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Is Addiction a Family Disease? 

By | Addiction, Alcohol rehab, Community, Longmont Drug Rehab, Mental Health, Therapy, Treatment | No Comments

Is addiction a family disease? What does this mean? Those suffering from addictive behaviors are suffering. And their loved ones suffer immensely, too. It goes without saying that living with substance use disorder is incredibly difficult. 

When someone using drugs begins to hurt their family, they may experience various behavioral symptoms. They may show disrespect to their siblings and parents. In addition, they might lash out, challenge boundaries, or project their emotional struggles. Furthermore, other family members may modify their behaviors to manage the stress of it all. Some may try and help the individual using drugs or alcohol to protect them from getting into trouble. Thus, becoming the enabler. Others may take on the role of caretaker and attempt to compensate, providing care that may be lacking. These are only a few examples of the dysfunctional roles that family members might play.

Addiction: A Family Disease

In a recent study at Texas Tech University, the saying, “addiction is a family disease” took on new meaning. Not only is the addicted brain affected by the substances. In addition, the family members’ brains actually change as well. The study found that family members suffer as a result of the addict’s behavior. The prefrontal cortex of one using substances shuts down when faced with temptation or triggered to use drugs. Research shows the family members’ prefrontal cortex malfunctions as well. Hence, studies validate that addiction is a family disease. Parents and siblings can actually crave patterns. They seek to rescue and care-take their addicted family member. Therefore, this is similar to the substance abuser who craves their substance of choice. 

The conclusion of the Texas Tech study, states the following: 

“The present study provides preliminary evidence that family members’ symptomatic behaviors associated with a loved one with a substance use disorder (such as fear-based behaviors), as hypothesized, may be related to altered brain functioning. Given these findings, problematic symptoms and behaviors may likely not decrease simply because the loved one struggling with a substance use disorder finds abstinence or engages in a process of recovery. Should altered pathways be present in the brains of affected family members as has been found in individuals struggling with substance use disorders, it becomes of great importance to help family members recognize their own personal need for support, therapeutic treatment, and/or recovery. Part of the recovery process should include family-based therapeutic support, and it is therefore important to make sure that the appropriate systemic and relationship training is available to helping professionals.” 

Family Therapy Changes Outcomes

This study proves the concept of addiction as a family disease. The entire family needs to participate in treatment. Family members who turn to support groups such as Al-Anon or partake in family therapy find great success. Consequently, they are able to change their behavior. Also, families learn “the three C’s”: You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it. If the alcohol or substance user is the only one getting treatment, it’s a vacuum. And then they go back into an environment where the rest of the family is still unwell. Hence, the individual’s likelihood of success goes down. The disease of addiction is viciously contagious. Therefore, it is important for everyone to seek help. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, mental health problems, The Redpoint Center is here to help. You are not alone. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol. To learn more, call us 888-509-3153.

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.

We are here to help.



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1375 Kenn Pratt Blvd
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Longmont, CO, 80501


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(888) 509-3153


 

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