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Tag: Mental Health

Asia’s Growing Drug Crisis

Drug addicts face a difficult world. In America, they are shamed, stigmatized, labeled, and judged  for suffering from a chronic mental health disorder. Addiction is treated differently than their mental health counterparts such as depression or physical health counterparts like diabetes. Whereas other disorders which are relapsing and remitting see sympathy and compassion upon a relapse, drug addicts see punishment, judgment and exclusion. Additionally, addicts are assigned the roles of being liars, thieves, criminals, heathens, and generally immoral people. They face jail time, criminal records, difficulty getting health insurance, and more.

One thing addicts living in America do not face is execution. Sadly, many addicts die on the streets each day due to a lack of access to treatment or the desire to get sober. However, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, addicts are facing execution and lifelong jail sentences. In the Philippines, for example, 2400 people have died in the last two months. Indonesia has begun executing convicted drug felons. Other countries experiencing an epidemic of drugs include Japan, South Korea and Laos.

Asian countries are dealing with a surge in drug addiction similar to what America is experiencing. Whereas America is seeing a rise of epidemic proportion in opioid addiction, Asian countries are seeing a rise in addiction to methamphetamines. Methamphetamines, commonly known as meth or crystal meth, are highly addictive and incredibly destructive. In just three years, the amount of meth being found and seized by government officials has nearly quadrupled. 2009 saw 11 tons of methamphetamines; 2013 saw 42.

Coincidentally, most of North America’s supply of synthetic drugs like crystal meth come from China or neighboring Asian countries. Producing meth is cheap. Meth is also sold for low cost, but the quantity adds up in cost and revenue for manufacturers. As a business, the UNODC predicted Meth was worth $15 billion dollars in Southeast Asia.

The term “everything under the kitchen sink” applies to meth- it can be made from chemicals ranging between drain cleaner to gasoline. Consequently, the high produced by abusing meth is wild, erratic, and volatile, which leads to the rapid development of addiction. Treating meth addiction in Asia is difficult due to a severe lack in affordable treatment centers. Ironically, the area is littered with exclusive luxury rehabs for Westerners.

Freedom is a Series of Choices

“We will know a new freedom and happiness”, promises the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. In a list of other promises, the authors tell us that by doing “the work”, however quickly or slowly, we will see results manifest before we can even recognize them. It is critical, though, that we choose to diligently do the work that comes with recovery.


Choosing means Not Choosing

Inherently, our choices are dualistic. When we choose something we are almost always not choosing something else. We don’t always realize this, often because we get wrapped up in the benefit of what we are choosing. Before making a choice, evaluate your not-choice. For example, if you get asked to take on another commitment at a twelve step meeting when you already have a few, you might be not-choosing balance, energy, and serenity. Commitments are important but not at the sake of your well being. Especially in the early recovery time period (30 days to 6 months), making balanced choices is important. We need sleep, rest, time to engage in our spiritual disciplines, and self-care.

We also need to choose our thoughts, behaviors, and actions very carefully. When we choose to feel resentment and anger, then choose to hold on to it, we actively choose to cause ourselves pain. We actively choose to suppress feeling freedom, liberation, and serenity. In contrast, sometimes we choose to be overly happy to ignore an uncomfortable feeling. We then choose against processing important emotions and gaining wisdom about a situation.


Self-Consciousness is Self-Obsession

Some of that wisdom we gain from making careful choices with our thinking illuminates the difference between self-consciousness and self-obsession. Alcoholism and addiction are diseases of the “self”. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “selfishness and self-centeredness” were the roots of our greater symptom- substance abuse. Self-consciousness isn’t limited to insecurity, shyness, or doubt. We get self-conscious when social groups form in our treatment centers and we feel excluded. We get self-conscious when a parent doesn’t praise us the way we need or embarasses us. When we ruminate about these instances, we spend an awful lot of time thinking about ourselves. Assumedly, we make believe that every other person’s actions revolve around us somehow. This simply isn’t the case. It is often said that we might be less concerned about what people thought about us if we knew how little they did

Enlightened Solutions believes there is a path to freedom within the spiritual philosophy of the 12 steps. We infuse our holistic and evidence-based program of treatment with 12 step theory and practical application. Our program is open to men and women seeking recovery from their addiction to drugs and alcohol, in addition to co-occurring disorders. For more information call 833-801-5483.

Physical Fitness is really Mental Fitness

Withdrawals. Detoxing. Craving. Feeling extremely uncomfortable. Early recovery (the first 30-90 days) is not the most inspirational to be physically active. In fact, early recovery feels more like the opportune time to do nothing but eat, group therapy, and sleep. Unfortunately, in most treatment programs, some form of physical activity is included. Gym time, personal trainers, yoga, walking, hiking- it seems like “those people” are determined to make you move. As with everything in early recovery, there is a purpose.

Physical Fitness is really Mental Fitness

Physical activity in early recovery isn’t really about the physical fitness. Of course, there is physiological benefit to exercise. Getting in a good sweat gets your heart rate going, opens up your sweat glands, and helps you detoxify residual junk from your drug of choice. Exercise is also proven to improve your mood and alleviate symptoms of depression. Substance abuse affects the brain on a very intimate level, right down to the neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are communication messengers in the brain. One such transmitter called dopamine communicates pleasure. Alcohol, cocaine, and just about every abused substance creates a surplus of dopamine production, acclimating the brain to a very excited way of life. In early recovery when we’re stripped away from those substances, our brains have a very difficult time producing dopamine on its own. In fact, it is the act of substance abuse itself which creates this situation. Chemical dependency on drugs and alcohol is the result of the brain relying upon the presence of substances to produce that overload of dopamine. Consequently, in early recovery, there are many feelings of depression, irritability, low mood, and lethargy. Physical activity helps with that.

Physical activity also helps boost short-term brain function and heighten awareness, according to this Medium author. It also helps in defeating the most defeating part of the early recovery experience: being uncomfortable. There is little feeling as victorious as completing an exercise activity you absolutely did not think you could. At the onset of recovery, there is a lot of doubt. We are sometimes convinced for certain that we won’t make it. We can’t stand another detox and get through another 6 months of uncomfortable feelings. On another level, there are days we don’t think we can make it through anything at all. Exercise is a living metaphor that we can – and we will – get through it, and we grow in the process.


Enlightened Solutions incorporates yoga, exercise and other kinds of physical exercise as part of a holistic program of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. We offer a unique approach to recovery, fusing 12 step philosophy with holistic methods of treatment. For more information on our programs call 833-801-5483.

Common Questions About Meditation and Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice of noticing. Many of us just go with the motions of our days without really noticing what is going on. Bringing awareness to our surroundings assists us in becoming present and enjoying life fully in each moment. Mindfulness is proven to help relax, sharpen focus, and regulate mood.

Is mindfulness different from meditation?

Yes and no. Mindfulness is a form of meditation but not all meditation is necessarily mindful. However, practicing meditation does tend to increase one’s sense of mindfulness. Meditation, like mindfulness, is a practice that helps develop a sense of awareness. Though mindfulness is a thought process, meditation can be practiced in different ways.

What if your mind is too busy?

Most meditation and mindfulness practitioners would argue that there is no such thing as a mind too busy to practice. They might even emphasize that the mind which thinks itself too busy for mindfulness and meditation is in the most need! Practicing mindfulness and meditation is a way to quiet the mind and calm the chaos internally. It may take time and meditation sessions of no more than five minutes at a time to start.

Is the goal to stop all thoughts?

Some disciplines of religion like Zen Buddhism include meditation in which the goal is to empty the mind completely. Not all meditation is about nothingness. Mindfulness, arguably, is about everythingness by noticing the world around you. Practicing meditation and mindfulness is about coming to terms with your thoughts.

Do I have to be spiritual to practice mindfulness and meditation?

No. Though mindfulness and meditation are spiritually founded practices, religion or spirituality does not have to be part of your life. It is important to note, however, that many people will have spiritual experiences or spiritual shifts. Meditation and mindfulness are proven to enhance feelings of connectedness and universality.

How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?

The simplest way to practice is to just breath and notice your thoughts. Meditation can be sitting, quiet, music, guided, etc. Choose what works best for you.

Enlightened Solutions combines holistic health and spiritual practices with both evidence-based treatment as well as 12 step philosophy. Our integrated approach to recovery creates a unique program of treatment for men and women overcoming addiction. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 833-801-5483.

Why We Get Attracted to Fear

Recklessness is a word that could be used to describe addiction. Under the influence of powerful drugs and/or alcohol, drug addicts and alcoholics make reckless decisions. Even if one isn’t addicted to substances, when they are under the influence they live on the edge. For example, people choose to drive drunk. Some substances cause euphoria in such a way that it makes people feel invincible. Under the influence of such drugs, people attempt all kinds of reckless acts. Even without the influence, addicts and alcoholics, or substance users alike, have a common characteristic of living dangerously. Listen to the stories of recovering addicts and alcoholics and be amazed by the death defying circumstances many have survived.

There are some who can’t seem to get away from such a lifestyle. As if the danger were part of the addiction itself, despite their previous brushes with death, they cannot get away. Using in and of itself is a game of russian roulette. Relapses weaken the body. Vulnerable to the potency of drugs after some time spent clean and sober, overdose is always a possibility. Yet, time after time, just like their drug, addicts return to the high of danger. They are attracted to the fear.

Why We Get Attracted to Fear

It turns out that the attraction to the “fear” associated with substance abuse is not so different from the attraction of substance abuse itself. More specifically, what makes substance abuse addicting also makes fear addicting. When we experience fear our bodies release different chemicals and hormones to compensate. Adrenaline is quite literally the body’s fight or flight response, the natural way of handling fear. Lesser well known for being produced in response to fear is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which is supposed to communicate pleasure. In the brain cycle of addiction, dopamine plays a very large role. The brain becomes addicted to, obsessed with, and dependent on excessive dopamine production.

For fear, much like with drugs and alcohol, some people don’t have a tolerance threshold. That is why some people can withstand haunted houses, scary movies, and thrill seeking while others jump at bumps in the night. Since dopamine is released, some actually enjoy the fear. In fact, the scarier the better.

Can fear be an addiction?

It is unlikely that the brain will develop an addiction to scary movies or corn mazes during Halloween. However, the brain can get addicted to receiving pleasure from dopamine production. Whatever it is that stimulates the brain in this way will become an obsession over time. Danger seeking behavior can be problematic in addiction recovery, acting almost like an addiction-swap.

Mental Health is a Problem for Children in School

Addiction is both a disease of its own and a symptom of others. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous aptly states that “our liquor was but a symptom.” Increasingly, addiction, alcoholism, or general substance use disorder is being dually diagnosed. Dual-diagnosis refers to the two-prong diagnosis of substance abuse and other mental health disorder. Depression, anxiety, and ADHD are three of the most common dual-diagnosis issues found in conjunction with substance use. Without the early intervention and treatment of mental health disorders, substance abuse can develop as a coping mechanism.

Mental Health and School Children

NPR reports that in the United States, one out of every five school children shows signs of mental illness (in a given school year). Problematically, upwards of 80% of children who demonstrate symptoms of mental illness and may have it will not be treated for it. Untreated mental illness in the early stages of development tends to worsen through the hormonal changes of puberty. Entering teenagehood when adolescents are naturally beginning to experiment with drugs and alcohol, a young adult with preexisting mental illness will be prone to addiction.

Addiction is not the only problem that can be created by untreated mental illness in school-age children. Unless there is an active parent supporting their specific needs in learning, a child will suffer academically. As a result, they will likely receive criticism, ridicule, and punishment from their learning institutions. Wishing to avoid humiliation and frustration, they might start skipping classes, underperforming academically, and turning to drugs for escape.

A similar occurrence happens in much of the treatment industry. Though dual diagnosis is becoming more common, many treatment centers are not equipped to work with such clients. Enlightened Solutions is a certified and licensed dual-diagnosis treatment facility. In uncertified facilities, they might view the symptomology of mental illness as a lack of willingness, lack of motivation, or problematic behavior. So, just like acting up in school, patients in treatment will begin to rebel. Sadly, their frustrations will lead to discharge and potential relapse.

Recognizing and treating co-occurring mental illness disorders in addiction patients is critical at any age or stage of development.

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If you are concerned you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental disorder that is causing complications such as substance abuse, contact Enlightened Solutions today.

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