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5 Effective Ways to Combat Substance Abuse

5 Effective Ways to Combat Substance Abuse

Although most people have to hit rock bottom in order to recognise that they are totally dependent on a substance to function, there are other easier routes to recognise addiction and substance abuse. These routes require serious self-assessment such as honestly acknowledging the fact that a certain substance helps you combat boredom, be more confident or function properly from day-to-day and without that substance, your anxieties, fears and loneliness come rushing.

Once you recognise – through self-awareness or hitting rock bottom – that you have an addiction problem, the next step is combating this scourge with the techniques outlined below.

1. Choosing the Cold Turkey Route

Going ‘cold turkey’ is the method of combating addiction by sequestering oneself from anything or the triggers that get you to seek calm through a substance. This technique involves considerable effort on your part such as moving to another town or a cabin in the woods where you have no acquaintances or dealers on hand to feed your addiction.

From personal experience, anyone addicted to hard drugs will find the cold turkey route to be highly effective but difficult. The difficulties stem from withdrawal symptoms – stooling, anxiety, agitation, paranoia and fear – which last for approximately 2 weeks. After the first 14 days, these symptoms subside and you can now proceed to functioning as a new being.

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2. Long-term Rehabilitation Works

Unlike what you see in the movies, the probability of a 21 day stay at a rehab centre keeping an individual of drugs is rather low due to the fact that addiction totally hijacks the brain. This is not to say that rehabilitation centres and the therapy that comes with them do not work but an extended stay in a long-term rehab facility is your best bet of tackling serious addiction problems.

During extended stays, you will be taken through the 12 steps program and also be provided with complimentary activities needed to wean the brain of the harmful endorphins substance abuse trigger.

3. Beat Addiction and Anxiety with Animal Therapy

Substance abuse and the addiction that comes with it creates an emotional void and physiology issues that lead to one becoming overtly attuned to only their needs. Animal therapy helps combat this physiological problems by giving you something else to think about aside oneself which is caring for or bonding with your favourite animal or pet.

Equine therapy has been highlighted as a viable option of curing addiction alongside other traditional means. And it involves close contact with horses were the patient acts as its primary care taker.

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4. Visualize your Triggers through Virtual Reality Therapy

For those who find comfort interacting with tech devices, the use of virtual reality headsets have proven to be an effective method of combating addiction. It is important to note that this method does not consist of replacing one addiction with another but involves working with a counsellor who employs the use of virtual drugs via VR headsets, to trigger a patients need for the release drugs/alcohol provides.

Once that need is triggered, the counsellor or therapist gets a front row seat in observing how one reacts to his or her triggers and this gives the therapist real-time information to help you combat your addictions.

    5. Align yourself through Yoga

    Substance abuse leads to out-dated or skewed behavioural patterns due to ones reliance on external factors to feel both physical and psychologically complete. To combat this reliance, it is important to work on reconnecting with your old self – the periods you functioned normally without a crutch – and this can be achieved through Yoga.

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    Yoga combines three factors: breathe work, physical posturing and meditation with the goal of aligning your mind, body and spirit together in peace. This alignment helps realign the entire being to its default setting thereby helping addicts re-develop healthy behavioral patterns.

    It is important to note that every sufferer of addiction reacts to treatment in different ways. Therefore, going the extra mile to fight your addiction by combining two or more of these techniques is recommended to permanently kick any addiction. Also do not forget that a relapse isn’t the end of the world and with a solid support system built around you, you will ultimately end up beating your addictions.

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    Virtual Reality

    Featured photo credit: Aral Tasher via stocksnap.io

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    Last Updated on September 10, 2018

    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

    Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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    Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

    Looking at images of loved ones

    While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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    In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

    Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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    Exercise

    Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

    Meditation

    Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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    In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

    When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

    With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

    Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

    Reference

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