Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

christmas dinner beer wine glasses cheers

The holidays can herald challenges for everyone: awkward family issues, travel stress, gift expenses, religious conflicts. Those with mental illnesses might encounter triggers for various symptoms and issues. Addiction is no exception and can be especially burdensome.

During a time of excess and indulgence, it takes even more self-control for people in recovery to abstain from substances. Friends and family members might offer them a drink or invite them to smoke. There is a higher frequency of ads for alcohol. It seems the entire world is consuming without a care, yet those in recovery need to be more cautious than at any other time of year. Continue reading Why the Holidays Are Difficult for People With Addictions

When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

miniature shopping bags and cart on computer

All of us have wasted money on items and services we don’t need, purchases we eventually realized were not worth the time or investment. Think about all the expired food you have had to throw out, tickets to movies that looked terrible, clothes you don’t wear (but the sale made them too tempting to pass up).

Sometimes the experience of shopping provides more pleasure than what we end up buying. Children feel joy simply walking through a Toys R’ Us. Going to Macy’s during the holidays is a tradition for many families. Later they realize they most likely spent way too much, but it’s OK. The New Year arrives, and expenses return to normal until the next holiday.

But what about people who treat every day like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas? This kind of excessive shopping isn’t only financially irresponsible. The behavior can be a mental health issue. Continue reading When Does Shopping Become an Addiction?

The Psychology of Greed

wolf of wall street scene best picture nomination

In The Wolf of Wall Street, stockbroker Jordan Belfort gains a massive fortune by committing crimes in the financial sector. Eventually his greed backs him into a corner. The F.B.I.’s pursuit leaves him with a choice: relinquish control of his company and give up his career in finance or risk losing everything. Despite words of caution from his father and the fact that he already has money and opportunities to last a lifetime, Belfort continues his pursuit of even more wealth. This mistake ultimately leads to his demise.

What exactly was running through Belfort’s mind when he made that decision? What about his innate characteristics and experiences made him so insatiably greedy, willing to put the desire for more income and assets over family and his own freedom?

There are millions of people like Belfort who have inspired researchers to explore the psychology of greed. Here is what psychologists have learned so far: Continue reading The Psychology of Greed

10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

addict siting with others drugs on table

Shame, guilt, desire, regret — these are only a few of the emotions people experience when they are dependent on a substance. This anguish has been fuel for thousands of beautiful, moving, raw and intense songs about addiction. For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol. Their songs have satisfied the curiosity of the sober and eased the loneliness of those who are struggling with the mental illness.

Rather than using subjective rankings to form our list, we thought about which songs most vividly describe the experience of addiction, how the illness can destroy lives and bonds. We looked for tracks that detail the mindset and behavior of someone who is falling into the void of substance abuse or realizing they have a problem (Keep in mind that recovery is the other side of the coin and deserves its own list).

Use our playlist to sympathize with those afflicted with addiction or remind yourself that millions of others carry the same burden. Here are our picks for songs about addiction (in no particular order): Continue reading 10 Songs About Addiction That Capture the Experience

The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

addiction support group therapy meeting

The fact that addiction, like other chronic diseases, can benefit from professional treatment isn’t something we’ve always known to be true. The roots of that understanding and its gradual evolution go back surprisingly far, however. While these do not follow a straight, linear progression, they offer some valuable lessons into what works best at improving recovery outcomes and where professional treatment is headed.

History’s Understanding of Addiction

The treatment legacy that today’s addiction professionals have inherited has helped to shed light on what works in improving recovery outcomes. For example, the concept of addiction as a disease — that alcoholism is an illness that can be medically treated — goes back quite a long way in our nation’s history. Continue reading The History (and Future) of Addiction Treatment

Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Ending the Negative Cycle of Addiction

suicide prevention yellow ribbon hand wood

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, we wanted to provide useful resources for people who have struggled to see how valuable their lives are. Let’s help them remember they are not alone. 

A life of addiction can lead to a lonely, isolated path. Pair that with the fact that more than 50% of suicides are directly related to drug and alcohol dependence, and the negative cycle of addiction becomes glaringly apparent. Whether people are addicted to drugs, prescription medication, or alcohol the first step is acknowledging that a problem is present.

If you are one of these people, do not make the mistake of thinking you are stuck and beyond repair. You can break free from your addiction or suicidal thoughts through the use of inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, a positive mindset, and a strong support system. Use this toolkit of helpful resources and tips to start along the path to recovery. Continue reading Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Ending the Negative Cycle of Addiction

Who Should You Share Your Addiction and Recovery With?

addiction counselor recovery group in circle

One of the clearest takeaways from the science regarding addiction treatment: Everyone in recovery needs love and support from other people to help them through the blood, sweat, and tears of overcoming drug or alcohol abuse.

Knowing specifically who to share your addiction and recovery with can be complicated and somewhat nerve-wracking, however. Telling someone you have an addiction entails higher risks than telling them you have asthma or a sprained ankle, after all. “Too Much Information” (TMI) shared with the wrong person can carry consequences you’ll regret. Addiction-related revelations to the wrong people can kill a job or relationship, even your recovery.

Who, then, should you share your addiction and recovery with? Continue reading Who Should You Share Your Addiction and Recovery With?

Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

man in bed at night smartphone

Seeking treatment for addiction to pornography is one of those uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid discussing. The issue is too big to ignore, though. More than 200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. The American Society of Addiction recognizes porn addiction as a legitimate health issue. Every day, mental health professionals use porn addiction therapy to help people relinquish their dependency and develop a healthy sexual mindset.

Porn addiction therapy often focuses on issues around shame, denial, loneliness, fear of intimacy, and sometimes social anxiety. It can shine a light on issues that “exist in the shadows,” said therapist L. Gordon Brewer, who has experience treating clients for sex and porn addiction. Brewer added that providing unconditional positive regard is especially important when helping people with addiction.

Therapists who treat clients for porn addiction commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] to address the issues behind the addiction. This form of psychotherapy attempts to change the client’s beliefs by showing them how their thoughts are irrational or detrimental. They also help clients understand how their excessive consumption of pornography is preventing them from living a full life and having a healthy mindset about sex, relationships, and intimacy. Continue reading Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

Woman on phone traveling

Most addiction recovery programs tell you it is not only OK to seek out help; it’s mandatory. Recovery is tough, and it’s extremely hard to do it all on your own. Even during relaxing times, you might need help staying sober. If you’re looking to plan a vacation that’s both rewarding and celebratory of your newfound sobriety, it’s important to know how to help yourself avoid the pitfalls of venturing away from your comfort zone.

Keep reading for three tips to help you do just that:

Continue reading 3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

My Lost Decade: A Story of Addiction and Recovery

bottle alcohol man rowing boat illustration

It is the middle of the morning and I am standing in front of a sliding pocket door. The pocket door is made of wood and my forehead rests against the surface. The door divides the apartment: me on one side and my roommate on the other. It’s not a particularly nice piece of wood — unfinished, some rudimentary bevels — but it is holding me up. Earlier in the morning, I was snorting Ritalin in my closet. I have a pretty indigo glass plate I use for crushing the pills that’s now scratched with use. I was looking down at a line of powder on the plate. It was my fifth or sixth pill of the night, at a time when I was snorting 20 or so pills in a day. With the straw in my hand, I considered a couple of truths: I’d stolen the pills from my roommate; I’d eventually be caught; part of me wanted to be caught; part of me hoped I’d die before that happened.

“We really have a problem,” I said to myself. When things got really bad — when I couldn’t believe the things I was doing — I’d start referring to myself as a group.

I snorted the line. The burn felt like pain and ecstasy and shame. But no matter how high I’d get myself those days — dripping sweat, heart jumping in my chest, and ringing in my ears — I couldn’t shake the feeling of loneliness. And later in the evenings, I’d start drinking whiskey to slow down my body. Rinse, lather, repeat. Continue reading My Lost Decade: A Story of Addiction and Recovery