How does Marijuana affect your Relationship?

blunts-goals-marijuana-smoke-Favim.com-2062474.jpg

How Marijuana Can Affect Relationships

The impact marijuana can have on relationships remains to be a very controversial topic. Some hold the view that the two can never go hand in hand. Instead, they mix as well as dynamite and match; very explosive with widespread and far-reaching effects. While others believe that marijuana has no negative effects on relationships. In their view, it spices things up. This article, though not intended to hit at any side in favor of another, has captured nothing but the truth on how marijuana affects relationships from both schools of thought.

Success in any relationship calls for love, trust and compromise. In addition, it also requires the couple to be free of substance abuse and addiction in all of its forms.  In this context we are discussing marijuana ABUSE. I invite you to be open minded in this topic and not stay in the category of black and white thinking. Not everyone who smokes pot will abuse it or become addicted to it.

Pot smoking, like any substance, may seem innocent, harmless and even fun for some at the very outset. Though the habit initially kicks off as a way of establishing identity or possibly freedom of expression, it can eventually lead users down the path to ruin and destruction in any love relationship. It can set one’s life in a downward spiral that ultimately robs them of everything they value as far as love and relationship are concerned. Unfortunately, marijuana has become widely accepted and debatably legalized in many modern societies.

i_smoked_marijuana_for_love.jpg

How does marijuana affect your love life?

Having counseled many couples on relationship matters over the years, I hold as true the opinion that the abuse of pot can actually minimize progress and growth in relationships. Marijuana abuse can directly impact:

  • Personal life and friendship
  • Intimacy and commitments
  • family life and responsibilities
  • emotions

Personal life and friendship

If pot smoking ultimately turns habitual and addictive, the victim ceases to be himself or herself. The drug moves in and completely takes over such an unsuspecting soul. In no time, such an individual becomes consumed by social anxiety and paranoia.

At this stage, the pot addict is more likely to be introverted and neglected, even by close friends and confidants. Of course being high kind of redefines their brand of friends; they associate more with a clique of other addicts trapped in the same habit of pot smoking. These are the kind of friends that only sink them deeper in their abyss of frustrations. Essentially, the addict loses touch with reality and reason.

images.jpg

Intimacy and commitments

In love life, intimacy is very critical. In fact, according to some studies, it is the glue that holds the relationship together longer. By its very nature, intimacy is about partners being able to see into each other. Precisely, intimacy guarantees a clear perception of an individual’s feelings as well as their partner’s.

Marijuana in a relationship acts contrary to this feeling. Though critics suggest it heightens intimacy, this substance is in fact insidious and dangerous in your relationship. The “sacred herb,” as some erroneously call it, is a mood-killer when abused and only detaches you from your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Besides, weed shortens memory and makes honoring commitments in a relationship quite the nightmare.

Family life and responsibilities

Whenever a recreational drug like marijuana turns addictive, cravings for the same makes one forget everything else but the pot. Abdication of duties and responsibilities in the family typically sets in at this stage. Real addicts are never worried about the welfare of their children or spouse. Not in the slightest. They live in denial, isolation and over time becomes overtly defensive of their actions. It is no surprise that such individuals resort to verbal attacks if questioned about any of their unbecoming behaviors.

The drug-free partner in a relationship that is bedeviled by marijuana suffers more psychological traumas than the addict. Such partners may at times feel betrayed, tricked or even short changed in the relationship. This often develops into self-blame; taking unnecessary responsibility for the addicted partner’s way of life. This might then degenerate into jealousy, rage and self judgement, the real ingredients of depression.

Ironically, if asked if they still love their spouse in the relationship, the addict is often quick to respond in the affirmative. Their continued use of pot is evidence to the contrary though.

Marijuana and emotions

Emotionally, pot smokers are not themselves. Research findings indicate that as one uses drugs time and again, likely the case with marijuana addicts, their emotional tone plummets lower and lower. Unless they are high, such individuals know not much happiness and pleasures in life. Such a twisted perspective ends up draining life in any relationship. In some cases the couple may call it quits and part ways, just like that. In some rare cases though, the pot-free partner may have the nerve and patience to wait and just hope for the best – a day when the love of their life will finally stop the bad habit. Success rate for such cases is often very slim because the addiction often turns chronic over time. Most of the patient pot-free partners end-up depressed and frustrated without the intervention of specialists like psychotherapists and psychologists.

love-valentines-day-79@1x.jpg

How to recover from marijuana addiction

Clearly, marijuana and relationships are immiscible. The good news however is that marijuana addiction as a condition can be reversed. Various effective recovery programs are in place for the same. These programs remake the addict anew so that they once again come into the light. With well-thought-out alternatives, these programs helps clients regain a brighter outlook on life as a whole, integrity and self-respect. This way, they can once again love and be loved back.

To the drug free partner in the relationship, patience is of the essence. Give your partner time to shed off the bad habit. If the addict remains defiant and unappreciative of your patience then consider exploring other options like:

  • seeking help from a psychotherapist
  • divorce

The second option should come last; only upon exploring all available options and all concerted efforts rendered futile. Though this therapy is known to shock drug users into reality, it is likely to impact negatively on kids, if there are any. So, settle for divorce only if your partner’s marijuana addiction condition deteriorates and becomes so much over the top or is clearly on the brink of spinning out of control.

The Power of Positivity

Positivity is something that does not always seem like a possibility in our day to day lives. However, positivity and an optimistic outlook can make a huge difference in how we carry ourselves and the directions that we choose to go in. Though at times it can be very difficult to maintain positivity, there are things that you can do to keep yourself upbeat and pushing forward.

Set attainable goals. We all have goals in life. They might be for your career, or perhaps for your personal life, or even in your relationships. It is important to make sure that these goals are realistic and attainable, while still challenging yourself. You can even break your larger goals down into smaller goals that will work towards the end point.

Let’s take an example that comes up often in recovery; maintaining sobriety. Maintaining sobriety is a very large goal, especially for someone who has just entered into recovery. However, this is completely attainable when broken down into smaller goals. Attending programs, continuing therapy, developing a relapse prevention plan, and having a stable support system are just a few of the many small goals that can be built up to the main goal of maintaining sobriety. As you can see, the main goal becomes much more realistic and manageable when broken down into smaller steps.

Reward yourself. It is important to celebrate the victories that you have. Rewarding yourself for your hard work and accomplishments, even the small ones, can do wonders for your positivity. The rewards don’t have to be large and extravagant things. It can be as simple as having a quiet evening off, or perhaps a sweet treat, whatever you would consider a reward after some hard work.

Going back to the example of maintaining sobriety, after spending time following through with your programs, continuing your therapy, and maintaining contact with your stable support system, how can you reward yourself? Perhaps a nice dinner with those who are closest to you, or a nice night in with a bath and a movie. You can choose the things that give you a sense of satisfaction that are not detrimental to your sobriety.

Have hope. Hope is a driving force in making positive change in our lives. Hope often keeps us going when we feel like we do not have much else going for us. It can build us up and help us to work harder towards what we want for ourselves, and it can keep us on track with our goals.

Maintaining your sobriety requires a certain amount of hope, more specifically hope for the future. It is quite easy to find yourself in a pit of despair when things doing seem to be progressing as you had thought that they would. It is times like this when hope is your greatest tool. Hope will help you push through. Hope will help you keep moving forward and give you a more positive outlook.

Have a positive support system. We can draw a great amount of strength from those that we surround ourselves with. A positive support system is so important in maintaining a positive outlook. When we have people supporting us through our hard times and encouraging our successes, we are much more likely to flourish and take on new challenges.

A support system is vital to a successful recovery. Without support, it can be very difficult for you to stay on track and keep your goals in mind. It is important that the people you surround yourself with during the recovery process are understanding of your needs and are capable of being supportive of your goals and choices. It is also important that you trust these people to not expose you to things that will trigger a relapse. Your support system may be made up of both professionals and friends/family members.

Positivity can be a life changing choice. By choosing positivity, you are taking control of your future and your direction in life. This is a key in the recovery process that should not be overlooked. By motivating yourself, transforming your mindset, and awakening your potential, you can be successful in your recovery.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is characterized by a loss of touch with reality, trouble maintaining daily schedules/motivation/personal hygiene, as well as trouble understanding information they are given to make decisions with. Schizophrenia is a very serious illness that is still not completely understood. We still aren’t 100% certain what causes it, whether it is a combination of genes and environment, or possibly just a chemical imbalance. What we do know for sure is just how devastating it can be when left untreated. Joblessness, homelessness, and even addiction are common among those who have untreated schizophrenia. It is so important that it is caught early and managed as it does not take very long for someone to lose control.

Although each and every case is different, there are some symptoms that are common between cases. Common symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations: Hallucinations are anything that no one else can see, hear, smell, or touch that the person with schizophrenia is experiencing. These hallucinations vary from person to person, but the more common type of hallucination is voices. These voices will talk about the person, or warn them about danger, or tell them to do things to themselves/others (that are often times harmful). It can be quite some time before the hallucinations are noticed as the person having them will respond internally to them. Until they either talk about the hallucinations or outwardly respond to them, they are undetectable.
  • Delusions: Delusions are beliefs that are untrue about people/places/events. These delusions can vary greatly, but more common delusions are that someone is hurting them (i.e. through poisoning, controlling their mind/body, plotting against them in some way, etc.) or that they are someone they are not (i.e. someone famous/well-known).
  • Disorganized appearance: Those who are suffering from schizophrenia have a hard time taking care of themselves because they either forget or are focusing more on the things that are going on in their heads. They may have poor personal hygiene, live in less than healthy conditions, or they may even appear to be homeless. They can become very sickly looking if they are refusing to eat because they think they are being poisoned, and they can also look very tired/stressed if they are losing sleep due to their hallucinations/delusions.
  • Catatonic/Movement disorders: If a person is repeating movements and/or making unnecessary movements, they are dealing with a movement disorder. Someone with schizophrenia may also not move or respond to others around them (catatonic behaviour).
  • Unusual/Dysfunctional thoughts and disorganized speech/behaviour: The person cannot get their thoughts to make sense or get them organised before they start to speak. This may present as a very confusing loop of explanation of incomplete thoughts and ideas. They may also make up words/places/people in an attempt to make the connections fit in their heads. This can make it very difficult to tell reality from their hallucinations and delusions.
  • Emotional flatness/apathy: This is a particularly troubling symptom as it can present very much like depression. A flat affect (i.e. no change in expression or tone of voice) is also common with those who are struggling with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is something that can be very difficult to treat. It largely depends on the severity of the case, as well as their support system. Schizophrenia is treated with a combination of medications and therapy, but the most important thing is that they are consistent with their medication and housing. This helps to keep them on track and in check with the symptoms. If your loved one is struggling with schizophrenia, the best thing you can do is be supportive of their recovery and their hard work. It is also important to remember that they will have good and bad days, but it is important to know the difference between a bad day and crisis. That is why it is also important to educate yourself about the illness and ask the questions that you need to. It is also important that you seek help of your own. Being the caregiver of someone who is chronically mentally ill can put a huge strain on your emotionally and mentally. Having a safe place (i.e. a support group or therapist) is great for keeping yourself in check and helping you be the best support that you can be for your loved one.

Concurrent Disorders

Addiction and mental health problems are often seen as two completely separate entities. However, in quite a significant amount of cases, co-occurring addiction and mental health problems can be seen in clients. Does this happen with all mental health problems or addictions? What does this mean for the client’s symptoms? How does it affect treatment? All of these are important questions we will answer. But first we need take a look at the basic concept of concurrent disorders.

CD-webConcurrent disorder is an umbrella term that is used to describe a diagnosed mental health problem co-occurring with an addiction. Diagnosis is difficult, as addiction and mental health symptoms may not be occurring at the same time or in the same intensity as the addiction, and vice versa. This can make treatment very difficult and determining which came first (the addiction or the mental health problem) nearly impossible. This is why it is very important to consider the addiction and the mental health problem two separate entities that interact with each other.

There are two groups of mental health problems that are most commonly co-occurring with addiction; anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Anxiety disorders (i.e. generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder) more commonly co-occur with an alcohol addiction. Mood disorders (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) more commonly co-occur with an addiction other than alcohol (i.e. cocaine, heroin, etc.). The addictions do vary from client to client, but the fact of the matter is that a significant number of those diagnosed with mental health problems will also struggle with an addiction or substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. It is important to keep in mind that your loved one is not their mental health problem or addiction, they are still your loved one. Those struggling with concurrent disorders still require love and support, especially through the recovery process. It is important to remain steadfast in your hope for them, while maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries.

There is a noticeable connection between mental health problems and addiction. Substances are often used to cope with mental health problems when left undiagnosed or unmedicated. An addiction can also mask or mimic the symptoms of a mental health problem, making it significantly harder to diagnose without proper client history. Mental health problems can also be exacerbated by an addiction. Those who choose to self-medicate on top of their prescribed medication run the risk of making their psychiatric medication less effective. They also run the risk of going off of their prescribed medications and having a relapse of mental health symptoms. These interactions between addiction and mental health problems is incredibly problematic. Symptoms can vary greatly for mental health problems when someone is abusing substances. It is also possible for relapse with substance abuse if mental health problems are not being properly treated. It can lead to a vicious cycle of relapse and recovery until the right balance is found.

Part of the reason that diagnosed concurrent disorders are so difficult to treat is that it requires a great deal of coordination within the professional support system for the client. The choice often needs to be made as to what should be treated first, or if treatments should be received at the same time. This can vary greatly from person to person as the severity of both the addiction and the mental health problems needs to be properly assessed and taken into account. What works best for most clients is what is referred to Options-for-the-treatment-of-addiction-imageas integrated treatment. Integrated treatment works on emotional, cognitive, social, and addiction problems all at once. While treatment for these problems can often be provided under one roof, it is important that the client is receiving the best treatment possible. This often involves coordinating agencies and professionals into a care team. The care team leader would be a professional the client trusts who will make plans based on the successes and areas of greatest struggle for their client. By coordinating all those involved in the care process, the client has a much higher chance of having success in treatment of both mental health problems and addiction.

Hope is a very important part of the recovery process. With a diagnosis of a mental health problem coupled with an addiction, it can seem like your loved one will only get worse. However, recovery is more than possible if they are willing to seek treatment and work with people who can help them learn new ways to cope with their struggles. With the research in new medications and methods of therapies, there is a lot of hope for those who are struggling with concurrent disorders. Family and friends can be a great asset in instilling hope. You can help your loved one rediscover the hope in their future. Providing them with support and a safe place to express themselves without judgement is instrumental in a transition from their former instability into the stability of recovery.

Intervention

UnknownWhen those we love struggle with addiction, we want to do what is best to help them. Intervention is sometimes a necessary process.  Many people aren’t sure what it means to create an intervention.  Asking the addicted to seek treatment sometimes isn’t enough, especially if they don’t think that they have a problem. Interventions help show the addicted the alternatives to the way that they are choosing to live. But how can we support a loved one through an addiction and encourage them to seek treatment?

Each person that is addicted to drugs or alcohol needs hope, love, and faith from those that they surround themselves with. They need to feel accepted and valued, especially when considering entering treatment. It is important that they feel heard, but it is also important that they face the harsh reality of their addiction and what it is doing to their life. 

crisis-interventionAn intervention may be the next step to take when other methods fail. Let’s take a look at the basics of intervention first. An intervention is a gathering of people that love and care about the addicted. It is friends, family, and those closest to the addicted that want to support them going into treatment. Those that are not supportive of the group effort should not be included. The intervention should be led by a trained professional, someone who can focus the group and remain objective when speaking to the addicted. It is important that the group stays on track, and having someone that is removed emotionally from the situation will help things to go smoothly. A professional will also help you determine what is going to happen after the intervention. If the addicted chooses not to go to treatment, there has to be consequences. A therapist will be able to help you determine what those consequences are. They will also be able to put you into contact with programs that are most suitable for your loved one.

An intervention just might be the wake-up call that your loved one needs. Interventions are tricky, as it is often hard to tell how the person is going to react. What happens if they become agitated by the thought of recovery? Will it push them even farther away? Are you going to be able to stick to your consequences if they refuse treatment? These are all very common questions when considering an intervention for your loved one. People often have a lot of shame in having to leave their families and lives behind to seek help, causing them to be hesitant about going to treatment. They will come up with just about any excuse they can to not seek help. It is important to be reassuring that things will be taken care of while they are away, all in an attempt to set them more at ease and fully consider treatment options.

images-2

Different types of people need different types of treatment and recovery support. Some can stay clean with just therapy and AA-type meetings, but often times people in recovery need more support. An hour or two a week just might not be enough. Out-patient treatment is also available in many areas. Out-patient treatment may involve the addicted going to a recovery centre for classes, workshops, group meetings and additional therapy/support. Therapy is a great way for the addicted to take an honest and hard look at themselves, something that they might not have done in a very long time. This also means that they might see something that they don’t necessarily like. Numbing out these feelings is something that the addicted has become very good at throughout their substance abuse, and this is why relapse is so common in the recovery process. This is where in-patient treatment facilities come in. An in-patient treatment facility is a place that offers round-the-clock support and monitoring for those in the in-patient program. They are very structured environments, focusing on the recovery process and learning more about one’s self. In-patient treatment is also available for families. These programs allow the family to work through issues of co-dependency as well as work on providing an environment conducive to recovery and healing when the addicted is out of treatment. 

images-2 (1)

Addiction changes people. It makes them do and say things that they might not have otherwise said or done. It eats away at their body, mind, and soul, destroying relationships and lives in the process. But recovery is possible. Many addicts do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that is why it is so important that their friends and families do. Supporting your loved one and encouraging them to seek treatment may just be the push that they need to start the recovery process.

Aaron’s Apple

lovehopefaith A child in pain is something that no one ever wants to witness. Parents of children living with chronic illness watch their children struggle with some of the simplest things. Chronic illness shouldn’t take away a child’s opportunity to be a child. The foundation Aaron’s Apple helps to ensure just that.

Aaron’s Apple is an organization that helps families with chronically ill children. Their mission is to provide direct funding for medications and treatments that some families cannot afford for their children. They strive to make sure that children do not have to suffer with the pain that can come from chronic illness.

Aaron’s Apple is hosting a charity event on March 6th, 2014. This event is a night of education and inspiration to those living with chronic illness, IBD and other autoimmune diseases. I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at this event.

My topic is “Living with a chronic illness is not a life sentence”. There are so many ways in which chronic illness can be better understood and conquered. Simple things like encouraging strength, hope, being supportive, and having faith can completely change the outlook of those suffering. Reaching out is one of the most important things that you can do for those living with a chronic illness. Being that shoulder to rest on, that uplifting kind word at the end of a rough day, can mean the world to someone in pain.

Transform. Motivate. Awaken. Change your outlook, and watch those around you change theirs.

How Can You Spot A Narcissist?

images-6They are like human magnets, drawing in those around them. They can be downright captivating, but within them lies ulterior motives. Narcissists thrive on being admired by those that surround them, and find it difficult to be told that they are not beautiful or brilliant. Like the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, they are cursed because they love no one but themselves. They are destined to waste away, alone with their vanity and need for acknowledgement. The truth of the matter is that we all have a narcissistic streak, as it is a trait that varies in degree from person to person. There are some aspects of narcissism that are healthy and adaptive, like confidence and self-sufficiency. But when taken to the extreme, they become classified as narcissistic personality disorder. So what are the characteristics of a true narcissist?

High levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance are common amongst narcissists. Narcissists think that they are more attractive and intelligent that everyone else and have no problem telling those around them. They carry themselves with the utmost confidence, ensuring that those around them take notice. At first narcissists may just seem arrogant and full of themselves, but there are clear Unknown-1differences between a narcissist and someone who is self-centered. Narcissists are vain to an extreme degree, feel entitled, and use different manipulation techniques to ensure that everyone around them admires them.

Big, anonymous cities are where narcissists will thrive, often finding careers in entertainment-related fields. Narcissists are quick to accept positions where they will be leaders, allowing them to dominate and impress others without the negative impact of a bad reputation (which is often achieved through their promiscuity and socially unacceptable behaviour). This need to lead is not necessarily to manipulate others, but to receive more recognition and positive reinforcement from others.

This allows for a narcissist to be comfortable maintaining distant ties with those they surround themselves with. The way that narcissists interact with others is especially interesting. While they engage in less desirable communication techniques (yelling, cursing, arguing, etc.), they still engage those around them. This is all to maintain power in an interaction. They tend to not reciprocate conversation very well, “glazing over” while others are speaking. Narcissists are not interested when the attention is not on them.

images-2Another important characteristic to consider about narcissists is their sexual habits. Men and women who score high on narcissism tests express more interest in short-term physical relationships, rather than long-term relationships. In order to engage those they desire, women will often times dress more provocatively, while men will engage more in bragging and using their wit. Promiscuity is the direct result of their search for the best deal for themselves. They use this as another way to control their environment, and even when in a committed relationship they are much more likely to be unfaithful. Unknown-2

Narcissists have a very Jekyll and Hyde personality. When the charm and dazzle wears off, and those around them start to become disenchanted, narcissists transform. They become angry, hostile, and will punish anyone who does not support their grandiose vision of themselves. Rejection is not something a narcissist will ever come to accept until they can come to terms with their warped sense of self.

Narcissism is a complicated and serious disorder. While we are all a little bit narcissistic, the degree to which it comes out depends greatly on our underlying beliefs about ourselves. Narcissism is handy in reminding us how important we are, helping to build confidence and self-esteem. But it can be a very lonely disorder. Despite having all the followers they could possibly want, narcissist are left standing alone, the only ones truly able to fill up the hole they are constantly trying to fill with admiration. Hope, faith, love, and understanding can guide a narcissist away from the fate of Narcissus, the namesake of the disorder. With a little support and a lot of hard work/reflection, narcissism is something that can be conquered.