Mental Illness and Addiction

Mental Illness and Addiction Relation

In Relation to Mental Illness and Addiction, How Do the Two Correlate?

With addiction and mental illness, the two particular conditions that were looking for are obviously anxiety and depression. Often times alcohol is used to assuage symptoms of a medical condition, for example, alcohol is used as a medication to decrease anxiety. Often times our patients use alcohol because they have rushing thoughts or anxiety or the inability to sleep at night so they will begin using alcohol in ever-increasing amounts so they can at least get some rest.

In reality what’s happening is they’re disrupting their sleep cycles because the use of alcohol prevents the brain from resting and prevents the brain from getting into a REM 4 sleep. What it’s actually doing is knocking the patient out so they believe they are resting, but what happens is you wake up even more fatigued and become more and more anxious and the only way to fix that is by consuming more alcohol. That then becomes a cycle of using medication to decrease the anxiety or depression and the increasing cycle then develops the dependency on the use of a substance to assist with their mental illness.

ATS Demographics

It’s extremely common that patients at a very early age, also the patients here, began using something at an early age. Age of onset at Addiction Treatment Strategies is about year 14 where our patients are using alcohol or marijuana to decrease symptoms. What we have found here are the most commons symptoms for our patients are anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for males. We then have a combination of anxiety, ADHD, and addiction and they all three seem to go with males.

Treat Co-Occurring Conditions

What we have to do is treat that co-occurring condition by addressing both the addiction issues, which is a neurobiological as well as a psychological issue, of anxiety and depression at the same time because as you decrease one, the other two may increase, hence co-occurring condition. What you have to be able to do is treat the whole patient for all of those symptoms at the same time so that the patient gets healthy and stable through an extended period of time and that takes a great deal of sophistication. Often times this extends twelve to eighteen months.

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How can a loved one help Opiate Addicts

How can a loved one help an Opiate Addict?

How can a loved one help an Opiate Addict?

That’s a very complicated question because addiction comes in varying degrees in terms that it occurs in a continuum. In the beginning, most people don’t know what it is or the severity of that addiction. Consequently, we don’t know how to treat it. As parents who are associated with someone, depending on the age, you’re a parent and that means you care deeply for the person in the situation. Usually, the parent keeps expanding their limit for what it is that they tolerate.

What is an opiate addict like?

Characteristic for a person who has an addiction, obviously a great deal of it is deceit because they have to be in a position where they continue to do or maintain the drug of choice that affects them neurologically. They understand they have to keep it from their parents because they know it’s illegal. The hard part is at what point does a parent step in, or in reality seek help?

Getting an Assessment is Critical

What I would say is, the sooner the better that you can get an assessment. When you have an addiction it’s not about whether you trust the person, it’s about what is the addiction? What is the neurobiology of the addiction doing to the person? The age of onset at which someone develops an addiction is anyone through the age of high school through the early twenties should be monitored carefully in terms of people having different options and in terms of how quickly someone becomes addicted.

Parents should be aware of that and if anything the most important thing parents can do is, even on your own, do some type of urine drug screen intermittently to see what types of substances that your child or loved one may be using. If there is an opioid for sure in their urine make sure you seek professional help as quickly as possible. Usually, that’s the beginning of a very complicated process that may take multiple years to remedy. So get professional help as quickly as you can.

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ATS 12 Step Therapy Co-Occurring Disorders

Key differences of AA and ATS 12 Steps

Key Differences Between AA and ATS Addiction 12 Steps

In some of the previous posts we’ve been looking at the differences in a twelve-step approach to addiction intervention as well as a cognitive behavior therapy approach. We were comparing and contrasting the two approaches. There’s three more to do and we’ll pick up with the AA approach in terms of step ten.

Step Ten AA vs. ATS

AA step ten says basically, “I contend you to take a personal inventory and when we were wronged promptly admitted it.” That’s a very sophisticated process in terms of patients with an addiction have very limited insight or introspection of why they’re doing what they’re doing and that almost takes a professional person to point out some of the ways in which they can look at whats happening.

At ATS we start with, “I will endeavor to consistently inquire as to my behavior and demonstrate an addictive behavior being that I have a tendency to be deceitful, dishonest, and manipulative”. What we’re doing there is including some of the operational definitions that are associated with addictive behavior but even with that component of step ten, by the time our patients get to step ten they’ve already engaged in a consistent amount of behavioral change. Before we get the cognitive components back online you have to have behavior online. Our behavioral intervention has a lot with whether people have a capacity to look at what it is they’re doing and that’s the upper part of the prefrontal cortex. Even though both of them are somewhat similar to the moralistic approach, it is very complicated because it requires the person to look at themselves subjectively and that’s too complicated to do on your own. You almost need a guided intervention with that one.

Step Eleven AA vs. ATS

Step eleven for AA is, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out”. That once again has a moralistic tendency to that where the individual is pretty much on their own with regards of their thoughts and their ability to pray and receive some type of intervention from their perception of whatever their idea of God means.

ATS step eleven says, “I recognize I will be improved through structure organization and discipline. I will seek to achieve a balance in my life through awareness of sleep patterns, exercise, and diet”. What we’ve done is taketh moralistic approach out of it and looked at behavioral structuring of an individual. When we say structure organization and discipline, what we’re trying to do is put a position for a person to respond consistently to an organized approach with their life. Structure organization and discipline means basically have a daily plan, get that daily plan rank ordered in regards of what you need to get accomplished, and then implement it. That is the essence of the scientific approach to any problem is to have some type of dependent variable where were manipulating another variable to see how effective am I doing this? Step eleven is the scientific approach where were interested in looking at the impact that sleep patterns have on someone’s behavior, what exercise has on someone, both mental and physical exercise, and the other patterns we’re looking at is diet. The foods that influence how well people are doing and certainly if you have an addiction we have a diet program that assists people in there are twelve or thirteen different foods we recommend they eat that promotes brain growth. That’s step eleven.

Step Twelve AA vs. ATS

Step Twelve for AA is, “ Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs”. That’s for sure an important part of any religious experience. Taking the word out to the masses to get them in a position where they can also respond.

ATS step twelve is, “ I will share my knowledge of my addictive behavior with others in an appropriate format that leads to understanding a behavior change”. The operative word for us would be behavior change. You need to be able to change behavior regardless of how it is you feel or how it is you that you think. Behavior change is what makes people stable so that they can react in a predictable fashion and be considerably less compulsive.

So as a result of all of these twelve steps, what we’ve done is balanced a moralistic approach to a behavioral neurological or scientific approach. It has far better outcomes and that’s basically in a summary the differences between AA and the ATS approach of the twelve steps.

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Do Interventions Work for Addiction Treatment

Do Interventions Really Work?

Do Interventions Work?

Intervention and the concept of intervention are popular on television, but in regards to clinical outcomes, it’s not particularly effective. The concept is being in a position where a number of people can encourage or coerce an individual to seek treatment. That has something to do with the belief that willpower has something to do with an addiction. In reality, willpower has nothing to do with an addiction.

What we’d like to be able to do is get someone into treatment who is unwilling to get to treatment. At the current time that’s difficult because the laws have not changed since the Communal Health Act in 1963. We no longer have the legal authority to get someone into treatment against their will. So if you really want good, strong clinical outcomes it would be to put people who have an addiction in treatment for a minimum of six to eight months, not residential treatment, but an outpatient treatment. This will put them in the position so they will have the cognitive skills to know they are disturbed or have an addiction because it may take a six-month program to get their attention.

By the very definition of addiction, being a chronic relapsing disease in which the structure and function of the brain have changed, it is the prefrontal cortex where people make a rational cognitive. The prefrontal cortex has been damaged at this point, they’re not able to think rationally. The power of the drug causes an impulsion and craving to use and the prefrontal cortex, in terms of willpower, isn’t even considered anymore.

Legal Processes Need to Change

We have to be in a position where we can save people’s lives virtually against their will. The only way it’s really going to be effective would not be intervention, but rather being in the position to mandate someone to get some sort of clinical help against their will and ATS thinks that’s really where the change needs to take place, on a legal process.

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Best Coping Strategies for Addicts During the Holidays Edwardsville IL

Coping Strategies for Addicts

What are some Coping Strategies for Addicts during the Holidays?

The holidays really create a lot of chaos because it changes people’s routine. We’re talking about the holidays basically from Thanksgiving to the last part of November to about the middle of January with New Year’s Eve. In terms of family life and employment, people are off of work and there’s a very complicated daily routine. So it’s very difficult to be in a position to take care of people who are in the process of recovery and they are needing routine at the time of recovery. People aren’t going to work nine to five, the temperature is changing, and we’re having early onset of darkness. All those things make it very complicated.

The essence of treating someone who has an addiction during that time is to make sure you have a daily schedule, a daily plan, and you are getting things accomplished. Make sure to have something to get accomplished in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. Those three things are really important and have some level of accountability that forces people to focus on consistent behavior. The holidays for sure for almost a two month period of time, things are chaotic with family life, people coming and going, so it’s really important to have a daily routine.

Here at ATS we really stress having a daily routine, that includes exercise every day, if you can get to the gym every day. It will release substances call BDF, which will grow your brain and improve your mood and self-esteem and make you feel overall better. So exercise in conjunction with other types of activities throughout the day, that you can have a checklist and have those things done everyday despite how you feel.

How Can Loved Ones Help Someone Struggling With Addiction?

Family members can assist with that by helping them devise what a checklist should be. Give them daily tasks that you want them to do, whether it’s helping around the house, make your bed, make sure you exercise, both physical and cognitive exercise. Whether it’s playing the piano or learn to play the fiddle, just doing something that helps your brain. The boredom or the lethargy that usually occurs at that time. Their time needs to b structured.

Anything that loved ones can do to structure their time or even spend time with them, even if it’s playing board games, all that is great. Anything you can do to encourage and get patients with an addiction engaged, well those are all positive things.

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Why is fentanyl dangerous

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Most individuals who have an addiction are looking to recreate the initial high they had the first time they tried it. What’s happening as a result of that is, people who are selling the drugs, manufacturing, or adding to heroin or other substances, whether they’re cutting it with doorman, cutting it with brick dust, or cutting it with baking soda, they are also adding fentanyl to it. Fentanyl is measured in micrograms which means its a hundred times or a thousand times more powerful than heroin itself.

Adding fentanyl to other drugs makes them lethal, as well. Since the FDA does not control heroin,  the use of heroin, or who is manufacturing it – what then happens is the heroine is getting stronger and stronger and there’s no way in the world to tell how much or what percentage of the heroin is present or how pure the heroin is. In addition, one cannot determine how much fentanyl has been added to a substance. It’s basically a roll of the dice to see what’s happening when someone ingests fentanyl.

The latest trend in adding fentanyl to a substance is the ignition of lidocaine. Lidocaine is making patients go through very severe withdrawals – so with the addition of both fentanyl and lidocaine, patients are upping their use of heroin at a lot quicker rate. This is increasing tolerance in the individual and also increases the potential for lethality.

With all these things, this is what’s dangerous about both fentanyl and heroin.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, read some of our previous posts to learn more or contact us at (618) 692-6880 or email!

Why Don't Addicts Just Stop

Why Don’t Addicts Just Stop?

Why Don’t Addicts Just Stop Drinking, Taking Pills, or Shooting Up?

If people could just stop using or quit using then they wouldn’t have an addiction. Consequently, the diagnostic criteria involve a compulsion and craving to use, that’s a neurological change in the brain. This is not something that has anything to do with willpower, it’s something that’s involuntary. People engage in all sorts of involuntary muscle movements.

In terms of compulsion, we do about 95% to all of our activities are a result of condition responses to things. People don’t actively think about how to turn left or turn right when driving a car, that’s a conditioned response where you calculate the speed of the automobile and what’s going on on the left, so your brain is already conditioned to do those things. You’re not actively thinking about driving when you’re driving. The same thing applies to an addiction. When you have an addiction, neurologically in your brain what’s happening is those things are going on full time. Your brain may be actively looking at the next time you can use drugs or what’s going on so that in couple with anxiety puts the person in a neurological position where the reward salience of the drug is a positive reinforcement on the subconscious level is overpowering the cognitive ability prefrontal cortex to down regulate or to inhibit those impulsive behaviors.

Addiction for sure is an impulsive behavior that gets people to use a substance to decrease that stress or anxiety they feel and they have no control whatsoever over that until they are treated successfully, which takes an appreciable amount of time, perhaps up to two years.

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Alcoholism Signs and Treatment

How Do You Recognize the Signs of Alcoholism and Help a Family Member?

That’s a difficult question. There is a number of variables, the age of the person, in terms of whether we’re talking about a young person sixteen or seventeen, or we’re talking about someone who’s in their thirties or forties. The most simplistic answer is if someone’s consuming a large amount of alcohol on a regular basis, perhaps, for example, they’re employed. They start missing work, their personal hygiene deteriorates, they no longer have the motivation to do anything other than drink, seek substances or their daily chores around the home start to fall off. All those things are for sure signs and symptoms in some of the elementary things. It’s primarily an inability to control the amount that they’re drinking with a continued increase in that volume and the inability and the inability to stop using.

Professional Treatment is the Way

It’s going to be very difficult to have that person seek treatment because, for the most part, the reward salience of that substance has now overpowered the part of the brain that’s responsible for regulations. The executive function of the prefrontal cortex is no longer able to stop the person from engaging in that behavior. Often times when that occurs the patient becomes extremely deceitful. Family members may know it, but the patient may not know they need treatment. So the most effective way to get those people involved in some type of treatment is to get them to a professional, have them, have them do a substance abuse assessment or a clinical history of what it is they’re consuming.

ATS Approach

What we look for here at ATS is what impact the drinking is having in four areas; health, legal, vocational, and relationships. Health-related issues, in terms of alcohol, what we’re looking for are elevated liver enzymes, we would send blood work off and urine work off, make sure liver enzymes are within normal limits. Legal implications, if they have a DUI or multiple DUIS or transportation of alcohol, those are always an issue. Vocational would cover if they have lost a job, are they at risk of losing a job as the result of their substance abuse, and is it interfering with a relationship.

Health, legal vocational, and relational issues are always questions we ask in an initial interview. Most places will do an interview for nothing or minimal cost to see if a person actually needs treatment.

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4 Tactics to Combat Opioid Crisis

What are Some of the Recommended Tactics to Combat the Opioid Crisis?

That’s a very complicated question only because any agency that’s been in place in regards with treatment recovery, we’ve been doing it the same way since the 1930s and it hasn’t particularly worked. The only difference is the severity of the drugs that we have now and the multiple options that people have. The lethality of heroin is a big problem because we’re losing close to fifty-five to sixty-five thousand people on an annual basis, which is more than we lost in twenty years in Vietnam. Those numbers are directly related to or attributed to a drug overdose.

Our experience here at ATS is that every person we lose directly to substance abuse overdose there are five people that die that are correlated with that whether they died of heart attack, shot in a drug bust or something like that. The cause of death may not be an opioid overdose.

A Need for Legal Changes

Significant changes have to be made both in the legislation as well as the availability of treatment. I don’t think the correct procedure is residential treatment, that’s the most costly way to treat someone and it’s also the least effective way. Going away for 30 days doesn’t do anything but keep people from using for 30 days. I believe what we need to do is set up a large number of intensive outpatient programs, make medical assistance available and then put people in a position where in order to receive their treatment they must be in compliance for treatment programs. There’s a lot of compliance with medical programs that are essential to keep people alive.

Outpatient Programs Over Residential Treatment

A combination of working with both drug courts and individuals who are in the correctional facilities as a result of their substance abuse problem should be mandated to attend minimum time in an outpatient program should be two years. Legislation should be changed so we can hospitalize people or put people in treatment against their will on a legal basis so you can mandate treatment because it’s not unusual for a patient to come here for 12 to 13 months before they began to realize how big of a problem they had. The neurological process wants the patient to keep that addiction. That seems to be a paradoxical situation in that we would think people would want to eliminate their addiction. Because of the structural changes in the brain, the compulsions, and the cravings, they’re going to engage in behaviors that are reflexes of an action. They’re not a cognitive process so what we have to do is a counterbalance that reflex, that impulse control disorder that gets people to continue using which then reinforces and conditions the neurological structure of the brain to continue using.

You Have to Treat the Whole Patient

We have to change legally, in terms of how to mandate people get treatment, we have to change the treatment format from a residential treatment to an intensive outpatient, I think we have to people engaged in treatment programming for an extended time, and then you have to work with patients on a co-occurring disorder  where we can treat anxiety, depression, and their addiction, as well as the family dynamics to help them become stable and healthy. You also need to focus on vocational choices and getting people in a position where they can maintain some level of stability by living alone and having jobs. You have to treat the whole patient. That’s what appears to be a monumental shift in programming, but in reality what its doing is treating the patient with what the patient needs through an extended amount of time and getting the patient engaged on a legal basis so their options are limited so that you can treat them and that’s for about a two year period of time.

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