Maintaining Mental Health and Well-Being
by Thomas G. Beley, Ph.D., LCSW
Executive Director of Palm Healthcare Company
We hear a lot about the importance of mental health. However, exactly what is mental health. If one looks at the research literature there is not very much written about what constitutes mental health. Often times, by default, mental health has been referred to or alluded to as the absence of a mental illness. To complicate the situation further, the literature seems to be overly ripe with how to treat various mental disorders as well as how to reduce the specific symptoms a person may be experiencing. Unfortunately, our society has become overly preoccupied with treatment focusing on the reduction of a person’s symptoms as an indicator of a mentally healthy person. Although treatment and symptom reduction are important facets of a person’s mental health, neither treatment nor symptom reduction guarantees a sense of well-being.
In examining the various disorders as outlined in the DSM IV and the plethora of research that has been conducted on how to treat these disorders, there appears to be a common thread that seems to exist between all of these disorders and conditions. The common thread appears to be an on-going interrelationship between the biological or neuro-chemical make-up of a person; the existing stress factors that may be presented in a person’s life; and the actually coping skills or mechanisms that a person uses as a way of dealing with everyday life. Furthermore, it appears that all three of these influences have the ability to impact the other for the better or for the worse. This article will examine these various influences on a person’s mental health and how these influences are involved in maintaining a person’s sense of mental health and well-being.
Stress is a constant in everyone’s life. Hans Selye, the father of the stress response, defined stress as “any change.” So the fact of the matter is that stress is a constant in one’s life. In essence, the moment a person opens their eyes in the morning, that’s stress. The moment that same person gets out of bed, that’s more stress. And, the moment that person jumps into the shower, even yet more stress. In most instances, our bodies are able to handle this stress much of which is attributed to a person’s balanced neurobiology and neurotransmission.
Much of this can be explained through the “fight or flight response” of a person. This mind-body connection, which has been a part of human evolution, has worked the same way over hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years, the same way. Any time a person’s brain, either conscious or unconscious, senses any type of danger whether real or not, there are a whole host of stress hormones that are being released into the body (neurotransmission) gearing the person’s body up to do one of two things, to run away from that danger or to fight that danger. In either scenario, the body has to be an efficient machine. Although a person doesn’t necessarily have to hunt for their food any longer per se or run away from man-eating animals, a person is still faced with the everyday modern dangers of life such as unemployment, finances, marital problems, parenting, etc. The list is endless. The important point, here, is that regardless of what that perceived danger, the mind, and body via neurotransmission, kicks into action.
A problem that arises, however, is that once the mind and body have turned it up a notch to deal with the stress, it takes the body a longer time to calm down. The mind or more specifically the neocortex (the thinking part of the brain) is able to easily dismiss stress and false alarms of stress in a relatively short manner. A person can become instantly alarmed at the prospect of their electric being shut off from a notice received in the mail, however, instantly “feeling” a sense of relief realizing that the notice is not meant for them but for the neighbor. Although the mind has dismissed the danger, the stress hormones have already been released to key parts of the person’s body. Studies have shown that these stress hormones or the signaling of the mind to the body to calm down can take anywhere between six hours to seventy-two hours for the body to receive the signal of no danger. So what can actually happen is that a person can be walking around “feeling good” and the least little thing can happen, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, that can send a person into a stressed or panic state.
There are three key points that need to be remembered about stress.
The first key point is that stress is a constant in anyone’s life by virtue of the constant change a person is going through from the moment they wake up in the morning to the time they go to bed at night. All too often a person thinks of stress as “nothing bad has happened to me lately.” It is irrelevant to ask the question whether a person is stressed, it is more appropriate to think in terms of whether that person’s neurobiology is handling that stress in an appropriate manner.
Secondly, the body doesn’t really know the difference between “good stress” and “bad stress.” It may be more relevant for a person to think in terms of how much and to what extent has that person experienced change during the course of the week or the month regardless of whether that change has been “good” or “bad.” The more change the person has experienced, the more stress that has been absorbed into the body.
And, finally, the third key point is that the body is a very slow responder. It takes the body a much longer time to calm down than the cognitive processes that are occurring in the brain. A person needs to be mindful that just because they are “feeling relaxed” doesn’t necessarily mean that their body is relaxed.
It is not always feasible to assume that lowering the stressful situations in one’s life is the answer since many people may be unable to avoid a stressful lifestyle. Firefighters, police officers, emergency room medical staff, are all faced with potential chronic conditions of stress. It is not fair to say these individuals will be excluded from feeling a sense of well-being because they are in constant stressful situations. It is important for a person to be aware of trying to lower stress in their life where they can, but for those individuals who are in situations where stress is a constant, it will be more important for that person to develop the necessary coping skills to deal with stress such as exercise, nutrition, yoga, or meditation.
Research in the neurosciences in recent years has continued to shed new light on a person’s brain chemistry and how neurotransmission impacts a person’s sense of well being as well as behavior. There have been numerous studies conducted on certain neurotransmitters of well being such as serotonin, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), dopamine, and others to suggest the necessity of these neurotransmitters for the person to function at an optimal level. This is where the explosion of new prescription drugs has come on to the market to solve the ills of the world. Needless to say, pharmaceutical companies have long since been proponents of this neurobiological research due to the ability to develop newer and more efficient drugs to attempt to balance a person’s neurochemistry. An important aspect that has evolved over the years, however, is the recognition of, not only the importance of a person’s neurobiological chemistry to be in balance for a sense of well-being, but also the fact that a person’s biochemical makeup can be extremely delicate and subject to a whole host of outside influences such as stress, medical conditions, nutrition, and behavior that can throw a person’s neurochemistry off creating a variety of symptoms. As a result, there continues to be a growing movement toward alternative methods of treatment to address brain chemistry issues such as acupuncture, nutrition, or chiropractic intervention to intervene and/or to enhance a person’s brain chemistry.
Regardless of whether you are a proponent of Prozac or a devotee to acupuncture, the important point to emphasize is that a person’s neurochemistry plays an important role in a person’s sense of well-being and contentment. Furthermore, the imbalance of neurotransmission in the brain can interfere with that person’s overall level of functioning and well-being.
Coping with everyday life situations is another area which is an important influence on a person’s ability to achieve a sense of well-being. A person needs to feel a sense of satisfaction about how they handle given situations that confront them whether if it is with themselves or with others. However, in order to do this effectively, a person needs to have a repertoire of coping mechanisms to choose from. All too often, a person doesn’t develop or change the necessary coping skills needed to deal with life situations. An interesting point to make, here, is that the human species, which is supposed to be at the top of the so-called food chain of life, is the only species that will continue to do the exact same behaviors to problem solve a situation despite the fact that these problem-solving behaviors may have repeatedly failed in the past. For a variety of reasons, it appears that change is often difficult for a person to make. In order to effectively cope with a situation, it is of vital importance for a person to maintain a degree of flexibility, adaptation, and a willingness to change regarding any given situation.
In a sense, a person’s self-esteem can be viewed as being borne in a series of “failures.” Once a person makes a decision to do something, it is usually followed by a series of behaviors or actions. Often times these initial behaviors and actions are not going to be a success since doing something for the first time often leads to a number of miscues or possible “failures.” However, if a person is willing to persist at following through with these behaviors and actions or be willing to try something different in an attempt to reach their goal, there is a greater likelihood the person will develop a sense of competence in that area. Once that person achieves that level of competence, a person’s self-esteem will increase. Once a person’s self-esteem has increased, the easier it becomes for that person to make decisions and take action in other areas of life and the cycle begins all over again.
The important part of coping is that both coping mechanisms and skills need to be constantly reviewed and refined by a person. There is no guarantee that a particular coping skill or mechanism is going to work in all situations. As a person begins to adapt to the various complexities of life, the greater the need for a more complete range of coping skills to maintain that sense of well-being.
The Systemic Relationship of Neurobiology, Stress, and Coping
In considering these various influences on a person’s mental health and well-being, it is vital to understand the interrelationship that exists between them. One must comprehend that all three of these influences are constantly impacting one’s functioning and a person cannot focus on one of these areas without taking into consideration the ramifications it will have on the other areas. There is a cyclical force that each area has on the other areas and vice versa. For instance, if a person is experiencing an inordinate amount of stress, whether it is “good stress”
or “bad stress,”
the neurochemistry of the brain is going to be impacted. If the neurochemistry of the brain is affected, there is a greater likelihood that this imbalance is going to affect the neurotransmission which can result in symptomatic behaviors such as panic, anxiety, depression
, or other symptomatic behavior. As a result of the symptomatic behavior the person may be experiencing, the person’s coping mechanism and problem-solving abilities are probably going to be compromised at least to some degree. If the person is unable to cope with a given situation in an effective manner, there is the potential of the stress level increasing again. As a result, there is a cyclical process of impact.
Balance and Well-Being
It appears that a key factor for a person maintaining mental health and a sense of well-being is the ability to monitor and balance the areas of neurobiology, stress, and coping. The challenge, however, that confronts a person is the ability to maintain this balance on an on-going basis. One of the difficulties stems from the fact that it is not always clear as to what a person needs to attend to at any given time. For instance, let’s say that a person’s depression may simply be stemming from their genetic make-up. If this is the case, it would probably be more prudent for that person to be prescribed the appropriate anti-depressant medication to correct the neurobiological issue as opposed to getting involved in therapy or attempting to reduce stress. Although the latter two methods can be extremely effective in the long run, the more effective and efficient intervention may be from a pharmacological approach.
On the other hand, let’s say a person is depressed as a result of a great deal of existing stress that is occurring in their life, let’s say from being fired from their job, or the person has limited coping skills to deal with real-life traumas like the death of a loved one. In this scenario, a pharmacological intervention may be of little value, since the depression may be more a product of “normal” life situations that would be better addressed through support and the development of better and more appropriate coping skills for that given situation. In these situations, yoga, meditation, and exercise may be extremely efficient in addressing stressful situations whereas psychotherapy can be effective in developing better coping skills. In many instances, it is not necessarily the fact that a person’s anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication is not working, the fact of the matter is that the person’s life is still a mess and they need to begin to put it in order. Unless the person is able to address these matters, the likelihood of a person responding effectively to a pharmacological intervention is going to be minimal.It is safe to say that one’s mental health and sense of well-being is not a given in anyone’s life. Just because a person has a positive outlook on life, doesn’t mean that their genetic make-up couldn’t play a factor in that person’s level of functioning. Or, the person who has savvy coping skills in dealing with incredible amounts of stress, doesn’t mean that the accumulative effects of those stressors will not take a physiological toll on that person via heart disease or cancer.
Maintaining mental health and well-being needs to be worked at on an on-going basis, not too different than an athlete needs to train to maintain peak performance. In the arena of mental health and well-being, a person needs to monitor and train how they are performing in the areas of neurobiology, stress reduction, and the development of more effective and positive coping skills. The ability of a person to attend to these areas through the use of yoga, nutrition, exercise, diet, meditation, stress reduction techniques, psychotherapy, hypnosis, just to name a few approaches, the greater likelihood the person will maintain that sense of well-being. A question that a person needs to ask themselves is what is it they are doing to ensure the balance of these three key areas of their life.
For over 25 year, Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW has worked in the field of addictions and mental health. Over these two-and-a-half decades of helping people who struggle with mental health and substance use disorders, he has proven to be an expert clinician and innovative and compassionate leader. Palm Healthcare Company is proud to have an executive team with experience and incredible commitment to helping others. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Ladies and gentlemen, we have made it to the 12th Step of Christmas!
Those total lords have been jumping all around, the maids have stopped milking and are dancing with the other ladies. All the beautiful birds are flying around like crazy… but we have been waiting for the bass drop… BOOM! In comes the 12 drummers, and I mean they come in like the Ohio State Marching Band, just killin it!
Still don’t know why your true love brought so many birds, but hey it’s a party.
So to follow the classice sense of the song, we are going to rehash the other 12 Steps of Christmas for our final thought.
1. Admitting that I am powerless over the Holidays and they can make my life unmanageable.
2. Came to believe a Power Greater than myself could restore my holiday cheer
3. Made a decision to turn your Holiday over to the care of your Higher Power.
4. Made a Searching and Fearless Christmas List.
5. Admit to ourselves and another human when we are being a Grinch.
6. Become entirely ready to let go of the Ba Humbug.
7. Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings of holiday spirit.
8. Made a naughty list and checked myself twice; became willing to make amends and be nice.
9. Made amends when it wouldn’t ruin someone else’s Christmas.
10. Continued trying to stay off the naughty list, and when we are naughty we promptly get jolly.
11. Seek more of the Christmas spirit with through prayer or meditation.
Step 12: Carry the Christmas Spirit to others in all our affairs
This is what it is all about, really. This is why Christmas is such a beloved and cherished holiday for so many around the world. Without trying to take anything away from the vital role that religious faith plays in it for many, the spirit of Christmas is about sharing peace and love, goodwill toward others, compassion and connection.
We have talked about all of this through every step of the 12 Steps of Christmas. That is because love, peace, compassion, connection are all in the spirit of Christmas AND in the spirit of the 12 Steps of recovery. It isn’t hard to draw this relationship because at the core they give us inspiration and hope to build a better life, with fulfilled relationships and meaningful purpose.
In the 12th Step of most recovery fellowships they put a lot of emphasis on carrying the message of recovery. In Step 12 of Christmas let us say we can use the same idea; spread that love and connection to everyone. Of course there is the literal giving of gifts during Christmas when we try to bring joy to others with materials, but in the end these are just an offering or a gesture by which we communicate that love and connection to them.
It is just one way we give of ourselves to spread the love.
Practice the Christmas spirit in all things…
The truth is too often we forget that these attitudes and practices are not just meant to be done on the holidays. Too many people forget about acceptance, willingness and openness when the sleigh bells have come and gone. Many will make strong resolutions for the New Year, but few will remember to carry these principles on with them. Those who work the 12 Steps in recovery are actually very fortunate to have a program that provides a consistent practice of compassion and growth.
The 12 Steps remind us of the importance of self-awareness, reflection, humility and selfless action. They give us an outline for personal development while helping us try to mend damage done in active addiction.
So even if you are not in recovery from drugs or alcohol, you can learn a lot about yourself and about your impact on the people who matter most to you. Doing things like taking inventory, addressing your character defects and helping others is really just a path toward spreading the cheer, joy, love and connection that Christmas gives us.
This year, try to carry the spirit of Christmas in all things. Try to remind yourself to make every day count; to move away from the attitudes that hold you back and toward the wish list of a sober and fulfilled life.
Keep the Christmas party alive every day. Hey, you can even keep partrige. He’s not such a bad bird anyway.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
Remember, this time of year the best gift you can ever give is yourself. For those who suffering from addiction, that means the opportunity for a life of recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.
No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.
Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.
But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.
This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.
Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.
And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.
If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.
Decide how to talk about it
Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.
When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.
Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.
Include your support system
Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.
Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.
Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit
One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.
If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.
Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.
The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.
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Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
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Safe and effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is paramount to creating lasting transformation in the lives of those who are struggling. Providing powerful therapeutic resources with education and innovation makes a significant impact on those who have the opportunity for quality care. An essential part of this process is an active relapse prevention program.
Relapse prevention is a system that influences many aspects of individual recovery from addiction. So what is a relapse? And what makes a relapse prevention program so indispensable?
Relapse Prevention: What is Relapse?
First, let us look at the most basic definition or relapse. If we break it down a little we can better understand what it means and how it happens.
- In general– a relapse is to suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
- With medicine– relapse is also referred to as recidivism or a return to a past condition.
- In the context of drug use (including alcohol) – relapse is a reinstatement of drug use and drug-seeking behavior. It is the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of
So the common thread here is that a relapse is when someone:
- Experiences a period of improvement from a problem…
- Is healing from a previous condition…
- Has a period of abstinence, then they experience a recurrence of the initial problem/condition
With addiction, relapse means someone ends a period of improvement and falls back into drug-seeking behavior or even drug use. When you are recovering from a serious addiction, drinking or consuming a drug can sometimes be referred to as a “slip” but it is essentially a relapse. Many recovery advocates and experts are of the opinion that “recovery” means making improvements to behavior, not just abstinence. Therefore, they might say the “real relapse” actually starts when the behavior regresses to the old destructive or compulsive patterns. Some will warn you that you are in the process of a relapse without having used drugs.
Whether you believe the relapse is the behavior or the actual physical manifestation of using narcotic drugs or drinking, you can still see the real value in offering relapse prevention strategies to help avoid either circumstance.
Relapse Prevention: Knowing the Signs
The following are a few signs or behaviors that might indicate that someone may be in the process of a relapse.
When someone is experiencing low moods and lack of energy they might be in a state of depression. Other mental health disorders may begin to intensify and thoughts of suicide may also occur.
Everyday difficulties that occur regularly become overwhelming. The most basic problems can’t seem to be solved.
The individual may begin to avoid social or personal activities they once enjoyed, isolating and ignoring their responsibilities.
Someone in the stages of relapse may become irritable or even confrontational without reason.
The person may rationalize or minimize any attempt at acknowledging and addressing their behaviors.
When Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) sets in someone can be at a higher risk of relapse. They can have trouble with memory, emotional overreactions, and sleeping problems, become accident prone or overwhelmed by stress.
Lack of Control
Food, sex, caffeine, nicotine, work, gambling, or other activities become out of control. Their compulsive behaviors become consistent without thinking about the consequences.
Feeling of Immobilization
Immobilization is that feeling of desperation. People feel trapped and start to think that there is no way to solve their problems other than using or drinking.
When experiencing cravings someone may convince themselves the only way to feel better is to use or drink, and they try to justify it.
Abandoning Support System
If someone is in the stages of relapse they may begin to ignore their support systems. They might stop attending support groups, therapy or communicating with their sponsor or loved ones.
Chemical Loss of Control
In a relapse, someone recovering from addiction will eventually begin using drugs or alcohol again to solve problems, even if these problems are only being made worse by their use.
Any combination of these symptoms could mean that someone is headed towards a relapse. In some cases, they may have even relapsed already.
Taking action before someone even comes close to a relapse can make all the difference between lasting recovery and dangerous regression. An effective drug and alcohol treatment plan will include a relapse prevention program in order to help people create a solid foundation from which they can build a sustainable recovery.
Understanding the signs of relapse and the serious risks of going back to drug abuse can help someone who may be struggling in their recovery to stay grounded. It is more difficult for someone to know how to take action, and what kind of action to take if they don’t have an understanding of addiction. Palm Healthcare Company places tremendous value on the importance of education in relapse prevention.
In respect to education about relapse, people should also be made aware of the difficulties they may experience with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). When people can anticipate or at least understand the difficulty they may experience with PAWS, they can prepare themselves with healthy and preventative strategies.
Relapse prevention programs should also teach each individual new coping skills to utilize in challenging times. When someone is struggling with their recovery, they should have resources available to them to keep themselves accountable. It is vital that people be taught new and productive methods for recognizing things that are bothering them and addressing them.
Another huge aspect of protecting yourself from relapse is to establish strong habits that keep you to be as mentally and physically healthy as possible. It can be regular exercise, better eating, social and personal relationships, or pursuing your passion or continuing your career. Find a way to care for yourself so that when your recovery is threatened you care enough about your life to protect it.
Having people that support you can make it easier to overcome adversity when it presents itself. When someone has to deal with their troubles alone they may not always see the whole picture; they may not see all the ways to address the issue. Having a support group or a therapist are just a few ways someone trying to recover from drugs or alcohol can make sure they have a safety net in place.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in helping each individual to create a personal plan for recovery that includes relapse prevention and continued support. Our facilities all emphasize the value of comprehensive education, awareness, coping skills, self-care, and aftercare. The solution to drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t end with eliminating the substance, that is only the beginning.
In the event of a relapse, getting the individual to go into an addiction treatment program can be the best way to help them before things get too bad. Getting them back on the road to recovery is crucial, and be sure to look for a program that has a comprehensive relapse prevention program.
Relapse is NOT necessary for recovery, but relapse prevention is. Even if you or someone you love has relapsed, there is still hope to take action that can help you create lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Palm Healthcare knows the importance of addressing the multi-faceted needs of the individual who suffers from chronic pain. This is why we created the Pain Recovery Program. A person in pain is not only concerned about reclaiming their own sense of well-being and functioning. They are also concerned about reclaiming their sense of purpose, independence, and direction to life.
Palm Healthcare Pain Recovery Program
The focus of the Pain Recovery Program is assisting that person in pain in reclaiming all aspects of their life. Palm Healthcare utilizes a comprehensive bio-psychosocial perspective while incorporating the latest holistic, traditional, and state of the art, non-invasive technology and interventions.
Individuals participating in The Pain Recovery Program are provided a variety of treatment options that include:
- Medication management
- Nutraceutical (vitamin) therapy
- Physical therapy
- Strength and conditioning
- Muscle manipulation therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Aquatic therapy
Each person in The Pain Recovery Program will receive a personalized treatment plan based on comprehensive evaluations and the specific needs of the individual and their specific needs.
Connecting Pain and Addiction
Part of overcoming pain while overcoming addiction is understanding how the two are so closely related. Patients who are struggling with one or both of these conditions often report adverse symptoms such as:
Chronic pain and substance use disorder (SUD) have similar physical, social, emotional, and economic effects on health and well-being; one can easily be confused for the other, while both can exacerbate each other.
Pain in the Brain
Chronic pain and addiction actually have many of the same exact neurophysiological patterns.
For instance: Chronis pain involves abnormal neural processing. Coincidentally, addiction results when normal neural processes are altered into dysfunctional patterns, including disruptions in:
The truth is, there is still a lot to learn about both of these conditions, including patterns of severity, the course of development and responses to treatment.
Gauging and effectively addressing emotional responses is also crucial to effective and lasting pain treatment.
Pain and Emotions
Continued pain can also cause emotional responses, such as:
- Depressive symptoms
Each of these experiences can even turn into more pain. Even after these psychological causes have been addressed the feedback effect can still cause pain in the body.
In fact, there are many studies that indicate pain treatment has worse outcomes when depression is a factor. Some experts say you can even predict how a pain syndrome will evolve based on the emotional status of the patient.
Emotions and SUD
With substance use disorder, the individual’s emotional state is a core cause of continuous drug use. People who use drugs often experience these same emotional responses like anxiety and depression as a result of isolation, social and professional hardships and other side-effects of their drug use. Not to mention the way certain drugs impact the brain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be just as severe for these individuals as physical trauma.
On the other hand, some people may already have a history of experiencing these emotional difficulties and actually be trying to treat themselves by abusing drugs. This feeds into the cycle of emotional distress and substance use.
Both addiction and chronic pain fluctuate in intensity with time under different circumstances. Depending on what is going on in someone’s life, their pain may get worse or seem to disappear, just like an addiction may seem controllable for a time before hitting another harsh bottom.
Both often require ongoing management. But the difficulty can also be that these two conditions feed into each other in a very complicated, and at times toxic, relationship.
Treatment for one can either support or conflict with the other.
The Painful Cycle of Addiction
One of the many difficulties many people experience when trying to overcome addiction while struggling with chronic pain syndrome is that there is a cycle of pain- drugs- more pain- more drugs that seems inescapable.
For example- Narcotic medication typically prescribed for chronic pain may be an issue for someone with a history of substance use disorder.
But then if someone uses a narcotic prescription pain medication, such as opioid analgesics, it can create a physical dependence. Then when the substance is absent from the body the withdrawal symptoms set in.
Withdrawal and Pain
Withdrawal symptoms frequently lead to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, while creating even more physical pain. In turn, the anxiety and depression from withdrawal can contribute to that pain even further.
This pain and distress can provoke a severe obsession with whatever substance the individual was relying on to provide relief. In other words, the individual will crave the drug even more because they are not only experiencing the psychological distress from their brain lacking the drug, they are also experiencing a magnified sense of pain from the experience as well.
Again, the cycle of pain- seeking relief from the pain through substances- recurring pain- continued substance use making the problem worse. The Pain Recovery Program is about interupting this self-destructive cycle with new, sustainable methods of pain management.
The Importance of Treating Pain and Addiction
Substance use disorder in relation to prescription pain medication is widely misunderstood, and while some programs focus on treating the addiction, if there is no way of addressing the chronic pain it does not help the chances of successful recovery. Part of working with chronic pain patients struggling with addiction is education on both conditions while providing effective treatment opportunities simultaneously.
Providing pain management opportunities for the U.S. population struggling with substance use disorder is a unique challenge for many primary care physicians. That is why experienced professionals in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are in a unique position to help.
First, we need to acknowledge a few issues, including:
- People recovering from addiction experiencing pain are less likely to receive adequate pain management than anyone else.
- Insufficient pain relief is a substantial risk factor for possible relapse into substance use.
- It is crucial to distinguishing between patients who are seeking relief for legitimate pain and those who are seeking pain medication for recreational abuse
- Psychiatric and medical illnesses can complicate effective pain management
Experts believe that addiction specialists, in particular, can make significant contributions to the management of chronic pain in patients who suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction specialists can:
- Help create safeguards to assure any pain medication is taken appropriately
- Reinforce behavioral and self-care components of pain management
- Help individuals with strategies to reduce stress
- Assess patients’ recovery support systems
- Help to understand and identify relapse risks
Chronic pain management can be a complex process. Experts say that the efficiency of treatment is amplified when all medical and behavioral healthcare professionals involved collaborate as a team. Palm Healthcare Company’s Pain Recovery Program is all about a united effort toward treating both conditions with a variety of experienced professionals and trainers.
Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, and the fact that many people struggling with addiction do suffer from chronic pain, it is so important to have programs like this available. Education, support and relapse prevention is the key. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and chronic pain, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
The devastating path of Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented and catastrophic flooding throughout southeastern parts of Texas. The Lone Star State has been all over the news since the tropical cyclone touched down, becoming the first major hurricane to make landfall on American soil since Wilma in 2005.
Some areas received over 40 inches of rain in a 4 day period, with peak accumulations reaching as high as 51.88 inches. The flooding and damage from the storm has besieged hundreds of thousands of Texan homes, displacing over 30,000 people.
Since its initial landing in Rockport, Texas there are reports of at least 46 confirmed deaths.
Sadly, the tragedy is not yet over. As efforts continue to pour in to relieve the suffering communities, Brock Long calls Hurricane Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history. Long says the expectation of recovering from this destructive natural disaster will take many years.
Still, there is hope. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is telling the world that they are happily on the road to recovery. Turner states:
“We’ve turned a corner,”
Yesterday the Mayor also noted there are already numerous signs of hopeful progress, including:
- Declining shelter numbers
- Power restored to most of the region
- The Astros’ doubleheader on Saturday
- More Metro bus lines resume service Friday
- Shipping channel reopening on limited basis
Leave it to the state where they do everything bigger to have such an inspiring bounce back after facing such difficulties. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone where the motto is friendship and the country is uniting to help those in need.
As the nation pulls together during a time of crisis, so too must an individual pull their own personal resources into maintaining their mental, emotional and physical well-being in the face of disaster. So to add more to the conversation, we want to talk about 5 ways to stay sober during a natural disaster.
The news of another possible threat in the form of Hurricane Irma has been worrying many communities, while there has yet to be a definite answer as to whether or not it will make landfall in the United States, and if so- where.
So let us talk about something that is important for those in the recovery community to keep in mind.
Trauma and Relapse
We want to point out that because natural disasters can be traumatizing experiences, they can put some who are struggling to overcome addiction in a more compromised position. These events stir up anxieties concerns important parts of life, like:
- Personal security
- Physical health
- Psychological well-being
Even healthy people with no history of substance use disorder are frequently traumatized by these sudden and uncontrollable events.
Therefore, it only makes sense that some who are unequipped with healthier coping mechanisms will often turn to trying to escape these fears with drugs or alcohol. It is their natural defense.
Some may find that the traumatic event itself does not inspire cravings, but the aftermath is far more influential. Survivors of natural disasters may be more vulnerable to relapse as they struggle to cope with what has happened.
5 Ways to Stay Sober During a Natural Disaster
Have a network
One way that people are able to stay sober during a natural disaster is that they have a strong network of reliable friends, other individuals in recovery and even sometimes counselors they can stay in contact with. Keep your A-team on speed dial and stay in touch with them, even when the disaster is over.
This is pretty much always crucial, but we should emphasize it because too many people will overlook it when it matters the most. Stay honest with those around you about your emotions and how the disaster has affected you, especially when you are feeling like you are in a bad place.
Maintain a routine
Having a routine, even in the face of tremendous difficulties, can help you to retain some semblance of normalcy while dealing with a tragedy. When trying to stay sober during a natural disaster you may find comfort and coping skills in the simple things like taking care of your hygiene, exercising or even meditating. Have a healthy routine to fall back on when the dust settles.
Helping others is already a huge part of continued sobriety for a lot of people. Many recovery programs promote a life-style that suggests helping others and being of service. Do what you can to be there for those around you, and your community. However, always remember to take care of yourself as well. Don’t push yourself too far and avoid putting yourself in danger.
Find a support group
While support groups already exist for those in recovery, sometimes they are especially useful with trying to stay sober during a natural disaster. Don’t rush out in the midst of something dangerous trying to get to a meeting, but immediately after the traumatic events seek out a support group or some form of counseling to help you process the tragedy. Even if you don’t feel specifically vulnerable at the time, it is healthy and productive to try and connect with others in a time of crisis.
In fact, if not for you… do it for them.
There is often no way to predict how something so damaging will show up in your life and what it may do to you physically, mentally or emotionally. Yet, having an effective strategy in place might help you be ready for anything.
Do everything you can to make sure that you stay sober during a natural disaster, so that one tragedy doesn’t create another in your life.
Stay safe everyone!
In the face of great adversity and turmoil we are gifted the opportunity to be better than our anxieties and our traumas. Staying sober during a natural disaster may not seem as important as just staying alive, but for some of us it is essentially the same. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398