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Archive for May, 2017

Couples in Rehab – Barrier or Benefit

Posted on: May 26th, 2017 by

New age means new ways to recover
Ask any old-timer in recovery about going to a couples rehab with your partner and they’d give you any of one hundred reasons why you shouldn’t even have a partner to begin with. I understand their point of view, but the recovery world is constantly evolving and growing. A lover can either be a great medicine or a great obstacle. Either way, you’d best learn how to handle it being both. As someone who’s been to residential treatment for chronic alcoholism and drug addiction 5 times, 4 times with my significant other, I can tell you the missing link was failing to work on my codependency and I did not get to really working on it until I entered a treatment program with my boyfriend that was designed specifically for couples rehab. For those of us who are new to the term codependency, I like how Wikipedia calls it “a dysfunctional helping relationship.” I had to learn that my codependency was actually hurting my partner and thus my unlearning process began.

I have yet to meet an addict who didn’t suffer from codependency in one form or another. I was so codependent that I couldn’t really understand why this was something I had to work on. You see, I was afraid of losing that deep passionate connection I had. Little did I know that teasing apart that codependent aspect was going to make my relationship more pure, satisfying and fun. Not only that, but being in a couples rehab setting with someone you care deeply about is priceless because you will learn twice as much about yourself and you’ll be doing some extra work. If that sounds scary to you, it shouldn’t be. The truth is that with a little willingness, open-mindedness and honesty, you can achieve the seemingly insurmountable.

The 5 Essential Lessons for all Couples in Rehab
Understand that almost all character defects stem from fear
Some say that a relationship in early recovery is like putting miracle-grow on your character defects, or flaws. I combat this with patience and acceptance, as much as for myself as for my partner. The first step is understanding that almost all character defects stem from fear. I was afraid of being hurt, being abandoned and being judged because I didn’t feel good enough. I have a lot of self-sabotage in my story because of this specific multifaceted diamond of fears. Understanding what both of your fears are is essential. When a conflict arose, I had to examine the underlying feeling behind it. (The close second offender is selfishness, but I’ll save that for another time.)

Make peace with the fact that reality isn’t perfect
Second is making peace with the fact that reality isn’t perfect, and that there is a distinct balance between bad and good. This means that your love isn’t going to be perfect either. If you’re the kind of addict I am, you want life to be endlessly exciting and wonderful. This reached all areas of my life, including my relationship. Being clean and sober, I realized that not every moment was passionate and emotionally charged. This made me feel empty, at first, as if there was something missing. Being in treatment at a couples rehab together, we had a safe space to practice being okay with that and the hopelessly mundane. After leaving treatment, I noticed that monotony was perfectly okay with me, provided I stay grateful.

Allow each other to make mistakes
Third was my partner and I allowing each other and ourselves to make mistakes. I had to recognize that we’re not going to have it all figured out right away. It all started with me just having the willingness to be better than I was yesterday. When I would do something hurtful, I wouldn’t beat myself up over it. Having shortcomings doesn’t make someone a bad person, it just means that they’re a work in progress, nothing more and nothing less, and a partner should understand that. I had to keep looking forward with optimism. Every mistake is a sign of effort. Alternatively, when my partner would do something hurtful, I became vulnerable and honest. It took me seeing the damage I caused by not being vulnerable to give me the motivation to practice it. When I got jealous, I learned to say something like “I’m still really insecure and afraid of not being good enough, could you reassure me about __(insert situation here)__?,” instead of shutting down or character assassinating him. This is a loaded statement because it makes you susceptible to being hurt and expresses your needs. Practicing those behaviors contradict every fiber of our addictive personalities, and any opportunity to go against your addiction is a good opportunity. As much as we’d like them to be, our partners aren’t mind readers and they may have different ways of expressing themselves. The way you want to be reassured may not be the way your partner knows how to do it. I could have said “You’re such an asshole!” and stormed away, but what good is that, really? Now we have two problems instead of one because not only has a situation awakened your fears, but now in result, you’ve likely awakened your partner’s fears too. I only know this because I’ve taken similar retaliatory action and regretted it.

Respond to all mistakes with compassion
Fourth is responding to said mistakes and conflicts with compassion. If I wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t expect my partner to be either. Every couple will have disagreements and conflicts. I’m an idealist, personally, and I used to be greatly disturbed by reality as it is. I subscribed to ideas that love should be easy and free. Even good things have their downfall. That being said, the time it takes to discuss conflicts and the time it takes to make-up is up to you. John Gottman, a prestigious marital psychologist, did a 14-year study about couples who fight, but stay together. They address their issues right away and make-up quickly. They approach the situation with an open-mind and are in the argument to understand each other, not to “win.”

Recognize that life is fluid
Last, but not least is recognizing that life is fluid. What does that mean, you ask? It means that in when you first start your recovery at a couples rehab, feelings can seem permanent. When a couples issue arises, it may feel like the end of the world. This is where a 12-step program comes in handy because the people in that program tell you, “feelings aren’t facts.”

It is honestly a made-to-order solution. You won’t know how to go about things unless you practice them! The steps give you an arsenal of tools and options to work through issues both individually and as a couple. Step one, worked with a sponsor/mentor, not only teaches you that you are powerless over drugs and alcohol, but that you’re also powerless over your counterpart. When truly embraced and paired with two and three, a sense of peace and tranquility is found. The second step is about discovering that something that’s bigger than you and that cares about you. Cultivating this other relationship will make your romantic relationship less codependent and more enjoyable. I took time out in treatment, such as my first cigarette of the day, to pray to something, anything that is not myself. This is time I could’ve spent with my partner, but I wanted to see what would happen. What’s that phrase they use? “Rome wasn’t built in a day,”? Baby steps for this girl! Step three is all about action and putting that spiritual relationship into practice. When a problem arises, I learned to give it up to that higher power and trust that whatever it is will solve it. It was such a relief to feel like I’m at my wits end, not knowing what to do, only to suddenly realize that because I’m not God, I don’t have to know. Giving up my fear to my higher power was essential, but it didn’t happen overnight. Some days it still doesn’t happen overnight, I’m just more patient with myself. I slowly learn to let go and I’m always glad I did.

Instant gratification is a demon I fought a good amount of rounds in the ring with. I’ll tell you this, every conflict we had got shorter and shorter. It took us less time each time to figure out what was going wrong. I’ll also tell you that if the first few problems happened outside of couples rehab, I might not have stayed clean and sober. The key word is patience because all worthwhile things take time.

Sometimes things seem way bigger in our heads than they were ever meant to be. Little by little, I opened up to people more and more and I learned to not only get over my fear of judgment from others, I got over my fear of judgment from him. I learned how to relax and figure out who I really was. We had to allow each other to be awkward and just plain weird. When two people in love let each other be individuals, amazing things can happen.

As a couple, in my humble opinion, if you used together, you need to recover together. If your addiction has had its way with their addiction and so on and so forth, chances are you have problems together. For me, those problems needed to be worked out right away. Things like trust issues, low-self-esteem, learning healthy intimacy, communication skills (vastly understated), as well as past trauma resolution. I’ve seen many couples go through massive blowouts while in treatment at a couples rehab and with the help of staff and therapy, they were stronger than before. They slowly found a healthy balance of togetherness and separate recovery. It’s hard to find that balance when you’re in a relationship and you go to treatment alone. When you come back together you might fall into the same codependent patterns. The fact of the matter is that you can work a separate recovery program while in treatment together. I know because I did it. I had a balance of leaning on my significant other, as well as my higher power and other women. I had to learn that what saves my ass might not be exactly what my partner needs. At the end of the day, we are two different people who just happen to walk the same path.

The only real issue I can see with couples in rehab together is not being forced to evaluate yourself all the time. If you are misguided, you could spend a good amount of your time worrying about your partner. I just like to remember that me and my significant other owe it to each other to work on ourselves. I imagine what it would feel like to completely accept myself as I am and be able to give love unconditionally. That cannot be attained by working on a non-individual basis.

Throughout addiction, many have lost their true essence or true personality. Early recovery is a trial-and-error process that requires understanding and compassion from one’s partner. It’s important to be open and willing to discuss insecurities courageously. For comparison’s sake, its like speaking from pain, not from anger. Most of the best things start out by being scary and uncomfortable. We also know that feelings are like the weather, ever-changing and downright unpredictable sometimes. I, over time, learned to keep my feelings from dictating the fate of my relationship. At the end of the day, we have a “disease of perception,” and it would love nothing more than to try to take the positivity out of anything in whatever way it can. I just know that I was glad I was able to encounter the majority of my partner and my pitfalls in the safe and productive space treatment at a true couples rehab provides. I ended up learning a hell of a lot more than I would’ve learned about myself if I went in alone. As with any option, there are people that are going to abuse it, however; this option should be available for those that can take advantage of what it has to offer. Going into treatment together was a lot like killing two birds with one stone.

Hallucinogenic Drug Rehab

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by

What Is A Hallucinogen?

Hallucinogens are drugs that alter an individual’s perception, feelings, and thoughts. This affects the acetylcholine and serotonin, brain chemicals responsible for perception, behavior, and the regulatory systems of the body including hunger, mood, body temperature, muscle control, and sexual behavior. This drug usually causes hallucinations or images and sensations that appear real though they aren’t.

These days hallucinogens are available in the form of drugs, but it can also be found in fungus, mushroom or in some other plants (or their extract). Common Hallucinogens that can be accessed or available nowadays includes but is not limited to the following:

  • LSD or D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide –Also known as a blotter, acid, doses, microdots, trips, sugar cubes, hits, tabs, tubes or window panes, LCD is a white or clear odorless material that is made from a lysergic acid.
  • Psilocybin – this comes from particular types of mushroom that grows in Subtropical and tropical regions of US, Mexico, and South America. This can either be fresh or dried and eaten raw, brewed into tea or mixed with food.
  • Mescaline – this is also known as peyote, a spineless small cactus that has mescaline as a principal ingredient.
  • DMT – is found in particular types of Amazonian plants but can also be manmade.
  • Ayahuasca – also known as Aya, Hoasca, or Yage, Ayahuasca is a tea made from one of the numerous Amazonian plants that contain DMT.
  • DXM or Dextromethorphan – also known as Robo, DXM is a mucus clearing and cough suppressant ingredient in some OTC’s cough and cold medicines.
  • Ketamine – also known as Special K, K or Cat Valium, Ketamine is a dissociative drug currently used as an anesthetic for animals and humans. Even though this is manufactured as injectable fluid, this drug can also come in a powder form, which is snorted.
  • PCP or Phencyclidine – this was originally developed for medical purposes, specifically used as a general anesthetic but due to grave side effects, its usage has been stopped. This drug comes in numerous different forms including liquid, capsules, tablets, and white crystal power.
  • Salvia or Salvia Divinorum – This is a plant common to South and Central America and Southern Mexico. This is also known as Maria Pastora, Diviner’s Sage, Magic Mint, and Sally D.

Hallucinogens are divided into three groups – Dissociative, Psychedelics, and Deliriants.
Dissociative is used in order to warp sounds and sights and generate feelings of detachment and dissociation from the environment or the body. This typically produces synaesthesia, euphoric high, hallucinations, and dreamlike visions. The best-known drugs under this type include DXM, PCP, and Ketamine.

Psychedelics, on the other hand, are drugs that alter the state of consciousness and perception of an individual. LSD is the most popular drug under this type of hallucinogens. Last is the Deliriants, which induces a sense of delirium. The most popular deliriants drugs are Benadryl and Dramamine.

Hallucinogens Symptoms and Side Effects

The symptoms and effects of hallucinogens are erratic. It usually depends on the amount of drug taken, the user’s mood, personality, expectation and even their surroundings. Soon after an individual taken in the drug, she or he might show symptoms including a higher body temperature, dilated Pupils, Increased blood rate and blood pressure, Loss or increase of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, speech difficulty, sleeplessness, paranoia, and tremors.

Feelings and sensations change, too. Typically, the user may feel varying emotions at once or experience drastic mood swings. The user’s sense of self and time may also alter. All these changes can cause an individual to feel fear and eventually cause panic. Hallucinations transform or distort movements and shapes and users may perceive others and even themselves as changing shapes or moving slowly.

Hallucinogen Effects

The consequence of hallucinogens abuse can be extremely detrimental. Although these drugs are not supposed to be addictive physically, an individual can still form a psychological dependency. Hallucinogen addiction brings short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Individuals who have been taking hallucinogenic drugs can usually hear sounds, see images, and feel sensations that are not real. The effects of the drug usually start within 20 – 90 minutes after ingestion. It can last as long as six to 12 hours. However, when it comes to taking in Salvia, a user can experience the effect in less than a minute and last less than half an hour.

The experiences or effects of these drugs are usually called by Hallucinogen users as ‘trips’. If the experience is not so good, they term it as ‘bad trips’. The bad trips usually include nightmarish feelings of despair and anxiety that includes fear of insanity, losing control and death as well as terrifying thoughts.

Below are the short-term effects of taking hallucinogenic drugs, particularly LSD and Psilocybin:

  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Sleeplessness and Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth, sweating, loss of appetite
  • Weakness, tremors, and numbness
  • Rapid emotional shifts and impulsiveness
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Spiritual/Introspective experiences
  • Nervousness, panic reactions, paranoia

Long-Term Effects

Researchers know that users of ketamine may develop kidney problems, ulcers in the bladder, and poor memory while repeated PCP use can result in effects that may continue for years such as memory loss, anxiety, weight loss, speech problem, depression, and suicide. But still, little is known about the hallucinogen’s long-term effect.

Other types of hallucinogens can also cause persistent psychosis and flashbacks but these effects are rarely experienced. Persistent Psychosis refers to a series of constant mental problems such as paranoia, visual disturbances, mood changes, and disorganized thinking. Flashbacks, on the other hand, refer to recurrences of particular drug experiences and often occur without warning. In some drug users, this effect can persist and can affect their everyday functioning, a condition called as HPPD (Hallucinogen-persisting-perceptual-disorder).

Other risks or effects of Hallucinogens

Other risks of many hallucinogens need extensive research and remain unclear. Known health effects include the following:

  • High PCP doses can cause coma, seizures, and worse death. Death, however, more often results from suicide or accidental injury during the PCP intoxication. When consumed with depressants such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, an individual may also be in a coma.
  • Without enough knowledge, users of psilocybin risk poisoning and even death from choosing and using a poisonous mushroom.
  • Hallucinogens users usually display bizarre behavior. Displaying such behaviors in public areas may prompt law enforcement or public health personnel intervention.
  • While the effects of hallucinogens on the developing fetus remain unknown, specialists and researchers know that the mescaline used in peyote may affect a fetus of the mother who is using the drug.

Causes of Hallucinogenic Drug or Hallucinogens Abuse

Hallucinogen drugs are not physically addictive. So you might ask why some people (or you) have been addicted to this drug? A hallucinogen user is usually not addicted to the drug itself but to the ‘spiritual journeys or trips’ that are taken or to the hallucinations.

Another reason of hallucinogen addiction is that the user develops a tolerance to the drug. Moreover, the tolerance can quickly build up, the drug’s toxicity level is extremely low, and there are no withdrawal symptoms because of constant abuse. When the hallucinogens are injected or smoked, the user can feel its effect just within one to five minutes. When taken orally or snorted, the user will likely feel the effects in about half an hour.

Hallucinogen Addiction Treatment

To be able to succeed in quitting a hallucinogenic addiction, which is extremely difficult to achieve, an individual needs to muster courage and determination. If you or your loved one has been addicted to hallucinogenic drugs and are now ready to make a change, the primary step is to determine the problem and then embrace healing or bear in mind that treatment is available. Next, to make sure that you or your loved one will successfully get out from the trap of hallucinogens, it is necessary to seek help from a licensed therapist, hallucinogen treatment facility, and above all is to seek the assistance of the family and friends.

To overcome the addiction to hallucinogenic drugs, a treatment plan needs to be created. Usually, it consists of four components – the family or loved ones, a counselor, a support group and a hallucinogen treatment program. Each of these components has an important role to play to ensure that the hallucinogen user will finally recover from addiction.

  • Seek for help – start with loved ones and friends. When healing and recovery become challenging and difficult, these individuals can provide motivation to continue.
  • Find a hallucinogen therapist – this professional specializes in addiction to hallucinogenic drugs addiction and is the one who can make a personalized detox plan.
  • Search for a hallucinogen rehab program – a treatment program for hallucinogen addiction will offer support or assistance in dealing with any psychological or physical withdrawal symptoms and helps in dealing with additional co-occurring addictions or disorders of any sort.
  • Engage in ongoing therapy and support groups – support groups can provide supervision when experiencing relapse scenario and plays an important role in an ongoing abstinence.

Detoxification (Detox)

A huge majority of detox treatments for hallucinogen abuse are initiated in emergency departments or hospitals when the abuser experience bad trips or suffers an injury, overdose, or any other medical complication as the result of the abuse.

Detox treatment primarily includes close observations as well as intervention for detrimental side effects of the drug and the withdrawal symptoms that usually evolve as hallucinogens are eliminated from the user’s system. The first stage is stabilization, which may require medication like anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics, and anti-depressants drugs to ensure the safety of the user as well as the safety of individuals surrounding him or her.

Hallucinogens Treatment Levels

This can be used to overcome hallucinogen addiction depending in intensity and type. The rehabilitation level that needs to be pursued can be determined by any co-occurring disorders as well as by the addiction’s severity. When the addiction co-occurs with other substance abuse, serious mood disorders, or eating disorders, the commonly utilized levels includes the following:

Support Groups – They provide mindfulness and responsibility as all of the members of support groups have been through the same or comparable circumstances.

Outpatient Care This program places fewer restrictions on an individual but still implements both personal and group therapies.

IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programs) This offers individual and group assistance and services and does not depend on detoxification. Sessions are typically done in the afternoon or morning. Individuals are permitted to carry on some daily behavior.

Types of Therapy

Therapy that can be used to help an individual overcome a hallucinogen addiction comes in numerous different types. Usually, a combination of therapies focusing on behavior modification will be implemented. Such therapies focus on the psychological issues of the addiction. The treatment may include the following:

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy – This uses mindfulness and acceptance strategies combined in numerous different ways with behavior change or commitment strategies. The mental and emotional flexibility should be improved.

Interpersonal Therapy – This concentrates on social roles and interpersonal relations using supportive, short-term psychotherapy. This type of therapy tries to help patients find good or better ways to deal with or handle existing problems or issues.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy – This therapy focuses on maladaptive thinking pattern to affect the behavior of the patient in a positive manner and assist them in developing positive coping skills.

Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy

This utilizes the standard behavioral therapies for emotion regulation. The key for this is the introduction of mindful awareness, and stress management.

Supportive Programs – Family Therapy, support groups, group therapy and other support structures are part of this group.

Hallucinogen addiction should not continue for life. Stop the addiction and the consequences it brings through seeking for help. The road to addiction recovery and complete healing is fraught with failure and success, making it hard to remain committed to the goal of becoming free from addiction. Nevertheless, no matter how hard the process may be, always remember that it is never impossible. You only need a great deal of perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication. Call us at our Huntington Beach substance abuse treatment center today at 714-443-8218.

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