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.

Salt Water Therapy

Salt Water Therapy

Sea air & salt water are charged with healthy negative ions that builds our body’s capacity to absorb more oxygen. The use of modern technology exposes us to unhealthy free radicals which erodes our body’s natural energy, but when we are by the sea, we feel energized and relaxed at the same time.  People with sleep disorders are usually asked to be around the sea as often as possible because it induces good sleep. Even walking barefoot on sand neutralizes the impact of free radicals in our body as sand contains minerals required by humans. This induces favorable physiological changes that promote good health, boosts our immune system, reduces inflammation and enhances circulation.  Playing in the sand & salt water is highly beneficial for children as it stretches their imagination, gives them a medium to artistically express themselves, promotes cognitive development and enhances their creativity skills.

Seawater is useful in more ways than one, it is used in modern medicine on a large scale.  Salt water and our blood plasma are 98% identical. Our blood has an extra molecule of iron whereas seawater has an extra molecule of magnesium, and apart from this all the molecules are identical. When immersed in warm saltwater the body absorbs the minerals it needs through the skin. Among the many minerals found in the sea is iodine which helps the body fight infection while boosting thyroid function.  Seawater increases elasticity of skin and also improves circulation, helping the body to carry blood to all its vital organs.  Salt water is the cure for several diseases like asthma, osteoporosis, depression, skin diseases like dermatitis, eczema, post pregnancy disorders and fatal infections.
Salt Water Therapy is a therapeutic use of the seawater, its climate, and marine products like algae, seaweed, and alluvial mud. Therapists around the world encourage using seawater as an alternative medicine therapy to treat eczema and psoriasis, joint problems, arthritis, poor circulation, immobility and post-operative conditions.  Swimming in the sea also impacts your muscles and nerve cells – it increases blood circulation and is a great boost to your emotional health.  Along with multiple other benefits, swimming in the sea can add years to your life.  Oceans & salt water can bring a mental shift in the way we perceive our lives; teaching us about calmness, depth, intensity, harmony and open-mindedness.

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How What You Think Affects What You Do

Thinking and Behavior_Oceanside Malibu

Lots of attention has been paid to the physical factors that influence
addiction such as tolerance and withdrawal effects. Far less attention
has been devoted to understanding the psychological influences that
get people stuck. Here is a discussion of some of the most common factors
that can keep people stuck in addictive behavior.

Disturbing, confusing, troubling events occur to everyone in the
course of living, even those who have had relatively protected lives.
Let’s think of a traumatic event as one whose memory continues
to be troubling even though the event is long finished. Just recalling
the event triggers painful emotions that affect thinking and behavior.
Life begins to go off track and the person is stuck in pain and despair.
Addictive behavior often begins as the solution to the hurt. When the
painful memories are neutralized by effective psychological treatment,
energy is released that automatically fuels positive behavior change.

The human mind, because it is protective, will remember all the
details of a disturbing event and be on the alert for any detail that
looks similar. The problem is that what is noticed as similar is
perceived as the same. This explains why the firecracker outside
causes the decorated Army combat veteran to dive behind the couch
shaking with fear. Even though this similar-same confusion operates
on a subconscious level it can be corrected with effective treatment.

Painful emotions are often the legacy of traumatic experiences.
Anger, grief, fear and guilt consume huge amounts of energy and
drain a person of enthusiasm and motivation. These emotions are
almost always worse than useless and contribute in a major way
to stuckness. Although many people may not realize it, painful
emotions can be eliminated rapidly with effective treatment.

How we think about who we really are is a big deal. A negative
identity almost always contributes to unwanted behavior. Traumatic
events often lead to a distorted and negative perceived identity,
the person’s takeaway being ‘I’m just a worthless piece of crap’ or
something similar. When behavior is confused with identity positive
change becomes difficult or even impossible. Even experiences
intended to be therapeutic can cause harmful distortions in perceived
identity. For example, the time honored requirement to own the
behavior and state ‘I am an addict’can have disastrous unintended
consequences. The key phrase is of course ‘I am’. Identity is usually
perceived as unchanging and permanent. So if one ‘is’ something,
how does one not be it? Confusing identity with behavior is a huge
contributor to being stuck.

Many addicts get stuck in some area of life. The human mind, especially
the more primitive subconscious mind, doesn’t deal well with negation.
It’s sort of like asking your server in a restaurant to not bring you
chicken. It’s a good start but needs to be followed with what you do want.
Speaking and thinking only in negation keeps people stuck.

The only animal on the planet that attaches meaning to events is the
human animal. We’re really good at it and we do it all the time. When
the meaning is positive there’s usually no problem. But when the
meaning is negative it can be a big problem that causes even more
painful emotion. The meaning the human mind attaches to events is,
of course, a major source of false beliefs.

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