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 ‘Mental Health’ Category

3 Ways To Drop Your Inhibitions Without Drinking Or Drugs

Posted on: February 21st, 2020 by emarketed No Comments

Nervous business man

A lot of guys I’ve spoken to tell me the same thing: they started using drugs or alcohol to drop their inhibitions around girls. There’s something almost romantic about it. A shy teenager goes to a party and has his first taste of alcohol. A few drinks in and he is finally able to speak to the girls he has always been so intimidated by. Unfortunately, while it is exciting at first, it loses its luster quickly.

People with social anxiety often find social situations incredibly challenging without substances. They feel self-conscious when speaking to anyone new and like they need to impress all the time. It’s easier to fade into the background, becoming a wallflower and not engaging. If they are used to using drugs or alcohol, participating seems even more impossible.

However, as difficult as it may seem, many people have overcome severe social anxiety disorders and are able to drop their inhibitions around others. Although it won’t be easy, you too can enjoy social situations without substances.

Here are 3 strategies to start you off.

1. Prepare for the practical challenges

A lot of people with social anxiety have physical cues that feel terribly humiliating to them. Perhaps the most common are blushing and sweating. The fear of blushing and sweating makes it into a self-fulfilling reality. It can feel so shaming that you may even have trouble actively thinking about it. This is one reason people don’t take active steps to prepare.

There are a number of ways to help deal with blushing and sweating. They are not foolproof, but they help you dial down the shame quite a lot. Blushing is difficult to stop, but there are a number of steps you can take. Have a look at these lists and see if there’s anything that works for you:
WikiHow
Healthline

There are also practical steps to take to manage your sweating. Try:

– carrying tissues or a handkerchief to have on hand to wipe your face. Knowing you can do something to lessen the effect on your face will put you more at ease
– wearing clothes that will not darken with sweat
– cooling down before the event. The hotter your body beforehand, the quicker you’ll start sweating. If you’ve walked to the location in the heat, go to the bathroom to cool down first.

2. Join in games

One of the quickest ways to break the ice, even if you’re socially anxious, is by participating in games. During games, there are fixed expectations of what you need to say or do, so you don’t have to be put on the spot. For example, in trivia games you will answer questions, and playing “have-you-ever” and similar games allows you to share without having to work your way into a conversation first.

Of course, people don’t play games at every single social event or party. But when they do, ask if you can join them. By the time you’re finished playing, you will already feel more comfortable around this group of people.

3. Ask people about themselves

Chances are, one of the scariest aspects of being in a social situation is not knowing if you’ll have anything to say. You could be the most interesting person in the world, but your social anxiety can cause you to go completely blank. The good news is, there is always a way to make conversation.

Simply ask the person about themselves. Most people love talking about themselves and will be happy that you are interested. They will feel at ease with you and you will start feeling more comfortable with them.

The goal isn’t to find out the names of every pet they’ve ever owned. At some point, you will need to start contributing to the conversation if it is to be at all satisfying for you. But once you’ve been speaking to someone for a while and know a little more about them, your inhibitions will be lowered and you’ll find it easier to connect.

Treating social anxiety

Ultimately, only treating what is at the core of the social anxiety will help you really overcome it. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular is very useful for people with social anxiety.

However, if you use the above tips, you will find it easier to engage in social situations, building some confidence and enjoying yourself.

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

3 Ways To Drop Your Inhibitions Without Drinking Or Drugs

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.

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

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

3 Ways To Drop Your Inhibitions Without Drinking Or Drugs

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.

Battling Mental Health & Alcoholism

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

Battling Mental Health & Alcoholism

Patti is a widowed mother of three sons who has been treating her depression and OCD for the past four decades. She has had some degree of success, although as she has aged, she has grown ever more unreliable and untrustworthy, and has neglected her physical health. This is in spite of chronic use of medication for her mental health, and hundreds of hours of therapy.

Her sons had run out of ideas as to how to get her to take better care of herself and to be honest with them. After all, if medical professionals could not help, what could they do.

However, after falling out with her long-time psychiatrist, she has begun to see a new provider who has recognized that Patti suffers from alcoholism. All of the treatment Patti has been receiving for the past four decades has been compromised by her continued abuse of alcohol. Alcohol has countered the effects of her medication, and her habit of lying to therapists has rendered therapy almost ineffectual.

With time spent in rehab, along with a more responsible approach from her new psychiatrist and therapist, she has begun to turn her life around, winning back the trust of her children, improving her mental and physical health, and living life with a renewed vigor.

Mental health and alcoholism

Patti’s story is far from unique. Mental health and alcoholism go hand-in-hand. Many alcoholics began drinking in order to relieve the symptoms of mental illness. Conversely, alcoholism itself can lead to mental illness through a deterioration of coping mechanisms, healthy life choices, and alcohol’s chemical effects.

Treatment that ignores the connection between mental health and alcoholism is often ineffectual and can even mask the real issues. As became clear for Patti, antidepressants and other mental health medications can be harmful when used in conjunction with alcohol. Therapy does not have the desired effects if the individual is dishonest about their alcoholism and uses alcohol rather than the techniques offered by the therapist.

On the other hand, recovery from alcoholism will not last without treating co-occurring mental illnesses. It will simply leave the individual without the damaging coping mechanisms they’ve been using. They are likely to start using alcohol again as soon as they face challenges they are not equipped to overcome in a healthy way.

Common co-occurring mental illnesses

Certain mental illnesses often co-occur with alcoholism. These include but are not limited to:

  • depression: to numb the symptoms of depression, individuals use alcohol when other coping mechanisms don’t work. Consequently, they neglect to learn healthy mechanisms, exacerbating the problem
  • bipolar disorder: even in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, sufferers can begin to use alcohol to cope. Unlike with depressive episodes, this is not to numb the pain, but rather to allow them to turn off thoughts that won’t stop cycling
  • insomnia: similarly, alcohol can, in the short term, make it easier to turn one’s mind off to help them fall asleep. However, it ultimately lessens the quality of sleep and worsens the effects of insomnia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): people suffering with OCD often turn to alcohol to numb out obsessive thoughts
  • various personality disorders: people with personality disorders often turn to alcohol for a number of reasons, such as making it easier to socialize, crying out for help and attention, and more

Treating mental health and alcoholism

Treating mental health and alcoholism

Patti learned that treating her mental illness in isolation could never be fully effective. While it helped her survive for many years, she sabotaged relationships, caused physical harm to her body, and numbed out much of what was going on in her and her family’s lives. Only when she treated both could she finally get passed the blocks which had been hampering her life for so long.

This is the case for most people suffering from co-occurring mental illnesses and alcoholism. If they only treat their alcoholism, they are likely to relapse. If they only treat the mental illness, much of the work will be undone by their continued alcohol abuse.

The best treatment centers take a dual diagnosis approach, ensuring that residents are given the tools they need to recover in all aspects of their lives.

Parallel treatments

In some respects, this will mean that residents follow two related but separate treatment courses. They will work with the program provided for their alcoholism, fully committing to following through and ending their alcohol use. They will also work with a therapist to treat their mental illness and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

These are inevitably connected. Some of the steps residents go through to recover from alcoholism will focus on exploring the underlying cause of the problem. Furthermore, the therapist will work with the resident in learning to use healthy coping mechanisms as opposed to alcohol when faced with challenges.

Mutually effective treatments

On the other hand, certain treatments are effective for treating both mental illness and alcoholism at the same time. Mindfulness is one poignant example. Courses that use mindfulness, such as mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), have been proven effective at treating a range of mental illnesses. At the same time, the principles on which they are based have long been used as essential factors of addiction recovery.

One of the fundamental principles taught in recovery centers is that one cannot focus on working with the entirety of their lifetime. Rather, one can succeed by focusing on the present moment. That’s all one has control over, after all. This is essential in order to approach recovery in a way that is not overwhelming or unrealistic.

Furthermore, much of the suffering caused by mental illness and alcoholism stems from a lack of knowledge of how to effectively navigate painful feelings which can only be experienced in the moment.

Effective long-term treatment

In order to avoid spending endless time and money on ineffective treatment of either mental illness or alcoholism, both need to be treated at the same time. Someone suffering from both simply cannot treat one in isolation without leaving the door open to further problems.

As Patti learned, treating both is the key towards living a revitalized, healthy life. Always choose a treatment center or program that takes a dual diagnosis approach. This way, you can achieve greater results for both your mental health and continued recovery.

References:

  1. Mary W. Kuria, David M. Ndetei, Isodore S. Obot, et al., “The Association between Alcohol Dependence and Depression before and after Treatment for Alcohol Dependence,” ISRN Psychiatry, vol. 2012, Article ID 482802, 6 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/482802
  2. Boisvert, R., Martin, L., Grosek, M. and Clarie, A. (2008). Effectiveness of a peer-support community in addiction recovery: participation as intervention. Occupational Therapy International, 15(4), pp.205-220.
  3. Mancebo, M. C., Grant, J. E., Pinto, A., Eisen, J. L., & Rasmussen, S. A. (2009). Substance use disorders in an obsessive compulsive disorder clinical sample. Journal of anxiety disorders, 23(4), 429–435. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.08.008
  4. Robert E. Drake, Carolyn Mercer-McFadden, Kim T. Mueser, Gregory J. McHugo, Gary R. Bond, Review of Integrated Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment for Patients With Dual Disorders, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 24, Issue 4, 1998, Pages 589–608, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a033351
  5. Young, M. E., DeLorenzi, L. d. and Cunningham, L. (2011), Using Meditation in Addiction Counseling. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 32: 58-71. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1874.2011.tb00207.x