Categories
Cancer Resilience

Counseling for Cancer Patients and their Loved Ones

Counseling for Cancer Patients and their Loved Ones

A patient who is first diagnosed with cancer is usually overwhelmed and frightened. Feelings of sadness, confusion, worry, and anger are completely natural. The patient’s psychological and social well-being are impacted, and a patient’s relationship with family and friends can be affected by this as well. The physical/medical hurdles, adjusting relationships and changes in personal philosophy may lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and it is really important to find ways to address these feelings. Counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones can be a great help during this time.

Counseling can help the patient to better cope with the side effects and the pain that evolves from treatment. It may also help the patient and his family better deal with and express these common feelings, as well as provide a safe place to discuss their concerns.
Most cancer patients have to grieve the loss of their previous lifestyle, learn to accept their new reality, and make the most of their new situation. Many will experience an evolution of their view on life and likely re-assess their priorities. The process of living with cancer is life-changing; for the patient and for those who love them. Facing cancer is an experience that often leads the patient to re-examine his core values and passions and can motivate them to pursue new goals of great personal importance.

Here are some of the ways counseling can help the person facing cancer and their loved ones too:

For Newly Diagnosed
1. A safe place to deal with the emotional impact, worry, and fear
2. Working on addressing feelings of depression, guilt and self-doubt
3. Openly discussing the effects and the impact of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
4. Developing skills to assist with the side effects of treatment                                                         5. Strategies to manage the stress and pain

For Loved Ones / Caregivers
1. Dealing with feelings of lack of control, anxiety and stress
2. Addressing new obligations and loss of previous lifestyle
3. Helping to gain a new perspective and deal with the new challenges in a healthy manner

For Beyond Treatment
1. Going through the process of grieving the loss of the old self and accepting the new self
2. Living with the uncertainty of long term survival
3. Adapting to the physical changes and limitations
4. Addressing challenges related to intimacy, reproduction, and employment
5. Addressing feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations

BikeOnTrail

Challenges and struggles in response to chemo and radiation therapy

Cancer is not a disease which will only affect a person physically. It is also something which will affect a person emotionally and psychologically. This has always been the hardest to handle and that’s why counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones is recommended for many oncology patients by their physicians.

Getting to know that a person has cancer is a really hard thing for the patient as well as for the loved onew. Even though people are happy to get treated and healed. There are many times the treatment itself have greatly affected the patients, psychologically. It is hard to say whether it is the side effect of medications alone or a phase of psychological acceptance of the disease. Anyhow, what has become clear is that counseling for a patient should be carried out throughout the whole time of treatment and sometimes even after a full recovery. This might help a patient develop confidence, self esteem and resilience. Whether you admit it or not, all cancer patients are fighters… GREAT fighters. Their confidence goes down only because, at times, they don’t accept it.

Many psychiatrists believe that the transitional period after an intensive cancer treatment is the most likely period to cause psychological distress. For some patients this period may be as stressful, or even moreso, as it was to initially undergo the treatment itself.

Further, the people around the patient might expect the patient to be ‘completely normal’ after the successful treatment and may not appreciate what the patient has already gone through…and is still going through. But, many people do not understand that the cancer patients become more sensitive, anxious and uncertain about things around him. It is very easy to understand. A person who has lived for months in the sorrow, fear and uncertainty of leaving the loved once and all the other things takes some time to get back to who he was. Even though a doctor may confirm their full recovery many patients stay uncertain for a while.

How a cancer patient is affected psychologically depends on many factors. Some of these are:
Age
Overall temperament in normal
Coping skills
Social supports
Type of cancer
Severity
Family/ friends support
Memory and thinking after chemotherapy

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy has many side effects. It does not only kill cancer cells, but it also affects many other normal cells in the body. Among these are the brain cells. About 20% – 60% of cancer patients who undergo standard doses of chemotherapy, experience some degree of cognitive dysfunction and memory problems.

The affected brain is casually often called ‘chemo brain’. The main cause of the chemobrain is presumed to be the neurotoxic effects of chemotherapy. The chemobrain causes diffused mental cloudiness and may affect a person’s cognition, social and occupational behaviors, sense of his own self and the quality of life. Moreover, it affects concentration, memory, comprehension and reasoning as well. And the common byproduct of these is our favorite “S” word; stress.

The studies have shown that many people undergoing this type of cancer treatment have problems with short term memory and difficulty recalling words. Some patients are not acknowledged about these changes and are alarmed at the presence of it and misunderstanding it as a spread or worsening of the disease. But, when people know what they are going through, even when scary, painful or difficult they often experience a much lower stress level and consequently are able to prepare and face these symptoms quite bravely.

The effects of chemobrain may exist during chemotherapy and even afterwards up to 10 years, in some cases. These changes may be subtle in most patients, while for some it can be more profound. At the moment there are no specific treatments and preventive measures known, but, if the patients have problems with thinking or memory, which interferes with the daily work, he/she may seek help from a doctor.

There are different memory training exercises and programs and also many other treatments which will improve the brain function such as problem solving abilities and logical thinking. Finding a counselor and being familiar with this situation is a brave step for the patient as well as the loved ones.

As all the other drugs, chemotherapy has its side effects too. But every person does not face the same experience during chemotherapy. Some have really less amount of side effects while the others find it very hard to face the treatment.

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Other psychological issues after chemotherapy and radiotherapy

People, who suffer from cancer for a long time, deal with a lot of stress. Moreover, they face problems with sleep, concentration and appetite together with physical symptoms such as palpitations, due to the intensive treatment which they go through. Some oncologists also mention that they find patients fearful and hyper-vigilant.

According to many recent studies, one third of cancer survivors have suffered from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, which are;

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the event(cancer treatment)
Reliving the event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams about the having cancer and getting treated
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Inability to experience positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships

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Counseling Support For Cancer Patients And Their Loved Ones Is Needed

This shows us the huge need of counseling and psychological support for cancer patients together with the cancer treatment. (And caregivers and loved ones also need support during this time.) Even though being alive is something to be happy about, there are some patients who feel guilty about it. This happens mainly if they have a friend or family member who has died with a cancer. As we know some patients join support groups where there are many cancer patients. Here these patients make very close friendship with each other most of the time. Yes, this is a great support to face cancer than fighting it alone. But, with the time, when members pass away the other patients might experience loss, grief and then guilt of being alive. Support and counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones can make a big difference here as well.

Cancer Resilience is one of my areas of specialty and is a personal passion. I am a nationally board certified and licensed professional counselor who is dedicated to my clients. My approach is based on several counseling styles and I tailor them to each patient according to their unique situation. If you are facing this journey, or love someone who is, please call. I’d like to help.

Ben Carrettin is Nationally Board Certified and Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked in the field for many years. His areas of specialty include counseling cancer, cardiac and serious medical patients and their families, as well as other select areas. Ben is also a Lay Chaplain with advanced training in pastoral care and is personally passionate about his work and his commitment to his clients.

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.

Categories
Cancer & Medical

Counseling Medical Patients

Counseling Medical Patients

Are Medical Treatments Or Procedures Causing You To Feel Down, Depressed, Angry Or Anxious? Are you struggling to feel healthy and whole while in the midst of cancer treatments or following a surgery? Are you beginning to wonder if you may be suffering from some form of medical trauma? Perhaps you recently had heart surgery and are suddenly experiencing depression. Or maybe a succession of cancer treatments or a recent kidney or liver transplant surgery has you questioning if you can live a normal, healthy life. Have chemotherapy treatments worn you down, making it difficult to cultivate energy, hope and joy? Are you tired of feeling like a victim, stuck in suffering? Do you wish you could let go of negative thoughts and feel positive and focused on a healthy and effective recovery? Counseling medical patients can provide the help you need to move back from merely surviving each day to really living your life fully.

Medical trauma can affect anyone experiencing a life-changing medical issue or who has undergone invasive surgery. Prolonged physically and mentally intensive treatments and post-operation recovery can feel overwhelming and sometimes frightening. And, when the physical body is in distress, it’s not uncommon to neglect the needs of the emotional body and the mind. Depression, anxiety and cumulative stress can take hold and erode at emotional and mental well-being. You may want to find your way back to emotional strength, but feel too tired, stressed or confused to. You may also wonder if you will ever be able to lead a normal, healthy life and worry about how your medical condition is affecting the people you love.

Counseling for cancer and medical patients

What Is Medical Trauma?

Medical trauma can be caused by medical events, such as cancer treatments, organ transplant procedures or heart surgeries that create heightened stress or fear. While in the midst of cancer treatments and following invasive surgeries, many patients experience trauma symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, mistrust and relationship issues. Transplant donors and recipients can experience major anxiety and depression that can inhibit the patients from following their doctor’s medical advice. Even family members and spouses of patients undergoing cancer treatments and surgeries can experience changes in behavior and mental well-being.

If you’re suffering from medical trauma, you are not alone. Forty percent of all heart surgery patients suffer from some form of depression within six months following their operation, and up to 25 percent of patients diagnosed with cancer experience clinical depression. In families of patients, 20-30 percent of spouses of cancer patients experience some form of psychological distress and behavioral change.

Medical trauma can affect anyone who has undergone, is about to undergo or is currently receiving medical treatment. The anticipation of a diagnosis or the inevitable decline of a loved one’s health can elicit racing, anxious thoughts and cause patients and their families to feel helpless or even hopeless. While symptoms can sometimes be obvious, at other times, trauma goes unnoticed due to prevailing concerns, such as taking care of the family, maintaining a job or trying to heal yourself. Dealing with those external factors can create more stress and even slow the healing process.

Whether you are apprehensive about an upcoming diagnosis, fearful for a loved one’s future or are dealing with the effects of invasive surgery, there is hope and help. An experienced and compassionate therapist can help improve your sense of well-being and manage traumatic stress.

Counseling for cancer and medical patients

Counseling For Cancer Patients And Medical Trauma Can Help You Process Trauma And Experience Relief

Impermanence is frequently at the core of the fears and anxieties we experience when dealing with medical issues. The loss of mobility, energy and ability to participate in everyday activities can create symptoms of anxiety and depression and further complicate an already complicated situation. The idea of the impermanence and the possible decline of health or death can rattle even the boldest and most spiritual of people. The good news is that even in the midst of a difficult situation, it is possible to work through challenging thoughts and feelings, cultivate a positive perspective and feel more at peace.

In safe, confidential sessions, we can work through your medical trauma by addressing fears around impermanence, attachment, loss and grief. Using a combination of Western medicine practices and Eastern philosophies, I will create a mindfulness-based approach and help you cultivate courage, strength and happiness in the midst of the uncertainty you face. I can help you manage this sensitive and vulnerable time by approaching your unique situation with compassion and openness. It is my privilege to work with people at a most sensitive and vulnerable time, and I always endeavor to preserve dignity and honor trust.

While many people undergo similar diseases, symptoms and procedures, the experience is never the same from one person to another. I understand that each of my clients is unique, which is why I will tailor-create a therapy strategy that best addresses and supports your specific medical condition, needs, history, personality and therapy goals. In medical trauma therapy sessions, I can help you identify and re-frame negative thinking patterns, learn relaxation techniques and find grounding and perspective in the present moment. By re-contextualizing your pain and suffering I can help you find joy and peace within the moment.

For over 23 years, I have been counseling medical patients; providing guidance and support to people experiencing medical trauma and their loved ones. I understand the challenges that can come with invasive medical procedures and the mental and emotional toll they can take. But, I also know that there is always help and hope for healing. With support, guidance and an approach tailored to meet your specific needs, you can work through feelings of uncertainty and cultivate happiness, confidence and a sense of peace.
Although you may understand the benefits of counseling for cancer patients and medical trauma, you still may have questions and concerns about the process…

I’m too tired and taxed to add anything—even therapy—to my schedule.

Constant visits to doctors and treatment centers can be emotionally overwhelming and physically difficult to manage. It’s understandable that you may not want to visit yet another office, especially if you’ve been poked and prodded and fear exposing yourself even more. That said, counseling for cancer patients and medical trauma can help you process trauma and work through challenging thoughts and feelings. We will work at a pace that feels comfortable for you, which can keep you from feeling overwhelmed in sessions. Also, often when clients let go of heavy thoughts and feelings, they often experience increased energy and a more positive perspective on their recovery process.

Counseling for cancer and medical patients

I’m not mentally ill. Why do I need therapy?

We like to think that we can tackle the world by ourselves. The reality is, however, that humans are meant to live and heal in community, and we can all benefit from help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and I find my clients are ordinary people trying to navigate extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, a healthy mental outlook is a critical part of the healing process. Elevated stress and apathetic feelings can interfere with your ability and desire to follow your doctor’s orders and can even affect your body’s response to surgery or medical treatments. An experienced therapist can help you manage your mental health, process trauma and feel more empowered in your recovery.

My loved one is suffering medical trauma, and I’m struggling to cope. Can this kind of therapy help me, too?

Those who are supporting another through a medical crisis are often the ones who benefit from counseling the most. It’s not uncommon for spouses, family members and friends of those suffering from medical trauma to feel afraid, frustrated and overwhelmed. If you are struggling to understand or process your loved one’s medical situation, trauma therapy can provide you with guidance and support. In sessions, you can focus on your personal experience and work through challenging thoughts and emotions. When you feel mentally and emotionally balanced, you’re best able to care for yourself and provide care for the people you love.

You Can Live With Greater Ease And More Joy

You don’t have to navigate this challenging time on your own. I invite you to contact me at (713) 489-3329 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and answer any questions you have about counseling for cancer patients and medical trauma and my practice.

Counseling for cancer and medical patients

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.

Categories
Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills)

Opiate Addiction and the Brain

Opiate Addiction and the Brain

As human beings we have a long history of using opiates, such as morphine. And if a person gains unlimited access to opiates, they can easily and quickly become tolerant and addicted to it. The drugs have an intense effect on the human brain. Prescription opiates are after all intentionally designed and created to make a person feel good within a short period of time. The drugs increase the level of dopamine released in the brain and copy the effects of endogenous opioids. More often than not, people who have taken opiates with consistency often have difficulty feeling normal without taking the drugs and little or no knowledge of what really happens with opiate addiction and the brain.

Our brains produce a natural morphine known as endorphins. They stimulate the opioid receptors to lift our mood when we are under stress; helping us feel more motivated and relieving pain when there is an injury. These hormones are produced during excitement, exercise, feeling loved, orgasm, pain, or even eating spicy food.

The production of endorphins also leads to the discharge of dopamine, which is the chemical that activates the reward system of our brain. Dopamine acts as natural “go system” that helps humans pursue stuff that we need to survive. Our brain also has a “stop system” found in the prefrontal cortex at the front of our brain. It helps us determine the consequences of our impulses. When a person is addicted to opiates, the “go system” of the brain acts on its own, and the “stop system” can no longer control it.

Some Examples of  Opioids

Heroin

Codeine – ingredient found in many cough syrups

Hydrocodone – Vicodin, Lortab or Lorcet

Oxycodone – Percocet, OxyContin or Percodan

Hydromorphone – Dilaudid

Morphine – MSContin, MSIR, Avinza or Kadian

Propoxyphene – Darvocet or Darvon

Fentanyl – Duragesic

Methadone

What Opiates do to a Person’s Brain?

Opiate drugs activate the dopamine pathway (also known as the reward pathway) that sends out a rush of pleasure chemicals to the brain. When talking about opiate addiction and the brain, opiates are much more stimulating than natural endorphins, which is partly why they are so addictive. Once a person uses opiates, the brain stops creating natural endorphins because the body thinks that there are already enough levels of it in the brain. Within six to 12 months of using opiate drugs, the cells that produce endorphins can be significantly reduced in size and even die off.

One of the most commonly abused illegal opiate drugs is heroin. When it is injected into a vein, heroin reaches the brain within 15 to 20 seconds. It then binds itself to the opiate receptors found in the different parts of the brain that include, you guessed it; the reward pathway. When the receptors in the reward pathway are activated, the person feels a brief and very intense rush of euphoria. This is followed by several hours of what many report as a “contented and relaxed” state. This feeling of euphoria is what draws people back to opiates again and again.

The effects of opiates are similar to the ones from naturally occurring opioid peptides. When used for medical purposes, opiates can stop diarrhea, depress breathing, and relieve pain. They come with side effects that include vomiting and nausea. But when used in large doses, they can make breathing shallow or even make it stop altogether. Thousands of opiate addicts have died due to overdose. And mixing alcohol with opiates only increases the risk of death.

Opiate Addiction and the Brain vs. Opiate Dependence

Dependence happens due to the normal adaptations to prolonged exposure to opiates. People should not confuse the term dependence with addiction because they are not the same. Addiction is described to be the compulsive seeking (psychological) and use of the drug that results to deadly consequences. Addiction can include some type of dependence (physical) as well.

Another way to understand it is this: dependence is typically acute and holds the potential to be resolved or cured. Addiction on the other hand can be acute or in remission – but it is always chronic and life long (i.e. it is not cured or removed). This is why we say a clean/sober person is “in recovery” and not that they are “recovered”.

A person who is dependent on opiates will experience some type of withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drug is suddenly stopped or reduced. The symptoms can be mild to severe. Withdrawal symptom includes flu-like discomfort, stomach cramps, unpleasant mood, diarrhea, and severe muscle pain, just to name a few. The withdrawal symptoms are most commonly managed medically through the use of a slow drug taper.

Dependence is often accompanied by tolerance, which is the need to take higher doses of the drug in order to get the same effect. Once a person experiences tolerance, it can be difficult for the health care provider to evaluate whether the patient has a drug problem or if there is really a need for higher doses to control one’s symptoms. This is the reason physicians are attentive and vigilant to their patients’ symptoms, as well as the level of functioning to provide them with the most accurate information needed to prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Connection of Opiate Addiction and Brain Damage

While it has already established that opiate overdose can result to slow breathing, its effects on brain function are still being studied by researchers. Depressed respiration can affect the oxygen level in the brain. Researchers are still trying to determine the long-term effects of opiate addiction on the brain. Previous studies have shown that there is some deterioration of the white matter among heroin users that affect their ability to respond during stress situations, regulate behavior, as well as their decision-making abilities.

“One of the worst health epidemics facing this country is the belief

that successful pain management actually means the absence of any pain at all.”

BW Carrettin, 2003

Getting Off Opiates

Once a person stops using opiates, the natural chemical system of the body can’t turn on right away. It has already been damaged, and it will take a while to recover. The person will go through severe withdrawal that can last up to a week. Then the person will also undergo a long process called post-acute withdrawal syndrome that can last several months or even years.
When the person is suffering from withdrawal, they are typically depressed and with no motivation to do anything. Removing opiates from their system will suddenly bring lots of pain because there is no base level of endorphin found in their system.

Treatment for Opiate Addiction in Houston, Texas

Opioid addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, and like all chronic diseases it is a medical condition for life. While it can be managed and kept in remission – it cannot be cured and will not go away. However, a person with an addiction can regain a healthy, active and productive life.

There had been a lot of growth and improvement in the field of addiction treatment and one aspect of that is medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Because of a lack of up-to-date training, antiquated ideas about addiction and a general ignorance of neurology and physiology – many people, even those in the addiction treatment field, find the idea of medication-assisted treatment to be controversial. This is sad and detracts from the core intention of recovery work. It’s important to know that the goal of medication-assisted treatment is to recover from addiction. These medications, prescribed and monitored responsibly, do NOT replace one addictive substance with another. They provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of a problem opioid. Medication-assisted treatment only works if all three of it’s equally important parts are upheld: medication (monitored and taken as prescribed), counseling (with a seasoned professional who specializes in addiction) and community support (meetings as well as family and friends)

In the past, the standard treatment for opiate addiction involved the use of methadone. (Even in the face of better options methadone is still widely used today for treatment of opiate addiction.) Methadone is a long-acting opioid that is used to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. It also controls the craving and relapse of the patient. Whether methadone treatment is actually an effective tool for rehabilitation remains a subject of great controversy.

Another medication used in the rehabilitation of opiate addicts is Buprenorphine. It contains a partial agonist opiate, has a weaker effect on the receptors in the brain than some newer medications and has a limited high, which some health care providers believe can deter the addict from abusing the medication. This medication is also surrounded by controversy – some have suggested it is due to improper use, others suggest negligent monitoring by treating physicians.

Naltrexone and Naloxone are used as antagonists at opioid receptors to block the pleasurable effects of the opiates. These do not contain opiates nor do they produce a high. When coupled with counseling or other therapeutic treatments these blockers have more recently been reported to help people quit their opiate addiction. There is an intramuscular injectable (IM) version called Vivitrol which lasts approximately 30 days and has been reported to successfully block highs and help to control not only opiate cravings but alcohol as well.

Succeeding in Recovery from Opiate Addiction

For addiction recovery to be successful over a lifetime requires a great deal of desire, commitment, persistence, humility and support. One of the most widely available community-based support organizations is 12 Step with meetings across the globe and in nearly every city in the United States. Churches, community centers and many other venues are also available depending on your area.

A seasoned and experienced counselor who specializes in chemical addiction can also help the recovering addict through the challenges that arise in the recovery process. If the counselor is also licensed and experienced in mental health, they can also assist with issues such grief, anxiety or relationship conflicts that may come up during treatment and recovery. Counseling or psychotherapy is helpful not just for the addict but also for the partners, friends and family who love them.

Change is hard and for many it can also be a bit scary. Patience and compassion, but not coddling or excusing, is necessary. Learning how to set good boundaries – new boundaries – is important for everyone involved. Remember – getting better doesn’t mean back to how things were. It will never be the same way it was in the past. That was the past. But it can be better, more than better. It can be really good.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opiates, or any drug or alcohol, reach out and get help. A better life is possible and attainable. I’ve worked in this arena for a long time and I’d like to help you.

Stop.    Take a moment.    Breathe.

You CAN do this.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

For More Resources

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.

Opiate Addiction and the Brain

Categories
Alcohol

Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Alcohol has been around since ancient times and has consistently been an accepted part of almost every culture since. Alcohol has a routine and casual presence in society from weddings, to funerals, after work “happy hour” gathers, family vacations and even everyday meals. Despite it’s commonplace in our culture, there is nothing common, simple or easy about alcohol addiction.

For many of us, consumption will likely never result in addiction. For even more us, alcoholism is not only likely – it’s almost genetically guaranteed. It’s typical today to take precautions if we know that diabetes, cancer or cardiac disease is in our family tree – but it’s fairly rare to meet someone who takes the same precautions with the alcohol. Unfortunately, the costs for this oversight is staggering and the battle to regain a healthy and happy life once dependency has been established is not an easy one. Alcohol addiction counseling can be a part of getting you or your loved one back to healthy, happy living.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol Addiction is described as a chronic and progressive brain disease.  A person who is suffering is unable to control their craving for alcoholic substances. They are physiologically impaired and there is no choice involved in this. All disease revolves around a central organ or system that is impaired. Alcoholism is not a weakness and it is not a choice. There is measurable change in the brain and to heal there has to be a significant treatment intervention and a significant period of recovery followed by lifelong recovery maintenance. An alcoholic cannot just stop. Period.

The urge to drink alcohol is so strong, that people suffering from alcoholism find it difficult to even reduce consumption, despite the increase problems that arise. Even when the losses are high and the awareness of the destruction apparent, the strength of the urge to drink usurps the rational mind and plunges the alcoholic back to drinking.

Alcoholism is caused by an unending desire to consume alcohol, which is due to both a physiological and a cognitive dependence. There is also extensive literature describing a “spiritual malady” as also being present. So the body, mind and spirit are all three debilitated. To heal – all three must be treated.

Becoming overly dependent on alcohol can cause major issues for a person, such as resulting in extensive damage to the tissues, and spreading of other diseases throughout the body including heart problems, certain cancers, liver and kidney problems and a host of gastric disorders as well. The physiologic risks go on and on. Keep in mind that the brain takes physiology damage too.

Risks of Alcohol

When a person drinks, the alcohol is absorbed in the body through the stomach and enters the bloodstream. The alcohol flows through the blood and reaches the various organs, tissues, and muscles of the body. Temporarily, the drinker feels pleasant effects, but when taken in excess it can have serious effects on health, even leading to terminal illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, alcohol poisoning, etc. Not to mention the losses of employment, marriage, friends, home, respect and trust of children and even freedom (such as in DWIs and incarceration).

Detoxing on your own from alcohol is extremely dangerous. Going into withdrawals for an alcoholic can be life-threatening and your home is not equipped to handle it – nor is an ambulance guaranteed to make it to you in time. In patient medical detox is necessary and provides more protection and 24 hour monitoring to assure your safety. This is not a situation to tough it through or dismiss casually. Please, do not do this at home – go to an addiction treatment center – there are many options available.

How Does a Person Become An Alcoholic?

There are a lot of opinions on this. Most widely accepted is that a person becomes an alcoholic through consumption. Various factors are included here; drinking to excess, drinking regularly, starting at a young age, etc. After all, alcohol is addictive and dependency can be reached easily. But there are also other factors – such as genetic predisposition. If there are people in my family tree who struggled with alcoholism or addiction then my chances are much greater. There is also a greater risk in family legacies that include certain anxiety and mental health disorders.

Consider it this way; there is a base chance that any human being may have to become dependent. Whatever that chance is for you, it increases if you start drinking as a kid/teenager, it increases again if there was alcoholism/addiction on one side of your family, goes even higher if on both sides of your family, goes even higher if you drink to excess or daily or to sooth your feelings and so on.

There are 6 progressive stages of alcohol consumption:

Euphoria: The feeling of happiness that is experienced after the first drink

Excitement: The drinker starts losing control of his or her feelings and emotions.

Confusion: This is the beginning of the feeling of dizziness. The drinker becomes unable to perceive situations correctly, and his or her responses become slow, unable to take responsible decisions.

Stupor: The person loses all control over motions, and is unable to move or respond.

Coma: In this state, the person is unconscious, and may find it difficult to breathe.

Death: this is the extreme stage of alcoholism, where the drinker may die from respiratory arrest, a situation where the drinker is unable to breathe.

Admitting You Have a Drinking Problem

It is commonly thought that people should stop drinking before or once they reach the Euphoria stage. However, there are many who do not stop – many who find they cannot stop. Before there is any hope of healing an alcoholic has to realize they have a drinking problem, and admit it. People who deny it, find it difficult to accept help and are very unlikely to ever overcome this problem. Families who deny the problems of their loved ones only make the problem worse.

How Can Alcohol Addiction Counseling Help You?

Various treatment options, alcohol addiction counseling tools and techniques can help you regain control of yourself. After medical detox and residential treatment, out patient therapy is one of the most widely accepted tools to help you reclaim control of your life. A seasoned and experienced counselor will address thinking and behavioral patterns, which led to alcohol addiction, and gradually can help you make and keep better choices, diminish relapse risk and increase development of a healthier, happier and more balanced you. Brief Therapy, Solution-Oriented Therapy, ESI Coaching, CBT, Mindfulness techniques, Motivational Interviewing and a variety of other approaches offer a pragmatic and applicable route to long-term recovery for today’s intelligent and fast-paced professional.

Spouses, Partners and Families Need Support.

The idea that the addict is the one who is sick and the only one who needs to get help is toxic and misleading at best. This is a disease that affects the whole family – whomever those loved ones may be. Whether your addicted loved one is in treatment, headed to treatment, just out or even refusing to go and actively in their disease – you need support too.

I work with many spouses, partners and parents of adult addicts and alcoholics. The suffering and wounds they carry as a result of the disease have to be addressed as well. There are specialized alcohol addiction counseling and support groups for family and friends – and there is also private alcohol addiction counseling. For real and lasting healing to take place for any addict/alcoholic or loved one – you have to get help. A family, marriage or relationship is a complex, unique and delicate system. To help it, we have to help all the parts. You need help too, and you deserve it.

Services We Offer

Our specialized Recovery Consultation service has only one purpose; “to help you free yourself from the slavery of addiction and get you back to living a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life.” Recovery from alcohol is a massive challenge, but also know, that together with appropriate treatment and community support, we can overcome your impulse to drink and get you back to leading the life you want.

Ready for Life?  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.