Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Other Addictions

Other Addictions


The word addiction has primarily been used to describe a pattern of behavior for those who drink alcohol and ingest drugs.  Over the last several years, the word addiction has taken on new meaning.  There are now addictions to shopping, eating, gambling, working, sex, exercise, Internet use, and hoarding.  This has raised some questions as to whether some of these are truly addictions or are they just out of control behaviors.

There are some that have a hard time accepting gambling and other behavioral or process addictions as real addictions.  Addiction for some simply means that alcohol or other drugs needs to be ingested for a “real” addiction to occur.  A problem gambler can share stories about their behavior, yet the psychiatric community only recently changed to include gambling addiction as a non-substance addiction.  It will take time for these other behavioral addictions to find their rightful place in the psychiatric community and there are many individuals who are advocating for such changes.

Research has helped behavioral addictions get the attention they deserve.  One such topic has to do with our brains and the pleasure pathway.  When we experience pleasure, these pathways light up and become very active.  The reason for this has to do with chemicals in our brains such as dopamine.  Dopamine is picked up by receptors in the brain and when this occurs, we feel “high”.  This high occurs when we drink alcohol and ingest other chemicals such as cocaine or opioids, but the interesting thing is it can also occur when we experience certain behaviors.  
A few of these behaviors can include shopping or using the Internet.  Anything that gives us pleasure produces dopamine in our brains.  This is considered to be the very start of the addiction process.

Once we begin to shop or use the Internet too much, the brain is forced to withdraw neuroreceptors in an attempt to restore balance.  This is called tolerance.  A person no longer feels the high from using the same amount of alcohol or drugs or using the Internet the same every day or shopping just once or twice per week.  If we go without, we experience withdrawal symptoms.  With behavioral addictions, the withdrawal may be more psychological in that we experience restlessness, anxiety, depression, or irritability.

Once this addiction takes hold, a person either chases another high or tries to avoid withdrawal.  This leads to an obsession and a compulsion in spite of negative consequences.  Our pleasure pathways have now become overly sensitive and will respond to cues that can trigger cravings for drugs, alcohol, or a certain behavior.  This is the classic pattern of all addictions whether chemical or behavioral.


Cottonwood Tucson offers a place of understanding, healing, and hope. Our residential treatment programs have gained international renown for an integrative approach to co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that treatment is available. Recovery is possible. A new life is waiting. Call us today for information: (800) 877-4520

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Neurological Effects of Drugs

Neurological Effects of Drugs



Neurological Effects of Drugs


It is estimated that over 20 million people ages12 and older have used an illicit substance.  Approximately 7 million people could be classified with a substance abuse or dependence disorder.  The psychological and social effects of drugs might be known, but there are also physical effects of drug use.  Sometimes these effects can lead to serious medical problems and can occur after using a large quantity of a drug or using a drug for an extended period of time.  Some individuals experience medical problems after one use of a drug.  It should be noted that the use of drugs refers to illicit substances.  The abuse of drugs can cause damage to the brain and other organs because of changes brought on by the direct and indirect use of drugs.

All drugs affect the brain that result in excessive release of certain chemicals.  These chemicals include dopamine and serotonin and are responsible for creating the euphoric effect that one feels after using an illicit substance.  Most of the effects of drugs are negative.  Over time, long-term substance abuse can alter the way the brain works.  These alterations are what cause dependence and addiction.  With substance dependence, the user needs or is dependent on using the substance in order to avoid experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.  The withdrawal experience is dependent on the drug used and for how long; however, common withdrawal symptoms include increased heart rate, visual hallucinations, tremors, sweating, and nausea.
Individuals continue to use drugs despite negative health and social consequences.  An addict is not only physically addicted to a drug but over time can also become psychologically dependent.  Once an addiction exists, the likelihood of developing medical problems increases.  

Drug abuse changes our brain chemistry.  There are those who experience problems with memory, paranoia, attention, aggression, depression, and hallucinations.  The abuse of drugs can also cause brain damage, strokes, and seizures.

Since the brain will rarely work the same as it did pre- drug addiction, many people find relief in antidepressant medication during substance abuse recovery.  Antidepressant medications can help the brain to work more efficiently and allow chemicals such as neurotransmitters to work the way in which they were intended.  Not all individuals will see benefits with antidepressant medications but it is an area that should be reviewed with a medical professional.
Cottonwood Tucson offers a place of understanding, healing, and hope. Our residential treatment programs have gained international renown for an integrative approach to co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that treatment is available. Recovery is possible. A new life is waiting.

Call us today for information: (800) 877-4520

Monday, December 11, 2017

Multiple Family Group Therapy

Multiple Family Group Therapy



Multiple Family Group Therapy


The focus of most family therapy is to work on the family as a system of interdependent parts.  Each family member has a role and when there is an addict present in the family, most of the focus is directed toward the addict.  The goal of family therapy when there is an addict in the home, is to learn new coping skills and to learn how the roles of each family influence the addict’s behavior.  It is important to participate as a family in group, as one, it helps the addict feel supported, and two, it helps the family members understand the addict.

Multiple Family Group Therapy or MFGT is when a group of families, each influenced by addiction in the family, work to empower and learn from each other.  MFGT allows families to not feel alone and to provide hope to others.  Many families experience similar issues with how to deal with an addict in the home therefore having support from other families can provide a sense of competence and acceptance.  Families can offer each other ideas, suggestions, and feedback on what works and what does not.

If a family were to attend individual family therapy, this is a good opportunity for the family to work specifically within their family dynamic.  MFGT allows for more avenues of learning and growth, as multiple families are present to share knowledge and to gain perspective from others.  Multiple families can also learn how to behave in a group setting, which might prepare them for group work in Al-Anon or another 12-step support group.

All members of a family are welcome to attend including the addict in recovery.  Some groups do differ in who can attend MFGT sessions but some allow friends or non-relatives to participate especially if the person has a relationship with the addict.

There are some specific techniques that a therapist might use in MFGT sessions.  These include fish bowling, interfamily role play, reflecting team, and inner circle/outer circle.  The fish bowl means that others watch, while others role play, etc.  Role playing is what it sounds like and occurs between families.  Members of different families interact together as if they were in the same family.  The therapist will reflect on the observations made during group and will make comments on the session.  Inner circle/outer circle is another between-family intervention where members from different families who have the same family role will interact together while being observed.  The individuals who are the observers will provide feedback to the group.


Cottonwood Tucson offers a place of understanding, healing, and hope. Our residential treatment programs have gained international renown for an integrative approach to co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that treatment is available. Recovery is possible.
A new life is waiting.
Call us today for information: (800) 877-4520

Friday, December 8, 2017

What Is Experiential Therapy?

What Is Experiential Therapy?



What Is Experiential Therapy?


Experiential therapy is a unique form of therapy that uses many different approaches to re-enact emotional situations from past and present relationships.  These approaches can include role-playing, guided imagery, animal care, music, or arts and crafts.  The individual focuses on the activity and by engaging in the experience of the activity, begins to identify with certain emotions.  These emotions can include success, self-esteem, or disappointment.  Individuals will work with a trained professional who specializes in this type of therapy and can begin to explore and release negative emotions as related to past experiences.  It is believed that these negative emotions can become blocked or unreleased and with the use of an activity, can become released.

Experiential therapy is used to treat many disorders including eating disorders, substance abuse, anger management, grief, and behavioral addictions such as problem gambling or a shopping addiction.  Many people engage in experiential therapy to heal painful memories or bad feelings from past experiences.

This type of therapy can also be useful for those who simply want to rid themselves of past, painful experiences and to move past the pain and develop a more defined sense of self.  Experiential therapy can be found in many recovery programs and medical settings and is often used in conjunction with other types of therapy.

Exploring feelings through an experiential process can help a person to free themselves from their past.  The focus is on awareness and what is experienced during treatment and can even assign meaning to feelings.  It is believed that through this assignment of meaning to feelings, one can begin to make their own choices and be free to become who they want to be.
Experiential therapy works by using one’s perception to determine behavior.  If a person engages in an experiential activity, they will release repressed negative emotions and be better able to experience more positive feelings.  In essence, the individual is changing their perception of the emotion.  Each person who attends experiential therapy sessions can use an activity that they enjoy.  Many individuals use animals or music to help release these negative emotions and develop more positive feelings.

If someone is interested in experiential therapy, they should look for a therapist who has training and experience with using this technique.  


Our world renown treatment programs at Cottonwood Tucson gain their notoriety from clinical excellence in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. We lead the global industry of mental health treatment in taking an integrative approach to co-occurring disorder treatment, leading our clients on a transformational journey in healing mind, body, and spirit.

Call us today for information on availability and pricing: (800) 877-4520

Models of Addiction Intervention

Models of Addiction Intervention



Models of Addiction Intervention


There are different models of interventions that are used to help a person with an addiction.  These models include the Johnson Model, the Invitational Model, and the Field Model.  There are also interventions that a friend or family member can use to assist the addict in getting the help they need.

Johnson Model


This model of intervention has been popularized in the media on the television show, “Intervention”.  This approach is confrontational and has been around since the 1960s.  An interventionist leads the family and other close friends to a planned confrontation, which is not known by the addict beforehand.  Most other interventions are more thoughtful; however, the Johnson approach believes that by using force the addict will agree to treatment for their addiction.  The Johnson approach is confrontational and can be highly emotional for the family and for the addict.  The addict and their negative behavior is confronted while encouraging treatment at the same time.

There are two possible outcomes with the Johnson model, which are either the addict will accept help or they will not accept help.  If the addict does not accept help, then the family can receive help themselves.  This model is useful for those who live without boundaries and where the family member enables the addictive behavior.


Invitational Model


A close friend or family member can contact an interventionist to plan workshops for the addict.  One family member is coached on how to invite the addict to the workshop and the workshop will take place whether the addict decides to attend or not.  This model is not a surprise intervention and was designed to heal and educate both the family and the addict.


Field Model


The Field model is a mix of the Johnson model and the Invitational model.  It trains on techniques that one can use in the field during an actual intervention.  The Field model is best suited for crisis interventions where there is a risk of violence which could sabotage the intervention.

All interventions should only be conducted by a trained professional who specializes in interventions.  They will most likely select the type of intervention that will be used based on family dynamics and the needs of the addict.  Whichever is used, the family needs to be engaged and prepared to do whatever they can for the addict to accept treatment.
Cottonwood Tucson offers a place of understanding, healing, and hope. Our residential treatment programs have gained international renown for an integrative approach to co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling, know that treatment is available. Recovery is possible. A new life is waiting. Call us today for information: (800) 877-4520
CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FacilitiesNATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and ProgramsNBCCNAADAC