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Preparing For Sober Holidays

From January through December there are many holiday celebrations that take place for different cultures, religions, and nationalities. The end of the year, about October through December, has the highest density of holiday celebrations. Typically, that means plenty of party invites, dinners, and events. Before getting sober, the holidays were some of the best times of the year! Libations flowed freely and everyone had a holly, jolly good time. Now that you’ve completed treatment, or are in the process of completing treatment for drug addiction and/or alcoholism, things might feel a little bit different.

Recovery is not the end of holiday cheer and celebration. Early recovery, the first few months to a year, might make it a little more difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Fear not, like all things in life and sobriety, this too shall pass. You’ll make it through the holidays just fine by understanding why you might be triggered and how to handle holiday parties.

Why The Holidays Are Hard

There are a few reasons why the holidays are especially challenging in the first year of recovery. First, is your brain. While the drugs and alcohol have left your system, your brain has not yet fully recovered. Addictive substances induce a sensation of euphoria when they are abused. Euphoria is caused by a production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a messenger for pleasure in the brain. Part of the neuroscience of addiction, or how addiction occurs in the brain, is when the brain is unable to produce dopamine, or pleasure, on its own. Being dopamine deficient means it’s actually chemically challenging for you to feel that holiday cheer.

Second, holiday parties usually include alcohol. There’s a seasonal drink (or three) for every seasonal holiday.  At the root of your core you know that you do not want to drink. You’ve worked so hard to come as far as you have in your sobriety. Yet, somewhere in the back of your mind is a nagging thought about it. Cravings are uncomfortable and can be overwhelming at times. It isn’t that you want to participate and it isn’t that you don’t. As you work through the emotions of your attachment to addiction and alcoholism, more will be revealed about you miss it sometimes.

Most importantly, remember that holidays are just another day. We take recovery one day at a time!

Enlightened Solutions provides a unique and holistic approach to treating drug addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring disorders. Combining twelve step philosophy with evidence based treatment and holistic healing modalities, Enlightened Solutions creates a deeply healing recovery program for each patient. For more information on our services, call 833-801-5483


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Is “Neediness” Really Emotional Starvation?

In a letter to an anonymous note, Dr. Jonice Webb answers a very common question in psychology: is there such a thing as a needy child? Dr. Webb answers: No.

The anonymous author explained that her mother repeatedly informed her that she was a needy child often wanting to be held, was dramatic, and shy in school. Many children and adult children of alcoholics or dysfunctional families face such criticism from parents. Typically, the parent’s accusations are meant out of malice rather than to be constructive in any way. Children, especially young children, are inherently needy. They are in need of parental love, attention, affection, and support. Unfortunately, not all parents are mentally well when they decide to have children. They take their own childhoods and mental illness out on their children in damaging or destructive ways. “Many parents don’t realize that their job is not simply to provide for their children an raise them,” Dr. Webb explains, “they’re also supposed to respond to their children’s emotions.”

As an addict or alcoholic in the recovery process can relate, there is little responding to emotion when you are so disconnected from your own. Mental illness, and the presence of harmful substances, skews the mind from functioning normally. Spiritually speaking, the mind becomes occupied with matters of the self, leaving little room for divine intervention or empathy for other people.

Dr. Webb immediately explains that there is no such thing as a needy child, but there is such a thing as a child who is emotionally starved. Needy adults are characterized by their driving desire for those same things a neglected child is- that same love, affection and attention. “Growing up emotionally ignored results in growing up with a tendency to ignore yourself,” she explains. “How can you know yourself when your parents never knew you? How can you feel that you’re lovable when you didn’t feel love from those who brought you into this world and are supposed to love you first and best?”

Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction often includes recovering from a painful childhood and past. Through the therapeutic process of recovery, the underlying issues which led to addictive behaviors are discovered. For adult children of emotionally void homes, drugs and alcohol provided a solace and access to feelings of love. Additionally, substances also provided an escape from the emotional pain.


Commonly Abused Substances

Synthetics

Synthetic drugs are the most difficult to regulate by law enforcement officials, medical doctors, and psychologists. Synthetic drugs are not traceable to a plant or particular chemical like many other drugs. Instead, synthetic drugs or “designer” drugs are made, quite literally, with everything under the kitchen sink. As a result, determining how the drug will effect the brain and body is unpredictable. Synthetic drugs are powerful stimulants, creating a fast and furious high and almost instantaneous dependency. Generally the effects and symptoms of Synthetic drug abuse include:

Paranoia

Rapid heart rate

Overheating

Slurred speech

Irrational thoughts

Fear of being chased by evil forces

“Superhuman” strength

 

Methamphetamines

Crystal Meth is a highly abused stimulant and synthetic drug. Also known as “ice” or “glass” the crystal like shards are smoked or injected. Meth is abused for its stimulant properties, causing people to stay awake for as long as ten days. Effects and symptoms of meth abuse include:

Dilated pupil

Suppressed appetite

Erratic behavior

Insomnia

Focus on picking the skin

Paranoia

Rapid weight loss

 

Alcohol

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance, contributing to high numbers of death and alcohol-related injury each year. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks per sitting, which is about two hours. Drinking abusively can impair basic cognitive and motor functions, judgment, and thinking. Alcohol damages the liver, brain, and body. Effects and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

Incoherence

Blackout

Slurred Speech

Poor Judgment

Vomiting

Imbalance, or stumbling

Needing more alcohol or not knowing one’s limits

 

Stimulants

Cocaine is the most popularly abused stimulant drug. Crack and other amphetamine drugs like Adderall and drugs used for studying are popular as well. Stimulant drugs work with the central nervous system, quickly accessing the brain and putting into hyper speed mode. Cocaine can cause in overdose with just one hit while other amphetamines taken in large quantities can cause heart complications. Effects and symptoms of stimulant abuse include:

Hyper focus

Ability to stay up all night

Maximized productivity

Jittery behavior

Suppressed appetite

Irritability

Aggression

 

Opioids

In 2014 approximately 28,000 Americans died from overdose on opioids including heroin and prescription painkillers. Opioid overdose is caused by respiratory depression, the slowing of the heart until it stops. Opioids are highly addicting, but through subtle means like chronic pain treatment. Opioids create euphoric sensation through muscle relaxation and feelings of warmness. Dependency on opioids result in brutal withdrawal symptoms, causing a need to continue using the drugs just to avoid the withdrawal. Effects and Symptoms of opioid abuse include:

“Nodding out” or falling asleep frequently

Slowed movement, or doing nothing at all

Rapid weight loss

Change in skin pigment and elasticity

Irritability when not on the drug

Constipation

“Pinholed” pupils

Severe symptoms of withdrawal

 

Benzodiazepines

Introduced in the 1950’s as “mommy’s little helper” benzodiazepines became famous for “taking the edge off”. Famous brands like Valium and Xanax are prescribed to help cope with anxiety. Though marketed as non-dependency forming, regular users of these drugs experience immediate symptoms of withdrawal when they miss a dose. Abusing Xanax can result in euphoric sensation similar to opioids. Effects and symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse includes:

Slow movements

Shallow breathing

Loss of judgment for physical pain

 

Enlightened Solutions offers hope and healing for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Our doors are open to men and women seeking holistic, 12 step based treatment. If you are concerned you or a loved one are suffering from problems with drugs or alcohol, call us today. We have a solution. 833-801-5483.