Tag Archives: behaviour

The Power of Imagination

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“At times, our dreams may seem out of reach. The reality is that we are far from them— but only presently. Imaging is simply using your imagination to lift your mood and enhance your motivation for long-term sobriety. This is part of an article from Addiction-Recovery-Blog.com. You will find that imaging can do even more than I mentioned above, plus advise on how to start your own practice.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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Imaging, in the purest sense, is a way of focusing your mind on positive alternatives. Whether you practice self-imaging through yoga or meditation or participate in a program of therapeutic imaging, the technique can be very effective.

Basically, imaging is a type of perception therapy that embraces the connection between your mind, body, spirit, and environment. It’s a psychotherapeutic approach that helps you replace faulty perceptions about who you are and who you want to be with new and more beneficial perceptions.

Issues Imaging Can Address

Depression and addiction are common co-occurring conditions. In fact, even without addiction, depression is a very common condition. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans suffer from some form of depression. After treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse, depression can wreak havoc on the recovering addict’s life and any future plans. The heart of depression is hopelessness, a feeling or perception that nothing good will ever happen. Imaging helps transform hopelessness into hope. And hope brings the promise of a brighter future.

Low self-esteem and low self-worth often plague recovering addicts in varying degrees. Sometimes the feelings are tucked away into the back of the mind, while at other times they completely take over the individual’s thoughts, sabotaging any attempts to plan a better life. The old ways of trying to bump up self-esteem by hanging out with others and doing things so other people will like us – even though those were undesirable friends and activities – no longer work, or we’ve been responsible enough to reject them, wisely realizing as a result of treatment that we can’t associate with those triggers. Imaging helps improve feelings of self-worth and self-esteem by treating the whole person. As the underlying faulty thinking is exposed, new perceptions are created that lead to more positive behaviors.

Intolerance and prejudice are seldom talked about as issues affecting recovering addicts, but think about the kinds of beliefs we’ve been brought up with or acquired over the years. Every time we rejected someone who didn’t share our need to binge or use, or laughed at the spiritual person who seemed so happy with their life, or lashed out at loved ones and friends who tried to encourage us to change – those were all forms of intolerance and prejudice. If not dealt with, they’ll resurface in other forms during recovery and put a serious strain on our future plans. Imaging can help people to be more accepting of others, to embrace the fact that we’re all equal, that we need each other, that we’re connected, and that we can help each other grow. This leads to better self-awareness, inner peace, and the ability to plan for the future.


After chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs, those in recovery often still bear some of the effects: poor physical condition, not eating properly, disturbed sleep patterns, or other self-destructive acts. Some replace one addiction with another. They may start smoking cigarettes when they never smoked before, eat compulsively, or engage in other addictive behaviors. Imaging helps you avoid this by devoting attention to improving fitness, practicing meditation, focusing on better breathing techniques, and learning better eating habits. With a healthier body, the mind and body connection is stronger, and planning for the future becomes a more viable possibility.

Many recovering addicts are beaten in spirit, even though they’ve completed treatment and are abstaining from drugs and alcohol. They don’t feel worthy of a good future. Their spirit is weighed down with the accumulation of guilt, shame, remorse, and the injustices they have done to others, real or imagined. Imaging realigns the spirit, helping the recovering addict gain an increased awareness that we all deserve to be happy, to be productive members of society, to go after our goals, and to be at peace. In short, imaging helps you to reaffirm your goodness of spirit, which fosters the ability to make plans for your brighter future.

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How to Start Imaging

You can begin by meditating for a few minutes every day, morning and evening. While
many people may think meditation is some mystical process and shrug it off as nonsense, the truth is that it’s really as simple as closing your eyes and blocking out all thoughts, breathing in and out deeply, and concentrating every ounce of your being on the sound and rhythm of your breath. Do this for a period of five minutes. It’s also helpful to engage in this practice when you become overstressed or feel you can’t deal with a potential trigger or craving to drink or use.

There are books you can borrow at the library or buy at a bookstore on meditation. You can also listen to CDs or DVDs that help calm your spirit and your random thoughts. Or you can participate in therapeutic imaging, a psychotherapeutic approach that is offered in some parts of the country. Ask your aftercare counselor or therapist for recommendations for such treatment or investigate holistic therapy or alternative therapy groups in your area.

Imaging Techniques

Imaging techniques vary but should consist of the following:

• Be open to new concepts
• Recognize that people are different and be accepting of everyone
• Be willing to change your perceptions about your future
• Explore ways to help change your perceptions
• Learn to investigate facts, rather than blindly accept things as true
• Admit that you can have a better future and that you deserve it
• Repeat positive imaging practices, such as daily reminders of self-worth, meditation, and other relaxation techniques
• Create new ways of handling your daily situations, especially stressful ones
• Recognize that what works for another may not work for you – you are an individual with unique needs
• Be open to lifting and awakening your spirit, your inner being, your true self

Whether you participate in a group, structured counseling, or do it by yourself, imaging in any of the above forms can help you to create a future that you desire. The best thing about the future is that it is always available before us. We can be the architect of tomorrow – by laying the groundwork today through imaging.

Solving a Co-Addiction Relationship

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Being single and sober, especially in early recovery, is suggested by most healthcare professionals and members of Anonymous groups. But sometimes people have been with their significant other for a long time, its hard to let them go, even if its for their own good. When co-addiction is present in a relationship you may find yourself in a mental prison, not knowing what to do. Here is an article from AddictionBlog.com on what you can do.” -Love, Robyn

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Do You Have The Courage?

Most people want out of an abusive situation but somehow cannot muster up the courage. They do not believe they have the self-efficacy to do it. But recovery from co-addiction starts with the first step.

I woke up one morning with a urinary tract infection and my lower back was in excruciating pain. I was sick—physically. I went to look for my doctor’s number on my husband’s phone because mine was dead. I found a text from a guy I knew dealt drugs. My daughter woke up with a stomach ache. The walls were closing in.

  • How could I take care of everyone if I couldn’t take care of myself?
  • Why was this happening to me?
  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • I was trying so hard to help my husband stay clean, and everything that could go wrong, did?

This was my old thought process.

Negative behavior patterns seem harmless. Some people attribute the negativity in their lives to circumstance. They believe their lives are not what they want because of the situation they are in, the person they are in a relationship with, or the job they cannot leave. I used to look at people I admired and thought, “How did they get to where they are?” I felt like a log, drifting down a river just bumping into things along the way. I had no control over my life. I noticed myself complaining to my friends and family about how life was unfair and asking them why I had to go through this when all I ever did was try to help everyone.

This is where co-addiction may take on characteristics martyrdom. A martyr helps everyone else but suffers for it.

Disaster Mode

I have a friend who cannot get out of her own way. When I look at her, I see a person who has two beautiful children, a loving husband, secure finances, lots of help from wonderful parents. When I speak with her, she is always trying a “new diet” to lose weight, she is buying a new product to fill a void, she is stressed, overweight, and complaining about her child. There is always some disaster happening in her life.

Sometimes, I get caught in it. I notice myself feeling negative. I can easily get sucked into the “poor me” role when I talk with her. I noticed the times when I am most happy and successful are when I am “doing” and taking positive steps in the direction of my goals and not talking about them. It is the times between complaining that things start to happen.

Opportunity Is Knocking

If you really want something, you can have it. If you really want out of a situation that is hopeless, if you want it enough, you can find a way out. You will be amazed how opportunities open up when you are open to them. When you set your mind to a goal you can turn complacency into action, by suppressing the thought of why things are not going your way.

No person can have a hold over you, only you can hold yourself back. You can turn your role in co-addiction into role model. When an addict realizes that they no longer have power over you, they will move on and so will you. When you can turn sorrow into joy, pain into gratitude, misery into appreciation for life, and fear into self-confidence, you can make great strides.

You can read hundreds of self-help books and wait for them to give you the recipe for change. The truth of it is, most of us do not take action. We wait for things to change. Nothing gets done unless there is ACTION. The most important thing in stepping out of an ugly situation is the first step. Every situation is unique and inside all of us, we know things we could do to change our lives, we just have to have the guts to do them. Your role model is no different than you. The only difference is they took action. Remember one action can change your whole life.

Just Be Happy

Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It took me a long time to truly appreciate what that meant. I found I could not change those around me but I could change myself.

I woke up one day; and day after day, after day, made one small change that would take me in the direction I wanted to go. I let go of my role as the wife of a person with a rainbow of addictions. I could no longer attempt to change him so I started to change myself instead.

I made a startling observation. The people around me who were happy and comfortable in their own skin weren’t asking other people why their life was not what they hoped. They were not complaining all of the time. They were successful in their own right. Even more startling, was that they were not always talking about it! Although they faced obstacles like everyone else, they were not focused on what was wrong or looking for empathy.

A short time ago, I sat in a place where my life seemed hopeless. I did not wake up one day and change it, but I did wake up one day and change something, and in time, something in me changed.

LSD’s Got You Fooled

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“Sure I’ve had the trip of a lifetime. Not just communicating with plant but with Brahman, the great cosmic spirit stemming from Hinduism. This energy was speaking to me as a reincarnation of Shakti, a power of all women. They explained how I would never be united with the force because I had to live on Earth with the carnations of men but they would provide me with love until we could be reunited in a higher afterlife. I was very upset. Crying, balling actually. It was amazing, I was so confused on what to think after that. Is it real? We may never know… But what we do know is that there are physical chemicals in the brain that shine a light on this power of that ‘sixth-sense.’ Bellow is an article from Psychology Today that give us further insight into the workings of LSD.” -Enjoy, Robyn

P.S. Share your spiritual trips in the comments bellow!

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Serotonin, the brain chemical crucial to mood and motivation, also shapes personality to make you susceptible to spiritual experiences. A team of Swedish researchers has found that the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people’s capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality because drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. But now they have proof from brain scans linking the capacity for spirituality with a major biological element.

The concentration of serotonin receptors normally varies markedly among individuals. Those whose brain scans showed the most receptor activity proved on personality tests to have the strongest proclivity to spiritual acceptance.

Reporting in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers see the evidence as contradicting the common belief that religious behavior is determined strictly by environmental and cultural factors. They see a biological underpinning for religiosity, and it is related to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

How To Break Any Bad Habit

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“I just read and fell in love with this article from Mind Body Green and had to post it for you all! Enjoy!” -Love, Robyn

Learning to understand the self is a lot like stirring water in a glass. If we don’t stir, sentiments stay at the bottom of the glass and our water stays polluted.

Take a simple goal: Eat better.
For me, eating always starts with a craving. It’s rarely because I’m hungry. Usually I eat out of boredom. Or, on a deeper level, maybe loneliness.
First, the feeling. Then filling that feeling with food.
I imagine what I’m craving. Pizza. I see it. Feel it. I taste the crust and the cheese, and I know exactly where I’d go to get it. I see myself driving there and sitting in the booth eating it. (I am an extremely visual person. In this case, it’s not to my advantage.)
Then I become obsessed with this image. Inner conflict begins. Desire vs discipline, Want vs need. I start to reason with myself.  I work out hard. I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. What’s a slice? I need to get out of the house anyway.
Reasoning turns into deals. Okay, one slice but I’ll get a salad.
It’s on. The fantasy becomes a reality. I’m now actually sitting at the pizza place. And of course, I always break the deal I made with myself. Three slices and no salad. I eat until I’m stuffed. The Addict, The Liar, the Pseudo Self wins again.
On the way home, I feel guilty about myself and the pizza is never as good as I imagined it.
If I take this process and apply it to other areas of my life, is it the same? Dating? Relationships? If so, are the consequences and feelings the same?
Study patterns in your thoughts and behavior around fitness and nutrition. Chances are, they’re the same patterns you apply to other areas of your life. Maybe you maneuver in extremes: Win or lose. If so, do you apply that to work, love, etc.?  Do you use food or exercise to reward and punish yourself? If so, do you use work and relationships to reward or punish yourself?
Filtering your cloudy water means breaking patterns you believe are unhealthy. The more you are able to break unhealthy patterns, the cleaner your water will be.
Now, if you’re able to get stronger at rewiring your thoughts and behavior with food cravings and exercise habits, including all the fears you hit while working out, can you apply those new muscles to breaking patterns in other areas of your life?
I believe you can.
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Here’s how.
1. Know what’s triggering your behavior.
Usually it’s from a feeling.
For me, it was boredom and loneliness.
Pizza was a way of coping or numbing that feeling.
Being aware is the first step.
2. Force yourself to change that behavior.  
There will be an internal fight and it will be difficult. But this is where the road can fork. Give yourself other options. I could go on a walk. See a movie. Write. Any behavior that’s different, even if it’s only slightly more healthy. The goal is just to break it. You may not succeed in the beginning. It takes lots of practice. But eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll get stronger.
Next time I have a feeling that triggers me, I’ll walk around the block and maybe reward myself with fruit, juice, or even a protein bar instead of stuffing my face at a pizza joint.
Now, in relationships, something will trigger the same feeling. You may get into a fight and feel unheard, angry, lonely, etc. Think about your bad habit (your “pizza”) in relationships…  Is it to shut down or explode? Well, you can apply the process above to change that behavior, too .
3. Identify the feeling that triggers your behavior. 
What’s the feeling? Feeling hurt, unheard, lonely?
4. Focus on addressing that feeling. 
 
Maybe you talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Stay and talk it out. Journal. Call your brother. Exercise? Whatever. Just make sure it’s more healthy. Know that you can do this because you did it with the eating and it will work the same.  Remember the results you got from breaking the bad eating behavior and trust that process.
If you’re afraid to do something in the box or at the gym, but you overcome that fear and by doing so, see results, that revelation – that you can overcome a fear and see results can now be applied to confronting your boyfriend, boss, or parents.  You may believe one has nothing to do with the other.  On the surface, true.  But fear is fear.  And no matter what door you go in or how you tackle it, the more you conquer it, the more you will be able to conquer it in other areas of your life.
Once you prove to yourself that you can do something you were afraid of, that PROOF – belief – will spill into other areas of thinking.
Imagine fear as the black and white image in a coloring book. The more you color, the more the fear disappears. It doesn’t matter where you start or how you do it, all that matters is that you keep coloring. And the more you color, the more that page will come to life.
So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eating better or facing workouts you never thought you could do. Keep stirring to get that water cloudy so that you can then break patterns – filter that water clean in all areas of your life.

P.T.S.D. And Childhood Trauma Linked to Addiction

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“This is a wonderful article that focus’ on P.T.S.D that can develop from childhood trauma and how it is linked to Addiction. I may not have experienced much trauma due to my up-bringing but I can fully understand the diagnosis of P.T.S.D after I was faced with the traumatic experience of an extreme manic outbreak while I was living abroad in India. Its hard not to think of something so dramatic everyday and live in extreme regret and torture from the memories. I hope your able to find as much appreciation for this problem and its connections to addiction recovery as much as I have.” -Love, Robyn

by Kevin VaLeu

We live in an addictive age. In the last five years of my life I have come across and counseled more people struggling with cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, anorexia, sex, and a whole host of other addictions then I did in the previous five years.

Are people becoming more immoral? Or is there something else causing people to turn to substances and sex. Perhaps these next statistics will shed light into what I believe is the underlying causation of our culture’s craziness.

1) The turn of our century (2000) marked the first time in American history that the majority of our children (over 50%) were raised without both biological mother and father in the same home.

2) Even if both mother and father are in the home it doesn’t mean they are in any better shape if they are being abused or neglected. 61% of all children experience some form of neglect.

3) Greater than 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually molested during their childhood or teenage years.

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What does this mean? We live in a day and age where children are experiencing trauma at unprecedented levels from molestations, abuse, abandonment, neglect, and dysfunctional or fragmented homes. When traumatized children slip under the radar of effective treatment they will find illegitimate, illicit and unhealthy coping mechanisms to medicate the long unforgotten pain.

Link Between Trauma and Addictions

Research shows that 50-60% of women and 20% of men in chemical dependency programs report a history of childhood sexual abuse. When you include people that have experienced P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or childhood trauma the number can climb as high as 99% of them having substance abuse problems.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

In order to understand how trauma makes one more susceptible to addictions, we need to understand two types of memories at work in the brain: 1) Explicit Memory–this is a memory that we can deliberately call up or put away at any time. We have a sense of control over it and we know it is just a memory; 2) Implicit Memory–these memories have coded in them not only a picture of a past event but the resulting feelings, sensations, and emotional response that went with it. These memories happen outside our control.

These memories are adaptive or automatic, which means they can “pop up” or shoot into our minds involuntarily upon some stimuli or current event that reminds us of a past trauma (called association). This is why a current event can trigger a flood of negative emotions that are identical to the emotions we felt at the time of the trauma. In fact, this is why people with PTSD are continually being tortured from their memories because when something “triggers” their past they are actually reliving the painful past trauma over again. Its no longer just a memory they recall, its all the emotions, feelings, and sensations engraved upon that memory card they recall and relive in the present.

This is why many Vietnam veterans with PTSD experience such painful flashbacks. They aren’t just remembering the past, they are actually reliving it. The bomb they see coming at them in their memory is a real bomb coming at them right now.

In addition, as we grew up, all of our basic assumptions about people (e.g. can they be trusted), ways of relating, and behaving towards people are formed on these implicit memory cards. This explains why you get tense or tighten up at the bank whenever you run into a particular man that reminds you of your cruel step-father.

In order to successfully treat a person with PTSD they have to be guided to convert their implicit memories into explicit ones.

Trauma is Recorded in the Limbic System which sits on the Vegus Nerve.

An interesting physiological discovery is that our traumatic memories are housed in our limbic system. This might not mean much if it weren’t for that fact our limbic system is on top of our Vegus Nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated by pain, fear, other distresses, and at an extreme, fainting may occur since such stimulation of the nerve affects the pace of the heart. Such stimulation also causes nausea and cool, clammy skin.

Its now easy to see how memories not only affect our emotions but also our physical bodies.

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Emotional Disregulation & Tension-Reduction Behaviors (Addiction):

When an implicit memory is jarred the body automatically releases the hormones of cortisol and adrenaline to give it power or enable it to go into the “flight” or “fight” (emergency) mode. However, for a person that has experienced emotional trauma, there response mechanism is a bit different. When a person with PTSD has their “flight” or “fight” system alerted they experience the current stress at a visceral or guttural level (soul depth) and have to shut down the hippocampus. Similar to a computer that is slowed down by too many programs running in the background, the mind shuts down certain parts (in this case the hippocampus) because it is too difficult to run it while in emergency mode. Implicit memories can cause one to live in a constant state of being overwhelmed. Past traumas that induce implicit memories also damage mood regulation. It is easy to see how the extra strain on a brain from trauma would affect our ability to stay an even keel.

When the mind tries to remember what has happened during a traumatic moment a person experiences emotional disregulation. There are three coping strategies a person may employ in dealing with emotional disregulation:

1) Avoidance: A person doesn’t want to talk about the trauma, think about the trauma, or be around anybody or anything that reminds them of the trauma.

2) Dissociate: They disconnect from reality which, without realizing, turns off the integrative links connecting the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system. This means one disconnects from their experiences, which on the one hand helps them escape from the painful anxiety that would normally come, but on the other hand is detrimental from an emotional stand point. You lose the ability to feel anything through this numbing process; even the ability to empathize for others. This is damaging to the psyche.

3) Tension-Reduction Behaviors (leads to Addictions): When trauma occurs the brain fires up, becomes overactive and makes a person feel they cannot deal with it without the aid of some type of pleasure to “settle things down.” This is the point where a person may turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. It is here, at this stage of the process, that lends itself toward addictions.

DBT in Recovery

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a relatively new treatment method that has shown promise for treating both substance abuse and even the most difficult mental health concerns. Targeted dialectical behavior therapy programs work especially for those who:

  • Suffer from trauma, life-threatening experiences, abuse or loss
  • Try traditional therapy with limited success
  • Struggle with co-occurring addiction and mental health concerns
  • Struggle with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, PTSD or borderline personality disorder
  • Struggle with self-injury, self-harm or low self-esteem
  • Are an adult child of an alcoholic or suffered abuse or trauma as a young person
  • Have difficulties coping with emotions or feel that your emotions are overwhelming

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How Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Different?

Dialectical behavior therapy was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, a renowned psychologist at the University of Washington. Dr. Linehan specializes in hard-to-treat patients. She found that traditional methods of therapy were not effective, and as a result she developed DBT.

DBT is different, as it does a few things that traditional therapy does not. DBT helps you deal with complicated emotions without putting you “on the spot.” DBT has two types of sessions that include a classroom/group environment and individual therapy sessions. These two types of treatment sessions work together to help you feel more comfortable about the treatment process. DBT provides real-life skills to help you recover from addiction and identify and help yourself get through difficult life moments. Dialectical behavior therapy is different from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the following ways:

  • DBT works like a class, as you learn more about yourself and how you relate to others
  • DBT accepts you as you are and does not pressure you to become someone you are not
  • DBT works to help you accept hardships and handle trauma and conflict more effectively
  • DBT helps you regulate and control your own emotions
  • DBT gives you the skills to release anxiety and live a life you want to live

What Are the Goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy helps you become more present, mindful and at peace with the world. By combining Buddhist principles with traditional psychotherapy and life skills, DBT works to help patients in the following four core areas:

  • Emotion regulation: Helping patients learn how to manage mood changes and impulsive decisions naturally
  • Distress tolerance: Teaching patients how to cope with trauma, distressing feelings and reactions
  • Mindfulness: Learning how to observe the situation and accept yourself and others as they are, and learning how to enjoy life just as it is and not how you would like it to be
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Helping patients cope with difficult situations and difficult people to create healthy boundaries and build happier relationships