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 the ‘Addiction’ Category

What Are Distress Tolerance Skills For Addiction?

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

What Are Distress Tolerance Skills For Addiction?

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:

Military Personnel At High-Risk For Opioid Abuse

Posted on: November 24th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Military Personnel At High-Risk For Opioid Abuse

The United States opioid epidemic is hitting the military population especially hard. According to DrugAbuse.gov rates of prescription opioid misuse are higher among service members than among civilians. Veterans are also more likely to suffer a fatal opioid overdose than civilians. Most professionals believe the rates are mostly due to alleviating PTSD symptoms. Specifically, combat exposure puts active duty military and veterans at a great risk for abusing prescription opioids.

Additionally, Military Times reports that about a third of opioid abuse among service members and veterans could be explained by a war injury and subsequent chronic pain. Service-related injuries are almost always prescribed prescription opioids. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports the government health care costs associated with the treatment for active-duty service members and veterans who misuse prescription painkillers is $1 billion per year.

Of the military branches, the Army and Marine Corps had showed the highest rates of use, followed by the Navy and then the Air Force. The VA also reported a significant upsurge in opioid use disorders from veterans following combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which used to be known as “shell shock” is common for military personnel. Exposure to combat stress, witnessing the loss of a friend, and natural disasters can all cause PTSD. Most common symptoms include negative flashbacks, avoidance, negative changes in thoughts and moods, numbness, irritability and insomnia. Multiple deployments, injury and high stress also affect the mental health of military personnel.

Other Mental Health Issues

While PTSD is the most talked about when it comes to military mental health, issues including depression, anxiety, mood disorders are common as well. Service members can experience depression during deployment or suffer from severe anxiety leading up to deployment. Military stress can affect the entire family, with more children experiencing behavioral issues if they have a parent deployed

The Department of Veteran Affairs Challenges

The VA along with the Department of Defense has made efforts to curb opioid prescriptions by funding research and implementing guidelines. Their Opioid Safety Initiative encouraged military personal to explore alternative pain management treatments as well as educating healthcare providers on the risks of prescribing opioids.The prescription of opioids from VA has been decreasing due to the reluctance of doctors.

The military also enforces a strict zero-tolerance policy which creates a stigma around drug abuse and addiction. Those with substance abuse issues often suffer in silence due to fear of losing rank or being discharged and can also resort to isolating themselves resulting in additional mental health distresses.

Treatment

Those diagnosed with PTSD or Opioid Abuse Disorder can greatly benefit from one on one psychotherapy as well as group therapy and other forms treatment. The VA has multiple resources available here that also include helpful resources for spouses and family members. Military personnel and their families form a tight-knit community and opening up and supporting one another in these times is most valuable.

References:

https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2019/10/14/combat-troops-at-higher-risk-for-opioid-heroin-addiction-study-says/

https://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/wounded-warriors/opiate-addiction-and-veterans-how-to-get-help.html

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2019/11/11/20955190/veterans-opioid-addiction-shame

 

 

When Opioid Addiction Meets Sesame Street

Posted on: October 26th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

opioid addiction sesame

Many people are familiar with the classic children’s television show Sesame Street, which first debuted in 1969 and has become a staple in the lives of many families across the globe. The show’s impact has cross many generations and has made numerous lists for being one of the greatest shows in television history. The fun yet educational television series has introduced many iconic and beloved characters including Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie and so many more. The award-winning show is known for its mix of puppetry, live-action, improv and animation and its ability to capture children’s attention and educate them.

Controversy

The show has touched on numerous cultural and societal issues throughout its long run and though mostly celebrated for its positive and progressive attitudes, has occasionally made headlines for what some deem “controversial” subject matter. Over the 40-year show history, scandals including Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation, Katy Perry’s risqué costume choice and issues involving the character’s voice actors have all made waves.

The show has introduced characters over the years to bring awareness and education to issues including Autism, HIV, race relations, incarceration, homelessness and even high political tensions. This year Sesame Street has introduced a character whose mother is struggling with opioid addiction. Many people have applauded this choice  to delve into something so real and widespread while others feel it is an inappropriate and extremely sensitive subject matter.

The truth is, the opioid crisis is rampant and has devastated different areas throughout the country, with children of those battling addiction becoming extremely affected.  Children of parents that abuse opioids often experience neglect, anxiety and depression and long term psychological trauma. Many children often find themselves in foster care or in the custody of other family members, especially their grandparents care. According to the NCBI, between 2009 and 2014, nearly 3% (2.1 million) of US children age 17 years and younger lived in households with at least 1 parent struggling with a substance use disorder. Other statistics reveal 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. “

Sesame Street Statement

A statement released by the shows President of Social Impact and Philanthropy reads, “Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face. Sesame Street’ has always been a source of comfort to children during the toughest of times, and our new resources are designed to break down the stigma of parental addiction and help families build hope for the future.”

The goal is to bring awareness to many of life’s circumstances, both good and bad, and teach children empathy and understanding. The characters encourage other children to speak openly about how they feel, top understand it is not their fault and most importantly that treatment is important for their parents to get better.

The Sesame Workshop offers resources for both children and their caregivers that include helpful information including addiction education, coping strategies including stress management tools, as well as constructive talking points

 

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/12/sesame-street-characters-mom-has-an-addiction-experts-say-thats-valuable-lesson/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6330457/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50003560

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sesame-street-addiction-childrens-show-addresses-opioid-crisis-as-muppets-mother-battles-addiction/

https://www.nichq.org/insight/treating-opioid-epidemic-childrens-health-crisis

 

 

 

Is LA’s Homeless Crisis Fueled By Mental Health and Addiction?

Posted on: October 17th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Is LA’s Homeless Crisis Fueled By Mental Health and Addiction?

According to The Addiction Center in 2017, there were approximately 554,000 homeless people in the United States. Many believe the number to be much higher due to the challenges in accurate data collection. The number of homeless increases each year, especially within the younger age demographic.

Causes of Homelessness

Although substance abuse can lead to homelessness, in many cases the end result of homelessness is substance abuse. Unfortunately, homelessness and addiction do often go hand in hand across age and ethnic groups. Other common causes are the result of a financial hardship including job loss, home forecloses and a lack of affordable healthcare or housing.  According to Harvard Health, “The mentally ill and people addicted to alcohol or drugs are the first victims of housing shortages.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) also lists addiction and mental illness as “two of the primary personal factors that lead to financial instability and the loss of permanent housing.” It is also important to note there do exist homeless individuals who do not have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Although rates of substance use are disproportionately high among those experiencing homelessness, homelessness cannot be explained by substance use alone as many people who suffer from addiction never become homeless

Mental health

Those experiencing homelessness may also develop mental health issues due to the harsh lifestyle. Not only do individuals who are homeless  generally face hunger and a lack of shelter, they also experience violence, sexual assault and many forms of harassment.

Homeless women suffer from gender-based trauma which in turn results in higher amounts of drug use compared to homeless men. The majority of homeless women also suffer from mental and emotional disturbances that often develop even before they become homeless.

Some mental health issues that homeless people experience include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Paranoia/Delusions/Disorentiation
  • Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Major depressive disorder

The Cycle Continues

Without proper shelter, security and a lack of access to affordable treatment for substance abuse and mental health care, the homeless population continue deeper into the destructive cycle of abuse and often relentlessly withdraw from mainstream society.

There are numerous programs and continuous efforts to “solve the homeless crisis” but those involved face many challenges. Recently, Mayor Eric Garcetti allocated funding to emergency shelters with “A Bridge Home” program for those waiting to be placed in a more permanent form of housing. However, connecting those in need with these services are hard because of the widespread substance abuse and mental illness. The timing and bureaucracy of finding solutions also pushes those away.

Stigma

Unfortunately, negative narratives and a general misunderstanding of homelessness continuously lead to an ongoing negative stigma. Many believe the end to homelessness starts with the end of the homeless stigma. When attitudes are shifted and more people are informed of the causes and challenges, they can treat those experiencing homelessness with empathy and respect.

References:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/homelessness/

https://www.dailynews.com/2019/10/07/a-new-look-at-las-homeless-count-numbers-has-some-wondering-if-there-will-be-a-shift-in-conversation-around-mental-illness-drug-addiction/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The_homeless_mentally_ill

 

Stay-Busy Activities in Recovery

Posted on: August 9th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

What Are Distress Tolerance Skills For Addiction?

 

Everyone who is going through recovery from an addiction must find ways to keep themselves busy. When a person has too much free time they can experience boredom, depression, loneliness and other feelings that can trigger them to engage in substance abuse again. Preventing relapse can depend a lot on a person’s ability to find activities that keep them focused and healthy.

 

At some point in recovery, an individual must brainstorm and think of a list of activities that can keep them busy when they are experiencing cravings or simply have too much empty time. It can help to write down ideas and reference them whenever you are not sure what to do to stay busy. Make sure to focus on activities that you know from past experience are helpful in making you feel calm and happy.

 

Stay-busy activities can be anything that helps keep your mind off of triggering feelings. It can be things like calling a friend, going to a movie, exercising, playing sports or games, cooking a healthy meal, listening to music, writing in a journal, meditating, taking a bath or even going for a walk. The possibilities for activities are unlimited and can include anything that helps motivate you to improve your health.

 

These kinds of activities can be useful whenever you are feeling stressed, anxious, upset or depressed. Focusing too much on negative feelings and not being active can be dangerous for people with addictions. Over time you will find new and effective ways to deal with triggers and stay busy whenever problems come up.

 

For those in recovery, talking to your therapist can help give you ideas on how to stay busy and cope with your feelings when they come up. Having a plan and a strategy for triggers can be crucial to preventing relapse.

 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery