Author: Justin Mckibben
Does anyone else remember that episode in Game of Thrones when Cersei Lannister (played by the amazing Lena Headey) was marched naked through the streets of King’s Landing for the “walk of atonement”? During this public ritual punishment, the Queen Mother is followed by Septa Unella, who rings a bell to attract the attention of the crowd while repeatedly crying out “Shame!” to encourage the people to leer and jeer at Cersei.
Remember how well that worked out… for everyone… especially Septa Unella?
Well, in case you are one of those people who have never watched this show and have no clue what I’m talking about… SHAME!
But seriously, the thought of it drives home a big point about how people try to use shame and disgrace to modify the behaviors they disapprove of. People in modern times, outside of the 7 kingdoms, will say stuff like “shame on you” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” in an attempt to deter someone from doing something they do not agree with. Sometimes, with good intentions, parents use this tactic as an alternative to physical punishment. Other times people will use shame to manipulate and control others.
But does shame really work? In the case of shaming people with addiction, it doesn’t seem to go far at all.
Shame VS Guilt
One thing people first have to understand is the difference between shame and guilt. Some would say that someone who has no shame is someone who lacks humility or a conscience. People may say that if you don’t feel ashamed, you must think you are too good for others or have no consideration of others. However, that is not necessarily the case.
When someone feels guilt, that is something from within that compels us to see the fault in our own actions. Guilt is based on your own view of something you have said or done that has been harmful to others. It is the consciences way of keeping us in check. Guilt and shame are not the same thing.
Shame is how we experience the disapproval of others. It is the adverse emotional response to being singled out and judged by others for being wrong or doing wrong. So guilt tells us that we know something we are doing is wrong, but shame is the outside world telling us it is wrong even if we don’t feel that inside.
To sum it up:
Acting with clear knowledge that a behavior is unacceptable is what typically inspires feelings of guilt. Thus, it is associated with a specific behavior and is not likely associated with psychological distress such as depression.
Shame can relate specifically to one’s entire self. It says “I am wrong” instead of “my choice was wrong”. This can put people at risk of developing unhealthy conditions like:
Why Shaming Doesn’t Work
Shaming someone into changing is manipulating their fear or social isolation or criticism to control their behavior. Our connection to each other is so crucial for out well-being, both psychologically and physically, that it can often be used against us. For some people the level of social rejection from shaming will scare them into avoiding that emotional punishment. Yet there is still an issue with this method at its core.
It’s like in that movie Inception, when Leonardo DiCaprio taught us all how to dream within a dream (I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately). At one point they talk about how an idea implanted in the mind won’t take if the mind knows it wasn’t organic; if it didn’t come from within.
Shame can be like that. If you tell someone that they should be ashamed of themselves for using drugs, they might stop because they need the social connection. However, if they do not themselves see that their drug use is harming themselves and others, then shaming them will drive them into hiding to avoid persecution.
For many who suffer with substance use disorder the addiction itself has an extreme emotional attachment of some kind. If the individual is motivated enough to use drugs, or believes they are capable of control without consequence, the shame will only result in them hiding their problems even more and further isolating themselves.
Shame and Stigma and the Self
The shame of the stigma of addiction can be counterproductive to an addict getting help. Ultimately, shame can drive stigma and further damage the individual’s chances of personal development. People can internalize shame and sabotage their self-worth, which often causes people to care less about their own safety.
If their choices are being dictated by anxiety then the destructive habits can increase as the shame drives them to remove themselves from those who disapprove of them. This isn’t only true for addiction. Shame can influence other adverse actions, such as:
Shaming people with addiction or people with mental health disorders is only supporting the stigma that make them feel separated from us. Telling an addict to be ashamed of themselves for their addiction may force them to do something, but this strategy is vastly ineffective when compared to compassion and support.
Research has shown shame is especially damaging when inflicted by someone who the individual is deeply connected to. Parents, family members, spouses and loved ones who shame each other create lasting imprints on one another. That strong emotional leverage can create an even deeper divide between us and the ones we love by diminishing our self-worth.
So shaming our loved ones who struggle with addiction may be less likely to inspire them to get help and more likely to scare them away from asking us for help when they need it.
No Pain No Shame
So to clarify, shaming someone may seem like it gets the job done, but in reality it is not effective at motivating healthy behaviors. In fact, shaming someone creates social withdrawal and undermines self-esteem. For someone struggling with substance use disorder, there is probably already enough feelings of disconnect of self-defeatism without being shamed.
Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with someone about how their behavior is impacting you. Setting boundaries and being honest is still important, but doing so in a compassionate way is more conducive to encouraging someone to do the right thing for the right reasons.
If we want to avoid hurting one another, we should avoid trying to shame each other into doing what we want. Shaming people with addiction isn’t going to heal their affliction. Making them feel separate and alone will not inspire the kind of change that creates stronger bonds. Focusing on celebrating good deeds can help a lot more than dwelling on every bad one and holding it over someone’s head.
Nurturing recovery is more powerful than shaming addiction.
Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Anyone who has ever been both alive and awaken will experience feelings of being down. Negative emotions and difficulty with feeling them is part of life. Being conscious means dealing with the duality of living, but when emotions like helpless despair and hopelessness get control and won’t let go, you may be suffering from depression.
We all experience pain. We all deal with desperate times. But sometimes, we will eventually ask ourselves- do I have depression?
Depression is a complex issue that many people struggle with, and some people experience the grip of depression in different ways. The truth is, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
Do I Have Depression: The Definition
Because people experience depression differently, there are different forms of depression. Specifically we will focus on what the NIMH calls major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
According to NIMH Major depressive disorder/clinical depression is-
“a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”
Some other variations of depression can develop under unique circumstances. These include but are not limited to:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Perinatal depression
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
There are other specific forms of depression recognized by the mental health community, but in general the common link is the feelings experienced during depressive periods.
Do I Have Depression: The Experience
In general, some describe depression as the feeling of living in a dark abyss or with a sense of impending disaster. Other people describe depression as a feeling of lifelessness, emptiness and apathy. Restlessness and anger are also common feelings associated with depression, particularly in men.
Over-all, the primary difference between depression and everyday sadness is that it can feel almost impossible to function when suffering from depression. It dominates daily life and impedes the individual’s ability to complete regular tasks. Just getting through a day can be overwhelming.
Probably one of the most unhelpful aspects of any discussion on depression is the stigma attached to it, because many people expect that depressed people are always walking around sad. Stigma shapes this image of people with depression being unkempt and gloomy, but the reality is so many people struggle with depression behind bigger smiles and a lot of people never notice.
Do I Have Depression: The Symptoms
While depression may not be as easy to spot as the stigma would have us believe, there are symptoms that may indicate a deeper issue with depressive disorders. The following signs and symptoms are common for people with depression:
- Consistently sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things you care about
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom on this list. An individual may only experience a few symptoms, while others may experience many. The frequency of signs may be a good indication as well. You may be suffering from depression if you experience these symptoms:
- Most of the day
- Nearly every day
- For at least two weeks
But a diagnosis of depression isn’t something to take lightly. There is a process best taken with professionals to get a clear and thorough understanding of what you are experiencing. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their particular disorder. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the disorder. It can also co-occur with other medical illnesses and disorders, such as:
Dual diagnosis is important in order to fully understand how each illness impacts the other, and how to best treat the individual.
Do I Have Depression: What Do I Do?
Depression can be treated, even in the most serious and seemingly helpless cases. The sooner someone is able to get treatment, the more effective it can be. Many times depression is treated with psychotherapy, and sometimes with medication. Most would say that any medication should only be utilized in combination with some form of therapy, because antidepressants are not a cure. Also, this kind of treatment must be done at the prescription and direction of a physician, as most of these medications are powerful and sometimes dangerous.
Medication can also be especially dangerous for those struggling with substance use disorder. The truth is, most people who struggle with drugs or alcohol are also struggling with a mental health disorder like depression, and many times they self-medicate or abuse their medication which only magnifies the issues.
If you’re asking- do I have depression- then the best thing to do is to contact a mental health professional. Getting a diagnosis is essential to determining how to get the help you truly need. For those suffering with dual diagnosis like depression and addiction, the method of treatment is crucial to the recovery process.
Holistic recovery programs are designed to treat every aspect of someone’s life to assure them the best chance at a healthy and fulfilling future. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
I’ll never forget when I told my mother I needed to go to rehab. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and what broke my heart was when she asked- “What have I done that my child has to live like this?”
This is not an uncommon question, so if you find yourself asking it please do not be ashamed. It is one of the most frequently asked questions from family members and close friends when a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol. A lot of people have a tendency to internalized the struggles that those they love most experience and wonder if they had some part in creating or adding to the issue. A lot of times mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, or even sons and daughters will see the suffering their loved one goes through and ask- is it my fault my loved one is addicted?
In a word- No.
The reality of addition is that any substance use disorder is more powerful than you or them, and likewise out of your control. As hard as that is to hear, it may be the most important thing to remember in the beginning. It can’t be your fault, because it was never up to you.
Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder is just that; a disorder. The root of this issue lies in the individuals thinking, which is why many in the medical world have defined it as a kind of mental health disorder that develops over time. No one can take all the blame for someone developing a disorder like addiction, no matter how hard it is to set aside that mindset.
Of course as we experience hardships we want to find someone to blame or pinpoint a logically explanation that makes sense to us, but the truth is it isn’t that black and white. Searching for a place to put all the fault is not effective or conducive to recovering.
Now some may examine the facts and read them one way, but it isn’t a fair assessment. We can even look at the idea of addiction coming from the perfect storm of nature and nurture.
The Perfect Storm
The ‘perfect storm’ comes from a unique combination of nature and nurture that create just the right atmosphere for an addiction to develop. So many people want to say it is because of generics, while others want to say it is because of the home, upbringing or life-style. The truth is, it is both, so it can’t be the fault of either.
Every human being on this planet is born with a genetic predisposition to addiction. Different DNA designs will promote different susceptibilities to addiction, and depending on the environment the individual is consistently in they may be exposed more or less. There is no precise formula for addiction that includes it being the families fault.
This is only further proven by the fact that substance use disorder impacts all walks of life:
- Rich or poor
- The homeless
- Successful people
- People with traumatic childhoods
- People with nurturing childhoods
- Men and women
- Young or old
- Any race
- Any religion
- Every culture
So even a parent who wants to blame themselves and say, “well it was my genes passed down and I raised them in this environment, so it must be my fault,” this is still not the case. All of this connects with how we turn to different coping skills. An addicted loved one makes a choice to rely on a substance as a coping skill, and the storm stirs to the point they have launched into a full-blown substance use disorder.
Guilt and Enabling
Many family members and friends will wonder if some action they took at some point pushed their loved on to use drugs. They will wonder if an event in the relationship had such a significant impact that they drove the addiction further. People are crippled by guilt when they think they had some hand in forcing their loved one’s decision, or maybe thinking they did not do enough. This guilt is incredibly counterproductive. It is not your fault because you cannot control how anyone decides to cope.
The sad part is that some addicts will notice their loved one’s guilt, and they will manipulate their family and friends using that guilt to get what they want. Your loved one may even try to justify their behaviors by blaming you, playing on your emotions to rationalize their harmful actions.
This is just one of many symptoms of enabling, but the reason most people give for supporting their loved one’s addiction and enabling their habits is that they feel responsible for the person. People enable addicts to avoid the guilt of ‘abandoning’ them. One of the biggest hurdles that family members and close friends must overcome is letting go and accepting that they have no control of their loved one’s choices.
We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
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Your Own Recovery
Recovery is not just for the individual, it is also for those closest to them. Learning the difference between how to give compassion, love and support vs enabling and minimizing is very important to the addicted loved ones recovery, and also to your own peace of mind. The recovery process for the family and friends means learning more about how it isn’t you fault a relative or companion is addicted. Learning more about the science of addiction and the causes of risk behavior can also take more weight off your shoulders and help you better understand your loved one.
Even if the individual is avoiding or refusing treatment, getting help for yourself may provide you with a better understanding of how to deal with issues that arise. And the better knowledge you have, the better a position you may be in to help.
Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
When most people think of the word “addict,” they usually think of drugs or alcohol. However, addiction does not just limit itself to substances. In fact, more people than ever suffer from some form of behavioral addiction. Also, many who recover from substance abuse find themselves replacing their drug addiction with addictive compulsive behaviors.
That’s why it is important to recognize the signs of a behavioral addiction. Since most behavioral addictions are activities healthy people engage in, it can be hard to admit that this behavior is becoming a problem. However, if you find a behavior hinders you from going further in your life, you may have a behavioral addiction to address.
Here are five common behavioral addictions:
- Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is an addiction that closely resembles drug and alcohol addiction in the brain. Studies show that gambling addictions light up the same areas of the brain as drug addictions. There are many treatment facilities for gambling disorders that utilize the same therapy used for drug and alcohol abuse. While occasional gambling can be fun, in excess, gambling can result in some serious consequences.
So what causes a gambling addiction? It depends. Some people begin gambling out of desperation for money. In the past, they may have won a large sum of money and find themselves seeking that big win over and over again to achieve the same financial gain. Unfortunately, when it comes to gambling, losing is going to happen eventually. Therefore, they find themselves losing more money than they ever imagined and causing damage to their family and themselves.
Others gamble to achieve a high. Gambling has a major social reputation and the lifestyle Is all about the thrills and the high. It can be difficult for some not to get addicted to the entertaining luring atmosphere of the mainstream gambling scene. However, once addicted, breaking this cycle of gambling becomes a struggle. By the time a gambler wins, they have already lost so much money that it is not enough to cover their losses. Therefore, the cycle just keeps on going.
Signs of Gambling include:
- Gambling when financially unstable
- Family and friends concerned about gambling
- Needing to be secretive to gamble
- Trouble monitoring and controlling your gambling
If this sounds like you, you may have a gambling addiction to address.
- Sex Addiction
In the media, we hear about celebrities going to rehab for sex addiction. Is this addiction really real? Sex addiction is one of the most controversial ones out there. The symptoms of sex addiction vary and include loss of control and disregard for risk and consequences. Hypersexual activity is not limited to just having sex. The diagnosis of sexual addiction can apply to individuals who use excessive masturbation, pornography or sexual behaviors to escape emotional distress. Shame and embarrassment about their behaviors is another sign of sexual addiction.
For many sex addiction is a real thing and does impact their life in a negative way. While sex addiction is not formally classified as an addiction by the American Psychological Association (APA), there are treatments for it. Programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous and therapy can help addicts understand and overcome their problem.
- Internet Addiction
The society we live in now is based around the internet. However, it is possible to be too plugged in. Some people escape reality through the excessive use of the online world. It can be a problem for people when it affects their work and home life. Those who spend the majority of their day online even show small changes in their brain from their excessive internet use. Studies suggest that compulsive Internet use affects 6 to 14 percent of Internet users.
Those who struggle with internet addiction have emotional symptoms like guilt, anxiety and depression. They may find it impossible to keep up with scheduled obligations and eventually find themselves in isolation than out with others. There are also physical symptoms from using the internet all day such as backaches, weight gain/loss or carpal tunnel syndrome. Internet addiction affects people in a variety of ways, and a combination of treatment including therapy may be helpful.
- Exercise Addiction
Too much exercise can be a bad thing. I know most of us do not get enough of it, but some people do take exercise to the next level. People with exercise addiction find they have a compulsive disorder that compels them to exercise excessively. Simply loving to work out is not enough to be an exercise addict.
A person with exercise addiction finds that exercise takes over their life. This disorder is also called anorexia athletica or obligatory exercise. The person feels they must exercise a certain amount of times per day and feels guilty when they are unable to fulfill their commitments.
Often, addicts will turn to exercise as a healthy way of recovering. Exercise releases endorphins which are happy chemicals that help boost the mood. That is where the term “runner’s high” originates. Exercise in moderation can be very healthy but in excess can do more harm than good.
- Spending Addiction
Everyone loves to buy nice things occasionally. However, those who struggle with spending addiction can not help themselves. Shopping addiction is more common among women than men. However, men are known to struggle with spending addiction too, usually in different ways. Overspending and overshopping is now being considered for inclusion as a real addiction in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Symptoms of Spending Addiction are:
- Spending more than you can afford
- Shopping as a reaction to feeling angry or depressed
- Harming relationships due to spending or shopping too much
- Losing control of the shopping behavior
- Going out excessively and overspending to gain approval and self-worth
- Periods of mood alteration such as feeling “high” while engaging in this behavior
- Continuing behavior despite negative consequences
- Feeling discomfort when abstaining from behavior followed by binges of the same behavior.
If left untreated, overspending can result in serious financial and emotional consequences. Relationships can be tarnished, and debt will increase. There are support groups that teach better spending habits, and behavioral therapies have shown to be useful in helping people overcome this addiction.
Overall, not all addictions meet the classically known definition of addiction, but they all share similar psychological and social consequences. Therefore, these addictions do respond well to most traditional forms of addiction treatment. If your addiction falls outside the box, do not fear seeking help. We can help you overcome whatever is holding you back. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Coach Heidi Bilonick McGuirk tackles the issue: How to handle when your spouse keeps bringing up your past.
Dear Coach Heidi,
My question is; I have been in recovery for approximately 8 months. While I was in active addiction, I did a lot of things that I’m not proud of that hurt a lot of people, especially my husband. Recently I received a tax form showing that I had taken a large amount of money from my retirement account that I truly don’t remember doing. My husband is not happy and I can completely understand. The problem is this: I get mad at him for getting upset with me. Like, he tells me I should be very thankful that he still wants to be with me given the horrible things that I have put him through when I was in my active addiction. I continued to hurt him when he is the one I love dearly. How do I reply to him when he brings up things I did without getting mad at him? I have told him I’m sorry a million times. This is now affecting every aspect of our 5 year marriage, including our sex life.
What advice can you give me?
I absolutely LOVE this question! And I love it because it’s a question so many people recovery have. Kind of like asking: How long do I have to pay for my sins? Or how long do I bite my tongue? Or how many times do I need to say “I’m sorry.” My take is coming from a place of having almost 20 years of coaching couples into happier relationships. So, I would ask you, how can both of you decide to act more loving towards each other and assume the best about each other?
For example, if you were to assume the best about your husband while wondering why he brings up the past or why he tells you that you are lucky he stuck it out, what is his POSITIVE intent? In other words, if you were to look through a loving lens, WHY would he be doing that? Most of the time, loved ones remind us of the past because they truly believe that by doing so, we will be shamed enough not to repeat old patterns. They don’t want us to forget the hell they went through so we don’t forget and “do” it again.
This thinking is flawed in so many ways. First, addiction is a disease, not a character defect. And no one is choosing it.
The other issue is that you are getting mad at him and then feeling bad for being mad. Perhaps, instead of telling him how you feel, you are acting out in other ways, like withholding sex. An important lesson to learn in recovery is that you are entitled to your feelings. Feelings are a great way by which to measure the health of your relationship. Think of them as a kind of barometer that measures the stress, pressure, and overall ‘temperature’ of the relationship.
Remember, your anger is legitimate however, make sure that you are not making yourself a martyr or victim of your feelings. Instead, take ACTION by initiating open communication about your feelings. Being passive-aggressive or acting like a martyr won’t cut it.
Talk to your husband. Let him know how the constant reminders make you feel. Take responsibility for how these feelings then have you act out in certain ways. But at the end of the day C, your feelings are YOUR feelings and no one can MAKE you feel anything without your permission. You’re the one who decides to get angry. Could you get grateful instead? I say ‘yes.” By focusing on where you are when he focuses on where you’ve been.
So many choices! That’s the beautiful thing.
Heidi Bilonick McGuirk is a Master Certified Relationship Coach. She has consulted for several top Matchmaking and Dating companies around the world. She has served as the Director of Operations for the Matchmaking Institute in NYC and has been in private practice for over a decade. She is one of the Life and Relationship Coaches here at Palm Partners and has supported many clients in their pursuits of sobriety, health and happiness.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.