Tag Archives: Dual Diagnosis

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

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that can go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. The disorder is characterized by pervasive mood instability, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, negative self-image, and harmful behavior. Historically, borderline personality disorder in men has been under-diagnosed, leading people to believe that it is a largely female disorder.

However, that misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anyone can suffer from BPD, regardless of gender. Researchers now believe that it may affect men, women, and gender non-conforming individuals in equal numbers.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder in men?

One reason borderline personality disorder in men (BPD) is overlooked is that men often present symptoms differently.

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. For men with BPD, this self-harm often takes the form of substance abuse. Heavy drinking or drug use is a common response to unmanageable depression or anxiety. People with many mental health issues drink or use as a way to self-medicate, and borderline personality disorder is no exception.

Man holding head in hands. Text: Borderline personality disorder can result in depression or anxiety that last hours to days long.

Men’s negative emotions may also be perceived differently. Episodes of intense anger (which can happen to anyone with BPD) might be overlooked in men due to gender stereotyping. Unfortunately, volatile or violent outbursts are often accepted as “normal” male behavior, when they could actually be a symptom of BPD.

What Causes Male Borderline Personality Disorder?

The causes of Borderline Personality Disorder can be hard to accurately define. BPD does run in families, but it’s unknown whether this is completely due to genetics. It can also be affected by family history and past trauma, leading to the fear of abandonment that so many men with this disorder experience.

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

Borderline Personality Disorder Vs. Bipolar Disorder

It is common to see borderline personality disorder occur with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder (BD), depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and other personality disorders. This is true for many of the men we treat at Reflections.

While Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder may share some symptoms, they are very different in terms of long-term treatment. BPD is a personality disorder, while bipolar is a mood disorder. Though they can both cause mood swings, people with BPD experience shorter outbursts of anger and sadness as a result of long-term emotional dysfunction. People with bipolar deal with recurring bouts of alternating mania and depression. BPD is also less common than BD.

Symptoms of 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.

Here are some ways BPD manifests in men:

  • Responding to criticism with aggression
  • Holding grudges
  • Displaying jealousy as a mask for fear of rejection
  • Using sex to alleviate feelings of rejection
  • Rejecting relationships and moving quickly from love to hate
  • Viewing others in absolutes (they are either entirely “good” or “bad”)
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve constant anxiety

Illustration of a faceless man standing alone. Text: The vast majority of men with borderline personality disorder go undiagnosed.

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.

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships: What Does It Look Like If A Man You Know Has BPD?

He Struggles to Maintain Healthy Relationships

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

Similarly, in a friendship or family relationship, a man with BPD may be quick to cut ties and slow to let go of grudges. When he has been offended, he might burst out without warning or stop all contact with loved ones, attempting to cut them out of his life.

He Has a Deep Fear of Abandonment

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 may never have felt before.

He Displays Hostile or Manipulative Behavior

It’s essential to remember that when symptomatic, a man with BPD is walking around in a living hell. His outer aggression is masking incredible inner pain, depression and anxiety.

This is never a reason to enable someone with BPD or allow them to compromise your personal safety, but it is a clear sign that they need treatment.

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.

He Abuses Alcohol or Drugs

The emotional instability coupled with impulsivity places individuals with BPD at risk of drug or alcohol abuse. It may or may not look like “textbook” addiction, and bouts of drug use might be spontaneous or short-lived. This does not mean that they are any less life-threatening. Individuals with BPD and a substance use disorder are at a very high risk for self-harm, and should recieve professional care for both disorders.

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.

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, BPD 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.

BPD and Substance Abuse: Common Co-Occurring Disorders

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.

If you notice that your male friend or loved one exhibits frequent irrational behavior, substance abuse and borderline personality disorder or another underlying mental health problem may be to blame.

The Cycle of Addiction: Binge/Intoxication, Withdrawal/Negative Effect, Preoccupation/Anticipation.

BPD Symptoms that Overlap with Drug Abuse

The relationship between BPD and addiction is as stormy as the individual’s personal relationships.

The alcoholism or substance can bring out and intsnsify 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

Types of Treatment for BPD and Substance Abuse

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 treating it is notoriously challenging, but there are various modalities available.

Medication may be part of the solution for some people. Behavioral modifications along with psychotherapy and group, peer and family support are key therapies as well.

Additionally, 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.

Why Reflections Recovery Center May Be the Solution

Men and women have different reasons for using substances, heal differently, and have different reactions to treatments. By addressing gender-specific issues, rehab can be uplifting in shared experiences and bonding with peers — a proven necessary component of recovery.

Can BPD Be Cured? Hope for Men with BPD and Addiction

There is no hard-and-fast cure for borderline personality disorder. 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 people recover from addiction. 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 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 borderline personality disorder or another mental health issue, do not hesitate to get them into a program that addresses the addiction, has a working knowledge of dual diagnosis, and treats co-occurring disorders.

Trauma-Informed Therapy Offers Better Treatment for Dual Diagnosis Recovery

There’s a strong correlation between addiction, mental illness and trauma. People who experience one of these circumstances are significantly more likely to experience the other two.

That’s why when you’re looking for a drug or alcohol treatment program, it’s important to consider the staff’s ability to address co-occurring disorders, and whether they use a trauma-informed approach to addiction treatment.

Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders refer to a situation where a person suffers from multiple disorders at the same time. It’s common for people with addiction to have a co-occurring mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD.

Dual diagnosis is when a person is evaluated by a medical professional and found to have co-occurring disorders. Evaluating new clients for possible co-occurring disorders is standard practice for rehab centers that are qualified to treat dual diagnosis cases, like Reflections Recovery Center is.  

Mental health issues that commonly co-occur with substance abuse include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Trauma (a more general term than PTSD but still very relevant)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Other mood disorders and personality disorders
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

The Link Between Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Those suffering from mental health disorders are more likely to turn to addictive substances to alleviate the symptoms of their mental illness.

Addiction can also worsen the symptoms of mental illness, and even cause signs of mental illness to appear when there were none previously.

This is why it’s important to treat mental disorders and addiction at the same time, because failing to fix one problem can make it difficult to remedy the other.

The Link Between Addiction and Trauma

The link between trauma and addiction is also a two-way street: Trauma can lead to addiction, and addiction can lead to trauma.

Historically, trauma has often been ignored – by the victims, who are ashamed to admit to their victimization and trauma symptoms, and by those around them who prefer to avoid dealing with the difficult and dark issues that often lead to trauma.

But it’s dangerous to ignore trauma during substance abuse treatment. Without healing from trauma, the client will most likely relapse into addiction after leaving treatment.

In helping a client overcome trauma, it’s important that the treatment center staff know how to address the trauma without re-traumatizing the client. This is why choosing a rehab center that follows a trauma-informed approach is very important when selecting an addiction treatment program.

A Trauma-Informed Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment

A trauma-informed approach is not a specific program or therapy, but refers to the mindset and practices that support healthy recovery from trauma.

An addiction treatment program based on a trauma-informed approach will:

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, as well as in families, staff and others that are affected by addiction
  • Organize treatment and recovery around therapies that help clients heal from trauma, as well as addiction
  • Actively seek to resist re-traumatization
  • Have widespread policies and procedures designed to recognize trauma, treat it and prevent re-traumatization

If you or a loved one suffering from addiction are also impacted by trauma and/or mental illness, then be sure to find an addiction treatment center that is qualified in dual diagnosis and trauma-informed care.

At Reflections, we specialize in helping men recover not only from addiction, but also from co-occurring disorders and trauma. Our all-male environment provides a higher level of comfort, safety and transparency than what you’d typically find in co-ed treatment centers. When it’s just us guys, men can be more real about what they’re dealing with, and benefit from the support of a brotherly community of men who understand each other’s challenges.

People coping with mental disorders, trauma and addiction often feel that they’re alone, that no one else understands what they’re going through. But the truth is there are many others experiencing similar challenges, and we have experts at Reflections who know how to help men overcome just about any challenge.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Is a Highly Effective Therapy for Trauma

Learn About EMDR at Reflections

The Importance of Trauma-Informed Therapy for Treatment of PTSD & Addiction

In any addiction case, identifying and addressing the root cause of the addiction should be the first line of treatment. “Dual diagnosis” describes addiction cases in which a mental health disorder runs in tandem with an addiction.

Over time, the symbiosis between the mental health issue and the substance abuse create an extremely potent cycle of addiction. At Reflections Recovery Center, we believe breaking that cycle means taking a comprehensive approach to the individual’s condition, and that is exactly what trauma-informed therapy aims to do.

Why Focus on Trauma?

Trauma-focused approaches to substance abuse treatment generally report higher success rates than treatment programs that do not focus on past trauma.

While any approach to substance abuse should aim toward finding and remedying the root cause, trauma is one of the most commonly cited underlying causes of addiction. Recently, the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University concluded that almost 95 percent of all the people struggling with substance abuse have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives.

Understanding the Effects of Trauma

Substance Use Disorder With Trauma Statistic - Reflections Arizona

Violent accidents, criminal acts, natural disasters, armed conflict, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and witnessing horrific events can all cause traumas.

Traumatized individuals may struggle to reacclimate to normal life, struggle to perform basic life tasks or lose the sense of enjoyment they had when engaging in certain activities. Trauma can also create intense feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness.

One of the most troubling aspects of trauma is the tendency of those suffering from it to attempt to manage it on their own. Those who try to curb the effects of their past traumas may try alcohol or drugs to escape from a difficult reality.

Most people with traumatic pasts struggle to feel safe around anything that triggers the memory of their traumas. Drugs and alcohol may help them temporarily feel more at ease with the world around them, but this feeling does not last.

Over time, self-medication may inevitably turn into full-blown addiction while the untreated trauma festers.

Types of Trauma-Specific Interventions

Interventions are a common tactic in substance abuse treatment. During these gatherings, family and friends of the person struggling with trauma and addiction get together to intervene on his or her behalf to show the person that they feel the effects of this substance abuse and want to help.

An intervention is likely to be the tipping point that pushes a person into rehab, and taking the right approach to this meeting is crucial. Trauma-specific intervention methods aim to work collaboratively with individuals suffering from trauma and substance abuse.

The ATRIUM Model

The Addiction and Trauma Recovery Integration Model (ATRIUM) is a 12-session therapy course suitable for groups and individuals. The ATRIUM model is one of the most commonly used addiction treatment frameworks in modern prisons, youth diversion programs, AIDS recovery centers and other organizations assisting those afflicted by trauma.

ATRIUM draws on multiple channels for support to help patients acknowledge and handle their past traumatic experiences in healthier ways.

Risking Connection

The Risking Connection model emphasizes personal empowerment, interpersonal connections and collaboration. This model has seen various adaptations, each geared toward a specific audience.

Substance abuse can affect individuals in certain occupations or career paths in specific ways, and these models aim to treat the mental health issues, public health concerns and other effects of substance abuse in meaningful ways.

Sanctuary Model

This trauma treatment model focuses on children who have experienced abusive, violent or traumatic past events. The Sanctuary Model is most often seen in:

  • Public schools
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Group homes
  • Community centers
  • Youth diversion programs
  • Teen substance abuse treatment programs
  • Acute care settings
  • Many other programs focused on helping children

The Sanctuary Model aims to create a healing environment where traumatized individuals collaborate and function together to create more-effective methods for handling past traumas.

Seeking Safety

The Seeking Safety model is versatile and suitable for individual and group sessions. Additionally, this model works well for men, women and mixed-gender groups. The Seeking Safety model aims to address trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.

The overarching theme of the Seeking Safety model is, appropriately, safety. This model focuses on four main content areas: case management, cognition, behavior and interpersonal relationships.

Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health and Recovery (TAMAR)

The TAMAR Education Project is highly organized into a manualized 10-week intervention cycle. TAMAR uses multiple expressive therapies in conjunction with psychoeducational approaches to help those suffering from dual diagnoses in state psychiatric hospitals, detention centers and within communities.

Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET)

TARGET is an effective treatment model for all levels of care and age groups. This therapeutic approach strives to prevent and treat the symptoms of PTSD. Trauma survivors in the TARGET program learn practical skills to manage extreme emotions.

Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM)

This intervention model focuses on the survivors of physical or sexual violence. The TREM model exists for female patients, while men refer to the M-TREM model.

Many mental health institutions, substance abuse treatment centers and criminal justice organizations use the TREM and M-TREM methods to address co-occurring disorders across all age groups.

The EMDR Therapy Model

The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing model (EMDR) has shown to be the modality capable of the best results when treating addiction and co-occurring disorders. EMDR therapy helps patients make sense of past traumatic experiences.

It’s very common for individuals with PTSD to have difficulty processing their past traumatic events, and EMDR helps these people manage their difficult memories with less distress.

Trauma-Informed Care at Reflections Recovery Center

EMDR provides excellent results for extreme cases of PTSD and trauma. Reflections Recovery Center has a team with specific insight into what best helps those who come to us for help. Rather than working from a spectrum of theories, we focus on what works best for the clients who come to us.

With that knowledge, our patients undergo EMDR and several other trauma-informed therapies to learn how to manage their difficult memories and form healthier coping mechanisms.

Ultimately, the types of therapies used in a certain substance abuse treatment program will have great influence over a patient’s success. At Reflections Recovery Center, we want to provide our clients with the best chance of reaching long-lasting sobriety. Trauma-informed therapies help us do that.

It’s Nearly Impossible to Recover from Addiction Without Treatment for Trauma

We Can Help You Manage PTSD

How EMDR Heals Trauma During Addiction Treatment

It is common for those who have experienced trauma to turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the emotional pain. But while substance use may provide some temporary relief, addiction ultimately destroys their lives even further.

Addiction treatment for those with trauma needs to not only addresses the addiction, but also can help resolve underlying trauma. Without addressing the root cause of the addiction, relapse is likely to happen after treatment.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the tools we use, as part of comprehensive holistic treatment, to help clients reprogram their brains after trauma, without having to go through years of talk therapy.

What Is EMDR and Why Is It Used in Addiction Treatment?

EMDR was originally developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., in the 1980s to treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As additional research has proven its effectiveness, EMDR has become a well-respected course of treatment for emotionally debilitating conditions and mental disorders.

One of the challenges in overcoming trauma is that reasoning logic and emotional logic work separately. For example, a person may be able to logically understand that they are no longer in danger, but on an emotional level they are not able to move on and still experience the fear of being in imminent danger.

EMDR works by isolating a harmful emotion in the brain and reprocessing it to create a more neutral feeling about the traumatic event, alleviating the extreme emotions that can lead to panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness, depression, etc.

How Is EMDR Different?

In traditional talk therapy, a client has to discuss his or her traumatic experience with a therapist, which brings the painful emotions to the surface. However, talk therapy can only apply logical reasoning to the problem, and it can take months or years to be fully effective.

EMDR therapy has three advantages over talk therapy:

  1. The client doesn’t have to discuss the traumatic experience; they only have to bring the event to mind.
  2. EMDR bypasses logical thinking and addresses the emotion itself.
  3. Recovery occurs much more quickly.

What Happens in an EMDR Session?

Source Of Trauma Must Be Healed In Addiction Recovery - Reflections ArizonaThe goal of EMDR therapy is to reprocess past experiences in order to properly store memories of the event so that the client can retain any useful knowledge and emotions from the experience and discard painful or unhealthy feelings and beliefs.

It also involves teaching techniques that calm the person whenever an emotional disturbance is experienced.

There are eight phases of EMDR treatment that happen over a series of sessions. How many sessions are required, and how quickly the client moves through treatment, varies for each individual.

The EMDR process works to address:

  • Past memories
  • Present disturbances
  • Future actions

Phase 1 – History and Treatment Planning

The therapist asks the client about the traumatic event that is the source of their symptoms. The client can choose to go into detail if they wish to, or give a more general answer such as, “It’s because of an incident with my father when I was a child.” This gives the therapist enough information to develop a customized treatment plan for that individual.

Phase 2 – Preparation and Trust Building

In this phase, the clinician teaches the client specific techniques they can use to deal with painful emotions as they arise outside of treatment. This is useful because even EMDR treatment takes several sessions to complete, and this provides valuable coping tools in the meantime.

This phase also helps build trust between the therapist and the client. In later phases, the client will be asked to rate how they feel and what they believe to be true. In order for EMDR to be effective, the client must feel comfortable giving completely honest answers to those questions.

Phase 3 – Assessment

In this phase, the client identifies a negative belief that stemmed from the traumatic event, such as “I am powerless.” Even if the client knows intellectually that this is no longer to be true, the objective is to target the emotions holding that belief in place.

Then the client chooses a positive belief that he would like to replace the negative belief, such as, “I am in control.” Using a scale of 1 to 7, the client then rates how true they feel (not thinks) the positive belief is at the moment.

During this phase, the client also describes any negative emotions (fear, anger, helplessness, etc.) and physical sensations (fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, stomach tightening, etc.) that they associates with the traumatic event. They then rate the intensity of these emotions and sensations on a scale of 1 to 10.

This sets a baseline from which the therapist and client can see the progress as the sessions progress.

Phase 4 – Desensitization

Now that the groundwork has been laid, the clinician leads the client through sets of eye movements to reprocess the emotions. The client is asked to watch the therapist’s fingers move in front of them, darting their eyes side to side without moving their head. Sometimes other bilateral stimulation is used, such as hand taps or audio tones.

Simultaneously, the client holds in their mind an image of the past trauma, the surrounding feelings they have about it, and any physical sensations in the body that go along with the memory.

This process helps the client move the traumatic memory from an improperly stored part of the brain to a short-term memory position where they can be reprocessed. While the thoughts reside in short-term memory, the bilateral eye movements allow the client’s brain to reprocess the information surrounding the event.

Periodically, the therapist will ask the client to rate their level of disturbance on the 1-to-10 scale again, with the goal of getting the response down to 0, which means that the negative emotion or sensation is no longer triggered by the memory of the traumatic experience.

This phase typically takes three sessions, sometimes longer, depending on the number of traumatic events and emotions to be processed.

Phase 5 – Installation

The objective of this phase is to focus on reinforcing the positive belief statement identified in Phase 3. Progress is measured by the 1-to-7 Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale, with the goal of getting to a level 7 – completely believing, on an emotional level, the truth of the statement.

In some cases, it may be necessary for additional education or action to take place in order for the client to fully believe the statement. For example, if the positive statement is, “I am in control,” and the person is under the influence of an addiction, this may not be entirely true yet. That’s why the detox process occurs at the beginning of addiction treatment in order to clear the way for therapy to be more effective.

This client might also want to take self-defense classes, engage in exercise that strengthens his body and take responsibility for aspects of their life that they had previously neglected. These actions will reinforce their feelings of being in control and supplement the work done in therapy.

Phase 6 – Body Scan

Once the client fully believes the positive statement, the therapist will ask them to bring the traumatic event to mind once again, and scan their body for any residual negative emotions or reactions. If any come up, then those sensations are targeted for additional reprocessing.

The ultimate goal is for the client to be able to recall the memory of the traumatic event without experiencing any tension in his body. The previous phases can be repeated as necessary until this goal is reached.

Phase 7 – Closure

At the end of every session, the therapist reviews the improvement the client has made, so that the client feels that progress is happening within each session. This is also a good time to review what to do if emotional disturbances happen in between sessions, and how to record any additional thoughts, feelings or sensations that come up so that they can be addressed in a future session.

Phase 8 – Re-evaluation

At the beginning of each session, the therapist will check to make sure that the client has maintained the level of progress from the last session, and then talk to the client about what needs to be addressed next. Then, additional processing will occur as is appropriate to that client’s circumstances.

Continuously re-evaluating a client’s progress is important in order to make sure that the positive improvements are permanent. Similar to taking antibiotics for a cold, a client may feel much better right away with EMDR, but it’s important to complete the full course of treatment in order ensure that the effects don’t wear off.

EMDR Treatment for Long-Term Addiction Recovery

Because many people who suffer from addiction use their substance abuse to cope with negative emotions and beliefs stemming from trauma, they are reluctant to commit to sobriety because they don’t have another way of dealing with these intense feelings.

By healing the emotional aspects of trauma, clients can confidently commit to addiction recovery and a life free from the shadow of past events. EMDR is one of the many clinical and holistic therapies we use at Reflections to treat trauma and several other symptoms and disorders that accompany addiction in our clientele.

Wondering If EMDR Could Help You or a Loved One Recover from Addiction AND Trauma?

Contact Our Compassionate Counselors

The Value of Recreational Activities in Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment

When a person struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, the substance often becomes the person’s only means of feeling pleasure or contentment. Both physically and behaviorally, addictive substances can replace activities that once brought the user joy, such as eating, physical activity and favorite hobbies.

Drugs can alter the brain’s reward center, disrupting opioid receptor function and flooding the brain with dopamine, the chemical responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and happiness. Eventually, a user may no longer experience joy in everyday life without consuming drugs or alcohol.

The goal of addiction treatment is to help the user once again receive pleasure and enjoyment from everyday activities, without the need for substances. At Reflections Recovery Center, we combine talk therapy and other traditional addiction treatment methods with recreational activities in order to maximize the physical, mental and emotional wellness of our clients.

Benefits of Recreational Activities in Addiction Treatment

While talk therapy can be very beneficial and is an important part of treatment, it is also good to get outdoors and take part in physical activities that engage the whole person and allow for different types of expression and learning.

Recreational activities used in treatment can involve highly physical activities such as:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Yoga

It can also include more leisurely activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Playing instruments
  • Singing and dancing
  • Creating or performing art
  • Hanging out in a safe and comfortable social environment

According to an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on “A Holistic Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment,” patients show improved self-esteem, self-confidence and self-identity when recreational activities were used in treatment.

Physical Health

For physical types of recreational activities, such as hiking and yoga, there are the usual physical benefits that come with any type of exercise. Some types of exercise also stimulate the release of endorphins that lead to a natural high, which in turn can help the body re-balance neurotransmitters – such as dopamine – back to normal, healthy levels.

Yoga, along with meditation and other holistic activities, has also been shown to help reduce symptoms during withdrawal.

Mental & Emotional Health

Recreational activities can be a great way to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and anger. They also allow people to reconnect with hobbies they enjoyed as a child, or discover new “healthy obsessions” that provide ongoing enjoyment and satisfaction.

Activities that emphasize mind-body-spirit integration – such as yoga, meditation and tai chi – help create a healthy relationship with oneself that is based on self-love and self-respect. This ultimately strengthens the resolve to create a new life of sobriety that includes fun and healthy activities.

When recreational activities are a group experience, they give recovering addicts a chance to bond with one another and forge healthy relationships that can last a lifetime. These social ties become very important both during and after inpatient treatment.

Relapse Prevention

One of the biggest challenges that our clients face after leaving inpatient treatment is finding new ways to fill the time – time they used to spend using drugs or drinking. By continuing the recreational activities they began in treatment, they have a safe and healthy way to combat boredom.

Graduates can also discover new social groups and forge healthy friendships when they join clubs and organizations centered around a favorite hobby or activity. This reduces the temptation to go back to hanging out with people who were part of their substance-laden past.

In short, recreational activities can be an important part of building a new life based on healthy, natural fun that meets the physical, mental, emotional and entertainment needs of people recovering from addiction.

Recreational Activities at Reflections Recovery Center

Mountains Rediscover The Joys In Nature - Reflections Recovery CenterOur treatment center strongly encourages clients to dive into healthy outdoor activities, sports and hobbies that reintroduce them to the pleasures in life outside of chemically induced highs. Over time, these become enjoyable habits that ultimately take the place of drugs or alcohol.

Types of recreational activities that our clients participate in include:

  • Wilderness hikes
  • Mountain climbing
  • Swimming (in pools and lakes)
  • Softball
  • Biking
  • Skateboarding
  • BMXing
  • Bonfires and BBQs
  • Many other fun and exhilarating outdoor activities

Northern Arizona Outings

We often go on outings into the beautiful terrain of Prescott, the Valley, and Northern Arizona. The environment and surroundings of this area offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. We are located amid the gorgeous Bradshaw Mountains and framed by the 1.25 million-acre Prescott National Forest. The temperate climate in Prescott is ideal for year-round outdoor excursions.

We also offer lower-intensity activities such as exploring the local town of Prescott, which is rich in history and culture. We may arrange visits to museums, go on rides at amusement parks and engage similar fun activities.

The town of Prescott has parks for skateboarding, multiple basketball courts, public swimming pools and other outdoor resources.

At Reflections Recovery Center, it’s our mission to help those struggling with addiction rediscover the everyday joys in life and have a good time without relying on a substance.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

American Addictions: A Nationwide Problem

Alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs cost more than $700 billion per year in America alone. Costs include crime, health care, and lost productivity – not to mention the long-reaching effect on the country.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that approximately 52 percent of people 12 and older have used alcohol within the last month. Twenty percent have smoked cigarettes, 10 percent have used illicit drugs, and 1.4 percent abused prescription pain relievers.

 Overcoming Addiction

Whether it’s alcohol, methamphetamines, or anything in between, it can be nearly impossible to overcome addiction without help. This applies in particular when the person is surrounded by other users or is dealing with a dual diagnosis case. This means their addiction stems from a mental health issue like depression or anxiety, fueling a cycle of usage that only worsens with time. Without resolving the underlying issues, the addict may never regain control of life.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of treatment facilities across the nation like Reflections Recovery Center. These programs combine heavily trained staff, effective treatment techniques, and encouraging environments to steer patients in the right direction.

 Choosing a Therapy Option

There are many different treatment plans and options available to those in rehabilitation facilities. Each one presents unique advantages and challenges depending on the type of substance being abused, amount of time the person has been using, dual diagnosis status, etc. Trained counselors examine patients and listen to their history to find the most effective method. One long-standing and useful treatment path is dialectical behavior therapy or DBT.

 What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

 What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. It was developed in the 1980s with the goal of reaching a better understanding of borderline personality disorder. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan founded the approach. Her treatment ideas have since been used for a variety of mental health issues.

Dialectical behavior therapy emphasizes psychosocial treatment aspects. It works to change harmful patterns of behavior such as suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and self-harm. Drug and alcohol usage also falls into these categories, so eliminating the urges can help release the patient from that type of reflexive behavior.

The theory behind DBT is that some people are more likely to overreact or react more intensely toward certain feelings and situations. Romantic, family and friend relationships can trigger excessive responses, which cause poor reactions or harmful habits.

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Works

Dialectical behavior therapy aims to help people regulate emotions and behaviors, even in the face of sensitive or triggering situations. DBT focuses on education, allowing patients to recognize their triggers and reactive states. It also aims to provide coping skills to use during such episodes. To do this, DBT utilizes four main characteristics:


Dialectical behavior therapy demands focus on relationships. Clients and staff must work closely together to form a bond and approach delicate issues. Patients are encouraged to confront any issues about their relationship with their therapist directly (and vice versa). There must be openness, trust, and security in communication to foster progress.


DBT patients are often given homework assignments. They’re tasked with practicing skills, creating new ways of interacting, and considering emotions in a variety of situations. Dialectical behavior therapy offers this information and assignments in lectures, individual sessions, and group meetings. Many people will be able to practice reacting to such situations while in the group sessions.


DBT works through beliefs, assumptions, and thoughts that make life more challenging and increase the chance of an overreaction. Most importantly, it teaches patients to identify the underlying thoughts which are causing the problems. For example, a patient may wish or strive to be perfect at everything even though it’s not possible.


It is not enough to identify the problematic thoughts. Patients must also learn how they are strong and what they can do to overcome. DBT focuses on identifying strengths as well as weaknesses. This not only works to create mental balance, but also to inspire hope for the future.

The Components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The Components Of Dialectical Behavior TherapyTo accomplish the characteristics mentioned above, DBT must reach patients in a way that is easy on them emotionally but conducive to results. There are two main components DBT uses to achieve these goals.

Individualized Therapy

The first element is individualized therapy sessions. These meetings are held weekly in most cases, although certain facilities or special cases may require alternative schedules. The psychotherapy focuses on problem-solving behavior for immediate events. For example, the counselor and patient review the troubles the patient experienced in the past week or since the last meeting.

Serious issues take priority, but most meetings concentrate on more minor cases of irritation or strife. Anything which may interfere with progress or treatment is also addressed seriously. The counselor works toward building a higher quality of life and demonstrating proper coping mechanisms for frequent and minor events.

Linehan was passionate about the significance of frequent contact and constant reinforcement. “Both between and during sessions, the therapist actively teaches and reinforces adaptive behaviors, especially as they occur within the therapeutic relationship. . . The emphasis is on teaching patients how to manage emotional trauma rather than reducing or taking them out of crises. . . Telephone contact with the individual therapist between sessions is part of DBT procedures.”

Group Therapy

The second component of DBT is the group therapy sessions. These are also held weekly in most cases. Each session lasts approximately two to three hours. Participants are guided by a counselor who is familiar with the patients and the specific procedures of DBT. These meetings utilize the four models of cognitive growth for DBT patients: emotion regulation, mindfulness skills, interpersonal effectiveness, and reality acceptance/distress tolerance.

Emotional Regulation

Stabilizing emotions is the most critical aspect for suicidal and borderline patients. Emotions are more intense for these patients, so learning to control feelings can mean the difference between life and death. During the emotional regulation phase, patients identify feelings and obstacles to changing those emotions. They’ll also increase mindfulness, take opposite action, practice stress tolerating techniques, and reduce vulnerability.

Mindfulness Skills

Skills include observation, description, and participation. This approach is the foundation for understanding emotions as they surface and categorizing them effectively. Mindfulness also aims to help patients understand issues from an outside point of view instead of reacting strongly as a first response.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

This type of training is imperative for processing emotions. Interpersonal effectiveness can give patients the strength to cope with stressful situations without being overcome by them. It provides strategies for saying no, asking for what they need, and managing conflict.

Many individuals have good interpersonal skills in theory but fall short in execution. For example, they may understand that they should say no in certain situations – and they may even say no. But then they quickly fold and give in to the pressure. DBT builds up confidence and skill by approaching these issues practically.

Reality Acceptance/Distress Tolerance

Everyone is subject to pain, anger, and disappointment. Learning to tolerate stress is crucial to building healthy behaviors. When patients do not know how to manage stressors they can fall back into past patterns and undo any progress from therapy. One of the biggest parts of tolerating stress is knowing the difference between approval and acceptance. Once people can accept the reality of circumstances or conflicts, it becomes much easier to move forward in their lives.

A Hope through DBT

DBT is not for everyone, but the patients who are conditioned for it respond favorably to treatment. With dual diagnosis patients, forming healthier thought patterns and reactions can be the key to becoming free from substance abuse.

If you or a loved one has questions about DBT and whether it would be effective, please give Reflections Recovery Center a call. We want to help you regain control of your life and leave your problems in the past.

If You or a Loved One Is Suffering From Any Type of Mental Health Issues, Substance Abuse, Or a Combination of Both

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Emotional Transformation Therapy for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

In the past, long-term talk therapy was the go-to treatment for those suffering with substance abuse and mental health issues. Many people benefit greatly from this kind of session, but since others are less responsive, new therapies (along with better insight) have changed the way that we treat certain disorders involving the mind – which is often a component in addiction.

One reason why long-term talk therapy might prove ineffective is that painful memories are often the root of addiction, and people naturally repress such painful experiences. Unfortunately, they still affect behavior and may be exacerbating mental health issues or leading to dependency. Unearthing what the mind is trying to protect itself from can have complex repercussions. Long-term talk-therapy can unravel painful memories, but without proper guidance, it can leave some people feeling untethered.

The Mind/Body Disconnect

Our brains are complex. They sacrifice proper communication for self-preservation. “Advanced” part of the mind, responsible for conscious thought, can approach problems with logic. The primitive areas, on the other hand, are responsible for actually believing such things. A disconnect can lead to statements like “I know I shouldn’t be anxious, but I still cannot believe that I am not anxious.”

In many cases, reconnecting these portions of the brain is the only way to deal with mental health issues in an effective manner. It can take months, even years, of talk therapy to unearth hidden memories – then resolve them in a healthy way – making progress a real challenge. Emotional Transformation Therapy is a relatively new method of treatment that aims to change the standard for dealing with addiction and mental health disorders.

What Is Emotional Transformation Therapy?

Emotional Transformation Therapy, or ETT, is a type of treatment that uses colors and lights to “unlock” hidden memories. Flashing patterns and shapes are projected towards the patient’s eyes. The rhythmic flashing or pulsating of the light is combined with gentle guidance from the facilitator.

The light continues as the facilitator begins to explore emotional problems in the past. They are able to discuss emotional conflicts, painful memories, stresses, blocks, and more. Just as your skin has difficultly healing over a splinter, your mind may be unable to cope with these toxic feelings trapped inside it. Once the memories, events, or feelings are uncovered, the facilitator will also help the patient begin to release such negativity.

ETT is cathartic and can also tackle self-limiting feelings. Emotions such as shame, anger, fear, and guilt are gently but thoroughly managed in a rapid period of time. ETT does not require months or years of sessions to see results.

Why ETT Works

ETT works because of the power of light and color. The patterns and rhythms create specific responses from the human mind. These brain-based therapies have only been discovered in the last decade, but they are quickly proving their worth among patients and professionals alike.

There are many reasons why Emotional Transformation Therapy is so heavily praised. For many people, the most important aspect is speed. They often see results in timeframes that are impossible with traditional talk therapy. ETT is also:

  • Natural – There are no medications associated with Emotional Transformation Therapy.
  • Effective – Patients notice immediate results in many cases, making ETT one of the most powerful methods available.
  • Cost-efficient – Traditional therapy can cost huge amounts over time, and time is necessary to see results. ETT offers better progress and better savings.
  • Transformative – People often see huge personal changes when they eliminate painful memories that are holding them back.
  • Enlightening – ETT is cathartic and can renew creativity and determination. Many patients feel completely renewed and freed after a session.

Emotional Transformation Therapy for Substance Abuse

Most cases of substance abuse are not standalone issues. The dependency is most often tied to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. All too often, these disorders are caused by forgotten traumatic events or feelings the patient is subconsciously managing. As the issues grow stronger, the dependency on drugs and alcohol increases as well.

ETT is highly effective for many people who are substance abusers because it helps treat the root cause of their addiction. When the flashing lights and colors unearth past events and feelings, the individual can deal with them properly and let them go. With the catalyst removed, it’s easier for them to recover from substance abuse. This is simply because they may no longer feel as though they need it.

ETT at Reflections Recovery Center

Emotional Transformation Therapy is still uncommon in the United States, but the treatment experts at Reflections Recovery Center offer the service. Our facilitators are trained to help patients conquer their most painful and problem-causing memories to move on with their lives and leave substance abuse in the past.

If you or a loved one needs help battling an addiction, especially one linked to mental health issues, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to Reflections Recovery Center and see how much professional assistance and an encouraging environment can help get your life back.

Reflections Recovery Employs an Array of Tactics and Techniques In Our Addiction & Mental Health Treatment Programs


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