Jan 06

Identifying Drug Addiction

Malibu Addiction Treatment

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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Dec 30

Relapse & Addiction Treatment


While relapse may be common amongst addicts, it may also make it
seem as though the cycle of drug abuse is inevitable and unending.
The cycle of addiction however, is not always unending — it just takes
a long time for the brain to heal. When the levels of important chemicals
are measured in the brains of users who are at various stages of abstinence,
it has been suggested that the newly abstinent users have lower levels of
these chemicals. This can change with addiction treatment. The longer
the addict is without drugs, the more the brain chemistry returns to a
relative state of normalacy.
The main issue is that the return to ‘normal’ may take a very long time,
months or years. There is evidence that the rate of return varies
with the individual.  So, we have to cope with the fact that healing
from addiction takes a longer period of time than most can spend
in treatment.  Alternately, we can develop new ways, approaches, or
techniques that allow some form of treatment to extend for a long
time.  It’s more like a lifestyle change. The particulars of this are left
up to the addict and his or her treatment professionals. Getting
everyone onboard with this duration issue has to happen before
we can realistically address the problem.
Acceptance may hold the key. If somebody is already an addict,
They need to find a way to get off drugs and minimize the damage
they cause. To do that, they likely need the help of a professional.
It can be a long battle. If you are worried that you or someone you
know may become or is becoming an addict, then assess pre-existing
vulnerabilities. Are you worried about a genetic load or predisposition
to drug use? Are you in a difficult environment where drugs are freely
available?  These vulnerabilities need to be assessed, perhaps with a
professional, so that your behavior can be adjusted to keep you safe
from relapse.
Drug addiction can be complex, long lasting and complicated to treat.
Relapse prevention can encompass a number of activities that include
behavioral and life style changes as well as taking medications.  No
disease is easy to deal with and the vulnerability towards getting sick
again and relapsing may always be there. Staying sober require self-
awareness, vigilance, persistent effort and treatment that works.

Contact Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center

Dec 21

Boundaries In Addiction Treatment


The disease of addiction causes havoc in all areas of people’s lives. Nothing is left untouched.  Usually it is the addicts’ closest relationships that suffer most…and longest.  A person can protect themselves while still supporting their loved ones, if they understand the need for healthy boundaries.
For anyone involved with an active addict, you know it can be heartbreaking and destructive, leaving people feeling helpless and wrung out.  One of the hardest things to do for our loved ones is to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Not only do these boundaries protect us, they may help the addicts find recovery.
Setting boundaries between active addicts and family may mean detaching oneself a bit. It may mean having that person leave the home or even calling the police. These are challenging tasks and it is common to feel guilt as one takes necessary steps.
The sooner we set firm boundaries between an addict and his/her family, rather than enabling them, the sooner loved ones may find their bottom, and consequently, treatment. Every addict has to find his or her bottom, the point at which they can sink no lower.  We show respect for loved ones when we allow them to find their bottom, their own truth of sorts.  Attempting to shield loved ones from the consequences of actions may only wind up delaying the inevitable, at great cost to everyone.
Boundaries with family members are just as important once an addict enters treatment. Trust must be earned and it is important to learn good self-care during the process. It is also not uncommon for those in relationships with an addict to develop co-dependent behaviors. One may become so accustomed to taking care of an addict that we don’t know any other way. When the addict stops using and is active in recovery, the dynamics of the relationship may change dramatically.
One would hope that simply removing drugs and alcohol from an active addict’s life will solve all of their problems.   so.  For an addict, living clean and sober is far from normal and takes some getting used to.
Newly recovering addicts may find themselves trying to relearn how to live life while at the same time trying to cope with a roller coaster of emotions, guilt, anger and unresolved trauma. This can be a tumultuous time for everyone involved. Which is exactly why learning and practicing to boundaries is so important.
We must learn to care for ourselves first, allowing loved ones to find support from their counselors, sponsors and recovery groups. If you have a relationship with an addict or alcoholic, whether they are in recovery or not, it is important to learn, practice, establish and maintain new boundaries.  These boundaries will allow a loved one to both care for themselves and simultaneously support their loved one in recovery.

Contact Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center

Dec 11

Outpatient Treatment For Addiction

outpatient treatment

Treatment facility professionals will usually discuss with patients and their
families, the need for outpatient treatment.  You may have heard the terms
extended treatment or sober living after completing the initial detox portion
of a program.  The reason for this is results.  It has been shown that completing
a full continuum of care helps patients remain clean after treatment.
Outpatient treatment is especially helpful for people who have been to
many treatment centers for addiction and have repeatedly relapsed. There is
benefit for everyone to participate in an extended care treatment program.  It
may however, be particularly helpful for young adults and chronic relapsers.
It has been suggested that to get the true benefits of sobriety you need at
least four to six months of treatment.  Outpatient treatment allows a patient
to get the full array of treatment services for a longer period of time. Time is
your friend in addiction treatment. The more time you invest in your sobriety,
the better your chances are at staying clean.
Residential treatment generally has a detox element followed by a period
of stabilization during which time one’s thoughts may begin to become
much clearer. If you are in a 12 step residential program you will usually begin
working on steps 1 and 2. During those steps you are starting to realize that you are
powerless over the drug or alcohol and you are starting to see the effects it has had
on your life.  Right when an addict is just beginning to think more clearly and become
more grounded, residential detox treatment usually ends.
Outpatient treatment, aftercare & sober living, are important because it is where
longer-term treatment begins. In these programs people can work on the 12 steps.
It has been found that working on the 12 steps in a residential community over
a period of several months allows patients to truly understand their disease and
how to handle real life struggles without using.
When someone in an outpatient treatment program faces difficulties, they can go
back to their community and the counseling staff for support. This helps eliminate
failure when tested. Young adults especially benefit from being part of a community
and working the 12 steps while continuing to be educated about the addiction process
and how to live a sober life.  Recovery takes time and it is difficult to retrain one’s
thinking in only a few days.
There seems to be a rush to just get back to life as we know it. Too often
those in recovery and their loved ones are desperate to believe they
are cured. There is no cure, but with long term treatment, you will have
a better chance at sobriety. For many addicts, those that do not choose
to continue treatment in an aftercare or outpatient treatment program will likely
relapse within a few weeks or months of discharge from residential detox.
Outpatient treatment programs that you may want to consider should provide
a wide array of services such as, family sessions, group and individual therapies
and wellness education that treat the mind, body and spirit.  Consider individual
outpatient programs that offer the same in-depth treatment as residential programs,
but in a sober living type community with added freedoms.
While some may not be able to afford the full continuum of care, it is generally
recommended that chronic relapsers receive as much treatment as possible.
When it comes to fincancing additional time in addiction treatment program it may
be necessary to draw on all family members and available resources. Addiction is
a family illness and it takes a family to come together and pool resources to
provide a loved one additional time in treatment.
Any additional time in treatment is significant for someone truly in need of recovery.
For example, It may take the average heroin addict several times in treatment
before cessation of using and recovery begins.  Even if it seems like an addict doesn’t
get it the first around, many times outpatient treatment is just the beginning of the path
that leads to a lifetime of recovery from addiction.

Contact Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center

Dec 04

Addressing Nutrition In Addiction Treatment

There are many approaches available in addiction treatment and a holistic approach is the most well-rounded.  Inside the framework of whole person addiction treatment, the importance of good nutrition cannot be overlooked. Many physical complications of addiction can be due to the consequences of inadequate nutrition.
When drugs replace healthy, balanced eating and nutrition in a person’s diet, one becomes malnourished. Consuming little, if any, essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, fats and minerals can cause a person’s health to deteriorate quickly. Proteins, for instance, are building blocks in the body. People need proteins to maintain cells, tissues, blood and organs. An addict usually is lacking in these proteins, inhibiting the body’s ability to grow and thrive.
Essential vitamins and minerals play crucial roles in the body’s health, including cell maintenance, metabolism and wound healing. In drug addiction, the body experiences greater difficulty absorbing these important vitamins and normal body functions are then disrupted. Over time, addiction and inadequate nutrition wear away at the body decreasing its natural immunity to fight disease and serious health problems may develop like pancreatitis, neurological issues, cardiac complications, stomach ulcers and increased risk of cancer.
The human body is resilient and even those who have severely abused their bodies through drug abuse and resultant poor nutrition can show great progress towards healing and recovery with a nutritional approach. Seeking professional medical help should be the first step towards recovery and this necessitates an addicion treatment program that addresses nutritional deficiencies. Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center helps guide those recovering from addiction in finding the best diet for their recovery and healing. Just as poor nutrition can exasperate complications of chronic addiction, good nutrition can go a long way towards rebuilding health and reversing the damage before it becomes permanent.

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Nov 24

Addiction & Personality 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.
A very high percentage of those with personality disorders also suffered from drug and alcohol abuse at some period during their lives. Up to 77 percent of alcoholics and addicts also met the criteria for a personality disorder. The most frequent observed character issues found in substance abusers were antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
However, these  personality 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 they are thought to have a ‘dual diagnosis‘.
Treatment of addiction with comorbid personality disorders is complicated. Recent treatments and methods have been developed, though they are only available at highly qualified facilities such as Oceanside Malibu 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 personality disorders are most in danger for suicide attempts.
Most people who are active in their addiction present indications of personality disorders. 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, effective treatment begin to address the issues and treatunderlying problems in a fitting manner.

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Nov 16

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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Nov 10

Is A Sober Coach Right For You?


For those who have had difficulty staying sober in the past, relapse is sometimes expected after addiction treatment. This is not meant to be discouraging, but as addiction is a chronic disease, it is hard to treat and may take some time to adjust to a sober lifestyle. Despite the rate of relapse after treatment being as high as up to 60 percent, you do not have to be a statistic. Working with a sober coach may be the key to success in recovery for those who have experienced prior difficulty maintaining their sobriety.
A sober coach is aware of the variety of barriers addicts face in redefining their life script, participating in healthy surroundings, and forming new, positive alliances in their community. These can be internal barriers such as emotional, spiritual, physical or motivational issues. There may also be external barriers that may interfere with an addict’s ability to address their own needs in relation to transportation, nutrition, housing, work, and socialization.
Working directly with the client and treatment team, a sober coach can help develop a set of specialized outcome goals designed to overcome obstacles. The Sober Coach is also a guide utilizing a vast working knowledge of resources within the community to help, not only navigate the barriers to abstinence, but remove them using a skill set gained through extensive personal experience while teaching by example. The Sober Coach will help a client define exactly what lengths they are willing to go to protect their investment in themselves.
Before being discharged from rehab, be sure to research all the options available to you with your treatment team. Develop a plan of action and stick to it. A sober coach, though unlicensed, is prepared to assist with your recovery by helping you to alter your mindset, and present your sobriety as manageable. They may also be utilized to help you set goals and ensure accountability.
There may be a hard road ahead, but once you’re ready to commit, working with a sober coach can help make transition to recovery after treatment much smoother. A sober coach interfaces with every aspect of your treatment team and your recovery network to help ensure your success.  Come and meet your new sober coach today at Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center!

Nov 04

Addict, Sociopath or Both?


A person in the grip of addiction may display several features which closely mirror that of a sociopath.  However, without achieving abstinence first, it may be hard to sort out whether or not the condition is primary or symptomatic of addiction.  Persistent and sometimes complex dishonesty is one of the primary features of the condition.  While it may seem that being a sociopath would imply that these individuals are not social, that is not the case.  Sociopathic or antisocial personalities use their exceptional social skills against society or normal socialization, in the form of manipulation, intimidation and control.  People around them are simply a means to an end.  This includes friends, loved ones and family members.  They may use others for their own personal entertainment, exhibit a history of hostility or violence and participate in high risk behaviors such as abusing drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse is often one of the high-risk behaviors associated with most personality disorders.  This may be an attempt by the individual to seek refuge from their symptoms. The specific reasons why an individual with sociopathy is abusing drugs or alcohol can best be determined in treatment but the most important thing is that they treat their problems.
A primary feature seen in a sociopath’s behavior is a lack of respect or concern for the safety of others.  An addict or alcoholic often shows no empathy for others, and may display symptoms such as irritability, agitation, manipulation and control or a dereliction of personal responsibility.  Because the behavior of someone in active addiction so closely mirrors that of the sociopath,  it may be difficult to directly see the difference between the two sets of attributes. Is the family being lied to and neglected because drugs are being abused or is it something deeper and more primary?
It is important to understand that addictions and issues like antisocial personality disorder are treatable to a certain extent. When a person seeks treatment with both or either of these disorders, the clinical staff at the facility will use a variety of methodologies, including accurate basement measures and testing, to determine the best protocol.  This will aid the clinicians in developing a specialized and comprehensive outcome-based treatment plan.
There are various treatments available for sociopaths and those with other personality disorders. The most common of which is psychotherapy.  While medications such as mood stabilizers are sometimes used, people who received cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for antisocial disorders generally showed positive results.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a short-term treatment, which lasts several weeks, however individual needs may dictate more comprehensive, longer term measures.
Due to the fact that personality disorders can be both persistent and severe, it is not uncommon for the affect individual to question the need for treatment in the first place.  This denial is the hallmark of addiction and can be particularly strong in an individual with a person with sociopathic traits. The process of treatment itself can take up to six months or a year to achieve results.  Ultimately, the success of any program of recovery from psychological conditions, drug abuse, or alcoholism, will depend on a sincere desire and earnest effort on the part of the individual to get well.
Over a long enough timeline without treatment, the combination of sociopathic personality traits and active addiction will likely lead to legal consequences. Treatment may not necessary be voluntary in order to be effective either.  Prisons, which are full of both addicts and sociopaths, have long benefited from the establishment of rehabilitation programs and 12-step groups. The outcomes tend to be beneficial even in cases where there was some degree of coercion, like a reduced or suspended sentence.

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Oct 31

Gaming Addiction


Human beings respond to a reward system.  In essence, this system helps to cement positive behavior with pleasurable stimuli and discourage adverse behavior with negative reinforcement. At the center of the reward system is the idea of motivation. Motivation may be intrinsic, that is, inherently pleasing or extrinsic which requires conditioning and learned actions. These motivations control the various decisions we make in life from eating to taking drugs to gaming.
It would appear on the surface that the rewarding nature of gaming is understood simply as a finite matter of wins and losses. Howerver, the greater the incentives, the more motivation one has to continue playing. Monetize game play and it puts a twist on the gaming world by upping the ante on winners and losers. The act of betting has to do with beating the odds and can impart upon people of a sense of superiority that reinforces the impulse to play and promise of a greater positive reward.
Financial loss, however does not always limit the act of playing, often quite the opposite. Instead losing may increase the incentive to play in order to once again beat the odds and the promise of even greater positive reward, psychologically and/or monetarily.  Even with video gaming where money is not involved, players can be motivated by ‘virtual’ rewards encouraging continued play. This behavior can indicate a dangerous turn of events behaviorially, perhaps signalling the beginning of reward based impulsive behaviors in a person which are the hallmark of addictive thinking patterns .
While playing games may be fun, be it video gaming, gambling or otherwise, it is important to stay aware of one’s motivation to ensure that habits do not form which may become harmful and debilitating.  A loss of control is at the heart of most addictive or compulsive behaviors.  Once it becomes difficult to stop engaging in a pattern of behavior that begins to develop consequences in one’s life, it may be time to pause, take a look at the situation and reach out for help if necessary.

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