Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

(626) 356-0078
191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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Archive for January, 2020

4 Non-Addictive Ways To Manage Insomnia

Posted on: January 28th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

4 Non-Addictive Ways To Manage Insomnia

Bedtime is difficult for many people suffering with various mental illnesses, not only addiction. At night, lying in bed, our thoughts can easily turn to all the most difficult aspects of our lives. We ask the unanswerable questions, remember everything we’ve ever done wrong, and worry about getting enough sleep.

However, insomnia presents a particular problem for people struggling with addiction, as most sleeping pills are addictive. The entire benzodiazepine class, for example, constitutes some of the most abused substances. The so-called “Z-drugs,” while less addictive, are still liable to be abused, especially by those already struggling with addiction.

Also, many individuals start using substances at least in part to help get to sleep. Alcohol and other substances provide temporary relief, while worsening the problem in the long-term.

Fortunately, there are non-addictive ways to manage insomnia that work for people who have abused substances.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene should be practiced by everyone, even those who do not struggle with insomnia. However, it is particularly important for those with sleeping problems. Sleep hygiene refers to the routines and practices that you follow at night to improve your ability to fall and stay asleep. Your body gets used to the routine and is able to identify that you are getting ready for bed.

Some of the most common sleep hygiene practices include:

  • going to bed at the same time every night
  • not using your phone or computer within an hour or so before you go to bed
  • avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the late afternoon and evening
  • avoiding napping during the day
  • exercising daily

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown as effective for treating insomnia. CBT will provide you with techniques to challenge troubling thoughts, quiet your mind, and release your negative associations to sleep. Insomnia can be its own vicious cycle, as the more you worry about getting to sleep, the less likely sleep becomes. CBT gives you the tools to change these thought cycles.

CBT uses techniques like reality-testing (through which you test the validity of your troubling thoughts) and worry journals (in which you write down worrying thoughts at night to stop your mind from fixating on them). It requires work and preparation, and should be done with the help of a therapist who specializes in CBT.

They may also train you in mindfulness techniques to quiet the mind and to relax before bedtime.

Non-Addictive Supplements

While most prescription sleeping aids carry some risk of dependence, there are non-addictive supplements that can improve your sleep without negative side-effects. The most popular option is melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. Melatonin regulates the sleep cycle, notifying your body when it is time for bed.

Melatonin can help with insomnia, but is especially effective in improving your circadian rhythm. It has been shown to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, but if you have severe insomnia it is unlikely to be a perfect cure.

Non-Addictive Prescription Pills

Prescription sleeping pills generally build dependence. However, there are other medications that can treat insomnia that are not addictive. These are pills that treat other conditions and also have the effect of helping with sleep.

Seroquel is one such example. In its extended release form, it can be effective in regulating sleep on a uniform, nightly basis. The problem is that drugs like Seroquel are not prescribed for insomnia but rather for mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Therefore, if you are suffering from one or more mood disorders, your psychiatrist may prescribe these drugs at nighttime to treat both the mood disorder and the insomnia.

Speak to your psychiatrist to see if there are any such options for you. Many of these pills have side effects, and are far from ideal when not strictly necessary.

Treating insomnia is more tricky when you’ve struggled with addiction. However, there are effective ways of beating insomnia without requiring addictive pills.

What Are Distress Tolerance Skills For Addiction?

Posted on: January 22nd, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

4 Non-Addictive Ways To Manage Insomnia

Distress tolerance is a very useful concept to think about when recovering from addiction. Simply put, distress tolerance refers to your ability to withstand (tolerate) emotional pain or distress. When you start using drugs or alcohol, they quickly lower your level of distress tolerance. Instead of being able to withstand the tough feelings, you begin to turn immediately to substances.

In recovery, whether inpatient or outpatient, relapse can be prevented by building your distress tolerance skills. The first goal is going to be recognizing your triggers and the emotions that you usually manage with substances.

But once you’ve got a good idea of your triggers, you still have to fill your toolbox with skills to replace the drugs and alcohol.

We generally refer to 3 simple categories of distress tolerance skills: distraction, self-soothing, and improving the moment.

Distraction

Distraction is one of the most popular distress tolerance techniques of the general population. When people are feeling overwhelmed by an emotion, they turn to TV, games, books, and other distractions, whether or not they intend it. In fact, so common is this behavior that it gets a bad name – ultimately, if you always distract yourself from your feelings will get you into trouble.

However, as a recovering addict, distraction can be a very effective and useful tool. It can be used instead of drinking or doing drugs, and there’s nothing too complicated about it. Of course, if you never manage your feelings any other way, you’ll find yourself struggling eventually. Use it when necessary, but try not to rely on it too much.

Self-Soothing

Self-soothing strategies depend on a slightly different approach. Instead of distracting yourself through external sources, you use your senses to soothe yourself without downplaying the emotion. For example, if you’re feeling particularly anxious, you can listen to music, focusing on the sounds, using them to ground yourself in the present.

The beauty of self-soothing is that it gives you an opportunity to change your relationship to your emotions. You’re not pushing the difficult feeling away. Rather, you’re teaching yourself that you can be okay even when experiencing the emotion. You can, in the example above, focus on soothing music while letting your anxiety simply “be”.

Improving the Moment

Sometimes, when you’re in a state of crisis, neither distraction nor self-soothing will help. The fear and dread associated with the emotions you’re feeling is just too strong. In these cases, improving the moment can help.

Improving the moment refers to a technique through which you reframe what is going on. You can do this by visualizing the situation and changing certain aspects in your mind. You can find a way to glean meaning from what is going on. You can pray, if spirituality appeals to you. You can practice meditation if you have the skills to relax yourself one step at a time.

Resources

All of these techniques require practice and a certain amount of preparation. A good start is to get a good idea of what distractions are available, which methods work for self-soothing, and ideas as to how to improve the moment.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Turn Off The News… For The Sake Of Your Mental Health

Posted on: January 20th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

4 Non-Addictive Ways To Manage Insomnia

Many people look at me skeptically when I tell them to stop watching the news. With everything that is going on today – politically, socially, environmentally – isn’t it irresponsible not to be up-to-date?

A friend told me that if you’re not depressed in 2020, you’re not paying enough attention. Many others echo this sentiment. However, I think the opposite is true. If you think that knowing about everything wrong with the world helps anyone, you have not been paying attention.

Depression and anxiety dull responsiveness

The merits of being up-to-date with all the news are up for debate. But when it comes to people recovering from mental illness and addiction, the answer is simple. The more down you get because of the news, the less likely you are to recover and act in a way that is at all helpful.

Everyone experiences some anxiety – and up to a point, it safeguards us from neglecting what we need to do. But the reality is that excessive anxiety, as well as depression, dulls responsiveness. It’s a common downward spiral. Someone suffering from anxiety thinks about how much they have to get done, then how important it is, then how many people they’ll be letting down. Eventually, they are paralyzed.

Our own anxieties are powerful enough to do this. Being constantly aware of the world’s anxieties only makes us feel more hopeless.

That said, it’s not possible to be unaware of what’s going on in the world, and you don’t need to be. Here are some tips to keep it under control.

Keep it local

We live in a global world. Unfortunately, this means we’re bombarded not just with our own news, but with news from countries we’ve never been to. We hear about outrageous stuff going on across the world and it adds to our sense of helplessness. We really don’t need this.

I acknowledge that it’s responsible to know what;s going on at home, for the sake of contributing to making things better. You can, at least, vote accordingly. But knowing about all the world’s problems helps no one. Don’t click on those articles, no matter how interesting or inflammatory they may seem.

Leave satire behind

There’s something liberating about laughing at our problems. However, satire today tends to focus more on ridiculing people or ideas on the “other side”. It serves to make us angrier, more despairing, and less likely to find common ground.

Gallows humor is liberating. Satire that fuels outrage only makes the burden heavier.

Read some good news

One way of tempering the constant stream of negativity coming from the news is by interspersing it with happier stories. For example, the website Tank’s Good News only shares good news. It was started by someone who created cynical memes for a living, when he recognized that negativity wouldn’t solve anything.

There is nothing bad or wrong about turning off the news for the sake of your mental health. Knowing everything going on in the world will not make you a better global citizen. On the contrary, you can only make a difference when you focus on building yourself up.

3 Tips For Dating As A Recovering Addict

Posted on: January 9th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

4 Non-Addictive Ways To Manage Insomnia

Something that a lot of recently sober men grapple with is how to start dating again. For most people, dating is tough to navigate. You’re trying to show the best parts of yourself while figuring out what the other person is like. For a recovering addict, showing the best parts of yourself comes with extra challenges.

The most natural instinct is to lie. You will probably feel the need to fill in the “blank” parts of your narrative with an idealized version of your history. However, if you’re planning on starting a serious relationship, you’ll need to be honest about your addiction eventually, and it’s going to be tough replacing your narrative with what really happened.

But can you start with the truth? Will that just chase everyone away? The following 3 tips will help you navigate dating as a recovering addict.

1. Don’t spill everything immediately

Some recovering addicts deal with their insecurity about their addiction by spilling everything on the first date. Immediately. This is understandable. You’re scared that this will scare the person away eventually anyway, so why not see how they respond now?

However, spilling your entire narrative is never a good way to start a date, whether or not you’re a recovering addict. Think about how you would feel if your date told you all of their problems with work and friends from the get-go!

Furthermore, there are unfortunately misconceptions about addiction that many people never have to challenge. Particular attributes are assumed about male addicts – such as a tendency towards violence, sexual misgivings, etc.

Give the person a chance to get to know you a bit before completing your narrative. Don’t lie, and certainly don’t wait too long. But start small and build details as you build the relationship.

2. Stay proud of your achievements

I have seen many people leave rehab with a tremendous amount of pride about recovery. That is, until they face dating as a recovering addict. Suddenly, they are uncomfortable, assuming others will see their strengths as weaknesses.

This is where you need to stick to your guns. Reinforce what you know about your process before each date. Remind yourself that the possibility that others do not understand or relate does not diminish your achievements in any way.

Also, remember that a lot of people know and love someone who has struggled with addiction, even if they themselves have not gone through it. They may be more attuned to (and impressed with) your experience than you think.

3. Let them be a part of your journey

When you’re starting a relationship as a recovering addict, even after you’ve shared what you’ve gone through, you will probably feel the urge to keep any current struggles to yourself. It is far easier to talk about battles you have won than to share a challenge you may not overcome. You want your partner to see you as strong, rather than to treat you as if you’re fragile.

However, your partner is likely to respect you even more if you’re open about what you’re going through. Not only will they empathize, but they will also feel a sense of relief. They will feel way more comfortable knowing your inner reality than constantly imagining all the worst case scenarios. They’ll also want to be a part of your journey.

Let them in and tell them what you need from them. The healthiest relationships are maintained by each partner expressing their needs. Yours will be no different.