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Friday, September 24, 2021

Trauma and Addiction

trauma and addiction

When someone experiences a traumatic event, they may struggle with overcoming its emotional or physical effects. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to manage their symptoms. Likewise, someone with an addiction is generally more vulnerable to traumatic experiences. The link between trauma and addiction can be a vicious cycle for some individuals.

Link Between Trauma and Addiction

Substance use problems and exposure to traumatic events are strongly linked . Trauma can result from an event or an experience such as abuse, a criminal attack, an act of violence, an accident, or going into battle. Many people who undergo these types of trauma will turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their symptoms.

In a vicious cycle, the increased substance use will often lead to additional trauma experiences, leading to further use of drugs or alcohol. Those individuals who are addicted to these substances may also be more susceptible to traumatic events such as violence or crime. Trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, are seen in people with substance use disorders as well.

Trauma and addiction create serious problems for the individual’s physical and mental health. These linked disorders can also affect the lives of those around them, including impacting relationships with friends and family members.


PTSD is often thought of as something that happens to members of the military and first responders. In fact, PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced a traumatic incident. The symptoms can begin with three months of the incident but can emerge months or even years later. When a person experiences PTSD, their symptoms will interfere with their daily life, including their work and their relationships with others.

PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks of the event or experience, avoiding places or people that are reminders of the incident, being easily startled, having difficulty concentrating and difficulty sleep, having angry or aggressive outbursts, and engaging in risky or destructive behavior, including abusing drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse and PTSD

When an individual is stressed and anxious as a result of experiencing a trauma in their life, they may be more tempted to use drugs or alcohol as a temporary relief or distraction. However, this can create more problems for the individual, both for their physical and their mental health.

Substance abuse can reduce a person’s ability to concentrate, to sleep restfully, to be productive, and to cope in a positive way with their traumatic memories and stressors. It can increase the sense of being numb emotionally, as well as their social isolation, depression, anger, and irritability. People who abuse alcohol and have PTSD often feel they need to constantly be on their guard, which can be wearing on them.

Trauma and addiction to alcohol are often seen together, as traumatized individuals are more likely to abuse alcohol both before and after they are diagnosed with PTSD. Research has found that:

  • One-fourth to three-fourths of those individuals who have survived abusive or violent traumatic experiences report problematic alcohol use.
  • One-tenth to one-third of those individuals who survive trauma related to an illness, accident, or disaster report problematic alcohol use, especially if they are troubled by persistent health problems or pain.
  • Up to 80% of Vietnam veterans seeking PTSD treatment have alcohol use disorders.
  • Veterans over the age of 65 with PTSD are at increased risk for attempted suicide when they abuse alcohol and experience the complications of depression.
  • Women exposed to trauma in their life show an increased risk for an alcohol use disorder.
  • Men and women reporting sexual abuse have higher rates of alcohol and drug use disorders than those who have not experienced such trauma.

Other Psychological or Physical Issues

Issues with mental health and physical health can also be a concern for someone experiencing trauma and addiction. About half of those adults with both alcohol use disorders and PTSD have one or more physical or psychological issues. Anxiety disorders, including phobias and panic attacks, mood disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and abuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol are often seen in people who have experienced trauma.

Those individuals are also more likely to experience chronic physical illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes. They will also suffer from chronic physical pains as well, sometimes as a result of a traumatic injury or illness but sometimes with no clear physical cause.

Trauma and Addiction Treatment at Hope by the Sea

If you have experienced trauma in your life and are struggling to deal with the symptoms, we are here to help with your anxiety, mood disorder, and addiction. At Hope by the Sea, we work with you to create a personalized treatment regimen that will be effective for you and your situation. Please contact Hope by the Sea immediately for assistance. Hope Starts Here!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Dual Diagnosis Treatment | Statistics on Dual Diagnosis

dual diagnosis treatment

Many people who struggle with substance use disorders also have mental health concerns. Likewise, many with mental health disorders are also addicted to drugs or alcohol. When an individual has both conditions, they are said to have a dual diagnosis. The statistics on dual diagnosis show that these conditions frequently occur together but dual diagnosis treatment can be effective in managing the symptoms of each disorder.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Simply put, an individual with dual diagnosis has both an addiction to drugs or alcohol and a mental health disorder. The conditions occur together and should be treated together. About half of the individuals with a mental health issue also have a substance use disorder and vice versa. The symptoms of each condition can worsen the symptoms of the other condition.

Although these conditions occur together in someone with a dual diagnosis, it can be difficult to determine which came first. There are three possibilities as to why they occur together in some people.

  1. Common risk factors, including stress, trauma, and genetics, can contribute to both substance use and mental health disorders.
  2. Mental disorders can contribute to substance use disorders as individuals tend to use drugs or alcohol to try to manage their symptoms. Mental disorders may also change the functioning of the brain, making it more likely that these individuals will become addicted.
  3. Addiction can contribute to the development of mental health disorders. Substance use also changes the brain in ways that may make it more likely that the individual will develop a mental disorder.

Statistics on Dual Diagnosis

In 2019, 9.5 million adults in the US had a dual diagnosis. This was an increase over 2018 numbers, when approximately 9.2 million adults in the US had both mental health and substance use disorders . The 2018 number was higher than the numbers for 2015 and 2016.

Among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, 2.4 million had a dual diagnosis in 2018. Five million adults between the ages of 26 and 49 were diagnosed with both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. Among adults over the age of 50, 1.7 million had a dual diagnosis.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The best approach for a dual diagnosis of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder is to treat both conditions together in an integrated intervention. Treatment must address the individual's specific situation, but may include:

  • Detox : The first step is usually to rid the body of the toxic substances so addiction and mental health treatment can begin. A medically supervised detoxification program will help the individual manage withdrawal symptoms and stay healthy throughout the process.
  • Inpatient Rehab : Addressing the individual's addiction and mental health disorder can be most effective when they receive mental health and medical care 24/7. Therapy, health services, and support are available to the individual to treat their conditions and the underlying causes of each.
  • Psychotherapy : Therapy sessions, including alternative therapies such as Gestalt therapy and art therapy, have been proven effective in helping the individual with a dual diagnosis learn how to cope with and how to change ineffective patterns of thinking which could lead to an increased risk of substance use.
  • Ongoing Support : Extended care programs, support groups, and 12-Step programs enable the individual with a dual diagnosis to learn how to live a new life after addiction. They will find a supportive network of other individuals with similar experiences and backgrounds who can share in their frustrations and celebrate their successes. An extended care program reinforces the individual's ability to develop and retain the skills they will need to live a healthier and more fulfilling life in recovery.

Help for Drug Abuse and Mental Health Issues

It's critical for your recovery to work with a professional with specialized dual-diagnosis expertise. At Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center, we help you begin the journey of recovery from drug abuse as well as mental health issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, as well as your family members who are affected, so everyone can embrace recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.

Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients' safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Do I Have Anxiety?

anxiety test

Being anxious about a new job or a temporarily challenging situation in your life is normal. You may be worried about what life will be like in a new neighborhood if you’re planning a move or concerned that you will do well in a presentation you have to make for work. However, if your symptoms of being anxious continue for a long time, you may wonder if you have anxiety or what kind of anxiety test is available so you can be sure.

Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that can seriously affect your daily life. That feeling of fear or dread does not go away and, in fact, can become worse over time. Anxiety can impact your job, your personal life, and your relationships. It can be debilitating.

There are different types of anxiety disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is excessive worry about ordinary issues. If you are anxious about your family, your job, money, or health, and you have worries about any of these almost every day for at least six months, you may be diagnosed with GAD.

Panic Disorder is typically diagnosed when you have panic attacks that come on quickly and last for several minutes or even longer. These attacks occur even when you are in no actual danger, but you experience sudden, repeated periods of intense fear.

Phobias are diagnosed when you have an intense fear of something that doesn’t actually put you in danger. If your anxiety is a phobia, you may have a fear of going to crowded places, being in social situations, or even an intense and debilitating fear of objects or animals such as spiders.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

While the precise cause of anxiety is unknown, it may be related to brain chemistry, stress levels, genetics, and influences from your environment. GAD and phobias are more common in women. General risk factors for anxiety disorders include:

  • A family history of anxiety or other mental health issues
  • Traumatic events that occurred in early childhood or adulthood
  • Personality traits, such as being extremely shy or withdrawn in new situations or around people you don’t know
  • Physical health conditions such as arrhythmia or thyroid conditions.

Do I Have Anxiety?

Anxiety affects 40 million people in the US. Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental illnesses in this country. Less than 37% of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment, though.

What symptoms are you experiencing that lead you to wonder if you have an anxiety disorder? Different types of anxiety have different symptoms, but all typically have some combination of:

  • Changes in your behavior, such as avoiding activities that you used to do without fear.
  • Physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, pounding heart, and unexplained aches and pains.
  • Thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control. These thoughts make you feel restless and tense. They will interfere with your daily activities. They do not go away, and instead you feel them more intensely over time.

Anxiety Test

When you are concerned that your anxious feelings may be an anxiety disorder, there is an anxiety test that will screen for symptoms. The test will help assess whether you have experienced symptoms of anxiety for extended periods of time. Questions will ask how often you are not able to stop or control your worrying and how often you feel afraid, as if something terrible might happen, for example.

Treatment for Anxiety

It’s important to follow up on the anxiety test with appropriate treatment if you suspect that you do have anxiety. A mental health professional can confirm the diagnosis and treat you with behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and medications. If you are also struggling from a substance use issue, this can also have a strong effect on your mental health so both conditions will need to be treated together.

Hope by the Sea is Here to Help

If you are dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, the professionals at Hope by the Sea are here to help. We are a southern California mental health and addiction treatment center, focused on helping men and women begin the journey of recovery from mood disorders and addiction. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.

When you need help treating your mental health or substance use disorder, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Diabulimia: A Life-Threatening Fad Diet


You’ve probably heard of the common eating disorders—anorexia, bulimia, compulsive binge eating—and their attendant health risks. Most of these, while demographically proportional to negative-body-image issues, can happen to people of any age, gender, or background. However, there’s one eating disorder and dangerous fad diet that happens only to members of one small demographic. There are 1.6 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes; and among teen and young-adult patients at least, over 10 percent and perhaps as many as 40 percent struggle with diabulimia.

What Is Diabulimia?

Type 1 diabetes is different from the more common Type 2, which affects over 32.5 million Americans, mostly in the over-50 demographic. Both diabetes types are due to high blood sugar brought on by a shortage of pancreas-produced insulin, without which the body is unable to absorb sugar. But while Type 2 diabetes begins when the pancreas and insulin-absorbing cells wear out from age or from years/decades of excessive sugar intake, Type 1 is due to a pancreas that never functions properly or “dies” early in life. And while Type 2 is often a minor (or even asymptomatic) problem manageable with weight control and healthy diet, Type 1 patients must take regular doses of supplementary insulin throughout their lives.

Symptoms indicating either form of diabetes include frequent thirst, increased appetite, fatigue, blurry vision—and weight loss. When blood sugar loses its insulin “key” to the cells that would ordinarily store it, the body, now unable to utilize its normal sugar energy sources, begins breaking down fat cells for their backup energy supply. The result: less fat, less weight, but at the price of abnormally high blood sugar levels. 

Diabulimia begins when someone decides to lose weight by cutting supplementary insulin. People without Type 1 diabetes don’t get diabulima because they’re immune to it: their bodies produce insulin naturally, and that source can’t be turned off. (Even most people with Type 2 diabetes still have adequate natural insulin for everyday functioning.) 

Why Diabulimia Is Life-Threatening

Unfortunately, people with diabetes are already in a high-risk category for eating disorders in general. The parallels are many: 

  • Young Type 1 diabetics feel uncomfortably different from their peers (the illness affects one teen in a thousand); people with eating disorders feel ugly, alone, and unappreciated
  • Effective diabetes management requires ongoing attention to body functions; eating disorders are triggered by obsession with the body 
  • Diabetes management means careful monitoring and hard work; many people with eating disorders are highly organized and perfectionistic
  • People with diabetes can suffer “burnout” and get tired of all the work involved (that in itself can be a major contributor to diabulimia); people with eating disorders have their own “burnout” periods when they give up on being responsible.

Eating disorders are life-threatening because they trigger increased risks of heart trouble, severe malnutrition, blocked intestines, stomach rupture, and kidney failure. People with diabulimia also risk every major health concern associated with low insulin—heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness, slow wound healing, frequent illness. And, more immediately, ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal coma caused by acid buildup in the blood.

If You Suspect Diabulimia

Symptoms of diabulimia include:

  • Change in diabetes-management, exercise, or eating habits
  • The return of Type 1 diabetes symptoms that had been under control
  • Unaccounted-for rise in the blood’s A1C level
  • Hair and skin drying out
  • Increased secretiveness
  • Rapid weight loss, usually with refusal to talk about it
  • Excessive concern with weight and other aspects of body image
  • Episodes of nausea and vomiting
  • Episodes of hypoglycemia (wooziness and shakiness due to low blood sugar) or ketoacidosis—and, often, frequent emergency-room visits due to low insulin.

Diabulimia can persist for years and shortens average life span by a decade. If you suspect you or a minor in your custody has it, see a doctor immediately (be sure to mention your concerns about the ongoing problem, since diabulimia is still little recognized even in the medical world). See an eating disorders specialist as well, and find a support group—preferably one that includes others with co-occurring diabetes and eating disorder.  

Finally, remember that neither diabetes nor weight management has to ruin your life. With family and peer support, anyone can find much to be grateful for, even amidst the toughest challenges.

Get Help for Your Health Problems

While prescription insulin is essential for Type 1 diabetes, many people take unprescribed substances that can do as much harm as diabulimia—especially when substance abuse turns into addiction. At Hope by the Sea, we offer accredited treatment for addiction disorders and the mental/behavioral illnesses that often accompany them. Contact us to learn how we can help with your specific concerns. Hope Starts Here!


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