Can Creativity Be Harmed By Drugs?

The idea that drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process is popular, but it is also controversial. On the one hand, many notable figures in history were heavy drinkers or drug users and produced great works of art while under the influence. Also, there is no real evidence to suggest that drugs and alcohol improve creativity. 

Many people find that they are less creative when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So while it may be true that some great artists have used drugs or alcohol, it is also true that many great artists have not. 

There is no clear answer to whether drugs and alcohol are necessary for the creative process. However, what is certain is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm creativity and prevent you from reaching your full potential as an artist.

This article will explore the myth about creativity and drug use and show that you don't need to use drugs to be creative.

Are Drugs and Alcohol Necessary for Creativity?

To explore this topic, let's look at some of history's most famous creative minds. Did they use drugs to get their great ideas?

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Take, for example, the writer Oscar Wilde. He was known for his heavy use of absinthe. But was it absinthe that helped him create his masterpieces? Or did it simply provide him with an escape from the banality of everyday life? We may never know for sure. 

Another notable figure is the painter Vincent van Gogh. Many have speculated about whether he may have used drugs to enhance his creativity or not. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, as van Gogh's letters offer conflicting accounts. In some instances, he appears to be quite critical of those who use drugs, while in others, he seems to experiment with them himself. 

While some cases might be unclear, the reality is that drugs and alcohol do little or nothing to boost creativity. In fact, they can have a negative impact as they make it hard to focus or may lead to impulsive decisions that can ruin a work of art. Drugs can also cause mood swings that make it hard to maintain the consistency necessary for a successful creative project. 

Scientists have been able to objectively assess the effects of drugs on measures of creativity, and here are some results.

LSD

Researchers from Okinawa Institute used functional neuroimaging methods to assess the effects of LSD on creativity. The findings revealed that LSD: 

·     Reduces the capability to appreciate cause and effect  

·     Induces decreased restraint in the brain

·     Inhibits the ability to categorize, organize and tell apart the components of conscious experience

According to the findings, brain activity may trigger novel perceptions, but the capacity to apply these perceptions to come up with new concepts is impaired.

Cannabis

Researchers from Leiden University assessed the effects of cannabis on creativity. They administered 22mg of THC to participants and tested creativity by applying convergent (Remote Associate Task) and divergent (Alternate Uses Task) tests to the volunteers. They noted that the placebo and lower dose groups didn't experience any effect on their divergent thinking or creativity. On the other hand, the high-dose groups experienced a decrease in divergent thinking.

Alcohol

study in Sweden found that the consumption of alcohol lowered the fluency of idea generation when matched to that of a control group. Another study indicated that creative writers had less idea flexibility but increased the number of non-obvious original ideas. Yet another study showed that alcohol had no clear effect on divergent thinking. However, the study participants said their performance was more creative when they believed they had received alcohol.

Why do Creatives Resort to Drugs and Alcohol?

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The constant pressure to churn out new ideas can place high stress on artists and lead to burnout. There's an ever-growing need for fresh content, and creative minds are working extra hard to keep up with the demand. 

In most cases, they feel overwhelmed and turn to drugs to improve their creative output. They do so to try to curb symptoms of burnout like:

·       Fatigue

·       Bad mood

·       Physical and mental exhaustion 

·       Losing interest in creative work

·       Confusion and overwhelm

·       Mind fog

The problem is that drugs can hurt creativity. Long-term use can lead to health complications too. For example, one may develop a tolerance, drug dependence, or even substance use disorders. Attempts to quit may end with withdrawal symptoms, etc. Higher doses may also cause life-threatening symptoms or even death. 

How Drugs Can Harm Creativity - Research Findings

Drugs and alcohol can have a profound effect on your creativity. Substance abuse can:

·       Cause mental health problems like anxiety and depression, which can, in turn, make it difficult to be creative. In some cases, mental health issues can drive creatives to abuse substances.

·       Hamper creativity by impairing cognitive function and disrupting normal brain activity. They affect the parts of the brain that are responsible for creativity, making it more difficult to come up with new ideas. 

·       Make it difficult to focus and concentrate, both of which are essential for being creative. 

·       Cause tolerance and dependence, which can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

·       Lead to addiction, which can destroy relationships, damage careers, and lead to financial ruin. 

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Drug abuse is a dangerous habit that can have devastating consequences for creative people. So if you're looking to tap into your creative side, it's important to be mindful of how drugs and alcohol might be affecting you.

How to Maintain Your Creativity without Resorting To Drugs

To maintain your creativity without resorting to drugs, you need to find a healthy outlet for your ideas and impulses. 

1.    A good place to start is by journaling. Taking the time to write down your thoughts can help you sort through them and figure out which ones are worth pursuing. 

2.    You can also try brainstorming with friends or colleagues. Brainstorming can help you get feedback on your ideas, and it can also give you a chance to explore new ideas. 

3.    Additionally, it's important to make time for creative activities that you enjoy, such as painting, photography, or writing. Doing things that you love will help to keep your creative juices flowing. 

4.    Finally, don't be afraid to take risks with your ideas. Trying new things can take your imagination to a whole new level.

While it might be true that drugs and alcohol temporarily boost creativity, the long-term effects are often disastrous. In fact, many studies have shown that drug abuse harms creativity more than it helps. If you're struggling with drug addiction and want to maintain your creative output, please reach out for help. MoreThanRehab can plug you into the right addiction treatment so you can get the care you need and start rebuilding your life.

Why Do I Keep Relapsing On Drugs?

If you wonder why you or your loved one keeps relapsing on drugs, you are not alone. Relapse is common among people seeking recovery. Statistics show that approximately 85% of recovering addicts relapse within a year following treatment. For this reason, there is a need for a long-term drug relapse prevention plan.

Although society deems recovering addicts who relapse as not having enough willpower, you mustn’t lose hope. The National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that addiction treatment involves altering deeply rooted behaviors. Therefore, relapse on drugs or alcohol does not mean that the treatment failed. 

The first thing you should do after relapse is to forgive yourself or your loved one. This way, you will have a more positive attitude that will, in turn, help you in your addiction recovery journey. The next step would be to get treatment for the substance abuse. After that, start a drug relapse prevention program. 

Most treatment programs offer relapse prevention programs to address the issue of relapse by teaching you techniques to prevent and manage its reoccurrence. This way, you can successfully achieve long-term sobriety.

Common Reasons Why Addicts Relapse

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Addiction recovery differs from individual to individual. When you’re addicted to illegal drugs, they take control of your life. Consequently, you may not make healthy and logical choices.

Addiction treatment requires time and effort. Being in a treatment program doesn’t mean you will no longer crave drugs. However, you will actively find ways to avoid substance use and address underlying issues. You will also receive treatment for health problems you acquire when addicted to drugs.

Although the causes of relapse differ from person to person, there are a few commonalities. Here are some common reasons why addicts relapse:

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Signs That You Are On The Verge of Relapse

Below are signs that you are on the verge of experiencing a relapse:

  1. You stop making an effort to maintain sobriety. Recovery is an ongoing journey. For this reason, you need to go out of your way to ensure you stay sober. If you no longer do, you are likely to relapse.
  2. You romanticize your addiction days. If you think of your substance abuse days as good days, you may relapse soon.
  3. You try to reconnect with friends from your addiction days. Reconnecting with friends from your substance abuse days will likely lead to relapse.
  4. You now consider drugs or alcohol harmless. This is a dangerous sign of relapse.
  5. You become selfish and moody. Behavior changes are a substantial danger sign of relapse.
  6. You embrace an unhealthy self-righteous attitude.

Dangers of Relapse

Most recovering addicts assume they can quickly achieve abstinence after relapse. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The more you relapse, the harder it will become for you to get sober.

Often, your relapse lasts longer than your recovery. Relapse may also become permanent.

Relapse is dangerous for several reasons. Here are a few of them:

 

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What To Do During Recovery To Prevent Relapse

To prevent relapse during recovery, you should:

 

Get Help Today

If you feel yourself slipping into a relapse, you should seek professional help. Relapse shouldn’t make you give up on your journey to recovery.

If you feel close to relapsing on drugs or need someone to talk to, contact More Than Rehab for help. We have highly qualified experts that will do all it takes to get you back on track and in control of your life.

You can live a happy, healthy, drug-free life with the proper support and treatment.

888-249-2191

Teens In Texas Are Abusing ADHD Medications To Get Ahead

Doctors prescribe stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin to approximately 2.5 million Americans every year to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These ADHD medications can help some patients, but they can also be easily abused.

When used as a treatment for ADHD, Adderall and Ritalin reduce symptoms, making it easier for patients to concentrate and control impulsive behaviors. Unfortunately, most people, especially teens, use ADHD medications to get ahead. Most don’t have prescriptions, so they will buy them from friends who have prescriptions.

A Monitoring the Future survey revealed that prescription drug abuse is rising among teens. Approximately 7.5% of 12th graders admitted using Adderall as a study aid.

Most teens downplay the danger of Adderall, while some are simply unaware. By virtue of it being a prescription drug, they assume that Adderall is not dangerous, yet it has harmful side effects, including addiction and substance use disorders.

This article discusses what Adderall is, the Adderall high, its relationship with academic performance, side effects, effects on mental health, and signs of addiction.

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What is Adderall?

Adderall is a drug that contains two stimulants: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It comes in two forms, Adderall and Adderall XR.

Medical practitioners designed the drug to improve the attention span and focus of ADHD patients. Sometimes, they prescribe it to patients who need to suppress daytime sleepiness.

Adderall also tends to suppress appetite. Consequently, some people abuse it in the hope of losing weight.

Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug. This means that its potential for dependence and abuse is extremely high.

The Adderall high

As mentioned above, teen pill abuse is on the rise in Texas, and Adderall happens to be one of the pills teens abuse most. So how exactly does Adderall make you feel?

Adderall increases dopamine levels, giving you a feeling of euphoria. It also stimulates the brain by activating the body’s fight-or-flight responses.

Most teens use Adderall to get high. They often mix it with other drugs and alcohol, which is extremely dangerous and life-threatening.

Since Adderall makes teens feel alert, they are more alcohol-tolerant since they can’t tell how drunk they are. Consequently, it increases the risk of alcohol poisoning.

Why do teens in Texas abuse Adderall? 

Most Texan teens abuse Adderall because they believe it; gives them the necessary energy to focus and get high grades in school, improves their mental focus, enables them to complete their homework on time, and makes studying much more effortless.

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It is noteworthy that most teens often feel overwhelmed and find it hard to balance out their academic work, social activities, and securing internships.

The relationship between Adderall and academic performance

Most high school and college students believe that Adderall is a harmless study aid since it improves attention and alertness. They use it to think clearly and focus, especially when writing papers or studying for exams.

Contrary to their belief, research shows Ritalin and Adderall don’t improve thinking or learning ability in people who aren’t diagnosed with ADHD. There is no evidence that Adderall can help teens improve their academic performance.

Students who abuse Adderall in the hope that it will improve their academic performance may:

Adderall side effects

Adderall use has several short-term and long-term side effects. They are divided into two types: physiological effects and psychological effects.

Physiological effects

They include:

Psychological effects

They include:

How Adderall affects your mental health

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Since Adderall affects dopamine production, you will experience depressive episodes when you don’t use the drug. Additionally, it will be difficult for you to experience pleasure without it.

An NCBI study revealed that using Adderall for a long time may also result in psychosis. You will have schizophrenia-like symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and mood disturbances. Additionally, you may experience panic attacks and anxiety.

The effects of Adderall are reportedly worse in individuals with underlying mental health conditions or a history of mental illness.

Adderall and heart problems

Adderall strains the heart and cardiovascular system. Even when you use it short-term, you may experience cardiac problems, including high blood pressure, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure.

When you use it long-term, you are at risk of cardiac arrhythmias and a pounding heartbeat.

Adderall is just one type of ADHD medications that is also known to cause sudden death in teens. The risk with these is higher in those who have heart problems or heart defects.

Signs of addiction

If you repeatedly use Adderall without a prescription, medical monitoring, or care, you may get addicted. Signs of Adderall addiction include:

Withdrawal symptoms

When you abuse Adderall for some time but stop, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. The most prevalent withdrawal symptoms are:

Withdrawal symptoms for Adderall addiction may be dangerous and overwhelming. Therefore, it would be best to have the assistance of medical practitioners and recovery professionals when you decide to stop using the drug.

Get help today

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According to scientific studies, Adderall addiction and mental health disorders go hand in hand. Most Texans teens who abuse Adderall try to commit suicide. Therefore, treatment programs need to address mental health issues in treatment for Adderall addiction.

More Than Rehab offers an evidence-based, scientific treatment approach to ADHD medication addiction treatment. We also treat underlying mental health conditions like depression to give you the best chance at recovery.

We offer individual programs based on your needs. We have inpatient programs, outpatient programs, and partial in and outpatient programs. Our experts will guide and support you during the withdrawal process and teach you to focus and be productive without Adderall.

Contact us today to start your recovery journey and take control of your life. We are open 24/7. We are here to help.

888-249-2191

The Link Between Risky Sexual Behaviors & Drug Use

For ages, human beings have intentionally used different substances for sexual pleasure. For example, Egyptians used extracts from the blue lotus flower to facilitate and enhance sexual desire. 

Today is no different. People use alcohol and illicit drugs for sexual pleasure. The trend is prevalent among teenagers and young adults in the United States. While substance misuse happens at any age, young adult years are critical at-risk periods. 

Studies have identified strong associations between substance use disorders and risky sexual behaviors and experiences. A review published on JAMA Network suggests that illegal drug use, and alcohol, increases the chances of risky sexual behavior and STIs by interfering with rational decision-making and cognitive functioning. 

The review further indicates that sexual impulses may be linked to subsequent drug use by alienating the teen from a more conventional context. This promotes attachment to rogue peers, and fosters exposure to drugs or alcohol. It also suggests that sex & drugs may have a common aspect that underlies and precedes both manifestations like personality (rebelliousness) or family factor (like mother-child relationship) etc.

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People who meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for substance abuse disorders are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, including unsafe sex and having multiple partners. According to the national institute on drug abuse, the following are some of the risky sexual behaviors associated with alcohol and drug abuse 

Using the Global Drug Survey data, a 2019 study found the below as the most common drugs used with sex.

Let's discuss the sexual functioning associated with each drug in detail.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a popular drug that most people use to relax before engaging in sexual activity. In addition, it is used as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire and enhance performance. When taken in smaller doses, it enhances sexual arousal in men and increases subjective stimulation and pleasure in women.

However, when taken in higher quantities, alcohol impairs erectile function in men due to neuropathy or cardiovascular complications. In women, chronic users experience decreased vaginal lubrication and delayed orgasm.

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Alcohol abuse has been associated with risky sexual behavior due to impaired judgment. In addition, under the influence of alcohol, individuals are likely to be inconsistent with condoms and have multiple sexual partners whose health status is unknown. This results in increased cases of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. 

Cocaine

Cocaine is known to stimulate the central nervous system. As a result, it increases sexual urges due to activating systems responsible for sexual behavior such as oxytocin, dopamine, and melanocortin. This leads to sexual arousal in women and erectile function in men. However, long-term use can cause reduced sexual desire and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

Cocaine use with an intimate partner is more frequent as compared to heroin. This is because cocaine is known to improve sexual performance, intensify sensation and increase libido. On the other hand, heroin is believed to send blood away from sexual organs and reduce testosterone production. This diminishes sexual desire, difficulty maintaining an erection, and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

In addition, cocaine use has been predominantly linked with the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases compared to alcohol and other illegal drugs. This is highly attributed to increased sexual urges, impaired judgment, and sharing needles amongst users when injecting the drug. Diagnostic criteria show chronic users of cocaine exhibit violent and erratic behavior leading to anxiety, depression, and loss of interest in sex.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is recognized to be a potent aphrodisiac better known in the streets as "speed" or "crack." Like cocaine but at a higher degree, methamphetamine improves sexual performance by lowering inhibitors, increasing sex drive, and delaying ejaculation/orgasm. In addition, the sexual urges last longer in methamphetamine users than cocaine users making it more popular to people seeking extended and extremely stimulating sexual experiences.

However, chronic users of meth may experience difficulty in attaining a full erection. In this case, they experience a strong sexual drive coupled with inadequate penile erection. This condition is known as "crystal dick."

Methamphetamine has contributed to the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Increased sexual urges lead to unsafe and risky sexual behaviors such as vigorous unprotected anal or vaginal sex with strangers and casual sex partners. In addition, users who inject the drug share needles, putting them at a higher risk of contracting these diseases.  

Cannabis

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Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. Consumption in small doses leads to subjective satisfaction and enhanced sexual pleasure in both men and women. Cannabis has resulted in teenage sex and increased cases of sexual addictions because the drug is cheap and easily accessible. 

However, chronic use of cannabis has been known to reduce testosterone, leading to erectile dysfunction in men. It is also associated with an increased risk of abuse and mental health conditions such as depression, extreme anxiety, and hallucination. 

Opioids

In the initial stages, opioids cause enhanced vaginismus in women and delayed ejaculation in men. This gives the user a false perception of improved sexual function. However, the use of opioids such as heroin and morphine for an extended period inhibits the release of luteinizing hormone.

This leads to erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced sexual desire, and mental illness. The same effects are associated with opioid substitution therapy, such as buprenorphine and methadone.

Despite certain drugs showing a positive relationship to improved sexual performance and pleasure when used in small quantities, there is a need to create awareness of the potentially harmful health consequences that they can cause. In search of a few minutes of extreme pleasure, you can expose yourself to STDs, infertility, unplanned pregnancies, sexual addiction, and mental illnesses. 

If you or someone close to you relies on alcohol and drugs for sexual performance, or you notice more risky sexual behaviors, it is essential to seek immediate help. Healthcare providers, educators, and social workers will provide the counseling and professional treatment that is needed to help you/them gain control of your/their sexual life again.

How To Be Grateful Even When Times Are Tough

Gratitude is an essential tool for those in the recovery process. It is known to significantly reduce relapse rates, especially during the holidays.

If you feel grateful to be on the road to recovery, the chances are that you won’t relapse. A thankful attitude allows you to face any challenges that come your way and focus on your recovery goal.

Grateful people generally have a positive outlook on life. This outlook influences their behavior and promotes a sustainable recovery-oriented life.

Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to be self-centered, caring only about themselves. If you are in recovery, expressing gratitude makes you less selfish and more aware of the needs of others. Additionally, you will be more in control of your life, more optimistic, and less stressed.

Practicing gratitude influences the behaviors and thoughts of those recovering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. It also helps them appreciate the present and improve interactions with other people.

This article will discuss how to be grateful, even when things are tough. Additionally, we will talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), its symptoms, and how to fight it.

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Gratitude

Here are a few tips on being grateful during the holidays to avert experiencing a relapse.

1.     Have a gratitude journal.

Have a journal where you list at least three things you are grateful for every day. Journaling daily will change your mindset and make you a grateful person overall.

2.    Focus on the essential things.

It would be best to focus on important things, including your relationships with your friends and family, instead of worrying about the unknown. You will realize just how lucky you are to have the people you have in your life at the moment. Interact with your friends and family often. Remember, isolation can lead to addiction.

3.    Change your perspective.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with things you are grateful for, take a moment to think about other people whose misfortunes are more than yours. Changing your perspective will make you realize just how much you should be grateful for.

4.    Savor the good experiences/moments.

During your day-to-day, pay attention to the moments you genuinely feel happy and savor them. Pay attention to how your body feels, and try to relive the moments when you don’t feel grateful.

5.    Appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

Most people tend to overlook what they do for themselves, mainly when they cultivate healthy habits during their recovery journey. Remember to always appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that arises due to change in seasons. It is a co-occurring disorder that starts during fall, worsens during winter, and ends during spring. On rare occasions, people get a rare SAD type called summer depression.

SAD is a severe condition that harms your day-to-day life, including how you think and feel. It may cause major depression.

The mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly referred to as the winter blues. Unlike SAD, winter blues simply make you feel down since you are mostly stuck indoors.

Who is likely to get SAD?

SAD tends to affect women  and young people more. Additionally, people with mood disorders, e.g., bipolar disorder and mental health conditions, are more likely to get SAD. People who live further north of the equator in high latitudes or cloudy regions are also more likely to get SAD.

People suffering from SAD may suffer from other mental health conditions, including but not limited to eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders.

Symptoms of SAD

Here are a few symptoms of SAD patients are likely to experience:

Those who suffer from summer SAD are likely to experience:

How to fight SAD

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Here are a few tips on fighting seasonal depression.

  1. Work out.

Most times, people’s physical activity decreases during the colder months. Working out is a great way to combat seasonal depression since you fight your body’s urge to be sluggish.

2.    Consider light therapy.

Research has shown that light therapy is a first-line treatment for SAD since it keeps the patient’s circadian rhythm on track.

3.    Participate in social activities.

Most people tend to avoid participating in social activities during the colder months. As discussed above, isolating yourself is a risk factor for SAD. Try as much as possible to participate in social activities and interact with your family and friends.

4.    Have a schedule and stick to it. 

People with SAD often either sleep a lot or have trouble sleeping. Try maintaining a regular schedule to improve your sleeping patterns. This will help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression.

5.    Ensure you get enough vitamin D.

The  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that insufficient vitamin D may cause depressive symptoms, including SAD.

It is unclear whether taking vitamin D supplements may relieve SAD symptoms, but experts say getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and your diet could go a long way in preventing SAD.

6.   Go on vacation.

If you get SAD during the colder months, you can take a winter vacation to countries with warm climates at the time. Being in a warm place can relieve SAD symptoms.

7.    Be grateful.

As discussed above, gratitude is an essential part of recovery. Purpose to stay grateful and appreciate what and who is in your life.

Conclusion

Being grateful goes a long way in promoting sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most addicts relapse when they can no longer deal with the pressure of their day-to-day lives.

Most addicts can avert a relapse on drugs by cultivating gratitude during recovery, especially during the fall and winter months, when SAD tends to kick in.

Check out our blog for more information on relapse prevention and drug rehabilitation. At More Than Rehab, we offer quality service to everyone struggling with addiction. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

888-249-2191

Holidays 2021: A Guide to Avoiding Relapse Triggers

The holidays are a time when most people reunite with friends and family to celebrate. It is considered a time to drink, eat, and be merry.

Unfortunately, the holidays can also be stressful for people in recovery, and the chances of addiction relapse are relatively high. Emotional relapse may make any recovering addict turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Some common holiday triggers are:

Holiday triggers can easily make anyone in recovery return to drug or alcohol abuse. Luckily, we have a few tips that go a long way in preventing relapse during the holidays. These tips will help you stay sober during the holiday season.

Wake up every morning with the decision to stay sober

Every morning, make a conscious decision to stay sober. Plan how to avoid any triggers you may encounter that day and what you’ll do if you get any cravings.

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Eat healthily

Ensure you eat healthy during the holidays. Staying hungry may result in low blood sugar, which may, in turn, make you more irritable. When you are irritable, you become impulsive and may end up relapsing. Be sure to have a snack with you when on the move and snack every few hours.

Avoid high-risk situations

Evaluate every situation and decide whether they are high-risk or low risk. 

If you are in early recovery, it would be best to avoid high-risk situations. If you must, try to leave early.

It would also help to know your triggers for you to avoid them. Some of the most common triggers are anger, loneliness, fatigue, and hunger.

Make a point of taking care of yourself both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not doing so may lead to physical relapse or mental relapse, which may in turn, lead to alcohol or drug use.

Carry your own drinks to parties

Most office and family parties have non-alcoholic beverages. However, it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own non-alcoholic beverages. If the party you’re going to will serve champagne, you can carry flavored sparkling water to sip on as other people drink their champagne. Other alternatives are juices or sparkling cider.

Carrying your drinks helps you avoid the temptation of indulging in the alcoholic drinks that are often served at holiday and Christmas parties.

Bring a sober friend along

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If you’re lucky enough to have a friend staying sober during the holidays, keep them close. A sober friend can keep you in check. If you feel the need to drink or get high, your friend will talk you out of it. Additionally, you’re less likely to feel the pressure to indulge when both of you are drinking non-alcoholic beverages.

Have a schedule

You may notice that over the holidays, most therapists cancel their sessions during the holidays since they either want to go on vacation or be with their friends and family. When this happens, you may not have sessions as often as you are used to. 

Try making a schedule of fun things you can do in your free time to keep yourself busy.

Learn to say "no" (politely)

Sometimes, you may not be ready to share details of your recovery journey with friends or family. Therefore, you need to learn how to politely decline their offers without giving out too many details. Practice your responses in advance so that you’re ready when they question you. For instance, if someone offers you drinks, you can decline by saying that you are the designated driver.

Volunteer

Volunteering during the holidays is an excellent pastime for people in recovery. You can choose to volunteer at a local shelter, food bank, or senior living community. Other than keeping you busy, volunteering can help remind you of how lucky you are.

Don’t isolate yourself

Although avoiding holiday parties and people seems like a good idea, it isn’t necessarily. Don’t isolate yourself by staying indoors. Spending too much time in isolation may lead to a relapse.

Try to choose events you can comfortably attend and make time for your friends and family. Show up for office parties and family events, but ensure you don’t relapse.

Have a support system

As mentioned earlier, the holiday celebrations and stressors can be relapse triggers. Having a strong support system can keep you busy and accountable throughout the holiday season. Support system can be your loved ones or peers in groups like Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these groups complement and extend the effects of professional treatment. If you don’t have a support group or if you have travelled to a different city or state for the holidays, check this site for organizations and support groups in your area.

When the craving kicks in, move past it

Cravings will likely kick in during the holidays. The trick is to stay strong and not give in since the urge will pass after a few minutes. Talk yourself out of it, move to a different venue, meditate, or even just take deep breaths. Do whatever you have to do to move past your cravings. You’ll realize that the more you beat your cravings, the easier it becomes in the long run.

Approximately 21 million Americans struggle with substance use disorders, and during the holidays it could be especially tempting. Due to holiday triggers, the relapse rate for people in recovery is typically much higher.

If you’re having a hard time staying sober during the holidays, know that you are not alone. It would help to reach out for extra support during this season. Try booking extra therapy sessions, going for extra meetings, or even starting a new course of therapy. This way, instead of relapsing, you’ll end the year on a sober note.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or experiencing a relapse, contact us for safe and secure addiction treatment. You can also call us at: 1-888-249-2191. We are open 24/7 and have several treatment programs approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to help you get back on your feet. Our supportive and caring staff will walk with you, every step of the way.

You can also look at resources on the American Society of Addiction Medicine website.

Stuck In A Loop: When Hallucinogens Cause Cyclical Behavior or HPPD

There are instances when individuals who abuse hallucinogenic drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (also called magic mushroom), and LSD experience the effects several weeks, months, and even years after abusing the drug. These effects are commonly referred to as flashbacks and are prevalent in people suffering from HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder).

This article will discuss HPPD in detail. We will look at what HPPD is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is HPPD?

Simply put, HPPD refers to the visual disturbances that hallucinogenic drug users experience long after using the drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, visual disturbances range from bright circles and size distortion to blurry patterns.

People suffering from HPPD only experience flashbacks. They do not re-experience any other feeling of being high on the drugs they consumed before.

HPPD flashbacks are annoying, especially if they happen frequently. Although the flashbacks aren’t necessarily full hallucinations, they may result in mental health problems like anxiety.

Scientists argue that HPPD hallucinations are pseudo hallucinations, and those who experience them can differentiate what is real from what isn’t.

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What do flashbacks feel like?

People who experience flashbacks feel like they are reliving something they experienced in the past. Some flashbacks happen after drug use, while others happen after one undergoes a traumatic experience, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Both people with HPPD and PTSD experience moments when their sensory information tells them they are experiencing moments they experienced in the past, even though they aren’t.

With PTSD, the flashbacks are more vivid. On the other hand, flashbacks of those with HPPD are not in-depth. HPPD victims only experience visual snows.

If you suffer from HPPD, you will be aware of the flashbacks but won’t experience the high that the drugs you used before gave you. Note that these flashbacks may become frequent over time and can overwhelm you.

Symptoms

The 2016 review revealed that there are two types of HPPD; type one and type 2. Those who suffer from type 1 HPPD only experience brief flashbacks, while those that suffer from type 2 HPPD experience more intense flashbacks.

If you suffer from unwanted hallucinations or cyclical behaviors, you are likely to experience any of the following visual disturbance symptoms of HPPD.

  1. Color flashes- you may notice random flashes of color at random times.
  2. Intense colors- the colors of objects around you seem brighter.
  3. Color confusion- you may be unable to tell the difference between similar colors. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell maroon and red apart.
  4. When you stare at objects, you see a glowing halo around them.
  5. Objects may appear bigger or smaller than they are.
  6. You may notice patterns on various objects when in reality, the object does not have any patterns on it.
  7. Items or objects may appear to leave a trail behind them as they move.
  8. You may have a difficult time reading since words on screens or pages appear to be in motion.
  9. You may feel uneasy every time you have an episode since you know that what you are experiencing is not real.

Currently, there is no scientific explanation of when these symptoms manifest. Therefore they can happen to you at any time.

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People experiencing HPPD may also experience mental health issues, including anxiety, panic disorders whose common symptom is increased heart rate and heavy breathing, suicidal thoughts, and symptoms of depersonalization. Despite most people suffering from the disorder acknowledging that they experience these symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not acknowledge them as possible symptoms. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders only acknowledges the visual disturbances symptoms we discussed above because it is still unclear whether HPPD directly causes mental health issues.

HPPD causes

Scientists believe that individuals who consume hallucinogenic drugs recreationally are at a high risk of suffering from HPPD. However, they are yet to conclude on the frequency of drug use that causes HPPD.

A recent study revealed that HPPD is common in people who consume more than one dose of LSD. It is also prevalent in people who use other hallucinogens on one occasion or more.

Contrary to common belief, HPPD is not a result of mental disorders or brain damage. It is also not a result of a “bad trip.” This is caused by hallucinogenic drugs and is more often than not, one of the many effects of LSD abuse.

HPPD management and treatment

If you experience any of the symptoms we discussed above, you should visit your doctor. They will ask you several questions before giving you a full diagnosis.

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After being diagnosed with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you need to learn how to manage and treat it. Currently, two drugs have proved to be effective in HPPD treatment: lamotrigine and clonazepam.

Lamotrigine

Lamotrigine is a mood-stabilizing medication that is effective in relieving individuals of HPPD symptoms. A case study showed that lamotrigine is effective in the treatment of HPPD. Unlike other medications like antipsychotics, it did not make any symptoms worse.

Clonazepam

Like lamotrigine, clonazepam is effective in treating this disorder. It makes the symptoms less severe and more manageable.

To manage these symptoms, doctors also advise individuals to avoid stressful situations and illicit drugs. Additionally, doctors may give patients a few techniques to cope with the symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to use calming breathing exercises every time you have an episode. They may also prescribe rest and talk therapy.

Note that there is no single treatment for HPPD. You will undergo drug therapy. Drug therapy varies with individuals depending on the difference in visual disturbances symptoms.

Most times, drug therapy is successful, and individuals lead everyday lives after that.

Conclusion

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a serious condition. Anyone who uses hallucinogens can eventually develop this disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may eventually fade away. However, there are instances when the symptoms will persist for an extended time.

It would be best to seek professional help if you notice any of the symptoms above. Your doctor may prescribe drug therapy to treat the condition and other techniques to manage the symptoms and make them more bearable.

Isolation can Lead to Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that can rarely be attributed to a single cause. One’s environment, genetics, mental health, and past experiences all influence the development of addiction. Studies also point out isolation as a vulnerability to drug addiction.  

Social isolation isn’t necessarily bad: we all crave some alone time, at least occasionally. Being alone can be rejuvenating, meditative, and relaxing. But when the solitude is unwanted or unhealthy, it can become problematic. Isolation has become a growing concern for the health care system.

People who are socially isolated may lack friends, family, or close workmates. So, they tend to feel lonely and depressed. As a result, they may suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues, as you’ll notice in this article.

What is social isolation?

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, social isolation is the lack of social connections that can lead to loneliness in some people. Those in unhealthy isolation are likely to:

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In some cases, the isolation can include emotional isolation where one is unwilling or unable to share their feelings with others. When this happens, the person can become emotionally numb.

What causes social isolation?

Isolation can be a result of many factors, including:

The effects of isolation

Many studies have shown a connection between isolation and physical health issues. Isolation is a risk factor for issues like heart disease, increased inflammation and stress hormones, diabetes 2, and even disability. An analysis of 70 studies and 3.4 million people pointed out that isolated individuals had a 30% higher risk of dying in the next seven years.

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But the effects of isolation aren’t just physical. They can be mental as well. In fact, numerous studies show a close link between isolation and mental disorders like low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, dementia, or other mental health concern.

Again, isolation and mental issues tend to feed off of each other. Meaning, an individual might develop anxiety because of isolation, then feel more isolated because of their anxiety, and vice versa.

How isolation leads to addiction

Connecting with other people is an important part of well-being. Humans are social creatures, and not getting enough social interaction can impact health. Isolation can increase the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the body, causing a range of physical health concerns.

Prolonged isolation can lead to mental health issues or worsen the existing ones. When feelings of loneliness go unresolved, it could lead to a range of mental illnesses.

Many studies show a strong connection between mental health disorders and substance use disorders. In fact, as the National Institute on Drug Use puts it, many people who develop mental illnesses are also diagnosed with substance use disorder. Data show high rates of SUD and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and antisocial personality disorders, all of which are common among those who self-isolate. NIDA also points out that people with personality, substance use, and mental disorders were more likely to use non-medical prescription opioids

Isolation may also cause loneliness. When a person is lonely, they may turn to drugs to pass the time or shut down the critical inner voices that tend to multiply in isolation. Speaking of voices, too much isolation leads to fluctuations in thinking, causing one to perceive the world around them negatively. In some cases, the loneliness can make them a little vulnerable, causing them to start looking for reasons people aren’t hanging out with them.

At this point, self-disgust sets in to offer a handy scapegoat. When one fixates on these beliefs and thoughts, they might act in ways to reinforce their actions. They may also abuse substances to cope with their situation or avoid reality. Prolonged use might lead to addiction, driving one further into isolation.

Note that both drugs and social interaction can stimulate one’s dopamine response. Emotional and physical connectedness triggers the production of good feelings, and when that system doesn’t change, one may seek to self-medicate. So they’ll turn to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. For those struggling with addiction, this can make for a deadly mix under the wrong circumstances.

Unfortunately, at this point, any attempt to stop using ends in withdrawal symptoms. So, one is likely to struggle alone, with no end in sight.

How to overcome isolation

Going out more and making new friends might seem like an obvious thing to do in this case. However, isolation can have an underlying cause that needs to be addressed to build more fulfilling connections. Treatment programs exist to help individuals gain control of their lives. But one can also try out the following:

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How to prevent relapse in isolation

Those who go through substance abuse treatment need physical, emotional, and financial support from their loved ones to regain full control of their lives. Otherwise, they risk relapsing. Finding support in groups like Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can help prevent relapse.

Getting help for social isolation and addiction

The risks of drug addiction are higher among those suffering from isolation. But the good news is that there are facilities that provide medically-reviewed addiction treatment and therapies to help one reopen communication lines and feel less isolated.

Things You Can Do When You Beat Addiction & Get Sober

When you beat addiction and get sober, you may wonder what’s next? In sobriety, you have lots of time and what seems like a long journey ahead.

Most people assume that when you get sober, your social life, or life in general is ruined and that you would never have fun again. However, this is not the case. Your life will not be one big adrenaline rush, but you can still have fun and be productive when sober.

If you are at a loss on what to do when you beat addiction and get sober, this article is for you. Here are a few things you should consider doing after you get sober. 

Travel

Traveling when sober can keep you busy and entertained. However, you need to ensure that you stay sober throughout your travel. To do this, you first have to set your intentions for your journey. Research the place you are traveling to and note down all the fun things you intend to do during the trip. Then, focus on the fun activities instead of worrying about how you will stay sober. It would help if you had a list of fun activities and commit to doing them even before you travel. Then, use your vacation to relax, recharge, and spoil yourself.

Note that when traveling, you might have triggering experiences. This ranges from the mini nips of alcohol on the plane to party invitations you’ll get at the resort you will stay at. Therefore, it is important that you be over-prepared to deal with these potential relapse triggers

It would be best if you also stayed in touch with your support system, the people who ensure you stay on track.

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Go back to school

If you had to drop out of school to beat addiction, you might want to go back to school when you get sober.

The first thing you need to do is overcome the fear of going back to school. As a recovering addict, you need to realize that this is a fresh start, and nothing has to be the way it was when you were an addict. You can talk to people in your support network who have gone back to school after getting sober and learn from their achievements and mistakes. This way, you can easily avoid temptation and develop healthy study habits.

Once you overcome the fear and go back to school, take things slowly. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially when it comes to how long you will take to finish school. Instead, be involved in school activities and keep yourself busy.

Find new friends

In sobriety, most people tend to focus on themselves and their recovery rather than those around them. Friends are important, but finding new like-minded friends can prove difficult, especially when following a strict routine. 

If you’re looking for new friends, consider attending non-alcoholic events, joining a networking group, volunteering at organizations, joining a book club, going to sober bars, or even joining social media groups of sober people that can relate to your lifestyle. You can also make new friends when you start a new hobby to pass the time, e.g., painting or hiking.

Find love

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Finding love in recovery is something you may want to consider, especially if you took a sabbatical to deal with your addiction. However, you first need to feel confident in your relationship with yourself before venturing into the dating world to find love.

You can try online dating, but consider using dating sites that are tailor-made for sober people. Note that most people on regular dating sites take alcohol regularly and would even suggest meeting up for drinks on your first date.

If you meet someone you like, choose a neutral venue for your first date. A park, coffee shop, or restaurant would be ideal.

Be self-sufficient

Once you get sober, you need to practice self-care. It may be scary at first, but you will eventually get used to it. Loving and taking care of yourself plays a significant role in ensuring you stay sober.

Setting healthy boundaries with people who previously encouraged your addiction also requires you to be self-sufficient. For example, you may have to buy a new car to get around easily on your own. If you lived with a roommate who encouraged your addiction, you also have to move out to have a fresh start.

Go to church

If you are a Christian in addiction recovery, you should consider going to church. When you go to church, you can find strength in your faith and connect with God. In addition, most churches have a community of support. People from different backgrounds and walks of life are united by their faith in God. Recovery tends to be difficult for most addicts, so you will need all the support you need.

Other than church, you can keep yourself busy by getting involved in church activities. The various sober activities will help you overcome your drug cravings.

Research has shown that going to church regularly improves one’s mental health. Since drug addiction tends to affect your mental health, going to church during recovery may improve your mental health.

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Become a drug counselor

If you want to help others struggling with drug addiction, you should consider studying to become a drug counselor. Helping others will motivate you to stay sober and make you more accountable to yourself and others. It can also help you feel accomplished.

As a drug counselor, you will be the support system for those recovering from drug addiction. Additionally, you can help them manage their recovery.

Find a new career

To stay sober, you may decide to transition to living in a sober community for a new start. One requirement that you have to meet is finding a job. Although most people prefer going back to their old careers, this may be your chance to find a new career altogether. Choose a career that will not put your sobriety at risk. Additionally, you should do something you love so that your new job does not stress you out. Maybe even try to start a hobby that makes money!

Should I Be Afraid of Rehab?

Addiction affects almost every part of your life. Admitting that you have an addiction problem is the first step toward recovery. Denial is a large part of addiction, and breaking through self-deception is very difficult. So, if you’ve reached a point where you accept that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem in your life, then you’ve probably dealt with the hardest part. Rehabilitation is only a small part of it, yet many can be afraid of rehab. It's a huge life-changer and it can be difficult, but that shouldn't discourage you.

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the way the brain functions. You may no longer have control of how you feel or act. But you should know that this isn’t about willpower or morals – it’s about acknowledging that you need help and accepting it.

It’s normal to have fears about rehab. Millions of others also fear joining rehabs for various reasons. So much so that only 10% of 20.4 million people with substance use disorders sought out addiction treatment in 2019. But fears only get in the way of sober living. Joining an addiction treatment center is going to be your best shot at addiction recovery.

But still, no one wants to join drug addiction treatment programs – at least not at first. Rehab is a scary thought for many families and people who struggle with addiction. The word itself comes with a huge stigma, and the idea of joining a facility for residential treatment can be equally overwhelming.

Also, joining rehab means letting go of substances, leaving the comforts of your home, and starting a new life. It means giving up control and embracing change. But as they say, change is as good as rest.

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Common fears about rehab

Fear of detox and withdrawal

The thought of detox or withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating, especially if you’ve experienced them before or have heard stories. While withdrawal isn’t going to be your cup of tea, there are many ways to make it comfortable and tolerable. Treatment programs offer full-time help and access to medications and therapies to ensure you are pain-free. You’ll also be monitored by trained medical staff throughout your entire detox process.

Fear of leaving behind your life

Walking away from your comfort zone – your family, home, job, friends, or even substances can be scary. After all, you are leaving behind your life as you’ve known it and heading towards the unknown. But while this thought can be overwhelming, treatment is way less damaging than staying and continuing with your using habits. If the people you’re scared to leave behind care about you, they will be happy to see you get help.

Just ensure that everything is in order so that your only concern is to sober up. Arrange care for your elderly parents, children, or pets. Apply for the 12 weeks of family and medical leave to protect your work and sign up for automatic bill payments. The goal is to leave bills, jobs, and drama outside so you can focus more on getting better.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO is one of the most common fears many people who struggle with addiction deal with before going to rehab. The illusion that drugs and alcohol go hand in hand with fun can make you skeptical about getting help. You may feel as though you’ll miss out on weekends, or after work, and so on. There’s also the aspect of friends; how they’ll hang out without you and how boring your life will get without them.

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All these can be overwhelming, making you afraid of rehab and what happens afterwards. But substance abuse only leads to addiction, legal issues, financial troubles, broken relationships, etc. Unless you break free, you really won’t have a clear perspective of what fun means. Once you go through rehab, you’ll make new friends, learn new things, take up a hobby, travel, and even spend more time with loved ones. You’ll also identify fun activities that aren’t harmful to your health and relations.

Fear of not knowing how to cope with anxiety and stress

If you fall into the 50% category of those who experience substance use disorder due to mental health issues, you may fear that you won’t know how to cope once you stop using. But the good news is that treatment facilities often offer 12-step programs to help you resolve most of the underlying issues. They also offer holistic treatments to address mind, body, and soul. On top of that, they point you to support groups to serve as your sounding board, so there's no need to be afraid of rehab.  

Fear of dealing with past trauma, neglect, or abuse

Many aspects – including childhood neglect, abuse, and trauma – might have contributed to your substance use disorder. Perhaps you’ve been suppressing the difficult past, but now you’re dealing with the prospect of facing it as part of the healing process.

It is scary to face the ghost of the past, but you won’t do it alone. Treatment centers have counselors who will hold your hand throughout the process. You’ll also have access to group therapy and other treatment options to help you process thoughts, emotions, and beliefs linked to the past trauma. In the end, the past won’t have a grasp on you.

Fear of starting a new life

Without drugs or alcohol, you may have no idea what you are, and that’s a scary place to be. But this is only temporary. During treatment and early recovery, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and try new stuff. You’ll also hang out with sober friends and family and create new experiences. This might be a great time to try out new hobbies and interests.

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Fear of failure

One of the main reasons most people are afraid of rehab is the fear of failure. The thought of going through a treatment plan but ending up with a relapse is devastating. But failing to try because you fear failing is denying yourself an opportunity to lead a clean life. In fact, you may be shocked by how well you respond to treatment.

And even if you relapse, it is still a step in the right direction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 40-60% of people with addiction relapse after treatment. Should you relapse, it’s vital to point out the triggers and find a way to avoid placing yourself in similar situations again.

Fear of success

Perhaps you’ve done things in the past that you aren’t proud of and feel like you have to punish yourself or be unhappy forever. Or maybe you suffered in the hands of someone who said you didn’t deserve happiness or that you wouldn’t amount to anything, and you believed them. So you’re always self-sabotaging to avoid success.

But everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Embrace your fears and not run away from them. Treatment centers have experts who will reinforce positive mental health and help you overcome any trauma that may have affected you. There is no need to be afraid of rehab. Depending on the rehab, the treatment plan may also include a faith-based approach to help you connect with your higher power to overcome addiction.