Staying Sober: Alcohol Addiction in Women

alcohol addiction in women

alcohol addiction in women

 

Rates of alcohol use and abuse are on the rise among women, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol addiction in women is a growing public health concern, particularly since women who drink have a higher risk of certain health conditions and problems compared to men.

During the pandemic, it seems that the rates of alcohol use and abuse among women have gone up even more, based on information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

 

Alcohol Addiction in Women

Women might not feel like they have an issue with their use of alcohol because it’s so widely accepted to drink. There’s also the concept many of us have about what an alcoholic is, and if you don’t fit into that, you may think there’s not an issue.

For many women, it’s important to realize the signs of abuse and addiction. The longer these problems are swept under the rug or minimized, the more complications they create.

 

Why Do Women Drink to Cope?

Women are more likely, statistically, to experience childhood abuse and sexual abuse and assault than men, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Among teenage and young adult women, depression, eating disorders, and suicide are going up.

Some of these factors could be driving an increase in heavy alcohol use. Stress and trauma from COVID-19 and isolation could be worsening already troubling trends and adverse effects. 

In a study of college students early during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers found increases in alcohol use among people reporting higher anxiety and stress levels.

 

“Mommy Wine Culture”

There’s a term you’ll see some people talking about in the media right now, which is so-called mommy wine culture. 

You might have seen memes of women drinking alcohol to make it through their day and deal with their kids. There are often jokes on social media about needing or having a craving for alcohol, and it’s become an instilled part of not just motherhood but parenthood in general. 

Parents can feel high levels of stress, and they might also feel trapped, with a drinking habit becoming a crutch, but one seen as socially acceptable. 

Wine glasses and T-shirts with phrases like “Mom Juice” or “Mommy Needs a Drink” are popular.

These seemingly lighthearted jokes about caregivers who need to escape their daily lives with alcohol may not be a laughing matter.

For women, the idea of the wine mom lifestyle seems like a way to relieve stress and socialize, connecting with parents more easily. 

There can be very real effects of excessive alcohol use on women, their health, and their families.

  • Any type of self-medication is damaging. When parents use wine or other types of alcohol to deal with difficult emotions or as a coping mechanism, they’re not facing the situation head-on. They may be temporarily blunting whatever they’re feeling or going through at the moment, but that’s short-lived.
  • Children are also quick to pick up on what parents are talking about—it can feel like their parents need substances to spend time with them.
  • With childrens’ exposure to heavy drinking in the home, it becomes a risk factor for their own substance use later in life. Family history is very much linked to the development of addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of adult women reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. 

  • Nearly 13% of adult women report binge drinking, and on average, they do so four times a month. Binge drinking is having five drinks or more on one occasion.
  • For the past 100 years, the gap between alcohol abuse in men and women has been closing. There was a 3:1 ratio for risky drinking habits in men versus women in the past, and now, that’s much closer to 1:1.
  • In 2019, data found that women in their teens and early 20s would drink and get drunk at higher rates than male peers. It was the first time researchers saw these patterns since measuring related behaviors.

The trend seems to be rising simultaneously with other risk factors, including growing mental health conditions in young women. Researchers worry the ongoing effects of the pandemic could make both patterns worse as far as mental disorders and excessive drinking. 

Even as women drink more, they’re less likely to get help than men for addiction and alcohol dependence. 

 

 

How Alcohol Affects Women Differently Than Men

There are biological sex differences between men and women, including body chemistry and structure that means women absorb more alcohol. 

Another gender difference is that women also take longer to metabolize alcohol. A woman drinking the same amount as a man is likely to have higher blood alcohol concentrations. The immediate response to alcohol and effects of drinking occur faster and will usually last longer in women.

These biological differences make women more likely to experience negative, long-term health effects of alcohol.

For example, alcohol increases the risk of negative effects like:

  • Liver disease and similar medical conditions
  • Cognitive decline and brain shrinkage as well as neurotoxic effects and alcohol-induced brain damage
  • Worsening symptoms of co-occurring disorders like depression or bipolar disorder 
  • Women who drink a lot are at an increased risk for damage to the heart muscle and heart disease 
  • Even small amounts of alcohol consumption increase the risk of many types of cancers, including breast cancer. 
  • Heavy alcohol use can raise the risk of being a victim of sexual assault. 
  • Women who engage in heavy drinking behaviors are twice as likely to develop alcohol addiction and dependence on alcohol. 

 

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

There are many possible signs of alcohol addiction in both women and men. Some signs of alcohol addiction to be aware of include:

  • Drinking more or for longer periods than planned. When someone is experiencing an addiction to alcohol, they can’t limit excessive alcohol consumption. 
  • A woman with alcoholism might truly desire to stop, but they can’t. According to medical professionals, addiction creates changes in brain activity relating to judgment and impulse control. 
  • Anyone with a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder will spend large amounts of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects. A woman addicted to alcohol may spend most of her time drinking and then recovering from hangovers.
  • Continuing to drink despite known problems stemming from alcohol use is a sign of addiction.
  • Drinking in dangerous situations, like drunk driving, is a red flag. 
  • Having symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when cutting back or stopping drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, and shakiness. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can also be severe, including delirium and seizures.
  • Alcohol withdrawal seizures or alcohol withdrawal delirium and other severe symptoms require immediate, emergency medical attention. 

 

Why Aren’t Women Getting Alcohol Treatment?

Despite historically high alcohol use and abuse rates among women, they aren’t receiving substance abuse treatment. Researchers are finding alcoholic women are significantly less likely than men with substance use disorders to get treatment.

There are likely a variety of factors that are contributing to these trends. Women have family pressure, making them reluctant to admit a problem or seek treatment. As a woman, you might have less financial freedom and more responsibilities as far as caring for a family, so it’s harder to get treatment.

Alcohol addiction in women is a growing problem raising alarms throughout the country. Alcohol intake rates are soaring, as is the risk for alcoholism and psychiatric disorders. 

If you’re a woman struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, or you have a loved one who is, recognizing a problem and getting help are potentially lifesaving. Call 866-600-7709 and get in touch with Anchored Tides Recovery to learn more about help if you’re a woman who is alcohol dependent or are experiencing signs of alcohol abuse in Southern California. 

America’s War On Drugs: Did It Work?

War on Drugs

War on Drugs

 

The government used the War on Drugs for decades as a strategy to reduce the drug trade and use consequences. Unfortunately, from the perspective of many, the war on drugs is a failure. Along with not working to curb substance abuse rates, some critics feel it’s contributed to mass incarceration and racial disparities in the prosecution of drug crimes. 

 

How Did the War on Drugs Start?

The War on Drugs was a government-guided initiative to stop the use of illegal drugs and their trade and distribution. The primary way of doing this was through increased criminal penalties for users and dealers.

  • Early laws date back to the 1800s criminalizing drug use, but this didn’t ramp up to what we currently know it to be until the 1970s.
  • President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act into law in 1970.
  • The CSA outlines five schedules. These schedules classify drugs based on their abuse potential and their medical uses.
  • A Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act is the most dangerous, at least according to the federal government. 
  • A Schedule 1 drug is one that the government says has a high addiction risk with no major medical application. Interestingly, marijuana is still Schedule 1 federally, despite many states legalizing it. 
  • Also, Schedule 1 is heroin, the dissociative drug ecstasy, and LSD.
  • In 1971, then-President Nixon officially declared there was a war against drugs. Nixon said drug abuse was the number one public enemy at the declaration. Combative, war imagery was often used, such as the term drug czar. 
  • As part of his efforts, Nixon increased federal funding for drug-control agencies. There was a call for strict measures, including mandatory prison sentences for drug crimes.
  • Night after night, on the evening news, people were bombarded with words and images about the drug war. 
  • Nixon created the Special Act Office for Drug Abuse Prevention at the time. 
  • In 1973, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA is a police force dedicated exclusively to illegal drug use and smuggling in the U.S. There are thousands of agents, and the DEA has a budget in the billions of dollars.

In 1994, John Ehrlichman, who served as Nixon’s domestic policy chief, indicated the War on Drugs was primarily a means for the president to stay in office and appeal to his base while targeting his political enemies. 

Ehrlichman explained during a magazine interview that the Nixon campaign saw itself as having two enemies—black people, especially African-American men, and the left fighting against the war.

Many people criticize even the current drug laws, citing their racial motivations that continue to affect communities of color. 

In a quote, Ehrlichman said the administration couldn’t make it illegal to be people of color or anti-war hippies with marijuana. Hence, they wanted the public to associate heroin and marijuana with those groups of people instead.

Shockingly, Ehrlichman said because of the declaration of war with drugs as the enemy; the government could arrest community leaders, raid their property and break up meetings. He said the administration knew even when they started the policies, they were lying about drugs.

 

Jimmy Carter’s Election

In the mid-1970s, rhetoric about criminalizing drugs cooled off. Between1973 and 1977, 11 states decriminalized marijuana possession. 

In 1977, Jimmy Carter became president after campaigning to decriminalize marijuana. 

During Carter’s first year in office, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana.

 

The 1980s and “Just Say No To Drugs”

President Ronald Reagan came into office in the 1980s, bringing with him an expansion of Nixon’s drug policies. First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign, which was meant to showcase the risks of drugs.

Reagan put intense focus on passing very stringent penalties for drug crimes.

The rates of incarceration for nonviolent drug crimes soared.

In 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed, establishing mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug crimes. 

Long after and to this day, it’s criticized as being racist. The legislation gave longer prison terms for offenses involving crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. Crack cocaine use was predominantly associated with black people and cocaine with white people.

Five grams of crack led to an automatic sentence of five years, while it would take 500 grams of powder for the same sentence.

 

 

Where Do We Stand Now?

Over the years, public support for the concept of severe criminalization of drugs has declined.

Between 2009 and 2013, 40 states reduced their drug-related penalties and shortened minimum sentences. 

The passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 changed the difference in sentencing from crimes related to crack versus powder cocaine.

 

Did the War on Drugs Succeed?

There are no indicators that show any of the harsh programs against legal drugs are a success.

Eleven years ago, in 2010, NBC wrote the drug war met no goals.

We continue to see the widespread use of illegal drugs, as well as death and destruction as a result. The prison population swelled due to the war on drugs, filling even with people guilty of recreational drug use only. 

Now, more than a decade after NBC wrote there was no successful metric with the war rhetoric, people continue to be in jail for non-violent offenses.

The Justice Department estimates a price tag of $215 billion a year due to drug addiction in the U.S. The illicit drug industry brings in $320 billion annually. Ten percent of the economy in Mexico is from drug smuggling.

When Nixon initially started launching programs against drugs, to be fair, most didn’t see people using drugs as needing help or interventions. Drug users were seen by most as displaying violent behavior or being destructive to communities. Society knew a lot less about the underlying elements of addiction. 

 

The Problem with the Punishment Model

The entire theoretical framework of the war against drugs is built on a model of punishment, zero tolerance, and being hard on crime. 

Incarceration is the main form of deterring people from using drugs in a punishment model. When people go to state or federal prison, they’re very rarely given treatment or behavioral therapies for the addiction that landed them there, even currently, according to drug policy experts. 

Rather than taking a punishment approach, many policymakers and individuals now favor the concept of drug addiction as a public health policy, not a criminal one. The long-term effects of this policy on illegal drugs and drug possession may be beneficial, but it’s going to take time to get there. 

Despite changing perceptions and attitudes, there’s still inevitably a stigma that keeps too many people from getting help for a disease. While we’ve made progress since the 1970s in some ways, we also tend to see people with substance use disorders as somehow being morally weak or corrupt or perhaps lacking self-control.

By 2014, Pew Research Center found that most Americans prefer the government to treat people who use drugs rather than prosecute them.

Many people also criticize the marijuana legalization happening all over the country even though there are still people in jail for offenses related to the drug years ago. Entrepreneurs are becoming wealthy because of the growing marijuana industry, while others remain behind bars for minor crimes. 

 

The Future of How We View Drug Use in America

In 2016 during the presidential campaign, most candidates from both parties spoke about being smarter in the approach to combat drugs.

Now, rather than an epidemic of crack cocaine, there is an epidemic of opioid painkillers. In 2020 during the pandemic, the U.S. saw soaring overdose death rates, often due to opioids.

Synthetic opioids, like a type of drug called fentanyl, are especially prevalent and deadly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the black market for these drugs is massive, coming from Latin America and Central America and then over the border, and China and other countries. 

The president of Mexico at one point said if the United States wants to stop the flow of substances over the border, Americans will have to do something about their insatiable desire for dangerous drugs. 

The real balance in the coming years has to be addressing the very real harm of drugs but doing so in a more productive way. Racial elements have to be removed from these policies and rhetoric as well.

The hope is that as we learn more about the science and biology of addiction through modern research, we can also continue to break down the sense of stigma many feel, which often stems back to the War on Drugs policies of the 1970s and 80s.

To learn more about substance abuse, or women only outpatient addiction treatment, call the team at Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709

How Drug Addiction Ruined My Life

 

We often hear from women who feel their alcohol or drug addiction has ruined their lives. While it can feel this way, and undoubtedly addiction affects your life in many ways, there is always hope. 

Addiction is a disease affecting your brain and physical health. When you have a substance use disorder to alcohol or illegal drugs, it also affects everything else in your life. These effects can extend to your family and children, your career, and your finances.

Those effects can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, guilt and shame then perpetuate the cycle of addiction. 

If you can break that cycle with practical, evidence-based treatment. In that case, you can begin to repair the other areas of your life you feel your relationship with addictive substances has damaged. 

Hope is never lost. During a rehab program, we address not just ways you can stop using drugs or alcohol. We also work on relapse prevention and coping strategies and help you prepare to re-enter your life and thrive.

Before you can get on a path to recovery, you need to take steps to get treatment, which will be the most challenging part of the situation. Recognizing the impact and harmful consequences of your addiction can be painful. That recognition is necessary, however, to move forward.

 

What Is Addiction?

Understanding the biological elements of addiction can help you eliminate some of the shame you might feel. Addiction is a chronic dysfunction of your brain. 

  • The disease affects the parts of your brain controlling motivation, memory, and primarily, reward. 
  • When you’re struggling with addiction, you won’t be able to stop using the substance often without professional treatment.
  • You may have no self-control. Your desire to keep using drugs or alcohol outweighs everything else because your brain is compelling you to keep using.
  • Even when you realize the adverse effects of your addiction, you can’t stop. When you have a substance use disorder, you may try to cut down or stop, but you can’t.

 

What is the Most Addictive Drug?

The most addictive drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine
  • Heroin
  • Prescription drugs like oxycontin and other opioid pain relievers

 

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Addiction to both drugs and alcohol is a brain disease. 

  • When you use addictive drugs, they create a euphoric high. 
  • The high is pleasurable and is due mainly to effects on dopamine levels.
  •  There are physical and psychological elements to the euphoria that comes with extraordinarily high levels of dopamine. 
  • For some people, once that pleasure occurs, the reward pathways in the brain are activated. 
  • While initially using the drug may have been your choice, eventually, your brain adjusts itself to the presence of the substance.

There is also a physical element which is dependence. When you have physical dependence and psychological dependence on any type of drug, if you stop suddenly, it will cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. 

Some people can use substances and never become addicted. Then others might use drugs or alcohol for a short period of time and develop an addiction. 

  • Some of whether or not you develop a substance use disorder depend on the frontal lobes of your brain. 
  • Your frontal lobes ordinarily help you to delay gratification or reward. 
  • If you have a malfunction in your frontal lobes, gratification is immediate, potentially triggering an addiction.
  • Other parts of your brain play a role in addiction too. For example, the nucleus accumbens controls sensations of pleasure. This part of your brain can increase your response when there’s exposure to substances or even behaviors that can be addictive.
  • Chemical imbalances and co-occurring mental illness can also put you at a higher risk of alcohol addiction or addiction to recreational drugs. 
  • When you have an addicted brain, it affects your decision-making, learning and memory, behavioral control, and judgment.

These effects are why you’ll often see someone who was once a high achiever, for example, losing everything before seeking substance abuse treatment. 

 

 

Addiction is a Chronic Disease

Along with being a disease, more specifically, alcohol or drug addiction is a chronic illness. Chronic disease can be treated and managed, although not necessarily cured. 

Addiction is not a moral failing. 

Long-term recovery is when you’re in remission from the disease of addiction. For people in recovery, it’s essential to focus on continuing your treatment plan and making healthy lifestyle decisions to avoid addictive behaviors. 

Risk factors increasing your risk of developing a substance abuse disorder include genetic factors and family history, environmental factors, and the use of drugs or alcohol in your developmental years. Having a mental health issue or a medical condition like chronic pain can also raise the risk of addiction. 

 

How Addiction Affects the Family

The devastating effects of addiction impact families, including spouses, children, and parents, significantly.

If you have a young child, seeing you suffer from addiction can create emotional pain and distress for them. When a child faces exposure to drugs or alcohol, it can affect their emotional and mental health and stability.

Again, a key symptom of addiction is that the substance takes priority over everything else, wreaking havoc on all parts of your life.

Even though an addicted person may recognize the negative consequences of their addiction to alcohol or drugs, they can’t stop. 

Other effects of substance use disorders include:

  • Declines in work performance
  • Job loss
  • Breakdowns in romantic relationships, such as a marriage
  • Health issues
  • Changes in mood or behavior such as a lack of energy, being socially withdrawn, or neglecting hygiene and appearance
  • Significant financial problems

 

How to Help Someone with Drug Addiction

Maybe you aren’t the person struggling with addiction, but you have a loved one who is. What can you do? There are certain things out of your control and some steps you can take.

  • Learn as much as you can about substance abuse and addiction treatment. When you understand that dealing with substance use disorders isn’t a choice and is a disease, it can help you come from a place of empathy rather than judgment. There are good resources like the Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to connect with information. 
  • Often people with a substance use disorder have an untreated co-occurring mental health disorder. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. You can take the time to educate yourself on mental health disorders and their effects. You might even reach out to a therapist or mental health provider on behalf of your loved one.
  • Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom before saying something about their drug misuse. The longer they go with untreated addiction, the more significant and devastating the effects. Speak out as soon as you can.
  • Be honest about your concerns. Offer particular examples of the effects of addiction-related destructive behavior. Be honest about your feelings as well.
  • Listen to what the person is saying. Don’t try to argue with them. Instead, let them feel heard, so they can understand you’re a positive support system.
  • Offer information about how the person can deal with their addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as contacting a rehab center.
  • Don’t try to bribe, threaten or lecture the person. Emotional appeals tend to bring about more feelings of guilt. Again, guilt fuels addiction, which is counterproductive when interacting with people with substance use disorders. 
  • Know that one conversation is unlikely to encourage the person to change. It takes time, and recovery is a process.
  • Consider staging an intervention.
  • If your loved one agrees to treatment, realize that every person is unique, and so is their recovery. Be patient, and manage your expectations.

Drug addiction can and often does ruin your life. That doesn’t mean that your life isn’t salvageable, though. Whether you’re personally in the midst of active addiction or you have a loved one who is, help exists.

Treatment for drug addiction, including alcohol or opioid addiction, requires behavioral therapies and in some cases medication-assisted treatment. It’s also important any underlying mental health conditions receive treatment before the recovery process can begin. 

The first step to facilitate a sense of hope is treatment. Call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team to learn more.

Is Internet Addiction a Mental Disorder?

Internet addiction disorder

Internet addiction disorder

 

There is no recognition of internet addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, the DSM-5 does include internet gaming disorder, which is similar, as a condition for further study. Internet addiction, in the manual, is highlighted as a developing area of specialty.

While pathological internet use is still being studied as far as setting diagnostic criteria, we know a fair amount about behavioral addictions. Behavioral addictions can include internet, gaming, and social media addiction. Other behavioral addictions are compulsive shopping, gambling addiction, and sex addiction.

Just because researchers need to learn more about addictive behaviors to include them in the DSM-5 doesn’t mean these behaviors don’t cause you distress. 

Behavioral addictions affect your brain in many of the same ways as different types of addictions to substances like drugs and alcohol. As a result, they often require professional treatment.

 

What is a Behavioral Addiction?

If we talk about addiction relating to online activities, it will fall into the larger category of behavioral addiction.

  • For people with internet addiction or other behavioral addictions, it can take over their lives. 
  • You may seek out increasing opportunities to engage in the behavior. 
  • The compulsive behavior that you’re addicted to is your top priority. 
  • Other things in your life suffer, including your career and relationships.
  • You can also go through withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Gambling addiction is the only behavioral addiction officially recognized in the DSM-5.

Behavioral addiction is also known as a process addiction. A process addiction follows the same patterns as an addiction to substances. The problems stemming from process addictions affect your life in many ways, similar to being addicted to drugs or alcohol.

 

Signs of a Behavioral Addiction

Signs and criteria for internet addiction and behavioral addictions include:

  • Spending most of your time doing the behavior or thinking about it. You may also spend significant amounts of time planning to do the behavior.
  • You’re depending on engaging in the behavior as a coping mechanism for emotions and to feel normal.
  • You continue to engage in the behavior even though it causes negative consequences. 
  • Someone with a behavioral addiction may want to stop or cut back, but they can’t.
  • You neglect other priorities in your life.
  • You can go through withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and depression if you try to stop the behavior.
  • Often someone with a behavioral or process addiction will minimize or hide the problem.

We’ve touched on a few, but some of the most common behavioral addictions and impulse control disorders treatment providers see include:

  • Exercise addiction
  • Pathological gambling, including online gambling 
  • Food addiction
  • Compulsive internet use 
  • Porn addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Video game addiction/online gaming addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Tattoo addiction

Even if we don’t call compulsive behavior an addiction, it can lead to significant problems and distress.

 

Symptoms of Internet Addictive Disorders 

Getting a diagnosis for internet addiction can be tricky since it isn’t formally recognized. However behavioral health experts tend to see some common elements in people with internet addiction. 

Symptoms of internet addiction may include:

  • Excessive or problematic internet use: If you’re concerned about your excessive internet use, there are a few things to think about. Do you stay online for longer than you mean to, or are other people often complaining about the time you spend online? You might think to yourself that you’re just going to be a few more minutes when you’re online, or you could hide your usage. You might also try and ultimately fail to reduce your online time.
  • Withdrawal: We most frequently talk about withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, but the symptoms can occur in behavioral addictions too. You may feel tense, angry, or depressed when you can’t go online because of internet dependency. 
  • Tolerance: One of the defining symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction is tolerance. Your brain becomes used to the stimulus of whatever it is you’re doing. Then, you need more of it to keep getting that high you’re chasing. You could see this play out in an internet addiction as you spend more and more time online. Eventually, you could find yourself centering your entire day around using the internet.
  • Adverse effects: If there weren’t harm stemming from addiction to anything, we wouldn’t see it as a problem. There is though and the internet isn’t an exception. Your performance at school or work could begin to suffer. Internet addicts might not have the energy to devote to other things in their life. Your finances and quality of relationships can suffer. You can also have adverse health effects like carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, neck pain, and weight gain.

 

 

Types of Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can become a catch-all term, and there are subtypes of this compulsive behavior.

For example, one subtype is compulsive information seeking. You might seek information online to the point that it becomes obsessive-compulsive. When you’re amid compulsive information seeking, it can impact your work productivity and performance.

Pornography and cybersex addictions can arise. These compulsive behaviors can impact your ability to form meaningful relationships in your own life.

We’re seeing a rise in internet gaming addicts currently. 

Social media addiction is also a big one getting a lot of attention. You might get addicted to the dopamine you feel when someone likes your post. This creates a feedback loop, and it can be damaging to multiple areas of your life, including your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

 

Internet Addictions and Co-Occurring Disorders

As with other types of addiction, when you compulsively use the internet, it can co-occur with other psychiatric disorders when you compulsively use the internet. 

Which clinical disorder comes first can vary. For example, you could be more pre-disposed to internet addiction if you have other psychiatric disorders like anxiety or depression, you could be more pre-disposed to internet addiction. Your use of the internet could be a coping mechanism or a way to self-medicate and deal with your psychiatric symptoms. 

In another situation, internet use behaviors could contribute to developing a mental health disorder.

 

Treatment for Internet Addiction

While a mental health professional might not have a set of criteria to diagnose an internet addiction from the DSM-5, that doesn’t mean they can’t help you.

If you’re struggling with online use, including gaming, social media, or anything else involving the internet, a therapist can help you work through what’s going on.

There isn’t one specific treatment for internet addiction. The treatment can depend on a variety of individual factors. For example, how severe are your behaviors, and how do they affect your life?

Therapy is one of the most common types of interventions for internet addiction. Treatment should also address co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In some instances, medication may be part of treatment, especially if there’s an underlying mental health disorder.

To learn more about aftercare treatment for an addictive disorder, please call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery.

Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users

 

 

One of our biggest goals as addiction treatment specialists is to help women who come to us understand that they aren’t a failure because they struggle with drugs or alcohol. Women, in particular, tend to feel such a sense of shame surrounding their addiction. Addiction isn’t a moral failure, but if you let yourself get caught up in feelings of Abusing Drug Users, it’s only going to impede your recovery.

As a society, we should all learn more about addiction, its implications, and what it means for individuals who struggle with it. While there are wonderful, effective, evidence-based treatment options available, they aren’t taken advantage of as they should be.

Stigma and shame are two critical reasons for that.

 

How Shame Feeds Addiction

There are terms used to label people who struggle with addiction. Those terms and labels are a way to show negative judgment toward people. Using derogatory language when we talk about addiction dates back to when we didn’t know what we do now about the realities of addiction.

  • Addiction was a moral failure in the past. 
  • Being addicted was driven by a lack of willpower, or so people thought. 
  • Punishment was the primary means of rehabilitating people, which, as you can imagine, didn’t turn out to be a practical approach.
  • There was significant prejudice toward not only addiction but also mental health issues.

Now, based on decades of research and clinical studies, we see addiction for what it truly is—a chronic disease.

You wouldn’t shame someone for having heart disease or diabetes, yet some still feel all-too-comfortable shaming someone with a chronic brain disease, which is addiction.

Shame seems to be especially part of the addiction for women. 

  • You may feel like you hate yourself or are not worthy of love or the good things in life.
  • You could feel embarrassed or like your flaws are on display to the world. 
  • Then, that leads you to separate yourself more and more from other people and the world. 
  • This all becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, which is too prevalent in addiction.

You’re stuck in a cycle of shame and self-loathing, worsening and deepening your addiction.

Your loved ones may think shame can help push you into recovery. The reality is that shame is destructive in recovery.

When all of us take the time to learn more about addiction, we can combat barriers that prevent people from getting help.

 

Homelessness and Addiction

When we talk about judgment and derogatory language directed at people, we often see this in homeless populations. Homelessness is highly visible, yet people experiencing it feel like invisible outsiders. Isolation, vulnerability, and stigma are all elements of homelessness, much as is the case with addiction.

  • When you’re dealing with homelessness, it may prevent you from seeking help. 
  • You may feel too ashamed to enroll in services that could help you find housing or support. 
  • You could feel like if you go to public spaces, you’ll be ridiculed.

So what does homelessness have to do with addiction?

Aside from similar underlying factors contributing to both, there’s also a significant overlap between homelessness and Abusing Drug Users.

  • Homelessness often leads to substance abuse, but substance abuse can also contribute to homelessness. 
  • An estimated 38% of homeless people are dependent on alcohol, and 26% are dependent on other substances. 
  • Being homeless creates conditions that lead to extreme, severe trauma and stress.
  • Homeless people can experience violence, a lack of shelter, and starvation.
  • At least 33% of people who are homeless also have a mental illness. Mental health disorders are a significant contributor to substance abuse as well.

Homeless women experience distinctive gender-based trauma. The rate of mental illness is significantly higher in women than men. 

  • From 50% to 60% of homeless women suffer from mental health disorders, often before their homelessness. 
  • Many women become homeless after suffering trauma like violence or sexual abuse.
  • Some homeless women fled sex trafficking. 
  • Around one-third of homeless women reportedly abuse drugs like crack cocaine and heroin.

 

Dealing with the Stigma of Addiction

Currently, the stigma of addiction is the number one barrier to effective addiction treatment and recovery. When people do receive evidence-based treatment, the symptoms associated with the stigma of addiction tend to dissipate Abusing Drug Users.

Stigma can impact people in their families and social groups, and it’s also something we see at the community level. 

  • In families, while there may be an understanding that someone has an addiction, it could be whispered about or avoided altogether.
  • At the community or societal level, the stigma of addiction leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment. 
  • There’s a lack of understanding often even in the medical community compared to other chronic health conditions.

This lack of understanding is unfortunate, considering addiction is one of the biggest public health problems we face in the United States.

Despite our many advances in understanding the science of addiction, the medical community isn’t well-educated on topics surrounding it.

 

 

What Are We Doing?

At our treatment center, in addition, to helping women on an individual level without shame but with compassion and scientific understanding, we’re also working on other ways of crushing the stigma of addiction.

We want to bring attention to the people in recovery and show that hope exists. You can recover from these chronic illnesses. You can be a productive part of your family and society. You can have an outstanding quality of life and be a great parent.

Our treatment specialists also want to think about how we diagnose substance use disorders and other mental health conditions. We don’t want to rely on old language or frameworks that could reinforce stigma of Abusing Drug Users.

For example, we often see that women dealing with trauma will quickly be labeled as having a borderline personality disorder. This diagnosis can have roots in the concept of hysteria, which was a label that women tended to receive much more so than men. 

By delving into the history of the treatment of women, in particular, as far as addiction and mental health, we can start to take our steps to combat how that’s led to shame and abuse for marginalized people.

With so many resources available, both in terms of state and community support services and effective treatment like our own programs, we hope to move addiction treatment forward. We hope that we’re part of a movement that encourages us to help one another rather than judge.

The team at Anchored Tides Recovery also wants to help facilitate wider recognition that addiction brain changes are often out of the individuals’ control. Medical care, interventions, and a strong support system are all needed to overcome addiction and prevent complications like an overdose; for help, call 866-600-7709.

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. 

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. 

Female Musicians Who Beat Addiction

musician recording a song

musician recording a song

 

The entertainment industry and especially music are associated with drugs, alcohol, and partying. While this might be the common association most of us have, several musicians beat addiction successfully in the industry. 

Focusing on their challenges and ultimate success in beating addiction to drugs or alcohol can help others who might be currently struggling.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that there could ever be an out when you’re in an active addiction. Success stories serve as a motivation and reminder that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, although it might be challenging to get there. 

Once you find that motivation, you might begin a treatment program, participate in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or get mental health treatment from a counselor. 

Below, we talk about musicians who beat addiction with the hope it can provide you with some motivation, perhaps when you need it most.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the most influential musicians, pop stars, and overall icons of our time. She has also spoken openly about her struggles with drugs. 

For example, in one interview, she talked about the pain of a hip injury that left her in a wheelchair. 

Saying she was self-medicating the physical pain and anxiety, Lady Gaga was emotionally numbing herself entirely.

In an interview, the singer said she was very depressed and in a lot of pain all the time, but she wasn’t sure why.

The singer says that she felt her addictions to different drugs have grown worse over time, as she dealt with the pressures of fame.

At the same time, Lady Gaga says she was working on getting herself into a space where she doesn’t have to use drugs to be creative. 

She wants to know that she can be talented and successful without being under the influence of anything.

Lana Del Rey

The talented singer Lana Del Rey has struggled since her teens with substance use. 

In 2011, Del Rey became widely known for the hit Video Games. Then she debuted her first full-length album in 2012.

The same year, Del Rey spoke out in an interview with British GQ, saying she hadn’t had alcohol in nine years. Del Rey said even though she was very young, she found that she was drinking daily and typically while alone. 

Most of the songs on her first album she says she wrote while she was alone with alcohol. She describes it as the first love of her life.

Del Rey says her parents sent her to a strict boarding school when she was 15 to try and help her end her drinking habit.

Now the celebrity singer is sober and embraces her life in recovery.

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato allowed viewers to see inside their experience with addiction, overdose, and recovery in a documentary for YouTube. 

Entitled Dancing with the Devil, Lovato’s friends, family members, and the doctors who helped them after their overdose spoke about every raw, ugly detail of what happened and their ongoing substance abuse issues. 

Since 2010, Lovato struggled with substance abuse, frequently going in and out of rehab programs and relapsing along the way.

The pop star celebrated six years of sobriety in March 2018. Tragically in July 2018, she suffered an overdose that made headlines around the world.

Lovato spoke about their relapse in the documentary series, saying they picked up a red wine bottle and then called someone who had drugs just half an hour later. 

At that point, Lovato used new drugs that they hadn’t tried before, including methamphetamine. Lovato explains in the documentary they also used marijuana, Molly, Cocaine, and OxyContin.

During the period of relapse, Lovato did crack cocaine and heroin, becoming physically dependent on heroin.

The night of the overdose, Lovato told friends they were going to bed but went to call their dealer. Lovato used what they thought to be heroin, which now they know was likely fentanyl.

The overdose led to three strokes and a heart attack, resulting in brain and vision damage.

Since the overdose, Lovato says they’re working on their mental and physical recovery. In the documentary series, Lovato talks about the time spent during quarantine, working through past traumas as part of their recovery.

Fergie

Fergie is a massive pop star, having headed up the Black-Eyed Peas. She now has a successful solo career, but it hasn’t been an easy road for her. Fergie dealt with severe addiction issues, including meth.

Fergie says there was a period in her life where she was hallucinating daily. She says it took a year after stopping meth for the chemicals in her brain to stabilize, so she was no longer hallucinating. Fergie spoke to Time magazine, saying meth was the hardest boyfriend she ever had to break up with.

Some of her addiction problems Fergie believed resulted from difficulties she faced growing up as a child actor.

Now a Grammy-winning recording artist, Fergie has a son and has been in recovery from crystal meth for many years.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is known as one of the most enchanting singers and performers of our time, but drugs almost destroyed her. The lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.

She began using recreational drugs at the height of her career, but it quickly spiraled into something a lot more troubling. Her addiction went from casual cocaine use to an extreme addiction and dependence.

Nicks said that she became so dependent on cocaine because she dealt with significant stage fright, and the drug would give her the boost she felt she needed to perform. Nicks was also facing a rigorous touring schedule and felt lonely on the road.

Ultimately, Nicks says she completely lost all control of her behavior for a while. Snorting cocaine burned a hole in the side of her nose.

The band took a break in 1982, but Nicks continued her drug use and hard living. Nicks toured on her own and also saw the breakdown of meaningful relationships during that time.

Fleetwood Mac went to the studio to create their album Tango in the Night, and Nicks continually blacked out. A doctor told her she was nearing a brain hemorrhage.

In 1986, Nicks checked herself into a Betty Ford Clinic, but unfortunately, she developed a Valium addiction.

Ultimately Nicks was able to get sober altogether, but she still speaks out about what her addiction did to her life and how it still affects her to this day.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Of course, not every story about celebrity drug addiction or alcohol addiction ends positively. These stories can also end in tragedy, as was the case of Amy Winehouse and many others. 

If you are dealing with drug abuse or a problem with any addictive substance, getting help sooner rather than later is the best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you. 

If you’d like to learn how to overcome addiction in your own life or help someone you love in beating addiction, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 today. We work with women from all walks of life who have one shared goal—recovery.

 

 

 

What is a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery?

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery

 

What is a spiritual awakening in recovery? Spirituality is one of the more misunderstood elements of addiction treatment and recovery, but often one of the most important. We encourage everyone to explore spirituality in a way that works for them, both during treatment and throughout their life. 

Your spiritual journey and spiritual practice are likely to become something you rely on throughout your life, well after you go to addiction treatment. Active addiction affects your spirit in so many ways, and you might not even see those effects right away. You’re never truly present or in the moment because you always feel the influence of drugs or alcohol. You might feel like you have no worth because of your addiction and like your only purpose is using drugs or alcohol.

You get lost in your addiction without the chance to experience your emotions. The process of recovery often goes hand-in-hand with the spiritual awakening process. Learning how to start your spiritual awakening can be so challenging because it looks different for everyone.

We’ll explore below what we mean when we talk about a spiritual awakening in recovery and how that can happen for different people regardless of differences in their belief systems. 

 

What is a Spiritual Awakening?

A spiritual awakening isn’t something you experience exclusive to addiction recovery. Awakening can happen at any time in your life, regardless of your circumstances.

You often experience something profound or on a deeper level that leads to a breakdown of your ego. You may feel a tug or call toward deeper mental awareness. The result tends to be a personal transformation along with a shift in how you see yourself and the world around you. For many of us, a spiritual awakening comes after a catalyst in our life.

If you’re going to addiction treatment or struggling with a substance use disorder, the realization that you’ve hit rock bottom or are not in control of your drug use can be that triggering event. It’s usually that initial realization about the true depths of your substance abuse that many people say is the hardest part of recovery. You have to see for yourself the impacts of your addiction on every area of your life before you reach any kind of deeper spiritual awareness. Awakening doesn’t always stem from addiction.

For some people, it’s a traumatic experience such as surviving an assault or abuse, or maybe the loss of a loved one. When you go through something traumatic, it affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may go through an extended period of healing but emerge on the other side of that in a more vital place spiritually. If you have depression or a mental health disorder, it can lead you to what we call an existential crisis. You start to look more at the purpose of your life, and you may want a shift due to that assessment.

You can engage in practices through your daily life that might also activate an awareness or awakening. For example, mindfulness and meditation can be a way to transform yourself on a spiritual level, even without a major life event happening. According to Deepak Chopra, when you experience an awakening, you’re not in a dream world anymore. 

Instead, based on Chopra’s framework, you are aware of yourself but only in a way that puts you within the context and connection of everything else. This period is also sometimes called enlightenment or nirvana.

 

 

How to Start Your Spiritual Awakening

The process of how to start your spiritual awakening is deeply personal, so below are only suggestions, but you may find a path that’s entirely your own.

  • Start to observe and notice. Many of us go through our lives on autopilot. We don’t think about what we truly want, who we are at our core, or why we’re at a particular point in our lives. When you become aware and observant, you’re better able to make changes then. For example, this might be when you question your drinking or drug use and start to delve more into why you’re doing it.
  • Develop a sense of connection. Specifically, as it relates to addiction and recovery, that sense of connection can come from participation in a support group, like a 12-step program.
  • Let go of attachments. We all have extensions that aren’t relevant to our true selves. You can begin to eliminate whatever those are through your awakening.
  • Find inner peace. When you cultivate inner peace, things still go wrong in your life, but it doesn’t lead you down dark paths. Instead, you learn how to cope with things as they go wrong effectively. When you’re experiencing things that aren’t pleasant, you recognize them as a fleeting moment in time.
  • Feel more compassion and empathy. When you’re participating in an addiction treatment program, you’ll start to learn more about how your substance abuse affected the people around you. This is an excellent starting point as you begin to become more empathetic and compassionate in all areas of your life.
  • More authenticity. You’ll start to grow into someone who feels your self-worth on a deep level. That will allow you to be more authentic in who you are.

The final step in an awakening of your spirit is that you’ll be happier and healthier. You’ll be able to thrive in your life rather than just surviving in your recovery process. 

 

Spirituality in Recovery 

In many ways, having a successful long-term recovery from addiction relies on spiritual growth taking place. You have to change your perspective to be in recovery. As part of treatment for substance abuse, you can begin to identify and reconnect with the aspects of your life that are most important to you.

Spiritual power can become your most incredible tool for healing, personal growth, and having a thriving life. You can develop a sense of purpose, and at the same time, learn that you’re not alone.

 

Spirituality Is Not Religion

We often hear from people who worry spirituality is about God or religion. However, it’s important to note that you do not need religion or a belief in God to have a spiritual experience, although you certainly can get your spiritual power from God. A true awakening in the spiritual sense is about having your own beliefs and developing your sense of self that connects you to everything else in the world in your everyday life. You can give credit to whatever force or power you choose.

Are you ready to begin learning how to start your spiritual journey? We encourage you to reach out and learn more about our addiction treatment programs. We prioritize spirituality in whatever terms work for you. Your spiritual life is very personal, which is how Anchored Tides Recovery develops our addiction treatment programs as well, call 866-600-7709 to learn more. 

Support starts here. 

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.