PAUSE on new Material

 

CONTACT:
acoarecovery@yahoo.com
212-580-9631
646-469-7417

Dear Readers,

As some of you have noticed (followers), I’ve been sending out revised OLD posts now for some months – along with new info. The series on Alcoholism is the last NEW for a while.

I wrote in Feb. explaining what I’m currently working on – going over ALL old post to make corrections & modifications where needed. As of now I’m half way thru 2016.

I’m suspending all new material until I finish going thru 2010 – 2020 posts already published. There are many more topics in the wings, maybe for next year, such as “Attachment Types, What Children Need, Money Madness, more on the Enneagram & the MBTI….. ”

EXCEPTION : If I find something new I want to pass on, or is especially interesting & relevant, I will add it throughout the rest of this year.

I hope you enjoy the updates. While every post is being worked on, only the revised or split ones (when one is too long) get moved from draft to ‘publish’. Since that means only 1 or 2 posts in each series, it’s a reminder to review the whole set.

For non-followers, if you’re curious, you can go to year pages 2010-14 & pick up the refurbished posts. Many include new artwork as well.

In the meantime you’re welcome to listen to my podcasts – there are 20, covering all the basic ACoA issues. To access, go to:

  • businesstalkradio1.com
  • click on red button “Archives” at top right
  • fill in my full name Donna M Torbico
  • interviews are listed by date, but not by topic (unfortunately)
  • Feel free to leave comments via email at acoarecovery@yahoo.com.

ALSO:
I continue to see individual clients for ACoA Therapy, by phone or Skype,
– intro session is FREE.
If you or someone you know would like to do some Recovery work, I’m available to take new clients. 

Thank you for you support & loyalty!

DMT

HOW to TALK to KIDS site

PREVIOUS: Alcoholism

⬅️ “Self Talk: Internal Dialogue of the Subconscious Mind

Excellent reminder, which applies to all of us, no matter what our preferred defense mechanism or addiction of choice

BELOW: How to Talk to Kids…..
The Faber & Mazlish book this site is taken from will have more ideas.

USE for YOURSELF first: Many ACoAs remark that they don’t know how to talk to their Inner Child. That’s understandable, since that was never modeled for us.

This can help with that lack. It gives a contrast between the unhealthy abandoning way we were treated vs. healthy, loving ways.

Click to access How_to_Talk_So_Kids_Will_Listen.pdf

Alcoholism – PHYSICAL (#4)

 

 PREVIOUS: Alcoholic TRAITS #3b

SITE: “Alcoholism & the Brain: An Overview” (extensive)

PHYSICAL characteristics of alcoholism
• Blackouts: blocked memory – a few minutes, several hours or more
• Can cause: many physical problems (see below)

• Control: loss of mental & physical – leading to accidents, fights, falling down, lowered inhibitions (perpetrating rape, incest, assaults, killing..)
• Compulsions: talking for hours & hours – to a captive audience (like one of their children), continually repeating oneself, stalking, unwanted phone calls, esp late at night…

• Patterns of drinking : daily, weekends, periodic, binge, steady…
• Personality changes: chemical changes in the brain, serious blood-sugar level disturbance – like people with low blood-sugar when they’re out of fuel (food): headaches, nausea, very cranky, can’t think…
• Progressive – in 3 stages, from mild to psychosis & then death

🚦 Alcohol & Health
Accidents : burns, fall, fights…. 
Birth defects : binge drinking early in pregnancy is particularly risky for the developing baby

◘ Brain : inflammation, dementia & other neurological deficiencies
◘ Cancer :  alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, colon, breast & liver (even 1 drink per day is linked to a 20% increase

◘ Depression : worsens overall mental health & sparks a vicious cycle
◘ Diabetes :  heavy & binge drinking rises the risk

◘ Digestion : alcohol alters the composition of needed bacteria in the GI tract, causing anemia, bleeding, gastritis, ulcers & other lesions, scarring
◘ Heart disease : heavy drinking appears to increase risk – high blood pressure & stoke…

◘ Infections : bacterial, respiratory & viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis (B & C), pneumonia & tuberculosis
◘ Immune System: affects the number of immune cells in a person’s system, alters their functioning, & can often kill existing cells

◘ Kidneys : affects rate of blood flow & disrupt hormones needed to filter the blood of harmful substances
◘ Liver diseases : alcohol poisoning, fatty liver, inflammation, cirrhosis

◘ Obesity : 2nd most calorie-rich nutrient after fat — packing about 7 calories per gram. heavy drinking is linked to increased weight gain
◘ Sex : F – unwanted pregnancies,  infertility, menstrual problems, reduced lubrication, harder to have an orgasm…
M – physical insensitivity, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, loss of sexual desire, ‘brewer’s droop’ into full-blown impotence

◘ Victim : more vulnerable to crimes, sexual & domestic abuse
◘ Death : alcohol abuse is the 3rd main cause of preventable death in the US, including drug OD  (More….)

ONE DRINK: Significant alcohol intake produces changes in the brain’s structure & chemistry, BUT some occur even with minimal use over a short time, to form tolerance & physical dependence

✴︎ 30 seconds after the first sip, alcohol rushes into the brain, slowing down its chemicals & pathways used to send messages. This alters mood, slows reflexes, throws the drinker off balance & they can’t think straight. Alcohol makes it hard to store experiences in long-term memory, so they won’t remember things later …. (More…. )

➡️ MRI scanner forms images using strong magnetic fields & radio waves

🌀 🌀 🌀

Behavioral Addiction is an intense desire to repeat some action that’s pleasurable, believed to improve well-being, or able to alleviating some personal distress – despite knowing its negative consequences

Researcher Jeffrey A. Gray (1981 & 87) proposed 2 brain-based systems which control a person’s interactions with their environment. Emotional situations are identified by the intensity of reaction, AND actions, based on what’s appealing or unpleasant.

⬇️ BIS & BAS brain activity have been connected to a broad range of psycho-pathologies, such as lifetime diagnoses of depression, anxiety, drug & alcohol abuse, ADHD & conduct disorder

Systems controlling actions:
1. BIS – The Behavioral Inhibition System motivates curtailing, stopping, or avoiding ‘dangerous’ behaviors which can lead to disappointment or loss.

People with strong BIS activity have a heightened sensitivity to non-reward, punishment or a new experience – which they avoid to prevent fear, anxiety, frustration & sadness, because they experience punishment as very anxiety-producing

🖤 OPPOSITE: People with low BIS (high BAS) activity have strong urges & desires, & are usually more impulsive & Extroverted

2. BAS – The Behavioral Activation System is the sensitivity to reward – actions that don’t produce punishment. It’s the desire to approach, pursue & achieve goals, with emotions such as elation, happiness & hope, especially when a benefit is imminent. Strong BAS activity produces impulsivity, & punishment is not a deterrent, so pleasurable behaviors will be repeat, such as the instant-gratification use of addictive abubstances

💚 OPPOSITE: People with low BAS activity have weaker urges & desires, & tend to be more careful & Introverted   (MORE….. scroll down)

❤️ FFFS = Fight, Flight, Freeze System

NEXT:

Alcoholism – Personality TRAITS (#3b)

PREVIOUS: Personality TRAITS (#2a)

SITE: “Personality and Alcoholism: Establishing the Link” ~ Stanton Peele (author of “Love & Addiction” highly recommended)

PERSONALITY TRAITS  (cont.)

🏴 REMINDER: NO ONE has ALL these characteristics!
Pick out several that fit your ‘favorite’ addict (or yourself ??), the ones that really stand out, that are over-blown, that keep getting in the way of a success, happy life.

2. PSYCHOLOGICAL defences
Underlying the addiction are what 12-Step programs call ‘character defects’, which contribute to the desire to escape.
ACTIONS
Blackmail. Use threats of emotional withdrawal of love, affection, sex, approval, acceptance….to get the other person to do something they don’t want to
Bully. Demand others be or do what the addict wants, & won’t take no for an answer. Push, push push

Chase. Run after someone not immediately available, or not interested in them (short of stalking). Impatient, can’t wait for things to unfold naturally, insist on getting attention
Come-here-go-away. Crazy-making, drawing someone toward themselves & them pushing them away (sabotaging….) when the other gets ‘too close’

Impulsive. Often acts before really thinking through consequences
Irresponsible. Undependable, rarely /never follows thru, arbitrarily changes plans, regularly breaks promises …

VERBAL
Argumentative. Always looking to start a verbal tussle, & even when they actually agree with the other’s point of view, feels the need to fight against it

Cognitive distorted. Have many unrealistic or completely erroneous beliefs. Includes ‘all-or-nothing’, ‘black-or-white; thinking…..
Combative. Always feels disrespected (bumped in the subway, not being greeted….) as an excuse to be angry, or pick a fight

Compulsive Liar. Lie when not necessary – lost conscious contact with The Truth
Complain. Highly critical of others & Self, often their own worst enemy. Whiny.
Cynical. Bitter, overall very negative assessment of people & life

Double-messaging. Cause great confusion or paralysis in others by giving opposing info, as if they were both true, (love you / hate you) OR demand that 2 incompatible rules both be obeyed

PSYCHOLOGICAL
Boundary-less. Don’t how wen/where to set limits, with self or others
Chameleon. Easily change attitude & actions to match people & their environment, blend right in, but not ‘real Self’

Dependent. Needy. Expecting others to do for them what they can, but won’t do for themselves
• Fake. What they feel inside is not what they show on the outside
Idealizing. Unwilling to see others for who they really are, making them better than what’s real, & better than themselves

Low Frustration tolerance. Easily upset & knocked off
 balance
Narcissistic. Everything is about the addict, only their point of view & needs are valid

Passive. Unwilling to exert themself, have an opinion, participate….
Perfectionist. Their’s is the only ‘Right Way’. If something isn’t perfect it’s worthless – causing procrastination & paralysis

• Separate. Never feels part of or belonging anywhere – even in ‘similar’ groups. ‘Different, not like the rest’
Superiority complex. The attitude / belief (not emotion) of seeing oneself as better than others

Victim. Suicidal thoughts / feelings (NOT because of severe physical pain, debility or actually being trapped). Instead:
– Rage: wanting to punish everyone who’s ever hurt or abandoned them (“I’ll show you!”)
– Unwilling to dig deep into their emotional pain, for healing

SOCIAL
Arrogant. Condescending, sometimes or always ‘full of it’
Demanding. “I want what I want – NOW!”
Defiant. Don’t want to be told what to do, do opposite of what someone needs, wants or asks for – just to be ‘difficult’ but not from actual disagreement

• Isolated. Socially withdrawn, even when with others, not really connected. Can’t be reached, but complains that no-one understands
People-pleaser. Overly agreeable, to keep the focus off themselves & get people to like them

Sadistic (‘perpetrator’). Gets pleasure from hurting people, or secretly seeing them be hurt (physically, financially, socially….). Also harm animals & children
• Socially awkward. Feel like they don’t know what to do or say

Thrill junkie.  Deliberately goes for risky behavior, stuck in self-destructive mode
• Thwarts Authority. Rebels against ‘status quo’

SPIRITUAL
Lost / Tortured Soul – wandering in the ‘land of the living dead’
 Unearthly. Truly believes that an ideal world possible,& that it ‘should be’. See everyone as one united family. However, often feels disillusioned & disheartened when the world fails to live up to their Utopian ideals.

NEXT: Alcoholism – Physical

Alcoholism – Personality TRAITS (#3a)

 

PREVIOUS: Alcoholism #2b

IMAGE ⬆️ : Pain directly linked to Emotional States 

SITE: “Heal suffering w/ Self-acceptance (+ Negative beliefs)

🌈 Mental health plays an important role in all forms of substance abuse, which often overlap with  psychiatric disorders, because addictive substances change the way the brain works, impacting a person’s mood, thoughts & actions. Psychological evaluation of a potential patient includes:

Personal history:  age when they first started using alcohol…., family history of substance use, & all traumatic experiences, Also, housing, financial & marital status, education & employment, physical & mental health (theirs & their family), & legal problems.

VIOLENCE & ADDICTION
The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment noted that more than 75% of people entering treatment admit to various acts of violence. Researches noted that “only a tiny fraction of all drinking events involve violence,” but the likelihood of an active drinker being violent seems to stem from how they deal with their anger when not drinking. Since alcohol lowers inhibitions, robbing a person of self-control which allows for risky behavior, previously suppressed rage can be acted out when sufficiently drunk.

RESEARCH: The central nervous system (CNS) processes which integrate emotional behavior are altered in persons at high risk for alcoholism, who have 3 markers for potentially identifying the risk:
1) Proportion: a characteristic balance of positive to negative emotions
2) Cortisol: emotion-related changes in this stress hormone
3) The Startle Eyeblink: a measure of emotion-related change in CNS activation

PERSONALITY TRAITS that underpin active addictions

🏴 NOTE: NO ONE has ALL of these! Look for several that fit your ‘favorite’ addict (or yourself ??), the ones that seem to really stand out, that are over-blown, that keep getting in the way of a success, happy life.

Alcoholism has been called a 3-fold disease: Physical, Emotional & Spiritual (not religion) :
1. EMOTIONAL
Angry. Volatile E-motions, explosive temper, often acts out in violent ways
Defensive. Very guarded & protective of inner most thoughts & feelings
Depressed. This can be physical /hereditary and/OR from decades of abandonment & abuse. Either way its’s long-term & debilitating

Desperate. Feels like their would is falling apart. Don’t know what to do
Disconnected. Unaware of what they’re feeling emotionally
Distracted. In constant escape-mode. Use Alcohol/drugs, sex, social-media…. to numb painful life experiences, or fill up with “spirit”
Emotionally co-dependent. Deeply effected by other people’s emotions, reactions,  difficulties…. & other social influences, mostly negative &/or toxic
•  Fearful / Terrified. Worry a lot. Anxious, agitated…. always expect only the worst
Fearful of Failure and Success. Stay stuck (work, home….). Feel like they ‘can’t win for loosing’

Guilty. Overwhelming, continual self-blame for real or imagine harm they did to someone, either by a damaging action, or by neglecting to do something
Hopeless. Completely convinced there’s NO possibility of life getting better (“learned helplessness”), they have no options, no one to help
Hyper-sensitive. Take everything personally that happens to them or even around them, as if they’re the center of everyone else’s world

Insensitive. Can’t sympathize with another’s hardship, or to empathize with someone’s emotional distress
Joyless. Nothing is fun, relaxing, stress-less.
Lonely. Feel alone, can’t ask for help because ‘no one cares’

Paranoid. Assume everyone secretly (or blatantly) intends to hurt them. Can’t trust anyone. NO one’s safe
Passive-aggressive. Can’t show anger directly, so puts on a smile, but withholds, refuses to participate….  or secretly, indirectly does harm
Resentful – of oh-so many people… Carries a long list of grudges towards anyone who’s disappointed or hurt them in life

Sad. Deep sorrow because of too many losses, often hidden from oneself, or unexpressed
• Self-Hating. Deep down inside, blames themself for everything that’s gone wrong or that hurts them.  Is never ‘good enough’
Shamed. Intensely ashamed of themself, their family, their circumstance, their inability to ‘fix’ a loved one…..

Unforgiving. Unable / unwilling to release of all the bad things done to them, & the pain it caused. Can’t seem to cope withe people, place, things – as they are
Un-comforted. Nothing is soothing, pleasant, stress-free
Uncomfortable in their skin. Don’t know ‘who I am”, or ‘how’ to sit, stand, walk… Restless, irritable, discontent. Life is a painful, unpleasant journey
Unlovable – Unable to love him or herself or to receive love from others

NEXT: 2. Psychological 

Alcoholism – STAGES (#2b)

PREVIOUS: Alcoholism INTRO #1

SITE : Alcohol-induced brain damage continues after alcohol is stopped 

STAGES (cont.)

3. PROGRESSION  – Physical / Emotional deterioration
• An obsession with drinking. During the dependence stage, the alcoholic still planned their day around the drink. Now they simply take it with them wherever they go

• Alcohol is needed to function. The morning drink is a daily ritual, drink throughout the day, & keep a steady supply available, like a flask in the purse or bottle in the desk drawer

• Loss of other interests. Social activity continues a decrease because of erratic behavior. as drinking isolates them from friends & family. Hobbies & intellectual interests once enjoyed are long gone, & drinking is the only companion, the thing that keeps them going

• Depression, anxiety, insomnia. Alcohol is a depressant, so the physical effects will worsen in an already emotionally unhappy person. They can’t get to sleep without a drink, & often end up with paranoia – becoming overly fearful but can’t explain why

• Family relations continue to deteriorate. If it wasn’t seen before, slowly the addict become increasingly irritable, arguing with the spouse, attacking their children, alternating between being sullen & snappish. Stop attending family functions, preferring to drink, or showing up drunk – sloppy, obnoxious, sexually inappropriate or belligerent

• Friendships change or end. There continues a decrease social activity because of erratic behavior, have a sudden change in friends, have trouble talking to strangers….. old friends will be run off when they confront addict with their drinking,

• Financial, legal problems. Domestic abuse calls to cops, harassment or stalking of spouse or lover – possibly resulting in a Restraining Order, divorce & child custody fights, court appearances for DUIs, & sometimes vehicular homicide……

• Serious health problems occur. Personal hygiene begins to slide, & eating properly is a thing of the past.  The addict will get sick much more often (respiratory infections, malnutrition…..), & the doctor will warn about damage to liver & pancreas

4. CULMINATION
• Loss of control is obvious. The addict no longer takes care of themself, (no medical care, poor hygiene, careless appearance….), & normal responsibilities have long been neglected. Without a co-dependent rescuer, they’re behind on bills, can’t borrow any more money from family & friends, & built up credit card debt to support their drinking. May even become homeless

• Family & friends are gone. They may have been to rehab – several times, but still found it impossible to quit, having become a slave to the bottle

Physical symptoms are excruciating. Without medical attention, this stage of alcoholism is incredibly dangerous.  Unable to hold food down, the tremors begin mere hours after any ‘last’ drink, & hallucinations or seizures might have even set in

• This full-blown addiction will carry heavy withdrawal symptoms & an increased risk of developing life-threatening conditions. These symptoms can be so painful that the person needs to drink simply to alleviate them. Life expectancy in this stage can be as short as six months.

RECOVERY requirements:
✴︎ A sincere desire for help
✴︎ Physical detox & medical treatment
✴︎ An assessment of clinical treatment needs for co-occurring disorders:  anxiety  / ADHD  /  bipolar   / college mental health  /   cross addictions /  depression  /  food  /  PTSD   / obsessive-compulsive   /  personality disorders   / schizophrenia  / self-medication……

✴︎ Establishing new ideas, attitudes, goals for life
✴︎ Ongoing group, individual & family therapy
✴︎ Rest, structured daily routine, proper nutrition

✴︎ New circle of stable, sober friends & mentors
✴︎ Increase in self-care, confidence, self-esteem
✴︎ Ongoing work toward lasting sobriety

RELAPSE
A hallmark of any chronic condition is the potential for relapse. With other chronic illnesses, relapse can be expected, as the sufferer & doctors work together to figure out the best treatments to manage the condition.

Addiction is no different. In fact, relapse rates for addiction (40-60 %) are similar to asthma (50-70%) & adult-onset diabetes (30-50 %), reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sometimes the initial treatment is not quite right, or the person starts by trying to quit without help. Over time, control is lost & the person drinks again. However, this is not an indication of failure. Experience has shown that a inpatient program of less than 90 days has limited effectiveness.  It is possible to interrupt the cycle of Use —> Abstinence —> Relapse, by a determination to have a better life, & by getting the right treatments.

NEXT: Alcoholic TRAITS  #3a

Alcoholism – STAGES (#2a)

PREVIOUS: Alcoholism INTRO #1b

SITE: “What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a disease that slowly develops over time. Whether or not initial use is likely to lead to addiction is often a matter of individual circumstances. Mayo Clinic describes a number of risk factors:
• A family history of substance abuse or other mental health disorder
• Childhood abuse &/or neglect / • A Chaotic living environment
• Peer group or family that is permissive about substance use
• Depression, social issues, loneliness…..

Not all drug dependence is addiction. EXP: an asthmatic will depend on a daily dose of medication to breathe properly. This is not addiction. In this case, the body was not working properly before the drug was introduced – which is the correct solution to the physical problem – & did not cause the original dysfunction.

1. DENIAL (Adaptive) – early stage symptoms
• Occasional drinks to relieve stress or other problems – used as a crutch to cope with or escape reality. Alcohol becomes a way to take the edge off after a long day, & blur sharp outlines of life

• Gradual increase in drinking frequency & tolerance – rely more & more on alcohol to get through difficult times, so it’s less enjoyable & more of a habit. Now drinking either stays moderate – or progresses to the next stage. Tolerance is an indication that the brain has changed in response to the drug

• Thoughts become more focused on the next drink : “If I can just make it through these last 2 hours of work, I can head straight to the bar for some relief”

• Rationalizing alcohol over-use / abuse – telling oneself I’m just having a rough few days, drinking isn’t that big a deal, or I’m not going out getting wasted every night, so I’m fine

• Addict is likely still unaware that alcohol is gradually becoming a controlling force, and others haven seen yet that the person’s drinking habits are getting increasingly more dangerous

2. DEPENDENCE  – Loss of control
Desire to drink is more intense – the body has become used to larger amounts with little or no effect. As it gains a tolerance, it expects the alcohol at a certain time, so drinking will start earlier in the day to compensate for the frustration that settles in during the afternoon. The drinker can still function, but becomes more & more focused on getting that next drink

• Loss of control over drinking habits – still easy to find excuses for needing a drink throughout the day in regular society, which makes it somewhat acceptable. It’s more than the average person’s, but it can be explained away: “If you had the stresses I did you would drink, too. / Everyone has a beer at lunch when we go out. There’s nothing wrong with it…. ”

• Alcohol-induced blackouts are common – the drinker can lose a lot of time (several hours, an entire day or longer….). They won’t remember where they went, what they did or who they were with, with obvious harmful physical, mental & financial consequences

• Withdrawal symptoms get more severe – when the effects of the alcohol wear off, 6 – 24 hrs after the last drink –  dry mouth, painful headache, morning shakes, nausea, sweats & trouble sleeping – hangovers are a regular event, but it still seems manageable.

• The drinker finally starts to realize there’s something abnormal about their drinking & others begin to recognize it too. Hide it from others – spiking coffee or soda, stashing full bottles throughout the home & ones in the garbage away from home. Lying about where they were when out drinking

• Relationship problems & social isolation increases – late nights, drunken fights at home, falling down, car accidents…. May begin missing work or social obligations because of drinking or hangovers. Drink at inappropriate times, such as when caring for their children, when driving with family in car, & at work

✴︎ They may make several attempts to stop drinking, & even attend support groups. However, many are not ready to face the rigors of Recovery, & resort to old habits.

NEXT: