Understanding Addiction with Reflections Recovery Center

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Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol Dependence

It is quite common for someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to also be addicted to nicotine. Addiction is a constant struggle to keep a comfortable amount of a certain chemical in your bloodstream, and nicotine – especially when smoking cigarettes – is a perfect example of this struggle. The peak and decline of nicotine in the bloodstream happen very quickly, which is why smokers tend to smoke every 30 minutes or so all throughout the day, smoke before bed and smoke the first thing in the morning.

In many ways nicotine addiction is an extension of the other addictions in poly-addiction, meaning that users will often cover up withdrawal or cravings for one drug or alcohol with nicotine. Anyone who has had a multi-addiction that includes nicotine knows that it is a constant battle to quit or cut down on any one of the addictions.

Using Smoking Cessation Options in Rehab 

Nicotine Addiction in Combination with Drug and Alcohol DependenceSo which one should you quit first? Do quit smoking, drinking, and doing drugs all at the same time? Can you even fully beat drug and alcohol cravings when you are still feeling urges for nicotine and giving into those urges?

The easy answer to all these questions is that in a perfect recovery, you should quit all addictions at once – but is any addiction recovery perfect? A more realistic answer and the one that many addiction treatment programs utilize is to take nicotine addiction out of the equations as much as you can, so you can focus on the other addictions. This means getting you on smoking cessation alternative – preferably a measured dosage nicotine patch. Traditionally nicotine patches are used in a step-down format, where you would taper down the dosage of nicotine in steps.

However, the taper down combined with detox from drugs and alcohol can give your body mixed signals, and the combined withdrawals can be too much to allow you to focus on recovery efforts and learning to deal with urges. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms can also add another layer to this already complex process.

Nicotine Replacement in Addiction Recovery

Instead, many find comfort and ease by using nicotine replacement during early recovery from drugs and alcohol. This means finding the moderate dosage of nicotine (Average 7mg per day) that is time delivered, preferably through a patch. This keeps the nicotine levels consistent throughout the day, staves off nicotine withdrawals, and allows you to focus on the withdrawal symptoms of the drugs and alcohol instead.

Nicotine Addiction Facts and Statistics

Nicotine product use and addiction is in a decline right now, thanks to changing social behaviors and even new ways to quit smoking such as vape products, but there are still many that struggle with addiction to tobacco products.

  • In 2018, there are approximately 50 million Americans who are addicted to tobacco products, including cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars.
  • Nicotine addiction costs in the U.S. are approximately $193 billion per year. This includes healthcare expenses and time/productivity in business that is lost to smoke breaks.
  • 90% of smokers have already started or become addicted by the time they turn 18 years of age.
  • Because the brain reward system is still developing in the teenage years, if a person starts smoking in their teens, it will be decidedly more difficult for them to quit later in life.
  • Smoking rates have been declining by about 5% each year since 2002.
  • Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 different chemicals. 70 of these chemicals have been recognized as carcinogenic or cancer-causing, while many of the others are considered toxic or harmful to health.
  • 5% of men are smokers, while only 13.5% of women smoke.
  • 3% of smokers are living below the poverty level, while 14.3% are living at or above the poverty level.
  • In 2016 a study concluded that 20.5% of those that identify as LGBT were smokers, compared to a rate of 15.3 amongst those who identify themselves as “straight” or heterosexual.
  • A study showed that during 2007-2010, male military veterans were 5% more likely to smoke than non-veterans (29% compared to 24%).
  • 40% of men living with a mental health condition (anxiety, depression, PTSD, or more serious and debilitating mental health conditions) are smokers, while 34% of women with a mental health conditions smoke.
  • A 2016 study found that adults with disabilities had smoking rates of 21.2%. This is compared to the 14.4% seen in adults without disabilities.
  • The smoking rate in Arizona in 2015 was 14%, much lower than the national rate of 17.5%
  • A 2015 study showed that “vaping” rates are quite high in Arizona, among high school students. 27.5% of high school students admitted to using vape products at least once in the past 30 days. This is compared to the 24.1% national rate.
  • Arizona healthcare costs are estimated at 2.38 billion per year due to smoking.

In the end, the decision comes down to you and the addiction program counselors, on how to tackle a polydrug addiction that includes nicotine addiction. However, we can say that nicotine addiction is deadly, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Smoking cessation help is offered as a part of our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs at Reflections Recovery, and our counselors will set a plan for treating all aspects of your or a loved one’s addictions while under our care.

Our program, combined with exercise therapy, nutritional therapy, and our outdoor adventure programs help to get those in recovery physically active and involved in their health recovery. Utilizing our addiction treatment group activities, many of the men who have joined our program were able to quit smoking, quit drug and alcohol use, and find a healthy way of living that inspires them to stay healthy long term.

Find Out What Drugs Require Detox

Opioid and Benzodiazepine Abuse: Two Dangerous Drugs are Often Mixed

Both opioids and benzodiazepines are dangerous drugs in themselves, but a deadly cocktail is mixed when these two drugs are taken together. Even though the dangers of combining these two drugs are extreme, most recreational users do not understand just how dangerous it can be to take both drugs at the same time.

The Dangers of Opioids: Why are Heroin and Prescription Painkillers like Oxycontin so Deadly? 

The opioid addiction crisis that has swept across the United States in the past 20+ years, and increased exponentially starting in 2007, has brought more attention to the dangers of opioids, but many in the younger generation are still oblivious to the very real dangers.

Are Opioids Narcotics? 

Opioids are drugs in the narcotic class that include heroin, oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Opium, fentanyl, and morphine. In a clinical setting, they are used to treat chronic pain, and many will receive a short-term prescription for opioids following surgeries or injuries such as broken bones. The drugs are also highly addictive, which means that long-term use should be reserved only for cases where the quality of life is severely decreased without the medication.

Opioid Overdose, Hypoxia, and Death 

What makes opioids so deadly is the fact that they suppress breathing function. The more opioids a person has in their system, the more the breathing is suppressed. In cases of overdose, the breathing suppression is so great that breathing stops completely. The body literally forgets to breathe – this leads to lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), which quickly leads to brain damage and death.

In many of the cases involving opioid overdose, the individual falls asleep or loses consciousness. With the brain not able to make the conscious decision to breathe, breathing becomes shallower and shallower until the body stops breathing altogether.

How Benzodiazepines Increase the Dangers of Opioids 

Mixing and two or more drugs will always increase the dangers of those individual drugs, but when it comes to mixing benzos and opioids, the dangers are far greater. We have already established that the primary concern with opioid overdose is that the individual falls asleep or passes out – leading to the suppressed breathing function. When benzodiazepines are in the body, the likelihood of passing out or falling asleep is greatly increased.

Benzodiazepines are primarily used for their main effects: general anesthesia, muscle relaxation, drowsiness, and sleepiness. These effects may help with symptoms of anxiety or sleeplessness, but are downright dangerous for anyone experiencing suppressed breathing function.

Benzodiazepines and Opioids Prescribed Together 

In some cases, both types of drugs may be prescribed to a person. However, doctors and pharmacists will advise not to take the two together. Because so many people have overdosed on taking the two drugs in a relatively short period of time, doctors are reconsidering prescribing the two at the same time and checking prescription drug monitoring systems before prescribing.

However, in some cases, the two drugs need to be prescribed for two separate medical issues at the same time. In these cases, doctors warn about the risk of overdose and advise patients to look closely at the half-lives of both and to ensure sufficient time between dosages.

Recreationally Using Benzodiazepines and Opioids Together 

The real concern of mixing these two drugs comes to those who have not been prescribed one or the other, but are using the drugs recreationally. All you have to do is look online in forums and on social media to see the extent of the problem among today’s youth. Kids as young as 13 are regularly taking both opioids and benzodiazepines to get high. Besides the fact that both are some of the most addictive medications available, both have the very real danger of causing overdoses.

Today’s younger generation isn’t just taking a few pills here and there either, they are taking handfuls of pills and mixing them together to achieve an “even greater high.” Even worse, some that have found themselves addicted to opioids have realized that benzodiazepines are often used during medically assisted detox for opioids. The danger here is that many attempts to detox themselves from opioids by taking benzodiazepines. This should never be attempted, and detox efforts should be left to the professionals.

Can You Be Addicted to Opioids and Benzodiazepines at the Same Time

Yes, it is possible to develop an addiction to both opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. Polydrug use like this is extremely risky, not only due to the risk of overdose, but because withdrawals from both drugs can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to get yourself or your loved one into medical detox to begin detoxing from both benzodiazepines and opioids as soon as possible.

Addiction Treatment for Opioids and Benzodiazepine Abuse

We cannot stress the dangers of opioids and benzodiazepine abuse enough. With an addiction to opioids or with an addiction to benzodiazepines, the risk of overdose and death is very high. However, if someone is mixing the two or are addicted to both, that person is a ticking time bomb. You cannot wait to get someone in this situation helps. You need to perform an intervention immediately, set a plan for recovery, and get them into detox as soon as possible.

Get More Information on Prescription Drug Addiction

How Panic Disorders Affect Men: Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Substance Abuse

Hundreds of thousands of American men struggle with both substance abuse issues and panic disorder. These two mental health disorders reinforce one another, making it nearly impossible to achieve recovery on one’s own. However, by attacking both problems at once through dual diagnosis rehabilitation, men can take back control of their lives and achieve lifelong holistic health.

What Is Panic Disorder? 

How Panic Disorders Affect Men: Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Substance AbusePanic disorder is a psychological condition characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks. According to the DSM-5, panic attacks are defined as an abrupt onset of overwhelming feelings of fear or discomfort that can reach peak intensity within a matter of minutes. Individuals suffering from panic disorder live in constant fear of experiencing a panic attack, which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Episodes of a panic attack in men reportedly occur at least once or twice in a lifetime during periods of intense stress. However, a full-fledged panic disorder is characterized by experiencing at least one month of constant fear or worry about suffering from a subsequent episode of extreme panic. 

It is important for men to realize that even though panic disorder is an extremely upsetting condition to live with, proper treatment and therapy can greatly reduce negative symptoms and improve one’s overall quality of life.

How Panic Disorder Relates to Anxiety Disorder 

While panic attacks are a common feature of all anxiety disorders in men, panic disorder is different in that the sufferer’s panic attacks will occur without warning or predictable triggers. It is important to remember that although panic disorders in men and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) share a number of common symptoms – including excessive fear or worry – they are in fact two separate and distinct conditions. 

It is, however, possible to suffer from both GAD and panic disorder concurrently. Many men with panic disorder also suffer from other co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and Symptoms of Panic Disorder 

As previously mentioned, panic attacks usually seem to occur “out of the blue” to a panic disorder sufferer and can arise at any time, even in the middle of the night while sound asleep. And while panic attacks only rarely last for more than 30 to 60 minutes, an episode can leave men feeling worn out and fatigued for many hours after the symptoms subside.    

Although panic attacks manifest themselves differently from man to man, there are a number of common signs and symptoms, which include:

    • Sweating
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Racing heart, palpitations and high blood pressure
    • Tightness or pain in the chest
    • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or fainting
    • Feelings of detachment or unreality
    • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
    • Nausea
    • Shortness of breath
    • An impending sense of doom
    • Abdominal cramping

Perhaps the worst side effect of panic disorder is the intense fear that another panic attack could strike at any time. This concern often leads men to avoid going out in public and, in serious cases, can even lead to the development of agoraphobia.

Panic Disorder FAQs 

How common is panic disorder?

A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that approximately 2.5 percent of people will develop a panic disorder at some point in their lifetime. 

Can I die from a panic attack?

Although the symptoms of panic attack vs. heart attack in men share a number of frightening similarities – such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, vertigo and numbness of the extremities – panic attacks are not deadly.

How long do panic attacks last?

While the distressing symptoms of a panic attack typically reach peak intensity within 5 to 10 minutes, they generally subside within half an hour. It is extremely rare for a panic attack to last more than an hour. 

The Relationship Between Panic Disorders and Substance Abuse 

There is a robust body of evidence that suggests men who suffer from an anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, are at an elevated risk for developing other mental health disorders. One of the most common of these co-occurring disorders is issues with drug or alcohol abuse.

In fact, data from The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions shows that it is more common for men diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to suffer from a co-occurring substance use disorder than to not.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has reported similar findings when looking at panic disorder in particular. The NIAAA’s research shows that, at a minimum, 20 percent of individuals diagnosed with panic disorder have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Such data should come as no surprise given the fact it is incredibly common for men to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt at self-medicating the symptoms of a wide range of mental health disorders. It does not take long for men abusing substances for self-medication purposes to develop both a psychological and physical addiction.

When a man suffers from both mental illness and substance use disorder, the two quickly begin reinforcing each other, creating a powerful feedback loop that can be nearly impossible to escape on one’s own. 

Which Manifests First? 

Despite the findings above, it would be overly simplistic to conclude that the self-medication hypothesis explains every case of co-occurring panic attacks and substance abuse. Other studies have indicated that many cases of substance abuse arise prior to the development of panic disorder.

Regardless of the question of which disorder causes the other, there’s no mistaking that the combination of substance abuse and panic disorder creates serious problems in a man’s life.

Panic Disorder and Depressant Drugs 

Psychoactive depressant drugs, especially when abused, wreak havoc on the delicate structures of the brain. Many men suffering from an anxiety disorder experience panic attacks after drinking, which is likely the result of alcohol’s negative impact on the brain’s neurotransmitter symptoms.

Abruptly ending the consumption of depressant drugs can also exacerbate the symptoms of an individual’s panic disorder. For instance, the intense hangover and withdrawal symptoms associated with depressant substances like alcohol, benzos, and opiates can cause terrible stress in the user. Such high levels of stress are known to trigger the onset of panic attacks, especially among men already dealing with an underlying anxiety or panic disorder.   

Panic Disorder and Stimulant Drug Use 

There is currently a debate within the addiction treatment community as to whether stimulant drugs in and of themselves cause panic attacks, or if they simply worsen the symptoms of an individual’s underlying anxiety disorder. Either way, it’s no secret in the medical community that such drugs trigger feelings of panic and anxiety due to their ability to rapidly increase the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Stimulant drugs commonly associated with increased levels of anxiety include:

  • Caffeine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin, etc.)
  • Ephedrine

Get the Help You Need with Dual Diagnosis Treatment 

Chemical addiction and panic disorder feed off one another, making it nearly impossible to effectively address one without simultaneously addressing the other. If you struggle with both of these types of mental health disorders, your best chance of successful recovery is to undergo dual diagnosis treatment. 

At Reflections Recovery Center, we offer dual diagnosis treatment for men that is widely regarded as among the most effective program of its kind in the state of Arizona. We accept patients from across the country who are looking to take back control of their lives. So don’t wait! Reach out today and discover how our holistic approach to recovery can help you live a life free from addiction and panic disorder.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Men: (OCD) Symptoms and Treatments for Men

Men suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) know just how debilitating the effects of this mental illness truly are. Unfortunately, OCD often goes undiagnosed, and in an attempt to manage their OCD, many men will turn to drugs and alcohol for relief.

When you have OCD, addiction treatment becomes more complicated. But by educating yourself about OCD, you are taking the first step toward regaining control over your life.   

What Is OCD 

OCD is a mental health disorder that causes a person to become trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions:

  • Obsessions take the form of unwanted and involuntary thoughts and urges that spark powerful feelings of distress.
  • Compulsions are the behaviors that OCD sufferers take part in to manage or lessen the thoughts that cause their distress.

OCD can be difficult to identify in men. After all, everyone experiences troubling thoughts from time to time. OCD, however, takes these universal emotions and amplifies them to the point of mental illness.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD 

While OCD was once considered to be an anxiety disorder, the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has classified OCD in a separate category of mental illnesses that involve obsessive and repetitive fears and behaviors.

However, fear and anxiety still play a major role in OCD. Some of the most common sources of fear and anxiety among men suffering from OCD include:

  • Fear of becoming ill, getting injured or dying
  • Fear of loved ones becoming ill, getting injured or dying
  • Fear of germs or being unclean
  • Fear of causing harm to others
  • Fear of upsetting a higher power
  • Fear of losing personal objects
  • Intrusive sexual thoughts
  • A need to maintain perfect order or symmetry
  • Superstitious beliefs

Men suffering from OCD will often turn to ritualistic behaviors in order to calm their fears and anxieties. But because their fears arise so frequently and are often only loosely grounded in reality, such behaviors only offer temporary relief and must be repeated over and over again.

Common ritualistic behaviors among men with OCD include:

  • Excessive hand washing, showering, etc.
  • Arranging objects in specific patterns
  • Obsessively checking one’s work for errors
  • Obsessively dwelling on and reviewing one’s actions
  • Compulsive hoarding or collecting objects of little value
  • Behavioral tics such as touching a doorknob five times before turning it, or tying and untying one’s shoes multiple times before feeling satisfied.

The Link Between OCD and Substance Abuse 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in men: (OCD) Symptoms and Treatments for MenMany addiction treatment specialists have observed that among patients with a mental illness and substance use dual diagnosis, OCD is one of the most commonly observed psychological disorders.

Men suffering from OCD are usually aware of the fact their fears and compulsions are irrational. However, this doesn’t make it any easier for them to control their ritualistic behaviors on their own. This internal conflict creates extreme levels of mental distress. It should come as no surprise that many men will turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of their OCD.

While drug and alcohol use may be an effective short-term strategy to control the anxiety resulting from the symptoms of OCD, it doesn’t take long for this pattern of self-medication to transform into a powerful chemical addiction.

In fact, the Journal of Anxiety Disorders released a study showing that out of 323 American adults suffering from OCD, 27 percent met the diagnostic criteria for a co-occurring substance use disorder. Because OCD and addiction feed off one another, patients suffering from co-occurring OCD and substance abuse need a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment program that includes intensive OCD rehab therapy.

Types of OCD 

OCD can manifest itself in an endless number of ways. However, experts have identified five primary subtypes of the disorder. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that many men will experience different combinations of these OCD subtypes at the same time. 

Harm Obsessions 

Men suffering from this type of OCD experience frequent thoughts about potential harm coming to themselves or others. Men with this type of OCD will frequently become obsessed with so-called “checking rituals” in an attempt to control their anxiety.

For example, a father may constantly dwell on thoughts of his child becoming seriously ill, leading him to excessively take the child’s temperature, schedule frequent check-ups, inspect the child for signs of illness, etc.

Contamination Obsessions 

With this type of OCD, intrusive thoughts are centered on feelings of being unclean. For instance, simply shaking hands with a stranger may produce an overwhelming sense of contamination. The resulting anxiety can only be relieved by the OCD sufferer quickly washing his or her hands.

While it’s normal to feel dirty and want to clean up from time to time, men with this type of OCD have been known to wash their hands until they bleed, and some even scrub their bodies raw with abrasive substances like steel wool.   

Symmetry, Ordering and Counting Obsessions 

Men with this subtype of OCD experience an overwhelming need to arrange objects, thoughts or words until they feel “just right.” This may manifest as arranging books or CDs in perfect alphabetical order, repeating words or phrases until they sound perfect, or even chewing food an equal number of times on the left and right side of the mouth.

Failing to maintain perfect order can lead to feelings ranging from a mild sense of unease to the fear of impending doom.

Violent, Religious or Sexual Obsessions 

This type of OCD does not always lead to outwardly visible compulsions. Many men with this subtype of OCD are constantly battling intrusive thoughts about upsetting subjects. For example, a man might constantly imagine himself attacking strangers while in public, and attempts to stifle these thoughts only causes them to arise more frequently.  

Hoarding Obsession 

Hoarding has recently become recognized as a type of OCD. Men suffering from hoarding disorder experience extreme anxiety and discomfort at the thought of throwing away even the most useless items. Usually, the anxiety centers on the fear that the item may be needed later, or that the item has some imagined sentimental value.

Common Myths About OCD 

Myth: OCD primarily affects women.

 Research conducted by the International OCD Foundation has shown that this disorder affects both men and women at the same rate.

Myth: OCD is not treatable.

Through intensive OCD therapy and proper medication, anyone can overcome their struggles with obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors.

Myth: If you are a neat freak, you have OCD.

A fixation on maintaining cleanliness and order does not necessarily mean a person has OCD. In order to be diagnosed with OCD, a person’s obsessions and compulsions must:

  • Cause significant and prolonged distress.
  • Consume excessive amounts of time and mental energy.
  • Negatively impact one’s ability to function in day-to-day life.

Myth: Men with OCD just need to relax.

Not only is this common myth untrue, but it also makes it harder for OCD sufferers to recognize their need for professional treatment.

Getting the Help You Need

If you or a man in your life is suffering from a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder, the best way to achieve lasting recovery is by getting help for both problems at the same time through a dual diagnosis treatment program.

Reflections Recovery Center specializes in dual diagnosis treatment for men, and our unique approach to holistic recovery has led to our being positioned among the best addiction treatment providers in Arizona. Make note that we accept male clients not only from our home state, but also from all around the country.

Keep exploring our site to discover how we can help you or your loved one achieve a life free from both OCD and substance abuse.

Learn More About Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

So many families are often confused on where to draw the line with helping a family member who is struggling with addiction – especially if that person is your child. Parents want to know how to help an addict without enabling… if you are enabling addiction, are you loving that person to death?

It is the natural instinct for parents to help their child and to provide for them – food, shelter, and assistance to keep them safe. However, the line needs to be drawn when you find that you are providing food, shelter and covering for their responsibilities only makes getting high or drinking easier for them. 

Why would your loved one have the motivation to change an unhealthy lifestyle if it is so easy just to stay where they are at? This is what keeps many stuck in the cycle of addiction, with no desire to get out. That doesn’t mean that you need to cut off your loved one complete, nor should you put them into dangerous situations in an attempt to force them to change. Instead, you need to provide the right kind of help for an addicted loved one.

Enabling Addiction: The Wrong Way to Help a Loved One Struggling with Drug and Alcohol Abuse 

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Examples of How Loved Ones Enable Addiction and Substance Abuse 

In order to know the right way to help a loved one struggling with addiction to heroin, pills, alcohol, or other substances, you first need to recognize the behaviors that do not help. These are enabling behaviors and should be avoided.

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Denial (Refusing to Accept the Reality that A Loved One Is Addicted) 

Denial is a behaviors that is common surrounding substance abuse – and both the addict and those around them can have a hard time accepting the truth. Many parents ask how their addicted loved ones can be so crass or blatant with their drug and alcohol use, when they know what it is doing to those around them. Denial is very strong instinctive reflex to difficult situations.

The reality of the situation for the drug or alcohol user is that they have found themselves in a situation that is dire, and often denial is the only defense they have against a very harsh reality – that they are addicted.

For loved ones, denial is also very instinctive. Parents especially don’t want to see just how broken and in need of help, their children have become. Therefore, many loved ones don’t allow themselves to see the full severity of the addiction. This behavior not only keeps the family from formally realizing and addressing the extent of the addiction, but also sets an example for the addict. Remember, in the mind of an addict, the addiction is only as severe as the reaction of people closest to them.

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Avoiding (Ignoring the Fact That A Loved One Is Addicted) 

For severe addictions, it can be harder for a loved one to avoid the signs and symptoms. When an addiction is causing failing health, work life, or personal life, it is easy to recognize and harder to avoid. With high functioning and functioning addicts, avoidance and denial are easier.

The avoiding enabling behavior is more common in the early stages of substance abuse and addiction, and loved ones often write off the signs of a problem as a “phase” or a stage that the individual will outgrow. In fact, it is just the opposite – parents and loved ones need to address the problem while in its infancy before it progresses.

Check Out Our FAQs on Addiction

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Being Quiet (Failing to Speak to Them about Their Addiction) 

Talking to a loved one about their problems with drugs and alcohol is not easy, and usually the individual will purposely make talking about the problem more difficult or uneasy in an attempt to avoid the conversation altogether. Addicts and those with substance abuse problems don’t want to talk about it – they want you to leave them alone and keep a situation where it is easy to get high or drink. Much like denial, being quiet only allows the progressive disease of addiction to worsen.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

 Allowing (Drug/Alcohol Abuse is Allowed in the Home or Controlled Environment) 

Many parents and loved ones that don’t understand the addiction, but recognize it, will often come to an agreement with the substance user. Drinking and using drugs is only allowed during certain times and under certain conditions, is an example of an attempt to create a controlled environment.

By creating a situation like this, you are only creating the illusion that the substance abuse is tolerated. You might think that you are only trying to lessen the dangers surrounding a loved one’s inevitable behavior, but when you look at it from the other side, these boundaries create an open situation where the substance abuse is tolerated, verified, and acceptable.

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Justifying (Making Excuses for Them to Abuse Drugs or Alcohol) 

Justifying is similar to allowing, in that it establishes certain substance abuse behaviors as acceptable. A great example of this type of behavior is when families justify substance abuse due to past traumas that the individual might have gone through.

PTSD and trauma should not be seen as qualifying conditions for substance abuse, rather they should be seen as risk factors. Allowing a loved one to lean on past events or existing medical conditions as an excuse for substance abuse and self-medicating blocks responsibility and accountability. In order for an individual to change their behaviors, they need to know and accept that their current behaviors are not justified and they need to be motivated to change.

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Being Ashamed (Trying to Protect the Family Image) 

Being ashamed is closely related to denial. This behavior happens when family members feel embarrassed or ashamed at the behavior of a loved one regarding their substance abuse. As a reaction to this shame, the family member often reacts in a toxic manner.

Disowning or cutting off the family member, refusing to communicate with that family member, or cutting the addict completely out of familial life and events are all reactions based off shame. While these reactions may seem justified in the mind of those feeling ashamed, they are not productive and can only hurt the addict and worsen their state.

It is important to note that the common reaction to these actions is often to care less about their worsening addictions and sink deeper into both depression and substance abuse.

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Lack of Accountability (Buying them Necessities, Paying Rent, or Bailing them Out of Jail/Emergencies) 

Lack of accountability stems from the addicts perceived lack of repercussions from continuing their substance abuse and negative behaviors. If there are no repercussions for their behaviors, why would they care to change? Accountability must be established, if the addict is going to motivate themselves to make a change.

It is important to note that there is a fine line between cutting off a loved one to leave them helpless and only providing support that will help the situation to better. The problem comes in when you are offering the basic necessities but not a way to get out of the situation where they depend on you for those necessities.

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Trying to Control (Attempting to Control a Loved One’s Behaviors) 

This type of enabling behavior is rarer than others, but is extremely toxic to the addict. Controlling the behaviors of the addict stems from codependency on the part of the loved one. In certain situations, a family member may feel emotionally dependent on the addict, and therefore uses enabling the substance abuse as a barter. They allow the substance abuse, or provide an environment where the substance abuse is accepted in order to feel emotionally connected to the addict.

If the addict depends on you to continue their addiction, than you are needed – right?

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Say No to Enabling (And Yes to Help) 

The main difference between enabling an addict and offering them real help, is that real help offers the chance at bettering the addict’s life, getting them help to treat the addiction (not strengthen or feed it), and performing actions that can lead to recovery.

How to Help an Addict without Enabling 

Familial bonds make it difficult to understand where the line between enabling and helping lays. It is also extremely difficult to bring yourself to cut enabling behaviors, and can cause emotional distress. Simply put, reversing enabling behaviors and replacing them with honest help for an addict often needs the help of an intermediary. Breaking enabling behaviors is best done with the help of professionals during an intervention that involves all members of the family that make up the enabling structure. This is the first step in addressing the enabling behaviors and offering real help for the addict. It will take time for the addict to heal from their addictions and behaviors, but it also takes time for the family to learn how to help without enabling.


Help for Families Enabling a Drug Addict Son, Husband or Male Loved One 

Reflections Recovery knows and understands the struggles that families go through with a loved one, and we know that enabling behaviors like these cannot be broken overnight. We offer intervention services for the family to help with the initial stages of addressing substance abuse and addiction, and the help you receive from us follows through the entire continuum of treatment – through detox and therapy to aftercare and ongoing addiction support.

Call us today to take the first step in getting help for your loved one.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy, and Recovery

Alcohol abuse – especially binge drinking and long-term chronic alcohol abuse – takes its toll on the heart muscle and vascular system. We often forget just how dangerous alcohol can be, and wrongly assume that it takes decades for severe problems to show up from excessive drinking. 

How Alcohol Affects the Heart 

There are several concerns about the heart and circulatory system with heavy drinkers:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Strokes
  • Hypertension
  • Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy (Heart Failure)

Arrhythmias Caused by Alcohol Abuse – Abnormal heartbeats are quite common in heavy and chronic drinkers. The severity of arrhythmias ranges from mild to severe, with the least concerning being “innocent” heart palpitations and arrhythmias. These innocent heart arrhythmias could be temporary and could stem from a simple electrochemical imbalance or from poor nutrition and diet caused by alcohol abuse. Both atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia are forms of arrhythmias in common with alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Related Strokes – A more serious concern is the risk of strokes with alcohol abuse. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol consumption for months or even a few short years can increase the risk of ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Alcohol-induced strokes can occur in otherwise healthy patients and without existing coronary artery disease.

“Binge drinkers have an increased risk of ischemic stroke, are 56% more likely to have a stroke than non-binge drinkers, and are 39% more likely to have any type of stroke.

Alcoholic Hypertension – Binge drinkers and chronic drinkers know all too well the fact that heavy alcohol use raises blood pressure – sometimes raising it to dangerous levels. Alcohol causes your arteries and veins to stiffen, instead of flexing to the beat of the heart. Worsening the problem, continued alcohol abuse can cause the blood vessels to constrict within the already shrinking arteries and veins. Hypertension is an early sign of the increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

Alcohol and Cardiomyopathy 

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy is the most serious concerns of the effects of alcohol on the heart. Cardiomyopathy means “heart failure,” and alcoholic cardiomyopathy simply means that the heart failure is caused by alcohol. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens over time – especially with continued alcohol use.

“Quitting alcohol as soon as possible, and staying sober can immediately stop the progression of alcoholic cardiomyopathy in many cases – as long as the heart failure is not in the late stages of progression.”

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Symptoms 

It is good to note first that just because you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that you immediately have heart failure. The symptoms of very serious cardiomyopathy are similar to the symptoms of less serious heart issues that can be temporary and also caused by alcohol. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor and have them test to know for sure what is causing those symptoms.

That being said, the following are the symptoms that should prompt your doctor visit:

  • Edema (swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs)
  • Swelling in the extremities, neck, torso and overall swelling
  • Shortness of breath, especially when running or with strenuous activity (dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing (especially when laying on your back)
  • Weakness, Fatigue, and feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Foggy head (decreased alertness or difficulty concentrating)
  • Coughing and a cough with mucus discoloration (pink or frothy)
  • Decreased urine output (oliguria)
  • Increased urination at night (nocturia)
  • Heart Palpitations (irregular heartbeats)
  • Rapid pulse (tachycardia)

 Can Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy be Reversed? 

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy can be treated, which is good news for those suffering the symptoms of early stages of the disease, however, it does require a change of lifestyle to be effective. It all depends on how early you catch the disease, and whether or not you can quit drinking for good – that means no alcohol at all.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Life Expectancy

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectency, and RecoveryWhat is the prognosis and life expectancy for someone who has been diagnosed with alcoholic cardiomyopathy? The prognosis really depends on whether or not the patient is able to quit drinking. If he/she stops drinking and the damage to the heart is not severe, the outlook is very good, and one would not expect a shortened lifespan. However, if the disease is in late stages and the damage is severe enough, it may be too late. Someone with end-stage alcoholic cardiomyopathy is not expected to live more than 4 years.

If someone does not quit drinking, the progressive disease is expected to get worse, and the outlook is grim for someone who continues to drink alcohol and let the disease progress to final stages. Let us be clear that if you do not stop drinking, alcoholic cardiomyopathy will lead to death – although this could take anywhere from 2-10 years, depending on how much existing damage there is.

“We cannot say this enough: quitting alcohol completely gives you the best shot at slowing or reversing this disease, and continued drinking only leads to worsening the disease and eventual death.”

Preventing Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy: Alcohol Treatment Programs 

Again, alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease, and gets worse as you continue to drink. When diagnosed with this disease, it is imperative that you quit drinking completely. It is at this stage – when trying to quit – that many binge drinkers and chronic drinkers find that they cannot quit, or can’t stay sober for an extended period of time without relapsing.

When alcohol has such a strong hold on you that even the threat of terminal heart failure can’t get you or a loved one to quit drinking, the need for an alcohol treatment program that is intensive and offers a high chance of turning around both your lifestyle and health is needed. Individuals at this point are in a serious position where the stakes are high, and they need the best clinical and therapeutic care they can get.

Reflections Recovery Center is a leading alcohol treatment center in Arizona that can deal with unique needs an of alcoholic men facing health problems due to chronic drinking. The Reflections program puts emphasis on adopting a healthier lifestyle and finding joy in being sober and caring about your health and happiness. Our program can be just what men need when faced with the reality that they need to quit drinking, or face serious health problems.

Is Your Young Adult Child Addicted to Alcohol? Take Our Assessment to Find Out.

Signs You’re Living with a Functional Drug Addict

Addicts are generally depicted as people who have turned to illegal substances and have hit rock-bottom. They have been stereotyped as individuals who come from dysfunctional households, earn meager income, and are school dropouts. Addicts are usually assumed to be violent and angry people who are either high or just coming down from one. This is far from true. There are actually addicts who do manage to do things normally and successfully, or so they say.

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

Signs You're Living with a Functional Drug AddictA high-functioning addict can be the family doctor, a preschool school teacher, the successful lawyer with the nice office, or the busy and very personable soccer mom. A high-functioning addict may seem to be living a happy, balanced, and successful life. He has a caring and loving family and friends, have great a job, is active in church and the community, and has interests and hobbies for him to de-stress. The reality is that he secretly takes his substance of abuse for him to function through the day.

A high-functioning addict is highly capable of keeping his addiction a secret from everyone. He is skilled in going through his daily activities without his addiction getting in the way. Most high-functioning addicts believe that they do not have a substance abuse problem. They think that they can handle their substance addiction, unwittingly jeopardizing themselves for psychological and physical health problems.

Get The Discussion Started With An Intervention. Learn More.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a state in which an individual is compelled to repeatedly use an illicit substance or engage in an activity that he finds rewarding. A person can be addicted to substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, cocaine, and more, or in activities such as gambling.  Scientific studies indicate that the addictive substance or behavior strongly activates that brain center of reinforcement and reward, involving the dopamine neurotransmitter.

Individuals who develop an addiction are not readily aware that their tolerance to the pertaining substance or behavior has increased.  The brain’s executive functions are affected that is why an “addict” does not realize that his behavior is harming himself and those around him. Thus, a high-functioning addict’s mindset is the same.

Recognizing a High-functioning Addict

Individuals turn to drugs for various reasons. For example, a college student may use stimulants to enhance his focus while studying, or an athlete may use prescription painkillers due to an injury, or a stay-at-home mom may turn an occasional wine before dinner into a devastating alcohol addiction.

Are you living with an addict? If he or she is a high-functioning one, then knowing if he or she is an addict is not as easy. High-functioning addicts can readily hide or disguise their drug problems without family and friends knowing any better. However, there are ways to discern and unmask one.

Denial is a key sign of addiction. High-functioning addicts may not use drugs on a daily basis. They may prefer to drink only the finest wines and do designer drugs. They can effortlessly manage their family and career, fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities easily. They may even feel entitled to indulge in their substance of addiction as a means of rewarding themselves for their hard work. Recognizing that they have an addiction problem is farthest in their mind. Their friends and loved ones sometimes fail to recognize the addiction problem even if they are presented with facts.

Changes in Behavioral Patterns. No matter how many functional addicts rationalize that they do not have an addiction, they will still experience the consequences.  Subtle changes in their behavior uncharacteristic of them may appear. They may have the tendency to isolate themselves, refusing to interact socially and failing to do family obligations. Professionally, they may show lack of focus in doing tasks, miss deadlines, and might frequently call in sick. They may show some physical signs of addiction such as paranoia, insomnia, and unsteadiness in their movements.

Master of Excuses. A high-functioning addict is a master in making excuses for his unusual behavior and strange occurrences. Coming home drunk or high, he will usually cook up a seemingly realistic story to cover his addiction.

Double Life Situation. Leading a double life becomes the norm for high-functioning addicts. He is the exact opposite of the person he shows and maintains to the outside world. He exudes confidence, success, and everything that is truly remarkable but when the curtain is drawn and he is by himself, his inner demons manifest. On occasions, he feels the burden of his lies and deception, but this does not mean he is ready to admit his addiction and seek rehabilitation. Hitting rock-bottom seems to be the thing that could motivate him to seek treatment.

Being in a relationship with a high-functioning addict is not easy as he does not fit the typical drug addict or alcoholic.  His job is his anchor of keeping sane as it offers him financial stability to support his addiction. The regular working hours offer him consistency and structure. The job gives him a sense of being someone else, and not an addict. He is mostly at work that it makes it easy to do his drugs or alcohol away from the eyes of his family.

A great concern is that unless he admits his addiction, he continues to be a liability to himself and to those around him.

Tell-tale Signs of Addiction

Classified as a chronic brain disease, addiction will ultimately lead to lower quality of life, health issues, financial problems, work problems and family/relational problems for the addict. Are you in a relationship and is not quite sure if your partner has addiction problems because of his weird actions? Here are some signs that you are dating an addict.

  • Your partner can’t seem to limit his drinks or “recreational drugs”.
  • He claims that he is feeling just a bit under the weather and needs to drink or take drugs to feel nice and comfy.
  • You notice that something is not quite right with his behavior, and then he attempts to weave stories and lies about his consumption.
  • He has not introduced you to his buddies, and then you found out that his buddies do drugs or binge on alcohol.
  • After a tasking work is done, your partner rewards himself by binging on alcohol or drugs.

Addiction has its repercussions, and an addict will most likely attribute his addiction-related problems for other reasons. His thoughts are preoccupied with the substance of his addiction, always finding ways to get a hit. Since high-functioning addicts can deceive their family, the very same family became his enablers -defending and making excuses for him. Until he hits rock-bottom, a high-functioning addict will not seek help.

The question now is: “How to help a functioning addict?”

For family and friends, it is important to support and understand the person with an addiction problem. There are various reasons why he started abusing substances and condemning him at this point will not be constructive. Intervention and treatment are the solutions. Now!

Reflections Recovery Centeroffers detoxification and rehabilitation for men with substance abuse problem. There is none of that sterile-constricting hospital setting but facilities that afford a young and edgy vibe that inspires patients to get well.

Why Men's Only Rehab Works - Reflections Recovery Center

Common Causes of Depression in Young Men

Our culture is slow to discuss the impact of depression, but this mood disorder affects thousands of Americans each year. According to the American Psychological Association, 9 percent of men in this country experience symptom of depression, but just 1 out of 4 of those men seek out professional treatment.

Considering that depression is linked to even more dangerous health problems, including suicide and overdose, it’s important for our culture to start a more honest and understanding conversation about depression. This conversation must also recognize the cultural factors that prevent individuals, particularly young men, from coming forward and being honest about their symptoms.

This overview of depressive disorder and the unique experience of young men dealing with this condition is a helpful resource for families. Using this information will make it easier to decide on how to move forward when the family faces a depression diagnosis.

The Truth About the Disease Called Depression 

Much of the misinformation surrounding depression is related to its classification as a disease. Some individuals are unaware that depression can be caused by measurable neurological changes in the brain. Others believe that the disease is the result of individuals “not trying hard enough” to be in a better mood.

The truth is that a long list of complex, interrelated chemical and psychological factors contribute to depression. Potential factors include:

  • Faulty mood regulation by the brain
  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Stressful life events
  • Medications
  • Other medical problems

The very first step toward battling depression in young men is to recognize and validate that their struggle is a real medical problem. There are several cultural barriers that discourage discussion about chronic depression in men. Family members should not create more roadblocks to success with their own bias and skepticism.

Men’s Depression Must Not Be Ignored 

Common Causes of Depression in Young MenAs noted above, just a fraction of the thousands of young men who struggle with depression feels confident enough to get help from a professional. Why the apprehension about consulting the help of an expert to address a critical health condition?

Much of this resistance comes from society’s expectation that young men should be confident and strong. This expectation conflicts with the misinformed perceptions that many people have about those who receive men’s depression treatment and/or help with a substance abuse problem.

The reality of the situation is that no one would consider an athlete as “weak” if they get help from a nutritionist or muscle specialist. Receiving help and recommendations for health problems that start in the brain means tracking down the appropriate specialist, and in this case, that means a mental health professional.

Failure to treat an individual who is struggling with depression can result in an even worse situation, both for the person battling the disorder and for his or her family.

Depression Can Be Deadly 

It is not uncommon for individuals who are deeply depressed to become self-destructive. The issue grows when family members are unresponsive and the young man, in turn, becomes even more withdrawn. In fact, there are multiple ways depression can put a young man’s life in danger if these symptoms continue to go untreated.

Here are just a few of the worst-case scenarios:

Drug Overdose 

The overlap between those dealing with depression and those struggling with drug abuse is significant. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America noted that nearly 20 percent of Americans suffering from a mood disorder like depression also abuse alcohol or drugs. Therefore, families must not be negligent in seeking dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment for men.

Suicidal Thoughts 

 More than half of the individuals who commit suicide were also battling major depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is just another reason why loved ones must be proactive when a young man opens up about his depression.

Reckless Behavior 

People who are depressed and individuals struggling with drug abuse tend to make rash, impulsive decisions, especially when they are under the influence. Whether it’s getting behind the wheel of a car or cleaning a firearm, there are just some activities that shouldn’t be attempted until after treatment has begun.

Common Causes of Depression in Young Men 

Scientists are still debating exactly why young men become depressed. Part of the reason the debate ensues is that so many different, yet interrelated, factors can add up to the mental disorder known as major depressive disorder.

Researchers have, however, nailed down many of the traits most associated with those who are depressed or who suffered from depression later in life. Common traits of what causes depression in young men include:

Negative Thought Life 

The negative thought patterns and hopelessness that characterize common forms of depression are ones that can be learned. Children can be taught hopelessness by discouraging life situations or by the negative influence of adults in their lives. Eventually, this lifestyle of negative thought can evolve into a full-blown depression problem.

Traumatic Childhood Event 

Traumatic events, ranging from the violent to the sexual, leave a lasting impression on a child. In order to reconcile these events, a young mind may be forced to begin operating in an unhealthy manner. This turn of events could lead that child to depression in young adulthood. This is another example of how early recognition and men’s depression treatment can prevent bigger problems from developing.

Hereditary Risk 

Experts still aren’t sure about the exact mechanism, but there seems to be a hereditary element behind depression. That means if a parent has battled depression, then there is a high likelihood that one of their children will also face similar issues. Lack of awareness about this hereditary risk is yet another reason depression goes ignored and untreated.

Body Chemistry Breakdown 

All sorts of scenarios, including major hormonal imbalances that occur as a result of prescription medication use, can interfere with the brain’s central nervous system. Unfortunately, many of these breakdowns result in depression and other serious mood disorders. It’s just another reason why the symptoms of depression must be recognized and treated as soon as they arise.

Depression Starts Early 

Depression isn’t something that a young man can will away from his body. There is no weakness in seeking professional help to treat depression, only an opportunity to heal and move forward. Loved ones can help stave off these issues by learning about the causes and symptoms of depression early on, and then speaking up when they recognize a problem.

The first step toward is getting the most current information about treatment. Individuals can learn more about how to search for men’s depression and addiction treatment by getting in contact with us. You can also discover more by visiting the many other resources we offer on this website.

Explore Different Depressive Disorders and the General Symptoms of Depression 

See Our Depression Fact Sheet

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD and Addiction

Experiencing a trauma does not necessarily equate for that person to develop an addiction. However, there are studies that indicate that there is a connection between childhood trauma, PTSD (post-traumatic syndrome), and substance use and abuse. There are studies indicating a link between trauma and addictions, or trauma and substance abuse.

Emotional scars due to past trauma can make it difficult for an individual to cope afterward. The individual’s perspective can change, more so if the trauma is left unresolved. The person may turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism if his traumatic experience remains unsolved and left to compound. One study indicates that out of 587 individuals who suffered a form of trauma, 44% individuals are addicted to marijuana, 39% are alcoholics, 34.1% have cocaine dependence, and 6.2% individuals are addicted to opiates.

Addiction may also present itself in behavioral forms such as gambling, sex, and an eating disorder.

Trauma and the Brain

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD and AddictionDue to advances in neuroscience, we now know that the amygdala is the brain’s threat detection center. When the amygdala becomes overactive, it gets into a mode of qualifying and assessing each situation as a threat. This, in turn, makes us feel fearful, vulnerable and anxious.

The brain’s center for memory processing is the hippocampus. In an underactive mode, the hippocampus fails to consolidate and store memories in the brain’s outer layer for long-term storage. Instead, memories are placed in a loop of present-day happenings, making us remember and recall disturbing, hurtful and uncomfortable experiences.

The cortex is the part of the brain that handles executive control. Its function is interrupted when the brain is triggered by survival instincts. When in this mode, logical thinking is overruled, cognitive processing and the ability to control behavior are diminished. The urge for addicting substances or behavior becomes overpowering. Substance dependence becomes the means to cope with the overwhelming sensations brought about by past trauma.

When children are traumatized, changes in their brain are observed. The brain of young children grows and develops in such a way that it’s adaptable; allowing them (children) to adjust to situations, absorb and learn new things, and mature rapidly. When a child experiences trauma, the same plasticity of the brain becomes harmful as the child adapts to negative behavior due to fear.

There are actual physical changes in the brain of traumatized children. The shape, size, and frequency of brain connections are permanently altered. Thus, children who experienced trauma are more inclined to develop depression, anxiety and have increased susceptibility to substance abuse.

Traumas linked to Addiction

PTSD, physical abuse, rape, child abuse, bullying, emotional abuse, experiencing a natural disaster, witnessing violence -these are just some of the devastating events that can scar a person for life. As a result of the trauma they encountered, children who survived abuse are more likely to develop PTSD. The following are typed as discrete or big T traumas.

Physical and/or Emotional Abuse

A child is not supposed to experience any form of abuse. Neglect, emotional and physical abuse during childhood may well extend to adulthood, increasing the likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol to block out feelings of rage and cruel memories.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual molestation or abuse, and rape are not only traumatic, but they also open up the feeling of betrayal as the perpetrator is usually known to the victim. Most victims of sexual abuse and rape fail to seek help for fear of discrimination, and embarrassment. They rely instead on self-medicating their trauma, turning to addicting substances or behavior.

Accidents and Crime

Trauma brought about by witnessing or being the victim of an accident or crime tends to change an individual’s daily life activities. For example, a person who survived in a car accident may panic and feel lost and afraid every time he has to ride a car. A sense of helplessness may take over him that he has no option but to take alcohol or prescription drug to calm him down.


Grief is debilitating even for a person who has no tendency to develop trauma. Grief takes a huge toll on the emotional and mental state of a person, which could lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse. As a means of coping, such individual may resort to using prescription medications, drugs, alcohol and other behavioral addictions. 

Natural Disaster

A devastating earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or any other natural disaster can be a very traumatic event. It becomes possible for the individual to re-live that trauma through flashbacks, hallucinations or dreams, over and over again. Akin to PTSD, the traumatized individual tries to erase the memories, numb his emotions, and disassociate himself from reality by turning to drugs or alcohol. The relief is temporary, but the substance abuse will ultimately lead to dependence. However, trauma-triggered addiction treatment centers are equipped to handle such addicts.

Trauma and PTSD Differentiated

Trauma is any physical or emotional injury inflicted on a person. Psychologically, it is further defined as an overwhelming experience that is emotionally or physically shocking, distressful and agonizing.

“Big T traumas were mentioned early on. “Small t” traumas are chronic traumas that pertain to reoccurring painful experiences and situations. This encompasses, being teased or bullied, ongoing childhood neglect and parental criticism. The traumatic situation is current so it is harder to identify.

Whether it is a “big T” or a “small t” trauma, it is all about the experienced physical and emotional aftermath of an occurrence or series of occurrences.

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a grave form of anxiety disorder brought about by exposure to an event or series of events that resulted in psychological trauma. Sources indicate that about 30% of individuals who experienced trauma will develop PTSD. In relation, PTSD-related addiction disorders are more apparent in women.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Signs and symptoms of PTSD are very recognizable as they are emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms. Personal relationships of a person with PTSD are highly and negatively impacted.

Emotional symptoms include:

  • fear, depression
  • evasion or avoidance
  • panic, anxiety
  • a feeling of anger, irritability, numbness
  • out of control

Physical symptoms include:

  • lethargic
  • unexplained sensations such as pain
  • increased libido
  • eating and sleeping disorders

Cognitive symptoms include:

  • easily distracted
  • lack of concentration
  • lapses in memory
  • difficulty in making decisions

Behavioral signs and symptoms also occur and they include eating disorders, sexual disruption, self-destructive behavior and substance abuse. Re-living or re-experiencing the trauma is also evident in PTSD cases. Nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts occur. 

PTSD and addiction treatment and rehabilitation are offered at Reflections Recovery Center.

Learn More About The Link Between Trauma and Addiction

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early Sobriety

Even in a primarily digital age, books still hold a lot of power. The power of books can help you to look deeply into yourself and recognize traits that are holding you back or can give you ideas on how and what to change about yourself to achieve desired results. During addiction recovery, books can be your best friend; comforting you when you need to be comforted, and giving you ideas on how to better yourself. Everyone’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is different, and recovery happens in different phases.

That being said, not all of these books will be a perfect fit for everyone, and some of the choices may offer more help in different phases of recovery, yet may be a trigger for others in other phases of recovery. These suggestions are merely suggestions, and you should find the book that speaks to you and where you are at in your recovery.

Books on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: 

Pour Me: A Life by A. A. Gill 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyA raw and profound memoir, this book serves as an often humorous account of the life of A. A. Gill – a food critic who found that his fast life and career in his 20s had left him with serious problems with alcohol. The way Gill describes the symptoms of alcoholism can be quite brutal at times, and some readers may find the early parts of the book a trigger – reminding them of their own struggles with alcohol. By the end of the book, though, Gill shows how he personally faced his inner demons and found a new outlook on his life and his passions.





Living Sober by Alcoholics Anonymous 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyFor those that find AA and the 12 Step process helpful in early addiction recovery, Living Sober is a great companion book to the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. This book lays out the steps of building a new life in sobriety, without drugs or alcohol. Early recovery can be difficult, and this book offers great ideas for creating a sober life while teaching you easy to use practices for dealing with stress and urges to drink or get high. For those looking for an easy read filled with tips that can be attributed to their personal lives and sobriety, this is a highly recommended read.


 24 Hours A Day by Richard Walker

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyAn older book that was published in 1963, this book could be considered timeless to anyone who has known the struggles of addiction, particularly alcoholism. This book offers mediation, guidance, and prayers for sober life and living in sobriety. What makes this book so easy to use is that it is divided into 365 days, with each day offering motivational thoughts and lessons, as well as prayers and affirmations. This book is often considered to be a great companion book to the “Big Book” of AA and other complementary books in the Alcoholics Anonymous series.





Books on Drug Addiction and Treatment 

Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Nicole Kosanke, Stephanie Higgs, Carrie Wilkens, Geoffrey Foote 

What makes this a great book for some in recovery, is the fresh outlook and opinions if gives on addiction science and addiction treatment. If the older “classic” books about addiction feel outdated to you, or you are interested in new ideas and approaches to recovery and addiction treatment, this will be a good read for you. This book can also be helpful for parents of addicts and family members who are caring for a loved one struggling with addiction. This book will give families greater insight into what drugs and alcohol do to change a person, and puts the struggle that addicts endure into perspective.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison 

This book offers a recount of the authors own experiences with alcohol as well as her commentary on the struggles of many other contemporaries. This book is written in a prose style, rather than a guide like AA books or books dedicated to sober living and recovery. Jamison’s writing is incredible, and she touches upon the fact that sobriety is a place to either find, re-evaluate or lose your creativity. The book is hailed as a great commentary on substance abuse in popular culture, and even writer Stephen King has suggested that this book be required reading.

Other Good Books for Recovering Addicts: 

Food for Recovery: The Complete Nutritional Companion for Overcoming Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and Eating Disorders by Joseph Beasley MD and Susan Knightly [H3]

Diet is one of the biggest factors in successfully recovering from substance abuse, alcohol, or drug addiction. When in recovery, it is essential to make good dietary choices and to rehabilitate body and mind with nutritional therapy.  Making good dietary and nutritional decisions in your sober life can be difficult, or feel overwhelming, but this book helps to make it easier. It includes recipes and great advice for getting over unhealthy eating habits and teaches you how to put nutrition first and avoid dietary dangers in recovery like sugar addiction.

 Books for Spiritual Recovery and Enlightenment: 

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron 

Based on the author’s Buddhist spiritual beliefs, this book is blunt and direct. It shows you how to deal with life’s harder moments from a spiritualist perspective, and offers great insights on spiritual growth. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” says Pema addressing the fears that we all have, but are especially prevalent in times of great change and growth. If you are a spiritualist and like to enjoy introspective reading, this is a great book that offers a wealth of wisdom. 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle 

Best Books on Addiction Recovery to Help You in Early SobrietyHow to address negative thoughts and feelings about the past and future is just one of the intentions of Tolle’s powerful book on spiritual can be used as a daily guide for dealing with life’s stresses. Tolle begins by showing you that YOU are the source of enlightenment in your life, and you are also the source of pain – depending on how you think and act. “Start living NOW,” is the message throughout the book, and it gives you practical ways to get into that type of thinking. The spiritualism covered it is not heavily religious or tied to any specific spiritual beliefs, and the advice given can easily fit into YOUR life.


There are many great books that can help you in your first weeks of sobriety and in the first year of recovery from addiction. Not only are the above-referenced books great introductions to the various types of books for addiction recovery, but each can guide you along to finding other related books and topics that might fit with your personal recovery needs.

If you are not traditionally a “book person,” or a big reader, just remember to start slow. Take your time and enjoy the words and advice given in these and other recovery books. Learning how to stay sober and learning how to be comfortable in your sobriety will take time – spending your time with these and other books is a great way to start off.

Checkout Other Addiction Resources

What real clients have to say about Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections provided me with the tools that got me where i am today with 14 months sober.
— Ricky A, Long Beach CA
Reflections gave me a life and an opportunity to become part of society. They challenged me and shaped me into the man I want to be.
— Dyer K, Gilbert AZ
I learned how to stay sober, found my best friends and created a new life at Reflections
— David S, Phoenix AZ

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