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 ‘Alcoholism’ Category

Holiday Relapse and Why You Should Be Thinking About it Now

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Holiday Relapse and Why You Should Be Thinking About it Now

Recovering from an addiction comes with many complications and struggles throughout the year but one of the toughest times for most sober people is the holidays. The few months between November and January can be some of the most difficult to get through because of the many parties, celebrations and gatherings that tend to involve alcohol. People who have quit drinking may feel especially tempted during this period of time because they have certain associations with the holidays and having drinks.

Another reason the holidays can cause people to be more vulnerable to relapse is that it can also be a stressful time of year. Worrying about shopping for gifts and spending time with family can be difficult especially if you have any dysfunctional family members who create more stress. Although the holidays are meant to produce feelings of togetherness, the reality is that many people actually feel more lonely and depressed.

Because of these factors, it is essential to prepare for the holidays in advance and have a plan in place to prevent holiday relapse. Even though you might be optimistic about how your recovery is going you may never know for sure how you will react during the holidays. You need to think about what the holidays will bring and create your own relapse prevention plan so that you are fully prepared for any difficult situations.

Prevention is Key During the Holidays

When you have a plan in place before the holidays you will feel more confident and prepared for any issue that might come up. Instead of feeling nervous and scared about how you will react at a holiday party or gathering, you will know what to do in any situation. Relapse will be much less of a possibility when you have a plan ready in advance.

The first step in creating a relapse prevention plan is thinking about how you will react and handle it when someone offers you a drink or asks why you don’t drink. It is inevitable that this situation will come up so you can rehearse and think about some answers beforehand that you will feel comfortable with.

There are different ways that people choose to handle being offered a drink but you can simply say “no thank you, I don’t drink”. This may be enough to shut down any other offers the rest of the night if people know that it is a deliberate choice. Be firm and avoid opening any doors that might make people want to convince you to have a beer with them later on.

If someone asks you why you are choosing not to drink, you don’t necessarily have to tell them you are in recovery if you don’t feel comfortable enough to share. You can prepare some answers that you think will make you feel okay with the conversation and will prevent any further prying. You can say for example that you quit for health reasons which is reasonable and in most cases is probably the truth on some level.

Create a Support System

Most people in recovery know how important it is to have a support system in place when you are struggling with temptation. This is especially the case during the holidays when many people feel isolated and under more stress than usual. It might be a good time to talk to your sober friends more often and ask for extra support.

If you are going to a party that you are particularly nervous about you always have the option of bringing a sober buddy with you. Being the only sober person at a party can feel very alienating and can drive you to want a drink again. Take a friend from your AA group so that you can support each other and get through the night safely.

It is always a good idea not to spend too much time alone when you are in recovery and particularly during the holidays. As part of your prevention plan, try to organize some activities and outings with friends that don’t involve alcohol. Activities with friends from your AA group will not only help you but also everyone else in your meetings that is having a hard time.

As part of your prevention plan make sure that you have the option to leave when you are in any situation that may endanger your sobriety. If you are at a party that feels overwhelming, then make sure you have your own car or arrange a ride home so that you don’t have to stay.

You don’t want to be in any situation that will trigger a relapse. As important as it is to challenge yourself, your highest priority should be staying sober. Practice self-care and focus on your goals so that you can stay on track throughout the holidays.

Are Men at More Risk for Alcoholism?

Posted on: October 20th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Are Men at More Risk for Alcoholism?

For many years, alcoholism has traditionally been considered a man’s disease because rates of alcohol abuse can be up to twice as high among men compared to women. Although the rates of alcoholism among women has been increasing more in recent years, men still tend to struggle with alcohol abuse more often than their counterparts. There are many different factors that can explain why men tend to drink more but overall men have more vulnerability and risk for developing alcoholism.

One reason why men may be more at risk for developing alcoholism has to do with their biological makeup. A recent study revealed that the amount of dopamine that is released with men drink may cause them to be more susceptible to alcohol abuse.

The study focused on both male and female college-age social drinkers and researchers gathered data by asking each participant to undergo a PET scan. The brain scan was used to measure the amount of alcohol-induced dopamine that was released in each person after a drinking session. Dopamine is a chemical that causes pleasurable feelings and can be triggered by rewarding experiences.

Researchers found in this study that in spite of drinking similar amounts, men tended to have a greater amount of dopamine released when they would drink alcohol. The increase of dopamine was found in the ventral striatum which is an area of the brain that is strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation. Men in the study also tended to have less dopamine release with repeated heavy drinking episodes which means they were more likely to develop a tolerance.

The results of this study point to an innate biological difference between men and women that could be part of the reason that men tend to struggle more often with alcoholism. If men experience a more intense rush of dopamine and pleasurable feelings when they drink then they might be more inclined to abuse alcohol than women.

Social and Biological Factors in Drinking

In addition to differences in brain chemistry, men may also end up drinking more than women because their bodies react to alcohol differently. Men can physically consume more alcohol than women with less negative effects and they also tend to metabolize alcohol faster. Men are simply built with the ability to drink more alcohol which can lead them to excessive drinking more often than women.

There are certain social factors which may also play a role in the risk of alcoholism for men. Drinking alcohol often acts as a type of social bonding activity for men. They can share a special emotional connection with their drinking buddies that is often facilitated by alcohol.

According to some research, women may have less of a need to use alcohol to induce moments of social bonding. Men at times may rely on alcohol to enjoy feel-good moments with their friends and a deeper connection. This may be another reason why men tend to suffer more often from issues of binge drinking and alcoholism.

Consequences of Heavy Drinking for Men

Men have a greater tendency to binge drink than women according to surveys studying gender differences in alcohol consumption. Studies show that the average man has about 12.5 binge drinking episodes a year while the average woman only has about 2.7. Over the course of their lifetime men have a 17 percent chance of becoming alcohol dependent while women’s risk is less than half of that.

Since men binge drink more often they also have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. Binge drinking can impair a person’s judgment and lead to risky behavior such as drinking and driving or otherwise putting yourself in danger. Men who drink more can also struggle with health problems including heart disease, liver failure and an increased risk for certain cancers in the colon, liver, esophagus and mouth.

Drinking can also have serious consequences on men’s mental health as many develop issues with depression. Studies have revealed that men are more likely to commit suicide and are more likely to have consumed alcohol before the act was committed. Men also tend to become more aggressive when they drink which can lead to physical assaults on other people.

Even though men can physically handle more alcohol than women, they also experience all the negative consequences that are associated with heavy drinking. For men who tend to drink socially as a form of bonding, moderation is key to preventing health problems and risks that are linked to alcohol. Binge drinking is especially risky so it is recommended to reduce or eliminate alcohol if you have issues with drinking excessively.

It is possible to prevent or treat alcoholism if you are aware of the risk factors and symptoms. If you think you might have an issue with alcohol abuse, seek help from a professional treatment center.

What Exactly is the “New Alcoholism”?

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

The New Alcoholism

People have a certain idea or image of what they believe alcoholism to be. They may assume that when someone is addicted to drinking, it is obvious to everyone around them. An alcoholic may look a certain way, act a certain way or live a lifestyle that they associate with addiction.

In recent years more and more new alcoholics are proving that addiction can happen to the people you least suspect. Alcoholism is happening more than ever to people in professional industries such as doctors, nurses, lawyers and those who are generally successful and making higher incomes. Even some of the most successful and respected actors in Hollywood such as Brad Pitt have revealed their issues with alcohol to the public.

This type of functional addiction is slowly becoming the “new alcoholism” that is causing problems for many Americans.

In the past people may have seen an alcoholic as someone who has low level income or is unemployed, living in a bad neighborhood or even homeless. Now alcoholism tends to occur more often among those who are married with great careers and on the surface appear to have fulfilling lives.

Those working in addiction treatment are also seeing much younger patients, many of them who have decided to become sober and are still under 30 years old. Instead of seeking help after years of addiction, young people are more aware of the issues and are quitting before it becomes a bigger problem.

High Functioning Alcoholism

Although it seems that the face of addiction has been shifting, this could be partially due to the diminishing stigma around alcoholism. With more support and education about alcoholism it could be that those in high profile jobs are less ashamed and more willing to get help. Young people may also have a better understanding of the dangerous effects of alcohol than they did in the past.

While more high functioning alcoholics are getting treatment, the problem itself is not necessarily new. The functioning alcoholic is one of five general sub-types of alcoholism that were categorized in a study released in 2007 by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Abuse.

A functioning alcoholic is able to maintain average or even above average professional or academic lives in spite of a serious addiction. Identifying a functioning alcoholic can be difficult but they may exhibit some of these symptoms:

  • Using alcohol as a reward or drinking to relieve stress
  • Obsessing over the next opportunity to drink
  • Displaying personality changes while intoxicated
  • Repeating drinking patterns and behaviors
  • Insisting they are not an alcoholic because they are successful

Although high functioning alcoholics may show some of these symptoms while they drink socially, they might still be able to maintain great friendships and romantic relationships without any issues. They might also be well-respected in their professional career and continue to achieve a number of great accomplishments.

Denial and Compartmentalizing

One of the reasons it can take more time for functional alcoholics to realize that they have a problem is because they have a strong sense of denial. They may feel that because they do not fit the stereotypical image of an alcoholic, they are actually in control of their drinking. Their success in other aspects of their life can make it hard for them and everyone around them to recognize that they are addicted.

People with high functioning alcoholism remain successful because they are very adept at living a compartmentalized life. They can easily separate their professional and even personal lives from the issues they are dealing with outside of these worlds. Their drinking life is a completely separate problem that never really affects their job.

However, their ability to compartmentalize may keep them addicted for longer as they may not hit rock bottom the way that most alcoholics do. They can continue drinking with minimal consequences in some cases although their health may begin to suffer.

Getting Help for Functioning Alcoholics

Although high functioning alcoholism may not be entirely new, more people are beginning to realize that in spite of the fact that they lead successful lives they are still addicted to alcohol. With less stigma and shame surrounding alcoholism as well as more celebrities speaking out about their issues, alcoholics of all kinds are coming forward to get help.

Even though their professional lives may not suffer from their alcohol problem, getting treatment can help minimize and reverse the negative impact it has on their physical and mental health. Alcohol can still significantly affect a high functioning addict’s mood and they may experience depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.

When a professional suffering from alcoholism chooses to get treatment they can still benefit from the same types of programs as others. They can attend a rehab center and twelve step meetings and even find support groups or treatment programs specifically designed for professionals.

Attending An AA Meeting On Vacation

Posted on: July 20th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Attending an AA Meeting on Vacation

While you are planning a long vacation it can be stressful to worry about how you will cope with the experience and still stay sober. Vacations are meant to be relaxing and a way to get away from your problems but unfortunately you are also away from the comforts of home and your usual routine. This can be difficult for people in recovery who are used to having certain resources available and a structure to their life that helps keep them sober.

The great thing about 12 step meetings though is that they really are available everywhere. You may have already had people in your local meetings who were visiting on vacation from different parts of the country. It is pretty common for people to find an AA meeting wherever they are so that they can keep in touch with their sobriety goals even while traveling.

Anytime you are going on a significant trip, or even a short getaway, you might consider looking into what types of AA meetings are available in the area. Being prepared and knowing you can go to a meeting beforehand can ease some of the stress of traveling.

Connecting with New People

The more you travel and find different AA groups the more connected you will feel with the sober community all around the country and even around the world. AA is even available on many cruise ships, so really almost any vacation can include a meeting or two if you really need it.

It may feel intimidating to have to start over with a group of people you have never met. You might have a special bond and rapport with the people in your local AA group and feel hesitant to try something new. But as you have probably experienced in your own AA group, twelve step meetings are always welcoming and offer support to anyone new to the group.

It can be very rewarding to open up to a new group of people in an entirely new city. It can even help you realize just how universal addiction and the process of quitting really is for everyone. No matter where you go, every AA group will understand what you each person is experiencing and be able to provide empathy.

Triggers During a Vacation

Almost every occasion for traveling can include some type of trigger that will make it hard to stay committed to your goals. Your resort might offer free drinks or classes like wine tasting. They might even unknowingly hand you a glass of champagne when you arrive to check in. These types of situations come up all the time and it is important to be prepared for them.

Being away from home can make it harder to handle the obstacles that come up during vacation. Going to at least one meeting or even attending them every day might be the best way to get through your vacation without struggling too much.

It is important to communicate about your sobriety to whomever you are traveling with. If you are on a trip with a big group of friends or more distant family members they may not be familiar with your situation.

To avoid any confusion or pressure tell them about your recovery and your need to attend meetings. Let them know that you might have to miss out on certain excursions or activities so that you can spend time at a meeting. You might feel bad about being on a different schedule but your sobriety should be the highest priority throughout your vacation.

How to Find Meetings

As soon as you know where your hotel is located you should start looking into meetings that are close by. You can search the AA directory on www.aa.org and type in the name of the city or zip code which will direct you to the websites of local AA resources. There are also several apps you can download to your smartphone such as the Twelve Steps companion app that includes a directory and a map function to help you get directions to a meeting.

You should try to find a meeting as close as possible to your hotel so that there will not be too many issues as far as transportation. Something within walking distance, a bus ride or quick taxi ride is the best option. Make sure that you are completely prepared by finding exactly where the meeting is and knowing how you will get there before you even leave for your vacation.

Even though looking for a meeting and talking to a new group of people may seem like it’s out of your comfort zone, most people find it extremely helpful while traveling. Discussing your vacation stresses and fears with the group will help you stay strong no matter what type of triggers you experience on your trip.

Alcoholism and Masculinity

Posted on: June 24th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Alcoholism and Masculinity

Alcoholism and Masculinity

Historically, alcohol abuse has always been more prevalent among males than females although recent statistics have been slightly shifting. Overall, men tend to become addicted to alcohol more often than women and they tend to binge drink in greater amounts. There is an intricate relationship between alcohol and masculinity as many men feel they must drink alcohol and large amounts of it to prove their manhood or affirm that they are masculine.

Social drinking has traditionally for many years been a cultural symbol of manliness which is often strengthened by media portrayals of alcohol and men. Some theories express that men with alcohol dependencies actually have the most fragile masculine identities that they are attempting to boost by heavy binge drinking.

Male Culture and Social Drinking

Studies show that men not only consume more alcohol but they also have higher frequencies of intoxication and are more likely to form a dependency than women. Certain male subculture and environments tend to encourage excessive drinking such as Greek fraternities which support the notion that alcohol is a rite of passage for men.

Men who are able to drink large amounts of alcohol without much of a physical reaction are considered more manly than those who become sick or cannot handle their booze. Alcohol abuse and a high tolerance then becomes a way to prove masculinity in many male social circles. Research has shown that men who adhere to many of these kinds of masculine norms are actually more vulnerable to peer pressure and are insecure about proving themselves.

Masculinity and the need to adhere to masculine norms can be harmful in a number of different ways. Men who try to conform to strict male codes often experience heightened psychological strain and burden that can exacerbate their alcohol abuse. Drinking alcohol then, serves as a method of both proving their masculinity and an emotional escape from the strain of adhering to these types of male norms. The male norms and codes then appear to be closely linked to alcohol abuse among many men who struggle with their own masculinity.

Men who value other qualities such as self reliance and control may be better equipped to minimize their drinking behavior. On the other hand, men who focus more on physical strength and ability to handle substances will be more likely to test their limits and consume more alcohol than others. In many cases, these are the men who develop dependencies and struggle the most with addiction.