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Tag: Mental Health

Anxiety vs Nervousness: Differences and Treatment

In our daily lives, terms like anxiety, stress, and nervousness often get interchanged. However, understanding the distinction between these terms can be pivotal for personal well-being and appropriate treatment. The debate of anxiety vs nervousness isn’t just a matter of semantics. It’s about comprehending different emotional experiences and their impact on our health.

Anxiety vs Nervousness

We’ve all felt that flutter in our stomachs before a significant event or the rapid heartbeat during moments of tension. Often, terms like ‘anxiety’ and ‘nervousness’ are used interchangeably to describe these feelings. However, while they share some overlapping symptoms, they stem from different origins and can have distinct impacts on our well-being. 

As we delve deeper into the subject of anxiety vs nervousness, it becomes crucial to distinguish between these two emotions to ensure accurate understanding and appropriate responses. Therefore, by differentiating between them, we can better address our mental health and the challenges that come with it.

Nervousness: A Fleeting Feeling

Nervousness is a natural, temporary reaction to a particular situation or challenge. Whether it’s speaking in public, attending an interview, or meeting someone new. These instances might invoke feelings of unease or apprehension. 

Nervousness is a common emotional state characterized by feelings of apprehension, unease, and worry. Often, it is triggered by anticipation of a future event or situation. In addition, it can manifest both mentally and physically. 

  • Mentally: An individual might experience restlessness, racing thoughts, or unease. 
  • Physically: Possible symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, dry mouth, or stomach discomfort. 

Typically, nervousness is a temporary reaction to a specific trigger, such as an upcoming presentation, a job interview, or any situation that is unfamiliar or outside of one’s comfort zone. The nervous sensation fades as soon as the triggering event concludes. 

While it’s a natural human response to certain situations, excessive or chronic nervousness can be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder. However, occasional nervousness is a normal part of life and does not necessarily indicate a larger mental health issue.

The Role of Stress

To better understand anxiety vs nervousness, we must also understand the role of stress. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. It can be defined as the body’s response to any change that requires an adjustment or response. 

Naturally, everyone experiences stress from time to time. It can come from any event or thought that makes someone feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or even anxious.

Stress can be broken down into two main types:

  • Acute stress: This is short-term stress that goes away quickly. It can be felt when someone slams on the brakes, has a fight with a friend, or ski down a steep slope. It helps people manage dangerous situations. It also occurs when doing something exciting that gets the heart pumping. 
  • Chronic stress: This is stress that lasts for a longer period. For example, money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work. Any stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. Moreover, it can become harmful when people use unhealthy coping strategies like substance abuse to deal with their stress.

Stress causes physiological responses in our bodies. When we perceive a threat or challenge, the body responds by releasing stress hormones. Primarily, cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare the body to either “fight or flight”. 

As a result, this leads to various physical reactions, such as a faster heartbeat, heightened senses, quickened breath, and tensing of muscles. Once the threat or challenge passes, these reactions usually fade.

However, if these stress responses are constantly triggered, they can wear down the body and lead to more serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

Anxiety: More Than Just Temporary Worries

Anxiety vs nervousness: Unlike nervousness, anxiety isn’t always linked to a specific event or situation. Whereas, it’s a more chronic emotion, often without an identifiable trigger. It’s not uncommon for anxiety to last for days or longer. Consequently, making it challenging for individuals to carry out daily tasks.

Anxiety vs stress: While both are responses to challenges or threats, stress is generally linked to a specific external factor, such as a looming deadline. So, once the stressor disappears, the stress tends to fade. Anxiety, on the other hand, might persist even in the absence of a clear reason.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This condition is characterized by persistent, exaggerated worry about everyday life events.
  • Panic Disorder: Involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear or terror.
  • Phobia: Extreme fear about a specific thing or situation (e.g., spiders, heights).
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: A debilitating fear of being observed or judged in social settings.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Recurrent unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Initiated by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.

It’s imperative to note that anxiety disorders heighten the risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD). Individuals might resort to drugs or alcohol as a means to cope. Therefore, this leads to a dual diagnosis—where a person suffers from both a mental health disorder and SUD.

The Debilitating Impact of Anxiety Disorders

Untreated anxiety can permeate every facet of an individual’s life. From strained relationships to underperformance at work or school, its effects can be pervasive. Physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances, might accompany the emotional and cognitive symptoms.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Recognizing and treating an anxiety disorder is vital. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be instrumental in managing symptoms. Medications, combined with therapy, can be highly effective depending on the severity of the disorder.

In cases where SUD coexists with an anxiety disorder, dual diagnosis treatment becomes essential. This approach addresses both issues simultaneously, enhancing the chances of recovery.

Anxiety vs Nervousness: When to Seek Help

While nervousness is a universal and short-lived experience, anxiety, particularly in its chronic forms, can be debilitating and demands attention. Recognizing the distinction between anxiety vs nervousness is the first step in seeking the necessary help and reclaiming a balanced life. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, reach out to our mental health professionals at Enlightened Solutions.

The Challenges of Living With Mental Illness

Every day, people all across the country grapple with the challenges of living with a mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 American adults has some form of mental illness. 

One in every 20 adults has a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or chronic major depression.

Mental illness does not discriminate. People of all ages, IQs, social class, and income levels can develop a mental illness. Like any other serious illness that humans get, mental illness is not the fault of the person afflicted. 

Even though mental health and mental illness are becoming more understood, widespread misunderstandings, shame, and stigma are still attached to those afflicted. For this reason, we will also address some of the myths about mental illness.

Breaking the Myths of Mental Illness

Many common myths about mental health may frighten those who don’t understand mental illness and encourage those with mental illness to seek help. 

Dispelling such misconceptions helps break the stigmas of mental illness and create a culture where anyone with a mental illness will feel comfortable in society and seek help if necessary. Also, learning about mental illness helps everyone collectively understand and accept mental illness. 

Here are three common myths about mental illness.

People With Mental Illness Are Crazy or Dangerous

Yes, severe psychiatric mental illnesses can completely detach one from reality. Such cases are often sensationalized in books and movies such as Psycho. However, most mental illness is entirely treatable. Therefore, treatment may be necessary to regulate emotions and balance moods. 

Most people who receive treatment for mental illness look and act completely normal. They are not a bad person, crazy, violent, or dangerous. According to NAMI, only 5% of violent crimes in the U.S. are committed by people with a serious mental illness.

It’s no surprise that mental illness comes with challenges, but it shouldn’t stop anyone from living a full life.  Despite challenges, those with mental illness go to school, pursue careers, start a family, and enjoy life like anyone else

Psychiatric Meds are Bad

Like any other medical condition, a mental illness usually requires medication. For instance, people with diabetes need insulin. 

Those who don’t understand the psychiatric medicine used to treat mental illness may think it’s harmful or refer to it as “happy pills” and an easy way for those with mental illness to avoid their problems. 

Medication is a matter of life and death for some people with mental illness. For others, like those with mild to moderate conditions such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD, medication eases symptoms so they can function normally. 

Proper medication combined with regular therapy will significantly improve the quality of life for someone with mental illness.

Getting Help Is a Sign of Weakness

No one with a mental illness is weak or deficient. Yet, admitting problems related to living with a mental illness is not easy. It takes strength and courage for someone with a mental illness to seek help by opening up to someone. Thus, doing so helps alleviate the stigmas, increase awareness, and promote an overall understanding of mental health.

It’s empowering for someone with mental illness to seek help. The perceptions of others should never deter one from reaching out for help. No one should suffer needlessly, no matter what condition they are afflicted with.  Moving forward with a treatment plan in a place of compassion and healing is the first step toward ultimate recovery. 

No one is frowned upon for getting physical check-ups or procedures. Taking care of one’s mental health should be no different than caring for one’s physical health. 

Treatment is Life Changing

Seeking help and moving forward with a treatment plan may seem daunting and overwhelming. However, the benefits of mental health treatment go far beyond the individual. Consequently, untreated mental illness comes with high social and economic costs. 

Through therapy and medication, mental health patients will learn to balance their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with their illness. 

The benefits of mental health treatment will become apparent, including: 

  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved communication skills
  • Learned coping and decision-making skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Deeper insight and self-awareness
  • Better personal relationships
  • Learned healthy eating habits for peak health
  • Eliminating bad habits such as drugs or alcohol 
  • Supportive people who care and understand
  • An overall sense of peace and wellness

Proper treatment can help eliminate the unnecessary suffering and stigmas associated with those who have mental illness. Undoubtedly, the more mentally sound people, the healthier families, relationships, and society are overall.

Celebrate Wellness With Enlightened Solutions

Deciding to seek treatment and work towards a better you is a significant moment in your life, whether you are seeking treatment for a mental illness, an addiction, or a dual diagnosis (co-occurring) mental disorder. Overcoming the challenges of living with mental illness can help you achieve the lasting wellness you deserve. 

Enlighted Solutions offers integrative holistic healing treatments connecting the mind, body, spirit, and earth. Not only do we not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, we take great pride in customizing each patient’s treatment plan. Hence, your treatment is tailor-made just for you.

Our compassionate, professional team is here to help you navigate your way from mental illness to mental wellness for the rest of your life. A joyous world of health and happiness awaits you.

Contact us today and get the answers you need to start your journey to wellness.

The Connection Between Alcohol and Memory Loss

The consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption can be severe. Among the related effects is memory loss, which can be both short and long-term. It is not uncommon for a person to experience a “blackout” during a night of excessive drinking. They wake up unsure of what happened the night before, experiencing a blank spot in their memory. Alcohol-induced memory loss can also be long-term. Those who drink excessively for a prolonged period of time are more likely to suffer memory loss later on in life. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we thoroughly understand the link between alcohol and memory loss. Furthermore, we believe that with the right tools and resources, even the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder can be successfully overcome. Our team of highly experienced professionals works together to develop personalized treatment plans. These treatment plans identify and treat unique areas of concern, taking a closer look at the consequences of alcohol misuse and developing a plan of action to address them.

If you or someone you love has suffered memory loss due to excessive alcohol consumption, help is available. Contact us directly to learn more about our program for alcohol addiction recovery or to begin your journey of long-term healing. 

How Alcohol Addiction Can Lead to Memory Loss

Alcohol can significantly impact cognitive function and memory. When too much alcohol is consumed, both short and long-term memory loss is sustained. People who engage in binge drinking are more likely to experience alcohol-induced blackouts. Alternatively, people who engage in long-term heavy drinking are more likely to suffer irreversible cognitive damage and memory loss over time. 

Fortunately, most memory-related issues can be reversed when longer-term sobriety is maintained. However, it can be difficult for a person to quit drinking heavily without some degree of professional help — especially if they have developed a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. The good news is, Enlightened Solutions is available to help. Our multi-staged recovery program begins with medically monitored detoxification and continues with the next appropriate level of clinical care. Contact us directly to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment program. 

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss is a common issue among heavy drinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines a blackout as “gaps in a person’s memory for events that occurred while they were intoxicated. These gaps happen when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage—known as memory consolidation—in a brain area called the hippocampus.” 

For most, the risk of blackout begins when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.16% or higher. When a person’s BAC reaches this level, their cognitive functioning declines significantly. They have poor impulse control, a lack of coordination, reduced inhibitions, and a decreased ability to make self-serving decisions. 

Long-Term Memory Loss 

Long-term memory loss typically develops as the result of chronic, long-term drinking. There is a distinct connection between excessive drinking and steady cognitive decline, including early-onset dementia. Symptoms associated with alcohol-related dementia include:

  • Difficulty completing day-to-day tasks or carrying out standard obligations. 
  • A loss of memory, which is often marked by confusion and disorientation. 
  • Sudden and noticeable changes in mood. 
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, and agitation. 

A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine titled Alcohol-Related Dementia: An Update of the Evidence states, “It is well established that excessive and prolonged alcohol use can lead to permanent damage to the structure and function of the brain. Autopsy evaluations suggest that up to 78% of individuals with diagnosed alcoholism demonstrate some degree of brain pathology. Neuroimaging and neuropathological evidence show prominent white matter loss (most notable in the prefrontal cortex, corpus callosum, and cerebellum) and neuronal loss in the superior frontal association cortex, hypothalamus, and cerebellum.” 

Essentially, individuals who drink heavily for months or years at a time are significantly more susceptible to declined cognitive functioning. Fortunately, the majority of damage done to the brain can be reversed when sobriety is maintained. 

The Connection Between Alcohol and Memory Loss  

The connection between alcohol and memory loss is clear-cut and evidence-based. In addition to short-term memory loss caused by binge drinking and long-term memory loss caused by excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption, additional memory-related issues can arise. Korsakoff Syndrome, for example, is common among heavy drinkers and those with moderate or severe alcohol use disorders. 

The Alzheimer’s Association defines Korsakoff Syndrome as “ a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse, but certain other conditions also can cause the syndrome.” 

Chronic alcoholics are also at risk of developing a serious condition called “wet brain” or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. It is possible to reverse the effects of wet brain syndrome when it is caught and treated early on. However, the symptoms of this serious and potentially fatal illness can be irreversible. 

Why Is Treatment Important?

When a person successfully stops drinking, the physical effects of alcoholism begin to reverse. Healing is generally a slow process that occurs slowly over months or years. Unfortunately, some individuals who drink heavily end up damaging their brains irreparably. Because alcohol use disorder is a chronic and progressive condition, treating it as early as possible leads to the highest chance of recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe it is never too soon to begin an alcohol addiction recovery journey. 

We offer several distinct levels of care geared towards helping individuals overcome alcohol addiction and fully recover from the negative effects of alcohol use. The levels of care we provide include:

  • Medical Detoxification 
  • Residential Treatment 
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
  • Outpatient Treatment (OP)
  • Personalized Aftercare Planning 

Contact Us Today to Begin Your Recovery Journey 

If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about our New Jersey alcohol addiction treatment program, we are here to help. We understand how intimidating reaching out for help can be. Our team of compassionate and experienced staff members have been where you are now. We are available to guide you through the admissions process from a place of personal knowledge. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin your personal alcohol addiction recovery journey. Contact us today to begin!

How Can I Encourage My Loved One to Seek Help?

Watching a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD) is incredibly challenging. When a loved one is in active addiction, it impacts more than just themselves; it affects everyone they are in contact with, especially their loved ones. However, there are specific ways to encourage and support your loved one to get the help they need.

Confronting the issue of addiction is complex. The person may not be interested in what you have to say, deny the issue, and find it difficult to accept your help. However, motivating and supporting your loved one to accept the need for help and seek addiction treatment is crucial.

Challenges of Speaking to Your Loved One About Addiction

Having a loved one with an addiction is complicated, and speaking with them to encourage them to get help can seem impossible. Multiple challenges are common when addressing addiction with a loved one.

First, many individuals deny they have an addiction issue. While it is different for each person, accepting and owning up to their addiction is a big step. When you try to address their addiction, you may run into their feelings of denial, which can result in anger that is directed toward you.

Another big challenge is speaking with your loved one while using drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol alter a person’s ability to think reasonably and commonly change their perception and reactions. This presents a specific challenge as your loved one may not be in the right frame of mind to listen to you.

How to Encourage Your Loved One to Get Help

When you approach your loved one to encourage them to seek help, there are a few tools that can be beneficial. The language you use, your ability to listen to their point of view, and your willingness to help them find the best treatment for them can all improve your success in them getting into rehab.

Word Choice

The words you choose to use when communicating with your loved one can impact the outcome of the conversations. Research has shown that those who feel stigmatized are less willing to seek addiction treatment. Commonly, this stems from a belief that they are being accused of a moral failing.

When you approach your loved one, remember to encourage rather than condemn. Words to avoid include the following:

  • Addict
  • User
  • Drug abuser
  • Junkie
  • Alcoholic
  • Dirty

Instead, try using words that do not convey blame. Consider using the following phrases:

  • A person struggling with a substance use disorder
  • A person struggling with an alcohol use disorder
  • A person who is actively using drugs 
  • Engaging in unhealthy or hazardous alcohol or drug use

If your goal is to encourage and help your loved one get help, these words can help to convey your concern rather than appear as though you are passing judgment. Incorporating other phrases that communicate your concern can also help. Consider the following options:

  • I’m worried about you. 
  • I want you to be safe.
  • I’m wondering how you are doing. 
  • I noticed you seem to be having difficulty lately. 
  • You are not alone; I’m here to help.

Telling your loved one how you feel helps them know that you care about them and their wellbeing. It communicates that you are on their side.

Listen as You Encourage

One of the most beneficial things you can do when encouraging your loved one to get help is to listen. Listening conveys to your loved one that you want to hear how they are doing. It can help them sense that you are interested in learning about what is going on with them, which builds a rapport that can lead to them asking you for help in the future.

Listening also opens up a place for you to ask about their substance use. Asking them if they feel that their drug or alcohol use is a problem can start the process of change. While they may not immediately own up to their addiction, asking puts the question into their mind, and it can help them eventually notice and seek help.

Help Them Find Help

Being supportive of your loved one can take the form of offering assistance. While this depends on where your loved one is in the process of seeking treatment, when they are ready for help, you can encourage them to look at different types of treatment options and offer to help them look into them. For individuals with addiction, researching and identifying the right facility can be challenging. You can encourage and support them by helping them to find the proper treatment.

Importance of Finding a Way to Encourage Your Loved One

Every family is different. However, research shows us that family support can play a significant role in recovery success for an individual. Your loved one will benefit from encouragement and support from you.

At Enlightenment Solutions, we believe in community treatment options. While we treat individuals, our family program greatly benefits the client and their loved ones. Your loved one can overcome their addiction, but your support is vital to them getting treatment and being successful in recovery.

Watching your family member or loved one struggle with addiction is painful. While you likely want to encourage and support them in finding treatment, it can be a tricky subject to breach. However, there are tools that can help you to successfully encourage your loved one to make a change. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that effective treatment often includes the entire family. In our programs, we encourage the families of clients to be active participants in the treatment process. During this process, clients and their families learn to improve communication and heal together. To learn more about our programs and to speak with a staff member, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE

How Can I Cope With Conflict in Recovery?

As humans, we are social creatures. This includes living and working with other people. Conflict is common between individuals and can range from mild to severe. Good communication and managing conflict are important coping skills in recovery. They are vital social and interpersonal skills that help you to manage stress, participate in your community, and develop healthy relationships.

In treatment, you participate in many types of therapy and groups. These will teach you how to communicate with others and manage many different types of relationships. As you enter recovery and leave treatment, you will continue developing your social skills. This includes incorporating methods of coping with conflict into your daily life.

A conflict is a disagreement. It highlights an incompatibility or difference of ideas. A simple conflict may be deciding what to have for dinner, while a more complex disagreement may be a discussion about where you want to live or how to best raise children. Regardless of the conflict, coping skills are integral in having successful relationships in recovery.

Coping With Conflict

When disagreements arise, it is normal to want to avoid them. However, you can learn how to manage these differences in a way that allows all parties to communicate, be heard, and find a compromise. These are integral social skills. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in teaching these skills in our programs to help clients successfully cope with conflict and build relationships in recovery.

The Importance of Listening

You are only one part of a relationship or one person in a group. Learning to listen to others is an essential coping skill when managing a disagreement. When you listen to another person, you allow them to share their point of view. If you or another person is not allowed to share, negative feelings can grow and escalate into full-blown hostility.

Listening to another person’s point of view does not mean you need to agree with it. Remember, active listening is a skill. Try focusing on what they are saying. This will help you to understand their perspective on the situation. The more you practice actively listening to others, the better you will get at it. Group therapy or peer groups are great places to practice this skill. Once you get the hang of it, it can be easier to listen to those you disagree with in your life.

Keeping a Level Head

Conflicts tend to bring up feelings of frustration and anger. Keeping a level head while you disagree is incredibly helpful. One tactic is to breathe. Breathing helps to calm your system and keeps you from jumping in before the other person has finished speaking or saying something you wish you hadn’t.

Remember that it takes time to learn how to remain calm. This is especially true if you are discussing a topic that is very important to you. Taking time away from the conversation to calm down is always an option.

The Skill of Sharing

Part of being in a relationship and resolving conflicts is sharing your point of view. Being aware of what you think and being able to open up to others can feel intimidating. However, if you do not share your needs and perspective, it puts a barrier between you and other people. This inhibits the relationship from developing further. In treatment at Enlightenment Solutions, our clients learn to communicate with their mental health care providers, peers, and family members.

Learning to Compromise

The aim of coping with conflict is to work through problems with others with whom you have meaningful relationships. While it may not be necessary to compromise with a stranger, someone you may never see again, it is essential to do so with loved ones, family members, coworkers, and anyone you care about.

Learning to compromise takes time and requires listening, keeping a level head, and sharing. This is the action of working with another person or other people to find a solution that all can agree on. While this is not always possible, it can and does happen in many situations.

The Value of Improved Coping Skills for Conflict

Improving your coping skills to manage conflict is incredibly important. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), conflict is common in families where addiction is present. Therefore, in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are likely to be required to manage different situations where others may disagree with you.

The value of these coping skills is that it helps you to be in honest relationships with others. These relationships provide support when needed. As humans, we are bound to disagree at some point. When you can cope with these disagreements and work through them, your relationships will expand and strengthen rather than disappear.

Conflicts are a normal part of human relationships. You will come across conflict in many individual relationships and groups. Coping with conflict, however, is very important in one’s recovery. The skills needed to do so will help you find connections with others and build a community of support. At Enlightened Solutions, we help our clients develop the skills they need for successful relationships. Clients learn to actively listen to others, share their feelings and opinions, and keep a level head while communicating about their issues. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about our treatment programs, please reach out to us at (833) 801-LIVE today to speak with one of our caring staff members. 

How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

Food and mental health, how do they relate? There is actually a very close relationship between the food we eat and the way we feel mentally. The truth is, how we feel can affect our decisions about food, just as the food we eat can affect how we feel.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, making healthy food choices can become second nature once you develop a habit of making them. When it comes to mental health, eating a nutrient-dense balanced diet can contribute tremendously. There have been countless studies on the ways in which various diets affect functioning and overall health. Fad diets come and go, but organic, balanced, and nutrient-dense foods will always be your best bet.

Life can be hard, and everyday stressors can take a toll on your mental health. Even more difficult can be the challenges faced as a result of substance abuse. There will be many ups and downs along the path to recovery, but there are ways to ensure you are in your best state to cope with them. You have to eat, right?  Why not make choices that support good mental health?

Planning Ahead

Sure, it’s easy to pull through that drive-through and grab something quick on your way to work or to run errands. Sometimes, it’s not as convenient to actually cook or prepare something a little more nutritious. Meal prepping is always a good idea. This takes the guesswork out of it and allows you to grab and go. Planning ahead and creating meals and snacks ahead of time can feel like a little extra work upfront, but it makes things so much easier throughout the week and on busy days.

Impacts of Unhealthy Foods

Eating healthy makes you feel good. When you feel good, you’re more likely to be more active, focused, efficient, and productive overall. Eating unhealthy foods that are filled with processed sugars and ingredients can leave you feeling less than your best and significantly impact brain health. Unhealthy foods, or junk food, can often increase levels of stress hormones and result in a lack of energy, motivation, and focus. As further explained in the article “Food and Mood: How Do Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Wellbeing?” by Joseph Firth, James E. Gangwisch, Alessandra Borsini, Robyn E. Wootton, and Emeran A. Mayer, “Although mood itself can affect our food choices, plausible mechanisms exist by which high consumption of processed carbohydrates could increase the risk of depression and anxiety—for example, through repeated and rapid increases and decreases in blood glucose.”

Good Nutrition During Treatment

Good nutrition is important for everyone. It’s particularly important for those who are trying to heal from substance use disorder (SUD). Addiction takes a toll on your mental, physical, and spiritual health. It takes time and intentional efforts to repair the damage caused by abusing drugs or alcohol. Eating healthy, organic foods during treatment and throughout recovery can help promote more complete and faster healing.

Maintaining a healthy diet throughout treatment and recovery is important for a variety of reasons. In order to get the most out of your treatment experience, you need to feel your best. A lot goes into feeling your best, but a large component of that is determined by what you put in your body. Drinking enough water and choosing to eat healthy foods and balanced meals can make a huge difference. You are better able to focus on learning during your therapy sessions and group meetings. You will be more motivated to stay on track and will stay aware of your goals. You will also have more energy to try new things and engage in other health and wellness activities that also promote better mental health.

Healthy eating can actually be fun! As you become more comfortable with trying different healthy foods, it can be fun to create new recipes using more organic and nutritious ingredients. You may find that you really enjoy cooking and preparing healthy meals. Engaging in cooking classes and wellness activities during treatment can help you develop habits and hobbies to carry with you throughout recovery.

Like anything else, healthy eating can sometimes take practice. Your appetite may have been significantly impacted by your substance abuse. Often, you develop an unhealthy relationship with food during this time. It could be that you were eating way too much of all the wrong things, or maybe you weren’t eating enough. Either way, treatment is an excellent time to allow your body to reset and fill it with healthy organic foods.

After eating this way for a while, it can become second nature. Habits, good or bad, can be easily formed and difficult to break. Once you break habits of poor eating and make it common practice to make good food choices, it becomes easy to maintain and implement into your routine throughout recovery.

Good mental health is so important. Achieving good mental health and maintaining it can certainly be challenging at times. Eating healthy can help. By making good nutrition a priority, you can feel better, look better, and function at your best. When you feel good and are in a good space mentally, you can better focus on your recovery and making the most of life. You can achieve a healthier lifestyle and promote better healing by choosing a treatment center that prioritizes organic and nutrient-dense foods. Enlightened Solutions offers a full menu composed of locally grown organic foods, many of which are grown on-site at the Enlightened Farm. Healing begins from the inside out. Let us help you restore your health and begin your journey to recovery. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.

Somatoform Disorder Is Scary, but What Is It?

Somatoform disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions where you experience unexplained pain and other bodily symptoms. Somatoform symptoms cause serious distress but are not entirely attributable to any known medical condition or other mental disorder, and they can have a considerable impact on your daily life and well-being.

Symptoms of somatoform disorder manifest in different ways. These include:

  • Pain
  • Neurological disorders relating to your central nervous system 
  • Problems in your stomach, gut, and digestive system
  • Sexual problems

Having a somatoform disorder can be stressful and frustrating. You may feel unsatisfied that there is not a simple medical cause that doctors can treat to end the pain. Sometimes friends, loved ones, and others around you do not appreciate the levels of distress and the challenges you face as a result of the illness. However, the distress and sensation of pain you experience are real, even if there isn’t an underlying medical explanation.

While it may not be possible to find a medical cause, you can still treat and recover from somatoform disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and treatment for co-occurring disorders can all help to manage symptoms so you can enjoy your daily life.

What Are Some Types of Somatoform Disorder?

There are many types of somatoform disorder, including:

  • Somatization disorder – where you experience several different kinds of physical symptoms
  • Undifferentiated somatoform disorder – which causes a smaller range of symptoms
  • Conversion disorder – causing only voluntary motor or sensory function symptoms
  • Pain disorder – where psychological factors cause or worsen pain
  • Body dysmorphic disorder – where you become overly concerned by a real or imaginary defect on your body
  • Hypochondriasis – an illness anxiety disorder where you are extremely worried about your health

How Does Somatoform Disorder Relate to Depression and Anxiety?

Somatoform disorders often lead to general health anxiety and fears about the cause of the bodily symptoms. However, stress and other mental health issues may also be a driving force behind the disorder. A study by the American Psychiatric Journal found strong associations between somatoform disorders and other psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. 

How Does Somatoform Disorder Lead to Substance Abuse?

Somatic symptoms and other related disorders cause bodily pain that can be severe and difficult to manage. As a result, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to ease symptoms and escape from feelings of stress and frustration.

Marijuana, opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines can all help to relieve pain and anxiety. However, these drugs are also addictive. Using illicit drugs or prescription drugs in ways other than your doctor prescribes may lead to substance use disorders that can devastate your health and social life.

How Does Drug Use Affect Somatoform Disorder?

Drug abuse and addiction may also affect somatic symptoms. Medications like opioid painkillers can make you hypersensitive to pain and exacerbate the symptoms of somatoform disorders. In addition, withdrawal symptoms and side effects of drug abuse may worsen gastrointestinal, sexual, and coordination problems.

How Can You Treat Somatoform Disorder?

Somatic disorder treatment often involves different kinds of therapy and treatment for co-occurring disorders like substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression which may underlie somatic symptoms. 

Treatment is more successful if doctors recognize the disorder quickly and avoid unnecessary testing and ineffective treatments. In addition, health care professionals should deliver diagnosis and treatment with empathy and a complete understanding of the pain and distress the patient is experiencing.

Treatment for co-occurring substance use and somatic form disorders should treat both illnesses simultaneously. Somatoform disorders can be a driving factor behind substance abuse, and if ignored, drug-seeking behaviors can re-emerge, even after long periods of sobriety. Holistic treatment that focuses on underlying mental and physical conditions is fundamental to recovering from both kinds of disorder.  

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We offer a holistic treatment program that treats underlying mental health issues alongside addiction. Our location on the picturesque south shores of New Jersey provides an optimal setting for healing and relaxation.

Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy, and we provide each client with an individualized recovery plan. We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or someone close to you seeks relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Are Stimulant Use and ADHD Related?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in children. About half of childhood cases persist into adulthood, although it is normal for hyperactive symptoms to diminish somewhat.

Adults with ADHD are at much higher risk of developing substance use disorder; between 25% – 40% of adults in active addiction also have ADHD.

ADHD and Addiction

The exact mechanism of what causes ADHD is unknown, but we know that it often correlates with a deficit of dopamine in the brain. This characteristic poses a multitude of challenges to people with ADHD, including:

  • Difficulties with judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Fidgeting
  • Overactivity
  • Short-term reward-seeking
  • Social awkwardness

These traits put people with ADHD at a unique risk of developing an addiction. Young people who struggle to control impulses or behavioral differences are often exposed to drug use earlier in life and are less resistant. At the same time, self-medication is extremely common among people who are not diagnosed. Adults with ADHD frequently abuse substances initially to quiet distractions, calm themselves down, and be productive.

Self-Medication With Illegal Stimulants

Abusing stimulants to self-medicate puts users at the same risk of addiction as using stimulants to get high. In addition, most illegal stimulants cause mental dependence when they are taken long-term, meaning the brain slows down its dopamine production when the drug is consistently in the system.

Using stimulants to self-medicate increases the risk of addiction. To the user, it may feel like these drugs are necessary to function, but this self-imposed treatment sets the groundwork for psychological addiction.

In a user with ADHD, this could cause further issues and make recovering from addiction more challenging. Withdrawal can also heighten ADHD symptoms, and they can be more extreme due to initial low dopamine production in the brain prior to the use of any medication.

Prescription Stimulant Addiction

Prescription drugs used to medicate ADHD are addictive in their own right. The most common drugs used to treat ADHD (Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin) are all central nervous system stimulants with the potential for abuse.

Modern research hasn’t found an overall trend in people developing addictions to their prescription drugs, but it occasionally happens. ADHD stimulant medication tends to produce highs only when it is improperly used or used by people without ADHD – however, dependence can develop regardless.

In addition, when people in treatment start to increase their dose against their doctor’s guidance or use short-acting medications at times of day not prescribed (e.g. outside of regular working hours), this can suggest abuse.

Treating Addiction and ADHD

Dual diagnosis

If a person is suffering from substance abuse disorder and undiagnosed ADHD, addiction treatment is highly likely to help. Effective addiction treatment incorporates dual diagnosis from the very beginning, which highlights the presence of any underlying psychiatric or behavioural conditions. Recovery is different for everyone, and co-occurring disorders require individual treatment. In people with ADHD, an effective treatment program needs to focus on building healthy coping strategies for its mental and behavioral challenges.


Attending any type of professional addiction therapy is universally helpful. However, in many cases, ADHD and drug treatment therapy compliment each other. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to strengthen resolve and empower people to make positive changes in their actions. These changes help people to manage ADHD symptoms and also cope with drug cravings healthily.

We Can Help

If a mental health disorder is complicating a substance use disorder for you or your loved one, we can help. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders such as ADHD that frequently accompany them. We offer a range of modalities, including dual diagnosis, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation, art and music therapies, acupuncture, and chiropractic care – all rooted in the 12-step philosophy. If you would like more information about our ADHD and stimulant addiction treatment, please call us at (833) 801-5483.

The Importance of Touch for Physical and Mental Health

COVID-19 has brought considerable changes to our daily lives. We might now be working from home. If children attend school in person, they wear masks, and their desks are probably shielded with plexiglass partitions. Fast-food workers might place our to-go bags on trays before handing us our food, so there is very little chance of the customer and employee accidentally touching.

We miss a lot from our pre-COVID life, like getting together with friends and seeing extended family. We miss going to the movies and concerts. Most of all, we miss human contact. We miss shaking hands, and we miss hugs. We have become “touch-deprived.”

According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., “we were already a touch-deprived society before [the pandemic].” Dr. Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, references research that has been done in airports, studying behavior in lines. Previously, there was touching. People held hands. Now, we are all on our cell phones.

Problems Caused by Touch Deprivation

Touch deprivation, also called skin hunger, can cause mental and physical health issues. According to an article published on Nordic Cuddle’s website, a cuddle therapy provider located in the United Kingdom, people in Western cultures tended to be less “touch-friendly” even before the COVID-19 pandemic due to technology, mobile devices, and fears of allegations of harassment.

Lack of positive touch is associated with mental and physical health concerns, including the following:

  • Aggressive behavior, both verbal and physical
  • Body image disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • High levels of stress
  • Loneliness (signs could include prolonged hot showers and baths, wrapping up in blankets, and clinging to pillows and pets)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alexithymia (a condition that prevents people from expressing and interpreting their emotions)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fear of attachment

Benefits of Touch

The importance of touch was discussed in a recent article in Time magazine, “The Corona Virus Outbreak Keeps Humans from Touching: Here’s Why That’s So Stressful,” published April 10, 2020. According to the article, people need platonic touch daily. Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says that positive touch, like hugging your life partner or linking arms with a friend, reduces stress. Other health benefits include a strengthened immune system, improved digestion, deeper sleep, and an enhanced ability to empathize with others.

Examples of positive touch include a hug, a handshake, a high-five, or a pat on the back. In fact, touch is so essential to human development that part of the treatment for premature babies includes skin-to-skin contact between babies and their parents, called “Kangaroo care.”

According to Grace L. Heer, a certified cuddlist who works in Southern California, positive touch increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain. These increased hormone levels decrease anxiety and stress levels and can lower the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. 

(Professional cuddling is a holistic therapy that provides clients with safe touch. Sessions could include hand-holding, hugs, spooning, conversation, or shared silence.)

How to Find Positive Touch During the Pandemic

Fortunately, there are ways to increase the amount of touch we receive, even during the pandemic. Sales of weighted blankets have increased during COVID-19, and people have started cuddling with stuffed animals and pets. Pet adoptions have increased during the pandemic as well. According to an article in the Washington Post, animal shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, and pet stores all say that there is more demand for puppies and dogs than they can meet.

In a New York Times article, Dr. Field says that one way to get touch in your life in a very safe manner during the pandemic is a treatment she describes as “moving the skin.” Pressure receptors are located beneath the skin. Instead of merely stroking your skin, move your skin firmly enough to cause temporary indentations. She also recommends giving yourself a scalp massage, doing abdominal crunches, wearing compression clothing, or even rolling around on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. In addition, she says that yoga can function as a form of self-massage (“What All That Touch Deprivation Is Doing to Us,” New York Times, Oct. 6, 2020).

Due to the pandemic, Heer has been offering virtual cuddle sessions, leading participants in self-soothing techniques that boost oxytocin without physical contact. For example, she leads participants in performing mirror exercises. Participants complete the same movements at the same time, mirroring each other over Zoom. Doing the same movement at the same time, she explains, creates an emotional connection. Oxytocin levels in the brain are increased as they would be with physical contact because of how the neurons fire in the brain.

Touch is vital to our physical and mental well-being. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer many holistic treatment modalities that utilize touch, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and reiki. These therapeutic techniques are valuable in treating substance use disorders as well as mental health issues. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. It includes one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and many alternative therapies, including art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, and equine-assisted therapy. We are located near the southern New Jersey shore, and we offer each client a customized treatment program. Our focus is on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. If you seek relief from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call us at (833) 801-5483.

“Make Your Bed”: The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day….Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven first gave that advice in 2014 as part of his commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin. His speech evidently touched a nerve, because it went viral and became a basis for his book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World. Making sure that you have time for, and take care of, the little things ensures that the big things will happen too.

Sobriety: A Huge Change

Your decision to say goodbye to addiction and embrace sobriety is a huge change. When you went through a treatment program, you made many positive changes in your life. Embracing sobriety isn’t just about overcoming addiction; it’s also about creating a new, healthy lifestyle.

In treatment, your schedule was provided for you. You knew when to get up when to eat, when to workout, when to go to therapy, when to go to your support group, and when to go to bed. The routine was established to make sure that everything you needed for your recovery happened and to establish healthy habits. Now that you have finished treatment, you need to create a routine to ensure that you continue with those healthy habits.

Routine Provides Structure and Stability

When you were struggling with your addiction, your life was out of your control and your substance of choice was in charge. Through treatment, you regained control of your life. Having a stable routine will help you remain in control.

Routine provides us with structure. Knowing what we are going to do and when we are going to do it gives us control of our lives and a sense of self-efficacy. We know what to expect and we can prepare. A routine can even give us a sense of accomplishment because if we have a plan for our day, we will know that we have completed what we set out to do.

How to Create a Routine

When you start creating your routine, begin with what could be called your anchor points. Another way to think of it is to begin creating your routine by starting with the non-negotiable items. While those will vary from person to person, for many of us they will revolve around our work schedule and when our children (if we have children) need to be in school. Remember to include the time that it takes to get to and from the places that you go routinely. Time spent in transit may not be as important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are working from home and some children are attending school online, but it is still something to consider.

Another set of vital anchor points to pin down is the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. When you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, it improves the quality of your sleep. And a good night’s sleep makes the next day so much better.

When you have established a few key anchors, you can begin linking other important activities to these points. For example, you may decide that after you wake up, you will meditate or go for a run. You might set out your clothes for the next day as part of getting ready for bed.

When you are creating your routine, remember that not every day will look the same and that’s okay. On some days you may be ferrying children to practice or rehearsal (although not so much during the pandemic) and on other days you may be attending your support group. What’s important is that you have a plan and you know what to expect.

What to Include in Your Routine

As you establish your routine, you will want to make sure you have time for activities that nourish your body and your soul and support your sobriety. You will want to make time to attend your support group. Many people in early sobriety go to several meetings a week. You will want to make time for appointments with your therapist. Exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being, so you will want to be sure that you include time for exercise several times a week. Include time to plan and prepare nutritious meals and be sure to include some time for self-care and household maintenance.

Having a routine does not mean that everything will be within your control, but it does mean that more of your day will go as planned. In addition to reducing feelings of anxiety, this will give you a sense of efficacy and accomplishment, and that feels really good.

Establishing a routine to follow in recovery may sound trivial, but it helps ensure that you attend to all the little details that require attention. When you succeed at the little things, you are set up to meet your big goals as well, like remaining sober. A routine provides your life with structure and ensures that you have time for the activities that nourish your body and soul. Learning to create routines is one of the life skills you will gain at Enlightened Solutions. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can help with the mental health issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition, to talk therapy and group support, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, and acupuncture. If you have been struggling with an addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are here to help you.

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