New Study: Family Therapy Leads to Faster Recovery 

family therapyIf you’re a mom in treatment for substance use disorder, family therapy could lead to a speedier recovery, according to a first-of-its-kind study published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Women in therapy with their children – ages 8 to 16 – were found to have a quicker decline in alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine use over 18 months than moms in individual therapy, according to researchers.

"Interpersonal stress, especially within the family, has been shown to be an important factor in drug and alcohol abuse," said Natasha Slesnick, lead author of the study and professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University. "So it makes sense that having mothers and children working together in therapy can help moms with substance use problems do better over time.”

Indeed, there are many benefits of family therapy for substance-using mothers, including:

  • Increased understanding of healthy boundaries and family dynamics
  • Improved communication
  • Better problem solving
  • Greater empathy
  • Reduced conflict

Getting the Most Out of Family Therapy
For family therapy to be successful, it’s important that you and your loved ones take it seriously and that you do the work both in and outside your scheduled sessions. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be an active member. You’re not just there to listen – though being an active listener is an important part. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and express your needs to the therapist.
  • Schedule sessions at a good time. Try to make appointments at a time when you and your family can give them full attention.
  • Keep a journal. By recording your thoughts and feelings, you can reflect on your last session, prepare for your next one, or simply be more mindful during the week.
  • Take care of you. Eating right, exercising, and managing stress can ensure that you enter each therapy session with an open and healthy mindset.

Family Counseling at AJ’s Amethyst House
We know that addiction affects the entire family. As part of our specialized addiction program for women, we take into account the role of parenting and family relationships in your addiction recovery. To learn more, call: 855-221-1717.

Surprising Facts About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

facts about seasonal affective disorderSeasonal affective disorder, appropriately known as SAD, is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that begins and ends at the same time each year, most typically in fall and winter, according to Mental Health America (MHA). It’s estimated that half a million Americans experience SAD – feeling depressed, irritable, and tired as the seasons change and the daylight shortens. This depression disorder not only affects your overall health, but it also impacts everyday life, including job performance, social activities, and hobbies.

People who abuse drugs or alcohol are highly susceptible to SAD – and, in fact, more than 20 percent of patients with any mood disorder are also living with a substance use disorder, notes the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Here are a few more facts you need to know about SAD:

1. Between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women. And if you’re a female between age 15 and 55, you're even more likely to develop the mood disorder.

2. Certain symptoms are more common in SAD than in other forms of depression. These include:

  • Carbohydrate craving
  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Weight gain

3. SAD isn’t caused by a drop in temperature. Rather, many experts link the disorder to a decreased exposure to sunlight. This is because sunlight plays a role in the production of a body chemical called melatonin, which regulates sleep and mood.

4. Seasonal affective disorder is more than the holiday or winter blues. To be diagnosed with SAD, symptoms needs to lasts more than two weeks at least two years in a row. In addition, the SAD episodes must outnumber the non-seasonal depressive episodes in one’s lifetime.

5. Waiting it out doesn’t work. Light therapy, where people are exposed to artificial lights for a certain amount of time each day, has been shown to work in 50 to 80 percent of patients. Also, since seasonal depression has a predictable pattern of recurrence, preventative measures may help to reduce symptoms. These include:

  • Exercising 30 minutes a day
  • Increasing the amount of light at home
  • Aromatherapy
  • Stress management techniques, including meditation
  • Writing in a journal
  • Spending more time outside
  • Loading up on Vitamin D

Women, Depression, and Addiction
Are you suffering from SAD and addiction? At AJ’s Amethyst House, we realize the special needs of female clients and take into account mental illnesses when treating our clients. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.

Women and Anxiety Disorders: What You Need to Know

Listen up, lawomen and anxietydies! Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses affecting Americans – and females are most at risk. In fact, from the time a girl reaches puberty until about age 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Brain chemistry, hormonal fluctuations, and how women cope with stress are to blame, say researchers. There’s also evidence that early life adversity, such as childhood sexual or physical abuse, predisposes women to the development of anxiety disorders later in life.

Signs of Anxiety Disorders
The symptoms of an anxiety disorder will vary depending on your disorder – whether generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, or PTSD, for example. However, the following signs are a good indicator that you or someone you love needs to talk to a healthcare professional.

  • Excessive worry about everyday things – big and small
  • Trouble sleeping due to anxiety over a specific problem, or nothing in particular
  • An irrational fear – of flying, crowds, or animals, for example
  • Persistent muscle tension caused by clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or flexing muscles throughout your body
  • Chronic digestive troubles, for example indigestion or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Days or even weeks of worry leading up to a social event
  • Anxiety over everyday situations, like eating and drinking in front of a small group of people or holding a one-on-one conversation
  • Panic attacks or a gripping feeling of fear followed by physical symptoms like pounding chest, sweating, dizziness, and stomach pain
  • Flashbacks of a traumatic or disturbing event
  • Perfectionism or fear of making mistakes
  • Persistent self-doubt or second-guessing yourself

Help for Addiction and Anxiety
Are you or someone you love self-medicating to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety disorder? At AJ’s Amethyst House, we can transition you safely through alcohol and drug detoxification in order to increase your chances of long-term sobriety and mental health. To learn more, call 855-221-1717, or fill out our confidential contact form.

New Study: Women Drinking as Much as Men

Unfortunately, womwomen drinking as much as menen are catching up to men when it comes to alcohol consumption, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open.

And habits are most similar for women born in the last 15 to 25, say researchers. Among men and women born between 1991 and 2000, the rates of alcohol consumption were nearly equal, with men just 1.1 times more likely to consume alcohol than women, according to the report. Men born between 1891 and 1910 were 2.2 times more likely to consume alcohol than women born in that time period.

Perhaps most disconcerting is that the researchers also found the closing male-female gap when it came to rates of problematic alcohol use (like binge drinking) and health consequences from alcohol, including alcohol dependence.

Alcohol: Why Women and Men Are Not Equal
The impact of alcohol is often more severe for women than men, which is why the CDC defines excessive drinking as eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men. Binge drinking is defined as four drinks during a single occasion for women and five for men.

This is partly because alcohol affects women’s bodies differently, taking longer to metabolize once in their bodies. Pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do, and alcohol resides predominantly in body water, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). In addition, women typically weigh less than men.

Here are some common health risks for women, according to the NIAA:

  • Liver damage: Women who drink are more likely to develop liver inflammation than men.
  • Heart disease: Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men.
  • Breast cancer: Women who have about one drink per day also have an increased chance of developing breast cancer compared to women who do not drink at all.
  • Pregnancy: Any drinking during pregnancy is risky. Heavy drinking can put a fetus at increased risk for learning, behavioral, and other problems.

For Women Only
At AJ's Amethyst House, we understand that women face differing biological, emotional, and social issues during addiction. This is why we offer a women-only addiction treatment program for females of all ages and backgrounds. To learn more, call today: 855-221-1717.



Control Your Anger Before It Controls You

how to control angerWe all get angry, but expressing that anger too often or too aggressively can take a toll on your health and your recovery. Blowing your top put’s extreme strain on you – physically and mentally – and can even trigger a desire to return to your substance or behavior of abuse. Luckily, you can learn how to tame that temper and these tips can help.

Practice relaxation strategies. The American Psychological Association recommends these four techniques to cool down anger:

  • Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "take it easy." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
  • Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
  • Perform non-strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises to relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.

Identify your triggers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these events may get your blood boiling:

  • Waiting long at your doctor’s office
  • Hearing a rumor about your relapse or recovery
  • Sitting in traffic or on a crowded bus or train
  • Being wrongly accused or mistreated
  • A joke that pokes fun at a sensitive topic

Be more mindful. The next time you get angry or right before your anger escalates, pay attention to what happens to you – physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively, urges SAMHSA. Note the following signs:

  • Your body: increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, feeling hot or flushed
  • Your behavior: clenched fists, raised voice, harsh stare
  • Your emotions: Fear, hurt, jealousy, disrespect
  • Your thoughts: Hostile, images of aggression and revenge

Take a two-minute timeout. The gist is to give yourself time to think before you react. This could mean stopping the conversation or just leaving the situation to get some fresh air, decompress, and breathe deeply. Look at your watch or timer on your cell phone and don’t speak or take any action until at least two minutes have passed and you’ve hopefully calmed yourself down.

Anger Management for Women
At Aj’s Amethyst House, we focuses on the unique needs of women in recovery, including anxiety, depression, anger, and other emotions linked to substance use disorder. We help our female clients discover new coping strategies and guide them as they reclaim their roles as healthy, sober individuals. Call today: 855-221-1717.

Could Some Foods Be As Addictive As Drugs?

Researchers set oCould food be as addictive as drugs?ut to answer this very question in a recent PLOS One study. The conclusion: Many highly processed foods do, in fact, share similar characteristics to drugs like heroin and cocaine and are associated with food addiction.

Here are the top 13 foods:

  1. Pizza
  2. Chocolate
  3. Packaged cookies
  4. Ice cream
  5. French fries
  6. Cheeseburgers
  7. Regular soda
  8. Cake
  9. Cheese
  10. Bacon
  11. Fried chicken
  12. Rolls
  13. Popcorn

Food addiction, also called eating addiction, has yet to be recognized as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the handbook of psychiatric disorders used by mental health professionals. Still, research continues to support the addictive nature of some foods or combinations of foods. For example, sugary, fatty, salty food combos (known as “hyperpalatables”) have been shown to trigger the pleasure centers in the brain in a way identical to drugs and alcohol.

Other similarities between food addiction and substance use disorder include:
• You can develop a tolerance, needing more food to get the same numbing or positive effect.
• You use food to manage emotions, including sadness, anxiety, anger, boredom, loneliness and frustration.
• You experience withdrawal symptoms (headaches, irritability, and loss of concentration) when cutting out certain foods like sugar.
• You have a history of trauma, including physical or sexual abuse.

Food addiction isn’t just a problem for someone struggling with weight issues, though there’s often an overlap between food addiction and feeding and eating disorders like bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia nervosa. It’s also common for someone in recovery from drugs or alcohol to develop a “cross” or “transfer” addiction to foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. And if you’re female and over 35, your risk is even higher. For this reason, more addiction treatment centers have begun offering nutrition programs to clients.

Eating for Recovery 
What you put (and don't put) into your body plays a big role in how you'll feel during recovery. At AJ’s House, we provide clients with farm-fresh meals and nutritional counseling. To learn more about our holistic addiction services, call today: 855-221-1717.

Could Birth Control Be Causing Your Depression?

Depression and birth controlAccording to a new landmark study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, taking hormonal birth control may increase your risk for depression. The study showed a 40 percent increased risk of depression among participants after six months, compared to women who did not use hormonal birth control. The mean age of birth control users in the study was age 24.

Still, noted researchers, this doesn’t mean that birth control alone causes depression. While outside triggers can contribute to the development of depression, brain chemistry and genetics play a large role, too.

3 More Surprising Causes of Depression
In addition to birth control, some lifestyle habits have also been linked to depression, including:

Smoking cigarettes: Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a 2015 British study. Researchers also found that smoking itself may be a source of anxiety due to the feelings of withdrawal often experienced by smokers after not having a cigarette.

Social media overuse: Even if you know that social media is far from an accurate portrait of one’s life, it’s easy to find yourself making what researchers call a “social comparison.” In other words, making comparisons to your own life as you scroll through your friend’s family pictures and vacation montages. This subconscious process can lead to feelings of depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Poor diet: Perhaps it's not too surprising that nutrition plays a key role in regulating your mood. People who have a diet laden with processed meats, sugar, and fat, for example, are more likely to report depression symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Luckily, whatever the cause of your depression, there are many ways to manage and treat your symptoms. Don’t wait; get the help you need today.

Women, Depression and Addiction
For many women, depression and addiction go hand-and-hand and we’re here to help. At AJ’s Amethyst House, we realize the special needs of female clients and take into account mental illnesses when treating our clients. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.

The Role of Fitness in Your Recovery

shutterstock_308668355For Katie Burlingame, fitness played a major role in her recovery from heroin and opioid addiction, she recently told Shape magazine. “Being active helps me clear my mind, and it goes hand in hand with staying sober. It sounds cliché, but exercising gives me a different kind of high — obviously one that's better for me.”

We’ve likely said it before but it bears repeating: Exercise is perhaps one of your best tools for long-term sobriety. It boosts concentration, rids the body of toxins, tames tension, and even quiets cravings.

Still not convinced? Here are a few more benefits of getting active during addiction recovery:

  • It helps you fight back. Face it: a strong body is better equipped to fend off sickness, stress, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings.
  • It rebuilds your brain. Exercise, especially when combined with a traditional rehab program, exercise has been study-proven to help counter lack of concentration and even neuronal damage caused by years of substance abuse.
  • It boosts your confidence. Just think about how good you’ll feel when you reach or even exceed your fitness goal. Whether it’s walking that additional mile or doing an extra set of push-ups, building strength and endurance can give you the self-assurance needed to take charge of your recovery.
  • It provides a healthy distraction. Boredom is not the best thing for your sobriety as it can lead to using again. Instead, schedule in a good sweat session as part of your recovery plan.
  • It restores inner peace. Mind-body techniques like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great go-to exercises for quelling daily stress and quieting the mind. And less stress means less of a reason to return to using.

Restoring Your Whole Self
At AJ’s House, we believe that the most successful drug and alcohol rehabs provide gentle care for the mind, body, and spirit. To this end, our holistic addiction recovery program include yoga and mind-body exercise, cardiovascular fitness and weight training, prayer and meditation and more. To learn more, call: 855-221-1717.




The Dangers of Diet Soda

In an interview Dangers of Diet Sodawith People magazine, “True Blood” actor Stephen Moyer, who has been sober for more than a decade, called Diet Coke “the Patron Saint drink for alcoholics.”

He’s likely not the first (or the last) person to turn to diet soda during recovery. A can now and again won’t hurt you, but the habitual intake of diet soda does come with health consequences. Here are just a few:

  • It could cause weight gain. Studies have linked diet soda consumption with increased fat, especially around the abdomen. One explanation: Artificial sweeteners confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories, which can cause cravings for even sweeter treats.
  • It could ruin your teeth. A study published in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of a cocaine-user, a methamphetamine-user, and a habitual diet-soda drinker, and found the same level of tooth erosion in each of them. The culprit: the soda’s acidic content which overtime destroys tooth enamel.
  • It could impact your mood. One study found that people who drank more than four cans of soda a day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression, though the correlation held true for both regular and diet soda drinkers.
  • It could cause caffeine withdrawal. If you drink two cans of diet soda per day and then abruptly stop, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, irritability, depressed mood, nausea and muscle pain, according to Murray Carpenter, freelance journalist and author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us.
  • There’s no nutritional value. Sure, you’re not guzzling sugar and empty calories but you’re also not consuming anything that good for your body either. Your best bet: plain old H2O or sparkling water if you crave something fizzy.

Self-Care During Recovery
At AJ’s House, we provide clients with farm-fresh meals, nutritional counseling, and yoga and exercise programs. To learn more about our holistic addiction services, call today: 855-221-1717.

Are Women Predisposed to Insomnia?

are women predisposed to insomnia?Certainly anyone can suffer sleep problems but insomnia tends to impact women the most. In fact, some studies show that women are 1.4 times more likely to report insomnia than men. Throw addiction recovery in the mix — insomnia is five times higher among those in recovery than in the general public, according to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine — and it’s even more likely that you’ll be counting sheep while your husband is sleeping soundly.

A recent small study by McGill University suggests that women’s circadian rhythms are partly to blame: In general, women’s body clocks cause them to fall asleep and wake up earlier than men, say researchers. Whatever the cause, insomnia can lead to long-term health consequences, including depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and, for those in recovery, relapse.

Luckily, a few lifestyle changes can help ensure a better night’s slumber:

  • Fight the urge to “sleep in,” even on weekends. Try to keep your weekend bedtime and wake-time within an hour or so of your weekday schedule.
  • Avoid exercising two hours before lights out. But do try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity several days of the week.
  • Consider adding mediation to your bedtime routine. Meditation will help calm you mind and allow you to nod off more easily. Start by counting your breaths or repeating a word or phrase.
  • Say "no" to daytime napping. And if you must nap, limit it to 20 minute, so you’re still tired at bedtime.
  • Do the “fold test.” Fold your pillow in half — does it spring open right away? If you answered “no,” it’s time to replace it.
  • Cut back on the java. If it’s four or five hours before shut-eye don’t reach for that cup of coffee. And don’t forget about the caffeine you’re getting from other beverages, like soda, and certain foods.

More Ways Women Differ
Women face differing biological, emotional, and social issues during drug and alcohol addiction. At AJ’s Amethyst House, we take the context of our female clients’ lives into account throughout each phase of detox, addiction treatment, and aftercare planning. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.