Drug Abuse During Covid-19

By: Catherine Cain

The stress and uncertainty Covid-19 brings is especially dangerous to those who abuse drugs or alcohol. The increased stress, mass layoffs and unemployment, and social distancing restrictions have caused a major uptick in the number of people who self-reported drug use over the last six months. Relying on these substances to make it through a day is not only detrimental to your mental health, but puts undue stress on your body’s immune system, ultimately weakening your ability to fight off infections and viruses.

Those who smoke or vape, whether marijuana or tobacco, are at a higher risk for contracting Covid-19 and may experience severe symptoms. Smoking and vaping lead to lung damage, as does Covid-19, which is why it is especially important not to let your addiction go unchecked.

Addiction may be hard to overcome, but it is not impossible. Covid-19 creates an environment where your addiction can progress quickly, because of the reduced social interactions and prolonged periods of isolation.

Here are some ways to help combat your addiction:

Contact a medical provider immediately.

Ask about medication to combat cravings.

Include your family/friends, so you have someone to hold you accountable.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/psychiatry/michigan-psychiatry-resources-covid-19/specific-mental-health-conditions/addiction-substance-use-recovery-during-covid-19-pandemic

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/03/16/addiction-treatment-facilities-are-they-prepared-for-covid-19/#3bf8b57044ea

Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/supporting-someone-mental-health-problem

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction

Addiction: How to Support a Spouse with Addiction
By: Isabelle Siegel

One hallmark sign of addiction is continued substance use despite interference with one’s interpersonal relationships. Addiction can take an immense toll on romantic relationships in particular, causing pain and suffering for both parties. The partners/spouses of people with addiction may feel as though they are helpless, unable to provide the support that is needed. However, there are steps that partners/spouses can take to support their partner/spouse and themselves.

Develop an understanding of addiction and how it manifests in your partner/spouse. Research “Substance Use Disorder” and its symptoms, taking note of which symptoms apply to your partner/spouse. It may be helpful to create a list of warning signs that your partner/spouse is using substances, as well as to learn what to do in the case of an overdose.

Support, but avoid enabling. Enabling entails making excuses for your partner’s/spouse’s addictive behavior, communicating to them that such behavior is acceptable and can be continued. Instead, stress the necessity of change while also practicing devotion and love.

Establish boundaries for your relationship. Many professionals suggest establishing a set of boundaries that must be respected. For example, you may want to tell your partner/spouse that he/she cannot use substances while in the house.

Be honest with your partner/spouse. Tell your partner/spouse how his/her behavior makes you feel. If your partner’s/spouse’s behavior is hurting you, tell him/her. It is normal to feel uncomfortable during these conversations, but they are important and even necessary for change.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and seek therapy. Understand that your partner/spouse is not the only one who needs support and never feel guilty for prioritizing your own needs. If you feel that the relationship is putting your physical or mental health at risk, it may be necessary to end the relationship. It can be beneficial to seek therapy or other support in order to take care of your own mental health and to work through difficult emotions.

If you or a loved one needs support, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/shopping

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200603/doped-shopping

Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

Addiction: Must be Love on the Brain.

By: Keely Fell

Heartbreak notably causes a great deal of emotional pain, but have you ever wondered what it does to the chemistry in your brain? Experiencing heartbreak can cause pains in the chest, gut and even in our throat. Such sensations can leave one feeling broken. The brain has quite a way of reacting to the experience of a broken heart, and understanding the feelings caused by brain reactions is essential to overcoming heartbreak.

One of the most interesting brain reactions to heartbreak is the experience of withdrawal symptoms in the absence of love. Often times when experienced, the brain mechanisms that are activated are the same as if someone is withdrawing from drugs like nicotine, cocaine, etc. So you could make the connection that love is addicting, thus creating a chemical reaction when you fall in love that is similar to a “high”.

Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been performed showing how these mechanisms are being activated in the brain. A study conducted by Art Aron, Lucy Brown, and Helen Fisher found that the area of the brain associated with the rewards system, known as the caudate nucleus, lights up on scans when in love. This shows that love might be more than just an emotion and more of  a response searching for the reward of affection. People who use drugs such as nicotine and cocaine see similar brain activity across fMRI scans. In both cases, the brain is experiencing a spike in the release of dopamine through the caudate nucleus. It was also observed that when an fMRI scan was performed on people experiencing the first stages of a break up, the caudate nucleus was still in “motivation mode”, meaning that the individual was still searching for that “fix” of love.

Understanding that these feelings and symptoms are deeper rooted than just simply feeling sad over a broken heart, can help us through the healing process. Over time the brains need to fulfill the “fix” will subside and will move onto the next big thing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/this_is_your_brain_on_heartbreak  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201801/3-surprising-ways-heartbreak-impacts-your-brain

Image Source:                                                                                    https://www.123rf.com/photo_52211182_stock-vector-cartoon-heart-and-mind-characters.html

Vape and E-Cigarette Addiction

By: Maryellen Van Atter

    

E-cigarette devices, such as the Juul, are more prevalent than ever. These devices were originally created to help established smokers stop smoking traditional cigarettes. However, because of their ease of use, portability, and sweet taste/smell, they have become popular with a generation of teens who have never smoked traditional cigarettes. This is concerning because of the plethora of health concerns surrounding the devices. They still contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine is shown to raise blood pressure and spike adrenaline and heartrate, which can lead to increased risk of heart attack. Vaping has been linked to severe respiratory illnesses, and it may be related to pulmonary disease. It can worsen asthma, cause nausea, and irritate the mouth and throat.

While these physical health effects are often discussed, there is less discussion about the mental effects of nicotine addiction. Those who smoke have a lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder which is more than double the prevalence in those who do not smoke. Some research has gone even farther and said that smoking may change neurotransmitter activity in the brain, leading to increased risk of depression. Despite this, the devices are still popular. While it is possible to vape something that does not contain nicotine, it is uncommon and teens often are not entirely aware of what is in what they are inhaling.

The percentage of teens that vape is increasing. Studies have found that 42.5% of high school seniors report vaping in their lifetime; this is dangerous behavior. However, it is important to remember that blame is unhelpful in helping a teen to kick their vaping habit. Similarly, reminding a teen about the risk of cancer and family addiction histories is not an effective way to get them to quit. Teens will respond best to calm conversations and discussions about how their vaping may be affecting them and the things that they consider important, such as school, extracurriculars, and sleep. Helping someone stop smoking is no easy job and it is not something that has to be done alone.

Addiction is a serious mental health concern and the sooner addiction can be treated, the better. There are both psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction. There are many effective, FDA approved treatments for smoking cessation. These treatments include hypnotherapy, which uses guided relaxation and focused attention to change behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to discover the root of behaviors and works to change attitudes surrounding the behavior, psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and motivational interviewing, which aims to illuminate differences between a patient’s goals and their behaviors. There is no shame in seeking out therapy to assist in quitting smoking or helping a loved one quit smoking, and it is best to seek help as soon as the problem is recognized. The longer one waits, the more established addictive behaviors become.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a vaping addiction, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/print/17921-number-of-teens-vaping-hits-record-high-survey-shows

https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/juuling-teenagers-vaping/

https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/teen-vaping/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/what-are-treatments-tobacco-dependence

https://www.medscape.com/answers/287555-158503/what-is-the-association-between-nicotine-addiction-and-depression

https://psychcentral.com/lib/can-smoking-cause-depression/