Tag Archives: Mental Health

Understanding Compulsivity and Addiction

Often undiagnosed mental health disorders contribute to addiction or aggravate existing addiction issues. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) note, “Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.” With this in mind, how do mental health disorders like compulsivity and addiction relate to each other?

Compulsive behavior is a core aspect of addiction. In repeatedly returning to a substance, despite the knowledge that it is bad, people are responding to the compulsion to receive a perceived “reward”. Whatever type of high a substance provides, they hope to recreate and satisfy the compulsion. 

Unfortunately with stigma around both mental health and addiction, people are often unable to get the help they need. Further, some disorders are still misunderstood and people fail to recognize something for what it is. This is especially true for compulsive behavior. Compulsivity and addiction often go hand in hand, though compulsive behavior is itself complex and not always a sign of addiction. 

Compulsivity vs Impulsivity

Impulsive and compulsive are very similar sounding words with similar meanings. It’s understandable that a lot of people tend to mix them up. Both involve involuntary actions often with the awareness that the behavior is not positive or helpful. 

An impulsive action is more often a one-off event that is done without giving much thought to the action or potential consequences. The type of impulsive behaviors varies widely and so do the consequences of course. 

Impulsive behaviors include:

  • Expensive purchases (often well outside of a person’s budget)
  • Yelling at someone
  • Going on a spur of the moment road trip
  • Eating fast food rather than cooking at home
Impulsive behaviors may include expensive purchases, yelling at someone, going on a spur of the moment road trip, eating fast food rather than cooking

Someone impulsively buying an expense they cannot afford might suffer financially or at the least experience regret. In contrast, a person who impulsively decides to harm another person would obviously face more serious consequences.

Compulsive behavior is a repetitive behavior that someone engages in often doing so to try to ease anxiety or unease. Examples include continually checking that doors are closed and/or locked, having to count to a specific number repeatedly, or obsessively cleaning surfaces. While the consequences vary, and some actions appear harmless, they are often done despite a person wanting to stop their actions. For many this has the potential to cause serious mental distress.

More In-Depth: What is Compulsive Behavior?

There isn’t one definitive explanation for what compulsive behavior is. Like many mental health terms, this is partly due to ongoing research that helps professionals further understand and define disorders. 

To help improve understanding of compulsivity, an NIH study offers this definition, “Compulsive behavior consists of repetitive acts that are characterized by the feeling that one ‘has to’ perform them while one is aware that these acts are not in line with one’s overall goal.”

Quite often with addiction, whatever the substance or action, people are aware that their actions are not good for them. However, addiction and untreated mental health disorders make it difficult (and even impossible) for them to stop on their own. 

As mentioned above, compulsive behavior doesn’t necessarily equal addiction. A heightened fear of germs may lead to compulsive hand washing or cleaning surfaces. It is possible that many people want to ease anxieties and fears and attempt to assert control through compulsive behavior. 

many compulsive behaviors are a result of someone working to ease anxieties and fears

Many people dealing with compulsivity, whatever the behavior, often feel frustration and distress. Without appropriate help, many attempt to self-medicate and do so through substance use.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Most people are familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder with a variety of symptoms that also vary in severity for each individual. A person with full-blown OCD will have persistent symptoms in two areas: obsessions and compulsions. Many times compulsivity is a result of obsessive thoughts.

Symptoms of obsession include:

  • Aversion to germs or dirt
  • Repeated unwanted ideas (intrusive thoughts)
  • Aggressive impulses
  • Fixation on symmetry and order
  • Persistent sexual thoughts
  • Thoughts of harming oneself, or harming loved ones

Signs of compulsion include:

  • Constant checking – repeatedly making sure doors are locked, lights are off, appliances are in working order 
  • Counting and recounting everyday objects
  • Repeated hand washing
  • Obsessively arranging items to be in a specific order
  • Hoarding items already used or of little to no value

How Does Compulsivity Relate to Addiction?

To reiterate – compulsive behavior is done repeatedly despite knowledge that the behavior is not helpful and even potentially harmful. 

Most people with compulsive behavior, including full-blown OCD, experience significant mental anguish in regards to actions they want to stop. 

As with many mental health disorders, people frequently lack proper resources for help. Consequently, they often turn to substances to try to cope. Drugs (which includes alcohol) provide a rush of dopamine to the brain and many result in a feeling of euphoria. 

Once someone is at the point where the rush of dopamine starts to decrease they are often unable to stop use of whatever substance(s) they are using. It is much easier than most people realize to reach a point of substance abuse and dependency. This is especially true for legal substances like alcohol.

For someone with compulsive behaviors, the risk of continuing to abuse substances and develop an addiction is serious. Someone already struggling with controlling other behaviors will likely struggle to keep any substance use under control. 

substance abuse is commonly seen in people struggling with untreated mental health disorders

Compulsivity and Addiction: Seeking Help

At Reflections we believe strongly in treating each individual uniquely and as a whole. This means we work to understand all of the causes behind a person’s addiction. Is it genetic? Are their physical ailments they are trying to cope with? Are they trying to cope with untreated mental health disorders?

Whatever the cause, whether one cause or multiple, we are ready to help a person treat each issue for the best chance of lifelong recovery. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with compulsivity and addiction, please reach out today. Reflections Recovery Center is ready to help you or a loved one learn to manage compulsive inclinations in healthy ways while recovering from alcohol or drug abuse.

What is a Seroquel Overdose Like?


Individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may be prescribed Seroquel to treat symptoms of their condition. As an antipsychotic, this substance can help individuals who are experiencing psychotic symptoms of a medical condition. Off-label use of Seroquel, however, can develop into a substance use disorder (SUD). Long-term misuse of the substance can lead to health problems, as well as put the individual at risk of Seroquel overdose.

What Kind of Drug is Seroquel?

Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, belongs to a group of substances known as antipsychotics, or neuroleptics.

While opioids typically treat pain and stimulants may be prescribed to treat conditions like ADHD, neuroleptics are typically employed by medical professionals to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or frantic thoughts can be helped with a neuroleptic prescription.

Though both have similar effects, neuroleptics fall into two main categories: One type (typical) affects dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain, while the other type (atypical), affects both dopamine and serotonin receptors.

In the brain, these chemicals are responsible for several aspects of life, including mood, appetite, and reward responses. While it might seem counterproductive to inhibit these chemicals in the brain, individuals who suffer from psychotic symptoms often have an overabundance of serotonin and dopamine, which means this method of action can have a balancing effect to help treat the individual’s symptoms. Quetiapine affects both dopamine and serotonin transmission, so it classifies as the second type of neuroleptic.

Hands holding pills and a pill bottle: Neuroleptics are typically employed by medical professionals to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Seroquel Half Life

The 6-hour-long Seroquel half life is somewhat short for prescription medications. This means that it typically takes six hours for the human body to chemically eliminate half of a given dose of quetiapine.

So, if a patient were to have a dose of 200mg, there would be 100mg left in their body after six hours had passed. In another 6 hours, there would be only 50mg. This process would repeat every six hours until the entire dose is eliminated from the body. Since the Seroquel half life is short, individuals with a prescription may need to take it daily in order to experience its effects continually.

Individuals who have a prescription for Seroquel may experience several side effects. Most of these effects are mild, but some serious effects can manifest by consuming Seroquel and alcohol simultaneously. The most common side effects of Seroquel include:

  • Tiredness
  • Sore Throat
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Weight Gain

Some individuals may also use the drug to self-medicate, or to treat an off-label condition that the FDA has not recognized quetiapine to treat. For instance, an individual may take advantage of the tiredness that often comes with taking Seroquel for sleep. However, using the substance for non-prescription purposes can lead to dangerous consequences or an unexpected interaction with another substance.

Illustration of a person exhibiting symptoms. Common side effects of Seroquel: tiredness, sore throat, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight gain.

Risks for Seroquel Overdose and Abuse

Quetiapine has had a history of abuse, but these reasons differ from the usual motivations for misuse. While some individuals may abuse a substance to experience euphoric effects or pleasant symptoms, abuse of this drug is usually the result of individuals consuming Seroquel for sleep loss or anxiety symptoms.

Seroquel for Sleep

Though more “innocent” than other reasons for prescription drug abuse, any inappropriate use of prescription medications can have uncomfortable consequences. Misuse also often forms a dependent relationship with the drug.

Individuals with a history of substance abuse may seek Seroquel as an alternative to their former addiction. Long-term use of the drug, however, can have detrimental effects on metabolism, weight gain, and blood fat content.

True addiction potential for Seroquel has yet to be measured. There have been multiple cases of individuals abusing or misusing Seroquel, but scientists have not yet determined if the substance can be physically addictive.

Notably, nearly all of the cases in which individuals misused Seroquel had previously suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Due to the nature of quetiapine abuse cases up to this point, it seems unlikely for someone to suddenly develop a Seroquel misuse problem. Rather, individuals who have had a history with substance abuse are most at risk of abusing the prescription drug.

Seroquel Overdose

Seroquel may, therefore, be low-risk in terms of addictive potential, and Seroquel overdose is also relatively low-risk. When compared to other similar neuroleptics, the list of Seroquel overdose symptoms is short.

While still potentially life-threatening for some individuals, the most dangerous Seroquel overdose symptoms recorded manifested as a high heart rate. Other symptoms included drowsiness and a weakened heart beat.

When compared to the life-threatening overdose symptoms of many other substances, quetiapine’s effects are relatively mild, even in high concentrations. However, these symptoms may be more serious when combined with other substances.

Since Seroquel abuse often occurs in individuals suffering from another substance abuse disorder, the potential for dangerous interactions may be more likely than normal.

Person handling a test tube: Scientists have not yet determined if Seroquel can be physically addictive.

Steps Toward Recovery

While Seroquel abuse is unlikely to develop by the drug alone, individuals who have a history with prescription drug abuse may be at risk of abuse. Though the side effects and Seroquel overdose symptoms may appear to be mild, substance misuse or abuse should always be taken seriously and addressed quickly.

If you think a loved one is suffering from Seroquel abuse or any other kind of SUD, contact us today. Reaching out can be one of the first and most crucial steps to take to help a suffering loved one.

Lyrica Withdrawal


Lyrica, or pregabalin, is a prescription drug for neuropathic pain and seizures. However, it is also known to be addictive. It is possible for it contribute to destructive habits, serious depression, and suicidal thoughts. With long-term misuse or abuse, withdrawal is a real possibility. Lyrica withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable if done alone. It is always best to stop use under medical supervision or to seek treatment for help in dealing with withdrawal.

What is Lyrica?

Pregabalin works by binding to the alpha 2 delta site in the central nervous system (CNS). This calms down nerves and creates pain relief for those suffering neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by damaged nerve endings, which can be caused by other diseases such as diabetes, shingles, or fibromyalgia. Lyrica can also be a useful medication for stopping or preventing focal seizures. While it is a useful drug in some situations, Lyrica potentially includes a host of different side effects such as: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual bruising
  • Unsteadiness
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain 
  • Swelling extremities 
  • Kidney issues 
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Anxiety

lyrica side effects

Lyrica Addiction

Lyrica addiction is uncommon, but it is possible for it to occur. Its negative effects have become more prevalent in recent years as prescriptions for it become more frequent. In the United States alone, over 64 million prescriptions were written for Lyrica (or some form of pregabalin) in 2016 alone. Given the high frequency of prescriptions, it is no wonder that the deaths associated with it have risen as well. 

It is possible to experience addiction when it is taken in high enough doses. Misusing it can provide a euphoric feeling and can even create feelings of dissociation in some individuals. Any drug or substance that creates feelings of euphoria has the potential for dependence and addiction. It is the ‘high’ most drugs offer which keep individuals coming back. This is especially true for people with pre-existing mental health conditions, since they may seek out experiences which can help them escape negative thoughts and feelings. 

Lyrica and depression

There are links between Lyrica, depression, and suicide. According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford looked at nearly 200,000 cases of individuals who used pregabalin between the years of 2006 to 2013 and found that 5.2% (over 10,000 people) were treated for suicidal behavior or died from suicide. A further 8.9% experienced overdoses and 6.3% were involved in serious car accidents. The study found that those using pregabalin were 26% more likely to experience suicidal behavior and 24% were likely to experience an overdose. 

lyrica side effectsThe recent increase in pregabalin-related deaths and injuries became so severe that the United Kingdom reclassified the drug as a Class C Drug. This made it illegal to own or possess any amount of the drug, sell the drug, or to import it. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the drug to be a Schedule 5 controlled substance. This means it is recognized as a drug with a lower potential for abuse but can still cause harm.

Lyrica Withdrawal

Abruptly stopping Lyrica is potentially dangerous to your health. With addiction or even dependence, care is necessary in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. What is a withdrawal? Simply put, it is your body’s reaction to learning to cope without a constant supply of a stimulus. If you have been taking Lyrica for a number of years and suddenly stop, your body may struggle while learning how to survive without it. 

Withdrawals are often incredibly painful and in some cases cause death or require hospitalization. The withdrawal symptoms for Lyrica are similar to that of alcohol and benzodiazepines. However, the severity depends on length of drug usage, the dosage, and the user’s history of abuse with other drugs.

Lyrica withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart beats
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings 
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

lyrica withdrawal symptomsIt is possible for these symptoms to occur individually, or all at once. They typically begin 1-2 days after someone stops using Lyrica. The most at-risk patients are those who depend on the drug for anti-seizure medication. This danger is why supervision from medical and mental health professionals is always necessary for quitting Lyrica.

withdrawal is your body's reaction to learning to cope without a constant supply of a stimulus

How long does Lyrica stay in your system?

It is rare for employers or medical providers to test for Lyrica. However, it is still detectable in the body. How long it will stay in your system depends on various factors. Age, gender, genetic, metabolism, body-fat composition, and weight all play a role in determining how long the drug stays in someone’s system. 

Via urine test, it is possible to detect Lyrica  up to 6 days after ingestion, 2 days with a blood and saliva test and up to 6 months with a hair follicle test. Lyrica’s half-life is approximately 6 hours. A substance’s half-life indicates how long it takes for the ingested amount to reduce to half of its original size. In other words, if you ingest 10mg of Lyrica, it takes 6 hours for the drug to reduce to 5mg.

Getting help 

Deciding to seek help is a crucial step on the road to full recovery. Getting clean takes more than “willpower” –  it requires long-term effort and most of all, real support. Since addiction is so complex, it’s important to reach out for meaningful help. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please contact us today to begin your journey to sobriety.

Agitated Depression


Most people see depression as black and white – you either have it or you don’t. However, depression can present itself in many different forms, making treatment more complicated. Agitated depression is one form that is often overlooked, but it is just as serious. If it isn’t treated, it can feed into substance abuse cycles and damage long-term well-being. 

What is Agitated Depression?

Agitated depression is a type of depression which comes with strong feelings of restlessness and anger. Though it is not a medical term, it is a good description of some people’s symptoms. It usually means a combination of depression and anxiety.  Agitation is common in people who deal with major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

So what is the main difference between ‘normal’ depression and agitated depression? Major depression on its own does not usually cause agitated behavior. Typically, there is an additional underlying cause to the agitation, but it can heighten and complicate the depressive feelings. 

Agitated Depression

What is Agitation?

Agitation can have several symptoms:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Inability to sit still
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Clenching fists
  • Problems focusing
  • Pacing
  • Fidgeting 

It is essentially a very restless state. Agitation can be the result of being in a new environment, being uncomfortable, recovering from substance abuse and dependency, or having alcohol in the system. Though it can be very difficult to pinpoint the direct source of agitation, some studies have found a strong correlation between substance dependence and agitation.  

What is Depression?

Depression has varying levels of severity. It is the most common mental illness in the United States, and over 17.3 million adults reported experiencing at least one depressive episode in 2017. Depression often comes with persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities you once found enjoyable. The causes of depression are very diverse and can be difficult to accurately identify. However, there have been strong ties found between depression and substance abuse. Typically, individuals consume drugs as a means of altering their state of mind or avoiding their own reality. When not under the influence and faced with the facts of their life, people with depression can come face to face with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Mental illness coupled with substance use disorders are collectively referred to as co-occurring disorders, and a reported 8.5 million adults dealt with some form of a co-occurring disorder in 2017.

Agitated Depression

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Hating life
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Loss of energy
  • Lethargy 
  • Insomnia 
  • Feelings of worthlessness 
  • Feelings of guilt 
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression does not develop the same way for everyone, but it does tend to follow certain patterns. Often, the disease progresses slowly over time. However, sudden tragic events can also trigger it, such as physical trauma or the death of a loved one. Depression is a curable illness, but overcoming it is more likely with personal attention from a trained professional. If depression is left untreated, it can cause long term emotional damage and even lead to suicide. 

What is a Co-Ocurring Disorder?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines Dual Diagnosis (or co-occurring disorder) as the simultaneous experience of substance abuse disorders and mental illness. Either the mental illness or substance use disorder can develop first and cause the other disease to appear. Dual diagnosis can create a vicious cycle of bad habits. Some people choose to get high as a way of avoiding their depression, for example. If the depression is never truly treated, they may simply resort to drugs each time their depression symptoms flare up. With enough use, this “self medication” becomes a habit, causing a recurring cycle of depression and drug abuse. It can get out of hand very quickly and needs to be treated by a mental health professional. 

Suicide Prevention

Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Suicide on its own is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and 2nd leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. In 2018, an estimated 48,000 people committed suicide in the US alone. Given that depression is a major catalyst for suicide, emphasis should be placed on treatment. An estimated two thirds of individuals suffering from depression do not seek treatment. 

Treatment

Depression is something many people are familiar with. However, it is not an end state. Treatment, recovery and happiness are absolutely achievable. Changing lifestyle habits can be an effective way of dealing with depression, though managing symptoms does not solve the problem. In order to cure the illness, you have to address the root causes, rather than just treat symptoms. Getting help from a professional who can help address the causes of depression and agitation can increase your chances of recovery. If you or someone you know has been suffering from agitated depression and substance abuse, contact us today so we can help on your road to recovery. 

Tired of Life


For many of us, stress and anxiety are part of life.  However, you should never ignore or brush them off. If left alone, these “everyday” feelings can develop into depression or a sense of dread and general exhaustion. Over time, mental health disorders can make you more susceptible to drug use, or even worsen addiction symptoms. Feeling tired of life is something to take seriously. However, this condition is far from hopeless. There are many effective, proven routes toward regaining your mental health, sobriety, and overall happiness. 

What is Depression?

Depression is a very misunderstood condition. Oftentimes, people associate depression with general feelings of sadness. They may also assume a depressed person should just be able to “snap out of it.” While everyone experiences sadness in life, clinical depression is a very different issue. 

Clinical depression (or major depression) is a disorder characterized by persistent depressive moods and behavior. Someone dealing with depression may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and distance from friends and family. The disorder can also contribute to substance abuse problems. Depression can seriously affect sleep, appetite, energy levels, and day-to-day activities. Some people with high functioning depression can hide their sadness and loss of interest in life from those around them. However, this doesn’t mean their condition is any less serious or worthy of attention.

What Does it Mean to be Tired of Life?

Depression and existential dread often go hand in hand. In other words, life can begin to feel unenjoyable or even meaningless. When people say that they are tired of life, they generally mean they are tired of the routine they have fallen into and their lives lack excitement. However, feelings like this can turn into major depression. They can also factor into relapse for people with a substance abuse history.

Tired of Life

Addiction and Mental Health

Addiction and mental health are two very closely related issues. They can feed off each other, and one can cause or contribute to the other. In the medical world, examining both issues from a causation standpoint is known as Dual Diagnosis. Research showed that 60 percent of adolescents with a substance use disorder (SUD) also have some form of mental illness. 

So why are the two so connected? The U.S Library of Medicine found three possible answers to this question:

  1. There may be common risk factors between SUD and mental illness such as genetics or trauma. 
  2. Mental disorders can lead to SUD. For example, someone dealing with feelings of sadness or depression may choose to use drugs to artificially elevate their mood.
  3. SUD can lead to mental disorders. Drugs will change the chemistry in your brain to make it more susceptible to depression and other mental illnesses. Further, individuals who are abusing drugs may recognize their problem, but feel helpless in stopping it. This can seriously affect their emotional well-being. 

How do You Treat a Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis treatment is a holistic approach. Healthcare providers consider which condition started first and how it has impacted the other. For example, if a mental illness was already present when drug use started, it can be identified as the primary catalyst for the issue. Both issues must be addressed fully. Simply managing symptoms will not create a lasting solution. 

Integrated treatment is often the best option for someone with a dual diagnosis. It generally combines rehabilitation that can treat both drug abuse and mental health disorders. These steps will be different for each person. Professionals directly address someone’s individual problems and seek to treat the root cause or causes. 

Tired of Life

Treatment Types

Detoxification

The major first step in an integrated intervention is detoxing the body of any present substances. In a medically-supervised detox, this can involve giving the patient small doses of the drug over a certain period of days in order to taper them off and soften withdrawal symptoms. Going “cold turkey,” or quitting suddenly, often leads to incredibly painful withdrawals which can make sobriety seem impossible.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy revolves around cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment type helps individuals identify negative thinking patterns in an effort to change those behaviors. 

Medications

The use of medications during an integrated intervention is carefully monitored so as to not create an additional dependency as a means of solving a previous one. However, medications can be genuinely helpful when treating mental health disorders.

Supportive Housing

Supportive housing, or a sober home, is a place where people with similar sobriety goals live together and hold each other accountable. They provide mutual support through their respective recovery journeys. Often, they attend meetings or other support groups together. 

Support Groups

Joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous is another step in the integrated intervention program. It allows patients to tell their stories and share their lives in a judgement-free zone. This is often an extremely beneficial outlet for people with mental health issues.

Tired of Life

Getting Help if You Feel Tired of Life

For someone struggling with mental health, substance abuse, or both, seeking professional treatment is the best route towards real, meaningful healing. If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction or depression symptoms, get help now. Contact us today so we can help you begin your journey to lifelong recovery. Or consider a partner facility for drug rehab in Prescott, Arizona.

Existential Loneliness

Loneliness is defined as the feeling of being socially and emotionally isolated. You may not have to physically be separated from friends and family in order to feel lonely. However, the impact of feeling empty, alone or unwanted can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. 

What is an existential crisis?

Existential loneliness and having an existential crisis are very similar. Any matter which evolves into an existential one usually involves questions of your existence. In other words, you are often finding yourself wondering what the purpose behind your life is. Your loneliness and feelings of separation can cause you to question your purpose in life. Many times this issue becomes a self-created problem. Most people are familiar with feelings of sadness and loneliness, which seem to worsen other problems. It can begin to snowball from “I feel lonely” to “I don’t have a job because x, y and z” and develop into “everything is bad.”

These feelings sometimes result in nihilistic thinking where you eventually believe that nothing means anything and life is meaningless. In essence, this captures what an existential crisis is. So why would this be important to someone who deals with substance abuse? Well, these feelings of existentialism, loneliness and questioning life can lead to depression. Further, there is proof to show that depression and substance abuse have a bi-directional relationship. Meaning individuals dealing with depression are more likely to suffer from substance abuse and vice-versa.

Existential questions

Pondering existential questions is potentially a healthy activity when the mindset and purpose is to find growth and meaning. However, for some, questions such as “what is the meaning of life” are oftentimes met with no real answers. Having no answer does not mean that there is not one. However, it can seem that way and cause people to believe that if they cannot think of an answer, then surely life is meaningless. Individuals who cannot seem to find meaning to life, may lack tangible long-term goals and settle for short-term satisfaction. This is not to say that people who struggle with these questions will start doing drugs. Nevertheless, it is possible it is harder for someone already struggling with addiction to find help or stop. 

existential loneliness

Existential Crises and Substance Abuse

Individuals who suffer from depression are at a higher risk of experiencing addiction and vice versa. When combined, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Someone struggling with questions about life might feel an increase in existential loneliness. People suffering from various mental health condition may turn to substances to manage their emotions or symptoms. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2018), 9.2 million American adults experienced both a mental health disorder and substance use disorders at the same time.

existential loneliness

How to treat a co-occuring disorder

Treating a co-occuring disorder requires attention to both issues and their respective causes. You cannot treat just the depression and expect the addiction to stop. Even if the depression may have caused the addiction in the first place. However, drug treatment has proven to significantly reduce drug use and criminal activity. It can make a major impact in someone’s life. Treating a co-occuring disorder usually involves four to six steps depending on the program. Every program will also be tailored and specific to the needs and symptoms of the patient. Though, there are some general steps all patients will need to take.

Detox

For many patients, detox is an important process to help heal the body. This process sometimes involves small doses of medication to safely manage withdrawal symptoms. This process can take about a week or longer depending on how well the patient responds to treatment.

Rehabilitation

 Inpatient rehab will help provide 24/7 support and care for individuals suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. Providing supervision in a dedicated space can help prevent the continued use of illicit drugs.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a major component to treating co-occurring disorders. It focuses on the mental aspect of what may have caused the disorder. One form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps determine the underlying causes behind the mental illness, rather than just trying to manage its symptoms. It helps patients avoid negative thinking traps such as feelings of existential loneliness.

Support Groups

Support groups allow patients to feel as if they are a part of a larger, collective effort. They do so by engaging in conversation and activities with fellow patients. It helps them realize that they are not alone and that success is possible. 

It is important to realize that addiction is considered to be a chronic illness. Further, it falls under the same category as other chronic illnesses in terms of relapse rates. Diabetes, hypertension and asthma all share similar relapse rates as addiction. While relapse is common, it is also not a guarantee. However, recovery is a life-long process.

existential loneliness

Treatment

Dealing with addiction is never easy, especially in combination with mental health issues. Again, not every person dealing with existential loneliness turns to substances to cope. However, it is a possibility that many will deal with those questions and deal with substance use and abuse. It can be a complicated matter which may require professional help in order to successfully diagnose and treat. We always recommend getting professional help in order to increase your chances of life-long recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to start the journey to recovery.

Addiction and Isolation

A Cycle of Addiction and Isolation

Addiction steals from people. It steals time and destroys relationships and communities. Often, people suffering from addiction end up increasingly isolated. This could be due to their own guilt and shame, and they then cut themselves off from those around them. With the stigma around addiction, many communities may also knowingly or unknowingly cause others to become isolated. The many causes and effects of addiction may be rooted in loneliness, isolation and mental health disorders, which are often in turn made worse by addiction. This creates a cruel cycle that continues until someone, or many people, can help break it.

Isolation due to Mental Illness

It is an unfortunate truth that there is a stigma around mental illness. When someone is struggling with their mental health, others may have a hard time relating. Even those with mental health problems may hold a self-stigma around the issue. In an article published by World Psychiatry, the authors wrote that in addition to views held by the general public, “…even well-trained professionals from most mental health disciplines subscribe to stereotypes about mental illness.”* They also found 3 common views regarding people with mental illness:*

  1. People with mental illness are to be feared and kept away
  2. They are dangerous and reckless; need to be controlled
  3. They are like children and cannot make decisions for themselves

Given the information above, it’s understandable that resources are difficult to find or that people are reluctant to seek help. If anyone is dealing with addiction and mental illness, they may be more reluctant to get treatment and their isolation will increase. Without a support system, someone might turn to substances to cope with their problems.

How Technology Isolates Us

Technology has provided humans with a lot of incredible opportunities, particularly when it comes to connecting. There are of course downsides to this and many of the issues can lead to increased isolation. As people give more attention to devices, they take away from time to give to family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. This can be harmful to maintaining strong relationships with those around you. When someone is dealing with addiction and/or mental health problems, a strong community is essential to their health. As technology is still a newer phenomenon in terms of history, a lot still needs to be done in the way of research. Certain studies do show connections between technology and isolation, though the exact cause and effects are not conclusive.

Still, a study reported on by NPR revealed that it is possible social media increases people’s perception of isolation.* Social media allows us to present our lives in any manner we want, and show only the good times. According to the study, some people may feel excluded because they were not there in the moment, or even because their life does not look as good as what they see online.

A feeling of isolation is not going to absolutely result in substance abuse or addiction. However, it is possible that some people will turn to substances to cope with being lonely or socially isolated. Many substances, and especially alcohol, seemingly make it easier to connect with others. Advertising for alcohol is incredibly effective in presenting the idea that alcohol will allow you to be social, and to always have fun when it is consumed. Social media can further this notion with people posting about the fun they are supposedly having, with alcohol being a constant presence.

Rebuilding

Issues with mental health, loneliness, and technology do not mean someone will struggle with substance abuse or addiction. Not everyone who is isolated is going to always struggle with these problems. They are just a few factors that might play a part.

Many different steps can and should be taken to remedy these problems. One is to work on removing the shame and stigma around addiction and mental health disorders. Another action, that everyone can be a part of, is to build strong communities. Someone in recovery is in great need of community to have a better chance at maintaining long-term sobriety. Relapse is a normal part of recovery, but someone with a community around them has a better chance at overcoming any relapses. Addiction is complicated and it is hard to fight. It is something that absolutely requires the effort of multiple people.


Someone might have lost most of their community while they were struggling with addiction. They also might have lost contact at any point in their lives because of mental illness, technology, or any other number of causes. Whether or not someone has a strong community on the outside, Reflections will work with each patient to provide that. We help our clients rebuild a community and provide the tools they need to succeed after treatment. At Reflections, we work with clients to remove the shame from addiction and mental illness. It is important that people know that treatment is possible and that they do not have to be alone. If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us today.

Resources*:
Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness – World Psychiatry
Feeling Lonely? Too Much Time on Social Media May Be Why – NPR


Initial Intake

At Reflections Recovery Center, each patient will go through a psychiatric evaluation. This applies to anyone, no matter what state they believe their mental health to be in. A psychiatric evaluation can be essential for many people in recovery. An initial assessment will allow our team to understand if each patient needs any psychiatric services and to what extent. An evaluation will provide a clear picture of our patient’s history covering mental health, physical health, and anything to do with addiction. The truth is, psychiatric help can prove beneficial for anyone. The most healthy people in the world still need to take care of their physical and mental health. With each patient, we want to have a complete understanding of their behavior and history. This will allow us to identify and treat the underlying causes that contributed to their addiction.

When we talk about underlying causes, we are not saying there is a total lack of personal choice and responsibility. Realistically, any person can become addicted under certain circumstances. Any person can choose to participate in, or abstain from, the consumption for certain substances. While there is a personal choice, clearly not everyone is on the edge of addiction.  It is the underlying causes that may make a person more susceptible. Underlying causes may also be what takes it from occasional use or experimentation to abuse and addiction. With a psychiatric evaluation, we hope to identify psychological, social, and biochemistry issues that might be contributing to addiction. Someone may struggle more deeply with one or it can be a combination of all three problems. Each issue can also feed into the other problems creating a negative cycle.

Mental Health Screening

Identifying and treating mental health problems can help significantly when dealing with addiction. The severity of mental illness is something that can obviously have a wide range. Someone might struggle with a psychological issue and it may not be as severe as other problems. Nevertheless, every person, no matter the severity, should have their mental health taken just as seriously. Many people suffer from mental health disorders and turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. Unfortunately, anxiety is not always perceived to be as serious as other mental health disorders. While it may not be as severe as other disorders, this leads many people to brush it off as something that people should be able to work on by themselves. For anyone struggling with anxiety, this can create a sense of helplessness. Someone may then turn to abusing alcohol or prescription drugs to cope with their undiagnosed and untreated anxiety.

Biochemistry and Addiction

In each patient’s initial evaluation we will also look at their biochemistry with lab testing. This will allow us to look for genetic factors that might be contributing to addiction. We also want to look for any other physical ailments that can be treated. As stated above, anxiety is something that might come up in a psychological assessment. There are of course many ways to treat this, such as medication or various forms of therapy. It could also be the case that someone’s anxiety could be biochemical issues that can also be treated with a holistic approach. With poor nutrition, our bodies deal with inflammation and that greatly impacts our mood. This can leave someone feeling depressed, lethargic, and incredibly anxious.

Identifying Social Issues

The environment that we are each raised in shapes who we are. It can be what makes us unique and capable of doing incredible things. Our social and cultural surroundings can also unfortunately be what drags us down. Some of it is out of our control – our families, where we live, and often our economic status. Illicit drugs may be more widely available in certain places, and this will absolutely be a factor in addiction rates. Cultural elements that can contribute to addiction can include social media, friend groups, and entertainment sources.

These elements are not inherently bad at all, but can quickly become problems. Social media can be isolating and also misleading. It can present the image that users want, which can make substance abuse appear fulfilling when it is not. Entertainment, in many formats, can present a similar image. In particular, alcohol is presented as a means to a happier, more social life. Many people even find humor in stories or behavior that is a result of heavy-drinking. This normalizes heavy-drinking and binge-drinking, which pose significant risks to every person’s health. Understandably, this makes it difficult for most people to recognize when alcohol use turns to abuse and addiction.

Moving Forward

If we can identify the factors that contribute to addiction, we can help our patients work to move past them. We cannot guarantee a complete fix for everything, no one can. However, we can help provide tools for dealing with problems as they arise in life. An article published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine, regarding psychological evaluations, noted, “While in therapy, patients strengthen their motivation, acquire skills supporting them to resist temptation of use, encounter gratifying activities not involving drugs able to replace former ones, and improve their problem solving skills.”* This explains what we want to accomplish at Reflections. We hope to provide all of that so our patients can live a full life and avoid relapse.

With therapy for mental health issues, we can work with patients to provide tools to ease and manage symptoms. Lab testing will give us a closer look at a patient’s biochemistry; we can identify physical issues that are contributing to addiction and keeping them vulnerable. Social issues might seem like a simple fix, but can actually be quite complex. We will need to identify where in the patient’s social environment they may be faced with problems. Is it a friend group that is encouraging use of various substances? It can be incredibly difficult to make a clean break or continue to participate in the same social circle and resist temptation.

A psychiatric evaluation will help provide a comprehensive look at each patient’s history. All patients will be unique in their needs and that is something that can be found at Reflections Recovery Center. We recognize the need for group therapy, but also individualized help. With everything we provide, we want each patient to walk away better equipped to maintain sobriety and to also live a full life in every aspect.

*Resources:
The relevance of the psychological evaluation in drug dependence – NIH

Dual Diagnosis & Co-occurring Disorders with Residential Treatment

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 Residential 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 – Dual Diagnosis Residential Treatment

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 Residential 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 residential 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

Skill-Building Activities for Mental Health and Addiction

“Recovery is non-linear, characterized by continual growth and improved functioning that may involve setbacks.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Steps to Recovery

Recovery takes time, a community, and will involve many different steps for each person. In recovery, a setback may be inevitable. However, a setback is not a reason for recovery to be abandoned. Everyone struggles with something in their own way and will face obstacles and setbacks. One of the best courses of action you can take is to accumulate various tools and means of support. Addiction is complex and thus your recovery will also be complex. This does not mean it is impossible, but simply that it is a process that will take serious effort.

The thought of addressing mental health issues, particularly when in recovery, may not be the most appealing. In fact, it may feel like an exhausting task. However, it is possible to engage without using all of your energy. With recovery, there are different forms of therapy that will be needed. Among them, Adventure Therapy is a way to participate in therapy while staying active. Understandably, it is not always going to be possible to engage in more strenuous physical exercise. Sometimes you just need something that is calming and simple. The good thing is there are a lot of options for low-impact activities. They will do a lot to improve your mental health and help you in your sobriety.

Low-Impact Activities to Improve Mental Health

A sense of purpose is incredibly important for any person and especially so when you are in recovery. When you have a routine and engage in physical exercise or social activities, that is a part of establishing your identity. There are low-impact activities like gardening and volunteering that allow you to be active without extending too much energy. They may even help you find a sense of self-worth.

With gardening and volunteering, you can take care of where you live and the community around you. When you give back to others, you should do so without expecting anything in return. Nonetheless, it will in turn enrich your life and you may find great improvements to your mental health. While gardening and volunteering can differ, both will develop the communities that are immensely important in recovery.

With gardening, you can work with a wide variety of plants that are visually pleasing as well as plants that can provide food. As you nourish the plants, it is rewarding to see the results of your labor. It is also fulfilling to know you are helping to create and maintain life. When you volunteer, you may be able to gain leadership and team-building skills. These skills will be essential in work and day-to-day life.

Practicing Mindfulness

Activities like yoga, meditation, cooking, and walking are all easy-going ways to relax, ease stress, and reduce symptoms of mental illness. They won’t be an instant fix, but they can be a component of the working parts that comprise your recovery. Yoga, in particular, has been shown to be helpful for stress and pain management. A Harvard Mental Health Letter cites a study by the University of Utah, which showed that people who practiced yoga had better stress regulation and in turn better pain management.*

There are many different ways to practice meditation, with no one way being correct. Often, people who practice meditation want to focus on their breath and focus on the present moment. The idea is to create a state of calm and peace, which will allow for internal reflection. From an article published by the US National Library of Medicine, author Michael McGee MD, wrote, “Several studies have also suggested that meditation can be helpful for the treatment of anxiety, addiction, aggression, suicidality, and depression.”*

Often, we can be our worst enemy when we constantly over-think our problems. This feeds a negative mindset from which it is hard to recover. Meditation and yoga are great ways to calm a racing mind. Adventure Therapy can be totally calm like yoga and meditation or high-impact like team sports and white-water rafting. Whatever you choose, it should help you to stop dwelling on the negative aspects of life that keep you down.

Cooking and Walking as Therapy

Cooking and walking are two activities that can do a lot to help your physical and mental health. With walking, you can get much needed exercise without too much of a strain. When you are walking outdoors, you may find that you are able to find time for reflection and it may help relieve some stress. Cooking is an activity that requires you to learn and focus on the tasks at hand. You may end up learning a lot about nutrition which obviously affects your physical health, but also affects your mental health in ways you may not even realize.

What you eat can greatly affect your mental health, but the act of cooking itself can be immensely helpful.  As you cook, you gain new knowledge and also you can practice mindfulness as you focus on each step. Mindfulness may appear to be simple, but it something that when you practice it, it yields extraordinary benefits. Among the benefits, it will help reduce the time you spend worrying which feeds into mental illness.

Mental Health and Recovery

While the activities listed above are calm and low intensity, they can still be adventurous and you can learn. Sometimes just learning new facts and skills can be an exciting experience. Any type of Adventure Therapy should help you develop life-skills, interpersonal relationships, and even enable you to learn more about yourself. As the types of Adventure Therapy vary, the benefits will also vary from activity to activity. You can try a wide variety and figure out what is best for you. Whatever you choose, hopefully you are able to challenge yourself and find experiences that will be so fulfilling you will only want to move forward on this new path.

Addiction and mental health issues are not always going to feed in to one another. However, they can end up forming a vicious cycle when left untreated. Even if you are fortunate to never face serious mental illness problems, it will still be beneficial to you to work on your mental health. When you are in a better place mentally, you are better equipped to fight addiction. Mental health and addiction are both complex issues and not something you can solve by yourself. Engaging in these light activities with the support of your community will be important steps in your recovery.

*Resources:
Harvard- Yoga for anxiety and depression
US National Library of Medicine – Meditation and Psychiatry
Newsweek – 1 in 5 suffer from a mental illness