How Childhood Abuse Becomes Adult Hypersexuality

Malibu Childhood Abuse Treatment

Childhood abuse, particularly sexual abuse or sexual assault at any age, carries with it a common symptom of adulthood hyersexuality. Isn’t that though the opposite or counterintuitive?  Why would someone who was harmed sexually as a child or at some point in their life, then turn around and be hypersexual?  Why hurt themselves in the very way they were hurt in the first place?

There are many reasons this happens. One is that it’s a way to regain control, to take it back. Many abuse survivors will be hypersexual, they’ll put themselves into dangerous sexual situations because it’s their way of saying ‘it’s my body, I decide, I do what I want.’  It’s almost like they get to reverse the role.  Instead of feeling like someone has control over them and can do whatever they want to them and even saying ‘no’ isn’t stopping it.  They get to choose and they get to have as much sex as they want.

Another reason for hypersexualized behavior among abuse survivors is validation. Imagine being sexually abused as a child. You were raised in that environment and through time, in your formative years, the only way to get attention was with sex. Maybe the only time you were really told that were loved was through sex.  Perhaps that’s how one comes to feel worthwhile and important, this is then subsequently reinforced through words or actions throughout the abuse cycle.

Abuse survivors will often associate love, support and validation with sex. Therefore in order to get emotional needs met, they might then turn to sex to fill those needs. A sort of chemical dependency can arise from this type of behavior as well. Sex can release those feel good hormones, different chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and norepinephrine. Therefore, if you’ve been sexualized for long periods as a child, when you get older you may still seek out the same feelings.

That’s why treatment for abuse involves a sort of dual approach. We need to treat an addiction of sorts, a yearning for the dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine that gets released.  Many abuse survivors are already or may quickly become addicts seeking out such release. They then also need to deal with the addiction.  In order to begin healing from abuse, trauma therapy as well as support groups and techniques such as EMDR and Equine Therapy are a good start.  However, it all begins with talking to someone about it and reaching out for help.

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Why The Brain Loves Opioids

Malibu Opioids Treatment

Societies have long coveted opioids for both the euphoria and the pain relief they provide. When chemists extracted morphine from opium poppies, it quickly became the go-to treatment during the American Civil War. After morphine caused widespread addiction, drug companies invented what they thought was a “non-addictive” substitute: a cough syrup called heroin. That turned out poorly for the 20th century.  Today, prescription opioids, like fentanyl and oxycodone, crowd America’s medicine cabinets and its streets.

Opioid overdoses now kill more Americans every year than car accidents. To understand how we arrived here, you’ll need to venture deep into the mind. Here’s why our brains love opioids: when opioids enter the brain, they land on tiny docking stations at the ends of your nerves called receptors. Typically, the receptors catch chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, to activate your nerve cells.

Opioid receptors do just the opposite. They stop electric pulses from traveling through your nerve cells, also known as neurons. This dampening is handy with pain relief. Say you have chronic back pain. Your inflamed muscles are constantly sending pain signals to your brain via neurons in your spine. Opioids quiet those nerves, relieving your pain.

Opioids have three major receptors: Mu, Kappa and Delta but the Mu receptor is the one to remember. The Mu receptor is responsible for the consequences of almost all opiates. It slows breathing, eliminates pain and fills the mind with warm euphoria. Too much of this opioid off-switch becomes addictive. Opioid addiction starts in the midbrain,where Mu-opioid receptors turn off a batch of nerve cells called GABAergic neurons. GABAergic neurons are themselves an off-switch for pleasure. They prevent other midbrain neurons from flooding the brain’s pleasure circuits with another transmitter, dopamine.

At one stop along these pleasure circuits, the nucleus accumbens, the dopamine triggers a surge of happiness that reinforces the idea that opioid drugs are rewarding. In our brain’s fear center, the amygdala, the dopamine relieves anxiety and stress. It’s just an overall sense of well-being. No problems, just warm. Then, as decision-making brain areas become overwhelmed, cravings set in.

All drugs come with a dark side as they clear the body. This is known as withdrawal. Too much beer causes a hangover the next day. A cocaine high is followed by a crash. But opioids, especially long-lasting ones like methadone, don’t change a person’s outward behaviors. You can still drive and go to work. However, opioids cause brain circuits to slowly adopt a new state of normal. Soon, without opioids in the body, addicts feel constantly anxious and their stress hormones stay elevated.

Opioids typically trigger constipation and tweak body temperature. Remove them, and a person with opioid dependence has persistent diarrhea, hot and cold sweats and goosebumps. Some describe opioid withdrawal as the sickest feeling they’ve ever had and the desperate hunger for relief drives addiction. Here’s the dangerous clause: the potency of opioids diminishes over time if you abuse them.

Eventually, rather than remedy your chronic back problem, your pain becomes linked with the emotional and physical toil of opioid withdrawal. It becomes a vicious cycle. Popping more pain killers or injecting heroin more frequently becomes the way to keep all those bad feelings at bay. If you started recreationally, the struggle against withdrawal becomes all consuming. One may keep chasing that high and you never get original feeling again. You kind of get immune to it, just maintaining and then without it, you’re sick and you need help.

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Borderline Personality Disorder

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder

Out of all the mental illnesses, personality disorders are the least talked about. Most people think of those who suffer from a personality disorder as crazy or dangerous. Let’s shed some light on one personality disorder in particular: BPD or Borderline Personality Disorder is a personality disorder marked by unstable and insconsistent moods, behavior, and functioning. This often results in unstable relationships, impulsivity, anger, depression and anxiety. It is often confused with bipolar disorder and thus mistreated.

BPD is a personality disorder where you feel as though you lack control, creating frustration. It is though to be triggered by a traumatic event in early childhood, though there is no direct correlation. Researchers believe that those with BPD, due to a possible traumatic event, experience diferent structural changes in the part of the brain that controls emotions and impulses. However, it should be noted that this shows up in people who do not have BDP, which makes BPD even more mysterious and unknown.

Borderline Personality can be hard to detect as it so often overlaps with other mental illnesses. One might talk about depression, but not talk about or be aware of their other symptoms. This results in one being wrongfully diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder and not BPD. The list of symptoms of BPD includes: frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment; a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love or idealization, to extreme dislike or anger or devaluation;

Those suffering from BPD may also experience a distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self; impulsiveness and often dangeous behaviors such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving and binge eating; reoccuring suicidal beheaviors or threats or self harming behavior; intense and highly changeable moods; chronic feelings of emptiness; innappropriate and intense anger or problems controlling anger; stress-related paranoid thoughts; severe dissociative symptoms such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing themselves from outside the body or losing touch with reality.

As Borderline Personality Disorder is suspected to have it’s origins during the period of childhood attachment and bonding, interpersonal relationships are quite difficult. DBT or Dialetical Behavior Therapy can offer skills to not only cope, but sucessfully live with BPD. This type of therapy has been used to help not only personality disorders, but other mental illnesses as well. It focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behavior. It also has stronger emphasis taming emotional reactivity in relation to others than say, Cognitve Behavioral Therapy or CBT.  DBT also includes group therapy in addition to individual sessions to help practice new interpersonal relational styles. Borderline Personality Disorder is not much spoken about but it’s important to remember that those with BPD are still people and deserve to be heard and loved.

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Opioid Crisis

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The opioid epidemic is esentially a public health emergency in the United States as we are in the middle of an opioid crisis. According to the CDC, around 90 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day; that’s about as many as those who die in car crashes. There are all kinds of different factors that led to this crisis.  The main reasons have a lot to do with what these drugs are, how they reduce pain,and why they’re so addictive.

You hear people throwing around words like opioids and opiates, not to mention heroin, oxy, and fentanyl. Opioids are any drug that acts on opioid receptors on your cells. Opiates are essentially the same, but they’re made from the poppy plant. The plant that gives us poppy seed muffins also makes opium and morphine. So opiates are natural, while opioids include both natural and synthetic drugs. What matters is that they all bind to opioid receptors on cells around your body, like in your brain and spinal cord. These receptors come in different shapes.

When opioids bind to receptors, it makes it harder for neurons to send along signals that get interpreted as pain. This happens in the spinal cord, where peripheral nerve cells pass on incoming signals and it happens in the brain. Neurons in a region called the periaqueductal gray prevent cells from releasing neurotransmitters, which are basically chemical messages. All this means opioids are really good pain relievers.  Due to a combination of factors including misrepresented research, doctors started prescribing more painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone to try to treat pain.

Opioid receptors are also in reward centers of the brain, and binding to cells there can create euphoria, which is that ‘high’ feeling. That’s what makes them addictive.  Plus, your body builds tolerance to them pretty quickly, so you need more of the drug to control the same amount of pain. You can also become physically dependent, experiencing symptoms of withdrawal if you stop taking the drug.

Since neurons get used to the opioids, they become more active to compensate for the drug suppressing signals.  If it’s no longer there, the cells become way more active than normal. So you can become agitated, anxious, or feel like puking.  Addiction, on the other hand, is a psychological condition where you seek out the drug despite the damage it does to your life. While physical dependence is common with addiction, a person doesn’t have to be dependent to become addicted and vice versa.

In regards to the opioid epidemic, it’s thought that many people who originally took the drugs as prescribed started to take more. In other words, they began abusing them. And when pills became too expensive or difficult to get, they turned to heroin, an opioid made from morphine, which was more readily available. Regardless of the source, the addiction can turn deadly because of the other physiological effects of opioids.

Opioid receptors aren’t just in areas of the brain that control pain, they’re also in the parts that control breathing, like the brain stem. When they block signaling there, opioids slow down and can even stop breathing. Doctors call this respiratory depression, and it’s usually what kills people who overdose. Fortunately, we now have some ways to counteract overdoses.

Naloxone can be injected or squirted up someone’s nose and, within minutes, seemingly bring people back from the dead. It’s actually an opioid, too, since it binds to opioid receptors but unlike heroin or prescription painkillers, which are agonists, naloxone is an antagonist. That means that when it binds to a receptor, it doesn’t turn on any of the usual effects. Instead, it acts as a blocker. Naloxone works so well because it binds to opioid receptors more strongly than the overdose drug. So it can flood your system and prevent the drug from binding.

A person whose overdosed needs to be treated with naloxone pretty fast.  It doesn’t always take long after an overdose for them to stop breathing. That’s especially true if they’ve taken one of the stronger synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.  Fentanyl is a prescription drug that’s around 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Due to its structure, it can cross a protective membrane called the blood-brain barrier more easily, which means your brain can get flooded with the stuff faster.

Lately, illicit versions of Fentanyl have been added to heroin and other drugs sold on the street.  These other, fentanyl-like drugs are even more powerful, like carfentanil, which is used to tranquilize elephants.  Not only do these drugs cause faster overdoses, but they also need more antidote to counteract the effects.  So even if the person is given a treatment like naloxone in time, there might not be enough on hand to save them.

Deaths from overdoses have spiked in recent years and as the problem has gotten worse, experts have been trying to figure out how to deal with it.  For the most part, doctors are starting to cut back their prescriptions of opioids, which should help reduce the number of people who go on to develop addictions.  Researchers are working on finding opioids that can knock out pain without all the dangerous side effects. There is also research being done to study drugs that are closer to the opioid peptides our bodies make, which may bind to receptors in more specific ways.

In absence of a cure, there are many, many people who have developed substance abuse disorders and helping them get into treatment is the challenge.  There’s still a lot of work to do.  Admitting there is a problem & reaching out for help are among the first steps.

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How We Become Addicted

Addiction Treatment Malibu

The word addiction comes from the Latin term for “enslaved by” and rightly so, millions of people are enslaved by their fix, whether it be controlled substances, food, alcohol, sex, gambling or even the internet. We all have that one thing that we just can’t live without.  How or why do we become addicted and what can you do to help?  Addiction is a serious global concern and in some countries addiction rates, especially to illicit drugs, are a serious and growing concern.  In the United States for example, substance abuse is one of the leading causes of death, with a substantial percentage of the American population addicted to illicit drugs. Iran has one of the world’s highest drug addiction rates, as there’s a huge heroin epidemic in that country.  Whereas the United Kingdom is the world’s largest abuser of alcohol and France is the country most addicted to prescription drugs.

For a long time scientists believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs could cause addiction.  Using advanced Neuroimaging techniques it has recently become apparent that a whole array of pleasurable activities, such as gambling, shopping, sex, video games, the internet and many others, can also trigger strong addictions.  Also in the 1930s, when research on addiction first began, it was believed that addiction was caused by a lack of will power and only affected weak minded or morally flawed individuals.  So, instead of helping addicts to overcome their addiction, they would often punish them instead.  Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work.  Recently the scientific consensus has changed.  Today addiction is recognized as a chronic disease that actually changes the structure and function of the brain. The more we exercise addictions and take pleasure from them, the more they take over the brain and change it so that we crave those things even more in the future.

Addiction really is a vicious cycle.  Different addictions may show different symptoms, for example a tobacco addiction has slightly different symptoms then a gambling addiction. Someone addicted to nicotine or any other substance, will usually experience strong physiological symptoms such as headaches, nausea and fatigue.  Conversly, people addicted to activities such as gambling will experience more mental symptoms, such as being overly secretive, lying to their friends/family and continuing to gamble even when they can’t afford to.  However, despite the difference in symptoms, what actually causes these addictions is thought to be extremely similar.

The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, no matter what the cause, whether it be substances, drink, food or activities.  A set of chemical processes in the brain that make one feel that pleasure, are the same. Mostly, it is caused by the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells underneath the cerebral cortex.  This area of the brain is so closely linked to pleasure that neuroscientists call it the brain’s ‘pleasure center’.  The likelihood of us getting addicted to a particular thing all depends on how fast it increases the dopamine levels in our brain.  For example, drinking coffee causes our nucleus accumbens to release dopamine slowly and steadily, so it’s highly unlikely to cause addiction, although not impossible. Whereas drugs such as nicotine, meth, cocaine and heroin, etc. all cause a powerful and very rapid release of dopamine in our brain.

When this happens, another part of our brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming memories, creates new memories of the rapid sense of satisfaction, creating an eternal link in our brains between the drug and a feeling of intense pleasure.  Since our body likes to feel pleasure, another part of our brain, the amygdala, creates a permanent positive response to certain stimuli related to our addiction.  So, say with the smell of cigarette smoke, when an addict smells it they may crave a cigarette.  Regular smokers might find the smell of cigarette smoke intensely pleasurable, while non-smokers find it unpleasant.

The most dangerous part of addiction is how our brains build up tolerance.  In nature dopamine is hard to come by and requires a significant effort to achieve.  Whereas drugs and other addictions provide us with a short cut.  Drugs can provide our brain with up to ten times as much dopamine as anything that can be found in nature.  Our brain hasn’t yet developed to withstand such an overload of dopamine release.  To protect our brain receptors from becoming overloaded, over time our brain turns down the volume on its receptors, making them significantly less receptive to future dopamine releases.  This has a devastating affect because the addict will now have to increase their dosage to feel the same amount of pleasure they did the previous times.  Every time an addict indulges a fix, successive and future doses may have to be increased to maintain a high.  A vicious cycle that gets exponentially worse, until the body can’t take the dosage anymore and it breaks down.

What are some things we can use to overcome addiction?   Firstly, one must acknowledge the addiction. Many people are in denial about their addiction or simply don’t realize that they actually have one. There are some simple questions you can ask yourself to test for an addiction:  Do you use a substance or do something that brings you pleasure a lot more often then you did in the past?  Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t used the substance or engaged in the activity for a while?  Have you ever lied to someone about your use of the substance or the extent of your behaviors?  If you have come to believe that you have an addiction, what do you do next?

It is important to establish why you want to quit.  Write down a list of all the reasons why you should quit and look at it every day.  For example, if you’re addicted to smoking, you could write, “I will have healthier lungs”.  You now have a set of goals to work towards.  Next set a date that you will quit, you can set it in 2 weeks or 2 months time but whatever you do, don’t set it at tomorrow and tell yourself, ‘tomorrow I quit forever and I’m going cold turkey.’  Going cold turkey often doesn’t work, at least not for the majority. Research over the years has demonstrated that only a small percentage of people who go cold turkey actually quit, the majority relapse pretty quickly.  One should instead wean the body off addiction slowly.

Now you have a goal and a time frame within to do it.  Next, you need to identify your triggers.  A trigger is anything that makes you think of your addiction and might cause you to relapse.  For example, if you’re addiction is alcohol, passing a certain bar may be a trigger for you. Once you’ve identified your triggers you need to eliminate them, avoid them at all costs to lessen any unwanted temptation. It is important to find something to replace your addiction. Your addiction has been a big part of your life up to now, so once it’s gone you may find it difficult to fill the time and that can be dangerous.  When addicts get bored too often they are at the highest risk of relapse.  So you need to find something to fill that void, try to start a project, take up outdoor sports, or simply go for a walk, most anything will do. The more you get involved with new positive activities, the more you will replace the things to which you used to be addicted.

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Alcohol Is A Drug

Alcohol is a drug_Oceanside Malibu rehab

Roughly one out of 12 adults suffer from alcohol dependence and just about 10 people die every hour from alcohol-related causes. There are something like 17.5 million adult alcoholics worldwide. By learning about why some people become alcoholics, what causes addiction and why people become addicted, this number can be made smaller. Firstly, an alcoholic is someone who suffers from alcoholism. Alcoholism is the addiction and loss of controlregarding alcohol consumption.

Alcohol is classified as a drug, but why is it addictive?  It actually has to do with the chemical reactions in the brain that alcohol causes. The release of gamma aminobutyric acid, otherwise known as GABA, causes a calming feeling that is often associated with difficulty walking, talking and remembering things. As a response to the release of GABA, the body creates glutamate, an excitatory transmitter, to counter balance it. This cycle causes built-up alcohol tolerance, whereupon once regular drinkers then start to consume more alcohol for the calming effect they are seeking.

Additionally, alcohol causes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. Over time alcohol abuse degrades dopamine transmitters and receptors, causing a decrease in the dopamine released. One may drink more to try to get the same effects as before the alcohol abuse began. Some people are more susceptible to alcoholism, after all not everybody that tastes alcohol become saddicted to it, but there are some potential risk factors that make addiction more likely.

Although alcohol causes the release of endorphins, hormones that elevate mood, it has been shown that heavy drinkers generally release more endorphins than lighter drinkers, causing some scientists to believe that people who naturally release more endorphins may find more pleasure in drinking and become addicted to it. There is also evidence to prove that damage to a part of the brain that processes negative events and disappointment, can cause someone to keep drinking alcohol despite bad hangovers or negative events that arise out of drinking.

Psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, increase the likelihood of addiction, as many as 20 percent of people living with depression are also alcoholics. It has long been debated whether or not genetic factors play a role in addiction, but environmental factors are also likely to foster addiction. If it is common to drink in a household, then it is more likely that people in the household will become dependant on alcohol. A high-stress career field can make one vulnerable to alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. Age has to do with the likelihood of addiction as well. Those in their early to mid-20s are the most likely to abuse alcohol while those who drink as adolescents, specifically those under 15 years old, are significantly more likely to develop alcoholism.

While certain factors can cause alcohol addiction, it is important to look at why people drink in the first place. One significant reason is the sensation alcohol can cause in the brain and body. Some begin to drink out of curiosity to see what it is like, while others find themselves giving in to peer pressure. People drink seeking a feeling of freedom or self-exploration, and this may be linked to underage drinking during puberty. Some start to drink as a form of stress relief.

There are some personality traits associated with drinkers and possible alcoholics such as aggression, anxiety, rebelliousness, and hyperactivity. Most of all, compared to other drugs, alcohol is accessible and has been normalized through media and culture. While drinking may represent a form of escape, there are certainly better ways to cope with situations or have fun that do not potentially cause a lifetime of addiction and damage. Remaining aware to the fact that alcohol is indeed a drug which can be abused and lead to dependance or addiction is a step to living a higher quality, more healthy lifestyle.

Speak to a professional at Oceanside Malibu Addiction Treatment Center for more information