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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

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Is Addiction an Attachment Disorder?

Is Addiction an Attachment Disorder?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

There are many theories on why some people struggle with addiction and others do not. Some say it is due to environmental factors while others point to biological changes in the brain. It will take more time to understand addiction entirely. However, each day researchers learn more about it. One of the theories being suggested is the attachment theory of addiction. This theory delves into addiction from birth and says that life circumstances lead children to develop a survival mechanism that encourages them to seek outside nurturement. If a child is not getting the attention they need, they attach to something that will fulfill that need. Could this attachment be related to addiction?

What is the Framework of Attachment Theory?

To understand the attachment theory of addiction, we must define it and understand how it works. The attachment theory states that children who do not grow up in a secure environment learn unhealthy attachment skills. Therefore, in treating addiction, it is critical that treatment provides a model of secure attachment, so individuals can understand how to respond to pain and discomfort other than acting out in addictive behaviors.

As humans, we have a longer period of dependency on caregivers, more than any other mammal. Not only do we need our caregivers for food and safety, but for emotional connection, affection and love. When we are infants, we naturally turn to our caregiver in times of distress. Babies cry, and they learn they have support when they need it.

Here is what it looks like when secure attachment does not happen: Baby is upset and turns to their caregiver for comfort and connection. However, instead of their needs being addressed, the baby is ignored, left alone or abused for having needs. Over time, this patterns results in the child learning not to turn to their caregiver in times of distress.   The child will stop seeking care and comfort from their caregiver, and instead, look for ways to regulate and self-soothe from the outside world.

This period in life is where some researchers believe addictions starts to develop. As a child grows in this unhealthy attachment environment, they learn not to turn to humans for care and comfort. Instead, they seek alternatives. Addictions to drugs, food, and rituals around food like over- or under-eating become coping mechanism for replacing security a secure attachment would have provided.

The Internal Working Model

Furthermore, in infancy, a child learns necessary skills for survival and develops what the attachment theory calls an Internal Working Model (IWM). Our IWM helps us find out how to view the world and ourselves. A child’s IWM is dependent on their upbringing. The theory argues that a child’s attachment style has a significant impact on whether they will develop a substance abuse dependency.

To fully understand unhealthy attachment, you should first understand secure attachment. Secure attachment is when a caretaker shows awareness of a child’s emotions and quickly attends to the child when they are distressed. The theory suggests that when a child is properly taken care of, they feel free to explore the world and acquire independence because they develop a sense of certainty that their caretaker will be there if anything goes wrong. They rarely feel uncertain or insecure in their independent journey because they know they have a caretaker there if needed.

However, if the attachment system a child has growing up is deficient, the child will struggle with emotional regulation as an adult. Children raised in an insecure environment grow up learning to blame themselves when they are unable to provide for their emotional needs on their own. Instead of developing security in a healthy manner, they will use addictive substances or behavior to define comfort and safety.  The use of addictive substances and behaviors will lead to continued dysfunction and continued addictiveness.

Treating Addictiveness through Attachment-Oriented Therapy

Recent studies positively confirm a link between insecure attachment and substance dependence. Fortunately, there is hope. “Attachment-Oriented Therapy” or AOT is a way of “eliciting, integrating and modifying styles represented within a person’s internal working model.” (Flores 2004). The therapy works to shift the internal working model an addict has acquired to self-sooth since childhood.

The point of the therapy is to teach those struggling with addiction how to regulate their emotions and feelings, so they avoid seeking outside sources as a means of managing their emotions.  Addicts learn how to explore the deeper problem of why exactly they use their addictive behavior to escape their emotional pain and where this method of survival was rooted.

AOT is rooted in providing a way for individuals to explore themselves from the inside out. Attachment theory states that a model is necessary for patients to understand how to stop seeking answers on the outside and learn to heal. By providing a haven for addicts to learn to feel and express emotions, a better solution can be found.

Learning how to regulate emotions and self-sooth are skills that we develop from infancy. Therapies like AOT help in reestablishing methods of secure attachment. If you struggle with managing your emotions, seeking help is the first step. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Alcohol Killing Americans in Record Numbers

Alcohol Killing Americans in Record Numbers

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

There has been an influx of media attention on the heroin and painkiller epidemic which is now at record numbers. The focus in the media has been on the rise in overdose fatalities from heroin and prescription painkillers. Overdoses have more than tripled in the last decade and the numbers continues to rise at alarming rates. While raising awareness of the opioid epidemic is necessary and much needed, we still cannot take our attention away from the drug killing Americans the most: alcohol.

The biggest threat to Americans remains to be alcohol. Americans are dying from alcohol abuse at numbers that exceed anything we’ve seen in the past 35 years. The CDC estimates that in just the last year, over 30,700 people died from alcohol-related causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis of the liver.

In a little over a decade, the number of Americans who have died from alcohol have risen by 37 percent.  In 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes than from painkillers and heroin combined, says the CDC.

If you think these numbers are high due to alcohol-related accidents, you are wrong. These numbers do not even include deaths caused by alcohol like drunken driving incidences, and murders committed under the influence. If we were to count those deaths, the death toll would be up to 90,000.

Why do these numbers continue to climb? Researchers conclude it is simply because Americans are drinking more. The statistics prove this conclusion:

  • Americans who drink at least once a month rose from 54.9% to 56.9%.
  • 51.9% of women reported drinking at least monthly in 2014, up from 47.9% in 2002.
  • Binge drinking by women is up to 17.4% from 15.7% in 2002.

All in all, binge drinking is the major culprit. People who drink the most are at the highest risk for alcohol-related death. According to past research by Cook, the top 10% of American drinkers consume close to 74 drinks a week on average. Drinking at this rate is linked to a range of health complications, including cirrhosis, cancer, brain damage, drunk driving and other accident fatalities.

For more moderate drinkers, the health effects of alcohol remain less clear. The research and data from moderate drinking has been all over the place. Some data suggests moderate alcohol consumption; around one-to-two drinks per day may actually be healthy.

However, there is a gray line when it comes to moderate to harmful drinking. A recent study revealed that when used alone, alcohol was the deadliest recreational substance, followed by heroin and cocaine. For this reason, many are urging public health officials to shift focus away from the dangers of drugs like pot and LSD and focus more on educating people about the dangers of drinking.

Alcohol is a dangerous substance that when used in excess, can cause serious health consequences.  However, since alcohol remains more accessible than any other drug, it increases the risk of abuse. Alcohol is a socially accepted drug and has played a role in our culture for so long that many do not even realize they have a problem until it is too late.

Alcoholism is a serious disease and if you feel your drinking is getting out of control, do not wait to be a statistic, get treatment today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Study Shows Most Teens Experience Blackouts by Age 19

Study Shows Most Teens Experience Blackouts by Age 19

Author: Justin Mckibben

As a recovering alcoholic, I can definitely remember a few black-outs in my drinking days. And by remember, I mean I at least know what people told me about the details of the night before after waking up in a strange place with random clothes on and sharpie tattoos all over my body. I was fortunate enough most times to wake up without injuries, except for a hangover that often felt like someone had split my skull with a hammer and poured the black-plague into the crack.

Blacking out is not fun, and it is extremely dangerous! Blacking out while drinking not only puts you at risk, but you could end up in a situation that risks the safety of others in a serious way. Recently a team of UC San Diego researchers conducted a study to warn young people about the dangers of black-out drinking found that a majority of adolescents experience a blackout at least once by age 19.

Research Data on Black-outs

The research team looked at data on 1,402 drinking adolescents in England, specifically for information when they were between ages 15 and 19. This age group was selected because the heaviest drinking usually occurs between ages 15 and 22, and this would be the first study to examine this age group in regards to blackout trajectories over time.

  • 90% of the adolescents had drank to the point of blackout at least once by age 19
  • About 50% of them had blacked out multiple times

The study also looked into what elements and behaviors may predict a blackout, including:

  • Demographic factors
  • Impulsive characteristics
  • Peer substance use

Using this data the researchers determined that teens in this age group that were most likely to report blackouts had similar factors involved such as:

  • They were smokers
  • Had impulsive-like characteristics
  • Higher estimated peer-substance involvement
  • Were female

This was not too much of a surprise, as compulsive behaviors tend to come in pairs, and with drinking alcohol females will need less of an amount over a shorter time frame in order to get as intoxicated as males.

Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents

Alcohol abuse in adolescents is nothing new, but it is still a disturbing reality when taking into account the dangers of black-out drinking, which is typically hand-in-hand with binge drinking. Professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego and corresponding author for the study Marc A. Schuckit said,

“No matter what country, when kids are drinking, they are not likely to understand what is going on with their systems and how dangerous it can be.”

Still, the scary part is this is nothing new. Binge drinking is already a problem among teens that has a major contribution to black-outs and alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking is essentially drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time with the intention of getting drunk, and it is an easy way to develop alcohol poisoning when taking in too much alcohol for the body to keep up its vital functions.

Back in 2011 there was a 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey that looked into underage drinking and found that among high school students, during a 30 day time frame:

  • 39% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 22% binge drank.
  • 8% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 24% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
  • In 2011 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 25% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 16% reported binge drinking.7
  • In 2011, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 33% of 8th graders and 70% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 13% of 8th graders and 40% of 12th graders drank during the past month.

Alcohol is the number one commonly used and abused substance among young people in the United States, and more disturbing is that alcohol is the main factor in 4,700 deaths per year among underage youth.

Coming to Conclusions

The reason that we can be drinking one minute, and then finding ourselves in a tutu tied to a telephone pole in rush hour traffic in the morning is because alcohol is a depressant, and at high enough doses depressants impair memory acquisition, or basically create a momentary shutdown of memory storage. John Ericson wrote a statement in Medical Daily that said,

“Blacking out is always bad news, because it is more or less synonymous with losing your mind for a substantial period of time. During a blackout, you approach every new context as a blank, inaccessible slate, incapable of forming any hard memories.”

But all jokes aside, black-out drinking is absolutely irresponsible and can even be deadly. Some people get behind the wheel of a vehicle and kill themselves and others because they have gotten drunk to the point where their brain is incapable of keeping up with their body, and there are numerous other ways that young people can find themselves in situations that are detrimental to all involved. Professor Schuckit said it’s a serious problem, and should be handled as such,

“Kids have to recognize the problem of blackouts themselves and take steps to change behaviors. We need to identify something they can recognize in themselves and their peers so they can learn to modify their behaviors, because blackouts are dangerous, prevalent, and persistent.”

Binge drinking for students may seem like a good idea, but the problem lies in the fact that not all young people are truly aware off the extent that danger takes them to, especially for those with a serious drinking problem. Someone who is consistently drinking excessively to get drunk, and experiencing more and more loss of time and memory should take an honest inventory on this behavior. Alcoholism is a cunning disease, and many young people may not know how real it really is until they find themselves in the grips of it. Then one day you wake up, if you’re lucky, and realize you have forgotten half of your life.

Binge drinking, black-outs, alcohol poisoning and alcoholism are all very real, and even teens are eligible to experience the horrors associated with all of them. It is never too late, and definitely never too early, to make a change that can save your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Mommy Needs to Go to Rehab: How to Explain Alcoholism to a Child

 Mommy Needs to Go to Rehab: How to Explain Alcoholism to a Child

“Dad’s an alcoholic.” “Mommy needs to go to rehab.” These are not comfortable nor are they easy conversations to have with a child, even if your child has known that there’s been a problem for quite some time.

As it stands, more than 28 million children have an alcoholic parent and yet alcoholism and addiction aren’t being talked about in most homes. Instead, children grow up facing a lifetime of issues that their peers are fortunate enough to not have to deal with. Children of alcoholics tend to have more emotional, behavioral and academic problems than other kids, and are four times more likely to become addicts themselves. Children of alcoholic parents are also at a greater risk of abuse and neglect, as well as have an increased chance of witnessing domestic violence and marrying an addict later in life.

And that’s why it’s so important to start talking about drug use and addiction to our children.

How to Explain Alcoholism to a Child

#1. Plan the Conversation

Choose the timing of your conversation carefully. In other words, don’t try to have a serious conversation when your child is on their way out the door to catch the school bus, for instance. Make sure there are no distractions and the setting is a relatively calm one. It’s best to explain your alcoholism when you already have your plan to go to rehab in place.

Explain that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed and that you’re taking steps to do so. Talk about what will change, for example, that you will be away for a little while. Repeat the conversation as often as needed so that your child feels comfortable having an ongoing dialogue.

#2. Keep It Age-Appropriate

Obviously, you want to explain addiction and rehab in terms your child can understand.Therefore the language you use and the level of detail you provide should be tailored to their age and level of maturity. Break the issues down as simply and directly as possible, and make sure to include a message of hope at the end.

#3. Be Truthful and Honest

Children have an innate ability to know when an adult is lying. So, although you’ll need to use different terms (depending on your child’s age), you should be honest about the problem. Explain that addiction is a disease, just like diabetes, and that it is caused by several different things, such as genetics, environment and past trauma. But just like diabetes, you are sick and in need treatment to get better.

#4. Educate Yourself

Educate yourself about the disease of addiction so that you understand it before you try to explain it to your child. This will also help prepare you for any questions they might have. If you don’t know the answer, you can work on finding one together.

#5. Acknowledge the Consequences

Don’t downplay your child’s experiences of your alcoholism; instead, acknowledge the impact it has had and validate your child’s experience. Apologize for the pain you have caused and ask open-ended questions about how they feel.

#6. Reassure Your Child

Make sure to emphasize that your addiction is not their fault: they aren’t the cause nor do they have the power or control to fix the problem. This can be particularly difficult to convey, especially if you ever blamed your drinking on their behavior (i.e. Mommy has to drink in order to deal with you!) Your child needs to understand that what you said while intoxicated isn’t really who you are how you feel.

#7.  Put Things Into Perspective

Children from alcoholic homes tend to idealize other families without realizing that other families have their own struggles, and maybe addiction is one of them. In fact, millions of children are from alcoholic homes. Make sure they know that they are not alone.

#8. Invite Dialogue

In order to deter secrecy, fear, and loneliness that comes with addiction, encourage you child to talk about their feelings without criticism or judgment from you.

#9. Teach the Seven Cs

According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, children of alcoholics need to know the “Seven Cs of Addiction”:

  • I didn’t Cause it
  • I can’t Cure it
  • I can’t Control it
  • I can Care for myself
  • By Communicating my feelings
  • Making healthy Choices
  • By Celebrating myself

#10. Find Additional Support

Just as you need rehab and support in order to recover, your child need to know there are resources available to help them process the information as well as their0 emotions. If they don’t feel comfortable talking with you or another relative, they can reach out to a teacher, counselor, therapist, religious leader, or a support group such as Alateen.

It can be difficult having to leave your family and children for any amount of time, in order to go to rehab. But, you simply can’t be the best parent to your child or partner to your spouse if you are actively drinking or using other drugs. Many parents seek treatment in the form of rehab and so there is a lot of support and resources for you as well as your children. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock to help. 

Shia LaBeouf: Mentally Ill, Alcoholic, or Just Trolling Us?

Shia LaBeouf: Mentally Ill, Alcoholic, or Just Trolling Us?

At the ‘Nymphomaniac’ Premiere – 64th Berlinale International Film Festival
image via nypost.com

Yesterday we posted an article about Shia LaBeouf in which we wondered whether he was suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, or whether it was all part of his idea of “performance art.” Well, news broke this morning that LaBeouf, 27, has checked himself into rehab. So, it seems, we weren’t far off the mark; LaBeouf is indeed struggling with alcoholism – and perhaps as a result, some form of mental illness, as the two often go hand-in-hand.

With his latest brush with the law, being arrested for harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass after some highly-publicized drunken outbursts during the Broadway performance of Cabaret Thursday, it seems that LaBeouf has hit rock bottom. LaBeouf, carrying The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, checked into a Los Angeles rehab.

And, apparently this isn’t the first time that the actor has attempted recovery.

In the past, LaBeouf had spoken about how, as a child, he attended AA meetings with his father. As a teen, LaBeouf seemingly had no issues with alcohol or other drugs as there were no incidences to speak of. Instead, the former Disney child actor spent his time wisely, focusing on building quite the promising film career. However, in 2007, he was arrested at a Walgreen’s for what he described as “intoxicated” behavior, and a year later, was arrested on drunken driving charges; it seemed that the actor’s alcoholism was burgeoning.

That same year, in 2008, the National Enquirer reported that LaBeouf had picked up a chip to celebrate his 60 days of sobriety at an AA meeting in Los Angeles. Which is troubling because of the whole anonymity thing.

In 2011, the actor spoke openly about his substance abuse, telling Parade magazine that  that he was an “alcoholic” after being involved in a bar brawl.

At this time, LaBeouf was said to be attending AA meetings rather frequently in both New York and L.A.

By the following year, however, there was growing concern regarding the actor’s sobriety as he was heard bragging about drinking moonshine and dropping LSD while “researching” movie roles.

More recently, LaBeouf seems to be upping the ante with his antics, all of which seemed to involve alcohol. There was the recent NYC bar brawl, which took place after the actor was seen downing margaritas. Then LaBeouf was seen chasing a homeless man through the park. Then the whole Cabaret incident. All the while, the actor has appeared more and more disheveled in appearance. It’s clear that LaBeouf is struggling with his alcoholism and that it’s taking its toll on his health and mental well-being.

Original story reads below.

———————————————————————-

What the hell is up with Shia LaBeouf? A child Disney star who seemed to have successfully made the transition to adult celebrity status, what with his roles in the blockbuster Transformers franchise and a role in the ever-popular Indian Jones series’ latest installment The Crystal Skulls, among other projects. As of late, LaBeouf has been acting like a righteous d-bag. We’re left wondering: is it mental illness, substance abuse, or is it all just an “act?”

The latest news involves the 27-year-old actor being tearfully led away by police from the Broadway production of Cabaret on Thursday evening, after he allegedly disrupted the performance by shouting loudly at the cast on stage during the show, smoking and smacking lead actor Alan Cumming on the butt.

While being escorted out of the theater by police, the actor hurled insults and profanities at police officers.

Due to his drunken display during the Broadway show and subsequent arrest, LaBeouf was arraigned in Midtown Community Court on Friday. He was charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass following the incident. Reports describe the actor as “bleary-eyed and unkempt” as he was released from custody by the New York Police Department on Friday morning.

LaBeouf’s bizarre behavior in New York City is just the latest in a string of outbursts from the former clean-cut Disney Channel star.

And a week before his Broadway stunt, LaBeouf apparently almost got into an altercation outside a strip club in New York City. TMZ’s website posted a short video clip Sunday, showing LaBeouf bouncing around as if he’s getting ready to throw punches at another man; LaBeouf appears to be taunting an unidentified man but then quickly walks away after an exchange of words.

Even his former co-stars have been expressing concerns for LaBeouf. Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who starred in Holes with Shia, told The Metro: “I think there’s a ton of pressure when you’re in the acting business. It’s hard growing up acting – being a child actor. There’s so much pressure to act the right way. There’s so much attention from the press that, if you make one wrong move, it’s under a microscope. I can see that being hard for him.”

LaBeouf made headlines in February after he wore a paper bag over his head with “I am not famous anymore” scrawled on it at a Berlin film conference, saying that it was an act of “performance art.”

Perhaps the most memorable cringe-worthy incident involving LaBeouf occurred December of last year when it came to light that the actor ripped off graphic novel writer Daniel Clowes when he released the short film, HowardCantour.com, but passed it off as his own work.

What made matters worse was LaBeouf’s reaction to being exposed a plagiarist, as he issued a series of bizarre apologies. Most notable was the one in which he hired a skywriter to write  “I am sorry Daniel Clowes” in the Los Angeles sky on New Year’s Day, which the actor then promptly snapped and tweeted along with three definitions of the word ‘cloud.’

In a tweet, he blames his plagiarism on his alcohol use: “I lifted the text, probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”

LaBeouf is due in court on July 24.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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