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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions, Perfectionism and Addiction

The link between perfectionism and addiction has been well studied and documented. Many who struggle with addiction also struggle with perfectionism. This is because those with perfectionism have constant feelings of shame and guilt over not living up to their own unrealistic expectations. Self-esteem is gained through having realistic expectations of oneself, and if those expectations are too high, self-esteem plummets at each failed attempt at being “perfect.”

Perfectionism and addiction are closely associated in a few obvious ways. First, the shame and guilt associated with failed attempts at being perfect often results in self-defeating behaviors such as abusing drugs and alcohol to overcome the feelings associated with not being good enough. Second, perfectionists often use the all-or-nothing approach to life and this translates into their relationship with substances. They either consume fully or not at all.

When addicts and alcoholics go to addiction treatment and get sober, they learn that they have to abstain from all mind and mood altering substances. This coincides well with their perfectionistic tendencies, but can be detrimental to someone who has had a relapse. For example, if an addict with a streak of perfectionism experiences a slip, they often plunge back into full-blown addiction because they have already imperfected their sobriety. The thought pattern is often “I have already messed up, so I might as well keep going.” In other words, when they have become imperfect, they perfect their imperfection by plunging fully into drug or alcohol use because they believe they have already ruined everything. This is often seen among smokers, drugs addicts, alcoholics and those with food addictions and eating disorders. One small slip and they continue consume as they did in full-blown addiction before drug and alcohol treatment.

The key to overcoming this is awareness of one’s own perfectionism and learning how to set realistic expectations of oneself. If there is a slip, it can be quarantined to that particular slip by forgiving oneself rather than the self punishing tendency to ruin it all and go full throttle back into the addiction. By setting realistic expectations of oneself and therefore improving self-esteem, addicts and alcoholics can use their perfectionism to support their recovery rather than sabotage it.

This can start with New Year’s resolutions. Rather than setting hard to achieve, all-or-nothing goals, they can set softer goals with mechanisms built in to refresh the resolutions at any moment. For example, setting a New Year's resolution to quit smoking or engage in more active 12-step service are viable. But if there is a slip one day, the resolution itself shouldn’t become null and void. This is why “one day at a time” is such a useful recovery tool. The next day is a new day, a new time to re-set the goal, a new opportunity to remain abstinent from any substance or behavior – whether it is officially New Years Day or not.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pot Brownies in Schools, Youth at Risk of Marijuana Dependence

There have been several concerns about marijuana regulation and its impact on youth since Amendment 64 was passed in November. Since then, several stories have emerged about marijuana ending up in schools where kids and young adults were exposed to pot brownies.

In a Colorado Springs middle school, a 14-year-old student was hospitalized after she consumed a pot brownie. The student who gave it to her got it from adults off campus and was arrested for distribution. Nanette Anderson, a representative with the school district said this was the first time she had seen an incident like this. She asserted that the school will follow the same school policies regarding illegal substances and that Colorado's new marijuana law does not change her school's position.

Although the student who was hospitalized knowingly consumed the pot-laced brownie, cases are arising where people are unknowingly consuming marijuana from students offering brownies as a prank. Two students at the University of Colorado in Boulder were also arrested for giving their professor and two other students a pot laced brownie without their knowledge. Both the professor and students were hospitalized from the effects of the THC - which likely included panic from having been drugged unknowingly.

Authorities speculate that these cases are just a micro-indicator of what will occur without tough marijuana regulation throughout the state. The concern is mainly for children, teens, and young adults as Sgt. Jim Gerhardt with the North Metro Drug Task Force stated, “We’ve seen children infant age that have been getting into this stuff and hospitalized, and this has been under medical marijuana. I can’t imagine how bad it’s going to get with full blown legalization.”

Addiction treatment centers in Colorado are also expecting a rise in the number of admissions they see for marijuana dependence because it is already one of the most common addictions seen among teens and young adults. And the volume of youth addicted to marijuana may grow because they may be more likely to try drugs that come in innocent forms such as brownies and cookies, then say, needles or pipes. Treatment for marijuana dependence at an early age is crucial because using substances early on increases the incidence of addiction and dependence later on in life.

Drug treatment for young adults and teens is also vital because the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. A recent article published by Medical Express showed that use of drugs and alcohol before the brain is fully developed could have lasting detrimental effects. The article revealed that functional signs of brain damage from abuse include “visual, learning, memory and executive function impairments. These functions are controlled by the hippocampus and frontal structures of the brain, which are not fully mature until around 25 years of age.”

If you are concerned for a loved with a with marijuana dependence, Harmony Foundation’s reputable Colorado drug rehab has addiction programs for young adults and adults that help them become free of marijuana addiction and dependence.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Harmony Mobile Application aids Recovery

Mobile Application for Addiction To ring in the New Year, Harmony Foundation’s Colorado drug and alcohol rehab will launch a new mobile phone application that will serve as a tool to aid clients in their addiction recovery process. Marvin Ventrell, Director of Community and Alumni Relations explains, "This App is a new tool that makes it possible to provide meaningful, continuous, and real-time help to recovering clients, long after they leave our campus. It is particularly well-suited to younger, technologically engaged clients who tend to need longer care."

The app will work on both iPhone and Android platforms, allowing clients to record their recovery progress and receive immediate feedback from Harmony’s clinical staff. The app will even notify clients when they haven’t updated their progress or condition as a way to check in with clients and provide advice or additional services if indicated.

While in treatment, clients have a full schedule of group therapy, individual therapy, therapeutic assignments, 12 step meetings and educational workshops. Routine is a vital component to addiction treatment because it aids the recovery process through instilling accountability and responsibility. When clients leave treatment, some of the ingrained routines drop off, which is why aftercare is essential to long term recovery.

While there isn’t a one size fits all approach to aftercare, activities such as 12 step meeting attendance, therapy, fellowship, journaling and service all facilitate the recovery process. Many find that important facets of life begin to fill up their daily schedules such as restored relationships and professional endeavors. This can make balancing time between life events and recovery challenging. Harmony Foundation hopes to lessen that challenge by providing a quick and convenient tool for clients to track their recovery and get feedback at the tips of their fingers – literally. The app serves as a gentle reminder if a client has, for example, not been to a meeting for a while or has let other things take precedent over their recovery.

It is said that recovery should come first, as it is tantamount to all other aspects of life functioning properly. Without recovery, one may not have the rich relationships or jobs that come easy to many after getting sober. By providing an app as yet another tool to help clients stay sober, Harmony's Colorado rehab provides an innovative, unmatched way for clients to find it easier to put their recovery first.

Marvin Ventrell and Harmony CEO Dot Dorman will present the Harmony App Program to industry professionals at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX on May 19, 2013 and the 39th Advanced International Winter Symposium on Addictive Disorders in Colorado Springs, CO on January 28, 2013.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spice Addiction Taking a Toll on Young Adult Men

According to SAMHSA, young men are the most affected by the dangers of synthetic drug abuse. Their recently published study revealed that in 2010 there were 11,406 emergency room visits related to the use of synthetic marijuana, or “spice.” Of those admitted, 78% were men between the ages of 12 and 29.

Young men are susceptible to using synthetic drugs because they are lower cost than other drugs, and until recent crack- downs they were widely accessible in local head shops and specialty tobacco shops and legal. The danger of these drugs is in their branding, as the package touts that they are natural and herbal and many associate herbal remedies with concoctions that are good for their bodies. The branding, legality and accessibility likely caused impressionable young men to overindulge in a drug clothed as being natural and herbal and therefore associated as safe. However, the amount of hospitalizations from the mental and physical tolls of these drugs proves otherwise, prompting US drug top administrator Gil Kerlikowske to assert, “Make no mistake—the use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause serious, lasting damage, particularly in young people.”

The serious damage synthetic drugs can cause is well known and has made national news several times in the past few years. The first demographic to greatly indulge in synthetic drugs were young men already in addiction treatment programs that used them to beat drug tests because the drugs were marketed as “drug test safe.” This was in 2010 when there wasn’t a way to test for synthetic drugs, making them very popular because young adults could still get kudos for staying “clean” in drug treatment whilst using and getting high.

The importance of combating addiction beginning at a young age is clear – young adults have the rest of their lives ahead of them and endless opportunities to excel. The use of drugs in young adulthood can rob men and women of a college education, building healthy relationships starting their careers and what older adults coin “the best time of their lives.” It is heartbreaking to see young adults addicted to any drug – but synthetic drugs are particularly disturbing because they seem to take a significant mental toll, leading to brutal violence and even psychosis. For young adults to recover, it takes a special awareness of their needs and pressures they face. That is why at Harmony Foundation we have created a specialty drug treatment program for young adults called YART (Young Adult Recovery Track) to help them fulfill all of the hopes and dreams available to them, so that they can indeed enjoy the best part of their lives.

If you are a young adult or you are concerned about the synthetic drug use of a young adult, Harmony Foundation has addiction treatment programs tailored to meet the needs of all age groups and substance abuse disorders.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Addiction Relapse Treatment

Many have said that addiction and alcoholism are progressive diseases, but what does this mean actually?

This means that when someone abstains from their substance of choice, their disease remains actively “doing push-ups” and gaining strength despite the addict gaining strength in sobriety. Therefore, if someone relapses, they often pick up right where they left off and worse. For example, if an alcoholic at their bottom drank 12 drinks a night or a prescription drug addict took 120mg of oxycodone, if a relapse occurs they are often consuming that same amount in no time. They don’t have to re-build that tolerance and often go full-fledged back into using at the volume they were using before drug and alcohol treatment and sobriety.

But the meaning behind progressive goes deeper as it relates to both consumption and devastation in one’s life. Overall things in general get progressively worse, more and more of the substance is needed to achieve the same effect while the emotional and mental state of the addict deteriorates even more. The “bottom” starts to get progressively lower as well. Things that substance abusers promise themselves that they will never do often become compromised in pursuit of another drink or a drug. This can take on many forms, such as driving while drunk, lying, cheating, prostitution or theft.

A recent case of relapse in the public eye was the story of Sherri Wilkins, a Los Angeles based addiction counselor who is currently in jail awaiting trial for murder. Although she was an active drug and alcohol counselor she was secretly active in her addiction as well. Last weekend she was driving drunk and hit a pedestrian, Philip Moreno, who she dragged for 2 miles stuck in her windshield before finally stopping her car. According to the addiction treatment center where she worked, her clients and supervisors had no indication at all that she was active in her progressive disease. They thought she had more than 11 years of sobriety. Her relapse has led her to what may well be a life long prison sentence.

The progression of this disease is well illustrated is her tragic story. But if caught early relapse doesn’t have to result in such tragedy. The progression will continue but it will be dormant and will have no bearing on the quality of your life. In fact for many, knowing that addiction is progressive and the potential devastation relapse can cause serves as deterrent for many. Here at Harmony we understand relapse and how things get progressively worse with each relapse. That is why we have created a special addiction relapse treatment program for those who have relapsed called ReCommitment to Recovery. An initial slip doesn’t always have to end up a full blown relapse and knowing the progression of this disease as reflected in stories like that of Sherri Wilkins, we hope it doesn’t.