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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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The Emotional Consequences of Substance Abuse

The impact of substance abuse has far-reaching consequences. It is estimated that over 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. When you consider the families and friends affected by the cycle of addiction, both directly and indirectly, the problem goes much deeper. Struggling with addiction is incredibly difficult, but it’s also difficult for loved ones who have to deal with an addict as they ride a wave of self-destruction. The emotional effects of substance abuse are widespread and the consequences are severe. Addiction is a family disease.

 

When people think about the harrows of addiction, the focus tends to center around the physical and economic aspects of the problem. The perception that the impoverished and homeless are the only ones suffering from substance abuse disorders needs to fade away. Being able to hold down a steady job and be functional while abusing substances doesn’t render the problem less serious. Quite the contrary. Living a double life isn’t sustainable in the long run, and often cause tremendous hurt and neglect to those around you.

 

While the physical dangers of addiction pose a very real threat, the mental and emotional hardships often go unaddressed. In fact, most substance abuse is a byproduct of an existing mental health disorder that can be benefited with dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis is a model of addiction treatment that treats addiction while simultaneously uncovering and treating mental and emotional issues. And the emotional stability of the addict isn’t the only issue that needs to be addressed. Family therapy can greatly benefit everyone involved by bringing to light the way a family functions as a unit.

 

The emotional consequences of addiction can run deeper and last longer than the physical ones. Trauma leaves a lasting mark. Not only for the addict but for their friends and family. Emotional scars can last a lifetime without treatment from trained mental health professionals. In most cases, substance abuse is an unhealthy coping mechanism that was developed as a reaction to early childhood trauma. In order to fully recover from years of substance abuse, these issues (and the damage they have caused loved ones) must be addressed. To fully recover from a substance abuse disorder, it is necessary to undergo a variety of therapies to get to the heart of the problem.

 

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them. If you or someone you love suffers from the emotional effects of drug or alcohol addiction, contact Launch Centers to seek immediate help.

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The Link Between Addiction and Attachment Disorder

What is Attachment Disorder?

Human beings are designed for community living and social bonding. As a survival mechanism,  infants will instinctively attach themselves to caregivers. Attachments are developed when psychological, physical, and emotional needs are met. Ideally, these attachments are grounded in trust, communication, and a level of growing independence. Because infants rely entirely on adult caregivers for emotional regulation, their development is directly correlated to the level of security given to them by parents or caretakers. This is the foundation of how humans learn emotional self-regulation.

When infants do not receive reliable attention from parents (or caregivers) they begin to develop alternative ways to calm the distress. Crying babies are a challenge for even the most patient adults. Attentive and loving parents are unable respond to their baby’s every need. Inevitable factors such as this, as well as more tragic factors such as abuse, neglect, and trauma further hinder a child’s ability to develop healthy attachments.

Various forms of childhood attachment disorders, while unique in and of themselves, share a common trait. Namely, the child’s attempt to seek out external modes of self-comfort during stressful situations. A healthy attachment to caregivers is a necessity in early development. For this reason, infants that develop attachment disorders oftentimes never learn how to self-soothe in productive manner.

 

Understanding How Addiction Develops

How exactly does an attachment disorder correlate to drug addiction and alcoholism? As children grow into adolescence, they naturally become more independent. That is to say, the become less dependent on parents and caregivers. This is a completely natural part of growing up.

However, children that have developed an attachment disorder will seek out external forms of coping to fill this void. Humans need emotional support healthy self-regulation. When children reach their teenage years, they often begin to be exposed to drugs and alcohol. If an attachment disorder has been developed, these teens will find the illusion of security in negative behaviors. There is an increased vulnerability to substance abuse, eating disorders, self-mutilation (cutting), aggression, and perfectionism. This is also a time of heightened social emphasis. Young adults with attachment disorders may begin to establish unhealthy relationship habits that are distinguished by dependency, manipulation, or avoidance.

Drugs and alcohol can seem like an effective way to self-soothe to the teenage mind. Alcoholics and drug addicts oftentimes recall their first experience with substance abuse as a notable experience, filled with feelings peace. Drugs and alcohol can have profound emotional effects. They create fleeting feelings of euphoria.

At an early age, people that have developed an attachment disorder oftentimes have low self-esteem accompanied by feelings of worthlessness. Later in life, this can manifest itself as a fear of intimacy. Adolescence is awkward, and intoxicating substances offer the illusion of refuge and understanding to young people seeking emotional comfort.

 

Moving On From Addiction & Attachment

At Launch Centers, we use the awareness of the link between addiction and attachment disorders to customize treatment programs to the unique needs of each individual client. This approach to treatment is known as Dual Diagnosis. This is when mental health issues are treated simultaneously with substance abuse disorders. The two are typically intertwined.

Drugs and alcohol feed feelings of isolation and detachment. This is way addiction recovery programs prioritize the development of healthy relationships with reliable people. Relationships that promote intimacy offer a solid foundation for people in recovery – helping to repair patterns of avoidance that are so often prevalent in addicts.

Contact Launch Centers today to learn how our addiction and mental health treatment programs can help you steer your life back on the right track. We offer educational programs and vocational training so that your life has purpose and potential after treatment. Get ready to Launch!

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Young Adults Find New Purpose in Substance Abuse Counseling Los Angeles

Therapy and Counseling in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA

Every day we have a new opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.  For some, this sense of hopefulness for the chance to improve one’s life resonates deeply, particularly for a young adult in early recovery.  The renewed vision for their lives post-rehab can be shaped in a meaningful way via tailored substance abuse counseling.

When a young adult places their trust in a mentor who truly wants the very best for their young charge, great things can happen.  Establishing the bond of trust between client and counselor opens up dialogue, introspection, and the ability to dream again.  The future is what we make of it; it is a personal choice one makes to be a positively and purposefully contribute to society or not.  When life-skills training is combined with effective substance abuse counseling, a solid foundation for growth and renewal is laid.

Substance Abuse Counseling with Purpose

There is substance abuse counseling, and then there is substance abuse counseling with a purpose.  Too often therapy sessions with young people do not have a goal-oriented trajectory and become a wheel-spinning exercise in futility.  When the mission is shifted towards using substance abuse counseling to redirect a young adult toward finding their purpose it becomes a life-building exercise in hopefulness.

A good counselor will guide the young client toward identifying their interests, passions, skills, and talents, and then applying those to real world possibilities.  It isn’t enough to only educate them on the dangers and futility of drug abuse.  In addition to a solid and well thought out relapse prevention plan, the counseling sessions should include direction towards new life goals.  It is in seeking purpose and a productive future that helps many recovering from substance abuse the positive distractions needed to move past a drug or alcohol-seeking lifestyle.  Having someone on your side to nurture these new goals, who expects accountability in achieving them, will create a recovery partnership that yields fruit.

What Features Make Substance Abuse Counseling Effective?

To be effective, psychological therapy that is focused on the young adult cannot be a one-size-fits-all model.  Young people encompass a diverse demographic with strong opinions and personalities, and differing needs.  Attempting to shoehorn them into a predefined therapeutic mold will not resonate with a large percentage of clients.  The secret to successful substance abuse counseling is to have a nimble, individualized program in place.

With that in mind, the most effective counseling program for young adults will offer a variety of therapy models and adjunct therapies that will address the uniqueness of this age group.  These features might include:

  • Individual therapy. Although most outpatient programs offer individual therapy, it is the variety of approaches that makes the truly effect program stand apart.  By having an expert clinical staff that can select from various modalities—such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, trauma informed, or existential therapies—allows for the right therapeutic fit.
  • Group therapy. Group therapy, when adeptly facilitated, is a good counseling venue for young adults who are comfortable working in group settings.  To be effective, the group sessions should revolve around topics germane to relevant issues regarding, not only addiction, but relationships, wellbeing, and sexuality.
  • Family therapy. Because addiction impacts the whole family on many levels, having a family therapy session component is intrinsic to the overall recovery of the client.  Often, maladaptive or dysfunctional dynamics within a family are a factor in emotional disorders that may have led to substance abuse.  Healing the family post recovery, and providing new communication tools, is very helpful.
  • Adjunct therapies. An effective outpatient counseling program will provide various activities that promote wellbeing, personal growth, increased awareness, and empowerment.  These can be art and music therapy, dance classes, drama group, relationship skills, life skills and time management, and grief and loss group.

Launch Centers Young Adult Empowerment Program Cultivates Purpose

Launch Centers is a comprehensive outpatient program for young adults in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Sober Living resources are also available for those who would like additional support. Offering individualized counseling that is tailored to each client, Launch Centers cultivates a passion for life along with renewed purpose.  For more information on the program, please contact us today at (310) 779-4476.