Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also known as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). FASDs include conditions occurring when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy leading to prenatal alcohol exposure. Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can include physical problems and issues with learning and behavior. While it’s devastating for your child to receive a diagnosis of FAS, it is preventable.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk about fetal alcohol syndrome, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. 

 

An Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby through the umbilical cord, potentially leading to alcohol-related birth defects and fetal alcohol brain damage. There’s not a known, safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should also stop drinking.

If you’re pregnant and drink, the fetus can’t process alcohol through the liver or other organs. The alcohol exposure is the same as the amount in your bloodstream, but exposure lasts longer for the baby. Prenatal alcohol exposure in human populations affects fetal development, especially in the brain and central nervous system.

Some of the ways prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to alcohol-related birth defects include:

  • If you drink alcohol, including hard liquor, beer, and wine, it can kill cells in the fetus that lead to problems with physical development and secondary effects. 
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the development of nerve cells, including how they travel to different parts of the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy constricts blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the placenta. The result of restricted placental blood flow can be a shortage of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
  • While your body processes alcohol, it produces toxic byproducts. These toxins can accumulate and cause structural brain abnormalities and other types of brain damage. 

Even before you know you’re pregnant, your alcohol intake could affect your developing baby or lead to secondary disabilities like alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. 

 

How Prevalent are FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?

Getting an overview of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment relies on understanding the prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. We use varying approaches to estimate how many people in our population might be living with the condition.

  • Using medical records primarily, studies from the CDC show a rate of 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 births in the United States. 
  • Recently, an epidemiological study by the CDC found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children between 7 and 9.
  • According to studies from the National Institutes of Health using physical exams, the actual range of FASDs in the United States and some countries in Western Europe could be as high as 1 to 5 per 100 children—around 1% to 5% of the population.
  • A study from 2020 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found patterns of maternal alcohol exposure and binge drinking in pregnant women between 18 and 44 in the U.S. went up from 2011 to 2018.
  • Having at least one alcoholic beverage among pregnant women in the past 30 days went up from 9.2% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2018.
  • Binge drinking (four or more drinks in a sitting) increased from 2.5% to 4% in that same period.

 

Symptoms of FASDs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a collection of diagnoses. These represent a range of things that can occur when a mother drinks during her pregnancy. The symptoms affect everyone differently. FASDs symptoms can also range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of fetal alcohol effects can include:

  • Poor coordination and motor skills 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems in school or with social skills 
  • Increased likelihood of defiant disorder or other mental health problems 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Low IQ
  • Intellectual disability
  • Sucking and sleep problem as a baby
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, bones, or heart
  • Being shorter than average in height
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities including a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, known as the philtrum

 

Diagnosing FAS

It can be difficult to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol exposure because there aren’t specific medical tests available or set guidelines for diagnosis. There’s also the issue of a differential diagnosis since many symptoms of FASDs overlap with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To  make a diagnosis, a doctor might consider:

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lower-than-average height, weight, or perhaps both
  • Abnormalities in facial features
  • Central nervous system problems like poor coordination and hyperactivity

 

 

Can FAS Be Treated?

The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong, but early intervention can help a child’s development. Treatments include medications and medical care for symptoms, behavioral and educational therapy, and parental training. Researchers also identified protective factors. These reduce the adverse effects of FAS on children and include a diagnosis before the age of six, a loving environment during school years, and an absence of violence in a child’s life. Using special education and social services is also a protective factor.

If you believe your child has symptoms of FAS, but you aren’t sure, talk to your health care provider, who can then refer you to a specialist for intervention services. Specialists include developmental pediatricians and mental health professionals like child psychologists. There are clinics throughout the country with staff specially trained in FASDs and can create individualized treatment plans. 

 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment for Adults

Unfortunately, as we talk about above, there is no treatment for adults or children. FAS is lifelong. Many times, adults with FAS will have mental disorders and legal problems. Adults with FAS are more likely to be in jail or a mental health facility, facing unemployment. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult for an adult with FAS to live independently.

The earliest intervention possible in childhood is the best treatment for FAS that we have available now, although it’s not a cure.

 

Preventing FAS

Since there isn’t a cure for FAS, prevention of maternal drinking is the only available option. When you use alcohol during pregnancy, it’s the top cause of preventable congenital disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The only way to prevent your child from being born with FAS is to avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy altogether.

If you’re sexually active and not using birth control, you should also avoid alcohol. If you’re pregnant, it can take four to six weeks for you to know that, and during that time, if you’re drinking, you could be exposing your baby to alcohol.

It’s not too late to stop drinking if you’ve already had alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain growth and development continue throughout your pregnancy, so stopping as soon as possible is crucial. You should avoid alcohol during breastfeeding also because it can cause development, sleep, and learning problems, although there’s no direct link to FAS.  

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming pregnant, or you could already be, and you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. Again, we want to emphasize it’s never too late to stop drinking; Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Please reach out today at 866-600-7709.

Signs of Love Addiction

signs of love addiction

signs of love addiction

 

The signs of love addiction can be hard to spot at first. If you’re someone with love addiction, you may initially just see yourself as someone who loves love. While that’s not always a problem pathological love can lead to negative consequences and destructive relationships for some people.

There are similarities between love addiction and other types of addiction, including substances like drugs and alcohol.

 

Disorders That Occur Along with Love Addiction

Love obsession tends to be a co-occurring condition. When you have a co-occurring disorder, you have symptoms of two or more mental health conditions. For example, you might feel that you show signs of being addicted to love in addition to depression or anxiety. Substance abuse is also a relatively common co-occurring disorder with pathological love.

We should point out that this condition is controversial. Some experts feel that everyone has an element of “addiction” when they love someone. Romantic relationships can and often do have periods where you might feel emotional distress. However, a true compulsion to love goes well beyond what we see as usual in a relationship.

For example, if you’re in a relationship where you’ll give up everything else for that person, it could be a problem. The most significant complication of experiencing this type of compulsive romantic behavior is that you may find yourself in an abusive or toxic relationship.

 

What is Pathological Love?

Love addiction or pathological love isn’t as medically well-defined as some other types of addiction. When someone is experiencing disruptive or harmful symptoms or consequences because of their romantic relationships, their mental health care provider has to distinguish these from other conditions. For example, in borderline and dependent personality disorders, the symptoms can overlap with pathological love.

Suppose you’re someone with an addiction to love. In that case, you can become fixated on the person you’re interested in at any given time and develop emotional dependencies or a lack of control. You might behave compulsively toward or about that person. You can then act on unhealthy behaviors because of your fixation.

 

What Type of Disorder Is Pathological Love?

There’s not a current agreement on what type of disorder love addiction really is. For example, pathological love can be considered an impulse-control disorder. With an impulse-control disorder, you are always seeking new experiences and behaving impulsively to get them.

Some researchers believe pathological love is more in line with a mood disorder. For example, you have feelings similar to mania when you’re in the early stages of love or beginning a new relationship. Then, as the relationship progresses, you might experience symptoms of depression.

A third possibility is that being addicted to love could be part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. You may experience intrusive, repetitive thoughts just as someone with OCD would, but they’re about your romantic partner or finding love. Of course, as the name implies, having a compulsion to find love can be most like a behavioral addiction too, such as gambling; you don’t have to take a substance, but the characteristics are similar.

Early on in a relationship, you might have intense pleasure and euphoria. Then, over time, those experiences might become dull. You might need more of these love experiences to feel anything similar to a dependence on drugs and alcohol.

 

 

What is Sex Addiction?

Sometimes, we talk about sex addiction along with love addiction, it’s not currently in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Despite not being included in that, it’s still diagnosable.

This offshoot occurs when someone seeks out multiple sexual partners to the extent that it interferes with their daily life, activities, and functionality. If you have a sex compulsion, you might not be able to control your behavior, despite severe consequences. Your sexual relationships are your primary focus, and your sexual behavior can become more extreme over time. Sexual addiction can occur along with love addiction, but it doesn’t have to.

 

Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction

  • Always looking for your soulmate 
  • Constantly searching for an intimate relationship 
  • Thinking the intensity of sex or the newness of a relationship is the same as love or real intimacy
  • A chronic pattern of seduction, sex, or manipulation to get the interest of potential romantic partners
  • Having an intense fear of abandonment
  • Breaking promises to yourself about not returning to harmful relationships
  • Choosing partners that require a lot of attention or you to fill a caretaker role
  • Always needing to be in love
  • Being happiest during the so-called honeymoon phase of a relationship
  • Obsessing over the idea of romance or romantic interests
  • Putting romantic partners on a pedestal
  • The inability to be alone
  • Requiring emotional comfort from a partner and extreme dependency
  • Having cravings to be with your partner
  • Experiencing euphoria or emotional highs when you’re with a partner

When you begin a new romantic relationship, it’s normal to feel excited about being with the person, and you may miss them when they’re away. You may obsess over your partner to the point that it causes harm to your relationship or your well-being. You develop dysfunctional patterns. For example, you may seek out the affection of someone who isn’t responsive to you emotionally. You could also find yourself more likely to be in abusive relationships.

 

Why Do People Have Love Obsessions?

As is the case with other mental health disorders, including substance use disorder, the underlying factors of love addiction are probably complex. Again, we all need and desire to feel love, but what is it about some people that makes this problematic for them? Trauma, genetics, family history, and environment all probably factor in.

Someone with an obsession to finding love or keeping it may also stem from low self-esteem. For example, if you have low self-esteem, you may seek out your sense of self-worth from romantic partners. You could also deal with the signs of love addiction because you have abandonment fears from your childhood.

If you feel like you have an emotional void, you could use romantic partnerships to fill that. You may think that being in love brings value and excitement to your life. Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on your partner. You may not have boundaries, and you’re more likely to find yourself in a codependent relationship.

 

Love and Substance Abuse

As we talked about above, love addiction can and often does occur with other mental health disorders. You may be searching for love in unhealthy places. You might also seek the highs that love can bring, making you more likely to find similar experiences through substance use.

Additionally, if you have a relationship that falls apart or consistently in unhealthy relationships, you could cope with the negative feelings with drugs or alcohol. Over time, you may experience a void and a sense of shame. There are many elements of being addicted to love that you can’t fix on your own, but treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial.

If you or a loved one struggles with love or sex addiction along with a substance use disorder, we encourage you to reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team at 866-600-7709 to learn about our treatment options. We approach treatment holistically to help put you on the best path to recovery, a fulfilling life, and healthy relationships.

Quitting Nicotine: The Next Step to a Healthy Life

how long does nicotine withdrawal last

how long does nicotine withdrawal last

 

Many people will tell you that quitting nicotine is the hardest thing they ever do. Despite the immense challenges, it is possible to stop smoking and using nicotine products in general. We’ll discuss more addiction and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. We’ll also mention some of the things you can do to deal with physical symptoms and psychological symptoms of an addiction to nicotine. Options include nicotine patches and other nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, and working with a professional counselor. 

There’s a lot to look forward to in a nicotine-free life; when you decide to quit using tobacco for good, the health benefits include: 

  • Reduced risk of heart disease 
  • Lower risk of a heart attack
  • Less exposure to secondhand smoke for the people around you
  • Improved your overall lung health 

 

How Does Nicotine Work?

Understanding why quitting nicotine is so challenging relies on understanding just how this potent drug works. If you use something with nicotine, your brain and body are being exposed to a stimulant. A stimulant speeds up processes in your body and central nervous system. A chemical containing nitrogen, nicotine is made by plants like the tobacco plant. There’s also synthetic production.

On its own, nicotine doesn’t increase the risk of lung cancer or have significant adverse health effects. The issue comes from the fact that since it is so addictive, you can become dependent on tobacco products that are cancer-causing and dangerous. Snorting or chewing tobacco will release more nicotine into your body than smoking, but smoking is America’s most common preventable cause of death.

Interestingly, nicotine is both a stimulant and also a sedative. When you first expose your body to nicotine, you’ll experience a kick. This kick occurs because nicotine stimulates your adrenal glands; adrenal stimulation causes an adrenaline release. Adrenaline stimulates the rest of your body, causing a glucose release. 

Other short-term effects include an increase in blood pressure, breathing and heart rate. Your pancreas produces less insulin in response so that you might have an increase in your blood sugar.

 

Nicotine Addiction and Dependence

Nicotine addiction is physical and behavioral. Physical dependence means that you crave the chemical. Behavioral addiction refers to situations where you might be used to using tobacco in particular situations, and you want to keep doing that. For example, you might always find yourself smoking when you feel stress, which can be a sign of behavioral addiction.

As we talked about above, when you use nicotine, it creates pleasant feelings and sensations in your mind and body. Your brain releases neurotransmitters, including dopamine, creating feelings of pleasure and happiness. These pleasant effects are one way you can develop an addiction to nicotine. Signs of addiction include:

  • You’re not able to stop using tobacco
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use nicotine
  • You have a desire to continue using tobacco even though it’s causing adverse outcomes, such as health risks
  • Someone with an addiction to nicotine will keep using tobacco despite harmful effects on their life

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and common side effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in mood
  • Irritability
  • Problems concentrating
  • Nicotine cravings
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Aches and pains
  • Eating more
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness

According to the American Heart Association, it’s one of the hardest things to quit when you use tobacco. Quitting nicotine can be as hard as stopping heroin, mainly heavy smokers in stopping or long-term tobacco users. In many cases, the more cigarettes you have per day, the more difficult it might be to go through the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. 

So, how long does withdrawal last?

For most current smokers, quitting nicotine and nicotine withdrawal symptoms will start anywhere from one to three hours after your last tobacco use. Symptoms in a nicotine addict can last a few days up to a few weeks. Some people experience tobacco cravings for months or even years. 

 

Can Your Lungs Heal After Smoking?

As we mentioned above, it’s not necessarily nicotine itself that’s harmful to your health. Instead, the products containing nicotine are dangerous and can cause conditions like lung cancer and lung damage. Your lungs can clean and repair themselves over time, luckily, but maybe only to an extent.

After you stop smoking and end your toxic chemical exposure, your lungs can begin to not only heal but also regenerate. How quickly your lungs can heal depends on how long you used tobacco and the extent of the damage. Two types of permanent and potentially irreversible damage can occur, which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Even so, quitting nicotine and tobacco products can help you avoid worse damage, and you may see improvements in your lung health and your quality of life. 

 

Tips for Quitting Nicotine

If you’re interested in quitting nicotine, some methods may be helpful for you. First, as is the case with other types of addiction, you’ll need to prepare yourself to change your routines and behaviors. Specific treatment options to reduce tobacco cravings include:

 

Cessation Medications and Nicotine Replacement Products

Medications can help you stop using tobacco and reduce cravings. One of the more popular options is nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy includes:

  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Nasal sprays
  • Lozenges
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches. 

Some people might use electronic cigarettes to help them with intense cravings, but you have to be mindful that these can also put you at risk for lung disease and other harmful chemicals. When you take a nicotine replacement medication, it provides you with nicotine, but not the other chemicals in tobacco. Another option that a professional might prescribe to you is an antidepressant. Antidepressants can improve your mood by increasing your dopamine production. More dopamine production may help you stop using tobacco.

 

Therapy and Support Groups

You can work with a professional therapist or counselor as you go through the common withdrawal symptoms. You might also choose an in-person or virtual support group. Support groups help tackle all types of addiction, and you can learn better coping skills and be with people who are going through something similar to your situation.

 

Lifestyle Changes

When you’re quitting nicotine, you’ll want to make sure that you’re identifying new ways to cope with stress and cravings.

There are a lot of lifestyle changes that might work for you.

  • You might focus on getting regular physical activity. 
  • Keep your hands and mouth busy with healthy snacks or gum.
  • Remove temptations from your home, and try to avoid situations that could trigger you, such as hanging around with smokers.
  • When you’re quitting nicotine, you should also set manageable and achievable goals and treat yourself when you meet those goals.
  • Some people find that alternative remedies help with their addiction, like acupuncture, the use of certain herbs, essential oils, and hypnosis.

It’s never easy to beat any addiction, and many people say overcoming nicotine dependence is one of the hardest things they ever do. 

If you’d like to learn more about professional support and create healthy coping skills for addictions to nicotine or any other substance, we encourage you to contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709. With professional help, you can improve your chances to kick the addiction. 

PTSD Symptoms in Women

PTSD symptoms in women

PTSD symptoms in women

 

PTSD symptoms in women can look different than how they manifest in men. These differences aren’t just actual post-traumatic stress disorder. Across the board, women may experience the symptoms of mental disorders differently than men. Understanding these sex differences is essential in diagnosis and treatment.

We delve into how you experience PTSD symptoms as a woman can differ and its role in addiction and substance abuse.

 

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, develops following exposure to a scary, dangerous or shocking event. If you’re in a traumatic situation, it’s not abnormal to feel fear, anxiety, and even a sense of terror. Your body will launch a fight-or-flight response. The response is your body’s natural way of protecting you from harm and danger. Sometimes this initial response is called acute stress disorder. 

Most people will then recover from those initial fight-or-flight symptoms after the immediate threat of danger passes following exposure to trauma. When those symptoms don’t go away or maybe even worsen, you could have PTSD. If you believe you have symptoms, you should speak to a mental health professional. 

Possible risk factors include:

  • Living through something dangerous or traumatic such as sexual or physical abuse
  • Being physically hurt
  • Seeing someone else getting hurt
  • Seeing a dead body
  • Trauma during childhood
  • Feeling extreme fear or helplessness
  • Having little social support after the traumatic event
  • Dealing with additional stress after the event like losing your home or job
  • Having a history of drug or alcohol abuse 
  • A history of mental disorders 

According to mental health care providers, general symptoms of PTSD that we see in both men and women fall into one of four categories. 

 

Re-Experiencing Symptoms

These symptoms might include flashbacks, where you constantly relieve the traumatic event. Re-experiencing symptoms can also be physical. For example, you might have a racing heart. Bad dreams and ongoing scary thoughts fall into this category. We often talk about flashbacks in the context of combat veterans, but they can occur in anyone who’s gone through trauma. 

Your re-experiencing symptoms can create problems in your daily life. You may also feel like certain situations, words, objects, or even people remind you of the trauma, leading to re-experiencing symptoms.

 

Avoidance Symptoms

After you go through a traumatic event, if you have PTSD, you may develop avoidance symptoms. You might avoid the events, objects, and places that remind you of the event. You may prevent feelings or thoughts that relate to the trauma. Out of a desire to avoid reminders or triggers, you could completely change your daily routine.

 

Arousal and Reactivity

These physical symptoms can lead you to feel edgy or tense and have angry outbursts consistently. You might have physical health symptoms like problems sleeping, and you could startle easily. These symptoms are different from the other types because they’re constant and not usually triggered by anything.

 

Cognition and Mood Symptoms

These symptoms can lead you to feel alienated or withdrawn from your loved ones. You might have trouble remembering key facts of the traumatic event. These symptoms could lead you to negatively view yourself or the world, and you could have guilt or blame yourself. 

Cognition and mood symptoms also include a loss of interest in things you once found enjoyable. While it’s relatively normal to experience some or all of these symptoms as part of your reactions to trauma, if they last for more than a month, it might indicate you have PTSD.

 

Are PTSD Symptoms in Women Different?

PTSD symptoms in women may be different from what men experience. For example, PTSD symptoms in women are more likely to include being easily startled and feeling numb. You may have a hard time experiencing emotions. Avoidance is more common in women than men, and women with a history of PTSD are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than men.

The symptoms may last longer in women than men. For example, women have symptoms on average for four years, while men, on average, experience symptoms for a year. If you’re a woman with PTSD, you are less likely to have a drug abuse problem after the trauma compared to a man.

 

Is PTSD More Common in Males or Females?

There are gender differences in the prevalence of PTSD. Healthcare providers estimate that one in 10 women will develop symptoms of PTSD during their lifetime. As a woman, you are around twice as likely as a man to develop PTSD. The most common type of trauma women experience is sexual assault, and the rates are higher than in men. Women are also more likely to experience childhood abuse or domestic violence in their life, which can lead to PTSD.

 

Effective Treatments 

If you believe you have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, reach out and get help. There are excellent treatment options available, and they tend to be highly effective.

For example, the primary treatments are talk therapy and medication.

  • Medications include antidepressants to help with symptoms like worry, numbness, and sadness.
  • Talk therapy for PTSD usually lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. You can work one-on-one with a therapist or participate in group therapy.
  • The goals of talk therapy include learning about symptoms, beginning to identify triggers, and developing skills that help you manage your symptoms.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a specific type of talk therapy that we often use for PTSD. When you participate in CBT, you may go through exposure therapy. 
  • Exposure therapy will introduce you to the trauma in a prolonged, safe, and managed way. Then, from there, you can start to cope with your feelings more effectively.
  • Goals of any type of talk therapy include learning about the effects of trauma, developing relaxation skills, and dealing with feelings like guilt or shame.

 

What Happens when PTSD Is Not Treated?

We want to emphasize the risks of untreated PTSD. When you have untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s doubtful symptoms will just go away. Instead, what happens without treatment is that more complications and comorbidities can develop.

For example, not getting proper treatment and mental health care can make you susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, sleep problems, and depression. There are also links between not getting treatment and then developing chronic pain. Other long-term effects of PTSD that goes without treatment include:

  • Anger management issues—you may start to have angry outbursts. These anger problems can lead to violence in your life or the breakdown of relationships.
  • Loneliness—you may end up withdrawing from the people who care about you, leading to isolation.
  • Comorbid depression—this is a considerable risk of untreated posttraumatic stress disorder. Major depression can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • Substance abuse—the potential for substance misuse to occur is mentioned above, and we can’t overstate the risk of this. When you have any mental health condition for which you’re not getting treatment, it increases your risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. The increased risk could be due to multiple factors. For example, if you’re not getting professional treatment, you might attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Also, the areas of the brain playing a role in mental disorders contribute to addiction.

The most powerful message we want you to take away from this is that you don’t have to suffer alone; if you’re a woman with posttraumatic stress disorder, Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Whether it’s stemming from sexual violence, military combat, substance abuse, or another traumatic event, we are here for you. Treatments are available to help improve your quality of life and relationships and lower your risk of developing complications like an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Contact us at 866-600-7709 to learn more.

Exercise and Addiction: The Good and the Bad

Exercise addiction

Exercise addiction

 

When you’re struggling with a mental health disorder or in addiction recovery, exercise therapy can be one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal to achieve a good quality of life, good physical health, and overall well-being. With that being said, there is a genuine risk of exercise addiction that you need to consider.

Below, we go into what you should know about the role of exercise in mental health and recovery from addiction, but also to spot potential warning signs that you could be moving toward an exercise addiction or compulsive behavior. 

 

General Benefits of Being Physically Active

The importance of being physically active is so critical for all of us. Regardless of your situation, being active will help you feel more energized, reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, and make it easier for you to function in your daily life.

We know that there are gradual, long-term benefits that come from exercise and nearly immediate benefits. For example, right after you engage in activity that’s at least moderate, you may notice improvements in thinking and cognition and reduced feelings of anxiety. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can have a massive impact on your life. When you’re active, it can help keep your memory and learning skills sharp. Physical activity reduces your risk of depression and increases your sleep quality.

 

Exercise and Mental Health

Research tells us that exercising can be an effective treatment for adverse effects of conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Key things to know about the effects of exercise therapy on mental health include:

  • Exercise helps reduce the symptoms of depression like tension, fatigue, and anger
  • If you have a panic disorder or PTSD, exercise can help reduce fear, worry, and tension.
  • When you exercise, if you suffer from panic attacks, it can reduce the frequency and intensity.
  • Aerobic exercise decreases your body’s sensitivity in how it reacts to anxiety.
  • Having a high enough activity level or participating in a regular program can help with co-occurring symptoms associated with mental health disorders, such as IBS and gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • When you exercise, it helps promote neuron growth in your brain. Researchers believe this can help reduce psychiatric symptoms.

Exercise can also improve your general well-being, outside of improving specific mental disorders. For example:

  • Getting adequate amounts of even moderate exercise can reduce stress hormones such as cortisol. Exercising increases endorphins, which boost your mood and improve mental health symptoms. 
  • Being physically active reduces your focus on negative emotions and thoughts, basically redirecting your mental energy to more positive things.
  • You may notice that you feel more confident when you exercise.
  • There’s a sense of social support from group exercise situations or recreational exercise, like playing on an organized team.
  • You can improve your immune system when you exercise, which means you spend less time feeling sick or being impacted by minor illnesses, enhancing your quality of life.

 

The Role of Exercise In Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Exercise therapy is often part of addiction treatment and recovery programs because of all the above benefits. Some of the proven benefits of exercise in recovery from substance addiction specifically can include:

  • Reduced stress: Stress is a significant contributing factor to an increased risk of relapse. When you find healthy ways to cope with stress, it’s going to increase your chances of long-term recovery.
  • Better sleep: One of the things that almost everyone in the early stages of treatment and recovery struggles with is rest. You may sleep too much or not enough. Exercising helps stabilize your sleep patterns, and you can get more high-quality sleep.
  • Improved mood: It’s difficult when you’re going through treatment and beginning recovery, which can make you feel down, discouraged, or have a low mood overall. Exercise naturally boosts brain chemicals that make you feel good and happy, like endorphins.
  • Reduced relapse risk: Beyond the specific benefits of exercise that can help lower the risk of relapse, studies have generally found that the abstinence rate associated with regular exercise is around 95%.

 

 

What About Exercise Addiction?

While exercise is one of the most fundamental things you can do to take care of yourself during your addiction treatment and throughout your recovery, too much of a good thing can occur. Addiction or developing an unhealthy obsession is a risk, albeit a low one.

One of the ways to distinguish healthy exercise from compulsive exercise or excessive exercise is whether or not your exercise routine is causing negative consequences in your life. For example, if you’re over-exercising, it can lead to injuries, negatively affect your health, and it can mean that you aren’t focusing as much as you should be on other areas of your life. If you exercise too much, you aren’t giving your body the chance to recover. You need rest just as much as you need physical activity.

Someone with an exercise addiction might engage in physical activity for hours every day, and if they aren’t able to do that, they could become emotionally uncomfortable, frustrated, or anxious. As is true with other behavioral addictions like gambling, being addicted to exercise sessions is somewhat controversial. For example, some experts believe that addiction has to involve a psychoactive substance. Others argue that substance addictions share many similarities to behavioral addictions and should be characterized as such.

When you exercise, your brain’s reward system is part of the equation. That’s the case with substance addictions too. For example, too much exercise can affect the parts of your brain that involve dopamine.

 

Symptoms of Exercise Addiction

Potential signs of an obsession with exercise include:

  • Obsessing over exercise
  • Engaging in continued exercise even though it’s causing you physical harm like stress fractures
  • You keep doing the harmful behavior even if you want to stop
  • Trying to keep the exercise a secret
  • Feeling a high after you exercise
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms if you have to go extended periods without doing it
  • Reducing your other activities to exercise
  • Doing increasingly intense exercise to fulfill your growing exercise dependence

Some people who are most at risk of developing this type of addictive behavior include those who have another addiction, whether it’s behavioral or to a substance. For example, researchers at the University of Southern California found that 15% of exercise addicts are addicted to illicit drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Around 25% may have other behavioral addictions, such as sex addiction.

If you previously struggled with drugs or alcohol, you could be at risk of exercise obsession. Also, people with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or a body image disorder are more at risk of engaging in excessive exercise patterns.

 

Such Thing as TOO Healthy

You shouldn’t let a fear of addiction to exercise get in your way of adding a healthy habit to your life. Having routines that are good for your physical and mental health is great if you’re struggling with addiction or you’re in recovery.

At the same time, it’s just good to be mindful of any potentially harmful patterns you notice when exercising to alleviate a problem before it grows into something more. Behavioral therapy is an excellent way to tackle symptoms of compulsive exercise you might see in yourself. 

If you’re noticing any compulsions in yourself or someone you care about, Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Call 866-600-7709 today to learn more about our program. 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does To Your Brain

what never leaving your hometown does to your brain

what never leaving your hometown does to your brain

 

Have you ever felt stuck in any way? If so, does it at least partially stem from where you live? So many people who stay in their hometowns throughout their lives do feel that it negatively affects them. This can be especially true if you’re struggling with a substance use disorder. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life can be striking and negative.

Does that mean that leaving your hometown is going to automatically cure your substance use disorder or fix problems in your life? Of course not, but a change of scenery can have pretty significant benefits, even for a short time.

 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain In General

Before we go specifically into how staying in your hometown can affect you when dealing with addiction, what about in general.

Things never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life include:

  • You may be less independent. When you’re geographically close to your family, you may be less likely to do things like buying a home or starting a career. You have a safety net close by, and while that can be a good thing, it can also hold you back. When you handle something stressful like moving away and being on your own, it can help you learn how to manage other difficult situations in your life and build confidence.
  • It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck being the person you were known as in your hometown, even if that’s not who you indeed are. If you live in the same town where you grew up, it’s very easy to feel like you’re stuck in a particular identity. That can limit your future growth. Leaving your town gives you the chance to recreate your identity based on who you want to be, rather than who other people think you are. If you’re overwhelmed by your past mistakes, moving can help you get “unstuck.”
  • When you never leave your town, you may not expand your social circle. Having lifelong relationships can be valuable, but not always, especially if you don’t feel like the people you know are a good influence on you.
  • It’s tough to learn new skills when you’re in a stagnant environment, and not ever learning new things will have an impact on your brain. When you move away, you may learn new skills because you’re forced to or because you choose to.
  • Not leaving where you grew up is going to limit your perspective of the world and other people. If you come from a small town primarily, you might not interact with people from different backgrounds or people with unique opinions.
  • Your career options could be somewhat limited if you stay in your hometown, and that can limit overall opportunities in your life.
  • When you force yourself outside of your comfort zone, you can then be more welcoming of change in general.
  • If you never leave your comfort zone, then fear can become part of who you are. Your goal should always be to view fear as an emotion but not part of your identity.
  • When you’re not with them every day, it can be easier to strengthen your relationship with your loved ones. You’re likely to be more present when you’re talking with them or visiting them because it’s something you don’t get to do all the time.

 

 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain When You Have an Addiction

Above, we’re just talking generally about what never leaving your hometown does to your brain and your life, but what about when you have a substance use disorder? These effects can be even more significant.

When you have an addiction, triggers are people, places, and things. When you stay in your hometown, you’re probably spending time with people who are also trapped in the same cycles. It becomes more challenging to break out of the cycle of addiction or find the motivation to go to treatment because you’re always in your old patterns. That’s why a lot of people opt to travel for rehab.

When you travel for rehab, you take yourself outside of those triggers and old ways of doing things. You’re no longer trapped in a cycle of your environment. That change in scenery and perspective can go a long way in helping your treatment and addiction recovery.  Specific benefits of leaving your hometown for treatment include:

  • It can deepen your commitment to your addiction recovery. You are packing up and leaving home, and that’s symbolic in a lot of ways. You’re not going to be in your comfort zone, which shows other people but also yourself that you are serious about treatment and recovery. Taking a big first step helps strengthen your resolve.
  • When you’re outside of your environment, you can focus only on yourself. It’s not selfish when you’re in those challenging early days of treatment and recovery. You don’t have to think about anything but your recovery, which is valuable.
  • Traveling away from your home for treatment or during addiction recovery allows you to reflect and take on a new perspective that you might not otherwise have.
  •  If you leave your town for treatment, it’s not as easy for you to leave treatment early. You’re putting physical distance between treatment and your home, and that can help you stay dedicated when you want to go.
  • You have more privacy in an out-of-town treatment center. If you’re going to treatment in your small town, you may feel like everyone will know, and you might feel ashamed or embarrassed. That’s the last thing you should think about when you’re in treatment.

Overall, when you leave for rehab or to start over in your sobriety, you’re getting the benefit of leaving the place that you associate with your addiction. This includes your self-identity during that time, the people you spent time with, and the situations and locations where you might have used drugs or alcohol.

If you’re planning to relocate following treatment and early in your addiction recovery, you do want to be aware that it can be stressful. Before you move, line up resources that will help you manage your stress in healthy ways. For example, find a 12-step program or support group in the new city or town where you’ll be living. If you go to treatment somewhere else and then plan to return home, your treatment center should provide you with an aftercare plan and connect you with resources in your hometown.

 

Final Thoughts

We don’t always associate our location with addiction, but there are strong ties in many cases. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain can affect your efforts to get sober, which is why going to rehab in another city or even state might be beneficial.

We encourage you to call 866-600-7709 and contact Anchored Tides Recovery’s team of addiction treatment specialists if you’d like to learn more about the treatment options available to you. Our team can go over different program options and help you take the steps to begin a new life in recovery for yourself or your loved one.

Careers that Go Well with Being In-Recovery

addiction recovery

addiction recovery

 

The most significant transition for adults who have recovered from addiction lies in one of those four words: “after” addiction. So many people relapse or never fully recover because they return to the same environment that caused their addiction in the first place. 

People just out of a treatment program are often left to fend for themselves. Many former addicts get trapped in the cycle of poverty and compromise their sobriety when they do not have the support and resources they need to find employment. One of the best ways to regain stability after completing your drug addiction treatment program is finding and keeping a job. 

Down the road, you might feel like you’re at a crossroads. You know who you are and what you want, but how will you handle the challenges along the way? It’s essential to always keep in mind that no matter where life takes you or what curveballs it throws your way, you’ll be stronger because of all your past experiences. That’s why starting with a simple job search is so important.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or where you are now; what matters is that you never give up and continue to learn, grow, and develop new skills. If you’re willing to approach your job search strategically, you can take your career wherever you want to go. If you’re hoping to recover and find a new job after your addiction, there are things you can do to make it easier. Find out how to have a successful career after addiction recovery.

 

Decide What You Want to Do

After completing rehab, many people are confused about what career they want to pursue and how they will get there. Are you wondering what you should do? Do your research ahead of time and determine your options.

Once you have completed your recovery program, it is time to determine where you want to go. Do you want to stay in the same line of work? Do you want a new career path? There is never just one correct answer to these questions either way – only the answer that feels best for you, given your circumstances. You may be feeling anxious about your future or confused about what steps to take next, and we can help you move forward and feel good about moving on.

 

Update Your Resume

Your resume is the first form of contact for potential employers, so it is vital that it stands out and tells your story. Suppose you are applying for a position you previously held or closely resembles the one you have held. In that case, you can also save time and effort by updating your resume after recovery. Since the basics of your career are still the same, not much needs to be added or altered from how it was before your addiction.

 

Explore Job Options for Recovering Addicts

People in recovery can find job opportunities in a wide variety of fields, from retail to technology. Some career paths may require some extra work to take, but those willing to work hard will reap the rewards. You can also do an online job search on sites such as Indeed, Monster, Career Builder, or ZipRecruiter, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook job pages.

Additionally, most states offer assistance (and sometimes priority) for people who are recovering and looking for work. You can find resources online, like this service for people in California.

 

 

Where Can I Work While in Addiction Recovery?

After getting sober, recovery can be frustrating. Worrying about where to find a job and how to keep it after finishing treatment are a few of the most common concerns among people who have just completed or are about to begin addiction recovery. Many fear that the lack of employment on their résumé will prevent them from finding work, but working for several years while in active addiction is not uncommon.

If you’re recovering from an addiction, don’t panic about where you’ll be working. Some companies offer special assistance to employees undergoing treatment, and others may provide support if you’re looking for work. 

If you are a recovering addict, your experience and first-hand knowledge of addiction can be an asset in helping others overcome their struggles with addiction. As an Addictions Specialist, you will provide coaching, consulting, and therapy to individuals with substance use disorders and their families. Your work could help them reach recovery and live full, meaningful lives.

 

Social Worker

Addiction social work is a growing profession that provides treatment and support to people with addiction problems. It also looks to recognize the need for family members of people with an addiction to receive support. These workers are employed by several different organizations, including residential facilities, outpatient clinics, community services programs, hospitals, and government agencies.

 

Substance Abuse Counselor

A substance abuse counselor is a professional who works to help those who are abusing substances or alcohol. This person counsels, educates and treats those within an organization or community struggling with addiction and substance abuse problems to reduce alcoholism or other substance abuse symptoms. Substance abuse counselors work in hospitals, treatment centers, neighborhoods, schools, and many different settings.

 

Addiction Rehabilitation Assistant

An addiction rehabilitation assistant is a job that provides client support to a substance abuse rehabilitation facility. This includes various responsibilities such as maintaining the facility, coordinating client activities and clinical needs, and working with the clinical staff members. 

To become an addiction rehabilitation assistant, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be 18 years old, and complete an inpatient drug treatment program. If you are interested in becoming an addiction rehabilitation assistant, talk to the administration office of the rehabilitation facility regarding requirements for employment.

 

Find your Dream Job Online

It’s hard to stay sober when you’re losing your home, family, and friends. While in recovery, the internet can be a powerful tool to help you get back on track. Sites like Craigslist and eBay offer opportunities to find gainful employment and even employment related to your addiction, for example, webmaster. Hundreds of sites out there can help you regain control of your life via the internet while recovering. You can also opt for a part-time job while focusing on long-term sobriety at a treatment facility.

Find jobs online, fulfill your life while getting clean with a position in a real company, find your new purpose, and learn what recovery is all about while making money and building new meaningful relationships. Suppose the whole process of admitting your drug and alcohol addiction problem and finding a job seems overwhelming. In that case, you can contact Anchored Tides Recovery and have a care coordinator guide you through the process. Give us a call today at 866-600-7709.

The Facts About Addiction and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

what is oppositional defiant disorder

what is oppositional defiant disorder

 

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and how does it relate to addiction? These are common questions. ODD is a common co-occurring diagnosis along with substance use disorder. So what does all this mean? Below, we explain.

 

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

ODD is something that’s most often initially seen in children and teens. Of course, no matter their age, there are times when children and teens are challenging, as they’re known for pushing the boundaries and seeing what they can get away with.

There are times when behavior can go beyond what’s considered normal, and that can be characterized as an oppositional defiant disorder or ODD. If you have a child or teen who’s frequently angry, irritable, or argumentative or seems to be inherently opposed to authority figures, it could be ODD.

For many children, ODD symptoms begin to appear as early as preschool ages but can develop later. It’s almost always something you’ll see in your child’s behavior before they reach their teen years. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), emotional and behavioral symptoms must be present for at least six months to diagnose ODD. These symptoms can include:

  • Frequently losing their temper
  • Being easily annoyed
  • Often being angry and resentful
  • Arguing with people in authority
  • Not complying with rules or requests from adults
  • Trying to annoy or upset people purposely
  • Blaming others for their mistakes
  • Spitefulness or vindictiveness

The symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. The symptoms might only occur in one setting with mild ODD, like at home but not at school. Moderate ODD means symptoms occur in at least two settings, and a severe diagnosis indicates there are symptoms in at least three settings. ODD can be treated with therapy, but if not, complications can include impulse control problems, performance issues at school and work, and antisocial behavior. Substance use disorders are also considered a complication of untreated ODD.

 

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment

To begin treatment, first, there has to be an official diagnosis of ODD. A mental health professional can make a diagnosis by doing a psychological evaluation. The assessment might include assessing overall health, family member interactions, and the intensity and frequency of symptomatic behaviors.

From there, treatment can include:

  • Parent training: Many of the treatments for ODD are family-based interventions. That can include parent training. A mental health professional can work with you to develop parenting skills that are positive and consistent and will be helpful for your child.
  • Parent-child interaction therapy: Also called PCIT, therapists will coach parents in their interactions with their child during this treatment. This helps parents learn how to improve their parenting techniques, enhancing their relationship with their children.
  • Individual and family therapy: Your child might learn how to express feelings healthily and manage anger; family therapy may be a way for everyone to improve their communication and relationships.
  • Social skills training: Some children with ODD will participate in social skills training, a type of therapy that teaches positive interaction strategies to engage with peers.
  • Cognitive problem-solving training: This type of therapy helps children identify and change the thought patterns that contribute to behavior problems.

It’s not common to use medication as treatment unless there’s another condition that’s also happening, like ADHD, depression, or anxiety. There’s not any medication right now that’s exclusively for the treatment of ODD.

 

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

Suppose you recognize signs of ODD in your child. In that case, it’s essential to start working with a professional therapist on a treatment plan as soon as possible, because again, this can reduce the risk of complications. Complications can include the development of a co-occurring disorder, such as substance abuse. The term co-occurring refers to a situation where someone has both substance use and another mental health disorder. We see that the most commonly diagnosed co-occurring are mood and anxiety issues.

 

 

What’s the Link Between ODD and Substance Abuse?

Another question we commonly hear is why it is linked to substance abuse, particularly in teens? There is often a relationship between what are broadly categorized as disruptive behaviors and substance abuse. ODD is just one type of disruptive behavior disorder.

Younger people who report using drugs are four times more likely than those who don’t have a disruptive behavior issue. A child or teen with a DBD is six times more likely to have an addiction. Additionally, adolescents and teens with addiction and ODD are more resistant to treatment. With that in mind, we have to wonder why there are such significant links. It’s complex, but some of the likely reasons include:

  • There could be genetic and biological links between ODD and substance use. For example, a young person with both could be more prone to impulsive behavior. When you’re impulsive, you’re more likely to do things that could cause harm to you, including using substances.
  • For a young person who’s dealt with ODD in their life, they may turn to substances as a way of self-medicating. For example, they may feel like drinking or using drugs helps them experience fewer ODD symptoms.
  • There is also the possibility that life experiences factored into both the development of ODD and a substance use disorder. For example, a child from a chaotic home could be at a higher risk of developing both.

 

Takeaways

Oppositional Defiance Disorder is, relatively speaking, fairly common in children and adolescents; it’s also highly associated with addiction. Early intervention, including therapy and parental training, are significant ways to reduce the symptoms of ODD and lower the risk of later co-occurring issues like addiction.

With that being said, if someone has both ODD and a substance use disorder, they may be more resistant to treatment. That can make it challenging for you if you’re a parent or a loved one.

If you’re looking for treatment programs, you want one that’s going to offer in-depth treatment for co-occurring disorders. It’s almost impossible to treat substance abuse without also treating the symptoms of any other underlying conditions, including ODD, and vice versa.

If you have questions or want to learn more about treatment for co-occurring disorders, Anchored Tides Recovery is here and can talk to you any time, so reach out to our team at 866-600-7709.

Creating an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

alternative identity to being an addict

alternative identity to being an addict

 

When you struggle with drug abuse, it can feel like you lose your identity, and the world just views you as “an addict;” you may even view yourself this way. However, you are more than the mistakes you have made; that’s why when you’re in recovery, building an alternative identity to being an addict is so essential.

You are more than your addiction, and when you’re in recovery, you can start to find who you are once again. You might have lost your sense of self along the way, but it’s exciting to get to know who you are without the stigma of addiction.

 

What is Your Identity?

We all have questions about who we are. For example, you may question what you are presently and who you’d like to see yourself as in the future. Our identity is incredibly complex.

Our identity includes our relationships, who we were as a child, as a parent, and who we are as a partner. It can also involve those characteristics we can’t control, such as our appearance. For many people, identity encompasses religious beliefs, moral attitudes, and political beliefs as well.

 

How Drugs Affects Your Identity

Our identity is already complicated; adding a drug habit to that makes it even more so. There are several key ways addiction can affect your identity. 

  • First are the short-term effects drugs or alcohol have on your feelings, actions, memories, and behavior. 
  • Over time with drug and alcohol use, you may also start to experience declines in your self-worth because you’re not moving forward or progressing in your life the way you’d like to or the way you expected to. 
  • When you have a substance use disorder, you may start to internalize your symptoms. Those become who you are, in your mind. Rather than identifying yourself as a complex person, you might only see yourself as a drug abuser. 
  • Self-identifying only or primarily as a drug user is going to make you fall deeper into your addiction. You may not believe you’re worth anything more because you believe that is just who you are, and that can serve as an excuse for you to keep using substances even with increasing negative consequences.

Your addiction may be part of your self-identification for years because everything in your life eventually revolves around the substance or substances in which you’re addicted. As you work to get treatment and overcome your disorder, what can actually happen is that you feel like you’ve lost part of yourself because of how many substances were your identity.

Some of the beliefs that could come along with your disorder include:

  • The idea that sober people are boring
  • The priority is getting high or drunk
  • You’re more creative when you use substances
  • Some types of music may be associated with the use of substances
  • You don’t trust health care or mental health professionals
  • You celebrate with substance use
  • People often hold an “us against them” mentality with substance use disorders
  • Not comforting to society or even criminal behavior are something to be admired in this mindset

 

 

Why You Need an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you may go through what’s sometimes described as a grieving process. That’s because you feel as if you’ve lost part of yourself, which was the drugs.

A big part of your recovery depends on rebuilding a new identity and letting go of that identity. You may have a hard time finding who you are again. It can make you feel vulnerable, especially when the people around you seem to have a clear sense of identity. It’s okay to acknowledge that you feel confusion or even embarrassment or shame. That’s a good starting point that you can use to start rebuilding who you are. When you’re honest with yourself about what you’re feeling, it gives you the chance to start making decisions about what you want to become. It’s also okay to feel like there’s a void in your life when you’re in recovery, at least initially.

 

How to Create an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

While everyone’s journey is going to be unique, some of the things that you might keep in mind as you leave behind your “addict” identity and explore who you truly are, including:

  • Consider who you surround yourself with. You might meet new people who are also sober when you’re in treatment or through a support group. The people that we surround ourselves with make a significant impact on our lives and who we are. Our self-identity, in some ways, comes from the people we’re around. This is why when you’re in recovery, you may have to find a completely new social circle. You want to spend time with people who will be a healthy influence on you and begin defining your identity. 
  • Along with social relationships, particularly with sober people, maybe you want to think about how you can rebuild relationships with your partner, your children, or your family. For example, you might begin to focus your identity on being a caretaker to your children. 
  • What is your career field? Is it time to think about making a change? When you come out of a treatment program, you might work with career counselors who can help you get on a path toward a career that’s more fulfilling for you and that can very much become part of your identity. 
  • It’s likely that after you go to treatment and you begin your life of recovery, you find you have a lot of time on your hands. That’s that that was probably before focused on using substances and recovering from their effects. Now, you can start to redefine how you use that time. You can begin to explore hobbies, interests, and passions. The things we’re interested in are part of what makes us unique individuals. 
  • Volunteering is a great way to define your identity and move toward a more positive path in your life. When you volunteer, you’re not just helping other people. You’re helping yourself, and you’re giving yourself a sense of purpose. 
  • Try to practice self-love and self-care every day. Substance abuse creates such a sense of shame, and you have to re-learn how to love yourself and care for yourself.

What’s the biggest takeaway we hope you get from this? No matter where you are in your journey, you are more than your addiction. You’ll have to learn more about yourself and who you are without the influence of substances, but that’s such an enriching part of the addiction recovery process. While at first, you may mourn what you feel like you’ve lost, you’ll eventually start to celebrate what you gain as you become the person you envision, rather than someone trapped in a specific identity by an addiction.

 

 

Shedding the Stigma of “Being an Addict”

Getting back to living a normal life when you are in recovery is a process. There are aspects like feeling judged or not being able to live down your past that can make sobriety even harder. Anchored Tides Recovery believes you are not your mistakes; you are who you are, and for any woman looking for help shedding the identity of “being an addict,” we encourage you to reach out to us for help at  866-600-7709.

Does Having an Addictive Personality Lead to Addiction?

addictive personality

When a person displays dependence on things like nothing else matters, begins to seem more anxious, distressed, and irritable, will do whatever they can to get drugs or alcohol at any cost? These are some of the signs of an addictive personality type. People with other mental health disorders also have addictive behavior. 

Addictions are defined as behaviors highly likely to result in negative consequences for the individual. Addictive personality traits manifest as compulsions that interfere with one’s relationships, work, and health. A person with an addictive personality has a compulsion to use alcohol, drugs, or other substances or pursue a particular activity to exclude all else. The traits of an addictive personality include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • A need for instant gratification
  • A disregard for consequences when seeking one’s desires
  • The tendency to find more joy in serving self than in helping others

 

What is an Addictive Personality?

Addiction is a progressive disease that often requires intervention to break its hold on an individual. Behavior (process) addictions include a wide range of activities and substances to which people compulsively engage, despite the negative consequences; some examples are:

  • Gambling 
  • Drugs 
  • Shopping
  • Sex 
  • Food 
  • Gaming 
  • Porn

The concept of an “addictive personality” stems from the difference between these sorts of process addictions and substance abuse. There is an external addictive property for some substances; for instance, cigarettes have addictive ingredients, and some drugs cause physical dependence. Process addiction is more about getting addicted to a feeling or concept. This compulsion is where “addictive personalities” stem from.

 

Do I Have an Addictive Personality?

Do you constantly crave something, have a history of failed relationships, or are secretive about your behavior? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you could be hiding an addictive personality.

With drug and alcohol addiction, common environmental factors are stress and the availability of addictive substances. When a person has three or more of the following symptoms and problems for at least a year, they may have an addictive behavior – powerlessness to control and continuing desire/unsuccessful attempts to cut down, despite harmful consequences:

 

Compulsion

Compulsion means someone has an irresistible urge or an uncontrollable desire to perform a specific action. This type of behavior is described as compulsive drug-seeking. Addiction is a compulsion and dependency on a behavior or substance that can harm the addict or others. This condition involves the body, brain, and behavior and can lead to physical dependence and tolerance. 

 

Cravings

The development of addictions can change the brain, affecting your ability to evaluate risk. It robs you of your decision-making mechanisms and has an enormous impact on your ability to resist drug abuse and stay clean from the seemingly enjoyable activity. Why? Because cravings cause intense physical and psychological urges, and even when you understand the consequences of taking that first drug, having cravings makes it challenging to resist.

 

Consequences

Drug abuse can lead to severe consequences for the addict and those around them. It can also cause serious side effects such as lung cancer, obesity, and depression. One who is addicted to illicit drugs will continue their habit despite the adverse effects and painful feelings. A person may lose interest in other parts of life because they are focused on getting or using their drug of choice, and that is where problems begin.

 

Control

People with addictions realize that their substance use is spiraling out of control initially, and they try to stop. But, for many people, stopping isn’t that easy. The physical cravings for drugs or alcohol are overwhelming. They may even force themselves to stop using the substance, but eventually, they start using it again.

 

 

Some things to look out for include:

  • Difficulty with impulse control
  • Lack of personal goals
  • Susceptibility to risky, impulsive, or thrill-seeking behaviors
  • Failure to take responsibility for actions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Intense mood swings or irritability
  • Isolation or a lack of solid friendships
  • A close relative who struggles with addiction
  • Mental health conditions 

 

What are the Most Common Addictions?

When we talk about addiction, tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction tend to come to mind. It’s not unusual for coffee-lovers to describe themselves as caffeine addicts. Chemical dependence is when people with addictions become physiologically dependent and psychologically addicted to a substance. 

Addiction has many faces. Being addicted to certain things can prevent you from having the life you always wanted. According to addiction experts and psychologists, the following are six of the most common habits that affect people today.

 

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a pattern of substance use that becomes compulsive and interferes with daily life. Some of the more commonly abused drugs are: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Marijuana 
  • Prescription Medications 
  • Cocaine 
  • Other Stimulants 

 

The three main drugs that can cause the risk of addiction are: 

  • Stimulants 
  • Opioids 
  • Sedatives 

 

The drugs in Opioids are usually used as legal treatments for chronic pains, but more often than not end up being addictive substances and cause significant bodily harm. These drugs use so many effects on the brain that they interfere instead of help.

 

Alcohol

Daily alcohol consumption is socially acceptable, even expected, but it can be the beginning of a dangerous addiction. Alcohol addiction can be difficult to determine because of the way that our society accepts social drinking. Even though alcohol is legal, the potential abuse and addiction can expose users to numerous health risks

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions, and it is a compulsive need to drink alcohol constantly. The body becomes dependent on alcohol, requiring more significant amounts to feel “normal.” Alcohol addiction can be due to genetic factors, and it can be common among people with mental issues such as psychiatric diagnosis, depression, or anxiety.

 

Gambling

Gambling Addiction is a behavior that takes place inside the casinos, and casinos are, in general, closed places. It is hard for people around the individual suffering from gambling addiction to notice or even suspect that they are having some problems with gambling addiction.

Gambling Addiction can cause serious trouble to the person suffering from it. The people around them – their friends, family, or colleagues – might have no clue about this “hidden” addiction.

 

Sex

Sex addiction is a compulsive need to engage in sexual activity, despite negative consequences. Sex addiction may present in various ways, including sexual thoughts or fantasies, excessive masturbation, frequent (and often risky) sexual encounters, multiple affairs, exhibitionism/voyeurism, and more.

Many men and women grapple with out-of-control sexual behaviors and find themselves unable to stop despite the severe toll it takes on every area of their lives. Typically those affected by sex-related problems are people we know—friends, spouses, family members, or co-workers. 

 

Social Media

Social Media Addiction is a term used to describe a person’s uncontrollable need to engage in social media sites. Often, people who suffer from addiction to social media have no interest in leaving their virtual life for the real one. Studies have found that people who use Facebook or Twitter regularly are three times more likely than average to develop a screen addiction and addiction to social media.

They’ll continue to use social media or messages at work (and get sacked), they’ll neglect partners or children to spend more time online. Withdrawal symptoms can include complete lethargy, depression, anxiety, and fear of being alone.

 

Relationships / Love

The term love addiction usually refers to a person’s excessive emotional need to be in a relationship. In any relationship, love addicts depend on their partners for happiness, fulfillment, and security. While healthy relationships can be nurturing, a person with an addictive personality requires more from a relationship than most people can provide. 

Love addicts will use manipulation, games, and tantrums when their partner is unavailable or does not meet expectations. Both partners become addicted because the unhealthy relationship becomes the center of each partner’s life.

 

 

What Next?

Does this sound like you? Addiction comes in many forms, and many times people who suffer from these compulsions have a high chance of getting involved in substance abuse. If you or someone you love has an addictive personality or drug addiction, call Anchored Tides Recovery. We provide rehabilitative services and life coaching to women of all ages and backgrounds who have developed an addiction.