5 Tips to Ditching the Shame Game of Addiction and Recovery

Time to stop the shame game. MWM

Print

Addiction is a very powerful venom, it’s a disease that can very easily destroy a person’s life and that of those around them. Something typically associated with addicted individuals is a social stigma because of the enormous misconception that addiction is just something that can be “shaken-off” or that they simply are not willing to stop consuming. However, this is not true; addiction is a very real and very dangerous disease. Due to these misconceptions there’s an ever present shame associated with situations involving addiction.

Addictive individuals are very fragile and vulnerable people, it doesn’t take much to trigger a feeling or emotion where for them the only solution is to run and do drugs or drink alcohol and shame can potentially be one of the worst triggers there is. It is not only the stench of shame coming from other people, but their internal shame as well. Addicts are usually their hardest judges, ironically that harsh judgement is what turns it into a vicious cycle they find themselves unable to escape: Something happens that compulses the individual to consume, after the high is gone they will absolutely hate themselves for using yet again; unable to bear with the shame they are casting upon themselves they turned once again for their substance of choice and the cycle repeats over and over. Add to this the external shaming coming from other people and society in general and it becomes a recipe for guaranteed disaster.

In order to start beating and leaving that vicious cycle it’s necessary to drop the shame game, here are 5 tips that can help you a lot in doing so.

1. Understanding Addiction as a Disease

The nature of addiction is a very sneaky one. As a disease it doesn’t present itself with traditional symptoms and before the person, or their immediate circle of friends and family notest, it’s typically too late and the person has devolved to some degree into addiction. But just as you wouldn’t blame or shame someone for getting cancer or diabetes, there is also no reason for falling victim to addiction, support, care and professional are the elements that’ll pull the person through.

2. Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Addicts are fragile people, due to this fragility lies the reason why shame can penetrate and hit so hard, specially self inflicted shame. In order to combat that self shaming soldiers must be summoned for the battle. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can be a fantastic source of moral support that can help strengthen those inner walls and fix those crack that allow shame in so easily. This can also be a very good opportunity to reconnect with friends and family if the person has become socially isolated, so long as those circles are not a source of external shame themselves.

3. Make Amends

Addiction carries a lot of consequences, some of the biggest come from the harm addicts cause while under the influence to themselves but specially to others, this is one of the biggest sources of shame. Being honest about one’s mistakes and making amends for it opens the path to a more secure and stable state, it can also open the gates of forgiveness for both the addict and the people they caused harm to and begin to understand that there was never ill intent, just a tragic and terrifying disease at work. Liberation is one of the key elements in getting rid of shame.

4. Brain Growth Activities

Constant and prolonged consumption of drugs and alcohol distort and affect the brain’s chemistry, this is why addicts experience such revolting changes in mood and why in some cases their personality is drastically affected, being aware of this can be a great source of shame because the person doesn’t recognize themselves anymore. To put it in simple words the brain lack will power.

To help overcome; it’s recommended that the person engages in activities that promote healthy growing of the prefrontal cortex section of the brain, which is the section that takes care of the cognitive functions such as social engagement and decision making. Activities such as yoga, meditation, aerobics exercises; even brain teasers and logic problem solving activities can help in this endeavor.

Ditching the Shame Game

Just as it is important to understand addiction as a disease, it’s also important to get a grasp on some of the by products of this. Shame, both internal and external, is one of the more dangerous components that threatens the individual to never escape and recover from the disease.

Only through support and care from family, friends and support groups that can encourage the person to drop the shame and get professional help, will them then start having again any semblance of a normal life through recovery and eventually sobriety.

Do you know someone who is battling addiction? Show this article to them and share your personal experience with everyone else by sounding off in the comments section below!

About today’s guest blogger:

andyAndy was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. He has been sober for 9 years now! Andy spends his time helping others with their recovery.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

How Interactions at School can Lead to Teen Addiction

Pay attention to your kid’s school day. It may offer clues to mindset and the unfortunate possibility of substance use. MWM

Print

Imagine that you are 16 years old and you’re in science class. The class is divided into groups, each focused on a science project. Suddenly a bully in your class throws a spitball at you. It hits you in the back of the neck and it hurts. Your group members see it and they laugh.

Or imagine being in the hallway talking to your girlfriend and you see her make eye contact with another guy.  Or you might imagine that you are in PE class and you are the last one chosen to be on one of the two teams. Your embarrassment grows as everyone else is picked but you.

The point is that all these scenarios trigger feelings. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation, and as a result, you’ve felt anger, disappointment, disrespected, embarrassment, or shame. These are difficult feelings for someone to experience, let alone a teen who may not yet have the maturity to hold such strong feelings. To make matters worse, if a teen is experiencing difficulty at home (alcoholic parent, domestic violence, parental divorce, abusive parent, etc.) then the interactions at school may be making already existing feelings worse.

Yet, even without challenging situations at home, a teen can find it hard to be at school. In general, teens tend to experience the following:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Not wanting to be made fun of
  • Not wanting to lose a friend
  • Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings
  • The desire to appear grown up
  • The desire to appear in control
  • Not having a clear picture of other’s desire
  • Not understanding how to avoid or handle a situation
  • Not knowing how to say no

When a teen feels emotionally uncomfortable and especially if they feel overwhelmed by their feelings, they may be at risk to saying yes to drugs or alcohol. They may give in more easily to peer pressure, or they may even seek out drugs in order to feel better.

Parents and caregivers should keep in mind that strong emotional reactions can interfere with a teen’s ability to concentrate, focus, and use intellect. Logic and reason compared to emotional distress utilize two different parts of the brain. This is another reason teen’s may reach for drugs and alcohol – to help them do better in school if their emotional state continues to interfere with their ability to think clearly. As you might expect, the more that teens choose to use drugs and alcohol, the more they become vulnerable to addiction.

Typical reasons why a teen or young adult may be drawn to drugs include:

  • peer pressure
  • access to substances (even in the school environment)
  • inability to say no
  • inability to manage strong feelings
  • to feel accepted
  • experiment
  • manage the symptoms of a mental illness
  • to do better academically
  • to feel better

Teens spend a large amount of their time at school. The interactions they have with peers, teachers, principals, counselors, and coaches often influence how a teen feels about themselves, particularly because adolescence is a time when teens are so sensitive about who they are and how they fit in. If a teen frequently feels uncomfortable about themselves, they may choose to regularly use drugs or alcohol to feel better.

Unfortunately, the use of substances is often a downward spiral. As a teen continues to use drugs, the more a dependency on them grows. And the stronger the dependency, the harder it will be for a teen to function in school, in relationships, or at work.

If you are a parent or caregiver, consider the following suggestions to support your teen’s emotional stability, and ultimately, the ability to say no to drugs:

  1. Talk to your teen. Let them know you care and that you’re there to provide support. Let them know you’re interested in who they are and what they enjoy. Get to know your teen so that you feel you’re in touch with their life.
  2. Let your teen know you don’t approve of drug or alcohol use. Teens who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use. When teens get the message that their parents do not care or that their parents approve of their drug use, teens will often experiment and continue to use substances.
  3. Teach your teen how to have fun without substances. One of the biggest influences of substance use among teens is the idea that getting drunk or high creates a fun experience that they otherwise couldn’t have. If a teen knows that there are other exciting experiences available without the use of substances, they are more likely to say no.

These are a few suggestions for keeping your teen away from substances, even when interactions at school become challenging. However, if you find that your teen is experiencing great difficulty, don’t hesitate to seek the support of a mental health professional.

About Guest Blogger: Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D.

jeff-nalin-headshotDr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been a respected leader in the field of emotional health, behavioral health and teen drug treatment for more than 15 years. During that time, Dr. Nalin has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2017 Our Young Addicts              All Rights Reserved

Valuable Evals

Short of discovering physical evidence of drugs/paraphernalia and alcohol or finding your kid* under the influence, it’s often hard to know for certain if your kid is using – or to know the extent of the situation. Perhaps this is the first time. You may consider it’s just experimentation or partying. Or you may be concerned that it’s out-right addiction. It’s not always easy to tell.

Regardless of what you’re feeling, remember that you are feeling something that’s concerning. That’s ALWAYS something to pay attention to. Why? Because we know that substance use will damage their developing brains, which don’t reach full maturation until age 22 for young women and age 25 for young men.

The fact that you’ve discovered substance use is reason to investigate further.

Keep in mind that “investigate further” does not mean jumping to conclusions or overreacting. It starts with observations, gathering facts, noting concerns, paying attention and keeping track of things – at least for a while.

This is an ideal time to reach out to other adults in your kid’s life to ask if they’ve observed anything of concern.

Ask teachers, coaches, activity leaders. Talk to friends and neighbors. Express concern and then just listen. But, still listen your gut.

It’s also a good time to talk to your kid. No accusations. No judgements. Just open the conversation. Listen instead of lecture. Share your perspective on substance use. Don’t expect the truth and don’t be naïve.

Again, listen to your gut.

If there is even a tiny inkling that there is substance use, now is the time to consider a professional evaluation.

There’s no one right or wrong way to go about this. The important thing is to do something. An evaluation now provides a baseline for the future.

I’m no expert, but there are three primary categories of evaluation. All of these proved valuable for our family in the early days of our son’s substance use. At the end of the blog, and on our website, find resources for the following:

  • Drug Testing. From the drugstore variety to clinical lab tests, these may be helpful in finding out if your kid is using and what they may be using. A word to the wise, however, don’t rely on these. For example, marijuana (THC) stays in the system for up to 30 days; but other drugs including stimulants and opioids may only stay in the system for hours. Random drug testing may express the strength of your concerns and the extent to which you believe drug-free is best for your kid.
  • Chemical Health Assessment. This entails having your kid meet with a licensed professional to complete a comprehensive interview. These pros know that your kid may not be telling the complete truth and this factors into their assessment. The outcome is usually a set of recommendations – everything from “keep an eye on things” to a recommendation for outpatient or in-patient treatment. Usually, this conversation begins to set up a correlation between use and consequences as well as stage of readiness for change. There may be a fee for this assessment or it may be covered by insurance. Many counties offer free or sliding fee options.
  • Mental Health Evaluation (Psych Eval, for short). This entails having your kid meet with a mental health professional. It can rule out psychosis and get a sense of whether there is anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, and other common co-occurring disorders that are prevalent among young adults and substance users. Again, there may be free assessments or insurance-covered options. For our family, this was one of the most telling assessments and ultimately it led to #SoberSon going into drug treatment.

Things to keep in mind:

  • An evaluation is just a starting point.
  • An evaluation is often a baseline and there may be need for future evaluations as your kid’s use continues.
  • An evaluation is not a diagnosis per se, rather offers a set of recommendations for developing a treatment plan which will likely include additional evaluations.
  • If your kid is under the age of 18, you can set up the appointment and insist that they participate.
  • Once your kid is 18 or older, your kid must agree to participate and the “results” are not available to you unless your kids authorizes a release of the findings. This can be a true challenge for concerned parents.

Resources for more information:

Our Young Addicts – links to resources:

https://ouryoungaddicts.com/links/

An overview of screening tools (SAMSHA)

http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/screening-tools

Another overview of tools (NIDA)

https://www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals/tool-resources-your-practice/screening-assessment-drug-testing-resources/chart-evidence-based-screening-tools-adults

Drug Testing Info: Burlington Labs

http://www.burlingtonlabs.com/

In Minnesota, two evaluations sources were particularly good for us. Google your community to find local sources.

Prairie Care

http://prairie-care.com/

Rule 25 – Chemical Assessment

http://www.resource-mn.org/chemical-mental-health/intake-assessment/rule-25/

*Our kids will always be kids no matter their age. However, in these blog posts when I use the word kid, I’m referring to young people ages 12 to 22.

©2017 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved.

 

5 Ways You Can Support Your Kid in Their Recovery

Print

Recovery brings new opportunities and challenges for families. Guest blogger, Carl T. , shares five ideas to help support your loved one. MWM

The risk of relapsing after you have recovered from drug addiction, never leaves entirely, however, statistics suggest that it’s more likely to occur within the first few months of recovery. Addicts feel more vulnerable, they are going through many physical and psychological changes, and they feel anxious or stressful this, if not handled properly, could end in relapse.

 

In recovery, you learn to develop coping strategies effective enough to support your sobriety; unfortunately, they take some time to settle, and on the early stages of rehab as a recovering addict there is always the further stress of the lingering withdrawal symptoms. Nevertheless, don’t lose hope, recovery is a struggle but with time it will become easier and the addict’s resolve will strengthen.

To increase the chances of avoiding a relapse, it is always important to have support from your family and loved ones, it is never easy to love an addict, but you are one of the most important keys for them to recover from substance abuse. Here are some ways you can help your loved one during their early stages of recovery:

Learn to recognize the signs of relapse

Being able to recognize the signs of relapse can help you to learn proactive steps that should be taken to avoid the addict’s temptation to go back into their old habits of using. For each person, relapse can be far more dangerous than for others.

A single trigger can send someone back down the path of destruction and it’s important to educate yourself and learn about this topic. Learning how to recognize these warnings and reaching out for support is key to a path of a healthy recovery. Some common signs can include:

  • Easily annoyed or angered
  • Increased feelings of hopelessness or negativity
  • Loss of interest in family, friends and activities that they would usually love.
  • Deliberately putting themselves in risky situations
  • Increased stress levels

Signs can vary according to each person, but if you feel that something is not right your love one, sit down and talk with them, be patient and understanding. Figure out together what their triggers can be and enforce a plan to avoid situations that could cause them to plummet back to step one. The first few months are vital and very fragile to the result of their successful recovery.

Learn to have fun

Learning how to have fun without using will be a difficult step but an incredible valuable one; be persistent and dedicate time, tolerance and as many tries as necessary so you can help your loved one to figure this out. Start simple, go to see a comedy show with your loved one, or take up exercise.  Do they enjoy photography? Encourage them to go outside and take some pictures. Maybe spring-cleaning your house is more therapeutic for your loved one.

If you have the resources, take a trip somewhere relaxing like a natural park and go see some beautiful landscapes to help them get in touch with their spiritual side. While going on a trip is always exciting, remember that it’s important to take the person that’s going through recovery to places appropriate for a recovering addict. For example, going to a beach destination is not recommended due to its high triggers for relapse due to it’s laid back, drinking lifestyle.

Whatever their idea of fun may be, learn to discover new ways that they find relaxing and are positive for their recovery.

Learn to set and complete goals

Sitting down with your loved one to talk about their recovery, their short-term goals and their ambitions after recovery could be very beneficial for both you and for them. Creating short and long-term goals, and making plans to accomplish them fully, will bring the addict motivation and determination, key roles into the path of recovery.

Learn that goal setting is an ongoing process that will continue for the rest of their lives. Focusing clearly on the life that they want to live, free of substances is important. It will push them to work and make an effort to reach the life they want to live. As silly as the goal may seem, learn to take it seriously and give your continuous support.

Learn to be proud of milestones

Support your loved one by acknowledging the progress they have. In the 12-step sober programs, anniversaries and other milestones are a big deal. 24 hours, 30 days, 60 days and 90 days all deserve to be praised for and you can learn to do it from home as well.

A great idea to show your support in a positive way is to attend families support groups, they will guide through the path of encouraging to your loved one in a way that is constructive and makes them feel succeeded.

Learn to be patient

Recovery is a long, complicated process. It is natural for people to make mistakes during their recovery and it’s important for them to know that their family and friends still support them when they slip up. Remember that addiction is an illness and not a choice.

Educate yourself, read books and consult professionals so you can understand what your loved one is going through. If your loved one relapses, know that it’s not because they’re doing it to spite you or because they are ‘weak’, but because they have an illness that needs to be treated and overcome daily.

Whether your loved one is one day or three months into their recovery path, with a bit of patience, love, support and understanding you are helping to contribute to the new healthier version of the person you care about.

Are there any tips that you feel that we left out? Please leave a comment and share them with us below.

About Our Guest Blogger:

I’m Carl Towns, a 28-year-old wanna-be writer; I am also a recovering addict in the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed on the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol (among other things). I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2017 Our Young Addicts      All Rights Reserved