Tag Archives: co-occurring disorder

Trauma, PTSD, and Substance Use Disorder

trauma

Trauma can dramatically impact the course of one’s life; if it is left unaddressed, adverse experiences can lead to premature death. A new report on mortality from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that childhood trauma is a public health issue that we must address. The report shows that one in six people across the United States has experienced four or more kinds of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.

Trauma can take many different shapes: neglect, abuse, familial separation (i.e., adoption), and exposure to mental health or substance abuse problems. Each person is different; an event may be more traumatic for one person than it is for another. There is no way to predict how an experience will influence a young person.

Author Junot Díaz, writing for The New Yorker in a piece titled: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma, said, “Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before.” His writing lays out how an adverse childhood experience influenced everything, from relationships to employment.

In the field of addiction medicine, professionals are acutely aware of the correlation between childhood trauma and substance use and abuse. Paradoxically, many will use drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated trauma, but the practice has the unintended effect of placing such people at risk of being re-traumatized. It’s a vicious cycle, an ouroboros: a snake eating its tail.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events, at any point in life, can have disastrous consequences like the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, when traumas or ACEs occur during one’s formative years, the risk of experiencing more significant problems is much higher. A previous study from the CDC on adverse childhood experiences found:

  • For each ACE, the risk for early initiation of substance abuse increases two to four times.
  • Individuals with three or more ACEs have higher rates of depression, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart disease.
  • Men and women with five or more ACEs are seven to 10 times more likely to become substance abusers.
  • Almost two-thirds of intravenous drug users report ACEs in their history.

Trauma, whether it occurs as a child or in adulthood, must be addressed by professionals. Too often, the lingering effects of trauma are left untreated; PTSD becomes a person’s reality, and self-medication ensues. Drugs and alcohol can provide temporary relief, but the practice places people at risk of developing alcohol and substance-related issues. PTSD and addiction are common co-occurring disorders.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about one-third of people exposed to trauma develop PTSD. Moreover, 75 percent of people in substance abuse treatment report having experienced abuse and trauma. While men are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events, women are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

With Veterans Day around the corner, we must discuss rampant PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD) in the military. As we pointed out, exposure to adverse events can lead people down a precarious path. If an individual doesn’t receive care and support for their condition, then they are likely to resort to drugs and alcohol for temporary relief.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. What’s more, almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD has PTSD as well.

Fortunately, effective treatments exist to address both PTSD and SUD simultaneously. Those who experience trauma as a child or in adulthood, who develop use disorders can and do recover.

We have found that both posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use can be treated concurrently [meaning, at the same time].” — Ronald E. Acierno, Ph.D., Vice-Chair For Veteran Affairs and Executive Director Of The UTHealth Trauma And Resilience Center

Orange County Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

If you are struggling with PTSD, SUD, or both, then please contact PACE Recovery Center at your earliest convenience. We specialize in the treatment of men who face challenges related to addiction and mental health disorders. We offer several different types of programs to serve the unique needs of each client best.

Recovery begins with a phone call or email to an admissions counselor. Please take the first step: 800-526-1851.

Mental Illness Alerts on HBO and the “It’s OK” Campaign

mental illness

Talking about mental health is paramount; we need to have discussions about mental illness to combat stigma and encourage people to seek treatment. Historically, Americans have shied away from conversing about mental health disorders, sweeping them under the rug in hopes they will disappear. However, with one in five American adults facing the realities of mental and behavioral health problems, we can no longer ignore this public health crisis.

Right now, millions of Americans are suffering in silence from mental illnesses; such individuals feel isolated and alone in their struggles. Many have trouble relating to their peers at school and at work. When individuals feel apart from society, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-harming behaviors.

Connection is the key to keeping mental illness at bay; those who feel disconnected will often use drugs and alcohol to escape their feelings. The practice can lead to dependence and addiction, and self-medication puts people at risk of overdose. Conversely, when individuals feel like they have support and compassion, they can find the courage to take action and seek treatment.

Several recent national observances have highlighted the need for having conversations about mental and behavioral health disorders. As we pointed out last week, October is National Depression Education & Awareness Month. Campaigns to raise awareness about mental health get more people talking about the benefits of compassion and how it gives people the strength to seek help.

Advocating for mental health in the 21st Century goes beyond annual awareness campaigns. A number of companies are doing their part to open up discussions about mental illness. Television and streaming networks are among those who hope to encourage people to seek treatment and recovery.

HBO Tackles Mental Illness Stigma

The premium network HBO has a history of creating programs that deal with sensitive subjects. Several HBO documentary series have helped raise awareness about addiction and treatment in America.

HBO Shows like In Treatment and, more recently, Euphoria are two examples of series that deal with mental illness and addiction. The hit show Girls touched on mental health disorders as well; the main character Hannah struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tony Soprano of The Sopranos battled anxiety and panic attacks. The network understands the importance of featuring characters in their shows who face the same problems as millions of Americans.

HBO has a new initiative to get more people talking about mental illness and encourage struggling men and women to reach out for support, The New York Times reports. The “It’s OK” campaign will involve beginning certain shows – that deal with mental health – with an alert that points out the challenges a character is facing.

The campaign will not only apply to new shows; the alerts will be applied retroactively to older shows like The Sopranos, according to the article. The alerts will conclude with imploring viewers who require assistance to reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

We are not saying ‘viewer discretion is advised,’” Jason Mulderig, HBO’s Vice President of Brand and Product Marketing, said in a statement. “We are saying ‘viewer conversation is encouraged.’”

In conjunction with “It’s OK,” the network is releasing a series of videos called “Doctor Commentaries.” The short videos feature Dr. Ali Mattu, a clinical psychologist, unpacking specific show scenes that deal with mental health disorders. The first episode is available; Dr. Mattu examines OCD in the show Girls. Please take a moment to watch below (please be advised, there is some adult content):


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Center

It’s a promising sign that HBO is committed to the awareness and destigmatization of mental health issues. Other streaming services like Netflix added disclaimers to their programs that deal with mental illness and suicide. Providing resources before and after shows that focus on mental illness can encourage men and women to seek assistance.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male who is struggling with behavioral or mental health disorders. Our gender-specific treatment center can help you begin the healing process and teach you how to lead a healthy and fulfilling life in recovery. If you meet the criteria for mental illness and a co-occurring substance use disorder, we offer a dual diagnosis program that treats both conditions simultaneously.

Stigma Curing During Mental Illness Awareness Week

stigma

While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, October 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW 2018. Naturally, there is some overlap between these two essential observances—namely—ending the stigma of psychological disorders like addiction and depression.

We cover stigma on this blog frequently due to our understanding that there exist forces preventing Americans from seeking treatment. More people need to see the person, not the illness. Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Given that individuals living with untreated mental health conditions are at significant risk of self-harm and suicide, collective action is needed immediately.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness or NAMI chose Cure Stigma as its theme this year for Mental Health Month and MIAW 2018. The organization would like it to be known that: together we can encourage more people to seek treatment. NAMI’s campaign manifesto reads as follows:

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.

Mental Health Facts

Most Americans are more than likely unaware of just how pervasive mental illness is around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people are living with depression. What’s more, the vast majority of the afflicted have never undergone therapy, counseling, or treatment.

The truth is that too many people have little understanding of mental disease; lack of knowledge – ignorance – is a contributing factor in persons lacking empathy and compassion. If a more significant number of Americans could appreciate that mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States, maybe they’d exhibit greater understanding. With that in mind, let’s take a look some of the more recent figures to bring depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction in to focus.

Here are the facts:

  • 60 million people in the United States are living with a mental illness.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a severe mental illness in a given year.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

Armed with such information, anyone can see that we have a real crisis on our hands when it comes to mental disease. This week provides an opportunity to take to social media and spread the message that stigma hurts us all; that empathy and compassion save lives; and, that together we can affect real change.

Fighting Stigma On World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018! The focus this year is Young People and Mental Health In A Changing World.

mental health

The World Health Organization writes:

Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students. This is the focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

In recognition of MIAW and World Mental Health Day, we hope that more people will open their hearts to friends and family members affected by mental illness. Mental health disorders are not going anywhere, but we can make stigma disappear. As a result, millions of people will find the courage to seek help and go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

We mentioned above that more than ten million Americans are living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is paramount that such individuals receive treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis concurrently for successful outcomes. If you are a young adult male whose life is unmanageable due to mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our program. Parents of young men are also welcome to reach out to our team to learn how we can help your child break the cycle of addiction and heal from mental illness.

During World Mental Health Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week, PACE is spreading the message that the stigma virus is 100% curable; and, the antidote is compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

mental health

September is a crucial month regarding mental health in America. Those who follow our blog know that this is National Recovery Month, which we covered in some detail last week. Hopefully, many of you have taken the time to promote this observance on social media. Now is also a time to celebrate people in recovery and acknowledge the treatment service providers who help men and women make critical changes in their lives. When we shine a spotlight on those committed to leading productive lives while abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we encourage others to seek help.

When alcohol and substance use disorders go without treatment, the outcome is usually tragic. Addiction is a progressive mental illness with no known cure, and like any mental illness left untreated, the symptoms often become deadly. One need only look at the overdose death toll year-after-year or consider the 88,000 Americans who die from alcohol-related causes annually, to see evidence of the disease’s destructive nature. However, we have the power to reduce the number of people who succumb each year by eroding the stigma of mental health conditions. The simple fact is that evidence-based therapies exist; people can and do recover from diseases of the mind provided they have assistance.

While many people who fall victim to addiction do so owing to physical health complications, sadly there are some who decide they’ve had enough. The vicious cycle of addiction takes a significant toll on the psyche of many individuals, and some make fateful decisions that are irreversible. Such persons come to believe that treatment is inaccessible, they convince themselves that recovery is an impossible dream; such resignations can result in suicidal ideations or worse—attempts on one’s life.

Eroding Stigma Saves Lives

One of the most efficient ways to take the wind out of stigma’s sails is by having real conversations about mental health disorders. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and alcohol and substance use disorder are treatable, but many people are of different opinions. What’s more, many of those who live with such afflictions fear what others will think of them if they seek help. It’s as if reaching out for support makes one’s condition more real, and it's impossible to hide an illness from others if treatment is sought.

Men and women don’t develop a fear of seeking help for no reason, much of society either consciously or subconsciously looks unfavorably upon mental illness. Even individuals with afflicted loved ones can still harbor misconceptions about mental health and the possibility of recovery. Much of society could stand to alter their understanding of mental illness and take a more compassionate approach. People who suspect a friend or family member is battling mental illness can affect change by merely asking how said person is doing or if they need help. It doesn’t matter the type of disease in question, everyone benefits when we open up the dialogue on mental health.

National Recovery Month aside, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) asks that we reduce suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another and talk about mental illness. The organization points out:

We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

National Suicide Prevention Week

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a startling figure: more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. Major depressive disorder, just one of several mental health conditions, is believed to be the leading cause of mal-health on the planet. It probably will not surprise you to learn that depression is the most common mental disorder associated with suicide. It’s also worth mentioning that depression and addiction often go hand-in-hand, more than half of the people living with a use disorder meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental illness. Moreover, depression like addiction is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The AFSP reports that only 4 out of 10 people receive mental health treatment.

One in four people who die by self-harm is under the influence at the time of their death, according to the organization. It is of the utmost importance that everyone in recovery and those with affected loved ones, spread the message that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength. We need to end the pervasive association that seeking assistance is an indication of weakness or failure. There is no time like the present, and there is certainly no time to waste: each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. The AFSP shares that:

  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age (white men in particular).
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

This week and throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to talk about mental illness and what can happen without treatment. We can all benefit from learning the warning signs of mental disorders and share messages with each other that promote treatment. If you would like to get involved, you can find shareable images here. On social media, the hashtags #SuicidePrevention #StopSuicide #RealConvo are trending. Together we can fight suicide!

When addiction accompanies depression, bipolar disorder or any mental disorder for that matter, it heightens people's risk of suicide exponentially. However, when individuals receive simultaneous treatment for use disorder and their dual diagnosis, long-term recovery is achievable. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men living with co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to our team at your earliest convenience to learn more about our evidence-based programs.

Taking Addiction Recovery to New Heights

addiction

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a crucial facet of addiction recovery. In order to turn your life around you must exercise commitment and fortitude; sticking to a program is trying at times, and the slightest of obstacles can place your recovery in jeopardy. It is vital to remember—at any stage in a person’s quest for self-care—that the use of mind-altering substances is but a symptom of a more significant issue: an inability to take life as it comes, essentially. Take away the chemicals, and there still exist multiple aspects of one’s life that lead a person to begin looking for an antidote to the issue of Self.

More than half of people living with use disorders have a dual diagnosis, which means they are contending with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. When psychological comorbidity is a factor, individuals seeking recovery will find achieving their goals next to impossible unless the co-occurring illness is addressed along with the addiction. The good news is that people who seek treatment for alcohol and substance use have an opportunity to deal with every aspect of their mental health. At the time of discharge, clients are better equipped to manage their depression for instance, through utilizing tools to help cope with their symptoms.

People who do the work in treatment will find that they no longer need to rely on their old methods for coping with life. With continued professional therapy, participation in a program of recovery (i.e., 12 Steps or SMART Recovery®), and an influential group of peers to support you along the way, long-term recovery is made possible. Of course, people can have all the things mentioned above and still run into problems, particularly in the first months after treatment.

Helping Recovery Along

Those who take measures to go above and beyond, whenever possible, position themselves not only to make progress but to make it last. If you have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, then you have an excellent foundation for building a new life. In treatment, you learned that you will always be a work in progress; and, what you do moving forward and every decision that you make must be in service to your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The days of selfish and self-centeredness and self-harm and self-defeating behaviors have to be behind you, if the seed of recovery is to grow.

In the early days, weeks, and months of working a program, one must face difficult feelings that arise head on without chemical assistance. In treatment, many safeguards keep dangerous types of thinking in check. Being surrounded by people working toward similar goals and a team of addiction professionals—many of whom are themselves in recovery—act as safeguards to acting on cravings and triggers. After treatment, one must be quick to replicate the layers of support provided while in rehab.

In whichever modality (program) you subscribe to, go to a meeting and put yourself out there as soon as you can after rehab. Introduce yourself to people before and after the meeting. Ask those who you meet if you can get to know them better over coffee, for example. Get phone numbers, use them, and develop relationships with like-minded people. Those same individuals may one day talk you out of a relapse, which is nothing short of saving your life.

Service Gets You Out of Your “Self”

Going to meetings is crucial and fostering relationships is critical, but being of service to others can take your program to a higher plane. Addicts and alcoholics are prone to get lost in their head. If people in recovery stay busy in productive ways, they are less likely to harp on the past or spend too much time dreaming of a future yet to arrive. Being present is a pillar of addiction recovery! With that in mind, helping others is an exceptional method for staying in the here-and-now.

People who work a program glean quickly that service is invaluable to recovery. Meetings offer service opportunities, of course, but you can be of help to your peers in other ways, too. Merely talking to someone at a meeting who has less time than you, could be a move that keeps that person from acting on thoughts of using. Assisting someone with their “service commitment” is another way to affect change in your peers' lives. Providing unsolicited assistance is a useful way to comport yourself at meetings. What’s more, it feels wonderful to know that you have made other people’s day just a little bit brighter; a realization that makes you worry less about things in life that are out of your control.

You aid the greater community if time permits it, by looking for local volunteer opportunities. Houses of worship and community centers are ideal places to find ways you can help others. In the process of volunteering, you will have less time to worry about things that cannot change. Along the way, please remember to trust in what you were taught in treatment — trust in the process.

Addiction Treatment and Lasting Recovery

PACE Recovery Center, located in Huntington Beach, CA, is the ideal place to begin the life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We offer gender-specific treatment to men struggling with use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions who would like to overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol and lead a meaningful and productive life.

PTSD Awareness Month: Learn, Connect, and Share

PTSD

June is PTSD Awareness Month; we can all help those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a severe iteration of mental illness that requires treatment and daily maintenance; those who recover rely on a combination of trauma-focused psychotherapy, counseling, and non-narcotic medications. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of individuals living with the affliction never receive the kind of care they require; such persons are apt to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope which only serves to make the underlying condition more serious.

Those of you in recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorder are no strangers to trauma; after all, people’s active addiction often involves one uncomfortable experience after another. In some cases, traumatic experiences precipitate the use of mind-altering substances; in other scenarios, people’s substance use puts them into situations where experiencing trauma is almost a foregone conclusion. Human beings are capable of putting themselves at great peril due to mental illness; as a result, one both inflicts wrongs upon others or are their self the victim of another person's’ wrongdoing; in either case, being OK in one’s skin and sleeping at night is not an easy endeavor.

The painful incidents that occur during active addiction often lead to a vicious cycle; using leads to trauma and one of the reasons people continue to use is to quiet the internal echoes of one’s past discomforting episodes, and at a certain point, one loses sight of where the trauma ends, and they begin.

Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before." —Junot Díaz

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Not surprisingly, PTSD is one of the more common co-occurring mental health disorders accompanying alcohol and substance use disorder. While treatment is effective and long-term recovery is possible, people living with the afflictions like PTSD often struggle accessing assistance. Encouraging people to seek help is of the utmost importance, and society benefits when those struggling receive aid.

In order for individuals to get treatment we first need to discuss what the condition looks like; the signs manifest differently in each person, but the National Center for PTSD lists four symptoms:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can't trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

PTSD, Self-Harm, and Suicide

Most people associate post-traumatic stress with combat; those returning from conflicts overseas often experience lingering effects from exposure to trauma. However, PTSD doesn’t just affect veterans, a noteworthy percentage of general public struggles with the condition, as well; in fact:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).

In the absence of treatment, people rely on using drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings of hopelessness, shame, and despair. While mind-altering substances may quiet one’s anxiety and depression, alcohol and substance use tend only to exacerbate the underlying condition. It’s worth mentioning again that self-medicating mental illness is a vicious cycle; the behavior is a sure path to addiction, self-defeating behaviors, and self-harm. There is a robust association between PTSD and suicidal ideation or attempts. If you or a loved one is contending with thoughts of self-harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Encouraging PTSD Treatment

Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care." - Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD

During June, the National Center for PTSD asks that everyone take some time to Learn about PTSD and the valid forms of available treatments; Connect with support services for yourself or a loved one—reach out for help; and Share what you learn about PSTD with the world via social media. When we work together to take the mystery out of mental illness, we can encourage more people to seek help.

At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one learn how to navigate life without resorting to drug and alcohol to cope with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Our highly qualified team of addiction professionals can address your co-occurring mental health disorders and teach you effective coping skills. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

Addiction Recovery: Summer Action for Winter Security

addiction recovery

Summer is knocking on the door, and most people are welcoming the uplifting season with open arms. The winter months are especially trying for some individuals working programs of addiction recovery; rain, snow, and cold weather are not conducive to warm feelings and thoughts, generally. If you also consider that a large percentage of men and women in the program struggle with a co-occurring disorder like depression, then you can probably understand that chillier months may contribute to dampening the spirits of some.

A good many people’s general outlook on life and feelings of worth seem inextricably linked to the weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a fitting acronym) is a condition that plagues a significant population; SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons which usually manifests between fall and spring. Naturally, those living with the disorder are likely to fare better in the Southwest; but, for those individuals residing in higher latitude environs, coping with the depressive snowdrifts of the soul during winter is a chore.

Those working programs of recovery whose psyche is sensitive to the weather must take measures to protect their recovery from fall to spring. Men and women who know that their feelings are susceptible to less hospitable climes must go above and beyond during the winter months to prevent relapse. Some of the tactics people employ to stay ahead of their seasonal depression are exercising, light therapy, psychological support via the program and professionally, and taking vitamin D. If you find it difficult, and potentially on the precipice of relapse when sunlight-deprived, it’s paramount to utilize some the above methods. At PACE, we are hopeful that recovering addicts and alcoholics were able to keep their SAD at bay this winter.

180° for Addiction Recovery

If your first year in recovery traversed the 2017/2018 winter and you found yourself struggling to keep afloat, it’s possible that you were not aware of techniques that could’ve helped. Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for the many more cold seasons to come is taking a proactive approach during summer. Establishing a routine during this time of year will make life easier in 6 months. It’s worth noting that when you are feeling “down” it is difficult to motivate yourself, depressive symptoms beget depressive inaction. However, those feeling blue that get up and take a walk, exercise, and absorb available sunlight end up experiencing feelings of higher self-worth.

The weather is more approachable, now, and people in recovery will find it helpful to get outside and seize the day. Get outdoors as often as possible, exercise regularly, and eat foods conducive to a healthy mind and body. Did you know research shows that vitamin D along with marine omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are critical for serotonin synthesis, release, and function in the brain? People recovering from a use disorder and co-occurring psychological conditions can benefit from incorporating the above supplements into their dietary regimen. Since more than half of people managing an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a dual diagnosis, it’s fair to say that a good many people will find vitamin D and omega-3 useful to long-term recovery.

Before you make any significant changes to diet, first please discuss it with your physician and therapists. Anyone looking to be more active should also consider any physical limitations they may have before doing anything drastic.

Physical and Spiritual Fitness

Even if you are unable to hit the gym and weight train or commence doing cardiovascular exercises you can still do things to promote physical and spiritual wellness. Merely sitting outside with a book for a few hours or going for a swim can significantly improve how you feel, both inside and out. The more active you are during the summer months makes managing your anxieties and depressive symptoms next winter. The smallest of changes can produce essential benefits; when you encounter undesirable feelings next January, you’ll discover that you have tools to counter malaise.

It helps to look at addiction recovery as an agreement between mind, body, and spirit. The health of one affects the wellbeing of the other two; keeping active in the program and life, and with the aid of a healthy diet, is a recipe for long-term recovery. We encourage clients at PACE Recovery Center to place great stock in the physical and spiritual connection. Those who adopt healthier approaches are more likely to stay the course and make continual progress. We hope that anyone working a program takes advantage of the summer months to strengthen their recovery.

Addiction Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and show you how to make lasting changes in your life. We will also address any co-occurring mental health disorders that could complicate the recovery process. Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based programs of recovery.

Mental Illness Sick Days

mental illness

If you get the flu, you would probably do what anyone would do, call in sick. After all, you wouldn't want to risk passing a bug on to your coworkers or work at less than 100 percent. Every day, millions of people call in sick to work for various illnesses, it is commonplace. But, there are some illnesses that people shy away from calling in, for fear of professional consequences. Mental illness.

Millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions around the globe are living with what are, at times, debilitating mental health disorders. Yet, waking up amid a depressive episode or an anxiety attack might not prompt someone to contact their workplace asking for a day off. There are a number of reasons for this, some people experiencing such problems may not think it warrants a sick-day. Others may think that they can muscle through the workday without a loss of productivity. Perhaps more common, and even more saddening, is the fact that many employers do not understand mental health disorders. Or employers believe that they are just cause for a day away from the office. They might say something like: “we all struggle with angst at times, we all get a little sad from time to time.”

Just pick your head up, and put your best foot forward, right? Wrong! People who manage their mental illness day-in-day-out can’t always stay ahead of the symptoms. There are going to be days when functioning is just not a reality. In such cases, most people will try to hide it at work rather than let on that they have a condition. And it should go without saying that doing that can be a slippery slope. People living with behavioral health conditions, who do not put their well-being first, are at risk of exacerbating their symptoms.

Mental Illness Is Real

In the 21st Century the verdict on mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar, et al. is no longer out. Mental illness is real, in every family there is at least one person who has been touched by such disorders. People living with mental health issues should not be discriminated against or stigmatized. But, they are. Even in more enlightened environs, the afflicted feel as though they need to hide what is going on underneath the surface. The result of years of conditioning, perhaps.

With each year that passes, more and more people living with mental health disorders are saying, ‘enough!’ They will no longer be shamed into putting their needs last. It is a brave move, and can be costly to one’s career, because most employers are not so enlightened. However, there are some workplaces who encourage those with mental illness to take time for themselves when it is needed. Perhaps a sign that the ‘times they are a-changin.' Not too long ago, few could’ve imagined calling in sick for mental health reasons, and returning to work on Monday with their job intact.

A recent email exchange between an employee and an employer regarding this subject went ‘viral’ (no pun intended) this month. A truly remarkable story of a CEO who understands the negative impact of mental health stigma. Madalyn Parker—an executive at Olark Live Chat—sent an email to her team at work explaining that she would be away from the office to focus on her mental health, PEOPLE reports. The response received from the company’s CEO was, well it was…up worthy!

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health,” Parker wrote. “Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”
I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this,” Olark CEO Ben Congleton wrote back. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

There Is No Place for Stigma

Parker posted the exchange on social media, and the Internet celebrated and commended Congleton and Parker’s exchange. And for good reason. This kind of thing is infinitesimally rare. Which is why we need more of this type of exchange in the workplace. Normalizing mental health disorders is of the utmost importance. It will not only increase productivity, it will save lives.

Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues,” Congleton wrote on Medium, a few days later. “I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”

Parker added:

After repeatedly being told to keep my problems to myself for fear of discrimination, it’s good to know that it actually is possible to be open about mental health (even at work!)…You should never feel like you can’t address your emotional well-being because ‘it’s just not something you talk about at work.’”

Co-Occurring Recovery

Many of us working programs of addiction recovery are living with a dual diagnosis, as well. A co-occurring mental illness that, like the addiction, must be managed every day of the week. If one’s symptoms of depression or anxiety are ignored, it could lead to a relapse—or something worse. If you are in recovery for a co-occurring disorder, it is vital that you do not put your employment before your personal wellbeing. Fearing the consequences of being upfront about what you are going through is normal. But ignoring your condition for the sake of a day’s work can be deadly.

If you are still in the grips of addiction, battling another form of mental health disorder as well—please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicideLast week we discussed National Recovery Month, which takes place every September. It is a topic that we at PACE Recovery Center feel is vital, given that the need to raise awareness about addiction treatment services is crucial to the health of our society. Addiction is a disease which meets the criteria for being a mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The importance for providing adequate and effective, science-based recovery solutions cannot be overemphasized. Millions of Americans struggle with this debilitating illness every year, and without treatment the outcomes are never favorable. Addiction is one of the leading causes of premature and preventable deaths. While many of the people who lose their life to the disorder die from an overdose or alcohol and drug related health complications, there are many Americans who decide to take their own life because they can no longer endure living in the depths of despair that typifies addiction. What’s more, people living with untreated mental illness will often self-medicate in order to cope with the symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder. The drugs and alcohol may appear to mitigate their symptoms for a time, but in the long run, mind altering substances that are used for coping will typically result in addiction and only serve to exacerbate one’s mental illness symptoms they experienced in the first place.

Co-Occurring Disorder

In the field of addiction recovery, it is common for people to be living with both addiction and another form of mental health disorder. When this is the case, it is referred to in clinical settings as having a co-occurring disorder (also referred to as a dual diagnosis). As time goes by, addiction professionals are finding that it is more common for a client to have a co-occurring disorders than not. More importantly, it is paramount that addiction treatment centers address both the addiction and secondary condition, if recovery is to be possible. A failure to treat the whole patient will, more times than not, result in a relapse. At PACE, we make sure that all of our patient’s mental health needs are addressed. We work closely with physicians and mental health care providers, so that we can create a treatment plan that will ensure the best chance of success for our patients and their families. The stakes are extremely high; we know first-hand that mental illness that is not tended to appropriately will often lead to patients opting for a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Preventing Suicide

While September is in fact National Recovery Month, it is also National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is worth pointing out that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Young adults living with mental illness are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, which in turn leads to a co-occurring disorder. During the month of September, we hope that everyone will do their part to raise awareness about suicide prevention and help break the stigma that has long accompanied talking openly about mental illness. By doing so, we all can play an active role in encouraging young people to seek help, potentially averting suicidal ideations from coming to fruition. On September 10, 2016, NAMI would like everyone to observe World Suicide Prevention Day. The organization aims to:
  • Reach out to those affected by suicide.
  • Raise Awareness
  • And connect individuals in need to treatment services.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness would also like as many people as possible to share the banner located below on social media. You can help promote awareness of suicide prevention resources and promote discussion of suicide prevention awareness using #suicideprevention or #IAmStigmaFree.National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

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