Drug Detox

Drug detox & withdrawal is very common in substance abusers. Symptoms can present themselves in several ways including but not limited to stress sensitivity, sleep disturbances, memory problems, impaired concentration, emotional overreaction or numbness and cravings. Substance abusers in early recovery often struggle with situations which bring about stress. It is important to remember that addicts while in active addiction participated in addictive behaviors as a means to cope or get away from the stressful events. Many times addicts describe themselves as raw. Treatment needs to include coping skills to replace the abusive behaviors.

Sleep disturbances will subside as time passes & non-addictive medications may be prescribed by a medical provider. Non-medication interventions such as creating a regular routine and sleep schedule can be helpful. In addition, exercise is a great way to burn energy and assist in reducing drug detox withdrawal symptoms. Forgetfulness is also common in drug withdrawal and can be stress provoking. It may be useful to write down a daily schedule or list of activities each day.

Attention-deficit disorder is not uncommon with substance abusers particularly during drug detox. These individuals struggle with focusing and may be easily distracted. Addicts commonly describe feeling either no emotions or flooded. This can be particularly distressing during detox, however in time it will pass. Those in early recovery are encouraged to verbalize either their lack of emotions or risk being overwhelmed by them. Utilizing mood journals can be beneficial. A mood journal is sometimes used by a therapist in working with a client to help track thoughts and break thoughts down as rational versus irrational.

Cravings during drug detox may arise from a triggers (physical, sensory or emotional). Often times anxiety during drug withdrawl refer to triggers as people, places and things. The cravings often bring about anxiety and depression symptoms. Some people in treatment think they won’t experience any cravings due to being in treatment. Of course, this is usually not the case & use of the drug suboxone may be necessary.

Talking about triggers in and out of treatment can be helpful. While in a treatment program, it is important to communicate triggers to family members. This is important as family members can be helpful in noticing body cues in the substance abuser when they are experiencing a craving. Utilizing thought stopping techniques such as rubber band therapy which may involve placing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping yourself when experiencing a craving can be a helpful technique as well.

Interestingly, drug detox does not always show itself consistantly. The symptoms do seem to come about at times of increased stress. It is important to remember that emotional sobriety is equally as important as physical. If the emotional aspect of addiction is ignored, relapse may be more likely. Drug withdrawal & detox should never be attempted alone as it can be deadly.

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Alcoholics Anonymous

AA how_it_works

Participation in Alcoholics Anonymous often brings a sense of connectivity, safety and support. Membership in this community can provide an opportunity for an addict to acquire a substitute self-object, filling an unmet need from infancy and childhood. AA may serve as an omnipotent transitional object, an integral ingredient in helping make the transition from ingesting self-soothing substances to sudden abstinence bearable.

When AA members speak about their devotion to ‘working the program’, they may be speaking less about AA principles and more about finding a power (AA) strong enough to compete with their drug of choice. Psychology often emphasizes the need for others to help maintain self-esteem, control anxiety, and provide self-soothing functions.

Long-term Alcoholics Anonymous membership combined with significant immersion in the fellowship may partially fulfill the idealization, mirroring, and twinship needs not properly internalized in addicts during childhood. Since it is difficult to fully meet needs that were unmet in childhood, many recovering addicts feel an almost “addictive” relationship with AA.

Perhaps the more one attends, the more the needs of idealization, mirroring and twinship will be fulfilled. Veterans of AA suggest newcomers attend 90 meetings in 90 days, supporting this hypothesis.  AA attempts to fulfill the addict’s mirroring need through admiration and validation. Designated time periods (30 days, 90 days, 180 days, 365 days, etc.) are constructed to acknowledge members have achieved significant abstinence from their drug or addictive behavior of choice.

At these times, members explicitly reflect and voice recognition of the individual’s growth during the recovery process — a coin may be given representing the amount of sober days and the individual may be given new membership responsibilities.  The celebrated member is recognized, validated, and admired by peers. In AA, the addict is given the time to freely share thoughts, feelings and experiences without interruption.

This process promotes, rather than represses, a natural grandiosity often unacknowledged by the individual’s primary caregiver.  It is a relief from the repression of emotions that often occur during active addiction. The mirrored self is seen as the addict begins to recognize like-minded individuals inside the various AA rooms.  Often he is surprised by the lack of judgment from fellow addicts.  This experience may have a transformational impact.

Attendees have located others in the world who have shared experiences and with that comes a unique sense of acceptance and familiarity. These like-minded individuals help lessen the shame associated with previous addictive behaviors. Peers begin to see how voicing their own experiences can help each other. They become sponsors to newcomers, helping guide them through the Alcoholics Anonymous traditions and principles. This continues an everlasting mirroring process, allowing the sponsor to continue having his own thoughts, feelings and experiences, recognized and reflected back to him by the sponsee.

Alcoholics Anonymous attempts to fulfill the idealization need by providing an organization to admire and identify with. It serves as a re-parenting mechanism substituting for the original idealized parental image. In the AA program’s principles and procedures, members recognize organization and productivity. In its focus on simplicity and consistency, members recognize calmness and rationality.

These features were usually not seen in the addict’s relationship with his or her primary caregiver. The hopefully productive sponsor/sponsee relationship makes vivid the often-problematic relationship of the caregiver/child. It is the hope that the sponsor, through example, can provide the addict with what the caregiver could not: the ability to be simultaneously productive and free from destructive anxiety.

The prescriptive nature of Alcoholics Anonymous, including working the steps, attending meetings regularly, getting a sponsor, and abstaining from drugs/alcohol, is reminiscent of a parental figure giving practical and compassionate advice to a child. The focus on a higher power, sponsor, group members and the entire collective could help mirror self-object functions previously attempted by the isolated individual.

The power of the fellowship is recognized as existing beyond any individual room, extending across states and countries. Individuals are given a common language to communicate with a diverse population whose similarities bind them together. The addict feels less isolated in this world, the exact opposite of what she may have felt when in the cycle of active addiction.

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Addiction & Relationships


An addiction is a relationship. When someone is addicted to a substance and/or a behavior, that person is in a relationship with their substance or behavior of choice, the same as if they were involved with a person. Further, the relationship with the object of their addiction is the most important relationship in his/her life. He or she will do anything to protect that relationship and keep it alive, i.e. deny it, lie about it, cover it up, minimize it, blame others, etc.

When a person with an addiction enters into a significant relationship, he or she is not entering into that relationship alone. Rather, he or she is bringing an already established important relationship into the new relationship. When someone who is in an already established significant relationship develops an addiction, he or she involves a third party in the relationship. In both of these scenarios the guiding principal of two’s company, three’s a crowd is impossible to uphold.

A relationship in which one or both individuals are engaged in an active addiction will be considered an unhealthy relationship. Having an addiction present in a relationship is having a toxin present in that relationship. Health is impossible. Addictions wreak havoc with our decision-making capacity. Inherent in the definition and understanding of addiction is that it is compulsive. Individuals with an addiction are no longer in control of their substance use or behavior. The substance use or behavior is controlling them.

Most of the behaviors which individuals become addicted to are normal, needed, natural behaviors. Once they become addictions, however, the behaviors are no longer being engaged in for the purpose they were intended. They are being engaged in excessively and compulsively for an entirely different purpose. For example, one is not working to earn a living, one is overworking to avoid feeling feelings or one does not eat to live, one lives to eat because the eating keeps emotional pain at bay. There comes a point where one crosses a line from engaging in a normal behavior to engaging in an exaggeration of a normal behavior which then becomes a rigid self-defeating pattern.

If someone has difficulty taking care of themselves, they may enter into a relationship with a compulsive caretaker and thereby avoid needing to develop this aspect of their personality. The catch though is that he/she then needs their partner to remain a caretaker. Any effort the partner may make to overcome this compulsive behavior will be discouraged if not outright sabotaged by the other person. This is not loving behavior.

A whole person is one who is independent emotionally, socially and intellectually. Emotional independence involves taking responsibility for one’s feelings. Though another person’s words or behaviors may trigger feelings of anger or sadness in us, we get angry or sad because of what is inside us. So, an emotionally independent individual takes responsibility for his/her pain and does not blame the hurt feelings on another person’s words or actions.

Social independence involves taking responsibility for developing and maintaining friendships separate from our significant other. This alleviates putting too much weight on our partner or significant relationship to fill all our needs for friendship and recreation. It is damaging to a relationship to carry this much weight. Intellectual independence means that we take responsibility for keeping our minds active and alert. We seek out new information in order to keep learning. We think for ourselves and form our own opinions. This goes a long way in keeping the relationship vibrant.

Relationships in which both partners are intellectually independent are not characterized by power struggles. Both individuals have accepted the reality that they do not have to think or feel the same way about all things. They have learned to agree to disagree. Addictions rob us of our capacity to be independent emotionally, socially and intellectually because addictions, by definition, involve dependence. To be addicted to a substance or behavior is to be dependent on that substance or behavior.

The addictive process begins with a desire to medicate or numb emotional pain. Once we find the substance or behavior that works to alleviateour pain we begin to use that substance or engage in that behavior with increasing frequency, increasing duration, increasing intensity, and increasing variety. These increases are necessary because we quickly develop tolerance. That is, we become accustomed to our substance or behavior of choice and need more of it to get the effect we want. As the addictive process progresses, the dependence grows and the capacity for emotional, social and intellectual independence diminishes.

A significant relationship by definition involves intimacy. Honesty about who you are and how you are feeling at any given time is a nonnegotiable ingredient of emotional intimacy. It goes without saying that if emotional intimacy is to develop and flourish in arelationship, each partner must be willing to fully and consistently share on a feeling level. If one or both partners are dependent on substances and/or behaviors to medicate emotional pain then feelings are deadened and emotional sharing is virtually impossible. Intimacy either is never established or, if it has been established, it vanishes.

As long as an active addiction or addictions are present in a relationship, the relationship will deteriorate. This process will likely continue until the consequences of the addiction hurt more than the fear of confronting it. When the pain of the addiction finally outweighs the fear, one or both partners are ready for recovery and then hope is finally possible.

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What Is Harm Reduction?

Harm Reduction Oceanside Malibu Treatment

Harm reduction is an approach to treating addiction that focuses on keeping addicts safe and minimizing death, disease and injury associated with higher risk addictive behavior, while recognizing that the behavior may continue despite the risks. At the conceptual level, harm reduction maintains a value neutral and humanistic view of drug use and the drug user. It focuses on the harms from drug use rather than on the use itself. It does not insist on or object to abstinence and acknowledges the active role of the drug user in harm reduction programs.

At the practical level, the aim of harm reduction is to reduce the more immediate harmful consequences of drug use through pragmatic, realistic and low threshold approaches. Examples of the more widely known harm reduction strategies are needle exchange programs, methadone maintenance treatment, outreach and education programs for high risk populations, law enforcement cooperation, medical prescription of suboxone and other drugs and supervised use facilities.

There are many reasons why people engage in higher risk behavior and not all people are able to make the immediate changes necessary to refrain from such behaviors. This approach offers a set of non-judgmental policies and programs which aim to provide and/or enhance skills, knowledge, resources and support that people need to live safer, healthier lives. It encourages people to build strengths and to gain a sense of confidence.

Harm reduction can help move a person from a state of chaos to a state of control over their own life and health. On average, abstinence is the most feasible way to reduce harm. Interventions that aim for abstinence and for safer drug use both have a place within harm reduction. The key is to balance abstinence-based programs with those that reduce harm for people who continue to use drugs.

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Family Roles That Support Addiction


Oceanside Malibu_Addiction Family Roles

Nothing exists in a vacuum, in order for addiction to grow and thrive within a family system it takes a village.  Everyone plays a part whether they know it or not. Here are some of the roles people may unwittingly play in enabling an addict to thrive and the feelings they serve to suppress:

The Addict:  The person with the addiction is the center, and though the key to alcohol and drug addiction recovery, not necessarily the most important in family recovery. The “world” revolves around this person, causing the addict to become the center of attention.  As the roles are defined, the others unconsciously take on the rest of the roles to complete the balance after the problem has been introduced.

The Hero:  The Hero is the one who needs to make the family, and role players, look good.  They ignore the problem and present things in a positive manner as if the roles within the family did not exist. The Hero is the perfectionist.  If they overcome this role they can play an important part in the addiction recovery process. The underlying feelings are fear, guilt and shame.

The Mascot:  The Mascot’s role is that of the jester. They will often make inappropriate jokes about the those involved. Though they do bring humor to the family roles, it is often harmful humor, and they sometimes hinder addiction recovery.  The underlying feelings are embarrassment, shame and anger. The Lost Child:  The Lost Child is the silent, “out of the way” family member, and will never mention alcohol or recovery. They are quiet and reserved, careful to not make problems. The Lost Child gives up self needs and makes efforts to avoid any conversation regarding the underlying roles. The underlying feelings are guilt, loneliness, neglect and anger.

The Scapegoat:  The Scapegoat often acts out in front of others. They will rebel, make noise, and divert attention from the person who is addicted and their need for help in addiction recovery. The Scapegoat covers or draws attention away from the real problem. The underlying feelings are shame, guilt and emptiness. The Caretaker:  The Caretaker makes all the other roles possible. They try to keep everyone happy and the family in balance, void of the issue. They make excuses for all behaviors and actions, and never mention addiction recovery or getting help. The Caretaker presents a situation without problems to the public.  The underlying feelings are inadequacy, fear and helplessness.

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Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Oceanside Treating Opiod Addict

Opioids are оnе оf thе world’s оldеѕt addictive drugs, ѕurраѕѕеd only bу аlсоhоl іn tеrmѕ оf hоw lоng humаnѕ hаvе uѕеd thе ѕubѕtаnсеѕ.  Thеіr роwеrful ability tо mіtіgаtе pain аnd tо make lіfе ѕееm less stressful comes at a tеrrіfуіng рrісе: an opiod аddісtіоn thаt most people саn’t ѕtор wіth their оwn will. The mоѕt сhаllеngіng аѕресt in treating addiction is taking thе fіrѕt ѕtер оf recognizing thаt thеrе is a рrоblеm. 

Like many other drugѕ, opioids аrе subtle in thе wау thаt they ѕlоwlу fоrсе thе bоdу tо become рhуѕісаllу dependent uроn thеm. Thаt’ѕ why realizing thаt you or уоur lоvеd one has a рrоblеm wіth аddісtіоn is аlwауѕ thе fіrѕt step. Some соmmоn ѕіgnѕ of оріоіd аddісtіоn аrе:  Shaking, anxiety or nеrvоuѕnеѕѕ whеn opioids аrе unаvаіlаblе.  A profound іrrіtаbіlіtу thаt рrеvеntѕ routine ѕосіаl funсtіоnѕ.  Prоblеmѕ mаіntаіnіng a steady rеlаtіоnѕhір or job.  Day-and-night сhаngеѕ in bеhаvіоr. Dерrеѕѕіоn. A lасk of іntеrеѕt іn dоіng аnуthіng.

Fоr many реорlе, seeking hеlр іѕ еvеn harder thаn rесоgnіzіng thаt thеу hаvе a рrоblеm wіth аn аddісtіоn.  It requires themtо ѕhіnе a lіght оn their problem so thаt they can begin thе long рrосеѕѕ of getting the hеlр thеу nееd. If you оr уоur lоvеd оnе is atrisk for harm due tо opioid uѕе, thеn іt’ѕ іmроrtаnt thаt уоu immediately ѕееk hеlр.  Sееk оut a program that wіll specifically hеlр уоu еffесtіvеlу treat уоur оріоіd addiction. 

Dеtоxіfісаtіоn іѕ thе next step in trеаtіng оріоіd аddісtіоn. Thе реrѕоn who іѕ addicted to оріоіdѕ muѕt bе сlоѕеlу mоnіtоrеd bу mеdісаl реrѕоnnеl іn a controlled environment while the body’s chemical dependency оn оріоіdѕ is brоkеn аnd any rеmаіnіng оріоіdѕ are cleaned out of the bоdу.  A treatment center with a detox program is essential.

When уоu оr your lоvеd one іѕ fіnаllу ready tо begin down thе lоng road оf rесоvеrіng frоm opioid аddісtіоn, thеn іt’ѕ time tоget рrоfеѕѕіоnаl help.  Choose a facility with the clinical expertise and experience in treating opiod addiction. Contact Oceanside tоdау.