Tag Archives: medicine

Boost Your Self Esteem

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“As the holidays come and go, so do the cookies, sweets and feasts. Leftovers fill the fridge and your stomach is full of fatty food. A lot of people gain weight during this time of year because of the celebrations. Its hard not to overeat when your around family that won’t judge you and food that tastes all to good. And just like most of the population in the U.S., we struggle body image issues. While with the new year comes our promises to stay fit and clean in 2014, we can make it a goal to feel better about ourselves in our own body. Working the steps help us cope with the low self-esteem that our addiction may have left us with as we reflect on
our past, but we can also apply these suggestions when letting go of our negative body image.  This is an article from the Healthy Weight Network about how to conquer your self esteem and body image issues.” -Shanti, Robyn

Low Self EsteemIt’s about you

You’re okay just as you are. You are a unique person, capable and loveable, with special talents and strengths, with inner wisdom and creativity – a human being of value. So accept and respect yourself now.Get comfortable with the real you, inside and out. Accept your size and shape, your feelings, yourself, unconditionally. Honor your character, talents and achievements.

No need to work on perfecting yourself. In fact, it can be self-defeating, and a big waste of time. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist in the real world and it certainly doesn’t exist in human appearance. Many women who struggle with eating, weight and body image spend inordinate amounts of energy trying to change their appearance. They make their bodies their life’s work; they put their lives on hold “waiting to be thin.”

Instead of trying to meet society’s impossible standards of female beauty, give yourself affirmations on how special you really are. Find the peace and serenity of your life, buried though it may be under many layers. Accept this place where you are on your life’s journey and live with joy and relish.

  • Recognize that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes. Real beauty encompasses what’s inside, your zest for life, your fun-loving spirit, a smile that lights up your face, your compassion for others, says Carol Johnson, author of Self-Esteem Comes in all Sizes.It’s being friendly, generous and loving, having strength and courage, and respecting yourself just as you are — goals that we all can achieve.
  • Your body is okay. Your size is okay. The good news is that you can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk. If you are especially concerned over weight, understand that your body has an opinion of what it should weigh at this time in your life. It regulates weight around a setpoint that may be nearly impossible to change. Recognize how destructive the obsession to be thin is and how it harms the people you love, especially children. Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth. Accepting this can give you new freedom.Cat as Lion
  • Be size positive. Set an example of respect for size diversity. People naturally come in different sizes and builds, and that’s okay. If you are a large woman it’s especially important in our size-focused society to be a role model who radiates confidence, self-respect and friendliness for other adults and children who, sadly, may fear going out in public. Or, if you are a thin person, keeping thin through semi-starvation, remember this means an anorexic personality (anxiety, irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, isolation from friends and family, preoccupation with food, loneliness, lack of compassion and generosity, self-centeredness), weak and brittle bones, and other serious health issues. Our society is currently obsessed with thinness, which hurts us all. When will this nation come to its senses, reject size prejudice, accept a wider range of shapes and sizes, and focus on health rather than weight? We each can do our part to bring about this healthful change.
  • Dress for successDress in ways that make you feel good, that make your own statement and, most of all, that fit now. Clean out your closet of clothes that don’t fit; clothes you can wear only during dieting bouts. Give away or store too-small clothing. This makes room for clothes you will enjoy wearing.
  • Want what you have – contentment. T he secret to happiness is not to get what you want, but to want what you have . Though much underrated today, contentment has long been valued in world religions and philosophy. Realizing the full measure of our abundance can bring true happiness.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Have you inventoried the richness of your life assets? Try it. Add to that inventory and each day write down three things you are grateful for in your gratitude journal. It can be humbling to realize the abundance of riches we have, and how much we take it for granted. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, country, health, work and the wonder of nature are all around us. Contemplating this can bring you deep serenity.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation relieves stress and enhances our lives. Stress overload is linked to many health problems, such as exhaustion, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, depression, abuse of alcohol, increased risk of heart attack and weakened immune system. Relaxing is like re-booting a stressed-out computer. Everything works better afterward.
  • Choose self-care. Set aside time every day for yourself. T ake time for self-care and healing. Invest in small things that enrich your life: listening to music, reading a novel, napping after lunch, laughing with your spouse or best friend, eating a nourishing meal, telephoning a friend, taking a stretch break at your desk, enjoying a sunset.
  • Live assertively. Assertiveness allows people to express their honest feelings and opinions comfortably, to be open and direct, without anxiety or guilt, and to obtain their personal rights without denying the rights of others. Assertive persons respect themselves, speak calmly and clearly, maintain eye contact, project their voices, and smile sincerely when they mean it. By contrast, responding to others in passive or aggressive ways involves manipulation that respects neither yourself nor them. (By the way, in lists like this, and of course, this one, read, consider and take what seems best for you at this time in your life – and leave the rest. That’s being assertive!)
  •  Strengthen your social support . Include pleasant and stimulating interaction with others in your day, every day. Maintain nourishing relationships with family and friends. Promote communication and sharing of feelings in appropriate ways. Encourage positive self-talk, praise and support for each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network as you lend a helping hand and a helping heart.
  • Shape a healthy balance. You’ll feel better and have more energy when you develop healthy living habits that come so naturally and feel so normal you hardly think about them. Normalize your life by being regularly active and keeping yourself well nourished without dieting. Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it or struggle for perfection. Find a satisfying balance of wellness and wholeness that works for you at this time in your life and helps you live the way you want.

The Problem with Christmas

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All the meetings I have been going lately have shown to prove that this time of year is incredibly stressful. Thoughts of past Christmas’, struggles with expenses and family can really trigger us to want to use. This is the time to be thankful, to be selfless and to spread love, not scream ‘fuck it’ and get wasted. We need to be there for our families, for each other and for ourselves.” -Happy Christmas Eve, Robyn

Presents

Most people know the holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness,
anxiety, happiness and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead.

Why do the blues hit during this otherwise festive season? Doing too much or too little and being separated from loved ones at this special time can lead to sadness during the holiday season. Many recovering people associate the holidays with memories of overindulgence, perhaps of big benders that resulted in relationship problems or great personal losses.

People experience feelings of melancholy, sadness and grief tied to holiday recollections. Unlike clinical depression, which is more severe and can last for months or years, those feelings are temporary.   Anyone experiencing major symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, guilt or helplessness; changes in sleep patterns; and a reduction in energy and libido, should seek help from a mental health professional.

Whether you’re in recovery or not, developing a holiday plan to help prevent the blues, one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your holiday experience. Your plan should include improved self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions to achieve a happy, sober holiday season:

Good self-care is vital. Remember to slow down. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Plan relaxation and meditation into your day, even for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. Relax your standards and reduce overwhelming demands and responsibilities.

Don’t overindulge. Go easy on the holiday sweets and follow a balanced diet. Monitor your intake of caffeine, nicotine and sugar. Exercise regularly to help maintain your energy level amid a busier schedule. Don’t try to do too much. Get plenty of sleep. Fatigue is a stressor. Maintain some kind of schedule and plan ahead; don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts or prepare to entertain.

Enhance your support system. Holidays are a good time to reach out more frequently to your therapist, sponsor, spiritual advisor, or support group. If you’re in recovery, spend time with fellow recovering people. Let others help you realize your personal limits. Learn to say “no” in a way that is comfortable for you.

Find new ways to celebrate. Create some new symbols and rituals that will help redefine a joyful holiday season. You might host a holiday gathering for special recovering friends and/or attend celebrations of your Twelve Step group. Avoid isolation and spend time with people you like who are not substance users. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary temptations, such as gatherings where alcohol is the center of entertainment. If there are people who have a negative influence on you, avoid them.

Focus on your recovery program. Holidays are also an important time to focus on your recovery program. For example, ask, “What am I working on in my program now?” Discuss this with your sponsor.

Release your resentments. Resentment has been described as allowing a person you dislike to live in your head, rent-free. Resentments that gain steam during the holidays can be disastrous for anyone, especially recovering people. The Big Book of “Alcoholics Anonymous” refers to resentment as the No. 1 offender, or the most common factor in failed sobriety.

Holidays may also be a time to evaluate your spirituality and find a personal way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Return the holidays to a spiritual base, and stress the power of unselfish giving.

Recovery is serious work, but it is also important to have fun. Laugh a little and a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest.

How to Scare Your Nightmares

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“When I was in rehab I was cursed with using dreams. I went to one of my conselours and told her how it effect me; I felt helpless, I felt guilty and worst of all, I felt scared. She began to explain to me the working of lucid dreaming.

“Lucidity means ‘moment of clarity.’ When paired with ‘dream,’ it defines how one is aware that they are sleeping thereby realizing that they are not experiencing physical reality. This alters the dynamics of dreaming by enhancing the perception of control. Once they are conscious within this state they will be able to change outcomes, people, places, things and heighten senses.

“With practice, I have been able to dream lucidly. I can get out of nightmares by flying away or manifesting someone to help. I can even request to be on a beach in Goa or see an old friend before I fall asleep and immediately have that desire fulfilled. Grant it, sometimes I am not so lucky, I may get there or see them and things go array but the beauty of knowing that it isn’t real allows me to at least attempt a quick fix. I do warn you that the excitement of the awareness may cause you to wake up— sometimes within the dream itself. Thats when things get confusing.

“I am also guilty of requesting types of using dreams in hopes that I will remember whats its like. The first attempt at this scared me so much because it all seemed too real. Where I experienced this high was in my own home, it all was so vivid that I literally could not tell that I was dreaming. That dream frightened me so much that before I go to bed I pray that I do not feel that ever again.” – I hope you find this useful. Please give it a try, you will be amazed at what you can do! Love, Robyn

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Benefits of Lucid Dreaming to People in Recovery from Addiction

Those individuals who manage to break away from addiction face many challenges in recovery. If they fail to overcome these obstacles it will prevent them from finding real happiness; it will also increase their risk of relapse. Any technique that can help strengthen their sobriety is always going to be welcome. Lucid dreaming may be able to do this in a number of ways including:

  • It gives them a safe environment where they can face their inner demons. If people become lucid in the middle of a nightmare they can make a decision to confront their fear. Those dreamers who do this usually report that their nightmare turns into a far more pleasant experience afterwards. When they wake up they will tend to feel like some inner conflict had been resolved. Such a cathartic effect is highly beneficial to people in recovery.
  • People in the first few years of recovery can feel uncertain about the future; they may have no real idea about what to do with their life. Lucid dreaming allows them to come in contact with their unconscious desires and hidden aspirations. The individual can use this information to chart a new course in life.
  • It makes it possible for the individual to use their sleep time productively. They can practice using their new coping strategies or other recovery skills.

Lucid Dream Dangers for Addicts

Lucid dreaming can be highly beneficial but there are potential dangers such as:

  • Some people may be tempted to indulge in fantasies of using drugs or alcohol again. This is dangerous because it will weaken their resolve to stay sober. Relapse in a dream can lead to relapse in reality.
  • It will be harmful if the individual becomes too obsessed with their dreams. They may use it as a means to escape reality; much in the same way that they once used substance abuse.

There is some concern that dealing with the unconscious mind can be potentially dangerous. The worry is that the individual will come across something that they are not yet ready to face. This concern tends to be overstated as most people only report positive outcomes from such contact with the unconscious mind in the lucid dream.

How to Dream Lucidly

Some people will achieve lucidity in dreams without ever making any special effort; they may not have even realized that it was possible to achieve lucidity beforehand. If the individual is trying to induce lucidity it can be difficult; at least in the beginning. Here are some of the techniques that have been show to be beneficial for promoting lucid dreams:

  • One of the most popular techniques for inducing lucid dreams are reality checks. This method requires that people regularly check to see if they are dreaming throughout the day. There are many differences between the real world and the dreaming world, and the purpose of reality checks is to notice these differences. If the individual becomes accustomed to doing reality checks in the waking world they will automatically begin to do them when they are dreaming too.
  • Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) is a far more involved technique. The goal of this method is for the body to fall asleep without the mind losing awareness. One way of achieving this involves setting an alarm so that the individual wakes up 6 hours after falling asleep. They then get up for about an hour. When the individual goes back to bed they will put all their focus on staying aware as they fall back asleep. This method is also known as the wake back to bedtechnique.
  • Mnemonic induced lucid dreaming (MILD) also involves interrupting sleep. The aim here is to wake up during a dream; the person sets their alarm so that it goes off during the middle of REM sleep. Once they are woken up by the alarm the individual will try to recall their dream in as much detail as possible. They will then imagine themselves becoming lucid in this dream. As they fall back to sleep the person will focus their mind on achieving lucidity.
  • There are a number of devices that are believed to help people become lucid in dreams. One gadget involves wearing a special type of cover over the eyes. This monitors for rapid eye movement, and when these occur the device directs flashing lights towards the eyelid. These lights can notify the dreamer that they are asleep. Binaural beats are also believed to help some people achieve lucidity in their dreams.

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.

And You’ll Keep Tripping…

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“Today I saw my psychologist and he asked me if I hallucinate or hear voices. I told him that once a week— at the least— I see things, patterns, lights. He asked me to explain so I told him of the most recent visual parade that happened a couple days ago: I was sitting in the car waiting for my mom, staring out over the lake until I noticed tens, maybe hundreds of lights were gliding along the span of trees, perfectly parallel. I explained to him how I thought immediately that this was some sort of hallucination that just needed a double-take, but no matter how I adjusted my eyes or moved my head they were still there— crystal clear. However, he assured me that this was not a hallucination, ‘its an LSD flashback.’ WTF? Its been months since my last trip! So curiosity drives me to find out more and thats what we have for today. This is an article from LCDAddiction.us (which is a great site full of helpful information) that outlines what this phenomena could mean.” -Love, Robyn
Tree Trip

An acid flashback occurs when a person who has used LSD in the past experiences the effects of acid use, such as hallucinations, without taking the drug again. They can occur days or even years after the person used LSD. Acid flashbacks may occur only once, or they may be persistent and interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily tasks.

A person experiencing an acid flashback may see colors or spots that aren’t there or may see things in a distorted way, such as with halos or trails of light. Acid flashbacks more rarely cause people to hear things that aren’t real. The person experiencing acid flashbacks may not be able to tell what is real and what is not, and they may feel like they are high on LSD again. Like the effects of LSD, acid flashbacks vary from person to person and are very unpredictable and often frightening.

When acid flashbacks continue and interfere with daily life this is known as hallucinogen-induced persistent perception disorder (HPPD). The most common type of HPPD occurs when a person’s normal vision is often disrupted by flashbacks, such as seeing spots or trails of light frequently, though it can be more serious and interfere with a person’s perception of reality.

Scientists aren’t sure what causes acid flashbacks or HPPD, but there are several theories:

  • The brain may be damaged by LSD use, causing it to misfire and send incorrect signals
  • The way the brain functions and perceives information may be changed by LSD use, such as being much more sensitive to light and therefore seeing halos or trails
  • The drug or some portion of it may be stored in the body or brain and released again later

Not everyone who uses LSD has acid flashbacks, but because LSD has very unpredictable effects it’s hard to know if a person will have flashbacks and when the acid flashbacks will occur. Some factors that seem to increase the chances of a person having flashbacks include:

  • Heavy or frequent LSD use
  • Bad LSD trips
  • Marijuana use
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Existing mental illnesses or personality disorders
  • Use of certain prescription drugs, like anti-depressants
  • Being susceptible to suggestion

These risk factors do not give a clear indication of who will experience an acid flashback, however, since even a healthy person who only uses LSD once may experience acid flashbacks.

There is no cure for acid flashbacks. Some medications, such as anti-seizure drugs, have been used in flashback or HPPD treatment, but perhaps because of the unpredictability of acid flashbacks doctors have not yet found a definite cure for all acid flashback sufferers.

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.

The Streets of New York

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“This is a powerful collection of photos that truly reflect the outcome of drug use in on the streets of New York. While the pictures speak a thousand words, the accompanying descriptions shed more light on the individuals stories— although its more like a darkness. Chris Arnade is an inspirational photographer whose courage and curiosity drives him to meet hundreds of people who are suffering with addiction, poverty and what is typically seen as poor life decisions such as prostitution. You can visit his website to view more of his heart-breaking and thought-provoking work.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Chris

Chris

Chris Bishop was drinking in front of a liquor store when we met. A resident in the local homeless shelter, he told me the following: At the age of 13, Chris killed his father, stabbing him with a knife after a childhood of abuse. He spent the next 18 years in correctional facilities. ‘When he was drunk and mad he would hold me out the apartment window and threaten to drop me to the street, eight floors below. He beat me and my mother all the time. I have been drinking ever since. To forget.’ When I asked how he wanted to be described, his eyes teared up and he said, ‘I am human, like everyone else.

Vanessa

Vanessa

Vanessa, 35, had three children with an abusive husband. She ‘lost her mind, started doing heroin,’ after losing the children, who were taken away and given to her mother. The drugs led to homelessness and prostitution. She grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, but now spends her time in Hunts Point, ‘trying to survive every day. Just doing whatever it takes.’ She was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends. When I asked her how she wanted to be described, Mary Alice jumped in and said, ‘She’s the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on.

Beauty

Beauty

“Beauty, 21, was born and raised in Oklahoma, and was brought to New York City by a pimp who promised her she could ‘make some mad money.’ She has since had nine pimps. ‘I have been through nine nigg*s. Got my first black eye from one, another punched me in mouth, but this guy is good to me.’ Her mother was an addict. ‘She started using crack. That’s when it all started, the walls started coming in on me. Now she is incarcerated. I can’t blame my mom, she’s my mom. I smoke weed, but not crack. I don’t like that peppermint burning smell. I want to get out of this stuff, but I am scared. I guess I could stop at any time. Some of the guys tell me I could be a model. Money wise it’s good, but otherwise, fuck Hunts Point. Maybe I can become an RN, or go into childcare.’ When I asked her how she wanted to be described, she said, ‘I’m a good person. I don’t like to see anyone down. I like to make people happy.'”

Luis

Luis

“I call him Luis, but I am not sure. Luis is unable to do more than mutter a few words, often breaking down in tears. He refuses to go to the local shelter or methadone clinic, sleeping instead in various spots, spending his waking hours bumming cigarettes and panhandling in front of bodegas. I worry that my pictures put a happy face on addiction. Photos cannot capture the pain, suffering, and destruction wrought by heroin, crack or in this case, whiskey. Sometimes it requires smoking a cigarette with a sobbing incoherent drunk to truly remind you what loneliness and addiction can do.”

Clarence

Clarence

“The ‘brickyard’ is a vacant lot on an otherwise industrial side street in Hunts Point. It’s where many of the local addicts spend their time, gossiping and smoking. They bring their carts filled with what they can collect to sell to the adjacent scrap metal shops. It’s where I found Clarence, who has lived for 40 years in Hunts Point since moving from North Carolina as a teenager. I spoke with Clarence, a former truck driver, for a long time. He told me all that his addiction has wrought: job loss, homelessness, health problems. Never once did he sound angry, bitter, or depressed.”

Sonya

Sonya

“Sonya lives on the top floor of an abandoned building with her husband of ten years Eric. They left Rhode Island in pursuit of drugs, settling in Hunts Point five years ago. Eric said, ‘This is the only reason me and Sonya are in Hunts Point, because this is literally right now the best heroin in all of New York City.’ Sonya left her husband and family after being turned on to heroin by Eric. ‘I wasn’t addicted to drugs until my 30s. Before then, I was a normal person, meaning I wasn’t a fucking junkie. I lived in Rhode Island and had a family. I was a soccer mom. I always kind of knew I was a heroin addict. I always knew not to fuck with heroin. I always knew it was the drug for me. It just makes you feel good. And when you’re feeling bad, having a magic button is kind of a great thing. Unfortunately the magic button is also a stupid button because it comes with a lot of consequences. I am happier in some ways than I’ve ever been in my life. But I’ve lost so many things. I want to get out of my addiction but in some ways it’s made me grow a lot. And I think I know now how to live more than I ever have.'”

Supreme

Supreme

“Supreme saw me taking pictures and asked to be photographed with his dog Obama (yes, Obama). I asked him why he was giving the camera the finger, he said, ‘Thats for people judging who I am.’ I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘A doped up junkie.’ I told him I post the pictures online and write a short description. He said, ‘I ain’t mind people knowing what I do or who I am. Its me.’ Supreme and I chatted awhile more; despite the finger he was happy to talk.”

Egypt

Egypt

“Egypt, 38 and homeless, was 14 when her mother, an addict and prostitute, put her out on the streets. She has been working the streets, in the Bronx, addicted to heroin and crack, much of the time since. While telling me her story, she started crying. She was high, having just shot crack. ‘Mix it with lemon juice. If you do it with water you will be fucked up. Abscess, dead.’ She noticed a beat up alley cat wandering. ‘That cat’s how I feel. I really do. I didn’t come out here to fucking cry. See, that cat needs a hug. I get that. He wants somebody to love him. Saying, ‘Don’t touch that,’ is like saying not to touch me.” I apologized for making her cry. She said, ‘I didn’t cry. There’s no time for crying out here. If you cry, you’re a pussy, and you can’t let them do that to you. You can’t let them see you cry. You can’t show your weakness. I’m a cancer. You scrape us off and we come right back. But we’re curable. It’s only as hard as you make it. If you think you can change, if you know you can change, you can. If you set your mind to something, that’s what’s going to happen. You have to want it. You can’t have someone else want it for you.'” Original Images and Descriptions by Chris Arnade.

How Mental Illness and Addiction Influence Each Other

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Many addicts struggle with mental disorders. I myself struggle with bipolar one and it is the cause of much of my use (read my journals for more personal accounts). Using drugs to defeat things like that or depression and anxiety most often make things worse. It can further offset the symptoms despite the immediate satisfaction. Its important to see a psychologist, being as honest as you can, to seek proper treatment. I have found that treating my illness with prescription drugs has controlled my mental/emotional state far better than any illegal substance I have ever used. The effects are long-term and with the help of medial professionals, I am able to stay sober and sane.” – Love, Robyn

There is a complex relationship between addiction, such as alcoholism, and mental illness. Treatment needs to focus on both conditions at the same time, once the right diagnoses have been made. 

The complexities of mental illness are often compounded by drug and alcohol abuse, making it a challenge to get the right diagnoses and treatment for both.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: A “Complex Dance”
“Mental illness and alcoholism or drug abuse interact in a complex dance, “says James Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and research scientist at UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. “Mental illnesses can increase the risk for alcoholism or drug abuse, sometimes because of self-medicating. On the other hand, alcoholism can lead to significant anxiety and depression that may appear indistinguishable from a mental illness. Finally, one disorder can be worse than the other.”

According to Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction psychiatrist at New York University in New York City, “Alcoholism and drug abuse addictions and other psychiatric disorders often occur at the same time. However, they are distinct disorders that must be treated as such in order to get a good outcome for the patient.”

Rorschach Test Smoke

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Likely Conditions
Certain mental conditions are frequently associated with alcohol and drug dependency. They include:

  • Depression. In some cases, individuals may start to abuse a substance to mask the symptoms of depression. Female substance abusers are particularly likely to have depression, but it also occurs in male substance abusers.
  • Bipolar disorder. Those with bipolar disorder — a condition that causes alternating cycles of depression and an abnormally elevated mood — may attempt to smooth out mood swings with alcohol.
  • Anxiety. Alcohol abuse is more common in both men and women with anxiety disorders.
  • Schizophrenia. Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, may lead to substance abuse as a way to ease the distress that these symptoms can cause.

Those with a mental disorder may also be less inhibited and more likely to show risk-taking behavior — like buying and using illegal drugs or drinking to excess — that could quickly lead to alcohol or drug abuse. “Individuals with a mental disorder could have impaired judgment and consume higher amounts of a drug or alcohol, says Dr. Garbutt.”

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Underlying Causes 
There are also other factors that could explain the frequent simultaneous occurrence of addiction and mental illness, including:

  • Genetics. Genetic factors seem to account for some of the co-morbidity (having both disorders at the same time) of substance abuse and mental disorders. Studies comparing identical and fraternal twins found more instances of having two disorders among the identical twins, indicating that genetics likely play some role.
  • Chemical deficiency. Neuro-chemical factors were also found to be a common thread when mental disorders and addiction occur together. A reduction in the amount of serotonin, a chemical critical to brain functioning, may be the reason that alcoholism and anxiety disorders coincide so often. There is also evidence that addiction and mental disorders are associated with the dysfunction of a group of brain chemicals called monoamine oxidases.
  • Shared environment. Studies surrounding twins also showed that environment plays a major role in having both a substance abuse problem and another mental disorder.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: What Is the Exact Relationship?
The answer is not entirely clear, but the connection works both ways. People with alcohol and drug addictions tend to develop mental illnesses. People with certain mental illnesses tend to develop substance abuse problems.

“Fifty percent of those with an addictive disorder will have a psychiatric disorder. And for those who have a psychiatric disorder, about 20 percent have an addiction problem,” says Dr. Gilman.

That number is even higher in those with certain mental conditions. “A variety of mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder [characterized by a lack of empathy toward other people], anxiety, sleep disorders, or depression, increase the risk of addiction. Those with the highest risk of addiction have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia — up to 50 percent [of people with these conditions] can have an addiction,” says Garbutt.

Researchers don’t yet know exactly why people with these particular disorders are at an increased risk for addiction, says Garbutt, but it has been noted that:

  • Abruptly stopping alcohol intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms — including hallucinations — that may look just like schizophrenic symptoms.
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse can cause changes in the brain, sometimes leading to changes in personality and mental disorders.
  • Alcoholics of both genders frequently suffer depression and anxiety disorders, while men are more likely to exhibit antisocial personality disorder than non-abusers of alcohol.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Treating Two Sets of Symptoms
According to Gilman, “It is very important, but often difficult, to distinguish which symptoms are psychiatric and which are addictive. A person must be substance-free for a period of at least two weeks in order to tease apart the various symptoms.”

“Clinically speaking, you have to treat the addiction and the psychological symptoms at the same time. Misdiagnosis, and therefore under-treatment, is common, such as when an alcohol addiction is masking bipolar disorder,” says Garbutt.

Garbutt and Gilman both believe that treating an addiction and a mental illness at the same time is possible, and when you treat them together you can begin the process of unraveling the underlying causes of each.

By Linda Foster, MA from Everyday Health
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

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“When I first got diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder,  I was in denial. For months after hearing doctor after doctor telling me the same thing I would still hide my meds, take drugs and do anything to prove I wasn’t crazy. But the hospital visits and psych ward continued to prove I was wrong. I was crazy.

“But being bipolar doesn’t mean your crazy. The more I learn about my disorder (reading articles, books and even digging into my past) I notice that I am not alone. I notice that these moments of clear insanity have a purpose, they have a name. There are reasons to me madness and now I finally have an opportunity to treat it.

“Its important that we are knowledgable about our (or your loved ones) diagnosis because it gives us the power and courage to live with it. This is an article I have found very helpful to myself as I live with bipolar and co-occurring addiction. It’s informative and concise, clearly describing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.” -Love, Robyn

bipolar

Bipolar disorder, once commonly known as manic depression, is a serious mental disorder that is characterized by sudden and intense shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels. Like substance abuse, bipolar disorder poses a risk to the individual’s physical and emotional well-being. Those afflicted with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of relationship problems, economic instability, accidental injuries and suicide than the general population. They are also significantly more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. According to statistics presented by the American Journal of Managed Care:

  • About 56 percent of individuals with bipolar who participated in a national study had experienced drug or alcohol addiction during their lifetime.
  • Approximately 46 percent of that group had abused alcohol or were addicted to alcohol.
  • About 41 percent had abused drugs or were addicted to drugs.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among bipolar individuals.

If you are struggling with bipolar disorder and with a drug or alcohol problem, you may have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Having a Dual Diagnosis, or a co-occurring disorder, can make recovery more challenging. Bipolar individuals may experience periods of intense depression alternating with episodes of heightened activity and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. This emotional instability can interfere with your recovery program, making it difficult to comply with the guidelines of your treatment plan.

Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation programs are designed to meet the needs of clients who are faced with this complex psychiatric condition. Staffed by specially trained and credentialed mental health professionals and addiction specialists, these centers offer care that integrates the best treatment strategies for bipolar disorder with the most effective treatments for addiction.

How Are Bipolar and Addiction Related?

There is no easy explanation for the high rate of substance abuse and chemical dependence among bipolar individuals. One reason for this phenomenon is that a large percentage of individuals attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in an effort to numb the painful symptoms of their bipolar disorder. Symptoms of bipolar disorder such as anxiety, pain, depression and sleeplessness are so alarming, that many individuals will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means for offsetting the discomfort, if only for a little while. On the other hand, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that drinking and using drugs may trigger depressed or manic moods in someone with bipolar disorder.

Age and gender may play a part in the relationship between bipolar and addiction. According to the journal, Bipolar Disorder and substance abuse is more common in young males than in other population groups.

Young men are more likely than females or older men to take dangerous risks or to act on serious self-destructive impulses. In elderly individuals with bipolar disorder, the incidence of substance abuse is much lower.

Clinical researchers believe that brain chemistry may influence both bipolar disorder and substance abuse. People with bipolar disorder often have abnormal levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, according to WebMD. These chemicals affect vital functions like appetite, metabolism, sleep and your body’s response to stress. They also affect mood and emotions. Heavy use of drugs or alcohol can interfere with the way your brain processes these chemicals, causing emotional instability, erratic energy levels and depression. People with bipolar disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol out of an unconscious need to stabilize their moods. Unfortunately, substance abuse has the opposite effect, making the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

We all go through intense episodes of sadness, elation, anger or despair. But for someone who meets the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, these episodes are all-consuming and uncontrollable. There are four major types of mood episodes that characterize bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes — each of which has a set of unique symptoms:

Symptoms of Mania

Mania is the “high” end of the mood spectrum for bipolar individuals. Symptoms may include:

  • Moments of tremendous optimism and significant pessimism
  • Grandiose feelings
  • Rapid talking
  • Little sleep
  • Impaired judgment, irrational behavior
  • Delusional behavior
  • Hallucinations

Symptoms of Hypomania

Symptoms are similar to those found in manic behavior but less intense. Hypomanic individuals are usually capable of managing their day-to-day lives, but they experience a higher than usual level of happiness, irritability or energy. You may feel that you’re capable of taking on more responsibility, or that you need less sleep. People in your life may find that you’re more talkative or sociable. You may also be more prone to engage in risk-taking behaviors, like substance abuse. Hypomanic periods are extremely productive for some people, and because psychotic symptoms do not occur in hypomania, it might seem that you don’t really have a problem.

Symptoms of Depression

At the “low” end of the bipolar spectrum is depression, an emotional state that is often characterized by sadness, tearfulness and despair. Depression in bipolar disorder may last for days or weeks, depending on your mood cycle. These periods are dangerous for Dual Diagnosis individuals, who have a higher risk of self-injury and suicide when they’re using drugs and alcohol during a low period. When you’re depressed, you may experience:

  • Hopeless feelings
  • Loss of interest in things that used to make you happy
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Self-loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of Mixed Episodes

The symptoms of bipolar disorder aren’t always clearly defined. In a mixed episode, behaviors reflect a combination of mania and depression. For example, you may have suicidal feelings and a loss of interest in your daily activities, combined with racing thoughts, pressured speech and a loss of sleep.
You may feel the urge to drink or take drugs in an attempt to balance out these unpredictable mood swings, but intoxication is only a temporary fix that won’t provide permanent relief. To achieve a full recovery, you need professional treatment that helps you stabilize your moods as you deal with the cravings and destructive impulses that characterize addiction.