What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Nearly everyone will face anxiety in their life, it’s a normal part of being human. But what happens when it takes over your days? For people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, their experience can include debilitating mental and emotional effects and even physical symptoms.

The Difference Between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Feeling Anxious

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) goes beyond feeling anxious. Many describe it as not only feeling worried but worrying about everything all the time. GAD can cause people to become so fixated on different worries and concerns that they are unable to focus on anything else. These feelings are so severe and excessive that they can impact the person’s day-to-day life and interfere with regular activities that most people do without thinking. 

GAD will demonstrate various symptoms that a person can watch out for. 

Symptoms of GAD can include: 
  • Fixating or obsessing over small or large concerns that are likely out of proportion to the event itself 
  • Inability to let go of a worry or concern
  • Excessive worrying
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless or on edge
  • Feeling distress over basic decision making for fear of making the wrong choice
  • Difficulty coping with uncertainty or indecisiveness
  • Mentally carrying every possible outcome of a decision or situation to its possible negative conclusion

People with GAD also often can experience physical symptoms associated with their disorder.

Physical symptoms can include: 
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Being easily startled
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Trembling or feeling twitchy
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches

It’s important to note that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not the same as Panic Disorder, in which people experience recurring, unexpected and severe panic attacks.

Diagnosis

Only a doctor can properly address and diagnose Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If you feel you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, make an appointment with your General Practitioner. It is helpful to mention that your appointment is about mental health assessment so they are aware in advance. 

Your doctor will ask a variety of questions related to your anxiety. From here, he or she can gain a better understanding of the types of anxiety you are experiencing. Depending on your symptoms and situation, they may refer you to a psychiatrist in order to obtain a more accurate diagnosis. 

Treatment

If you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, know that there are great treatment options available to help mitigate your symptoms. There are a wide variety of medications available to help with GAD such as Zoloft, Prozac, Buspirone, and many others. If you prefer alternatives to medication, supportive therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. This type of therapy can help a patient examine negative thought patterns and introduce coping skills to slow the anxiety spirals typically associated with GAD.

Furthermore, experts suggest lifestyle changes to support GAD symptom reduction. These include healthy eating, physical activity, meditation, reducing caffeine intake, as well as avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol. 

When Generalized Anxiety Disorder leads to Substance Abuse and Addiction

The debilitating symptoms associated with GAD often lead people to self-medicate in order to escape their constant feelings of worry and fear. As such, it is a common Co-occurring Disorder seen with substance abuse and addiction. However, it’s important to note that substances like alcohol and drugs do not address the root cause of the problem. Often people who self-medicate have not sought medical attention for their condition and self-medicating rarely achieves the effect sufferers desire. Not only that but it leads to a whole host of other problems in the form of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. 

Co-Occurring Disorders create a vicious cycle unless treated holistically. Treatment for only addiction means the underlying reason for using has not been addressed, and when the person still feels the perpetual anxiety after treatment, they are likely to relapse and go back to using. Similarly, if only the anxiety is treated, the person is still suffering from addiction. Addiction typically fuels mental health disorders and can exacerbate the underlying mental health issues. Thus, comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment, usually in an established treatment center, are necessary to address the root cause and ensure the best chance for long-term recovery. 

Getting Help 

If you are struggling with substance use or addiction of any kind and are in need of help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Harmony Recovery Group specialize in treating substance use disorder, addiction and co-occurring disorders to help you achieve the life you deserve to live. Contact us anytime, we are here to help. 

Am I Enabling? The Difference Between Helping and Hurting 

Am I Enabling? Learning the difference between helping and hurting

When our loved ones are in trouble, all we want to do is help. It is one of our most beautiful human instincts but unfortunately when a loved one is in the throes of addiction, our well-intentioned help can really hurt. So, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I enabling?”

There is a fine line between offering support and enabling, and it is a difficult line to walk. Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, our help can inadvertently harm the addict by making it easier for them to continue using. On our end, we often feel guilt, hurt and betrayal because our help was used to fuel their addiction. 

Understanding what enabling is will ultimately support both you and the addict, as you will only be taking actions that push them towards treatment. However, be aware that this road can be a painful one. We cannot force anyone to change who does not want to change themselves. 

 

What is Enabling? 

Enabling is any action that makes it easier, more comfortable, or financially possible to continue an irresponsible, inappropriate or dangerous behavior. This can be unrelated to substance abuse or addiction, such as letting your child stay home from school because he didn’t finish his project in time. In this instance, you are not helping them, you are allowing them to shirk the consequences of their choices. This ultimately enables them to continue being irresponsible. 

When drug or alcohol addiction is involved, the matter becomes much more serious and can play out in a highly co-dependent manner. For example, a parent gives an addict money for groceries so they won’t “go hungry” but the addict spends the money to get their drug fix instead. The parent has not helped the child, just enabled them to fall deeper into addiction. 

 

Am I Enabling? 

Enabling can constitute more than financial support and occur in a myriad of ways. Ask yourself the questions below.

 

Do I make excuses for the addict’s behavior? 

“He’s just tired,” and “she’s just drinking because she had a bad day,” are examples of excuses we can make to ignore the deeper problem. But pretending the problem doesn’t exist, does not make it go away. Excusing behavior will only hurt both you and the addict in the long run. 

 

Have I ever lied to others in order to cover up their using? 

If you’ve ever found yourself covering for your addicted loved one, you are enabling. Maybe they have gone on a bender and you call their employer saying they are sick, or make an excuse as to why they didn’t make it to the friend’s birthday party. These are all actions which allow the addict to avoid consequences of their using and thus allow them to continue to do so. 

 

Am I afraid to express my feelings or concerns for fear they will react negatively (i.e. they may leave you or be angry with you)? 

Acting out of fear is the opposite of rational behavior. When we act out of fear, we sacrifice our own comfort and wellbeing in exchange for momentary peace and safety. 

The truth is, your fears can and may come true. The addict may leave, they may get into trouble, they could wind up in jail, or they could get angry when you address their addiction. But not addressing what is going just means that the addiction continues in the dark, where it thrives. 

 

Do I constantly blame others for the addict’s problems or addiction to avoid placing responsibility on them? 

Blaming addictive behaviors on outside factors such as a stressful job or drinking buddies who are a bad influence is ignoring the root of the problem. Thinking that if those factors weren’t in the picture, your loved one wouldn’t abuse substances is likely to be inaccurate. It also denies that the person may be in a full-blown addiction which is a disease not a choice. 

 

Am I putting the needs of the addict above the needs of myself or my family? 

Because addicts are typically unable to care for their own basic needs, they often rely on an enabler to help them. This is textbook Codependent Behavior. The enabler feels a personal responsibility to “help” the addict and the addict relies on the enabler to fix their problems so their addiction can continue. Things like bailing the addict out of jail, buying them food, or skipping other responsibilities to go pick them up are all signs of enabling. It also means you are putting their needs first. Can you really afford to pay their rent or is it causing your hardship? Either way, you are helping them use. 

 

Stopping the Cycle

 

 

1. Face your Fears

You may be afraid that without your help they could wind up homeless, hungry, or in jail. Accept that these are possible outcomes of their addiction. Typically addicts must become uncomfortable in order to accept they have a problem and seek treatment. Sometimes they need to hit rock bottom, but not always. Unfortunately you have to be willing to find out. 

 

2. Create Boundaries (and stick to them)

Learn to detach with love. Stop protecting them from the consequences of their actions, do not offer financial support, and do not bail them out of trouble. Keep a schedule and stick to it, for example, they are welcome to 6pm family dinner but only if they come on time. 

 

3. Seek Education and Support

Learn all you can about addiction. Go to Al-Anon meetings. Find a counsellor and take care of your mental health. This is a difficult journey. Understanding the roots of addiction and speaking to others who understand can help with feeling powerless, lonely, or scared. 

 

4. Talk to Your Loved One About Treatment

Wait until they are sober to have a conversation with them about their using. Be honest with them: talk what you see when they are high, tell them how their addiction has affected you and others. Then suggest they get treatment. Be prepared for them to respond negatively or decline, we cannot make someone change until they are ready. 

 

Lastly, contact a professional if you need help or advice. At Harmony Recovery Group, we are here for you.

Reach out to us anytime. 

Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorder: What You Should Know

Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorder

Schizophrenia is a very serious mental disorder which can be devastating to those affected and their families. It is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and is estimated to affect between 0.5% and 1% of the population. Because of its debilitating effects, Schizophrenia often goes hand-in-hand with Substance Abuse Disorder. 

Movies and TV shows have created a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Schizophrenia which we’d like to clear up. People with Schizophrenia do not all live in mental hospitals. Not all of them are homeless and they do not have multiple personalities. 

Treatment is possible and typically includes medication and psychiatric support on a long-term and often lifelong basis. However, it is important to note that because Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorder are very closely linked, addiction treatment is often needed to improve outcomes.  

 

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

  • Seeing, smelling, or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • The “flat effect” wherein the patient loses the ability to feel emotions
  • Trouble with logical thinking
  • Disordered thoughts and speech
  • Problems with attention, concentration and/or memory
  • Self isolation and social withdrawal 
  • Loss of personal hygiene 
  • Unexplained fears of basic things like eating or drinking

 

Four Subtypes of Schizophrenia

There are four types of Schizophrenia which bear the name of their dominant symptom. They are follows:  

 

Paranoid Schizophrenia

People with Paranoid Schizophrenia are consumed by the idea that they are being persecuted, threatened, or controlled by people or even inhuman forces. As a result of this paranoia, Paranoid Schizophrenics are usually socially isolated and can act with hostility, irritability and be perpetually afraid of others. They may often hear voices telling them to harm themselves or others. Hallucinations and delusions are very prominent in this type of Schizophrenia. 

 

Disorganized Schizophrenia

Disorganized Schizophrenics often exhibit bizarre behaviors, incoherent speech, chaotic thought patterns, and unusual emotional reactions. As a result, they tend to have trouble holding a job, taking care of themselves, and interacting with others. 

 

Residual Schizophrenia

Residual Schizophrenia is when someone has been affected by the disorder in the past but is no longer exhibiting obvious symptoms. For example, a patient may not experience the more debilitating aspects of the disorder such as hallucinations or paranoia, but are still affected by some of the less severe symptoms.

 

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia 

This form of Schizophrenia typically defies categorization, as symptoms don’t fit specifically into one of the other subtypes. They might have a milder experience than is clear for diagnosis, or only show some of the symptoms for diagnosis.

 

Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse

Therapists often consider substance abuse to be a side effect of Schizophrenia. Studies have shown substance abuse rates among people with Schizophrenia is 50% higher than that of the general population. 

For example, the use of alcohol is common among people with Schizophrenia. Because alcohol dampens neurotransmitter activity in the brain, it slows things down. For people with Schizophrenia, this slowing can temporarily quiet the noise of a brain that runs on high speed all day long. 

Unfortunately, abusing a substance like alcohol doesn’t actually help treat the problem. Instead, it can actually exacerbate some symptoms. For example, alcohol can make hallucinations more pronounced. Furthermore, the lowering of inhibition from alcohol use also makes the erratic behaviors associated with Schizophrenia much harder to control. 

Proper treatment of both Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorder together can help patients have the best chance at long term recovery and a normal life. 

 

Treatment for Addiction and Schizophrenia 

Medication in combination with Psychological therapy is an important aspect of Schizophrenia treatment. While it cannot cure the disorder, medication can help mitigate symptoms so that patients can lead normal lives. Furthermore, therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family Systems Therapy, and Trauma Therapies can be very helpful in working through the emotional and psychological trauma caused Schizophrenia. 

If you or a loved one are suffering with Co-occurring Disorders like Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorder, contact us today. We are here to help. 

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669586/

Rebuilding Foster Care Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

Foster Care and Addiction

It’s no secret that addiction tears families apart, this is especially true in the case of foster care. Studies have shown one in three children in the program were admitted due to parental substance abuse. But what happens when parents are in recovery and their children are able to come home. How do you heal the trauma that tore the family apart? 

 

Communicate 

Talk about what has happened, apologize, listen to their feelings. Depending on their age, this may be the time to have an open discussion with them and communicate honestly. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that you hear them, and of course, that you love them. 

 

Create a “New Normal” 

Children and families thrive on consistency. Try to create routines in your everyday life, maybe every night you have dinner at 6pm together. Or every morning you listen to the radio. Small things can make a difference in creating a feeling of consistency. Consider creating new traditions. Maybe every Saturday morning you take a walk together as a family or every Sunday you make pancakes. Making traditions make ordinary days feel special and make memories that last. 

 

Be Patient and Don’t Play the Guilt Game

Just because you’re in a different place now doesn’t mean you can expect things to change overnight. You may feel closed out or be frustrated by how your relationship building is going, but remember to be patient. This process takes time, particularly with older children. Don’t guilt them for holding a grudge or not responding the way you want them to. With time and consistency you can rebuild, but don’t put your expectations onto them. 

 

Keep Showing Up

It might be hard to face the circumstances, and new requirements such as supervised visitation however no matter what, continue to be there for them. It might take weeks, months, or even years for them to recover, feel safe, and accept the “new normal.” Regardless of how distant they may be, even when they act out or misbehave, stay with them. They need you and are likely testing your limits to see if you are here to stay. Be truly there for them. Show up, every day, in whatever way you can. 

 

Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.

Telehealth: Addiction and Mental Health Conditions

Telehealth visit for addiction and mental health conditions therapy

Telehealth & Addiction Treatment: 

At Harmony Recovery Group, our practitioners have implemented telehealth services in all levels of care for addiction and mental health conditions. We offer this to patients who are unable to travel to our facility for treatment. We use telemedicine for individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions and psychiatric care management for mental health conditions and substance use disorder. 

In this time of Coronavirus, telehealth is especially helpful. This service means patients suffering from addiction and mental health conditions can still receive treatment. They are able to attend group sessions, and receive the support they need without the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

What is Telehealth? 

Telehealth is a healthcare service available through a virtual platform. Visits occur on a device such as a phone, tablet or computer.

Telehealth also referred to as Telemedicine or Teletherapy,  has reduced the barriers to receiving care. Often used for those who are unable to travel for treatment. Patients can receive quick, on-demand counseling for medical conditions that do not require an in-person assessment or in mental health support like therapy. 

Is Telehealth Right For Me? 

Telehealth offers quick, on demand support when you need it most. Telemedicine is for a patient that would benefit from care that does not require travel or time off. However, for some it can feel impersonal compared to an in-person mental health experience. It is always down to the individual.

At Harmony Treatment and Wellness and all other Harmony Recovery Group centers, we aim to support any and all patient needs. Telehealth is just another way we aim to provide the best possible recovery care. 

Privacy and Telehealth:

The concerns with privacy risks involve a lack of control over the collection, use, and sharing of data. According to Hall and McGraw, “The primary security risk is that of unauthorized access to data during collection, transmission, or storage.”  Which is why the software used to conduct telehealth visits is HIPPA compliant and has special end-to-end encryption.

“Currently, the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) contains the primary set of regulations that guide the privacy and security of health information. HIPAA requires that identifiable health information be encrypted so that only those authorized to read it can do so.”

Thinking about telehealth for yourself or a loved one facing addiction and mental health conditions? Give us a call with any questions.

What Is Drug-Induced Schizophrenia?

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Technically, there is no such thing as drug-induced schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition, and although the use of certain drugs is associated with triggering symptoms, substance abuse does not directly cause schizophrenia. In fact, research suggests that a combination of physical, biological, psychological, and environmental factors all come into play and can make an individual more likely to develop the disorder.

However, psychotic symptoms that resemble schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, can be caused by drug use. These are usually temporary, however, and abstinence from substances is often enough to ensure these effects subside and are less likely to reoccur.

What Is Schizophrenia?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that is characterized by the following:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Bizarre or dysfunctional thoughts
  • Agitation
  • Impaired focus and decision-making
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure
  • Difficulty understanding information
  • Impaired working memory

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually manifest between the age of 16 to 30, but uncommonly, children may also exhibit some signs of the disorder. Several risk factors make some people more vulnerable to developing the condition than others. These include genetic and environmental factors as well as brain chemistry. The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) asserts that schizophrenia affects an estimated 1.1% of people worldwide, and 3.5 million individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disorder.

What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Although different psychoactive drugs affect the brain in various ways, they all affect it in some way, and using too much of a drug or combining substances can lead to a psychotic reaction. Drugs that can contribute to or induce psychosis include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, hallucinogens, marijuana, opioids, and sedative-hypnotics.

Psychosis is a state of mind hallmarked by the inability to separate thoughts, perceptions, and reality. Drug-induced psychosis is characterized by mostly visual hallucinations and delusions that cause a shift in the person’s consciousness. This makes it challenging for him or her to differentiate between what is real and what is a manifestation of their own mind.

Some people use certain substances specifically for their hallucinogenic properties, while others encounter hallucinations or delusions as an adverse side effect of a drug they used for another purpose. For instance, psychedelics are a class of drugs that people use for their ability to cause hallucinations and alter perceptions, and includes LSD, magic mushrooms, and mescaline, among others. Cocaine, on the other hand, can also cause hallucinations, but people seldom use it for this reason.

It’s important to note that although psychosis typically includes hallucinations and delusions, the presence of these in and of themselves does not equal psychosis. Many people who use LSD or other psychedelic drugs experience these effects but not full-blown psychosis, which is also characterized by an inability to differentiate reality from imagination. In other words, people who are using these drugs most often understand that what they are seeing or hearing is not real but just an unusual effect.

The Duration of Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia is a condition that usually requires ongoing treatment. For many, the intensity of symptoms will wax and wane throughout their entire lives. The four stages of schizophrenia include the following:

Prodromal Phase – In this early stage, symptoms are easy to overlook. Individuals will typically encounter symptoms common to other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, irritability, and anger. Also, young people going through puberty can experience many of these same symptoms, and the condition may go unnoticed. This phase can sometimes persist for years, and because symptoms aren’t obviously related to schizophrenia, the person may go undiagnosed while they continue to experience mood disturbances, fear, and hostility without knowing why.

Acute Phase – During the acute/active phase of schizophrenia, individuals will begin to encounter hallucinations, delusions, and confusing thoughts. These symptoms are comparable to those related to drug-induced psychosis. The acute phase can onset gradually or abruptly and may require hospitalization if symptoms cause an intense psychotic episode. The acute phase typically lasts for one to two months.

Remission – With treatment, symptoms can improve, and individuals will enter the remission phase. Treatment often involves a combination of therapy and medications designed to reduce psychotic symptoms.

Relapse – Relapse is common among people with schizophrenia. If they go off their medication or begin to require a stronger dose or different approach, they start the cycle all over again. Still, symptoms often get less intense over time. Some people experience fewer relapses as they get older until symptoms disappear altogether, while others need long-term treatment and maintenance for the rest of their lives.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Duration
The duration of a drug-induced psychotic episode will vary between individuals and will be influenced by several factors. In most cases, symptoms will not persist for longer than a few days, and for many, the duration is much shorter than that. For example, the effects do not usually last longer than 6-14 hours.

Is There a Cure for Schizophrenia?

Drug-Induced Schizophrenia | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Though some people with schizophrenia may eventually stop relapsing after going into remission, schizophrenia is usually a lifelong disorder for most who experience it, and there is no single cure. As noted, antipsychotic medication is the go-to treatment because it can very effectively mitigate symptoms and enable people to function normally. In fact, not taking medication as directed is by far the most common reason why people with schizophrenia relapse.

Curing Drug-Induced Psychosis

Technically, there is no cure for drug-induced psychosis because it is not a disease in the conventional sense. Instead, it is an acute problem that really needs no other approach than to wait for the drug to leave a person’s system and to avoid drug use from that point forward. With heavy use, however, cocaine, amphetamines, and sometimes alcohol can cause psychotic symptoms that persist long after a person has gotten sober.

Getting Treatment for Drug Abuse

While some people use drugs such as LSD for their hallucinogenic properties, the experience of a full break from reality is not normal and, if encountered, should be addressed immediately. Some drugs, including stimulants like methamphetamine, might cause psychosis if used excessively or for a prolonged period. Still, in general, drug-induced psychosis is relatively rare when placed in the context of the many people who use drugs on a regular basis.

Fortunately, drug-induced psychosis is very treatable, and abuse and/or addition to substances can be addressed simultaneously using a medical detox and a comprehensive, long-term treatment plan. Programs intended to treat these problems should include evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare planning.

What’s more, using an integrated approach to treatment, co-occurring mental health disorders should be addressed as well, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers these treatment modalities and more in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We employ highly-trained, caring staff to facilitate services to the patient with compassion and expertise. We aim to provide our patients with all the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and go on to sustain long-lasting sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has had drug-induced psychosis or substance abuse or addiction, we urge you to contact us today! We can help you get started on the road to recovery, one step at a time!

Rehab for Depression and Addiction

Rehab for Depression and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Clinical depression is a severe mental disorder that can lead to adverse consequences for the person who suffers as well as his or her loved ones. Unfortunately, this type of depression is common and affects millions of people and prevents them from living healthy, happy lives. 

Substance abuse is common among those who are struggling with a depressive disorder. Many depressed people turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate and or escape painful thoughts and feelings. As a result, substance abuse and depression feed into one other, with each condition often making the other even worse.

By some estimates, approximately 25% of adults with a mental health condition also have a substance use disorder. When a person suffers from both mental illness and addiction, this is known as a dual diagnosis. Also referred to as co-occurring conditions, the combination of depressive disorders and substance abuse is among the most common. An estimated one in three adults who suffer from depression also struggles with issues related to substance abuse or addiction. 

Both clinical depression and addiction pose a high risk of accidental injury, self-harm, and suicide. Also, both have adverse effects on the body, increasing the risk of other physical and emotional health problems.

Is It Depression or Just Being Sad?

It’s important to note that brief periods of sadness or grief is not the same thing as clinical depression. Clinical depressions typically last for weeks, months, or years and interfere with a person’s ability to work or go to school, maintain healthy relationships, and function socially or engage in enjoyable hobbies and activities.

People with depression may experience several of the following symptoms daily:

  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Sleeping too much
  • Insomnia
  • Tearfulness
  • Aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulties with concentrating
  • A loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Nihilism/believing life is meaningless
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Most frequently, depression manifests as feelings of sadness, low energy, and hopelessness. However, some people, especially men, experience depression as hostility or anger. Regardless of how depression expresses itself, it should be evident that this mental state is quite different from the person’s norm.

When a person has clinical depression, the basic tasks of daily life may seem impossible, and the mood seems unending and permanent. Drinking excessively or using drugs might seem like an effective way to relieve the overwhelming pain and emptiness that a person with depression experiences. 

Rehab for Depression and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Depression as a Gateway to Addiction

Depression frequently serves as a gateway to substance abuse. Those who experience negative emotional states often use alcohol or drugs in an effort to escape or numb these emotions. Unfortunately, however, people who are severely depressed are likely to stay that way if they continue this method of self-medication rather than seeking professional treatment. And those who use drugs or alcohol regularly are at a high risk of developing a dependence or full-blown addiction.

Warning signs of a burgeoning addiction include the following:

Tolerance – When tolerance occurs, the body has been accustomed to the presence of the substance and requires increasing amounts to achieve the desired effects.

Dependence and withdrawal Dependence occurs when the body has fully adapted to a substance’s presence and can no longer function “normally” without it. Dependence can be both chemical and psychological in nature, and when it occurs, attempts to quit the use of a substance will be met with unpleasant mental or emotional symptoms that, at worst, can be life-threatening.

Feelings of guilt and shame – Although a person is using a substance to feel better, they ultimately feel worse. They may be ashamed of doing this and experience intense feelings of remorse as a result.

Relapse – Cravings and withdrawal symptoms drive a person to return to substance abuse after attempting to quit.

For some people who experience depression and addiction, giving up drugs or alcohol “cold turkey” can also make depression worse. If a person has used substances for years to bury depressive symptoms, these may rise to the surface early in sobriety. For this reason, it’s vital to receive integrated treatment for both depression and substance abuse simultaneously.

Moreover, if the underlying causes that drive addiction, such as depression, are not addressed, the likelihood of relapse will be much higher in the future. In some cases, people who have depression and addiction problems drop out of subpar rehab programs because sobriety feels life more than the person can handle without the appropriate level of therapeutic support for depression.

Recovery From Depression and Substance Abuse

Rehab for Depression and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

One of the main reasons why a dual diagnosis notoriously difficult treat is that each disorder can exacerbate the symptoms of the other. Substance abuse causes emotional dysregulation, which can lead to a worsening of depression. When this occurs, the person may use more substances in a misguided effort to counteract this effect.

Indeed, there is a great deal of complexity involved in effectively treating a dual diagnosis patient. It has been well established among medical professions that those who have co-occurring conditions will not receive the care they need in a conventional, one-dimensional treatment program.

Only substance abuse rehab programs also equipped to address psychiatric problems will be able to effectively assist with detox, therapy, counseling, and aftercare planning. Such an integrated program will need to incorporate counseling, group support, behavioral therapy, education, and relapse prevention for both depression and addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an integrated treatment plan should include the following goals:

  • Helping the client to understand the nature of depression and addiction
  • Teaching the client that recovery from addiction and depression is possible
  • Motivating the client to make significant changes in his or her life
  • Providing the client with practical skills for handling negative thoughts and feelings
  • Helping the client identify and change addictive patterns of behavior

Medication therapy is typically a core component of treatment for patients who suffer from addiction and depression. Antidepressant drugs have helped many people who struggle with this depression cope with their symptoms and lead more stable, satisfying lives. Also, addiction can be treated with other types of medications designed to curb cravings and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.

A well-rounded approach to treatment that involves support, encouragement, and motivation is vital in the struggle against depression and addiction. Clinical depression can drain a person’s energy and make them feel that rehabilitation is a hopeless cause. But, through individual counseling, peer group support, and family counseling, individuals can get the strength they need to continue their recovery despite the challenges they will face.

Getting Rehab for Depression and Addiction

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers customized, comprehensive programs intended to address the root causes of addiction as well as a person’s overall mental and physical well-being. Our programs feature therapies and activities shown to be vital for the recovery process, including the following:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Peer support groups
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness education
  • Holistic techniques, such as yoga
  • Art, music, and adventure therapy
  • Aftercare planning

If you or someone you love is suffering from active addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today! We give people the tools and support they need to free themselves from the shackles of addiction and begin to enjoy the healthy lives they deserve!

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What Is BPD?

What Is BPD? | Borderline Personality | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a potentially debilitating condition in which a person’s self-perception is distorted, and this significantly impedes their ability to maintain healthy, stable relationships. Those who suffer from BPD are often perceived as dramatic, two-faced, and manipulative and engage in behavior that experts believe serve as dysfunctional means to cope with emotional instability and pain and fear.

Substance abuse and BPD often occur together, and the interaction between them can be volatile and unpredictable. People with BPD, as with other mental illnesses, are more likely to use substances than others as a means of self-medication to escape feelings of fear and abandonment.

In fact, studies have revealed that about two-thirds of those who experience BPD have abused substances at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, substance abuse tends to exacerbate some of the more concerning symptoms of BPD, such as anger and severe depression.

In an effort to surmount their overall sense of emotional emptiness, people with BPD may also engage in self-harm, such as cutting. They are also more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and attempts, especially if substance abuse is present.

BPD Symptoms

Symptoms of BPD may include the following:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Hypersensitivity to emotions
  • Profound depression or anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Impulsivity
  • Irrational perceptions of others
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Intense anger or aggression
  • Lack of or unstable sense of self
  • A deep fear of abandonment
  • Feelings of desolation
  • Manipulative impulses

The effects of BPD often leave sufferers with a profoundly poor sense of self-worth. Their impulsive behavior and moodiness often push others, causing them to be isolated and withdrawn. 

This isolation can result in extreme depression or anxiety, as people with BPD tend to have an intense fear of being alone or abandoned. Ironically, individuals with BPD often push others away and prevent themselves from experiencing close, meaningful relationships due to the fear of being abandoned by that loved one in the future.

What Is BPD? | Borderline Personality | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

What Causes BPD?

Although the exact origins of BPD are unknown, there are a few credible theories regarding how this complex personality disorder can develop. Factors believed to contribute to the development of BPD include the following:

Childhood Trauma and Family Dysfunction

Children who are brought up in families where they feel neglected, abandoned, or are emotionally, physically, or sexually abused are more likely to develop BPD as teenagers or young adults. This unhealthy environment can contribute to rampant substance abuse and severe mental illness later in life.

More to the point, BPD is believed to result from neglect or abuse during the stage of childhood development in which a child learns how to trust and rely on others. As a result, people with BPD grow up to lack this vital aspect of interpersonal relationships.

Heredity

BPD and other personality disorders are often found among close family members, such as parents and their children. This fact suggests that some individuals may have a genetic propensity for developing BPD. Experts believe that certain inherited inclinations or personality attributes, such as aggression, may increase the risk of BPD when coupled with environmental factors. 

Brain Chemistry and Neurobiology

Anomalies in the areas of the brain responsible for mood, emotional, and behavioral regulation are thought to be at least partially responsible for the emotional instability and unpredictable, impulsive behavior displayed by those with BPD. Research has found that some regions of the brain, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex, maybe be different in those with BPD.

BPD may also be caused by imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, which are naturally-occurring brain chemicals that directly impact how people feel and behave. These include dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, which are chemicals responsible for the regulation of many emotions and urges.

How BPD and Addiction Overlap

Many of the neurological and environmental factors that are thought to contribute to BPD are also strongly correlated with substance abuse. Many who suffer from addiction were raised in environments in which heavy drinking or drug use was present, and this experience in and of itself may inflict trauma on children.

Compounding matters, a history of childhood abuse or other trauma also raises the risk of substance abuse later in life. Events such as these often compel the individual to seek a means to escape adverse feelings, such as anger, resentment, fear, and pain. 

When it comes to addressing BPD and addiction concurrently, the similarities between the symptoms of the two can make both conditions challenging to identify and diagnose appropriately. Treatment can be especially difficult when the person’s antisocial and manipulative propensities make them frustrating and unpleasant to work with.

For example, both BPD and addiction may be characterized by the following:

  • Impulsive, self-destructive actions
  • Manipulative and deceitful behaviors
  • Unstable and tense relationships
  • Legal, financial, or employment issues
  • Mood instability that ranges from profound depression to manic states of high energy
  • A lack of concern for one’s own safety and wellbeing
  • An insistence on engaging in risky behavior despite incurring adverse effects

What Is BPD? | Borderline Personality | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD and addiction can and should be addressed simultaneously in treatment centers that offer dual diagnosis programs. These programs generally offer therapy, counseling, and pharmacological interventions for both mental illness and substance use disorders.

The most common and effective approach used to treat both these conditions is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is featured in rehab facilities to help people identify the thought patterns that contribute to their impulsive, unhealthy, and addictive behavior. Likewise, CBT teaches patients how to manage their moods and emotions better, so they are less likely to resort to the use of substances as a means of coping.

Treating borderline personality disorder is especially challenging because people with BPD often make demands of their therapists that are unreasonable, and insist on having constant contact with those who are treating them. They are often perceived as dependent and needy due to an inclination to seek out caregivers who can meet and enable their profound emotional needs.

Making treatment even more challenging, people with BPD may turn against their treatment provider, and become hostile and paranoid without any apparent reason. Understanding the emotional underpinnings of borderline personality disorder is vital for professionals who attempt to treat this severe psychiatric disorder.

In addition to psychotherapy, people who receive comprehensive treatment can attend classes and counseling sessions that concentrate on relapse prevention. This training is critical for those with co-occurring disorders such as these, as rates of relapse tend to be high. Relapse prevention can be fostered through peer group support meetings, where people who have been diagnosed with both BPD and addiction can share coping strategies and address the difficulties of living with these two conditions.

Psychiatric drugs and medication to treat addiction can also be powerful tools when used as part of a broader treatment plan. Many BPD patients discover that medications intended to restore balance to levels of neurotransmitters (e.g., antidepressants) can be beneficial. Moreover, addiction treatment medications such as naltrexone and Suboxone can also help by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings for alcohol or opioid drugs.

Getting Help for BPD and Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from BPD and addiction, contact Harmony Treatment and Wellness as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and learn how we help people recover from both disorders and reclaim their lives.

You can experience the fulfilling life you deserve! Contact us today!

Purging Disorder and Addiction

Purging Disorder and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Purging (e.g., self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, or compulsive exercise) often follows an episode of binging in which a person eats an excessive amount of food. However, some may purge after small or normal-sized meals. When a person does this compulsively, this is referred to as purging disorder.

Bulimia nervosa is a condition that is hallmarked by both binging and purging. Purging behaviors without binging are also sometimes found among those with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is a condition that is also characterized by a refusal to eat for fear of gaining weight. 

While many eating disorders that include purging fall into one of these two categories, they don’t always—for example, if a person does not typically binge, or if they haven’t incurred the extreme weight loss seen among people with anorexia. Moreover, if a person’s symptoms do not fit the diagnostic criteria for these disorders, engaging in repeated purging behaviors may be diagnosed as a purging disorder.

Purging disorder can result in weight fluctuations or dramatic weight loss, but it may not. Purging disorder may be less obvious in those who are maintaining their weight. However, there are other warning signs that may be more evident, such as spending considerable time in the bathroom after eating.

Many people with an eating disorder such as purging also abuse drugs or alcohol. They may do so to self-medicate negative thoughts and feelings associated with the disorder, and they will frequently have underlying emotional issues that contribute to both problems.

Effects of Purging Disorder

Many compulsive behaviors, such as purging, are done in secret, and they are done for a few different reasons. One reason is to keep up the appearance that nothing is wrong and to avoid receiving outside intervention. Another reason is because of the guilt and shame associated with having an eating disorder and engaging in the unsavory habits that sustain it. 

People who struggle with purging disorder tend to isolate themselves around mealtime and avoid eating with others. They may also steer clear of events, such as parties or gatherings, in which a copious amount of food is available, or they will not have a safe place to purge.

If you notice a loved one routinely going to the restroom right after each meal, this may be a sign they have an active purging disorder. Similarly, if a person appears to have chronic diarrhea for no apparent reason, this could be a sign of laxative abuse.

The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and Addiction

Substance abuse often begins before or during an active eating disorder, but it can also start after recovery. The same emotional issues that contribute to eating disorders can also drive a person to use substances. Also, some people are genetically predisposed to addiction, and, as noted below, purging can be an addictive behavior.

A recent study found that as many as 50% of people who suffer from an eating disorder have also abused alcohol or drugs—five times the rate of the general population. What’s more, over one-third of individuals who abuse substances have eating disorders—11 times the rate of the general population.

The most common substances of abuse by those with eating disorders include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, laxatives, diuretics, and heroin. It is no coincidence that many of these substances may be used by a person trying to lose or control weight, which is a common reason for purging in the first place.

Substance abuse and eating disorders share many common risk factors, including biology, family history, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Other shared factors include a tendency toward compulsive or addictive behavior, social isolation, and suicidal thoughts.

Purging Disorder and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Purging as an Addiction

As noted, compulsive behaviors can become addictive. Believe it or not, self-induced vomiting can change an individual’s brain chemistry, not unlike substances, affecting levels of serotonin and endorphins. This can result in feelings of euphoria or reward, which then serve to perpetuate a person’s desire to vomit. A person who purges through excessive exercising will experience similar feelings.

Moreover, resisting the temptation to purge when you have an eating disorder is much like resisting the urge to use substances for an addict or alcoholic. It can feel profoundly unpleasant and even painful, despite knowing that resisting would be in this person’s best interests.

Research has identified similarities between the behavioral experience of drug addiction and bulimia. For one, both food and drugs can cause cravings that often become associated with certain people, places, or situations. People experience feelings of reward and pleasure when eating and using drugs, which encourages them to repeat these behaviors. 

But there are also biological similarities between drug addiction and bulimia. Other research has suggested that people who have bulimia have dopamine abnormalities comparable to those who have an addiction to alcohol or cocaine. Also, similar regions of the brain are activated in those who have either condition, in association with cravings for food or drugs.

Getting Help for Substance Abuse and an Eating Disorder

Persons struggling with addiction and an eating disorder should speak with trained medical professionals who can understand, diagnose, and address both disorders simultaneously. Failure to properly treat either condition will increase the risk of relapsing into the other.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs designed to address all aspects of a person’s emotional and physical well-being. We give patients the tools they need to recover from addiction, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions.

If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, contact us today! We help those who need it most to reclaim their lives by freeing themselves from the chains of addiction for life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is Emotional Sobriety?

Bulimia Treatment and Addiction

Bulimia Treatment and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

A person who suffers from both substance abuse and an eating disorder has what is known as co-occurring conditions. Mental illness can affect how a person receives treatment for addiction because both disorders must be treated concurrently if he or she is to be successful in recovery.

The Prevalence of Dual Diagnoses

People who suffer from mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Many start abusing substances in an attempt to self-medicate and relieve some of their symptoms. In other instances, the substance appears to be causing or exacerbating the mental illness.

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of all people who experience an eating disorder also engage in drug or alcohol abuse. What’s more, about 20% of those individuals meet the criteria for chronic alcohol abuse and addiction.

Any person with an eating disorder and addiction should seek help from an addiction treatment center that specializes in co-occurring disorders. Psychiatric conditions that exist in conjunction with an eating disorder can result in a higher risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

Treatment is available to help persons who suffer from an eating disorder and addiction. These individuals often need intensive programs that focus on addressing both problems concurrently.

What Is Bulimia?

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person binges or overeats, then uses a “purge” method such as inducing vomiting or taking laxatives to prevent weight gain. The person may also engage in other extreme weight control activities, such as exercising excessively. This approach to weight control can be detrimental to a person’s health and often contributes to anxiety or depression.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2016, 28.6 million people aged 12 or older reported using illicit drugs in the past month. Many people use these drugs only occasionally, but others are genuinely dependent on them. Furthermore, 16.3 million people aged 12 or older reported engaging in heavy alcohol use in the past month.

Hallmark warning signs of addiction include the use of drugs or alcohol as a means to avoid unpleasant physical withdrawal and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. People who suffer from addiction tend to engage in compulsive, substance-seeking behavior, and also try to conceal their condition from family and friends.

Signs of abuse also include the neglect of responsibilities at school, work, or home. A substance abuser may resort to borrowing or stealing to support their habit. And, they may continue to use despite conflicts in interpersonal relationships.

The use or abuse of drugs or alcohol does not necessarily indicate full-blown addiction. Moreover, if you or a loved one are abusing substances, it is vital to seek help before dependence and addiction develop.

Bulimia Treatment and Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Treatment for a Dual Diagnosis

As noted, co-occurring conditions most effectively treated in comprehensive programs that address both conditions simultaneously. Alcoholism and drug addiction can intensify the symptoms of eating disorders, leading the person into a cycle of mental illness and substance abuse that feels impossible to overcome.

Many people will need to undergo medical detox before they can be properly evaluated and treated. While it is usually best for a person with co-occurring conditions to be treated at an inpatient or partial hospitalization program, it is not always necessary.

The severity of either condition and potential risks and complications must be considered when determining the most suitable treatment. Outpatient programs are a possibility, especially if the person needs flexibility in their life to attend to school, work, or family needs.

Partial hospitalization programs, such as those offered by Harmony Treatment and Wellness, allow people to be supervised and treated during the day while they return to their homes at night. This program format may be helpful for people with an eating disorder as it allows health providers to have considerable control over what and when the client eats. They can also help to manage the side effects of substance withdrawal.

During treatment, a client should work with counselors who can help him or her manage the eating disorder. Other treatment options include behavioral therapy, which will teach a client better ways to cope with stress, cravings, and other problems. This makes it easier for the client to avoid engaging in unhealthy habits due to negative emotions.

A treatment program should also focus on getting the person back to a healthy weight if necessary. In doing so, this can help those who are dramatically underweight to relieve many unpleasant side effects, such as fatigue and dizziness.

Medication is another option for co-occurring disorders. Health providers may administer medication for problems, such as anxiety or depression, to help relieve emotional symptoms related to their disorders.

Getting Help for Co-Occurring Conditions

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated treatment programs intended to address mental health conditions such as bulimia and addiction. We use a comprehensive approach to physical and emotional wellness that has been designed to improve treatment outcomes and effectively promote long-lasting recovery.

If you or someone you love are suffering from bulimia and addiction, contact us today! We provide each client with the tools and support they need to recover fully and experience a healthier, more satisfying life!