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Boulder County Mental Health & Drug Rehab |

EMDR in the Treatment of Addiction

By | Addiction, Community, Mental Health, Therapy, Treatment | No Comments

EMDR to Address Trauma During Addiction Treatment

EMDR is a powerful tool for healing trauma. Studies show that trauma is a risk factor for addiction and substance use disorder. In addition, treatment of trauma is key for individuals to recover from addiction. At the Redpoint Center, we use several different types of treatments for trauma. These modalities differ from talk therapy. One reason talk therapy doesn’t always effectively address trauma is that the memories are stored in the hippocampus, part of the midbrain. Talk therapy doesn’t effectively access these memories stored in the midbrain—it tends to involve the utilization of our frontal lobes. Furthermore, trauma is often stored in the body, requiring somatic attention. Hence, EMDR is a powerful intervention.

Using EMDR to Cope With Trauma and Stress

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is a positive tool. It helps us access and process memories stored in the midbrain. Our use of EMDR is expanding and helping more people with issues that cause distress. People with substance abuse issues commonly have a history of trauma. In addition, they struggle to cope with stress and often benefit from EMDR.

Research shows that EMDR causes changes in brain chemistry that reverse the damage caused by trauma or acute stress. Bessel van der Kolk, an expert, and researcher, in brain chemistry and trauma, shares several brain studies to support this approach. His PET scan photographs of the brain before and after EMDR sessions show the benefit.

EMDR and the Brain

The PET scans of one who is remembering trauma light the amygdala in the brain. This is part of the limbic system that is responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. The amygdala is activated when one experiences trauma and acute stress. It is the “smoke detector” that scans the environment and lets us know of a threat or event that is relevant to survival.

When people experience a threat the amygdala becomes activated. The frontal lobe, where cognition and understanding take place, is quite dim because the amygdala is more heightened. Hence, when people are experiencing “normal” day-to-day happenings, the frontal lobe is bright and outshines the amygdala.

Studies Show the Benefits of EMDR

In one study, van der Kolk had several individuals go through EMDR sessions. Before the sessions, the PET scans showed a brain in a trauma state. After the EMDR sessions, the brain appeared normal when the client was bringing to mind the same stressful event. The memory was no longer held as a traumatic memory but as a normal, processed memory.

We found another study where van der Kolk showed that subjects with a complicated traumatic history, after six EMDR sessions, had greatly reduced PTSD symptoms that continued to decrease even more for up to six months after the study.

We do not know exactly how psychotherapy affects the brain’s neurobiology. However, we do know that when people are upset, their brains cannot process information normally. EMDR is similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

During REM sleep, the information from the day is being processed. When people experience trauma, the amygdala becomes hyperactive and stores traumatic information and memory. This makes it difficult to process this information. EMDR creates the same stimulation that occurs during REM sleep. This assists the brain in processing the trauma or issues related to stress.  The end result is that people see disturbing information in a new and less distressing way. Consequently, they are better able to process information.

Getting Started with EMDR in Treatment

We know addiction is connected to acute stress and often trauma. Once a client has dealt with trauma and acute stress through EMDR, he or she is better able to cope. Therefore, they experience healthy relationships, cope with stress, and live a happier life.  In addition, people can recover from addiction since they are no longer, or less affected, by their distress.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. Learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, by calling 888-509-3153.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter

By | Addiction, Community, Media, Mental Health, Misc, Therapy, Treatment | No Comments

It is a common occurrence amongst therapists to joke that if they bring their clients to tears then they know they’ve done something right. We believe that laughter can be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. 

Other reasons why laughing is therapeutic:

Connection: Laughter increases one’s ability to be close with others, and is an expression most often used in a social context. We are 30 times more likely to laugh if we are with another person. Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott said we laugh “to show people that you understand them, that you agree with them, and you are part of the same group with them. You’re laughing to show them you like them, you might even love them. Laughter is doing all that emotional work for you.”

See what else Sophie has to say in her Ted Talk Why We Laugh

Nervous System Regulation: laughter reduces sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight response) and increases parasympathetic system activity, which can relax the whole body, thus reducing the impact of stress on the body and mind.

Read more about laughter and the nervous system here.

Perspective: it offers a new way to look at a situation and

“Humor and laughter can shift perspective and change the way the our mind views or experiences an event.”

Emotional Health

Emotional health, but physical health have been linked to laughter as well.  Norman Cousins, who wrote Anatomy of an Illness (1979), describes his experience using laughter to help him live a longer, and more pain free life while suffering from an illness affecting the immune system. According to Cousins:

  • Laughter:
    • Releases endorphins in the brain that fight physical pain.
    • Protects our immune systems.
    • Increases antibodies that fight infection.
    • Increases natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells attack cancerous cells in the body.
    • Improves cardiovascular health
    • Activates neuro-chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, acting as a natural antidepressant.

And one final thought; did you know there is something called “Laughter Yoga”? Make sure to check out this Ted Talk by Dr. Madan Kataria, the pioneer of Laughter Yoga, which is now a worldwide practice for improving overall health and wellbeing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, Mental Health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more about our Longmont Drug Rehab, call 888-509-3153.

We are here to help.



Address

The Redpoint Center
1375 Kenn Pratt Blvd
Suite 300
Longmont, CO, 80501


Phone

(888) 509-3153


 

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