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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?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Could be a Hidden Epidemic in the Making

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Could be a Hidden Epidemic in the Making

Author: Justin Mckibben

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.

However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.

With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated

It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.

The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Ativan

While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.

According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,

“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”

“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”

And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.

But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.

Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.

Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths

As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.

“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”

What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.

High-Risk Culture

Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.

One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,

“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”

This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.

It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.

Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.

Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:

There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.

Fighting Anxiety and Addiction

Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.

In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.

However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.

Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Cosmetic Surgery Addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Cosmetic Surgery Addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Once upon a time, cosmetic surgery was a little more taboo. With exception to correcting physical deformities, surgery of fashion instead of function was a little less mainstream. Today, it is widely accepted and the doctors highly trained and respected in their field. Over time, as more people have sought cosmetic surgery, another trend has come to the surface- cosmetic surgery addiction.

Often when we talk about addiction, most people instinctively think of the opioid crisis in America. It has become just a prominent issue that it has dominated the conversation when it comes to substance use disorder, treatment programs, and mental health. Yet, there are still other forms of addiction that are affecting a lot of people. Smartphones and tablets have ushered in a discussion on social media addiction, and a handful of scandals have highlighted sex addiction.

So what do we know about cosmetic surgery addiction?

Body dysmorphic disorder

While you may not be likely to become physically addicted to plastic surgery, it is still possible to develop a cosmetic surgery addiction. According to Canice E. Crerand, PhD, psychologist in the division of plastic surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,

“It is more of a psychological issue than a physical addiction.”

The underlying psychological issue is attributed to body dysmorphic disorder or BDD. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA):

  • BDD affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population
  • That comes out to about 1 in every 50 people

ADAA also states that people with body dysmorphic disorder think about their real or perceived physical flaws for hours each day. Their obsessive thoughts may lead to severe emotional distress and can even interfere with everyday life.

An individual suffering from BDD can dislike any part of their body, but most often they find fault with:

  • Hair
  • Skin
  • Nose
  • Chest
  • Stomach

One study actually suggests that 1/3 of patients who receive nose-jobs show symptoms of BDD. Other reports show:

  • BDD most often develops in adolescents and teens
  • Research shows that it affects men and women almost equally
  • BDD occurs in about 2.5%of males in America
  • It occurs in about 2.2 % of females in America
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, BDD often begins to occur in adolescents 12-13 years of age

Someone with body dysmorphic disorder can see their flaws as significant and prominent, even if they are barely minor imperfections. Still, body dysmorphic disorder is a condition that can drive people to go under the knife again and again. The desire to fix the perceived ‘defect’ can ultimately create a cosmetic surgery addiction.

Plastic Surgeons and Cosmetic Surgery Addiction

Experts suggest that while plastic surgeons are trained to perform these cosmetic procedures, they should also have the ability to identify cosmetic surgery patients who may develop a cosmetic surgery addiction.  So what are some warning signs doctors could be watching for? Crerand said a few examples may be:

  1. Patients are often unhappy with the results of their cosmetic surgeries and take their frustrations out on surgeons in extreme cases.
  2. The individual may have very unrealistic expectations about surgery, thinking it will gain them a better job or a better relationship.
  3. May be satisfied with the requested surgery, but then “suddenly realize” another feature is unacceptable and desire even more procedures.

Crerand also says there are many challenges in trying to determine if someone is suffering from BDD. But many also believe that a cosmetic surgeon has an ethical responsibility to weigh the risks and potential benefits of a surgery. If a plastic surgeon suspects that a patient may have a cosmetic surgery addiction or body dysmorphic disorder, they should refer the patient to a consulting psychologist or psychiatrist.

Another important aspect is that people who have body dysmorphic disorder are likely to have another psychiatric disorder such as:

So someone showing signs of cosmetic surgery addiction may also be suffering from another issue that is causing them to abuse drugs and alcohol as well as put themselves through repeated surgery.

Combination of Addictions

Cosmetic surgery is not the only way that people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder try to ‘fix’ their flaws. Some will turn to very dangerous drugs in hopes of improving their bodies. This self-medicating can also lead to substance use disorder.

According to the Harvard Medical School, men who develop BDD often focus on weight and muscle size. Unfortunately, the disorder prevents them from feeling as though they’ve developed an adequate amount of muscle so they may turn to steroids. Sadly, anabolic steroids are commonly associated with intense addictions that form in an incredibly short amount of time.

Women can also develop body dysmorphic disorder symptoms relating to their muscles. They may also develop preoccupations with their weight and with the size of specific parts of their bodies. This obsession can lead to the use and abuse of stimulant drugs. These substances are known as side effects that reduce the appetite and allow people to skip meals without feeling either hungry or deprived. Stimulants can also leave chemical damage behind, even when the person feels sober. All this chemical damage can cause compulsive use and abuse of drugs.

These are just a few examples of how the same issues that lead to cosmetic surgery addiction can also create serious substance use disorder. This is why dual diagnosis treatment is so important. For people who struggle with co-occurring disorders, the recovery process can be extremely difficult if both issues are not addressed. Having a comprehensive and holistic recovery program with dual diagnosis resources can make all the difference.

For people who may be dealing with cosmetic surgery addiction, there may be a much more serious disorder just beneath the surface. The best option for healthy recovery is a treatment for both. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Constant Threats to Health Coverage Hurting National Addiction Recovery

Constant Threats to Health Coverage Hurting National Addiction Recovery

Author: Justin Mckibben

When we talk about national addiction recovery, what we mean is acknowledging how we as a country and a culture are recovering in our communities. How are we supporting those in addiction treatment? What services are we making available? How is our economy recovering? What are we doing to prevent the spread of addiction?

So if we are taking away resources that not only treat those already struggling, but also prevent more people from suffering, how do we expect to ever escape the devastation caused by the opioid epidemic and rise of overdose deaths?

One of the most divisive issues facing America today is access to healthcare and the extent to which health coverage should or should not be provided. The debate has gone on for a long time, and in the shuffle of each proposal, it seems mental health and addiction services are constantly threatened. Recently there have been more attacks on addiction treatment access. So how is the possibility of more decreases in health coverage going to hurt national addiction recovery?

The Parity Protections

Once upon a time in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) created guidelines that required health insurers to treat mental health and addiction coverage exactly the same as they would with medical and surgical care options. So this means that prior to the MHPAEA those who were lucky enough to have health insurance still could not be guaranteed to receive equitable benefits for mental health or substance abuse care.

These protections were even further expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation put forth by Congress in 2016 with the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes tougher enforcement of parity requirements.

Since the Trump administration stepped in adamantly proclaiming the goal or repealing and replacing the ACA there has been a lot of concern about whether or not any new proposals will decrease health coverage for mental health and addiction services. Many addiction and mental health advocates worry that parity protections and enforcement will also lose their power.

As of yet, politicians are still hoping for a compromise that will keep the protections and resources for treating addiction and mental health intact.

BCBS Cuts Mental Health Coverage

One instance of concerning changes in policy has come out of Minnesota. Just this September the largest insurance carrier in the area, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making drastic decreases to payments to mental health providers.

We are talking about cuts in addiction and mental health coverage to the tune of that’s 33%!

This decision came after a recent survey showed that the individual therapy costs of Minnesota had exceeded the national average for the last two years. But mental health professionals immediately spoke out against this move. Protests actually took place on Thursday the 14th outside the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Eagan, MN. Many advocates and protesters are saying these kinds of cuts will put mental health clinics out of business.

The insurance provider is now under fire as caregivers insist this change will discourage necessary, extended psychotherapy services. People in Minnesota see decisions like that of BCBS as being a violation of the protections offered by parity.

If this kind of policy shift within insurance providers becomes a trend, we could see a dramatic decrease in the people getting substance abuse and mental health treatment. These changes can hurt our national addiction recovery by slowly cutting off the people who need every chance they can get, especially during a devastating opioid epidemic.

Threats within Medicaid

Believe it or not, Medicaid is currently the single largest payer for behavioral health services in America. Threats to the Medicaid health coverage of services like this could do critical damage.

At one point the Trump administration and congressional leaders seemed partial to the idea of turning Medicaid into a block grant program. This strategy would give states a fixed amount of money to provide healthcare for low-income residents. However, policy experts say that means states would have to:

  • Reduce eligibility
  • Narrow the scope of benefits
  • Impose cost-sharing requirements

All of which would also impact the number of people seeking substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Recently GOP representatives and the Trump administration began the work of fundamentally altering state Medicaid programs. Some of these new requirements include governors pushing for:

So again, there is the very real possibility of more hurdles being put in-between those who need help and the already limited resources available to them.

Stigma Influencing Policy

The bigger part of this issue is that these shifts are happening in a way that shows how stigma is influencing policy. We are only further hurting our national addiction recovery by letting this idea that addiction is a moral failing or class issue limit what we are willing to provide to those who need help.

The reason behavioral and mental health services are so crucial is because the cause of addiction is not just the drugs themselves. The vast majority of recovery advocates endorse the concept that addiction develops from multiple factors, such as:

  • Lack of access to resources
  • Poor social networks
  • Trauma

So in fact, by limiting coverage to mental health services, the problem could be magnified.

Mental health services like behavioral therapy being lost with a decrease in coverage means that more children and young adults could go without the support systems. What this does is puts more people in the exact circumstances where we see substance abuse and addiction grow.

So in essence, not only could these constant threats to addiction and mental health coverage be taking away treatment for those already addicted, but it also takes away from prevention programs in communities that fight to keep addiction rates down.

National Addiction Recovery Effects Everyone

If we have any hope of having sustainable national addiction recovery then it is vital that our country continues to push for mental health parity in every discussion about healthcare. If we ever hope to overcome the demoralization of communities we have to fight for mental health and addiction services.

This isn’t about treating the individual’s symptoms with just medications either. Access to other crucial elements like housing, medical care, and basic preventative measures all contribute to the overall mental health of any individual.

When people have better access to the specific levels of care they need, we empower them to contribute to the better communities we need for healthy nation-wide recovery.

People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Lena Headey of ‘Game of Thrones’ Opens Up About Anxiety

Lena Headey of 'Game of Thrones' Opens Up About Anxiety

Author: Justin Mckibben

Introducing… Cersei Lannister of the House of Lannister, Light of the West, Widow of Robert Baratheon, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm and Lady Paramount of the Westerlands!

Or, as she was known before her stunning and captivating performance on HBO hit series Game of Thrones, the lovely and talented Lena Headey! This amazing actress recently reached out to her fans on Twitter to speak on something very personal; her experience with anxiety.

With GOT fever in full swing now that we are a mere 3 months away from the highly anticipated 7th season (which I cannot possibly be more excited for), it is nice to see a different side of one cast members true story.

Long Live the Queen

Lena Headey’s portrayal of Cersei also earned the No. 1 spot on a Rolling Stone Magazine ranking of the “30 Best Game of Thrones Villains”, being described as the:

“Most dangerous human being in Westeros” as well as “one of the most complex and fascinating characters on television.”

Truly, Cersei is that villain you love to hate until you hate to love her. Headey received a showering of award nominations for the character of the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and a few wins for Best Actress.

A recent report stated that in 2017, Headey became one of the highest paid actors on television, and is suspected to earn $1.1 million per episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones.

Before dominating the screen with the chillingly cunning character of Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey has starred in other awesome roles, including the Spartan epic 300. With her powerful and unflinching portrayals of these kick-ass characters, Headey is still a woman who faces some real difficulties in the real world. Beyond the roles in front of the cameras, she took on another powerful role as a voice to fans who asked for her perspective.

Speaking to the Fans

While the character may have once walked naked through the streets of Kings Landing to the Red Keep with the infamous “shame” bell lady behind her (yes… she had a body double… and yes I cried a little), Headey did not shy away when asked a personal question by a fan that got quite a few people talking. A follower on Twitter asked Headey,

“Do you ever get insecure Lena?”

The response was a few tweets which stated:

“I overthink for sure. I am familiar with depression.” She then continued by saying, “I get HUGE anxiety (always fun [frowny face]) Insecure, not really.”

Another tweet from Lena Headey on the subject came after stating:

“Anxiety is a beast. You have to talk to beasts. Release them back into the wild. Easier said than done I know but still. Good to Practice.”

But her majesty the awesome wasn’t quite done. She went on to tweet:

It’s been lost to greed and aspiration, no wonder we have anxiety, no wonder we overthink ..we’re slammed with bullshit. …”

Tricked into thinking. You don’t have enough. You’re not enough. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Capable enough. Successful enough.”

“Well here’s the truth. You are enough… in fact you’re who you’re meant to be which is BEAUTIFUL… Don’t be afraid to let someone really see you…Magic happens when you are vulnerable and truthful and human.

“Anxiety. Depression. It’s real and it’s chemical. It’s also spiritual. .. stay with me everyone (and before you ask, yes I’m ok)”

Looking through these tweets, the fans showed up with a flood of support for her statements. Many shared personal experiences and thoughts on her comments, while others thanked her for putting words to the way so many of them felt.

Advocate for Anxiety

This is not the first time Headey has spoken about such personal adversity and shown support for those struggling with mental health. A while back she opened up during an interview with More magazine about her bouts with depression and anxiety. In this piece she shared an experience of “massive grief” after her marriage had been dismantled. In her statements she shows her willingness to accept anxiety as part of life, but that getting older and becoming a mother taught her to “become less serious about it all”.

It is always refreshing to hear people who seem to be living the dream of spot-lights, red carpets and award shows step off that stage and show the people who adore their characters and their performances that they too are still people with a lot of the same problems. That beast of anxiety is much like any other mental health disorder in that it doesn’t care who you are or how glamorous things appear. A beast is a beast.

Some of the most powerful moments of the Game of Thrones series are scenes stolen by the Lady of Casterly Rock, and we are lucky to have them. This tweet and the conversation are a great example of how important it is to raise awareness and talk about things like anxiety and depression, to break the stigmas and provide support.

Even a queen needs a little help sometimes.

Spreading hope and stories of success even through these troubling experiences is a vital way to show others there is life beyond our obstacles. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with self medicating and even substance use disorder. Getting the right kind of help and coping skills can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

4 Questions on Self-Love VS Narcissism

4 Questions of Self-Love VS Narcissism

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Narcissism is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The “selfie society” that exists in a world of social media has some people saying we are more concerned with ourselves than ever. The new heightened sense of self-promotion causes many to feel we have become less interested in true connection with others. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with healthy self-love. Some may see it as simply embarking on self-exploration and celebration. Others may see it as self-seeking and being conceded. Are you more conscious, or are you pretentious? Are you introspective or disconnected?

At times the distinction becomes blurred, and that might not be your fault. Sometimes others will perceive us differently and it’s not our responsibility to change their minds. Sometimes people are afraid to give themselves the self-love they need because they don’t want to seem self-centered, but isn’t there a strong difference between self-love and narcissism?

True Narcissism

Let us be clear; narcissists seem to love themselves to an extreme, with the exclusion of others. This is often considered as a feature of a mental health disorder and includes an excessive interest in one’s self, especially physical appearances. It is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes.

If you were to look up the definition of narcissism, you would probably find it also described as a social or cultural problem. It is a factor in trait theory used in various self-report inventories of personality.

Narcissism is most typically considered an issue in an individual’s or group’s relationships with self and others.

Egocentrism

Let us also be clear that narcissism is not the same as egocentrism. It is true that both egocentrism and narcissism appear comparable. However there is a distinct difference.

Much like a narcissist, a person who is egocentric believes they are the center of attention. However, this individual does not receive gratification by one’s own admiration, as the narcissist does. In other words, the egocentric individual must receive validation and admiration from outside itself, so the self-love aspect is not so much an issue from the egocentric perspective.

Self-Love

Self-love is being more subject to the broad-stroke of “narcissism” over time, but should be viewed in a different light. For example, two forms of narcissism are not considered to be as detrimental:

  • Primary Narcissism

Freud suggested that, simply put, the desire and energy that drives one’s instinct to survive is something he dubbed primary narcissism. This sense of self-preservation is supposedly ingrained in everyone as a sense of self that protects us, without abandoning empathy or loving others.

  • Healthy Self-love

The “healthy narcissist” can be characterized as possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life. This expression of self-love, or “health narcissism,” is about having a honest appraisal of ones worth, and still valuing others.

All of this brings us back to the question; How can we love ourselves in a way that feels good and enhances the quality of our lives, but isn’t narcissistic?

Research finds four consistent differences between healthy self-love and narcissistic love. Take a look at these 4 questions that can help you with self-love vs narcissism.

  1. Do I need to be validated by others?

Narcissists need the validation of others; it is a primary motive for a lot of their actions. A true narcissist craves constant affirmation. They need to be verified by others because they haven’t created a self-sustaining sense of worthiness or self-compassion. They may seem to hold themselves highly, however they have no genuine instinct of high self-regard.

The narcissist will do things to win praise and recognition. They seek materials as tools to measure their own worthiness. Even the people they develop relationships with are possessions they use as a means of validation.

Healthy self-love is fundamentally different in the sense of measuring self-worth. With health self-love, an individual’s internal values are a primary influence of their actions. They behave in a way that is consistent with those values, and these convictions help to sustain their good feelings about themselves.

In other words, basing your self-worth on your beliefs, instead of what others may believe about you, is self-love.

  1. Am I focusing on my appearance or my performance?

This isn’t just for the sake of aesthetics either. It ties right into the last question.

A true narcissist will often make a great actor. They play many parts, such as:

  • Caring friend
  • Devoted lover
  • Good employee

But they are better at keeping up appearances than actually performing the role with expertise and aptitude. Like when an action movie hero does well at looking like they beat up a room full of ninjas, but in reality they have CGI and stunt doubles.

A narcissist doesn’t invest too much emotionally in the actual quality of their performance. They don’t mind how their role as a friend or lover actually impact the other person, they just want to make it look good, especially if other people are looking. It is another form of validation.

People with authentic self-love take real care in doing a good job and taking responsibility for their part in things, particularly in relationships. So it is very acceptable to be concerned with your contribution to relationships and how you impact others, because in a way you earn your own self-love from the way you treat others.

  1. Am I focusing on comparison or compassion?

Another huge piece of this puzzle is comparison. How do you perceive others in contrast to yourself?

Typically, narcissists are not self-loving or secure in their worth. Because of this, they often seek to compare ourselves with others. Now this isn’t especially exclusive to full-blown narcissism, because we all have a tendency to try and measure up.

But the narcissist will thrive on the belief that they are better than, or even the best. We all feel better about ourselves when we are accomplished or exceptional at something, but to require to always outshine others is a little more relevant to narcissism. The focus here isn’t so much on us being able to appreciate our own achievement as much as it is the need for other people to be less. In order for a narcissist to be more, other people have to be beneath them. It isn’t self-worth; it is self-inflation through the dispossession of others.

Healthy self-love and self-esteem is based on believing that we have a number of positive qualities, and that other people have such qualities. It puts us on a more level playing field and allows us to be compassionate whether or not someone is as accomplished in something as we are. So it is OK to excel at something, as long as you don’t make it about other people being less.

  1. Do emotions and attitudes seem “black and white?”

We have mentioned before the real dangers of black and white thinking. In the words of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi,

“Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Basically, the issue is that some people only let it be one of two ways. It has to be black or white, no room for grey area or compromise.

Research indicates a narcissists tends to either love or hate things. They don’t to tolerate the middle ground. Usually, something with themselves or others is either preferable and exceptional or totally unacceptable. They are either everything or nothing, instead of just letting it be.

As a result, when we can’t abide our own uncomfortable feelings, we’re more likely to project them onto others. Once we force those feelings onto others we create conflict, isolation, and self-disillusionment.

Healthy self-love allows us to tolerate uncertainty. It is important to have self-love because with a strong sense of self-love we have the ability to experience our own vulnerability. Where a narcissist feels angry or intolerant of their own vulnerability, a healthy, self-loving person will naturally resort to self-compassion. This same compassion for ourselves gives us a chance to feel more connected to others.

So don’t look at self-compassion as “letting yourself off the hook,” look at it as accepting your imperfections with humility.

Recovery is Self-Love

At the end of the day, what is the moral of the story here?

Is it OK to just assume that people who have a high opinion of themselves, who believe in their own capacity to be unique and successful, and who value and respect their own impact on other people should be considered narcissists? Should the term “healthy narcissist” be something we swap for self-love once in a while to consider it as a virtue?

In recovery we hear a lot about how addicts and alcoholics are especially selfish. As often as we are told this, should we also be reminded to use our own nature as selfish people in recovery to shape that sense of self into something more constructive and empowering instead of thinking we need to abandon it completely?

Let us not be so quick to label one another as narcissists, and learn to love ourselves thoroughly as we learn again to love each other.

Mental health and self-esteem is extremely important in regards to addiction recovery. Holistic treatment programs like Palm Partners are specifically designed to address unique issues in unique ways. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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