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Integrating the Science of Addiction Medicine with the Art of Addiction Psychotherapy

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An Integrated Approach to Alcohol Therapy

An-Integrated-Approach-to-Alcohol-TherapyOver the years, experts have developed numerous approaches to alcohol and drug abuse therapy in New York and Princeton. However, just like any form of medicine or therapeutic treatment, the success of one methodology doesn’t imply the failure of another. Sometimes the best way to resolve a problem is to combine different approaches. This is especially true during alcohol therapy in Princeton and New York, as the problem at hand is so personal that it is nearly impossible to create a one-size-fits-all recovery program for addiction.

For this reason, Dr. Washton employs and encourages an integrative approach to alcohol therapy. This means that Dr. Washton uses a combination of proven strategies and methodologies to tailor an addiction and recovery program to the needs of the individual. The exact outline of a recovery program differs person to person based on their individual needs. This customization is a primary feature of the integrative approach to addiction therapy, one that allows optimal personalization for every client.

What is an Integrative Approach?

An integrative approach uses a collection of proven strategies in the field of addiction treatment and mental health counseling to create a comprehensive alcohol therapy program. Even strategies that are seemingly competing can be merged under this ideology, putting the client above any controversies between treatment methodologies.

The integrative approach to recovery therapy addresses substance abuse disorders while incorporating creativity, honesty, flexibility and reason into the treatment program.

Dr. Washton uses numerous proven addiction treatment methods to provide each client with the best possible recovery program. These strategies include:

  • Addiction counseling
  • 12-step facilitation
  • Pharmacological support
  • Patient education
  • Motivation-enhancement
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Client-centered counseling
  • Supportive psychotherapy
  • Harm reduction

Dr. Washton understands that needs change during the course of addiction therapy. As attitudes shift and progress is made the focus of the counseling session will also shift, and in time a counseling methodology that fit initially may not suffice. The integrative approach to addiction therapy puts aside differences in treatment beliefs and methodologies and focuses on what is best for the client right now.

Structuring Time during Addiction Recovery

Structuring-Time-during-Addiction-RecoveryThe early stages of an addiction recovery program in New York or Princeton will encourage you to make changes in both your behavior and lifestyle. Once you remove alcohol and drugs from your daily routines it can leave a large void in how you spend your time. Time that was previously spent using alcohol or drugs and recovering from the use is now left unfilled, but idle hours and social isolation can lead to relapse, especially in the first few weeks or months of treatment.

It’s important to fill these empty hours with positive, healthy habits that counteract negative feelings that may trigger alcohol or drug use. It’s important to plan your days carefully, strategizing where you will be, what you will be doing and who you will be doing it with during every hour of every day. It can be difficult to replace a lifestyle dominated by alcohol and drug use with a lifestyle that promotes a healthy recovery, but having a structure and routines in place can be very helpful. Some healthy ways to fill your time may include:

  • Exercise. Physical activity is one of the most positive things you give to your body. In addition to helping you relieve stress and depression, exercise can introduce you to engrossing new hobbies. Try different activities and continue to challenge your body in new and exciting ways.
  • Spend time with family. Addiction likely robbed you of many precious moments with your family members. Your addiction recovery program is the perfect time to grow closer to your family and spend time doing activities together that may have been impossible during periods of heavy drug use. Often, family therapy can also be a valuable aspect of your treatment program.
  • Meditate. The practice can be a valuable stress reliever, but it can also be an excellent form of self-reflection. Spend time meditating and learning other introspective techniques that help you cope with the many challenges of addiction recovery.

Although your addiction psychologist will help you decide how to budget your time during recovery and avoid high-risk situations, devoting yourself to healthy habits like those above can help you avoid the troubling emotions and free time that may hinder your progress.

Sexual Side Effects of Stimulant Abuse

Sexual-Side-Effects-of-Stimulant-AbuseDrug abuse and dependence in New York or Princeton can permeate every aspect of your life, both professional and personal. Stimulant drugs in particular are known for their impact on sexuality—continued use of cocaine and methamphetamine can change your sex life drastically, though these effects may change with the quantity and frequency of use.

Many strategies can help you separate stimulant use from sex, but you’ll first need to learn if sex is something that has been affected by stimulant addiction. Though your addiction specialist can help you determine if your drug abuse or dependence is linked to sex (and how to cope with the problem if it is), it may also help to learn how these drugs affect your sex life and assess the potential problem on your own.

Stimulants and Sexual Dysfunction

When people begin using cocaine or methamphetamine, they often experience a boost in their sexual performance, largely due to increased desires, reduced inhibitions and greater endurance. Male users in particular tend to have a heightened sex drive and may even experiment with different sexual experiences due to lowered inhibitions.

However, chronic cocaine use can eventually have a very different effect. Male users who take high doses of cocaine or continue using long-term frequently experience erectile dysfunction, while both genders can suffer from anorgasmia, or the inability to have an orgasm. These sexual problems become more common when cocaine use becomes more frequent or large amounts are used.

Unfortunately, the heightened sexual desires do not go away. This means that many cocaine users end up frustrated by an inability to satisfy mental arousal and fantasies. Though many continue to have strong sexual desires, lack of physical arousal may make sexual contact nonexistent.

Such sexual dysfunction is much rarer in those who use methamphetamine, but those who do experience it tend to have even more dramatic problems. Even when stimulant use does not inhibit sexual function, sex and the substance can become so interwoven that it becomes impossible to have a healthy sex life without drugs.

If you believe that stimulant drug abuse or dependence in New York or Princeton may have affected your sexual function, be open about the problems you’re experiencing with your addiction specialist. These issues are nothing to be ashamed of and are quite common in those recovering from stimulant addiction. You can work to return your sex life to normal as part of your substance abuse treatment program.

Total Abstinence: Staying Drug-Free during Addiction Treatment

Total-AbstinenceThough any steps made toward reducing drug use are moves in the right direction, those in addiction treatment for stimulants like cocaine should make total abstinence a priority. Attempts to control stimulant use instead of ceasing it will seldom be successful, and continuing to use even in a limited way can put you at a high risk of legal and medical repercussions.

While stimulant addicts are of course at the highest risk when using stimulants, “total abstinence” means avoiding other psychoactive substances as well. Though some resist this notion because they’ve been able to use substances like alcohol and marijuana in moderation, there are compelling reasons to avoid all intoxicants during your addiction treatment in Princeton or New York.

Total abstinence is so important because any psychoactive substance can:

  • Make it harder to resist temptation. Just about any intoxicant will strip you of inhibitions, making you far more likely to give in to impulse. Alcohol in particular seems to make it more difficult for cocaine and methamphetamine users to resist stimulants.
  • Lead to substituted addictions. When recovering addicts quit using their drug of choice, they may turn to other substances in an attempt to reach a substitute high. This can lead to dependencies on other drugs, which can make addiction treatment much more difficult. Because of its legality, availability and social acceptability, alcohol is particularly risky for recovering stimulant addicts.
  • Slow the brain’s recovery from previous chronic drug use. Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine have an impact on the brain’s functions. Though the brain will naturally begin to heal during treatment for substance abuse, many intoxicants have similar impacts on the brain and can slow its progress back to normality. Staying completely abstinent will make it more likely for your brain’s recovery to be quicker and more substantial.
  • Make you crave stimulants. Though stimulant addicts often use drugs like alcohol and opiates to ease stimulant side effects, this can lead to an association between using these different kinds of substances. As such, using other drugs can be a direct trigger to the brain, setting off cravings that may eventually lead to stimulant use, even if you have never had a problem with these other drugs before. For recovering stimulant addicts, relapses are frequently preceded by drinking alcohol.

Because the idea of abstaining from your drug of choice can be intimidating enough, it can seem like a burden to avoid all psychoactive substances during your addiction treatment in Princeton or New York. However, avoiding intoxicants of all kinds will give you the best chance at making a healthy recovery from substance abuse. To stay relapse-free and on the road to recovery, total abstinence should be a high priority.

The Role of 12-Step Programs in the Treatment of Substance Abuse

The-Role-of-12-Step-Programs-in-the-Treatment-of-Substance-Abuse12-step addiction treatment programs are not the sole path to abstinence, and an aversion to them may have led you to seek our personalized programs for thetreatment of substance abuse in New York or Princeton in the first place. However, 12-step programs can still be a valuable component of your treatment, helping you stay supported and focused on abstinence as you continue your recovery.

By introducing you to a wide net of social support and an array of strategies that have helped others through addiction treatment, 12-step programs can bolster your dedication and lift your spirits. Though you may feel despondent and fatigued by the prospect of the path ahead, joining a group that shares in the goals you are pursuing can give you hope and a valuable sense of community. Addicts who have been successfully recovering for a long time can serve as role models and guides, while the diversity of members with a shared purpose can make anyone feel welcome.

12-step meetings are free and members gather for one purpose: to unconditionally help each other through a shared struggle. The sense of camaraderie between members is strong and offers recovering addicts a way to make social connections that do not involve drug use. Though we do not push our clients to attend 12-step meetings, we fully support anyone who chooses to seek their benefits during treatment of substance abuse in Princeton or New York.

Finding a 12-Step Program

Since the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, 12-step programs have expanded dramatically, providing forums to discuss addiction in cities around the world. AA alone encompasses more than 105,000 international groups, and its self-help resources have been translated into 55 languages.

Because AA meetings often have the highest involvement and most experienced members, many choose to attend them regardless of their drug of choice. However, depending on the manner of addiction you struggle with, another group may be more effective at helping you meet peers and find direct answers to questions that pertain to your specific situation.

The most well-known 12-step programs include:

Each of these programs is based around a similar set of principles designed to offer hope for those in addiction treatment. Their beliefs aim to bolster the emotional, physical and spiritual health of recovering addicts and can be very powerful in doing so. If you believe that 12-step meetings will be beneficial during your treatment for substance abuse, find a group in New York or Princeton and speak with your addiction specialist about incorporating 12-step programs into your treatment plan.

Group Participation in the Treatment of Substance Abuse

Group-Participation-in-the-Treatment-of-Substance-Abuse“My name is ___________, and I am an addict.”

It is amazing how this short phrase prevents so many people from wanting to become active in group recovery programs during addiction treatment in New York or Princeton. Taking ownership of an addiction is a difficult battle for many people to overcome. Relating to others with similar problems and acknowledging past experiences as something others have gone through can be incredibly difficult tasks for many during the recovery process. However, once you can overcome these small obstacles and begin engaging in group recovery programs, you can open the door to a world of recovery opportunities and support networks that you didn’t know existed.

12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have been around for many years, and there are tens of thousands of people who have benefited from their abstinence-only approach to addiction. However, going to those group meetings and sitting quietly in the back isn’t enough to impact your recovery process. The key to benefiting from the 12-step model is participation.

Social anxieties, doubts and denial can all impact your willingness to participate in a group recovery session during addiction treatment. Most group recovery environments have rules in place to help you cope with those anxieties. In many 12-step group meetings you retain the right to remain anonymous, providing others only with the information you feel comfortable sharing. Unfortunately, the insecurities surrounding group recovery programs don’t always come from the threat of sharing your name, but in hearing stories so similar to your own repeated by someone who has openly accepted that they have a problem with addiction.

Participating in a self-help group can make a huge impact in your addiction treatment and recovery process. Here are a few benefits that these groups can potentially deliver:

  • Attending meetings regularly gives you the chance to develop healthy, stable relationships with others who’ve had similar experiences.
  • Meetings provide a social outlet in an environment not conducive to substance use or alcohol consumption.
  • Talking with others who’ve had similar experiences can broaden your way of thinking about addiction.
  • Forming healthy relationships and speaking openly about your past and current struggles can reduce your risk of relapse.

These are just a few of the benefits that a self-help group can provide—and they are not benefits that are easily understandable from the outside. Consider the benefits of trying a self-help group in New York or Princeton. You might be surprised by the impact regular meetings with others in similar circumstances can have on your quality of life as you overcome addiction

Family Ideals in the 1950s: The Shaping of Addiction How hiding alcoholism and abuse from the home in the 1950s helped to shape the onset of addictive behavior in children.

Family-Ideals-in-the-1950s-The-Shaping-of-AddictionThe baby boomer generation has struggled with addiction at alarming rates, and there are a handful of theories as to why this may be. Baby boomers were born after the Second World War. Their parents had made it through the great depression, a horrendous war and were becoming stable and secure in their newly established middle class lifestyle.

Enter the introduction of the television, complete with TV shows that showed idealized interpretations of the American family. Much in the way reality television now is thought to provide a glimpse into people’s lives and shape how the viewer behaves, thinks of themselves, and interprets those around them, the classic 1950 sitcom was watched with an unmistakable assumption of truth.

The families in these television shows were always happy. There was no confrontation or arguing, kids only found themselves in minor scrapes and the Mom and Dad loved each other and it showed through a sense of coziness that was never outright sexual. You can see these visions of perfection yourself by watching reruns of shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father knows Best.”

The trouble with these television shows is that they aren’t true—and they never were. Even in the idealized 1950s and 1960s, families had their drama. There were arguments, depression and losses that no one in the family knew how to cope with. In the face of this internalized reality that came from the television set, no-one knew it was okay to let that out. Emotions became bottled up, and often only let out through some sort of bottle when one was alone. Alcoholism and abuse grew during this time period, but all behind closed doors.

As the children of these families came of age, they began to realize that life was not the perfect scenario their parents had painted for them. But unfortunately, this generation was not provided with the tools to recognize or cope with that reality. This resulted in a growing group of young adults who were restless, unhappy and frustrated—and they were looking for a way to cope with those feelings in as quick of a fix as possible.

Attempting to live up to a certain image requires you to deny your true self, and this generally leads to shame and frustration. A generation of children grew up angry at the denial of their true selves, yet still felt alienated from their feelings. Unable to communicate their emotions or effectively deal with their feelings, they searched for methods to escape. All of these traits contributed to making the developing baby boomer generation highly susceptible to the throws of addiction and addictive behaviors.

Amusement, Addiction and Drug Abuse

Amusement-Addiction-and-Drug-AbuseThere are a handful of things that are truly valued in the United States. We place value on accomplishments, on materials and ultimately on our own pleasure. If something is fun, then it is worth our time, our money and our energy. We spend billions of dollars every year to attend sporting events, to visit theme parks and to entertain ourselves in myriad other ways.

When someone turns to alcoholism and drug abusein New York or Princeton, it is often first in the name of fun. Addictive behavior offers an opportunity for escape and pleasure, but in time the behaviors dominate one’s life.

Addiction: In it to Win

When you immerse yourself in an enjoyable activity, time doesn’t matter. You lose focus of the outside world and become completely distracted by the single task in front of you. This can happen while watching a movie, completing a puzzle or reading a book. When you engage in an activity like this, you become rejuvenated and re-created in a certain sense. You are able to refresh your mind, break free of self-consciousness and devote yourself so entirely to something outside of yourself. This is often referred to as “single-point focus,” and it is actually considered a form of meditation.

Mood-changing drugs provide this same relief. They allow us to temporarily escape self-consciousness by becoming wholly absorbed in the experience of the moment. Unfortunately, the consequences of using mood-changers to achieve this effect are frequently negative.

Even in pleasurable activities there is often an element of competition. Everyone wants to be “better” than the other, or to be told they are the best in this or that. Work values have so heavily invaded our pleasure activities that they have become goal-oriented. Instead of enjoying a sport for what it is, there is an underlying desire to win and to make something profound happen on the field.

We are no longer indulging for the fun of a behavior, but instead to accomplish something meaningful. Suddenly, addictive behaviors are rationalized as a method of achieving something greater—whether that is a perceived happiness, peace of mind or something else.

The constant need for meaning and competition in once-pleasurable activities will also drive people to seek an escape from the goal-oriented mayhem to find a way to live in the moment. This is something that is often achieved through mood changers. This stands to argue that our value-driven society is actually pushing more people further into the grips of addiction.

Alcoholism, Abuse and Addiction: A Search to Find Meaning

Alcoholism-Abuse-and-Addiction-A-Search-to-Find-MeaningOur society’s obsession with acquiring money and possessions is yet another factor that makes us addiction-prone. If we look to things to full us up, we pay for this magical solution with our freedom—our soul. As long as we think we must protect our supply of things, we are impeded in making career and other life decisions that will truly gratify us. Then we look for something else (our mood changers) to fill the emptiness.

Did you know the word addiction actually derives from the Latin word “addere,” which means “to devote.” In the absence of something greater to devote ourselves to, we become devoted to alcoholism and abuse.

Looking for the Answer in Addictive Behavior

For example, workaholism, which is a type of addictive behavior that is classified as the addiction to working, is fueled by the striving for material success. People stay at jobs that are ill suited for them, commute long distances and work long hours—including hours spent at home and on the weekends catching up on extra work. These are behaviors that can damage one’s mental and in some cases physical health.

Across the United States, men and women are spending more hours working every week, and dedicating fewer hours to leisure. Yet, only about half of American adults describe themselves as “satisfied” with their work. So why would someone bring so much stress onto themselves without getting inherent satisfaction from the process? There is an underlying belief that satisfaction will come—if they work hard enough.

We measure ourselves and others by what we do, what we have and how much we accomplish rather than by who we are and how we feel. This drives many people to achieve recognition by working harder—just as the alcoholic is searching for happiness or peace at the bottom of the next bottle.

Ultimately, the addictive pursuit of things—like any other addiction—cannot fill us up. We feel empty and bored, we are tired from overworking and feel guilty about the hours we spend neglecting ourselves and our families. There is the ever-emerging addictive paradox; the compulsive pursuit of material success keeps us from the only kind of success that actually can gratify us, the success of just being and knowing that “I am enough.”

Addictive Behaviors of the Baby Boomer Generation

Addictive-Behaviors-of-the-Baby-Boomer-GenerationThe baby boomers are the largest generation ever to move through our society. Born following world-war two, the baby boomers are trend setters in a lot of regards. The historical perspective of the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s are all thanks to the baby boomers, and at each stage of development this generation has found a new form of drug to supplement the values of their time.

Marijuana was the drug-of-choice to compliment the laissez-faire attitude of the 1960s. In the business-driven eighties, cocaine was more suitable. As the baby boomers have grown, so has their use of drugs. Currently reaching retirement age, many of this generation turn to opioids for an escape.

In other words, as the developmental task of the baby boomers has changed, so did the most commonly used drugs.

Their appetite for drugs has never remained permanently fixed on one specific chemical; but they had internalized a quick-fix mentality—a belief that some kind of mood-changing substance can do for them what they are incapable of doing for themselves.

Operating from this mentality has made it difficult for many baby boomers to confront the responsibilities and challenges of middle age and retirement, including hardships like relationships, careers, aging and investments. Facing these realities has been more difficult for many baby boomers than they ever expected, especially against the background of their intoxicating youth.

This sort of dissatisfaction and challenge in life leads many of the baby boomer generation to continue using and abusing drugs and alcohol. Treatment for addiction among members of this generation usually involves re-teaching healthy coping behaviors and re-framing the concept of instant gratification—or to put it more simply, debunking the “quick-fix” mentality.

All of this contributes as to why those in the baby boomer generation are statistically most likely to develop an addiction. Alcoholism and drug abuse are profound problems among those of this age group, and continue to be problematic for younger generations who have grown up watching the baby boomers putting emphasis on fun, euphoria and excitement without the hard work it takes to get there.

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