substance abuse counselor

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)  

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)

 

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Not Responsible for "Celebrity" Deaths?

Is Dr. Drew Pinsky is responsible for the celebrity death of Mindy McCready, a 37-year-old country singer who appeared on his "Celebrity Rehab" television show?* No, not fully, but certainly he is partiaily responsible. Like Dr. Phil who has clients on TV for entertainment value, so does Dr. Drew. Dr. Pinsky says he hasn't seen Ms. McCready in years so he's not responsible. I get it. Am I responsible for a client of mine who leaves counseling and later starts using again? I'm not legally responsible, but in my heart it feels different. That heart-ache is part caring, part over-responsibility and part helplessness about the nature of addiction, treatment and recovery. I imagine Dr. Drew has similar feelings.

What's the real problem Dr. Drew is faced with? A national television show means it's in the spotlight.The spotlight shines very brightly on the good and the bad and the ugly.That's what makes these types of reality shows popular. People love the drama and the trauma. But while dating shows can cause hurt and pain, addiction is a volatile, dangerous subject, a risky subject to address on national television. People die from the disease of addiction every day. (approximately 40,000 from alcohol in 2010 alone). That's not Dr. Drew's fault, it's the collective responsibility of the medical and therapeutic community that our treatment approaches haven't changed much over the last 30 years. 

So what's a celebrity Reality Show Star like Dr. Drew to do? Keep talking about addiction. Keep talking about the reality of what it takes for people to get and stay sober. Continue talking about the fact alcoholism and addiction are diseases that need to be treated, not judged as a morality issue. Keep talking about the abysmal recovery rates and the lack of prevention, early education and lack of money for treatment options for poor and middle-class folks with no insurance. Talk about the effective medications now available like Vivitrol, a once a month injection that cuts the high of alcohol (like antabuse) and reduces cravings. Use the platform and use it to help educate and move us toward better treatment. Using the limelight to educate as well as entertain is Dr. Drew's responsibility.

 

 

*NY Times article "Where Rehab TV Meets Reality" June 9, 2013

 

 

 

Holistic Help for Anxiety & Depression in Recovery: Try Amino Acids

 

Struggling with Anxiety or Depression in recovery?  Try Amino Acids. No surprise many addicted folks are anxious, depressed or stressed and self-medicating with their drug or food of choice. Many years ago I discovered I suffered from anxiety while giving a client an anxiety assessment. (Physician heal thyself!) As I scored the clients responses, I mentally checked off and scored my own. Momentarily shocked, I realized the pit in my stomach that was so normal was anxiety based. (*For quiz & treatment see book: From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett)

 

I wanted natural, rather than pharmaceutical treatment for myself and clients and discovered the power of amino acid supplementation for mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Amino acids are naturally occurring substances in the body that we (especially anyone with an addiction) can become deficient in. I love them because, unlike many prescription drugs, they do not have side effects other than a mild headache if the dosage is too high. If that occurs, drink lots of water and take Vitamin C to flush it quickly out of system. Amino acids are best taken on a empty stomach. They are available at health food stores. If you’re a health care practitioner you may purchase them wholesale through Infinity Health (800) 733-9293.


Here are my top 3 suggestions:

GABA: For anxiety or stress:  (*See Julia Ross’s Mood Cure or Diet Cure books)
Recommended dosage one 500 mg. capsule on empty stomach. (Can take 1- 3 capsules depending on severity of mood 2 or 3X a day or at night if having trouble getting to, or staying asleep.)

5 HTP : For  mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Helps sleep and can lessen addictive cravings. Improves serotonin functioning in brain. (Important: Do not take if currently using an anti-depressant.)

Recommended Dosage: One-three 50 mg. capsules on empty stomach during afternoon or at bedtime. (Try 1 capsule first) (See Julia Ross’s Mood Cure or Diet Cure books)

P.S. Very helpful for the 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. low-energy dip or if you have afternoon sugar or carb cravings. Serotonin levels are lowest in the late afternoon which is why cravings get more intense then.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR ON YOUR WEB SITE?

You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Lynn Telford-Sahl, M.A. Psychology, Certified Addiction Counselor, author of Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom.   


aminoacidsL-Theanine: Amino acid found in green tea.

Supports mental calmness, focus and relaxation. Dr. John Gray suggests 200-400 mg 2-3X a day, as needed. He says taken at bedtime it melts away stress.

RESOURCES

Dr. Gray: Just released Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice)

Julia Ross: The Mood Cure or The Diet Cure

(* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am not prescribing any supplementation. Please take responsibility and be an informed consumer. Do your own research – see resources above)

relaxed_kitten

Americans Addicted to Legal & Illegal Drugs - Oxycontin Anyone?

Americans are addicted to legal and illegal 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) 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.

As an addiction specialist of 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.

As consumers we need to ask questions when we see new research come out. To change the control big corporations have on advertising, and us, it will take thinking outside the box. As Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”  

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 - do you "like" being addicted?  And, 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 the withdrawal process. It's not recommended to stop taking the medications cold turkey. Others have quit and created a good life for themselves. You can too!

P.T.S.D. Kills Returning Soldiers & Love Heals

P.T.S.D. Kills – And Love Heals.  Post-traumatic stress disorder kills, and love can certainly heal. We at home can only imagine what traumatic experiences led to the expression on this soldiers face. What isn’t so easily seen is how this soldier will cope over the long-term with the pain he’s carrying, or which loved ones in his life could be collateral damage. One in five soldiers will come home from Iraq or Afghanistan suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can show up as anything from panic attacks, flash backs, insomnia, depression to nightmares, or all of these. “Trauma has been defined by experts as a perceived life-threatening event in which our ability to respond is inhibited and the meaning we create about it damages our ability to connect with ourselves or with others,” reports Peter Levine in Healing Trauma.

ptsd-brainOur soldiers (and many of us civilians) are suffering from what Francine Shapiro (trauma expert and originator of EMDR - eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) calls the big “T” events like war, abuse, or severe car accidents. Big “T” traumas are more visibly damaging and PET scans show where in the brain trauma shows up and as healing occurs how it lights up a different area.

How does love heal? Imagery based therapies (EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique, Guided Imagery) “increase serotonin levels in the bloodstream and heighten the feelings of love, gratitude and connection.” (Belleruth Naparstek (Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal). Love is the ability to connect with self and others from the heart (care, compassion, kindness) and heals the internal war that PTSD creates.

river_peacefulI’ve used Emotional Freedom Technique (FREE mp3 Stress Relieving Imagery download) to clear and heal shame from my own childhood abuse that years of talking therapy didn’t relieve. I’ve taught Imagery and EFT to hundreds of clients individually and at workshops. I particularly like EFT because once it is learned the client has a strategy they can employ outside of the therapists office anytime they’re emotionally overwhelmed, are having nightmares, or flashbacks.

(For more info about EFT www.emofree.com or Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom)

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