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Tag: Substance Abuse

The Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

Addiction often serves as a response to past trauma, whether the individual is aware of it or not. The inability to identify and acknowledge this connection between past hurt and substance abuse can complicate the treatment of the underlying addiction. Ideally, understanding these specific connections between trauma and addiction sheds light on how past stress or abuse influences substance abuse patterns.

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact

Unveiling the hidden association between trauma and addiction offers a fresh perspective on the behaviors and consequences of addiction disorders. It also accentuates the profound impact of adverse childhood experiences and chronic stress on substance abuse. Childhood trauma and stress can follow an individual into adolescence and adulthood, shaping their thoughts, behavior, and reactions.

The consensus among experts is that there’s a strong connection between trauma and addiction, with some suggesting that addiction is almost always a result of underlying trauma or a history of abuse.

What is Trauma?

Trauma refers to any event that’s distressing, disturbing, or significantly upsetting. Defined by the DSM-5-TR, trauma can become an individual’s reality following exposure to actual or threatened death, significant injury, or sexual violence. This exposure can occur directly, as a bystander, or through repeated exposure to traumatic event details.

Types of Traumatic Events

Traumatic events can stem from a multitude of unfavorable experiences. Some common examples include sexual assault, domestic violence, combat, and natural disasters. Impressively, about 90% of individuals seeking help in a behavioral healthcare setting say they were victims of a traumatic event. This means the majority of individuals grappling with mental and emotional health challenges have had their lives drastically altered by trauma.

Trauma can occur as a single event like a car accident or the traumatic loss of a loved one or as a long-term stressor like living in an abusive household. As such, it’s crucial to understand that these experiences can happen to anyone, at any point in life.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

The connection between trauma and addiction stems from how negatively these instances affect individuals’ mental, emotional, and physiological well-being. Trauma triggers feelings of hyperarousal, reactivity, intensely overwhelming emotions, panic, and other mental health conditions that can be challenging to manage without proper support. In a bid to suppress these challenging feelings, individuals often turn to substances, thus creating a vicious cycle.

It’s important also to note that trauma is more than a negative experience. It’s an event or series of circumstances that have lasting effects on individuals’ mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Specifically, childhood trauma strongly correlates with addiction.

Data shows that lifetime trauma incidence is the best predictor of addiction. This is why treating trauma is highly beneficial for addiction recovery. With this understanding, key interventions can be made to break the deadly cycle of dependence and abuse resulting from unaddressed trauma. This illuminates the need for professionals who specialize in trauma-informed and trauma-focused treatments, capable of addressing the roots of addiction while providing supportive mechanisms for handling trauma-related issues.

In essence, understanding the connection between trauma and addiction is vital. The task then becomes aiding individuals to recognize their emotions, identifying triggers, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. This understanding marks a significant step towards lasting change, and ultimately, recovery. 

The Cycle of Trauma and Addiction

Understanding the cycle of trauma and addiction is vital especially when seeking solutions to break this destructive cycle. With an aligned mental health approach—including psychotherapy, professional guidance, and treatment, individuals stand a better chance to regain control of their lives.

Signs of Trauma

There are widespread symptoms associated with trauma, however, these can vary significantly in intensity and nature among individuals. Emotional dysregulation, panic attacks, and struggles with executive functions, are key signs often noted. Furthermore, those who’ve undergone childhood trauma in particular, may experience far-reaching psychological and behavioral aftereffects. Moreover, trauma can impact anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. Hence, paying attention to these signs is crucial.

Escaping Emotional Pain

Studies suggest that attempts to escape or numb emotional distress often prompt the onset of substance use. To escape the overwhelming feelings associated with trauma, individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of temporary relief from their mental anguish. Vulnerable groups to these effects include women, adolescents, and individuals from marginalized populations. However, the reality remains that any person can experience childhood trauma and consequently struggle with subsequent addiction.

The Role of Self-Medication

Once faced with the grim reality of trauma and its resulting distress, the act of self-medication is often the default reaction for many. Substance misuse often becomes a coping mechanism. Thereby, temporarily alleviating the emotional pain caused by trauma. The link between trauma and substance use becomes apparent when the substance is used to ward off traumatic triggers or memories. Understanding that self-medication is a common, albeit unhealthy, response to trauma initiates the process of breaking the addiction cycle.

Addiction as a Source of Further Trauma

Dependence brought on by self-medication and addiction can itself prove traumatic, further perpetuating the cycle. Addiction negatively influences relationships and can cause economic strain, leading to additional trauma stimuli. Furthermore, according to Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, “It is estimated that addiction-related costs to society exceed $740 billion annually due to crime, loss of productivity and healthcare.” The repercussions of addiction extend beyond the individual, impacting society broadly.

Are You Experiencing Trauma and Self-Medicating?

Identifying trauma and understanding its connection to substance use is the first stride toward dismantling the traumatic addiction cycle. Recognizing increased substance use following distressing events, or using such substances to cope with trauma-related triggers, could signify a trauma-addiction connection. Seeking professional assistance that specializes in trauma-informed and trauma-focused treatments, coupled with social support and early intervention, can greatly reduce the magnitude of trauma symptoms and ultimately curb substance use issues.

Unraveling the complex link between trauma and addiction requires careful understanding, expert insight, and caring intervention, certainly proving challenging yet not insurmountable.

Stress: The Middleman Between Trauma and Addiction

Scientific evidence strongly links trauma, especially childhood trauma, to addiction. Trauma incidence is the most reliable predictor of addiction, and the correlation between the two is deeply intertwined. Trauma can lead to stress that escalates to addiction and has negative effects on emotional skills, cognitive development, and even the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. The lack of natural chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin can make individuals vulnerable to substance abuse.

Treating trauma with trauma-informed methods is crucial to breaking the cycle. Integrating addiction treatments with stress management strategies could revolutionize perspectives on addiction. Society needs to strive for understanding, compassion, and actionable solutions in dealing with trauma. Recognizing and addressing the connection between trauma and addiction is essential for a future free from addiction’s hold.

How Childhood Trauma Leads to Addiction

Understanding the intricacies of trauma and addiction originates from delving into a key contributing factor: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Specifically, the impact these ACEs have on developing addictive behaviors later in life cannot be overstated.

What are ACEs?

ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, refer to traumatic events that occur during a person’s early years. These experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical health. Many people have experienced at least one ACE, and the more ACEs a person has experienced, the more likely they are to face addiction and other health issues.

It is important to address these experiences early and provide mental health support to break the cycle.

Recognizing and Treating Trauma and Addiction

Trauma and addiction are closely related, and it is important to recognize this connection to provide effective treatment for underlying addictions. Trauma often leads to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, with conditions like PTSD and substance abuse commonly occurring together. Integrated treatment approaches that address both disorders concurrently are more effective than separate treatments.

Healing from both disorders requires acknowledging the relationship between the two and seeking professional assistance for trauma-focused treatments. With the right help, lasting recovery is within reach.

Moving Toward Recovery and Resilience

Understanding the profound connection between trauma and addiction sets the stage for lasting recovery. Individuals on this path need an arsenal of tools and resources to help them navigate their journeys. Resilience and empowerment tend to be key elements in overcoming the challenges associated with trauma and substance use.

A Holistic Perspective of Mental and Physical Health: Unresolved Trauma and Addiction

Unresolved trauma often plays a role in addiction, and adopting a trauma-informed perspective can lead to more successful recovery journeys. This perspective recognizes an individual’s strengths and resilience, taking into account the impact of past trauma on substance abuse. Building resilience and fostering positive connections are emphasized, with a focus on repairing relational dynamics.

Family and community support, as well as holistic counseling services, are important components of treatment. Integrating strategies that address both trauma and substance abuse is crucial to breaking the cycle of addiction and intergenerational trauma.

Comprehensive Treatment for Trauma and Addiction at Enlightened Solutions

Trauma can have lasting effects on cognitive development, emotions, stress responses, and mood regulation, leading individuals to turn to substance use as a means of escape. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) greatly influence addictive behaviors later in life, making early intervention and quality mental health care essential for addressing ACEs and breaking the cycle. 

A strength-based, trauma-informed approach that focuses on resilience, empowerment, positive connections, and healthy relationships is necessary for overcoming trauma and substance use. 

Contact us at Enlightened Solutions to learn about our comprehensive approach to treating co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

Is a Partial Care Program Right for Me?

Anyone struggling with addiction will need help stopping abusing substances; however, not everyone needs the same kind of help. For those whose condition is not severe enough to require an extended hospital stay or 24/7 rehabilitation, there is a treatment option called partial care. This treatment type is basically how it sounds: addiction care that is part-time rather than full-time.

What exactly does partial care entail? How can you know if this type of care is right for you? Let’s take a look at the factors that help answer these questions.

What a Partial Care Program Entails

Sometimes referred to as a partial hospitalization program (PHP), partial care programs involve highly focused care while at home or at a sober living facility. Less intense than a full-time care program, clients have can set their own hours as is convenient to their schedules. Some people will arrive for care in the morning and leave by the afternoon. Others may have a specialist come to their home during the same time frame to receive their care. Even if it’s not full-time treatment, the quality is the same.

Clients can continue with work, classes, or caring for their families while also working on their sobriety. The part-time model allows them to practice the new coping skills they are learning while out in the real world. The combination of independent living with flexible treatment allows clients to develop healthy confidence, independence, and healthy living habits to sustain long after the partial care ends.

How to Know if a Partial Care Program Is Right for You

Partial care is a great option for those who need help transitioning from a long-term, intensive care program back into their normal pace of life. It is effective for those who are far enough in their treatment to start regaining some independence. Partial care is also recommended for people who cannot commit to full-time care.

Other factors that indicate that you may be a good candidate for partial care include the following:

  • You have completed detoxification and are physically stable
  • You already live in a stable environment that supports your recovery goals
  • You’ve recently experienced a relapse and need additional help keeping to your sobriety goals
  • You need a flexible treatment program that works with your busy schedule and additional responsibilities

Recommending Partial Care Programs for Clients

Because treatment depends so much on a client’s unique circumstances, the Enlightened Recovery staff will first conduct an intake. This involves a series of questions that will assess biological and psychological factors to better understand the client’s needs. Treatment goals and history of addiction, as well as current mental health, are also considered.

If home care is desired, we also conduct an assessment of a client’s current living situation. This is to determine whether the home environment is able to sustain sobriety goals. Clients who come from living situations that enabled substance abuse, or foster codependency, will be recommended partial care at our facility.

Once it is determined that partial care is the appropriate treatment plan, we will recommend meeting with an addiction counselor to discuss the specifics involved. We don’t practice a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment, so every program we offer is expected to be modified as needed. In every form of treatment, we advocate for motivation, small steps toward positive changes, and wellness in every aspect of life.

Treating a condition as complex as addiction means not just rooting for clients to stop drinking or doing drugs (although that is necessary); it involves a complete overhaul of one’s life, undoing and replacing every unhealthy habit with a healthy one. It involves a change in mindset and newly acquired coping skills. All of these things work together to effectively prevent relapse in the future.

Partial Care at Enlightened Solutions

The partial care program at Enlightened Solutions is flexible but effective, utilizing evidence-based and holistic therapies that address the whole person. Mental, emotional, and physical health are all considered part of the comprehensive treatment we offer. We recognize that every person is different, which means that partial care is not uniformly recommended to everyone. Some of the personalized partial care programs we offer include:

  • Therapy for individuals, groups (gender-specific or co-ed), and families
  • 12-Step programs
  • Trauma care
  • Art and music therapy
  • Nutrition and wellness groups
  • Mentorship
  • Spiritual care
  • Mindfulness and meditative practices

As with all forms of treatment, partial care involves a mutual effort on behalf of our clients and staff. This means that we trust our clients will uphold their commitment to avoiding behaviors or activities that may interfere with their care. With this in mind, random drug tests will be periodically administered, as well as regular health assessments during the duration of the treatment. This is a huge reason why we advocate for supportive home environments if clients choose to receive partial care. The accountability that comes from supportive home life is vital to maintaining sobriety goals and successfully completing the treatment.

Deciding which treatment program is right for you, or if you need treatment at all, can be intimidating. The staff at Enlightened Solutions is here to help you make these important decisions. Our customized care has helped many people overcome the struggle of substance abuse and addiction, meet their goals for sobriety, and go on to live healthy, full lives. From medical detox to individual or group counseling, 12-Step programs, healthy eating programs, and much more, all our programs are customized to the unique needs of our clients. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak with a member of our staff. Help is here for you – don’t wait!

Why Detox Is Necessary for Recovery

Detox is a physically and emotionally strenuous, but ultimately necessary, part of overcoming substance addiction. This is the process of excising the body of harmful substances, which can result in symptoms known as “withdrawal.” Only once this process is complete can a person begin their recovery journey with a clear mind and healthier body.

Let’s explore more specifics of what this process can look like, who needs it, and how it works at Enlightened Recovery – a holistic facility that focuses on sobriety and overall wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Our staff is uniquely equipped to help guide clients during what can be a scary, anxiety-ridden experience, minimizing pain and discomfort as much as possible.

Detox for Addiction: What to Expect

During the detox process, it is extremely important to keep a person safe and as comfortable as possible, even though some discomfort is to be expected. This happens because the body has been used to functioning on a certain dose of alcohol or drugs for so long and needs to “relearn” how to operate without them. A person must reach some level of physical stability before additional treatment can begin.

The body begins to undergo detox when not supplied with the usual amount of drugs or alcohol it’s become accustomed to. One critical reason people choose to detox under medical supervision is so they don’t relapse – if only to make the symptoms stop. This is arguably the hardest part of getting sober, yet it’s the most necessary. In assisted detox, you can rest assured that your physical needs will be met by professional and compassionate staff.

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

Detoxification is one of many steps to living substance-free. It is highly recommended to undergo this process under the guidance of a medical professional since it is difficult to know ahead of time how the body will respond to withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • Stomach cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms and aches
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Shaking or body tremors
  • Intense sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

Detoxing under medical supervision can help reduce these effects of withdrawal symptoms while receiving round-the-clock patient care.

When Detox Becomes Necessary

The type of substance being abused is a factor in determining whether medical detox is necessary. Other factors include comprehensive medical history and overall physical health. The duration is also important, as well as other mental health conditions that are present, which is referred to as co-occurring disorder.

Below are some of the most commonly abused substances that require medical detox.


Chronic binge drinking is one of the most common forms of substance abuse. The intensity of effects that alcohol can have on a person depends on their body type, medical history, and whether it has been combined with other medications or drugs. Prolonged addiction to alcohol can cause damage to nerve pathways and brain chemicals, which affect emotions, bodily functions, breathing, and heart rate. Detox helps a person come off the influence of alcohol without going into cardiac arrest or other potentially life-threatening side effects.


Opioids include painkillers that are commonly prescribed to patients recovering from surgery. They are effective at masking severe pain but are also very addictive. They can also be overly prescribed to patients, which makes them easy to abuse when not monitored carefully. Coming off of these drugs can result in withdrawal symptoms, as they affect the brain’s natural ability to regulate pain. Medical detox is necessary in order to regulate the neurological response as the drugs leave the system.


Also called amphetamines, this drug is often taken in the form of cocaine but can also be found in caffeine and nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms can last several days to a full week, with side effects of hallucinations and paranoia. Health issues such as high blood pressure or liver disease can affect the severity of these symptoms, especially if the individual has a history of brain injuries or seizures.

The Detox Process at Enlightened Recovery

Enlightened Recovery is a treatment facility that takes both a medical and holistic approach to recovery from substance addiction. We oversee this journey from the point of detox and beyond, cleansing both body and mind of harmful substances.

Our treatment is personalized to each person according to their unique medical and emotional needs. Not everyone experiences substance addiction to the same extent, so the treatments we recommend will take that unique history into account. We believe that medical detox is best for those who have experienced substance addiction for several months or years, as it is the most effective treatment to address the long-term consequences of drugs and alcohol on the body.

Many people come to Enlightened Recovery with co-occurring conditions, such as addiction and depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health diagnoses. For these people, an approach that treats both conditions together rather than separately is most effective. Treating substance abuse separately from mental health can actually have the effect of worsening one or the other. Our staff understands the complexity of co-occurring disorders and is able to provide care accordingly.

In addition to detox, we also tailor treatment plans to include various holistic treatments, therapies, and other tools for recovery. These treatments and therapies include individual and group therapy, mental health care, experiential therapies, nutritional support, and more. We are careful to consider a client’s unique goals, preferences, and substance abuse history when recommending additional care.

Detox is difficult, both emotionally and physically. It’s one of those moments in life where things have to get worse before they get better. But when things start to get better, they really do get better! At Enlightened Recovery, we have had the honor of helping many people overcome the damaging effects of prolonged substance abuse and go on to live full, sober lives. Our holistic approach focuses on the whole person, including mental and emotional health, in addition to physical health. Our treatment recommendations are tailored to the unique needs of the people in our care. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak to a member of our staff.

How Group Learning During Treatment Benefits Recovery

Many treatment methods have been proven to treat substance addiction successfully. These methods can be a combination of mental and physical health treatments, as substance abuse affects both the body and brain. One successful treatment involves group learning, in which one or more facilitators lead a group of clients, perhaps anywhere from five to 15 people, to discuss their sobriety journeys with one another.

This may seem intimidating on its face, but it’s a similar model that sobriety groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs use and have seen great success from. For people who are afraid of upsetting close friends and relatives or may experience a good deal of judgment for this particular struggle, it can actually be easier to share with strangers than people they actually know. In group settings like these, there is no prior reputation to uphold; it’s already a given that everyone is there for the same reason. One thing is certain: These people understand how hard it is. They understand at a personal level that few others can.

Many group sessions are organized around an issue that is common to group members, regardless of age, sex, background, etc. These topics can range from dealing with stress or loneliness in healthy ways to building self-confidence and developing a sense of self-awareness and humility. The support that is built in group learning is different than what you would experience when meeting with a therapist one-on-one (though that is also helpful for many people).

The Benefits of Group Learning for Sobriety

There are many causes of addiction; scientists believe it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Whatever it was for you, there is likely another person (or two, or three, or more) in a group whose addiction has similar roots. Knowing you aren’t the only person to experience trauma, depression, grief, or family members who also use drugs or alcohol can help make it easier to open up about your own struggle. You may not feel comfortable speaking up at first, but you never know what you might say that makes another group member feel seen and less alone.

Additional benefits of group learning include:

A Supportive Network

People need communal support to thrive, with or without an addiction problem. But in the process of recovery, it’s essential. It can be hard to find that particular support in one’s own family or friend group, but a group learning environment at a treatment center is full of people working towards the same goal. Having a support network can also show you how to effectively communicate your needs and learn to ask for help when you need it. The fear of asking for help often keeps addiction hidden and enables it to thrive. But asking for help can break the spell of secrecy and shame.

Feeling Connected

Group therapy probably isn’t the first place one would think to go to make new friends, but it happens. People who have been through the same depths can often bond for life. When you have a solid connection to others, you also develop a strong connection to yourself by recognizing your own strengths. Connecting to others in group learning can help provide a greater sense of purpose after you leave the recovery program and start a new sober life.

Getting Beyond Your Comfort Zone

This is arguably one of the hardest parts of group learning activities and therapies, especially for introverted personalities. But seeking help for addiction is already a hard, uncomfortable process. This is a place where it’s safe and encouraged to take emotional risks. Communicating your struggles with a group can make it less intimidating to advocate for yourself outside of the group – that is, asking for help or support when you need it. Communicating fears, traumas, and other emotional stressors can become easier with time and deepen your relationships with others going through similar things.

However, while there is a lot of overlap in experiences in group settings, no two people are exactly alike. Exposure to different perspectives and stories is part of how we grow into more well-rounded, compassionate people.

Learning New Skills

Part of rewiring a brain that’s been damaged by long-term substance use involves learning new cognitive and behavioral skills. This can look like replacing unhealthy behavior patterns with healthier ones and learning better coping mechanisms. One benefit of learning these skills in a group setting is that it allows you to practice them with others. Interacting with others can help inspire new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around you.

Group settings can also allow for feedback, both to you and to others. When your self-image is distorted, learning new skills in a group can increase self-awareness. It is essential to improve how we live and interact with others before reinitiating ourselves into the world outside the treatment facility.

Learn From Others at Enlightened Solutions

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of group learning activities to help our clients heal and cope. Some groups are gender-specific, while others are co-ed to enhance learning from those who differ from us. We also offer nutrition groups, family therapy, and more.

Many people might feel strange about doing group learning activities while in recovery simply because addiction is such a personal thing. However, you may find (as many of our clients have) that group learning allows everyone to learn from and encourage one another. At Enlightened Solutions, we firmly believe that it takes a community and a strong support network to fully recover from substance addiction. This community not only encourages you during challenges to sobriety but can also help hold you accountable and remind you why you are pursuing sobriety in the first place. To learn more about the treatment programs we offer, contact Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How Stress Contributes to Substance Abuse

Stress doesn’t cause addiction, but there is an absolute correlation between high cortisol levels and substance use. For many people, the push to use drugs or alcohol comes from an inability to manage stress or anxiety in healthy ways. Substances, then, become a means of “escape” from dealing with uncomfortable emotions or circumstances.

Here we will explore the link between stress and substance use. Enlightened Solutions, a holistic facility that helps people recover from addiction and mental health disorders, offers a variety of programs and assistance for handling stress in sustainable, natural ways.

The Link Between Stress and Substance Use

Like many physical and mental health conditions, there is no single cause of substance abuse. It has its roots in both genetic and environmental factors. People from families where substance abuse is prevalent may be more at risk, though certainly not guaranteed, to struggle with addiction themselves. Those who work or live in high-stress environments may also be more at risk. One common denominator in both scenarios is stress. Those who experience chronic stress are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those who don’t.

Stress, of course, is a part of life. In our early history, stress was critical for humans to protect themselves from environmental threats. Today, stress can still serve that purpose, but in many cases, it is brought on by factors in our personal lives as well. Some people may thrive in stressful, fast-paced environments, but many others do not. The increase in stress in certain people can enable them to seek quick fixes for overwhelming emotions. This is how addiction can begin.

Stress that is not dealt with properly can have consequences on both physical and mental health. When combined with accumulated damage from substance use, the effects can be more disastrous. Some health issues related to stress include high blood pressure and heart rate, cardiovascular disease, and migraines. A combination of lifestyle changes and medical interventions may be needed to help reduce stress levels and address the “need” for drugs or alcohol to feel calmer and more relaxed.

How Substance Use Affects Stress

Substance use and stress can feed each other in an unhealthy cycle. Alcohol can affect parts of the brain that manage feelings of pleasure, behavior, and impulse control. The consequences of prolonged substance use can lead to losing a job, housing, or damaging relationships – all contributors to feelings of stress. The discomfort associated with withdrawal can also contribute to stress, which is why many people who undergo the detox process by themselves often fall into relapse.

Suggestions for Managing Stress in Healthy Ways

The mind and body both benefit from managing stress without substances. Some helpful techniques include the following.

Reach Out for Help

Addiction is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to conquer alone. Having a supportive community is paramount for reducing stress and having a successful recovery. This can include family members, close friends, people in 12-Step meetings, or a sponsor.

Practice Meditation or Mindfulness

Promote feelings of calmness and relaxation by focusing on the present, practicing breathing exercises, observing thoughts without judgment, or observing the beauty of nature. If an individual does not have the means to attend a meditative program, there are plenty of free meditative apps to download.

Eat and Sleep Well

It sounds basic, but it’s incredible how much better we feel when we eat healthily and get the right amount of sleep. Insomnia and poor diet can contribute to stress because our bodies and minds are more equipped to handle it. Experts recommend three healthy meals a day and eight hours of sleep at night.

Make Time for Exercise

Just 15-20 minutes a day of physical activity can go a long way toward reducing stress. This is because the endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals, released from the brain can help us feel more relaxed and happy. Take a lap or two around the neighborhood, do some jumping jacks, ride a bike, or join a local gym to help relieve chronic stress.

When Stress and Addiction Become a Co-occurring Disorder

The phrase “co-occurring disorder” is how medical professionals refer to more than one mental or physical health condition occurring at the same time in a person. Stress is one of the most common co-occurring disorders associated with substance abuse. Others may be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or clinical depression alongside addiction. Those with existing mental health disorders are more likely to develop a substance addiction, though this is not guaranteed. It’s also common for prolonged substance use to trigger or cause mental health conditions.

If an individual is experiencing a co-occurring disorder, it’s recommended that they seek treatment from a facility that specializes in that condition. This way, both disorders can be treated together rather than separately. This is the most effective way of treating co-occurring disorders.

Manage Stress and Substance Abuse With Enlightened Solutions

Enlightened Solutions is a treatment facility specializing in holistic practices for a “whole-person” approach to health. Whether a person is dealing with high levels of stress, substance abuse, or both, our treatment programs can help. We offer inpatient detox, outpatient programs, 12-Step programs, individual and family therapy, and more to address and treat both conditions at once. We are also passionate about incorporating healthy life choices, such as clean eating and exercise, to promote both physical and mental health.

If you’re struggling with substance abuse and stress, you are not alone. Many people turn to substances as a means of coping with uncomfortable situations, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Enlightened Solutions is uniquely equipped to help you deal with both addiction and stress. Through a variety of therapies, inpatient and outpatient treatment, an emphasis on holistic care, and healthy eating, we can address your mental and physical health to support your overall wellness. Our facility has helped many people recover from addiction, develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress, and achieve long-lasting sobriety. To learn more about the services we offer, please call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.

Why Substance Abuse Increases in Colder Months and How a 12-Step Program Can Help

What’s the connection between colder weather and substance abuse? Unfortunately, the latter tends to increase when the former happens. That’s not to say that cold weather causes substance abuse. However, there is an uptick in depression during the shorter, darker, winter days. Because many instances of substance abuse are triggered by depression, the correlation between winter and substance use is legitimate.

For this reason, it is important to become familiar with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and learn new ways that you can best cope with it.

How Cold Weather Influences Substance Abuse

Colder weather, falling leaves, and snowfall can signify the excitement of the holiday season for some. For others, it’s a seasonal change that puts a damper on many activities. You may be forced to stay home when the roads are too slick to drive on safely. There may not be much to do inside a small space, and you’re disconnected from friends and loved ones. Sometimes people are driven to drink or do drugs due to boredom. Others turn to these substances as an escape when feeling lonely or isolated.

The cold weather and shorter, darker days, combined with increased drug use, create an adverse biological effect. Depending on the type of substances used, breathing can become labored and difficult. It’s already harder to breathe when the air is cold, and more challenging for the body to regulate its temperature normally. Combined with drug use, such as opioids, which are known to cause breathing issues, this further increases the possibility of a dangerous overdose.

If people live alone, the chances of not being able to get help in time also increase. This isn’t the fault of winter necessarily, but it’s safe to say that more people go out partying, bar hopping, or doing drugs and drinking with friends when the weather is more favorable. Under those circumstances, medical help is more easily found. With less sunlight and shorter days, many people experience a vitamin D deficiency (the vitamin found in natural sunlight). This deficiency can worsen or cause depression, which also plays a role in substance abuse.

Using the 12-Step Model During Winter and Beyond

The 12-Step model is not a medical treatment but a framework to help people understand their experience of addiction and create better habits in place of using substances. The model can be followed any time of year but can be especially helpful during the winter season.

The Twelve Steps involve:

  • Helping people recognize and admit to having a problem with addiction
  • Surrendering control over the addiction, acknowledging that a higher power is needed to overcome it
  • Developing an awareness of the problematic behaviors that are either part of, or caused by addiction, and learning a healthy sense of restraint
  • Creating and embracing opportunities to practice that restraint and develop a healthier self-image
  • Developing healthy self-acceptance to change certain behaviors
  • Compassion for people who have been affected by and still struggle with addiction (including ourselves)
  • Cultivating tools to practice all of the above throughout daily life

These steps have a long track record of success in helping people conquer substance abuse addiction and achieve sobriety.

12-Step Programs Help Promote Sobriety Year-Round

All of the information above may sound bleak. However, the winter season doesn’t have to be depressing when you’re prepared in advance for the challenges it presents. One way to equip yourself with healthy coping mechanisms for worsened depression symptoms is to participate in a 12-Step program.

The basis for national recovery programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step programs break down recovery steps into small, manageable bites. The goal is to help people who struggle with substance abuse overcome their addictions, as well as the compulsions that drive those addictions.

The 12-Step model is intended to be worked out in a community, such as the people who regularly attend weekly recovery meetings. Spirituality is an essential component of the 12-Step process, but it doesn’t have to be a religious-oriented spirituality if you don’t want it to be. The 12-Step liturgy emphasizes an ecumenical “higher power” that is not specific to any one religion.

Ultimately, the 12-Step model works best when people are committed to helping others in addition to helping themselves. Those who have moved further down the list of the Twelve Steps can be a source of encouragement to those who are starting it for the first time. Different people will also have unique ways of implementing each of the steps, which are written somewhat vaguely on purpose so they can be adapted in unique ways. Through these steps and regular communal support, many people find that their mental health improves, leading them to flourish in other aspects of life. This is one of the most sustainable ways to contribute to long-term recovery.

How Enlightened Solutions Can Help

Our holistic, “whole-person” approach to substance abuse treatment aims to promote physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The 12-Step model is just one of the ways we do this with our clients, helping them to identify any destructive thought or behavior patterns, improve life management, and learn healthy coping skills. Together, these qualities help to promote not only sobriety but also an improved understanding of the self. This allows our clients to discover renewed spiritual understanding, purpose, and fulfillment to improve their lives.

Conquering substance abuse is hard at any time of year, but winter presents some unique challenges to certain people. The days are shorter and darker; the cold can make even the happiest people miserable. Bad weather can keep us isolated and separated from friends. All of these factors can contribute to the possibility of relapse or overdose. But you can prepare in advance for this challenging season by participating in 12-Step programs. At Enlightened Solutions, we strive to help people cultivate healthy coping mechanisms for life’s challenges and become healthy not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. If you struggle with substance abuse and are concerned about your sobriety this winter, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.

Am I Putting Off Treatment?

Are you a procrastinator? Maybe you are when it comes to little things. Or, perhaps, you tend to put off the things that matter most. This may be out of fear of failure or rejection or for other reasons.

When it comes to making the call to seek treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol, you do not want to procrastinate. If things have escalated enough to make you consider getting help, you need to take that first step.

Putting off getting help for a substance abuse issue can be extremely common. We will discuss some of the reasons one might do so below. You might relate to a few.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that procrastinating when it comes to seeking treatment can be a life-or-death decision. One day can make all the difference when it comes to getting help. You could overdose or make a risky decision that could cost you your life.

Reasons People Avoid Getting Help

Asking for help is not always easy. Depending on the type of person you are, there could be a long list of undesirable things you would rather do. It is important to understand how strong the power of addiction can be and recognize the urgency of the situation.

A few things that might lead someone to put off treatment could include the following:

  • Denial
  • Shame or guilt
  • Stigma
  • Fear of loss


One of the more common reasons you might be hesitant to seek treatment is denial. You might think you have everything under control. Can you really stop using substances at any time? Do you have the desire to stop?

You might find yourself going back and forth about whether you actually need treatment or not. The word “addiction” refers to something that has grown out of your control. Could this really be the case for you?

If you are contemplating whether or not your problem is worthy of treatment, the answer is probably yes. More than likely, you have felt the inability to make the decisions you want to make regarding substance use and need some support.

Shame or Guilt

Shame and guilt almost always accompany addiction. We all have people we care about in our lives. Typically, the choices we make due to substance use cause some disappointment or hurt for those we love. This can lead you to feel ashamed or even embarrassed.

The fact that you have lost control can be cause for shame in itself. If you are someone who likes to feel in control, knowing that substances have stripped that away can feel very defeating.

Do your best to accept these feelings, but fight to overcome them. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it is a sign of strength and concern for your well-being. Those who love and care for you will support your decision.


The stigma around addiction has evolved throughout history and still exists in today’s society. Luckily, therapy, treatment, and speaking up when you need help are becoming more widely accepted.

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with substance use disorder (SUD) is one that is still relevant enough to create some fear of judgment and rejection for those struggling with it. Do your best to let go of these fears. Putting yourself and your health first is commendable.

Fear of Loss

When you think about entering treatment, you might think that this will lead to great loss. You might be concerned about losing your job, friends, or relationships. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer several different program options, some of which allow for flexibility that could enable you to keep working. Of course, this depends on your specific situation and the level of care you need.

As far as friends and loved ones go, our family program encourages others to get involved so they can learn more about addiction and develop tools for healing and moving forward. Those who truly care will want the best for you and they will be supportive of your journey to recovery.

Don’t Wait Any Longer

These are just a few reasons you might avoid making the call to seek treatment for your addiction. You could make many different reasons and excuses to justify delaying treatment. Whether you are struggling with alcohol, opioids, benzos, cocaine, or other substances, you need to take the first step to regain control of your life.

Continuing to make excuses prolongs the problem and can lead to a more difficult healing a recovery process. Every day and every minute counts when it comes to seeking treatment for addiction. If you are considering making a call, it is time to take action. You have a beautiful life waiting for you in recovery.

It can be easy to put off seeking help for addiction to drugs or alcohol and entering treatment for a variety of reasons. Shame or guilt can keep you from confronting the issue and making the call. Even stigmas or fear of judgment can stand in the way. Perhaps you are worried about losing your job or someone you love. Delaying treatment will only make matters worse. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we would love to speak to you about our programs and discuss how we can help. To begin your journey to recovery, reach out and call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How Destructive Character Patterns Affect Addiction

Certain personality traits, environmental factors, and even genetics can lead to addiction to drugs or alcohol. It can be common to see specific patterns of thoughts or behaviors that are present when seeking treatment. It is important to be aware of these behaviors and thoughts and work to adjust or avoid them. Some destructive character patterns can include:

  • Lack of impulse control
  • Loss or lack of self-control
  • Poor stress management
  • Neglecting (or undiagnosed) co-occurring disorders
  • Risk-taking behavior

Impulse Control

One common pattern of behavior when it comes to addiction is impulsivity. When you develop an addiction to alcohol, cocaine, opioids, or other substances, you may often struggle with impulse control. This refers to the inability or lack of consideration when it comes to the consequences of your actions. If you struggle with impulse control, you may engage in risky or detrimental behaviors without weighing the negative impacts your decisions may have.

When you struggle with impulse control, you may lack the inner dialogue that occurs when you are deciding what to do. This refers to the ability to negotiate and comprehend the potential consequences of a decision. Self-regulation is also a skill that you may struggle with if you lack impulse control.


Another common pattern of behavior when it comes to addiction is a lack of self-control. This can be similar to impulse control; however, this speaks more to being able to stop doing something or moderate your thoughts or behaviors when you want or need to. For example, you may be fully aware of the consequences of a poor decision but find yourself unable to avoid making the decision that leads to the negative consequences.

Addiction is a perfect example of this concept. When struggling with substance use disorder, you might be aware of the harmful effects of using. Although, you might have no control over your dependency on the substance you are using.

This can be difficult to understand for those who have not experienced addiction firsthand and can even be difficult to process when you enter treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we use 12-Step principles to help you identify your loss of control over your addiction and embrace the healing that comes with that realization.

Stress Tolerance

Stress affects everyone differently. You may have a high tolerance for stress and may even feel motivated by it. Yet, you could be very debilitated by stress and anxiety. This can often lead to self-medicating or seeking release in the form of drugs or alcohol.

Managing stress well is essential to your health for many reasons. In addition to the risk of addiction, increased stress levels can lead to poor mental and physical health. It can even trigger life-threatening conditions such as poor cardiovascular health.

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is normal for you to discover that you have a co-occurring diagnosis upon completing the intake and assessment process. A co-occurring disorder refers to the presence of an underlying diagnosis that could be triggering or reinforcing your substance use. A few common co-occurring diagnoses include depression and anxiety.

Similar to those seeking substances to relieve stress, you might choose to drink alcohol or use drugs to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression. Neglecting to address these disorders can lead to substance use and abuse. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide a full mental health evaluation to be sure we provide you with everything you need during treatment to find healing and good health.

Risk-Taking Behaviors

In some cases, taking risks can be a beneficial thing. While this can be harmless in some situations, it can sometimes lead to much worse.

When you take risks often, you may lack some or several of the aforementioned character traits. You may lack impulse control, which affects your judgment and processing of consequences. Perhaps you lack self-control and, despite knowing something is dangerous, feel unable to refrain from taking the risk.

Sometimes, there may be an underlying condition or disorder that could be leading to dangerous or risky behavior. Substance use can often begin as a one-time experimental thing out of curiosity. If you enjoy taking risks often, you may not consider the long-term impact of your decisions but only consider the immediate risk. After all, you are not intending to become addicted to substances.

During treatment, clinical professionals will help you identify any potentially harmful thoughts and behavior patterns that could have led to your substance use in the first place. Learning more about these behaviors and developing strategies for change is crucial. By participating in therapy and focusing on healing and change during treatment, you can stay on track and be successful in recovery.

Harmful behavior patterns can often lead to substance abuse. Some common examples can include lack of impulse control, loss of self-control, poor stress management, the presence of a co-occurring disorder, or engaging in risk-taking behaviors. Some may exhibit a combination of these traits. Possessing any of these characteristics or behaviors significantly increases the likelihood of substance abuse. It is important to address and correct these behavior patterns to avoid addiction and relapse. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients recognize any underlying issues that may have led to their addiction and pose potential for relapse in recovery. Our programs help you develop strategies for correcting destructive thoughts and behaviors and create more productive and healthy habits. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to hear from you. Call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.

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.

How Problematic Is Marijuana Addiction?

Whether it’s called weed, pot, grass, bud, herb, or any of its numerous slang names, marijuana and its main psychoactive chemical, THC, is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States.

New Jersey has legalized marijuana for recreational use, but there are many persistent misunderstandings about this drug’s addictive potential. Because of this, marijuana addiction is systematically undertreated. In 2015, four million people were diagnosed with a use disorder for this drug, but only 138,000 sought treatment.

Use of Marijuana

Marijuana is the broken or ground dried flowers of the cannabis sativa plant that users usually smoke or mix into food. However, there has also been a sharp increase in the abuse of this plant’s resin, a substance with a higher THC concentration that produces more intense highs.

The short-term effects of marijuana intoxication include:

  • Feelings of happiness
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced reflexes

Users generally experience significantly reduced response times and motor skills when under the effects of the drug. Nationwide, marijuana use is the cause of the second-highest number of hospital visits of any illicit substance – largely due to an increased risk of accidents. In 2011, 456,000 emergency room patient reports in the United States mentioned marijuana.

Marijuana Changes the Brain

Areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, rely on an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide for some of their dopamine production. However, with frequent use, the brain adapts and reduces the production of its anandamide – messengers we need for normal functioning.

At the same time, the continuous abuse of this drug seems to alter and harm this region of the brain. The hippocampus – which is responsible for memory formation and information processing – seems to shrink with prolonged heavy use. This can lead to very worrying changes in cognition, especially in young people.

Eventually, the use of marijuana produces cross-sensitivity. This means that the brain has adapted to the drug, and the groundwork has been laid for dependence and addiction to other psychoactive substances. In addition, there has been a growing body of evidence that corroborates marijuana’s status as a gateway drug, especially in long-term studies of teenage users.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana use disorder is a clinically diagnosed condition that describes the compulsive use of the drug even when people want to stop or when it harms a user’s life. Experts estimate that about 30% of people who use marijuana in some form have a degree of diagnosable substance use disorder.

Heavy users of the drug can go into withdrawal when they can’t access or cease using the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana include:

  • Mood and sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cravings
  • Physical discomfort
  • Restlessness

Why Seek Marijuana Addiction Treatment?

Studies have begun to illuminate exactly how harmful long-term marijuana use can be for mental health. Eventually, THC exposure may even speed up the aging of the brain through the loss of neurons.

Studies looking at marijuana abuse disorder in adolescents found that continued use alters the connectivity and shrinks the size of areas in the brain involved in executive functioning (memory, learning, problem-solving, and impulse control).

Others have found that abuse, particularly in teenage years, is associated with significantly lower scores on IQ tests by mid-adulthood.

Two longitudinal studies have found that marijuana abuse causes cognitive impairment or loss of verbal memory functions in adults as well.

The loss of mental functioning means that people who use marijuana recreationally are likely to be functioning at a lower level even when they are not under its influence. These changes are continuous and incremental, making them harder to detect in oneself. Still, the evidence points to marijuana abuse drastically affecting our ability to achieve our potential in work, school, and relationships.

If you are worried marijuana use may be turning into an addiction, there are treatment programs that can help.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed dual diagnosis treatment center that offers each client the tools they need to begin a sober life. We offer an effective individualized recovery program with a long-term focus rooted in the 12-step philosophy. Our treatment modalities include both talk therapy and holistic treatment practices, with the potential to continue in support groups long after you leave our center. If you would like help with marijuana addiction, reach out to us at (833) 801-5483.

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