Tag Archives: Alcohol Addiction

Children of Alcoholics Discuss Life ‘in a War Zone’

Blaire Sharpe and Phillip L. Woods know all too well about the pain that comes with growing up in an alcoholic home. But both have overcome that pain to create successful lives and enjoy the kind of peace they never had as children.

Alcoholic father threatening wife and childIn her new book, “Not Really Gone,” Sharpe (a pen name) describes the damage done to children when mom or dad, or both, depend on the bottle to get through life. “Growing up in an alcoholic family is like being raised in a war zone,” she writes in the book. “Life is, as best, unpredictable. Threats lurk; traps are set; people explode; survival becomes the goal.”1

Today Sharpe works as a mental health counselor in a Detroit suburb. She says she used a pen name for the book to spare her family the embarrassment of what occurred during her turbulent childhood into adulthood, and to protect herself, too.

Woods grew up in rural Indiana, his father an alcoholic and proprietor of a bootlegging business. He speaks many times throughout the book about wanting to kill his father, yet he eventually overcame these feelings of anger.

“To truly understand my feelings on a gut level, one would have to have lived in our home, where tension and fear were always present because of my father’s unpredictable outbursts,” he writes in the book.2

In an interview he explains, “I wanted to preserve my history for all my children and their children. I had a need for them to know they are descendants of an alcoholic, my father, and that if it is in any way genetic, that they are predisposed to the affliction.”

Genetics and Environment Both Contribute to Alcoholism

The link between genetics and alcoholism is no longer a question of “if,” but “how.” Research published in December 2014 in the academic journal Molecular Psychiatry showed how a network of genes, not just one gene, conspires inside the brain to create alcoholism. Using RNA sequencing technology, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin made this breakthrough discovery by analyzing tissue from the brains of alcoholics.3

Research also shows that children of alcoholics can grow up with a myriad of problems, including low self-esteem, helplessness, loneliness, guilt, fear of abandonment and chronic depression.4 Those factors can lead to alcoholism in and of themselves, Sharpe says.

Children of alcoholics can grow up with a myriad of problems, including low self-esteem, helplessness, loneliness, guilt, fear of abandonment and chronic depression. Those factors can lead to alcoholism in and of themselves.

“It can be difficult to extract a pure environment where alcoholism is the only causative factor with all other psychological and health issues being effects,” she explains. “Alcoholism, addiction, depression, anxiety, abuse of all types, financial distress … all these things are so interrelated—or at least often concurrently present—that it can be like a chicken and the egg scenario. Researchers like their research pure, controllable, and easily replicated. … It’s a blend of genes and environment. There is no one component that says, ‘If you’re raised in this environment, you’re doomed.’ Or ‘If you have this gene, you’re doomed.’ But there is a heightened possibility that if you choose to go down this road (of drinking), then things are dangerous.”

So how can those who grew up with alcoholics avoid the pitfalls of addiction, and further, take precaution to help their children avoid suffering the same fate?

Sharpe explains how a diabetic who loves cake would be smart to avoid eating cake. “If a diabetic thinks there even is a possibility of eating a second piece of cake because it tastes so good, then they are putting their life in danger.”

The same can happen with the child of an alcoholic who may think it is safe to be a social drinker. And that very much is Sharpe’s story. Even though she was well educated about the dangers children of alcoholics face, she found herself in the abyss of alcoholism twice in her life.

Sharpe has been sober for 15 years, but she tried to get sober 10 years before that and relapsed. She had a counselor tell her the first time around that her problem was not that she was an alcoholic, but that she was the product of an alcoholic environment. Sharpe later came to learn that she was both, she says.

When Mom or Dad Drinks: Hypervigilance and Living Life on Edge

Drunken woman with whiskey glassWhat is it about an alcoholic home that produces children who grow up fearful and tense, often turning to the bottle in an effort to slam the brakes on their anxiety?

“When you’re used to living your life on edge, as children of alcoholics do, there’s a hypervigilance (an acute awareness of your surroundings),” Sharpe says. “You’re always gauging what’s going on, scanning the crowd, analyzing micro-expressions. Once you get past using it as a protective mechanism, it can serve you well in life.”

A recovering alcoholic can prevent her own children from developing that sort of angst by providing a calm, stable environment.

A recovering alcoholic can prevent her own children from developing that sort of angst by providing a calm, stable environment.

“In our house, drinking is not a normal thing. It’s not part of our daily life and there is no ‘normalization’ of alcohol,” Sharpe says. “We go to our in-laws and everybody is drinking. The kids notice it, and they notice a difference between how those people behave and how their own mother behaves.”

Honesty about mom or dad’s problem with drinking also is a must, Sharpe adds. “We have open conversations about it all the time. They know their mom goes to meetings, and what they are all about. It’s a very eclectic group of people I hang out with. I’m sure they would wonder ‘why would she be friends with that person?’ if they didn’t know (that she was a recovering alcoholic).” That doesn’t mean coming out and saying “Mommy’s an alcoholic” when your children are in kindergarten is a good idea. There needs to be an age-appropriate progression, Sharpe says. When they are younger, maybe explain there is no beer or wine in the house because mommy doesn’t like what alcohol does to people. When they’re ready, explain how alcohol negatively impacted your own life and why you choose to abstain from it.

Cruel World: Sympathy Is Often Scarce for Alcoholics and Their Children

Being the child of an alcoholic can be very stigmatizing. In one poignant scene in Woods’ book, he describes being rejected by a girl’s father when he arrives to take her on a date.

“Alcoholics are seldom seen as sympathetic characters, even today,” he writes. “There is inequality in society’s treatment of them. Their families, even innocent children, are painted with the same broad brush and treated just as poorly. Of course, there are always kindhearted individuals who might feel sorry for the alcoholic family, but society as a whole does not. This is the discrimination that touched me directly in my childhood.”

Woods credits his grandfather, a “teetotaler,” for helping him get past the hurt and self-pity of growing up in an alcoholic home. He immersed himself in all the good, functional people in his life, even before his mother sent him to live with his granddad.

“The fear of ambiguity was replaced by love and affection,” he explains.

And that’s exactly how Sharpe has tried to rear her own children, she says—with predictability rather than the uncertainty she grew up with. “I tell them I’m sorry when I’m wrong, and as a result it’s OK for them to tell me when I’ve done something wrong. We forgive each other very quickly. That’s a very healthy relationship.”


Bibliography

1 Sharpe, B. (2015). Not Really Gone. (1st ed. Vol. 1). Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

2 Woods, P. (2015). Miles from Home: The Journey of a Lifetime (1st ed., Vol. 1, p. 13). Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

3 Farris, S.P., et al. (2014, December). Molecular Psychiatry. Transcriptome organization for chronic alcohol abuse in human brain.

4 Sher, K. (1997). Psychological Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics. Alcohol Health & Research World. 21, by

While You Wait: Preparing Yourself Mentally for Alcohol Rehab

This is the first of a six-post look at preparing for alcohol rehab. Today we talk about getting ready for rehab when you have to wait for treatment to begin.

Beginning treatment as soon as possible is always best. However you may face delays due to waitlists at your treatment program of choice. You may have to wrap up a few things at work or home before you can leave. Travel logistics may mean beginning treatment a few days or a week from now as you arrange flights or other transportation. As long as you remain mentally prepared, these delays don’t have to derail your recovery. Preparing yourself involves staying focused, relaxed and informed. It involves maintaining your commitment to starting a drug and alcohol-free life.

Contemplative manRecovery involves change. This is no secret. You want change at this point. Anything is better than the stagnation addiction provides. However there is also security and comfort in the routine thoughts and actions surrounding alcohol use. Don’t let stepping outside this comfort zone keep you from continuing with recovery. As you mentally prepare for rehab, you will begin to think about change and about life after recovery. You may worry about what the future holds. It is okay to be afraid and to worry. These are natural reactions to change. It is not okay to let this fear take over and reverse your decision to get well. Stay mentally prepared for rehab by remembering why you want rehab. Make lists of the pros and cons of continued drug use. Ask friends and family members to help you stay motivated.

Your fears about the future may be more than a reaction to change. They may stem from a co-occurring anxiety issue. Anxiety and alcohol addiction often overlap.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America[1] explains, “About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence…Although alcohol can temporarily reduce symptoms of social anxiety – which is the reason many turn to it – alcohol can also increase anxiety, irritability, or depression a few hours later or the next day. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect one’s mood and anxiety level.”

You may have begun drinking to self-medicate anxiety symptoms, or these symptoms may have arisen as a result of your drinking. No matter the cause, know that feeling more than just generally worried about rehab is perfectly normal. Acknowledge that it is okay to feel as you do, and don’t let these feelings keep you from recovery.

Woman in hoodie on beachMentally prepare yourself by practicing relaxation and stress relief techniques. Take deep breaths, go for walks, and distract yourself with favorite hobbies or entertainment. Reach out to professionals when feelings are too much to manage on your own. Your future rehab center will be more than happy to talk with you on the phone and help you mentally prepare yourself any time during your wait.

A wait before rehab provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about addiction and recovery. Take this time to read about your disease and about just what treatment involves. Learn about the science and statistics behind rehab. Read first-hand accounts from people now in active recovery. These actions will help you mentally prepare for rehab. They take fear of the unknown out of the equation, as you will learn just what to expect during your treatment.

Mentally prepare for rehab by spending time with friends and family while you wait. Loved ones can help distract you when you begin to worry about the future. They can help provide motivation if your commitment begins to falter.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[2] shares, “Family members may have a stronger desire to move toward overall improved functioning in the family system, thus compelling and even providing leverage for the patient to seek and/or remain in treatment through periods of ambivalence about achieving a sober lifestyle.”

Let your friends and family support you as you mentally prepare for rehab. If you struggle to manage your worries or stay committed, lean on loved ones to get you through. By choosing treatment and beginning the path to recovery, you give yourself the opportunity to become a better parent, child, sibling and friend.

Make sure you check out our second installment in the “While You Wait” series: Talking to Your Boss Before Alcohol Rehab. Call Michael’s House to learn more about beginning your recovery as soon as possible. Prepare yourself for a better life by choosing our integrated, professional care.


[1] https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder/social-anxiety-and-alcohol-abuse. “Social Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Web. 6 Apr 2017.

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2004. Web. 6 Apr 2017.

The DTs: What They Are and How to Fight Them

AlcoholismWhen you drink too much or too often, you become dependent on alcohol. When you are dependent on alcohol or any drug, you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. Every drug has unique withdrawal symptoms. One potential alcohol withdrawal symptom is delirium tremens (DTs).

Not everyone experiences DTs when ending alcohol use. Only a small percentage of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse progress to DTs.

The Royal College of Physicians[1] shares, “Delirium tremens (DTs) occurs uncommonly, perhaps in less than 5% of individuals withdrawing from alcohol.”

While only a small percentage of alcohol-dependent individuals will experience DTs, there are enough dependent individuals that a significant number of people are affected.

Man chugging beerDTs are more common in individuals who have had trouble with alcohol withdrawal in the past. The more and longer you drink, the more likely DTs become. MedlinePlus[2] explains DTs are, “especially common in those who drink 4 to 5 pints (1.8 to 2.3 liters) of wine, 7 to 8 pints (3.5 to 4 liters) of beer, or 1 pint (1/2 liter) of ‘hard’ alcohol every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have used alcohol for more than 10 years.” DTs are also affected by shorter-term factors such as if you have eaten enough food or not. Medical attention during withdrawal makes DTs less likely and easier to manage. This medical attention is also important for your immediate safety and your long-term continued recovery.

DTs involve a variety of changes to mental health and nervous system function. You may experience confusion, mood changes, fatigue and hallucinations. Symptoms can culminate in potentially life-threatening seizures. Individuals often experience other alcohol withdrawal symptoms at the same time. MedlinePlus emphasizes that “Delirium tremens is an emergency condition.” Do not ignore any withdrawal symptoms. Get emergency medical help when needed. Begin your recovery with medically supervised detox services that protect your health and ensure symptoms are as manageable as possible.

DTs and other withdrawal symptoms can be scary. You may wonder why anyone would ever stop using. The reason is because as uncomfortable as withdrawal can be, symptoms only last a short period of time. You will have support and understanding throughout the entire experience. You will have medical professionals monitoring your health around the clock.

Recovery professionals will help you begin to rebuild all aspects of your life. Peers will be on hand to share experiences, offer advice, and even laugh and joke with you as you begin to feel better. Addiction and recovery are serious, but they are also filled with hope, lightness and good humor. Recovery is a positive experience.

Continued substance use is not. The consequences of alcohol use continue indefinitely without treatment. Alcohol will make you sicker than withdrawal ever can.

The Lancet[3] explains, “Continued heavy alcohol use also shortens the onset of heart disease, stroke, cancers, and liver cirrhosis, by affecting the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. Heavy drinking can also cause mild anterograde amnesias, temporary cognitive deficits, sleep problems, and peripheral neuropathy; cause gastrointestinal problems; decrease bone density and production of blood cells; and cause fetal alcohol syndrome.”

These are just some of the many physical effects of alcohol use. They are worse and longer-lasting than any withdrawal symptom. You will have limited if any medical support as you face these health issues. You will not have positive peer support and understanding. You will not be on the path to greater health and a more rich and rewarding life.

Continued alcohol use takes away your health. It also takes away your happiness. You may be afraid of recovery and withdrawal for more reasons than delirium tremens alone. You may think life without alcohol will be empty or unenjoyable. You may simply be unable to imagine it at all, and that unknowing seems just as scary. Alcohol keeps you from finding emotional and mental health.

The Lancet explains, “Alcohol-use disorders are associated with depressive episodes, severe anxiety, insomnia, suicide, and abuse of other drugs….Alcohol-use disorders complicate assessment and treatment of other medical and psychiatric problems.”

When you are dependent on alcohol, you are sick and unhappy. You feel alone, overwhelmed by feelings, or maybe you feel nothing at all. You feel worse and worse. When you pursue recovery, you benefit. You get a real diagnosis and appropriate treatment for any co-occurring mental health issues. You find physical health. You create the life you want to live rather than the life alcohol dictates for you. Withdrawal is not the scary option; continued addiction is.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0047840/. “Acute Alcohol Withdrawal.” Royal College of Physicians. 2010. Web. 29 Mar 2017.

[2] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm. “Delirium Tremens.” MedlinePlus. 8 Feb 2015. Web. 29 Mar 2017.

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19168210?dopt=Abstract. “Alcohol-use Disorders.” The Lancet. 7 Feb 2009. Web. 29 Mar 2017.

How to Talk to an Alcoholic

For those of us who are free of mental illness, it can be difficult to comprehend the powerful nature of addiction. As a result, interactions with a friend who is an alcoholic can feel awkward. When you speak with a recovering alcoholic, it’s normal to try to fill the conversation with unrelated topics. Here are a handful of simple guidelines to keep in mind that may help ease the uncertainty.

Talk to the Alcoholic Like You Would Anybody Else

Male friends having a serious talkYour friend is still your friend. And he is a human being, just like you. If your friend has diabetes or osteoporosis, would you feel differently around them after they returned from a four-week wellness program? Probably not. If you and your alcoholic friend John have always bonded over sports and seafood, talk about your mutual interests.

In terms of questioning the alcoholic about his stint in rehab, keep it simple. While the individual is in a rehab center, he is surrounded by other alcoholics, AA slogans, anonymous fellowship text, life lessons, and much more. When he’s free of the 24/7 emphasis on recovery, chances are he is ready to talk about normal things. However, everyone’s different in this regard.

Going forward, if you’re close with the alcoholic, consider the following:

  • Differentiate between helping and enabling.Ask yourself if the help you’re about to provide—such as paying off this month’s credit card debt—is something he could do for himself if he were sober. If the answer is yes, you are doing both yourself and the alcoholic a disservice by following through. By stepping in to “solve” the addict’s problems, the enabler takes away any motivation for the addict to take responsibility for his or her actions.[1]
  • Practice detachment. In other words, try to view the alcoholism as separate from the friend in which the disease resides. If it helps, consider the person chemically compounded with two brain hemispheres -the alcoholic brain, and the logical brain. When you hear the alcoholic brain talking, attribute the behavior to their alcoholic circuitry. This will help you keep separate it from their lucid self.
  • Don’t blow up or react emphatically to a relapseIf your loved one goes on a drunken, week-long bender, yelling at him may actually push him into isolation and social withdrawal. The stronger your reaction, the more the alcoholic will focus on your words and anger. Putting on a poker face when your friend tells you he went out and got sloshed last night forces him to analyze his part in the relapse.
  • Set healthy boundaries. There’s no need to threaten an individual about the consequences from a sobriety slip. However, you can uphold a light, congenial conversation with your alcoholic friend post-treatment as a means for highlighting your newfound boundaries. Remind him that the boundaries are not a form of punishment, they are a byproduct of healthy differentiation.

In many cases, relapse happens after rehab. The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse at some point is not only possible but likely. Relapse does not mean the treatment has failed.[2]

It’s natural to want to “save” or “help” your friend, especially if you witness hardships after he falls off the wagon. Stay strong by reminding yourself of the founding principle upon which Al-Anon is based –the only behaviors you can control are your own. Focus on being a good friend without enabling alcoholic actions. Remember when you set healthy boundaries and love your friend, the two behaviors are not mutually exclusive.

If you have questions about the treatment process or would like more information about alcoholism, please feel free to call us at Michael’s House. Our admissions counselors are ready to answer your questions and will provide you with the highest quality care.


[1] Psychology Today. Khaleghi, Karen. Posted on July 11th, 2012.

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.

6 Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Warning Signs of Alcoholism

 

What Are The Warning Signs Of Alcoholism To Look Out For

Many people who struggle with alcohol use really don’t think they have a problem. But most of the time, friends and loved ones around them can see the warning signs of a problem. If you feel like people get on your case about drinking or you wonder if your drinking has become problematic, you need to read this article. See if you find yourself in any of these following descriptions.

1. Drinking Excessive Amounts of Alcohol

Social or moderate drinking is defined as no more than one to two drinks per day for most people, depending on body weight and gender. Social or moderate drinking can be problematic if it causes undesirable side effects.

When people have five or more drinks in a day, it’s considered binge drinking. Many alcoholics eventually drink far more than this. It’s not uncommon for individuals with advanced alcoholism to have a dozen drinks or more each day. However, problem drinking often begins slowly and many drinkers find that they need to drink increasing amounts in order to feel the original effects of alcohol consumption.

2. Loss of Control While Drinking

At some point, many people who struggle with alcoholism make a promise to themselves or another person that they will cut back on their drinking. However, they are rarely able to keep this promise. They cannot stop drinking when they have reached a certain amount. They don’t think ahead about the consequences of drinking too much. Once they start drinking, they keep going until they are completely intoxicated.

3. Persistent Use of Alcohol Despite Awareness of Problems

Getting a DUI or receiving divorce papers may not be enough to make an alcoholic change their life. Alcoholics are often made aware of the problems caused by their drinking. They may feel powerless to change.

Other individuals may be so caught up in their denial that they don’t understand the full impact of these consequences. Their downward spiral continues because they lose control and perspective. It may be increasingly difficult to face the problems caused by drinking, but it is possible to heal, no matter how severe the problems have been.

4. Lots of Time Spent on Alcohol-Related Activities

Alcoholics spend a great deal of time engaged in alcohol-related activities. They also may neglect nearly everything else that matters to them. Family commitments, job requirements, financial obligations, hobbies, home and property care – all of these activities go by the wayside. An alcoholic will often defend his or her actions by saying they need to unwind or that no one understands their problems.

5. Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms develop when a heavy drinker suddenly stops all alcohol use. Some physical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, sweating, headaches, and tremors. A person may also feel fatigue, symptoms of depression, difficulty concentrating, irritability, or anxiety. Anyone with severe withdrawal symptoms such as fever, blackouts, hallucinations, or convulsions should seek immediate medical help.

6. Increased Tolerance of Alcohol

After drinking excessively for some time, a person’s body develops a tolerance for alcohol. This occurs when drinkers need to consume more alcohol to feel the same effect that they once felt. Many alcoholics think they don’t have a problem because they don’t always feel drunk when drinking. They still do a lot of damage to their body despite a lack of feeling impaired or intoxicated.

When Symptoms Add Up for Alcoholism

What were your results? If you found just one bit of truth in this article, you may want to consider how drinking is affecting your life. It may be time to ask some questions about getting sober. Please call our addiction treatment professionals today. We understand your concerns and will help you find solutions that fit your lifestyle.

7 Things That Could Derail Your Sobriety

You have gotten past a lot of hurdles to get sober. It’s been a tough road, but it’s been worth it. The following seven things could derail your sobriety and set you back at square one. Find out what they are and learn how to keep your sobriety in check.

  • 1. Being Around Friends Who Are Using

    You may think you can keep your old drug friends around because they promise not to use in front of you. But think about it. Can you really trust that they always do what’s in your best interest? People with drug addictions often say things they cannot back up with actions. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be helpful to you. They have lost control, and so will you if you stay around them.

  • 2. Losing Touch With Your Addiction Support Network

    Your support network could include your friends and acquaintances from AA, people you got to know in drug rehab, or maybe even your sponsor. It’s great to be in touch with close friends and family who really care. But you can’t lose track of people who know the real dangers of addiction. They can help catch red flags of relapse that others might miss.

  • 3. Deciding You Can Achieve Recovery Without Support

    Isolation is a close friend of addiction. It keeps you away from fresh ideas and perspectives. Human beings can easily over-interpret bad things or fail to appreciate the small blessings in life. Having other caring people around you keeps you reaching out instead of just looking inward.

  • 4. Quitting Drug Rehab Early

    There are certainly some people out there who have skipped out on part of their drug treatment, maybe more than once. If they found their way back to sobriety, it’s probably because they stuck with a treatment program and opened themselves up to the process. Give drug rehab a full chance and give yourself a full chance at sobriety.

  • 5. Avoiding Necessary Life Changes

    Let’s imagine that when you came out of drug treatment, you really avoided dealing with your money issues. If this was a big stressor during your active addiction days, it could still trigger relapse in the future.

    Whether it’s finances, legal problems, unemployment, or something else, your sobriety will go more smoothly if you face these issues head-on. Find someone to help you with these problems, make some changes, and the stress won’t be such a threat to your sobriety anymore.

  • 6. Letting Healthy Habits Slip

    In drug rehab, you learned or relearned many healthy habits. Eating right, getting good sleep, starting an exercise plan, and relaxation – these are all necessary parts of a healthy sober lifestyle. But it’s easy to let these habits slip away if you aren’t paying close attention. Join other people who exercise regularly, cook with friends, or set reminders so you can keep these important habits going.

  • 7. Losing Focus on Staying Sober

    Mental drift happens to everyone. You get complacent, you justify loosening your standards, and you hardly notice what’s happening. Pretty soon your sobriety is just one of those things rolling around in your mind. Keep in touch with your sober network and you’ll keep sobriety at the top of your list.

Keep This List as a Reminder

This article can be a great reminder list as you establish a healthy lifestyle. When you stay aware of things that threaten your sobriety, you can keep relapse at a distance.

If you feel that your recovery may be in danger, we can help. Our experienced recovery professionals are available, day and night, to take your calls. Recovery is within reach. Call us today at 760-548-4032.

Start the Journey Today!

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The Mental Side of Addiction Recovery

If you took a running tally of all the negative thoughts that pass through your mind in a few minutes, would they outnumber the positive or neutral ones? If you did this several times during the day, what would you notice? You might be surprised by what you find.

If you are in addiction recovery, a lot of negativity could be a sign of trouble.

The mental side of addiction recovery is just as important as the physical side. Negativity and black-and-white thinking are hallmarks of addiction. During drug rehab or alcohol treatment, you really take notice of what’s going on in your mind. After you finish rehab, you’ll need to stay aware of anything that could put your sobriety at risk.

Negative Thinking in Addiction Recovery

Worried woman with head in handsEveryone has negative thoughts at one time or another. It’s not realistic to assume you won’t have negative thoughts at all. Everybody has those at times, especially when in a bad mood or just after a bad experience. But consider this – are your negative thoughts just passing through, or do they color your perspective most of the time? That’s the difference between having some negative thoughts and having a surplus of negativity.

So what does the negativity have to do with addiction recovery? You may be less likely to relapse if you are able to stay calm and shake off your emotional upsets fairly quickly. While no one can avoid bad situations, everyone can add coping skills to get through even tough moments. Even when things don’t go right for a while, you can see better opportunities in the future or acknowledge that “this too shall pass”. You feel it, you come out of it, and you keep moving forward.

If you feel it and stay stuck in negative emotions, you aren’t going to feel that hope for tomorrow. Your feelings of despair and emptiness will only grow, and the temptation to drown them in drugs or alcohol will escalate. When you learn how to stay away from the negativity trap, you greatly improve your chances of staying sober longer.

Black and White Thinking in Addiction Recovery

Now, let’s focus on black-and-white thinking, also known as “all or nothing” thinking. This is like looking at a distorted mirror in a funhouse. Your head gets squished all the way to the top and your feet are spread out on the bottom. Everything in-between is skinnier than a stick, almost invisible. Your perception of the world can become like this if you don’t catch yourself. Mistakes become unacceptable. Things need to either be all going right or it’s not worth putting in the effort.

Sure, anyone in addiction recovery would love to have things roll along smoothly from one step to the next. But in real life, bumps happen. Setbacks happen. Temptations happen.

Sometimes people give in to them and sometimes they don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to stay sober just because you feel a difficult craving one day. When you can learn to accept some of the gray areas in life, you can learn how to see the bigger picture. You can avoid getting trapped in all the ups and downs.

The Mental Battle of Addiction

Negativity and black-and-white thinking are two roadblocks that most recovering addicts or alcoholics face. They are part of reality, but they don’t have to bring you down. Reach out, stay in touch with your support network, and always be aware of negativity and black-and-white thinking in your daily life.

No one is born with perfect coping skills. If we don’t learn good coping skills early in life, it can be possible to learn them later in life. It never hurts to make improvements.

The good news is that you don’t have to make improvements on your own. There are millions of people who seek positive change in the world, and many of those people would help support your journey to wellness.

The staff at Michael’s House have dedicated their lives to helping people reach brighter futures. Our experienced and educated staff can help you and your family overcome the difficulties of addiction to build a more positive future. Give us a call at 760-548-4032 to find out how we can help you today.

Drug Addiction and Marriage

There are few things that can harm a marriage as thoroughly as a drug addiction. Certainly, many people who struggle with substance use manage to save their relationships and sometimes even grow stronger through their recovery. But many marriages do not survive the damage addiction inflicts. Consider a few ways that an untreated drug addiction cuts away at the very heart of a solid marriage.

Drug Addiction Destroys Trust

Woman contemplating divorceWhen you constantly say one thing and then do another, trust can disappear quickly. Trust is the foundation of a marriage. Without it, a relationship will eventually fail. When a person can’t count on their spouse anymore, they start to withdraw from the relationship and go into self-protection mode. Obviously, this doesn’t do good things for a marriage.

Drug addiction does a lot to sabotage trust in a relationship. Intoxication can lead to many poor decisions including extra-marital affairs, mismanagement of money, and risky behaviors such as driving under the influence. Intoxication makes effective communication impossible. Continued damage occurs when an addicted person chooses drug-related activities over family obligations.

Trust is much harder to keep once it’s been damaged like this. However, treatment can make a difference and possibly save relationships that have been devastated by substance use.

Drug Use and Drug Abuse Make Marriage Imbalanced

Addiction causes a person to become very self-focused and self-serving. Everything is about them getting their drug fix or drink while avoiding reality. Marriage is supposed to be about two people supporting and leaning on each other. When one gets down, the other lifts them up. They go through the ups and downs together with each other in mind.

This is not the case when someone has an active drug addiction. The non-addicted spouse often feels neglected in the marriage. If there are children in the family, the sober spouse may also feel like they are a single parent. Nothing is balanced as the addicted spousepursues self-serving behavior. Unless something changes, all the promises to do better become lip-service. A spouse can really feel abandoned because of this.

Both Partners Can Be Hurt

As you might expect, someone with a drug addiction can really hurt their spouse’s feelings and sense of respect. Words can absolutely hurt, especially when they come from someone you’ve pledged your life to.

The other risk is real physical harm coming to one or both people in the marriage. A person who is abusing drugs can become violent.Violence and violent tendencies may vary due to the addicted spouse’s drug of choice,his or her personality, and his or her intoxication levels. If the substance-using spouse blacks out and becomes aggressive, abuse or injury may occur to the spouse or family. The risk of harm increases if children are in the home. The unpredictable nature of a drug addict puts everyone at risk.

Drug Rehab Can Help Families

Not every marriage that has been impacted by substance use can be saved. However, many relationships can improve when the addicted spouse goes through drug rehab and sticks with sobriety. Even if a marriage ends, drug rehab can help both parents cooperate better for the sake of their children. Drug rehab can also help make the future brighter for each spouse, whether the relationship survives or not. Wellness and recovery simply offer a way for people to experience better outcomes in general.

Drug rehab programs can connect spouses with support groups. Many rehab centers also encourage spouse participation during family treatment sessions. Marriage is a two-way street and addiction does a lot to block the whole road. With a good drug rehab program, recovery and marriage can move forward together.

Addiction Relapse: Getting Back On Track

Your drug rehab counselor says relapse can happen to anyone going through recovery. Your recovery friends tell you that relapse is part of the process, it’s not the end of the world, and you can get through it.

That’s what they say, anyway. It sure feels like the bottom of a dark pit to you.

Your efforts with sobriety are not lost just because you’ve had a relapse. The positive changes you find in recovery are never lost.You just need to find your recovery again– it’s still yours and it’s still inside you. You may feel down and out now, but you are just one step away from getting your sobriety back on track.

Take One Step Back to Sobriety

Woman in hoodie on beachThat’s right, it just takes one step to get back on the path of sobriety. What is that step? It’s the decision that you are going to be sober for the next moment, no matter what it takes. Don’t think about next week, last month, yesterday, or tomorrow.

The next moment is all you need to focus on. Before long, the next moment turns into the moment after that, and the next five minutes, and the next hour. Whatever you need to do to stay sober for the very near future will get you through the worst of it.

Get in touch with a good sober friend and start talking. Go somewhere with a lot people where you can just walk around for a while. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, maybe even some sunshine. Find some good music and soak it up. Do something that distracts you from the cravings, changes your mood, gets you out of isolation, or gets you away from your triggers.

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Black-and-white thinking is a big part of addiction. Even when you are sober, this kind of negative, all-or-nothing outlook can make sobriety challenging. You may tend to look too far out into the future with many “what if” questions.

It will help you more to stay with your current moment of reality. When you get caught up in lots of worry about staying sober in the future, you lose sight of what you can do to be sober right here and now. The future will take care of itself. Stay where you have the power; you have power in the moment you are in at this very moment.

Rebuild Your Sobriety After Relapse

Take that one small step towards sobriety and slowly build your future again. Don’t let the emotional leftovers of your relapse take away the importance of this first step. It’s the beginning of your sobriety and it’s important. If you have trouble taking this first step, talk to a drug or alcohol rehab counselor for more help. You can call us anytime to learn more about getting and staying sober.

Long Term Health Effects of Alcoholism

The news often promotes studies that show the benefits of drinking alcohol. But when someone misuses or becomes addicted to alcohol, the list of associated health problems gets very long. These effects are different depending on a person’s gender, and is unfortunately worse for women. Because alcohol use is common and legal for adults, this is an article you just can’t miss. Before you take another drink, you need to understand whether you are putting yourself at risk.

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Gradual Organ Breakdown And Dysfunction

When a person’s body is subjected to the toxic effects from excessive alcohol, the effeciency and interconnection among the body’s organs starts to fall apart. Because the organs all depend on each other to keep the body going, big problems in one area can mean big problems for the whole system. This can eventually cause death.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Cirrhosis of the liver is scarring from excessive alcohol use This scarring is permanent and cannot be reversed. Scarring means that parts of the liver are non-funtional, causing the remaining portions of the liver to pick up the slack. As a person keeps drinking, they overwork the ever-shrinking remainders.

The liver’s job is to process and filter out toxins from the blood. If a person stops drinking, they can preserve the remaining unscarred portion of their liver. But if they continue to drink, they can eventually die from complete liver failure.

Alcohol-related hepatitis is another serious disease related to alcoholism. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and can cause abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyeballs, and skin), and fever. Like cirrhosis, it can be fatal if a person continues to drink. If they stop drinking, the effects of hepatitis can be partially or even completely reversable.

Alcohol-Related Heart Disease

It’s now well known that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can have some heart benefits, especially if a person already has a risk for heart attack. But if you go over the modest recommended amount, the benefits quickly disappear. Excessive drinking will increase the risk for stroke, various forms of heart disease, and blood pressure problems.

Other Alcohol-Related Health Problems

Heavy drinking causes capillaries near the surface of the skin to break. This gives the face and other exposed skin a ruddy blotchy look. This damage is generally not reversable.

The extra empty calories consumed by an alcoholic can also contribute to obesity.

Obesity can cause a great deal of strain on muscles, bones, and the circulatory system. While obesity is a problem on its own, obesity can also be a leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes can lead to loss of vision, poor circulation, organ damage, and loss of feeling in the extremities.

Brain cells are permanently damaged or killed with excessive drinking. Nerve damage can also develop over time. Bleeding ulcers and other digestive problems can emerge after years of irritation by large amounts of alcohol.

Health Risks From Excessive Drinking

So now you know a few of the worst health problems associated with alcoholism. Many of these can be fatal in one way or another. If you think you may be drinking excessively, call your doctor for help and more information.