Sep 12

Generosity

generosity_oceanside-malibu-treatment

The smallest act of generosity can have a big impact on the way we view ourselves and the way we view the world around us. We start feeling calmer and becoming kinder to everyone, including ourselves, and we start to feel those benefits right away. By practicing generosity on a daily basis, we develop a giving nature that benefits ourselves and the people around us, which helps us work through the challenges we encounter during the recovery process.
A simple word or two can be enough to make or break someone’s day. We can use words wisely. Without being dishonest, we can be generous in the things we say, and how we say them, by focusing on using kind words when speaking to others. We should get used to giving compliments and saying a heartfelt thank-you now that we no longer have to live the lives of defensiveness and hostility that addiction left us. If we start practicing with the lessons of politeness we were taught as children, we’ll find that our days are filled with opportunities to say something nice.
Attending meetings, time with our families, therapy and our other daily obligations, our “free” time becomes more and more limited. Part of personal growth, however, is making time for others. Even if it’s a half-hour here or an hour or two there, we can show generosity by making some space in our schedule and giving some of it to help others. Charities, other organizations, and our community support meetings all need people who can give of their time.
We can show generosity through even the smallest acts of kindness. Offering to help someone carry heavy bags, inviting a newcomer out to coffee with the people we hang out with in recovery, or shoveling the neighbor’s sidewalk, whatever it is, our generous acts can brighten someone else’s day, at little or no cost to ourselves.
When we’re able, we can commit to performing at least one small act of generosity each day. Whether it’s with our words or deeds, we can give our time and care to someone else. By focusing on being generous, we wind up growing as individuals and becoming happier and healthier.

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Aug 31

Relapse

Relapse Definition_Malibu Treatment Center

Relapse occurs when a once abstinent individual ingests a substance in order to get high, experience euphoria or blot out feelings and consciousness, whatever the reason. So, when it come to relapse, intent is everything. Some difference of opinion however, exists between different 12-step groups as to the precise meaning of a relapse. Two common definitions seem to exist, one held by AA, the other a commonly-held belief of people in the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
The organization Alcoholics Anonymous does not require any particular viewpoint. When we talk about the AA view we’re talking about a way of thinking commonly held by members of AA, not any rules or laws established by AA. In AA, only the physical consumption of alcohol counts as a relapse, commonly called a slip. When a person with any amount of AA sober time chooses to drink alcohol, they are said to have slipped or relapsed.
Narcotics Anonymous members have expressed a belief that a relapse can take place without picking up, that is, without taking a drink or a drug. The concept of a spiritual relapse is alive and well in NA.  For instance, if an NA member suddenly stops attending meetings, stops calling friends from the program, or avoids their spiritual life and new ways of behaving, they can be said to have relapsed. This is in part because of tradition, in part because drug addicts tend to see their drug use are more immediately life-threatening.
However it is that you personally define a slip, it’s easy to see both sides of the controversy. Surely, taking a drink or a drug is a relapse, or slipping back into old behaviors.  For many in recovery from substance abuse, displaying old behaviors or avoiding new coping mechanisms like regular 12-step meetings is an early warning sign of an eventual slip.
Despite whether you see relapse as the literal use of drugs or alcohol or conform to the popular NA belief in spiritual relapse, the problem most likely lies in the poor formation of a recovery program. Relapsed individuals should take the incident as a sign of a need for change in the way they’ve approached the process of abstaining from intoxicants and use it as inspiration for a return to recovery meetings and literature.

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Aug 25

Treating Addicted Couples

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There is little doubt that marriages and relationships are impacted by substance abuse and addiction. Addiction has long been considered a family disease. It directly effects all members of the immediate family, often times for generations. Addictions can plummet marriages and families into chaos, both before and after substance abuse treatment. Being informed and educated about how a relationship involving addiction looks and behaves, along with active participation in treatment, may assist couples build a better relationship. Couples counseling can gently assist in moving both of you towards your goals…together.
Addiction encompasses a variety of emotions that are both unstable and intense. Life events impacted by addiction result in a great deal of discomfort. Some of these may include: mistrust, betrayal, rejection, and the feeling of being ‘unloved’. Causing others emotional pain is a by-product of addiction and once the addict decides to attend treatment at facility such as Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center, relationship issues still need to be worked on.
When an individual enters our facility, he or she may experience  many new emotions. Once detoxification has completed, addicts and alcoholics begin to see the level at which addiction has contributed to the destruction of their relationships. Non-addicts may need to recognize and take ownership of their own behaviors during the period of active addiction. Some behavioral issues which may need to be addressed include identifying codependency, rebuilding trust, practicing honesty, setting healthy boundaries, resolving the past, and learning how to forgive, to mention a few.
Seeing a relationship through the recovery process may take a little effort but it is well worth it. When non-addicts are actively involved with their own recovery programs, the relationship can continue to grow. Some of the elements of a healthier relationship which can begin to replace destructive patterns are mutual respect, unconditional love and acceptance.
It is not uncommon for dysfunction to attract itself. The Staff at Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center understand this. Some people will choose others whose dysfunction or wounding compliments their own on the opposite end of a complimentary spectrum. This process frequently occurs beyond awareness. Often times people are baffled at how they keep ending up with different partners whom at first seem unlike others they’ve chosen in the past, only to find themselves reliving dynamics of past relationships.
Permissive or enabling qualities are attractive to an alcoholic or addict, but such behavior may provide fertile ground for his or her continued substance abuse to grow. If the non-addict monitors the addict or alcoholic’s every move once he or she has returned home from treatment, it may also contribute to potential relapse. This is why it’s important for both individuals to be accountable for how they may have helped foster less than functional relationship patterns. Some options for recovering a relationship damaged by substance abuse and dysfunction may include comprehensive couples co-treatment, counseling, or separation.
Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center is unique in that we use a holistic approach to treatment, working with both the individual and their family, when appropriate or necessary.  We do this so people struggling with addiction can find the help, support, and resources they need to work on themselves and repair relationships with family members into something whole. Our location , one of only a small few directly on the beach in Malibu, provides comfortable, serene surroundings and a safe, tranquil environment for individuals seeking refuge from the wreckage of substance abuse issues.

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Aug 18

Managing Feelings In Early Recovery

Feelings

Happiness, joy, or love can make us feel more vibrant and alive. Anger, frustration, and resentment can leave us with feelings of being overwhelmed and create stumbling blocks to progress in our recovery. This is particularly true when we have extreme feelings that we cannot seem to let go. Feelings of anger, resentment, and shame often led us to use substances in the first place. Our substance abuse was often driven by the desire to control the feelings that we thought would overpower us.These feelings may follow us into our days in early recovery.
The miracle of getting clean & sober does not mean that we are suddenly relieved of all the feelings that lead us to abusing substances. We have gotten clean; we haven’t been transformed into saints. But now that we are in recovery, we cannot run and hide in substances whenever the tide of feelings threatens to overcome us.
In early recovery, it is most important that we develop the coping skills necessary for us to get through another day clean and sober. Why we are angry, fearful, sad, or resentful is important, but healing the things that drive our feelings will be the ongoing work of our recovery. Finding a way to deal with these feelings in the moment is a skill we need to start developing right away.
Useful tools for coping with our feelings are taught to us in addiction treatment. Putting these tools into practice is not usually something that we can do all on our own. The illusion of complete self-sufficiency that lead us deeper and deeper into addiction has no place in our recovery. We must reach out to others and ask for help in working through our feelings and implementing these tools in our day-to-day life.
How do we pray, how do we meditate, how do we take a step back in the moment, how do we gain perspective?  These are all questions we need the help of others to answer. Getting help does not mean we are failing in recovery. The truth is that asking for help is proof that we are changing for the better. Asking for help is a significant step forward from the days when we thought we could always ‘handle it’ no matter how much of a wreck our lives became.
One cannot move forward with recovery if he or she can’t also move through feelings and make it to the other side. We can no longer rely on the false sense of relief that substances gave to us. Just like we could not get or stay clean on our own, we aren’t likely to suddenly be able to work through our emotions on our own. By asking for help and accepting the help that is offered we set the groundwork for growth and change that will carry us anywhere we wish to go in our recovery.

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Aug 05

Finding A Higher Power

Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center_Finding A Higher Power

It’s common, and often times necessary, for people on the journey of addiction recovery to desire a connection with a higher power. Sometimes, simply strengthening and refining our relationship to the house of worship from our upbringing can fulfill our need for connection with a higher power. In addition to rehabilitation treatment and support received from loved ones, this relationship provides a source of stability and support that allows an addict to heal. Through prayer and attending worship services, an addict with a sincerely held religious belief can redefine his/her life and gain a new sense of purpose. As addicts, however, we are often an irritable group who generally bristle when we first hear talk about any kind of higher power. But whether or not we are religious, we can be spiritual. Spirituality can be a personal journey within ourselves. But how do we start on that journey?
Our connection with the environment can awaken our spirits. The physical environment has long been linked with spirituality. In ancient cultures, the sun, moon, mountains, and rivers all had spiritually significant roles. Taking part in the life that grows around us and developing a passion for nature can be a great method to harness peace and purpose. A long walk in the woods, gardening, or volunteer work with animals, any of these things can give us an opportunity for reflection on our connection with the world around us and help to develop our sense of a higher power.
Giving back to others is a spiritual act in itself. Selfless acts go beyond religion and give us a sense of deeper connection the communities in which we live. Regardless of personal belief, giving of ourselves is rewarding both to the people who receive our charity and to us. Acts of selflessness create a virtuous circle that feeds our spirit and helps connect us with our higher power.
We may wince at the very idea of “meditating.” We’ve already had to get and stay clean. It feels like we have had to change everything in our lives. Now people are telling us that we have to become some kind of guru and stare into the distance until we achieve enlightenment. But, meditation is not something to inspire resentment or fear – although it often does for people who have never tried it. Meditation is a practice that happens appears in many different organized religions, but so is charity, and we have no problem separating religion and our own acts of charity.
Meditation is simply a method of being still and practicing mindfulness. As addicts, we often live fast, drama-filled, seemingly complicated lives. Meditation offers a simple method for us to take a small step toward slowing things down, if only for a short period, and feeling connected to our own existence. There are also several physical and emotional benefits of meditation. What is important is that we set aside time for ourselves each day during which we practice awareness of self and our connection to the people, life around us and our higher power.
We can make a connection to a higher power with or without religion. If we follow a particular religion we can improve our practices and improve our conscious contact. If we do not follow a particular religion, we can take steps toward awareness and connection that will yield spiritual dividends.

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Jul 31

Relapse

Relapse Treatment Oceanside Malibu

There are many points of view on a relapse. One school of thought says that relapse may be part of the recovery process. It has also been stated that relapse occurs only when the commitment to being clean and sober is weaker than the desire to use again. Yet others claim that relapse is a symptom of a brain disease called addiction that occurs in some drug users, but not others.

Regardless of your perspective, for people suffering from drug addiction, relapse is an event with potentially catastrophic consequences. Even if one were only clean and sober for a short while, that probably enough to be aware that one takes their lives in their own hands when they choose to use again. If an addict experiences a relapse, how one feels about it is far less important than what they do to address the situation.

The most urgent need is to honestly acknowledge the relapse. It is important to recognize what has happened, both for yourself and those closest to you. Secondly, asking for help is necessary. Not only to ‘ask’ for help, but to actively ‘get’ help. An addict cannot trust themselves to figure it all out. A treatment center, therapist or counselor, support group, sponsor, a family member, or any combination of these supports, can an addict get back on the beam as soon as possible.

At this point, one can feel a sense of self-loathing. The addict may hate themselves for wasting the prior clean time that was accumulated. Despite the fact of the relapse, it is important to understand that the behavior is both harmful and deadly to the addict themselves and those around them. It may be tempting to judge oneself harshly for making the wrong decision. However, judging oneself without the clarity that a support group could provide to the situation, could create yet another reason to continue to relapse.

An addict may feel shame or feel so worthless that they are not deserving of receiving help and continued support. Yet, the commitment to get and stay clean, in addition to willingness to ask for and receive help from people we trust, is the basis of humility. A decision must be made, no matter the mistake or circumstance, to get and stay clean one day at a time. It is then that the addict can choose to end the cycle of relapse and continue to recover.

Keeping the purpose of being clean and sober clear in one’s mind, can keep an addict sober, if they remain honest, willing and keep trying. If a slip back to drink or drugs occurs along the path, it is not to be taken lightly. It is addressed as quickly as possible using the tools learned from recovery. Avoiding self condemnation, it is important not to hamper one’s forward momentum with critical thinking or value judgements. Without pride it is paramount to reach out and get help quickly in order to facilitate a return to recovery.

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Jul 25

Addictive Thinking

Addictive Thinking_Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center

Impaired impulse control, combined with a relative inability to process consequences, can accurately sum up what is often referred to as addictive thinking. These types of thought patterns can lead to a lack of trust in one’s self and others, then to increased isolation. Reward and negative reinforcement factor importantly in behavioral and addictive motivation. The anticipation of reward is sometimes what we refer to with the terms ‘triggers’ or ‘cravings’, which are addressed in treatment at Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center
Once the brain experiences, or anticipates experiencing, some rewards from drug abuse, such as blunting of negative emotions, an increase in feelings of well-being, or the lessening of withdrawal symptoms, negative reinforcers are put in place. When a negatively reinforcing behavior like drug abuse sets up a reward pathway within the brain, regulation of impulse control is compromised and negative consequences that result from the continued use of the substance cease to matter as the substance is now also being abused in order to diminish the feelings associated with these consequences.
This is where addictive thinking comes into play. Once a relationship between a behavior and a feeling is established, obsessive thinking or anticipation of reward may be coupled with more uncomfortable feelings unless a particular action is followed through to its conclusion. Chemical restructuring in the brain may bring about dominant thoughts which center on obtaining and using the drug necessary in order to both create and diminish the desired euphoric effect and the resultant accompanying grief involved.
The resultant physiological and psychological cravings will produce thought patterns which are often referred to as addictive thinking patterns. Addictive thinking in relation to substance abuse may manifest itself in difficulty delaying gratification, pleasure seeking, impulsive actions, degradation of previous held moral standards or principles, a victim mentality, and a fear of exposure. The foundation of these addictive thinking processes are anchored in denial of one’s own objective reality, irrationality of thoughts and behaviors and self-obsession or selfishness to the point of willful disregard or neglect of another’s feelings or safety. Addicts and alcoholics often show no awareness or concern for the boundaries set by other people and compromise their own values in order to obtain and use the substances that provide relief from the resultant obsession and addictive thinking.
The vicious cycle of addictive thinking patterns result in unhealthy behaviors that then begin to have a negative impact on relationships. Nearly every action, motive, or decision the addict makes can begin to fall into question or suspicion by those around them. As an addictive behavior history begins to take root in an addict’s life, non-addicts begin to take notice and become mistrustful. An addict’s predominant focus becomes the obtaining and using of a particular substance or substances. Frequently the addict, driven by this type of addictive thinking, will choose a relationship with a drug over those with his or her own family.
Addictive thinking patterns produce unhealthy behaviors that negatively impact relationships. Non-addicts will begin to question the addict’s motives and thought processes behind decision making. Distrust of the addict develops based upon behavioral history. The main focus for an addict is substance abuse, as he or she will often choose drugs and/or alcohol over family. Isolation starts to develop in this pattern as friends and family begin to distance themselves from the addict because they no longer trust them and also as a protective mechanism from being hurt or let down.
Arguments increase and people get pushed away as the addict begins to rigorously defend his or her motives and position, especially those that challenge the addictive behaviors. The addict has now become alienated. The isolation or alienation fuels the substance abuse and denial becomes the main strategy for the addict to help justify the behaviors.
From the addict’s point of view, everything is just a big misunderstanding: family don’t understand, friends don’t understand, employers don’t understand. The addict may then seek solace from other active addicts and the addiction may grow stronger. The isolation from family and friends has now become reinforced.
In treatment, these addictive thinking patterns must be brought to light and addressed by both the addict and their loved ones, as this type of behavior can continue to persist even in sobriety. At Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center, we treat individuals and their families, we even take couples in together for treatment, because we understand that addiction is a family disease. The staff at Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center understand this and are thoroughly trained to help bring your family together.

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Jul 19

Recovery From Addiction Takes Time

Recovery From Addiction Takes Time_Oceanside Malibu

Lives that were cluttered with destruction and chaos, when actively using, are not necessarily quick to sort out. Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center can guide you to make demonstrable changes necessary in order to both embrace and maintain recovery. Before making outside changes, we must first go inward. Memories and feelings may be overwhelming during the detox phase of treatment. Therefore, it may be helpful to visualize reasonable expectations of what sober feelings and behaviors might begin to look like.
Addicts want what they want when they want it. A need for instant gratification defines drug addiction, so the tendency to apply the same idea to one’s recovery wouldn’t be uncommon to an addict. Though the expectation may be speedier outcomes in the process of changing people, places and/or things that addicts associate with their substance abuse, it may take some time. Oceanside Malibu’s Staff can teach you to change behavior patterns in order to maintain your recovery after treatment subsides.
Trying to maintain a pattern of positive thinking, less centered on self and perhaps more focused on what we can do for others. Allowing our feelings to flow through us, without judgement or attachment to any particular emotion that we may use to define or limit ourselves. Feelings are not facts, neither are thoughts, they come and they go. Behaviors may begin to reflect a more sober style of navigating our surroundings. Being honest and truthful in all our affairs may become the new norm, as once perhaps dishonesty or even thievery may have been the way around situations we found ourselves in.
Restlessness, irritability, and discontentedness are the enemies of recovery. When lonely, an addict may fondly or even euphorically begin to reflect upon the past. Romanticizing past drinking or using with willful disregard of thought paid to consequences suffered may eventually lead to acting upon those thoughts. Without making fundamental changes to reinforce a new sober way of life, relapse could be inevitable.
Necessary and useful changes to make in early recovery from addiction include changing the people we used to spend time with including friends who are still in active addiction and/or toxic relationships that may trigger the desire to drink or use. One may also wish to change previously frequented places or establishments where alcohol or drugs are common in order to avoid convenient opportunities to relapse. Sometimes the things one used to surround themselves with including TV programs, movies, music, or other mementos which were closely identified with previously held attitudes or belief systems should be abandoned during early recovery as well, as they may be relapse triggers.
The desire to make all these changes quickly and with the least amount of pain involved may weigh heavy on someone in early recovery. It must be acknowledged however, that all these changes may bring on feelings of loss and there may be some grieving involved. This takes time and it’s important not to become too overwhelmed or begin to feel stagnant with the lack of forward momentum one may feel.
It’s important to pace oneself, letting go of old friends, even loved ones, can be quite difficult and it will take time. It may be sad and frustrating as well, but this is a commitment to change, to moving on, to life itself. Many people relapse during this early period of change, be mindful of old behaviors and thoughts. Begin building new, healthy relationships and surround yourself with others in recovery who are committed to and have make the same positive changes in their lives as well. Be patient. Remember that a person likely seeks treatment for their addictions because they sought change, so it’s important to lovingly embrace that change.

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Jul 08

Anonymity In The Digital Age

Anonymity In The Digital Age_Malibu Treatment Center

Our culture increasingly has become even more digitized with technology. Our mobile phones have actually now become small portable computers. These tiny devices can quickly locate great restaurants, indicate memorable places to visit, and play our latest hit songs. Not only that, this micro circuitry takes portraits with greater clarity, brilliance, and speed than any camera from years ago.
These cameras are just not in cellular phones. They have exponentially multiplied. Moreover, they are located everywhere. These small inexpensive devices are located on street lights, garages, hallways and elevators taking consistent video of how we behave, what we say, and how we appear.
Never before in history has there been such an availability of constant real-time play back
on what people are really doing. As a result of these changes, the world has become a more transparent and vulnerable place to live. Behaviors, actions, and utterances that were once thought to be more private have the possibility of becoming personalized public nuisances.
For the addict, this new world can become increasingly difficult. Those who have been connoisseurs of denial, rationalization, and minimization are no longer able to hide. In fact, they stick out like a sore thumb. Significant others are more likely to find glaring inconsistencies in alibis from loved ones when posts show up on social media about where one spent their time on Friday night. Also, the entire world can discover charges including DUI’s, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and other mischievous behaviors quickly on the internet.
Occupationally, one’s ability to hide locations of leisure can quickly be deciphered by looking at the location finder on a cellular phone. It is more difficult to deceive. It is more challenging to manipulate. In essence, the substance abuser’s ability to change the reality of stories just plain outright does not work. Although the substance abuser may not like this new reality, there are many opportunities that can be gleaned from our advancing technologized culture.
Because anonymity has markedly eroded, we are now challenged to become more genuine, authentic, and credible. We are forced to make sure that the heart, our head, and behaviors are synchronously aligned. We are pulled to become greater people, with higher values, who strive for more noble causes.

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Jul 01

Genetic Determinism In Addiction

Genetic Determinism_Malibu Treatment Center

Some scientists suggest that genetic determinism is essentially the predictor of our future. They tend to lock us rather securely into our physical heritage through heredity.  So when it comes to addiction, these scientists tell us that if we have one parent who is an alcoholic or drug addict, we have a fifty percent chance of inheriting the same disease. If both our parents are addicts, we have a ninety percent chance of becoming similarly addicted to alcohol and/or drugs.
Many who accept the premise of genetic determination often try to change or delay its impact when it comes to such obvious life threatening maladies such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and COPD. They exercise, lose weight, eat healthier and pay close attention to the advice and warnings they receive from their doctors and other health specialists. Few, however, who live in the danger zone of addiction, follow the same protocol.
In fact, too many people biologically targeted by addiction even know or understand the warning signs of alcoholism or drug abuse. Instead they live blithely in denial until they begin to teeter on the edge of disaster or are already in its clutches. Even then, through some illogical mental quirks like pride, shame, ignorance and fear,many still believe they can handle things on their own and refuse to reach out for help.
Alcoholism is a threefold disease. It affects one physically, mentally and spiritually. An alcoholic is constantly walking around with a drink on his mind. It’s called a mental obsession. Then once he or she picks up a drink, a physical compulsion takes over and they can’t stop. They become powerless over booze.
One drink is too many and a thousand aren’t enough. And as they slide deeper and deeper into addiction and become willing to do almost anything for another drink, they become spiritually bankrupt. While addiction can be a disastrous family inheritance, the miracle of recovery can overcome the power of our genes and give us the greatest gift anyone could possibly receive – sobriety – and it’s offered to anyone who truly wants it.

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