Self-Care for Addiction Recovery: 30 Tips for Supporting Your Sobriety

Self-Care for Addiction Recovery: 30 Tips

When substance abuse takes over your life, it results in all the important things– your relationships, work, school, and your mental and physical health– taking a backseat. That’s why one of the most freeing aspects of recovery is getting back in the driver’s seat of your own life. However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the busyness of modern life and forget to take care of yourself. Especially because in the past, we’ve been in the habit of putting our wellbeing last. Using self-care in your addiction recovery can be a great method of prioritizing yourself and your wellbeing.

What is Self Care? 

Self-Care is a buzzy term these days and usually makes us think of someone taking a bubble bath or going to the spa. It can be those things, but it’s also so much more.

Self-care is any activity we do, on purpose, to better take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Think of it like recharging your battery. Acts of self-care can reduce anxiety, improve our mood, and is a great way to reconnect with ourselves. 

Above all, it’s about giving yourself permission to put yourself first. For addicts, putting themselves first is challenging because in the past they’ve prioritized drugs and alcohol over everything else. But recovery is about putting yourself and your wellbeing first, and self-care is a great tool for the addiction recovery process.

 

Why Self-Care is Important for Addiction Recovery

Because active addiction is a form of self-abuse and creates negative coping mechanisms for the stresses and challenges of everyday life, it results in self-harm. On the other hand, self-care is about rewiring those coping mechanisms in healthy ways that are kind to our minds and bodies. It is the opposite expression.

Taking the time to prioritize and care for yourself is a way to practice self-love and creates better self worth, self-esteem, and mental wellbeing. 

 

Incorporating Self-Care Into Addiction Recovery Plan

 

  1. Take Time for Self-Reflection

Firstly, spending a few minutes each day to check in with ourselves can be a very grounding practice that can deeply aid our recovery. 

Consider asking yourself: How am I feeling today? Have I learned anything about myself today? What am I grateful for today? Which actions did I take to strengthen my recovery today? Did I learn any new triggers today? 

Taking the time to answer ourselves honestly can be a helpful way of staying present in our daily lives. Which leads us to our second Self-Care suggestion…

 

  1. Keep a Journal 

Further to the above on Self-Reflection, taking time to write out our thoughts on paper is a great way to relieve a racing mind, identify triggers, and help us get to know ourselves better. It can be the classic “Dear Diary” or some people like to make bullet lists, keep gratitude journals, write stream-of-consciousness style– really, there’s no wrong way to do it so do whatever feels right.

 

  1.  Set Boundaries 

Learning to set boundaries is a key part of protecting your sobriety, which makes it one of the most important act of self-care you will practice. They can come in many forms: some are physical, like leaving a situation which risks your sobriety, and some are mental or emotional, such as telling someone when something doesn’t feel right. 

For example, in the past you may have had a friend or social group who either supported or joined in on your drug and alcohol use. Now, as a newly sober person, one of the most difficult parts of recovery may be realizing that those friendships no longer work in our new lives. In many cases, cutting off contact is necessary to protect our sobriety.

However, boundaries can also be less severe than cutting people off completely. Sometimes it is just about setting emotional boundaries, such as speaking up when someone violates your moral compass or says something that makes you feel bad. And of course, there are physical boundaries such as leaving if you find yourself in a situation where drugs and alcohol are being used. 

The most important part about creating healthy boundaries is not feeling bad about setting them. You are in control of your life and wellbeing, and you are responsible for it too.

  1. Get Outside

It’s free, it’s right outside your front door, and studies show that it improves mood, reduces stress, and may fight depression. So get outside and take a walk, a hike, a bike ride, or sit in the park and read a book.

Spending time in nature keeps you active and is great for our mental wellbeing. If you’re feeling low, restless, or struggling with drug cravings, nothing’s stopping you from lacing up your shoes and going out for a run. Furthermore, using meetup groups to get your outdoors time can be a great way to meet friends who fit into your new sober lifestyle. Bonus!

 

  1. Practice Mindfulness

So much of our life is run on auto-pilot. When you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, are you really thinking about brushing your teeth or are you thinking about your to-do list for the day? By always living in the future and worrying about our next task, we never live in the “now”. 

That’s where mindfulness comes in. It means being in the present moment, fully aware of where we are and what we’re doing. In other words, not being distracted by what’s next or what’s happening around us. 

Living in the “now” is often difficult for those in recovery. Recovery writer Beverly Conyers puts it best: “Most of us in addiction recovery are former escape artists looking to avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with daily life. We’re good at not being there. Being present helps us learn to cope with reality as it actually is—not how we perceive it.” Consequently, mindfulness becomes that much more important. When practiced regularly, it helps us better cope with what comes our way each day.

Mindfulness: Live in the Moment - Self-care for addiction recovery

Next time you’re doing something mundane, try to be in the moment. Putting your shoes on? Think about when you were a kid learning how to tie them– bunny ears, loop-de-loop, etc. Feel the texture of the laces and the sensation of your shoe enveloping your foot. 

It might sound silly but mindfulness is a practice. Therefore, taking that extra second to be in the present moment can be very grounding. The more we do it, the more we build our mindfulness muscles and those benefits will spill over into our daily life. 

 

More Self-Care for Addiction Recovery Tips

Calming Activities

1. Get lost in a book. 

2. Take your lunch break outside. And note how much better you feel afterward.

3. Set your alarm early in order to watch the sunrise.

4. Listen to a bedtime story. Yes, really! Calm, the meditation app, offers Bedtime Stories for Grownups, read by actors like Matthew McConaughey and radio personalities like Laura Sydell of NPR. (Plus, it doesn’t always have to be bedtime since stories are great anytime!)

5. Turn off your phone for an hour and feel the power of some peace and quiet.

6. Go to bed early or sleep in. And don’t feel guilty about it!

7. Test out aromatherapy. They smell great but more importantly, essential oils have proven benefits to our mood and mental health. 

8. Make a cup of coffee or tea but instead of drinking it on the fly, sit down and take the time to savor it (hello, mindfulness).

9. Do some doodling! And get a doodle book to keep them all in. 

Personal Growth Activities

10. Write a list of the things you like about yourself (and then tape it to the your mirror!).

11. Listen to a guided meditation. Apps like Headspace are great for this and so is Youtube.

12. Know your burn-out signs, then learn to respect them.

13. Close your eyes for 10 seconds and breathe deeply. After that, try doing it for 20 seconds, then 30 and so on. 

14. Try Breathwork. There are tons of tutorials online and it is of great help to lots of mental health problems. For example, did you know the practice has been associated with reduction in anxiety and stress in studies? 

Productive or Physical Activities

15. Do some meal prep. It works double duty by saving time and it improves your health. In addition to all those, it saves money because you aren’t eating out or wasting food. Bonus!

16. Declutter your closet and donate any unwanted items to charity. You get a double feel-good moment by giving to others in need and having an organized space. 

17. Or similarly but less ambitious, clean out just one single drawer. Ahhh the calm feeling of opening a newly organized drawer…

18. Learn a new skill on sites like SkillShare or YouTube, such as painting or bookkeeping.

19. Get a workout in. For example, hold a plank for a few minutes and done! Five minutes, ten minutes, an hour– anything is beneficial.

20. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start cleaning your space. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish in such a short amount of time. 

Social Activities

21. Connect with others in recovery. Making friends is certainly a great way to support your recovery since you can relate to each other’s experiences, struggles, and triumphs.

22. Go to church, temple, or any place of worship or spirituality that fits your beliefs and religious views (even just virtually for now!). 

23. Similarly, going to a meeting can be a great way to get extra support for your mental health and commitment to sobriety (again with the virtual option being a great choice).

24. Write a review of a business you love and spread some positivity!

And Most Importantly…

25. Lastly, if you are in need of extra support, ask for the help you need (see below). 

 

When Self-Care Isn’t Helping

We hope you’ve found this article on using self-care for addiction recovery support. However, while self-care can be a great practice for your mental health, it is not a magic pill. If you find yourself needing help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Harmony Recovery Group. Our kind and supportive staff are always here for you. Call us anytime at (866) 461-4474.

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241490/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/

Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating Disorders Treatment | Harmony Recovery Center

Eating disorders are unhealthy patterns of eating that are bound by obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors. Although these disorders tend to be more common among young women, men and people of any age can be affected by them. 

In any case, people who suffer from these conditions may engage in a variety of behaviors around their eating habits, body shape, and weight. And unfortunately, many also turn to substance abuse as a means to cope. Or, in some cases, it may even help them in their quests, such as to control appetite or increase strength and endurance.

Eating Disorder Basics

There are several different forms of eating disorders, and here are a few of the most common:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is characterized by self-induced starvation, skipping meals, eating very little, and sometimes excessive exercise or vomiting up the minimal amount of food that they do eat.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimics use purging as a means to maintain weight. This approach might include vomiting, laxatives, or both to prevent the calories they eat from making them fat. Bulimia is closely associated with bingeing, and in fact, it is often hallmarked by a binging-followed-by purging cycle—but not always.

Binge Eating

Binge eating, referenced above, is a common form of an eating disorder. At its heart, it is characterized by uncontrollable eating, which can continue to the point that it becomes dangerous. Depending on how often a person binges, whether or not they purge, and how active their lives are, he or she may or may not be overweight.

Compulsive Eating

Compulsive eaters are less likely to purge their food and are frequently obese. They may be house-bound and need considerable care from others in their daily lives just to get by. For them, food is the ultimate comfort and not merely a means to sustain their existence. Like a drug addict is obsessed with heroin, their drug of choice is food, and lots of it.

These disorders can be very stressful, painful, and even life-threatening. While the etiology of eating disorders is not entirely understood, experts believe that they are related to psycho-emotional problems, such as those caused by deep-seated issues or trauma in childhood. These problems can be exacerbated by the media’s obsession with beautiful, perfect-looking celebrities, and unrealistic expectations for themselves and others.

Finally, many people with these problems also have body dysmorphic disorder, a condition in which they are obsessed with some part or parts of their bodies, which they deem to be severely flawed, even though others frequently disagree with their perception.

Eating Disorders Treatment | Harmony Recovery Center

The Role of Drug Abuse and How Two Disorders Interact

Like all psychological disorders, the existence of an eating disorder will increase the risk that a person will try to self-medicate with substances to ease some of their distress. And like all people who abuse drugs or alcohol, once they get used to the pleasant chemical changes these substances provide, they are setting themselves up to become dependent on them, and, ultimately, develop a full-blown addiction.

And as noted, some drugs yield benefits for those suffering from an eating disorder. For example, the abuse of stimulants, such as Adderall, meth, or cocaine, is not uncommon. These drugs can suppress appetite and increase energy at the same, offering the person a double-whammy that can help them feel good and active even though they are not eating.

And despite the many calories that alcohol has, it can also be useful for people with eating disorders by lowering their inhibitions or relieving stress surrounded by food intake. 

As a side note, a relatively recent phenomenon that has come to light is often referred to as “drunkorexia.” This term is used to describe a person, usually female, who consumes most of their calories in the form of alcohol. Someone who operates like this can indeed stay thin and also buzzed all the time. Amy Winehouse, the famous blues/jazz singer, was often touted as having this unique condition, as she was always extremely thin and frequently intoxicated. She died in 2011 of alcohol poisoning.

In one study, researchers found that people who had eating disorders were as much as five times likely to abuse substances when compared to the rest of the population. Conversely, more than one-third (35%) of those who abused drugs or alcohol suffered from eating disorders, compared to just 3% of the general population.

Sadly, individuals with eating disorders often consider drugs and alcohol beneficial because of their ability to make things easier for them, at least temporarily, and possibly in more than one way. But drugs and alcohol deceive us into thinking this is true. They can alter the brain in profound and sometimes irreversible ways, and the people experiencing them may not realize that this is happening.

Moreover, substance use disorders can develop rapidly in those who are particularly susceptible, all while the person thinks their drug or alcohol use is under control, or they can stop any time they want.

Getting Integrated Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders Treatment

Eating Disorders Treatment | Harmony Recovery Center

Living with any form of an eating disorder can be extremely challenging and stressful. If a person is compelled to engaging in self-medicating using drugs and alcohol, it’s clear that their condition causes a significant amount of pain. For this reason, the person may be willing to do nearly anything to make themselves feel better.

Fortunately, individuals who suffer from eating disorders can get better when they seek the right kind of care. Recovery rates for those who undergo comprehensive treatment programs, in general, have high rates of short- and long-term recovery.

With the right kind of therapy, people with eating disorders can learn the importance of proper nutrition, and how to consume food more reasonably. But when substance abuse is being used to dull negative feelings or trauma that are underlying causes of an eating disorder, this can significantly impede the healing process. 

It is, therefore, vital to treat both conditions simultaneously to foster the best outcomes. A person who relapses back to actively engaging in substance abuse is also far more likely to return to eating disorder habits. Moreover, re-engaging actively in either disorder can destroy one’s feelings of control and willpower, so people can easily find themselves reverting to poor eating after a drug or alcohol relapse.

What’s more, individuals who are in recovery from an active eating disorder might continue to encounter intense cravings for drugs when faced with triggers. For example, if they dependent on wine or a glass of beer to make dinner less stressful, when this time comes around, a relapse into both bad habits may be imminent when a person hasn’t developed an entire set of coping skills to deal with these problems.

Because these disorders are closely related, interact, and are grounded in many of the same underlying issues, they may be hard to disentangle. That said, comprehensive treatment programs, such as those offered by Harmony Recovery Center, can effectively address both of these disorders, as well as all aspects of a person’s health and well-being. And fortunately, these conditions can be treated with the same therapies and services, and both can be combated at once.

Our center offers the following programs, therapies, and services, and much more:

  • Partial hospitalization
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group support
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health, wellness, and nutritional education
  • Activities including art and music therapy
  • Aftercare planning

If you or someone you love is suffering from both an eating disorder and substance abuse, please know that you don’t have to do this on your own. Please contact us as soon as possible and discover how our programs can help you free yourself from the unhealthy and potentially life-threatening habits that bind you!

We are here to help you recover! Call us today!

Suicidal Depression and Substance Abuse

Suicidal Depression and Substance Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center

It is not uncommon to encounter feelings of depression while in recovery from addiction, but at what point do those feelings become dangerous and require professional help? And how can you tell if someone you care about is suicidal?

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Nearly 45,000 people took their own lives in 2016, which was double the number of people killed by homicides. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also reports that people between the ages of 18-25 have the highest rate of severe suicidal ideations and tendencies.

Suicidal Ideations and Behaviors Among U.S. Adults

What’s more, the rates of death due to suicide only include the number of fatalities and not the attempts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that two-thirds of people who contemplated suicide in 2014 did not devise an actual plan to commit suicide. Also, most people (8 out of 9) who had thoughts of suicide did not attempt it.

This means the number of adults in the U.S. who are at risk for suicide is significantly higher than the fatalities occurring each year. One of the primary factors that contribute to a person becoming suicidal is major depression. The rate of depression is 2-4 times higher in people who are struggling with substance abuse.

Substance Abuse and Suicide

According to an article in Psychology Today (2014), 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. The most common substances associated with suicide attempts are oxycodone, heroin, and alcohol. These are all depressants and work to lower inhibitions, which, hypothetically, could compel someone who has considered suicide to actually go through with it.

The article goes on to say that the suicide rate among persons with untreated substance use disorders may be as high as 45%—and only about 1 in 10 people with addictions receive treatment. So, when considering how substance abuse increases the risk of suicide, we should also take note of how the stigma and shame that comes with addiction prevents many people from feeling comfortable seeking help.

Feeling hopeless and helpless, many people may find suicide a logical solution to the problem. Depression, substance abuse, and the risk of suicide are all profoundly connected. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 90% of the people who take their own lives in the U.S. are suffering from depression, a substance abuse disorder, or a combination of these issues.

Suicidal Depression and Substance Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center

Intentional vs. Unintentional Overdoses

Healthline defines overdose as “taking too much of a substance, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, legal, or illegal.” Due to the nature of overdose, it’s often difficult to determine if a death was deliberate or unintentional. Coroners can only consider the evidence and put forth an educated guess.

There’s also a grey area between intentional and accidental—it’s called “apathy.” Feelings of apathy are widespread among people who are depressed and/or abuse substances. This feeling of “I don’t care if I live or die,” or throwing caution to the wind when using drugs or alcohol, is more prevalent than many would like to think.

Moreover, a mother who refuses to believe her deceased daughter (by overdose) would deliberately kill herself may only be half right. It could very well be that the daughter didn’t set out to die, but really didn’t care if she lived, either, and therefore, was particularly reckless in her substance abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), unintentional overdoses are those in which a drug, too much of a drug, or the wrong drug was inadvertently consumed. This can occur either by a person’s own volition or during a medical procedure. Incidents of intentional overdoses are associated with evidence of the desire to commit self-harm.

Depression Increases the Risk of Substance Abuse

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports that persons who have been diagnosed with a mental health problem at some point in their life consume more than two-thirds (69%) of the alcohol in the U.S. and 84% of the cocaine. The link between depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional concerns has been well-established in studies.

People with a mental illness that do not receive the appropriate treatment may be more likely to resort to the abuse of substances as a means to escape adverse thoughts and feelings and self-medicate. Often, this attempt to relieve symptoms fails and only serves to exacerbate problems over time, and perpetuates a downward spiral of addiction and misery.

Addiction Recovery and Suicide

Although completing an addiction treatment program is a magnificent accomplishment, people transitioning from a recovery center back into the real world often encounter intense feelings of depression.

Even after weeks or months of sobriety, a moment of tragedy or despair could drive a person to relapse and reignite the belief that their only destiny is death or a life of neverending substance abuse. While being treated in a center, patients have continuous support. When left to their own devices after treatment, feelings of depression can easily develop into suicidal ideations.

What You Can Do

Suicidal Depression and Substance Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center

Suicide prevention needs a comprehensive approach, which is best managed under the guidance of professionals.

Common signs of suicide include the following:

  • Expressing feelings about wanting to die or to commit suicide
  • Looking for a way to commit suicide
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, helpless, or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or experiencing intolerable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing and becoming isolated from others
  • Exhibiting rage
  • Reacting with extreme mood swings

If you believe your loved one is in danger, you should immediately call 911 or emergency service. If you suspect your loved one is using drugs illicitly or is an alcoholic and is at risk for self-harm, it is best to plan an intervention to stop the vicious cycle before it gets any worse.

Getting Treatment for Suicidal Depression and Addiction

When a person suffers from a substance use disorder and a mental illness such as major depression, this combination of symptoms is referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Treatment for a dual-diagnosis requires careful planning and an integrated approach, ensuring that both conditions are treated simultaneously.

For example, a treatment plan may include antidepressants to reduce depressive symptoms, as well as medication for the treatment of opioid or alcohol use disorders. Furthermore, research shows that medication is most effective when an individual concurrently receives counseling and behavioral support. Many people find that undergoing intensive treatment is necessary to overcome addiction and learn healthy coping strategies for depression.

Harmony Recovery Center employs a caring team of medical professionals trained to deliver these therapeutic services to clients with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to helping each individual we can by providing them with the tools, education, and support they so direly need to achieve abstinence, prevent relapse, and experience a long, fulfilling life.

Call us today and discover out how we can help you or a loved one begin the journey to recovery!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How to Get Clean and Sober

Failure to Launch Syndrome and Addiction

Failure to Launch Syndrome and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Research has shown that the highest percentage of people seeking addiction treatment are young adults aged 18-25. When examining this population as a whole, a prevailing trend begins to emerge. Young adults have been increasingly suffering from what is known as “failure to launch syndrome.”

“Failure to launch” is a phrase that is commonly used to describe the hardships and challenges encountered by modern young adults during the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. Moreover, this is a stage of development in which the young adult should be transitioning to greater independence, life direction, self-sufficiency, and responsibility.

Signs of Failure to Launch Syndrome

Common signs of failure to launch syndrome include the following:

  • Dropping out of school or experiencing a significant decline in academic performance
  • Returning to live at home after attempts to live independently were unsuccessful
  • Being consistently unemployed, underemployed, or only minimally employed
  • Contributing little financially or emotionally to family or others
  • Being withdrawn or absent, and isolating oneself
  • Spending a considerable amount of time partying
  • Abusing substances, particularly marijuana, opioids, or alcohol
  • Lacking motivation, direction, or purpose
  • Lacking emotional range or expression
  • Struggles to express wants, needs or fears
  • Having little or no desire for greater independence or responsibilities
  • Having feelings of nihilism or apathy
  • Exhibiting social anxiety
  • Being inactive or viewed as lazy by others

Who Fails to Launch?

Failure to launch syndrome may be experienced by those individuals who never went to college or were not successful in their academic endeavors. They are either unemployed, or do not make enough money to live on their own, and therefore, must partially or fully depend on the support of their parents.

This syndrome is all based on the idea that during the period of growth when a person is learning necessary life skills, emotional regulation, and decision-making, these individuals should, essentially, “launch” into adulthood. Unfortunately, however, many young adults face barriers and difficulties during this stage that somehow impede their launch into adulthood.

Many parents of adult children who are addicted to drugs or alcohol find similar patterns in their children’s behaviors and attitudes that could accurately be described as a failure to launch. Often, the initial stages of this lack of development onset early in childhood and worsen during adolescence.

Children that grow into young adults that have launched successfully have clearly developed the necessary skills, fortitude, and abilities needed to succeed. They value independence and are motivated to move forward in life and into adulthood. Adult children that have failed to launch have not, for whatever reason, completed the process of maturation and growth.

Failure to Launch Syndrome and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Signs of Enabling Failure to Launch Syndrome

When an adult child is struggling in their life endeavors, it’s normal to want to intervene and help him or her. Sometimes, however, parents go a bit too far. When a parent is emotionally invested in a situation, especially if their child is suffering from addiction, the lines between helping versus enabling them often become blurred.

There are some common signs of enabling:

  • The parents take care of the adult child’s responsibilities—paying their bills, cooking all their meals, doing their laundry, etc.
  • The parent consistently lends money to the adult child because they are unemployed or minimally employed.
  • The child doesn’t show respect for the parent unless they want something and exhibit feelings of entitlement.
  • The parent allows them to live at home without contributing to the household financially or by doing chores.

In addition to encouraging an adult child to seek treatment for their addiction, there are other healthy ways to help him or her without enabling, such as the following:

  • Do not wait on them hand and foot regarding cooking, cleaning, etc.
  • Do not try to solve their problems—try to let them figure it out on their own.
  • Don’t allow them to live with you if they are not contributing to the household in some significant way—require them to be employed or continue their education.
  • Do not pay their bills or expenses—they should able to pay for their own gas, food, clothing, etc.
  • Remember that you have a right to say no in any given situation—be strong if he or she begs you to do things for them that they should be doing for themselves.

Addressing Addiction and Failure to Launch Syndrome

As noted, addiction treatment centers are saturated with the young adult “failure to launch” population. Just as those who experience failure to launch syndrome exhibit certain characteristics, those suffering from addiction also have similar traits. These two populations often mirror and drive one another in a manner that contributes to the sustainment of both behaviors.

Also, enabling families often provide a comfortable environment for young adults who suffer from both addiction and failure to launch syndrome. In essence, they allow these two sets of behaviors to thrive unfettered. In turn, this has additional adverse effects on those young people when it comes to fostering growth, self-confidence, and quality of life.

For this reason, when treating addiction in the young adult population, it is critical to offer integrated treatment that addresses failure to launch syndrome as well as the problems associated with it. These may include feelings of entitlement, enmeshed or dysfunctional family dynamics, and enabling loved ones. Also, life skills training and educational and vocational goal setting are vital.

A reputable, comprehensive addiction treatment program that deals with young adults must be able to address both the addictive behaviors and “failure to launch” challenges. This means offering services that concentrate on core issues and underlying causes and conditions. It also means fostering internal motivation and executive functioning.

Failure to Launch Syndrome and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

These programs help patients in early recovery enter collegiate life or the workforce while learning and exercising the necessary skills to reach their objectives. They teach them how to better cope with stressors and challenges in a safe and supportive clinical environment.

If a treatment program only focuses on substance use, the same issues that prompted and exacerbated an individual’s addiction will still be present. Failure to address these problems will ultimately undermine the person’s recovery.

By addressing both the addiction and the behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs of the “failure to launch” population during treatment, clients have the opportunity to learn and practice essential life skills and engage in emotional regulation. This practice helps them to foster personal and professional relationships and the motivation to move forward from a state of dependence to a state of independence.

Unless a person with an addiction can move through the important steps of emotional and life development related to becoming an independent adult, there is little hope that he or she will be able to sustain lasting recovery. Moreover, by addressing the underlying causes of both and failure to launch syndrome, a young adult can be given the necessary tools required for a fulfilling life, and learn the practical application of those tools to launch themselves into independent adulthood.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or someone you know needs help related to drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, please contact us today! Harmony Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive and effective addiction treatment programs available that address all manners of substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral issues.

We are committed to ensuring that our clients are provided with all the tools they need to experience a full recovery and sustain long-term sobriety and wellness!

Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction

Borderline Personality | Harmony Recovery Center

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a psychological condition that causes severe emotional dysregulation. A person with BPD experiences emotions with much higher intensity than those without BPD. Moreover, a person with BPD’s feelings last longer, and it is more difficult to return to an emotional baseline after an event triggers dysregulation.

A person living with the emotional dysregulation of borderline personality disorder may experience by the following:

  • Impulsivity
  • Negative self-image
  • Volatile, intense, and short relationships
  • Emotional fragility
  • Vulnerability to stress

Furthermore, the emotional strain of BPD may become so great that the person living with it resorts to dangerous or self-harming behaviors, such as cutting oneself.

Nearly 75% of all people diagnosed with BPD are women. Recent studies, however, suggest that men may be correspondingly affected by BPD but are often misdiagnosed with another condition such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Key Signs and Symptoms

Individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to experience wide mood swings and exhibit insecurity and instability.

  • Desperate efforts to avoid abandonment by friends and family.
  • Unstable relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation. This is sometimes referred to as “splitting.”
  • A skewed and unstable self-image that greatly impacts moods, values, opinions, goals, and relationships.
  • Impulsive, risky behavior that can have dangerous outcomes, such as unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
  • Self-harming behavior including cutting and suicidal threats or attempts.
  • Periods of severely depressed mood or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
  • Frequently being bored or feeling empty.
  • Inappropriate or uncontrollable rage often followed by shame and guilt.
  • Dissociative feelings – disconnecting from one’s thoughts or sense of “out of body” type of feelings and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also result in brief psychotic episodes.

Causes

There is no one exact cause of BPD, but rather several contributing factors that include the following:

Brain function – Researchers have found that emotional regulation system may be different in people who experience BPD, suggesting there may be a neurological explanation for at least some symptoms.

Genetics – Although no specific gene or gene profile has been shown to be the direct cause of BPD, studies have suggested this disorder has strong hereditary links. Moreover, BPD is about five times more prevalent among those who have a first-degree relative with the condition.

Environmental factors – Persons who have experienced traumatic events in their youth, such as physical or sexual abuse during childhood, are at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder.

Addiction

Borderline Personality | Harmony Recovery NC

Rage. Instability. Impulsivity. Mood swings. These are characteristics that make people with BPD vulnerable to substance abuse, as well as promiscuity, eating disorders and other compulsive behaviors.

According to a 2014 study, borderline personality disorder affects an estimated 2.7% of adults, and more than three-quarters (78%) of adults with BPD also develop a substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives.

“These persons are more impulsive and clinically less stable than BPD patients without substance dependency. They display suicidal behavior to a greater extent, drop out of treatment more often, and have shorter abstinence phases. The combination of borderline personality disorder with addiction requires a special therapeutic approach.”

A substance use disorder is characterized by the habitual use of alcohol or drugs that causes significant impairment, including health problems and failure to meet major responsibilities at school, work, or home.

Treatment for Borderline Personality and Addiction

Borderline Personality | Harmony Recovery NC

Persons who suffer from both BPD and addiction require a comprehensive treatment approach that concentrates on both conditions simultaneously. Treating addiction without targeted the main underlying cause of substance abuse will serve only to mitigate the symptom temporarily.

BPD patients who also suffer from addiction are known as some of the most difficult patients to treat – but it CAN be done.

Both BPD and addiction can be approached using psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. One of the essences of CBT is the learning of healthier coping skills and can be geared toward both addiction (coping with triggers) and BPD (coping with emotional dysregulation.)

While there is no one medication specifically designed to treat BPD, there are several that can treat some of the core symptoms, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Symptoms of addiction, such as cravings, can often be treated with pharmaceuticals as well, such as naltrexone in the case of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

We offer comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for persons diagnosed with both BPD and substance abuse in both residential and intensive outpatient formats. Our inpatients receive around-the-clock medical supervision and support, while outpatients take advantage of greater scheduling flexibility to attend to essential life responsibilities outside the center.

And because recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, we also offer aftercare planning services and alumni activities for former patients that foster long-term recovery goals and peer support.

Types of Depression and Addiction

Types of Depression and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Types of Depression and Addiction – As a condition that impacts more than 16 million adults, major depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the U.S. Those who are “high-functioning” despite their depression appear to live relatively normal lives, yet they secretly struggle with feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and low motivation.

Nevertheless, many others are so intensely affected that they can’t get out of bed for days, weeks, or even months, and may engage in self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from depression also choose to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, and this frequently leads to chemical dependence and addiction.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a prevalent and potentially severe mental health disorder that adversely affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. Depression induces feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable. It can result in a myriad of emotional and physical problems and can impair a person’s capacity to function normally at home, school, work, or in social situations.

It is important to note that most people, at one time or another, will experience feelings of sadness. Depression differs from these otherwise normal feelings in that it often lacks any obvious situational cause. Moreover, in cases where depressive symptoms do appear to have a cause, they persist for longer than expected, even after that seemingly obvious cause is addressed and rectified.

Depression symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include the following:

  • Feeling sad and exhibiting a low mood
  • Lack of enjoyment from or interest in hobbies and activities once deemed important
  • Changes in appetite, or weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy or increased fatigue and lethargy
  • Increase in physical activity that has no real purpose (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing)
  • Slowed movements and speech, as observed by others
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Re-occurring thoughts of suicide or death

Symptoms must persist for at least two weeks to qualify for a diagnosis of depression.

Types of Depression

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a life-altering condition that affects sufferers daily. Of the many types of depression, this type is the most intense and most debilitating, as well as the most frequently diagnosed.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Dysthymia is a mild-to-moderate type of depression that presents as a limited number of depressive symptoms experienced consistently for a period of at least two years. Dysthymia can be somewhat debilitating and has a distinct effect on energy levels, motivation, and emotions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This form of depression produces symptoms comparable to major depression, but usually only during the winter months when days are short, sunlight is less accessible, and individuals are forced to spend considerable time indoors.

Types of Depression and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome that is characterized by disturbing mood swings, and symptoms that may resemble major depression.

Postpartum Depression

Occasionally women experience deep depression following childbirth, although some symptoms may begin during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is a potentially serious disorder that can impact a mother’s ability to care for herself and her children and, in severe cases, cause suicidal or homicidal ideations.

High-Functioning Depression

Individuals with high-functioning depression can encounter a wide range of symptoms of varying levels of intensity. But, despite this depression, they are still able to maintain employment and personal relationships, handle parenting and household duties, and typically function in a way that appears normal. However, this type of depression can take a heavy emotional toll on sufferers over time, and they are usually unable to maintain this level of functioning indefinitely.

Treatment for Depression and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are very common among those who are struggling with a depressive condition. Indeed, an estimated 25% of adults with a mental health condition also suffer from a substance use disorder. When an individual experiences both depression and addiction, this is referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

All types of depression are associated with an increased risk of accidental injury, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. When drug or alcohol abuse occurs in combination with depression, risks to a person’s physical and emotional well-being increase exponentially. Fortunately, both addiction and depression are very treatable conditions when the right approach is employed.

By enrolling in a specialized treatment program, clients can avoid the potentially devastating effects of depression and addiction, and ultimately achieve the healthy, satisfying life they deserve. Harmony Recovery Center offers a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment as well as therapeutic care for co-occurring mental illness. We provide evidence-based services vital to the recovery process, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder in addition to a mental health condition such as depression, please contact us today. Discover how we help people recover and develop the tools they need to sustain long-term sobriety and wellness!

Cluster A Personality Disorders and Addiction

Cluster A Personality Disorders and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Cluster A Personality Disorders and Addiction – A personality disorder is a profoundly ingrained pattern of behavior that deviates widely from the standards of generally accepted behavior. Signs of this condition are usually apparent by adolescence, and cause chronic difficulties in interpersonal relationships and/or functioning in society.

The four core features of personality disorders include the following:

  • Distorted thinking patterns
  • Problematic emotional responses
  • Dysregulated impulse control
  • Interpersonal problems

These four features are present in all personality disorders. Before a diagnosis can be confirmed, a person must display significant and persistent difficulties in two or more of those four areas.

These four essential features combine in a variety of ways to form ten specific personality disorders as identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Each disorder lists criteria that reflect the perceptible attributes associated with that disorder.

To be diagnosed with a distinct personality disorder, an individual must meet the minimum number of criteria designated for that disorder. Also, to meet the diagnostic requirements of a psychiatric disorder, the symptoms must result in functional impairment or distress. This means the symptoms are reported as being distressing to the person with the disorder and make it difficult for him or her to function in society appropriately.

The Three Clusters

The ten different personality disorders are sorted into three clusters based on descriptive similarities in each cluster. These include the following:

  • Cluster A (odd, eccentric)
  • Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, and erratic)
  • Cluster C (anxious, fearful)

Of note, a person can be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder. Research has found that there is a propensity for personality disorders that are grouped into the same cluster to co-occur. There is an alternative model in development that aims to reduce this overlap by using a dimensional approach versus a categorical one.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A is referred to as the odd, eccentric cluster. It includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. The common traits of personality disorders in this cluster are social ineptness and withdrawal, which are further characterized by distorted thought.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

The paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is hallmarked by an intense distrust and wariness or suspiciousness of others and their intentions. People with this disorder believe that others are out to hurt them, take advantage of them, or embarrass them in some way. They put tremendous effort into protecting themselves and maintaining a wide distance from others.

Individuals with PPD are also known to attack others by whom they feel endangered. They tend to hold grudges, are hostile, and their jealousy is pathological. Their misunderstandings of the environment include perceiving harmless, benevolent comments or behavior as malevolent. Due to these reasons, they do not usually confide in other people or allow themselves to develop intimate relationships.

Cluster A Personality Disorders and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Schizoid Personality Disorder

The schizoid personality disorder (SZPD) is a relatively rare condition marked by a consistent pattern of social detachment and limited emotional expression. For this reason, people with this disorder are often socially withdrawn and do not appear to seek out or feel enjoyment from participating in close relationships. Rather, individuals with this personality disorder type almost always choose solitary activities that require minimal human interaction, and they also appear to experience little pleasure in life.

Emotionally, individuals with SZPD present as distant, indifferent, and cold. They are often unaware of social nuances and cues which causes them to come across to others as socially awkward and superficial. Their limited range of emotions and failure to reciprocate gestures or expressions may make them appear as somewhat vapid or absent-minded.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

People with schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) are characterized by a consistent pattern of social and interpersonal restrictions. They experience marked discomfort in social environments and a reduced capacity for intimate relationships. For these reasons, like other cluster A disorders, they tend to be socially withdrawn, reserved, and aloof.

Unlike individuals with SZPD, however, individuals with STPD also encounter perceptual and cognitive distortions and may engage in eccentric behavior. These altered perceptions may include seeing flashes of light others do not see or detecting strange shadows or objects in the corner of their eyes before realizing that nothing is there.

Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder tend to have odd ideas. For example, an individual with STPD may erroneously believe they can read other people’s minds, or that their own thoughts seem to have been “stolen” from their heads. These strange or superstitious notions and fantasies are incongruous with cultural standards.

Schizotypal personality disorder tends to be more prevalent in families in which another member has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is another, often more debilitating mental illness with the defining feature being psychosis. Indeed, there is some evidence that these two distinct disorders do share some genetic similarities.

Personality Disorders and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are diagnosed in approximately 50% of those who have a personality disorder. However, those who abuse prescription or illicit drugs are diagnosed with personality disorders more frequently than those who abuse alcohol. Antisocial, dependent, narcissistic, and borderline personality disorders are the most common co-occurring diagnoses given to both drug and alcohol abusers.

A personality disorder typically exists before the addiction. Once individuals find that drugs or alcohol provide an escape from the inner loneliness and emotional conflicts they feel, addiction can develop effortlessly.

Moreover, an addiction to drugs or alcohol indicates that individuals must start associating with those who accept or encourage their addiction, such as dealers, bartenders, and others who know where to get drugs. This action then usually exacerbates addiction as well as mental illness.

Treatment for Addiction and Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A Personality Disorders and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

When employed separately, treatment for both addiction and cluster A personality disorder typically involve the use of a combination of medications, psychotherapy, psychoeducation, and self-help groups. Dual diagnosis programs work by addressing both mental illness and drug addiction concurrently, instead of as two separate disorders. Medical detox—the process of eliminating substances from the user’s system—is usually the first step in dual diagnosis treatment.

Once their body is free of toxins, a clinical team can better evaluate the patient’s personality disorder symptoms and identify the most effective course of treatment. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood-stabilizing medications are often prescribed to help relieve symptoms of Cluster A personality disorders. While using medication to control symptoms, dual diagnosis patients also participate in various therapies to address the factors that contribute to their disorders.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is among the most common types of therapy used to treat co-occurring personality disorders and addiction. CBT helps the patient learn how to identify specific behaviors or ways of thinking that contribute to their addiction and/or mental illness and teaches strategies for managing symptoms.

Another common form of therapy used in dual diagnosis treatment is family therapy. Many people suffering from Cluster A personality disorders are members of high-stress families. Family therapy can help mitigate the amount and intensity of stressors that can serve as triggers for both personality disorders and substance abuse.

Recovery from substance abuse and the management of mental illness are absolutely achievable. If you or a loved one is experiencing co-occurring disorders, please contact Harmony Recovery Center as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and find out how we help people free themselves from addiction!

Sensory Processing Disorder and Addiction

Sensory Processing Disorder and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Sensory Processing Disorder and Addiction – When people see an image or smell an odor, we are encountering those senses as a response to specific stimuli. Before our brain interprets these stimuli, it must accurately process the information. For the vast majority of people, this exchange runs smoothly and without interruption.

For those who suffer from a condition known as sensory processing disorder, the interconnections between the five senses and their experiences are not so clear. Daily living can become challenging and painful as this constant struggle can dramatically imbalance a person’s life. Indeed, they may begin to deal with this by resorting to the use of drugs or alcohol.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

If you know someone who can’t stand specific sounds and becomes agitated or enraged or someone who becomes unreasonably upset over the feel of a certain fabric against their skin, he or she may be experiencing SPD. SPD is a clinical term that describes people who have abnormal behavioral reactions to sensory inputs, particularly sound and touch.

SPD and Sensory Cues

But why does this occur? Typically, sensory cues enable a person to respond in an appropriate way regarding motor response and behavior. Sensory processing disorder changes the way a person’s brain and central nervous system interprets messages from the five senses, interrupting these responses. The severity of this condition ranges from mild to severe.

Signs Of Sensory Processing Disorder

Although a large amount of data on SPD is specific to children, many symptoms may linger into adulthood. Although some adults who experience SPD may seem not to struggle as much, many have come up with ways to cope with or conceal symptoms. However, this does not mean that they are exempt from the effects.

The following are examples of how a person’s senses may be affected:
Smell—Certain smells may be repulsive.
Sight—Bright lights or some patterns may trigger a reaction.
Touch—Certain textures may be irritating, such as itchy, stiff, or tight clothes. Some people with SPD may be disturbed by a merely casual touch such as shaking hands.
Taste—Certain tastes or food temperature can be problematic.
Sound—Loud noises, certain frequencies, and even everyday noises, such as the sound of someone eating, can be aggravating.

An aversion to sound is sometimes also referred to as misophonia—a sound sensitivity disorder that invokes feelings of anxiety or rage in those who are affected when they are exposed to certain sounds, especially chewing. This condition is different than SPD, however, in that misophonia causes sensitivities to certain sounds only, while SPD can cause a person to experience sensitivities in more than one of their senses.

In teens and adults, behaviors associated with SPD may include the following:

  • Sensation seeking or avoidance
  • Being uneasy in group settings
  • High distractibility
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Processing delays
  • Difficulty performing tasks
  • Avoiding specific activities
  • Social awkwardness
  • High or low pain threshold
  • High or low levels of activity
  • Covering ears
  • Squinting or rubbing eyes
  • Picky eating
  • Low self-confidence
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Short temper
  • High-strung personality
  • Emotional dysregulation

The effects of SPD can hinder interpersonal skills and interactions, undermine relationships and work performance, and make it challenging to learn or process certain information.

Sensory Processing Disorder and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

How Sensory Processing Disorders are Linked to Other Disorders

While some experts contend that SPD is merely a symptom of another disorder, others are resolute that SPD is a stand-alone condition. Also, some speculate that SPD is frequently misdiagnosed as other disorders.

In any case, SPD and its associated symptoms have been linked to the following:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Fragile X syndrome

Like other disorders, SPD may lead to other secondary conditions or effects, including the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Poor mental or physical health
  • Substance abuse

How Is Sensory Processing Disorder Related to Addiction?

Because SPD can be very overwhelming and difficult to cope with at times, some people attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Beyond the immediate effects of SPD, secondary effects, such as those mentioned above, may also result in substance abuse.

Unfortunately, as this persists, many people get become entangled in a web of drug or alcohol use that ultimately leads to physiological dependence and addiction. What’s more, for those who have SPD and are recovering from addiction, SPD can trigger a relapse.

Some research has also suggested that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) process sensory messages differently than others. These same findings also noted that sensation-seeking is associated with increased alcohol consumption. Other findings have suggested that SPD could result in, or even be caused by, a SUD.

Treatment for SPD and Addiction

Because sensory processing disorder is only a clinical description in some circles and not an official diagnosis, research is a bit limited. For this reason, treatment methods are still being developed and not supported universally.

However, occupational therapy, sensory-based interventions, and individual counseling have shown promise in addressing certain aspects of SPD. If SPD is occurring due to another disorder, addiction treatment should concentrate on treating the co-occurring disorder as well. Currently, there are no medications explicitly indicated for the treatment of SPD, but some experts believe that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have the potential to help.

That said, medications for any co-existing disorders (including addiction) may also help to improve daily functioning and quality of life.

A treatment program should be customized to the individual, and may consist of:

  • Coping techniques
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Peer support groups
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Aftercare planning

Sensory Processing Disorder and Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Similar to addiction treatment, people with SPD must become aware of their triggers and learn to adjust their life to this recognition. Using the right treatment approaches, medical and mental health care providers, and coping skills, many patients can find great success and begin to lead a stable, balanced and more fulfilling life.

Unfortunately, because of a lack of an official diagnosis, many insurance companies may not offer treatment for SPD as a stand-alone condition. In the case of dual diagnosis of SPD and addiction, however, insurance may cover treatment within a rehab program.

Although not every treatment facility will be able to address and treat SPD optimally, fortunately, those with relatively minor sensory sensitivities may also benefit from conventional programs. If SPD co-occurs with yet another disorder, such as anxiety, this may further increase treatment options.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Harmony Treatment Wellness center offers comprehensive, evidence-based programs comprised of services vital to the recovery process, including psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. We employ highly-skilled, caring addiction treatment specialists who provide clients with the tools and support they direly need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting wellness.

We design our programs to address the symptoms and underlying causes of both addiction and mental health conditions. If you are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol and are experiencing sensory processing disorder or other co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression, contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

We can help you reclaim your life and begin to experience the healthy and happy life you deserve!

Dependent Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Dependent Personality Disorder | Harmony Recovery Center

Dependent Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse – If you’ve never heard of dependent personality disorder (DPD), you aren’t alone. Compared to other personality disorders, such as borderline and narcissistic, it’s not discussed that often. It relatively common, however, and can be a profoundly debilitating condition that puts a tremendous strain on close interpersonal relationships.

If left untreated, DPD tends to dramatically impair the life of the person suffering, impeding his or her ability to exert independence and accept responsibility. Also, loved ones may experience severe emotional and sometimes even financial consequences as a result.

What Exactly is DPD?

Dependent personality disorder is a mental illness in which individuals have a difficult time with decision-making, even when it comes to ordinary choices that others might deem to be common sense types of decision. They consistently need advice and reassurance from others in their lives such as parents, peers, or a spouse. Furthermore, they have a low tolerance for criticism or disapproval, and such responses may offer them proof of their own assumed inadequacy.

These individuals might consider themselves so incapable of functioning alone that they will conform to situations and experiences that make them feel uncomfortable or nervous, rather than risk losing the person(s) they are dependent on for supervision or guidance.

With DPD, regular daily activities can be significantly undermined if independence or imaginative thinking is required. These persons often keep a limited number of people in their social circle, particularly only people whom they are dependent upon. When a person with dependent personality is in a relationship that has failed, they may immediately seek out another relationship to provide the support they need and relieve feelings of abandonment.

Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder

Words used by those who are close to someone with DPD to describe this person may include “needy,” “clingy,” and of course “emotionally dependent.” Individuals with DPD tend to exhibit needy behavior caused by an underlying fear of separation or abandonment.

Symptoms of DPD may also include the following:

  • Inability to make daily decisions without the reassurance of others
  • Dependence on others to make decisions like where they should work and live
  • Avoiding adult responsibilities by behaving as if helpless
  • Overly sensitive to criticism
  • Willingness to endure neglect or abuse, often placing other people’s needs above their own
  • Profound, unrealistic fear of abandonment or being alone
  • Feelings of devastation, helplessness, or hopelessness when relationships end
  • Avoidance of starting tasks or projects due to a lack of self-confidence
  • Avoiding disagreements with others for fear of losing their support or friendship

Like many personality disorders, DPD, which usually begins in early adulthood, tends to decrease in intensity with age. Most commonly, individuals ensure the most extreme symptoms before they reach their forties.

Causes of Dependent Personality Disorder

Like most mental health conditions, there isn’t one known cause of DPD. Rather, a combination of factors are believed to play a role, including an individual’s biology, psychology, developmental experience, and temperament.

Among other possible risk factors include experiencing separation anxiety in childhood. Also, children who experience an extended physical illness may face a higher risk of developing DPD disorder, and women are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from the condition. Some researchers also contend that an overprotective parenting style can contribute to the development of DPD traits in those who are particularly vulnerable.

The Link Between Mental Health Conditions an Substance Abuse

Dependent Personality Disorder | Harmony Recovery Center

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) states that there is a “definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances” and that persons with a mental illness are responsible for the consumption of:

  • 38% of alcohol
  • 44% of cocaine
  • 40% of cigarettes

NBER also reports that individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in life are responsible for consuming:

  • 69% of alcohol
  • 84% of cocaine
  • 68% of cigarettes

Drug and Alcohol Abuse and DPD Treatment

Substance abuse is much more common among those who suffer from mental health problems than the general population. Some people who have dependent personality disorder may use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, so to speak, or manage their symptoms. There may also be risk factors in common between mental illnesses such as DPD and substance use and addiction. In any case, when DPD occurs in conjunction with a substance use disorder, this is known as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring condition.

The misuse of prescription medications is common among people with DPD. Prescription medications are often slow-acting and may take several weeks to induce the desired reduction in symptoms. When an individual isn’t experiencing the results they seek, overuse can become a problem.

In addition to the misuse of medication, illicit drugs and alcohol can impede treatment for DPD because therapy focuses on addressing underlying conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Although drugs like marijuana and alcohol may offer temporary respite from the symptoms of these disorders, these substances also have potentially adverse side effects, especially when used by people with DPD or some other mental illness.

Dependent Personality Disorder | Harmony Recovery Center

Effects of Substance Abuse on DPD Symptoms

It can be very difficult for individuals with DPD to complete drug or alcohol treatment without first managing their mental health disorder. If their underlying anxiety or depression are not addressed, the person will still likely struggle with many of the symptoms of DPD and use drugs or alcohol as a means to cope.

Moreover, substance abuse can exaggerate the symptoms of DPD, making it more challenging to live with the condition. As the condition remains untreated and worsens, the likelihood that the person will continue to abuse substances on an escalating scale may increase.

Statistics on Dependent Personality Disorder and Drug Abuse

An estimated 2-3% of the general population has DPD, and in a study conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), it was revealed that about 8% of substance abuse patients had DPD. The incidence of alcohol use, however, among DPD patients was around 80%. Also, approximately 11% of people diagnosed with DPD use marijuana.

Treatment for Substance Abuse and DPD

When these two conditions occur together, they must be treated in conjunction and not independent of each other. Treatment for substance abuse alone will not relieve many of the symptoms of DPD, and treatment for DPD, though helpful, will not necessarily prevent or reverse chemical dependence or compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Treatment of both should involve a comprehensive approach that includes psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

Harmony Treatment Center offers evidence-based programs that can effectively treat clients with a dual diagnosis. We employ highly-skilled mental health professionals and addiction specialists who collaborate in the assessment of each client and develop treatment programs customized to individual needs and goals.

We are dedicated to providing our clients with the tools, resources, and support they so desperately need to overcome addiction and improve their lives by managing symptoms associated with DPD and other mental health problems.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to substances and a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We help clients to reclaim their lives and free themselves from the grips of addiction!

Adult Children of Alcoholics: Eight Common Characteristics

Adult Children of Alcoholics | Harmony Recovery NC

Adult Children of Alcoholics: Eight Common Characteristics – For many in recovery, the issues caused by being reared by a parent or caregiver experiencing an active addiction continue to impede their ability to live emotionally balanced and healthy lives. A child who is raised with a parent who drinks excessively or uses drugs is never put first. As such, they are not provided with a healthy example to aspire to or the guidance they require to learn how to care for themselves, develop healthy relationships, and build a stable emotional foundation for life.

Instead, adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) often encounter a myriad of problems in adulthood. Each of these issues can make it more challenging to find peace and balance, and many eventually resort to substance abuse as a means of dealing with those difficulties.

Eight Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Among ACOAs, these are some of the most commonly recognized personality traits:

Impulsivity and Inconsistency

Adult children of alcoholics will often make impulsive choices or react to a particular situation without thinking through the consequences or considering alternatives. As a result, they will end up spending considerable time trying to fix the problems that arise as a result of concealing their mistakes.

ACOAs also tend to have difficulty following through with obligations, whether societally- or self-imposed. These may include a lack of commitment to their work and home lives, as well as interpersonal relationships. Although ACOAs often feel the need to care for people around them, they will also find it difficult to follow through and make good on many of their promises.

Withdrawal and Isolation

ACOAs frequently do not know what or how to respond in a normal or balanced way in any given situation and often guess (sometimes incorrectly) at the proper way to respond. Adult children of alcoholics often feel like they are different from those around them. Many ACOAs believe that they either cannot function interpersonally with other people or that they are entitled to special treatment and allowances for their dysfunctional behavior.

Either belief can make it challenging to sustain positive and healthy relationships. This sense of isolation can trigger a relapse among those engaging in substance abuse, causing them to isolate themselves further or rely on unhealthy relationships (including with other substance abusers) for social interaction.

Adult Children of Alcoholics | Harmony Recovery NC

Difficulty Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Because ACOAs often struggle to engage with others positively, they usually end up staying in unhealthy relationships too long or take themselves too seriously. In fact, healthy romantic relationships, in some cases, may seem nearly impossible, and extreme emotional ups and downs tend to occur.

Perception of Self as a Victim

ACOAs typically have difficulty recognizing the role that their decisions play in the course of their lives and relationships. Instead, they often place blame on people around them for the consequences of their decision. Because they have trouble admitting their mistakes, they often repeat them since they are unable to learn from them and make better, more informed choices in the future.

Judgmental Behavior

Because it is difficult to feel content and fulfilled when there is an underlying emotional problem, ACOAs can be extremely judgmental of themselves and others. Such feelings of emotional dissatisfaction can breed harsh judgments and criticisms that may be misguided, if not entirely false.

Constant Approval-Seeking

Ironically, adult children of alcoholics often prioritize the approval and opinions over their own yet have a tough time accepting criticism, even if it is well-meant, correct, and constructive. The ACOAs response may be knee-jerk and defensive, debasing the critic, claiming that they don’t know what they are talking about. Likewise, ACOAs may abruptly end discussions with some form of emotional manipulation, such as crying or the “silent treatment.”

Substance Use Disorders and Addiction

Although ACOAs know firsthand how destructive the use of alcohol and drugs can be, they may still develop substance use problems themselves. These problems may be due to a combination of genetics, growing up in a dysfunctional environment acceptive of excessive substance use and addiction, a lack of healthy coping mechanisms for stress, or other contributing factors.

Treatment for Adult Children of Alcoholics

Despite these negative aspects of adult children of alcoholics, each of them is a unique individual fighting an uphill battle against a disease that was given to them without their consent. And while these characteristics may be less than endearing, ACOAs deserve compassion from their friends and families, the wider public, and – perhaps most of all – themselves.

If you are suffering from a substance use disorder and were raised by an alcoholic or someone in active addiction, it can be extremely beneficial to seek help and improve your ability to stay sober. Addiction treatment helps people directly address the above issues that they are struggling with and give them the tools and support they so urgently need to reclaim a healthy and balanced life in sobriety.

Harmony Recovery offers an integrated approach to addiction that features evidence-based services essential to the recovery process, such as behavioral therapy, partial-hospitalization (PHP), group and individual counseling, and group therapy. We employ caring professionals who understand that addiction is a chronic disease, that all individuals are unique, and that patients should be comprehensively treated according to these foundational philosophies.

Contact us today and discover how we can help you reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve, free from substance abuse!