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Addiction Treatment

What Is Radical Acceptance?

What Is Radical Acceptance?

Radical acceptance is tool used in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), that is designed to keep pain from turning into suffering. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy in the late 1980s as a means to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. It combines standard CBT techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing with concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences to encourage acceptance. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in the following four key areas, as provided by the Linehan Institute:

  1. Core Mindfulness: skills focused on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in any given moment.
  2. Distress tolerance: skills focused on increasing an individual’s tolerance of negative emotions instead of attempting to avoid or escape them.
  3. Interpersonal effectiveness: skills focused on increasing an individual’s communication strategies.
  4. Emotion regulation: skills focused on helping an individual identify, name, and understand the function of emotions, and increasing one’s ability to regulate emotions. 

Radical acceptance, specifically, is a skill that is addressed in the distress tolerance module. According to VeryWell Mind, “Radical acceptance can be defined as the ability to accept situations that are outside of your own control without judging them, which in turn reduces the suffering that is caused by them.” Much like every component of DBT, radical acceptance is a skill that requires practice, as it involves letting go of the need to control a situation.

How to Practice Radical Acceptance

Marsha M. Linehan provides the following ten steps for practicing Radical Acceptance using DBT:

  • Watch for thoughts that you are fighting against reality. 
  • Remind yourself that reality cannot be changed. 
  • Acknowledge that something led to this moment and think about the cause of events that you are unable to accept. 
  • When you are in a situation that causes extreme emotions, try focusing on breathing deeply and examining the thoughts you are having (and let them pass).
  • List what your behavior would look like if you did accept the facts then act accordingly.
  • Create a plan of action for events that seem unacceptable, think about what you will do, and how to appropriately cope.
  • Practice a feeling of total and complete acceptance through positive self-talk and relaxation strategies.
  • Remain mindful of physical sensations throughout your body such as tension or stress.
  • Embrace feelings such as disappointment, sadness, or grief.
  • Accept that life is worth living even when experiencing pain. 

Radical acceptance is achieved when one lets go of the urges to fight reality, does not succumb to the need to respond with impulsive or destructive behaviors, and releases the bitterness that may be trapping an individual in a cycle of suffering. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Is Addiction A Disease?

Is Addiction A Disease?

Yes, addiction, also referred to as substance use disorder, is a mental health disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (often, dangerous, risky, and/ or unhealthy) regardless of the ensuing negative consequences. Engaging in habitual substance abuse is a slippery slope that can quickly lead to addiction. The type of substance abused, the duration of one’s substance abuse, the potency of the drug abused, one’s personal health history, as well as one’s family health history will all contribute to the length of time it may take for an individual to develop an addiction. An individual that struggles with addiction will put his or her need for satisfying a drug craving above all else in his or her life. Therefore, addiction has the propensity to affect every aspect of an individual’s life. It is important to note that addiction does not develop overnight, nor should an individual expect his or her recovery from addiction to occur instantaneously. The treatment process for recovering from an addiction will require steadfast dedication and will be a lifelong commitment.

Habitual use of any substance can lead to increased tolerance, meaning an individual will require more of the substance (e.g., higher dosage, frequency of use, etc.) to achieve the same feeling. When an individual constantly abuses drugs and/ or alcohol, his or her body must make accommodations to properly function with the substance present. When a substance that one’s body has become accustomed to functioning with is absent or has less of the substance in his or her system, it will react accordingly. Adverse withdrawal symptoms will ensue, and the individual will be unable to function optimally. When an individual is unable to stop using a substance without experiencing withdrawal symptoms, he or she has reached some level of dependence. An individual that struggles with drug and/ or alcohol dependence and continues to abuse drugs and/ or alcohol increases his or her susceptibility to developing a full-blown addiction

Risk Factors

The precise reason behind why an individual develops an addiction remains unknown. There are, however, several risk factors that have been reported to increase one’s propensity for developing an addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) these include environmental risk factors, genetics, drug of choice, method of use, and the age an individual started abusing drugs and/ or alcohol. Every individual is different and will have or lack various predispositions that can contribute to developing an addiction. Nevertheless, it is important to note that anyone can develop an addiction, regardless of social status, beliefs, or background. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Borderline Personality Disorder’s Effects on Relationships

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health disorder. It characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image issues, and difficulty managing emotions and behaviors, which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. The symptoms of BPD will often result in reckless and hasty actions, negatively affecting one’s relationships. The cause for borderline personality disorder remains unknown. However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” Though these factors can contribute to one’s susceptibility for developing BPD, exposure to one or more risk factors does not indicate an individual will inevitably to go on to develop borderline personality disorder. Most commonly, BPD develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset. 

Effects on Relationships

Borderline personality disorder directly affects how one feels about him or herself, one’s behavior as well as how an individual can relate to others. According to the DSM-5 key signs and symptoms of BPD that will have a direct effect on one’s relationships may include:  

  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation, sometimes referred to as splitting
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by family and friends
  • Impulsive behaviors resulting in dangerous outcomes (e.g., engaging in unsafe sex, reckless driving, abuse of drugs, etc.)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, affecting one’s moods, relationships, goals, values, and/ or opinions
  • Self-harming behavior (e.g., suicidal threats)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/ or boredom
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability and/ or anxiety lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days long
  • Dissociative feelings
  • Intense, inappropriate, and/ or uncontrollable anger, typically followed by feelings of guilt and/ or shame

People with borderline personality disorder have a more difficult time returning to an emotional baseline, which can make sustaining relationships challenging. The quick changing nature of BPD symptoms (e.g., emotional peaks and valleys) can lead to conflict-filled, chaotic relationships. Hence, people with BPD typically have rocky relationships with others, both platonic and romantic.

Treatment

Although BPD is a chronic condition, there are a variety of treatment options available for a person diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Treatment for BPD will help an individual learn strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively manage the symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, reducing the severity of symptoms experienced and increase one’s quality of life. Every individual is different and will require a somewhat tailored treatment plan when it comes to BPD. Often treatment plans include a combination of medication and psychotherapy (e.g., dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.). Some individuals that experience severe symptoms will require inpatient, intensive care, while others may never need emergency care or hospitalization. With proper treatment an individual can have healthy relationships despite BPD. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

male alcoholic

Alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease that will affect all areas of one’s life. According to the Mayo Clinic, “it is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptom when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” An individual that is addicted to alcohol will prioritize satisfying his or her alcohol cravings above all else. This can invariably lead to physical complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal problems, and more. There are a variety of treatment options available for individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder.

Detox

Prior to attending a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse must undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all abused substances. When an individual has habitually abused alcohol, his or her system will become accustomed to functioning with it present. When alcohol is removed from one’s system it will react accordingly and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Though the withdrawal symptoms that accompany detoxing from alcohol are not inherently life threatening, many can cause severe discomfort, and support throughout the duration of the detox program via a medically supervised detox is recommended. Subsequent to the detox process, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse should seek formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment. 

Treatment Options

Every person is different and will require a somewhat customized treatment plan when it comes to recovering from alcoholism. There are two main types of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs, which are inpatient treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment options require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program, whereas outpatient treatment options do not. Though the structure of the programs differs, both have the same primary goal: to help an individual become sober and healthy. Treatment programs can vary in length, typically ranging between twenty-one days long to three months long, in some cases longer. Each inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program is different. Substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs are often comprised of a variety of treatment methods (e.g. individual psychotherapy, group therapy, creative arts therapies, etc.). Both options, inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, can yield successful results, depending on the needs of the individuals. 

Aftercare

Developing an aftercare plan is an integral component of any type of formalized substance and/ or addiction treatment. An aftercare plan provides general suggestions and personal recommendations for an individual to refer to after he or she has completed the substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. An aftercare plan can be an excellent resource as it often includes relapse prevention strategies as well as provides tailored guidance for an individual to maintain continued sobriety.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.