addiction behavior

How to Handle Toxic Emotions

dealing with toxic emotions

From anger to guilt to shame and self-loathing, toxic emotions can take a toll on your self-confidence and recovery. And since you can’t just switch them off, you’ll need to find ways to deal with and express these emotions without resorting to old self-destructive patterns. Practice is key and so is self-love. Your first step: Remember that loving yourself means accepting yourself, negative emotions and all.

Here are a few more practical steps to help prevent toxic emotions from getting in the way of lasting sobriety:

Name your emotion. The moment a toxic emotion pops in your mind, write down what it is and where you feel it in your body, say experts. For example: “guilt in my stomach,” or “anger in my chest.” This will help slow down your mind and give you time to understand and then release these emotions.

Ask the right questions. By questioning your emotions, you’re taking the power back. Sit in a quiet spot and ask yourself:

  • What triggered my emotion?
  • Did it bring back old memories?
  • Why did I react the way I did?
  • Is this your usual pattern of reaction?
  • Does feeling this way help support me and my recovery?

Practice controlled breathing. Concentrating on your breath can be a powerful tool to help prevent your mind from becoming consumed by guilt, self-doubt or shame, for example. Try it: Breathe in the toxic emotion and breathe out a positive one.

Get creative. Think of your emotions as a color or shape and draw it on paper. This simple activity can calm you down and help you face your toxic emotion in a healthy way. The best part: You don’t need to be a good artist to make it work for you.

Holistic Healing at Synergy
We are highly regarded in the addiction treatment community for our ability to help heal the body, mind, and spirit, which are all impacted by the disease of addiction. To this end, we offer our clients a variety of holistic therapies. To learn more about our treatment center and our approach to addiction recovery, call today: 888-267-8070.

Dangers of “Drunkorexia”

drunkorexia“Drunkorexia” — a combination of “drunk” and “anorexia” — continues to be a big trend among nearly a third of college kids, both male and females. The practice refers to the behaviors of drinkers who skip meals or exercise intensely to offset calories from a heavy night of drinking, or to enhance the high from drinking. In extreme cases, the behaviors may be related to bulimia or anorexia, and the alcohol is used to make purging easier or to cope with eating anxieties.

The combination of disordered eating and binge drinking can have some serious short- and long-term physical and psychological health consequences. Drinking on an empty stomach raises a person’s blood alcohol level quickly, often at dangerous speeds. The result: higher rates of blackouts, alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injury and violence.

Drunkorexia also has an adverse effect on hydration and the body’s ability to retain minerals and nutrients.  Vitamin deficiency (especially thiamine) is one major concern because it can lead to nerve and brain damage. Because of the way women’s bodies process alcohol, young females are more susceptible to these harmful consequences than male adolescents.

Other negative effects of drunkorexia include a higher risk of:

  • Short- and long-term cognitive problems, including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions
  • Serious eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Unprotected sex
  • Damage to the liver, stomach and heart

Alcohol Abuse and Eating Disorders
Studies reveal that individuals with eating disorders are up to five times as likely as those without eating disorders to develop substance use disorders – and it works the other way, too. Abusing alcohol or drugs also increases your chance of developing an eating disorder. At Synergy, we treat both conditions, providing clients with a personalized treatment regimen that addresses the psychological disorder and the chemical dependency simultaneously. To learn more, call today: 888-267-8070.

Are You Enabling Your Loved One?

enabling loved one

While you can’t cause your loved one’s addiction, you can enable his behavior. Even the best intentions can delay someone you love from getting help. Here are some warning signs and behaviors to watch out for:

You’ve used with your loved one: Getting high or even having one drink (or gambling, if he’s a problem gambler) can send the message that you accept (and even encourage) his addiction.

You’ve made excuses or cleaned up a mess caused by his addiction: “Sorry we had to leave early, but he’s had a really stressful week at work.” “He’s not feeling well, so he can’t go to work today.” While you’re intentions are good, making excuses or cleaning up after your loved one’s messes prevents him from taking ownership of his misdoings.

You’ve “lent” him money: By providing financial help, you’re supporting his addiction – whether you’ve gone so far as to pay off a gambling debt or just given him a little gas money.

You’ve taken over his chores and obligations: Taking over household, family, job or school obligations – doing his laundry or completing a school assignment, for instance – is allowing your loved one to shirk his responsibilities in favor of pursing his addiction.

You’ve kept quiet to avoid conflict: Broaching your loved one about a possible addiction is tough – but not bringing it up over fear of an argument isn’t helping you or him to get the treatment he needs. If you’re not comfortable confronting a loved one, the best thing you can do is seek help from a healthcare professional or talk to an addiction expert about an intervention.

Family Treatment at Synergy
At Synergy Group Services, we help families better understand their role and relationships so they can help (not enable) a loved one suffering from addiction. We understand that addiction is a family disease and we’re here to help all participants gain education, experience, strength and hope. To learn more about our Substance Abuse Interventions and Family Care Programcall today: 888-267-8070.

What Compulsive Gambling and Substance Abuse Have in Common

Compulsive Gambling and Substance AbuseDid you know that more than 70 percent of those with a gambling disorder also have an alcohol problem – and nearly 40 percent have a drug abuse problem? Perhaps, it’s not too surprising that gambling addicts are often struggling with substance abuse as well.

After all, a gambling addiction can certainly reinforce a drug or alcohol addiction. Many gamblers drink to loosen up before betting, or turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the feelings of remorse caused by losing large sums of money.

What’s more, pathological gamblers and drug addicts share many of the same genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking. A few studies show that some people are especially vulnerable to both types of addiction because their reward circuitry is inherently under active — which may partly explain their thrill-seeking behavior.

Here are a few more characteristics of both compulsive gambling and a substance use disorder:

  • Increasing preoccupation with the “drug” of choice
  • Tolerance, or needing more in order to achieve the desired excitement
  • Using the substance or behavior to escape problems or mask emotions or mood disorders
  • Concealing the extend of the addiction to family, friends and therapists
  • Failing several times to scale back or stop altogether
  • Jeopardizing relationships with family, intimates, and peers
  • Inability to maintain responsibilities at work, at school or in the home
  • Incapacity to properly assess the risks and rewards of a given situation

Getting Help for Compulsive Gambling
It’s nearly impossible to stop a gambling addiction on your own. And, yet, a mere 7 to 12 percent of compulsive gamblers will ever seek help, according to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Don’t wait to seek treatment. Start by taking our gambling addiction self-assessment – and answer the questions as truthfully as you can. To learn more about our compulsive gambling treatment, call today: 888-267-8070.

The Importance Of Weekly Progress Reports In Addiction Treatment

How many times do we hear from clients in treatment, that they are not getting their needs met by drug treatment center treating them? This can go both ways because when the addict first enters drug treatment their focus is usually on everything, but recovery. This is somewhat normal in the aspect that they are not thinking clearly. It also could be they are still going through detox and it’s very easy to defocus from the primary goal which is to stay focused on their treatment, and recover from their addiction.

As the client moves through the process of treatment there could very well be some validity to what they are saying, this needs to be monitored very closely. On one hand they could want to defocus, because the issues at hand are becoming very overwhelming, or it could be true. As a family member of an addict in drug treatment these are signs for you to be aware of.

What could be very beneficial in this process is a weekly progress report from the primary therapist at the drug rehab center. These progress updates will help keep the family informed as to the components of treatment being received by their family member.  There comes a point when the client just might be right, due to the treatment process they are now beginning to realize their own issues, on their own, which indicates a positive growth process.

The addict in treatment must trust their therapist. If your family member doesn’t trust the therapist, at any point in their treatment, this could be a red flag. If the client is constantly expressing his/her needs, this may very well be a good sign of growth, but could also be very stressful if these needs are not being met.  

As treatment professionals we are bound by ethics, and should always do what is best for the client, no matter what. Too many times in my own experiences I have seen these ethics compromised. As a treatment professional I question this. If we are not providing the services that the client needs, then who loses?

The client loses, and this is just not acceptable.


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