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Addiction Recovery Life Transitions Loss Organ Transplant Pre & Post Surgical

Quick Look at Kidney Transplants

The Quick Look at Kidney Transplants

The kidneys are a fundamental element of our excretory system. The two bean-shaped kidneys play a very critical role in the human body. They are responsible for filtering out the blood and other body fluids. In this way, they ensure the release of waste that we don’t need and that can actually be harmful to hold on to. But when serious problems arise, a kidney transplant may be needed. And that can be a bit scary and overwhelming. You don’t have to go it alone. Below you will find a quick look at kidney transplants and a few ways we end up getting there.

There are several sorts of kidney problems that can occur. You might experience a kidney stone, swelling or deterioration. All of these kidney problems can halt those “exit” functions. For example, if the kidney becomes unable to filter blood, then the wastes accumulate within different body parts, causing numerous issues like high blood pressure. When approximately 90% of a kidney stops filtering and excreting, it results in kidney failure. 

Kidney transplantation is a life-saving procedure – and more frequent than you might think. It can be a solution for  kidney failure and other conditions requiring the removal of one or both kidneys.

In the initial stages, kidney “wash through” machines and dialysis might work. However, in severe kidney failure, the likely option is a kidney transplant. 

Although a human body can survive on one kidney, more health compromised people need another. And people with other medical ailments or second kidney failure will have to rely on an outsourced kidney; a kidney transplant. 

Causes of Kidney Failure 

Despite occurring naturally as we age, a few other factors can also cause kidney failure. Individuals having diabetes are more prone to kidney problems. Chronic or uncontrolled blood pressure levels also add to kidney damage. (the consistent inflammation can affect the filtering process). Unchecked, these all eventually lead you towards severe kidney failure. Increasing the chance that you will end up needing a kidney transplant.

Dialysis Vs. Kidney Transplant

With failed kidney, there can be two available options. First, you can go for dialysis, which is a machine-assisted excretion treatment and requires regular treatments for a lifetime. Second, you can seek ti have a kidney transplant. 

No doubt, a kidney transplant can seem scarier than dialysis. When is surgery not scarier? But it can be effective in the long term and raise the improvement and quality of life. With dialysis, a person has to continue undergoing the same procedure again and again. There is no point at which you recover -it’s an ongoing treatment process. It is because dialysis is a more of a maintenance procedure rather than a fixed point treatment. 

A kidney transplant, on the other hand, is a distinct and hopefully one-time procedure. Once you have a matched donor, undergone surgery and completed your recovery your health status, ideally, you should be improved. That is why a kidney transplant is often a preferable choice. 

Some people are afraid of surgery or getting rejected during kidney transplants. And let’s be very clear, you need to be willing to care for the new kidney and the recovery has a lot requirements and continued success depends on your ability to make a lot of lifestyle changes and keep them. Many people are ready to promise anything in the face of a serious medical condition – the reality is, with a transplant you are already very lucky to get a new organ to begin with – you need to be serious in your commitment. It’s rare enough to get a great match, you aren’t likely to get another one. 

In the end, it’s up to the patient and their physician to determine what is the best path for them.

Why Choose a Kidney Transplant?

When compared to dialysis, a kidney transplant can be preferable because of the following reasons;

• Low Treatment Cost – It is one-time, whereas dialysis will continue to cost for a lifetime. 

• Better Quality of Life –It gives you the opportunity to live the rest of your life in a better state of health – for many, this means in peace and comfort.

• Fewer Dietary Restrictions –Unlike dialysis patients, there are fewer limitations on what or what not to eat. 

• Lesser Health Risk –Unlike dialysis, it enables you to stay healthy in the long run.

Kidney transplant is not always an option. A few things might restrict you from going for a transplant. It is potentially unsuitable for people with old age, severe heart diseases, cancer, mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, etc. So, everyone needs to consult with the doctor first, and if it comes under any no-go category, the person will have to continue with dialysis. 

Types of Donors for Kidney Transplant

For a kidney transplant, there can be two types of kidney donors. They are the following; 

1) Living Donor

A human body can rely completely on one healthy kidney for all metabolic activities. That is why a person with two healthy kidneys can donate a kidney to someone else who needs one. However, there are criteria to be met, such as blood group and tissues, to matchto either donate or accept a kidney. 

A kidney donor can be a family member or someone else. It is always preferable to receive a kidney from a blood relation as it lets you avoid the risk of rejection and is usually beneficial. 

2) Deceased Donor

Another way of getting a kidney is from a deceased person. It happens in a way that hospitals usually gather data on people needing a kidney. The hospital is informed immediately whenever a deceased person’s kidney matches the patient. The doctor prepares an instant surgery for a transplant. It is a very time sensitive process because the kidney transplant should take place shortly for a kidney to be valuable. 

Kidney Transplant Procedure 

Kidney transplantation is more or less like other surgical treatments. During a kidney transplant surgery, the doctor injects the anesthetic dose within your blood through an intravenous line in your arm. It is basically to make you fall asleep or for a while to undergo the incision. Once unconscious, the doctor makes an incision to open up your abdominal region. He then puts in the donor’s kidney and connects the arteries and veins to your circulatory system. As the blood starts flowing, the new kidneys function within your body.

Alongside that, your kidneys need a connection to the ureter. It can only then carry on the excretion process smoothly. The doctor connects the newly induced kidney to the ureter and the bladder. 

As far as your original kidneys are concerned, they usually remain inside the body and aren’t disposed of. However, in some cases, when the failed kidney causes trouble, it is removed too. 

Risks of Having a Kidney Transplant

Although a prevailing treatment for severe kidney issues or kidney failure, a kidney transplant is not a full-proof solution. It causes multiple risks either during the transplantation surgery or afterward.

• Rejection of the Donor Organ – While operating, the donated kidney might not be compatible with your body. It is possible to even after undergoing the matching tests and everything else. So, there is definitely risk, even beyond the ones typical of surgery. 

• Kidney Diseases –The transplantation, although it eradicates the ailment, for the time being, there are chances of the patient regaining a mild or severe ailment. 

• Side-effects –Undergoing the surgery can cause you side effects. It will leave an incision mark and temporarily cause redness, swelling, and pain. 

None of the above three risks is unpreventable. Almost every doctor provides medication to minimize donor rejection, kidney diseases and surgical side effects. And there is a lot that you can do to help or hinder your own success.

Postoperative Possible Complications of  Kidney Transplant

• Infection – Minor infections like urinary tract infections, colds, and flu are common after kidney transplants. However, in most severe conditions, pneumonia or CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection may occur.

• Blood clots –  The most common complication after a kidney transplant is the development of blood clots in the arteries connected to the donated kidney. In some cases, medications can be used to dissolve the blood clots.

• Urine leakage –  Sometimes, after a kidney transplant, urine may leak through the connection between the ureter and bladder. This usually happens during the first-month post-kidney transplant.

Conclusion 

Opting for a kidney transplant requires you to think twice before jumping in. It ultimately, is up to you because you must live with both the benefits, risks and lifestyle changes required of the transplant. You must be brave enough to analyze the situation and make a decision. 

Facing this decision and the life changes and commitment it requires can be extremely stressful. And not just on you, but also on your loved ones whose life will also change in the process. You both may feel worried about you undergoing surgery, fear of rejection or other complications. It marks a transition period in your life and theirs – and that is stressful all around. Be gracious and kind to yourself and each other. Stress directly impacts health, so consider working with a professional counselor who is experienced at working with transplant patients and their loved ones.

Do exercise, eat healthy, engage in positive activities, and take good care of yourself before and after the kidney transplant. And obviously, alcohol and other drugs will only damage your chances and your new kidney – you need to leave those behind. Change your lifestyle so you can spend your life in style.

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK567755/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553074/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230851/

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549004/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716102/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8711553/

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Anxiety & Stress Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace First Responders Grief Loss Uncategorized

Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

With a steady increase in mass shootings and violence in the United States, more and more people are left as primary or secondary victims  to these heinous crimes. 

Shootings aren’t anything new to the US, sadly. The rate at which they’re occurring has drastically increased over the years leaving a gaping hole in resources and education for those struggling in the aftermath. 

What exactly is “normal” to feel in the days, weeks, and months after being witness to a shooting event?

Is the way we cope with this trauma different for kids vs. adults?

Let’s talk about it. 

What You Need To Know About The Increase In Mass Shootings:

Why is there such a spike in mass shootings all of the sudden?

Is there a common underlying problem, or is the media just choosing to cover more of these stories than ever before?

Is it because we all have the latest news at our fingertips – making these tragic stories more accessible?

The term mass shooting refers to any situation in which a gunman shoots 4 or more strangers in a sudden attack. While the attack is unexpected the perpetrator may have been planning their crime for months or years before the incident. 

In addition,  in order for a shooting to be considered a ‘mass shooting’ it must occur in any public space such as a school, shopping mall, store, or workplace. While there may be a target of the attack (such as an employee targeting his boss) others are wounded or killed in the process. 

So, why such an increase?

There hasn’t been a single week in 2022 without some instance of a mass shooting. (look at the data on school shootings in 2022)

It’s a heartbreaking statistic that shows that each year our community is left with literally hundreds of survivors and witnesses. These people then have to face the mental, emotional, and physical trauma left behind. 

Many mass shooters are incorrectly labeled as “mentally unstable individuals” who suddenly snap at the drop of the hat. But taking a deeper look shows many of these crimes are either

  1. Hate crimes (such as the shooting that occurred at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, Florida) or are
  2. Directed by some agenda and a desire to “send a message” (such as those perpetrated by various extremist groups) 

Shooters are more likely to be vengeful, angry individuals who are seeking revenge on society for their perceived wrongdoings done against them. 

What’s ‘Normal’ To Go Through Emotionally After a Shooting?

While mass shootings should never be considered a ‘normal’ event in society, there are some ‘normal’ emotions and feelings you may be working through after being trapped in one of these terrifying situations. 

One thing we do know, however, is that everyone processes the aftermath of a shooting differently. People may experience a wide range of emotions that come and go like tidal waves, while others may take much longer to overcome the initial denial of their experience. 

No matter what you feel, remember that it’s all subjective to your own personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to handle the aftermath of a shooting. 

Feelings you may experience after a shooting include, but are not limited to:
  • Sorrow 
  • Shock 
  • Fear
  • Numbness
  • Denial 
  • Anger 
  • Grief
  • Disassociation 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 

While people are incredibly strong and most often bounce back after difficult times, shootings are events that can greatly alter your entire sense of safety and belonging. 

For example, some people struggle with feelings of survivors’ guilt or even just to sleep, eat or perform other daily activities. Some no longer feel safe in large or public places. Others find it hard to be around people and begin to pull back and disconnect from their community.

How Are Children Handling Life After School Shootings?

Children are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth. Have you ever seen a child completely face plant into the ground and then get up and keep on running?

However, the traumatic events of a school shooting are likely to disrupt all of their ‘normal’ emotional and behavioral tendencies.

Emotions and behaviors they may experience:
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • ‘Acting out’
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Being afraid to sleep alone 
  • Shock 
  • Anger
  • Grief

It’s likely that after a shooting children are faced with navigating complex emotions they may not fully understand. Trauma is difficult enough without loss of lives. Grief for children amidst the chaos only makes things more difficult. It’s important as caregivers to nurture these wounds and support them in whatever way possible. Keep home a safe space to talk to them about what they’re experiencing in the aftermath of a shooting. While forcing or pressuring them to talk about what they have gone through isn’t helpful, remind them often that you’re here when they’re ready to talk. 

When To Seek Help After a Shooting:

There are 2 major interventions needed after a traumatic event like this.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing / Management (CISD / CISM)

The first should ideally happen within a couple of hours and that is a special type of intervention/debriefing called Critical Incident Stress Management. These CISM professionals are highly trained it what to do right after such event to help the victims and first responders begin to process and deal with the emotional aftermath of the traumatic event.

A Professional Who Specializes in Traumatic Events

The second is to work with a professional psychotherapist who specializes in helping people who have been through a traumatic event, not just one who works with anxiety or PTSD. The best of these are likely also trained in CISM and have many years of experience as well.

While some effects of a shooting may dissolve after about 4 to 6 weeks, in some instances you may be suffering from more long-term symptoms, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The acute stress that can follow after an incident of gun violence is nothing to mess around with. Be mindful of your emotions and behaviors in the months following a shooting. It’s always best to seek help if you:

  • Experience frequent flashbacks or nightmares 
  • Have trouble concentrating on everyday tasks
  • Are having difficulties completing work 
  • Are experiencing intrusive thoughts related to the incident
  • Become easily triggered by things in the environment
  • Feel as though you’re in danger whenever in social settings 
  • Are feeling like you’re constantly on edge or irritable 
  • Have a hard time falling or staying asleep

PTSD can quickly spiral into self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, self harm, and other harmful methods aimed at easing your distressing symptoms. If you feel as though you’re not returning back to yourself after a few weeks or months have gone by there are many mental health professionals trained and ready to assist you in overcoming this trauma. 

Remember, while shootings are tragically becoming more common they’re still rare. Focus on your village; your support systems such as close friends or family. While they may not be able to fully understand what you’re going through, you don’t have to walk this journey alone. And if you are live in an area that has suffered such a tragedy – lean in and support your neighbors however you can.

Cultivate Communitywe heal together.

 

Sources:

https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/coping-in-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting

https://www.apa.org/topics/gun-violence-crime/mass-shooting

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/processing-grief-after-a-mass-shooting

Categories
Anxiety & Stress Children & Grief Critical Incidents First Responders Grief Loss Uncategorized

The Mental Health Impact of School Shootings

The Mental Health Impact Of School Shootings In The United States

In response to the multiple tragic school shooting events in the United States, there has been a great deal of discussion about the emotional and mental health impact that these events have had on the kids, teachers and families involved. School shootings are a very traumatic event for everyone involved, and it can take a long time to recover from the physical and emotional injuries that are inflicted.

The impact of school shootings goes beyond the immediate victims and families. These events can have a ripple effect that extends to the entire community. Schools are a place where children should feel safe and secure, and when that feeling of safety is shattered, it can have a lasting impact on the students, teachers, staff and community.

If you or someone you know has been affected by a school shooting, it is important to seek professional help to deal with the trauma. There are many resources available to help you through this situation.

Effects on School Shootings Child Development 

Since the onset of gun violence in schools, there has been a significant amount of research on the effects of this type of violence on child development. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to school shootings are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder. They may also have difficulty concentrating and experience changes in their eating and sleeping habits.

This research highlights the need for more support for children who have been affected by school shootings. Such support can help children to cope with the aftermath of these events and to reduce the long-term effects on their development.

Students who don’t witness the shooting firsthand can still be negatively affected. They may have trouble concentrating in school and have anxiety about going to school. Keep in mind that everyone impacted is a survivor.

Effects on Parents

No definitive answer exists to the question of how school shootings specifically affect the parents of the victims. Each situation is unique and parents will react in their own individual ways. It’s not surprising that most studies generally concluded that parents also experience a wide range of intense emotions in the wake of such a tragedy.

The most common emotions that parents report feeling are grief, anger, shock, and guilt. Many parents also report feeling a sense of responsibility for their child’s safety and well-being, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt and regret. In some cases, parents may also struggle with anxiety and depression. It is important to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel after a school shooting, and that all parents are simply trying to cope in the best way they can.

Effects on Teachers

As of October 2018, there have been 307 mass shootings in the US, which is an average of almost one mass shooting per day. These shootings have had a profound effect on teachers, who are often the first to respond in these situations.

Teachers have to be prepared to deal with the physical and emotional trauma that comes with a school shooting. They are often the first people on the scene and have to deal with the aftermath of the violence. This can effect their both mental and physical health. In addition, teachers have to be extra vigilant in their classrooms in order to prevent something like this from happening. But our teachers can’t do this alone – they need help. And there is something that each of can  do to help.

How to Cope with the Trauma After a School Shooting?

The trauma of shooting can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. If you or someone you know has experienced a shooting, it is important to get help from a mental health professional to cope with the trauma. 

There are a few first steps you can take to help cope with the trauma:

1. Talk to someone

When people experience a traumatic event, such as a mass shooting, they may feel a range of emotions that can be difficult to cope with. Fear, anxiety, anger, and grief are just some of the emotions that may be present. It can be helpful and encouraging to talk to someone about what you’re going through. This can help you to process the trauma and to start to heal.

Talking to a therapist or counselor can be helpful. You may also find it helpful to talk to a friend or family member. It’s important to find someone who will understand and who will be there to listen. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, there are also support groups that can help. Whatever you do, do not try to go through all of this alone. 

2. Write down what happened

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, it can be difficult to know how to cope with the trauma and grief. For some people, writing can be a helpful way to process these feelings. Writing can provide a space to express what you’re feeling, process your thoughts, and work through your grief.

If you’re interested in using writing to cope with trauma, there are a few things to keep in mind:

First, it’s important to find a safe and comfortable place to write. This could be a journal that you keep private, or a blog that you only share with close friends or family.

Second, don’t feel like you need to write every day. Some days you may feel like writing more than others, and that’s okay.

Third, there’s no correct way to write about your experiences. Write in whatever way feels most natural and most comfortable.

3. Find way to release your negative emotions

A traumatic situation of this is like a forced marathon for your brain’s survival management department. It’s more important than ever to find healthy ways to release your emotions. Events like these can be very difficult to process and can have a lasting and detrimental impact on your mental health. If you witnessed a mass shooting or if you know someone who did, it’s important to find a way to release your emotions in a healthy way.

4. Stay connected to your loved ones

The aftermath of shooting can be extremely difficult for both victims and witnesses. It is important to stay connected with loved ones during this time in order to help cope with the trauma. Some of the ways to stay connected with your loved ones include:

Sending handwritten letters

Calling or texting regularly

Spending time together in person

Sharing photos and memories

Each person will cope with trauma in their own way, so it is important to be supportive and understanding. Staying connected with loved ones can help the healing process after a difficult event.

5. Avoid drugs and alcohol

It is understandable that many people may feel overwhelmed or frightened after witnessing a shooting event. Some may feel the need to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the trauma. However, it is important to avoid drugs and alcohol for several reasons.

First, drugs and alcohol can make it difficult to process and cope with the event.

Second, they can make it more difficult to remember what happened, which can be essential for providing information to law enforcement.

Third, while drinking and drug use, may appear to ease distress at the front end – but they actually make things much worse. They disrupt normal sleep and eating patterns, wreak havoc on frustration tolerance and memory (which directly impacts mood) and can raise the chances of a more serious mental health problem following a trauma. 

It is important to deal with the aftermath of a shooting in a healthy way. Avoiding drugs and alcohol can really help your efforts to cope with feelings and make it easier to heal the trauma of witnessing a shooting.

6. Get plenty of rest and exercise

Studies have shown that taking time to rest and exercise can help people who have witnessed shooting events. Resting helps to allow the body to heal, and exercise helps to release built-up stress and tension. Both of these activities can help people feel better both physically and mentally after a traumatic event.

Conclusion

Trauma can have a lasting psychological impact on those who survive such an event, as well as those that love them. It is important for those affected to seek professional help and support in order to cope with the emotional damage. Schools, parents and the community can also play a role in supporting those affected by trauma.

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Addiction Recovery Alcohol First Responders Life Transitions Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

The liver is a large meaty organ in the human body. It is responsible for breaking down the food, fighting infections, and filtering blood. A healthy liver ultimately allows for a more active and engaging life. However, very few people live lives that protect and preserve it. Most likely because we simply dont know the extent of its function or importance. But alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise and the increase in alcohol consumption over the pandemic years hasn’t helped either.

Liver Problems 

The liver, like other organs, can also get damaged for different reasons. When we don’t care what goes inside the body, our liver has to pay the price for it. Mostly, liver damage starts with swelling, further leading to fibrosis and scars. People who figure out the damage and seek treatment can reverse the case. But in the other case, fibrosis can turn into cirrhosis, which is terrible. It causes your liver to struggle hard to do an everyday task. With time, it ends at a point where your liver stops functioning, a liver failure. 

Symptoms of Possible Liver Problems

There are so many indications that can depict the lousy condition of your liver. Some of them can be following;

You might have itchy skin that causes bruises easily. 

Your eyes might turn yellow, which is also a symptom of jaundice. 

When your liver doesn’t function well, your belly may hurt. It sometimes makes you lose your appetite and feel sick of the stomach. 

It can also cause your different body parts like legs, arms, and belly to swell. 

What Causes the Liver Damage?

Liver damage can either be due to a medical condition, disease, or because of your unhealthy lifestyle.

Alcohol Addiction

Excessive drinking is considered bad for health. It is true because it lends up to the liver, which affects the blood filtering process. Meanwhile, it causes the creation of harmful chemicals that damages your liver. When a person continues to drink too much alcohol, the overproduction of chemicals occurs. It deteriorates your liver, causing a ‘fatty alcoholic liver.’ It might not threaten you at this point, but remember, it can turn into hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure in days or weeks. 

Drug Addiction 

Liver infections are also prevalent these days. A virus consisting of Hepatitis variants like A, B, or C can also affect your liver badly. Such liver infections are mostly found among people struggling with drug addiction. This is usually because of the use of shared needles and unsanitary processes. Even seemingly minor mistakes and negligence can really harm your liver. 

Yes, there can be other factors triggering the liver problems like cancer, etc. But alcohol and drug addiction are the major ones.

Alcohol & Liver 

Alcohol is a red-labeled product, and its abuse can be threatening for life. It can cause several health complications, from high blood pressure to stroke. And ultimately, liver damage can be one of the potentially terminal effects of excessive alcohol consumption. 

Individuals addicted to alcohol have a high risk of developing chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis, hepatitis, or complete liver failure. It usually happens when a person consumes more than 15 drinks of alcohol over a week or a woman goes above eight glasses. It can be a one-time overdose or habitual abuse. In both cases, the over-drinking results in liver damage. 

Alcohol Consumption Statistics 

According to current research, 15%-30% of heavy drinkers are diagnosed with cirrhosis yearly. Most of them recover the damage when they give up on alcohol addicted and get appropriately treated.  It is one of the most common behaviors among adults in the United States. According to National Survey on Drugs, about 86% of adults have consumed alcohol in their lifetime.

The statistics on drinking are alarming, and many people are trying to find ways to reduce their alcohol consumption. Various factors contribute to drinking, including age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture.

How Does Alcohol Impact The Liver? 

The liver functions as the nutrients breaking and filtering organ. In the case of alcohol, when the liver breaks it down, the chemical reaction releases a toxin. It is harmful as it damages your liver cells, causing alcohol-related liver diseases. 

Do you know? The liver takes around an hour to process one alcoholic drink. It means the duration expands with the number of glasses. If someone does excessive drinks, the liver will take longer. What is more threatening is the point where the liver stops filtering any more alcohol. Rather than filtering, it lets the unprocessed alcohol enter the bloodstream. 

When unprocessed alcohol, traveling along in the blood, goes into different body organs like the heart and brain, it can have devastating results. 

Types of Alcohol-Related Liver Diseases 

Alcohol-Related liver disease; Steahopetatis (ASH)

It is an early-stage disease. It causes fat to accumulate within liver cells, interfering with liver function. The constant interruption declines liver production and health. 

Even though there are no particular signs and symptoms at an initial stage, abdominal pain can indicate it, particularly on the right side. Simply, alcohol abstinence can reduce pain and improves liver health. 

alcohol-related liver disease; Alcoholic Hepatitis 

It is a more common yet destructive type of alcohol-related liver disease. It occurs due to the killing of liver cells and developing scars or fibrosis. Around 35% of individuals drinking excessive alcohol develop this disease at mild and severe levels. 

When someone binges on drinking alcohol, it damages liver cells. The common symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis are fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, etc. If you experience it, stop drinking and see if things improve. In severe conditions, you must visit a physician and undergo liver treatment. 

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease; Cirrhosis

This is the most severe stage of liver deterioration. It becomes prominent when your liver is wholly scarred and damaged. The liver gets hard and shrinks in size. 

Cirrhosis is common among addicted drinkers. Those who continue drinking alcohol for years end up having this fatal disease. It eventually fails the liver, endangering their lives. 

How To Ensure A Healthy Liver?

No matter what put your liver at risk, certain medicines and lifestyle changes can help you recover it. Making wise choices for your life can be difficult and many factors must be considered. Here are some tips for sustaining a healthy liver;

Stop Feeding Your Addiction

Limiting substance-abuse related liver damage is possible. It only demands you stop consuming substance; alcohol and/or drugs. Alcohol-related liver diseases can seem to creep up on you unexpectedly – many people wait far too long to see their doctor and get help. For the sake of your health and life, and those who love and care about you – it’s a choice you need to make. And there are lots of resources to help you – start by reaching out to your family, your physician, a seasoned and professional addiction counselor or even a treatment center.

*Keep in mind that you need to get help – detoxing from alcohol and benzos can be deadly when done on your own.

Eat Well & Exercise

Having a healthy diet is always helpful. Eat more greens, fruits, and fibrous foods that are easy to digest. It will allow your liver to process in less time and relax too. Besides that, exercising keeps your body active. It enhances blood circulation, improving liver function.

Take Care of Your Health 

Whether be it your general or liver health, it deserves priority. You must take care of your health and opt for things that are good for it. Keep updating your lifestyle to a natural and healthier one to maintain well-being.

What Happens When You Quit Drinking?

Improved Sleep

The benefits of quitting alcohol are not just restricted to the individual but also their family members. The person who is quitting alcohol will see improvements in their sleep quality and will have more energy throughout the day.

Better Mental Health

Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help people feel better mentally and physically. People addicted to alcohol often experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help them feel better mentally and physically by improving the quality of their lives.

Lower Risk of Cancer 

Alcohol is a huge risk factor for cancer. Alcohol abuse can also have other negative consequences. The cancer risk in people who drink alcohol is significantly lower than in those who don’t drink. Quitting alcohol is the best way to improve your health and reduce the increased risk of cancer.

Conclusion

The liver is a crucial organ to care for and substance abuse and/or addiction can put your liver in crisis. If you are an regular drinker or recreational user, you should at the very least have your liver checked out by your physician, routinely. They can run a quick blood test to look at risk of an alcohol-related liver disease. If your use has become routine, increased or even necessary, then opting for a professional and recommended addiction treatment program or center, may serve you even better. Whatever you choose to do, reach out to a professional and get the help you need and get it in time. It can save your liver and prolong life; the quantity and the quality of it. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2787499/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713002/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397877/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860472/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826827/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/

Categories
Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Cancer & Medical Grief Life Transitions Loss Survivors of Suicide Terminal Illness Uncategorized

Simple Buddhist Concepts for Recovery and Personal Growth

Many years ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin to explore simple Buddhist concepts for recovery and personal growth. That started me on a winding path of self discovery through Buddhist, Taoist and other Eastern philosophies that continue today. Below is a brief review of some simple concepts that aren’t typical in Western thought. Even so, they are growing in influence just as practices such as meditation and mindfulness have become more widely accepted.

Everyone experiences highs and lows throughout their lives. But not everyone’s story, self-image, or actions are a reflection of our hardest moments. As people, we are only defined by the current narrative we speak about ourselves and how we live it. Each and every day, we’re given the opportunity to grow and expand beyond what we always have been, allowing ourselves to unfold, heal, and release. If you’ve struggled at some point in your life or feel as if your past actions or choices have kept you from being the person you want to be in this world, following you will find a few key Buddhist practices that may help you achieve this. 

Suffering as Inevitable

All of us will experience pain and suffering, but ongoing suffering is at least partly, our own doing. One concept within Buddhism is that suffering can be overcome. This concept is the key to many intentions behind personal growth, whether you’re wanting to overcome suffering imposed upon you or suffering you impose upon others.

Suffering is an attachment to what is no longer wanted or wanted but no longer available. These may be negative experiences, thoughts or even emotions. When you allow yourself to continue to be attached to these experiences, you continue to empower them within your life. 

Learning to let go of this resistance in your life allows you to view these experiences in neutrality. This means not being swayed or affected by them in a hindering or diminishing way.

Suffering is also about perspective. If you are able to change your perspective of a painful experience, you may be able to dissolve the suffering surrounding it. Learning to find the positive in a situation, or even just the lesson learned, can help you find value in life’s darkest moments. 

Nothing Is Permanent

Life is always changing, flowing, and transforming. The same is true for people. As you move through time, you aren’t the same person as you were ten years ago, a year ago, or even an hour ago. Even if you aren’t aware of the subtle changes happening within you, they’re still happening. This concept can help you learn to release the past, which can sometimes dictate who you believe you are in the present moment. Also, viewing everything in life as temporary teaches you to enjoy the present moment for what it is, a gift. 

Live each moment as if it’s your last. Ask yourself, “what am I willing to let go of in order to embrace this moment?” How would you treat the people in your life? How would you view the world? Being present and allowing life to flow gives you a sense of freedom and empowerment. Stop allowing the past to dictate who you are and letting the fear of the future influence your present actions. 

Nothing Is Lost in The Universe

Everyone’s life has a purpose and experiences a variety of polarizing events. Some are wonderful, magically blissful, and others are painful, draining, and restricting. It’s easy to view these negative experiences as ‘wrong,’ but they are a part of your story, your history at this point. You cannot change them, but you can change from them. What you experience in life is just as important as the sun, the stars, and beyond. It doesn’t matter the life you’ve been dealt – why struggle against history? It matters what you do with it now. Your value is not condemned or diminished because of the failures you’ve experienced, how you’ve suffered or how far you’ve fallen. Your life has purpose. 

Even when you feel lost, some believe that you’re exactly where you need to be in order to awaken to the life lesson that you’ve been guided towards. Growth and expansion can only happen through change. Oftentimes, real change can only happen when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone or stripped from your attachments. (often resulting in suffering or loss.) Learn to look at life and all of the losses or disadvantages you perceive within your life, and recognize how they can motivate you, inspire you, or initiate a desire for positive change.

Embrace Your Life’s Journey

There isn’t a rule book for life and often no true guidance other than what other people have learned from their own experiences. Life isn’t meant to be perfected; there is no competition on who’s life is the greatest. Your life is unique, individual, and expansive. The journey you’ve walked may not look glamorous as someone else’s, but you’ll never truly know what they’ve experienced or gained from the life they’ve dealt with. 

There is meaning beyond the cycle of life and death. The impact and lessons we learn carry through all the lives we touch. That’s the promise if legacy; “plant the seeds even if you never see the trees they become”. Life isn’t perfect, and the lessons our souls crave can only be gained through experience. Learning to let go, accepting your past, and releasing resistance to any suffering you’ve experienced are achievements that few even choose to pursue. Be the exception! Remember that nothing is permanent; life is always changing and transforming. Rather than try to hold onto things that are changing, try instead to fully embrace the moment. Your life has meaning, you have worth! What you’ve experienced is invaluable and could likely have never been gained any other way than it already has.

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is, to some extent chosen. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It means you have the power within yourself to step out from the suffering and really live. We all need help with this from time to time in our lives. If you are suffering, get help; whether it be your physician, a professional counselor or someone else. To evolve and grow, it really does take a village. You don’t have to do it alone.

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Quick Definitions and Facts on Addiction Treatment in Texas

Below you will find some quick definitions and facts on addiction treatment in Texas. I hope this helps to make things a little clearer. I’ve also included some personal opinions on what I believe good treatment should be in hopes of making it a little easier for you find the best option for you or your loved one.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Texas

Addiction, in the past, has incorrectly been thought to be a question of will power or choice. “If you really wanted to stop drinking, you would.” – we now know just how wrong and even damaging this belief was. 

Alcoholism, like all addictions, is a disease. (A disease is an illness or affliction of a primary organ and in the case of addiction it’s the brain.) Alcoholism is genetically oriented, progressive in its destruction and path, chronic and requires a lot more than just “willpower” to overcome. (*you can find some quick statistics on Alcoholism at the bottom of this page)

A well known addiction physician in Houston was fond of explaining it like this: Addiction is biological, like diarrhea, so if you think you can simply choose to overcome it – the next time you have diarrhea, try to think your way out of it. (a bit over simplistic and graphic for some folks – but you get the point). Addiction is a challenging disease because it has psychological, emotional, relational and other challenges, but at it’s core, it is still a disease. You cannot successfully out-maneuver your own biology; at least not alone.

It’s important to note that some substances can kill you outright when you are using them, few are likely to do this when you are detoxing off of them. Alcohol (and Benzos) are two of the definitive and very dangerous exceptions. Many people have died trying to detox at home. Even if you have succeeded in doing this before it is not worth doing – luck doesn’t last forever. By the time you are in crisis, an ambulance may not be able to make up the time needed to get you into medical care and safety.

When it comes to alcohol detox – always seek the help of a physician and personally, I would opt for a medical detox level of care. Your life is too precious to gamble. Again, you will not win against biology. Please, don’t do it alone. Get help.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Texas

Benzodiazepines are a commonly prescribed medication for sedation. Also called ‘tranquilizers’, benzodiazepines come in a wide range of varieties – amounting to 2,000+ different kinds. Benzodiazepine is a silent but potentially deadly drug that’s often used in combination with a range of other substances to produce its effects. Considered an accomplice in thousands of drug-induced deaths, benzodiazepine dependence and addiction is a serious health problem that poses a threat to an individual’s quality of life. It is especially lethal when mixed with other substances like alcohol.

Benzodiazepine detox, like alcohol detox, is very dangerous to undertake on your own. It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt this outside of a medical detox with physicians and 24/7 nursing available.

Chemical Dependency Education in Texas

This should be part of any level of treatment and is needed for both the person struggling with addiction and their family/loved ones. Sometimes exhausted and scared families will contend that they are not the one with the addiction so why should they “have to go” to classes/counseling. As many recovery communities teach; you are not healing and growing in your recovery until you change your mindset from “I have to go” into “I get to go”.

Chemical Dependency Education and support are a benefit and gift – don’t waste it or let it go by. CD Education helps to relieve the strain everyone has been feeling, support the hard changes needed to sustain healing for everyone and make sure that all members in the family and support system have accurate information and understanding of what is happening. I often tell families, “It’s not your fault that we are here at this point, but you are able to make the healing easier or harder going forward.” Your actions can mean more than your words. Get informed and get involved.

Any reputable Residential, PHP or IOP treatment program will have education and support services specifically for family and loved ones as part of it’s program. Make sure you get the details and take advantage of it. It’s a good start and they will often be able to connect you with other resources for ongoing support.

Cocaine Addiction and Treatment in Texas

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that’s made from the leaves of the coca plant which grows native to various areas in South America. Cocaine is the second most commonly trafficked illegal drug in the world, with an estimated 1.9 million people aged 18 and over using the drug in the United States alone. 

One of the most difficult aspects of cocaine addiction is that the high first achieved – when the body has never before been introduced to cocaine – can never again be achieved to the same degree. The cocaine addict is essentially condemned to chase something that biochemically is no longer achievable. Yes, they can use more, but the pleasure will never reach the same point.

The greater risk of death is during use, not typically during deto, unless other serious medical conditions are present. But, detox can be very unpleasant and for many difficult to complete. This is where going into a medical detox facility can be helpful.Following detox, residential or partial hospitalization is necessary for any chance of sustained recovery. And like with all addiction, immersion in a recovery community is paramount to success.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) in Texas

The best Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) will likely offer a holistic & evidence-based approach supporting long-term recovery for the client and the family. An IOP should include individual, group, & family therapy and all therapy should be conducted in a discreet, uplifting environment. If it is punitive or lacking privacy – go somewhere else. Beyond alcohol & drug addiction specific programming, the better programs tend to offer a range of therapies to support issues surrounding anxiety, depression, grief/loss, shame, trauma, family systems, process addictions and more.

Some programs are heavily weighted in favor of a particular recovery community’s philosophies; like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). More contemporary programs understand that there are different paths to recovery that may best fit individual needs. These will support clients being involved in AA, NA, Refuge Recovery, SMART Recovery, Life Ring, Celebrate Recovery and more. Many programs say they use evidenced-based approaches and individualize treatment. It’s okay to ask them to be specific and explain how this is achieved. A reputable program will welcome your interest and happily share what they do.

In Texas, an IOP should be at least 10 clinical hours (9 in group and 1 individual) each week and run 8 to 12 weeks. Groups should be run by Masters level therapists. Some will also employ Masters level intern therapists and they are required to tell you this up front. Some interns can be phenomenal, so don’t let that turn you away. But ideally there should be a balance so find out how much of your face-to-face clinical service is being provided by interns versus seasoned clinicians. Any IOP (or PHP) who has a majority of their clinician service hours being provided by interns should be up front about this and in our opinion, should also be ready and willing to negotiate a significantly discounted rate for clients without insurance.

Any reputable IOP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. Make sure you let them know you want to be included in the development of this.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in Texas

Marijuana is the most used psychotropic drug in the United States. Although the likelihood that a person might abuse and then become addicted to marijuana are slim, there are more cases in recent years where dependence has developed. One argument for this is that the THC levels in marijuana commonly accessible today can be 15 times more than what it was 10-20 years ago. (“It’s not your Momma’s marijuana anymore”).

Another difference is that a notable amount of longer term marijuana users experience significant increases in anxiety during withdrawal, some to the point of having panic attacks. These points, and others, are part of the reason that more centers around the country have developed specific programs for this and are accepting admissions for marijuana abuse. Some insurance companies are now supporting coverage for this treatment, too.

Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment in Texas

A highly addictive stimulant drug, methamphetamine is used by an estimated 12.3 million U.S. citizens. Over the long term, recurrent, frequent meth use can lead to addiction and dependence. The longer that a person uses meth, the stronger the dependence becomes. It isn’t uncommon for meth addicts to fall into financial turmoil as a result of their addiction. At a certain point when all monetary resources have been exhausted in pursuit of the next fix, abusers may turn to theft and other illegal activities in order to sustain their expensive habit.

Meth is particularly hard on the body and brain. Some treatment programs are cautious to admit long term users due to frequency of bizarre behaviors during early recovery. Healthcare needs and a longer duration of brain recovery are very common with longer term methamphetamine abuse.

Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas

Considered a health crisis or epidemic, opioid addiction can cause serious dangers to a person’s health, social, and financial problems. The class of drugs are typically prescribed in healthcare settings to treat pain, but their strong potential for abuse has become a major problem worldwide.

The treatment for opioid abuse is twofold: opiate recovery counseling and withdrawal management. The first focuses on the social, mental, and emotional aspects of the addiction while the second works to ease the system into a drug-free state.

There are medications available to assist with opiate withdrawal and early recovery – there is some controversy around some of these. Speak openly with your addiction-savvy physician and counselor and get clear information. Even the most widely known medication for this has shown their highest success rates only when medication and treatment/counseling were used in tandem. There is no “miracle pill” cure. Treatment and a recovery support community are still necessary for any chance at sustained recovery.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) in Texas

PHP level of care should give our clients the strongest foundation possible upon which to build independence in an out-patient setting. It’s an highly-focused program, with groups meeting 5 days a week, for 5 hours a day, plus individual therapy and psychiatric visits. It is most often used in lieu of Residential Treatment (when combined with Sober Living) or as the first “step-down” post discharge from Residential.

PHP gives clients the knowledge, tools, support, and structure to start building strength and confidence in their sobriety. PHP should be seen as the first step of an extended treatment program that also includes Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) and possibly Sober Living. Any reputable PHP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. 

Process Addiction Treatment in Texas

Addiction comes in all sorts of forms. A common misconception is the physical over-reliance on substances, in which an individual would often fall in physical, emotional, and mental pitfalls. But this reliance on substances is just one type of addiction. Process addiction, or behavioral addiction, deals with the compulsive nature connected to the actual act of abuse on substances and other triggers that cause addiction. Some examples of behavioral addiction can include gambling addiction, porn addiction, shopping addiction, gaming or social media addiction, and food addiction. 

Similar to other types of addiction, help is always available for the individual. Identifying the problem, addressing the different triggers, and creating solid treatment strategies are some of the best ways to help with this disorder. Addiction is nearly impossible to treat if the person won’t accept that they have an addiction.

A behavioral addiction can be present alone, as a co-morbid condition along with a mental health disorder or even cross-addiction with substance. (It is important to mention that the presence of any addiction with the absence of any emotional or mental health disorder is extremely unlikely. At minimum, anxiety and depression are a common part of early recovery and whether that is solely due to the process of addiction recovery or fueled by emotional health is something that time and a seasoned professional should help to determine).

Recovery Coaching in Texas

Professional recovery coaching is an invaluable step in the sobriety journey, as these experienced coaches provide continued guidance and accountability for clients either discharging from a Sober Living House, or after IOP, or for those who can manage a lower level of structure. Clients typically work with a recovery coach for 90-180 days. The best recovery coaches have been professionally trained, extensively, in addiction treatment and recovery, have experience working within the field and are immersed in their local treatment community.

In Texas, they should hold a professional certification and/or license. Personal or “life experience” does not make someone a professional recovery coach. While that can be helpful, that is what refer to as a peer not a professional. A professional has formal training, along with experience. You can think of it this way: having had heart problems may give you valuable insights but doesn’t make you a cardiologist. Likewise, personal addiction experience doesn’t make you an addiction treatment professional.

Sober Living in Texas

Sober living program provides structure and support in early sobriety, and is designed for individuals in need of that structure and accountability during the transitional period back to normalcy and independence. There is a world of difference in the quality and support levels provided by various sober living homes across the state. Do your research. Ask your physician and counselor for recommendations and whenever possible, go and visit/tour the facility. 

A reputable sober living will arrange for you to tour the property and answer your questions. You should expect that most will not allow family and others to visit or enter the property except at the initial tour – this is to protect the privacy of the other residents. Many will want you to have completed RTC, PHP or IOP before coming. Most will support your employment schedule, to a point.

Strong sober living homes have behavioral expectations, some type of curfew, house meetings and a required number of recovery community meetings each week. Rather than fight it, try to embrace it. If you’re headed to sober living then your way of staying sober wasn’t working anyway. So maybe it’s time to listen to someone else?

Synthetics Addiction Treatment in Texas

While drugs used to be made from natural ingredients, many of the drugs of today are synthetic or completely man-made. The roster of synthetics includes notorious names like methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy, all of which cause significant effects on both mind and body. Because of the nature of these substances, it’s highly likely for individuals to get hooked and addicted to their use.

Although the ever changing nature of synthetics can make it a challenge to understand the drug, synthetic drug abuse is treatable. The ideal treatment is a residential treatment center  in which a patient is sent to live in a facility for the duration of the process. Typically, 35 to 45 days or more may be needed, followed by at least 2-3 months of IOP. This is because synthetics can take many forms, and the emotional and psychological effects can be bizarre and lingering which can be scary and confusing for caregivers and the client. So, in some cases it can even be a safety issue. Also keep in mind that caretakers in a private home setting might not be able to identify whether the patient is using synthetics or not.

QUICK FACTS ON ALCOHOLISM IN THE US

(from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics)

  • 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 have an Alcohol Use Disorder.
  • 140.557 Americans die from the effects of alcohol in an average year.
  • Of these, alcohol-related liver disease is the leading killer, causing 19.1% of all alcohol-related deaths.
  • 53.7% of alcohol-related deaths are due to chronic misuse.
  • 52.4% of chronic misuse deaths are attributable to alcohol alone; 47.6% include additional factors, such as other chronic health issues or drug abuse.
  • Alcohol poisoning is another leading killer, causing 32% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
  • Over half of Americans (roughly 60%) report increasing their alcohol use during COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • Each year, 97,000 sexual assaults among American college students involve alcohol.
  • 22.5% of acute-alcohol related deaths are due to suicide.
  • (Suicides involving alcohol kill more people than car accidents involving alcohol).

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Struggling with Substance Abuse or Emotional Health in Houston?

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Emotional Support Animals in Texas

Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Emotional Support Animals, sometimes referred to as ESAs, have special privileges in the State of Texas under federal laws; they are not considered pets.; they are assistance animals for people with mental and emotional health issues

Housing providers have to accommodate owners of emotional support animals free of charge as a necessity for their health condition. And, unlike typical pets, you don’t have to pay any extra deposits or fees for housing. Emotional Support Animals are also exempt from building policies regarding size or breed. 

These rights are given under the Fair Housing Act and guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and apply to the State of Texas. 

Any domesticated animals can be kept as an ESA in the home, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and yes…even sugar gliders and turtles! 

In this article, we’ll explain

How you can qualify for an emotional support animal in Texas. 

And, if you qualify,

How you can apply to receive a valid ESA Letter from a healthcare professional (*licensed in Texas) that you can use to secure accommodation for your emotional support animal.

Quick Review of Emotional Support Animal Laws in Texas

Assistance animals have rights under various laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both are federal laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including Texas

The ADA governs service animals that have highly specialized training to assist people with both physical or mental disabilities. *Emotional support animals, however, are not the same as psychiatric service dogs. ESAs do not need special training and provide comfort for those experiencing mental or emotional distress just by being present around their owners. 

Emotional support animal owners have rights under the federal Fair Housing Act, which mandates that landlords reasonably accommodate tenants who require an assistance animal. 

Texas Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws Allow ESAs to Live with Their Owners Without Additional Fees.

If you own an emotional support animal, have valid documentation and reside in Texas, you do have certain RIGHTS for housing that protect you from discrimination due to your mental or emotional disability-related need for an assistance animal. 

  1. Housing providers such as landlords, condos, co-ops, and HOAs must reasonably accommodate ESAs, even if the building has an outright ban on pets. 
  2. ESAs are exempt from normal pet policies. That means restrictions on size, weight and breed of pets do not apply to emotional support animals. 
  3. ESA owners also do not have to pay any additional fees (including application fees) or deposits to live with their ESA. 

However, there are LIMITATIONS to these rights

  1. An emotional support animal must be domesticated and well-behaved. This means that you cannot bring a wild or aggressive animal into an apartment, etc. 
  2. Your ESA also can’t pose any health or safety hazard to other residents. 
  3. Some small housing providers are exempt from having to follow ESA rules, such as owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent. 
  4. In addition, you cannot bring your emotional support animal into your new home unannounced and expect everyone in a no-pet housing complex will comply. You must submit a request for accommodation to your landlord in advance and provide a copy of your ESA letter. 

It’s important to make sure that you have the right documentation for your emotional support animal. Most landlords in Texas are fully aware of what constitutes a valid proof for an emotional support animal.

*Landlords have every right to validate if you have a true emotional support animal by requesting an ESA letter from you

Qualifying for an ESA Letter in Texas

To have a legally recognized emotional support animal in Texas, you will need an ESA letter from a healthcare professional who is licensed in Texas. 

  1. You can request one from your current healthcare professional who is providing services for your mental health. 

OR

  1. You can also reach out to this counselor and apply online for an ESA Letter without having to leave your home.

What Happens Next?

First, the licensed healthcare professional will determine if you have a mental or emotional health disability that substantially limits a major life activity

Qualifying conditions include:

PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias, autism, and learning disorders. 

Second, the healthcare professional will assess whether an emotional support animal can help alleviate the symptoms of that particular mental or emotional health disability. 

Pretty simple, right? (I told you it wouldn’t be as hard as you might think)

So, How Do I Get Started ?

Just call our number and leave the following. An application packet will be emailed to you and you will not be charged for the service unless you are approved. If approved, an original copy letter will be mailed to your physical residence.

Information we need to get started:

  1. your full legal name, 
  2. city in Texas where you live, 
  3. preferred phone number for contact (in case healthcare provider requires) and 
  4. a personal email where the application documents may be sent. 

(*all info must be that of the owner of the animal/s applied for)

Just Remember

If you’re a Texas resident, your ESA rights require that you have a legitimate ESA letter from a healthcare professional that is licensed in Texas.

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Struggling with Mental/Emotional Health or Addiction in Houston?

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13 Facts Every ESA Owner in Texas Should Know

13 Facts Every ESA Owner in Texas Should  Know

On January 28th, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guidance regarding Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in housing. 

(*This is a very important development for owners of ESAs and it is the first comprehensive update to ESA housing rules made since 2013.)

13 Facts Every Current or Potential Owner of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in Texas Should Know

  1. Dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, hamsters, other rodents and even turtles can be ESAs.
  1. Landlords are required to engage in interactive dialogue with tenants about ESA requests.
  1. ESA requests can be made orally or in writing (ESA Letter will still be required for approval)
  1. Tenants can make an ESA request before or after acquiring their ESA Letter
  1. HUD confirms that landlords are not allowed to refuse based on breed/weight restrictions.
  1. Landlords are prevented from being able to charge fees and deposits for ESAs.
  1. Landlords are expected to respond to ESA requests promptly, and at least within 10 days.
  1. Landlords cannot require your healthcare professional to use a specific form for their ESA Letter
  1. Landlords cannot request sensitive details about the tenant’s condition (your privacy protected)
  1. HOAs and Co-Ops are also subject to ESA rules
  1. Tenants can use the help of third-parties to care for their ESAs
  1. Registrations and licenses are NOT legitimate ways to qualify an ESA
  1. ESA letters can come from online health professionals (must be licensed in your State)

All current and prospective owners of ESAs in Texas should become familiar with these new rules which are now in effect and replace the 2013 rules.

 

Need other Emotional Health or Addiction Recovery services? 

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3 Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday Season

The holidays are a time to be with the people you love, spread joy and cheer, and feel a sense of peace. Unfortunately, creating a meaningful holiday season doesn’t always happen in the middle of the hustle and bustle. And what about after the holidays are over?

That said, holiday stress is nothing new. Frantic mobs in the malls, juggling obligations with opportunities and even nostalgic traditions can get overwhelming. In 2020, it was even worse for many people who could’t even pay basic bills or get together with family or friends.

This year, and every year, it’s essential to make the most of the holiday season. That includes finding as many ways as possible to make it meaningful. When you’re able to do that, you can enjoy the season much more and get through it with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

So, what can you do to create a more meaningful holiday season?

1. Using Gratitude

This time of year is the season of giving, but how often do you actually show gratitude? That means so much more than just saying “thank you” for any of the gifts you might receive. Instead, use gratitude daily and take a few moments to really reflect on the things you do have in your life.

This past couple of years has been incredibly challenging for everyone. You may have had to deal with job loss, illness, the death of a loved one, grief, or loneliness. Sometimes, it can be hard to find things in your life to be grateful for — but they are there. Most of the time, we speed though life pursuing what we don’t have rather than acknowledging what we do.

The sooner you can start to recognize them, no matter how small they might seem now, the more appreciative you’ll become. That can make not only the holidays more meaningful but every day of the year. (and the bonus is, with regular practice, it can benefit your stress level and health, too)

2. Acts of Kindness

Instead of receiving this season, consider what you can give. Again, that goes beyond handing someone a present (although there is nothing wrong with that!). A meaningful holiday season can be found in simple acts of kindness.

From raking your neighbor’s yard to buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you at a cafe drive-through, little acts of kindness can go a long way.

Because this year has been so hard for so many, it can be the little things that make the biggest difference. You never know what someone might be going through and how much your moment of kindness can change their perspective and cause them to “pay it forward” to someone else. If there was ever a time to start a kindness change, it’s right here and now.

3. Service to Others

Being kind doesn’t mean merely buying someone something. Your small acts of kindness could (and should) trigger a desire to serve others all season long.

So very many people are in need throughout the holiday season. And even more so if the months that follow. This year rings true more than ever, mainly because people have lost their jobs or are dealing with loneliness or sickness.

You can make a real difference in someone else’s life through acts of service. Volunteer your time as often as possible. Work in a soup kitchen or a local food pantry. Volunteer at an animal shelter, or deliver groceries or medication to the elderly who can’t leave their homes. Ask a local church, temple, school or community center how you can help them.

Not only will acts of service make you feel good this holiday season, but it can genuinely open up your eyes to how many people need assistance. It can inspire you to do more throughout the year, not only around the holidays.

If you want to create a meaningful holiday season, these are just a few ways to get started. However, the best thing you can do is look into your heart and consider how you can take care of others. Now, more than ever, the holidays should be less about the chaos that typically surrounds them. Instead, take a step back to appreciate what you have, and think about helping others.

For more help creating a meaningful holiday season amid a grief-filled year, please contact me today or visit my page on Counseling for Loss to learn more about how I can help.

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Addiction Recovery Alcohol Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills)

5 Signs Your Drinking Is Now a Problem

There’s a fine line between a bad habit and addiction. Unfortunately, because it’s such a fine line, it’s easy to cross over it without even realizing it. And during the pandemic, many people started drinking more often and let’s be honest, just drinking more. So, how do I know if it’s something I should be concerned about? Here’s 5 signs your drinking is now a problem.

You might think that drinking or using any type of drug is something you have under control. Maybe it started out as something you did with friends. As a casual part of getting together. Or maybe you used it to relax.  

In some cases, though, your social or emotional habits can quietly become a dependency. And once this happens, it’s harder to stop than you might think.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand the signs that your habit has gone beyond “harmless”. When it is affecting the quality of your life and how you behave each day, a habit has crossed over into addiction territory. 

But how can you be sure? 

Let’s look at five clear signs that your habit has become an addiction. The sooner you take these signs to heart, the sooner you can seek the help you need and deserve.

1. You Can’t Stop

This is, by far, the most obvious sign that your habit has gotten out of control. If you’re unable to keep yourself from taking the substance, drinking, or performing a certain action (ie; compulsively watching pornography, etc.), you may have become addicted. 

Addicts have an extremely hard time giving up their “habits” on their own; psychologically and physically. That’s why extensive treatment and rehabilitation are often needed. If you feel a constant need and urge to give in to that habit, it’s time to consider that there’s something more going on.

2. You’ve Isolated Yourself

People who are addicted to something often isolate themselves from others. They know they can’t be away from whatever their addiction is for long. Plus, they might worry that other people could sense something “off” about them. 

If you’ve started to cut yourself off from your friends and family or you aren’t interacting the way you normally would, ask yourself why? Does it have anything to do with that “habit”?

3. You’re Getting Into Financial Trouble

Most addictions cost money. The more you need, the more it costs. Unfortunately, drug dealers know how much people rely on certain substances, so they’re happy to raise their prices so addicts can get their “fix”. If your choice is alcohol, something as simple as a case of beer can cost $25. 

As you continue to feed your addiction, you might find that you run into financial issues. But, because you can’t give it up, you might find other means of getting the money. It’s not uncommon for addicts to take from others in their house, to sell their belongings, or even to give up things like eating or paying for utilities so they can use that money for their addiction. 

If that sounds like you, or you realize you’re experiencing financial strain, it will only continue to get worse unless you seek help.

4. Your Behaviors Are Unstable

Have you noticed yourself doing some things that you wouldn’t normally do? It’s not uncommon for addicts to practice “risky” behaviors. Unfortunately, those behaviors could get you hurt, or cause harm to others. There’s a difference between doing something fun that will boost your adrenaline and doing something that could put your life in danger.

You know yourself better than anyone. You might not want to admit it, but being active in dangerous behaviors isn’t you. Listen to yourself, and to any loved ones reaching out to help.

5. Your Relationships Are Strained

In addition to isolating yourself, have you found that your relationships are struggling? That could include a romantic relationship, friendships, or how close you are with family members. 

Addiction affects every relationship in your life. You might not feel you can be yourself without getting judged. Meanwhile, your friends and family might be concerned about you. 

If you start to become paranoid about your relationships, it might spill over into other areas of life, including your job. That can lead to poor work performance and start a vicious cycle of losing your career and trying to fuel your addiction all at once. 

These signs aren’t meant to shame you. Instead, they’re meant to inform and help you. If any of them sound familiar or have caused any personal realizations, feel free to contact me. You can beat your addiction and take control of your life again— but you don’t have to do it alone