EMDR in Addiction Treatment

EMDR Addiction Treatment

We know for sure that trauma occurs in well over 90% of people who seek mental health or addiction treatment. When a trauma occurs, it is outside of the normal range of human experience. When the experience happens and it enters into the brain, the brain doesn’t know how to process it, metabolize it for lack of a better word. Consequently, it gets frozen and isn’t processed like every other experience. If it’s frozen in time, the person consciously or unconsciously is still hanging on to the remnants of that experience and that can last for many, many years.

We certainly don’t want blame any person or event as the cause of an addiction. However, can a person or event have led someone who experienced trauma to seek comfort, solace, a sense of peace, or escape what they’ve gone through, with drug use? Absolutely that can happen, and that can happen with first use. They escaped the pain of the experience and that becomes its own reward. People may go back to that for the same reward. What can happen then is addiction, because it becomes its own separate issue and it is a disease. A fatal disease if it is not treated.

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is considered a very effective treatment for trauma. It’s also effective with other conditions including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to actually help the brain process though the experience. So that the memory is still there but it does not have the emotional stronghold that it once had. The memory doesn’t leave, but it doesn’t have a grip on the person any longer.

The brain tends to cluster similar experiences, including traumas. When a therapist and the client decide on the traumatic event that they want to work on, by clearing that one trauma, the other ones seem to have much less impact on their lives, and thus clear much more quickly. Thereby negating the necessity of having to do EMDR on everything they’ve ever gone through. The therapists at Oceanside Malibu are trained to set-up a treatment plan so that emotions and experiences are not overwhelming, they are manageable. Facing trauma may be upsetting at the beginning, but it is not overwhelming and it is not more upsetting than the original event itself. No more upsetting than continuing to try to resist negative feelings by drinking and drugging.

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Binge Eating

Binge Eating Treatment

When you think about an eating disorder, you might think about restricting food, like in anorexia, or purging food, like in bulimia. But the most common eating disorder has nothing to do with either of those. It’s called binge eating. These days when we hear the word ‘binge,’ we mostly think of watching like 6 episodes of the Netflix show in one day. And If you’re less TV-inclined, maybe you think of binging on food. Say, on Thanksgiving. But what if you found yourself overeating like that multiple times a week?  What if it felt like a cycle and it got really difficult to control?

This is what it’s like for people with a certain type of eating disorder. Even though it’s easily the most common eating disorder, chances are you’ve never heard of it. Binge Eating Disorder, or B.E.D., has as a primary symptom of frequent, seemingly uncontrollable food binges that create feelings of distress or guilt. If you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’ve gotten that extra-large pizza all for myself before, and I felt pretty terrible after,” you’re thinking more of over-indulgence than binging. Those with B.E.D. often eat even when they’re not hungry — even when continuing to eat is upsetting.

During a binge, they’ll eat a lot of food, super-fast, until it’s physically uncomfortable to eat any more. Binges are often planned in advance, with ‘special’ food purchases. Sufferers often try to hide their atypical eating by eating alone or hiding food they’ve purchased specifically for binging. But while the binges may be planned, when people are actually in the middle of a binging episode, it’s not uncommon for them to just zone out, then struggle to stop or even remember everything they’ve consumed. And even though it’s less likely to be on your radar than anorexia and bulimia, studies have shown that B.E.D. is over three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined.

In one study, researchers asked nearly ten thousand Americans about their experiences with various mental health conditions. And they found that 3.5% of women and 2% of men had B.E.D. at some point in their lives. That’s a pretty massive number, and it doesn’t just make binge eating the most common eating disorder. It makes it more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia. So, it’s something worth paying attention to. It was only officially recognized as a stand-alone eating disorder in 2013, so at this point, we don’t know everything about what causes B.E.D. But research seems to show that it has some genetic basis.

As one’s DNA doesn’t determine everything about mental health, genetics isn’t the only factor here. Stress may play a role, too. Some evidence for this comes from a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research. It compared 162 black and white American women with B.E.D. to the same number of women without it who matched their demographics. After interviewing these women, the study found that, across the board, those with B. E. D. had a lot more stressful events in the year before their symptoms began.

These triggering events could be anything from a passing comment about their body shape or weight, to work or school stress, abusive relationships, or major life changes. Outside of this study, research has also found that other psychological factors can contribute to binge eating too, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessiveness, and perfectionism. But people can also be born with differences in their brains that make them more likely to develop B.E.D

For example, a systematic review analyzed 51 articles on binge eating and found that when compared to obese people without B.E.D., people with the disorder had stronger responses to food rewards, meaning food likely had more influence over them. They were also more impulsive, and many of the studies showed evidence that those with the disorder were more likely to act spontaneously, or even recklessly, in their day-to-day lives.

Brain imaging studies have also backed up these findings. For example, another study used brain scans to show that people with B.E.D. had less activity in the part of the brain that handles inhibitions. But really, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. There appear to be other things happening in the brains of those with binge eating disorder, and honestly, scientists haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of it yet. That doesn’t mean they don’t know how to treat this condition, though.

People seeking treatment are often prescribed a course of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. This type of therapy aims to make people aware of how their behaviors are connected to harmful beliefs. And that awareness can help minimize behaviors like binge-eating. This approach is often effective, but those who need a little extra may be offered antidepressants to alleviate symptoms related to binge eating, like depression and anxiety — which can make therapy more effective. Like many other psychological conditions, B.E.D. is complex and there’s no silver bullet to treat it. But the more we learn about it, the faster we can get working on finding new and improved ways to recover.

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Ketamine to Treat Depression?

Ketamine Treatment

There’s a new drug called Esketamine for treatment-resistant depression. This is a type of depression where people basically do not respond to any of the conventional treatments. In the United States alone, there’s just over sixteen million people with depression. That’s just over 6 percent of the entire population of the country, and a third of those people do not respond to any of the treatments offered to them. These individuals are classified as having treatment resistant depression and it’s one of the most horrible things to comprehend. To know that you are depressed, you have a diagnosis of depression, but your psychiatrist just turns around and says, ‘sorry there’s nothing else I can do, you’ve tried everything.’ That is just like staring into the abyss.

Hopefully esketamine will prove a tremendous option, a real godsend for people with this type of a depression. If you have been diagnosed with depression and you’ve tried at least two different drugs, you maxed out the dose of those drugs & you’ve tried them for long enough, then you are defined as having treatment resistant depression. Ketamine is said to work in as little as one day. Realistically it might be a week, or maybe five days, but even that is incredible because the current treatments like SSRI’s and other common treatments for depression, take weeks to work. You have to wait four to six weeks for the treatment to fully kick in, this is amazing news for people with depression who want to get better as soon as possible.

Esketamine is incredibly restricted, so the supply of this is only through clinics and a psychiatrist. When a patient enrolls to take this medication, they are administered it in the psychiatrist’s office, as they have to be monitored for at least two hours afterwards, so there’s incredible restriction on the use and possession of this drug. This drug is based on ketamine, which was a huge party drug, particularly back in the 80’s & 90’s. It’s a hallucinogenic which people took to feel euphoric & creates an out of body feeling. Ketamine was really a popular recreational drug and esketamine is essentially pharmaceutically pure ketamine.

One of the ways ketamine has been traditionally used is as an anesthetic, a horse tranquilizer, and the side effects can be incredibly deadly if not used properly. If you overdose on ketamine, you are pretty much finished because it basically just shuts you down and you lose consciousness. While esketamine is administered via nasal spray at low to moderate doses, it still has a pain killing effect, an antidepressant effect, a little bit of euphoria, and it will impair your motor skills. When you take this, you won’t be able to drive a car, you are pretty much out of action, so this drug has to be used incredibly carefully. There is a concern that esketamine may yet reveal a potential for abuse.

The cost of this treatment is also high, around nine hundred dollars for one treatment cycle. Another concern with esketamine is that the drug was rushed through the FDA process, it did not go through all the trials that a normal drug goes through before being marketed and given a license. The decision to bring it to market quickly was based on the reasoning that it was necessary due to lack of other treatment options. Consequently, little is known about long-term side effects.

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Using Art Therapy To Treat Addiction


Oceanside Art Therapy

Art therapy, though fairly new as a therapeutic technique, can be traced back many centuries in various cultures, and has found a home in substance abuse recovery. It seeks to tap into one’s creative side and has been found to have a host of advantages. Clients may not find it easy to share their inner most feelings. Providing a  medium like art therapy may make it easier for them to share and let their counselor in to begin to help them.

Being responsible for creating and completing various creative tasks during art therapy can be very good for one’s self-esteem.  Low self-esteem is a common risk factor for substance abuse, so art therapy would directly help to address that. Pleasant thoughts and memories may occur during the process, assisting in the happiness and contentment that may be garnered from the experience.

Exploring the inner workings of one’s psyche via creative means can bring forth many revelations. Some may be hard to face. However, ignorance does not always equal bliss, so using the images and emotions that come up during the process can help provide new directions to explore with your counselor.

Art therapy is a pure, raw path to addressing mental and emotional distress, especially feelings that fuel addictive behaviors. There are many options for treatment available. Ensure that you explore them all to find the one most tailored to your needs.

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What Is Drug Addiction?

What is Drug Addiction

Why is addiction so rampant?  The illness of addiction is cunning, baffling & powerful.  The process of drug addiction can be so subtle, that by the time one hits the final stages of addiction, it may be hard to pinpoint at what point exactly, you got there.

Once drug use begins, the user maintains access to the substance and begins to use it more frequently as a positive reward system is set in place. The main goal is to regain the positive experience felt the first time drug use began. While this usage may be controlled at first, eventually it’s not. The rate of usage will increase proportionally with a newly forming tolerance. This begins drug addiction.  In a sense, drug use becomes a new hobby or obsession and begins to manifest itself in different aspects of a person’s life. Signs might include unexplainable change of temperament, mood, personality or habits, coupled with increased secrecy around behaviors.

Putting powerful drugs into one’s body causes chemical changes in the brain, which in turn alters normal functioning. Given time & increasing usage, the drug becomes a coping strategy, especially during stressful situations. This pattern is then set or hard-wired into the brain & body.  Drug addiction is a certainty when, after varying amounts of time without the substance or between periods of using, the brain & body experiences withdrawal symptoms. Nausea, insomnia, depression, and headaches are common. Once this begins and the drug is not presently available, obsession with the substance becomes a pattern as well. At this point, drug use usually intensifies in an effort to avoid withdrawal symptoms and mollify obsession.

The phenomenon of craving begins once addiction has taken hold. An individual with drug addiction may become irritable and start acting out in all sorts of ways, many quite alarming. Cravings can start to dominate thoughts, making it more difficult to concentrate and function.  At this point, a lot of time and energy of all sorts, focuses on the process or rituals surrounding gaining access to and using drugs.

Addiction is an illness which affects a person physiologically, psychologically and spiritually.  Whether subtle or overt, drug addiction can wreak havoc in all areas of a person’s life. In order to fully grasp an illness or disorder such as this, it is important to be armed with a few basic facts and then take action.

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Disorders of the Self

Self Disorders

Understanding addiction as a neurological disease that takes away the self-control one has over their own behavior helps to differentiate between addictive behavior and native personality traits.  An addict’s character may become extremely distorted when they are under the influence of drugs.  Once sobriety is established, the personality then reverts back to individual baseline behavior.  Therin sometimes lay the problem.

A very high percentage of those who suffered from drug and alcohol abuse at some period during their lives also had personality disorders or disorders of the self, a term coined by psychologist Heinz Kohut. It has been suggested that up to 77 percent of alcoholics and addicts also met the criteria for self disorders. The most frequent observed character issues found in substance abusers were antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

However, these self disorders are only two out of a dozen or so outlined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM outlines a personality disorder as ‘an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture; is pervasive and inflexible; has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood; is stable over time and leads to distress or impairment.’ Personality types can also consist of schizoid, paranoid, melodramatic, self-absorbed, reliant, avoidant, obsessive compulsive and others. When someone experiences addiction, as well as a personality disorder or mood disorder, they are thought to have a dual diagnosis.

Treatment of addiction with comorbid self disorders is complicated. Recent treatments and methods have been developed, though they are only available at highly qualified facilities such as Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center. In these cases, unfavorable outcomes and consequences will be certain if there is a delayed response in seeking addiction treatment.

Symptoms of repressed mental illness can ignite substance use in an attempt to self-medicate when there is an emotional state of hopelessness. Addictive behaviors in turn will only worsen that state of hopelessness. Consequently, this is the reason dual diagnosis patients and people with disorders of the self are most in danger for suicide attempts.

Most people who are active in their addiction also present indications of a disordered self. Ensuring individual safety in a secure and comfortable setting followed by a full psychiatric evaluation is required before a dual diagnosis can be determined. Only after this is done, can focused and effective treatment begin to address the issues and treat underlying problems in a fitting manner.

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