Author Archives: Summit Estate

How To Kick An Addiction While Building
A Career

Ways To Kick Addiction While Building A CareerDrugs, alcohol and work don’t mix. At one time, hiding a bottle of Scotch or a handful of pills in a desk drawer for an afternoon high was conveniently overlooked by employers. Today, addictions are surefire career killers.

If you find yourself experiencing the torment of addiction while trying to hold down a serious fulltime job, you know you’re walking a treacherous tightrope. How many times can you call in sick or show up late for work before you get called into the boss’s office or the human resources department? How many excuses can you invent for your lengthy lunches or extended coffee breaks? As the work piles up and your performance dips down, you try to bluff your way through another miserable week at work hoping no one will notice you’re drowning with no hope in sight.

Addiction On The Job

Many hardworking career professionals suffer from the disease of addiction. Trying to navigate recovery and maintain your career path can be very tricky indeed. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 90 percent of alcoholics are functional. These include many high-paid professionals such as executives, physicians, entrepreneurs and even pilots. What all of these individuals have in common besides addiction is the ability to hide their struggles from coworkers, friends and loved ones.

“…more than 90 percent of alcoholics are functional.”

Overcoming The Denial Of Addiction

Many functioning addicts tell themselves that they’re ok because they pay their bills on time and are employed. Some drink only the finest wines or choose to use opioid painkillers prescribed from top-rated physicians. It’s easy to be in denial when you’re not on the streets struggling to find the cash for your next fix.

It’s also a fact that high-functioning addicts often spend years or even decades in denial. The problem is often made worse by family or friends who either fail to recognize or choose not to confront the problem.

Ways To Maintain Your Career While Overcoming Addiction

The good news is that many individuals manage to sustain their career and even achieve greater heights of success when they embrace recovery. In fact, there are many treatment options for professionals who need help with drug abuse or alcoholism.

Outpatient Programs: One option that is particularly beneficial for busy professionals is outpatient treatment that is scheduled around work and other responsibilities. An outpatient program offers personalized, on-going support as an individual continues in their career. Outpatient programs typically have a variety of treatment options that fit into a busy work schedule, including group and family counseling and 12-step meetings.

Internet Recovery Forums: Another flexible option that can help you kick an addiction are internet-based recovery forums such as and Although these types of forums can help you stay positively focused and offer supplemental support, they are no substitute for tangible, professional addiction treatment.

Are You A Busy Professional Struggling With Addiction?

The first step in overcoming addiction is breaking through the denial and asking for help. There are plenty of other professionals just like you who have already asked for help and are now enjoying a more productive, balanced life free from addiction. You’re not alone.

It’s time to take control of your life so that you can stay focused on your career, your family and the many other things that are truly important in life. If you’re ready to finally get control of your addiction, call Summit Estate now to speak with an addiction specialist.

We focus on each individual’s personal needs and goals and create a customized treatment plan that will work.

Learn more about our San Jose outpatient drug and alcohol programs below.

Outpatient Program

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Talking with CounslerCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is treatment modality offered within most professional addiction treatment programs. As a research-based treatment, CBT is both problem-focused and goal-oriented to help recovering addicts change harmful thought patterns.

Understanding CBT

How is CBT effective? One of the most common traits in alcoholics and drug addicts is destructive thinking or thought patterns. Without gaining an understanding of these, it’s very difficult to overcome the grip of addiction. Understanding or “cognition” of thought patterns is necessary for healing and overcoming negative thoughts and behaviors.

With CBT, individuals work towards understanding patterns of behavior that lead to self-destructive actions and beliefs, as well as developing alternatives thinking processes that can be incorporated into everyday life.

How Is CBT Different Than Traditional Psychotherapy?

Unlike psychodynamic psychotherapy which is focused on working with a therapist to help recovery from a specific mental illness, CBT is problem-focused and goal-oriented to address the symptoms of mental illness. By exploring the thinking behind the self-destructive actions and beliefs, individuals with mental illness can alter thinking patterns to improve behaviors and coping skills.

Sitting and ThinkingNegative thinking is a key component of depression and anxiety, as well as addiction. With all three types of mental illness, destructive thoughts are at play causing a sense of powerlessness and a lack of control. CBT works to recognize dysfunctional thinking and alter behaviors as part of a treatment plan.

How CBT Fits In With Addiction Treatment

Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can be relatively short, especially when compared with psychodynamic psychotherapy. Thus, it can be integrated into an addiction treatment program regardless if its 30 days, 90 days or longer. For many individuals entering treatment, there are underlying co-occurring mental health issues that can be helped by CBT. From the first days of treatment, individuals can start to work on recognizing negative thoughts, cognitive distortions and perceptions. From there, emphasis can be placed on psycho-education, skills training and cognitive restructuring.

The Benefits Of A Professional Treatment Program

One of the primary reasons why a professional addiction treatment program offers substantial benefits over going “cold turkey” is being able to access research-based treatment such as CBT that help support long-term recovery by changing negative thought patterns. Want to learn more about how a professional treatment program can help you or a loved one overcome addiction? Call Summit Estate now to speak with an addiction specialist

Why Spirituality Is Key To Effective Addiction Recovery

SummitEstate-SoulMind-banner-4-28-16According to a 2014 study conducted at Harvard, spirituality and brain activity are inextricably linked. The study found that mindfulness meditation could do far more than simply redirecting certain thought patterns. It actually changed the brain’s gray matter. Specifically, meditation resulted in “a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.” Because addiction impacts the brain in profound ways, this new knowledge holds enormous implications for the effectiveness of certain spiritual techniques used in addiction recovery.

An Unlikely Antidote

In 2002, international social work professors and researchers, Kris Kissman and Lynn Maurer, published an article in the Journal of International Social Work entitled East meets West: Therapeutic aspects of spirituality in health, mental health and addiction recovery. In it, they share that spirituality – the moral framework for giving meaning to life – can be a sort of “antidote to depression and despair.” They go further to say that “spiritual healing promotes wholeness and well-being, lacking when life circumstances create dejection that can result in self-medication, or the use of psychoactive substances to combat dispirited feelings.”

For anyone who has ever felt the unyielding grip of depression or addiction and is ready to encounter change, hope of such an antidote is worth exploring further.Women In The Field

From scholars to clinicians, experts are taking a closer look at practices that have been commonly used in Eastern cultures, and finding ways to incorporate them into the addiction recovery tactics used in the West. In a 2014 New York Times article, Dr. Lisa Miller, Director of Clinical Psychology and of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University’s Teachers College, wrote that “a personal relationship with a higher power is the most powerful form of protection against the ‘mystic consciousness’ of substance abuse.” Addiction recovery programs offer a space in which one can explore this personal relationship alongside professionals who are familiar with the multifaceted nature of addiction.

One by one, the most highly respected authorities in the field of medicine are getting on the spiritual bandwagon because of the unquestionable evidence that brain and spirit are connected. In 2008, Pew Research Center published the transcript of a discussion held among a panel of neuroscientists. They spoke about how brain-imaging technology is telling us more and more about how we are affected by matters of the soul – “In observing Buddhist monks as they meditate, Franciscan nuns as they pray and Pentecostals as they speak in tongues, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that measurable brain activity matches up with the religious experiences described by worshippers.”

Addiction recovery experts are utilizing this knowledge, and it is proving to be quite effective.

Spirituality vs. Religion

Reaching Towards the Sky-Spirituality vs. ReligionThere’s a difference between spirituality and religion, so it’s important to distinguish between the two. Lance Dodes, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, clarifies this difference – “…up to about 70 years ago, the terms spirituality and religion were almost synonymous.  But since then, ‘spirituality’ has also been used to refer to a feeling or belief in the oneness between an individual and the universe, being in touch with one’s soul or inner self, and even simply a sense of personal well-being.  None of these newer meanings has a specific reference to a deity or to religion.” Others who have attempted to define the terms have said religion relies more heavily on a collective agreement to adhere to certain rules, while spirituality is more focused on individual experiences and the unique meaning that s/he derives from those experiences.

Spirituality – A Lasting Road To Transcendence

Across disciplines, spirituality is being utilized as a dynamic tool that guides individuals toward an inner connectedness, awareness of oneself in relation to the universe, and a state of health and well-being.

What we now know is that addiction is often the result of a person’s desire to have a sense of pleasure and well-being. One’s substance of choice offers a temporary and false sense of euphoria, or as Dr. Miller puts it, “a shortcut to transcendence.” A deeper understanding of this human need for transcendence is informing the development of mental and behavioral alternatives to patients. These alternatives hold hope for those who use substances to satisfy their craving for feelings of bliss and relief.

Spiritual Recovery – What To Expect

Meditating-Spiritual Recovery, What To ExpectFor those who choose to venture into the world of spiritual healing, some of the angst may be due to not knowing what to expect. Many of the methods involve what Kissman and Maurer refer to as “present-moment awareness.” By focusing on breathing, listening, and sharing stories, this “present-moment awareness” has the potential to correct distortions that exist in the thoughts of addicts, quieting the mind and opening the door to another way of coping with stress and worries.

Here are some important things to remember:

  • Spirituality and Power – Addiction recovery is often about giving up reliance on personal will power, and surrendering to the power of the collective. This is why group processes are so effective. Spirituality takes this concept to another level by teaching patients how to not only relinquish power to control, but also how to “[join] with a higher power in order to increase personal power,” according to Kissman and Maurer.
  • Spirituality and Transformation – Successful and lasting addiction recovery involves personal transformation. Addicts who once identified themselves as weak or powerless learn how to reframe their identity. This change comes as a result of the metaphors and stories that are characteristic of many spiritual practices. The stories give voice to individual struggles, and provide the spiritual component of “interconnectedness between individuals” by “[breaking] the emotional isolation” that often fuels addiction.
  • Spirituality and Cognition – Our brains are fascinating, and have the incredible ability to focus on the past, the present, the future, or realms of thought that aren’t even real. Kissman and Maurer’s research reveals that “present-moment awareness… facilitates a cognitive focus on positive aspects of everyday life” which “clears the mind for self-nurturing and coping.” In a world where suffering and despair may threaten to take over, self-nurturing is a skill that can improve cognitive function. Spirituality can clarify the “cognitive distortions” that can trigger substance abuse.

Addressing The Skeptics

AA MeetingAlcoholics Anonymous (AA) has now been around for over 80 years. Since the program’s inception in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, scientists and AA enthusiasts have gone back and forth about the credibility and success rate of the program’s spiritually-based 12-step method. To be fair, collecting data and publishing the findings of AA groups in peer-reviewed medical journals has been quite difficult because of the expectation of anonymity that is the very basis of the groups’ operation.

Even with this challenge, scientists have found ways to measure the success of the program. The numbers cannot be denied.  When discussing the skepticism that academicians have directed toward the spiritual components of AA, Thomas McClellan, Ph.D., Director of the Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, says that because of the data, “professionals with such attitudes owe AA an apology.” Robert Fiorentine, Ph.D., Director of Research Training at the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center, agrees, saying that “recent evidence [indicates] the effectiveness of the Twelve Steps in assisting in recovery.”

In 1998, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published a study called Project MATCH, which looked at 21 personal characteristics that could serve as reliable predictors of how well people would do when engaged in specific types of treatment. The findings of the Project MATCH study were fascinating. A total of 806 clients were randomly assigned to one of three different treatments. When total abstinence – fully giving up alcohol – was the desired outcome, the spiritually-based 12-step method held a “statistically significant advantage” over the other 2 treatments – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Enhancement Therapy.

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If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, exploring spiritual treatment options might be worth a try. If your interest is piqued, give us a call today to find out more about how we can support you through your own transformation.

How Bay Area Doctors Are Helping Create Heroin Addicts

Bay Area Doctors Helping Create Heroin AddictsIn the fast-paced, technology-driven Bay Area, it’s all about staying on top of your game and pushing through the pain. For many individuals, pain that comes after a sports-related injury or surgery is treated with opioid painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone or fentanyl.

While these prescription medications are effective in treating acute and chronic pain, they are also highly addictive. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly two million individuals in the United States are currently addicted to narcotic painkillers. Many of these individuals innocently start using these drugs to treat a pain condition, but quickly find themselves unable to quit.

Painkillers And Heroin Going Hand-In-Hand

Heroin, like opioid-based prescription pain killers, are processed from morphine and extracted from the poppy plant. Addiction is very similar in painkillers and heroin, and many users of prescription narcotics move on to heroin to feed their addiction.

Bay Area Doctors Overprescribing Prescription Painkillers

Doctor-Bay Area Doctors Overprescribing Prescription PainkillersUnfortunately, over the past several years, those specifically in the Bay Area who have died with opiates in their system, have dramatically increased, according to

This jump is driven by many causes, but easy access to prescription drugs by doctors who are overprescribing, is a main contributing factor. And when tolerance builds and the prescription ceases, many individuals turn to chemically-similar heroin, to seek the relief they need.

Sadly, many doctors are unaware of the risk they are contributing to by giving certain individuals prescription painkillers. Those who have a history of substance abuse, an underlying mental illness or even a mix of psychological and environmental factors are at a substantially higher risk of becoming addicted to these medications. Even those who do not fall into any of those categories need to use caution when taking opioids. Once an addiction has set in, it can be very difficult to treat.

Are You Struggling With Painkiller Addiction?

Many people ask this question once they’ve habitually started taking painkillers prescribed by their doctor. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, someone who has two or more of the following 11 signs can be clinically diagnosed with an addiction.

Signs Of Prescription Drug Abuse And Addiction

  • Excessive or extended use
  • Unable or unwilling to reduce or stop use
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Obsessing over or spending an excessive amount of time obtaining, using or recovering from the drug
  • Increasing tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Continued usage despite experiencing physical or psychological damage
  • Hazardous behaviors while using the drug
  • Retreat from social activities or work
  • Continued usage despite conflict with others
  • Problems at home, work or school due to use

Consoling-Help For Prescription Drug Or Heroin Addiction

Getting Help For Prescription Drug Or Heroin Addiction

What may have started as a solution to treat chronic or acute pain can quickly become a life-threatening addiction. Whether you or a loved one are abusing prescription drugs or are already struggling with heroin addiction, help is available. Get answers to your questions by calling our 24/7 addiction specialists at Summit Estate now.

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The Growing Addiction To Heroin In Silicon Valley

Circuit Board Silicon Valley- Heroin Addiction In Silicon ValleyAmidst the bustling Silicon Valley offices filled with driven startup executives and venture capitalists, there is a growing problem of heroin addiction. This reality came to light in 2014 when a Google executive overdosed on the drug while on his yacht in Santa Cruz.

The Trend Of Heroin Addiction In Silicon Valley

The trend in heroin use in Silicon Valley has been largely fueled by driven web developers and competitive entrepreneurs who are using the drug as a way to cope with their work-driven lifestyle. Tech workers at all stages in their careers are finding themselves struggling with addiction to heroin, as well as to other substances including prescription painkillers, stimulants and smart drugs. Some addiction specialists believe that the problem is much worse than what most people think, because many of these individuals are high functioning and very adept at hiding their problem.

In Silicon Valley, it’s not uncommon to work for days at a time without sleep to get new projects and ventures launched. Yet, this comes at a cost. Many of these workaholics are drawn to drugs to keep them functioning. When it is time to take a break, it’s not uncommon for them to reach for a substance to unwind.

Heroin is widely available throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and particularly in Silicon Valley where dealers are more than happy to sell it to tech workers with six figure salaries. Sadly, many tech employers also turn a blind eye to drug use because they are concerned more about results, than the long-term well-being of their employees.

Find Out: Is Silicon Valley Addicted To “Smart” Drugs?

The Connection Between Prescription Painkillers And Heroin AddictionPills On Desk-Prescription Painkillers, Heroin Addiction

Across the United States, there is an increasing epidemic of both heroin use and prescription painkiller abuse. This is tied to the over-prescribing of painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Many heroin addicts start their journey of addiction as patients who are prescribed opioid prescription drugs for back pain or sports-related injuries.

The progression of prescription painkiller use to abuse to heroin addiction is relatively common. For some, the need to take the drug quickly becomes necessary to function in the workplace. When pills become insufficient, or are no longer prescribed, often individuals begin smoking or snorting heroin and then eventually get to the point where they are injecting it because of their increasing tolerance.

Are You Or A Colleague Or Loved One Taking Heroin?

Heroin use has doubled nationally from 2002 to 2012. It’s important to know that you’re not alone. There are many individuals throughout Silicon Valley and beyond who are struggling with addiction to this powerful drug.

Don’t battle addiction alone. Call for help. With a single call, you can take a proactive step to regain a positive life free from the grip of heroin addiction.

Learn More About Our Prescription Drug Addiction Program

How Certain Ways Of Thinking Can Be A Trigger For Relapse

When it comes to sustaining long-term recovery after addiction treatment, it’s important to avoid those triggers that put you at greater risk of returning to drugs or alcohol. Much of the treatment process is about learning how to identify and avoid these people, places and things that can set off an urge to use. While, it’s obvious to avoid the bar that used to be your favorite haunt or stay away from those people who first turned you on to drugs, it’s not always easy to turn off thought processes that can trigger a relapse.

The Power Of Thoughts

In 12 step meetings, there’s a common saying that sums up the power of thinking in terms of addiction. “Your head is a dangerous neighborhood; try not to go there alone.”

You may have already caught yourself heading down a dangerous path with your thoughts. Often, they can start with romanticizing using drugs or alcohol. You may think about the “good times” you had without clearly considering the reality of your addiction and the impact it has had on your life. This is referred to as euphoric recall, and it is dangerous thinking, indeed! Simply thinking of drinking or using drugs can start this process and enable thoughts to turn to cravings.

Fortunately, we all have the power to take control of our thoughts to avoid “thinking triggers” to turn into a relapse.

Ways To Manage Your Thoughts To Prevent RelapseSmall Changes, Big Difference-Ways To Prevent Relapse

The following simple, yet powerful tips can help you manage your thoughts and can serve as an important component of relapse prevention.

Follow The Thought Through The Logical Conclusion

One of the most powerful tips to avoid relapse is to take a trigger-promoting thought through its conclusion. In other words, consider the honest, real outcome of returning to using or drinking. Sure, it may seem like having a glass of wine is not a big deal and can help you unwind. However, one glass of wine could turn into two and easily into an entire bottle, a hangover the next day and disappointment in yourself and from loved ones who have been supportive of your recovery. It’s not wise to only consider the benefit of that glass of wine. In fact, it’s a trap. Work through the realistic path of what happens to allow your brain to realize that drinking or using is not a good idea.

Proactively Tell Your Mind To Stop

This is a technique that cognitive therapists often recommend to patients who are struggling with negative thinking. Yes, it is as simple as telling your mind to stop the thoughts. It may even be necessary to visualize a stop sign or other symbol of halting something. Then, move on to a way to distract yourself. This can be by reading a book, watching a movie, exercising, walking/playing fetch with your dog or talking with a friend.

Share Your Thoughts

Like the saying goes about the bad neighborhood, don’t go there alone. In other words, rely on your support system when you begin having negative thoughts. Talk them out with others in recovery. Go to a meeting. The key is not to ruminate on your thoughts alone which only causes them to grow. Disable your thoughts by sharing them with others!

Get Help Now!

Are you struggling with addiction and need treatment? Have you relapsed and want help returning to recovery? Don’t go it alone! Call Summit Estate now to speak with an addiction specialist. We’re here to help you live a life free from the grip of addiction.

Summit Estate’s Neuroscience Advisor, Dr. Blum: Pioneers Important Advancement To Treat Reward Deficiency Syndrome To Prevent Relapse

For millions of people in recovery, relapse is a frightening word. Though there are many reasons that individuals suffer relapse, one of the more interesting discoveries is that certain people are prewired genetically to have insufficient numbers of D2 receptors in their brains, which can lead to a lack of dopamine, a chemical in the brain, which in turn can increase the chance of addiction.

Summit Estate’s Dr. Kenneth Blum’s Advancement To Treat Reward Deficiency Syndrome

Dr. Kenneth Blum

Dr. Kenneth Blum, Chief Neuroscience Advisor

Summit Estate’s very own neuroscience advisor and pioneer in Reward Deficiency Syndrome, Dr. Kenneth Blum, PhD, has published an article on preventing relapse to reward deficiency behaviors titled “Hypothesizing Balancing Endorphinergic and Glutaminergic Systems to Treat and Prevent Relapse to Reward Deficiency Behaviors: Coupling D-Phenylalanine and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) as a Novel Therapeutic Modality.”

In the article, Dr. Blum hypothesizes that a novel combination of D-Phenylalanine (DPA), an inhibitor of the enzyme known to breakdown endorphins, and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an amino acid-derived compound, will have synergistic attributes to induce dopamine release, as well as dopamine stabilization at the brain reward circuitry via different mechanisms. The hypothesis is that this combination will provide a safe and effective natural way to induce stable and relatively constant levels of dopamine for the millions of sufferers of Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS).

Read Dr. Blum’s Full Article Here

The Importance Of Dr. Blum’s Hypothesis In Preventing Relapse

A relapse after recovery treatment can occur because addiction is a chronic disorder. There is no complete cure that eliminates the chance of a relapse. Rather, addiction must be managed. The rate of relapse depends on the addictive substance. For example, opiate addiction has a greater than 80 percent rate of relapse. Alcohol relapse can range from 30 to 70 percent.

The chance of a relapse can also depend on certain factors and varies from person to person. Those who have RDS have a higher rate of relapse. As well, this is the case for individuals who suffer from mental conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. External psychological and social stressors can also contribute to a relapse. Even happy occasions such as holidays, weddings and celebrations can put someone at risk.

Summit Estate Is A Leader In Relapse Prevention

Watch our Relapse Prevention Counseling Training with Roland Williams:

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is tempted to drink or use drugs again, time is of the essence. Treatment is required now to help better manage triggers and emotions that can lead to a relapse. Don’t wait for a relapse to happen or get worse. Obtain help and guidance from an addiction treatment specialist by calling us now.

Summit Estate specializes in relapse prevention as well as dual diagnosis treatment for those suffering from both mental illness and addiction. Our relapse prevention counseling and real-world tools can help your or a loved one today. Call us now to learn more.

Mayhem And Meth: Party Culture And Drug Use In Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is widely known as a hub of innovation. Those who are familiar with this small, southern division of the San Francisco Bay Area know that it has been the home of a significant number of start-up global technology companies. Included among them are Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google. Within the walls of these, and other, enormously profitable organizations, you’ll find some of the most brilliant minds at work. Groundbreaking inventions are a daily occurrence. Massive discoveries… the norm. Silicon Valley is a place where boundless ambition is not only valued and rewarded, it is embraced as a way of life.

Coping With The Pressure Of The Work Culture In Silicon Valley

Man Stessed At WorkIt is clear that while many outsiders may view the Silicon Valley subculture through a similar lens, not all employees in Silicon Valley are the same – they approach their experiences differently. When New York Times published a scathing criticism of Amazon’s workplace in August 2015, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos quickly responded via company memo – “The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.” Another Amazon employee, Nick Ciubotariu, took to LinkedIn to refute the assertions made in Times. He stated that “if Amazon was the type of place described in this article, I would publicly denounce Amazon, and leave.”

Although Bezos and Ciubotariu disagree, some refer to Silicon Valley’s work culture as Continue reading

The Addicted Brain: The Dopamine Effect

The Addicted Brain-Dopamine EffectSubstance Abuse’s Effect On Dopamine

Every drug that leads to dependence has been shown to affect the brain’s dopamine system. With some drugs, such as stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, there is a direct effect on dopamine production while others appear to affect it indirectly.

In the case of alcohol, it does not increase dopamine levels directly. However, there is an indirect link. In fact, everything that provides pleasure has the ability to perpetuate a release of dopamine in the reward pathway of the brain along with triggering an endorphin release.

Research has shown that dopamine produces feelings of “wanting” and “reward,” but this is not the same thing as “liking” or “valuation.” In other words, the dopamine produced from something pleasurable can make you crave more of it and will reinforce habitual use of it whether this is drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex, or other pleasurable activity.

The Link Between Addiction And Mental Illness

While anyone can gain the dopamine effect of drugs or alcohol, it is much more complex when it comes to someone who is also struggling with a mental illness like anxiety or depression. For these individuals, addictive substances are used to not only gain the benefits of increased dopamine, they are also used to medicate the often painful symptoms of mental illness. This makes both diagnosis and treatment more challenging. This is why it’s so important to choose an addiction treatment provider that has experience and expertise in treating co-occurring disorders.

Learn More About Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment In The San Jose Area

Understanding The Numbers Of Addiction

No one begins taking drugs or alcohol with the intention of becoming addicted. Yet, a substantial percentage get caught into the trap of drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. A few statistics to consider:

  • Nearly one in 10 Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
  • It’s estimated that over 95% of individuals who need treatment for alcohol addiction do not really believe they need treatment.
  • The top five most addicting drugs are heroin, cocaine, meth, opioid prescription pain relievers and alcohol.

Do You Have A Drug Or Alcohol Addiction?

Are you concerned that you or a loved one has an addiction to drugs or alcohol? The answer can sometimes seem unclear. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Do you or your loved one use more of the substance or engage in the behavior more often than in the past?
  • Do you or your loved one experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the substance?
  • Have you or your loved one ever lied to anyone about your use of the substance?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, addiction is a very real possibility.

It’s Not Easy Admitting That You Need HelpReaching Out-Help For Addiction

Although much more is known now about addiction than in decades past, there is still a stigma and shame associated with it. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem and that you need help. However, the first step in getting help is reaching out to get it. Call a staff member at Summit Estate today. We will treat you with the respect and care that you need.

We will be with you every step of the way. Call now.

Like What You’ve Read? Check Out More In: The Neurological Science Behind Substance Abuse Addiction

The Neurological Science Behind Substance Abuse Addiction

Substance use and abuse starts when an individual likes the way a particular substance makes them feel. For some of us, it’s possible to enjoy a drink or use a drug and never become hooked. Others cross a distinct threshold and transition into addiction.

A growing amount of research has shown that during this transitional phase into addiction, there are distinct changes that happen in the brain. Because of this evidence that clearly shows addiction is far more than just a character flaw, the science community now widely accepts that addiction should be categorized as a brain disease.

Dopamine And Addiction

Neurological Brain-Dopamine And AddictionThe human brain has evolved in such a way that we learn to survive based on a reward system. When we do things that support our survival, such as eat or exercise, our brain rewards this behavior by releasing a “feel good” chemical called dopamine. Because we enjoy the feeling when this chemical is released, we repeat these behaviors.

Along with the necessities of survival, there are also a variety of substances that affect the “reward center” of our brains. These include drugs and alcohol which release high levels of dopamine. In fact, the release of the chemical can be two to 10 times greater than what is normally released, producing a “high.” Users of these substances can develop a habit to sustain that positive feeling when dopamine is released. This can quickly turn into addiction.

This cycle is further propelled as the brain struggles to regain balance after the effect of a substance wears off. This struggle can produce symptoms of a hangover or withdrawal which can cause physical, mental and emotional pain. For the individual, the substance that is perpetuating the destructive cycle is many times used to combat this pain, further strengthening the addiction.

The Link Between Drug And Alcohol Abuse And Mental Illness

Of course, not everyone who drinks a glass of wine or takes a prescription painkiller will become an addict. Some individuals are more prone to developing an addiction than others. This further shows a connection between the brain and addiction. In those who have a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, the chance of developing an addiction is significantly higher. Often, drugs or alcohol are used to help numb the symptoms of mental illness.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are also affected by substance abuse. And, 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness. The link between addiction and mental illness is strong, and many who enter treatment discover they require treatment for both addiction and an underlying mental illness. This is why it’s so important to choose a recovery center that has expertise in dual diagnosis addiction treatment.

Are You Struggling With Addiction And Mental Illness?

Women Overlooking Lake-Struggling With Addiction And Mental Illness

You’re not alone. In fact, many people who have a mental illness also abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Don’t take chances with getting the help you need. At Summit Estate, we specialize in treating individuals who have dual diagnosis by treating both the addiction and the mental illness with a personalized treatment plan. Call us to speak with an addiction specialist now.

Learn More About Our Dual Diagnosis Treatment