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Dual Diagnosis: How Emotional Pain Feeds Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction problems can be hard enough to get over on their own. The fact that most substance abuse issues lead to chemical changes in the body makes overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction far and away one of life’s biggest challenges.

Unfortunately, a large number of people with substance abuse issues also suffer from mental health problems that can make overcoming their drug or alcohol issues that much more difficult. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and even uncontrollable stress or anxiety can greatly exacerbate substance abuse issues. In many cases, these types of mental health issues are one of the primary factors that lead to substance abuse issues in the first place.

This condition is known as dual diagnosis, and it is important to make the distinction between it and normal substance abuse issues. The fact that these individuals are dealing with not one, but two serious conditions at the same time can make it essential that they receive the proper treatment for both.

In essence, the two conditions work together to form an unending cycle on abuse and mental health issues, and the only way to finally escape is to undergo simultaneous treatment for both instead of treating them as separate, unrelated problems.


Dual Diagnosis Definition: Understanding the Extent of the Problem

Understanding the true dual diagnosis definition is important in helping to explain why this issue can be so complicated and so impossible to treat unless properly diagnosed. In simple terms, dual diagnosis is when a person is clinically diagnosed with both a substance abuse disorder and an accompanying mental health disorder.

Unfortunately, there is nothing simple about these cases since it is generally necessary for the person to overcome both issues. The specific mental health disorder that the person suffers from plays a hugely important role both the type of treatment required and the difficulty and time involved in completely overcoming it. Still, it is essential that the individual gets this treatment and fully overcomes their mental issues along with their substance abuse issues. Otherwise, their ongoing mental health issues ensure that there is a very high chance that they will quickly relapse back into using drugs or alcohol.


The Importance of Learning How to Deal with Emotional Pain

Probably the biggest obstacle facing people with both substance abuse and mental health issues is understanding how their mental and/or emotional problems directly contribute to their substance abuse issues. It is also important to understand how one of these problems usually contributed to the development of the other. While knowing which of the two issues came first doesn’t really affect the overall treatment, it is still helpful to understand the full extent of the interrelationship between the two.

For some people, it was their mental health issues that eventually led them down the path to addiction, whereas others eventually begin to suffer depression or other mental health issues as a direct or indirect result of their substance abuse. Either way, the first step is to get a better overall picture of how both problems developed and why.

One of the biggest factors in successfully treating both disorders simultaneously is teaching the person how to deal with emotional pain and other emotional problems. Constant feelings of depression, anxiety, anger or worry can all be extremely difficult to deal with, and this is precisely why many people turn to drug or alcohol use in the first place.

Alcohol and drugs often serve as a coping mechanism—allowing a person to at least temporarily forget about their stress and worries. Drug and alcohol use also causes your body to release endorphins, dopamine and other chemicals that can boost your mood and quickly lead to elevated feelings of happiness and euphoria.

The truth is that a majority of people use drugs or alcohol occasionally for these reasons. Still, there is a huge difference between a clinical mental health disorder and feeling occasionally sad or overly stressed out. The problem becomes when a person continues to reach for this coping mechanism as this can quickly lead down the slippery slope to addiction in an extremely short amount of time. Without proper emotional healing, the mental health issues will continue to lead to more drug or alcohol use, and things only ever get worse over time.


Treating the Underlying Emotional Pain and Mental Health Issues

The fact that it is emotional pain that cause many people to turn to substance abuse in the first place means that this is also the first place that treatments typically start. In simple terms, focusing on emotional healing and learning how to better cope with mental problems often holds the key to overcoming both the substance abuse and mental health issues. Of course, people dealing with severe depression, bipolar disorder and other serious mental health disorders may also need intensive counseling, medication and other potential treatments.

The actual treatment method varies from person to person depending on both the type and extent of their mental health and substance abuse disorders. Still, that’s not really the point here. Instead, the point is to show you just how important it is to treat the mental health side along with the substance abuse issue in order to affect real, lasting change.


Outpatient Treatment Program in Los Angeles

At Launch Centers, we have years of experience treating dual diagnosis patients, and our knowledgeable, patient counselors will help to come up with a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of finally overcoming both your mental health and drug or alcohol issues once and for good. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery.

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Am I An Alcoholic?

If you’ve been abusing alcohol on a regular basis and are wondering “am I an alcoholic?” there are numerous signs of alcoholism that can help you answer this question. Alcoholism is a dangerous disease that needs to be treated quickly so as to mitigate the damage caused by the condition. It can sometimes be difficult to notice that you or someone you love has become an alcoholic. This is why it’s important to focus on identifying whether or not you or the individual close to you has become dependent on alcohol.


Signs of Alcoholism

To recognize the signs of alcoholism, you should first be aware of the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Alcohol abuse occurs when you are drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis. If you continue to abuse alcohol, the problem may turn into alcoholism, which is a type of chronic disease where the primary treatment is learning how to manage the symptoms that come along with the condition.

There are a vast array of different signs of alcohol addiction that can help you identify whether or not addiction has occurred. A few of the common signs include going through short blackouts, suffering from memory loss, experiencing extreme mood swings, and choosing to drink instead of completing everyday responsibilities.

If you have resorted to drinking alone, this could signify that you have become an alcoholic. If you find yourself making different excuses to your friends and family members about why you drink, this is a strong sign that you are starting to become dependent on alcohol. If ever you feel guilty about drinking or find that some of your friends and family are criticizing you for doing so, it’s likely that you’ve become an alcoholic and are no longer able to control how much and how often you drink.


How to Quit Drinking

When you’re thinking of how to quit drinking, the most important thing to realize is that the process of doing so can be difficult. Some days are more difficult to avoid drinking than others. Once you fully understand the difficulties that come with quitting drinking, you can be more confident that you will be able to do so. The first step towards quitting drinking is to admit that you have a problem. If you’re unable to stop drinking whenever you want to, this means that you have a problem. Focus on why you want to stop drinking, which can be anything from wanting to remain healthy to wanting to get better sleep.

With these goals in mind, you can always remind yourself of them if ever you start to slip up and pour yourself a drink. Make sure that all of your friends know that you’re not going to be drinking. In general, the first three days are going to be the most difficult when attempting to quit drinking, If you start to experience withdrawal symptoms, this likely means that you are an alcoholic and will require some form of treatment to more effectively quit drinking.


Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

When you are suffering from alcoholism, one of the best ways to manage the withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop drinking is to be aware of the standard alcohol withdrawal timeline.

First Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

The first stage of withdrawal will typically occur within the first eight hours after you stop drinking. This stage includes such symptoms as insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and a substantial amount of pain within your abdomen.

Second Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

The second stage of withdrawal can last for anywhere from 1-3 days depending on the severity of your addiction. You will likely experience symptoms like higher body temperatures and high blood pressure during this stage.

Third Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

The final stage can be one of the most difficult to handle without relapsing unless you seek treatment to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. The third stage will last upwards of 3-4 days following the conclusion of the second stage, during which you will experience such symptoms as a high fever, hallucinations, increased agitation, and severe seizures. Without treatment, all symptoms of withdrawal should start to subside after 5-8 days.


What to Expect With Outpatient Rehab

One of the most effective treatments that will assist you once you’ve admitted that you’re an alcoholic is an outpatient treatment program. This is a type of rehabilitation that takes place at an outpatient facility, which means that you can still go to work and school during treatment. Most rehab centers start with detoxification to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms.

Once detox has been completed, you will go through a number of sessions that focus on both group and individual counseling while also educating you about substance abuse. This treatment can last as long as it takes for you to learn how to cope with your alcoholism. You should expect to attend treatment sessions for anywhere from 8-12 hours each week.

If you have recognized that you are an alcoholic and are looking to obtain help for your addiction, contact Launch Centers to learn more about the outpatient care we offer.

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Failing University Because of Depression

Young Adults Failing University Because of Depression

One of the more challenging phases of life is the transition young adults experience when moving from the parental home to college life.  With all the hoopla generated about career paths, college preparation, and college admissions during the high school years, landing in the dorm room on a late August day can trigger feelings of angst.  This is the part no student is really prepared for.

Unfamiliar feelings, such as being homesick while surrounded by strangers in a new setting, can be destabilizing.  Suddenly solely responsible for juggling academic, social, and work obligations can be overwhelming to a young adult.  The impact of these fears and emotions can result in the symptoms of depression, including lethargy that leads to missing classes and receiving poor grades.  Sometimes poor academic performance itself may trigger the symptoms of depression.  In either case, young people are increasingly failing university because of depression.

Why Are Young Adults Failing University Because of Depression?

The adjustment to living away from home can be surprisingly difficult for young adults.  The college campus may be miles away from one’s hometown, and can lead to a deep sense of loneliness or feeling like one doesn’t belong in their new surroundings.  Attempts to make new friends may feel forced and uncomfortable, especially if social anxiety is an existing issue.  In addition, universities have their own unique culture, rules, and academic expectations that may take time to adjust to.

When persistent feelings of sadness, fatigue, worthlessness, and despair begin to overwhelm the college student, academic performance will likely suffer.  This becomes a vicious cycle, as poor grades only add to the feelings of worthlessness.  Feeling like one isn’t measuring up to other students, or even one’s own potential, can cause a crisis of confidence, exacerbating the depression.  

Worries about the parents reaction to the poor grades, or potentially losing a scholarship, puts even more pressure on the student to perform.  But the depression leaves them powerless and immobile.  Depression can cause sleep disturbances, including excessive sleeping with no energy to even get out of bed.  Others with depression will have difficulty getting enough sleep due to insomnia, impacting their ability to concentrate.  

Young adults with depression may begin to abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to self-medicate, only to make the depression that much worse.  If these symptoms go untreated, the student will end up failing university because of depression and may potentially develop a substance use disorder.  In fact, according to data reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 6.4 million young adults aged 18-25 had a mental illness in 2012, with 2.2 million, or about 30% of them having a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Steps to Take When Failing University Because of Depression

College students experiencing depression should take advantage of campus counseling or outpatient professional therapy.  The therapist may end up referring the student to a medical doctor who can prescribe antidepressants.  Ongoing counseling in combination with the medication may provide relief from the symptoms of depression.  At the very least, the counselor offers the student a safe, supportive place to share their fears, insecurities, and emotions as well as receive some advisement regarding school options.

If the depression occurs during the early weeks of the semester, there are options available.  Withdrawing from the classes by the deadline, versus failing them, can save the GPA and allow the student to take some time to get therapy, rest, and reboot to move forward.  The student may also opt to take a semester off and return home for some time to mature and heal before returning to school the next semester, or to reassess life choices.

Young Adults Need Goals and Purpose

A common source of pain in young adults is the sense that they have no real purpose in life.  They may feel they are going through the motions of what is expected of them, without feeling any ownership over their young adult years.  Some feel they are just being carried through this phase on a wave of “shoulds” and a sense of duty toward parents and loved ones, but their heart just isn’t in it.

Young adults sometimes need help in exploring their passions and determining what it is they want to do with their lives.  Examining their interests and skills, they may arrive at a realization that takes them on a polar opposite path than the one they are currently on.  Identifying purpose is very empowering to a young adult, and may go a long way in easing depression.

Launch Centers Outpatient Program for Young Adults Treats Depression

Launch Centers is an outpatient program serving young adults aged 18-28 in Los Angeles, California.  Launch Centers offers a multi-level program that combines therapeutic services, educational planning and assistance, and vocational goal setting and preparation.  For more information about the young adult outpatient program, contact Launch Centers today at (310) 779-4476.


Depression Outpatient Treatment Centers

Young Adult Depression Outpatient Treatment Centers

Young adulthood, those individuals aged 18-35, can be a particularly challenging period of life for many.  Societal expectations seem to be continuously ratcheting upward—are you attending the “right” college, are you embracing the “right” career path, is your social media presence impressive enough?  On and on, the incessant parade of culturally imposed standards runs through the young adult’s head, causing doubt and confusion that often results in major depression.

In California alone, 347,000 young adults reported having at least one major depressive episode in 2010, according to statistics reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, table 26).   Nationally, the prevalence of major depression affects nearly 10% of the young adult population, as reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.  The quarter-life crisis, that development phase of young adulthood featuring feelings of doubt, stress, insecurity and diminished self-worth, has become ubiquitous.

While there are many theories as to why the occurrence of depression is prevalent in today’s young adults, some possible factors include a lack of family acceptance and support in childhood and teen years, social media itself, genetics or family history of depression, trauma or abuse, grief and loss, and substance use disorder.  Regardless of the origin or causal factors, access to depression outpatient treatment centers is key in treating the mood disorder.

Symptoms of Young Adult Depression

The transition between adolescence and adulthood can be packed with challenges.  Young adults are adjusting to college life, roommates, living away from home and feeling homesick, juggling heavy academic loads, and encountering temptations such as recreational drugs, alcohol, and casual sex.  A certain percentage of young adults have more pronounced difficulty during this phase of life and can become clinically depressed. The symptoms of depression can include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despair
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Sleep disturbances, either insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Angry outbursts
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing, and remembering things
  • Slowed thinking and movement
  • Changes in eating habits, either substantial weight loss or weight gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness and self-blame
  • Fatigue
  • Falling behind academically
  • Unexplained physical symptoms, such as recurrent headaches or back pain
  • Suicide ideation or obsessive thoughts of death

Treatment for Young Adult Depression

If the young adult is living away from home it can be difficult for parents to recognize the symptoms of depression.  However, if it becomes apparent through texts, phone conversations, or occasional visits that your young adult is exhibiting some of the symptoms of depression, the sooner they receive treatment the better.  Timely intervention for depression helps to decrease the likelihood that the young adult will progress further into the mental health disorder and/or high-risk behaviors.

Young adults can get help at a depression outpatient treatment center that provides a multi-dimensional approach.  Core treatment elements will include antidepressant medications prescribed with individual psychotherapy and group therapy sessions.  Treatment for depression related to the 18-35 year old demographic should also include guidance toward defining purpose and setting life goals, as well as life skills training.

Co-occurring Substance Abuse Disorder with Depression

In a significant number of cases of depression among the young adult population, a co-occurring substance use disorder is present.  This dual diagnosis reflects the tendency for an individual to attempt to self-medicate the uncomfortable emotional pain of a mood disorder, such as depression.  According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug use and Health, rates of adults with past-year serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders were highest in the 18-25 year old age group (35.4%).

When a young adult has a dual diagnosis it is imperative that both disorders are treated at the same time.  The depression outpatient treatment centers are equipped to treat and manage co-occurring substance use disorders as well as the depression.

Launch Centers Young Adult Depression Outpatient Treatment Centers

Launch Centers is a unique outpatient treatment program that serves young adults aged 18-35 in Los Angeles, California, and features an emphasis on life skills and goal setting.  Launch Centers provides ongoing outpatient treatment for mood disorders, substance use disorders, and dual diagnosis through a structured and systemic program that empowers the young adult toward becoming a confident, productive individual.  For more information about the program, please contact Launch Centers today at (310) 779-4476.

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Young Adult Outpatient and Drug Rehab Los Angeles Promotes Life Skills and Goal-Setting

Specialization in Young Adult Rehab 18-28 and Empowerment for a Solid Future

During the critical teen and early adult years of emotional development, young adults learn to plan for their academic and/or vocational future.  This period is often earmarked as a training ground for acquiring the important life skills needed to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that await them.  Young people are trained during high school and college to set goals and form a blueprint that can be accessed as a guide along the way to achieving these goals.

When a young adult veers off into substance abuse, it can cause a disruption in this learning and maturation process, stunting personal growth.  Once addictive behaviors have been treated and the young person’s path redirected, there is a need for proactive and structured guidance to help them regain their footing.  This type of assistance can help the young adult reclaim their former interests and passions and set fresh life goals while moving forward in recovery.

How Outpatient Rehab for Young Adults Encourages Accountability

Drug and alcohol abuse can wreak havoc on a young person’s dreams and ambitions.  Addiction robs them of direction, motivation, and effort, displacing any previously set aspirations and life goals.  While under the influence of the substance, the individual loses the ability to follow through and take responsibility for their lives, culminating in a sense of being rudderless, flailing about without direction in the abyss.

An outpatient rehab for young adults that emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability can restore lost plans and set the young person back on course through identifiable goals and achievements that are methodically accomplished.  Strong guidance provides the framework for daily, weekly, and monthly accomplishments that eventually lead to the desired academic, personal, or vocational goals.

Personal accountability includes not only meeting expectations towards declared goals, but a whole host of areas in life.  Young adults in recovery often need to be taught how to adhere to a schedule and how to manage their time.  They may need to learn basic personal finance skills so they will be able to meet their financial obligations as adults.  The importance of fitness and nutrition needs to be reemphasized, as addiction can take a toll on overall health.  Accountability to others, nurturing relationships and learning communication skills is also a vital part of overall recovery.

Goal Setting in Outpatient Rehab for Young Adults

Self-esteem is often a casualty of addiction.  Young adults in recovery may feel worthless, like they are a burden to their family and have nothing to offer society.  This is why a sound outpatient rehab program for young adults must focus on restoring self-worth by helping clients discover their purpose in life.  Through ongoing counseling and mentoring, young adults in recovery can identify their strengths, skills, and talents.  They rediscover interests and passions that had been dormant while involved in substance abuse.

Once these important personal revelations are identified, new life goals can be defined.  While some young adults may seek higher education that will lead to a certain profession that interests them, others may want to try working in a field that stokes their passions.  What matters most is that the young adult set goals and follow through by taking the steps needed to achieve the goals.  Accomplishing even small tasks can lead to renewed self-confidence, which can lead to an undertaking of more challenging, and rewarding, tasks.

Launch Centers Drug Rehab Los Angeles Outpatient Program Empowers Young Adults

Located in Los Angeles, California, Launch Centers is an outpatient program for adults in recovery aged 18-28 who desire a fresh start in life.  The compassionate counseling team will guide clients toward identifying passions and achieving life goals.  These highly skilled professionals utilize a structured, systematic program with measurable outcomes that lead clients to tangible results.  Clients gain important life skills and renewed confidence as they progress in the program.  For more information, please contact Launch Centers today at (310) 779-4476.