Categories
Cancer Resilience Uncategorized

Chemo and Radiation: 5 Ways to Make Sense of the Emotional Impact

Cancer patients who undergo chemo and radiation treatment have to deal with a lot all at once. While these treatments are designed to kill the cancer cells, they impact your body in many negative ways as well.

Chemo and radiation can make you feel weak and sick. For many people, hair begins to fall out. You’ll likely start to notice other uncomfortable symptoms, too.

Most people tend to focus on the physical impact of chemo and radiation. Yet, it’s also important to recognize the emotional impact of the process.

To put it plainly, these treatments are difficult to go through. Not only are you dealing with a scary disease, but the treatments for that disease can be just as troublesome.

Thankfully, making sense of the emotional impact can actually make chemo and radiation easier to get through.

Let’s take a look at five effective ways you can manage that emotional impact.

1. Understand You’ll Have Ups and Downs

Just as some days you’ll physically feel better than others, your emotions may be all over the place, too.

Some days you might feel happy. Others you might feel angry, sad, or frustrated.

Accepting the fact that your emotions can change quickly is an important part of getting through your treatment. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel rather than getting down because you can’t always control your emotions. Ups and downs are part of the journey. 

2. Learn Your Triggers

One thing you can do to help you make sense of your emotions during chemo and radiation is to identify what might be triggering the negative ones.

When you have an idea of what changes your outlook from a positive to a negative one, you can take better control over it. Then, the emotional impact doesn’t seem so powerful or as extreme.

3. Identify What’s Really Bothering You

One of the best things you can do to make sense of the emotional impact of these treatments is to find out what’s really bothering you.

This is different from what triggered the emotions. Instead, you may have several things going on all at once aside from treatment—household duties, work responsibilities, relationships issues—causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Furthermore, you may hold onto those feelings for too long, causing the negative emotions to rise up. When you figure out the underlying cause of those negative emotions, you can focus on it, and work on strategies to get through it.

4. Don’t Go Through It Alone

Having a strong support group is invaluable when going through any type of treatment for cancer. The emotional impact is often too much to handle on your own. Plus, you shouldn’t have to!

Making sense of your emotions doesn’t have to be something you go through alone. Talking to someone you love about those emotions can actually make a big difference.

Surround yourself with people who support you and will be there for you. They can lift your spirits and provide a comforting ear to listen. Simply talking through your emotions with someone can help you to make more sense of them.

5. Counseling for Cancer Patients

Along those same lines, some cancer patients benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist. If you’re really struggling with how to handle your emotions from chemo and radiation, a professional can help you to work through your feelings and learn to manage them.

There is absolutely no doubt that going through these treatments is one of the most difficult things to endure. The physical, mental, and emotional toll it can take can feel crippling.

Being able to talk to someone who can give you the tools you need to get through it can make a big difference in your overall treatment.

When you better understand your emotions, you can put a different spin on the entire treatment process.

While chemo and radiation will always be difficult to go through, knowing how to make sense of your emotions can lessen the overall impact, and motivate you to stay strong as your body fights back.

If you’re ready to make sense of your emotions as you navigate the chemo and radiation process, I would like to help. Please, contact me today. Or, visit here to learn more about how I can help you.

Categories
Addiction Recovery

Addiction Intervention

Addiction Intervention

Compassionate Intervention Consults (aka “soft interventions”)

So you are trying to decide whether or not to organize an intervention for a loved one? Choosing to confront a loved one about their addiction is a difficult decision and most people are at their wits’ end by the time they start looking at intervention as an option. You need reliable and targeted information to help you determine what’s best for your loved one. And perhaps more importantly, for them to be able to see the severity of their current situation. I have worked in this field, in this city, for over 22 years and I know the resources available locally, within and outside of Texas.

Before You Start

When you start planning an intervention for a loved one struggling with addiction you want to be sure the  professional you work with looks at your family dynamic in its entirety. There are a lot of different certifications, licenses and types of interventionists out there – very few of them are fully and independently licensed and even those who are credentialed rarely are licensed in both mental health and addiction. Fewer still have the precision that comes with years of counseling professionals struggling with addiction or having served for years as the Clinical Director of an inpatient medical detox hospital.

“Recovery is an evolutionary process of the self.

It requires change, commitment, community and time.”

BW Carrettin, 2013

Whomever, you consider – be intentional. Ask questions; interview them. You are trying to do the best you can for the one you care about – it’s okay to be thorough. Here’s a hint/hack for you; if the professional cannot weather a little scrutiny and direct questioning from you, how could they ever be successful in an intervention?

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that getting sober is only a fixed state (think is or is not), but staying sober is a gradual, ongoing process. To fully embrace and maintain true, life-changing recovery requires a commitment to whole life recovery as a way of living. This isn’t accomplished in a single week or even a month or two of treatment in a facility. But it can certainly begin there. The person who is addicted will ultimately need to commit to major lifestyle changes in order to return to enjoying a full life and ongoing success. In the beginning, just getting into treatment is a start in the right direction. While I definitely want those who need it to go to treatment, I want more. Whether it’s alcohol, opiates, cocaine, synthetics or something else, my goal is to have them understand for themselves why they need it and to make that choice. They are the only person who can ultimately decide if they will stay sober/clean. I believe it helps if they decide to start the path as well.

A Different Kind of Intervention

In my practice, I provide in-office, compassion-driven intervention consultations and therapeutic services for adults struggling with addiction. Through my practice, I also provide counseling for clients after they complete treatment and work with spouses and families of loved ones in active addiction and early recovery. Through my work I help families prepare to undertake a substance abuse intervention and also find the best possible treatment options for the adult who is in crisis. With over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families in crisis I am uniquely qualified to help you develop the best possible treatment plan for your loved one. My non-confrontational, invitational approach to intervention is proven effective and allows for a family to lovingly, effectively and compassionately encourage a loved one to get the help they need.

Please note, I do not use “tough love” or other adversarial, aggressive approaches. I have seen these work only insofar as, occasionally getting a person to agree to go to treatment and shortly after admitting, leaving against medical advice and relapsing, which can ultimately be life threatening. That is not to say that getting a person into treatment isn’t a first step or that harder approaches have not been successful for some and may be what your loved one needs. But if force is the flavor you intend to use, I am not the best option for you.

“Sobriety is a state of condition. Recovery is a way of living.”

BW Carrettin, 2003

Knowing the Options

I have developed relationships with many hospitals, residential treatment centers, intensive outpatient programs, physicians, and sober living houses over the years and have acquired inside knowledge of all these options. Each year, I dedicate time to personally visiting, evaluating and re-evaluating programs so that I can stay up to date on what they are doing and how they are doing it. This helps me to effectively support you and help you select the most effective programs available for your loved one’s needs. We work together so that you have the best information from the intervention through the treatment process and into aftercare to make it less stressful for you. The goal is to do everything possible to ensure you have the best information and support possible.

My Services

The consulting services I provide are both individualized and comprehensive. I assess each individual’s and family’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan that most effectively addresses their treatment needs. I meet you where you are in the intervention process and tailor a plan that helps you achieve your goals for success. Collaboration is key and I often consult with other professionals and utilize a team approach to develop a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary plan to most effectively meet your individual needs. Additionally, I can follow up with the program while your loved one is in treatment and coordinate aftercare plans for after they have completed a program.

In addition, I am a Nationally Board Certified counselor, fully and independently licensed therapist, licensed addiction specialist, have advanced training in traumatic loss and am trained in critical incident stress management. This means that I am uniquely qualified to assess programs and match individuals to the right type of services for their individual needs. I also work closely with the family after the intervention in order to support you through the treatment and recovery process and prepare you for your loved one’s eventual return home.

If this sounds like I may be the right person for you, please give me a call.

MORE RESOURCES FOR YOU

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Categories
Grief

Ben Carrettin – Loss and Grief Counseling

 

Has a Recent Death in the Family or the Decline in a Loved One’s Health Left You with Feelings of Emptiness, Grief or Despair?

Have you recently lost someone you love to an illness or accident? Has this sudden separation left a void in your life, and you’re struggling to feel whole again? Perhaps a loved one has taken his or her life and you are trying to deal with feelings of guilt and depression as a survivor of suicide. Has a loved one’s absence either through illness or death created a hole that you cannot or do not want to fill? Is there a stillness in your life that keeps you awake, tossing and turning at night? Perhaps you are caring for someone whose health is slipping away everyday, and you are struggling to balance hope with the reality of impermanence. Do you wish you could feel like you were standing on solid ground again, seeing the world as it is, and not through the veil of grief and loss?

Loss floods us with emotions of fear, guilt, anger, grief and despair. Suddenly the person who you thought would always be there is gone, yet reminders of him or her are everywhere you look. The house feels a lot bigger than it once did, and an incredible stillness and silence lingers uninterrupted in every room. You might see the world without color, in shades of gray. Food has no flavor. Pleasure has no appeal. The sun shines and you can’t see it. The rain falls and you can’t feel it. You might feel trapped in quicksand, and every effort to escape only drags you deeper down. You wait for time to heal all, but it doesn’t, and everyday becomes more difficult, confusing and meaningless than the last. There is a gaping wound in your soul that you either can’t close or do not want to heal. And while you want to feel whole again, the physical emptiness left by your loss has been replaced with a greater, existential emptiness.

Grief and Loss Affects Almost Everyone at Some Point in Their Lives

Grief is one of the most common emotions humans feel. At some point in life, we all experience feelings of emptiness, loneliness and even abandonment as a result of a loved one’s death. But, feelings of grief and loss can also be a result of a dramatic social change. Leaving everyone you love to move to a new city or country, having a spouse abandon the family or losing your home and possessions to a fire or natural disaster can cause significant emotional trauma. While grieving is a natural and healthy part of the healing process, many people can begin to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma. The fear of the new unknown, the stress of facing the world alone or the sheer sadness caused by of a loved one’s absence can erode your strength and perseverance and even adversely affect your health. The good news is that grief is a natural part of life, and there is help and hope. With the support and guidance of a compassionate and understanding therapist, you can work through your loss and resolve feelings of confusion, grief and even anger.

Grief Counseling and Emotional Trauma Therapy Can Help You Find Strength and Wholeness Again

The sudden absence of a family member, friend or significant other can elicit extreme grief, fear, depression, anxiety, apathy and even anger and resentment. Despite our knowledge of our own mortality, actually witnessing the decline of life and death can be a world-shaking experience, especially when someone is ripped out of our lives. Fortunately, grieving is a normal and healthy healing mechanism. And, in warm, safe and confidential grief therapy sessions, I can help you sort through challenging emotions and regain a sense of normalcy and wholeness again.

I believe in inclusivity, and will meet you where you are regardless of religion, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, culture or political position. In a comfortable and safe, living room-style environment, we can explore the thoughts, feelings and problems that are burdening you daily. By addressing your loss directly, I can help you regain a sense of clarity and help you develop ways to re-engage and reconnect with life. Through a combination of conversational techniques and a mindfulness approach, I can help you confront your grief, manage your loss and renew your engagement in the present moment.

I have been providing grief and loss counseling as a standard part of my practice since I began helping people with cancer and medical trauma in 1992. I understand the devastating impact that loss can have on individuals and families. But, I also know that there is help, healing and hope. With a kind, conversational and mindfully guided approach, I can help you process your loss and regain your sense of self and wholeness.

You Still May Have Questions or Concerns About Grief Counseling…

I’m afraid of the emotions I might encounter if I talk about my loved one’s absence.

Confronting death can be a terribly frightening ordeal that requires incredible courage and strength. Whether watching someone slowly decline in health or having a loved one pass suddenly, the emotions we experience can be so overwhelming that we want to avoid thinking about them. But, avoidance can create other problems. Despair, depression, anxiety and apathy can cause you to withdrawal from those still around you, slowly eroding at the wonderful life you still have. By gently confronting your vulnerabilities and exploring your emotions, I can help gain clarity and confidence about the future.

If therapy is successful, am I erasing the person I lost from my life?

Grief therapy will never erase someone from your life. Loss is like a deep scar. It heals and it even fades, but it never goes away. It lives with us as a reminder of the past. Even though it is always there, eventually the pain of the wound subsides, and even the sight of the scar fades. Grief and emotional trauma therapy can help you to understand the difference between forgetting someone and letting him or her go. In our sessions I can help you move forward with your own life while acknowledging and celebrating the precious one you lost.

I don’t need counseling; I should be able to work through this on my own.

Loss is one of the many powerful things that make us equal. And, it takes strength and resilience to face death or loss. Just by seeking grief counseling you are already taking the first bold step toward healing yourself. Seeking help is a sign of not being broken or weak. Rather, it truly is a sign of strength. With grief and loss counseling I can help you empower yourself, and find strength, hope and peace in the present moment.

You Can Find Purpose, Healing and Wholeness in the Midst of Sorrow…

You don’t have to work through these difficult times alone. I invite you to call me for a free 15-minute consultation at (346)-493-6181. I would be happy to talk through any questions you have about my practice or grief and loss counseling.

 

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Categories
Anxiety & Stress Critical Incidents ESA - Emotional Support Animals Life Transitions

Counseling for Stress and Anxiety

Counseling for Stress and Anxiety

Feeling down? Stressed? Anxious? Maybe you just want to talk to someone who will REALLY listen? Maybe you also want that person to be trained and experienced – someone whose advice you can feel confident of. Counseling for stress and anxiety might be new to you,  and that’s okay. But if you’re struggling with the pressures of life, this may be the perfect time for it.

Yes, we all live in a stressful world, especially in the past couple of years. It can feel like there is little time to relax, take care of ourselves and even our relationships. No, we can’t change the past but we can certainly learn from it. Most of us do everything we can to make our lives more stable. And many of us have pushed ourselves to extreme limits to weather the challenges of life and the pandemic. That’s too often what we do. When it comes to pushing our limits to the edge, we often disregard the negative impact on our lives. And yes, it is normal for everyone to at some point experience and encounter stressful events and situations along the way and in some cases most of the time.

So, what can we do? We can learn to train our mind not to be imprisoned by past negative events and even more so, to increase our focus on the positive events in our lives. Some anxiety is absolutely normal – we worry about our relationships going bad, how our children are getting on, how long we will keep our jobs, what will be the results of the medical tests we have just had, how we will do in the exams. This is real life. Short-term anxiety heightens our responses and reactions, helping us to deal with stressful situations. The problem is resolved, the question answered, we have something to work with, and then our anxiety subsides. Pretty normal run of short-term, mild anxiety as a sort of motivator.

When Is It Too Much?

Excessive anxiety is all about the “too much” ; too much worry, too much stress, too much adrenaline – leading to shaking, sweating, sleeplessness, a churning stomach, palpitations, even panic attacks and antisocial behavior. The anxiety might have had a real trigger at first, but then we start feeling that we have lost control over that aspect of our lives. When this happens, our anxiety can seem to move out of control, too. This living in a state of hyper-arousal can threaten our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Sometimes, this problem hinders the most important things that you used to do. This keeps you from growing, engaging and developing in regards to relationships, works, college and other activities. So what happens when you feel like something isn’t right and you can’t solve it by yourself?

Maybe that’s a sign that it’s time to reach out and get some help. If you are already stuck and overwhelmed, why waste any more time in that space? Sitting in emotional and cognitive quicksand doesn’t serve you at all. This is your life – you want to spend it well.

Choosing to reach out and get help is like opening your own personal doorway for change. Yes, there are several ways; joining a support group, adopting a health-focused lifestyle or even seeing if you are a candidate for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

Whatever path you take, at your core, you are likely looking to secure a positive and sustainable change for yourself. This means personal growth and learning are a must. And when it comes to learning how to manage your anxiety and stress, working with an ethical, experienced and skilled professional counselor can really help.

Why not call today and find out how one-to-one counseling could help you narrow down the causes of your anxiety and also help you acquire the skills to tackle it?

Categories
Pre & Post Surgical

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Surgery has been suggested to you because it is believed to be an appropriate medical choice for dealing with your current condition. Although you may accept that surgery is the best treatment approach, it is very natural to have some thoughts and fears around the “unknown”. It is important that you discuss any questions or concerns with your surgeon and determine whether counseling before and after surgery may be recommended as part of your treatment plan.

You may be relieved to know that there are other things that you can do to prepare for your surgery and also to recover in the best possible way. What your surgeon brings is his/her skill and expertise, which you have confidence in. But what can you bring? You have the ability to bring the most positive emotional attitude and lowest stress possible – to give your body the best environment for surgery and for healing and recovery afterwards.

When we are stressed – our blood pressure goes up, or quality of sleep/rest go down and our brains produce a chemical called cortisol which for short time and infrequent time is pretty normal. But when we stay anxious, afraid or “tense” for longer periods of time or to a larger degree this can spell trouble for our physical health. Any medical professional will tell you that chronic or severe stress complicates recovery and has a directly negative impact on your health. Whether before surgery or in the days and weeks after surgery – high and frequent stress put you at risk.

Only you are in control of your thoughts and in turn the emotions that you will experience and even how your body may respond. The mind and the body are connected in an amazing way and your belief in “yourself” and in the healing process is important for your overall recovery. By taking an active approach to your healing and recovery, you become an important and active team member along with your surgeon and the other health professionals taking care of you.

It can be empowering to know that there are real, tangible ways for you to prepare for surgery and optimize your healing and recovery after return home. Even if you are challenged with an ongoing illness that you must still manage after surgery, there are valuable skills that you can learn that may help you cope better and help you live a full, active and engaged life.

The overall experience and outcome of surgery can be enhanced when you make the choice to take an active role in your healing and recovery. The stress of a diagnosis, an illness or injury, the impending surgery and the recovery process all can have a significant impact on your physical, psychological and social state. From the time a decision is made to have an operation until the recovery is complete, there are major physical and psychological processes that can either enhance or impede healing and recovery.

Your body is an incredible gift and it has within it the wisdom and power to influence your emotional and physical well-being. There is no such thing as failure…health and healing are a lifelong journey. There are times that the goal may not be for a cure or even for complete recovery. Instead, the rewards could come from discovering new aspects of life and your truest, most authentic self, from new lessons learned to the joy of facing difficult challenges, or from the deepening of relationships and the appreciation of the unique preciousness of your own life.

Whether you are dealing with an illness, preparing for surgery or concerned about your recovery, it is my hope that you would know that there is assistance available to guide you along your journey. If you would like to discuss any of the issues addressed above or if counseling before and after surgery may be right for you, please feel free to contact me for a consultation.

Want to learn how you can become an active partner in  your recovery process?

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Our brain was built for learning and survival. We have to teach it to be happy.

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Counseling Before and After Surgery

Categories
Organ Transplant

Counseling for Organ Transplant Patients

Counseling for Organ Transplant Patients

Receiving an organ transplant can be a life-changing event, offering hope and a second chance at life. However, alongside the physical recovery process, many transplant recipients face significant emotional, mental health, and social challenges. It’s important to recognize and address these aspects of transplant recovery to ensure holistic well-being. In this guide, we’ll explore the emotional journey of organ transplant recipients, offer strategies for coping with mental health challenges, and provide tips for navigating social relationships post-transplant.

Organ Transplant – An Emotional Journey

The emotional journey of organ transplant recipients is often likened to a roller coaster ride, filled with highs and lows. Initially, there may be feelings of relief, gratitude, and hope as the transplant offers a chance for a renewed lease on life. However, alongside these positive emotions, there may also be feelings of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about the future. It’s normal for transplant recipients to experience a range of emotions as they navigate the complexities of recovery.

Facing Grief and Loss

One significant emotional challenge faced by organ transplant recipients is the experience of grief and loss. While the transplant may offer a new beginning, it also signifies the loss of the old self and the life that once was, in some of the ways it once was. Recipients may mourn the loss of their former health, independence, and identity, grappling with the reality of their new circumstances. It’s important for recipients to acknowledge and process these feelings of grief in order to move forward in their recovery journey.

Anxiety and Fear

Living with a transplanted organ can bring about unique anxieties and fears. Recipients may worry about rejection, infection, or the possibility of complications arising post-transplant. The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of the future can weigh heavily on the minds of transplant recipients, impacting their mental well-being. It’s crucial for recipients to address these anxieties and fears in order to maintain a positive outlook and quality of life.

Depression and Mood Changes

Depression and mood changes are common among organ transplant recipients, often stemming from the stress of the transplant process, changes in medication, and adjustments to lifestyle. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and irritability may arise as recipients grapple with the challenges of recovery. It’s essential for recipients to seek support and treatment for depression, whether through therapy, medication, or support groups, in order to address these mental health concerns.

Organ Transplant Coping Strategies

While the emotional journey of organ transplant recipients may be challenging, there are strategies that can help individuals cope with the ups and downs of recovery:

1. Seek Support:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can offer empathy, understanding, and encouragement during difficult times.

2. Practice Self-Care:

Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques, and hobbies that bring joy and fulfillment.

3. Stay Connected:

Maintain social connections and relationships with loved ones, even if it means adapting to new limitations or circumstances post-transplant.

4. Communicate Openly:

Be honest and open about your feelings and concerns with your healthcare team, who can provide guidance, support, and resources as needed.

5. Set Realistic Expectations:

Recognize that recovery is a journey with its ups and downs, and be patient with yourself as you navigate the challenges along the way.

Social Challenges of Organ Transplant

In addition to emotional and mental health concerns, organ transplant recipients may also face social challenges as they adjust to life post-transplant. These challenges may include:

1. Stigma and Discrimination:

Despite advances in medical science, there still exists stigma and misconceptions surrounding organ transplantation. Recipients may encounter discrimination or judgment from others due to their health condition, which can impact their self-esteem and social interactions.

2. Lifestyle Changes:

Organ transplant recipients often need to make significant lifestyle changes, such as adhering to a strict medication regimen, avoiding certain activities or foods, and attending frequent medical appointments. These changes can impact social relationships and activities, requiring recipients to adapt and find new ways to engage with their communities.

3. Relationship Dynamics:

Transplantation can also affect relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. Loved ones may struggle to understand the recipient’s experience or may feel overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving. It’s important for recipients to communicate openly with their loved ones and seek support when needed to navigate these changes.

Keep This in Mind

The emotional, mental health, and social challenges faced by organ transplant recipients are significant aspects of the transplant journey that deserve attention and support. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, recipients can foster resilience, promote well-being, and thrive in their post-transplant lives. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources and support networks available to help you navigate the ups and downs of recovery.

It’s a courageous and overwhelming path you are on. I’d like to help.

If you have questions or would like to talk about whether this is a good fit for you (or one of your patients), please feel free to call me directly. I always offer a free, 20 minute phone consult and am happy to talk with you. You can also find loads of articles on an array of subjects on our blog at Live Better Live Now.

Getting Started is Easy

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Master Addiction Counselor (NAADAC) Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Categories
Cocaine & Stimulants

Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Counseling for Cocaine and Stimulant Addiction

Life will get hard at times; there is no doubt about it…how we as unique individuals cope during these dark times can make all the difference in the long game. Some people choose to turn to family or friends to help them through, some may engage in online “retail therapy”…then there are some of us turn to using illegal substances, such as cocaine or Adderoll, to curb depression, energize us or push us through during hard times. And in the moment, even though we know better, we may actually think it’s working. But ultimately, the drug takes over our lives, we lose the person we thought we were and more times than not, become addicted and unable to walk away on our own. The recovery path from cocaine and other stimulants is extensive and requires great motivation once they choose to get their lives back on track. Counseling with a seasoned, professional who specializes in cocaine and stimulant addiction can be a great help.

Sometimes it gets even more complicated when we have pursued relief from one stress not realizing we have added to another. For example, a client may be prescribed stimulant medications such as Adderoll if they suffer from ADHD with the goal of helping to treat their condition which may not be an issue if the medication is taken as prescribed. However, if prescription stimulants are taken in doses and in different manners other then prescribed by the physician, there can be complications. On the other hand there are other stimulants, such as cocaine, which wreck havoc on the brain and body no matter how it is ingested.

When stimulant substances are ingested there is a rapid increase in the release of dopamine in the brain and in a very amplified way. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure, movement and attention. When stimulants are abused or too much is taken in at once, there will be disruption of the normal communication between the brain cells and the release of dopamine. There will be a notable increase in the release of dopamine causing individuals to feel a sense of euphoria…which they will enjoy and want to keep coming back too, which is what places them at risk for addiction. And here’s the kicker, the dopamine high of that first time can never be reached at that level again, but the addict will continue to chase it’s ghost in hopes that it can be reached. And so increases of use and frequency as well as combining with other substances is likely to follow.

Not only do stimulants produce feelings of euphoria, but they can cause other health effects that may lead to long-term complications, including:

Increased blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Increased body temperature
Decreased sleep
Decreased appetite (malnutrition)
Feelings of hostility
Paranoia
Stroke (if used in high enough doses)

Prescription stimulants, such as Adderal, are also often abused and taken in higher quantities or in different ways than they were prescribed. This is because these medications will suppress the appetite, increase wakefulness, and increase focus/attention. Most often they are abused for weight loss purposes or to enhance performance. College campuses are seeing a steady increase of problems with cocaine and stimulant addiction and abuse abuse by students hoping to stay awake and study longer. Prescription stimulants may also deliver feelings of euphoria which may, like cocaine, lead them to abuse the substances for recreational purposes…such as to “get high.”

Cocaine and stimulant addiction are very real and can occur in anyone that takes them, especially if they are without medical supervision or decide to take the stimulants in their own ways. If stimulants are abused long-term, individuals may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the substance or are without it for a significant length of time. These symptoms may include: fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns. In addition, with long-term abuse of stimulants the individuals will have recurring drug cravings, loss of control of how much they take, and a desire to get the drug no matter what the consequences. Individuals who have been abusing or are addicted to cocaine of stimulants will require treatment for medical detox and continued counseling to help with the management of their addiction. It takes time to wean the body off of the substances and also to decrease the negative feelings and improve their overall well-being.

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Counseling and ongoing support programs can be very helpful in this process and require different time commitments depending upon many factors including genetics/family history, what the individual has an addiction to, length of time and volume of use, their overall health and how resilient they are to cravings. It’s important to note that an ample amount of time will be needed to allow the brain to recover from how it has been changed physiologically while using the stimulant substance(s).

During detoxification the individual will experience great urges to find and consume more of the stimulant they were addicted to just from cues in their everyday environment that they may have associated with their drug intake. For that reason, relapse related to use of stimulant substances are fairly common. Even in individuals who ultimately recover and establish a long-term abstinence from abuse of stimulants, the persistent drug-using urges from their environment can trigger them to easily relapse either during treatment interventions or long afterwards.

Ultimately, cocaine and stimulant addiction should be taken very seriously and individuals can suffer life-threatening complications from the improper use and abuse of these substances. If you or your loved is struggling with a stimulant dependency or addiction it is never too late to seek help. Watching someone you love develop and lead a life that revolves around such a devastating habit can take a toll on all who are involved. With the right treatment, the right motivation, and great support you or your loved one can be on your way to discovering a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. Don’t let your addiction steal away any more of your life!

Call Now (346)-493-6181

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

 

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Synthetics, Designer Drugs, & More

Synthetic and Designer Drugs

Counseling for Synthetic and Designer Drugs

Synthetic and designer drugs are often newly-created versions and adaptations of illicit drugs. Sometimes, they are even new substances, manufactured by individuals in labs, or even in homes. These drugs usually are much stronger than their illicit counterparts. The sheer intensity of the substances can cause more devastating effects on the body. One of the most concerning aspects about synthetic and designer drugs is the common use of highly toxic materials as ingredients when making them.

There are three major categories of synthetic drugs:

  1. Synthetic cannabinoids – mimics marijuana
  2. Synthetic stimulants – mimics cocaine, methamphetamine, “bath salts”
  3. Synthetic hallucinogens – mimics LSD

Synthetic/designer drug makers will often give their creation its own brand name. They often market it under such names as: K2, Spice, Vanilla Sky, White Rush, Scarface, etc. Whatever the name, these products are extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening if ingested…even once. Yes. Just a single use can kill you.

Another challenge related to these substances is that they are ever-changing depending on what the individual manufacturing it decides to put in them. The ingredients that are used can be tweaked and changed however the the person making it decides, which can make potentially even more deadly. To make it even more complicated, with the ever growing number of chemicals being developed…these manufacturers genuinely have no way of knowing exactly what their drugs contain.

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Using Synthetic and Designer Drugs Is Extremely Risky

The risks of using synthetic and designer drugs are huge because you never really know what you are taking. When you these these drugs there is a good chance that your body will be altered and you may not function as your normal self after just doing it one time. It can also target select body functions causing them to decline in function with each continued use. The plain truth is that you may not even survive at all, even after one dose. So you have to ask yourself, “Is using this really going to be worth the risk of possibly losing or ruining my life, or the lives of others?” But with so much misinformation out there and a general ignorance to just how lethal these drugs area – the questions rarely get asked. And far too often, younger people become the deadly recipients; giving in to peer pressure or the misinformation they learn on the internet.

Some symptoms of using synthetic drugs may include:

Hallucinations
Aggression
Paranoia
Suicidal thoughts or impulses
Homicidal tendencies
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Confusion
Vomiting
Heart attack or stroke
Death
Seizures
Self-destructive/violent behavior
Delusions

What Makes Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous

Since synthetic and designer drug makers often change the properties of the original drug counterpart, these drugs typically will have a new, different effect on the brain. They typically also have a different effect on the behaviors of those who ingest them. These new and different effects on the brain/behavior can make drug rehab and counseling more difficult. Each individual who receives treatment and counseling will need to have a different regimen according to how the substance they’ve chosen to ingest has affected their body. The old days of “one path to recovery” as a motto for addiction treatment is simply no longer valid. Treatment centers and professionals who are worth their salt know they have to adapt care to meet the ever-changing problems that arise from an ever-changing and adaptive list of drugs. If the chemistry is ever-changing, how can the care and treatment be successful if it doesn’t change to meet it?

Why Is Synthetic Drug Addiction So Hard To Treat

Most synthetic drugs will end up causing physical damage, psychiatric damage and/or addiction. Once an individual starts using them they will most likely not be able to stop themselves from going back again and again, despite the terrible consequences. Knowing the risks and what they might lose is not enough to keep most addicted people from using again. When addiction reaches this high of a level, there must be some sort of intervention and rehabilitation. This is necessary if the person is going to have the best opportunity for recovery and the support needed to reclaim their life and restore sobriety. People addicted to synthetics/designer drugs often need a structured, treatment environment, medication intervention and working with addiction professionals in order to get them back on the right path.

What to Expect in Treatment for Synthetic and Designer Drug Addiction

With synthetic and designer drugs, expect counseling and rehabilitation to be intensive, structured and thorough. This is needed in order to detoxify the body, create behavior limits, learn new skills, support knew boundaries, address the guilt and shame and curb cravings/urges for the substances. Being inpatient in a facility tailored specifically to treating these addictions can also be very helpful. However, initially they may have severe withdrawal symptoms and behaviors that will have to be managed with medication and other measures that are deemed necessary at the time to ensure their safety.

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Ultimately, drug addiction is a complex and difficult disease affecting the you and everyone in your life. It is up to you to start making the right decisions; ask for help and find the motivation you need in order to make a better life for yourself and the ones you love. Your road to recovery begins with you and your greatest chance of success lies in part on your willingness to accept the change.

Stop.

Breathe.

You CAN do this.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

What Happens After I Finish Treatment?

After detox and inpatient treatment, continuing to work with a seasoned and experienced counselor who specializes in addiction recovery will only increase your chances of helping you reclaim your life. If your loved one is suffering from addiction, be supportive and let them know you care…because it may make all the difference – and get some help for yourself, now. You cannot save them from themselves, but you can learn how to help and how to heal.

Survival is not enough – life is meant for living.

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Categories
Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery – for Professionals

If you are reading this, you are already taking a step in the right direction. Whether you are struggling with addiction yourself or love someone who is, getting more information is a good place to start. Addiction is a devastating disease that affects not just the addict but the entire circle of family and friends who care about them. And yes, addiction is a disease – a disease of the brain. The actual changes in physiology and neurochemistry are there – it is not a choice. However, just like a person fighting cancer – choice is involved in treatment and follow through. Genetics, lifestyle and and experiences all play a part, but once addiction is awakened, it’s a devil that doesn’t just go away. Lives change in it’s wake. Whether they change in bad ways or healthy ways is the choice an addict has in their addiction recovery – but sometimes that choice cannot even be discussed until the brain has been detoxed from the substance of abuse and begun to heal. Whether alcohol, prescription opiates, heroin, cocaine, marijuana or designer/synthetics – if you are committed to your recovery, or are the loved one of someone struggling with any of these – I’d like to help.

Addiction And The Brain 101

So, in simple terms, by the time addiction is in play – the brain sees the need for the alcohol or drug as an issue of actual survival. Seriously, the same part of the brain that tells you to jump back from the rattlesnake or get out of the way of the oncoming truck is lit up like a bonfire during a craving episode in addiction. This is old brain – old world brain – it’s the part of the brain that essentially makes up the brain of a reptile. We all have it. It’s concern is survival (and aspects around that) and nothing else. And in addiction, it trumps logic, reasoning, emotions – everything. During addiction the reptile part of the brain that usually sits in the back seat, jumps up and grabs the wheel.

So, how on earth can you expect to reason with old brain crisis-response wiring? Ultimately, you can’t. Not while the substance is still in control. Although the survival response comes from the non-dominant part of the brain, when it triggers the life-or-death survival button – it takes over and no argument or heartfelt plea is going to overcome it.

That being said, there are strong windows of opportunity to springboard addiction recovery. Sometimes it’s when an addict has hit an incredible wall of losses, sometimes it’s the edge of losing everything, sometimes it’s a wearing down to a few moments of openness amidst despair – it can come in many forms and no, it doesn’t require hitting “rock bottom”. If the addict is willing – don’t wait. No holiday, or inconvenience is worth an opportunity to get in front of this disease and begin to heal all the lives it is hurting. Whatever the excuse – remember that the risk is ultimately, death.

What The Different Levels of Treatment Looks Like

There are many levels of care and below I have listed from highest to lowest, the more common titles. There may be hybrids and extensions out there – but these are the core:

*Detox – Inpatient
*Residential-Inpatient
*Partial Hospitalization-Outpatient (although some with overnight exist)
*Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – Outpatient
*Counseling/Psychotherapy
*Community Support Orgs (12 Steps, SMART, Celebrate Recovery, etc)
*Sober Living (this provides housing environment to support any/all outpatient services above and I highly, highly recommend this for no less than 3-4 months in a reputable Sober Living residence)

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Why Discharge Plans and Recovery Plans Are Critical

Far too often, patients are so excited and looking forward to getting out of treatment and back home that they fail to put the amount of focus, investment and commitment into the ongoing plan for their recovery after they leave inpatient treatment. Remember the reptile brain we spoke of earlier? Well, here’s the kicker – he isn’t really restrained until 18 months after the last use. (and for life it’s a risk) But it gets better – it’s 18 months after the last use of any mood-altering substance – not just the one the addict happened to be dependent on. Although the first 60-120 days are likely to show the greatest improvement (longer with meth and a few other substances) – the old brain “reptile” is still going strong and the risk of relapse is great. Perhaps even greater because to the addict and many around them – life is already so much better and so our vigilance relaxes a bit.

After a residential treatment stay, I would encourage most people, especially those in treatment for the first time, to definitely go to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). This helps to bridge the experiences and tools learned in the secure and protected environment of inpatient or residential with the transition back into the open community where the environment poses many more risks to the recovering addict.

Sober Living Homes

(*in a safe, professional and reputable establishment) are a must in my book. If you want to significantly raise the chances of long term recovery then this extends the intensive support frame during those critical months and gets you ahead of the game. Sober living provides an extension of the organization and security, in part, that an inpatient treatment level gives but allows for the recovering addict to return to work, school and family. Many professionals dismiss this as being intrusive, others do not want to burden their families in their absence and even collegiates will say they don’t want to lose a semester. Stop. Losing all of the progress that has been made with a fast relapse back to use, or worse, is what is at stake. Loved ones, this is your arena too, don’t let convenience keep you from supporting what is necessary. Compassion is not about what is wanted, but what is needed. Be clear about this.

evoNemot12 Step and Community Support Groups

A word about 12 Step and other community support organizations. While I strongly support these the fact remains that they are not a replacement for counseling – and counseling is not a replacement for them. These groups are built as communities of mentors and peers – it is a communal path of support. Counseling is a clinical service delivered by professionals – it addresses emotional, psychological and complex cognitive issues. They are not the same and most long term recovering addicts will tell you they have used both. (be very cautious about a representative of either group who maligns or diminishes the other – this is your recovery path, get what you need from it.)

Why Loved Ones Need Help Too

Parents, partners, family – loved ones. This is called a “family disease” for a reason – it affects the whole family. No matter how strong or removed from it you may think you are – it affects the family; everyone. Many addiction recovery situations are made so much more complicated and jeopardized because of the false beliefs that the addict “is the one who’s sick” or “it’s their problem” – and so the hurt, confusion, resentment and pain just sits and ferments in all those around them. If you are a loved one of an addict – in addiction recovery, in treatment or actively using – you need support and information too, a lot of it. The denial that addicts have in the midst of their disease is less insipid because everyone but the addict sees it. The denial held by the loved ones is much harder because usually very few see it and even fewer will call it out and confront it. The very best gift you will ever give yourself and the addict you love is to get some help – private counseling, a support group of other loved ones of addicts – there are lots of resources out there. If you or a loved is struggling with the disease of addiction and you are ready to make changes and get your life back, I am here and I can help you.grief

Ben Carrettin is Nationally Board Certified, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor with over 20 years of experience. Ben has worked in the arena of addiction/emotional health and the corporate world for many years. He works with both addicts and with the spouses, partners and parents of addicts – ask about his “What Now?” workshops for loved ones or his recovery consults for professionals. If you have reached a point where you are ready for change, Ben is here to help.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Addiction Recovery Counseling and Support

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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

Categories
Life Transitions

Life Transitions

Going through life transitions with a professional therapist

Are you currently going through a tough time? Or, do you feel OK, but suspect talking with a therapist could be exactly what’s needed to generate positive momentum toward attaining your dreams? Well, that why we are here.

Let’s face it, Change is a regular part of our daily life whether it is moving to new city, caregiver stress, single parenting, adult returning to school, or a new co-worker joining the company, a family member getting married, or a new activity we incorporate into our life. There are times however, where change is the result of a major life transition and our ability to adapt to the new environment is beyond our skill level. Life transitions can make us question our life purpose, identities, life goals and direction and together we can explore these thoughts and feelings and begin to make sense out of what may seem a confusing time.

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Often when faced with a change we look for ways to incorporate this into the life we are leading. In the case of a major life transition, Values-Based counseling helps us to determine how the life we are leading will adapt to this core shift. This can cause questions for people as to who they are and how they identify themselves. In the situation of children moving out of the family home, although you will always remain a parent, your immediate circle of influence has shifted. Making sure there are nutritious meals that your children are home safe each night, and being there on a daily basis to encourage them has shifted. You may now be faced with a lot of idle time to fill, and the voids that are left may leave you feeling helpless, or unproductive. Your counselor is here to help identify these issues and the other adjustment issues as you move forward through the many life transitions that help to create the person we are today.

Counseling offers individuals or families a process to work through what this life change means
We understand how challenging life and relationships can be. We have accumulated, and grown from both clinical training and personal life experiences. These lessons contribute to our understanding and empathy, and we are passionate about helping others. We understand if you’re reluctant to try counseling or to take the first step and contact someone about help but going to counseling is an acknowledgment that you want things to change. You want your life to be better! It’s a sign of strength that you are considering counseling, and we encourage you to take that next step. Research suggests the biggest predictor of positive client outcomes is the relationship between the client and the counselor – so make sure you find the right professional for you.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.