The following is a collection of carefully curated articles and resources that you may find helpful as you navigate a difficult journey. We hope you will find solace in what we’ve provided. If you have comments or questions, please get in touch.
YOUR CHILD IS GOING TO TREATMENT: NOW WHAT? A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
By Jean Campbell, LCSW, TEP and Pamela C. Clark CADCII, ICADC
What can I be doing to help the other members of my family during this time? Siblings are often overlooked, and they need help too. Al-Anon, Alateen and Alatot, and other programs can be invaluable to help siblings process their experiences in a safe, supportive environment. We strongly recommend that parents get help for the siblings as well.
As a parent what can we do after treatment to prevent a return to active addiction? Recovery is unique to every individual, and it may take many years of vigilance and ongoing support to reinforce the new behaviors required to maintain continued sobriety. Recovery can be successful if the individual and the family understand the triggers that can cause a relapse and learn effective coping strategies to deal with these triggers when they arise. The truth is that because, so few family members get help to change their behavior, they go back to unconsciously enabling the recovering person. The more you as parents can do to change your behavior and set - and keep - clear boundaries, the greater your chances that the family can move forward in recovery together.
My child left school to go to treatment. Are there schools that offer recovery support? Yes. If your child is in college, there are over 140 colleges in the U.S. that have recovery support on campus where they can make new like-minded friends and engage in fun sober activities. To find a college near you go to collegiaterecovery.capacitype.com
. If your child is in high school you can find information on recovery high schools on the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) website, recoveryschools.org.
Another national organization committed to helping young people sustain their recovery is Young People in Recovery (YPR). For more information visit youngpeopleinrecovery.org.
We wish you and your loved ones success in treatment and recovery.
Jean Campbell, LCSW, TEP is a Licensed Clinician and a Trainer/ Practitioner of Psychodrama, Psychodramatic Bodywork® and Action Intervention Training™. She specializes in addiction recovery for the entire family, as well as trauma resolution. As Director of the Action Institute of California and Moonlight Workshops, she offers workshops for individuals, couples and families and trains clinicians in using action methods in the therapeutic process.
Pamela Clark, CADC II, ICADC is an internationally and California state Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor and is a certified Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response Trainer. She works for the nonprofit Transforming Youth Recovery, where she writes articles and develops programs and training workshops that have the power to eliminate stigma and educate the public about prevention, recovery, and educational recovery supports
A Monthly Column
By Dr. Asa Don Brown
THE ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY
"Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism."
Carl Gustav Jung
What is an addictive personality? Are you an addict if you use or rely upon something too much? Are you an addict if you prefer to spend time reading a book verses playing an online game? Are addictive behaviors related to a specific psychological personality?
Contrary to popular belief, research has been unable to identify an 'addictive personality.' While we understand the complexities of an addiction and addictive personality; addictions themselves have a variety of triggers that may spark an addictive habit. Psychologically, addictions and addictive behavior can be related to alcohol or a substance, a specific thing, an ideological perspective (e.g., religion, political) or an activity.
Why is it that addictive personalities are frequently attracted to similar stimuli? For a majority of people, when they consider an addict, they will inform you that an addict is someone who is physically and mentally dependent upon a particular substance, but rarely do we consider other forms of addiction. Why it is that substance abuse dominates the discussion of addiction? Simply put, substance abuse has a tangible and definable effect upon the life of an individual. Furthermore, when an individual is addicted to a
substance, they are typically unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse side-effects. "Drug addiction has been a stubborn problem for thousands of years, but only in the last generation have scientists come to understand clearly one of the reasons: It causes lasting changes in brain function that are difficult to reverse."
While we understand that the stimuli serves as a source of evoking a specific reaction or response within the pleasure center of the brain; research struggles to pinpoint why some individuals are capable of quitting while others are perceivably
unable to quit. What is it that causes one individual to girt his loins up and is capable of quitting, while
another individual struggles throughout his or her life? Does the ability to quit reflect upon an internal ability to prove resilient? Does familial support or the lack therein offer some explanation to why someone may be capable of quitting an addictive habit while others are not? We have a clear understanding that the addictive personality is seeking to stimulate the brain's pleasure center, but what about those who have seemed to sear this pleasure center. Why are they continuing to use substances or to pursue his or her addictive habit? What drives an individual who perceivably receives no pleasure from the addictive habit?
As previously mentioned, addictive habits have been a problem for humanity since the very inception of the human species. While not all individuals are addicted to legal or illegal substances, the cravings evoked from an addictive habit stimulate the same pleasure center releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. "When a human being or other animal performs an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens and produces pleasure. It serves as a signal that the action promotes survival or reproduction, directly or indirectly. The system is called the reward pathway."
The addictive personality does not have to crave the same addictive substance to receive the same pleasurable release. The addict is seeking to feel satisfied or fulfilled. The release of dopamine is a euphoric experience allowing for the individual to be in a state of intense excitement, joy, pleasure, and happiness. It is not unlike an individual winning a tournament, crossing the finish line, or finding some form of success or ultimate sense of achievement. It is that ultimate high that comes with feeling fulfilled, accomplished, and satisfied.
"Over fifty years ago the discovery that rats would work to electrically stimulate their brains suggested the intriguing possibility that bliss could t achieved through the use of 'pleasure electrodes' implanted deep within the brain. Subsequent research has failed to bring about brave new world of boundless pleasure, but more recent finding have started to throw new light on the intriguing links between brain mechanisms of pleasure and happiness. While we clearly understand that the addictive personality is searching for the ultimate rush and feeling of satisfaction, the specific location of brain's satisfaction center is not clearly understood.
The Rolling Stones nailed the addictive personality with the son Satisfaction:
I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try I can't get no, I can't get no...
The addictive personality commonly feels as though he or she cannot achieve, or that they seldom achieve, satisfaction in life.
What is the solution to resolving the need for an addictive personality? In the United States alone, we know that there are 2 million heroin and cocaine addicts, perhaps 15 million alcoholics, and tens of millions of cigarette smokers in the United States alone. No simple solution is in sight, but we know much more than we did 20 or even 5 years ago about how the brain responds to addictive drugs, and that knowledge is beginning affect treatment and prevention."
The addictive personality is not isolated to substance abusers, alcoholics, gamblers, and sexual pursuers; the addictive person may be made up of impulsive characteristics and is often layer with a compulsive behavior.
Addicts do not all look the same, nor are they all struggling economically, socially, or emotionally. If you were to consider for a moment the positive styles, traits, and behaviors of an addictive personality; then you may see that addictive behavior are intermingled throughout a majority of our society. Addictive styles, traits, and behaviors are a common core of successful entrepreneurs, entertainers and academic achievers.
While the neurological, biological and psychological community continue to research the addictive personality, it is encouraging that we are gaining on a clearer understanding of the addictive personality and the behaviors therein. The addictive personality' not unlike a majority of society, they are simply seeking to find place of satisfaction.
Paul D. Alleva, MSW
The definition of Entitlement:
the fact of having a right to something
the amount to which a person has a right
the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment
Being an owner and therapist at a substance abuse treatment center, I have seen more than my share of entitled people walking through the doors for treatment. It amazes me that people who were shooting heroin a week before being admitted could be so self-righteous and entitled, often trying to dictate their treatment and throwing wrenches in their path to sobriety right off the bat of admission. They quickly begin to inform the staff of what they are willing to do and abundantly what they are not willing to do while in treatment. News Flash entitled people, those in my experience who actually stay sober are those who have and continue to follow suggestions.
Entitlement is a defense mechanism for a fractured ego, poor self-worth, and a life spent receiving everything without a minute of working for it. They’ve lost the notion and the concept of being ‘humble,’ which has become more foreign to them than the Latin language (most of them would even tell you they can speak the Latin language if it would deter them from having to go to group at that particular moment). Entitlement is the notion that the entitled person should receive everything they ask for without having to do anything for it. They are also the first to relapse and the catalyst for bringing other people back into the abyss of addiction.
There seems to be a generation of entitled people. Entitlement spans across the generations. However, I’ve never seen such a large number of entitled people as I have recently in our current younger generation (ages 18-30). Perhaps it has to do with growing up in a world where information and technology drives the time and enables them the ability to receive whatever they wish at the touch of a button. Or perhaps the parenting styles and skills of today’s young parents have spoiled their children to the point where the entitlement reigns supreme across the country, or maybe it’s the government entitlements allowing people not to work for what they have after receiving a trillion in government assistance. A friend of mine during the last presidential election told me the story of his son voting for Obama saying, “why would I vote for anyone else; I don’t even have to work, and I can still get paid.” This is so disheartening- the fact that our nation has created such steep entitlements in the lives, brains, and hearts of our youth to the point when things don’t go their way, they truly have no idea how to fix it other than putting their hands out for another person to save their life. They have no notion or inkling on how to fix the problem themselves. No matter how we’ve come to this point, the fact of the matter remains that it is here and is steeped in the world of addiction. It is creating relapse after relapse and nightmare after nightmare and is the cross to bear for many therapists in treatment centers across the country.
Addressing the clients or patients ego is a paramount way of dealing and addressing entitlement issues. For every need, want, desire or request the entitled person asks for, counter the entitlement with an assignment or work to be completed in order for the person to receive what they are asking for. Always throw the request back on the client and never allow them to get something for free, teaching them to work for what they want and humbling their ego as much as possible. There’s no problem getting what you want if you work for it, it’s what this country has been based on over the centuries. Setting rules and parameters around the ego and entitlement begins to create a higher feeling of self-worth and initiates a good work ethic, humbles the ego, and changes the way the brain works. Setting rules will help strengthen the clients ability to maintain and achieve sobriety.
We need to teach these clients that hard work translates into dreams coming true and a life filled with joy and fulfillment. We must go through the darkness to find the light; this is the nature of the universe. Tapering the ego, working for what we want, and building self-value and self-worth lead to a strengthened core and framework for where our clients or patients can build a beautiful life.