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 February, 2020

Are You Suffering From Death Anxiety?

Posted on: February 14th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

Sad Woman

For years, I never spoke about my death anxiety. It wasn’t a topic that came up, even in therapy. It seemed like talking about it would only make other people miserable, and so I tried my best to deal with it on my own.

The first time I remember experiencing death anxiety was when I was about fifteen. It terrified me, as I lay in bed looking up at the ceiling, trying desperately to put the cat back into the bag. In desperation, I turned to religion, letting the idea of an afterlife assuage my anxiety. But years later, when I no longer found solace in religion, I needed something else to make the fear of death go away.

That’s when I started to drink.

Death Anxiety and Addiction

My personal addiction journey has a direct link to my death anxiety. This is something I’ve always been aware of, and it was one of the factors that made it difficult to embrace sobriety. I had started drinking to make a problem go away. Quitting would only leave me vulnerable again.

My experience highlights how important it is to be aware of the link between mental illness and addiction. Substances are often used as a way of dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings. When a person gets sober or clean, they need more effective ways to manage these thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, relapse is inevitable.

During my time in rehab, I finally started speaking about my death anxiety. I mentioned it tentatively in a therapy session. When my therapist empathized with my experience, I ventured to share with some of my peers. I was surprised to discover that others had started using substances to deal with the same anxiety. It was a problem they could not see a solution to, since death is inevitable, and substances had at least let them forget for a while.

Still, while I felt relieved to learn that I was not alone, what solutions could I possibly find?

Managing the Fear

In his book Staring at the Sun, psychologist Irvin Yalom addresses the ubiquitous human experience of death anxiety. As the person who wrote the textbook on Existential Psychology, he is better qualified than anyone else to provide a way to live with the knowledge of death.

The first thing to understand is that every human being is terrified of death, whether they know it or not. It is hardwired into our physical make-up. Our evolutionary purpose is to survive, beating death by living as long as possible and by passing our genes on to our offspring.

Confronting death anxiety is therefore incredibly difficult and can be tremendously painful. But I believed that I could never live fully until I had confronted it. I no longer had religion or alcohol, and I felt incredibly defenseless.

In rehab, I could not use alcohol to forget about death. I had no choice but to deal with it in therapy. What I learned was incredible. My therapist helped me accept the fact that I was going to die. I hadn’t fully internalized that, and so my desperate mind still wanted to find solutions. With the knowledge that there is no ultimate solution, my mind can calm down.

That does not mean the fear went away. It did get less intense, and that allowed me to learn to manage it. My old habit of running from the fear had only served to make the fear way stronger than it should have been. If I just sat with the fear, acknowledging its presence and allowing it to come and go on its own, it really was not such a big deal.

Death anxiety is something that affects everyone, and I’m not the only person who started drinking or using substances to numb it out. Without acknowledging that anxiety and dealing with it in rehab, I would have not been able to move on to a life without alcohol.

In rehab, it is important to identify the factors that precipitated your substance use. Discuss it with your counselors, who will help you manage those factors so that you can live an effective sober life.

Why Are Addiction And Codependency Linked?

Posted on: February 10th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

Are You Suffering From Death Anxiety?

If you or a loved one are working through an addiction problem, you’ve probably heard the term “codependency.” Addiction and codependency seem inextricably linked. Codependent relationships are certainly not unique to people battling addiction, and just about everyone is part of or knows of a codependent relationship. However, when it comes to addiction, there is a particularly strong link.

Why are addiction and codependency linked? To understand the connection, let’s first define codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency refers to a relationship in which both members believe they’re getting something they need from the other. In a family without an addict, this may be a mother who gets meaning from caring for her child, while the child depends on his mother for validation. A codependent relationship makes it difficult for both parties to change. The mother finds it hard to let her child become independent, as that would take away her meaning. She unconsciously withholds validation from her child, who in turn remains dependent.

How does codependency come about with addiction?

Addiction and Family Dysfunction

Even if a family was not dysfunctional before a member became addicted to drugs or alcohol, they quickly stop functioning in a healthy way. The family system no longer works with the complex balance it had before. Rather, everything centers around the addict and their behavior.

Codependency is a natural consequence of this, as the family members become like planets in orbit around the addict. One family member may feel deep sadness in seeing their loved one suffer. They try to help but end up enabling their behavior. The addict becomes dependent on their loved one enabling them, while the loved one becomes attached to their role as a compassionate provider.

Another family member may resent and fight with the addict. They use anger to cope with the painful family situation. They begin to need the addict to stay addicted in order to have a target for that anger. The addict learns to use their perceived vilification as justification for their behavior. They rely on being insulted and shunned as a reason to go on drinking or using drugs.

An Uneasy Balance

Without realizing it, the family finds a balance. This balance allows the dysfunction to continue indefinitely. As soon as one family member tries to change, a codependent member does something to provoke their habitual behavior. The system that forms is one of the biggest challenges the addict will have to work with in rehab.

Recognizing codependency in addiction is crucial to recovery. Without addressing the codependency, a recovering addict may be subject to self-sabotage or unconscious sabotage from their loved ones.

No one is to blame for codependency. However, every member of the family will have to try and change the roles they’ve taken on. For this reason, family therapy is an important part of rehab. It will take work, but a codependent family can become the support the addict needs to get better.

How To Have Fun Without Drinking

Posted on: February 4th, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

Are You Suffering From Death Anxiety?

As recovery professionals, we repeatedly have to explain even to people who have never struggled with alcoholism that you can have fun without drinking. And in rehab, recovering addicts generally spend more time focusing on the “serious” stuff than on thoughts of having fun. “Learning to have fun” is not a common reason given for going to rehab.

However, neglecting the question of how to have fun without drinking can lead to problems when people leave rehab. On a more fundamental level, disregarding the idea of fun as something unimportant neglects a key aspect of a recovering addict’s life.

Fun, in many senses, comes from open expression, connection, and a willingness to play. It comes naturally in childhood, but as adults, we close ourselves to these things for fear of getting hurt. When you use alcohol to have fun, you’re generally using it as a way to forget about that fear and self-consciousness.

If you’re not having fun while sober, you are missing opportunities to express yourself and connect. Now that alcohol is no longer an option, you need to work on finding more authentic ways of having fun.

Giving yourself permission

The first step towards having fun without drinking is giving yourself permission to play. We so deeply internalize the idea that playing is for children that playfulness starts to seem ridiculous through sober eyes.

To give yourself permission to play, you need to regularly remind yourself that play leads to self-expression and connection, and that is neither stupid nor childish. So many people have told me that they just want to splash around in the pool with friends, climb trees, and play games. They’ll say these things while sitting by the pool among friends, as if jumping in the water and playing is just not a real option for an adult.

You will need to push yourself to overcome your aversion to having fun while sober, but by consistently giving yourself permission to do so, you will get there.

A new environment

However, the struggle is not only internal. The same environments in which you used to have fun might no longer make sense. Bars and clubs are geared towards a specific type of fun – the type of fun that is almost accidental. In these environments, you may well struggle to have fun while sober, even if you’re getting comfortable with the concept. In a club, you’re having fun because the alcohol is helping you let go, not because you’re really connecting.

Think about the kinds of environments in which you will have the best opportunities to play and connect with others, without getting drunk. These will differ from person to person. Some enjoy sitting at home with friends, talking about life all night. Others like playing sports. Still others want to actually dance to music in an environment in which they have space and the music they like.

Learning to have fun again is a key part of the recovery process. It is a crucial cog in finding out how to live a happy, sober life.