Posts tagged "mental health"

How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction? - Serenity Springs Recovery

How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction?

March 14th, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction?”

Excessive gaming can affect a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, and work or school. Drug or alcohol addiction changes the way the brain functions and the same happens when a person has a gaming addiction. This makes the person continue gaming despite negative consequences. Excessive gaming can lead to isolation, social anxiety, and depression. It can affect relationships, work or school productivity, sleep patterns, and proper nutrition.

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized a gaming disorder as “a new mental health condition included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases.” The WHO says the new diagnosis adheres to individuals who have lost control over their gaming habits. Gaming addiction allows a person to remain in a virtual world as a way to escape problems in the real world.

In an article by Jocelyn Maminta for WTNH News8 (2019), Robin Seymour, clinical director at Newport Academy said, “Research has shown the chemicals, the same chemicals in the brain that gets stimulated in substance use, those happy feelings, feelings of reward, are also being stimulated when they use games.”

A gaming addiction interferes with a person’s diet. He or she might play games for endless hours without stopping to eat. When a person has a gaming addiction, he or she can become irritable when they cannot play due to special events or occasions.

Signs of a gaming addiction include:

  • Irritability when the game is interrupted. This can put a strain on relationships with loved ones. Gaming becomes the person’s number one priority.
  • Neglects responsibilities. He or she may often be late to school or work, or not show up.
  • Social problems and isolation. The person withdraws from in-person relationships and develops online friendships with other players. For a person who suffers from social anxiety, the online world is more comfortable.
  • Fatigue or insomnia. Sometimes, the person will avoid sleep to continue playing the game.

While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. There is hope in recovery. Get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health - woman looking sad out rain dropped window - Serenity Springs Recovery

Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health

March 7th, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health”

“We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”

It can be difficult for a person who suffers from addiction and mental health issues to ask for help. Tragically, the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health can make a person feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Addiction and mental health issues also affect the lives of loved ones.

There is no shame in reaching out when you experience unbearable pain and despair. Suicide is a hidden risk of addiction and mental health. Depression, PTSD, and other trauma-related disorders can lead to suicidal thoughts, which can be amplified with the use of drugs or alcohol. If left untreated, addiction and mental health issues can cause serious health complications or death.

People who appear happy, are wealthy, and in good health are not immune to suicidal thoughts. According to an article by Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. for Psychology Today, “Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people may lose inhibitions and take risks they ordinarily would not. Additionally, many people abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.” The article also states that substance use disorders can increase the risk of a person dying by suicide. About one in three people who die by suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We can all take action to prevent suicide. According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.”

Mental illness often coexists with a substance use disorder or addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Get help today so you can live a healthy, fulfilling, sober life in recovery. There is no cure for addiction, but it is treatable.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

The Urgent Need for First Responders to Get Help for PTSD - man in car with inhaler - Serenity Springs Recovery

The Urgent Need for First Responders to Get Help for PTSD

March 1st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Treatment 0 comments on “The Urgent Need for First Responders to Get Help for PTSD”

“We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255.”

Addiction does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. This includes people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses. Addiction also happens to people who work in all professions. First responders are vulnerable to having PTSD, depression, and anxiety, which can lead to substance abuse, addiction, or suicide.

Tragically, shame and stigma surround mental health within professions that prioritize bravery and toughness. In an article by Elizabeth Fry, FOX13 News (2018) on the number of first responders who die by suicide, Clara Reynolds, CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay stated, “They see things that none of us really ever want to see or have to experience. So to know that they’re going from call to call to call that can really add up and take such a huge toll on them.”

According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, first responders are at higher risk of dying by suicide than in the line of duty. “In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty.”

Substance use disorders and PTSD often coexist and can be treated as a dual diagnosis. People suffering from PTSD might have flashbacks and relive the event repeatedly. They may avoid certain places or people and can be easily startled and have angry outbursts.

Mental health is particularly important to study in the context of disasters, because often in tragic events, loved ones are lost suddenly, horrifically, and unexpectedly.

It can be difficult to ask for help, but you are not alone. If you or a loved one is suffering from a PTSD and a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. PTSD and a co-occurring substance use disorder or addiction is treatable and recovery is possible. Make the life-saving decision to get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

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Relapse Prevention Guide

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Relapse Prevention Guide”

relapse preventionMaintaining sobriety and meeting treatment goals after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can be the most difficult part of recovery. However, many people with a substance use disorder do recover from addiction and enjoy a lasting and satisfying sober lifestyle.

A number of those in recovery could relapse after treatment. Preventing or reducing the incidence of relapse by following a comprehensive relapse planning guide has helped many to enjoy drug and alcohol free lives in spite of potential relapses.

Planning and mastering the art of relapse prevention begins while you’re still in treatment. Relapse is not an out-of-the-blue event. Rather, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. As such, it can be monitored. If necessary, adjustments can be made to your relapse prevention planning to help you avoid relapse in the future.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 21.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a substance use disorder is “a chronic brain disease, with behavioral, biological, social, emotional and physical aspects, that is characterized by an inability to control substance abuse.”

What Is Relapse?

A substance use disorder relapse occurs when someone resumes using substances after a period of abstinence. A return to active substance use can vary in duration and intensity from one person to another.

According to the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal, relapse is “a setback that occurs during the behavior change process, such that progress toward the initiation or maintenance of a behavior change goal (e.g., abstinence from drug use) is interrupted by a reversion to the target behavior.”

Relapse Is Not Failure

Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. For many with a substance use disorder, relapse is considered a stepping stone instead of an end point. When relapse happens, it simply indicates that treatment goals must be revisited and revised in some way.

Relapse prevention can include increased attendance at support group meetings. It can mean trying new types of therapy. It might involve that improvements in diet and nutrition or additional inpatient or outpatient treatment is necessary.

Relapse Can Be Part of the Recovery Process

With chronic addiction, relapse can be considered part of the disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent. Those percentage rates are similar to those seen in other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Common Relapse Triggers

Although everyone in recovery is unique, there are some common situations, also called triggers, that seem to be especially difficult for those recovering from a substance use disorder:

  • Negative emotional states
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and weakness
  • Emotional withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, boredom, depression, frustration and irritability
  • Time spent with friends who use
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Visitation of places where you’ve used
  • Relationships that become stressful if something goes wrong
  • Isolating behavior
  • Complacency and letting down your guard
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Peer pressure to use
  • Positive and celebratory emotional states
  • Commercials and advertisements
  • The use of will power or trying to recover by yourself
  • Behavior that tries to control your using

Negative emotional states correlate with the highest relapse rates according to a study by Marlatt and Gordon in 1985. Interpersonal conflict and negative emotional states taken together triggered half of all relapses. Being in social situations where people were using accounted for 20 percent of relapses.

Concurrent Mental Health Conditions

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 7.9 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a concurrent mental health condition.

Untreated mental health conditions can trigger relapse. Treating the substance use disorder as well as the mental health condition can increase the probability of maintaining abstinence. Although substances like drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief from the symptoms of a mental health condition, they actually increase the unpleasant symptoms that those conditions generate.

Phases of Relapse

When you view relapse as a process rather than an event, it has three distinct stages. These stages are emotional, mental and physical relapse.

Emotional Relapse

You might not be thinking of using. However, if you’re harboring negative emotions and participating in high-risk behaviors, you’re creating the groundwork for relapse in the future. The emotional stage of relapse is the easiest to overcome. The later stages get progressively harder to resist.

The trick is to recognize that you’re currently in a state of emotional relapse and change your thoughts and behaviors accordingly. If you remain for too long in a state of emotional relapse, you’ll progress to a state of exhaustion. This exhausted state is called mental relapse, and it will make you want to escape.

Mental Relapse

Once you reach a state of exhaustion, you’re likely to stop taking care of yourself. You could develop poor eating and sleeping habits. You might start to feel resentful and anxious or uncomfortable in your own skin.

In a state of mental relapse, you’re likely to isolate and not ask for help. Your mind is fighting with itself about whether or not to use. You might be thinking about using even though you haven’t picked up. In the mental relapse stage, it’s common to romanticize your using days and to wonder whether you have a substance use disorder after all.

You might think that you can now control your using. You could start hanging out with friends from your using days and fantasize about picking up. You might think you can get away with using because no one will know. The longer you continue to think along those lines, the greater the likelihood that you will pick up.

Coping With the Desire to Use

When you feel like using, here are some tips to reduce the possibility of relapse:

  • Tell someone that you’re thinking of picking up.
  • Do something to turn your thoughts in another direction.
  • Go to a support group meeting and tell the group what you’re feeling.
  • Hold off on using for 30 minutes. Most urges to use will pass after half an hour.
  • Don’t use until tomorrow. By tomorrow, you probably won’t want to.
  • Stay in the now. Don’t tell yourself that you can never use again. Just don’t use today.
  • Do something that you enjoy to help you relax and unwind.
  • Go out for dinner with friends. Putting food in your stomach can take the edge off cravings.

Physical Relapse

If you don’t take preventative action while in the mental relapse mode, you’re headed for physical relapse. At that point, you’ll feel so uncomfortable that you’ll have very little defense against picking up. Relapse can still be prevented, but when you already feel an intense level of mental and emotional distress that could be eliminated by picking up, it’s very difficult to shift your train of thought and change your course of action.

What If You Relapse?

If you resume using, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, seek help as soon as possible. The important thing now is to keep the relapse from progressing. If you act quickly, you can lessen the duration and severity of the experience.

Substance Use Disorder and Brain Chemistry

Substances like heroin, alcohol, cocaine and prescription painkillers all disrupt the neural pathways in the brain. These pathways affect things like impulse control, decision-making, feelings of well-being and how you experience pleasure and pain.

With regular use, you’ll need more and more of a substance to feel okay. When your brain no longer functions properly without substances, you’ll have what’s called a physical dependence.

With physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms and cravings will develop if you try to stop using. You’ll no longer feel normal if the drug is not present in your brain in sufficiently high concentrations.

When you reach this level of discomfort, it’s very easy to convince yourself that using would be a good idea. It would eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that you can get back on track. With this mindset, it’s easy to view using as a reasonable form of self-medication instead of a relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Thinking Positive in Recovery

Physical detox clears substances out of your body, but that alone won’t keep you sober. After physical dependence has been addressed, treatment focuses on how to maintain a sober lifestyle while living substance-free. Sober living requires attention to the mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of a substance use disorder.

A form of behavioral therapy called CBT is often used to treat those recovering from addiction. According to the journal of the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “abstinence rates may be increased with the use of CBT methods.”

Your habitual thoughts affect your health, your mental state, your emotional well-being and your behavior. CBT is used to explore the various ways that your thoughts affect your recovery. CBT can help you to replace the old, negative thought patterns so common in active addiction with positive thought patterns that support a healthy and satisfying sober lifestyle.

CBT and Learning Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Everyday stress is one of the most common causes of relapse. CBT can teach you new coping skills that will help you deal with stress in a healthy and effective manner.

CBT can also help you cope with the anxiety, depression, anger and emotional mood swings that make recovery so difficult. Studies published in the Psychiatric Times journal suggest that “CBT may actually help to improve a person’s neurobiological circuits in the brain.”

Length of Time in Treatment

It you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder, you can reduce the potential for relapse by completing your full course of treatment. The longer you remain in treatment, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn and establish new coping mechanisms before resuming a normal life in the real world. According to Psych Central, the length of time spent in treatment correlates with how long a recovering person is able to maintain abstinence.

The Role of Medication

Medication can help to regulate moods and reduce cravings. In many programs, medication is an essential element of a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment approach that combines pharmacological therapy with behavioral therapy.

Activities That Support the Recovery Process

Here are some examples of basic holistic activities that can help you to avoid relapse by improving your overall feelings of well-being:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eight hours of sleep
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Good nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindful meditation
  • Massage therapy

Effects of the Environment on Recovery From a Substance Use Disorder

Some environments are more supportive of long-term recovery than others. Relationships with family members can help or hinder the recovery process. Family counseling and therapy for those who have loved ones in treatment can be helpful for family members as well as for the recovering person.

Counseling sessions can help family members to develop good communication skills. Clear communication makes it easier to support the treatment goals of the family member with a substance use disorder.

During counseling, loved ones are educated about how the disease of addiction works. When family members understand what the recovering person is going through, they are better equipped to help that person cope with stress more effectively. They can also help the recovering person to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

The Importance of a Strong Support System

Studies show that those in recovery who have received treatment and participate in twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are more likely to stay sober and remain abstinent.

Recovering people who surround themselves with others who are also in recovery receive regular healthy peer pressure and experience a sense of connection and fellowship with others. That ongoing support helps them to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle. Being part of a recovering community also helps those with a substance use disorder to avoid relapse.

Getting to the Root of Addiction

April 17th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Treatment 0 comments on “Getting to the Root of Addiction”

Addiction is an insidious affliction that affects millions of people of all ages, races, sexes, and circumstances. Because of this, most addicts and their family members are disbelieving when they or their loved one falls victim to addiction.

Understandably, the first question is often, “Why me?”

First, it is important to understand that addiction does not discriminate and those who become addicted are not “bad” or “weak.” Rather, there are many reasons addiction might be affecting you or your loved one, and it is vital to figure out what the root cause(s) of the addiction may be. Without doing this, the addiction may never go away or may be replaced by another addiction.


Researchers have discovered a link between addiction and genetics/environment and are continuing to expand their studies regarding this connection. Youth who have been subject to drug abuse or alcoholism are more likely to begin using legal and/or illegal substances in their teens and early twenties but this tendency changes as they age. The US National Library of Medicine states that “Family, adoption, and twin studies reveal that an individual’s risk tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to an addicted relative.” This assertion suggests that one struggling with addiction may have been raised with increased exposure to someone suffering from a similar addiction, and their experience can influence behaviors.

Mental Health Disorders

Almost 8 million people in the US experience what is called “dual diagnosis,” a substance abuse disorder along with a mental health issue. There are many types of dual diagnoses but common co-occurring disorders include:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

Addictive Personality Disorder

Some people have psychological and behavioral traits that might make them more inclined to become addicted. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the population does not know when to stop abusing a substance or activity. Such individuals are generally risk-takers who can be impulsive and somewhat isolated.

The Brain and Addiction

Sometimes addiction takes over where the substance was initially intended for healing. An example is pain medications used to recover from an injury or surgery. When these substances are used for the correct purpose, they help the person feel more comfortable. However, with continued use after the purpose of the prescription has expired, the brain begins to be affected in ways that make the body want more.
Specifically, the brain’s stem, cerebral cortex, and limbic system are all impacted by drugs and alcohol. Eventually, the brain’s “reward” center is activated with feelings of euphoria. With each time this happens, the need for the substance is increased.

Why people fall into addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is no one factor that determines who will become addicted. However, they say a person’s biology, environment, and development (or any combination of these things), can play a significant role in the risks of addiction.

Why get to the root of addiction

Addiction is like a weed: It must be removed from the root. Ultimately, addiction stems from the need to not feel something bad. Whether it’s physical pain or mental pain, most addicts are attempting to free themselves of something that is causing them distress in some way.

By finding out the source of that distress, addicts are better able to conquer their addictions. Without finding the root cause, the risk of relapse is amplified dramatically.

How to get to the root of addiction

The first step to recovery is to get clean. This will clear your mind so you can make an informed decision about your treatment. Getting to the root of your addiction is a personal journey and one only you can take. For this reason, a personalized system that addresses all of your needs – not just your addiction – is an integral part of recovering.

At Serenity Springs, we are passionate about helping our clients recover completely so they can live the rest of their lives substance-free. To do this, we understand how vital it is to treat the whole person, not just the addict. Contact us today to find out ways you can overcome your addiction and live a drug-free, fulfilling life.

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Hurricane Irma’s Impact: PTSD and Addiction

September 11th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, News 1 comment on “Hurricane Irma’s Impact: PTSD and Addiction”

While much of the nation’s attention is rightfully glued to their televisions awaiting updates on the current conditions of Hurricane Irma another group of people is also being impacted: addicts and alcoholics afflicted with substance abuse disorder and other dual diagnosis disorders. As these are very trying times for everyone in Florida; men and woman in recovery are uniting together to ensure the safety of their brothers and sisters in recovery.

Recovered Addicts at Risk of Relapse

According to an addiction expert at Serenity Springs Recovery Center; a nationwide leader in treating substance abuse and dual diagnosis disorders in Edgewater, Florida stated, “Individuals with active addictions and those that have recovered from addictions are at risk of relapse or binges after a stressful event such as Hurricane Irma.  It is imperative that those in recovery stay close to their support networks, 12-step fellowships, and family’s in stressful times like the natural disaster we are experiencing here in Florida.”

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PTSD, Anxiety, and Addiction

When the brain experiences trauma, it releases excessive amounts of chemicals that physically and emotionally alters the body. Part of the fight or flight mechanism humans are equipped with, these chemicals are designed to help you escape imminent danger. For recovered addicts with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), the chemicals continue to be released even when danger is no longer physically present.

Extensive research proves that addiction and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) go hand and hand. Individuals with PTSD, depression, and anxiety issues are much more likely to turn to drugs, alcohol and other mind-altering chemicals to cope with the trauma they have experienced, both physically and/or emotionally.  While substance abuse can seem like an appropriate response when you’re in the thick of PTSD, it is not only dangerous but potentially life threatening. Many people will have their lives forever altered when they begin to turn to substances as a coping mechanism.

Serenity Springs Supports

“What we are seeing with Hurricane Irma is an unrepresented situation. It is amazing to be a witness to how so many of our recovered alumni clients bond together in this time of crisis. A group of recovered alumni from Serenity Springs, originally from the beaches of Monmouth County, New Jersey, and now residents of New Smyrna Beach, Florida have come together to support each other. In the light of disaster and adversity, these men and woman have come together, for each other. That’s what recovery is all about!!!!” says Stephen Gallagher, alumnus and now an employee at Serenity Springs Recovery Center.

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