Arizona Addiction Recovery Center Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ Fri, 03 Apr 2020 17:19:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Arizona Addiction Recovery Center 32 32 Just How Successful Are Interventions? Thu, 02 Apr 2020 16:47:54 +0000 Seeing loved ones who are consumed with addiction can be heartbreaking. It leaves family members and close friends feeling helpless. As the addiction worsens, the more alarming it gets, and most of the time the addict will not be ready to admit the fact that they have a problem. If you are dealing with an addict in denial, it may be time to set up an intervention. But are  interventions actually effective? What can family or friends do to help? Here’s what you need to know about drug and alcohol interventions so that you can decide if it is indeed an appropriate approach to take to help save a loved one. 

Everyone has their own idea of what intervention looks like. In order to stage a successful intervention, it’s important that you know the true definition. An intervention is a meticulously planned process in which family and friends of a person with an addiction gather at a pre-arranged date and time. They will then invite the addict to the gathering for the purpose of having a discussion about the consequences of their addiction. Usually, the addict does not know this is occurring until the moment they walk into the room. This is done in order to prevent them from avoiding the confrontation. Once everyone is settled, family and friends are encouraged to express their feelings and concerns surrounding the addict’s wellbeing. The key to a successful intervention is a large amount of forethought and careful planning. 

When to Call an Intervention?

There are plenty of misconceptions about conducting an intervention. One of them is that many think that the drug addict must first hit rock bottom before anyone should intervene. However, this is not true. You can stage an intervention at any time, and in fact should be done soon after you realize the addict is in full denial. Waiting for the person to hit rock bottom could put them in harm’s way unnecessarily. Early intervention could be the difference between life and death for someone struggling with addiction. 

The first step should be to talk to your loved one who is struggling with addiction. It should be brought up in a casual, non-confrontational way. Feel it out, then express concern. If they explode on you, know it is not a reflection of your actions. In most cases, vehement denial and anger is a clear sign that an intervention may be the next logical step. Often times, no matter how much a loved one asks, pleads or begs the addict to change their ways, they will still continue doing what they want because they truly do not see the weight of their actions. They may think that they are still in control, or perhaps they just know that the drug or alcohol makes them feel good, and they are not ready to give that up. No matter the reason, if they are deep in denial, it may be time to consider a true intervention.

Staging an Intervention

If you have brought up getting help in a casual, non-confrontational way and received a negative or even aggressive response, it is time to move through the next steps of staging an intervention.

Step 1: Seek professional help.

Your loved one has proven themselves to be in denial of their addiction, as well as resistant and perhaps even hostile to talk of seeking help. This is where the problem can be much too complex for one person to handle, and you will want to consult a mental health professional, interventionist, doctor, social worker, etc. This person or people will be able to help you to better understand what the addict is going through and also provide emotional support to you and everyone else involved. This person can also act as a mediator during the intervention process to keep the peace when the tough discussions are occurring. 

Step 2: Form the intervention team.

Once you have identified a professional mediator for the intervention, you may start reaching out to the addict’s friends and family and ask if they would like to take part in the process. Ensure that all of these people are good role models, and are generally well-adjusted in their own lives. Those with unresolved addictions of their own should be excluded, as it may make the person in question feel unfairly singled out or provide a negative influence. Also be sure that anyone you invite is a part of the person’s inner circle, and that they have a good relationship with the addict, built on care and trust. 

Step 3: Make the plan.

You will set your intervention up for success if you make a solid plan. This will include the date, time, and location of the meeting, preferably a day and time when most of the invitees will be able to attend. Try and pick a place where the person you are confronting will feel relatively secure and comfortable, such as the home of someone they love. Ask your invitees if they could prepare notes for what they plan to say at the intervention, and request they send them to you for approval first. It is important that they say the right things and remain positive, as to not derail the process. 

Step 4: Get informed. 

For this step, you will want to set aside some time before the intervention occurs to research addiction — particularly the specific addiction that the person in question is struggling with. You can lean on the mediator you have enlisted to help walk you through the details of the addiction, and teach you how to speak to the person in a way that will be effective. You can also do your own online research. It would also be beneficial to encourage the invitees to do their own research as well to avoid any misconceptions being brought into the room with them.

Step 5: Prepare your speeches.

Your talking points, referred to as impact statements, should be prepared by everyone in attendance. These will usually detail the invitee’s personal experience with how they see the addiction has harmed the person they love. These can be extremely powerful in demonstrating to the addict that their addiction doesn’t just affect them, it has a profound impact on all of the people they love and care about. These statements should come from a place of concern and love. There is no place for personal attacks in these statements.

Step 6: Figure out how you can offer help. 

There are many ways you can offer help to someone struggling with an addiction. For example, giving them rides to counseling appointments, pitching in for treatment costs, or simply lending an ear when they need to vent.

Step 7: Set boundaries.

It is crucial to set boundaries in the event that the person refuses treatment. Actions that you think may be in the best interest of the addict (i.e. giving them money, providing them a warm bed, etc) can actually enable their destructive behaviors to continue. Every person in the addict’s circle needs to commit to ending codependency and enabling behaviors to show the addict that they will face consequences if they do not seek help.

Step 8: Rehearse.

Going into the intervention blindly could leave you susceptible to being overcome by your strong emotions, potentially leading you to say things you may regret. If you practice what you are going to say, you will be better prepared to speak honestly, yet in a way that is measured, calm, and helpful. 

Step 9: Manage expectations.

You must be ready to accept the worst-case scenario. Addiction is a nasty, powerful, all-encompassing disease that can cause people to become the worst versions of themselves. Because of this, not all interventions are successful. The person often has to experience “rock bottom” in order to realize that something needs to change. Until then, they may be highly resistant, defensive, hostile, even aggressive and accusatory. You must be prepared for the person to say hurtful things to everyone in the room. Just know that this is their addiction speaking, and it does not reflect on you in any way.

Step 10: Follow up and follow through.

No matter the outcome of the intervention, it is important that even if the addict does not uphold their promises, you must uphold yours. You have to demonstrate to them that you are going to remain faithful to your promises, and thereby faithful to them. Showing up as a firm, but loving, presence in their life is paramount in the turbulent existence of an addict.

The Risks of Intervention

Conducting an intervention does not really pose a serious health or psychological risk, especially if done in a safe setting. However, know that some addicts will respond in anger and even walk out even before the session is completed. In some cases, the addict may refuse to even speak to the entire group even before the session begins. You must keep in mind that addiction is a disease, and it does cause people to lash out in ways that they never would have before. This is not a reflection on you, you are just doing what you can to help a loved one. In time, they will understand and be grateful.

Do they REALLY work?

The truth is, there is no simple answer to this question. Whether or not an intervention works is truly up to the addict. Evidence does show however that familial involvement in terms of seeking treatment are often successful, so you can say that this part is successful. While this is helpful in getting an addict the treatment he or she needs, it is not a factor in the eventual outcome of the rehabilitation.

Naltrexone‌ ‌Implants‌ ‌for‌ ‌Treatment‌ Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:01:04 +0000 Treatments for opiate addiction have certainly evolved over the years. Scientists have developed amazing ways to help people recover from substance abuse and regain control over their lives. One of the most popular drugs used in helping treat addiction is Naltrexone. This drug is an opioid antagonist that blocks the receptors from registering the effects of alcohol and opioids in the brain. This means they help curb abuse, prevent relapse and sustain recovery for a person suffering from opioid addiction and alcoholism. The most recent advancement in the use of this medication is a naltrexone implant that actually goes into one’s muscle tissue to slowly release the medication, without having to take a daily pill or receive uncomfortable injections! We will discuss in further in this article.

Naltrexone Implants

Naltrexone implants are gaining popularity these days as one of the most effective way to resolve opioid addiction. But what are they? How do they work? Are they really effective? 

A naltrexone implant is a small pellet that can be inserted under the skin. Once inserted, it will slowly release the medication over a period of time, usually 2 to 6 months. There are also an oral form of naltrexone which is also used to treat opioid dependency in the United States. Implants have been used in countries like Australia and Europe, but while the oral and injectable form of naltrexone is FDA-approved, the implant version has not been approved by the FDA to be used in the U.S.. However, you can still get one under the care of trained and licensed healthcare providers.

How It Works

Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of opioid and alcohol within the brain receptors. This means that this drug minimizes/blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. If combined with behavioral modification and therapy, it could reduce the cravings for alcohol and drugs like heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Fentanyl, and more.

However, as with any drug treatment or medication, the naltrexone implant is not a substitute for the hard work of addiction recovery. For optimum results, patients are strongly encouraged to supplement the drug treatment with individual therapy, group therapy, and peer support group attendance. The physical dependence is only a small part of the issues that allow addiction to persist in one’s life. If the other aspects such as trauma, stress, mental illness, home life, etc are not addressed and managed, long-term recovery is unlikely. It is crucial that the naltrexone implant is used alongside regular psychotherapy treatments as a supplement, rather than a replacement. If you truly want to become sober for life, it is necessary to uncover and remedy the root cause of the addiction so that it does not come back into your life.

Effects of Naltrexone

The side effects of naltrexone can vary depending on the following:

  • The amount or dosage taken.
  • The size, weight, and overall health of the person taking it.
  • If the person is used to taking naltrexone.
  • If they have taken other drugs besides naltrexone at the same time. 

Side effects may also vary but usually go away after a few days of taking the medication. The most common side effects of naltrexone include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Feelings of tiredness
  • Sleep problems or insomnia
  • Vomiting

There are also less common side effects that you must watch out for. These are:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Depression and irritability
  • Delayed ejaculation or decreased potency
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling energetic
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Chills

Naltroxene could also affect the mental coordination or alertness of the user. Users must immediately seek medical help if they exhibit these symptoms:

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen that can be felt for more than a few days
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored stools
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

How effective is the naltrexone implant?

Although there aren’t an abundance of studies that have been done on Naltrexone implants, the handful that have examined the drug’s effectiveness have been very promising. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 56 published the results of a study done in Norway, which showed that patients who used the naltrexone implant for 180 days had an average of 45 fewer days of heroin use and 60 fewer days of opioid use than members in the control group. Additionally, in the Drug and Alcohol Review, researchers examined a variety of data points from 9 studies that compared naltrexone implant treatment to either oral naltrexone or a placebo (no naltrexone at all). Across all 9 of these studies, naltrexone implants were shown to be significantly more effective than oral naltrexone, and significantly more effective than no treatment at all with the placebo group. These results indicate a promising future for these implants.

Support for Someone on Naltrexone Program

Someone who is taking naltrexone needs both practical and emotional support. For those who want to support a loved one, they must work with the person undergoing the treatment and must include informing the physician in case a problem arises during the treatment. These are some ways that friends and family members can help:

  • Going to appointments with your loved one.
  • Knowing what to do in case of an overdose.
  • Encouraging the recovering loved one to develop their social network, relationships and encourage positive, healthy activities to help them recover quickly. 
  • Attend any counseling if the situation asks for it. 

Supporting someone in recovery is an important and challenging role. This means you also have to take care of yourself and arrange your own support networks. By doing this, you can also provide them the support they need. 

The use of this implant is still controversial in the United States because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, so finding a doctor who can place the implant may be challenging. In case you cannot find someone who can provide the implant, the oral form, as well as the injectable naltrexone, is widely used and available at many treatment centers in the U.S.

What To Do After Relapse Sat, 28 Mar 2020 16:03:50 +0000 You finally made it through your treatment and you are doing alright. You are able to stay away from drugs or alcohol for a while which is a good thing. And then one night, just like that, a friend asked you out for a drink. Just one drink, it won’t hurt you, right? The next thing you know, your addiction has a hold of you all over again. Relapse.

It is frustrating to know that you have slipped back into using drugs or alcohol after working so hard to stay sober. It can be a humiliating experience that leaves you feeling guilty and ashamed. Unfortunately, you are not the only one in this boat. About 60% of recovering addicts have experienced relapse at least once in their recovery period. It’s a completely normal and even expected part of the process.

Relapse is Not the End

Now, you can’t go back to the moment you took a sip of that drink or ingested that drug and undo it, you must leave any guilt and shame over that in the past. The only thing you have to focus from now on is the future and how you can recover from this setback.

Of course, this could come as heartbreaking news to your family and friends, but the only thing you can do is forgive yourself and ask for their forgiveness and support as well. Before you break down and blame yourself for this situation, remember that relapse is not uncommon for anyone who is going through recovery. Relapse can teach us important lessons about what our strongest triggers are, and inform us on how we can avoid them moving forward. This is not the end of the road for you. In fact there are plenty of opportunities in this situation that you can turn into something positive. Here are helpful tips for how to bounce back after relapsing:

Forgive yourself

Falling into relapse can evoke feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, regrets, anger and a whole lot of emotions. During the initial phase of your relapse, it is normal to feel self-doubt, low self-esteem, being judged by others, lack of motivation, fatigue, irritation, aggression and even outburst of emotional distress. While this is very uncomfortable and difficult, you can use these emotions to learn from your experience. So be ready to experience all these, it will be a struggle but hang in there. Most importantly, be able to accept that it happened and don’t give up on yourself.

Change how you see relapse

Instead of feeling guilty about your relapse, try to challenge those negative thoughts be reframing how you view relapse. Think of it as seeing it as a way to increase your chance of staying back on track vs. abandoning your entire recovery journey, as a minor setback rather than total failure. Sometimes, how you react to setbacks determines how quickly you’ll be able to achieve your goal. Don’t let relapse slow you down and throw away everything you have worked hard for. Keep going no matter what.

Reach out for help

Addiction can be one of the loneliest experiences one can face, and relapse can make you feel even more isolated. Relapse can create rifts between family, friends, and relationships because many who have not experienced addiction themselves may see relapse as a failure on your part, or even a personal betrayal. But during recovery, having a support system to lean on is one of the biggest contributing factors to success (Boisvert, et. al). A strong support system consisting of people who understand how addiction works greatly reduces your chances of relapsing in the first place, but will also help you bounce back quicker in the event that you do relapse.

Attend a self-help group

There’s a reason why peer support groups are implemented in almost all recovery programs across the country. They provide a variety of benefits to a person who has made a commitment to achieving lifelong sobriety. There are plenty of 12-steps programs that you can register yourself with. You have AA or Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as well as SMART Recovery as your options, just to name a few. Here you can be with people who will not judge you for going into relapse, and you have the opportunity to learn from their experiences as well. They can teach you how you can cope and overcome this situation.

Avoid triggers

Triggers are usually the cause of your relapse and increase the need for using drugs and alcohol. To prevent yourself from relapsing, you must remove yourself from all these triggers as much as you can. This also includes people, places and other things that remind you of your substance abuse. IF these triggers cannot be avoided, make sure to minimize your contact with them. It is better to stay away from old habits than falling back into them.

Set your boundaries

Setting limits for yourself and others will help protect you from experiencing stress and emotional issues that can lead to relapse. Weak boundaries can lead to negative emotions like anger and resentment. This can pose danger to your recovery. One of the best examples of setting boundaries is to refrain from being in contact with people who bring you down. Abusive family members or friends can create a toxic environment in your life that is not conducive to recovery. Saying no is not a sign of weakness, but rather a start of setting a straight path. Completely removing toxic people from your life is perfectly acceptable. Don’t be afraid to let go of people who are only there to drag you down.

Prepare a new plan

Your relapse does not mean that your treatment has failed. In fact, this is an opportunity to revise your plan and consider other options to take in order not to fail again. With the help of your addiction treatment specialist, you can work out a new plan or strategy to take so you don’t fall into relapse again. Understanding why your relapse occurred will help you adjust the treatment plan that you currently have in order to address these triggers and avoid relapsing. Perhaps you need to undergo intensive treatment or have new approaches. Building your foundation again can help you; this way when you transition back home, you have new tools to use and apply in case new challenges arise.

Expect new challenges

Relapsing gives you the chance to reflect on things, and you will be able to look ahead and predict the challenges that may come your way. Expecting these challenges will give you more time to equip yourself with an in-depth plan on how you can deal with it. This adds another level of confidence on your part when you allow your mind to perceive these things and see how you can handle them. These could be:

  • Triggers
  • Family issues
  • Emotional stress and social pressures
  • Physical challenges
  • Financial problems
  • Feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair

Relapse is Not the End

Yeah, it sucks, and yeah, in a perfect world it wouldn’t happen. But these are the obstacles that make us stronger and build resilience when we learn to overcome them. See these setbacks as opportunities for growth, and the journey will get easier and easier.

Luckily, by reading this article, you are taking a very important step in your recovery journey. This is part of building the knowledge needed to fight the conditions that lead to relapse and understanding what steps to take following relapse to get back on your feet. By arming yourself with information and coping skills, you are putting yourself in a very good position to steer clear of turning back to your addiction when times get tough.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Recovery Fri, 27 Mar 2020 15:50:46 +0000 Treatment programs for drug and alcohol addictions generally fall into one of two categories: Inpatient vs outpatient recovery. While both inpatient and outpatient recovery focus on treating addiction, inpatient requires a full immersion in the program, while outpatient allows the patient to go about their lives while still working on becoming sober. It is important for recovering addicts and their families to understand the differences between these types of treatment programs so they can choose one that best suits their needs. This article will describe major differences between outpatient and inpatient recovery.

What is Inpatient Recovery?

Inpatient recovery or rehab is also known as residential rehab. This is because these programs allow patients to live full-time in a recovery center, giving them 24/7 access to any care they require. This type of treatment can be effective for those with severe drug and alcohol problems, as well as those who are also dealing with underlying mental health conditions. Living in a rehab facility can help the patient avoid triggers and other negative external influences that could hinder their progress. The environment of an inpatient program is meant to be completely conducive to healing and recovery.

When looking for a treatment facility that offers inpatient rehab, you want to look for one that is licensed and has professionally trained healthcare professionals and experts on-site. There are usually three phases of recovery in an inpatient program: detoxing, reflection, and growth. These phases are essential in helping patients learn the coping skills they need once they are released into society, and at the same time adopt a healthy, drug and alcohol-free lifestyle even after the treatment is over. Most of these programs include a step-down approach that helps patients to transition from inpatient recovery to individual or group counseling after their time at the facility.

There are long-term and short-term programs that patients can choose from. The long-term programs can last anywhere from 6 months to a year, while the shorter ones enable the patient to stay 3–6 weeks.

Advantages of Inpatient Recovery

Inpatient recovery is ideal for those who are suffering or battling long-term addiction and in need of supervision to recover. Being fully immersed in the program and able to completely dedicate oneself to recovering from the addiction is invaluable. Here are some other advantages:

  • You will live in a stable and 100% sober environment with no distractions.
  • They provide you with round-the-clock care in a non-hospital setting.
  • You work with healthcare providers so you are not alone in overcoming your addictions.
  • Long-term and short-term programs are designed with detoxification treatments to prepare you once the program is over.
  • Treatment plans are highly structured and focused on all aspects of addiction.
  • You will live in a safe environment where medical care is given 24/7.
  • This kind of recovery program is great for patients with severe addiction problems that may be accompanied by co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Patients are monitored at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • There is reduced risk of relapse because of the substance-free environment and strict supervision.
  • You will have intensive individual therapy and group sessions.
  • Minimized risk of exposure to triggers and stressors.
  • There are plenty of specialized treatment services like exercise, meditation, yoga etc.
  • Luxurious facilities are available for you to use.
  • Recovery is highly successful when the treatment program is completed.


Like anything, there are also some potential disadvantages to inpatient programs that you should know about:

  • You will have limited contact with loved ones.
  • You might have to leave work or school for this treatment program.
  • Treatment programs are highly structured and your freedom is limited.
  • A lot of your day is scheduled and decided for you by the staff.
  • More costly than outpatient recovery.

What is Outpatient Recovery?

When you are considering inpatient vs outpatient recovery, it’s important to know that an outpatient recovery program typically involves daily treatment like counseling, therapy or group sessions within a facility or clinic. Those who choose to enroll in an outpatient recovery program can continue to live at their own home while in recovery, and live their life relatively normally. This allows patients to take care of their families, work in their jobs, stay in school, or whatever daily activities they may be involved in. It is also less expensive than inpatient recovery, but the trade-off is that the program and level of care you get is less intensive.

Most of the time, programs in this treatment include group or individual counseling. It also uses a step-down approach as the sessions are about to be completed. This means that the sessions you receive become less intense and frequent as you progress through the program. This type of treatment is useful for patients who have drug and alcohol dependence, but it hasn’t completely dismantled their life and they’re still able to maintain somewhat normal functioning.

Outpatient recovery programs usually utilize one or more of the following techniques during the treatment:

  • Cognitive therapy – this helps patients become aware of their unhealthy thoughts and behaviors while providing them with the skills and strategies they need to cope and be healthy individuals.
  • Motivational interviewing – this is done to identify and modify any feelings that are a hindrance to progress and recovery.
  • Contingency management – is done by providing incentives or rewards to patients in order to help them develop regular behaviors that can help them recover.
  • Matrix Model – this is where therapists are allowed to become both the teacher and coach of the patients by helping and empowering them through positive self-image and confidence. This is mostly used for recovering addicts with stimulant use disorders.
  • Multidimensional family therapy – is a program that helps families work together in terms of helping a family member recover. This is mostly used in cases where an adolescent has drugs and alcohol problems.

Advantages of Outpatient Recovery

  • You don’t have to pay for board and lodging.
  • You can still work or go to school while receiving care.
  • You can see your friends and family like normal.
  • The cost of treatment is lower compared to inpatient care.
  • Different types of counseling are offered to recovering addicts and you can choose the level of intensity of care that will work for you.
  • Setting an appointment is accommodated according to your schedule.


Getting treatment within the comforts of your home surely has its benefits, but there are also some cons to it:

  • You may experience the constant need to use drugs and alcohol especially since you are not monitored 24/7.
  • You don’t get the support you need right away.
  • You have to be very self motivated and ensure you attend every session you are reasonably able to.
  • Poses a potential heightened relapse risk because some home environments may be unstable or can be stressful to a recovering addict.
  • Detoxing at home can be very difficult and even dangerous without healthcare experts to help you through it.


Whatever treatment option you choose for yourself or a loved one (inpatient vs outpatient recovery), rehabilitation will do wonders in helping you in your journey to recovery. Addiction is a chronic illness and recovery is a long process, so it is important to choose the right kind of program for you and your lifestyle. The choices you make today will determine your future, and with proper research, we know you can make the right one! Good luck.


Individual vs. Group Therapy Tue, 24 Mar 2020 17:10:52 +0000 In addiction treatment programs, usually patients will get to undergo both individual and group therapy to help them overcome their addiction. But what are the differences? Is one better than the other? Do you really need to do both? In order to understand what you can get from these therapies, we have narrowed everything down so you can get a better view of these two. Here’s what you need to know:

What is individual therapy?

Individual therapy is when an individual attends sessions one-on-one between just them and the licensed therapist. A therapist can be anyone who is professionally trained and licensed in the use of therapy. This could be a psychologist, counselor, social workers, psychiatrist, and marriage and family counselors. Because the therapy is one-on-one, you will be able to dig deeper into the root cause of your addiction. Since the focus of these sessions is entirely on you, it’s an amazing opportunity for deep self reflection and growth, without influence from your peers or other external sources.

Advantages of Individual Therapy

  • The patient feels more comfortable talking about personal information that may be embarrassing if they tell others. Only the therapist will know about it except in rare situations where they must break confidentiality. This usually happens when the patient is suicidal or has suicidal thoughts and their actions are considered a threat to their own safety or the safety of other people. If the case also involves elder or child abuse, the therapist can also divulge the information that they know to other health care workers and sometimes the authorities if it is troubling enough. 
  • The pace of the sessions can be tailored according to the needs of the patient. If the patient is uncomfortable discussing something, the therapist can slow down the pace at which the discussion unfolds over time, or speed it up to make more progress if the patient is willing.
  • The therapist only has to focus on a single patient at that given moment, and does not need to divide his or her attention to others. 
  • Other underlying mental health issues may be uncovered due to the intimate nature of the therapy session. For example, there might be hidden co-occurring disorders that the patient would like to disclose or that the therapist may be able to diagnose. 
  • Since the therapist only focuses on one client, it easier to build cooperation in working out the client’s issues.
  • While there is a time and place for listening to shared stories and issues from their peers, not having that external noise in an individual therapy session can ensure that the session remains relevant to the patient.
  • Individual therapy sessions allow for much more flexibility in scheduling. Clients don’t have to worry about trying to build their day around a strictly scheduled time slot, but rather can pencil in that time slot into their existing plans/schedule.

Disadvantages of Individual Therapy

While the advantages are great, there are also downsides to working alone with the therapist as compared to being in a group therapy:

  • Individual therapy is more costly compared to group sessions. 
  • The patient may actually feel more comfortable in a group setting where not all of the focus is on them. They may struggle with being the center of attention.
  • Individual therapy works well for many psychological disorders, but may not be the best option for others.

Group Therapy

Another good way to see a therapist is through group therapy. There are two types of group therapy that you should know of. One is Open Group, which allows new members to join any time. In this group, the members come and go, and for this reason, are usually at varying levels of achievements. The second type is Closed Group. In this type of group, the members must have a membership, and are encouraged to continue attending until they reach their goal. Unlike the Open Group, this one does not allow new members. They are usually designed for one specific goal where all members work together to complete it at the same pace. 

Advantages of Group Therapy

  • It’s less expensive than individual therapy.
  • Members of group therapy share a sense of belonging. This allows them to come together and address issues as one and as individuals in the group.
  • They communicate the sense of universality within the members. This means that the members will feel that they are not alone and that they have people who will support them and the issues they are facing. 
  • Group members sense that they can give something to others. This is called group altruism. 
  • Members learn from each other by sharing their experiences. 
  • Individuals are more aware of themselves in a group. They learn new things about themselves as they identify with others who are sharing their own issues. 
  • A group usually instills hope to its members as they encourage one another. 
  • Groups often foster modeling which means that they learn from one another by copying their behaviors
  • They express themselves in an appropriate manner, listen, and share an honest opinion about their members without feeling ashamed or guilty. 
  • Sharing experiences to members they trust often results in cathartic feelings and relief from the guilt or shame of their past lives. 
  • They can identify with the therapist and members of the group which make them understand themselves even better. 
  • The members take responsibility for the actions of their members and accept the consequences of it. Their responses also determine the progress of the group. 
  • They have more than one therapist which allows them to experience the different skills and experiences of each therapist. 

Disadvantages of Group Therapy

  • Members of a group have a lower chance of getting individual attention, which also means that the interventions may be less intense compared to individual therapy. 
  • Confidentiality of the group may not be as secure compared to individual therapy. Generally, the group is instructed not to talk about the information they acquired from the group during therapy but sometimes, some members cannot do that. This is where conflicts often happen. 
  • Group therapy is not as focused compared to individual therapy even though there is some form of alliance among its members. 
  • Some members don’t actually make changes but simply ride on the success of other members. This is called social loafing and is a problem among group therapies. 
  • Meeting is fixed and at specific times so there’s less opportunity to rearrange schedules. 
  • This is not the best group to be if you are antisocial, shy or have psychotic disorders. 

Which One is Better?

Both therapies have their own pros and cons that you can consider if you are in a position where you must choose between one or the other. If you are in a treatment program, you probably have access to both types of therapy, whereas if you are an individual not in a structured program, you might be looking to choose to save time or money. The good thing is, you can try both and see which one works best for you. If you prefer being with other people who have the same issues as you do, then group therapy might be the answer. However, if you are someone who prefers being the focus of the therapy, then you can choose individual therapy. Either way, both offer a lot of benefits and it is best to try out both before making a decision. Make sure to work with a registered, experienced and professional health care provider so you can truly reap the benefits of the therapy. 


The Importance of Setting Boundaries in Recovery Thu, 19 Mar 2020 14:37:12 +0000 Creating healthy boundaries while you are in recovery is essential for your well-being and success. But setting boundaries when you are not used to doing so can be an immense challenge. Luckily, you are not alone. Most people who decide to set out on the path towards sobriety struggle with this aspect of recovery. It’s hard to identify your needs and stand up for yourself when the controlling nature of addiction is all you’ve known for a long time. This article will go over the importance of setting boundaries and how you should go about it.

Setting Limits is Good

Boundaries exist to protect ourselves and others from harm, and are especially crucial when we are going through tough times in our lives. Don’t think of boundaries as restrictions, but rather guidelines on how your needs can be met in a healthy way, and also guidelines on what constitutes unhealthy behavior that contributes to maintaining your addiction. Thinking proactively about what limits you need to set for yourself and others in order to give yourself the best shot at recovery is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Why Do Addicts Lack Boundaries?

People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol often lack important boundaries. Most of the time, addicts come from families who don’t respect boundaries nor have established any healthy boundaries for themselves. These are cases where boundaries are blurred and not entirely applied, which can really hurt individuals and the family system.

Boundaries are limits and as children, we are taught that we have limits to what we can and cannot do. Our parents set those limits to protect us from things that we cannot and should not have to handle. Those who grew up with limits know and understand the consequences of their actions. For people suffering from mental illness, trauma, and/or substance abuse issues, these limits may not have existed when they were younger. Lack of boundaries in childhood often leads to trauma, and trauma leads to addiction.

Parental neglect is common in family systems with poor boundaries. This is when parents do not care what the underlying issues of their children are. It could also be because they only care about what they want people to see in them rather than addressing their child’s problems. They don’t have any rules or guidelines for them to follow, so their children are not taught how to behave properly in a social setting or cope with stressors. Children who were neglected during childhood develop behavioral and emotional issues that often follow them into adulthood.

Another reason why addicts lack boundaries can also stem from the opposite situation. Poor boundaries can also exist in families with overprotective and controlling parents. In this case, their parents set up too many boundaries for them to follow, leaving them no room to make decisions on their own. Allowing children personal freedom and choice is essential for their personal growth, and being deprived of this does them a major disservice. These children grow up feeling dependent on other people and may develop issues due to their lack of confidence to make decisions. To cope with these feelings of hopelessness and insecurity, they may turn to harmful substances.

Setting Boundaries

In order to develop healthy relationships, we should establish boundaries for ourselves and the people around us. Here are some of the boundaries you should set:

  • Set boundaries with your family. While you may love your family deeply and feel they love you unconditionally, this does not mean that you do not have to set boundaries with them. Especially if you are close with your family, what they do and say is likely to have a major influence on your life. Family members who drink heavily or use drugs themselves can greatly influence you to pick up the habit yourself, or continue to use when you are trying to recover. To avoid these issues, talk to them about how their alcohol or drug use affects you, and that you would still like them to be a part of your life but you cannot be around them while they are using drugs or drinking. Family members can also lack an understanding of your addiction. They may not accept the fact that you won’t drink at family gatherings and celebrations, and may try and convince you to join in with the rest of the guests. These are the instances where boundaries can protect you.
  • Set boundaries with your friends. Friends are extremely important to have when you are going through recovery. But some friends may not understand why you are trying to get sober, especially if they are addicts themselves. Talk to them and explain what is going on and how you need their help to stay clean. If they don’t want to hang out with you anymore because of the boundaries you set, then they are not true friends to begin with. As you go through the steps of recovery, you should begin to develop a clear picture of the kinds of people you want to surround yourself with. If they don’t want to be part of your sober life, then it’s best that you move on too.
  • Set boundaries with your social activities. Attending social gatherings as a recovering addict can be overwhelming. It’s the sad reality of today that most adult social gatherings involve alcohol, and sometimes even drugs too. It can be quite hard to completely avoid this, which is why it is necessary to set boundaries for these types of settings. This is why it is not good for someone who is trying to be sober to be in a social setting.  Peer pressure often exists in this large gatherings, so learning to say “NO” and sticking firmly to it will be your saving grace.
  • Set boundaries with work. Having something to channel your energy into is great, especially if you are in recovery. Becoming a productive member of society is one of the ultimate goals of addiction recovery! However, it is also important to maintain a healthy balance between work life and personal life. Work has the tendency to become stressful, and when you are stressed, there is a chance that you might go back to using drugs or alcohol again. Talk to your boss and ensure you do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle. Work-related stresses will take a toll on you in the long run if you do not set sufficient boundaries.
  • Set boundaries with your partner. If you have a romantic partner, make sure to let them know that you will need their support in order to stay sober. If they are addicts as well, encourage them to cease their drug and alcohol use as well and work together on living a sober lifestyle. If they refuse to do so, you may want to strongly consider ending the relationship as it will be difficult for you to do what is best for yourself when you are so close to someone who has no interest in getting clean.
  • Set boundaries for yourself. As someone who is looking to set their life straight, it is best to set some boundaries on yourself as well. Figure out what you want and establish rules that you must follow in order to achieve your goals. Maintain your standards and stay true to your sobriety by allowing yourself to grow within your capacity without drugs and alcohol involved. Once you do, you will see that you can do so much more than you ever thought you could.

Setting proper boundaries can help you regain control over your own life. Those who have little to no boundaries in place are susceptible to being taken advantage of and failing to stick to a plan of recovery. But with the right guidelines for yourself in place, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of success! Good luck!

Is Addiction a Disease? Wed, 18 Mar 2020 16:46:21 +0000 Addiction is a serious issue that many people in the United States are dealing with, whether it be with themselves or a loved one. In the 1930s, doctors and medical professionals thought addiction was the result of amoral and deviant personalities but now recognize it as a disease. In their eyes, the people who became addicted to substances simply lacked the moral judgment and willpower to quit. The solution at the time was to punish the users or attempt to force them to break their habit. But luckily, after years of research, the scientific community has now seen the effects that drugs have on the actual chemistry of the brain. It was a relief, but at the same time, it became clear that addiction could take hold upon anyone and everyone — no one was safe. 

Despite this, many people still believe that addiction is a choice, and those who suffer from substance abuse are simply choosing to continue to use a substance or engage in an activity because they want to. In this article, we will discuss how addiction starts and why it is so difficult to get clean.

How Addiction Forms

Studies show that addiction is a chronic illness that forms due to gradual changes in the chemistry of one’s brain. It does not occur because of an individual’s weakness or unwillingness to change, but rather the harmful substance convincing the brain that it needs to continue receiving the substance to function.

Drinking or smoking for the first time is voluntary, and it is around this time that a person can still control their action and use. However, the more they take alcohol and drugs, the more dependent they become on the substance. In addition, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if they do not regularly consume the drug, and thus begin to desperately seek it out just to stop the uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal. The more they take illicit substances over time, the more progressive the changes in the brain become. When this happens, it becomes extremely difficult for individuals to just stop using, as their brain is now dependent on the substance to function normally.

This Disease Effects on the Brain

Drugs disrupt the brain’s natural communication process by changing the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via neurotransmitters. Addictive drugs and certain activities are so pleasurable to us because they flood the brain’s reward system with the “happy” chemical dopamine in a short amount of time, something that we cannot get via the natural process of the neurons. Meanwhile, the hippocampus stores this information as pleasurable memories and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli.

Recent research suggests that dopamine not only contributes to the pleasure one feels when under the influence of a substance, but it also affects learning and memory, which play key roles in the transition from simply enjoying something to actually being addicted to it. The most widely accepted current theory about how addiction works, states that dopamine interacts with another neurotransmitter, glutamate, to take over the brain’s reward-related learning system. Addictive substances stimulate that circuit and overload it, which repeats every time the person uses. This causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for planning and executing actions) to transform liking something into wanting it. This, of course, is what leads to the intense desire to chase after and continue using whatever originally caused this connection to be made in our brains, manifesting as what we know as addiction. 

This is why many addicts use drugs and alcohol for long periods appear to be lifeless, unmotivated, depressed and express their lack of pleasure in the things that they once enjoyed. In an effort to fix this feeling, they tend to increase the dose of their substance intake, which of course only puts a bandaid over the underlying issue. This vicious cycle of the need to take in drugs to increase the brain’s dopamine levels and continuing to up the dose contribute to long term tolerance. And the more tolerance a user builds, the more susceptible they become to overdosing.

The Causes of Drug Addiction

Truth is, there is not one singular cause of addiction because people use drugs for many reasons. This is also the reason why not all drug addicts benefit from the same kind of treatment. Some may use drugs to hide pain, self-medicate, or simply out of curiosity. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are four main reasons why people use or try illicit substances:

  1. To make them feel good – since drugs can result in increased energy, relaxation, confidence and euphoria, many people are attracted to this possibility and curious to experience these effects for themselves. 
  2. To feel better – stress, low-self esteem, depression, and anxiety are all thieves of joy in a person’s life, which is why some people turn to drugs in order to free themselves of their emotional burdens.
  3. To do better or enhance their abilities – there are plenty of drugs that enhance performance in sports or academics. Some people may feel stressed and overwhelmed with the immense pressure to perform, whether it be in their sport or in school. They may feel that they cannot keep up with their peers, or they want to be the best at what they do. Taking drugs that can increase their speed, strength, memory retention and their capacity as an athlete or academic is a very attractive idea.
  4. To fit in with their peers – drug use is popular among young adults because of the desire to fit in and make friends. These individuals want to impress their peers, and often believe that this can be achieved through drug use and underage drinking

Once a person feels good about their first experience with drugs, the foundations of becoming an addict are set. While not everyone responds the same way, many experts believe that nature vs. nurture plays an important role in determining if someone will become an addict in the future. They believe that the environment and biology of an individual can deeply influence how these substances impact the life of a person and their susceptibility to developing a substance abuse issue or addiction in the future.

How Can This Disease Be Treated?

There are plenty of ways to treat addiction, and the very first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. Recovery is only hindered when you remain in denial and do not acknowledge and understand the harmful effects of substance abuse. 

The moment you decide to seek treatment, a health care professional will then conduct an assessment of the symptoms you are experiencing to see if there is a formal diagnosis to be made. Understand that addiction can affect your life in many areas, so you can and should receive a combination of treatments. 

Medications also play an important role in controlling your drug cravings and treating underlying mental illness. They also help relieve the symptoms of withdrawal, which can be very uncomfortable when you’re in the first stages of recovery. Therapy helps individuals to understand their own motivations and behavior, deal with stress, and teach them the skills they need to cope without the use of drugs. Treatment can also include hospitalization (if the case is severe), living in a sober house or therapeutic community, as well as outpatient programs. There are also self-help groups that you can join like the AA or Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which help individuals and their families cope with the situation. 

Addiction is a disease, but like most diseases, it can be treated. With the right program and consistent therapy, as well as support from loved ones, you too can recover!

Stem Cells Being Used For Addiction Treatment Tue, 17 Mar 2020 14:16:13 +0000 You may have heard about stem cell research and how it can help heal the body from a number of diseases but can it be used for addiction treatment? Before we answer that, it’s important that you understand what stem cells are and what they can do to heal the human body.

What are Stem Cells?

To put it simply, stem cells are cells that can grow into pretty much any type of tissue in the body. They can be found in embryos, umbilical cord blood, adult blood, or adult bone marrow. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, they can divide and multiply to form more cells called daughter cells. From there, these daughter cells can either become new stem cells on their own, or be modified to turn into other types of cells with more specific functioning, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells, bone cells, and so on. These are very unique, as no other cell in the human body can naturally generate new cell types. Stem cells in Arizona are increasingly getting more popular as we move into a more modern era of healthcare.

Where to Find Stem Cells

As we mentioned above, stem cells can be found in a few different places. Sources include:

  • Embryonic stem cells – these cells come from 3–5 day old embryos called blastocysts. These usually have around 150 stem cells that can be harvested. They are known to be pluripotent, which means they can divide into more and be transformed into a specific stem cell that the body can use. Because of their versatility, embryonic stem cells can regenerate and help repair any damage tissue in the body.
  • Adult stem cells – these are found in the adult tissues like fat or bone marrow and are usually in small numbers. Unlike the embryonic stem cells, these cells have limited ability to regenerate. Many researchers originally thought adult stem cells could only be converted to blood cells in bone marrow. But further research shows that they can also create various other types of cells and are currently being tested in people with heart and other neurological diseases. Adult stem cells can be reprogrammed and retain the properties of an embryonic one. This new technique is used by researchers to prevent the immune system from rejecting new ones. However, there is still an investigation as to whether these altered adult cells can result in any adverse effects if used in humans.
  • Perinatal stem cells – these are found in amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood. These also have the ability to change into specialized cells. Studies are being conducted further to understand this unique potential so it can be useful to future medical procedures.

Uses of Stem Cells

Stem cells are believed to be useful for:

  1. Understanding how diseases occur – this can be done by watching how stem cells evolve into mature cells in the heart muscle, bones, nerves as well as tissues and other organs in the body. Many doctors and researchers can understand how these conditions and diseases develop by how a stem cell reacts in these areas.
  2. Helps in replacing dead cells by generating new, healthy ones – unlike other cells, stem cells can be guided into becoming a specific cell which can be regenerated. Once they regenerate into this specific cell, they can then help in repairing or replacing the unhealthy tissues in the human body and promote faster healing. People with damage from strokes, skin burns, cancer, osteoarthritis, diabetes and many others can benefit from these cell regeneration. Not only that, but they also have the potential to create entirely new organs via cloning. However, continued research is still being done to further understand how people can benefit from this application of stem cells.
  3. Used in testing new drugs to evaluate their effectiveness and safety – It can be difficult to run drug trials because of the danger it can pose to live human subjects. Large groups of people must volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure a drug’s safety and effectiveness for the general population. While this is an extremely necessary step to approving drugs for human consumption, there’s no denying that if the drug is not ready for use in humans, it can cause damage to test subjects. By testing the effects of the drugs on stem cells, we can minimize potential for harm to living human beings. For example, brain cells could be engineered to test a new medication for addiction, or even test an existing substance for its effects on the brain. These tests could show us what kinds of positive effects the drug had, or more importantly, if there was any harm done to the cells.

Role of Stem Cells in Treating Addiction

In the United States, an estimated 15 million adults suffer from addiction and alcohol use disorder. It has been estimated that 88,000 people die from alcohol-related issues while 72,000 people die each year due to drug overdose. That’s about 400 people dying each day due to illicit substances.

The main issue causing addiction is the erratic production of dopamine in the brain. This neurotransmitter is the one responsible for firing signals into the neurons. When the person is addicted, the drugs send false signals to these neurons and overrides them. In order to obtain the rush that the addicts feel, they will take in whatever drugs they can in order to achieve the same euphoria that they have felt before.

There are studies that show stem cells and acupuncture can work together to treat addiction. Researchers have  found out that acupuncture and stem cell treatment can help calm down the inflammation that occurs in the addict’s brain. They can also help sever some of the physiological triggers that could lead a person to an addictive behavior. Stem cells can also stimulate increased blood supply to the cells and promote good communication in the nervous system.

In Closing

Stem cell treatments and regenerative therapies have already been approved for treatment, such as bone marrow cell transplants to treat leukemia and sickle cell anemia. Scientists in Japan have even begun clinical trials in which Parkinson’s patients have adult stem cells injected into their brain to see if normal functioning can be restored.

Unfortunately, a lot of these treatments are far from being approved for clinical use, though the future looks very promising. For that reason, if you are struggling with addiction, it is crucial that you take action as soon as possible. You can’t wait for a miracle treatment that may be a decade or more away from being accessible, when there are effective and convenient treatment options for you right outside your front door. While current addiction treatment programs aren’t a “quick fix” solution, they are effective and they have been very successful in helping patients achieve lifelong sobriety. It will take time and effort on your part, but you will learn things along the way and find lasting peace within yourself that no miracle treatment could ever provide.

What the Early Stage of Recovery Looks Like Thu, 12 Mar 2020 20:48:34 +0000 Recovery is such a sweet word for those who have been battling addiction for a long time. Each person who embarks on a journey to lifelong sobriety will have a different experience. This article will provide you with a good overview of what you can expect in the early stage of recovery, and also offer some tips on how you can maintain sobriety.

What You Should Do During This Stage

Being in recovery is an opportunity for you to start anew. Right now you are sober and everything seems new to you again for the first time in a long time. You may feel a lot of emotions as they come and go without warning, but this is also a good time to gauge exactly what you are feeling and how you can express this. It may be a scary thing to deal with because it seems unfamiliar, but don’t hurry yourself. Take time to fully experience every emotion you feel, processing each moment thoughtfully. Remember that there is no easy road to recovery, but here are some of the best things that you can do to make sure you stay on the right path and keep it that way, no matter how long it takes. 

Always make time for play 

Recovering from an addiction is a LOT of work. But like anything else in your life, all work and no play makes you dull. So make sure to always take time to enjoy the little things. Set aside time to engage in activities that will make you healthy physically and mentally. Join a sports club where you can enjoy playing the sport you like. Being at play is not limited to playing sports, but really that you feel makes your time worthwhile. If you love music, practice an instrument, or if you love dancing, join a dance club. You can go on a road trip, hike, go camping, or simply just take a break and relax. Whatever makes YOU happy!

Embrace your milestones

Celebrating milestones is important during your recovery. It is crucial to acknowledge your hard work in the last 30, 60, 90, etc days of staying clean. In a lot of programs, once you reach a one year milestone, you will be given a bronze coin to commemorate a year of sobriety. Recognizing how far you’ve come will motivate you to keep going and not look back.

Do not let your urges upset you 

Cravings can surface anytime, and they’re especially common during your first year of recovery and can occur even after years of being sober. But try your best not to get overwhelmed or feel guilty about your cravings, as they are a perfectly normal and natural part of the recovery process. A good distraction can help take your mind off of these cravings. You can do whatever you enjoy! Play a game, do chores, exercise, read, watch a movie — in short, anything but giving in to your cravings. Monitor your cravings and take note of how long they last. This can help you acknowledge that they are temporary, and will go away even if you do not use the substance your body craves. Formulate a plan for how to cope with these episodes so that you are prepared to act if the feeling becomes unbearable. If you feel like you cannot handle it, make sure to address the issue to your sponsor or someone you trust immediately. This way they can come up with ways to help you.

Be aware of the people you become friends with

As someone who is in an early stage of recovery, choosing the people you want to hang out with is very important. By now you must be aware that you should stay away from people who made you use illicit substances in the first place so make sure that you avoid them at all cost. If you keep being friends with those who do drugs and drink then it is going to jeopardize your plans of staying sober. Of course this is not going to be easy especially if you have known these people all your life or that some of them are your best friends. But you have to choose what is better for yourself. It is always a good thing to not take any chances. 

Prepare yourself for post-withdrawal syndrome

This phase can last for a couple of months to a year or so. What happens is once you stop using drugs and alcohol, you will experience a variety of symptoms that could disrupt your sleep. You may also experience irritability, anxiety and even depression. Over time, these symptoms will disappear but it is important to talk to a health care provider about this. They will also help determine if you need to take medications or have therapy sessions with cognitive-behavioral techniques.

Work on making amends

In this stage of your life, making up with those you have wronged is part of your recovery. If you attend a 12-step program or meeting, then you know that this is a very important part. Making amends involves reaching out to those who were directly or indirectly hurt by your addiction and offering an apology for any pain you may have caused them. You don’t have to do it right away, you can plan and take it one step at a time. Keep in mind however, that it is possible that not everyone will want to make amends with you. Don’t take this personally. 

Identify the signs of relapse 

Sometimes, just when you think that you are doing okay, you may slowly you find yourself falling back into your old habits. You must learn to recognize any shifts in your behavior before you fall into relapse. Most common signs of relapse could be the following:

  • Irritability or a short temper
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Negative thoughts
  • You worry a lot and are under stress most of the time
  • Skipping meetings or avoiding talking to your sponsor
  • Overconfidence
  • Avoiding family members and friends
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Engaging in risky situations

Set goals and accomplish them

During this time, you should have plans and goals to work towards. If you have problems with your finances, it’s time to set them straight. If you can, find a job and work on saving up to pay off your debts. Part of your recovery is to be able stay on top of your finances and working out a repayment schedule for all your debts can help you get your life back together again. 

Think of your goals too. While this is an ongoing process, you must continue to strive for something that can set you on a clear path. Don’t hurry the process, instead take your time and enjoy the ride. Sobriety is not going to happen overnight, but it can be done if you set your mind to it. 

How Does Trauma Relate to Addiction? Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:09:33 +0000 Unaddressed trauma from the past is one of the biggest contributors to addiction. But how? Psychological trauma often happens to those who have significant damage to their psyche when a person has experienced a stressful event or situation. Trauma causes problems when the person needs to face the stress that is beyond their ability to cope, but haven’t worked through those emotions yet. In this article, we will discuss why and how trauma causes addiction. 

Trauma Defined

When a person fears his or her safety and has experienced intense pain upon witnessing a violent or tragic act, this is completely normal. However, if these feelings persist and cause disruptions to a person’s life, this is a deeper issue. This lasting damage to a person’s mind as a result of the tragic experience is what is referred to as trauma. Generally, the resiliency of a person may vary, so the reactions to a traumatic event also vary. 

Trauma can also be ongoing or repeated. The most common examples of this is child abuse and military combat. Car accidents, street violence, sexual abuse, repeated bullying, domestic violence, natural disasters, dysfunctional home set up and life-threatening conditions are also considered to be forms of trauma. 

How People Respond

Individuals respond to trauma in various ways. While sometimes there are no visible signs that a person is traumatized. However, some people may have seriously debilitating emotional reactions. A normal reaction to trauma is shock and denial, which the brain does to protect oneself from the severity of the traumatic event. A person could feel detached, numbed and may not even feel the immensity of it right away. However, once a person moves past the initial shock, their responses to traumatic events may include the following:

  • Sudden changes in moods
  • Easily irritated
  • Anger and denial
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks of the event
  • Finds it difficult to focus or concentrate
  • Changes in appetite
  • Insomnia or altered sleeping
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Intense fear that the traumatic event will occur
  • Feelings of nausea and headaches
  • Worsening of an existing medical condition

Victims of trauma can turn to substance abuse if they feel they are powerless to handle the situation any other way. With this kind of trauma, individuals must seek out strong social support as well as ongoing therapy, as this condition can last for years — even with therapy. 

Trauma and Addiction Connection

Many researchers have been studying the relationship between trauma and addiction over the past few years. This is so they can understand why many drug and alcohol addicts have a history of such traumatic experiences. Data gathered from 17,000 patients in a research study shows that a child with more than four traumatic events in their life is more likely to become an alcoholic as an adult. It was also shown that 60% of these children became obese and were 46 times more likely to become an injection-drug addict as compared to the general population. 

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 75% of men and women who have checked in for treatment have a history of abuse and trauma. On the other hand, 97% of homeless women with mental illness had reported experiencing sexual and physical abuse at home, by their partners or even in the streets. About 34% of people treated for substance abuse have PTSD while 1/3 of people who have been exposed to trauma had developed PTSD. It is also found out that men are more prone to developing PTSD compared to women.

For these reasons, the connection of addiction and trauma are considered to be complex. This means that some people struggling to cope with the effects of trauma may also turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. For people suffering from PTSD for example, the use of drugs to sedate the underlying symptoms of their condition is one of the ways for them to manage it. The only problem is that they develop an addiction to substances which causes more pain to the person who is already suffering from such trauma.

Another possible reason where addiction and trauma are connected is when the substance abuser puts themselves in harm’s way more often than those who don’t have a substance use disorder. This can be due to dangerous neighborhoods, bad influences, and other aspects that are associated with substance abuse that can also predispose them to trauma. This could be by accidents, crimes, violence and other forms of trauma-inciting incidents. A person’s genetics are theorized to have something to do with a person’s predisposition to developing trauma and those who have addictive tendencies, but it is still yet to be proven by research. 

Why Trauma Victims Turn to Substance Abuse

The effects of trauma can be difficult to manage for some people. Negative emotions, thoughts and the stress it comes with can be overwhelming to some. This is why addicts will seek out ways to cope. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the easiest and fastest coping mechanism is using harmful and illegal substances to numb the pain. About 90% of people in a behavioral health care facility have experienced something traumatic in their lifetime and many of these trauma can last for years. 

Individuals who put themselves in risky situations often do so under the influence of mind-altering drugs and alcohol, which then can lead to more trauma. It becomes a never-ending cycle that gets harder and harder to break as time goes on. 

There are plenty of reasons why a person might turn to substance abuse after a traumatic event. It could be because:

  • They want to dull the pain.
  • They don’t want to keep reliving the experience in their mind.
  • They want to avoid thinking about the traumatic event. 
  • They don’t want to believe they have trauma.
  • They want to show others that they can handle the situation. 


It is a challenge to find quality treatment for co-occurring substance addiction and psychological trauma. However, the most effective kind of treatment for this condition should be designed to target both the trauma and the addiction. Treatment must include psychotherapy and perhaps even medication, which can address both conditions. There are medications and types of therapy that can help treat the symptoms of trauma kinds that can treat the addiction as well. Seeking a good treatment facility with this kind of program should help get you set on the right track. 

If you or someone you know suffer from trauma and addiction, it is crucial to find an experienced and reliable treatment facility that can help you with this. There is still hope for those who are suffering from these conditions. Healing will not happen overnight, as recovery is a process that never truly ends. But working through the right treatment program can do wonders in helping you regain control and happiness in your life. You just have to work with the best so you can live your life to the fullest again, don’t lose hope.