Tag Archives: Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis & Co-occurring Disorders

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines Dual Diagnosis as, “…when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder-substance use or mental illness-can develop first.”* Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers may not be the easiest to find, but they are incredibly important. Clients need doctors that can properly address both psychiatric disorders and substance use disorders.

Co-Occurring Disorders in Men

Addiction and mental illness can clearly create a vicious cycle. To properly address it there needs to be a clear diagnosis of addiction and mental illnesses. Not every person struggling with addiction will face a mental illness and their path will be a little different, though no less thorough. The people that do face addiction and mental illness though will need specialized care to properly address both issues. In a 2017 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it was reported that 8.5 million adults, or 3.4 percent of adults (18 or older) had co-occurring disorders in the prior year.*

Moreover, when it comes to seeking treatment, men rarely seek treatment for any disorder. If they seek treatment for addiction, they are less likely to seek treatment for mental illness due to shame and social stigma (NIH).* At Reflections, we are a men’s only rehab which we believe allows us to thoroughly treat the men we help. We work to be proactive in identifying and treating any mental illness with which our clients may be struggling. Our aim is for all of the men we treat to feel comfortable and to know that there is no shame in seeking help.

A Comprehensive Recovery

For recovery to be comprehensive, it is important to treat a patient as a whole person. This means thoroughly going over their physical and mental health. We also will look at their history up to the point where they have entered rehab. Addiction is a complicated disease and treatment should be varied to thoroughly address all of the underlying causes. With dual diagnosis, the aim is to address the mental illness and drug addiction as separate but co-occurring disorders. The best plan for treatment is to integrate different forms of therapy. This will allow each issue to be addressed individually, but coordinated to adequately tie everything together. Treating only the mental health problems or only the addiction will not allow for a full recovery.

Our goal is to accurately and thoroughly understand each patient and how to best help them.

Behavioral Therapy to address Dual Diagnosis

At Reflections Recovery Center, clients will go through complete intake assessment within a few days of arriving. This will allow us to do physical and mental health evaluations. We will review medical history as well as family’s health history, if possible, to look for any patterns and to gain a thorough understanding of the patient. Each client with have a variety of therapies that they can engage in to best help their recovery.

Among the different types of therapy that we engage in, clients can participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). CBT works to help clients adjust their thoughts and attitude, leading to improved emotional stability. DBT is similar and helps clients learn to regulate emotions, tolerate pain in stressful situations, and maintain healthy relationships with other people. CBT and DBT both greatly help someone who is dealing with a dual diagnosis. Reflections also has a number of other relevant and beneficial therapies that our clients have the opportunity to engage in.

Nutrition and Biochemical Deficiencies

A physical evaluation will be essential to understanding what state the patient’s body is in. It is important to understand what nutrition the client is lacking or if they have any physical disorders. Nutrition plays a significant part in addiction. With regard to nutrition, part of what we are especially interested in is your cholesterol and vitamin D. Sleep is essential for any person and is absolutely necessary when in recovery. Cholesterol helps the brain to function and that can help manage feelings of impulsivity. When your brain is functioning better, sleep should be easier to get back to normal. Furthermore, lack of vitamin D can potentially lead to bone demineralization, myopathy and immune system problems. These in turn can lead to other symptoms like pain and fatigue, which begin to disrupt your sleep.

Addiction deprives the body of nutrients and your body will let you know that it is struggling. When our doctors know how the patient’s body is deprived, this allows us to begin the process of healing. When your physical and mental health are in a better place, you will have gained important tools in your fight against relapse. We will of course look into much more than cholesterol and vitamin D. Those are just a few examples of how important seemingly small parts of our health can greatly impact our lives. When you are working to treat an entire person, you need to look at the details that are often overlooked.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

The truth is, a dual diagnosis is not something that is easy to treat. However, a dedicated medical professional works to find the root causes of the disorders and properly treat them. If you or a loved one is possibly dealing with a co-occurring disorder, then you need an experienced and licensed dual diagnosis treatment center. We have a qualified medical team that can treat psychological issues and substance use disorders. Our goal is to accurately and thoroughly understand each patient and how to best help them. We aim to help each patient develop the skills and knowledge to maintain sobriety wherever they go. Contact us today to find out more!

*Resources:
Dual Diagnosis – NAMI
National Survey on Drug Use and Health – SAMHSA
Men with Co-Occurring Disorders – NIH

Long-Term Prescription Stimulant Use: What Are the Risks of ADHD Medications?


The millennial generation is the first in history to be routinely prescribed stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Not surprisingly, many in this generation are also suffering from issues with stimulant drug abuse. Studies show that the recreational use of ADHD medications is the second-most common form of illicit drug use among college-aged adults, just behind marijuana.

The rise in young adults taking ADHD medications is shocking. In fact, in the four-year period between 2011 and 2015, the number of American workers who tested positive for amphetamine drug use increased by 44 percent.

Because stimulant ADHD medications are prescribed by doctors, many users mistakenly believe that there is little to no danger associated with taking them long-term. In reality, however, these drugs have a powerful effect on users, and extended use should never be taken lightly. Let’s take a closer look at the effects of long-term ADHD medication use.

Long-Term Adderall Abuse and the Brain

Stimulant ADHD medications increase energy levels and focus by artificially increasing the amount of specific neurotransmitters in the brain. The primary neurotransmitters affected by Adderall, for instance, are:

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin

Over time, the brain adjusts to these elevated levels of neurotransmitters and loses its ability to produce enough of them without the use of drugs. Habitual amphetamine users, for example, often suffer from low dopamine levels, which greatly reduces the ability to feel joy or pleasure without chemical assistance. When the user’s tolerance to the effects of stimulants increases, they often become unable to function normally without them.

Those addicted to Adderall and Adderall-like drugs experience a number of troubling psychological symptoms upon stopping use, including:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal thinking

Many researchers believe that the emotional and psychological effects of long-term ADHD medication abuse are the greatest risks users face. In extreme cases, prescription stimulants have been known to trigger the onset of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, psychosis and bipolar disorder. Those with a preexisting mental health disorder are at an elevated risk for developing negative side effects after long-term stimulant medication use.

The Dangers of Childhood Stimulant Use

Childhood Prescription Stimulant Use - Reflections Rehab
Those who take prescription ADHD medications at a young age are at a unique risk for developing future issues with drug abuse. In addition to the effects that stimulants have on brain chemistry, they also play a powerful role in a person’s behavioral and emotional development.

Because Adderall and Ritalin help to increase energy levels and motivation, those who take these drugs during childhood often report that they never developed the ability to accomplish tasks and goals while unmedicated. While many outgrow their ADHD symptoms upon reaching adulthood, many childhood Adderall users find that they are unable to function effectively without drugs.

It is important to remember that even though ADHD medications can be used therapeutically and legally, there is always the possibility that long-term use can have serious, lifelong consequences.

Research on Long-Term Stimulant Use

Studies have suggested that the therapeutic effects of prescription ADHD medications begin to disappear when taken for longer than two years.


This research suggests that the long-term treatment of ADHD symptoms with amphetamine drugs may be ineffective. While not all health care professionals share this opinion, the growing body of research cannot be ignored.

A study published in 2017 in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that long-term Adderall and Ritalin use was ineffective for long-term ADHD treatment. In addition, this study found that ADHD medications may also suppress psychological development well into adulthood.

Symptoms of Stimulant Medication Abuse

There are a number of physical side effects associated with the abuse of ADHD medications. Over the long term, amphetamine abuse can lead to problems in both the heart and cardiovascular systems. The most common of these problems include hypertension (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (irregular heart rate). Although rare, amphetamine abuse can even lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.

Other side effects of long-term Adderall abuse include:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Heart disease
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Heart palpitations
  • Respiratory trouble
  • Dizziness

Recognizing ADHD Medication Abuse

Again, because doctors routinely prescribe amphetamine medications to Americans with ADHD, it can be difficult to recognize when the use of such drugs has become problematic. Recognizing the warning signs of amphetamine abuse is the first step toward correcting the problem before it’s too late.

Signs that a loved one has developed a harmful amphetamine habit include:

  • Prioritizing stimulant medication use over one’s responsibilities
  • Taking more of stimulant medication than prescribed
  • An inability to function without stimulant drugs
  • Misrepresenting one’s psychological symptoms in order to obtain ADHD medications
  • An inability to either stop or control one’s use of ADHD medications
  • Transitioning to the use of street amphetamines or methamphetamine

Overcoming Prescription Stimulant Use

Breaking an addiction to stimulant drugs is incredibly difficult, especially when the use of such drugs began in childhood. A key part of any effective drug abuse treatment program is identifying the underlying problems that led to addiction.

Those abusing drugs like Adderall and Ritalin may need help coping with their attention issues naturally. Often, these underlying issues stem from other undiagnosed psychological disorders. Therapeutic tools such as group counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can aid those struggling with addiction in achieving stronger mental health.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to prescription stimulants, know that there are people who can help. Contact a member of our team at Reflections Recovery Center today, and discover how our men’s rehabilitation program can help you retake control over your life.

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Alcohol and Fibromyalgia: The Links Between Alcohol Abuse and Neuropathic Chronic Pain


What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition characterized by widespread pain and chronic fatigue – the source of which is subjective, and cannot be determined by tests. Because the source of the chronic pain cannot be pinpointed, diagnosis and treatment are also fairly subjective.

Physicians don’t currently have a clear understanding of fibromyalgia’s root causes, and therefore treat the condition based on several working theories. One theory is that fibromyalgia pain is a type of neuropathic (nerve) pain.

“Fibromyalgia affects between 1% and 5% of the world’s population.”

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Chronic, Widespread Pain (Particularly in “Tender Points”)
  • Chronic Fatigue, Lack of Energy and Constant Feeling of Being Tired
  • Sleep Problems (Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Inability to Fall or Stay Asleep)
  • Concentration Problems and Cognitive Impairment (Sometimes Referred to as “Fibro Fog”)
  • Anxiety, Depression and/or Panic Attacks
  • Stiffness in Joints and Muscles (Particularly in the Morning)
  • Numbness in Hands, Feet and Extremities (Tingling, Sharp Pain and “Pins and Needle” Pain)
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Problems with Urination
  • Increase in Menstrual Pain and Cramps
  • Manic or Rapidly Changing Moods

What Is Neuropathic Pain and Neuropathy?

Neuropathic pain emanates from the central nervous system itself, due to damage or dysfunctional nerve tissues.

In non-neuropathic pain, the nerve cells and tissues are working properly, and report damage or injury to surrounding muscles and tissues to the brain as pain signals.

With neuropathic pain, the injury or damage affects the nerve tissues themselves, or there is no damage at all, yet still the nerve tissue reports pain signals to the brain.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Without being able to pinpoint the causes and mechanisms of neuropathy and fibromyalgia pain, it is difficult to say that any one or multiple factors can cause fibromyalgia. However, physicians have pinpointed seven factors that can increase your risk and/or predisposition for fibromyalgia. Those factors include:

Genetic Predisposition to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy

Children of fibromyalgia and neuropathy sufferers are more likely to develop symptoms themselves – suggesting that genes and genetics commonly play a role in the development of fibromyalgia.

Particularly, genetic polymorphisms (variations) in the systems regulating serotonin, dopamine, and in the catecholaminergic system are suggested risk factors, according to a study* on “Genetic Susceptibility to Fibromyalgia.”

*Park D-J, Kang J-H, Yim Y-R, et al. Exploring Genetic Susceptibility to Fibromyalgia. Chonnam Medical Journal. 2015;51(2):58-65. doi:10.4068/cmj.2015.51.2.58.

Comorbidities and Illnesses Can Increase Your Risk of Fibromyalgia

Those suffering from fibromyalgia often have one more more co-occurring conditions affecting their health – both physical and mental health conditions. Neuropathic pain is more common in those that have had traumatic physical injuries, or who have lived through traumatic events.

Diseases that are commonly seen in fibromyalgia sufferers include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic Headache/Migraines
  • Tension Headache and Stress-Related Headaches
  • Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorders
  • Endometriosis
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

According to a Mayo Clinic study**, the following comorbidity rates were seen in fibromyalgia sufferers:

  • Chronic Joint Pain and Degenerative Arthritis was present in 88.7% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Migraines and chronic headaches were present in 62.4% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Hyperlipidemia (High Cholesterol) was present in 51.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Obesity was present in 48% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Hypertension was present in 43.2% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Type 2 Diabetes was present in 17.9% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was present in 32.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Plantar Fasciitis was present in 24.8% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ & TMD) were present in 17.4% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain issues were reported by 15.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Depression was present in 75.1% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Anxiety was present in 56.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Insomnia was present in 50.6% of fibromyalgia sufferers.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome was present in 20.3% of fibromyalgia sufferers.

“50.5% of fibromyalgia sufferers also met the criteria for a metabolic syndrome – like diabetes.”

**Vincent A, Whipple MO, McAllister SJ, et al. A cross-sectional assessment of the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions and medication use in a sample of community-dwelling adults with fibromyalgia in Olmsted County, Minnesota. BMJ. Open 2015;5:e006681. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006681

Emotional and Physical Abuse Leading to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain

A connection between emotional, physical and sexual abuse and fibromyalgia has long been suspected, but a 2011 study on “Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review with meta-analysis” found significant associations between abuse and the incidence of fibromyalgia.

Scientists theorize that past trauma – physical, mental or emotional – can actually change the way the way the brain utilizes pain signals. Some studies suggest that the body and brain create false pain signals in reaction to stressors such as disease, mental health conditions and feelings/emotions that are causing stress.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Fibromyalgia

Numerous studies in recent years link PTSD to fibromyalgia and chronic neuropathic pain. These studies found that not only could fibromyalgia pain be directly related to the presence of a trauma-related disorder, but also that fibromyalgia symptoms were much more severe in individuals who showed more severe symptoms of PTSD.

One study dealt specifically with the topic of “Fibromyalgia in Men Suffering From PTSD,” concluding that while there was a strong association between PTSD and the tender points for neuropathic pain, sufficient exercise could decrease the pain.

Lack of Exercise and Fibromyalgia

Lack of exercise is also directly related to increased neuropathic pain. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers are more likely to not exercise regularly. Also, fibromyalgia sufferers who don’t get enough exercise report more painful symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Is Most Commonly Diagnosed in Women

An astounding 91 percent of fibromyalgia diagnoses are of women. Physicians agree that women are more likely to suffer from neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. However, they also agree that fibromyalgia in men is widely underdiagnosed.

Doctors worry that this underdiagnosis of men with fibromyalgia is indicative of misdiagnosis, meaning many men with the symptoms of fibromyalgia may have incorrect diagnoses. Studies show that neuropathic pain in men is much less severe than in women; this means that women feel the pain more intensely than men do.

If this is true, it could mean that men diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental and physical disorders could be living with undiagnosed fibromyalgia.

Untreated Anxiety and Depression Can Lead to Fibromyalgia

One of the biggest concerns among mental health experts and substance abuse counselors is the theory that untreated anxiety and depression can lead to the development of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia and neuropathy rates are much higher in populations that have at least one mental health condition. Medical professionals warn that if patients don’t receive adequate treatment for these mental health conditions, the resulting stress and effects will transcend from mental symptoms to physical symptoms – in the form of neuropathic pain.

Under this theory, if an individual does not adequately treat and deal with his or her mental health issues, the brain begins to scream for help by igniting pain signals all throughout the body. Essentially, this is the brain giving them a “zap” to try to get some relief from the symptoms of the comorbidities. This may involve underlying physical illnesses and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or trauma.

“It is hypothesized that individuals suffering from fibromyalgia are getting the pain signals from the nervous system, but – without any visible injury or obvious reason for the pain – don’t understand how to prevent or stop the pain signals.

“Without a valid way to stop the pain, most individuals are forced to self-medicate in an attempt to numb the symptoms and chronic pain.”

Alcohol and Fibromyalgia: Why Do Fibromyalgia Sufferers Abuse Alcohol?

Self-medication is extremely common in fibromyalgia sufferers. This is understandable when you consider that standard medical care practitioners still really don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, or how to even adequately diagnose the condition with 100 percent certainty. All fibromyalgia sufferers know is that the pain is immense, relentless and that they want to feel better.

Alcohol has the ability to numb pain, a property that has been known for thousands of years. However, alcohol is not a considered a suitable long-term method for dealing with pain. It is simply too addictive, and the drawbacks of persistent use greatly outweigh any perceived benefits.

Doctors know all too well the cycle of self-medication and addiction that alcohol brings. But for everyday pain sufferers, alcohol may feel like a cure for their pain – in the beginning. Alcohol doesn’t cure anything, unfortunately, and does an even worse job at managing pain in the long term. In the end, individuals who try to self-medicate underlying physical and mental health conditions with alcohol end up becoming dependent on the chemical.

Fibromyalgia Medications Carry the Risk of Addiction

Prescription medications for dealing with fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain can offer much needed relief to sufferers. However, without a known way to “cure” or reverse the symptoms of fibro, the only option is to preserve quality of life through medication.

Medications for fibromyalgia aim to treat the various symptoms that fibro causes, including pain, cramping, anxiety, depression, insomnia and concentration/cognitive problems. These medications would inherently need to be used long term – since the symptoms will likely not go away.

Long-term use of any medication carries the risk of dependency, abuse addiction, and possibly overdose. The medications that treat fibromyalgia symptoms are infamously addictive.

Common prescription medications for fibromyalgia:

  • Sleep Aids – 33.3% of fibro patients
  • SSRIs (Antidepressants) – 28.7% of patients
  • Opioids – 22.4% of patients
  • SNRIs (Antidepressants) – 21% of patients
  • Alpha-2-Delta Ligands (Seizure and Pain Meds) – 19.4% of patients
  • Benzodiazepines (Sedatives) – 18.5% of patients
  • Tramadol (Opioid) – 15.7% of patients

Opioid painkillers are one of the riskiest types of medication that doctors commonly prescribe for the long-term management of fibromyalgia-related pain symptoms. Opioid painkillers for the management of chronic pain disorders carry a very large risk: the risk of addiction. The recent opioid epidemic has taught us the dangers of these drugs.

Benzodiazepines can treat anxiety and insomnia issues related to fibromyalgia. Though benzos were once thought to be non-addictive, widespread benzodiazepine prescribing since the 1960s has shown that not only are these drugs addictive, but also that benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be as deadly and dangerous as alcohol withdrawal and delirium tremens (DTs).

Mixing alcohol with fibromyalgia medications is another grave concern, though a popular practice. Estimates show that up to 15 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers mix alcohol with their medications.

How Do You Treat Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Fibromyalgia Sufferers?

Fibromyalgia sufferers already have a lot stacked up against them. Doctors aren’t sure what causes fibromyalgia, nor how it causes the symptoms that it does. Up until recently, doctors weren’t even sure if fibromyalgia was a real condition, or if those claiming neuropathic pain were being truthful.

There are currently no medical tests that can say for sure you 100 percent have fibromyalgia. And, even if you do get diagnosed as likely suffering from fibromyalgia, the only treatment is addictive medications that could bring on more symptoms and underlying issues.

What happens when, on top of all of this, you feel like the medications you are taking are starting to cause more problems, and the benefits you once received from them are waning? How can you get off the medications and/or alcohol and still adequately manage your pain? Is it possible to live pain free without fibromyalgia medications?

Though you should make lifestyle changes, you can still control fibro symptoms and pain with lower-dose medications for pain management, and through holistic treatment therapies.

”Living with fibromyalgia is all about managing how healthy and well you feel throughout your mind and body.”

By making some small changes to your health and lifestyle, you can see reduced symptoms and decreased neuropathic pain. An unhealthy body and mind invites worsening symptoms of fibromyalgia. Through diet, exercise, management of mental health conditions, and pain-management techniques, you can achieve greater control of your fibro.

While Western medicine has not yet found a cure for fibromyalgia, we do know how to bring fibromyalgia under greater control. And, with this control, you can find a greater quality of life – one that is free from self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

Do You Have a Loved One Suffering From Fibromyalgia and Substance Abuse? Call Us to Learn How a Substance Abuse Treatment Plan Can Foster Proper Pain Management and Sobriety.

Help a Loved One Addicted to Pain Medication

Compulsivity and Addiction: How Compulsive Behavior and Substance Abuse Are Related


Characters with compulsive tendencies have been depicted often throughout the years in television, film and theater. Modern examples include the character Adrian Monk of the television series “Monk” and Robert McCall of “The Equalizer” film franchise. A more classic example would be Felix Unger of “The Odd Couple,” as seen on Broadway and on the small and silver screens.

Although none of these three characters have problems with drug use or alcoholism, people with compulsive tendencies are generally at greater risk of substance abuse than the rest of the population.

People can also fall prey to compulsive exercising, gambling, shopping, dieting and eating, but in this article, we would like to focus on when compulsivity collides with drug or alcohol use. Why? The combination could unravel one’s life and even turn deadly.

If you know someone who compulsively drinks or uses drugs, find out why you need to act quickly to get this person help before their physical and mental health goes significantly downhill.

What Causes Compulsive Behaviors? 

Compulsive behaviors are borne out of a desire to manage anxieties. For instance, someone who develops a heightened awareness or fear of germs may become a compulsive hand washer – or they may refuse to touch certain everyday items at all. The behavior gives them a sense of control over, and relief from, their anxiety.

This is why obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is classified under anxiety disorders. Although you may notice a lot of people with unique quirks and compulsive tendencies, the symptoms of OCD must be severe and persistent. Thus, OCD diagnoses are actually quite rare.

In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that only 2 percent of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with OCD in their lifetime. At any given time, roughly 2 million Americans are actively suffering from OCD.

The Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

For someone with full-blown OCD, they will have persistent symptoms in two areas: obsessions and compulsions. Yes, the compulsions are usually borne out of the obsessive thoughts.

Someone with OCD will show signs of obsession, such as:

  • Aversions to germs or dirt
  • Repeated unwanted ideas
  • Aggressive impulses
  • Fixation on symmetry and order
  • Persistent sexual thoughts
  • Thoughts of being harmed, or harming loved ones

And the OCD sufferer will show signs of compulsion, such as:

  • Constant checking – such as to make sure doors are locked or appliances are in working order
  • Counting and recounting everyday objects
  • Repeated hand washing
  • Stubbornly sticking to a routine or ritual
  • Constant cleaning of various items
  • Arranging items to face a certain way
  • Organizing collections in alphabetical or other type of order
  • Hoarding items already used or of little to no value

OCD sometimes emerges as a way of managing another type of mental illness. In fact, the risk factors of obsessive-compulsive disorder include:

  • Genetics – a family history of the disorder
  • Extreme anxiety – especially borne out of living through traumatic or highly stressful events
  • Existing mental disorder – such as a mood disorder, other form of anxiety disorder, or a substance use disorder

The Compulsive ‘Reward’

Compulsive behaviors all relate back to dopamine and the reward system of the brain. Going on an invigorating run, for example, can give the person a “runner’s high,” in which a large amount of dopamine is released in the brain, eliciting a state of euphoria.

The person may then begin to repeat the same action in hopes of re-experiencing that original high. Sometimes they will achieve it; but, in most cases, they won’t. Nonetheless, the person keeps doing the same action to the point where it’s almost involuntary and ritualistic. This is compulsive behavior.

According to Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D., a prolific author and a psychology professor at the University of Sussex (England), the brain registers all pleasures in basically the same way – with a release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, located in the basal forebrain. This pleasure can be brought on by eating a slice of cake, taking a drug, exercising, a sexual activity, winning a jackpot, beating a level in a video game – you name it.

Compulsivity and Substance Abuse: When Compulsions Turn Harmful

Some compulsions are largely innocuous and even healthy, such as exercising or counting calories (although these can be taken too far). One can even have the recurrent compulsion to thoroughly clean up after oneself after cooking and/or eating, and it’s hard to find much wrong with that. These can be considered “positive compulsions,” although it’s important to be mindful of moderation in these.

But when a compulsive person turns their attention to drugs or alcohol, red flags should be popping up left and right. Getting high on a new drug or getting inebriated to a certain point can result in a rush of dopamine in the brain and a state of euphoria, as we spoke of a moment ago. If it’s a positive and memorable experience for the user or drinker, a compulsive person will be hard-pressed to resist chasing that high again.

That high can never be exactly replicated, but a compulsive person will keep trying to relive or achieve it again. Before long, tolerance to alcohol or drugs increases, and then the person becomes used to having a certain level of that substance in their system each day. If they were to suddenly stop at this point, painful withdrawal symptoms will ensue.

OCD and Substance Abuse

For people with full-blown OCD, co-occurring substance usually has the following role: The person begins using drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medicating the OCD symptoms. Thus, you can conclude that having OCD is a risk factor for drug or alcohol addiction.

Getting Help for Compulsivity and Addiction

Do you have a family member or close friend with compulsive tendencies (such as gambling, shopping or eating) and who has taken an affection to drinking or a specific drug? Seek help on this individual’s behalf soon. Their quality of life can quickly deteriorate.

You may need to start with an intervention to get them to go into treatment. Compulsive people are usually not aware that their behaviors are unhealthy or abnormal; and even if they are, their compulsions usually override their willpower to stop. An intervention can help break through their current tailspin.

It’s also important that they enter a dual diagnosis treatment program, one that can address their mental health symptoms. Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, AZ can help your son, husband, brother, male cousin, etc. learn to manage his compulsive inclinations in healthy ways as he recovers from alcohol or drug abuse.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for OCD and Compulsivity

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

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

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

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

Borderline Personality Disorder in Men: A Common Co-Occurring Disorder


What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Characterized by pervasive mood instability, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, negative self-image and harmful behavior, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness.

BPD is associated with high rates of self-harm and, in severe cases, suicidal behavior. The high risks for suicide and greater impairment are highest in the young adult years.

Symptoms of BPD

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by:

  • Intense bouts of anger, depression or anxiety that last hours to days long
  • Episodes of impulsive aggression, self-injury or drug or alcohol abuse
  • Distorted thoughts and negative sense of self
  • Frequent and impulsive changes in life-altering decisions
  • Highly unstable patterns of social relationships
  • High sensitivity to rejection
  • Impulsive behaviors like excessive spending, risky sex and binge eating

It is common to see borderline personality disorder occur with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and other personality disorders.

What Does It Look Like If a Man You Know Might Have BPD?

A series of intense but stormy relationships is often the first thing people notice about a man with BPD. He will fall in love quickly and can fall out of love just as fast.

Similarly, in a friendship or family relationship, when he has been offended, he immediately stops all contact with that person and cuts them out of his life in anger. He is notorious for holding grudges.

A man with BPD may harm people and bring excessive emotion and drama to relationships, but deep down he usually doesn’t want to hurt people; he just wants to be loved and is desperate for it. Men with BPD appear needy and manipulative, but they are desperately seeking to feel love they’ve never felt before.

When symptomatic, a man with BPD is walking around in a living hell and perceived as universally hostile. He walks around with incredible inner pain, depression and free-floating anxiety.

Dependent, dramatic and highly manipulative, BPD sufferers have learned to cope in these dysfunctional ways due to the overwhelming fear and emotional pain they endure. The emotional instability coupled with impulsivity places these individuals at risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

The Myth of BPD as a Female Disorder

Women are diagnosed with BPD at a ratio of 3-to-1 to men. However, in general, population studies, the occurrence rates are evenly distributed. While it is true that statistically more women than men are diagnosed with BPD, there are reasons for the statistics.

For one thing, men, in general, are more averse to seeking professional help for medical or mental problems. And when they do talk to a counselor or doctor, BDP is often misdiagnosed in men.

In fact, the vast majority of men with borderline personality disorder go undiagnosed.

Men are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because BPD manifests differently in men than women and is interpreted differently.

Borderline Personality Disorder in Men

Borderline personality disorder in men is often overlooked and brushed off with a recommendation for an anger management class. Men tend to externalize behaviors like aggression, violent patterns and antisocial traits, including heavier substance use than women.

Sometimes these externalized behaviors are misdiagnosed as antisocial personality disorder, anger management problems or something else. Ironically, people with BPD complain of feeling misunderstood and in reality, they are being misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

Here are some ways BPD manifests in men:

  • Sensitive to criticism while responding with aggression
  • Controlling through criticism
  • Holding grudges
  • Fear of rejection played out in jealousy and using sex to alleviate his feelings of rejection
  • Rejecting relationships – when he’s been offended by someone, he hates them; he sees people in good or bad absolutes
  • Jealous or possessive insecurities, but emotionally detached from relationships
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve his constant free-floating anxiety

Why Men’s Only Rehab May Be the Solution

Gender-specific rehabs get better results. Without the distraction of the opposite sex, guys are free be more open in group settings.

Men and women have different reasons for using substances, heal differently, and have different reactions to treatments. By focusing on only men, rehab can be uplifting in shared experiences and bonding with peers — a proven necessary component of recovery — in a way that can’t happen in a co-ed setting.

A Common Co-Occurring Disorder

If you notice your male companion or loved one exhibits irrational behaviors at times, substance abuse and the underlying mental health problem of borderline personality disorder may be to blame.

Only medical professionals are qualified to accurately diagnose mental health conditions, such as personality disorders. However, very often it is the partner or family member who brings to light the issues that the victim of the disorder cannot see himself.

Traits that Overlap with Drug Abuse

Cycle of Addiction and Substance Use Disorder Flowchart Graphic - ReflectionsThe relationship between BPD and addiction is as stormy as the individual’s romantic relationships.

The alcoholism or substance use brings out the antisocial behaviors like rage, anger and depression.

Yet, the man suffering from borderline personality feels a strong need to use drugs or alcohol to numb his numerous fears and to stop his mind from racing with constant free-floating anxiety.

Several symptoms of BDP are similar to symptoms of addiction, so it can be complicated to determine whether someone has a dual diagnosis. Both conditions display traits of:

  • Impulsivity and instability in job, relationships, finances and responsibilities
  • Apparent lack of concern for one’s own well-being
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Manipulative, deceitful actions to get what the person wants

Drug Abuse Treatment

Because the signs and symptoms of BPD and addiction have some overlap, these diseases can be difficult to distinguish and treat while at a traditional rehab center. Unless you find a co-occurring disorder rehab center, the facility will not have the resources to properly treat your loved one.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

BPD is a serious psychiatric illness, and the treatment thereof is notoriously challenging, but there are various modalities available.

Exercising and consuming foods or supplements high in choline and tryptophan can benefit neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and serotonin, which help with emotion and mood regulation. Natural bright light helps, and meditation has been proven to increase dopamine in the brain.

Behavioral modifications along with group, peer and family support, as well as psychotherapy, are key therapies as well.

Hope for BPD and Addiction

People with BPD often need extensive mental health services, including hospitalization. Yet, with help, many BPD sufferers improve over time and lead productive lives.

The addiction counseling services and behavior therapies for drug abuse offered at Reflections Recovery Center have a long history of helping men recover from addictions. Additionally, our team has the know-how and experience to uncover underlying mental health illnesses while treating the drug abuse or alcohol problem.

Recovery can be intense, especially when facing a dual diagnosis, but we have seen many men heal from the enormous emotional burdens the disease of addiction placed on them and their loved ones.

If you suspect your loved one struggles with addiction and a possible mental health issue, do not hesitate to get him into a program that addresses the addiction, has a working knowledge of dual diagnosis and treats co-occurring disorders.

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