Is Empathy a Universal Trait?

Empathy is a universal language of recognizing in others what we are able to recognize in ourselves. If I have been through an experience you are describing, I am able to emotionally and intuitively relate to what you are saying. Not only do I understand, I have a deep comprehension of where you are. So to speak, I have walked a mile in your shoes.

One of the most basic human needs, especially in recovery, is to feel understood. Without being addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is hard to understand the depth of addiction. Family members and friends struggle to truly grasp the experience of addiction their loved ones are witnessing. Compassionately, they acknowledge how their loved one suffers, and they sympathize with their experience. Yet, they struggle in developing the empathy needed for validation.

Being in treatment or the rooms of 12 step fellowships offers solidarity in these departments. Walking into a room of like-minded, like-lived people is a sense of relief to many addicts in recovery. In all the world, there is at least one place where they know they will be understood. Someone, at some point in their life has lived through similar trial, tribulation, and even triumph. This sort of fellowship is a keystone in the continuum of recovery.

Is Empathy a Universal Trait?

Is everyone so kind? Research shows that the answer is conditional according to perceived struggle. It might be expected that the people who have suffered the most would have the greatest empathy. Quartz did a social experiment revealing that, at times, those with recent relevant experience were less inclined to have compassion and more inclined to show contempt. For example, one study examined bullying. Participants in the study reacted to two types of people who had overcome bullying. The first coped with the bullying in a way that was defined as successful. The second coped with bullying through violence and lashing out. Compared to people who had not experienced bullying, the people who had were most compassionate toward the successful subject. Yet, for the subject who reacted in violence, people who had experienced bullying themselves were the least compassionate, comparatively. Researchers believe it is a combination of forgetting what it was like, and the ability to overcome such hardships, that turn people cold.

Conclusively, the study reveals an important part of recovery: remembering what it was like. There is no need to stay haunted by one’s past, but rather embrace the humility of recognizing the hardships we have faced. It is important not to lose sight of how far you’ve come because of where you started. We remember that each person’s journey is unique.

Enlightened Solutions offers a spiritual solution to the problem of pervasive drug and alcohol addiction. Our multidisciplinary program offers a holistic approach to healing rooted in twelve step philosophy. It starts with hope. Start your journey to recovery with us. For more information on our treatment programs please call 833-801-5483.


Music Therapy and EDM: A Link for Treatment

Last year, the EDM (electronic dance music) industry reached a peak in industrial growth. The most recent numbers came from the 2014-2015 year which saw a drop in growth (12%). From 2013-2014, the electronic dance music industry grew an impressive 37%. In that time the number of EDM ‘festivals’ seemed to quadruple with local, small scale events happening regularly. Live music events account for the majority of the current value at nearly $7 billion.

Electronic Dance Music comes under a lot of scrutiny for its close affiliation with drugs. Psychedelics and psychoactives are renown for ‘enhancing’ the music experience. Drugs like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and acid (LSD) are common. Most widely known is ecstasy or MDMA. MDMA is a psychoactive that primarily interacts with serotonin. Along with feelings of euphoria and the sensation of being connected or in love with the whole world come dangerous side effects. MDMA is not always pure. It can be cut with heroin, meth, crack, and other drugs. Overheating, dehydration, high blood pressure, and hypertension are the primary causes for overdose and death at EDM festivals each year. “Green amor” is a new drug being sold at EDM shows combining MDMA and crystal meth.

Death counts are startling at these shows. As recently as May, 5 people died at one EDM show in the Philippines, due to overdose and heart attack on MDMA and other drugs. July of 2014, the start of that year’s festival season, had an already reported 15 deaths.

Despite slowing growth, EDM has transformed into a global community. Now, neuroscience researchers are looking into what it is about EDM that makes the music itself addicting and how that could possibly help addicts in recovery.

Music Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Music therapy is an alternative modality used by treatment centers. Creative output plus the healing energy of sound equate to a unique application of expressive arts. Australian researchers are looking to study the neuroscience of the brain ‘on’ EDM.

Formulaically, EDM includes a build up and a ‘drop’. The researchers assign both of these parts with craving and pleasure, respectively. For most EDM fans, the music is highlighted by the drop in bass and melody. Researchers believe there is a connection between how the brain experiences craving and pleasure in the music as well as in mental disorders with cravings, such as addiction. Music is used as a therapeutic tool in emotional regulation for people with and without mental illnesses. Individualized music therapy programs could help reduce acute symptoms of craving, the researchers believe.

Enlightened solutions incorporates music therapy as part of a holistic treatment program. Seeking to heal mind, body, and spirit, enlightened solutions offers a bunch of hippie shit. To learn more and get your chakras assessed, call 833-801-5483.


Relapse Prevention: Mindfulness over Matter

Mindfulness based stress reduction has become an integral part of addiction treatment programs in recovery centers. Incorporating mindfulness based practices into an individualized treatment plan produces great results. Used to treat depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and more, mindfulness based practices alleviate symptoms and encourage recovery. Even physical ailments such as chronic lower back pain are proving to be greatly helped by mindfulness based practices.

For some providers, the mindfulness movement is not rooted in enough science. Dozens of scholarly articles are published every week on the evidenced success of mindfulness. Body, mind, and spirit are helped by these practices and science is proving it. Still, “evidence based” treatment modalities have been around longer. Despite growing evidence for mindfulness, providers are quick to stick with what they know.

Mindfulness for Relapse Prevention

Thankfully, there are movements encouraging a wider adoption of mindfulness practices. Evidence based relapse prevention and mindfulness based stress reduction have fused to create “Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention”. Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention uses meditation in combination with cognitive and behavioral skill building. Adjusting an addict’s relationship to their emotional state is a preventative measure when it comes to relapse.

Relapse is a process. Seeing relapse as a singular episodic occurrence undermines the power of addiction as a whole. Cravings and negative emotions are accomplices to the relapse continuum. Developing skills like emotional regulation and coping mechanisms are necessary for dealing with the negative emotions. Addiction is, in many ways, a coping mechanism for people who are unable to regulate their negative emotions. Cravings are a byproduct of the neuroscience of addiction. By way of association, when negative emotions return, cravings increase. Before picking up the first drink or drug, the brain has already assumed the substance has been consumed, hence cravings.

Meditation and mindfulness encourage healthy detachment. The association between negative emotions and cravings adjusts. In fact, brain images reveal that overtime, mindfulness and meditation practices actually change areas of the brain where cravings occur. Using the cognitive and behavioral skills fostered in a mindful way allows emotions to become an experience rather than a trigger. Living life on life’s terms becomes manageable without feeling vulnerable to life’s every whim.

The recovery process starts with healing, starts with hope, and starts with you. If you are interested in recovering from drug and alcohol addiction through a spiritually minded and holistic program of healing, call Enlightened Solutions today 833-801-5483.


What Happens to Our Memories?

The human memory has difficulty recalling experience before the age of about three years old. Humorously, we adopt this fact as if there is little significance to the first two years of our development. Psychologically, we have been convinced that developmental stages are too early at these young ages, meaning that infantile children are without the capacity of memory. Yet, the very basics of developmental psychology prove otherwise. Watch a child of about two years watch their parents and you will see them imitate facial expressions and sounds. Working memory helps young babies begin to develop behavioral functions.

Children at younger ages have the ability to recall memorable events from within the first twenty months of their lives. By the ages between four and seven years old those memories disappear. Where do they go, and why? The memories simply aren’t memorable enough. Retained memory is different from short term memory. Retaining a memory depends on how much emotion is infused in the experience. Memory episodes are also largely conditional based upon context. Conceptualizing the meanings within episodic memory is a necessity. Being able to have some comprehension of what was going on around us helped us make sense of that situation. Without that basic understanding, there is no way to hold onto the experience. Memory retention is also a matter of sleuth. Our brains investigate the legitimacy of each memory. If the story checks out, the memory gets into our long term storage banks to be recalled at a later date.

 

Memory and Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

We can be vulnerable to false memories from using friends or angry parents, and we can reshape our real memories by telling new stories about them. Unknowingly, we can be affected by memories we aren’t aware of, which are called recognition memories. For example, we may turn a street corner and be met with triggering feelings of unease or even euphoric recall. In the midst of a blackout from intoxication we might have had an experience here, yet have not recalled it. Drugs and alcohol impair our memories of all times. Recovery is a healing process for the brain which can result in recovering newer and older memories. Not all memories will be welcomed warmly because they are not pleasant memories. Healing the unconscious of our addicted past will help us create new memories for a future free from drugs and alcohol.

 

Enlightened Solutions knows how challenging it can be to remember life before drug and alcohol addiction. In our treatment programs for men and women we help with learning to live life after addiction. Through holistic therapy methods and 12 step philosophy our program builds new memories in healthy spirit, body, and mind.

Call us today for more information, 833-801-5483.


7 Lessons from Practicing Mindfulness

Being mindful...isn’t that hard.

Building a mindfulness practice requires just a few minutes today. Thanks to technology, developing a mindfulness practice is easier than ever. Long gone are the days of having to travel to ashrams or pay exorbitant amounts of money to guru teachers. These are still options, but a smart phone is just as handy. Mindfulness is nonjudgmental and noncompetitive. Simply learning to notice takes little actions.

Being mindful....isn’t the same as zen.

Zen meditation is a discipline in emptying the mind. Mindfulness is about filling the mind with focus, rather than noise. Mindfulness creates a holistic concentration that may feel like emptiness but is quite the opposite.

Being mindful...shows you how busy your mind really is.

Starting a mindfulness practice is going to reveal the chaos your mind experiences everyday. As you learn to breathe and focus on the breath, you’ll realize how many thoughts you have every second. Mindfulness is about acknowledging those thoughts without criticism and just letting them pass.

Being mindful...guides you in your own thoughts.

As you learn to notice your thoughts, accept them, and let them go, you notice what it is you are thinking about. You might notice you really think about one thing in particular a lot. Practicing loving kindness and compassion toward the self unearths the deeper meaning beneath these thoughts.

Being mindful...puts everything in it’s right place.

Examining your thoughts one thought at a time is like sorting laundry. Organizing without giving too much energy, you recognize what thoughts take priority. You recognize where your energy really gets spent. Without judgment, you can choose to put that energy elsewhere.

Being mindful...helps you stay calm.

Mindfulness based stress reduction is a proven technique for treating depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD. Taking just thirty seconds to breath can slow your heart rate which quiets your mind. Scientific research reveals that mindfulness practices change your neurochemistry.

Being mindful...can be a trip.

When we quiet the mind we open ourselves up to experiencing our other senses more fully. Some people witness beautiful visualizations when they practice mindfulness. Others hear sounds they’ve never noticed before. Many people who practice mindfulness regularly exclaim, “who needs drugs!”

 

Enlightened Solutions encourages the development of mindfulness practices as part of a recovery program. We utilize MBSR in treatment along with meditation and yoga. Our program is based in holistic healing modalities to treat the mind, body, and spirit as one.

For more information on our treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction please call 833-801-5483.