the-clock care and will prepare you for life after rehab. 

Alcohol Counseling

Frequent meetings with an alcohol counselor are important for patients to receive guidance during their recovery. Counseling opens a line of communication during the good times, as well as the difficult times. Your therapist will help you target the underlying roots behind alcoholism.

Call Us Today

Alcoholism is certainly serious, but it’s also manageable. People with this condition can get the medical and psychological support they need to change their drinking patterns and their lives, and that work can start right now. By reaching out for care, people with alcoholism can get better.

Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our programs offer structured treatment that can make a tremendous difference in your life. No matter how lost you may feel, you can still get better.

Whether it’s you or a loved one struggling, an IOP can help today. From individual therapy to medical care, treatment will be tailored to your unique needs. Call Granite Mountain today at  (928) 756-0694 or contact us here

References:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/liver/

https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/about-alcohol/what-is-alcohol

https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/alcohol/physical-health/alcohols-effect-on-the-body/the-liver.html

https://www.uhn.ca/

https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/

https://liverfoundation.org/liver-disease-statistics/#alcohol-related-liver-disease-and-cirrhosis

 

fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl Addiction: The Latest Deadly Opiate Addiction in Arizona

Fentanyl drug overdose rates are at an all-time high across the country but more so in Arizona. Arizona is fighting a war on “Mexican Blue Oxy” Oxycodone laced with fentanyl. While the government is looking for ways to stop the flow of the drug into their state, families are seeking ways to help their loved ones before the horrible drug destroys them. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic schedule 2 narcotic analgesic that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain and increases the production of dopamine, which increases the feelings of happiness, relaxation and decreases the perception of suffering. Fentanyl is prescribed for severe pain, after surgery and for chronic pain patients who are no longer finding relief with other opioids. In 2017, In 2017, Arizona providers wrote 61.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people.

  • Fentanyl is an extremely strong synthetic opioid that is very effective at relieving moderate-to-severe chronic pain.
  • Oral versions of fentanyl contain an amount of the drug that can be fatal to a child.
  • The difference between a therapeutic dose and a deadly dose of fentanyl is minimal.
  • There are many illegal analogs and derivatives of fentanyl that are much stronger than the legal prescription version.
  • Recreational users often use fentanyl as a substitute for heroin.

Fentanyl Addiction: Why is Fentanyl so Addictive?

Many people become addicted to fentanyl very quickly due to its euphoric “high” similar to heroin. Fentanyl enters the bloodstream and immediately crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it quickly binds with opioid receptors. The quicker the binding process, the stronger the feeling of euphoria, which makes fentanyl the most dangerous opioid. Compared to other opioids, it takes a very small amount of fentanyl to produce the same effects, 

Fentanyl affects everyone differently. The effects are dependent on an individual’s size, weight, the overall state of health, the amount that is taken, whether fentanyl is taken in combination with other drugs, and whether the person is used to taking opioids.

  • Fentanyl’s effects include
  • extreme happiness
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • sedation
  • problems breathing
  • unconsciousness

Fentanyl analogs produced in illegal laboratories can be hundreds of times stronger than street heroin and tend to produce significantly more respiratory depression, making them even more dangerous to users than heroin.

Individuals using heroin or cocaine, or in recovery for a drug use disorder may not know that the potency of street-sold heroin and cocaine can be greatly enhanced by adding fentanyl. Because the potency of such drugs is not known, and they are not told about the addition of fentanyl, any illicit drug use – even a reduced dose – can result in an accidental overdose or death. In many cases, drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes a very small amount to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a less expensive option. 

Fentanyl may be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected, and no one method of use is safer than another. 

Fentanyl Addiction: The Signs of an Addict

The abuse of and addiction to fentanyl or a synthetic form of fentanyl may be shown by the following signs and symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Secrecy and deceit
  • Withdrawal from loved ones and friends
  • Little to no participation in significant activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Fatigue and extreme drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal distress

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate and focus
  • Impaired decision making

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Severe mood swings

 

People addicted to fentanyl who stop using it can have extreme withdrawal symptoms that begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken. These symptoms include:

  • muscle and bone pain
  • sleep problems
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • cold flashes 
  • uncontrollable leg movements
  • severe cravings

Fentanyl Addiction: The Numbers In Arizona Are Alarming

Since 2013, opioid-involved deaths rose 76 percent in Arizona, with 928 deaths reported in 2017. That is 13.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest increase occurred among deaths involving synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl which increased from 36 deaths in 2012 to 267 deaths in 2017.

Data from one report showed that in 2018, fentanyl was reported in 18 percent of all fatal and non-fatal reported overdoses in Arizona. Since Governor Doug Ducey’s opioid emergency declaration in 2017, fentanyl is the most commonly reported drug involved in fatal overdoses with 301 deaths since June 2017.

The most recent data about overdoses in Arizona shows that:

  • In January 2019, there were 47 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona. Five of these were fatal.
  • In February 2019, there were 36 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona. Two of these were fatal.
  • In March 2019, there were 21 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona, with three fatalities reported.
  • Fentanyl is more commonly reported in overdoses among younger Arizonans. Among teens 15-17, fentanyl was the most commonly reported drug involved in suspected overdoses.

Thirteen out of the total 15 counties in Arizona have recorded fentanyl deaths between mid- 2017 and early 2019. The hardest-hit county, La Paz has recorded 597 deaths in 100,000 people in the same period, while the least affected has 106 deaths in 100,000 people within the same period.

Fentanyl deaths have surpassed those of heroin and have affected all Arizona demographics. Residents say it is the worst kind of drug invasion seen in the last 30 years. For example, according to the DEA in Arizona, in 2017, its agents seized 172 pounds of powdered fentanyl. In 2018, they confiscated a total of 445 pounds, pointing to a 159 percent increase.

In 2017, DEA agents had also confiscated over 95,000 pills of fentanyl-laced pills. This amount increased in 2018 to 379,000, which translates to an almost 300 percent increase. So far, in 2019, 1,138,288 illegally manufactured fentanyl pills have been seized. Such a significant increase in illegally created fentanyl shows that war on fentanyl deaths is far from over

Fentanyl Addiction: What is Arizona doing to combat the Issue

In June 2017, Governor Doug Ducey declared a statewide emergency after data was released on the increased number of opioid overdoses primarily from fentanyl.

On January 25, 2018, Governor Doug Ducey signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. The Act includes measures to cut down on doctor shopping by making it mandatory for doctors and pharmacies to keep databases up to date. The state has also started placing safe disposal bins for all opioids and other prescriptions. There is a limit on the first fills of 5 days. Research shows that any more than 5 days of continuous use leads to a higher risk of addiction.

Since June 2017, the Arizona Department of Health has trained over 1200 first responders to carry and administer Naloxone and has provided over 5100 new Nexalone kits to law enforcement agencies.

Other measures call for $10 million to be spent treating opioid abusers who are underinsured and ineligible for Medicaid. The Good Samaritan Law protects anyone who is overdosing and anyone who witnesses an overdose from prosecution for seeking help. The governor has also implemented the Angel Initiative. It will help individuals struggling with fentanyl addiction, and other opioid addictions seek treatment without prosecution. Meaning that an addict can walk into any police station, turn in their drugs, and ask for help without the fear of going to jail. It also helps parents who seek treatment place their children into care without the children going into foster care. 

Ducey called the package a comprehensive model for other states looking to address what has become a nationwide crisis.

Fentanyl Addiction: Destroying Families in Arizona

As the war on fentanyl and fentanyl addiction continue, the destruction of Arizona families is on the rise. There has been an increase in the number of babies being born with a fentanyl addiction, in 2008 there was 1.8 in 1000 hospital births up in 2019 to over 10 cases in every 1000 hospital births. And babies born with a fentanyl addiction suffer lifelong issues. Opioid use during pregnancy has also been associated with developmental delays and intellectual impairment. But most studies were conducted before the use of synthetic fentanyl, and scientists don’t yet know the long-term implications of these substances on babies but are certain that we will see complications that will have devastating effects during their life. 

As fentanyl addiction continues to rise, the number of children in homes with family members addicted to fentanyl continues to rise. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering fentanyl addiction at a young age has long-term effects on the child. Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to fentanyl are more likely to develop a fentanyl addiction in their teens and adulthood. They are also three times more likely to be neglected, physically, and sexually abused. Since children are still developing their personalities and learn from what they see, they run the risk of repeating such behaviors. Children may be exposed to aggression or violent behavior due to a parent’s fentanyl addiction. 

Fentanyl addiction takes over the life of the victim it has claimed. They give up important life activities, such as work, family time, hobbies they once loved. Fentanyl takes over their life; they spend most of their day using fentanyl, looking for fentanyl or finding ways to get money from people to support their fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl becomes such an important part of the addict’s life; they will say and do anything to get the money to support their habit. 

If someone you love has a fentanyl addiction, you are likely to experience changes in your thoughts and behaviors. You may find yourself:

  • Worrying about your loved one’s drug use
  • Losing sleep
  • Experiencing constant anxiety
  • Lying or making excuses for the addict’s behavior
  • Walking on eggshells around the addict
  • Withdrawing from your loved one to avoid mood swings and confrontations
  • The constant feeling that calling the police when your loved one is high is better than finding them dead
  • Putting yourself in dangerous situations to look for or rescue your loved one
  • The fear of losing your family member if you talk to them about their drug use

Fentanyl Addiction: How To Get Help

If you have a family member who has a fentanyl addiction, it is a battle of keeping the peace or starting a war of uncertainty. Keeping the peace means not talking to your loved one about their problem, but that comes at the cost of watching them destroy their life. Starting a war of uncertainty means putting it all on the line and giving them no choice.

There is no perfect way to approach someone with a fentanyl addiction to getting help. By the time you get up the courage to fight the battle and talk with your loved one, you already feel defeated by the day to day battle. You are not alone in this war on fentanyl. Families all across Arizona are in this war. Like you, they feel defeated. 

Let the caring and compassionate family of Granite Mountain Behavioral HealthCare help you or your loved ones. You contact us here. 

 

high-functioning depression

High-Functioning Depression and Addiction: Recognizing the Signs

When someone has a mental illness such as depression and suffers from addiction simultaneously, this is called dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Those with dual diagnoses commonly resort to using drugs and alcohol to cope and end up developing a dependency, eventually leading to addiction. This is especially true for people with high- functioning depression. 

Vice versa, those with an addiction to drugs and alcohol commonly suffer from some sort of mental illness. As a result, treatment and recovery at a rehab facility such as Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare in Prescott Valley, Arizona is the best option for living a high-quality life and maintaining sobriety. 

Our addiction specialists have created this guide to help you or a loved one effectively recognize the signs of high-functioning depression, and erase the stigma surrounding mental health. Know that help is available before it is too late.  

What is High-Functioning Depression 

If you looked up the term high-functioning depression in the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual used by psychologists and other mental health professionals to diagnose their patients, you wouldn’t find it under that name. This is because the official name for high-functioning depression is persistent depressive disorder (PDD). 

Also known as Dysthymia, PDD is more common than people think, as there are more than 3 million cases annually in the United States. Diagnosed more in women than men, dysthymia is defined as a chronic, high-functioning form of depression, meaning it is continuous and lasts long-term. This type of depression is a lot harder to spot. While people may think of depression as the common term, it is the word “persistent” that is the focus keyphrase. 

Further evidence-based research conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows, that approximately 14.8 million American adults or about 6.7 percent of people aged 18 and older in the United States suffer from a depressive disorder in a given year. 

Since dysthymia is classified as chronic, and not acute, suffers from this mental disorder may experience symptoms for many years before actually being properly diagnosed. 

This further proves the point, that individuals suffering from high-functioning depression, who are often good at suppressing their problems often believe that the “depression” or sadness they are feeling is just part of who they are. Thus, missing the realization that what they are actually experiencing may be more severe than they originally let on. 

This also explains why depression sufferers seem to hesitate in discussing with doctors, family, or friends about how they feel, as they say, they feel “fine.” Although, it is common for people with mental illness or substance abuse issues to feel embarrassed to come forward and admit they may have a real problem, and most importantly, that they need help. 

However, it is crucial to understand all the ins-and-outs of both high-functioning depression and addiction, in order to effectively recognize the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of these co-occurring disorders. 

What Makes Someone “High Functioning?”

As mentioned before, people who are classified as “high functioning” often do anything they can to give the impression that they have got it all together, that their lives are going very well and everything is normal. While this may be true and convincing, deep down, sufferers of depression are unwell, and constantly fighting to keep it together and survive each day at a time.

People with high-functioning depression tend to be happy, successful, intelligent, friendly, outgoing, and disciplined people. While this may be true and convincing, deep down, sufferers of this mental illness are not fine, and constantly fighting to keep it together and survive each day at a time.

Living With Persistent Depressive Disorder 

Have you ever known a person who has it all; a loving family, a great job, and a decent social life? While in-person or on social media it may look like their life may be happy and perfect, the answer is nothing is perfect or always what it seems. 

In fact, scientific studies have shown that the more someone appears to have it all together, it is more likely that they are going through something, but trying their best to hide it. The saying, “Be nice, because everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about,” never rings truer. This scenario paints a picture of someone suffering from persistent depressive disorder. 

Living with this type of depression is difficult, and those who do are internally plagued by negativity, and a dialogue of self-doubt. This makes people feel insecure, incompetent, and unworthy. People with this type of depression can live their daily lives, but it truly enjoying every day comes with constant challenges. 

In other words, as everyone is different, a typical good day for a person with high-functioning depression looks like an individual who doesn’t have depression. This type of depression causes bad days to outweigh the good, unfortunately. While it may take only an hour or two for other people to focus and complete their tasks, those with severe depression may have an extremely hard time focusing.

Co-occurring Conditions: High-Functioning Depression and  Addiction

High functioning depression and addiction go hand-in-hand, which is why it is extremely important to know the signs of both disorders so you or a loved one can get the necessary help. People who suffer from depression are twice as likely to suffer from addiction and are usually able to function well. Although, PPD and addiction are difficult to manage without professional help. 

At least three-quarters of patients with dysthymia also have a chronic physical illness or another psychiatric disorder, such as drug addiction, or alcoholism. It is very common for people with PDD to have an addiction to drugs and alcohol. High-functioning depression impacts people’s lives in various ways. As a result, it causes sufferers to rely heavily on coping mechanisms, commonly drinking alcohol or using drugs. 

Coping With Depression: Substance Abuse  

Approximately 50 percent of people with a substance use disorder, such as alcoholism or drug addiction, are considered high-functioning. This number speaks volumes. While these people are considered to have PDD, behind closed doors, oftentimes, because they are depressed, they turn to the use of drugs and alcohol as a means to try and self-medicate and cope with their symptoms. 

Vice Versa, some people are addicted to drugs and alcohol first, and then develop an onset of depression symptoms later on because of damage to the brain caused by long-term substance abuse. 

No, I Can’t Just “Get Over It”- Depression vs Clinical Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, the prevalence of depression is not far behind, as more than 300 million people worldwide suffering from the disorder. 

Defined as a mood disorder, depression is a mental illness known to cause a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression has many faces and a variety of different kinds. The most common types include:

  • Seasonal Depression: 
  • Major Depressive Disorder 
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Situational Depression
  • Atypical Depression 
  • Psychotic Depression

The most popular type of depression affecting people today is major depressive disorder commonly known as clinical depression. It is extremely important to note, that there is a key difference between depression and clinical depression. 

Depression

Someone who is not diagnosed with a certain type of depression, but is “depressed,” experience normal bouts of sadness that arise from certain situations that occur. This is called Subsyndromal symptomatic depression (SSD), meaning that a person is depressed, but their symptoms don’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis of a major depressive episode. 

Clinical Depression

When you are suffering from high functioning depression the things that used to bring you joy often become things that you want to avoid. Clinical depression, however, is severe, where an individual is depressed for a couple of weeks or more, and it affects their ability to function, such as think, feel, sleep, work, eat, and handle daily tasks. The National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) states that in order to be diagnosed with some sort of depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks

Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

If you or a loved one has been experiencing the following symptoms, either most days or every day for at least two weeks or more, this may be a sign that you are suffering from depression. NAMI states that the most common signs and symptoms of depression include the following: 

  • A feeling of hopelessness or negativity
  • Persistent sadness, anxiousness, emptiness
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt to commit suicide
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Lack of energy and focus
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Indecisiveness
  • Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia) and waking up in the morning
  • Extreme changes in your appetite and weight

Not everyone who is depressed experiences all of these symptoms mentioned above. Everyone and their cases of depression are different, and therefore, their symptoms and treatment for the illness will vary. For example, some people may experience a few symptoms, while others will experience many. An individual’s symptoms may also depend on the stage of depression that they have. 

Diagnosing High-Functioning Depression: An Invisible Disease 

Truth is, for people living with high functioning depression, it is often hard to tell because these are the types of individuals who are high achievers, perfectionists, and who are experts at making you think everything is all right even when it is not. 

The point is, you would never know that the person right in front of you is suffering from depression because they appear to be functioning normally. 

In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person must have a severe inability to function in life. This is why so many with PDD go undiagnosed. They appear to be functioning, but once they finish all that must be done for the day, they may find themselves going into hibernation mode at home. While the functioning inabilities are not as intense for a person with PDD as they are for someone with major depression, the symptoms can last for years.

It’s even possible for someone with PDD to develop more severe symptoms that result in episodes of major depression when their symptoms are left untreated. This is why it’s important to seek treatment if you suspect that you or someone in your life may be suffering.

Just like any type of dual diagnosis, high functioning depression and addiction often go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Essentially, it is deemed an invisible disease. Navigating through life without getting help for a mental illness is not only dangerous, but it causes complications such as the likelihood of relapse and increases the risk of overdose and suicide. 

How to Treat High-Functioning Depression and Addiction

High-functioning depression and addiction can be effectively treated in a safe environment using methods of detoxification, behavioral therapy, medication therapy, and other evidence-based therapies for these disorders. Detox helps with a physical dependency on drugs and alcohol, while behavioral therapy addresses the root of the problem and helps identify the reasoning behind why you are depressed to help you overcome it. 

Those who need help and treatment for co-occurring disorders such as PDD and addiction can receive it in an inpatient rehab facility, monitored by trained addiction specialists. Treatment programs that last a minimum of three months (90 days) are recommended for patients with a dual diagnosis. 

Ending the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

While the stigma surrounding mental health is starting to improve, there is still a lot of work to do, and some dangerous myths to debunk. Depression is severe and persistent, and not something someone can just get over or shut off automatically. 

Granite Mountain is Here to Help

If you or someone you may know is suffering from signs of high-functioning depression and addiction, the addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare are here to help you recover and maintain sobriety. Contact us today at (877) 389-0412. 

References

https://www.psycom.net/high-functioning-depression/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-statistics-everyone-should-know-4159056

https://bhatiapsychology.com/what-is-high-functioning-depression/

https://www.detox.com/drugs-alcohol/high-functioning-depression-addiction-05-17-2018/

https://www.dailyhealthcures.com/general-health/high-functioning-depression/

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/this-is-what-high-functioning-depression-looks-like#1
https://www.altamirarecovery.com/blog/understanding-high-functioning-addict-treatment-matters/

https://explorable.com/e/common-types-of-depression

 

Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction Signs and Symptoms: How to Recognize If You or a Loved One Has a Problem

There are many ways to recognize a gambling addiction in you or a loved one. At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we have the resources for you or a loved one to overcome gambling addiction. However, it starts with becoming aware of gambling addiction symptoms and seeking help if you have them.

We all have our share of bad habits or vices. However, an intervention is necessary when the vice starts to take over our lives. If your day-to-day life is being constantly affected by a bad habit, it’s time to stop and reflect. 

You or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction. Keep reading to learn more about how to recognize gambling addiction symptoms and how we can help.

What is Gambling?

Gambling is not defined by a singular activity. There are many different forms of gambling. Thus, It is not always apparent when gambling addiction is present. This makes it important to be aware of what gambling addiction symptoms are.

The act of gambling is not only restricted to slot machines, cards, and casinos. Purchasing a lottery ticket, entering a raffle or making a bet with a friend are also forms of gambling.

Why Does Gambling Addiction Occur?

A gambling addiction can be a result of a variety of issues. Each person is different so there is no one tell-tale answer. However, gambling addictions are often associated with other behavior or mood disorders.

Gamblers may suffer from substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It’s important to address any underlying issues when addressing gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction can also occur when a person is struggling financially. They may find themselves trying to win a large sum of money to improve their financial situation. There is great risk involved in this with little to no return the majority of the time. 

This almost always leads to a cycle in which the gambler feels they must win back their losses. They convince themselves that they’re bound to win at some point. Unfortunately, winning a large sum of money can never be guaranteed. 

An emotional high is another reason a gambler can become addicted. This emotional high acts as an adrenaline rush. These are only a handful of reasons. Someone may also start gambling for fun which then leads to a dangerous addiction. 

No matter the reason, a gambling addiction can cause chaos in your or a loved one’s life. This chaos can be noticed through a variety of gambling addiction symptoms. It is crucial to address this issue before it becomes too late. There is so much potential to live a fulfilling and gamble-free life.

Symptoms of a Gambling Addiction

To recognize a gambling addiction, one must be aware of the symptoms. A gambling addiction may be caused by underlying stress as well. This stress can be linked to a painful time in your life such as work-related or relationship issues.

There are also key emotional reasons which can contribute to the development of toxic gambling addiction. Some of these symptoms can be:

  • Visiting casinos to overcome social isolation
  • To feel a rush of adrenaline and dopamine as a ‘happy’ brain chemical release
  • To hide numb and unpleasant feelings/being in denial of one’s emotions
  • Boredom and a desire to pass the time
  • A form of relaxation after a long day

These emotional symptoms of a gambling addiction may be hard to recognize. Signs that are easier to spot include:

  • Becoming obsessed with the results of gambling and ignoring other obligations 
  • Becoming unable to manage impulsive urges to gamble even when the odds are against you
  • Spending more money gambling to pay for lost bets or to experience a stronger adrenaline rush 
  • A negative impact upon relationships with those closest to you, such as losing a partner
  • Problems at the workplace such as an increased workload, missing work or being unable to focus
  • Hiding the amount of money and time spent gambling from those closest to you
  • Denial that there’s a gambling problem present  

Signs That You or a Loved One Has a Gambling Addiction

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, a gambling addict experiences the same effects in the brain as someone who has an alcohol or drug addiction. The effects of gambling can be just as devastating.

As a result of gambling, problems in one’s personal life start to form. This causes significant worry and possible financial consequences for their loved ones.

The Inability to Stop Gambling

This can be recognized by constantly talking about gambling. One may constantly be reliving past gambling experiences, particularly big wins.

You or a loved one may say you’ll quit. However, it never seems to happen. They may get into the habit of placing bets or playing games on their phones constantly.

Gambling websites and apps that withdraw money directly from a bank account are a particular concern for many people. The ability to constantly access a gambling site can make it near impossible to quit.

Dishonesty about Gambling

Hiding receipts or bank statements is also a symptom of gambling addiction. The secrecy is often a tell-tale sign that there’s an issue at hand. This may also go hand in hand with denial.

The person affected may not even want to admit to themselves that they have a gambling addiction. 

Gambling Despite Consequences

Legal and financial issues may be taking place in the gambler’s life. However, they are still unable to stop. Maybe they borrowed more money than they can afford. There may have even been a legal complication with the police.

No matter the consequence, gambling addiction continues.

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms Even When They’re Not Gambling

Emotional withdrawal symptoms can occur when an individual with a gambling addiction stops gambling, even for 24 hours. Symptoms may include irritability, depression, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sleep & appetite, and a significant difference in sex drive or performance.

Throughout withdrawal, gamblers still think that they need to gamble to feel normal or happy again.

Chaos in Their Daily Lives

They are experiencing trouble at work, maintaining relationships, withdrawing from social activities, and/or serious financial problems.

Financial Concerns

Financial issues can develop in a variety of ways. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Overdue bills
  • Maxed out credit cards / Denial of credit
  • Not having enough money, despite an adequate income
  • Cannot provide for basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  • Constantly trying to borrow money
  • Develops a pattern of extremely high-risk investing or frequent trading
  • Money is pulled from home equity, savings, investment or retirement accounts
  • Household and personal items are pawned or sold for cash
  • Frequent, multiple payday loans or cash advances

Unlawful Behavior

Individuals with a gambling addiction usually need other people to fund their gambling habits. They may even commit fraud or steal money and items to sell for money. Their addiction becomes so intense they’ll essentially do anything to get money for gambling.

Committing illegal acts to get money to gamble or to recoup losses is a sign of an immediate need for intervention. Breaking the law has severe consequences. Ending up in jail for a round of blackjack is not worth it.

How We Can Help

At Granite Mountain, we believe in a strict and structured schedule that includes 30 hours of therapy every week. Little downtime fights thoughts and urges of gambling addiction.

Our dedicated 24-hour staff is there to meet any need you may have. Evening 12-step and accountability meetings are a requirement as well.  

Each patient will have set goals and a process development plan. A major aspect of our patient’s recovery journey is through our program, Recover Strong. We believe in helping our patients develop healthier lifestyle habits and alleviate stressful symptoms.

Another major part of our philosophy is exercise. We use physical activities to help our patients achieve neuroregeneration. Neuroregeneration is the regrowth or repair of cell tissue in the brain that was once lost through an addiction disorder. 

This allows endorphins to be released into the brain. In turn, this improves an individual’s capacity to cope with anxiety and also acts as an antidepressant.

These activities are done in a group setting. Patients then develop a sense of community with each other. This provides a supportive foundation during the recovery process. 

Call Us Today

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we’re here to guide you through the entire process. Once you’ve recognized the presence of gambling addiction symptoms, seek help immediately

If you or a loved one is ready to start the road to recovery, you can contact us here. You can also call us at (877) 389-0412 and talk to one of our gambling addiction experts. Remember, we’re here for any questions, comments or concerns you may have. We’re waiting for your call!

References:

https://www.ncpgambling.org/