4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

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4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

By DrinkAware.co.uk

  1. Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
  2. Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
  3. Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
  4. Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.

 

If you would like help with alcohol and/or mood struggles, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a life coach or a counselor.

Alcohol and Depression = A Vicious Cycle

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Alcohol and Depression = A Vicious Cycle

By DrinkAware.co.uk

If you drink heavily and regularly you’re likely to develop some symptoms of depression. It’s that good old brain chemistry at work again. Regular drinking lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain – a chemical that helps to regulate your mood.

In Britain, people who experience anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers. For some people, the anxiety or depression came first and they’ve reached for alcohol to try to relieve it. For others, drinking came first, so it may be a root cause of their anxieties2.

Drinking heavily can also affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends. It can impact on your performance at work. These issues can also contribute to depression.

If you use drink to try and improve your mood or mask your depression, you may be starting a vicious cycle…

Warning signs that alcohol is affecting your mood include:

If you would like help the area of alcohol and/or depression, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

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6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Addiction is an overwhelming illness whose hallmark symptoms are the physiological craving of, and emotional attachment to, a legal or illegal substance or practice. Most often, we see addictions in the form of substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs.

Substance abuse is devastating to marriages, families, and relationships. It can result in career loss, financial ruin, divorce, estrangement, and even death. Today, we’ll focus on six landmines that substance abuse plants in your marriage when you’re struggling with addiction.

For all of these issues, we strongly encourage that you and your spouse seek outside professional help. Consult your local minister or physician for reliable recovery resources, like a 12-step system that understands your unique struggle. Addiction is not something you can overcome on your own, but with the right help, you will be able to move past this and rebuild your lives.

DENIAL

Denial is risky business when it comes to facing a life-altering issue like addiction. For the addicted spouse, denial comes in the form of the idea that they’re in control of their addiction–they can stop any time they want. This is frustrating for the non-addicted spouse, who can often (eventually) see the problem for what it is, but finds it difficult to impossible to interact with the addicted spouse who is so strongly rooted in denial.

But many times, especially at first, the non-addicted spouse is also in denial. While the other person may display a host of red flags that point to substance abuse, it can feel easier in the moment for the non-addicted spouse to come up with alternate explanations or write off the signs as coincidence. Denial on the part of the non-addicted spouse is dangerous because it delays the possibility of seeking necessary professional help…even if that help only comes in the form of support for the non-addicted person in the marriage.

HELPLESSNESS

Whether it’s you or your spouse who is struggling with an addiction, helplessness takes root quickly. After a period of denial has passed, an addicted spouse may feel helpless to control what is happening to them; they find themselves at the mercy of the drug. The non-addicted spouse is likely to feel helpless when it comes to their spouse’s addictive behavior because they can’t do anything to stop it or make the situation better.

Feeling totally out of control of any situation–but especially a situation like this–is terrifying, stressful, and unsettling. Both spouses are at risk of seeking out behavior patterns that make them feel more in control of their lives, which can create a volatile situation in the relationship.

DISHONESTY

Addiction breeds dishonesty. It’s nearly an inevitable byproduct of substance abuse. The addicted spouse inherently knows that the substance that’s controlling their life shouldn’t be playing a role in it at all. Yet, because the physiological need for it is very real, they find themselves lying to cover up the problem.

However painful it may be, the non-addicted spouse must keep track of their spouse’s dishonesty. It’s essential to learn the telltale signs that the addicted spouse is lying; he or she may fall into a pattern that is easy to recognize. During and after recovery, the non-addicted spouse may still find it difficult to trust their husband or wife, but if they’ve become familiar with his or her patterns during dishonesty, it could become a framework they can use to evaluate the recovering spouse.

NEGLECT

Addictive substances tend to steal an addicted spouse’s entire focus (perhaps not at first, but eventually, this tends to be the case). This can lead to the spouse neglecting the needs of their family, plus their responsibilities at home and at work. As a result, the addicted spouse may eventually find themselves jobless and even in the throes of financial ruin.

For the non-addicted spouse, experiencing neglect is detrimental to their health and wellbeing, the health and wellbeing of their children, and the financial stability of the family. Over time, they find themselves shouldering the burden of the addicted spouse’s responsibilities, plus their own. This can lead to anger, resentment, and contempt, which can be difficult to overcome even after the couple has received professional help to overcome the addiction itself.

PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ILLNESS & PAIN

Substance abuse often begins when a person is trying to escape pain of some kind. What addicted individuals often don’t realize is that the substance will eventually cause them physical and psychological pain. Addiction also leads to varying types of illness, brought on by the years of self-harm.

For a non-addicted spouse, psychological pain and illness may occur as a result of the tremendous stress brought on by the addiction. Practice radical self-care and talk to your physician or counselor if your family is facing an addiction that has caused your health to deteriorate. Your recovering spouse and any children you may have will need you to be healthy in the coming months as you face this down.

ABUSE

Unfortunately, addiction is capable of creating an abusive environment in your home–be it verbal, physical, emotional, or otherwise. A person who has become addicted to a substance is susceptible to personality changes that include aggression and violence.

If you are a non-addicted spouse and your husband or wife has become abusive, creating a dangerous environment in your home, get yourself and any children you may have to safety. Consult your counselor for the safest way to communicate to your spouse that you have left the home, and you won’t be able to come back until it is safe for you to be there. Encourage them to seek the help they need to get well so that your family can be together again in a healthy environment.

If you would like help with your marriage or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Smartphone Addiction: Breaking Free

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The following is an excerpt from Smartphone Addiction by Helpguide.org:

Self-help tips for smartphone addiction

There are a number of steps you can take to get your smartphone use under control. While you can initiate many of these measures yourself, an addiction is hard to beat on your own, especially when temptation is always within easy reach. It can be all too easy to slip back into old patterns of usage. Look for outside support, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional therapist.

To help you identify your problem areas, keep a log of when and how much you use your smartphone for non-work or non-essential activities. There are specific apps that can help with this, enabling you to track the time you spend on your phone (see the Resources section below). Are there times of day that you use your phone more? Are there other things you could be doing instead? The more you understand your smartphone use, the easier it will be to curb your habits and regain control of your time.

Recognize the triggers that make you reach for your phone. Is it when you’re lonely or bored? If you are struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, for example, your excessive smartphone use might be a way to self-soothe rocky moods. Instead, find healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods, such as practicing relaxation techniques or using HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit.

Understand the difference between interacting in-person and online. Human beings are social creatures. We’re not meant to be isolated or to rely on technology for human interaction. The inner ear, face, and heart are wired together in the brain, so socially interacting with another person face-to-face—making eye contact, responding to body language, listening, talking—can make you feel calm, safe, and understood, and quickly put the brakes on stress. Interacting through text, email or messaging may feel important but it bypasses these nonverbal cues so can never have the same effect on your emotional well-being. Besides, online friends can’t hug you when a crisis hits, visit you when you’re sick, or celebrate a happy occasion with you.

Strengthen your support network. Set aside dedicated time each week for friends and family. If you are shy, there are ways to overcome social awkwardness and make lasting friends without relying on social media or the Internet. To find people with similar interests, try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause. You’ll be able to interact with others like you, let relationships develop naturally, and form friendships that will enhance your life and strengthen your health.

Build your coping skills. Perhaps tweeting, texting or blogging is your way of coping with stress or angry feelings. Or maybe you have trouble relating to others, or are excessively shy with people in real life and find it easier to communicate with people online. Building skills in these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without relying on your smartphone.

Recognize any underlying problems that may support your compulsive behavior. Have you had problems with alcohol or drugs in the past? Does anything about your smartphone use remind you of how you used to drink or use drugs to numb or distract yourself? Recognize if you need to address treatment in these areas or return to group support meetings.

Modify your smartphone use, step-by-step

For most people, getting control over their smartphone use isn’t a case of quitting cold turkey. Think of it more like going on a diet. Just as you still need to eat, you probably still need to use your phone for work, school or to stay in touch with friends. Your goal should be to cut back to more healthy levels of use.

  1. Set goals for when you can use your smartphone. For example, you might schedule use for certain times of day, or you could reward yourself with a certain amount of time on your phone once you’ve completed a homework assignment or finished a chore, for instance.
  2. Turn off your phone at certain times of the day, such as when you’re driving, in a meeting, at the gym, having dinner, or playing with your kids.
  3. Don’t bring your phone or tablet to bed. The blue light emitted by the screens can disrupt your sleep if used within two hours of bedtime. Turn devices off and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Instead of reading eBooks on your phone or tablet at night, pick up a book. You’ll not only sleep better but research shows you’ll also remember more of what you’ve read.
  4. Replace your smartphone use with healthier activities. If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to use your smartphone to play games or check social media can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as meditating, reading a book, or chatting with friends face to face.
  5. Spending time with other smartphone addicts? Play the “phone stack” game. When you’re having lunch, dinner, or drinks together, have everyone place their smartphones face down on the table. Even as the phones buzz and beep, no one is allowed to grab his or her device. If someone can’t resist checking their phone, that person has to pick up the check for everyone.
  6. Remove social media apps from your phone so you can only check Facebook, Twitter and the like from your computer. What you see of others on social media is rarely an accurate reflection of their lives—people exaggerate the positive aspects of their lives, brushing over the doubts and disappointments that we all experience. Spending less time comparing yourself unfavorably to these stylized representations can help to boost your mood and sense of self-worth.
  7. Limit checks. If you compulsively check your phone every few minutes, wean yourself off by limiting your checks to once every 15 minutes. Then once every 30 minutes, then once an hour. If you need help, there are apps that can automatically limit when you’re able to access your phone.
  8. Curb your fear of missing out. Accept that by limiting your smartphone use, you’re likely going to miss out on certain invitations, breaking news, or new gossip. There is so much information available on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to stay on top of everything, anyway. Accepting this can be liberating and help break your reliance on technology.

Treatment for smartphone addiction

Therapy and counseling for smartphone addiction

Therapy can give you a tremendous boost in controlling smartphone and Internet use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy provides step-by-step ways to stop compulsive behaviors and change your perceptions about your smartphone. Therapy can also help you learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.

If your smartphone or Internet use is affecting your partner directly, as with excessive use of Internet pornography or online affairs, marriage counseling can help you work through these challenging issues. Marriage counseling can also help you reconnect with your partner if you have been using virtual worlds for most of your social needs.

Group support for smartphone addiction

Organizations such as Internet & Tech Addiction Anonymous (ITAA) and On-Line Gamers Anonymous offer online support and some face-to-face meetings to curb excessive technology use, as well as tips on starting your own chapter. Of course, online support groups and forums should be used with caution. Although they may be helpful in finding sources of assistance, it’s easy to use them as an excuse to spend even more time on your smartphone or computer. While you need real-life people to benefit fully from any addiction support group, it’s especially important for smartphone or Internet addiction. Sex Addicts Anonymous may be another place to try if you are having trouble with cybersex or compulsive use of sex and dating apps.

For those in need of greater intervention, there are now specialist treatment centers that offer digital detox programs to help you disconnect from digital media. For help finding these, as well as support groups and therapists, see the Resources and References section below.

Helping a child or teen with smartphone addiction

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under age 2 have no screen time, while young children older than 2 should spend no more than 1 to 2 hours a day viewing age-appropriate material. Of course, once kids have their own smartphones, limiting their use becomes that much more difficult. Any parent who’s tried to drag a child or teen away from a smartphone or tablet knows how challenging it can be to separate kids from social media, messaging apps, or online games and videos. Youngsters lack the maturity to curb their smartphone use on their own, but simply confiscating the device can often backfire, creating anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in your child. Instead, there are plenty of other ways to help your child find a healthier balance:

Be a good role model. Children have a strong impulse to imitate, so it’s important you manage your own smartphone and Internet use. It’s no good asking your child to unplug at the dinner table while you’re staring at your own phone or tablet. Try not to let your own smartphone use distract from parent-child interactions.

Use apps to monitor and limit your child’s smartphone use. There are a number of apps available that can limit your child’s data usage or restrict his or her texting and web browsing to certain times of the day to enforce technology breaks. Other apps can eliminate messaging capabilities while in motion, so you can prevent your teen using a smartphone while driving.

Create “phone-free” zones. Restrict the use of smartphones or tablets to a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s activity and limit time online. Ban phones from the dinner table and bedrooms and insist they’re turned off after a certain time at night.

Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the phone or computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Scouts, and afterschool clubs. Spend time as a family unplugged.

Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive smartphone use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Is your child suffering with other issues at school or home?

Get help. Teenagers often rebel against their parents, but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, doctor, or respected family friend. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child’s smartphone use.

If you would like help breaking free from smartphone addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Smartphone Addiction: What is it?

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The following is an excerpt from Smartphone Addiction by Helpguide.org:

What is smartphone addiction?

Smartphone addiction, sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an Internet overuse problem or Internet addiction disorder. After all, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to.

Effects of smartphone addiction

While heavy phone use can often be symptomatic of other underlying problems—such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness—it can also exacerbate these problems. If you use your smartphone as a “security blanket” to relieve feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or awkwardness in social situations, for example, you’ll succeed only in cutting yourself off further from the people around you. Staring at your phone will deny you the face-to-face interactions that can help to meaningfully connect you to others, alleviate anxiety, and boost your mood. In other words, the remedy you’re choosing for your anxiety (engaging with your smartphone), is actually making your anxiety worse.

Smartphone or Internet addiction can also negatively impact your life by:

Increasing loneliness and depression. While it may seem that losing yourself online will temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air, it can actually make you feel even worse. A 2014 study found a correlation between high social media usage and depression and anxiety. Users, especially teens, tend to compare themselves unfavorably with their peers on social media, promoting feelings of loneliness and depression.

Fueling anxiety. One researcher found that the mere presence of a phone in a work place tends to make people more anxious and perform poorly on given tasks. The heavier the phone user, the greater the anxiety experienced.

Increasing stress. Using a smartphone for work often means work bleeds into your home and personal life. You feel the pressure to always be on, never out of touch from work. This need to continually check and respond to email can contribute to higher stress levels and even burnout.

Exacerbating attention deficit disorders. The constant stream of messages and information from a smartphone can overwhelm the brain and make it impossible to focus attention on any one thing for more than a few minutes without feeling compelled to move on to something else.

Diminishing your ability to concentrate and think deeply or creatively. The persistent buzz, ping or beep of your smartphone can distract you from important tasks, slow your work, and interrupt those quiet moments that are so crucial to creativity and problem solving. Instead of ever being alone with our thoughts, we’re now always online and connected.

Disturbing your sleep. Excessive smartphone use can disrupt your sleep, which can have a serious impact on your overall mental health. It can impact your memory, affect your ability to think clearly, and reduce your cognitive and learning skills.

Encouraging self-absorption. A UK study found that people who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to display negative personality traits such as narcissism. Snapping endless selfies, posting all your thoughts or details about your life can create an unhealthy self-centeredness, distancing you from real-life relationships and making it harder to cope with stress.

Signs and symptoms of smartphone addiction

We can use smartphones to fill every quiet moment and keep us entertained, up to date, and connected to friends and strangers alike. But how much time is too much time to spend on a smartphone or other mobile device?

Americans spend an average of nearly 3½ hours a day on their mobile devices—checking social media, watching videos, and accessing apps or the Internet. However, there is no specific amount of time spent on your phone, or the frequency you check for updates, or the number of messages you send or receive that indicates an addiction or overuse problem. You may need to use the Internet or email extensively for work, for example, or have to be on call for your job or as a family caregiver, or you may rely heavily on social media to keep in touch with faraway family and friends.

Spending a lot of time connected to your phone only becomes a problem when it absorbs so much of your time it causes you to neglect your face-to-face relationships, your work, school, hobbies, or other important things in your life. If you find yourself ignoring friends over lunch to read Facebook updates or compulsively checking your phone in while driving or during school lectures, then it’s time to reassess your smartphone use and strike a healthier balance in your life.

General warning signs of smartphone addiction

  • Trouble completing tasks at work or home. Do you find laundry piling up and little food in the house for dinner because you’ve been busy chatting online, texting, or playing video games? Perhaps you find yourself working late more often because you can’t complete your work on time.
  • Isolation from family and friends. Is your social life suffering because of all the time you spend on your phone or other device? If you’re in a meeting or chatting with friends, do you lose track of what’s being said because you’re checking messages or updates on your phone? Have friends and family expressed concern about the amount of time you spend on your phone? Do you feel like no one in your “real” life—even your spouse—understands you like your online friends?
  • Concealing your smartphone use. Do you sneak off to a quiet place to use your smartphone? Do you hide your smartphone use or lie to your boss and family about the amount of time you spend online? Do you get irritated or cranky if your online time is interrupted?
  • Have a fear of missing out. Do you hate to feel out of the loop or think you’re missing out on important news or information if you don’t check you phone regularly? Do you need to compulsively check social media because you’re anxious that others are having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life than you? Do you get up at night to check your phone?
  • Feeling of dread, anxiety or panic if you leave your smartphone at home, the battery runs down or the operating system crashes. Or you feel a phantom vibration—you feel your phone vibrating but when you check, there are no new messages or updates.

Withdrawal symptoms from smartphone addiction

A common warning sign of smartphone or Internet addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back on your smartphone use. These may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anger or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Craving access to your smartphone or other device

If you would like help with a smartphone or other technology addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain

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4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain

By Matt Fradd

I’ve often heard men say, “I love looking at porn. Besides it doesn’t hurt anything. It’s only fantasy. What’s the problem?”

Now, you may not have a moral problem with porn, but many are starting to have a medical problem with it. The more we study the impact of porn on the male brain, the more men are starting to think twice about porn being a harmless pastime.

1. Porn gives men a new standard of beauty.

In 2002, the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, published research showing that when men are shown pictures of centerfold models from Playboy and Penthouse, this significantly lowered their judgements about the attractiveness of “average” people.

In our hyper-sexualized media culture, is this something that really needs to be reinforced? Should we train our brains to rate women by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts? Do we want our standard of beauty to be shaped by a fictional standard or by the woman we are actually in love with?

2. Male brains don’t just view porn. They enter into it.

The journal NeuroImage published a study in 2008 demonstrating that as men are sexually aroused by porn films, something called “mirror neurons” in the brain also fire.

What is a mirror neuron? Have you ever seen someone get hit in the face with a ball or some other blunt object, and then your own body recoils? This is because of mirror neurons: you instantly react as if you were the one hit.

When it comes to porn, the brain naturally imagines the viewer in the pornographic scene. When a man is turned on by porn his body is not merely responding to the naked woman. His brain is picturing himself as the main character, heightening the arousal. You see, porn isn’t merely arousing to men because the women in it are attractive, but because it makes the man feel sexy.

This trains men not to get their sense of personal validation from real life relationships but from pixels on a screen.

3. The more porn men watch, the more their brains look like an addict’s brain.

In 2014 scientists at Cambridge discovered that the brains of habitual porn users show great similarity to the brains of alcoholics. When a self-confessed porn addict is hooked up to an MRI machine and then is shown a pornographic image, a brain structure called the ventral striatum “lights up” in the same way it lights up for an alcoholic who sees a picture of an drink.

You might be thinking, “So what?” Well, researchers speculate that continued use of porn over time, especially starting at younger ages, makes it such that we actually lose willpower. The more we watch porn, the more difficult it is for men to say to no to watching porn because of the strong craving they feel.

This is not the kind of men most men want to be. We want to enjoy our passions, not be enslaved to them.

4. Porn makes violence sexy.

According to research by Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant, the more porn one is exposed to, the more likely one is willing to trivialize rape. In their experiments, after watching just five hours of pornographic films stretched over a six-week period, subjects were willing to cut the sentencing of an accused rapist nearly in half, compared to those who had not watched pornography at all.

Those who watched more porn were also likely to believe that practices like sadomasochism were two to three times more common in general society than those who had not seen porn. Of course porn doesn’t make most consumers into sexually violent people, it does train men to embrace a culture of objectification, reinforcing a belief that women exist to give sexual pleasure to men. Again, is this the kind of men we want to become?

Let me make an appeal to men:

  • if your goal is to become a man whose standard of beauty is shaped by the one you love…
  • if your goal is to feel a personal sense of worth and validation based on your most valuable relationships…
  • if your goal is to be a man of self-mastery, not enslaved to your passions…
  • and if your goal is to treat women as people to be served and loved, not see them as objects for your pleasure…

…then consuming porn will take you in the opposite direction.

If you would like help breaking free from the power of porn, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

5 Signs of a Painkiller Addiction

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5 Surefire Signs of Painkiller Addiction

By Promises Treatment Center

You may not fit the stereotype of the “typical addict,” but if you’re using prescription painkillers beyond the scope of your doctor’s recommendations, you may need to take a second look. Prescription drug addiction can sneak up on anyone – soccer moms, high-profile executives and even grandma or grandpa – often without their knowledge. Here are five surefire signs your painkiller use has become a problem:

#1 You’re worried you may be losing control.

Do you keep a small supply of pain medication on you at all times “just in case”? Do you sneak or hide pills? If you’ve tried to cut back or stop using medication for a time but keep returning to prior levels of use, you may have lost control. This is particularly true if you continue using painkillers despite negative consequences in your life.

Addicted individuals may find themselves making urgent calls or unscheduled visits to their doctor or visiting multiple doctors to receive more than one prescription. Some may even find themselves buying pills on the street, forging prescriptions or stealing pills prescribed for others. If insurance no longer covers the cost, some people begin using cheaper, more easily accessible drugs like heroin.

For those who have had problems with drugs or alcohol in the past, this loss of control may be eerily familiar. If you have a history of drug abuse, you’re more likely to become addicted to pain medication as well.

#2 You don’t feel like yourself anymore.

Dependency on painkillers can change your appearance, habits and lifestyle. You may feel a shift in your mood, energy level or ability to concentrate, and may become agitated or hostile, particularly when you don’t have access to your medication. Sleeping and eating patterns may become irregular, causing fatigue and weight gain/loss. Over time, drugs may begin to take precedence over basic grooming and hygiene, resulting in changes to your physical appearance. Social circles may change as well, as your interests become more focused on drug use than connecting with family or friends.

#3 You get defensive if people question you about your medication use.

It may be difficult to recognize changes in yourself, but family, friends and coworkers may start to mention their concerns. When they make comments or ask questions, do you get annoyed or defensive? Rather than deal with other people’s commentary, have you started keeping your feelings and behaviors secret or avoiding people? Keeping secrets is a hallmark of addiction.

#4 You don’t feel good without the medication.

If you’ve become physically dependent on painkillers, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you skip a dose or the medication wears off. Symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, vomiting, headaches, anxiety, sweating and insomnia.

The pain of withdrawal, which can feel similar to the pain you were originally medicating, often leads to the use of more painkillers. In some cases, people will regularly manage withdrawal symptoms by taking more painkillers, often without realizing that these symptoms are the result of the medication itself.

#5 Your family, career and/or schoolwork are beginning to suffer.

You may notice, or others may tell you, that you’re no longer meeting your responsibilities of daily life. Your attendance or grades at school may suffer, a coworker or boss may complain about your performance, or family members may argue that you’re missing important events or neglecting your spouse or children. You may also struggle with financial or legal problems associated with your painkiller use.

Every year, more than 2 million Americans begin abusing prescription opiates. Take an honest look in the mirror – are you one of them? If you recognize the signs of painkiller addiction in yourself or a loved one, talk to your doctor or a drug treatment center right away. Painkiller addiction is treatable, but only if you reach out for help.

 

If you would like help with struggles with pain or painkiller abuse or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

10 Signs of an Alcohol Addiction

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Are You an Alcoholic? 10 Warning Signs of Addiction

By The Ranch

It’s hard to be objective when it comes to figuring out whether you or your loved one has a problem with drinking. Emotions run high, rationalizations and denials lead to confusion and it can seem hard to draw the line between what’s acceptable and what’s going too far. Although the boundaries are fuzzy, issues with drinking are either classed as problem drinking or alcohol dependence. Problem drinkers don’t have a full-fledged addiction to alcohol, but their drinking may be starting to take its toll on their everyday lives and they are at greatly increased risk for becoming dependent later. So while some of the warning signs of alcoholism are technically signs of problem drinking, there is a lot of overlap, and identifying either one is cause for concern. Here are 10 of the most important things to look out for in yourself or your loved one:

  1. Lying About or Hiding Your Drinking – Denial is common with people having problems with alcohol, so both problem drinkers and alcoholics might drink secretively or lie about how much they drink to make it seem like less of an issue. This can be hard to spot for anybody but the individual, due to its very nature, but it’s an important sign of a more serious problem.
  1. Drinking to Relax or Feel Better – Almost all people struggling with addiction abuse their substance of choice for emotional reasons. Whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety or anything else, using alcohol as a method of easing negative feelings is a risky habit—the “relief” it provides is only temporary and it ordinarily makes things worse in the long run. If you drink more when you’ve had a stressful day or need a drink to feel like you can really relax, it’s a big sign that you’re using alcohol as an emotional crutch.
  1. “Blacking Out” Regularly – Drinking so much that you have no memory of what happened is another red flag for a problem with alcohol. Simply put, it means you drank way too much. If you find this happening to you (or notice it happening to someone else), you have to ask what is driving you to drink so excessively? You don’t need to black out to have fun, so what’s the real reason?
  1. Being Unable to Stop Once You Start – If you always finish a bottle of wine once it’s opened or drink all the beer in the house once you’ve had one, it’s another sign you aren’t in full control of your drinking and you may have a problem.
  1. Drinking in Dangerous Situations – Drinking when you really shouldn’t—like before work, before you have to drive somewhere or drinking against your doctor’s orders when you’re on medication—is an important sign of problem drinking. Even if something hasn’t gone wrong yet, every time you do something like this you run the risk of serious consequences. Regularly taking those risks strongly implies that alcohol is the main priority in your life.
  1. Neglecting Your Responsibilities – If you’re having problems at work, school or with your household responsibilities because of your drinking, you have a problem. Alcohol has crossed the line from an occasional indulgence to something that seriously impacts your day-to-day functioning.
  1. Having Trouble in Your Relationships – This is closely related to the last point, but it’s in many ways more important. If your drinking is causing problems with your closest friends, your significant other or your family, it’s an indication that alcohol is a bigger priority than even the most important people in your life. These last two symptoms are general signs of any addiction, and might mean that your issues are going beyond the problem-drinker stage.
  1. Being Able to Drink More Than You Used To – Tolerance is another key sign of addiction, so if you can drink more than you used to and need to drink more than you did before in order to get drunk, it’s a strong indicator that you’re becoming an alcoholic. It means your body is exposed to alcohol regularly enough that it has adapted to cope with it better.
  1. Experiencing Withdrawal – Withdrawal is different from a hangover; it’s the reaction to the lack of alcohol rather than too much alcohol. If you start to feel irritable, tired, depressed, nauseous or anxious when you haven’t had a drink, there’s a possibility you’re going through withdrawal. Other signs include having trouble sleeping, losing your appetite and experiencing shakiness or trembling.
  1. Trying to Quit but Being Unable to – If you have realized your drinking is becoming a problem (or someone who cares about you has) and tried to make a change but have been unsuccessful, you should seriously consider finding additional help. Deciding to quit drinking shows that you understand the impacts it’s having on your life, but the fact that you’re unable to means there’s a big chance you’re struggling with alcohol addiction.

It’s important to note that experiencing just one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a problem drinker or an alcoholic, but if you’re experiencing a few of them (or you see numerous signs in a loved one), there is a very strong possibility your drinking has gone too far. The latter five symptoms in particular are signs of addiction rather than problem drinking.

It might not be an easy road ahead, but one day you’ll see deciding to get help as the day your life started to change for the better.

 

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

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9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

By Joe Carter

“Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates,” says William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College. “Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.” Here are 9 things you should know about pornography affects the brain.

1. Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the male brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior.  In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. “The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” says Struthers. “In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.”

2. In men, there are five primary chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. The one that likely plays the most significant role in pornography addiction is dopamine. Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Dopamine surges when a person is exposed to novel stimuli, particularly if it is sexual, or when a stimuli is more arousing than anticipated. Because erotic imagery triggers more dopamine than sex with a familiar partner, exposure to pornography leads to “arousal addiction” and teaches the brain to prefer the image and become less satisfied with real-life sexual partners.

3. Why do men seek out a variety of new explicit sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? The reason is attributed to the Coolidge effect, a phenomenon seen in mammalian species whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners. This neurological mechanism is one of the primary reasons for the abundance and addictiveness of Internet pornography.

4. Overstimulation of the reward circuitry—such as occurs with repeated dopamine spikes related to viewing pornography—creates desensitization. As Gary Wilson explains, “When dopamine receptors drop after too much stimulation, the brain doesn’t respond as much, and we feel less reward from pleasure. That drives us to search even harder for feelings of satisfaction—for example, by seeking out more extreme sexual stimuli, longer porn sessions, or more frequent porn viewing—thus further numbing the brain.

5. “The psychological, behavioral, and emotional habits that form our sexual character will be based on the decisions we make,” says Struthers. “Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod. The consequences of this are far-reaching.”

6. What makes Internet porn unique? Wilson identifies a number of reasons, including: (1) Internet porn offers extreme novelty; (2) Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption; (3) With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres; (4) Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn’t eventually activate the brain’s natural aversion system; and (5) The age users start watching porn. A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring.

7. Men’s exposure to sexually explicit material is correlated with social anxiety, depression, low motivation,erectile dysfunction, concentration problems, and negative self-perceptions in terms of physical appearance and sexual functioning.

8. The following video offers a brief overview of the affect of pornography on the brain.

9. In this video, Gary Wilson discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet porn users, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these phenomena. Although it is not presented from a Christian perspective, the discussion is highly recommended for better understanding the deleterious and wide-ranging effects pornography has on men.

The Terrible Truth About Cannabis

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The Terrible Truth About Cannabis

By Ben Spencer

keep off the grass marijuanaA definitive 20-year study into the effects of long-term cannabis use has demolished the argument that the drug is safe.

Cannabis is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and opens the door to hard drugs, the study found.

The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, builds a compelling case against those who deny the devastation cannabis wreaks on the brain. 

Professor Hall found:

  • One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it
  • Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
  • Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
  • One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs
  • Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink
  • Smoking it while pregnant reduces the baby’s birth weight

Professor Hall, a professor of addiction policy at King’s College London, dismissed the views of those who say that cannabis is harmless.

‘If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol,’ he said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2783111/The-terrible-truth-cannabis-Expert-s-devastating-20-year-study-finally-demolishes-claims-smoking-pot-harmless.html#ixzz4K4zhm0ia

If you are struggling with cannabis use and would like help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors who focuses on helping those with addiction struggles.