How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fellowship of people in recovery from addiction that has helped millions of people in the United States and across the globe. A recent scientific review of numerous studies found that AA helps people maintain abstinence in the long term more than other addiction treatment methods. 

Alcoholics Anonymous provides a setting where you can learn from shared experiences, develop strong support networks and interpersonal skills, and experience the healing power of helping one another. AA meetings are free, accessible to everyone, and can offer support throughout your entire recovery journey.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an informal society that encourages people in recovery to meet together in support groups and share their experiences of addiction. It has a community of over two million members worldwide and aims to facilitate the sharing of strength, hope, and mutual support between members as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.

AA membership is free - the only requirement is the initial will to stop drinking. AA is non-political and is not aligned with any other institution. Meetings are self-organized, and there is no central authority directing the operation of each group. Members are free to design their meetings in the way that best suits their members.

What Is the 12-Step Method and How Does It Help Addiction Recovery?

When Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook founded Alcoholics Anonymous almost one hundred years ago, they collectively wrote ‘The Big Book’, which lays out the 12-step method for addiction recovery. 

While not all AA programs now follow the 12-steps, most members find them to be a powerful tool for overcoming addiction and maintaining abstinence. Many other self-help groups, including Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, have also adopted the 12-step philosopy. 

The steps can be split into three main stages:

Acceptance

The first steps involve accepting that you are powerless over your addiction and giving yourself over to a higher power. Accepting your addiction helps you overcome feelings of shame and re-instills a sense of self-worth. You learn to love yourself so you can love the world around you and commit to a life of sobriety.

Personal Growth

The next steps focus on spiritual development and personal growth. They involve recognizing harmful thought patterns and behaviors and replacing them with healthier habits and decisions. They also require making amends to others for the harm you have caused them. This helps you avoid destructive feelings of guilt and lets you find self-worth in the humility and compassion you have shown.

Helping Others

The final step is to share the 12-steps with other people in alcohol recovery. Teaching the 12-steps to others helps you reinforce the steps in yourself and strengthens your commitment to your recovery goals.

What Are the Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous Over Other Treatment Options?

  • AA’s most powerful asset is its ubiquity and accessibility. Addiction is a chronic illness, and recovery is a lifelong process. You can attend AA meetings free for the rest of your life, providing you with a constant source of invaluable support and guidance.
  • AA meetings also give you the chance to support others in recovery. Helping another recovering alcoholic helps you to heal and remain committed to your own recovery journey.
  • When you join a local AA program, you become part of a local community. You’ll meet other people who share your goals and form strong friendships. You may also spend time with these friends outside of AA sessions, which can help you stay away from alcohol and triggers.

At Enlightened Solutions, our entire treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy. We integrate the 12-steps into our treatment approaches and connect you to local AA groups to support you once you have left the center.

Enlighted Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment facility- we focus on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. Our individualized recovery plans combine a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation.

If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


The Inner Workings of Rehab

Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction isn’t easy. Overcoming addictive behaviors and staying sober requires motivation, support, and expertise. Rehab centers offer just this. They offer evidence-based treatment approaches under the guidance of professional staff and provide compassionate care to help you develop the skills to overcome your addiction and remain committed to sober living.

What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

There are two types of rehab centers - inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient centers offer part-time programs that fit in around your daily life. Programs may offer 10-20 hours of treatment each week so you can continue to work and fulfill other obligations.

Inpatient programs are intensive, residential rehab programs where you stay in the treatment facility. Programs vary in length but most last at least thirty days. Inpatient programs offer a safe and controlled environment with twenty-four-hour medical support. They tend to be more effective than outpatient programs for more severe cases of addiction. 

What Treatment Options Do Rehab Centers Offer?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment programs offer a combination of different treatment options tailored to match each individual’s needs. Everyone’s experience of addiction is different, and no single treatment approach suits everyone. Rehabilitation programs tend to offer a variety of different therapies and holistic healing approaches to provide a treatment experience that works for you.

These treatment options may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • 12-step program
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Experiential therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, and equine therapy
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Family therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Medically assisted detox

Addiction treatment programs help you identify the causes of your addiction and develop the skills to overcome them. This may involve learning what your triggers are and how to avoid them or developing coping skills to deal with triggers in healthy ways. 

Rehabilitation also aims to improve your mental and spiritual well-being. It is a chance to find joy and inspiration in sober life and commit to your recovery journey.

What Is Dual Diagnosis and How Does It Help Treat Addiction?

Almost 50% of people with a substance use disorder also suffer from another mental health condition. Co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression can be the driving force behind addiction. If ignored, they can cause addictive behaviors to resurface, even after years of sobriety.

Dual diagnosis programs treat co-occurring disorders alongside addiction. They offer a holistic healing approach that aims to treat the entire person. Dual diagnosis helps you overcome the underlying causes of your addiction so you can maintain sobriety in the long term.

What Are The Different Stages of a Rehab Experience?

A recovery program usually begins with an in-depth assessment of the nature of your addiction and your circumstances. This allows therapists, medics, psychologists, and other staff to design a treatment plan to suit you.

For most people, the next stage in the recovery process is detox, to remove all traces of the substance and its toxins from your body. Rehab centers typically offer medically assisted detox to ensure that withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible. 

After detox, the main part of the treatment program begins. You participate in therapy sessions, support groups, and other treatment modalities over several weeks or months. During this time, you learn and develop the skills you need to overcome addiction.

The final stage of rehabilitation is aftercare. Recovery is a lifelong process that requires continued support and commitment. Rehab programs may connect you with support groups in your local area, provide you with a sober companion, or offer guidance to family members. 

Aftercare programs help you to stay supported and motivated once you have left a rehab center and guide you to lifelong recovery.

If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse, recovery can seem scary or even impossible. However, with the proper support, anyone can recover from addiction. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients a variety of evidence-based tools to assist them with moving forward in their sober journey. We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating their addiction. Our world-class treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

We offer a range of advanced treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey offers unparalleled healing and relaxation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.

 

 


Benefits of Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is an effective treatment approach for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It supports individual therapy and medication in a multi-pronged approach to addiction recovery(1). The idea of group therapy can be daunting for many, as people often fear opening up and becoming vulnerable in front of others. These fears usually subside after beginning group work.

Johan Hari says the ‘opposite of addiction is connection.’ Addiction can be a very isolating experience. When we participate in group therapy, we learn to connect and empathize with others. Ultimately, this leads to greater self-compassion and growth, which are two key factors for long-term recovery.

A trained mental health professional leads group therapy sessions. Clients get the chance to share their stories, thoughts, and experiences, and listen to others in the group share similar experiences. This cultivates a sense of understanding and compassion in the room.

Addiction impacts our mental and physical health. It also affects our well-being(2). It is common for those struggling with addiction to feel guilt and low self-worth. Many live with an internal voice that criticizes their life and choices, and the internal chatter, thoughts, and beliefs that come with addiction can be exhausting. 

In group therapy, clients learn that many others also experience these self-criticisms. Groups help us understand that such negative thoughts result from:

  • Addiction
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Other mental health issues

We learn that these thoughts are not a reflection of our worth or validity as a person. 

What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health treatment. It increases self-awareness and promotes positive therapeutic outcomes. Group therapies for SUD target specific substances. Others in your group will also be in recovery from a given substance, and members may be at different stages of their recovery journey. 

Common benefits of group therapy for SUD include:

  • Compassionate support and encouragement
  • Perspective on one's experience
  • Improved behavioral health
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduced sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Connection to others

According to SAMHSA, 'the lives of individuals are shaped, for better or worse, by their experiences in groups. People are born into groups. Throughout life, they join groups. They will influence and be influenced by family, religious, social, and cultural groups that constantly shape behavior, self‐image, and both physical and mental health.'(3)

As such, group work is a powerful healing tool. Through connection with and understanding of others, clients in group therapy get the chance to shift their perspective on their circumstances. One of the principles of group work is fostering a greater connection to ourselves and others.

What Types of Group Therapy Are Available?

Treatment providers use various group-based treatment models to help clients achieve lasting recovery. Groups usually consist of members who share treatment needs, and common types of groups used in addiction recovery programs include:

Psychoeducational Groups

Clients learn about the nature of addiction and mental health issues. Psychoeducation (PE) groups cover addiction, medication, mental health conditions, and lifestyle. Topics covered in PE encourage self-exploration, and clients explore how topics relate to their own circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups provide peer support and a sense of accountability in clients. They encourage resilience and maintenance of sobriety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This group helps clients recognize limiting patterns of thoughts and beliefs. Clients in this group learn to:

  • Develop practical problem-solving skills
  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify maladaptive behaviors and emotions

Skill-building groups

Skill-building and development groups teach clients about relapse prevention and self-management. In this group, clients learn how to set healthy boundaries. They learn how to manage difficult emotions, how to relax, and how to cope with triggers and stress. 

Interpersonal Process Groups

Interpersonal process groups focus on clients issues and offer effective solutions. A client discusses an issue and works with group members to find solutions. Interpersonal groups offer the chance to practice communication and problem-solving. Clients then apply these skills to their relationships outside treatment.

Each of the above group models has benefits for clients struggling with SUD. A trauma-informed, expert-trained group leader facilitates a powerful therapeutic experience for each group. The type of group offered to a client must suit their treatment needs. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program rooted in the 12-Step philosophy offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 

(1) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/

(2) Lanier, C A et al. “Drug use and mental well being among a sample of undergraduate and graduate college students.” Journal of drug education vol. 31,3 (2001): 239-48. doi:10.2190/R7T3-T266-JN9E-UX3W

(3) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/


Understanding MAT

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective approach to addiction treatment. As the name implies, MAT uses medications to help those struggling with addiction overcome their condition.

SAMHSA defines MAT as 'the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.'

Medical intervention is one aspect of a broader approach used in addiction treatment. Medication helps clients manage their problematic symptoms. As a result, they can engage more in other parts of treatment. Clients in addiction recovery programs receive intensive psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as life coaching and skills building alongside medical support.

What Does MAT Treat?

MAT treats clients struggling with:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
  • Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

The medications used in MAT promote healthy brain chemistry by rebalancing the hormones and chemicals in the body that have become out of balance due to alcohol or opioid misuse.

Some MAT medications block the effect of alcohol and opioids on the brain. This serves to reduce cravings and helps clients get through the withdrawal stage of recovery. 

Other medications prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed by abstinence from a given drug. For example, sudden cessation of opioid use can be dangerous if the client has a physical dependence. As such, MAT would involve substituting the client's substance of misuse with a safer, controlled substance, such as methadone. 

What Are MAT Medications?

Methadone

Methadone is an effective medication used in opioid addiction treatment. Methadone treatment aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a client stops using opioids. Withdrawal is one of the leading causes of relapse. Methadone helps clients get through withdrawal safely so they can start the rest of their recovery.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine reduces cravings for clients struggling with OUD. Similar to methadone, Buprenorphine is a partial agonist which means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a far lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine, unlike methadone, does not produce a high. 

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is prescribed under the brand name Vivitrol. Naltrexone reduces cravings and lowers rates of relapse in both OUD and AUD. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the brain's opioid receptors. As such, it becomes impossible to achieve the 'high' associated with opiate-derived drugs. MAT providers use Naltrexone after the detox stage of recovery, not before or during. 

What Are the Benefits of Medication-assisted Treatment?

SAMHSA reports that MAT helps clients struggling with AUD or OUD achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT supports clients on a chemical level while also supporting their behavioral health through behavioral therapies. 

Addiction treatment programs use MAT to suit the client's needs. Some medications and therapeutic approaches will be more suitable than others, depending on a range of factors, such as your history of drug misuse and your current health status. MAT's comprehensive and tailored approach offers a range of benefits to clients. Benefits of MAT include:

  • Increased engagement in rehab and therapy
  • Increased likelihood of completing a rehab program
  • Decreased symptom severity
  • Improved chances of gaining and maintaining employment
  • Reduced risk of relapse

Why Choose MAT?

There are many reasons to opt for MAT if you are struggling with AUD or OUD. MAT is an effective treatment approach for both of these disorders. Delivered alongside counseling and behavioral therapy, MAT is an integrated approach to addiction recovery. It can increase the time a person spends in treatment, which increases their chance of recovery success. 

Some people disregard MAT as substituting one drug for another, but this is not the case. MAT is safe. While MAT involves drugs, the medications used are highly regulated at a federal level and are FDA approved. MAT promotes addiction recovery by keeping the body as safe as possible. It reduces the risk of overdose that might happen if a client were to seek illicit drugs on the street. 

MAT is an approach to addiction treatment endorsed and supported by:

A comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment, MAT is a leading treatment type for both alcohol and opioid addiction. By easing withdrawal symptoms, MAT promotes greater resilience and encourages a deeper commitment to one's recovery. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage,reiki, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


Barriers In Treatment

From the outside, everything seems pretty clear: why don’t our loved ones seek the help they need? Cause and effect really over-simplifies this process, and it appears to be a linear path towards a solution for our friend or family member. What we often don’t realize, however, is that there is always so much more going on beneath the surface – and with so many factors at play, it’s possible that you’re loved one may be struggling to seek help for a multitude of reasons. 

One of the most devastating, frustrating experiences we may have with our loved ones is hearing that they’re going to seek help, only to find out that they never really were taking steps towards sobriety despite telling us they were. The person we love may make all sorts of promises to never hurt us again, but the reality is that they can’t quite make this promise because addiction is a disease that takes control over a person’s thoughts and behaviors. The word itself – addiction – is rooted in being overtaken by, or bound to, something. No matter how much a person wants to change, the addiction can overtake their desires and pull them right back into the horrible cycle of substance abuse. 

Addiction truly causes changes to the brain, especially the anatomy and chemical makeup of the brain, over time. Research shows that the mechanisms used for learning become altered over time by addiction, which is what perpetuates the continued use of substances despite negative consequences occurring in daily life.

When this occurs, our loved one’s interests are no longer focused on building stronger relationships with us, or pursuing a career path, or excelling in school, or navigating personal responsibilities – rather, their mind is set to continue following the pattern of the behavior that the addiction controls. Of course, when this happens, we’re often let down as we held hope for so long that they’d seek help – so if you’re currently in this circumstance, there are several things you can do to navigate the pain. 

There’s a barrier that’s separating our loved ones from seeking help in many cases, and the first step to providing stronger support is to understand what exactly our loved ones are going through. Previous research has shown that there are several reasons for why a person may not be able to seek treatment for addiction, even if they’ve mentioned several times that they’d like to:

  1. The right insurance for them may not be available.
  2. Treatment may appear to be so far away from the person – like they can’t grasp how they could succeed in a treatment program.
  3. Help for addiction may be available, but a person may have other underlying factors - such as mental illness – that are holding them back from seeking help, too.
  4. Individuals may leave too early from their treatment program to really aid in their recovery. 

Of course, these are only some of the more economic and societal reasons for why a person may have trouble seeking help. There are other factors at play too, such as:

  • Stigma: Stigma for drug involvement can lead to social rejection, labeling, stereotyping and discrimination, and this can severely impact a person’s desire to seek help – especially if they feel they’ll be judged by their family, community and the treatment center itself.
  • Self-Doubt: A person battling addiction may not feel confident in their ability to recover, or may doubt that they even want to recover. Those who battle with addiction often experience a “back and forth” of trying to decide between seeking help and not. This is a completely normal process.
  • Mental Illness: Illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more can already influence the way a person perceives and processes information – and when addiction is added to the mix, it can become all-the-more difficult for a person to seek help.

If any of these (and many other) instances occur, a person can find it incredibly difficult to seek help, even if they’ve meant well when speaking with you about seeking treatment.

If you’d like to be more supportive of helping your loved one seek treatment at Enlightened Solutions, it’s important to know not to shame them into doing anything. A more effective approach would be to host an intervention – possibly with friends and loved ones - where they can be lovingly confronted with the facts as well as appropriate solutions and consequences if they don’t follow through with the plan that you have set forth for them. The process for helping a person seek treatment is a long one, and, of course, each person responds differently, but it takes time and patience as well as the understanding that you’re doing the best you can.

At Enlightened Solutions, we want to help your loved one heal from addiction and are committed to putting their recovery first. We offer a comprehensive range of services including outpatient treatment, post-rehab services, continuing care, and long-term treatment. Enlightened Solutions is a treatment center that uses evidence-based methods of recovery to focus on your loved one’s individuality and inner strength to help them get sober from drugs and alcohol.If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


Why People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

Why People Avoid Mental Health Treatment

You may know that you need treatment for your mental illness, but perhaps you are too scared to do anything about it. You do not know what to expect and are worried that it will not work. However, seeking treatment for your mental health can help you be in more control and feeling better.

Facing Scary Feelings

Therapy is very hard because it involves exposing your deep, dark feelings that you have not revealed to anyone. You are trusting a stranger with your intense feelings, in hopes that they will help repair you mentally. Therapy involves digging deep into your past and present and exposing who you really are. You may be afraid that you do not like what you discover. It is important to be aware that a therapeutic atmosphere is a safe place where you can feel comfortable to express anything. You will have a professional by your side the whole time. 

Questioning the Length of Therapy

It is important to know that fixing your mental health is not something that will happen overnight. It can take months or years to finally feel better. According to the American Psychological Association, 50% of patients require 15-20 sessions which are about three months if you go weekly. By missing your sessions, you are only making your treatment much longer than it needs to be. If you do not put in the time and effort, you are not going to get better. Every minute that you wasted could have gone into speaking to a therapist about how to help you. By making it a routine to go to therapy, you will see that the months you need to be in treatment will fly quickly.

Feeling Shame

You could be afraid that someone will see you walking into a therapist’s office or a neighbor constantly asking you where you go every week. Especially if you are currently unemployed. You may not want to lie when someone asks, but you are also afraid of the judgment you will face if you tell someone you have a mental illness. You need to remember that you are not alone. According to a Barna study, 42% of Americans have been to therapy at least one point in their life. The people curious where you are going could be in therapy for themselves as well. Also, if you had to go to the doctor for a physical medical issue, that would not be something that you would be quick to hide. The same goes for having a mental illness. It should not be something that you are ashamed of. 

Using Your Friend’s Experience to Match Yours

Everyone’s experience in therapy is different. Your friend may have told you that they had a terrible therapy experience and that based on that one experience, therapy is not helpful. The experiences that our friends have dealt with are not universal. The Barna study said that 47% of people have had a positive experience in therapy and 39% had a somewhat positive experience. Only six percent had a negative experience. It could be possible that your friend did not see a good therapist or that the therapist was not fit for your friend’s needs. Focus on the long-term benefits of therapy and give it a chance as you have the opportunity to have a more positive experience.

Therapy Associated with the Crazy Label

You may feel like you do not need therapy because therapy is for “crazy people.” You may think that your symptoms are not that bad because you get irritable sometimes or get sad sometimes. It is all about how you handle your anger and sadness. If you have huge fits of rage or hide in your room whenever you feel sad, you are not expressing your emotions in a healthy way. You could think that therapists have bigger problems to fix than the ones you have. Any problems that you have, though, are important as small problems can become bigger problems later if you do not do anything about them. 

Money

It can be expensive to go to therapy. But, there is such a thing as affordable treatment. There are therapists that offer service based on a sliding scale or there are community mental health centers that offer therapy at little to no cost. Also, remember that money should not be considered as what stops you from seeking help as if you sprained your ankle, you would see a doctor to fix it no matter what. The same emergence should be said for your mental health as not seeking help can lead to panic attacks or suicidal thoughts if you let the symptoms worsen.

Encouragement for Mental Health Treatment

More needs to be done to let others know how normal it is to be in treatment for your mental health. This can mean writing down the statistics of those who are struggling with the same mental illness you have or how many people in the country go to treatment. Government officials need to talk more about their mental health and encourage treatment. The responsibility should also fall on your local doctor’s offices to have pamphlets of information where to go for treatment as well as transportation options. By speaking comfortable about mental illness and being honest about your symptoms, you should be confident enough to pick up the phone and schedule your first therapy appointment. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-Step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


A Promising New Treatment for Video Game Addiction

A Promising New Treatment for Video Game Addiction

Last September, the World Health Organization added gaming disorder to the list of recognized diseases. Despite this, people still disagree that obsessively playing video games would be an addiction compared to drugs and alcohol. A recent study in Germany conducted a new form of treatment with 70% of its subjects falling into remission, showing that there is hope in helping control their video gaming habits before it takes over their life.

The Dangerous Effects of Video Gaming Addiction

Video gaming addiction is no joke—making video games your number one priority when you get out of bed can lead to serious consequences. You can deal with academic failure if playing video games takes priority over studying or writing papers for school. You can also suffer from financial ruin if you are spending too much money buying games, the equipment used for the games, or in-game purchases to improve your chances of winning. Your loved ones may also begin to feel left out as you isolate yourself from them and the world. 

Additionally, there are physical symptoms associated with gaming addiction like carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, severe headaches, backaches, lack of sleep, not taking showers, or skipping meals. You could also develop depression or anxiety, as preferring to live as your avatar can lead to low self-esteem. The withdrawal symptoms are also very real, including mood swings, irritability, upset stomach, gaming fantasies, or boredom (since video games previously took up most of the day).

The Goal of the Study

If video gaming addiction is recognized as a true disorder, then thousands of people will be able to get themselves help. There have been past studies in regards to video game addiction, but there have only been small sample sizes or no control groups. Kai W. Müller, one of the authors of the study, said he wanted to avoid the types of problems—small and large—that past studies have made. He wanted to let people know that loving to play video games does not necessarily constitute an addiction. However, we still have to take people who are addicted to video games seriously and accept that they are in need of help. It is not about abstaining from video games, but to control their behavior with computers, the internet, and games.

Müller and his co-authors conducted this study from 2012 to 2017 in four outpatient clinics in Germany and Austria. The research was conducted on 143 men who were divided into two groups. 72 of them received treatment and 71 would act as the control group. Then, a modified form of cognitive-behavioral therapy was used that consisted of 15 weekly group sessions and eight two-week individual sessions. This form of therapy is about analyzing and adjusting your own thoughts. To better control the study, subjects who used psychiatric drugs and were not on drugs as part of the treatment were excluded.  

What Happened in the Study

The study started with an inventory of the patient’s characteristics that are believed to contribute to the development and maintenance of this gaming disorder. Using the scores from the Assessment of Internet and Computer Game Addiction survey, subjects were judged on 14 criteria including frequency of activity, video game preoccupation, withdrawal symptoms, and a loss of interest in other activities. Video game addiction was a score greater than 13 and remission was a score less than seven.

There were three phases in the study—education, intervention, and transition. Patients would be educated on their addiction as well as the effects. Patients also kept a diary of their video game triggers such as how they felt before a long gaming session and then learning to redirect that energy. This could mean enhancing how the patient reacts under stress, social skills, and understanding those emotional responses. By understanding them, you can create alternative explanations and reactions. 

The Results of the Study

When treatment was over, patients showed lower addiction symptoms like withdrawal and time spent online, as well as improved social, work, and daily functions. Patients also had an overall lower rate of depression with no important differences between the two groups. Only a small number of people became more depressed and had to be transferred to an inpatient facility. 

Limitation of the Study

As promising as this study was, it was not without its limitations. For example, the study was conducted exclusively on men. This was initially because it was said that men represented 90% of patients treated or diagnosed in outpatient facilities for video game addiction. The researchers later realized that it is only fair to represent both sexes in future clinical trials. Müller also feels that while women do get help for video gaming addiction, they do not seek treatment at rehab clinics—they find alternative forms of therapy for their problem instead of seeking addiction-related health care systems.

Despite this limitation, this study shows that effective treatment does not rely solely on drugs and staying away from video games. Quitting video games cold turkey will only lead to the same withdrawal symptoms that you experience with drug withdrawal. By using cognitive behavioral therapy to learn more about your addiction and changing your thought patterns, you should be able to transition to a typical life that does not revolve around video games.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE today. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How to Take Care of Your Depression After a Heart Attack

How to Take Care of Your Depression After a Heart Attack

Having depression after suffering from a heart attack is hard as you almost died and you feel like the same thing could happen to you again. The same can be the other way around in which, according to the Heart and Vascular Institute at John Hopkins Medicine, people with depression are more likely to have a heart attack later on than those who do not have a mental illness. By taking care of your depression after a heart attack, the less likely you will have to go through that experience again. 

Depression Assessment

When it is time for your annual checkup, your primary care doctor may conduct a depression assessment. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of depression, do not wait until your annual checkup to get it done. How your assessment will work is your doctor will ask you questions about your depression like when it started, how often you feel sad, and what steps you are taking to treat it. This will help see if you are experiencing depression or symptoms that seem similar to depression. Also, having depression means that this sadness has stayed with you for over two weeks. Letting your doctor know about this will help them determine whether or not you have depression. 

Cardiac Rehabilitation 

Cardiac rehabilitation is when you learn how to eat healthy when you have heart disease. This can mean avoiding unhealthy fats and sodium. You may be recommended to eat more plant-based foods like vegetables, fish, legumes, olive oil, and grains. A supervisor will help you determine the right kind of exercise that will work best for you. The results will be even more beneficial if this is done in a group setting as you can encourage and be encouraged by others who are trying to better their heart and depression as well. This will help motivate you to keep going.

Heart Medications

When people who have a heart attack are depressed, they tend not to take their heart medications even though it could help them. Taking the right medication and making the right lifestyle changes will enrich your heart. If you are having trouble committing to your treatment plan, talk to your doctor about this as you might need to try a new medication or a new course of treatment.

Exercise

Exercising after recovering from a heart attack will not only be good for your heart, but you will release feel-good endorphins that will help ease your depression. It is best to start small and work your way up gradually. It can be going for a walk for half an hour in the beginning and then a jog or a run after. If you feel like you are experiencing a heart attack or a stroke, stop your exercising and speak to a doctor. It can mean symptoms like feeling lightheaded, chest pain, or nausea.

Therapy

You may feel like you cannot speak to anyone about your heart attack because people in your social circle have not had one. This can cause you to isolate yourself which will make your depression worse. By speaking to a therapist, you will be able to work through your feeling and relieve your depressive symptoms. A therapist will also tell you whether or not you should seek psychiatric help to be prescribed medication. Be patient when it comes to finding a good therapist. You can also your doctor as well as family and friends for recommendations. You can also check which therapists come highly recommended who are under your health insurance.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can not only lead to heart issues but can also be a good reason why you are depressed. Your cardiologists might put you on a weight loss plan to prevent the chances of getting another heart attack. If it has been a few months and you are still not losing weight, ask your doctor about changing your diet by keeping track of what foods you are eating too little or too much. A doctor can put you on a diet that will be good for your heart based on your personal needs.

Antidepressants

Depending on how severe or how long you have had depression since your heart attack, it is possible that a doctor may prescribe you antidepressants. Popular ones include Xanax, Zoloft, and Paxil. Doctors can help you figure out which drug will work best for you as well as any side effects to take caution of. Remember to be patient once you start taking the medication as it can take at least a month to start working. 

Mindfulness Techniques

Doing mindfulness techniques like yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help you stay in the present moment and help you figure out what is causing you stress. It also has the benefit of lowering your blood pressure which will decrease the risk of heart issues. All it takes is 15 minutes a day to start feeling the positive effects all in the privacy of any room in the house. If doing techniques like yoga is too hard for you, consider taking a class with a licensed yoga teacher. Make sure to let the teacher know about your recent heart attack so that they can gently guide you through the movements. By taking all of these steps to ensure that your heart stays beating and healthy, your mental health will be healthy as well. 

 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How to Stop Internet Addiction

How to Stop Internet Addiction

Living in the 21st century means that we are glued to the internet on our computers or phones. We are checking our social media accounts, the news, playing games, surfing the web, etc. By learning how to overcome our internet addiction, you will be able to expose yourself more to the world outside of the screens and have real experiences.

Emotional Health Linking to Addiction

In order to treat your internet addiction, it is important to understand why you feel so glued to the screen. It could be that you are feeling lonely and have trouble making friends in the real world that it is much easier for you to connect with others online. If you do not acknowledge that you are having a problem such as anxiety or depression, it will be hard for you to get past your computer or phone screen. That way when you go for treatment for your internet addiction, you will be able to treat yourself for your mental health as well.

Turn Off Notifications

If you get notifications on your computer or phone about any new updates or new comments you receive from social media, it is best to turn them off. You should tell yourself that the time to check any news with your social media accounts should be during a certain hour in the day. Otherwise, every time you receive a notification, you will never be able to take your eyes off the screen. You will reply to a comment and then it will be another notification when you receive a reply back. Check the app settings on your phone or computer to stop receiving immediate notifications.

Account Management

You may have subscribed to a bunch of websites where you can get news and updates that would interest you. The problem is that you may feel like you have to stay glued to your phone or computer to make sure you receive important emails. The problem is that the emails you may receive could be ones that you glance at for a second and then delete because you really do not care about receiving news from them anymore. Look at each email you receive and unsubscribe to the ones you hardly go onto anymore or go on websites like Unroll.me to instantly unsubscribe from many websites at once. You should also look at how long you have been on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram and see if you should delete your accounts or deactivate them for some time until you no longer have a dependency.

Make a Plan

Quitting the internet cold turkey can have serious health consequences just like when you quit drugs or alcohol cold turkey. You should instead make a plan of how many hours to be on the internet a day so that you are not overwhelmed when you no longer use it. For example, you can tell yourself that you will set your timer for using the internet for three hours today so that you can eventually reduce that down to one hour. Keep reducing your amount to half an hour until you reach your goal.

Healthy Distractions

If you do not know what to do with yourself now away from the internet, you should spend that time with healthy distractions to use your mental power on. If you are in school, continue with your studies. If you work at the office or at home, focus on that. This will be a better way to improve your results and increase your healthy productivity. If your work involves being on the internet, make sure to shut down all of your windows and tabs and only use those that are related to your work.

New Hobbies

You should be telling yourself that the computer and your phone is for your work and to communicate with your friends and family when you cannot see them in person. This can mean exercising at the gym or going for walks. You can also join a club whether it is for books, knitting, cooking, sports, chess, etc. The point is to get out of the house and find other ways to enjoy yourself instead of feeling like the internet is the only way that you can feel good.

See a Therapist

When going on the internet is interfering with your life, you should speak to a therapist so that you can figure out where the stem of your addiction is coming from and what you can do about it. Even though internet addiction is not in the DSM-5 yet, it does not mean that this is not a serious addiction or that it is not treatable as it would be considered to be a behavioral addiction. A therapist can teach you how to wean yourself away from your dependence on the internet and how you do not need to rely on it for happiness.

Support Group

You are not the only one spending too much time on the internet and drifting away from the real world. You can find support groups in your area such as Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous. You can also find support groups for anxiety or depression as your internet addiction may be a symptom of those mental health conditions. By treating your mental health and finding healthy ways to spend your time, you will learn to use your time on the internet more wisely.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 


How to Treat Your Depression After the Loss of a Pet

How to Treat Your Depression After the Loss of a Pet

Losing a pet is no different than losing a relative. Your pet has always made it their mission to fill you with love and they were always there for you. As difficult as it can be, it is still possible to heal yourself from the depression you will face after losing a pet by acknowledging the pain you are in as well as remembering the good times you had with them.

Acknowledge Your Grief

You may be trying to hide your grief from yourself and others in that you feel like it is not as if you lost a friend or a relative. But, the truth is that you have. You got this pet at a young age and took care of him or her through feeding, picking up after them, teaching them obedience, and were a great support system when you did not want to be alone. There is no reason to be ashamed of grieving for an animal as they played a big role in your life. Tell yourself that the tears, heartache, frustration, and grief you are feeling for the loss of your pet is real and reasonable. We also feel grief for them in that these pets provided us with unconditional love. We did not have to do anything to force them to love us, but they did it naturally which is a more common trait in animals than humans.

Grieving Works Differently For Everyone

Everyone grieves in a different way just like when you are mourning a human. Some people prefer to be active and engage with other people who have felt with this kind of grieve before. Then, there are others who prefer to stay inside to work through their feelings. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The important thing is to not hide your feelings as it is not healthy for you to keep them inside.

Feel What’s Natural

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it is wrong or unnatural to feel so sad over the death of your pet. You were the one caring for your pet and taking care of them so only you will know what is considered a reasonable way to grieve. Do not allow people to tell you when it is time to move on or get over it. The sadness will lessen over time and cannot be rushed. Do not feel embarrassed for showing compassion, being angry, crying, or even laughing when a joyous memory of your pet enters your mind.

Create a Legacy

Honor your pet by showing just how important they were to you. This can mean making a memorial by hanging a casting of their paw print somewhere in the house or planting a tree in their memory. You can make a photo or video scrapbook of all of the recorded memories you have of your pet so that you can look back on happier times whenever you feel sad. This legacy will help you not to further grieve your pet, but to celebrate the life they had with you and to thank them for filling your life with wonderful memories.

Look for Support

Remember that you are not the only person in the world who is grieving for their pet. Look for online message boards, pet loss hotlines at the ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline at 877-474-3310, and support groups. Do not spend too much of your time being around those who are not going to support you through this hard time. Be around those who will comfort you and understand the pain you are in. If you are around others who have lost their pets before, you can learn about how to cope with the pain and you will realize that you are not alone.

Take Care of Yourself

Grieving for your pet can make you feel emotionally drained and tired. You need to be able to take care of other people in your house such as your spouse, children, and other pets you may have. You also need to look after your own physical and emotional needs like eating and sleeping right as well as exercising. By being active in your life, you will release endorphins that will help boost your mood.

Be There For Your Pets

When you lose one pet, the other pets in your house are grieving as well as they were close with each other as well. When you are sad, your other pets will feed off of that sadness. Keep feeding, walking, and giving your other pets love and continue with this routine. By increasing the times you have go outside and play as well as the love you give them, everyone in the house will be happy knowing that there is still time for you all to make new, happy memories with each other.

Get Professional Help

Depression is when your sadness persistently interferes with your daily routine. If this is the case after the loss of your pet, you should think about receiving professional help from a therapist. The best way to cope with the loss of your pet is to smile when you think of them as they served a vital purpose in keeping you happy when they were alive. You do not need a “good” reason to be depressed, but to acknowledge the sadness you feel for your pet and to do something to cope with your grief.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.