Making a Strong Support System

Having a support system when you are in recovery from addiction is so important. With a support system you are much more likely to be successful in recovery, and work towards other goals that you have set for yourself. Your support network can be made up of professionals, family members, friends, as well as mentors from places like AA or NA. A good support person is so much more than just helping you maintain a positive attitude. Listed below are some of the other qualities that a good support person should have:

 Stability. People in your support system should also be stable themselves. Your addiction may have had a serious effect on them as well, so it is important that they are seeking out the help that they need. It is also important that they are not currently abusing drugs, and are sure in their own recovery (if they are recovering from their own addiction). Part of stability is also helping you maintain a safe space to live and stay. This means that there should be no drugs and as few triggers as possible while you are working through your recovery.

 Understanding of recovery and relapse prevention. It is very difficult to be supportive of a process that they don’t understand, so it is important that the people in your support network are educated about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention. The best person to educate them about your needs and triggers is you. It is critical that you explain what sorts of situations/things are triggering for your cravings and what they can do during difficult times in order to help get you through. It is also important that they understand their role in your relapse prevention. It is important that you communicate what you need from them and they need to be comfortable in the role that they are taking on so that they can remain an asset to you and a good support when you need it the most.

 Ability to be part of a team. Supporting someone through recovery takes much more than just one person. It is often times a team of people that are supporting and providing different types of support to the person in recovery. The people that you choose to be part of your support system need to be able to work together and be trusted to keep their personal issues out of the way. You may need everyone to come together at one time or another, which is why making sure they can get along and work together is so important. If two or more people in your chosen support system just don’t get along, you personally need to decide whether or not it is worth it having that as a part of your recovery. Needless disagreements and arguing can really take the focus off of you and your recovery, and put that attention on things that are really not worth it. 

People so often forget just how important it is to have a strong support system throughout the recovery process. The individuals that you choose to be part of this support system can make or break you during the very first stages of your recovery, and this is why it is imperative that you think long and hard about what you need and who you think would be able to provide that need to you. A good support person will always be there when you need them, and help keep you on track when you cannot do it yourself

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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.

Video Game Addiction

In today’s modern home a personal computer (PC) is the central hub for much of our communication and entertainment. As more and more day to day activity becomes linked to the PC most households own at least one of them. But a PC is not only a tool for communication and learning, it can also be used to play video games, and many of them can be accessed for free through the internet.

5e9fd9d21b1b12e59a1d749917785923Gaming addiction is becoming a serious problem in the younger generations. We are seeing a huge rise in the amount of teens and young adults that are addicted to video games, more so PC than gaming consoles (i.e. Xbox, Playstation, etc.). This largely has to do with how accessible PCs are compared to consoles which are relatively more expensive. Games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends attract millions from around the world on a daily basis, offering them adventure and excitement that they might not otherwise feel they can get. The community base of these games is huge, connecting people from every corner of the globe. But there are many players that become more concerned with in-game interactions than what is going on in their everyday life.

Gaming addiction is characterized by the following:

  • Preoccupation with the game (thinking about the game even when not playing or planning when you can get back to playing sooner)
  • Withdrawal symptoms like irritability or mood swings when unable to play or attempting to cut down
  • The need to play for more time or play more exciting games to get the same amount of excitement
  • Feeling like you need to cut back but you are unable to
  • Spending less (or no time) doing things other than gaming
  • Continuing playing despite lack of sleep, being late to work/school, spending more money than you should, and neglecting other responsibilities
  • Lying to friends and family about just how much you play
  • Losing important opportunities in relationships and career because you would rather game
  • Using gaming as an escape from negative feelings

Gaming addiction has been getting increased attention from professionals as more and more people are being drawn in. In the last 10 years, significant advances have been made in just how much we know about gaming addiction. It has come to light just how serious this problem is, especially in adolescents and young adults. It is estimated that between the ages of 12-18, many children are getting up to 7 hours a day of “screen time”. 

This means that the majority of time that these children are not asleep or at school, they are on their computer. Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft are huge part of this problem. These games require time commitments to learn and iStock_000004161479Small2-300x225participate in, drawing people in with new tasks and rewards. There are extremely tragic cases of addiction to these games, causing deaths after marathon gaming sessions and causing the addicted to act out in ways that they might not have normally. There are too many cases where a young person’s life is destroyed because of their gaming addiction.

Too much of something tends to be a dangerous thing. If an alcoholic drinks too much at once, they can suffer from alcohol poisoning. If a drug addict uses too much, they can overdose. No matter what you do, if you place too much stress on your body you will injure it, and if go too far you can die. So it should come as no surprise that playing games too much can have serious consequences.

Deaths related to game addiction have mostly occurred after/during a marathon gaming session. These sessions last more than just hours, they can last for days. Many players go without food, sleep, or movement other than their hands and fingers during these sessions, and continuously putting their bodies through these sessions has serious repercussions on their health. Commonly we sleep disorders, malnutrition, and a complete lack of physical activity in those that are addicted to video games. Just as alcohol or drugs can destroy a person’s body, not fulfilling your body’s basic needs can as well. Let’s take a look at a few of the deaths that are related to gaming addiction.

  • Wang Gang of China collapsed and died after obsessively playing Dungeon Fighter in an internet café. Wang had been living in the internet café for months, having dropped out of college and cut his family out of his life. It was said that Wang would take very few breaks, consisting of a few hours of sleep each time. Due to his gaming habits, Wang became extremely thin and malnourished, possibility contributing to his death.
  • League of Legends claimed the life of Chen Rong-yu, a gamer that spent a continuous 23 hours playing.  It was concluded that his heart attack was caused by a combination of lack of movement, fatigue, and cold weather.
  • A 40 hour session of Diablo III is what claimed the life of Chuang, and 18 year old Taiwanese man. Chuang was left to play in a private internet café room for 40 hours, without food or drink on hand. He was woken by a staff member that found him resting in the morning of his last day. Chuang collapsed, dying shortly after arriving at the hospital. It is suspected that he died of a blood clot.

In addition to the health problems, we also see a large impact on the social interactions in the lives of those affected by gaming addiction. Those with gaming addictions tend to withdraw into the gaming community, choosing to develop their online relationships and ignore their real life relationships. It is fair to say that they are still participating in some form of social interaction, but at what cost? Isolation seems to be the key factor in the development of this addiction, despite their interactions with other players online. The fact of the matter is that many people play with others that they have never met face to face, and they may never meet them face to face. This is a resulting in a breakdown of what we might consider to be a more traditional friendship. The issue with this is that spending extended periods of time in front of the computer is not healthy, no matter how old or young you are. If you don’t have any outside relationships to participate in, you are more likely to spend that extra time in front of your computer.

As with any addiction, recovery needs to be the choice of the addicted. Scare tactics aren’t often enough to help them realize what a big impact their gaming is having on their lives. So what can you do to support your loved one through their addiction?

gameaddictionFirst and foremost, let them know that you are there when they need you. Keeping lines of communication open between you and your loved one is so important. It may be the real world connection that they need to pull them outside of the game.

Secondly, ask them to take a serious look about the impact their addiction is having on their life. Be honest with them about how you feel and let them know that you care about their well-being.

Finally, support them in seeking help. Be encouraging and hopeful, especially when it is hardest for them to feel that way themselves. It is much easier for a person to relapse if they feel that they do not have a strong support system. Make sure you know the signs to look for when they may be at risk of relapse, and let them know that you will be there throughout the struggle.

Gaming addiction has the power to take the life out of the person that you love, but it doesn’t have to. Recovery is a choice, as is falling further into addiction. Hope, love, faith, and encouragement are central to a successful recovery, and they are something that you can provide to your loved one. It is also important to know the nature of the addiction that they are dealing with. Education around gaming addiction will give you a better picture of just how serious this problem can be, and it will lead you to the tools that may help your loved one in their 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.

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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. 

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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.

Learning Disabilities

It is hard to watch someone you love struggle. It is especially hard to watch someone you love struggle with something that many others find easy. A learning disability is something that will last a life time, however, with the right interventions and assistance it does not have to be debilitating.

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So what is a learning disability? A learning disability is a classification that covers severe learning problems. These include: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia.

It is difficult to produce the exact number of cases of those with learning disabilities as some cases go undiagnosed for several years. An undiagnosed learning disability can present in more than one way. It can include:

·         Being unable to adequately participate in class

·         Being unable to adequately complete assignments

·         Frustration with reading and/or writing

·         Difficulties completing specific tasks

·         Inadequate development of language, speech, and other academic skills

It is important that these are not always tell-tale signs that a learning disability is present. It is important that a correct diagnosis is made by a professional. It is also important to keep in mind that no two cases are the same. So how it presents in your loved one may be completely different from another person.

Those who struggle with a learning disability often times also struggle with another co-occurring disorder. These disorders include (but are not limited to) ADHD, anxiety, as well as depression.  It is important that your loved one also receives treatment and support for these disorders as well.

So what can we do? Well, often times there is support for those who are struggling with a learning disability. Checking in with your child’s school may be a good place to start. It could give you a better idea of what kind of resources their school has and what kind of resources you will have to seek out on your own.

There are so many different things that you can do as a parent to help your child succeed. Keeping them goal-focused is so important. Making sure that they know they are loved and supported will allow them to feel confident and thrive. Educating them about their learning disability and helping them accept it is an important step in the right direction. And making sure that they are prepared with the right tools to cope emotionally with their learning disability in a healthy way is essential to molding  a successful young person.shutterstock_112519676

Many parents and educators struggle with the stigma that is attached to a learning disability. Keep in mind that the attitude you model will affect how the young minds around you model their attitude. Positivity and acceptance are the keys to learning and living with a learning disability.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

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Can you imagine not knowing where you are, what day of the week it is, what year it is, and even who the people are that are around you and caring for you? These are just some of the challenges that face those who face dementia and the people that care for them. It is a daily struggle that causes much heartache and suffering for those suffering with dementia and their families.

Dementia can affect many areas of cognitive processes including:

  • memory

  • attention

  • language

  • problem solving

Diagnosis of dementia is based upon the existence of symptoms for 6 months or longer, and often times is allowed to progress significantly before any treatment or therapy is attempted.

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The further dementia progresses, the more severe the symptoms become. The progression comes with further disorientation in time, place and person. Dementia is not solely about a memory problem. It reduces that ability for the person suffering to learn new things, reason, retain new experiences and be able to recall past experiences. Dementia also affects and disrupts thought patterns and feelings, as well as interferes with the completion of daily tasks and activities. It becomes harder and harder for them to make the connection to the present and to those around them. It is an extremely hard for family members to understand and cope with a diagnosis of dementia. Day after day, week after week, the person that you love is fading in front of you and it is difficult to accept that often times there is nothing that you can do.

A commonality between many dementia patients is the presence of depression and/or anxiety. It is understandable and even expected due to the nature of the symptom.

A very confusing part of the diagnosis to many people is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Put simply, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Both are extremely complex in their own ways, which can make a diagnosis and treatment plan even harder to come by.

Both Alzheimer’s and dementia are taking a serious toll on our healthcare and nursing home system. It is a constant struggle to keep those that are undiagnosed from slipping through the gaps in the system, as well as to keep those that are receiving treatment in the programs that are treating them. Burn out rates for family members and nurses alike are extremely high due to the amount of care giving that is required, especially during the later stages. Support for families and healthcare professionals is an essential part of the effective treatment of dementia.

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Despite the difficulties faced by those diagnosed with dementia and their families, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the diagnosis isn’t a form of dementia that is irreversible. There are those that are lucky enough to be able to receive treatments that will reverse the effects of dementia. Regardless of diagnosis there is always hope for the future. With faith, love, and support, we can look towards a brighter future in the treatment of this devastating diagnosis.