Tag Archives: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Trauma and Recovery

Trauma is often a significant part of life for many people dealing with addiction. This may have occurred before and separate from their addiction, but also may occur during addiction. When trauma precedes addiction, people often begin to abuse substances to numb pain and cope with difficult memories. Treatment after trauma can feel invasive and it is possible to cause harm even with good intentions. Medical professionals or caregivers should be mindful that trauma can possibly be a part of the patient’s history. From an article by Massachusetts General Hospital, Liz Speakman explained, “Good care is approaching every patient with the assumption that at some point in their lives they may have experienced trauma and tailoring their care based on that knowledge.”*

As the patient and professionals work to address trauma, it should be done in a caring and sensitive way. Some patients may need treatment with their traumatic history in mind, but they are not ready to address it head on. If the treatment team addresses trauma without consideration for the patient, they risk re-traumatizing the patient. Some patients will be able to engage in therapy that directly addresses trauma. Others will need the same thorough care and treatment, keeping trauma in mind, but not as direct. For any patient dealing with trauma, treatment should be laid out clearly and each step completely understood. Counselors and caregivers will work with each patient to assess where they are and how best to deal with trauma.

Trauma and Addiction

Trauma can occur in any person’s life and can come from a number of situations. Some people develop trauma from something that happens on a massive scale. Others develop trauma from situations that occur in their personal life and possibly something they go through alone. Each person’s experience is valid and deserves to be properly treated. In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), they cited previous studies that showed people increased substance use or relapsed after significantly traumatic events.* Moreover, many people also develop substance abuse disorders as a way to cope with emotions they do not feel they can handle.* Not everyone will develop addiction from trauma, but it is very common. If you or a loved one are dealing with this type of situation, there is no shame in seeking help.

From a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1998, they found, “As many as two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse report that they were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused during childhood, research shows.”* While the study is from 1998, the information is still relevant. Addiction is not inevitable after trauma, however past trauma can be a factor in turning to substance abuse to cope with the pain. Still, with these numbers it is important for caretakers to keep the possibility of trauma in mind.

Trauma Therapy

Two types of trauma therapy that Reflections engages in are Exposure Therapy and EMDR Therapy. With Exposure Therapy, the client is carefully exposed to memories and emotions from the trauma. This is helpful in moving on from trauma. With EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), the client does not talk but rather follows hand motions of their therapist. They will work with clients to work through trauma and reprocess it in a way that it will allow the clients to move forward. For both types of therapy, it is important that the client feels safe and in control. If they need to stop or slow the process, they should know they can do that. Both therapies obviously require a qualified professional, which you will find at Reflections.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another form of therapy that can help with trauma counseling. With CBT, you work to identify and challenge harmful thoughts that you may have because of trauma. CBT helps to change behavior through managing negative thoughts and developing anxiety management techniques. Trauma can clearly leave someone with severe anxiety and depression. This can lead to thoughts that hold you back and you may be more susceptible to relapse. A qualified team of therapists at Reflections will help clients engage in CBT as necessary. CBT is not exclusive to trauma, but it can help those who need it for traumatic experiences.

Patient Focused Care

When the treatment team is working with clients, they do not need to push to find out more about the trauma. If the client is able to address it directly, then they can do so through therapy. However, what is most important is that the client should feel comfortable and in control. As stated above, EMDR is a great therapy to engage in without having to discuss trauma. With trauma-informed care, therapists will work with the clients with the assumption of a traumatic history. This means that our therapists and treatment team will work with sensitivity and care. Any treatment is clearly spelled out for clients and done with their consent. Our hope is that any clients dealing with trauma in recovery will feel safe and empowered. If we can help clients work through trauma, our goal is that they also learn helpful behaviors to prevent relapse.

Finally, there is no shame in seeking help for trauma. Every person deserves support and care in a safe environment. Anyone who has lived through trauma is resilient even just making it to the point where they are at. Addiction does not change or take away from that resiliency. It is possible to overcome trauma and addiction. If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today.

*Resources:
Massachusetts General Hospital – Understanding trauma-informed care
NIH – Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services
National Institute on Drug Abuse – Exploring the Role of Child Abuse in Later Drug Abuse

How to Help Someone Who’s Struggling Physically or Emotionally with Mental Illness


Many people suffering from stress disorders and other forms of mental illness need encouragement, support and empathy from those closest to them. It can be difficult to determine the best ways to approach a person struggling with mental illness, and stress effects are different for everyone.

However challenging it may be, developing healthy coping strategies and trying various types of stress-management techniques can prevent people struggling with mental illness from falling into addiction. An important part of addiction awareness is understanding the main risk factors for addiction, and stress is one of the most prevalent.

Relationship Between Stress and Mental Illness

There are countless possible stress causes in the world, and every individual will respond to them differently. However, people who suffer from mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other conditions may have trouble using typical coping techniques.

They may also feel the negative effects of different types of stress more acutely and take longer to recover from periods of extreme stress. Unfortunately, many of these individuals begin to consider alcohol or addictive drugs as the only viable stress busters available.

Types of Stress

Some people experience high-stress situations acutely during disasters, emergencies and traumatic events. Others may experience consistent but less severe stress over time from work, school or everyday obligations.

People who experience extremely stressful incidents may develop mental health conditions as a result. One of the most common is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition affecting combat veterans and victims and witnesses of violent crimes, disasters and accidents.

PTSD can cause nightmares, periods of extreme depression, paranoia and a host of other symptoms. This condition is just one example of how acute stress can cause long-term problems, but chronic exposure to lower-stress situations is also damaging. The workplace is a stressful environment for many people, for example.

Unless these individuals develop viable methods of handling their everyday stressors, chronic stress can start to affect physical and emotional health.

Stress Effects: How Stress Can Lead to Addiction

Stress can eventually lead to addiction without healthy alternative coping strategies. One of the most vital steps of addiction recovery is discerning the root cause or origin of a substance use disorder, and one of the most commonly cited causes is stress.

Some people feel overwhelmed by their circumstances and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. The brief periods of artificial happiness, relaxation and euphoria that drugs provide will eventually devolve into habit, routine and then full-blown addiction.

Drugs as Coping Tools

Different drugs may appear to alleviate stress in different ways, and people may use them for various reasons as coping tools. It’s crucial to understand the dangers of different types of drug dependencies:

  • Opioids: Someone suffering from mental illness may begin to self-treat their symptoms with drugs meant for physical pain, and opioid painkillers are the strongest painkillers available.
  • Hallucinogens: Distorting one’s perception of reality can feel like a welcome escape when reality is stressful or too difficult to handle sober. Hallucinogenic drugs can eventually deteriorate one’s personality and interpretations of reality, leading to serious psychological problems over time.
  • Benzodiazepines and tranquilizers: People who struggle with anxiety disorders may receive prescriptions for benzodiazepine medications and begin abusing these drugs. Anti-anxiety drugs can produce feelings of calm, and eventually a person will begin to rely solely on these drugs for relief from stressful situations.
  • Alcohol: One of the most commonly abused substances on Earth can lower inhibitions, create pleasurable feelings and act as a “social lubricant.” Many people rely upon alcohol to unwind after stressful days at work. Unfortunately, alcoholism progresses rapidly, and the lifestyle of a high-functioning alcoholic isn’t tenable.

Cycles of Dependency

Stress never really ends; we just develop better ways of handling it over time. However, resorting to substance abuse creates a slew of new stressors.

Addiction effects vary for everyone, but the overwhelming majority of addicts face:

  • Economic ruin
  • Damaged personal relationships
  • Strained career choices
  • Myriad physical health concerns

The Effects of Stress and Addiction on the Mind and Body

Chronic stress can deteriorate physical health, leading to problems such as:

  • Obesity (from overeating as a coping mechanism)
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Many other possible issues

Instead of treating stress by self-medicating, one should learn healthier coping strategies to prevent substance abuse and make it easier to both handle everyday stress and recover from acute stressors.

Stress Management: Developing Better Ways to Cope

Addiction treatment services typically include a full regimen of holistic and natural therapies and activities to de-stress the mind and body and to recover more wholly from substance abuse.

A few examples of effective stress-relief treatments include:

  • Exercise and physical activities: A healthier body naturally encourages better mental health, and a person with a healthy physical body can better handle and process stress in optimum ways.
  • Meditation and mindfulness exercises: These practices can help overcome the psychological effects of stress.
  • Behavior therapy: People struggling with mental health disorders often need behavioral therapy to understand their situations and process stress in constructive ways. Addiction behavior generally focuses on reward-seeking patterns and responses to stimuli. Behavioral therapy can help a person acknowledge dangerous patterns and develop healthier responses to his or her environment.
  • Support from friends and family: One of the most essential tools in addiction treatment is building and rebuilding personal relationships. Suffering from a mental health disorder or substance use disorder can be very isolating. Thus, interpersonal relationships are crucial for overcoming the loneliness that substance abuse often entails.

Help for Stress and Substance Abuse

There are many resources for addiction help and addiction treatment available, but it’s important to know what to expect from the rehab experience. For instance, physically removing drugs from the body (aka detox) is just the first step in a long process.

Addiction help is available for those willing to take the next step and learn to manage their stress in healthier ways. If you or your loved one is battling substance abuse along with excess stress or a mental health condition, look into Reflection Recovery Center today. We will craft an individualized treatment plan that can help you or your loved one learn to manage stressors in healthier ways while recovering from addiction in an inpatient setting.

Holistic Therapy Is Great for Managing Stress

See Which Techniques We Use

Does My Son Really Need Mental Health Treatment and Therapy in Rehab?


It is no easy thing for parents to watch their sons struggle with addiction, substance abuse and related behavioral problems. It can be an incredibly difficult and confusing time for a parent. You want to help, but you have questions about what the best approach is.

It can be easy to miss, disregard or deny the signs of your son’s emotional or mental problems. In this article we will address parents’ normal worries, fears and questions about the mental health treatment that may be included in the recovery process. Mental health therapies are highly beneficial in treating substance abuse and related psychiatric problems.

Men’s Dual Diagnosis Programs

Dual diagnosis treatment for men is not a rare phenomenon by any means; as many as half of those with a drug or alcohol addiction also have some form of mental illness. Any combination of depression, anxiety, bipolar or other mental health disorder combined with drug abuse, alcoholism, compulsive gambling or other addiction can qualify someone for dual diagnosis treatment.

These co-occurring disorders are found more often than not in people entering rehabilitation facilities. Even for those who suffer only from addiction and no other disorder, learning the mental health principles and self-care topics taught in group therapy sessions proves invaluable and a necessary part of gaining a new sobriety toolset.

The Interwoven Nature of Addiction and Mental Health Issues 

It’s the age-old question, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” in the context of drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

When someone has a dual diagnosis, it can be difficult to unravel whether their addiction caused mental health problems or vice versa. Substance use and withdrawal often cause depression, anxiety and other reactions.

Just as commonly, individuals suffering from mental illness or even unpleasant emotions might cope by using substances. Although it can be difficult to pinpoint which diagnosis triggered the other, of greater concern is how best to deal with these medical issues.

Here are some of the reasons people in recovery have cited for turning to drugs and alcohol as a subconscious, self-medicating coping mechanism:

  • Inability or unwillingness to face their problems
  • Inability or unwillingness to feel their emotions
  • To deal with psychological pain
  • To tolerate physical pain
  • Undesirable side effects from mental health medications, making alcohol or drug use a more enticing option
  • To try to manage their depression, anxiety or other mental health disorder
  • A previously masked illness or imbalance in the body

If you are the mother or father of a young man who is struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, it is possible that he is dealing with an underlying mental health issue, as well.

Mental health treatment can unearth these causations; once these symptoms are treated, it will become easier for your son to focus on the reasons behind the addiction. Finally, his recovery from substance use disorder will have a more successful prognosis when the rehab center treats both diagnoses.

Mental Health Rehab

Drug and alcohol abuse can have emotional consequences. Stopping drug and alcohol use can cause mental and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. Although acutely distressing, these symptoms may only be temporary.

Some aftereffects of withdrawal can be serious and cause permanent damage or even death, so it is important to have your son go through detox and medical supervision in a qualified rehab facility.

Mental health treatment and counseling are often necessary to treat painful emotional symptoms. When brought on by withdrawal, these symptoms may only be temporary and should gradually fade away after a period of sobriety. However, for your son to receive the best care possible and to relieve undue suffering, mental health therapies are necessary.

Addiction Counseling

The mental health counseling given in rehab is not at all the same thing as mental health counseling for severe mental illnesses.

Mental health counseling in rehabilitation centers focuses on addressing the underlying mental, emotional and spiritual issues as they relate to substance and alcohol abuse. Usually, mental health treatment is short term during rehab and gradually decreases during the patient’s treatment and recovery period.

For example, during early recovery, these three evidence-based treatments are commonly employed:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people deal with the stress and emotions involved in the psychological withdrawal from substances.
  • Motivational interviewing reminds people of their value and self-worth while boosting self-esteem and eradicating the guilt, shame and negative emotions associated with substance use.
  • Group therapy allows people to share and support each other with the psychological challenges of withdrawal, the issues and trauma prompting substance use, and starting a new way of life.

Substance abuse has roots in mental, emotional or spiritual causality. People abuse drugs because they are hurting. Effective addiction treatment addresses the factors that led an individual to their drug of choice.

As a father or mother, you want the best treatment for your son, and if he has a co-occurring disorder, that treatment should address his mental health illness as well as his addiction. Studies show that someone with a dual diagnosis who only receives treatment for his or her addiction is at higher risk of relapse than those who receive both mental health and addiction care.

The Best Addiction Treatment Care for Men 

The best treatment facilities meet the needs of their clients, help them learn or relearn how to live a life of healthy, enjoyable sobriety, and teach them how to avoid relapse. When a man has dual diagnosis, the best chance for this kind of success involves an integrated approach.

In most cases of dual diagnosis, the mental health issues subside with comprehensive treatment during addiction rehab. If the medical team discovers a serious mental health issue during treatment, a psychiatrist should address it.

Mental health and medical professionals on staff may need to set up treatment outside the facility if the mental health issue is severe. An additional treatment plan outside of the substance abuse treatment plan may be necessary.

It would be the same scenario if a patient were found to have a medical condition – a heart problem, for instance – during rehab. The patient would be treated medically and likely have an additional treatment plan for their heart condition as a comorbidity.

Reflections Recovery Center has the medical professionals on staff to treat serious mental health problems like PTSD and trauma; however, most clients only need assistance dealing with mental health as it relates to addiction.

LGBT Concerns

If your son identifies as LGBT, he may have gender-specific needs for treatment. Choosing a facility that is exceptionally friendly to the LGBT community offers advantages, such as:

  • Providing a safer environment for recovery.
  • Gender-specific needs are considered in each client’s individualized plan.
  • Is it the best interests of those from an LGBT background.
  • Allowing the best chance for success for those who identify as LGBT.

Counselors at Reflections Recovery Center want men of diverse backgrounds to feel accepted and safe during treatment.

Our goal is to offer men tools to 1) accept themselves for who they are, 2) deal with their feelings in relation to their substance use, and 3) become healthy and fulfilled without mind-altering substances.

Preparation for Parents 

Parents should understand that the initial early recovery period brings several challenges for the individual struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Those first few days, weeks and months can be difficult, and having the right support system and care in a qualified facility makes all the difference.

Finding a holistic mental health treatment center that meets the individual needs of your son increases the odds for his successful recovery. Some guests have an easier time than others letting go of risky and addictive behaviors. Whether it comes quickly or he needs a little more help, Reflections Recovery Center has the available resources to meet your son’s needs.

Learn More About Mental Health Disorders

Working Through Self-Guilt and Shame During Recovery from Addiction


Guilt can tear you up inside. It is a demon that some people fight for the rest of their lives.

Guilt will creep up in your life, wrapping around and strangling you, leaving you drained and crippled emotionally.

For those fighting addiction, guilt is just another layer on top of a struggle that is big enough on its own.

Appropriate and Inappropriate Guilt

It’s normal and appropriate to feel guilt when you have done something wrong. If you have harmed someone, done something that violates your personal moral or religious values, or have done something you swore you’d never do again, guilt is the appropriate response.

In fact, if you didn’t feel guilty for wrongdoings, it would be a sign of psychopathy. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by no guilt or remorse for bad behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder:
A mental condition in which a person consistently violates and exploits other people’s feelings and rights, shows no regard for right and wrong conduct and has no remorse or guilt for wrong actions.

Guilt is not necessarily a destructive emotion when experienced for the right reasons; however, when it becomes an all-consuming emotion, it will impede your healing and recovery from addiction.

It’s a Shame

Shame can be just as debilitating as guilt. Shame is a powerful feeling that often arises from guilt. However, it can be experienced independent of guilt. If someone bullies you or pressures you into feeling inferior because of what you did or what someone else did, that is shaming.

If you have an external locus of control — you blame outside forces for the events of your life — you will take to heart what others tell you about yourself and can easily be guilted or shamed.

Shame can produce numerous negative feelings in a person. Here are a few examples of what someone dealing with shame might feel:

  • Inferiority
  • Humiliation
  • Remorse
  • Embarrassment
  • Inadequacy
  • Unworthiness

Feeling ashamed is not helpful in recovery, since it can hold a person back in achieving happiness and personal growth. Any focus on negative thinking about yourself reduces self-esteem and inhibits positive change.


Guilt vs. Shame

The simplest way to understand the difference between guilt and shame is personified in this analogy:

Guilt says to you, “You did something bad and you know it,” whereas Shame says, “You are something bad and they know it.”


Shame and Guilt in Addiction Recovery

Nearly everyone that enters rehab believes they won’t have to worry about encountering these feelings of shame, guilt and remorse. However, during detox and the initial phases of treatment, it is very common to suddenly experience an onset of these emotions.

Much like depression and anxiety, guilt and shame seem to come out of nowhere and are two of the biggest psychological symptoms of withdrawal an individual will face during the first six months of recovery.

Self-Punishment Inhibits Recovery

Instead of motivating you to change and be a healthier person, dwelling on the self-tormenting emotions of addiction shame and guilt propel you into a pattern of negative thinking. Living in those feelings of worthlessness causes depression, which can cause relapse.

Oftentimes, negative feelings make people want to turn to drugs or alcohol. Feeling bad about yourself and struggling with depression and anxiety are common triggers for starting or relapsing into an addiction.

Punishing yourself by focusing on the mistakes you’ve made or the negative beliefs someone else has about you only hurts you. It does no good for anyone else, even someone you know you’ve hurt.

Overcoming Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Addiction shame and guilt occur in nearly every single case of substance abuse and alcoholism. As people enter rehab and become and remain sober and clean, they realize the damage they’ve done to themselves and their loved ones. It’s natural for this process to bring up negative feelings.

The key to overcoming this darkness is to learn new addiction coping skills and be able to work through your feelings, creating something positive instead.

Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment 

Behavioral Therapy: 
A set of psychotherapies using techniques based on behaviorism, the belief that all behaviors are learned and can be changed.

The behavior therapies used at Reflections Recovery Center can help men struggling with negative feelings like guilt and shame. The foundation of behavioral therapy is to eradicate irrational thinking and replace it with rational thinking.

When a client at Reflections Recovery Center can open up to a trusted counselor and find camaraderie with his peers, who have an intimate understanding of what he’s going through, great relief and healing occurs.

The amazing therapeutic work in drug and alcohol addiction treatment addresses the negative feelings of guilt and shame, and it helps individuals understand their feelings and let go of resentments so true recovery can begin.

Here are just a few behavioral points on how to cope with shame and guilt when you’re dealing with addiction and trauma:


Feel Your Feelings

Many times, we want to stuff our feelings down and not face them. But by allowing ourselves to really feel what we’re feeling inside and talk about it, write it down or pray about it, we get real with ourselves.

Forgive Yourself

Don’t judge yourself too harshly or critically. Treat yourself the way you would treat a close friend, with kindness, understanding and no judgment.

Examine Your Guilt

If it is inappropriate guilt, let it go. If it is appropriate guilt, change the behavior(s) that trigger the guilt. Once you stop doing the actions that trigger the remorseful feelings, the feelings fall off as well.

Forgiveness 

One roadblock that keeps us holding onto shame is a lack of forgiveness. When we cannot forgive ourselves and others, we fixate on the pain and judgment instead of releasing ourselves and our loved ones from the merciless grip of guilt.

When you forgive someone, you let the pain of his or her wrongdoings go. It doesn’t mean you condone their behavior. It does mean you are willing to let their mistakes go because you don’t want that hurt to eat you up inside.

Forgiving the people in your life that have wronged you helps you heal. Perhaps you need to make amends for things you’ve done wrong to them as well; and, if so, making amends can be cathartic.

But maybe the pain you hold onto can’t be healed by amends because that person is no longer with us or because re-establishing a relationship with them would be more destructive to your life. In those cases, writing a letter you may or may not send can aid in forgiveness.

People in recovery often confess that forgiving themselves is harder than forgiving someone else. Oftentimes, we are our worst critics. So, being able to treat ourselves kindly and compassionately can be just as much of a virtue as forgiving other people.

Progressing into Self-Worth 

The opposite of shame is self-worth. Valuing, believing in and loving yourself comprise a healthy self-image and increase your self-esteem.

These are some qualities of high self-worth:

  • Confidence
  • Inherent sense of value as a person
  • Independence from external approval
  • Self-respect
  • Self-esteem

Feeling proud of and appreciating yourself increases well-being. There will always be people who will judge and criticize you, and there will be people to praise and encourage you. But learning to see yourself realistically, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and being proud of the traits you possess bring you to your own sense of self-worth.

Don’t let shame or guilt hold you back from getting the tools you need to recover. You need healthy addiction coping mechanisms to help you work through emotional issues like guilt, remorse and shame for a successful recovery.

“Each new day is an opportunity to start all over again…
to cleanse our minds and hearts anew and to clarify our vision.
And let us not clutter up today with the leavings of other days.”
– Author unknown, compiled by Jo Petty

Learn Even More About Overcoming Guilt and Shame in the First Year of Sobriety 

How to Let Go of Shame in Recovery

After Alcohol Rehab: Preventing Relapse and Ensuring Long-Term Recovery


Learn the Tools to Protect Against Relapse After Alcohol Recovery

Overcoming alcohol or drug addiction is extremely challenging – both mentally and physically. Medically assisted detox and rehabilitation can offer an effective means to overcome dependency and addiction. Continue reading for an overview of the detox, rehabilitation and post-treatment process for alcohol recovery.

How Alcohol Detox Works

Detoxification is the first stage of alcohol treatment for men and women. It involves cleansing the body of alcohol and the toxins in it.

The first step is to stop drinking. After that, the body releases the toxins that are part of dependency, which will give rise to withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal without medical supervision can be dangerous. Of course, withdrawing from any addictive substance is extremely painful and hazardous in certain circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms related to alcoholism, however, are some of the worse.

What Is Medically Assisted Detox?

In some cases, it is possible to go through detox without any kind of medical assistance; we usually do not recommend this, though. Medically assisted detox is when the person who is addicted goes to an alcoholism treatment center for help with recovery.

At these facilities, a staff of medically trained professionals will start by helping the person work through the withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively. The team can also prescribe medications that can ease the pain and discomfort of the symptoms.

Detoxing Without Help

Moment Right Before You Give Up Is Usually When A Miracle Happens - Reflections RecoveryDetoxing alone is not only risky because of dangerous symptoms, but also because of the higher likelihood of relapse.

When people who struggle with alcohol try to detox alone, the odds of not taking a drink when their body goes into convulsions or they begin hallucinating are nearly insurmountable.

When this happens, they often count it as a personal failure, adding to the cycle of addiction.

At a high-quality detox facility for alcoholism, a group of trained professionals can help people suffering from dependency complete the detox stage of addiction.


Stages Of Alcohol Detoxification

The first stage of the detox process is an evaluation. Each person who comes enters an addiction recovery program has a different level of dependency. Medical professionals analyze all of the details about this dependency and the person’s medical history.

The second stage is stabilization, which is the main part of detox. By not drinking, the body begins to rid itself of the toxins it had become accustomed to having through drinking.

The final stage of detox is about building awareness. Medical professionals and counselors explain the continuation of treatment after the initial detox stage and discuss tools to prevent relapse.


After Detox

The complete process of detox can take any amount of time, depending on who it is and how intense their dependency was. The second phase of treatment includes counseling and education.

Counseling is a crucial component to recovery, as alcoholism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The underlying reason for the addiction must be addressed for a person to feel in control of the addiction.


Counseling Technique: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an umbrella term in the field of psychotherapy for practices that work to alter unwanted behaviors in favor of more positive ones.

Cognitive behavior therapy addresses the mental portion of the recovery. Its purpose is to help people adjust the way they are thinking so they make positive choices that lead to better health and greater stability. If they can find a way to control their emotions more productively, it could reduce the chances of relapse.

CBT has proven to be an extremely productive method within addiction treatment. Unlike many other therapy methods, cognitive behavioral therapy can shorten the recovery process and lessen the instances of relapse.

This kind of therapy considers the whole person and makes treatment more effective because it treats the individual, not the addiction. The therapist can easily personalize the program to help with specific issues. This personalized method can also help the person figure out which thought patterns lead to the negativity that makes them want to drink or take drugs.

This cognitive behavioral method also helps show the person how to independently stabilize emotions after finishing treatment It gives people the skills they need to succeed outside of rehab. This reduces the likelihood of relapse.


Alcohol Relapse Prevention

The months after getting out of rehabilitation are the most dangerous time for people struggling with addiction. The temptation to drink again is strong, especially with familiar friends and places haunting them. Having a relapse prevention plan in place can increase a person’s chance of a successful recovery.

For the first three months after treatment, the prevention plan should be updated every month. After that, it should be updated each quarter for the rest of the year. Then, the updates switch to twice a year for the next two years. After three years, the updates happen annually.

More than half of the relapses that people struggling with addiction experience happen in the first six months of recovery, making those months crucial for proper support.


What About Relapse Prevention Meetings?

Another outlet for helping people after they leave an alcohol rehab facility is through connections with other people. Relapse prevention meetings help people stay strong after leaving a treatment facility.

The initial meeting is a review of the list of warning signs, strategies to control them and s general recovery plan. After that step, the assessment gets updated with any recent documents or evidence that shows a variation in the recovery process. This update includes any new warning signs that have come up since treatment.


What You Can Do as a Family Member or Friend

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol dependency, evaluating alcohol addiction recovery programs that suit your loved one is an important first step. However, there are other efforts you can make to help this loved one.

Often, professional interventionists can help convince your family member or friend that going to rehabilitation is the right thing to do. They can also help you choose the correct treatment center for your loved one.

Search for Alcohol Addiction Recovery Programs

There are many different rehab programs for alcoholics, but you should find one with significant experience, compassion and specialized care. Unfortunately, many treatment centers can initially alleviate the addiction through detox, but they don’t give people the proper tools they need to combat the disease in the future. If you’re concerned that a family member’s drinking has become too much for them or you to handle, talk to one of our admissions counselors.

As a place that focuses on recovery for men, Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ can help men conquer the specific nature of their addiction. We do this by not offering a watered-down version of addiction treatment. Our programs teach men not only how to overcome their addiction while they are in treatment, but also how to maintain sobriety after they leave our facilities.

See Relapse Prevention Tips and Strategies

The Science of Addiction Cravings and Preventing Relapse


Brain Science Explains Addiction Cravings

Psychology explains that cravings are common, often coming from a place of incompleteness or a need for relief from suffering.

The feeling of incompleteness — feeling inadequate, flawed or fundamentally lacking in some way — can be a source of great psychological pain for many. Self-medicating with pills, too much wine or a penchant for overeating relieves the pain for a short time.

Neuroscience teaches us that the things we crave, the pleasure-inducing parts of life, are things that increase dopamine in the brain. Dopamine makes things, like sex, feel so good it blocks out all other ideas and desires the mind might have, narrowing our focus to one specific goal: to attain that state of pleasure until it’s fulfilled. And anything that feels that good carries the potential for addiction.

The Impact of Cues/Triggers

The third piece of understanding cravings from a scientific perspective is triggers or cues. An association — the sound of opening a beer bottle or the visual of a needle on TV, for example — instantly ignites the addicted person to seek their poison. These triggers or cues elicit an emotional response, rapidly increasing the flow of dopamine to the brain.

Then internal cues – such as memories, wishes and imagination – further increase the flow of dopamine. Pretty soon, the dopamine takes over the brain until there seems only one viable course of action:  to satiate the craving and take the drug or drink.

Each time a person who is craving drugs or alcohol uses or imbibes, the impact of cues gets reinforced and stronger. Repeated cycles of craving and satiation changes the synapses in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, modifying and attuning it to achieve faster relief.

Drug and Alcohol Cravings

Brain science explains cravings as a natural process. The brain’s job is to motivate us to achieve important goals.

When someone has a chemical dependency, their unconscious automated goal is to achieve relief through drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately and ironically, people who start using or drinking for psychological pain relief inevitably end up facing greater and greater pain.

The destruction of their lives, jobs and relationships leads to financial and legal problems as well as more painful cravings, which only cause addicted individuals to feel more incomplete and more pain than when they first sought relief.

It Takes Time

According to research, cravings are one of the strongest predictors of relapse.

Drug cravings and alcohol cravings take much longer to subside than the withdrawal symptoms from these substances do. Therefore, the rehabilitation and recovery phase — what people normally picture as traditional rehab — is crucial.

During rehab at Reflections Recovery Center, our male clients learn skills that help them actively recognize triggers or cues and respond in a way that avoids relapse. We teach many other skills and lessons to clients in rehab, including:

  • Insight into the reasons behind why the client fell into addiction
  • Learning how to be sober
  • How to deal with addiction cravings
  • How to return home and avoid the pitfalls of relapse

The cravings among those in rehab will lessen in time and sometimes go away completely, but it’s not an overnight occurrence. It takes new skills, patience, time and effort to become a new man, allow the brain to reset, and experience diminished cravings.

You should expect cravings to occur. But if you’re involved in a recovery program that teaches you how to respond to the cravings in a healthy way, you should have the tools necessary to achieve long-term sobriety.

How Residential Treatment Helps

Reflections Recovery Center utilizes a variety of therapies to help those in recovery recognize and deal with cravings, triggers and cues. These therapies include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is the most widely used and recommended therapy for mental health issues. In CBT, the patient spends time talking to a trained therapist who diagnoses and treats mental and emotional problems.

The therapist and patient work together to identify and modify dysfunctional thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The process boosts happiness and confidence with the belief system that unhappiness is not predicated on events or situations in our lives, but rather how we perceive and interpret those events and situations.

The benefit of this way of thinking is that we can reconsider how we view external stimuli and change the way we think, affecting how we feel and behave in any situation. CBT is evidence-based and pronounced highly effective by scientific research.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on providing skills for social behavior and emotional regulation. Originally developed to help people with borderline personality disorder, DBT has since shown to be effective in treating many other mental health issues.

DBT typically involves one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist, although treatment centers also use it in group support meetings where individuals learn and practice new psychosocial skills with others. Group members share their experiences and provide mutual support in these instances.

DBT teaches clients skills in four main areas:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress Tolerance
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a well-studied and non-invasive treatment for addiction, trauma and many other psychological disorders. The therapist helps move traumatic events and negative emotions stored in long-term memory to the forefront of the client’s mind. Then, the therapist can help the client reassess and reprocess those thoughts in a new way.

The therapist then help the client understand his or her own experience(s) in a more rational, realistic and positive way. Removing the impediments of negative self-thinking opens the channels in the brain’s neurological mechanisms for healing.

The results from this simple therapy are amazing. It clears away negative feelings and emotional distress, helping the client emerge grounded in strength and a survivor mentality.

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Get Help with Coping with Addiction Cravings

Reflections’ rehab program places a heavy emphasis on learning how to deal with addiction cravings in the aftercare phase. This ensures the client has the tools necessary to manage his cravings as he recovers. It also gives him the best chance of a successful and lasting sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with cravings, contact us today. We have a team of trained professionals waiting to help.

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How Long Does It Take for Opioid (Painkillers/Heroin) Cravings to Go Away?


When Will Opioid Cravings Finally Stop?

Do heroin cravings ever go away? Opioid addiction, including heroin, is one of the most debilitating and habit-forming types of substance abuse.

Opioids produce powerful effects that cause the brain to crave more doses, rewarding the user with a surge of dopamine in each dose. Eventually, an opioid user will only feel this “reward” neurotransmitter by consuming more opioids.

Cravings can start very soon after beginning opioid use, both for heroin and prescription opioid painkillers. When people struggling with opioid addiction finally start the recovery process, one of the most commonly asked questions in recovery is how to deal with heroin cravings.

The Cravings Never Really Stop

A common phrase heard in recovery centers is that “cravings never go away.” This may sound discouraging or even defeatist at first, but people say it with good intentions. What the people who say this mean is that recovery is not a one-step process. Cravings do not magically stop once you finish recovery.

Opioid cravings will not last forever, but they last for a lot longer than most people would like. Recovery is an ongoing process that lasts for the rest of one’s life, and the power of cravings diminishes with time.

During recovery, people struggling with opioid addiction will learn new coping techniques and relapse prevention therapies for managing environmental triggers. Substance abuse recovery will also help an individual struggling with addiction manage the stages of cravings.

Acute Withdrawal

The most significant cravings appear very soon after a person’s last dose of opioids. The detoxification process typically involves the most significant cravings, sometimes causing individuals experiencing them to:

  • Lash out violently
  • Experience extreme emotions
  • Attempt to escape recovery
  • Undergo a significant medical decline

The acute withdrawal period is dangerous for advanced opioid users, as the body starts to shut down and cravings become more overwhelming.

After detox, the first few days and weeks of recovery may also entail a degree of acute withdrawal. Cravings become obsessions, and this is a very delicate time for anyone struggling with an opioid addiction.

People in recovery at this stage often experience significant cravings first thing in the morning, during alone time, and during stress. As time goes on, these cravings appear more sporadically and with less intensity.

Early Recovery

A few months into recovery will typically mean less frequent and less significant cravings. People at this stage will start to go for longer periods of time without cravings, and they will typically start to master the craving control techniques learned in recovery.

This is still a sensitive time, and environmental stressors and the sudden return to “normal life” can create the temptation for relapse. However, with every craving successfully quelled, the person moves closer to true sober living.

Managing Stressors in Long-Term Sober Living

Some people report feeling “normal” again in as little as six weeks after completing rehab, while others say it took six months or more to start to feel this way. Every person is different, and the psychological factors behind addiction may have deep roots that take time to uncover.

After about a year, every person who struggled with addiction and completed rehab will have likely faced all of the environmental triggers that could lead to relapse. Facing these temptations and applying the lessons learned in recovery builds a strong bedrock for lifelong sobriety.

Relapse Prevention Therapies

People who have been living sober for years will still report feeling cravings from time to time, but these cravings are more of an annoyance than a pressing issue at this point. After a few years of sober living, the relapse prevention techniques learned in rehab become almost second nature.

Aperson entering rehab for the first time may feel like the cravings will never stop. However, the future will start looking more hopeful after they get into the swing of rehab and recovery. Several therapies during rehab will help an individual struggling with opioid addiction to handle the psychological triggers that could lead to a relapse later.

EMDR Therapy

A common therapeutic treatment for substance abuse is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Originally developed in the 1980s as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR aims to change the way traumatic memories are stored in the brain. These memories often have a significant impact on an individual’s cravings and addictive behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) emphasizes how we think and feel, and how those thoughts and feelings translate into action. CBT uses the Socratic method and draws on concepts from ancient philosophy to help individuals understand their emotional responses to cravings and other addictive behaviors.

CBT can help a person struggling with opioid addiction to understand the impact that his or her own thoughts have on the addiction, instead of focusing solely on environmental triggers.

On the other hand, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) focuses on psychosocial treatment. It includes mindfulness techniques, and helps the patient regulate emotions. DBT also helps with tolerating pain (not changing it) and maintaining stronger relationships with others.

Don’t Let Fear of Cravings Stop You

Ultimately, everyone who enters substance abuse treatment will deal with cravings on some level. Some people experience them more acutely and for a longer period of time than others. Nonetheless, the fear of cravings should never deter you from seeking treatment for substance abuse.

Cravings are intense and uncomfortable, but they diminish over time. Patients at Reflections Recovery Center learn how to manage these cravings in healthy ways to achieve lifelong sobriety.

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CBT for Alcoholism: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Discover Root Problems of Alcohol Addiction


Addiction is much more than just a physical dependence on a substance. A person struggling with addiction will change their behaviors and attitudes in negative and destructive ways that prolong the addiction, ultimately worsening it.

While detox and medical therapies are critical to overcoming alcoholism and alcohol dependence, cognitive behavioral coping skills therapy for alcohol dependence is incredibly valuable to people in recovery from alcohol abuse.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an integral part of modern substance abuse treatment that analyzes the behaviors and attitudes behind a person’s addiction. CBT actually began as a tool to combat “problem drinking” and evolved into a comprehensive treatment tool for people struggling with alcoholism and other addictions.

Overcoming the physical dependence on alcohol is only part of the solution; CBT helps people in recovery analyze their behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Breaking Down Behaviors

Most people with an addiction develop habits or rituals in their substance abuse. This could involve:

  • Following a certain routine
  • Visiting the same hangouts on a consistent basis
  • Engaging in substance abuse in response to environmental triggers

Without CBT, a person who enters detox and recovery may rid themselves of alcohol temporarily and then fall back into the same old habits without realizing the downturn is happening. CBT for addiction aims to shed light on the routines, habits and behaviors surrounding a person’s drinking in a constructive and supportive environment.

Once a person learns to objectively analyze his or her past behaviors from this perspective, it becomes easier to see what went wrong and which behaviors encouraged the drinking problem, such as:

  • Sensitivity to stressors within one’s daily environment
  • A response to negative thoughts and incidents
  • A self-defense mechanism to cope with trauma or stress

Uncovering the Root Causes of a Drinking Problem

A person struggling with any type of addiction will subconsciously start justifying and rationalizing his or her addictive behaviors. They may start to feel that inebriation is the only way to cope with certain stressors or to overcome difficult emotional situations.

CBT encourages a deep, introspective look at the root causes of a drinking problem. For example, a person undergoing CBT may realize that a drinking problem started when a relationship fell apart, and that alcohol became a way to manage the negative feelings and self-worth issues that often arise in these difficult situations.

In others, drinking may be a way to overcome personality traits they dislike about themselves. Another example could be a person who suffers from social anxiety and feels like drinking is the only way he or she can be comfortable in social settings.

Situations like these easily develop into habitual behaviors. The person who copes with rejection by resorting to alcohol abuse may grow to respond to all forms of criticism and rejection with the desire to drink. A person who feels compelled to drink as a “social lubricant” may start to automatically associate social settings with drinking, complicating interpersonal relationships and social life.

CBT aims to shed light on these situations so a person struggling with alcohol abuse can realize the destructive nature of these habits and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

Why Is CBT for Addiction to Alcohol So Effective?

Different types of substance abuse have varying effects on the body and mind, but the influence alcohol has on the brain and behavior is much more significant compared to most other addictive substances.

During CBT, alcohol reduction is the ultimate goal, and this form of therapy targets the root causes – instead of just the symptoms. This entails a close examination of past behaviors and developing new, healthier stress-management techniques.

Another reason why CBT is such an effective treatment method for alcohol addiction is because it fosters relapse prevention. The risk of relapse after recovering from alcohol addiction is much higher when compared to most other substances, not to mention that alcohol is legal for adults over 21 and easily accessible throughout the United States.

Not only is the temptation to relapse easy to feel, the mental connections to drinking habits are much harder to break. CBT teaches people in recovery how to manage cravings and break through their previously destructive behaviors to have better chances of avoiding relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Reflections Recovery Center

Cognitive behavioral therapy plays a crucial role in the alcohol addiction treatment program at Reflections Recovery Center. Finding the right alcohol rehab facility for men can be difficult, and the thought of relocating may seem daunting to people struggling with alcohol addiction. Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, Arizona offers an alternative to traditional clinical settings with a focus on the outdoors and unique therapies designed for men.

CBT is a proven effective method for handling the behaviors that drive alcohol abuse, so reach out to Reflections Recovery Center to learn more about CBT and other therapies we use to treat men who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

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