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?

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

The following is intended for readers 18+

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

A Quick Guide to Social Media and Smartphone Addiction [Infographic]

unplugging turning off smartphone illustration

Spending too much time on a smartphone or social media can have negative effects on mental health, according to a wealth of research. If you want to protect your mind from your smartphone, start by getting educated. Check out the infographic below for some quick tips and insights on managing smartphone and social media use. Continue reading A Quick Guide to Social Media and Smartphone Addiction [Infographic]

Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

man drinking bottle bar

Today, it’s widely accepted by major scientific associations that addiction is a medical illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA] and the American Psychiatric Association [APA] both define addiction as a “brain disease,” and the DSM-V lists criteria for classifying addiction as a mental health condition called “Substance Use Disorder.”

However, it wasn’t always this way. In the United States, there’s a long history of vilifying not only drugs and alcohol, but also the people who use them. Less than a century ago, addiction wasn’t seen as an illness outside of one’s control, but rather as a moral failing rooted in one’s personality.

In the 1930s, when scientists first began to study addiction, the prevailing view was that addicts were simply those too weak in willpower to say no. Because addiction wasn’t seen as an illness, there was no concept of treating it with rehabilitation centers and 12-step programs. Instead, heavy users of drugs and alcohol were seen as degenerates and criminals and were treated accordingly; they were imprisoned or institutionalized so as not to be a nuisance to society. Continue reading Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

Attending to Your Mental Health During Addiction Recovery

So much of my work, whether in individual counseling with clients or directing the day-to-day programming of their clinical experience in rehab, has been about the business of helping people in recovery improve their mental health.

More than a decade of work in the field of addiction treatment has reinforced, for me, that taking care of your mental health is a critical component in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. It is one of the most important factors in achieving long-term sobriety and living a happy and fulfilling life in the process.

What Is Mental Health?

But if mental health is so important to recovery, what is it really? Mental health refers to the state of our emotional, psychological and social make-up — the interrelated thoughts, feelings and behaviors that heavily influence our life choices and experiences, the way we handle stress and our relationships with others.

In this sense taking care of our mental health is a whole lot more complex than other forms of physical hygiene that are good for us, like washing hands before meals or taking a daily multi-vitamin. Here are some pointers for how to take care of your mental health when you’re in recovery. Continue reading Attending to Your Mental Health During Addiction Recovery

11 Lessons for Success in Addiction Recovery

sad woman hand on chin

The following is intended for readers 18+

I have worked as a counselor for more than 25 years. For 11 of those years I have worked as an Addiction Therapist. I teach on the Psychology of Addiction, but my experience is not only from my day job or my academic role.

I have had bouts of addiction to food and I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Growing up, my father was an alcoholic. The impact of a childhood lived with a parent who is addicted to a substance can have long lasting echoes.

Addiction is personal for me. I care a great deal about people who suffer from addiction and long for freedom. What I would like to share with you is some of the lessons I have learned as a therapist who specializes in addiction and recovery. Continue reading 11 Lessons for Success in Addiction Recovery

Addiction: Why do some people become addicted, while others do not?

why people become addicted

Guest Blog by Dr. Helen Nasser / Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National Institute of Health

Drinking a glass of scotch or eating a piece of cake — these are the types of behaviors many of us take enjoyment in. The vast majority indulge in these behaviors on occasion. For some of us, these behaviors become more than casual indulgences and can develop into alcoholism or overeating.

Continue reading Addiction: Why do some people become addicted, while others do not?