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 AddictionTreatment 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 Addiction 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 AddictionTreatment 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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Treating Core Issues

Oceanside Malibu_Treating Core Issues

The average approach to substance abuse treatment for the past several decades has been a crash course on the 12 steps. There is no doubt that the 12 steps provided a much needed solution to issues related to alcoholism, however AA’s stated intention was not to discount or deny the importance of treating core issues as an adjunct to the 12 steps. Moreover, Alcoholics Anonymous was to be forever non-professional, with the stated primary purpose “ to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”

The vast majority of the treatment industry has been teaching the 12 steps as the primary approach to 30 day treatment programs. Treatment usually consists of working the first three steps, learning about the disease concept, defining powerlessness and acceptance, assistance with attainment of an AA/NA sponsor, internal and external triggers and relapse prevention. Why is teaching the 12 steps the focus of treatment when AA does a superb job of handling this responsibility and providing this service for free? The second issue is whether it is ethical to charge for a service that is seemingly free.

Assume that an addict who has been drinking and using drugs for many years enters treatment at age 35. Also, let’s assume that this individual grew up in a family system whereby the father worked 70 hours a week, and the mother was a stay-athome mom, alcoholic and a participant in multiple affairs. Mom was lonely and used the patient as a surrogate spouse and confidant; thus, stressing the importance of maintaining her secrets. Moreover, the patient was a victim of sexual abuse by a relative from ages 6 to 12 and has never disclosed this abuse to anybody.

This person may enter treatment and AA, with warped definitions of the principles espoused in AA. If this individual begins to work steps with their prior definition of concepts such as honesty, faith, courage, willingness and humility, the work they complete will be severely diminished. If the individual’s definitions have been defined via their family of origin, as is the case with most individuals including alcoholics and addicts, how can they be expected to have a foundation for healthy definitions of the aforementioned definitions? The answer, it is impossible!

Unless this individual identifies the dysfunctional definitions they have been taught, as well as how these definitions have negatively impacted their lives and thereafter has assistance re-defining these concepts, physical and emotional sobriety will be tenuous. It iis likely this individual suffers from issues related to abandonment, trust, lack of healthy attachments, anger and severely warped definitions of love and intimacy; thus, arguably, a host of issues related to the need to numb via alcohol and drug addiction.
It begs the question as to whether providing an education and teaching this patient about the disease concept and the intricacies of the 12 steps is a valuable first step in treating the patient as opposed to processing the patient’s trauma and abuse (core issues) for the purpose of identification and re-defining dysfunctional and destructive definitions of life. The first approach seems to put the cart before the horse and quite possibly has been a root cause of poor treatment outcomes of treating substance dependence.

This type of approach creates a revolving door of repeat business-beneficial to the industry and potentially life threatening to the patient. The other approach, that of defining dysfunctional core issues, re-defining these issues/ definitions and thereafter or simultaneously incorporating the 12 steps seems to provide a much more comprehensive approach; thus, providing more successful outcomes. The lack of connection between core issues as a root cause of substance dependence creates a fallacy that treating substance dependence is as simple as removing the substance (acute stabilization). If this were a reality, it would only be necessary to place the patient in detoxification and that should be the end of the problem.

Another argument against treating core issues as a root cause of substance dependence is that the person may not be ’emotionally ready’ to handle these issues. If the direct cause of a person engaging in addictive behavior – alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, gambling – is to avoid pain and dealing with abuse and trauma from their past, how can they get sober without addressing the direct cause of the problem. Alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships etc. are the solution to the problem, not the problem. The theory that an individual should deal with one addictive issue at a time has proven to be a dismal failure. If all of the substances (drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships etc.) are a means of avoiding the pain of the core issues, how will the person ever get well merely dealing with the faulty solutions, one at a time, as a means of solving the problem, given that the patient will substitute one addictive behavior for another as a means of avoiding the problem.

Without a holistic, core issues-centered approach to treating substance abuse, treatment will likely fail. The absence of a true multi-disciplinary approach that addresses biological, social and core issues, coupled with a twelve-step approach, is a set-up for a revolving door into present day treatment and the ultimate failure of the patient to get well. It is time that professionals in the industry stop accepting failure as the only means of treating an individual suffering from substance dependence

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Addiction & Mood Disorders


There is a strong correlation between addicts, alcoholics and mood disorders.  This is usually referred to as Axis I & II diagnosis.  Some of the more common forms of mood disorders and the terms used to describe them are described here.

Clinical or Major Depression, to be distinguished from feeling down or sad, to the extent that biochemistry may be altered, there is no situational precedent and impairment in cognition may be significant enough to affect daily functioning to include degradation of daily routines such as eating, sleeping, grooming, exercise or work habits.  Hospitalization may be necessary if an individual feels compelled towards self-harm.  A variety of proven treatment options that may be used in combination with one another may include: medications, transcranial magnetic stimulation, exercise, diet, establishment of routines, proper sleep hygiene, electroconvulsive therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Mania is a disorder that may present in grandiose gestures, risky behaviors, unrealistic goals or optimism despite situational realities, hyperactivity, promiscuity, pressured speech or a need to continue talking, euphoria, sometimes to the extent of breaks from reality such as hearing things or paranoia.  Again, as with depression, hospitalization may be indicated if the individual becomes agitated to the point they pose a threat to themselves or others. The use of mood disorder stabilizing medications such as Lithium, Depakote, Tegretol, Lamictal, etc. are generally indicated in treatment.

Once more commonly called Manic-Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder requires a proper diagnosis must usually include either separate distinct episodes of both mania and depression or evidence of what is known as mixed episodes in which a person may experience both at the same time. This might include agitation, restlessness, or hostility combined with suicidal ideation, lack of motivation, confusion, sleeplessness and resultant exhaustion.  From a medication standpoint, Bipolar disorder is often treated with mood disorder stabilizers combined with antidepressant medications.  In the case of mixed episodes, which are more difficult to treat, the newer generation of atypical antipsychotic medications are added in to help control what is known as bipolar depression.  Antidepressant medications alone are contraindicated for individuals with bipolar disorder as they are thought to induce manic episodes or symptomology.

Often presenting as low-grade, chronic depression, Dysthymia usually does not require hospitalization or intervention. Individuals with dysthymic mood disorder tend to have a persistently low mood, as if grieving at all times, regardless of positive environmental stimuli.  Routine functioning is moderate to minimally impaired and it usually manifests itself in motivational, sleep hygiene, and empathic issues.  Flat affect or emotional blunting may also be present. This form of depression is considered most common.

A disorder that tends to manifest by presenting changes or alterations in routines and behaviors directly related to seasonal changes is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  Depression, once again, is a prominent feature here as an individual with SAD may fall into a slump of sorts only during particular times of the year. The correlation, or cause and effect, can be directly observed throughout one’s personal history in regards to particular seasons. Shorter-term treatments may be indicated in these cases, such as therapy and/or short-term application of antidepressant medication, changes in diet, more exposure to sunlight. EMDR or light therapy for areas where sunlight is less prevalent during certain times of the year may be helfpul, as well as more rigid adherence to routine.  Impact on mood can be mild to moderate sometimes, though rarely, it can be severe.

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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.

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Depression_Addiction Treatment Malibu Beach

Many of symptoms of depression are also common parts of normal life.  As a result, patients and their families may find it difficult to understand or recognize it as a mental disorder. However, key differences in the duration, causes and strength of symptoms can distinguish between feeling down and having depression.
A person’s prevailing emotions are central to identifying depression. A person with depression will suffer from at least one of the following problems: an inability to be interested in or pleased by any previously enjoyable activity; having feelings of sadness or emptiness for most of the time during most days. Other emotional symptoms of depression can include inappropriate feelings of guilt or worthlessness, or a preoccupation with thoughts of death.
Weight fluctuations are physical symptoms of depression. Craving extra food due to depression leads to weight gain, while other patients experience a loss of appetite and lose weight quickly. Sleep problems are the other strong physical symptoms of depression. Some patients may be tormented with insomnia, while others will sleep long hours. Body aches, headaches, dizzy spells and digestive problems can also indicate depression, but they are not among the disorder’s defining symptoms.
Even with a complete understanding of depression, self-diagnosing yourself is unreliable. People with depression cannot accurately recognize the severity of their symptoms, while people who simply feel down may overstate the scope of their own problems. There is great value in getting a professional diagnosis for depression. If depression turns out not to be present, another treatable disorder, such as bipolar disorder, may be uncovered.
A person who feels down can move forward emotionally without help. However, someone with depression becomes stuck in a recurring pattern of depression symptoms. If you or someone you know shows signs of depression, then call our helpline to learn more about diagnosis and treatment. Seek help to recover from this problem.

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Defining Addiction

Define Addiction Treatment Malibu

Addісtіоn affects еvеrуbоdу.  It іѕ leading саuѕе of accidental dеаth іn оur ѕосіеtу. Beating аddісtіоn іѕ еxtrеmеlу tough. Thе drugѕ and bеhаvіоrѕ that lеаd tо аddісtіоn hіjасk thе brаіn and wrеаk hаvос іn thе bоdу. Millions of Amеrісаnѕ over the аgе оf 12 are addicted tо alcohol оr оthеr drugѕ.  Yеаrѕ аgо, many people thоught thаt addісtіоn wаѕ juѕt ѕіgn оf a flаwеd сhаrасtеr оr a lack of wіllроwеr, wе nоw knоw that brain сhеmіѕtrу рlауѕ a big раrt.
Our brаіnѕ like ѕtuff that mаkе uѕ fееl gооd.  It соuld bе alcohol, a jelly dоnut, romantic encounters оr аll kіndѕ оf other ѕtuff.  No mаttеr whаt іt іѕ, the thіngѕ that make уоu fееl gооd аrе рrосеѕѕеd thrоugh thе reward seeking pathway in the brain.  A rеgіоn deep іn thе brаіn саllеd the ventral tеgmеntаl аrеа releases a fееl gооd сhеmісаl mеѕѕеngеr called dopamine to a rеgіоn hіghеr uр іn the brаіn cаllеd the nuсlеuѕ ассumbеnѕ. Thіѕ rеgіоn іѕ іnvоlvеd іn aspects оf еmоtіоn and mоtіvаtіоn. Aѕ dopamine surges through thе nuсlеuѕ accumbens, wе feel a ѕurgе оf рlеаѕurаblе еxсіtеmеnt аnd еnеrgу. Thе surge оf dораmіnе аlѕо mаkеѕ uѕ wаnt tо dо whatever wе just dіd аgаіn.
Pѕусhоасtіvе drugs lіkе аmрhеtаmіnеѕ аnd сосаіnе supersize this reaction, increasing thе аmоunt оf аvаіlаblе dораmіnе іn thе brаіn bу аѕ much аѕ tеn tіmеѕ.  Thе rеѕultіng еuрhоrіс “ruѕh” оr “high” recalibrates thе brain, mаkіng іt thіnk thаt thіѕ hіghеr level of dораmіnе іѕ thе nеw nоrmаl.  Thіѕ ѕеtѕ ѕоmе реорlе on a соurѕе toward drug addiction.  If a реrѕоn соntіnuеѕ using drugѕ, thе brаіn аdарtѕ to these оvеrwhеlmіng surgеѕ by rеduсіng thе numbеr of dораmіnе rесерtоrѕ аnd making thе еxіѕtіng receptors lеѕѕ ѕеnѕіtіvе to dораmіnе.  This hаѕ a double-whammy еffесt оn drug uѕеrѕ. Fеwеr dораmіnе receptors and lower dopamine ѕеnѕіtіvіtу mеаnѕ a lоwеr аbіlіtу tо еnjоу оthеr еvеrуdау activities, lіkе еаtіng dоnutѕ.
In оthеr wоrdѕ, you nееd mоrе оf a drug, food оr сеrtаіn асtіvіtу tо gеt thе ѕаmе рlеаѕurаblе ruѕh.  In addiction, thаt mіght mеаn mоrе аmрhеtаmіnеѕ оr cocaine to get уоur brаіn tо produce that surge оf dopamine аgаіn.  If уоu try tо ԛuіt, you саn go into wіthdrаwаl.  Thіnk about іt.  If thе drug оr activity thаt wаѕ аt the соntrоlѕ of уоur brаіn is ѕuddеnlу gоnе, thе brаіn hаѕ nо іdеа whаt to do.  It’ѕ lіkе someone hopping оff thе оthеr ѕіdе оf a ѕее ѕаw frоm уоu. Your dораmіnе lеvеlѕ crash, аnd уоur system gоеѕ out оf whасk.
Dерrеѕѕаntѕ lіkе alcohol сhеmісаllу ѕlоw dоwn your brаіn.  Alcohol іnhіbіtѕ a molecule саllеd glutamate, whісh is аn excitatory transmitter. It also boosts GABA, whісh ѕlоwѕ down brаіn activity. To counteract thе еffесtѕ of thе dерrеѕѕаnt, уоur brаіn hаѕ tо рrоduсе mоrе adrenaline & more norepinephrine to keep уоu аlеrt аnd fосuѕеd.  Whеn уоu’rе nоt drunk, suddenly уоu dоn’t nееd that bооѕt, but it’s thеrе аnуwау.  Thаt саn cause tremors, nаuѕеа, dіffісultу brеаthіng аnd hеаrt palpitations. Ovеr time, addiction саn саuѕе реrmаnеnt dаmаgе tо the brain. But thіѕ cycle саn bе broken, аnd rесоvеrіng аddісtѕ саn go on tо lеаd happy and рrоduсtіvе lіvеѕ.

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