Does My Loved One Have a Substance Addiction?

Does My Loved One Have a Substance Addiction?

Wondering if your loved ones could have an addiction to alcohol or other drugs can be terrifying. Recognizing the warning signs and knowing how to respond can help alleviate the stress of this worrisome experience and enable you to know when to reach out for professional guidance and support.

Defining Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug-using behavior despite the harmful consequences that it may cause. Although an individual's initial decision to use drugs may be their choice, repeated drug use can impair brain functioning related to mechanisms of self-control. After a person begins to regularly use substances, substance use eventually becomes involuntary and causes long-lasting changes to their brain.

What Is a Substance Use Disorder?

The terms “addiction” and “substance use disorder” are often used interchangeably, as they describe similar conditions. A substance use disorder (SUD) is an umbrella term that describes serious medical conditions that affect an individual's thought and behavior patterns. Addiction is a type of substance use disorder. It is important to recognize that having a SUD has nothing to do with one’s morality or who they are as a person. Instead, this diagnosis is often a result of extreme stressors or untreated underlying conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and/or other mental health conditions.

Frequently experienced by those with SUD is the act of self-medicating as a means of coping with other conditions or trauma. Many people who struggle with addiction have experienced some form of trauma, whether the trauma is acute or long-term. Their use of substances is but one way they have learned to cope with the aftermath of a devastating experience.

What Are 5 Warning Signs of Substance Use Disorder?

There are warning signs to watch for in your loved ones to discern their risk for the development of a SUD. Remember, your loved one is still your loved one, even if they are struggling to survive and are using maladaptive behaviors. They need compassion, not judgment.

Common warning signs of SUD include:

#1. Mood Changes

One immediate sign of a struggle can include mood changes. Your loved one may have bouts of anger and extreme mood swings. Your loved one may become defensive about their behaviors and express their emotions in a volatile manner. However, they may also be unable to express their emotions. During mood changes, one needs to consider the fact that something may have occurred, prompting the shift in your loved one’s expressions of emotions.

#2. A Lack of Interest in Previously Enjoyed Activities

Another sign of struggle in your loved one may be a lack of engagement with previously enjoyed activities. Your loved one may give up music, art, community activities, or any other activity that used to be a fundamental aspect of their life. Another element of this change may be that they are pawning previously loved items to fund their addiction-related behaviors.

#3. Physical Changes

Startling physical changes can be another indicator of a struggle with a SUD. Your loved one may lose or gain weight. Also, a change in their physical condition could be related to the development of other health conditions that seem out of line with your loved one’s normal physicality. Assess what your loved one is doing physically regarding diet and exercise; determine if their behaviors line up with previously established values or current medical changes. Do not immediately assume the worst. Your family member may be struggling with other health issues.

#4. Mental Changes

Mental changes in SUD vary depending upon the substance used. Your loved ones may seem more jumpy or lethargic. They may be unable to sit still or unable to stay awake. Your loved one's words may slur, or they may be speaking so fast you cannot understand them. These are just a few examples of mental changes to watch for if you are concerned your loved one is struggling with addiction to alcohol or other substances.

#5. Withdrawing from Friends and Family

Your loved one may disengage from activities once enjoyed and may also eliminate and withdraw from people in their life with whom they were close. Your loved one may pull back and refuse to engage with you. They may avoid family gatherings and may even avoid talking to you on the phone.

What Can You Do to Help Your Loved One?

The most important thing you can do to help your loved one is to be present with them. Being present and willing to listen to your loved one, even as they might push you away, might save their life. Reminding your loved one that they are not alone and that you will stand alongside them is a powerful act of love and one that will not be forgotten as your loved one moves into a healthy recovery.

Recognizing warning signs as to whether a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to alcohol or other substances can be critical. Being aware of your loved one's needs and helping them through the process of recovery is one of the best actions you can take to improve their chances of sustainable recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we know watching a friend or family member struggle with substance use disorder can be heartbreaking, which is why we offer help to family members and friends as you navigate how best to support your loved one. We offer a variety of services, all focused on treating the whole individual. We recognize your loved ones are people with individual experiences and want to see them succeed. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact us at (833) 801-LIVE to learn how we can help.


Emptiness and Addiction

Although each person experiences addiction differently, it’s quite common for those battling substance abuse to feel incredibly empty – these lingering feelings of loneliness and despair are settled deep inside, making it hard to overcome sometimes. In some cases, it’s an injury that makes a person no longer feel functional, or a series of painful events that have continued to scar the way a person views themselves over time. Self-criticism, trauma, relationship issues and major disasters have a way of making us feel as though we’re not good enough in some way or another and that’s when addiction appears – in many cases, to try and feel the void. 

The circumstances of our lives have placed us in unique positions over the years, and the pain we’ve endured can leave physical and psychological wounds that are incredibly hard to overcome. For a long time, we may feel as though we’re wandering aimlessly – with no sense of direction or purpose and no true connection to others. It’s this inner turmoil that often leads people to seek out substances – because they’re unsure of where else to go, and they need something to numb the pain.

Previous studies have emphasized that spiritual emptiness is often what accompanies poor mental health and substance dependence. When we’re spiritually empty, we’re lacking a sense of connection to the “bigger picture” that is life; we become cynical, we’re focused on what we don’t have, what we’re missing out on and what we’d rather be doing than healing from our experiences and finding ways to move forward. Addiction affects the mind, body and spirit and when we’re feeling spiritually weak and lost, it becomes easier to latch onto something else – even if it only makes matters worse.

Some would describe spiritual emptiness as a “lack of love” – but it’s more than what’s on the surface. Rather than feeling low because of a lack of love we’re receiving from others, our spiritual emptiness often derives from the fact that we’re not giving ourselves enough love, which is found when we’re more connected spiritually. When this occurs, we don’t see ourselves as worthy, or loveable, or responsible, or deserving of good. With spirituality in our lives, we become much more open to ourselves and others by acknowledging that we have more to offer to this world than we realize.

Healing the Void

When we begin to chase after spirituality, we find that we’re more open and generous to others – we are more easily ready to make available what we have to offer to others, rather than pulling ourselves back from experiences that are good for us. This sense of openness in spirituality is filled with a willing generosity – almost as if what we have to offer is our gift to others.

They say that two core aspects of spirituality are divine love and service to others. 12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), promote both of these components by helping people open their hearts to God or another Higher Power and by giving to others as an act of love. Previous studies have explored how spirituality helps bring people closer to themselves and others, including teens; researchers have found that the experience of divine love can help people become more geared towards service of others, and this can, in turn, reduce relapse rates and promote a greater sense of character development for those in recovery.

Of course, there are many other ways that spirituality can be defined as well as many ways it can improve your life. Those in addiction recovery may find that spirituality means something different depending on the person; one person may view spirituality as a source of power greater than themselves, while someone else may simply view it as a “guide” through life. Spirituality could be viewed as a form of energy, while it could also mean a connection and universal faith in God. Emotions and love could be central to a person’s spirituality – all that matters is that a person is feeling more connected in mind, body and soul.

Many people who experience spirituality in addiction recovery state that spirituality gives them the chance to accept the problems they’re facing with substance abuse, and it helps them understand that recovery is possible. Spirituality helps people stay open-minded to all the possibilities that recovery offers them, and in many cases, it provides them with a sense of hope and healing. 

Spirituality combats emptiness by filling us with purpose, meaning, love and light. 12-Step programs can give us a sense of connection to others who are also on this journey and can enable us to open our hearts more than we ever thought possible. If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Enlightened Solutions today. The time to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit is now. 

At Enlightened Solutions we want to help you heal from addiction and are committed to putting you and your recovery first. We offer a comprehensive range of services including outpatient treatment, post-rehab services, continuing care, and long-term treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


Drug Dealing on Social Media

Drug Dealing on Social Media

Social media is supposed to be a safe place where family, old friends, current friends, and new friends can get together and socializing with one another. But the internet can be abuse just like any drug and can even be a secret place for drug dealers and teenage customers to make illegal drug deals. It is important that teens are educated on the dangers of online drug dealing and that the internet is not as safe as they believe.

Social media websites like Facebook and Instagram can be used as a weapon for drug dealers and customers to engage. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens who use social media are five times more likely to smoke a cigarette, three times more likely to drink, and twice as likely to smoke marijuana. On social media, people can post glamorized, artistic photos of drugs and people using them. People can also make comments of links to their website or personal information on where to buy drugs from them. Teens may find it funny when their friends or friends of friends post videos of themselves drunk or passed out which makes them want to imitate that behavior. They also could be dealing with anxiety or depression and feel like they need to seek solace by taking up a drug or alcohol habit.

Popular social networking site Facebook makes it a rule that “posts may not promote the sale of illegal, prescription or recreational drugs.” These drugs include marijuana and its products, pipes, bongs, tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and kits, etc. That any related act being caught on their site will involve account deletion and/or legal action. In Colorado, there was a hidden Facebook group where high schoolers would sell cannabis, synthetic marijuana, prescription drugs, methamphetamine, MDMA, and LSD. There were 900 members in that group including 171 high school and middle schoolers. It was not until one man got arrested who was in that group that investigators contacted Facebook about that group and the group was shut down. Unfortunately, it is not until a post is reported or investigated that these acts are discovered.

It is important to be aware of certain terms that drug dealers use so that you can tell when they exist online. “Pharmacies” are a code that drug smugglers use when they have legitimate groups that sell their drug products. Young people are lured into chat rooms by “doctors” seeking “consultations” with customers for drugs. They take advantage of people who complain about any ailments they have and are looking for pills and tablets to help them. These customers are normally poor, poorly educated, or unemployed who want to hear what they want to hear that what is being offered to them will be the cure to what ailment they have. What they do not know is that their “cure” can end up leading to a dangerous drug addiction habit.

When people think of social media sites, the first thought in their head may be Facebook. The truth is that there are other social media sites used for drug dealing such as Grindr. Grindr is a site for gay and bisexual men to find a romantic partner near their area. Grindr is also used for drug dealing as there is a privacy feature where you can make yourself anonymous, making it easier for you not to get caught. Customers have said that they find this method safer compared to buying drugs on the street as you have to deal with the risk of robbery, shootouts and busts. Grindr can also allow you to evaluate each other before any transaction is complete.

The Coalition Against Drug Abuse said that there were 50 drug deals in social media accounts like Instagram that they found in a single day by typing keywords like “weed for sale.” This led to postsing of marijuana, painkillers, and MDMA. Requests can be made through direct messaging or commenting on a page. Payments can be made electronically and immediately through money sending websites like PayPal. The dealers will take pictures of images of their products and emojis which will give customers information on their drug quality, purity, the amount, and the cost. Instagram has photo filters that can make your photos look very professional. If the photos of drugs are of high quality, this will only strengthen the drug’s appeal and chances of buying it.

If you feel like your teen is buying or selling drugs through social media sites, speak to your kid. Let them know about any suspicious activity you have noticed such as unusual bank transactions or any suspicious friends they have on their social media account that you have never met before. You should also ask your child if they are surrounded by friends who drink. Maybe they have made drinking appealing to your child and they felt pressured to try it to fit in. If your child refuses to talk to you, tell them that they are only allowed on the internet with your supervision as they should have nothing to hide if they claim that they are not buying or selling drugs. Educate your child on the legal actions that could occur if you are caught buying or selling drugs online and how this can spiral towards addiction. Buying drugs online can bring dangerous consequences to your health and to the rest of your life.

Through years of experience working with art and music therapy, we know how powerfully beneficial they are in healing and relapse prevention. Call Enlightened Solutions today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Treating Co-Occurring Conditions

Treating Co-Occurring Conditions

Addiction is all-encompassing and touches every area of our lives, from our work and our interests to the health of our relationships and our ability to feel at peace. Addiction doesn’t function in a vacuum; it impacts and is affected by all of the other issues in our lives. Very often when we’re living with addiction, we’re also struggling with other deeply rooted mental, emotional and physical issues. When our conditions occur at the same time, they’re referred to as co-occurring conditions. To heal from one, we must work to heal from all of them. The underlying issues behind our addictions are often contributing factors to our other illnesses, and vice versa.

Healing ourselves from addiction is not as simple and straightforward as abstaining from our addictive substance or behavior. When we don’t work to heal from all of the issues causing our addiction, our recovery isn’t as profound or as thorough as it needs to be in order to really prevent us from relapsing. Many of us living with addiction are also coping with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Just as many of us haven’t sought out help for our addictions, we also haven’t gotten help for these very pervasive and destructive mental illnesses. Our ability to cope with daily life is often impaired. We struggle to function in our regular lives. Our health declines. Our relationships suffer. Our ability to care for ourselves falters. When we are deeply depressed, we often retreat inwards and isolate ourselves, making us even less likely to reach out for the help we so desperately need. Many of us struggle with some form of social anxiety, where our fears of people and social situations keep us from interacting with other people or asking for help when we need it. Our depression can cause us to feel so hopeless that we give up on ourselves. We don’t see any point in getting help. We’ve lost faith that we can recover. We’ve lost all belief in ourselves.

Successfully recovering from our addictions means treating our co-occurring conditions with as much care and attention as we place on our sobriety. What trauma do we have yet to heal from? What fears are still unaddressed that are driving our behaviors? Asking ourselves these important questions is part of the healing process. Many of us are afraid to venture this deep into our emotional problems, because it’s very scary terrain. Our recovery depends on our courage and our willingness to face these very difficult issues. We can’t grow to heal and love ourselves without doing so.

The programs at Enlightened Solutions treat co-occurring conditions along with addiction, to help you achieve true recovery. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Celebrating Our Successes

Celebrating Our Successes

Living with addiction can harden us to the point where we are quick to criticize ourselves and judge ourselves harshly. We create a self-image based on self-rejection and self-hatred. One thing we can do to soften our perception of ourselves and create a healthier sense of self is to start celebrating all of our successes, no matter how small they might be or insignificant they might seem. The more we can cheer ourselves on, the more we establish good habits for ourselves and mentally reward ourselves for reaching our goals.

When we’re overly focused on our failures, we are subconsciously telling ourselves that we don’t believe in ourselves, that we expect to fail, that we don’t have faith we’ll be successful in our recovery. When we’re working to recover, we need all the support and encouragement we can get. When we withhold these things from ourselves, we’re setting ourselves up for more failure.

When we put energy into celebrating our successes, we bolster our progress and reinforce our goals. We become our own source of motivation. Subconsciously we’re embracing ourselves rather than rejecting ourselves. We’re giving ourselves the love and support we need.

As part of our recovery work, we can set goals both large and small. We might want to give ourselves a goal of one year of sobriety. That would be a large goal. Small goals can be to attend a support group meeting once a week, to see a therapist on a regular basis and to find a sponsor to connect with. Along the way, as we’re working towards our larger goal, we can be implementing and working towards these smaller goals. Setting these small, more incremental goals helps us stay on track with our recovery, hold ourselves accountable, and keep ourselves focused on the daily things we can be doing to help ourselves. We can congratulate ourselves for each of these steps. Even the things that seem unimportant add up to and contribute to our growth and evolution. When we focus exclusively on the bigger goals, we can get overwhelmed at the loftiness of our expectations. Keeping ourselves on track with small, achievable goals helps us with our overall progress, and before we know it, we’ve reached our goal of one year, then two years, then three.  

Part of celebrating ourselves for our successes is learning not to be so hard on ourselves, to love and accept ourselves unconditionally, even when we falter. We set ourselves up for a successful recovery when we believe in ourselves and can celebrate ourselves.

Wherever you are in the recovery process, we'll meet you there and help you find your way. Enlightened Solutions has the caring and supportive team to help you achieve your recovery goals. Call (833) 801-LIVE today for more information on our treatment programs.


The Spiritual Side of Addiction

The Spiritual Side of Addiction

Examining addiction, we’re used to looking at the mental, emotional and physical factors of addiction, the correlations between addiction and our mental health, our emotional wellbeing and the physical effects. What many of us fail to realize is that addiction is just as much a spiritual illness as anything else. Looking at the spiritual side of addiction can give us more insight on how to heal from addiction.

Addiction, like other mental and emotional health issues, can arise from the spiritual disconnection we feel from our higher power and our inner selves. When we feel disconnected, we can feel alone and isolated, lost and hopeless. We can feel empty and deeply lonely. We turn to our addictions to fill the void we feel within ourselves. Our addictions are our attempt to escape the deep pain we feel at not being spiritually connected and fulfilled. We’re avoiding confronting the spiritual emptiness we feel, that can make life feel pointless, hopeless and sad. It can really hurt to feel unfulfilled, to feel uncertain of our purpose in life, and to feel as though we’re not living up to our potential. When we don’t feel connected to our true selves and our greater purpose in life, we can be self-destructive and direct our energy in unhealthy ways. We can feel too afraid to do the work we need to do to explore ourselves and learn about ourselves on a deep level. We can grow to hate ourselves.

When we look at our addiction as a spiritual manifestation, we can address the spiritual causes – the trauma we’ve experienced, the losses we’ve sustained, the pain we have yet to heal from. Our spirit is at the core of our being, so everything we experience has a spiritual effect. To heal from our addiction, we can focus on our spiritual healing. How can we heal ourselves at this core level?

Since our disconnection is such a major factor in our unhappiness, we can remedy it by seeking connection – connection to our higher power, to our inner selves and to kindred spirits. We can try praying to our higher power, to our source of creation, to the greater power within our life force. We can explore different religions and spiritualities to find one that resonates with us, that brings us feelings of peace, comfort and security. To help us connect with ourselves, we can use meditation, journaling, and creative expression. To connect with kindred spirits, people who understand us on a soul level, we can seek out opportunities to create community and fellowship, through support groups, recreational activities, attending classes and volunteering.

Healing from addiction is as much about healing spiritually as it is achieving sobriety. The two are interconnected. When we are working on our spiritual health, we are more likely to be able to heal emotionally and to create lifestyle changes that will serve us in our recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in treatment that connects the mind, body, and spirit. We employ holistic therapies, community building and reflection to support our recovery. Call us today: Call (833) 801-LIVE.