Women’s Healthcare Month: Addiction and the Mental Health Gender Gap

Women's Mental Health and Addiction

What is the Gender Gap in Mental Health Care? 

Women are twice as likely to suffer from a mental health disorder than men. This statistic encompasses women from all socioeconomic positions, races, and geographical regions. However, some research finds a connection between women who experience significant gender and wealth inequality and higher rates of mental health conditions. Understanding the reasons for the higher rates of mental health issues affecting women is an important aspect of closing the gender gap with regards to women’s healthcare and addiction treatment. 


Co-Occurring Disorders in Women

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety which coincide with substance abuse and/or addiction. Research suggests that 40% of people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have a Co-occurring Disorder. 

We know that mental health conditions can lead to substance abuse and addiction, as people often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. But equally, addiction can often precede a mental health condition. For example, in men addiction is more likely to lead to depression rather than the other way around. In women, the opposite is true. For example, women are far more likely to suffer from depression and use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, leading to SUD and/or addiction. 

Thus, Co-occurring Disorders are often found to be drivers of SUD and addiction in women. For instance, studies have shown that 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. Without treatment for mental health, SUD and addiction thrive, creating a vicious cycle in which one condition exacerbates the other. 

Risk Factors for Women

Women are more likely to experience certain types of trauma which can adversely affect their mental health. They are more vulnerable to physical attacks, domestic violence and sexual abuse, all of which are key risk factors for women and mental health conditions. In fact, one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime and are statistically more likely to experience sexual abuse, incest, and neglect in their childhood. 

Women also experience higher rates of socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. Furthermore, women are more likely to be carers which often carries with it psychological and physical burdens.

Lastly, certain types of depressive conditions can be unique to women, such as Premenstrual Depressive Disorder, Perinatal Depression, and Perimenopausal Depression.


Getting Help 

When SUD and addiction combine with mental health conditions, the patient should be treated for both conditions. Women’s mental health and SUD and addiction should be addressed together. Finding a center which specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders is crucial for obtaining the best possible outcome. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction and/or mental health conditions, help is available. At Harmony Recovery Group we treat addiction and mental health holistically to create the best chance of long-term recovery and wellbeing.

Contact us today, we are here for you. 







Mental Health Awareness Month: Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction

* name changed for patient anonymity 

What it can be like to have Borderline Personality Disorder:  

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a disorder that makes it very difficult to function in everyday life and personal relationships. People with Borderline Personality Disorder typically have unstable emotions and moods. They can experience intense mood swings and emotional tailspins from seemingly innocuous events. This lack of control over their emotional experience can challenge interpersonal relationships as Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers are prone to intense feelings of rage, despair, and elation that can arise as quickly as they dissipate, leaving partners and loved ones reeling. In particular, “explosive anger” is one of the criteria for BPD diagnosis.

So, What Can Living with Borderline Personality Disorder Be like:

Beth*, a former patient of Harmony Recovery Group, spoke to us about her experience with Borderline Personality Disorder. “Having BPD is horrible. You are emotionally and physically reactive in ways that others can’t fathom. It’s like you are an alien at times. The rest of the world has a manual for emotions and you just sit up in your head without any instructions, tinkering with different components, trying to figure out how to be like everyone else. And you fail and you fail and you fail. Your self image becomes distorted because you are different and you know it.

Beth’s Experience with Relationships with Borderline Personality Disorder:

My partner does not understand my emotional experience with Borderline Personality Disorder because the emotional reactivity has the look of insincerity. To me it’s real but others see me as faking or wanting attention. So I am called immature or childish or too sensitive. Too ‘this’ or too ‘that.’ It is tiresome for others to be around but it is devastating to be the one to live with it.”

Emotional swings can also lead to impulsive or self-destructive behaviors. They can range from spending money you can’t afford, drug or alcohol abuse, or binge eating. Or in other cases, like Beth’s, self harm. “Impulses present an internal reign of terror. You feel, you react and often that reaction turns to harsh self-abuse. You hurt yourself because you know you’re the wrong one. You’re damaged. It’s all your own fault. So you punish yourself for not knowing how to cope. Maybe coping is cutting or digging your nails in your arm? Maybe coping is banging your head against the wall in the bathroom at work, but very quietly so no one thinks you just want attention. You secretly shame yourself. I have bit, slapped, pinched and cut myself over and over and over…hundreds of times in my life. Always because I couldn’t cope with feeling misunderstood or rejected or excluded.”

“I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”

Fear of rejection, exclusion, and abandonment are also hallmark characteristics of BPD. Fear of being alone can be so strong that a BPD sufferer fears abandonment, even from those they have come to dislike. Hence the phrase, “I hate you, don’t leave me,” coined by psychologists Dr. Jerold Kreisman and Dr. Hal Straus. A BPD sufferer’s feelings towards those closest to them can change dramatically from one minute to the next, and they often do not even know why. Feelings can shift from extreme love and closeness (idealization) to hate and anger (devaluation), in a black-and-white pattern of thinking.

All of these factors culminate in highly unstable personal relationships, often pushing away those they love most through behaviors they struggle to control. 

Further symptoms of BPD can include: feelings of emptiness, suicidal thoughts, difficulty trusting, and feelings of dissociation. 

Not all BPD sufferers will experience or display all of the above symptoms. Some cases may only experience a few while others will experience many. As with many mental health disorders it varies from person to person. 

Beth’s Experience with Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder:

For most BPD sufferers, all they want is to be like everybody else. As Beth says, “all you ever want is to have some understanding of what normal must feel like.” 

Finding and taking the right treatment can greatly improve quality of life for BPD patients. Treatment is possible through evidence-based approaches, particularly Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). 

Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder:

Addiction and BPD often go hand-in-hand, with two thirds of Borderline Personality Disorder patients having abused a substance at some point in their lives. The unstable emotions and self-loathing caused by the above symptoms often lead Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers to try to mask their symptoms and feelings with drugs and alcohol. 

For dual diagnosis patients (Borderline Personality Disorder and Addiction), treatment is most effective when the two are treated concurrently. Treating one without the other will likely exacerbate the untreated disorder and undermine the progress made on the treated disorder.

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally | Recovery By The Sea

Dopamine is an essential chemical messenger in the brain. When dopamine is released, it induces feelings of reward and pleasure. This motivates a person to repeat a particular behavior.

Conversely, low levels of dopamine are associated with decreased motivation and excitement for things that would be pleasurable for other people. For those in recovery from addiction, the ability to produce dopamine is essential to improve mood and prevent a return to substance abuse as a means to experience pleasure.

Drug and alcohol abuse, over time, hijacks the brain’s reward system. As the brain adapts to the presence of the substance, it becomes less able to produce dopamine, serotonin, and other essential neurotransmitters without chemical help.

Activities That Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally

People in recovery sometimes struggle to experience pleasure. Fortunately, there are everyday options available to increase levels naturally, including the following:

Eat Protein

Proteins consist of nearly two dozen different amino acids. The body can produce some, but others must be obtained by eating food. The amino acid tyrosine plays a crucial role in the production of dopamine.

Furthermore, the body can convert another amino acid, phylalanine, into tyrosine. Both tyrosine and phenylalanine are found in high protein foods. These include beef, eggs, turkey, chicken, dairy, soy, and legumes.

Research has shown that boosting the amount of tyrosine and phenylalanine in the diet can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine can improve cognitive abilities and memory.

Avoid Saturated Fat

Some research on animals has found that saturated fats may disrupt dopamine signaling in the brain when consumed in excessive amounts. Such bad fats can be found in animal fat, butter, dairy, lard, and palm and coconut oil, among others.

One study revealed that rats that consumed half of their calories from saturated fat had less dopamine signaling in the reward regions of the brain, compared to those that received the same amount of calories from unsaturated fat. Why saturated fat affects dopamine adversely is not entirely clear. Still, many researchers contend that eating a diet high in saturated fat may cause inflammation in the body.

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally | Recovery By The Sea

Take Probiotics

In recent years, researchers have found that the brain and the gut have a close connection. In fact, the gut has oft been referred to as the “second brain.” This is because it contains many nerve cells that produce neurotransmitters, including dopamine.

Some species of bacteria that live in the gut are capable of producing dopamine for us. Several studies have found that when consumed in large enough amounts, specific strains of bacteria can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in both humans and animals.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a great way to increase endorphin levels and elevate mood. Improvements in mood may occur after just a few minutes of aerobic activity. Although results tend to be highest after 20 minutes or more.

Although these effects are probably not solely due to increased dopamine levels, research on rats suggests that exercise can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. In humans, one three-month study found that performing yoga for one hour six days a week increased dopamine levels significantly.

Several studies have revealed that regular, intense exercise several times per week significantly improved motor control in individuals with Parkinson’s. This finding suggests that there may be a positive effect on the production of dopamine, as those with the disease are usually deficient.

Get Plenty of Sleep

When the brain releases dopamine, this action induces feelings of wakefulness and alertness. Animal research has found that dopamine is release in high levels upon waking. Conversely, levels fall when it’s time to go to sleep, as part of our Circadian Rhythm.

Moreover, a lack of sleep appears to interrupt these natural rhythms. When a person must stay awake through the night, the availability of dopamine in the brain is significantly lower by the next morning.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting 7–9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. One way to achieve this is through proper sleep hygiene. A person can improve sleep hygiene by falling asleep and waking up at the same time each day, for example. Other ways to improve sleep quality is avoiding caffeine late in the day, reducing noise in the environment, and limiting bed use to sleep only.

Listen to Music

Listening to music can be an enjoyable way to spur dopamine release in the brain. Studies have found that listening to music boosts activity in the pleasure and reward regions of the brain. These regions contain numerous dopamine receptors.

One small study examining the effects of music on dopamine levels found a 9% increase when people listened to instrumental music that gave them chills. In fact, all research to date on music and dopamine have used only instrumental songs to ensure that melodies alone can increase dopamine levels.

How to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally | Recovery By The Sea

Practice Medication

Meditation is a method of clearing the mind, focusing inward, and letting thoughts pass by without judgment. Regular practice has been associated with improved mental and physical well-being. In fact, recent studies have found that meditation may increase dopamine levels in the brain. In a small study of eight experienced meditation instructors, researchers found a 64% increase in the participants dopamine levels after one hour of meditation.

These changes may help people who meditate keep a positive mood and motivate them to stay in the meditative state for a prolonged period.

Consider Taking Supplements

The human body requires many vitamins and minerals to produce dopamine. These include folate, iron, niacin, and vitamin B6. If a person is deficient in even one of these nutrients, they may have difficulty producing enough dopamine. Blood work can help determine nutrient deficiencies. If a person is deficient, supplements can increase levels.

Getting Help for Addiction

Recovery By The Sea offers comprehensive addiction programs that are founded on the concept of holistic treatment. By using a holistic approach, clients can benefit from a variety of therapeutic services, activities, and educational classes. Studies have shown that such programs are the most effective at helping people achieve the best outcomes of long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

If you ready to begin your journey to recovery, contact us today. Discover how we can help you get started—one step at a time!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How to Reduce Anxiety

How to Reduce Anxiety

How to Reduce Anxiety | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

How to Reduce Anxiety – Although it is an entirely reasonable human response, anxiety is also an emotional reaction that can cause us to over-examine situations and paralyze us when we encounter critical decisions or fearful circumstances. An anxiety disorder may develop when anxiety continues for a prolonged period and begins to interfere with daily functioning.

Anxiety is an unpleasant and sometimes terrifying emotion, and, understandably, some people try to find ways to prevent, or deaden these feelings. While drugs and alcohol may mitigate anxious feelings in the short term, substance abuse can and does tend to make anxiety worse in the long run.

Fortunately, there are much better, healthier ways to cope with anxiety than through the use of drugs and alcohol.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Sweating
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Ruminating on negative thoughts
  • Panic attacks

People who experience these feelings may engage in unhealthy behaviors as a means to escape, prevent, or reduce anxiety, such as the following:

  • Avoiding situations that foster anxious feelings
  • Withdrawing from others/social isolation
  • Abusing substances to self-medicate

These means of addressing anxiety may be somewhat helpful in the short-term but can result in chronic problems. Moreover, they disconnect individuals from their potential support networks and can worsen the underlying issues that contribute to anxiety instead of resolving them.

Why Do People Use Substances to Deal With Anxiety?

How to Reduce Anxiety | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

The answer may seem obvious at first, but there’s actually real science behind it. In research, people with chronic anxiety have been shown to have an overactive amygdala, a region of the brain that is responsible for fear and anxiety-related memories. The amygdala interacts with a stress response subsystem in the body called the HPA axis.

The HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is a complicated set of interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary glands, and the adrenal glands that are located at the top of each kidney. The HPA axis is associated with stress and is responsible for the release of cortisol, which prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurochemical that counteracts the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. GABA can suppress thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, while glutamate leads to an excitatory effect. The balance between these two chemicals significantly contributes to whether a person is feeling relaxed and calm or alert and anxious.

Other chemicals, namely dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, also play a vital role in the development of emotional states such as anxiety. Pharmaceuticals can address a chemical imbalance issue by using agents that target and modify the GABA system in a way that reduces anxiety.

Some people resort to using drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety because increased GABA activity increases feelings of relaxation. Unfortunately, however, it’s only a short-term respite from stress.

How to Reduce Anxiety Substance-Free

Fortunately, many self-help methods target the same anti-stress mechanisms in the brain that do not produce the adverse effects that alcohol and drugs wreak on one’s life.

Mindfulness & Meditation

Mindfulness is a method of focusing that helps the person practicing become more connected to his or her thoughts, emotions, and body. There are many ways to integrate mindfulness techniques into one’s life, and getting started is simple.

To begin, sit in a relaxed position and breathe deeply. Breath in slowly and hold it for four seconds, and gradually release it over five seconds. Pay close attention to breathing, and if the mind begins to wander, acknowledge the thought without judgment, and then let it go. Return to focusing on the breath.

Mindfulness helps the practicing individual remain firmly in the present without ruminating over the past or worrying about the future. It has also been shown to promote inhibitory control in the brain, which is precisely the remedy for anxiety.


Like mindfulness, yoga is another practice that reduces anxiety through breathing and centered attention on the body. Yoga requires deep breathing during uncomfortable and sometimes awkward positions and encourages people to breathe through stress using only the mind and body. It does this, in part, because it increases GABA levels, which promotes relaxation.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Mental health professionals often use cognitive-behavioral therapy as a technique to identify, challenge, and modify thought processes to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. CBT is goal-oriented and requires the participant to engage in activities and practice at home outside of therapy.

Part of feeling anxious involves one’s own interpretation of biological and chemical changes. CBT works to reframe negative beliefs and thinking patterns, helping people mitigate their subjective experience of anxiety.

Make Informed and Healthy Choices

Certain lifestyle choices can affect our mental and emotional state and hinder or promote our ability to deal with stress. Positive, healthy practices, such as the following, can serve to reduce stress and increase resilience and overall well-being:

  • Eating healthy
  • Engaging in regular exercise
  • Developing a healthy sleep routine
  • Taking time to rest
  • Engaging in fulfilling and enjoyable activities and hobbies
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants
  • Taking medication (if any) as prescribed
  • Seeking support from family, friends, groups, and mental health professionals

Treatment for Addiction and Anxiety

Integrated treatment is a comprehensive rehab program that provides all the medical, therapeutic, and holistic resources essential to help clients heal physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Each client should have a customized treatment plan, but for those who are living with both an addiction and a mental health disorder, an integrated treatment program may typically include the following services:

Medical Detox

For those who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, the detox period, or the first days following the cessation of substance use, can be characterized by unpleasant physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Detox services provide medical and mental health support to clients with and monitoring, if needed, to help them stabilize during treatment.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

To ensure that all co-occurring mental health symptoms are accurately diagnosed, an evaluation is the next step in integrated treatment. Also, all other issues that may be barriers in the client’s path to recovery are identified. Based on the evaluation results and the reported experiences of the client, diagnoses are identified to help the client understand and frame past experiences and prepare for the future.

How to Reduce Anxiety | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Treatment Planning

A customized treatment plan is developed for each client that combines an array of therapeutic and medical interventions to empower the client to recover from addiction, learn how to manage mental health conditions, and address personal issues that may be problematic.

Individual Therapy

One-on-one therapy is the basis for recovery, as it provides the client with a safe and confidential forum to address past experiences, current issues, changes that occur during therapy, and goals for the future. As treatment goals are achieved based on the initial treatment plan, the client can collaborate with the therapist to identify new therapy goals and modify the treatment plan accordingly.

Group Therapy

There are a variety of groups that may be employed as part of an integrated treatment program. These include 12-Step groups, groups that focus on a specific aspect of addiction, support groups for people who experience the same mental health issues, and groups that help members cope with a commonly shared life issue, such as parenting or legal problems.

Family Therapy

Working together with friends and family to repair relationships damaged during active addiction and untreated mental health symptoms can play a huge role in recovery. This is especially true if the client will be returning home to live with family members after treatment has been completed.


Before leaving treatment, clients are urged to work with a therapist to create an aftercare plan. This plan should include a combination of therapeutic services that meet the person’s needs during and after the transition into independent living.

Getting Help for Addiction and Mental Illness

Using an integrated approach to addiction and the factors that drive it, we provide patients with the tools, skills, and support they desperately need to achieve a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol and a co-occurring mental illness, please contact us today!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Types of Anxiety and Addiction

Obsessive Love Addiction and Substance Abuse

Obsessive Love Addiction and Substance Abuse | Recovery By The Sea

Obsessive love addiction is a behavioral disorder not unlike other addiction to certain activities, such as sex or gambling. It involves problems related to impulse control and adverse changes in behavior that revolve around experiencing the “high” associated with falling in love and maintaining these feelings at whatever cost.

Like any behavior that is associated with increased levels of feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine or serotonin, love can become addictive. Also, many love addicts report experiencing emotional withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drugs or alcohol after ending a romantic relationship or losing the “rush” effects of newfound love.

Symptoms of obsessive love addiction include the following:

  • Obsessing about the object of desire, overwhelming attraction
  • Neglecting work, school, and family to be with the person of obsession
  • Attempting to conceal the extent of the obsession from others
  • Believing that a relationship will finally make one “complete”
  • Inability to comply with self-imposed rules around relationships
  • Feeling the need to “protect” the object of desire
  • Possessive thoughts and behaviors, including jealousy of others

Similar to a person who is unable to control their drug use, a loved addict will also fail to control their behavior despite attempts to do so. They may also experience desperation, depression, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotional symptoms when they are forced to be apart from their romantic partner. They often exhibit an extreme need for romance to feel normal, even when the relationship they are in is dysfunctional or unsatisfying.

People who have obsessive love addiction also tend not to take rejection very well. If this occurs, a worsening of addictive behaviors is likely. Other signs of this condition, include the following:

  • Repeated texts, calls, emails, etc. to the romantic partner or love interest
  • A constant need for reassurance and validation
  • Monitoring the actions of the person and where they are going
  • Attempting to control the person’s whereabouts and the activities in which they engage

Obsessive Love Addiction and Substance Abuse | Recovery By The Sea

The Six Main Forms of Love Addiction

Love Addicts Anonymous suggests that there are six types of love addiction, including the following:

Obsessed, in which a person cannot seem to let go of a romantic relationship, even when the partner has proven themselves to be emotionally unavailable, abusive, or generally unable or unwilling to commit. Those who suffer from this are believed to have problems with impulse control.

Codependent, in which a person believes that caring for their romantic partner – often to their own detriment – is necessary to keep the partner in the relationship. Codependent love addicts often suffer from depression and low self-esteem.

Narcissistic, which describes the person in the relationship with the aforementioned codependent partner. Narcissists, in this case, are emotional manipulators that tend to use coercion, deceit, and even violence to maintain control in a romantic partnership. They may become anxious and abusive if they perceive they are being neglected or rejected.

Relationship, in which a person is addicted to being in a relationship, even if they are no longer in love with their partner. Even if the relationship is unsatisfying or dysfunctional, they feel that this is better than the alternative – being alone. Or, if faced with inevitable loss, they may quickly line up another person as a replacement.

Ambivalent, in which a person can let go of a romantic partnership(s), yet they are unable to move forward into a new relationship. Ambivalent love addicts vacillate between craving love and avoiding it, and may abruptly end relationships when things get too serious. These individuals have often experienced some childhood trauma and have deep-seated problems with intimacy.

Romance, in which a person is addicted to the process of romance and not necessarily a particular partner. Unlike sex addicts, who usually do not bond with their partners, romance addicts do bond on a certain level, but not to a long-lasting extent. They often have more than one partner or overlap partners that are used to fulfill feelings of being desired and validated.

Factors That Contribute to Obsessive Love Addiction

The causes of love addiction, in general, consist of a combination of underlying emotional issues. These may be related to childhood trauma, abuse neglect, or abandonment, and mental health issues such as impulse problems, depression, or anxiety.

Other causes of love addiction include low self-esteem, growing up with a lack of positive role models in romantic relationships, and delusions about the concept of “living happily ever after” as is idealized by our culture.

Obsessive Love Addiction and Substance Abuse | Recovery By The Sea

Obsessive Love Addiction as Related to Substance Abuse

Research conducted by Syracuse University found that falling in love was similar to cocaine addiction. Both are borne of a biological process involving the rapid release of adrenaline, dopamine, and other feel-good chemicals. These reactions cause the person to associate an object of desire with feelings of pleasure, reward, and euphoria. 

Any experience that releases endorphins and other reward chemicals in the central nervous system can contribute to an addiction in some people. Although there is not a direct chemical component, such as that with cocaine and other psychoactive substances, a significant emotional compulsion can develop.

Although substance abuse tends to be more common among those with mental and emotional problems, it is obvious that not all love addicts will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Instead, they may be a higher risk of doing so, due to the underlying issues that contribute to both conditions. These include mental illness, the experience of childhood trauma, and other distress that may lead to self-medicating behaviors.

Specific mental health conditions that especially likely to contribute to both love addiction and substance abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Attachment disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Delusional or obsessional jealousy
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic disorder

Genetic factors may also come into play, as both behavioral addictions and substance abuse may have biologically-based similarities, especially those related to impulse control.

Lastly, behavioral addictions and substance abuse, when coexisting, tend to make each other worse. If a love addict is particularly stressed out about romance or a relationship, he or she may be more likely to abuse substances or do so more excessively. Conversely, the use of drugs and alcohol often serves to promote emotional dysregulation further, and the cycle is therefore perpetuated and goes on and on.

Treatment for Obsessive Love Addiction and Substance Abuse

Love addiction and substance abuse are both mental health conditions that may be caused by many of the same underlying issues. They may also exacerbate each other, and failure to treat one or the other can result in a relapse back into addictive behavior.

Recovery by the Sea offers individualized, comprehensive programs designed to treat all aspects of our clients’ mental health and physical well-being. Our programs feature therapies and activities clinically-proven to be essential for recovery, including psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to love and drugs or alcohol, contact us today! Our mission is to ensure that we help as many people as possible reclaim their lives, free from substance abuse, and go on to enjoy long-lasting happiness and wellness!

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Updated on August 23,2019

There are several subtypes of bipolar disorder that consist of a wide range of symptoms and severity. Understanding the different types of bipolar disorders and their common links to addiction is critical for those living with bipolar disorder and their loved ones.

Although they are not necessarily suggestive of each other, a high percentage of people who have bipolar disorder also struggle with substance abuse. In fact, a co-occuring substance abuse disorder is so prevalent that many health providers perform regular addiction screenings for people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The Bipolar Disorder Spectrum

Bipolar disorder is hallmarked by shifts in mood that can be quite dramatic. On the one hand, individuals may have a depressed mood in which they feel low, sad, and lethargic. On the other hand, individuals may experience a manic mood in which they feel happy, confident, powerful, and energetic.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder tend to encounter one or both of these moods without any particular external catalyst. Experts may diagnose people who have these striking mood shifts as bipolar, but there are many different ways that the disorder can present. Many experts posit that these different types of bipolar disorder exist on a spectrum in which a person might have one, some, or all of the potential symptoms associated with the disorder.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I

Bipolar I disorder exists on one end of this spectrum. Only about 1% of the population has this type of bipolar disorder, and symptoms present as what is generally known as classic bipolar disorder. People who experience this form of bipolar disorder alternate between the highest highs and the lowest lows on a routine basis. During a manic episode, they might behave in the following ways:

  • Speak so rapidly that they’re difficult to understand
  • Spend a considerable amount of money
  • Express delusional beliefs (sometimes delusions of grandeur)
  • Refuse to sleep
  • Have an increased interest in engaging in sexual activities

This same person might then encounter episodes of severe depression in which life doesn’t seem worth living. They might refuse to go to work or find it difficult to talk to others or make decisions. They can appear as though they’re in a pit of despair at the lowest point in their lives.

Substance abuse can play a significant role in the life of someone who has bipolar I disorder. In fact, this is a common occurrence among many mental health disorders. For people who have a mental illness, substances might seem to make the mental/emotional dysfunction a bit easier to endure.

Bipolar II

This type of bipolar disorder can also make life difficult, but people who experience it don’t usually encounter full mania. People with bipolar II are still cycling from one mood to another, but they are much less likely to experience the feelings of energy and joy that comes with mania.

Instead, they oscillate from moments of minor dysphoria, in which they feel just a little sad, to moments of intense despair. People with bipolar II face the highest risk of suicide among all people on the bipolar spectrum because their depression seems like it will never get much better.

Furthermore, they are also highly susceptible to illicit drug use. They may turn to euphoric drugs to feel some form of happiness or use stimulant drugs to increase their energy levels so they can get through the day while feeling depressed.

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea


This type of bipolar disorder is on the other end of the spectrum from bipolar I, as it is characterized by the same kind of cycling between mania and depression, but the highs and lows are typically less intense. People with cyclothymia experience sudden changes in mood that they might find difficult to control, but they may not encounter extreme forms of either mood.

These patients may also try their hand at self-medication with drugs and alcohol in an attempt to iron out the mood swings they’re feeling. Unfortunately, cyclothymia tends to become worse over time if not appropriately treated, and those who are using drugs or alcohol might be less likely to get treatment. As a result, their substance abuse can contribute to a more severe form of bipolar disorder.

Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)

This form of bipolar disorder can be placed anywhere on the spectrum as it’s applied to people who have a group of symptoms that don’t fit nicely into diagnostic criteria. People with this type of bipolar disorder might encounter episodes of mania, but no depression or they may experience only a few symptoms of mania and/or depression, but their episodes do not manifest quickly enough to warrant a formal diagnosis.

It can be incredibly challenging to live with NOS bipolar disorder as many struggle to find the proper care. Because their symptoms don’t fit other categories, they may not receive the medication support or therapies needed for healing. Thus, it’s common for people with NOS to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, which can cause an increase in symptoms and a more severe form of the disorder.

Alternating Moods and Rapid Cycling

While everyone who has bipolar disorder encounters mood shifts, people who have a rapid cycling form of the condition can go from one mood to another incredibly fast. They might wake up in the morning feeling depressed and experience mania by the afternoon.

People who must cope with shifts such as this can be profoundly disabled by their disorder, being completely unaware of what mood may soon follow and constantly feeling tense and on edge. Those with rapid cycling may be at an increased risk for substance abuse and addiction as they feel desperate to make the feelings stop.

Treatment for Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

While people often abuse drugs because they are attempting to manage their symptoms, substance abuse can make the dysfunction associated with bipolar much worse. However, specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders can make a huge difference, and usually begins with the following:

  • A thorough assessment of the symptoms the individual is currently encountering
  • A discussion about the person’s substance use patterns and habits
  • A timeline regarding symptom manifestation and the steps the person took to relieve the symptoms

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Adjusting to Sobriety

Medical detox is usually next and is characterized by the process in which the body is cleared of toxic substances in a safe and controlled environment. Once detox is complete, doctors may use medications to stabilize mood and manage bipolar symptoms. However, because other drugs and alcohol can interfere with these medications, it’s essential for people to detox completely before they begin medication-assisted therapies.

Psychotherapy is another critical component of treatment. Here, the individual works with a therapist to understand their motives for using drugs along with potential triggers for bipolar shifts. Patients may work in a one-on-one setting, as well as in groups and learn from peers who also experience bipolar disorder.

At Harmony Ridge Recovery, we specialize in treatments for mental health disorders, particularly those that have been exacerbated by addiction. We believe that everyone who suffers from these disorders can recover and that an improved state of health can be achieved through medication management, psychotherapy, support groups, complementary therapies, and aftercare.

Call us today to find out how we can help you reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve!

Codependent Behavior and Addiction

Codependent Behavior and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Codependent Behavior and Addiction – Codependency is hallmarked by a relationship in which one person has profound emotional needs, and their partner is forced to contribute a disproportionate amount of his or her time responding to those needs, frequently to the detriment of the life of one or both partners and/or other significant relationships.

Codependency can result in a downward spiral in which one partner actively attends to and enables the emotional challenges of the other. This enabling behavior can make it easier for the loved one to continue behaving in toxic and problematic ways.

What Is Codependency?

There are two members in a codependent relationship—the manipulator and the enabler. The actual codependent person in the relationship is the enabler. In most cases, codependent enablers end up in relationships with manipulators, leading to what is referred to as a codependent relationship.

A codependent enabler is usually a somewhat passive person who, either consciously or unknowingly, enables the manipulator’s problematic or addictive behavior. The enabler typically engages in submissive behavior in which he or she relinquishes a great deal of their own identity and neglects their own needs in order to fulfill the manipulator’s demands.

Codependency then leads to a cycle of harmful behavior that truthfully helps no one, and can eventually destroy relationships and lives.

Symptoms of Codependent Behavior

Symptoms of codependent behavior include the following:

Poor Self-Esteem

The codependent enabler may feel unloved or worthless aside from their role in the relationship. They depend on fulfilling the needs of others and other external reinforcements to feel positive self-worth.


The opinions of others have a significant amount of weight for the codependent person, who will often do anything to ensure others have a positive perception of him or her. The person may feel a tremendous amount of guilt or exhibit an inability to stick up for themselves or say “no” to others.


The person feels a fundamental need to take care of others, often at the expense of his or her own needs. In many circumstances, the enabling individual doesn’t feel secure or comfortable unless they are needed for some higher purpose other than for their own self-care—this is the hallmark of a codependent person.

An Absence of Boundaries

The enabler may not have a firm sense of boundaries, either for oneself or others. These people may offer unwanted advice, feel responsible for the feelings and wellness of others, or even attempt to manipulate others themselves who can provide some level of self-assurance.

An Obsession With Relationships

Because the enabler feels defined by relationships, they may become an obsession for the person, nevermind the fact that these relationships often lack healthy emotional intimacy.

Codependency and Drug Addiction

Codependent Behavior and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

If just one person in a codependent relationship is using drugs or alcohol, it is most often the manipulator. This person chronically manipulates those who help them get what they want, whether it’s money, shelter, alcohol, drugs, or other resources. They know they have leverage over their partner and use this fact to their benefit.

Codependency does not need to occur in conjunction with substance abuse, but it was first identified among the family members of people suffering from alcoholism. Indeed, codependent behavior is common among those who have intimate relationships with those who struggle with addiction.

Codependency can develop in a few different ways:

  • Among partners who are both abusing substances
  • Among close adult family members or friends of people abusing substances
  • Among the children of people who are abusing substances

The codependent person in the relationship does not need to be a spouse or significant other. Often, the children of those who abuse drugs and alcohol become codependent, particularly when an addiction has progressed to the extent that the child is required to take on a caretaker role with the parent.

Negative Effects and Risks for the Codependent Enabler

If the manipulating partner is abusing substances, both partners may encounter many adverse effects and risks based on the situation. There can be severe consequences that affect family dynamics surrounding codependent relationships and also the emotional health and well-being of the enabling person.

Some of these risks include the following:

  • Increased risk of also developing an addiction(s), either to substances or to activities such as gambling or sex
  • Profound loss of relationships and social activity with others outside of the codependent relationship
  • Inability to attend to other responsibilities outside of the codependent relationship
  • Neglect of personal needs, which can result in poor health, depression, and worse self-esteem.

Negative Effects and Risks for the Codependent or Manipulator

As for the person struggling with substance abuse, the codependent relationship can also have adverse consequences on the substance use disorder itself, as well as on the potential for a positive treatment outcome (i.e., sobriety). Moreover, the codependent relationship acts as an enabling force in the manipulator’s life and may discourage them from making healthy changes.

The enabling person may genuinely want to help and support their partner, but may also fear that the other person won’t require them any longer after the addiction is resolved. This possibility may thwart any practical attempts to get help, allowing the manipulator to continue to suffer from addiction and face the corresponding physical and mental health risks it produces.

This factor can also pose a significant risk if the addicted person finally decides to get treatment. Because the enabling partner feels at least partially dependent on their partner’s addiction to maintain the relationship, returning to the relationship after treatment can increase the risk of relapse for the addicted person.

For this reason, understanding and overcoming codependent behavior should be a vital part of an individual’s treatment plan when he or she enters an addiction treatment program.

Components of Recovery From Codependency and Substance Abuse

Due to the aforementioned complications, when a person who is struggling with addiction is also in a codependent relationship, this situation should be addressed during treatment. There are several components of evidence-based treatment programs that can help both partners in the codependent relationship learn to interact in a healthy and constructive manner.

The enabling partner is usually encouraged to seek behavioral therapy to improve his or her self-esteem and ability to communicate needs and set boundaries.

Codependent Behavior and Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Creating Boundaries

An essential element in treating codependency in addiction is learning how to create boundaries. For both the manipulator and their codependent partner, establishing boundaries can help promote a healthier relationship and increase the likelihood that both partners can recover from the challenges of a codependent, substance-abusing relationship.

Some steps to developing healthy boundaries include the following:

  • Learning that having needs, preferences, and opinions that are different from the person with an addiction is normal and healthy
  • Describing one’s own emotions, rather than what one believes “should” be felt
  • Establishing constraints on one’s own behavior as well as the behaviors of others who are relevant
  • Being able to recognize and seek the fulfillment of one’s personal needs rather than only those of others
  • Valuing one’s boundaries as well as boundaries set by others

By learning to create boundaries, the codependent partner and the manipulating person can learn to develop a healthier relationship and make it more likely that treatment will be beneficial and have a positive outcome for both people.

Getting Treatment for Codependency and Addiction

For those seeking help for addiction, a full-service treatment program such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea can provide customized plans that help with the challenges associated with codependency. Using evidence-based methods, including behavioral therapy and counseling, programs such as these can help the person with addiction learn to navigate the barriers that result from codependency and improve the likelihood that he or she will be able to maintain long-term recovery.

You can reclaim your life and experience the happiness and wellness you deserve! Call us today to find out how we can help you begin your recovery journey!

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment and Addiction

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment | Recovery By The Sea

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment and Addiction – Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a debilitating condition that distorts a person’s self-perception and interferes with their ability to sustain stable relationships. Those who experience BPD are often perceived as manipulative and dramatic, a behavior that experts believe develops as a dysfunctional means to deal with emotional pain and instability and fear.

Addiction and BPD often occur concurrently, and the relationship between them can be explosive and unpredictable. People with BPD are more likely to use drugs or alcohol than others as a means of self-medication and to escape feelings of fear and abandonment.

In fact, research has shown that about two-thirds of those suffering from BPD have abused a substance at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol use tend to exacerbate some of the more alarming symptoms of BPD – anger, anxiety, and depression, most prominently.

In an effort to overcome an intense sense of emotional emptiness, they may also frequently engage in self-injuring behaviors, such as cutting. They are also prone to attempting suicide, especially when substance abuse is present.

Recognizing BPD

Symptoms of BPD may include the following:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Emotional hypersensitivity
  • Extreme depression or anxiety
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irrational perceptions of others
  • Paranoia and delusions
  • Extreme anger or aggression
  • Lack of or an unstable sense of self
  • Profound fear of abandonment
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Manipulative impulses

The effects of BPD often leave individuals with an extremely poor sense of self-worth. Their impulsive behavior and mood swings can often push other people away, leaving them isolated and withdrawn. This isolation can lead to anxiety or profound depression, as individuals with BPD have an intense fear of being abandoned or alone.

Ironically, those with BPD often push others away and preclude themselves from enjoying intimate, meaningful relationships because they are afraid of being abandoned by that loved one later on. BPD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder or some other mood or personality disorder.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Although the precise origins of BPD are unknown, there are several theories about how this complex personality disorder may develop. Factors that are believed to contribute to the development of BPD include the following:

Family Dysfunction and Trauma

Children who are raised in families where they feel emotionally neglected, abandoned, or abused are more likely to develop BPD as adolescents or young adults. This environment may elicit any number of traumatic situations or events, including sexual or physical abuse, rampant drug or alcohol use, or serious mental health disorders.

More pointedly, BPD is thought to result from neglect and/or abuse during the stage of childhood development in which the child learns how to rely on and trust others. As a result, individuals with BPD lack this essential aspect of interpersonal relationships.


BPD and other personality disorders are often observed among close family members, such as parents and their children or siblings. This fact suggests that certain people may have a genetic predisposition to developing BPD. Researchers believe that certain inherited tendencies or personality traits, such as aggression, may increase the risk of BPD when combined with environmental factors.

Neurobiology and Brain Chemistry

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment | Recovery By The Sea

Abnormalities in the regions of the brain that regulate mood, behavior, and emotions may be at least partially responsible for the emotional instability and impulsive/unpredictable behavior exhibited by those with BPD. Research has found that some areas of the brain – namely the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex – may be smaller or more active in persons with BPD.

BPD may also be linked to imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, which are naturally-occurring chemicals in the brain that affect the way people feel and behave. These include serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which are neurotransmitters responsible for the regulation of certain emotions and urges.

How BPD and Addiction Overlap

Many of the neurological and environmental factors that contribute to BPD are also strongly associated with substance abuse. Many people who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction come from environments where heavy drinking or drug use was prevalent, and this in and of itself may cause trauma to children.

Complicating matters, a history of childhood sexual abuse or other trauma also increases the risk of substance abuse later in life, as the person seeks ways to escape feelings of anger, resentment, fear, and pain. Furthermore, some neurological imaging studies have found that addiction is related to brain structure and function.

When it comes to addressing borderline personality disorder and addiction simultaneously, the similarities between the symptoms of the two can make both conditions difficult to diagnose appropriately. Treatment can be especially challenging when the individual’s antisocial and manipulative tendencies make him or her exasperating to work with.

Overlapping Signs and Symptoms of BPD and Addiction

As mentioned, symptoms of BPD are often confused with those of substance abuse, which can make BPD challenging to identify. Both BPD and substance abuse/addiction may be characterized by the following:

  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors
  • Manipulative and deceitful actions
  • Unstable and strained relationships
  • Legal, financial, or employment problems
  • Mood swings from profound depression to mania
  • Recklessness and neglect of one’s own health and safety

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

Addiction and BPD can be addressed concurrently in addiction treatment centers that offer dual diagnosis programs. These treatment programs generally provide therapy, counseling, support, and pharmacological intervention for both mental health and substance use disorder.

Perhaps the most common and effective approach to treating both these conditions is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is used in rehab facilities to help patients identify the thought patterns that cause their impulsive and addictive behavior. Likewise, CBT teaches patients how to regulate their moods and emotions better, so they are less likely to resort to the use of drugs or alcohol as a means to cope.

Treating borderline personality disorder is particularly challenging because clients with BPD often make unrealistic demands of their therapists and insist on constant contact with their treatment team. They may come across as dependent and needy due to a propensity to seek out caregivers who can meet or enable their unreasonable emotional needs.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment | Recovery By The Sea

Making treatment even more difficult, individuals with BPD may turn against their providers, and become antagonistic and paranoid without any apparent reason. Understanding the emotional landscape of borderline personality disorder is critical for professionals who treat this severe psychiatric condition.

In addition to individual psychotherapy, clients who receive integrated treatment can attend classes and counseling sessions that focus on relapse prevention. Relapse prevention training is vitally important for those with co-occurring conditions such as these, as relapse rates tend to be high. Relapse prevention often involves peer group support meetings, where clients who have been diagnosed with both BPD and substance abuse problems can share coping strategies and address the challenges of living with this dual diagnosis.

Psychiatric drugs and anti-addiction medication can also be powerful tools when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Many BPD patients find that medications that restore balance to levels of neurotransmitters (e.g., antidepressants in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor family) are beneficial. Moreover, anti-addiction medications such as Suboxone and naltrexone can also help by reducing withdrawal symptoms and mitigating cravings for alcohol or opioid drugs.

How We Can Help

If you or a loved one has borderline personality disorder and is also suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, contact us as soon as possible to learn about our treatment options and how we can help you recover from both conditions and reclaim your life.

We employ certified addiction professionals who are dedicated to helping every client we serve by providing them with the tools and support they so direly need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-term wellness and sobriety.

You can experience the fulfilling life you deserve! Contact us today!

Types of Anxiety and Addiction

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

Types of Anxiety and Addiction – Anxiety is a normal reaction that manifests from the brain’s “fight or flight” response mechanism. For example, people may feel anxious in hazardous situations or before making important decisions. But for some, anxiety is not just a temporary worry – it tends to be pervasive and may increase in intensity over time. As a result, symptoms begin to interfere with daily activities and responsibilities such as school, work, and relationships.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobia-related disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Types of Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is a disorder marked by chronic anxiety and excessive worry and stress, even when there is little to aggravate it.

People with GAD exhibit undue anxiety or distress on a near-daily basis for at least 6 months. These worries can be regarding any number of issues, such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday regular life circumstances. And indeed, this anxiety can, in turn, cause notable problems in many of these same areas of life.

GAD symptoms may include the following:

  • Feeling on edge and irritable
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having sleep disturbances
  • Having difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Feeling muscle tension and restlessness
  • Difficulty controlling anxious feeling

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by chronic, uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts and obsessions as well as compulsive, repetitive behaviors.

These may include hand-washing, cleaning, counting, and the strict performance of routines in an effort to inhibit these thoughts.

However, these feelings are offered only temporary relief through the practice of these rituals, and yet, not performing them exacerbates anxiety. Moreover, a person with OCD receives little or no pleasure from performing the behaviors or routines but may feel short-term relief from the anxiety caused by the intrusive thoughts.

Common obsessive and compulsive symptoms of OCD include the following:

  • Fear of germs or contamination, resulting in excessive cleaning or hand-washing
  • Unwanted nor taboo thoughts and feelings involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts toward self or others
  • Having things placed symmetrically or in a perfect order, arranging things in a precise way
  • Repeated checking on things, such as repeatedly reassuring oneself that the door is locked or that the oven is turned off
  • Compulsive counting

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can be a very debilitating anxiety disorder and is marked by sudden recurrent episodes of intense dread and feelings of impending doom or lack of control. These feelings are accompanied by physical symptoms that exhibit death-like terror, including racing heart/palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, sweating, trembling or shaking.

Attacks can be purely spontaneous but are often triggered by some specific fear of a situation, person, or thing, such as flying in a plane during turbulence.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that may manifest after a person has experienced a shocking or terrifying event in which physical harm transpired or was threatened in some way. Such events include, but are not limited to physical or sexual assault, natural disasters, and military combat.

While feeling anxiety or fear during and after a traumatic event is normal and meant to protect us from harm, people who continue to experience problems associated with these feelings long-term may become anxious or frightened during non-threatening situations and subsequently be diagnosed with PTSD.

PTSD Signs and Symptoms

Not every person who is exposed to trauma suffers from PTSD, and not everyone with PTSD has been exposed to a life-threatening event. For example, some people can develop PTSD after the death of a loved one.

Symptoms usually begin within three months of the event, but sometimes can begin years later. In any case, Symptoms must continue for more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work

To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must exhibit all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom such as a flashback or bad dream
  • At least one avoidance symptom, such as staying away from places or events that
  • remind one of the experience
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as being easily startled or having angry outbursts
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as having negative thoughts about oneself or the world, or having feelings like guilt, shame or blame

Phobia-Related Disorders

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

A phobia is an intense fear of a certain object (e.g., needles or blood) or living thing (e.g. spider) or situation (e.g., flying or being in a high place.) Anxiety is often normal in some of these circumstances, but people with phobias experience fear out of proportion to the true danger potential of the situation.

People with a phobia may exhibit the following signs:

  • Having an irrational or unrealistic worry about exposure to the object or situation they fear
  • Taking action to avoid the object or situation
  • Experience sudden and intense anxiety when encountering the object or situation
  • Enduring unavoidable objects or situations while suffering from intense anxiety and fear

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, have an intense fear of social situations or circumstances in which they have to perform or speak in front of others. They worry that behaviors associated with their anxiety will be adversely judged by others and that they will feel humiliated.

This worry can cause persons with SAD to avoid many social situations, including school, work, and gatherings. People with SAD can also experience agoraphobia, a condition which in extreme cases can result in a person being confined to his or her home.

Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by a fear of being apart from people to whom one is attached. This is more common in children but adults may also experience it. The person worries that harm or another attachment-threatening event will occur when their attachment figure is away, and this fear leads them to avoid being separated from the parent or other person.

Types of Anxiety and Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance use disorders (SUDs) occur significantly more often in patients with anxiety disorders than among those in the general population. Specifically, social anxiety disorder has been strongly associated with alcoholism and PTSD has been linked to both alcohol and drug abuse.

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the SeaAnxiety disorders when left untreated often leads people to experiment with psychoactive substances as a means to self-medicate.

Symptoms caused by these substances, such as depression, irritability, and general malaise often exacerbate anxiety disorder and thus, help perpetuate a cycle of substance abuse and mental illness.

Addiction does not usually exist in a vacuum – moreover, it usually co-exists with another mental health condition such as anxiety. For these reasons, a co-occurring mental illness must be treated in conjunction with substance abuse, and not as a separate entity.

Both anxiety disorders and substance abuse can be treated through participation in a long-term, comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment program. This program includes behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, and ancillary services such as yoga and music and art therapy.

Treatment is offered both as residential (inpatient) and intensive outpatient formats. Inpatients benefit from around-the-clock medical supervision and emotional support, while outpatients can take advantage of increased flexibility to attend to personal responsibilities such as work and family.

Recovery from mental illness and addiction is a lifelong process, but it can begin now with our help.

Anorexia Symptoms and Addiction

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in Tune

Anorexia Symptoms and Addiction – Anorexia nervosa, or just anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by chronic low weight, a desire to be thinner, a fear of gaining weight, and an aversion to food. Furthermore, many people living with anorexia perceive themselves as fat even when they are extremely thin. Anorexia nervosa boasts the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis.

Warning signs of anorexia may be difficult to spot because individuals living with anorexia often invest great effort to conceal their thinness, harmful eating habits, and physical problems in general. Because of this, anorexia often flies under the radar until serious medical intervention is necessary.

There are numerous warning signs that may indicate someone is suffering from anorexia nervosa. They include:

  • Sudden, severe weight loss
  • Skipping meals, fasting, or avoiding meals by making excuses
  • Lying about eating, the amount of food eaten or weight loss incurred
  • Adopting a severely restricted diet of a few low fat, low calorie “safe” foods
  • Emergence of eating rituals such as chopping food into small pieces or chewing food excessively then spitting it out
  • Preparing fancy meals for others then refusing to eat
  • Obsessive weight monitoring
  • Frequent scanning for bodily flaws in a mirror
  • Distorted perceptions of body image (criticizing their self for being fat even while underweight)
  • Eating only in secret, never publicly or in the company of others
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes to mask thinning stature
  • Menstrual cessation or irregularity
  • Exercising excessively to cut more weight
  • Preoccupation with diet that interrupts everyday activity
  • Fatigue from malnourishment

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia symptoms can be divided into three categories: mental, behavioral and physical. No single person will exhibit all possible symptoms of anorexia at once. Still, if you recognize at least a few of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you should seek help to avoid serious complications.

Mental Anorexia Symptoms

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in TuneAnorexia is a mental health disorder – the main mental symptoms of anorexia involve negative self-image, deep fear of weight gain, and abstinence from eating. Eating disorders like anorexia generally cause the sufferer to think constantly about food, sacrificing many hours contemplating their next meal.

Lacking vital nutrients may cause the individual to become emotionally volatile and fragile. An individual living with anorexia may have intense bouts of shame, sadness, irritability, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Additionally, the self-destructive behaviors characteristic of anorexia are permitted and encouraged by the psychological rationalizations that underpin them. As such, loved ones may find it difficult to convince the person struggling with the condition that they need to accept help.

Behavioral Anorexia Symptoms

Anorexia nervosa usually manifests a multitude of behaviors considered abnormal and unhealthy. Refusing to partake in meals is a common behavior that corresponds to a fear of gaining weight. Likewise, to reduce weight, a person living with anorexia may exercise compulsively, only stopping when exhausted.

It isn’t uncommon for a person living with anorexia to amass a small stockpile of diet pills and herbal supplements conducive to weight loss. Abuse of such substances carries with it secondary risks of addiction, as well as the danger of overdose, given the substance. Moreover, when a meal is unavoidable, a person with anorexia may engage in a “purge,” regurgitating food or consuming laxatives to prevent weight gain.

Physical Anorexia Symptoms

As the mental and behavioral symptoms associated with anorexia take their toll on the body and thus produce a host of physical symptoms in their wake, all of which cyclically reinforce one another. These physical symptoms typically worsen as the eating disorder progresses but pose significant threats at any stage nonetheless.

Physical symptoms of anorexia include the following:

  • Emaciation (being abnormally thin)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Bluing of fingers due to malnutrition
  • Feeling cold
  • Dry skin
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Brittle hair and nails, thinning or loss of hair
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Lanugo (areas of soft, downy hair caused by malnutrition)
  • Menstrual cessation or irregularity
  • Constipation
  • Infertility
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)
  • Heart damage
  • Osteoporosis

Anorexia, Addiction, and Treatment

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in TuneDrug and alcohol abuse commonly co-exist alongside eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. In addition to self-medicating for negative thoughts and feelings, some drugs and alcohol offer other “benefits” that may appeal to those with these conditions.

For example, drugs such as amphetamines suppress appetite, and regular use can quickly result in weight loss. Also because anorexia is a compulsive disorder based primarily on fear, anxiety, and control, substances that can reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol may be enticing to some.

In a groundbreaking study, researchers discovered that those who experienced eating disorders were as much as five times as likely to misuse alcohol and drugs when compared to others. Also, more than one-third of those who abused drugs or alcohol also suffered from eating disorders, compared to 3% of the general population.

Eating disorders and drug abuse and two overlapping mental health conditions that can only be effectively treated simultaneously. Treating addiction alone does not solve the underlying problems that drive the eating disorder, and vice versa.

Fortunately, our center is equipped to treat all forms of mental illness, including anorexia, in addition to substance abuse. We offer both inpatient and intensive outpatient formats, which include behavioral therapies, individual and group therapy, family counseling, nutritional support,12-step meeting participation, and ancillary services such as yoga, medication, and art therapy.

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