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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Addiction Recovery: Daily Reminders are Beneficial

Daily reminders can do a lot of good in a person’s life. Those who succeed in their endeavors often create routines to help reinforce their commitment to the things they're working toward in life. If you have a goal, it's vital to gently remind yourself of the things you need to do to achieve it.

Humans, almost by nature, are easily distracted. The commotion of everyday life can stand in one’s way. When a person loses sight of their target, any progress made can evaporate quickly; this is especially true when it comes to addiction recovery. Men and women who desire long-term healing from the disease of addiction must be ever vigilant. They cannot let up on their program for even a moment; complacency is no friend of recovery.

Each day, people in recovery benefit significantly from reminding themselves that they have an incurable disease. While mental illness is treatable and manageable, continued effort and support is a must. Otherwise, old ways of thinking (addictive thinking) can crop up, and before one knows it, they are on a trajectory toward relapse.

One of the reasons addiction professionals recommend people go to 90 meetings in 90 days (90 in 90) is to establish a daily routine centered around recovery. Simply put, recovery must be the number one priority. Counselors also advise people in early recovery to keep a journal to stay on track. Many people with significant lengths of time in the program still maintain the practice of journaling. Whether it's to manifest goals, create gratitude lists, or to help process something they are unwilling to share aloud, journaling is an excellent tool for anyone working a program.

Thinking About Addiction Recovery Each Day

addiction recovery
Journals can also serve as a marker of progress; what one scribbles down after 24 hours sober is much different than what they write after one year. Putting thoughts on paper each day can be a helpful reminder that you have a condition that requires extra attention and continued action.

Actor and podcast host Dax Shepard shared some insights into his addiction recovery with Gwyneth Paltrow recently, ET Canada reports. While the Parenthood star has 14 years in recovery, he says that for the first 12 years of his sobriety, he started each day the same way. On Paltrow’s podcast, Goop, Shepard reports that at the beginning of each day, he’d open a journal and remind himself that he is an addict.

“I wrote a page in my journal every single morning because I had this thought that if I can’t commit 20 minutes to remember I’m an addict each morning, I’m going to end up blowing nine hours a day as an addict,” Shepard said. “I have to be able to say, minimally this is your commitment.” 

Those who keep their addiction at the forefront of their mind are less likely to slip up. The things they do for the sake of continued progress determine their program's strength. While establishing new routines and traditions can be challenging, there are great remaking and sticking to a commitment.

“You’ve got to acknowledge you are an addict every day, first thing, right when you wake up, you write a page,” Shepard advised. “It doesn’t even have to be about being an addict. It’s just this physical activity there to remind myself, ‘I have a thing that I’ll never not have.’”

California Residential Addiction Treatment

If you or a family member are living with untreated alcohol or substance use disorder, we want you to know that freedom is an achievable goal. The miracle of recovery can be yours too; please contact Hope By The Sea to speak to an addiction specialist about our programs.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mental Health Parity Protections

Discriminating against people living with mental illness is not a new phenomenon. The fight for mental health parity for people living with conditions, including alcohol and substance use disorder, continues to this day. Even though patients are supposed to be protected by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) and the Affordable Care Act, evidence suggests that many people are being denied coverage.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero ruled that UnitedHealth Group discriminated against consumers with mental health and substance abuse disorders, The New York Times reports. The federal judge in Northern California found that internal policies aimed at saving money violated its fiduciary duty under federal law.

The unit of UnitedHealth Group under fire is United Behavioral Health, the arm of the company that handles mental health treatments, according to the article. The focus of the lawsuit deals with the insurer’s practice of denying patient coverage for mental health services as soon as a treatment center stabilizes said patient’s acute symptoms.

“In our view, it’s a monumental win for mental health and substance abuse patients,” said D. Brian Hufford, an attorney with Zuckerman Spaeder. Mr. Hufford says that some insurance companies responded to parity protections by limiting coverage to only when patients were acutely ill.

Mental illness recovery is a long process; successful outcomes usually result from more significant lengths of stay in treatment centers. Since acute symptoms can subside in a matter of days or weeks, refusing to cover the costs at the time means many patients have no other choice but to discharge. When it comes to addiction—relapses and overdoses often occur following brief stays in rehab. Months of care are recommended for patients to develop a plan and to learn the coping skills for achieving long-term recovery.


What is Mental and Addiction Parity

Mental Health Parity
Both the MHPAEA and the Affordable Care Act or ACA made it against the law for insurance companies to refuse coverage to consumers living with mental illness. While far from perfect, the signing of both bills into law is considered a landmark achievement. Such legislation forced private insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse disorders the same way they would any other serious medical condition (i.e., diabetes).

No longer able to impose tight restrictions on how they cover mental illness, Mr. Hufford said that some companies “came up with an even more insidious approach,” according to the article. One of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit said her son died after he left the residential recovery center treating his substance use disorder. The insurer would no longer cover the cost of care.

“There is an excessive emphasis on addressing acute symptoms and stabilizing crises while ignoring the effective treatment of members’ underlying conditions,” said Judge Spero.

When a patient presents to addiction treatment, the drugs and alcohol can disguise or mimic other forms of mental illness. Making a proper diagnosis and formulating effective treatment plans is not a one-size-fits-all process; each case is unique; it takes time for clinicians to determine the best course of action. Through that lens, it is pretty straightforward for one to understand why discharging a client after their acute symptoms subside, is a dangerous practice.

Mental illness, whether it be depression or substance use disorder, are potentially life-threatening health conditions. Such diseases and many more have diagnostic criteria laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. When people receive the care these types of disorders require, they can go on to lead healthy and productive lives in recovery.

Southern California Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

One of our goals at Hope By The Sea is getting clients the ongoing insurance approval for them to experience a successful addiction recovery process. We provide our clients’ insurers with status reviews regularly to ensure continued treatment. Please contact us today to verify the benefits you have available for mental health treatment. Hope By The Sea can help you realize the miracle of recovery.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Linked to Social Anxiety

Anxiety affects millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people worldwide. From a clinical standpoint, angst can be the result of a social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, or other forms of phobia. In the field of addiction medicine, anxiety disorders are some of the more common co-occurring mental illnesses affecting people living with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder.

The term "anxiety" is somewhat nebulous, and it can mean different things to different people. The dictionary defines it as ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.’ Those who lack safe methods for coping with anxiousness are more likely to turn to mind-altering substances to alleviate their symptoms. Self-medication makes for a clear path to developing both alcohol and substance use disorder.

It is also worth keeping in mind that people who develop problems with substance use are at a heightened risk of experiencing other forms of mental illness. There exist cases where people began struggling with another mental illness following prolonged alcohol or drug use. However, conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder often precede drinking or drugging initiation. It is critical that addiction treatment centers address all forms of mental illness that clients present for, simultaneously—regardless of the order in which conditions develop.

Social Anxiety Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder

Many forms of anxiety exist, but this post will deal with social anxiety disorder, also called “social phobia.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. Approximately 15 million American adults meet the criteria for the condition.

Adolescence and young adulthood are difficult and awkward times for countless people. As most people well know, drinking alcohol can make social situations significantly more palatable. Beer, liquor, and wine can lower one’s inhibitions and make him or her more convivial. Those who form associations between drinking and being more socially adept may be placing themselves on a trajectory toward future problems.

A new study dealing with anxiety and alcohol use disorder found some interesting findings. Through interviews with 2,801 adult Norwegian twins, researchers uncovered an association between alcoholism and social anxiety disorder, ScienceDaily reports. Unlike similar conditions, social phobia was linked with a higher risk of alcoholism. The findings indicate that social anxiety prevention, interventions, and treatment could result in also preventing alcohol use disorder.

"Many individuals with social anxiety are not in treatment. This means that we have an underutilized potential, not only for reducing the burden of social anxiety, but also for preventing alcohol problems," said lead author Dr. Fartein Ask Torvik, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. "Cognitive behavioral therapy with controlled exposure to the feared situations has shown good results."

The findings of the study appear in Depression and Anxiety.


California Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

At Hope By The Sea, our highly credentialed staff of addiction professionals can equip you with the tools to live permanently without alcohol. Our team understands that more than half of individuals struggling with addiction also meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental illness or dual diagnosis. We will address your alcohol or substance disorder along with any other comorbidities, such as social anxiety disorder.

Please contact us today and take the first steps toward discovering hope again and the miracle of recovery.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Eating Disorders: A Common Dual Diagnosis

During National Eating Disorders Awareness Week we would like to take the opportunity to discuss the topic of dual diagnosis—otherwise known as co-occurring disorders. People living with one form of mental illness – treated or untreated – are at a higher risk of contending with another type of mental disease. Any mental health disorder can develop as a result of chemical dependency or can begin affecting an individual before a use disorder develops.

The order of condition onset varies from patient-to-patient; but, what matters is that all psychological disorders – from addiction to eating disorders – are treated concurrently. Successful treatment and recovery outcomes depend on addressing the needs of the whole client. If a person presents for addiction treatment and has a co-occurring disorder overlooked, it can derail the process of their recovery.

At Hope By The Sea, we stress the importance of reviewing each client’s medical history and conduct a screening and assessment process to determine if symptoms of a dual diagnosis are present. Since more than half of people meeting the criteria for addiction also have a co-occurring mental illness, the likelihood of finding markers of mental illness in new patients is high.

Armed with a comprehensive understanding of what a client is struggling with, we can develop a customized treatment plan. Monitoring a secondary mental illness diagnosis is of equal importance as the addiction recovery process. Each client has different needs; some may require medications while others can manage their co-occurring illness with therapeutic techniques alone. Whatever the case may be—successful recovery outcomes demand that a client learns how to both manage a program of recovery and keep the symptoms of a dual diagnosis from interfering with progress.

It is critical that a co-occurring issue does not contribute or serve as a catalyst for relapse.


Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorder

eating disorders
As mentioned above, this is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, people living with eating disorders are five times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, compared to the general population. Moreover, men and women living with a substance use disorder have eating disorders at a rate 11 times greater than the general population. It is not difficult to see that eating disorders and addiction accompany each other quite often.

There are several types of eating disorders whose criteria can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. They include:
  • Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
  • Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

“Substance abuse problems may begin before the onset of an eating disorder, during an eating disorder, or even after recovery,” said Amy Baker Dennis, Ph. D., FAED. She adds that “Men with binge eating disorder have a tendency to have very high rates of substance abuse; up to 57 percent of men with BED also have a co-occurring substance abuse problem.”

People battling both eating disorders and substance use disorders can benefit from co-occurring disorder treatment. Recovery is real, and help is available.

If you are unsure if you meet the criteria for an eating disorder and may require assistance, then you may find some insight from the National Eating Disorders Association’s screening tool.  

Please note: This survey is not meant as a diagnostic tool, but your results could indicate that this is an excellent time to start a conversation with a professional.


California Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The miracle of recovery can be yours too. Please contact Hope By The Sea if you are living with an untreated alcohol or substance use disorder. We can help you break the cycle of addiction, address any co-occurring mental illnesses, and help you chart a path toward lasting recovery.

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