Physical and Mental Long-Term Side Effects of COVID-19

long term side effects of covid 19

long term side effects of covid 19

 

In March 2020, life and the world as we know it changed, leading to many long-term side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These side effects are physical, including the potential for long-haul COVID to develop. Perhaps for some people, even more, damaging are the long-term effects on mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 

Long-Term Effects of COVID Infection

Most people who have COVID get better in a few weeks. Some people, however, will experience long-term conditions related to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes this as post-COVID conditions.

Post-COVID conditions are a range of new, ongoing, or returning health problems you experience four or more weeks after initial COVID-19 infections. Even if you didn’t have symptoms or had very mild symptoms during an infection, you could still develop a post-COVID condition.

Long-term coronavirus disease symptoms can present differently and for varying lengths of time. 

According to the CDC, some people experience different new symptoms lasting weeks or months after being infected, causing COVID-19. These possible long-term symptoms aren’t exclusive to people who were severely sick. 

These symptoms can include:

  • Problems breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pins-and-needles sensation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lightheadedness
  • Changes in mood
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • General chest pain
  • Changes in periods
  • Alterations in smell or taste

While certain risk factors can make you more likely to have serious COVID-19, such as obesity or high blood pressure, there aren’t the same links to developing long-term problems. Doctors don’t know why some people deal with long-term effects while others don’t follow infection.

 

Multiorgan Effects

The CDC also has a category describing multiorgan effects of COVID and the development of autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy cells, leading to inflammation.

 

Symptoms in Teens and Children

Long-haul COVID is even less understood in teens and children than in adults, but complications are possible. Lingering COVID symptoms in younger people tend to include depression, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Heart inflammation is another potential concern, especially in younger people.

 

Effects Following Severe Illness or Hospitalization

If you have COVID-19 and you’re hospitalized, you can experience severe fatigue and weakness as you recover. This is common for hospitalizations following any lung-related illness.

There’s also post-intensive care syndrome (PIICS). PICS is a health effect that starts in an intensive care unit (ICU). The symptoms remain even after you return home.

PICS can include problems with judgment and thinking, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe weakness.

 

Neurological Complications

A fairly large portion of people who recover from COVID-19 disease goes on to report experiencing neurological complications like brain fog or confusion.

According to doctors, there are different possible treatments for these symptoms but not necessarily cures because we don’t yet fully understand the underlying causes.

For example, for neurological symptoms, available treatments may include medication, physical therapy, and psychotherapy for patients struggling with depression or anxiety or similar mental health concerns.

 

Cardiovascular Problems

There are currently several trials to understand more about the long-term effects of COVID on the heart. Around one-third of patients hospitalized with the virus have evidence in blood tests of heart injury.

Doctors think the heart damage comes from inflammation the viral infection triggers. That can lead to long-term heart problems, including heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms.

 

Lung-Related Complications

We talked about this above, but various long-term lung complications can occur. Some people have problems breathing that don’t seem to get better. This problem may be due to blood clots causing scarring in the lungs. The scarring can then impact blood flow and reduce lung capacity.

 

Sense of Smell

One of the most commonly seen short- and long-term effects of the viral illness is loss of smell.

For this, often health care providers recommend olfactory training. Olfactory training requires you to smell different things in the morning and evening for several months. The goal is to stimulate your olfactory or smell nerves so they can regenerate.

 

 

Mental Health During COVID-19

The effects of the virus itself and infection aren’t the only long-term side effects of COVID-19. The mental health effects are proving to be pervasive and damaging. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by the virus itself or haven’t known anyone who’s gotten sick or died, you may still be struggling with mental health symptoms.

The pandemic has created stress and anxiety for many people, leading to emotional health issues and mental health disorders long-lasting without treatment. 

Lockdowns led to isolation and financial worries. There are general health-related worries, so many people are experiencing. There are also fears that many people have specific to the virus, like the worry they or their loved ones will become seriously sick.

Based on history, health care providers say we know public health crises have a lasting impact on mental health.

Traumatic experiences like a pandemic are associated with higher post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use rates.

National surveys are starting to show the reality of how serious the mental health effects are. There is also a reduction in how many people seek treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses. Those increased rates of substance use paired with less treatment initiation contribute to record high levels of overdose deaths.

 

Loss of Coping Mechanisms

Due to the pandemic, many people have lost a connection to their support networks and coping mechanisms. For example, maybe socializing was at one point a coping mechanism for many people, but now they’re worried about doing that.

Many people are still working from home, which reduces in-office social interaction, furthering the risks of isolation and mental health problems.

Maintaining a schedule can also be challenging if you are working from home or spending more time at home. Having a schedule is one form of a coping mechanism or protective factor against mental health symptoms and substance use disorders.

People continue to feel uncertain and out of control, worsening mental health symptoms.

 

What Can You Do?

Knowing that you aren’t alone if you’re personally experiencing long-term physical or mental symptoms stemming from COVID-19.

For physical symptoms, you should speak to your doctor. They may have recommendations to help you since so many people are going through them right now.

If you’re having symptoms of a new or worsening mental health or substance use disorder, call 866-600-7709 and talk to a team member of Anchored Tides Recovery. Again, many people are in the same situation as you, but you can take steps to get treatment.

The Importance of Exercise and Self-Care

Importance of Exercise

Importance of Exercise

 

Unfortunately, we often get wrapped up in the concept of exercise as something to do to lose weight or for vanity purposes. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to shed pounds or look your best, we also have to see that the importance of Exercise is truly the ultimate form of self-care.

Exercise is so much more than weight loss or calories. When we commit to regularly moving our bodies, we’re giving ourselves a gift that extends far beyond looking fit in whatever way we enjoy and that works for us.

Moving and getting regular physical activity means you’re prioritizing and valuing yourself and your well-being. It’s excellent for your physical and mental health, and we encourage you to find a routine that feels right to you.

The way you exercise doesn’t have to be what anyone tells you is right. Listen to your mind and your body, and find things that you genuinely enjoy, even if they push you outside your comfort zone or are challenging.

 

The Physical Benefits of Exercise

There are, of course, physical benefits of regular exercise, including:

  • You can maintain a healthy weight. When you exercise, you burn calories, which can help you maintain your current weight or lose weight. Any amount of activity is better than none, and that’s one of the biggest things to remember.
  • Regular exercise combats or reduces the risk of developing the most common chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. When you exercise regularly, it can help manage or prevent stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and arthritis.
  • Exercise helps improve your cognitive function.
  • When you get exercise, it helps lower your risk of death from all causes.
  • If you’re low on energy, try moving your body a bit and see how you feel. Movement helps boost your physical strength and endurance. It also brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and promotes the more efficient functioning of your cardiovascular system.
  • Are you struggling to sleep at night? Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better quality sleep and enjoy a deeper sleep.
  • There are sexual benefits of exercise. When you work out or move your body, it can improve your confidence and energy levels, benefiting your sex life.
  • You can make it a social activity to exercise by taking a group class or finding someone to walk with.

Your ideal goal should be to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. If you can’t do this right away and you’re new to exercising, that’s okay. Again, do what you can, and something is always better than nothing.

Strength training can also be an important part of staying mentally and physically strong and healthy when you’re ready.

 

 

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

We encourage you to exercise for your mental health as much if not more than your physical health, although the two do work together. Exercise can help you if you’re in substance abuse recovery, and it can also help you deal with the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and more.

When you exercise regularly, you’ll feel more positive about yourself in general and improve your well-being.

 

Exercise and Depression

Studies indicate exercising can help with mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. For example, a study conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found running five minutes a day or walking for an hour lowers the risk of major depression by 26%.

If you receive treatment for depression, adding an exercise schedule to your routine can help you prevent a relapse.

When you’re exercising, it’s creating powerful effects in your brain. Exercise promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation, and develops activity patterns promoting a sense of well-being and calm. 

Endorphins release into your brain, making you feel generally good. You can also break negative thought patterns by distracting yourself with exercise.

 

Anxiety

A natural, effective anti-anxiety treatment exercise helps relieve the effects of stress and tension. Again, since your body is releasing endorphins, it makes you feel good. You can also get out of your head when you exercise, which can be vital for dealing with anxiety.

When you exercise, try and integrate elements of mindfulness into it too. For example, if you walk outside, notice the things you hear and see around you.

 

Trauma and PTSD

As you exercise, it helps alleviate the being “stuck” feeling you may have, common with a history of trauma or PTSD. You can get unstuck so that you can then begin to move forward and have reduced PTSD symptoms.

 

Addiction Recovery

As you exercise during your early days of addiction recovery, it can activate your reward pathway in a natural, healthy way. That reward pathway changes with substance abuse, but exercising can help it re-learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Since exercise triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, you’ll feel better. 

Some of the specific ways exercise can help in addiction recovery include:

  • Physical activity may help with symptoms of withdrawal like depression, anxiety, and stress. These are withdrawal symptoms that can otherwise contribute to relapse.
  • Exercise can help distract you from cravings.
  • You can replace your triggers with an exercise routine.
  • It’s prevalent, especially in the early days of detox and recovery, to have sleep problems. Exercise can help you get more high-quality rest.
  • Shame or self-doubt can be part of the aftermath of addiction, but exercising can help raise your self-esteem and also help you have more belief in yourself and your abilities.

 

Other Benefits of Exercise For Your Mental Health

Other benefits you can experience when you exercise include:

  • Your memory and thinking will be sharper and clearer since it stimulates new brain cells.
  • You’re investing in yourself when you’re exercising, which can help you feel powerful.
  • Resilience is something we talk about a lot in addiction treatment. Exercise is a great way to build on your resilience skills and prepare you to face mental challenges in your life in a healthy, productive way.

 

Commit to Self-Care

We encourage you to commit to caring for yourself. Let go of what might hold you back from exercising, such as guilt that you’re not dedicating that time to other things or intimidation. The first step is the hardest, but you’re already showing yourself that you are worth the time and the commitment to get more active once you do that. For help living a healthy life after drugs and alcohol, call 866-600-7709 and let the team at Anchored Tides Recovery be part of your support squad!

How to Identify Toxic Positivity

toxic positivity

Toxic positivity is incredibly damaging to your mental health when it’s happening around you. The detrimental effects are why learning how to identify toxic positivity can help you protect yourself. We encourage you to delve into how to identify and avoid toxic positivity so that you can maintain your mental health.

You never want to feel like your experiences are minimized, nor do you want to have to pretend you feel a certain way to make other people feel comfortable.

Some real risks and dangers come with toxic positivity, and this can be especially true if you’re dealing with mental health issues or are in addiction recovery.

 

Understanding Toxic Positivity

Being positive can be a great thing in appropriate situations. So how do we know when it becomes toxic or harmful?

  • For many of us, it’s almost counterintuitive to hear the words “toxic” and “positivity” used together. For decades, the media, books, movies, and New Age thinking have led us to believe that positive thinking is most important.
  • Positive thinking can indeed improve your mental health. For example, when you think positively about the world, it can help improve your self-esteem and reduce suicidal thoughts.
  • At the same time, we have to understand that positive thinking isn’t a cure for everything, nor does it solve all of your challenges. 
  • You also aren’t always going to experience positive emotions. 
  • That doesn’t mean we can’t be overall positive people, but we need an authentic experience and the opportunity to recognize negative experiences and bad emotions. 

When positivity becomes toxic, there’s a demand placed on you to resort to that as the solution to every problem. You feel backed into a positivity corner where you can’t think negatively or express negative emotions. Even so, negative emotions are a genuine part of who we are and the human experience. 

Positive thinking means that you try to have an optimistic outlook on life. Positive thinking crosses into the realm of toxicity when you are silencing your real feelings or when you aren’t seeking help or support for difficult emotions. 

 

Is It Bad to Be Negative?

It’s so ingrained in us, particularly as women, to avoid being negative or having negative feelings at all costs. We’re supposed to put on a happy face no matter the situation or what we’re experiencing. That’s how we make the people around us feel comfortable, and we learn that by putting on that happy face, we’re essentially faking it until we make it.

  • That can be harmful because we are humans with a complex range of emotions. 
  • Being comfortable with uncomfortable feelings or challenging situations is vital for our mental health and well-being. For example, if you’re experiencing sadness because of grief, that’s normal and healthy. 
  • Toxic positivity might push you to try and conceal your grief and sadness, which can lead you to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

There are times when we need to talk about our human emotions and express them to work through them effectively. 

  • Research finds that vocalizing what we’re sometimes feeling like part of our inevitably imperfect life makes our unpleasant feelings less powerful. 
  • You can feel less trapped by your emotional experience when you speak about them.
  • Researchers also find that talking about all your true feelings, including the negative ones, can help your brain process what you’re feeling. 
  • In one study, labeling and talking about emotions reduced the pathways in the brain associated with them. That reduction of the brain pathways helps make painful or unpleasant emotions less overpowering than emotional suppression, which may have the opposite effect. 

While positivity and changing your mindset can be fantastic for your psychological health, there’s an extreme happening with toxic positivity.

 

 

What Are the Risks of Toxic Positivity?

There is actual harm that can happen when positivity goes overboard.

For example, it’s shaming. When you’re going through complicated feelings, you need your emotions validated. You need to be able to turn to the people you love and who love you for support. When you find that you’re being told your feelings aren’t valid, then you’re simultaneously being told that they aren’t acceptable. 

That creates shame. Shame can worsen negative cycles and patterns in your life.

  • You may experience feelings of loneliness or feelings of sadness when you’re surrounded by toxic positivity. 
  • Another harm of too much positivity is that it creates guilt. The idea becomes that if you can’t feel good and positive, no matter what’s happening around you, you aren’t doing something right.
  • Toxic positivity becomes an avoidance strategy and an example of an unhealthy coping mechanism. You aren’t facing your emotions, but you’re instead internalizing them and dealing with the fallout of repressed emotions. 

When you can’t confront challenges or authentic emotions, you’re stunting your spiritual and emotional growth.

 

Toxic Positive Examples

Some of the specific things you might see that indicate an issue with positivity include:

  • When you speak about how you feel, someone tells you it could be worse.
  • You’re told at least you’re lucky you have what you do.
  • Someone tells you to focus on the positive after you experience something traumatic.
  • Being told everything happens for a reason.
  • Calling those people who always appear happy or positive as brave or strong.

Signs that you might be engaging in the positivity that’s toxic include:

  • You prefer to avoid your problems.
  • You feel guilty when you experience negative emotions like sadness.
  • Regularly sharing feel-good quotes and mantras to appear more socially acceptable.
  • Minimize your own and other people’s feelings because they’re uncomfortable with you.
  • Feeling like being emotionally strong no matter what is something to be proud of.

 

How to Avoid Toxic Positivity

Whether you recognize certain behaviors in yourself, or you’ve experienced them through your interactions with others, remember the following:

  • Work on managing rather than denying negative feelings and emotions. No, learning how to avoid toxic positivity doesn’t mean you dwell on negative things, but you should recognize what you’re feeling, label it and then move on from there.
  • Be realistic about what you should feel, and work to identify what a typical timeframe is to feel certain things. For example, if you lose a loved one, it’s perfectly normal to work through a rather lengthy period of grief.
  • You can feel multiple things at one time. For example, sometimes negative feelings like anxiety or apprehension can occur with something great in life, like a new opportunity. We’re complex, and so are our feelings, and we don’t have to be boxed into one emotion.
  • If someone comes to you and wants to share something difficult for them, while you may be trying to help with your best intentions, don’t try to tell them that it’s all going to be okay, or they should look for the silver lining. Instead, be a sympathetic listener.

Finally, be mindful of how you’re feeling, especially when you’re engaging with inspirational content. Instagram is notorious for being a platform for toxic positivity. 

Sometimes, we can see this content as being motivational and uplifting, which is great.

You do need to hone in on what you feel after you view this content, however. Are you feeling guilty or ashamed, for example? If so, you might need to reconsider following that account or maybe limit your social media consumption in general.

The idea of toxic positivity is never to discount the value of a positive outlook or thinking. Instead, we must learn that it’s okay to feel even complex emotions, which are real, valid experiences. If you’re looking for more support and the right kind of positivity to help you with your recovery, call 866-600-7709 and contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery. Take the first steps towards your new life. 

Just for Today: Overcoming Cravings One Day at a Time

overcoming cravings

overcoming cravings

 

Overcoming cravings are one of the most challenging parts of addiction recovery, especially in the early days. Cravings can be a mental and physical response to no longer using drugs or alcohol. Cravings are incredibly intense during the detox and withdrawal period, but they can persist long after.

  • The sensation of craving isn’t exclusive to drugs and alcohol. These urges to do something are part of everyday life for everyone.
  • For example, you might crave a particular food. Under normal circumstances, it might not be a big deal, but if you’re trying to lose weight, that craving can be problematic and keep you from achieving your goals.
  • With cravings, it’s important to recognize they’re going to happen and identify strategies for dealing with them when they do. 
  • Coping with these urges is one of the big things you learn during rehab.

Physical craving is where you have a physical response to wanting drugs or alcohol. 

  • Physical cravings are part of withdrawal, and those cravings will eventually lessen as you go deeper into your recovery. 
  • Mental cravings are emotional, and they can take longer to subside. 
  • Mental cravings might lead you to fixate on the thought of using drugs or alcohol, or you can get the idea in your head that you need the substance right away.

You can deal with both by learning positive coping mechanisms and remembering to take it one day at a time. Taking it one day at a time is good for overcoming cravings and dealing with other challenges you might encounter in your recovery.

 

One Day at a Time in Addiction Recovery

Not just cravings, but your full recovery may be built on the concept of taking it one day at a time, but what does that really mean? 

One-day-at-a-time is a phrase you’ll hear in 12-step programs and recovery circles, but the reality is that it’s sage advice no matter what your situation.

As far as the 12-step model, Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson once said:

“On a day-at-a-time basis, I am confident I can stay away from a drink for one day. So I set out with confidence. At the end of the day, I have the reward of achievement. Achievement feels good and  makes me want more.”

  • Taking things one day at a time helps us let go of the past, and perhaps guilt or shame we might feel from that. 
  • We can also stop feeling anxiety for the future and plant ourselves firmly at the moment.
  • Mindfulness and being in the moment is something you’ll work on a lot in addiction treatment.
  • Being mindful and living in the present is something many people aspire to, even when they aren’t struggling with addiction.

Often, when you’re in recovery, and especially at the start, you may feel apprehensive. It can be a considerable undertaking to think about a lifetime of sobriety and what that will look like. Rather than thinking that way, which may be overwhelming, just think that you have to stay sober today. That’s all you have to manage at this moment.

There’s something in AA called the 24-hour plan. Rather than swearing off drugs or alcohol for your entire life, you concentrate on the 24 hours you’re presently in. If you have a craving or an urge, you’re not resisting or yielding. You’re just putting it off until tomorrow, at which point you’ll deal with those 24 hours.

You only worry about today, and there’s a power in that. You eventually learn over time that you can manage those cravings for much longer than 24 hours.

 

Why Is It Important to Stay Present?

Even outside of a coping mechanism for cravings, staying in the present is valuable in your life.

  • When you’re in the present, you can reduce your stress and improve your focus. 
  • You can build emotional resilience, and you can find what inspires you. 
  • Staying present helps you begin to rebuild strong emotional connections with the people around you and spend meaningful time with loved ones.

Many people find when they practice mindfulness, they’re able to stop being a bystander in their life and become connected with everything around them. In recovery, that’s so valuable. Being present is great for mental health and spiritual wellness.

 

 

Strategies for Dealing with Cravings

While being present and taking it one day at a time is one way to deal with cravings, there are other strategies you can include in your life while overcoming cravings.

Something you’ll work on in your treatment program is learning your triggers. Your triggers can be anything—people, places, or things. These triggers make you want to drink or use drugs.

Triggers can often fall into one of four general categories.

  • Pattern—these are the things and places that make you want to use again, and they can also include significant events, the time of day, or the season.
  • Social—social triggers involve one person or a group of people you associate with drinking or drug use.
  • Emotional—whether it’s sadness, anger, anxiety, or happiness, there may be emotional triggers that contribute to cravings when you feel a certain way.
  • Withdrawal—this is something we talked about above, and withdrawal cravings are a physiological response as your body tries to regain a sense of normalcy without the presence of substances.

You can work on identifying and uncovering triggers so that you can avoid them if possible. If you can’t avoid them, you can proactively have strategies in mind about how you’ll deal with them when they occur.

Tips for dealing with triggers and cravings that are also in line with mindfulness and taking things one day at a time include:

  • Avoidance. As mentioned, for some people and some triggers, avoidance can work. For example, you may find a new social group after rehab to avoid people you associate with using drugs or alcohol.
  • Maintain healthy behaviors. Focusing on eating well, exercising, and getting rest can help you avoid cravings and deal with triggers. You’re filling your time and your mental space with other priorities.
  • Find things you enjoy. Maybe you learn an instrument, practice yoga, or start painting.
  • Regularly practice meditation and relaxation exercises. If you’re feeling the pull of a craving, sit down and do a meditation, even just for five minutes. This will bring you back to the present and help you regain a sense of control.
  • Attend support group meetings.
  • Change how you think about cravings. Sometimes people will panic when they experience a craving. You might feel out of control. Work to know that craving is something you can ride out like a wave. Retain or regain control of how you view it. Speak optimistic empowering statements out loud if that helps you. Remember that all cravings end.
  • Track how you’re feeling with a journal.
  • Rely on your relapse prevention plan. When you’re in treatment, you can work with your care providers on a concrete strategy.

Approaching your battles “Just for today” might be some of the best advice you can put into practice in your recovery to manage cravings. If you’d like to learn more techniques for a successful recovery from addiction, call 866-600-7709 to talk to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery; we’re here to talk and answer questions that you may have. 

Coping with Substance Abuse Disorder During the Holidays

substance abuse

substance abuse

 

It is tough to be around situations that are triggering and remind you of obstacles you struggle with. Even though sober people can find it challenging to be around alcohol, especially in abundance at holiday events, absolute self-control is an annual test for people in recovery.

Drinking plays a role in many holiday festivities, from wine with dinner on Thanksgiving to champagne when toasting the new year; alcohol plays a huge part in the holiday season. Some individuals can drink moderately at festive functions; others engage in heavy drinking that strays into abuse more often than not.

 

Substance Abuse & Addiction

It is essential to know how substance abuse differs from addiction; Addiction is something you cannot easily let go of despite damaging your physical health, mental health, and social life. Whereas many people with substance abuse issues can quit relatively quickly or they can change their unhealthy behavior.

Substance abuse for mood-altering purposes may simply be described as a pattern of harmful use of any substance. ‘Substances’ can include alcohol and other drugs, as well as certain substances that are not drugs at all, and whether or not they are illegal does not matter.

“Abuse” can result because you use a drug in a manner that is not intended or recommended or because you use more than prescribed. To be precise, someone can use drugs and not be addicted or even have a drug use problem.

Generally, when individuals talk about substance abuse, they usually refer to illicit substances. Abusive drugs do more than changing the mood. They can confuse your judgment, distort your perceptions, and change your response times, all of which can put you at risk of accident and injury. Still, you continue to take the drugs because of the rush of dopamine and the worldliness you experience.

In the first place, these medications have been illegal because they are potentially addictive or may cause significant adverse health effects. Some claim that the use of illicit drugs is considered unsafe and, therefore, violent.

 

5 Causes of Substance Abuse:

Although there is no clear-cut specific answer as to what causes your addiction to substance abuse, it is possible that the origin of the addiction starts or speeds up because of the points given below:

 

1. Family history of addiction.

 Drug addiction is more common in some families and mainly involves troublesome genes.

 

2. Mental health disorder.

Having a mental health disorder can also play a role in leading an individual to substance abuse.

 

3. Peer pressure.

Peer pressure plays a significant role in substance abuse and can be very dangerous if not detected early.

 

4. Early use.

Early use can also lead to addiction from substance abuse.

 

5. Taking a highly addictive drug.  

Taking a highly addictive drug or prescription drug can often lead to addiction or substance abuse as well.

 

 

How can you Stop Substance Abuse?

Overcoming substance abuse or drug addiction can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but never impossible.

For many people struggling with addiction, the most challenging step toward recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. It is entirely normal to feel unsure about whether you’re ready to go down the road to recovery or if you have what it takes to quit your addiction. You may be worrying about how you can find an alternative way to handle a mental condition if you are addicted to prescription medication. It’s all right to feel distressed. Committing to sobriety means changing several aspects, like how you cope with tension, who you allow in your life, what you do in your spare time, how you think of yourself, and how you take over-the-counter medications.

And when you know it is causing issues in your life, it’s still natural to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice. Recovery takes time, encouragement, and support, but you can conquer your addiction and regain control of your life by committing to change.

 

Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction treatment is a variable plan and not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Treatments always vary based on what you need and what will help you treat the fastest and best. You can also choose the treatment that works best for you based on the substance you’re abusing, the level of care you need, your personal needs for mental health, or what options for health care you can afford. 

Some of the most common addiction treatments that have set patients on a successful path to recovery include detoxification, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive behavior therapy, contingency management, the all-famous 12-step facilitation, and treatment medication. For questions or assistance staying sober through the holidays, call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction: Codependent Issues

childhood trauma

childhood trauma

 

The vast majority of women with a substance use disorder have a history of childhood trauma, unfortunately, and exposure to traumatic experiences. Childhood trauma can take different forms. For example, both physical abuse and sexual abuse are examples, but so are things like neglect. Understanding the impacts of childhood trauma on current addiction in women is something we work hard to prioritize in our programs.

Without taking a trauma-informed approach, we don’t feel like you’re genuinely getting effective, evidence-based care.

We also find that the way we talk about addiction in women as society tends not to take trauma into account. Traditional addiction treatment doesn’t consider the differences in how men and women process and cope with trauma either, creating a void for women in their care.

One specific example is a borderline personality disorder. We often see women diagnosed with this mental health condition but with no understanding of the context of their past trauma exposure. Women are much more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder than men, yet the symptoms could relate to processing different types of childhood traumas. 

 

What Is Trauma?

Traumatic exposures and events have the potential to shape who we will all become. You can experience trauma in childhood or adulthood. Regardless, this exposure can change how you see not just the world around you but also yourself. The effects of childhood trauma can be far-reaching. 

Examples of types of trauma include:

  • Physical abuse, assault, or violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Community violence
  • Verbal or emotional abuse
  • Neglect by parents or caretakers
  • Bullying
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents 
  • Terminal illnesses

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive because when you survive anything where you feel your life is in danger or experience extreme distress, it can lead to a trauma response and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Signs of having traumatic adverse childhood experiences and trauma symptoms include:

  • Dramatic shifts in mood
  • Erratic behaviors
  • Excessive emotional displays
  • Having an anxiety disorder 
  • High levels of nervousness 
  • Irritability and agitation that’s more or less constant
  • A lack of confidence
  • Developing eating disorders
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
  • Reliving the traumatic event
  • Problems relating to others
  • Issues with interpersonal relationships 
  • Suicidal ideation 

When you experience trauma, particularly in childhood, since who you are is being shaped during this time, it puts you at a very high risk of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Trauma exposure in childhood can create long-term mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety. When dealing with untreated mental illnesses stemming from traumatic memories, you’re more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

 

The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction 

Your brain is incredibly adaptive. There’s a term, plasticity, used to talk more about this. Essentially, your brain can respond to any situation that you experience in your daily life. The plasticity of your brain helps you learn new things and form memories.

  • Each thing that you’re doing, whether that’s something good or bad, leads to the growth of your brain neurons, as well as changes. 
  • However, those neural connections can break as well, if that’s what’s needed. 
  • Your brain rewires itself to make sure you continue functioning in whatever way is necessary.
  • This plasticity can be a great thing if you’re, for example, beginning to meditate. Neural plasticity can help your brain rewire itself through meditation so you can tackle depression and anxiety.
  • The problem can occur when you experience mistreatment or trauma. 
  • Your experiences, especially early on in your life when your brain is developing, change your brain’s structure. 
  • Abnormalities arise from your experiences when they’re negative, and those abnormalities affect behavior and cognition for trauma survivors. 

One specific example of these adverse effects is the impact of stress hormones on brain development. Stress hormones like cortisol interfere with normal brain development in children with chronically high levels. Children facing exposure to violence without a safe space are likely to have ongoing stress that rarely if ever dissipates. 

  • Around two-thirds of all people with addictions experience trauma exposure in their childhood, so it’s not a rare situation.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than a third of adolescents experiencing abuse or neglect will have a diagnosable substance use disorder before reaching their 18th birthday. 
  • Around 55 to 60% of people with PTSD end up developing a chemical dependency.

 

 

Women and Trauma

Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. When women have PTSD, they often have a longer duration of symptoms. Research shows women with PTSD are more sensitive to things reminding them of the trauma. They are at greater risk of adverse effects related to mental health outcomes. 

Women who have untreated trauma tend to experience mental health disorders such as higher rates of depression and anxiety and more physical symptoms. These physical symptoms can include sexual dysfunction, migraines, gastrointestinal issues, and other chronic health conditions. 

Health care providers often struggle to diagnose PTSD due to varying factors like a lack of time and training.

 

Trauma-Informed Care

The startling reality of the prevalence of childhood trauma in people and especially women with substance use disorders brings us back to the concept of trauma-informed care. Substance abuse counselors should understand the high levels of co-dependence between substance use and trauma histories to provide practical, evidence-based care.

There are quite a few different approaches to trauma-informed care. There are also differences in treating the psychological symptoms of trauma and treating the trauma experience. Treating the trauma experience is more in-depth and complex, requiring specialized training on the part of the clinician. In traditional programs, the focus is on treating psychiatric symptoms rather than the underlying causes.

Research and observation show that women who learn about the impact of trauma on their mental and physical health, self-esteem, and emotions tend to see more beneficial outcomes.

The following are some of the critical elements of trauma-informed care and therapy for childhood trauma:

  • The underlying concept of trauma-informed care is understanding how the brain responds to childhood trauma exposure or adult trauma exposure. 
  • Clinicians pay attention to the central nervous system, biological effects, and specifically the automatic nervous system to delve more into the impact of trauma.
  • Trauma-informed care should help women understand their symptoms but from an approach of their strengths.
  • We have to be careful about re-traumatizing our patients.
  • Central to all trauma-informed care, especially in addiction treatment, is the importance of hope for recovery.

Our goal with our trauma-informed care approach is to be empowering and positive. We also want to make sure that our patients never feel rushed through their program because it takes time to work through underlying trauma. Many women don’t understand the links of their trauma to their substance abuse, and instead, they feel shame or as if they’ve personally failed, which isn’t the reality at all.

Often we see women who don’t even know what they’ve gone through is traumatic. They see their situations as normal because that’s all they know.

 

Final Thoughts

If you’re searching for a “childhood trauma therapist near me” or something similar, you may already have an understanding of the role trauma plays in your life and your substance use. You might also be at a different point in your journey, where you haven’t fully gained an understanding of those effects.

Regardless of where you are, we can help you get where you want to be with childhood trauma recovery. 

Our team is trained and experienced with trauma-informed care. We work with you to help you understand the impact of your childhood trauma, but from a place of hope and empowerment for your recovery. Please reach out to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709 to learn more.

A Guide to Being a Better Parent in Recovery

parent in recovery

parent in recovery

 

When you’re a woman going through addiction treatment and beginning your life in recovery, you already face immense challenges. 

Being a mother can compound those because you may want to repair the damage you feel occurred during active addiction. You may also want to make up for the lost time. Simultaneously, the recovery process is hard work, so prioritizing is critical as you navigate parenting in a new world for you.

The most important thing you can remember is that no one is a perfect parent. Despite your struggles with addiction or mental health, if you show your children love, that’s ultimately what will stand out to them throughout their lives.

You have to show love and compassion for yourself, too, particularly as you are navigating a new situation and new season in your life.

The following are some things to know about being a parent in recovery from a substance use disorder and how to become a positive role model. 

 

How Addiction Affects Families

While it’s emotionally challenging, a big part of true recovery recognizes how your addiction affects your loved ones. Loved ones can include your children, mainly if they are old enough to understand what’s happening. When you can confront these psychological effects head-on, you’re in a much better position to begin to work through them.

Once you leave treatment, you hope you can put the past behind you. While you may be able to put your substance abuse behind you, it’s essential to recognize the lingering effects of being an addicted parent and work to repair those as part of your recovery journey. 

It’s challenging to maintain a peaceful or loving home when you’re experiencing alcohol or drug addiction. There may be a lot of conflicts, erosion of trust, and communication can become frustrating. Along with these effects impacting your children, they could also affect your spouse or partner and other people who love you, such as your parents or siblings.

  • You might have behaved in a way that would otherwise be out of character for you when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or exhibiting addictive behavior. 
  • Psychology Today estimates 1 in 5 children grow up in a home with a parent who abuses alcohol or drugs.
  • Exposure to substance abuse is a form of trauma, and children who grow up experiencing substance abuse in the home are more likely to develop their substance use disorders when they’re adults.
  • Children’s personalities are developing during this time and are highly susceptible to what’s happening around them.

When you decide to get treatment, that’s an essential thing you can do to change these dynamics. 

  • As you choose a rehab program like residential treatment, look for one specifically for women and mothers.
  • These programs will allow you to participate in therapy that focuses on rebuilding your relationships with your children and family and reducing the trauma they might have experienced.
  • Look for a facility that emphasizes relationships and helps you connect with the resources you need to be a great parent in recovery.

Too often, mothers become discouraged. They feel the damage is done, and there’s nothing they can do; that’s untrue. While substance abuse by a parent can affect children, they’re also highly resilient. 

You ultimately want your kids to see you as someone who worked hard and overcame challenges. That’s what you have the opportunity to demonstrate after treatment.

Below are some practical tips to be a better mother in recovery.

 

 

Forgive Yourself

Understanding the impact of addiction isn’t about continuing to hate yourself or feel shame, and parents in recovery have to know this. 

Instead, it’s about recognizing past challenges and then being able to move forward through that honestly. 

To be the best version of yourself for your children, forgive yourself. If you participate in a program with a 12-step foundation, there is a path to make amends for past behavior and start again as part of your addiction recovery. 

When you can forgive yourself, you aren’t just helping your children and family dynamic. You’re also reducing your risk of relapse. Shame and guilt are so interwoven with substance use and addiction. 

You have to work to rebuild your self-esteem and understand that you are more than your mistakes and addiction.

 

Set Boundaries

If you feel guilt for things in the past, you might try to be too permissive in your parenting. Permissive parenting is problematic for children, particularly as they get older. Not having firm, healthy boundaries can put your children at a greater risk of developing their own SUD.

Rather than making up for anything by eliminating boundaries, create a loving and healthy relationship with your children that centers on limits. Your children need that discipline and structure.

You want to be a role model rather than a friend. Along with setting boundaries, resist the urge to try and buy affection with gifts.

Your children are going to thrive when they have stability and consistency. You can create routines that focus on spending quality time together rather than buying affection.

 

Rebuild Trust

If your children are older, they may have lost trust in you during your active addiction. You may have been unable to keep your word, or you might not have been around or shown up for your children in the way they needed you to when dealing with a drug or alcohol use disorder. 

Now is when you can start to rebuild that trust. Again, consistency is key here. You should also show up when you say you will and prioritize family time. 

Consider going to counseling with your children, so you can relearn how to bond with one another.

 

Take Care of Yourself

Practicing self-care is vital in recovery. Parents in recovery may be dealing with so much physically and mentally during this time. Self-care isn’t selfish.

Self-care gives you the chance to take care of yourself to give more to your children.

When you practice self-care, you’re also setting an example for your kids about healthy coping skills. Self-care is one of the critical life skills you can and should integrate into your daily life.

 

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is something that every parent can benefit from practicing—it’s not exclusively beneficial if you’re in recovery. When you’re a parent, no matter the specifics of the situation, it’s stressful. You may have so many worries about the past and the future. Practicing mindfulness brings you back to the moment.

You’re able to remember how important it is to focus on one day at a time.

Everyone practices mindfulness differently, but bringing yourself back into the moment if you’re struggling is one of the best coping mechanisms you can learn in recovery. Being mindful is suitable for managing things that come your way in everyday life and dealing with symptoms of mental health issues. 

 

Ask For Help

Finally, there’s certainly no shame in asking for help when you need it, particularly for single parents. Maybe you have parents or friends who are willing to give you the support you need, even if it’s just providing a listening ear. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

Over time, the more you put the steps above into practice, the more confident you’ll feel as a parent and the stronger your relationship with your children will be. In your parental role, you want to model healthy behavior and life experiences for your children, and knowing when to reach out for help is part of that. 

If you’re ready to start your recovery effort, please contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709 to learn more about our specialized treatment center for women.

Future Scenarios: Pathways to Meet Your Goals

Pathways to Meet Goals

Pathways to Meet Goals

 

When you’re in an addiction recovery program, the pathways to meet goals is to prepare you adequately for what’s waiting for you when you leave the comfort of treatment.

Relapse prevention and an aftercare plan implementation should be in place as soon as you begin treatment. Evidence-based treatment requires that after-planning is an integral part of each step of your treatment.

Relapse is a gradual process that has specific stages. In treatment, you learn to recognize those early stages. When you can identify them proactively, you’ll have a higher chance of successfully navigating your life in recovery.

At our treatment center, we uniquely do things. We have a version of relapse prevention where we work to help you hold mental space for future scenarios. Then, when you face these situations in the real world, you’re prepared.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk a little more about relapse prevention in general and how building pathways in your brain can help you meet your goals.

 

What is a Relapse?

When you’re in treatment, it’s a safe environment. You have the support of our staff and your peers. You have resources available, and there are few if any triggers. Having that controlled environment is essential in those early days of your recovery.

That type of environment can’t last forever, though.

  • You are ultimately preparing to re-enter the world but to do so without drugs or alcohol.
  • With the real world often comes triggers, including people, places, and things. 
  • Stress, problems in relationships, financial difficulties, and other adverse situations are all part of our daily lives. 
  • For someone in the early stages of recovery, coping with these stressors can be difficult.

While we can sometimes view relapse as inevitable because of the high rates, the reality is it’s not. Most people who often relapse either didn’t receive evidence-based treatment initially or stopped following their treatment plan. The work you do in treatment is what you can lean on when things get tough in your life, and maintaining your treatment plan can help you avoid relapse.

Relapse is a return to using drugs or alcohol following a period of sobriety. The particulars can vary depending on the person. For some people, drinking just once is a relapse. For others, someone falls deep into their substance use once again.

The three stages of relapse are emotional, mental, and physical.

  • During the emotional stage of relapse, you might find that you’re not participating in self-care practices, or you’re beginning to dread your recovery meetings. You might hide what you’re feeling or become withdrawn from friends and family.
  • When you reach the mental stage of relapse, you could be having cravings or glorifying when you were using drugs and alcohol.
  • Physical relapse is when you use drugs or alcohol, even just one time.

 

Relapse Prevention and Personal Action Plans

There are a few primary concepts that are important in relapse prevention and your pathways to meet goals. 

  • The first is what we talked about above—relapse is a gradual process occurring in stages. Again, in treatment, you should learn to recognize the earliest stages.
  • The second is that recovery is about personal growth, where you’ll achieve milestones.
  • The third is that the main tools you will rely on for relapse prevention are mind-body relaxation and cognitive therapy. You work beginning in treatment to change your negative thought patterns. You also learn specific, healthy coping skills.
  • The fourth element of relapse prevention is that a few core rules explain most of these scenarios. When you receive education in these rules, you learn to focus and prioritize what you need to be doing.

Recovery isn’t one event that ends when you’re sober. Recovery is a process that requires changes in how you think, react to situations, and cope with varying emotions. Mindfulness and consistency are critical, and you should work on approaching your recovery in a strategic, thoughtful way.

 

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

While the specifics may vary depending on your individual needs, some of the steps that go into creating a relapse prevention plan include:

  • Set goals for your recovery. Your goals can be anything meaningful and relevant to you, from improving relationships to growing spiritually.
  • Identify triggers. You’ll work in treatment to identify what your triggers are, and you’ll begin to think of them as your enemy, needing to be dealt with accordingly.
  • Be offensive in your thinking rather than defensive.
  • Know the warning signs and red flags for yourself.
  • Have pre-defined recovery tools. For example, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and relaxation techniques may be part of your recovery toolbox.
  • List the specific actions you’ll take when you see warning signs.

 

 

Neural Plasticity and Recovery

When you’re participating in treatment with us, we work on a version of relapse prevention that focuses on you visualizing future scenarios. These are detailed situations that you’re likely to experience in recovery. Then, as part of that visualization of future problems or triggers, you’ll begin to outline how you’ll deal with them proactively.

There’s a reason this is going to help you immensely. 

  • You’re building the pathways to meet goals in your brain through this visualization, so you’ll be ready to deal with these situations when they happen. 
  • When you’re proactively visualizing what you’ll do, then when the actual situation occurs, you’re going to feel like you’ve already dealt with it. 
  • You’ll be less likely to be overwhelmed with stress or emotions that could increase the risk of relapse.

Elements of this relapse prevention approach build on the idea of neural plasticity. You can rewire your brain, which is a dynamic process. 

  • When you rewire your brain, you change the relationship and interaction between it and your body.
  • You can change millions or even billions of connections in your neural pathways.
  • When you focus on certain things, whether it’s happiness or remaining strong in the face of adversity, you’re strengthening the pathways that correspond with emotions and situations.
  • Once you know how to develop and strengthen your neural pathways, you gain so much control over your habits and who you are. Also, research shows us that as you create new pathways, you’re simultaneously weakening old ones that are no longer getting your attention. Each time you work on visualizing, for example, what your life will look like in recovery, you’re weakening those pathways that might glorify your days of substance abuse.

Otherwise, without taking action to change your neural pathways, you’re more likely to keep following the familiar, worn paths in your brain. When you’re in treatment for addiction, that’s the last thing you want to do.

With visualization, you turn hope into something that guides you. Your brain can’t always determine what’s a memory and what’s a vision of the future. That means envisioning what your goals are is going to help you create them in your life.

The more you consciously focus on building new pathways, the more you will make healthy new habits through repetition; aftercare at Anchored Tides Recovery can help aid this process. If you’re looking to learn more and develop a support group of people who successfully understand the process, call us at 866-600-7709.

Liminal Space: Learning to Transition

Liminal space

Liminal space is a term coming from the Latin word “limen.” We find that liminal space is a powerful phrase in addiction treatment and recovery.

So, why is that?

Limen means threshold. A threshold is any place of entering or beginning. The idea is that liminal space exists in the time between what was in your life and what’s next. There’s a sense of uncertainty in this season of waiting and transition. While that uncertainty can create anxiety, there can be power in this time.

Without liminal space, we’re unable to transform.

You’re moving out of the familiar and into the unknown. You’re leaving your old world behind but perhaps unsure of what your future existence looks like. It’s only within liminal space that you can genuinely emerge with a sense of newness.

When you don’t accept liminal space or encounter it, you’re going to be stagnant. Your old life or world becomes what you see as normal, so you can’t move forward in recovery.

The Thresholds of Recovery

Liminal space or liminality can feel like a free fall in some cases. You could be looking around thinking, “what now,” or “what’s next.” You might be shifting in terms of not just active addiction to recovery. Other shifts can include your relationships, your career, or perhaps the logistics of your life, such as where you’ll live.

  • It’s incredibly unsettling to enter these transitional spaces.
  • You have to walk through the doorways available to you to reach the moments that will ultimately define your life.
  • Along with addiction and recovery, other examples of liminal spaces in our lives include job changes, a sudden loss like a death or divorce. Those events are inherently not positive and are devastating, but you do have the opportunity to move forward and make a positive shift.
  • Often, with addiction, we tend to tie our drug or alcohol use to who we are. That’s our identity. The use of substances shapes everything we know and believe about ourselves. 
  • In a rehab program, you work to give up that old identity, leading to grieving, which is normal. 
  • You’re not only giving up the person you believed yourself to be and grieving that loss, but you also grieve the loss of drugs and alcohol.
  • Through that grieving, liminality becomes the space to decide who we will be and what our lives will look like going forward.
  • After completing treatment or when you begin recovery, you may only know that life won’t be the same and that you’ve gone through a shift as a person, but you may specifically know what that’s all going to look like.
  • You stop being on autopilot in your life, however. You can change your perspective of yourself and the world and truly break those old thought patterns.

Navigating the Unexpected

Recovery is a challenge. We won’t sugarcoat that for you. There are going to be significant ups in your sober life, but also downs. Some days are going to feel harder than others, and you’re also going to have to accept the reality of the unexpected.

Going to treatment should help you learn healthy ways to work toward unexpected scenarios.

To deal with the time, you spend in that liminal space and to approach the unexpected healthily, remember the following:

  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling. It’s okay not to have all the answers right away, nor should you. You should have a sense of preparation that you’re going to navigate what life throws your way. That preparation comes from the coping skills you learn in treatment, which is why it’s crucial to choose a rehab program that’s going to give you what you need for the future.
  • Ask for help. We can work with you to create a support plan if you find yourself in a potential danger zone during rehab. Too often, people leave treatment with the misconception that they no longer need help or support from others and can be strong and do it independently. This is a mistake, and when you know when to ask for help and who to turn to, you’re going to be able to deal with unexpected or unpredictable situations more effectively with various lifestyle support options.
  • Develop a routine. As you leave rehab and re-enter daily life, having a routine helps you avoid potentially harmful situations and make healthy choices. Having a pattern gives you a sense of control, even when things around you might not be within your control.
  • Know what your triggers are. Our treatment team works a lot on this with everyone who comes through our doors. You have to learn what your triggers are to put in place ways to respond to them.
  • Develop a new mindset. Your mentality needs to center around health and wellness. Prioritize those things that are part of this wellness-driven lifestyle. For example, prioritize eating well, exercise, sleep, and attending therapy and meetings.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself, especially in those earliest days of recovery. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and make sure that you’re creating small, achievable goals along the way.

​​

Continuing Care As Part Of Your Treatment Plan

Again, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is that your treatment plan includes aftercare. If you don’t go to an evidence-based treatment center and you’re thrown back into daily life without a solid aftercare plan, your chances of relapse are high.

  • Your treatment team should have already developed a customized plan for aftercare.

  • You should have an idea of your triggers and how you’ll confront them with specific methods that work for you.

  • Your team may help you assess your living environment before treatment and see how it contributed to your substance abuse. You might move into a sober living house, or your treatment team could help you determine another supportive option for a new living environment.

  • Continuing care beyond your living environment can include participation in ongoing therapy. You might do outpatient rehab, for example, or perhaps an intensive outpatient program. You could also do family therapy. 

  • Continuing care may include assistance with employment and housing, as well as education or parenting classes.

If you started a 12-step program during treatment, you could continue that or another type of addiction support group.

Overall, expect a period of adjustment after rehab and in recovery. Continue to focus on recovery as your top priority, and know that you’re well on your way to achieving your long-term goals despite being in that transitional, liminal space.

If you haven’t received treatment, we encourage you to call 866-600-7709 and explore the programs at Anchored Tides Recovery, which help you achieve both short and long-term goals. 

MDMA PTSD: Recovering from Trauma

MDMA PTSD

MDMA PTSD

 

So many women have dealt with trauma. Trauma is often the underlying contributor to substance abuse problems. In an interesting turn of events, there’s research currently looking at the possibility of MDMA PTSD treatments. Researchers believe MDMA could be a potential treatment for past trauma, yet it’s also a mind-altering drug, raising some questions. With that in mind, below, we talk about what MDMA is and how it could help with trauma and severe PTSD in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy or MDMA-assisted therapy. 

 

What is MDMA?

MDMA is a synthetic recreational drug with hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. Also known as Molly or ecstasy, MDMA comes as a capsule or tablet. Along with being energizing, this substance can create distortions in perception and time. Some people who use it recreationally find it enhances their sensory experiences, which they find enjoyable. The synthetic drug is also an entactogen. Entactogens are drugs that increase empathy and self-awareness.

When someone uses street drugs like recreational Molly or ecstasy, along with being illegal, it’s also dangerous. Molly contains contaminants in many cases when it’s purchased on the streets. When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seizes Molly from the streets, they often find it has other drugs and no MDMA at all.

As one example, researchers in Washington State and Florida analyzed substances being sold as Molly a few years ago. Those substances were primarily methylone. Methylone is a synthetic stimulant in bath salts. People who buy illegal Molly often have no idea what they’re using.

 

The Effects of MDMA

If you take MDMA, you might begin to feel effects within 45 minutes of the initial dose. Then, there’s a peak on the effects anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes after you initially feel the drug. These effects, on average last for three hours.

In the short-term, effects include:

  • An increased sense of well-being
  • More extroversion
  • Empathy and emotional warmth toward others
  • Willingness to talk about emotionally charged memories
  • Enhanced sensory perception

These effects can sound positive and compelling, but adverse events can occur as well. Fatal overdoses are rare with this drug but possible. Acute adverse effects of using ecstasy or Molly include high blood pressure, panic attacks, and feeling faint.

One of the most significant but rare adverse effects of this substance is hyperthermia, which is a rise in body temperature. Even moderate amounts of the substance can impact your body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can lead to harmful side effects, especially in warm or hot places.

 

The Effects of Trauma

So many women are affected by trauma in their lives. Trauma can occur from any number of events, including rape or sexual assault, physical or verbal abuse, or exposure to something extremely frightening.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is an emotional response to a highly negative event. Experiencing short-term trauma is a normal reaction to something terrible. Longer-term trauma can impact your daily life and functionality, at which point it might mean a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Signs of trauma include anxiety and panic disorders, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Following the event, trauma can manifest days, months, or years later.

 

Treating PTSD

There are various options available to treat PTSD conventionally. Examples include:

  • Therapy: Like cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy is beneficial for people with a history of a traumatic event. When you participate in a psychotherapy session, you can learn how to cope with feelings in your life, boost your self-esteem and improve your symptoms. Psychotherapy for people diagnosed with PTSD often helps improve daily functionality. 
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: EMDR allows you to focus on something your therapist is doing, like flashing a light. Then, you are encouraged to replace your trauma memories with positive thoughts.
  • Medications: When you have PTSD or traumatic memories, your brain often perceives and processes threats differently. Your brain chemicals may be imbalanced, so you might constantly feel on-edge or jumpy. Medications can help you with these symptoms and regain a normalized perspective.

The nature of MDMA being a “Club Drug” means that many women, and people, associate its use with traumatic experiences. Panic attacks, sexual assault, overdose, being drugged, or triggering pre-existing conditions are just some of the MDMA-related scenarios that have caused PTSD, but there is help available.

If you, or someone you love, is experiencing club drug-related trauma, or MDMA PTSD, let the team of brilliant women at Anchored Tides Recovery help. Calling 866-600-7709 will put you in touch with a care coordinator who can go over some options and provide you with some helpful information. Help is just a phone call away!