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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

"Cognitive Dissonance" is defined as a great feeling of psychological discomfort produced by the presence of thoughts & behaviors that are conflicting in nature.  The theory suggests that if individuals act in ways that contradict their beliefs, then they typically will change their beliefs & thoughts to align with their actions.  In a nutshell, humans have a difficult time admitting to others but even more to themselves that they were wrong about something.  If you've ever told a lie and felt uncomfortable because you see yourself as scrupulously honest, then you've experienced cognitive dissonance.


It occurs whenever your view of yourself clashes with your performance in any area—you see yourself as smart but can't believe you made such poor decisions.  Cognitive dissonance often occurs because people fear appearing foolish or ignorant.  They are fully aware they have acted in a way that is either inappropriate or uncharacteristic with their belief system or morals, and so they use different strategies to protect their image to others, but even more so to protect their own self-image.  It is hypocrisy between what we believe in and what we engage in. 


When this internal conflict is present, people feel increasingly guilty or uneasy about holding these opposing cognitions – they don’t want to think of themselves as illogical or inconsistent. These internal conflicts are hard to live with, and if not dealt with the individual will feel bad about themselves and this can snowball into further and continuous illogical behaviors/actions and then cause very severe and damaging feelings towards one's self. 


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

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Midwestern Mama discovers a community of opiate users in recovery -- just miles from her suburban home – as her son begins Suboxone treatment and counseling for Heroin addiction.

Less than five miles from my suburban home is an outpatient treatment center that offers Methodone and Suboxone dosing in addition to individual counseling, group sessions and training.  Although it’s close to where I live, it’s not on a road I ordinarily take and even though I’ve driven that road many times over the 20 plus-years that I’ve lived here, it’s not a structure that I ever noticed.

The past two days, however, changed that.  I have taken notice and I have spent several hours there.  It has been eye opening and I actually look forward to seeing and experiencing more in the days ahead.  As part of my son’s journey with addiction, I have yearned for an insider’s perspective to better understand the complexities of substance use disorder – if not his, that of others. 


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

During one of my hospital stays at the renowned McLean Hospital, I became acquainted with an older Jamaican man who worked at the hospital in the unit where I stayed.  His name was Marvin & he was a mental health assistant.  His job was to have a "check-in" session every day with each of the patients he was assigned, which was always done privately.  He was extremely sincere and gentle, so when he would ask me "How are you feeling today?", I was convinced that he genuinely cared and wanted to know.  It seemed he had a commitment to his job that went far beyond the hospital walls, which is a very special quality in mental health & substance abuse treatment workers.

I was never someone to instantly have enough trust in someone that I would spill my true concerns, worries and mistakes, instead choosing to keep the proverbial wall up and not expose too much of my problems; this being in part, an issue of self-preservation as to not have others look down upon me, and part guilt and shame that I carried deeply over what I believed to be horrible mistakes that could only mean I was a terrible person.  A large part of this guilt and shame I carried inside, like a leaden weight, dragged me down further into my depression, my suicidal ideas and my relapses.  I was fully aware and conscious; I KNEW how detrimental this guilt & shame was to my health, my recovery and my very life, how it was holding me back by being unable to talk about it with anyone, but it was such a strong, all-consuming shame, that I didn't believe at the time, I could handle these thoughts being verbalized and thus open material to have a further conversation with.  I was terrified that if I said out loud all the things I had done, to anyone else, no matter if it was their job to help me or not, that they would use that information to think poorly of me and agree with my idea that I was simply a bad person.  I couldn't handle the thought of anyone looking at me as a flawed human being, that didn't already know my mistakes, only later to form the opinion that I was. 

Most people who know nothing about addiction as a disease or know someone close to them that has suffered with addiction, look at in the way that, if our actions directly cause harm or hurt to those we love (which they do), then it can't be a true disease; no matter how much modern medical research shows to the contrary, they believe we are choosing our actions and therefore are very flawed in a moral way.....not in a sick way.  This can explain why many addicts, even in recovery for years, even while in treatment facilities where their addiction is known about, they still keep up very high walls and let out very little information.  We already feel terrible about ourselves, whether we may show it or not, so it would obviously hurt our self-image, our self-esteem much more, to have other people added to that list of how morally corrupt we are. 

Although he already conducted his official "check-in" with me, Marvin approached me in the hallway and asked me if I would sit down.  He sensed something was wrong.  Marvin knew I was a mother.  He knew I was having difficulties at home with my marriage.  And from seeing me in tears walking in the hallways numerous times & bursting into tears after a telephone call, he knew that I felt guilty and ashamed that I was even in the hospital receiving the treatment I very much needed and that I did not feel I deserved it. 

His question was a very simple, "Why?"  


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Overcoming an addiction is more than just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol  . It means starting over completely – changing every aspect of one’s life to eradicate old, destructive behaviors and thought processes that lead to them and replacing these with more positive choices. 

It can be a long, lonely process and many find that what sabotages their progress is not a craving for drugs and alcohol but the deep desire to reconnect with their old life and all the people in it, even if it means putting their life in danger with a return to drug and alcohol use. 

Beating this loneliness can be the key to a successful recovery. Here are five tips to help you or your loved one in early recovery find the support they need to stay true to their goal of long-term sobriety:

1. Go to 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous (,Narcotics Anonymous , and a host of other 12-step meetings provide an instant community of people who are not only understanding of what you’ve been through but also attempting to accomplish the same task. Though you may not connect personally with anyone immediately, it’s a quick fix to remind you that you are not alone in your journey. 

2. Meet with a therapist regularly. Regularly seeing someone who can help you sift through your feelings, isolate underlying issues, and hold you accountable in recovery can help you to feel grounded and focused on progress rather than emptiness.

3. Rebuild old relationships that were damaged by addiction. Not all relationships that were damaged by addiction will be able to be repaired in recovery – and not all of them should be. But relationships with positive people can be rebuilt to be a good influence in your new life in recovery. Patience is required, however, as it can take time to learn how to communicate effectively, get needs met, and rebuild trust.

4. Make new connections in recovery. Making new positive connections and friendships is one of the gifts of recovery. It’s important, however, to take it slow and get to know people before investing too heavily in a new friendship. You want to make sure that you are making a positive connection that will help you both continue moving forward toward your personal goals. NOTE: Early recovery is not the time to connect with new people romantically. Romantic relationships can take the focus off your progress in recovery and trigger a relapse if things go awry or the relationship ends.

5. Become your own best friend. “Alone” doesn’t have to mean “lonely” if you fill your life with positive people and work on building your own self-esteem and confidence in yourself and your abilities. When you’re by yourself, you can indulge in your hobbies, work toward goals in your education or your career, or take care of yourself by eating well and working out. When you prioritize your health and wellness first, you increase your ability to connect with others positively and move forward in recovery too.

Learn more about how you can overcome the obstacles that face addicts and alcoholics   in early recovery when you reach out to us at Futures at the number above today.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The money we have spent, taken away from other priorities to buy our drugs, our life-sustaining medicine as we see it in active addiction, can be nauseating.  We may have stolen from loved ones, forged checks, taken valuables, even committed thefts of people we don't know, stealing from stores to exchange goods for money, possibly exchanging your body for drugs or money, losing a job or not looking for a job because you need your days and nights to chase drugs, the financial funding of our addiction can absolutely be an issue giving us extreme guilt and shame.  And that is just one.

The emotions and opinions of our loved ones, who are sick with worry, consumed with fear, and looming with disappointment, is something we may think can never be fixed or changed, that people will forever think ill of us for what we have inflicted on others.  The health effects of active addiction can be shocking.  Infections of the skin or limbs, infectious diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis, not eating right or eating at all, and the long-term effects throughout our body's systems from the drug itself, can lead to lifetime battles that cannot be reversed.  Legal problems, arrests, convictions, incarceration, tears apart your family, soils your record which will follow you through life, affecting employment, child custody battles, divorce, loss of assets; it is a devastating consequence of addiction.  The guilt you feel as a parent, if you have lost custody, your drug use known to the courts, barriers put in place making it a challenge to be up against even when in recovery for a long period, can be overwhelming.  These are all extremely stressful results of our addiction that can provide us with enough guilt and shame to last our lifetime, even when in recovery.  Many addicts succumb to these difficult consequences and effects of our addiction, and decide to remain in active addiction, for they see it as impossible to overcome these obstacles that are a result of our drug use.  It is easy to look at the big picture and think nothing can be done about the damage, so we crumble and relent. 

Once we start acknowledging these affects and accrue years of shame and guilt, it becomes habit to think negatively about ourselves, place blame on ourselves and have little to no respect at all for ourselves.  This is the mindset of a typical addict.  It is easy when we have to deal with such consequences   , to lose sight of it being a disease that we have.  It is also the reason society loses sight of addiction being a disease as well.  It very well may be that addiction is the only disease to affect so many areas of our life beyond that of our physical and psychological health.  It is indeed difficult and there are enormous challenges to face in recovery, some for more than for others, but no doubt a major aspect of an addict when pondering the decision of whether or not to attempt recovery and sobriety. This is why in order to succeed in recovery, it is crucial to believe and develop the mindset of being worthy of help, being worthy of treatment and being worthy of a better life.  Achieving this belief and having love for ones self starts with addressing your own self-esteem and self-worth.  To change a pattern of thinking that has become habit, therefore natural, cannot happen without change and effort, a commitment to caring about ones self enough to seek help. 

Accepting that we cannot change what our addiction has caused, but we can change what it will continue to cause.  You have the power to stop your addiction in its tracks and change the course of your life, the consequences of your addiction and the effects on your family and your health.  This acceptance has to take place for a person to want help and accept help, to enter recovery and become clean and sober.  It cannot be forced upon a person; it has to be a decision based on acceptance and a willingness to change.  An addict has to be able to see that they do in fact have a future and that their future can be better and more fulfilling than the past, which is within their control if they allow people to help them become well. 

This requires the focus to be on the present and future instead of the past.  You can acknowledge and have sorrow for the negative consequences which have occurred, but wallowing in it and allowing yourself to be consumed by it has to stop.  You have to focus on what needs to happen today, to enter recovery, enter treatment, become clean and sober, and set goals for the future that are attainable and healthy.  This IS possible.  This change of attitude and focus IS within you.  As many addicts know, there is practically nothing that will magically make us clean.  We have to decide that we alone want this, that we deserve this and that we want to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.  As a parent, people believe that our children should be enough reason for us to stop using drugs and get clean, but this is not the reality, as many, if not most addicts are parents. 


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