addiction therapist

Healing the Heart for Connection & Happiness

Healing the Heart for Connection & Happiness

There’s a story I share with my clients that comes from Robert Bly, an author and poet who wrote a book called “A Little Book About the Human Shadow”.  He says we’re all born as beautiful, loving golden globes of light and energy. As we grow up in our families, go to school and develop friends, we feel loved or not, to varying degrees. In response, we often give up parts of ourselves to please our parents, our teachers, churches, friends, etc.

Does Smoking Pot Effect Your IQ?

Does Smoking Pot Effect Your IQ?

Does smoking pot affect your IQ? Yes, if you start smoking under the age of 18. A study from New Zealand's University of Otago of 1,000 people IQ tested and followed from 18 to 34 showed that people who smoked and became dependent by 18 had an average drop of 8 points.  Unfortunately, quitting didn't remove the problem researchers reported.  (Modesto Bee, Tue. 28, 2012)  

Internet Porn: Best Sex Ed for Teens?

Is Internet Porn the best sex education for teens? I hope not. According to research by TopTenReview, the average age at which a child first views porn online is 11. Another survey published by Psychologies magazine in the U.K. found that one-third of children surveyed had seen online porn by age 10.

Why are parents still not talking to their children about sex? My parents didn't talk to me either and I ended up a pregnant teen. Talking to your kids about sex is uncomfortable, embarrassing, etc. So, what? Is supergraphic internet porn how we want our children to learn about sex? And, believe me, they're not going to tell you they're watching it.

If you're looking for an informative tell-it-like-it-is Ted Talk to share with a young adult child of yours try: Makelovenotporn.com by Cindy Gallop. Watch it first. The website shows 10 myths about porn and their real world comparisons. For example: Myth: All women love to have men come on their face. Real world: Some do, some don't. It’s a non-judgmental, lighter way to see the distortions porn promotes.

As a therapist and woman I'm sad that internet porn has negatively affected so many relationships. I know four women that have ended relationships because of their husband/partners porn addiction and unwillingness to change that behavior. I'm not talking about clients, but friends and acquaintances.

Internet porn is not the Playboy, Hustler or adult store of yesteryear. This stuff is live and action oriented and for some highly addictive. Mari Lee, a therapist who specializes in sex addiction in the Los Angeles area, said in a training I attended, that if cocaine creates a chemical high in the brain 100 times what a drink of alcohol does, porn creates an effect 1,000 times that of alcohol. Now we know why porn can be SO compelling and addictive.

As a Certified Addiction Counselor for 25 years I’ve seen how difficult this behavior is to break. More so than other addictions? Maybe. The brain gets rewired with the intense activity. Normal sex then feels like what? A lukewarm version. For healthy sexuality to feel normal again, the brain and behavior have to be retrained and re-sensitized to normal sexual sensitivity and sensuality. That takes time and practice. Twelve step programs like S.A.A. ( Sex addicts anonymous) are available in most cities now and help break the addictive cycle. A good place to get help is:  www.sexualrecovery.com. Or, google S.A.A. 12 step groups in your area. 

Lynn Telford-Sahl holds a Masters in Psychology with a Holistic Specialization from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, CA. 

Feel free to use all or part of this blog as long as you list my name, website and contact information.

Lynn is the author of Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom.

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(209) 492-8745

lynntelfordsahl@gmail.com

 

 

Make a Spending Habit, Break a Spending Habit!

Feel like a hamster on a never-ending-habit treadmill?  Losing weight and keeping it off has always been tough. But bad spending habits can be just as challenging and destructive. Now there are Apps like Urge or Make a Habit, Break a Habit to make it easier to stay on track.

What kind of bad money habits do you have?  Are you an unconscious spender? Do you go to the mall and two hours later have bags of purchases and you can’t really remember what exactly you paid for them?  Are you an unconscious spender or secret shopper? And, I don’t mean the kind that’s hired by Safeway to check up on their customer service. I mean, do you sneak your purchases home when your husband is busy and hide them so you don’t feel guilty, or get grilled? Do you struggle to maintain a budget or is budget a behavior you resist with all your might?

Changing our habits is not easy, but with practice certainly achievable. We need repetition to build awareness. Like poor spending habits or money management, food, weight and exercise habits have been particularly tough to change long term.  Behavorial Modification programs are getting positive attention again and are based on making small incremental changes that build progress over time. You may be surprised to know that Weight Watchers is basically a behavorial modification program and it’s one of the most effective.

For those of you that have a money problem, try Urge which “prompts users to hold off on impulse purchases to hit budgeting goals.”

As an addiction counselor for over 20 years I love the new Apps. Check out NY Daily News Addictions & Answers for Lynn's tips on Compulsive Shopping. They make paying attention and taking a pause from cravings and impulses so much easier than will power alone and they work because they improve on the principles of good ol’ 12 Step Programs – support, feedback, slow steady changes and the good feelings that come with healthy change.  (The Perfected Self by David H Freedman, The Atlantic June 2012)

 

Americans Addicted to Legal Drugs - Vicidin Anyone?

Americans are addicted to legal drugs and by drugs I mean pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are the most profitable industry in the world. Marcia Angell, M.D. first woman editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that in 2002 the $35.9 billion the top drug companies earned were greater than the profits of the other 490 Fortune 500 companies combined.
In my city of Modesto, California, (and two other small cities close by) there are 31 Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid pharmacies. This doesn’t count all the pharmacies within grocery stores, Target or Walmart. Many of these have been build in the last few years.

In 1997 the FDA reversed it’s policy on direct-to-consumer advertising. At that time, 220 million a year was spent by pharmaceutical companies on advertising. In 2002, the amount was 2.8 billion. Big pharma spends twice as much on advertising as research and development and it’s working.

Perhaps we’re buying so many more prescription drugs because we’re being brainwashed to believe we need what they’re selling. “Tv advertising, works by mobilizing the appeal of group morale. "By showing you pictures of beautiful, happy people, they persuade you that everyone else in the world is having a terrific time, only you are left out. Want to stop being a lonely loser? Join them -- just tune into this, or buy that,” says Bill Manville, ex advertising copywriter for Grey Advertising and now NY Daily News columnist.

Pharmaceutical ads subtly increase fear and worry about medical conditions. For example, statins were first prescribed only to those with heart problems. Now, they’re routinely prescribed for anyone with high cholesterol. (Click here for a guided imagery stress/anxiety relieving free download)

As an addiction specialist for more than 25 years I understand and support the benefits of medications for the right reasons. I’ve seen suicidal clients survive because of the anti-depressant they were taking. I’ve also seen clients so over-medicated they were zombies. Somewhere there’s a healthy meeting place between personal responsibility, the medicine now available and all the seductive advertising. The good news is that many of us are looking for ways to combine traditional with non-traditional medicine. The National Center for Complimentary & Alternative Medicine states that consumers spend 33.9 billion out of pocket on complimentary and alternative therapies.

Often people with real pain slip into addiction over time. I have a cousin, he's a professional, he has good family support. A few years ago he developed residual pain in his face from a medical condition. He just went into treatment for a big problem with vicidin and oxycontin. I know how severe this problem can be.

If you're struggling with an addiction or dependence to oxycontin, vicidin or other drugs of this type, there is help available.  Check out AA or NA groups. Try 6 before you decide you don't "like" them - after all, in order for something to change you will have to do things differently.  There's also plenty of online support these days.

Look for 1 thing each meeting that you can take and use for yourself. The tendency for the mind is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but a focus on 1 positive thing you can take for yourself is good.  Also, see a physician, or a treatment program in your area, and get help for withdrawal symptoms. It can be very dangerous to stop taking these types of medications cold turkey. One step a a time.

Saying No with Love to Family with Addictions Not Easy

Michael Jackson died from addiction a few years ago. All that incredible talent subsumed by an addiction fed by his doctors. Which is not to say Michael wasn't responsible for his own decisions. He also died because no one in his circle could say "no" to him. Certainly his doctor was unable to say "no." Jackson died from years of escalating abuse of prescription medications. One morning, one shot, one pill too many and on that particular day his system had had enough and went into arrest.

Jackson's addiction and death is sad for millions, but no more sad to me than my mother dying of cancer due to her cigarette addiction. Or my brother, who in four years has gone from middle-class salesman and homeowner to barely getting by, but sober. Or my sister, who is in her last months of struggling with alcoholism. I have said "no" to giving money to her except for food, to letting my brother live with me once he'd relapsed, to my mother taking care of my child when she was drinking. I know it's not easy, I've been there. What's most difficult is to say that no with love and compassion. Minutes ago I got to exercise a loving "no" with my sister. Sober yesterday, we planned a movie afternoon. Drinking today, I sadly declined as I choose to not be around her when she's doing so.stressedwoman

Addiction is not just to the hard stuff, but to what I call the "lite" addictions and what Steve Bhaerman refers to as "weapons of mass distraction." We seem to need a buffer between ourselves and the stresses and upsets of daily living. Anything from hours of TV, to cruising through the fast food drive-in on the way to Starbucks, with a few hours of shopping to top it off. We Americans love our distractions, temporary though they may be. But, take a breath, (one of my favorite buffers) because JOY and freedom are available to create a pause button to "lite" addictions with easy to learn body-mind strategies that I'll be sharing in the weeks ahead.

Addictive America Pt. 2: The "Lite" Addictions

Are all Americans addicted? Of course not. However, there are many that are "addictive."  Meaning they have what I call "Lite" addictions.  These normal Americans do a little shopping when stressed, work compulsively when anxious, or drink a couple glasses of wine a night to relax. In my book Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom I explain and explore why we are so addictive and give strategies for coping with stress. One example is the TARA process below.

Addiction can be thought of on a continuum. Imagine a line across the page and at one of the line are those that have no addictive behaviors and at the other end are those whose lives are unmanageable or out of control. Most people that have addictive issues, sit somewhere between those two end spots. 

Stress or anxiety escapes such as a glass of wine (or 3 or 4) or a hit of pot, or shopping, or food, temporarily distract us from life problems, but don’t solve anything, and don’t deal with the underlying feelings. If you find yourself relating, take a breath, and try to be nonjudgmental. There are ways to to cope with stress, upset and life in feel better ways.

 What’s The Solution?

There are three strategies I’ve been teaching for 20 years that help to quickly and easily reduce the stress and anxiety that are under most addictions. I’ll talk about others in future blogs, but let’s look at Touch, Accept, Release, Action today.

Touch, Accept, Release, Action – Imagine you’ve just been fired. You’re stressed, angry, hurt, sad, afraid – lots of emotions boiling away. You have this irrational desire to go shopping. But that's crazy - you can't afford to. What do you do with all those feelings instead? A healthy way of “processing” (therapist term) is to stay present or with the feelings and really FEEL them. You know how your 3 year old will bug you until you give her attention? Well, our emotions are a bit like that. When you pay attention and go into them, rather than resist or avoid, the intensity often lets go and you feel better. This doesn’t change the situation, but does soften the upset. Once you feel more relaxed, the brain can come up with creative solutions and there’s less craving for the temporary relief of shopping. 

The TARA strategy I developed allows you to identify what feelings are underneath the upset in a quick, easy format. New brain neuroscience research shows that just naming emotions is often enough to feel better, but we have to know how.

For FREE PDF of TARA contact Lynn at lynntelfordsahl@gmail.com For a quote from Lynn in NY Daily News article about compulsive shopping:  http://tinyurl.com/c3sfzv6

Addictive America: Buy, Smoke, Drink Anyone?

"Americans are addicted to being something they’re not. They’re addicted to things," says Oprah.

How addictive are we? Brad made an appointment for counseling with me by explaining that he was addicted to shopping, fast food & internet porn. I thought – wow – he’s so American.  

If you have ever been so stressed or anxious that you’ve reached for the closest piece of chocolate or run for a quick latté to make yourself feel better, you can relate. It’s so common to go for the quickest relief advertisers recommend when we’re overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.  And, we’re programmed to do so.

Most of us long for more happiness, but don’t always know how to achieve it. For a long time, I didn’t either. I grew up in the typical addictive home – alcoholic mother, sports and gambling obsessed dad – abuse, depression and anxiety.

Today, as an addiction counselor and co-dependent therapist, I know how to let go of “upset” feelings and create peace and happiness. I’m not saying every day is a JOYfest - I have my challenging days too – that’s life. But, I’ve found a secret. The key is to go into, rather than away from upset. We humans want to avoid pain. Understandable. And, it’s paradoxical, but when we use body-mind strategies, like those in Intentional JOY we move through stress & upset quickly, and can feel better, or even good in just a few minutes of our time.

P.S. about Brad:  After 3 months of weekly counseling, Brad was able to PAUSE and be aware of how he was feeling - angry, sad, frustrated, numb, before unconsciously going for the fast food or shopping. A year later he was happy and at college doing well.

It’s FREEING to know we aren’t victims of the feelings or thoughts we experience. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now: "Things and conditions can give you pleasure, but they cannot give you joy."

If you’d like more peace and less stress Click Here for Lynn’s Free 7 1/2 Stress & Anxiety Busting Audio Tips