How a Gratitude List Can Help Your Recovery

During active addiction, individuals experience adverse and profoundly harmful effects that occur as a direct result of their chemical dependencies. The effects of addiction manifest rather quickly with some of the earliest being physical in nature; individuals often experience changes in weight and personal hygiene while generally looking unkempt and disheveled. Many users pursue substance abuse under the misconception that they somehow can prevent their budding addictions from affecting any other aspects of their lives; meanwhile, everything begins to unravel.

Attendance at work or school takes a turn for the worst, culminating in the loss of employment and many other opportunities, financial hardships, and perhaps even homelessness. “Rock bottom” is a concept that has emerged to describe the cumulative destruction wrought on an individual’s life by his or her own addiction, being the point at which one’s chemical dependency couldn’t possibly dig them any deeper into the hole of misfortune and ruin.

While it can be tempting to give up altogether once a person has reached the proverbial rock bottom, there’s a bright side or silver lining to the situation: When you’ve reached the ultimate low point of your life, the only place to go is up. People who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, and even to behaviors like sex, gambling, and eating can find solace in the numerous recovery options that are available to help individuals overcome dependency to such harmful substances and behaviors.

The counseling and psychotherapy that form the basis of most addiction treatment programs help individuals to identify the altered patterns of thought that contributed to the development of addiction while learning healthier and more productive ways of thinking that will minimize the chance of relapsing back into destructive habits. Moreover, 12 Step recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous—and its many derivative groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and so on—help individuals to not only recover from addiction physically but also socially and spiritually.

The thought of recovery from addiction often conjures images of sterile rehabs and psychotherapy, but there are other equally important components to overcoming chemical dependency. As mentioned, there are many treatments and programs available that emphasize the path to emotional, social, and spiritual recovery after years spent in the throes of active addiction. Especially after a length of time of suffering from addiction, individuals often feel depressed, unfulfilled, lonely, unattractive, and even unhealthy.

Because of this sustained numbness, recovery can often be a very intense time. However, once individuals can process the flood of emotions that are realized during early recovery, they usually begin to feel very thankful for the opportunity to rehabilitate and right many of the wrongs in their lives.

What Is a Gratitude List?

Twelve-step recovery has become a prominent tool for people who have struggled with chemical dependency or behavioral addiction. Much of the 12-step method has individuals accepting powerlessness to the disease of addiction and turning themselves over to the higher power of their understanding to derive the strength for long-term abstinence from one’s spirituality. As one gets further into the 12 steps, amends are made with those who have been harmed and those who are finishing working through the steps themselves become ready to help others work through the steps.

A major theme of 12-step recovery involves aligning one’s mentality and spirit with the tenets of recovery. Through the course of recovery, individuals become increasingly aware of the things for which one can be thankful. For instance, non-addicted people tend to have better health than people who abuse substances. Additionally, those who have successfully overcome an addiction regain their independence by finding and maintaining employment and stabilizing one’s financial situation.

Recovery also allows individuals to repair relationships that might have been damaged when a person was in active addiction. On a daily basis, those in recovery will notice more and more things about which they can be thankful. As such, it’s not uncommon for one’s recovery treatments to incorporate what is called a gratitude list, which is a list that one writes, containing each of the things for which he or she is thankful.

Moreover, it’s often taught that an individual should write one gratitude list every day, or one list for every day of sobriety. As time goes on, those in recovery will notice that the list continues to grow as they find and gain more and more things for which they are grateful.

The Importance of Being Grateful in Recovery

When an individual begins his or her recovery, he or she will often have just reached the point of rock bottom or the lowest that they have yet been in life. This can take the form of having no employment or money, being homeless, contracting a deadly disease during one’s substance abuse, loss of important relationships, and so on.

As such, when an individual begins the journey of recovery, it can often feel like there’s nothing for which he or she can be thankful. However, with each passing day, he or she can add the previous day’s abstinence to the list, meanwhile accruing other things for which the newly sober individual can be thankful. As a gratitude list grows, individuals are further inspired by their progress in life.

Especially compared to the state of one’s life at rock bottom, a growing gratitude list can become to motivation to continue with one’s recovery; moreover, it can make individuals feel like they have a lot they could lose in a relapse. In short, gratitude lists help recovering users to focus on the progress made in life and sobriety, showing them the successes they’ve had and are continuing to have while maintaining abstinence from alcohol and drugs.

Get Addiction Help Today

If you or someone you love wants to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs and would like to learn more about rehabilitation, Serenity of Summit can help. Our experienced recovery specialists help countless individuals find the addiction treatment programs that best address their individual recovery needs, allowing them to return to lives of sobriety, health, and fulfillment. Give us a call at 844-326-4514 or connect with us online today to learn about our services and how they can help you start your journey to a new life.

Is There a Connection Between Substance Abuse and Panic Attacks?

There is a definite link between substance abuse and mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. Sometimes it is the mental illness that causes the substance abuse as people attempt to self-medicate the symptoms, and other times it is the substance abuse that brings on the symptoms of mental illness. For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on the latter – specifically, how the abuse of some substances can result in the individual suffering anxiety and panic attacks.

Some substances can cause a person to be more likely to suffer the adverse symptoms of an anxiety disorder, one of the worst is panic attacks. The good news is that substance use disorders and addiction are completely treatable, and panic attacks that result from them often go away on their own when the individual gets into recovery and stops using the substance.

What Are Anxiety and Panic Attacks?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, which is completely normal in some situations – the first day of a new job, giving a speech in front of a large audience, or hearing a loud noise in the middle of the night. But a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder may have the sudden feeling of fear in situations that don’t warrant it or even for extended amounts of time. Panic attacks are episodes in which the sudden feeling of fear becomes debilitating and lasts for ten minutes or more. Panic attacks can be terrifying events for the person who is suffering from them as they commonly have a number of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Fear they are dying
  • Intense feeling of impending doom
  • Fear of losing control
  • Feeling detached
  • Sick to the stomach
  • Numbness of the feet, hands, or face
  • Increased heart rate, or pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath, or hyperventilating
  • Sweating, hot flashes, or chills
  • Shaking or trembling

Substances That May Cause Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Not every substance has the propensity to cause anxiety or panic attacks in the user. However, there are a number of substances where it does happen. Even substances like caffeine, nicotine, and sugar, when consumed in more than moderate amounts, may cause a person to feel some of the symptoms of anxiety. Generally speaking, if one of the effects that the substance being used has on the body is increasing the heart rate, then it’s possible that the user could suffer anxious feelings or a panic attack when they are using the drug.  

Let’s take a look at how abusing specific substances can lead to anxiety or panic attacks.

Alcohol Abuse and Panic Attacks

While abusing alcohol can cause a person to do things that they normally wouldn’t do (like having severe mood swings, outbursts of anger or sadness, or rages), it is typically the withdrawal from alcohol that causes anxiety and panic attacks in some users. Additionally, some people who already suffer from anxiety attempt to use alcohol to manage it, making the symptoms much worse when they stop drinking.

Cocaine or Methamphetamine Abuse and Panic Attacks

Cocaine and methamphetamines are both stimulants that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. They tend to give users a false sense of power and energy which can quickly lead to negative behaviors like being paranoid, violent, or promiscuous. These types of stimulants are especially dangerous for the heart, as they increase heart rates quickly and drastically. Anytime the heart speeds up in that manner, the user can feel the symptoms of anxiety or go into a full-blown panic attack.

Marijuana Abuse and Panic Attacks

Marijuana can be smoked, consumed, or “dabbed” – which is a sort of vaporizing of cannabis extracts that have the highest levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of all the forms of marijuana. Abuse of marijuana can cause mood swings, lack of motivation, anxiety, and panic attacks. In fact, it has been shown that lifetime marijuana users are significantly associated with lifetime panic disorder sufferers. Even those who have only used marijuana regularly for a short period of time (less than a year), have a much higher risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety or panic disorder than those who do not use marijuana.

Opioid Drug Abuse and Panic Attacks

Opioids include prescription painkillers as well as the illicit street drug heroin. They are used in a variety of ways including ingesting pills, snorting, smoking, injecting, or dermal patches depending on which opiate is being used. Opioids are characterized by short periods of pleasurable and euphoric feelings. However, abusing these drugs can lead to feelings of severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Additionally, the withdrawal from opioids is often extremely uncomfortable for a day or more, with some symptoms (like anxiety and panic attacks) lingering for weeks.

Treatment for Substance Abuse Related Anxiety

If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety or panic attacks that are related to substance abuse, the symptoms will likely go away if you stop using the substance. However, if you are dependent upon or addicted to the substance, you probably won’t be able to stop using it on your own. Seeking help for a substance abuse problem is often a difficult decision to make, but it may be one of the best you can make for yourself and your family.

If you need help for a substance abuse problem, you may choose to attend a medically-supervised detoxification which will help you to stop using drugs or alcohol more comfortably and without the severe withdrawal symptoms, you may suffer if you try to detox at home. There are medications and therapies that can help you make it through the withdrawal period without (or to a lesser degree) anxiety and panic attacks. Detox followed up by outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment, like that offered at Serenity at Summit, will get you on the road to recovery from both drug or alcohol addiction and panic attacks.

Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Relapse

Ask anyone in recovery and they will likely tell you that getting clean and sober was the hardest, yet best thing they have ever done. Very few people with an addiction to drugs or alcohol actually stay sober after their first attempt at recovery. It sometimes takes repeated efforts to achieve long-lasting sobriety – that is more the rule than the exception. For some people, it’s even harder than that though. They are chronic relapsers and while they may be able to collect longer periods of sobriety, they continually end up drinking or using again.  

What is Chronic Relapsing?

Chronic relapse is a repeating cycle in which a person wants to become sober, does in fact stop using or drinking, but then once again picks up and restarts active addiction. Chronic relapsers typically have completed addiction treatment multiple times, have had some long periods of recovery, have been educated about the disease, are well-versed in addiction lingo and are especially familiar with recovery tools, yet they still cannot remain clean and sober.

Why Do People Relapse?

Chronic relapse refers to old behaviors that have come back, including drinking or using, that cause the user to once again need treatment. The rate of relapse of addiction is very high, and addiction experts are finding that there are many reasons for it. Among them are the following:

  • Not changing one’s social environment after treatment
  • Underlying psychological or psychiatric issues that were not discovered or resolved while in treatment
  • Insufficient length of time spent in treatment
  • Varying degrees of stress, depending on the individual
  • Major life changes like marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.

The biggest contributor to chronic relapse, though, is thought to be the belief that upon completion of treatment that one is cured, no longer needing to be concerned about a return to addiction. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Addiction recovery and relapse prevention requires using every recovery resource that an addict has, that cannot be maintained on one’s own. Depending on the person, that may mean continued individual or group therapy, consistent attendance at 12-step meetings, regular contact with a sponsor, psychiatric care, family support, or any combination of these and other tools.

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Relapse

The following are a few of the most common signs and symptoms related to chronic relapse:

Multiple unsuccessful attempts at remaining sober  Many substance abusers have lived a life of drug and alcohol abuse without ever attempting to get sober. Chronic relapsers are different, in that they have tried over and over to stop using.

Unable to remain clean despite having all of the knowledge and being familiar with the tools of addiction and recovery  Most people who fall victim are familiar with the ins and outs of recovery, but continue to relapse despite that.

Feeling hopeless  Chronic relapsers often feel hopeless about finding long-lasting sobriety.

Many treatment options tried  People who chronically relapse are likely to have tried several recovery options including detox, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, psychiatric care, sober living housing, support groups, and 12-step programs.

Exaggerated personality traits  It’s often found that chronic relapsers have varied, but exaggerated, personality traits like charm, manipulation, deceit, intelligence, or passion. Some suffer from borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or narcissistic personality disorder.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Chronic Relapsing

Addiction therapists can help with treatment plans that are unique to their triggers and lives, that are designed for people prone to relapse. Some other helpful methods for treating chronic relapse include:

Medical management  An addicted person’s chances of achieving long-term sobriety are improved when his or her mental and physical health are monitored by a medical professional.  

Remove distractions  It’s crucial that chronic relapsers remove anything that distracts them from seeing the truth about themselves, that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Emphasize mental and spiritual nature of addiction  It’s essential that chronic relapsers understand that they have a disease that affects their mind, body, and spirit.

Help for the family  Often times, the families of the victims are dysfunctional and help and support are needed for family members as well as the addicted person.

Use leverage  Chronic relapsers need to understand that they will not receive help, financial or otherwise, from loved ones if they relapse. This is not bribing someone to stay sober, it is simply not enabling an addict’s addiction.  

Group therapy or 12-step program  It’s important to have the support of others in the recovery community. Bonds are formed quickly, and other people in recovery are most likely to notice relapsing behavior.

Accountability  Treatment for chronic relapsers must include relentless accountability, responsibility, and consistency.

Hope for the Chronic Relapser

While the statistics for chronic relapsers is not favorable, there is hope for sustained recovery. It has to be recognized that the person is resistant to treatment and options that challenge that resistance must be employed. Often, a long-term residential treatment program that is specifically designed for the treatment resistant addict is critical to breaking the cycle of chronic relapse.

If you or your loved one is a chronic relapser, seek help sooner rather than later. At Serenity at Summit, we have experience in dealing with individuals who have been unsuccessful at remaining sober in the past. Contact us for help and guidance in your recovery.

Saying Thanks to Someone Who Supported You During Recovery

Research shows that expressing gratitude can actually be good for your health

In many cases, addiction recovery is focused on the patient. This is normal and to be expected — after all, the person being treated should be at the center of any recovery effort.

However, supportive individuals are key to a lasting recovery. Although it’s very possible to achieve a lifelong recovery on your own, it is always best to surround yourself with friends and family members who support what you’re doing and go out of their way to ensure you are given the encouragement and acceptance you deserve.

If you’ve been through treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, and you’re now in recovery, saying thank you to the people who supported you can be a great way to recognize them, as well as further cement your bond with them. Here are some ideas for making sure your support system knows you appreciate their help and compassion.

Write a Letter

Research shows that expressing gratitude can actually be good for your health. In a 2012 study, researchers found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, exercise more often, and live longer than those who don’t take time to say thank you to others. In today’s busy world, most people don’t write letters anymore. Sending a heartfelt card or letter to people who supported you during your recovery will make them — and you — feel great.  

Include them in Your Recovery Journey

Recovery is a lifelong process. Even if it’s been years since you kicked your addiction, it’s always important to stay focused on your recovery journey. There are many ways you can include your support partners on your journey. Examples include talking to them about temptations you face, sharing experiences in which you turned down a chance to use alcohol or drugs, and inviting them to attend therapy sessions or treatment meetings.

Spend More Time Together

It’s always nice to spend time with people who care about you. Even if you can’t get together in person, you can still connect through email, video messaging, and text. If you live near each other, consider inviting supportive individuals to go shopping, eat dinner, or take a walk together. You don’t have to plan a big or expensive outing — often, small gestures are the most special.

Offer Support in Return

You never know when someone who supported you will need a helping hand themselves. Look for opportunities to give back. For example, offer to run errands for someone who comes down with the flu or suffers an injury. Small gestures of kindness are a wonderful way to let someone know how much you appreciate their support when you needed it. It’s also a great feeling when recovery enables you to be the support person someone else needs.

About Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity At Summit offers drug and alcohol addiction programs in New Jersey and Haverhill, MA. They offer personalized and drug and alcohol detox under medical supervision.

1-908-481-4400 (NJ)

1-978-641-3001 (MA)



Should We Look At Drug and Alcohol Abuse As a Mental Illness?

It took years for healthcare providers to consider alcohol a disease, and a similar battle is being waged over classifying alcohol and drug abuse as a mental illness.

Part of the reason is that it can take years for prevailing attitudes to change about an issue, especially when that issue as polarizing as drug and alcohol addiction.

But a growing body of research is revealing that because alcohol and drug abuse can negatively affect a person’s brain, it can create the same kind of changes that are found in mental illnesses.

APA Lists Alcohol and Drug Abuse As a Mental Disorder

In fact, the much-respectedDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) includes a section for Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.

Under this category, the AMA lists a number of alcohol and drug-related disorders as mental disorders, including:

  • Alcohol Use
  • Alcohol Intoxication
  • Cannabis Intoxication (marijuana)
  • Opioid Use
  • Stimulant Use
  • Cocaine Use
  • Sedative Use
  • Inhalant Use

In an excerpt from the report, the AMA report said that all drugs that are taken in excess have in common direct activation of the brain reward system, which is involved in the reinforcement of behaviors and the production of memories. (1)

Long-term drug and alcohol abuse have the effect of impairing the brain’s natural inhibitions, which deprives an addict of making good decisions.

And in fact, over time, the brain’s ability to issue warning signs to an addict is so compromised, that addicts may believe that continued abuse of drugs and alcohol is, in fact, beneficial, because of the way it makes them feel.

Therefore, it may not be implausible to suggest that long-term drug and alcohol abuse should be treated as a mental illness, given how much a person’s brain is altered through prolonged abuse.

The Link Between Alcohol and Mental Health

Long-term alcohol abuse not only lowers the brain’s inhibition but it also negatively affects the central nervous system, which controls a person’s moods and emotions.

Furthermore, intense alcohol consumption alters the brain’s chemistry and lowers the levels of serotonin, a chemical that creates feelings of intense pleasure. (2)

This is why alcoholics are often diagnosed with depression because they drink more to recapture the feelings of pleasure that drinking used to produce, but in doing so, they further decrease the serotonin the brain produces.

It’s a vicious cycle that many alcoholics cannot break because they keep chasing the ‘high’ that they once had when they first began drinking, but they can never reproduce that feeling.

Alcohol abuse also affects the brain’s memory centers, which is why alcoholics and binge-drinkers often suffer from what is known as ‘blackouts.’

In fact, long-term alcohol abuse has been linked to increased incidences of dementia. A recent study found that 10 to 24 percent of alcoholics were diagnosed with dementia.

The Link Between Drug Abuse and Mental Health

Similarly, drug abuse has similar negative effects on the brain as alcohol abuse.

For example, studies have found that drug abuse produces high levels of dopamine in the brain, which like serotonin, is a neurotransmitter that controls motivation, emotion, and feelings of pleasure.

Drug abuse triggers the brain to overproduce dopamine, which acts as a reward for the brain and drives addicts to use more drugs to replicate the pleasurable feelings.

But prolonged drug use kills the pleasure centers of the brain, and triggers depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, drug abuse can lead to compulsive behavior, because the brain’s ability to help an addict make sound decisions has been compromised.

And compulsive behavior is an aspect of certain types of mental illness, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Three million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with OCD, which is characterized by repetitive behaviors sparked by anxious feelings or obsessions that may include contamination by dirt or germs, imagined harm to loved ones, runaway sexual urges, and devastating moral guilt. (3)

More Research Needed To Link Alcohol and Drug Abuse With Mental Illness

The point isn’t that drug abuse causes mental illness, it is that the consequences of abusing drugs for a long time damage the brain, and often lead to behaviors and symptoms that are found in some common types of mental illness.

Some addicts may only view their addiction as a medical issue, when in fact their struggle should be likened to a mental illness and treated in that way.

This is especially true when addicts are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, which refers to a person who has an alcohol or drug abuse disorder and a mental health disorder.

Treatment and Recovery Is Essential

As healthcare experts begin to view some types of drug and alcohol abuse as a mental illness, there will a greater push to educate the public about the effects these addictions have on the brain function of addicts. And with greater public awareness, the stigma of addiction may lessen, and the benefits of treatment programs may increase. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you have the right to know all the treatment options.

The medical detox experts at Serenity at Summit can provide you with all the information you need about treatment to make an informed decision. Please call us at (908) 481-4400 (New Jersey), or (978) 641-3001 (Massachusetts).

Serenity At Summit Detox New Jersey – (908) 481-4400

Serenity At Summit Detox Haverhill MA –  (978) 641-3001



What You Need To Know About Mental Health and Drug Addiction Programs In New Jersey

The link between these proposals and what is happening in New Jersey is clear

Multiple studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to help addicts regain control of their lives is through mental health and drug addiction programs. But according to the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, a recent proposal by Governor Chris Christie will change the way these programs are run in New Jersey.

Christie’s proposal would shift mental health and drug addiction programs from the purview of the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health. And while this may not sound like a major shift, the change signals the way lawmakers now view these treatment programs. Here are some of the reasons that the proposal would make these programs more effective. (1)

Changes How Treatment Programs Are Perceived

The Department of Human Services of New Jersey has major divisions that include: (2)

  • Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Division of Aging Services
  • Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities
  • Division of Disability Services
  • Division of Family Development
  • Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services

With the exception of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, most of the other divisions are not dealing with crisis health issues that could determine whether a person lives or dies.

That doesn’t mean that these other divisions aren’t providing invaluable resources, it simply means that from a perception standpoint, mental health and addiction services do not have the proper health care urgency that is required to successfully treat addicts.

By shifting the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to the Department of Health, mental health and drug addiction programs in New Jersey will be perceived as crisis management facilities within the healthcare system.

Burlington County Assemblyman Herb Conaway proposal echoed that sentiment when he commented on the governor’s proposal:

“There has been this division between what is regarded as a mental health and physical health, when in fact what we ought to be talking about is health for an individual and a population in a holistic way,” Conaway stated.

Eliminates Red Tape and Delays In Obtaining Treatment

People who need mental health and drug addiction treatment often have to wade through reams of red tape and paperwork in order to find a facility for urgent detox and long-term care.

This is due in part to the fact that the Department of Human Services does not treat those in need of addiction treatment with the urgency reserved for people in the Department of Health.

As a result, delays in patients getting addiction treatment are not viewed as detrimental as they would be if the mental health and drug addiction treatment were under the Department of Health umbrella.

The governor’s office believes there will less bureaucracy and red tape after mental health and drug services shift to the Department of Health, providing a greater level of care to those most in need.

“We’re bringing overall the program staff, the senior management team, the subject matter experts,” stated New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett. “And because they’re all moving over, it will feel seamless to the outside world.”

Treats Mental Health and Drug Addiction As a Health Issue Instead of a Legal Issue

One of the problems with providing effective drug and mental health treatment services is that there is still a prevailing sentiment that these are legal or moral problems, instead of health problems that can be effectively treated.

This was the impetus for a recent proposal by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which recommended that substance abuse disorders be treated as a medical, not a legal issue. (3)

In fact, the UNODC found that substance use disorders are a disease, caused by developmental, biological, neuropsychological, and psychosocial factors, and thus should be addressed within a public health framework.

Furthermore, the UNODC recommended that healthcare systems take the lead in addressing drug abuse and addiction through the creation of evidence-based programs.

The link between these proposals and what is happening in New Jersey is clear. By shifting mental health and drug treatment services into the sphere of the Department of Health, the state is declaring that the health care system is the most appropriate place for addicts to recover in an environment where their addiction is treated medically as well as through proven psychological treatment.

Treats Mental Health and Drug Addiction As a Health Issue Instead of a Legal Issue

Taking the First Step

Addiction is a disease and recognizing that disease is one of the first steps in a recovery program. The New Jersey proposal to shift mental health and drug programs to the Department of Health is welcome news for anyone suffering from an addiction.


Compassionate help is just one phone call away! Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about you or a loved one’s treatment options. We understand that substance use disorders are a disease, caused by developmental, biological, neuropsychological, and psychosocial factors, and thus should be addressed within a public health framework. We can help!



Summit Behavioral Health’s Executive Director of Medical Services Dr. Patricia Allen To Appear At Recovery 360 Conference

Her presentation will provide clinicians and nurses with an understanding of the role of pharmacogenetics testing in co-occurring disorders

Union, New Jersey – July 11, 2017 –
Summit Behavioral Health is proud to announce that Executive Director of Medical Services  Dr. Patricia Allen will be a presenter at Recovery 360 Conference Sponsored by Pyramid Healthcare that takes place from July 20 to July 21 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Allen’s presentation will cover innovative testing methods for patients who suffer from both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder, commonly known as co-occurring disorders.

“I am honored to be included among the speakers at Recovery 360,” stated Dr. Allen. “The presenters for the conference are an impressive collection of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, counselors and social workers. Behavioral healthcare deserves this kind of gathering so that we can hear a variety of viewpoints, and learn new methods to improve our caregiving.”

The Recovery 360 Conference is the first of its kind, a gathering of behavioral healthcare specialties that includes mental health, addiction and eating disorder treatment. It offers seminars, 10 hours of continuing education, and multiple networking opportunities. The conference is hosted by Pyramid Healthcare, a rehabilitation center in Pennsylvania that provides treatment for adults and teens suffering from mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and all phases of addiction.

Dr. Allen’s presentation will focus on three main learning objectives:

Applying the principles of evidence-based practice and cost effectiveness in the utilization of genetic testing in the treatment of a client with co-occurring disorders.

Determining the relationship between the use of pharmacogenetics results and treatment engagement outcomes for those with co-occurring disorders.

Describing ways in which genetic testing can empower the client and support sobriety and resiliency within the co-occurring population. 

Dr. Allen, who is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner was a presenter at the recent Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders, and the Annual Conference of the American Psychiatric Nurse’s Association, discussing issues related to pharmacogenetics and medication-assisted treatment for patients with co-occurring disorders. She was also a presenter at the NEI Psychopharmacology Congress.

In her role as Executive Director of Medical Services at Summit Behavioral Health, Dr. Allen evaluates the treatment of patients in detox and also supervises the Intensive Outpatient programs. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and the International Nurses’ Society on Addiction.


Serenity at Summit is an addiction treatment center that offers drug and alcohol medical detox, inpatient treatment in a residential facility, and intensive and non-intensive outpatient treatment for patients who have successfully completed the residential program. Summit’s integrative treatment combines cognitive-behavioral and emotion-based therapy techniques with 12-step facilitation and relapse prevention.

4065 Quakerbridge Road

Princeton Junction, NJ 08550

Toll-Free: 844-432-0416

Office: 609.651.4001 | Fax: 609.269.5761


September Is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that suicide is a leading cause of death among young people; it is third after accidents and homicides. However, suicidal thoughts and actions affect every demographic. They can occur at any time for many reasons. Never downplay suicidal thoughts or suicide. They’re not common issues, and you should not treat them as such. If someone you love has suicidal thoughts or attempts suicide, he or she needs serious help.

The Warning Signs Of Suicide

Many signs can tell you if a loved one is feeling suicidal. The first sign might be comments like, “I wish I wasn’t here.” Such comments often become more overt—as in, “I wish I were dead.” The person may joke about suicide. If such comments are frequent, ask your loved one what he or she is feeling and if you can help.

Even if your loved one doesn’t say anything about suicide, his or her behavior could be a warning sign. Look for aggressive behavior, increased drug and alcohol use, or increased risk-taking. For instance, your loved one might already participate in extreme or contact sports. If he or she does so without safety gear or proper preparation, be vigilant. Your loved one might be using the hobby as a way to commit suicide but make it look accidental.

People considering suicide often withdraw from family and friends. They talk about death frequently and may write or draw about it. Know the difference between normal introverted behavior and a cry for help. If the withdrawal is sudden and frequent or if death is frequently the topic of conversation, talk to your loved one about it.

Signs Of Imminent Suicide

Certain behaviors may indicate that a person is about to attempt suicide. For example:

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Giving away possessions, especially important or favorite ones
  • Putting affairs in order, such as quitting a job, arranging care for children or pets, etc.

Many suicidal people have been depressed for a long time. Yet as they prepare to commit suicide, their mood will often shift. Beware if your loved one suddenly seems calm or happy. He or she hasn’t “snapped out of it.” What you’re seeing is relief or resolve. Your loved one believes that he or she finally has a permanent way to deal with despair.

Finally, watch for signs that your loved one is planning suicide. Not everyone makes an elaborate plan, but some people seek the materials they need before committing suicide. Watch for sudden increases in prescription medication refills. A suicidal person might also buy unusual supplies, or he or she may write out a plan about his or her intentions. If you find such a note, act immediately.

Suicide Risk Factors

Although suicidal thoughts and actions can happen to anyone, certain people are most at risk. Age is a huge risk factor; people under 24 and over 65 are likely to become suicidal. Substance abuse increases suicide risk as well. Since alcohol and drugs cause mental highs, coming down from a high can make depression worse. A suicidal person may seek harder drugs to get the same highs and find that they aren’t effective.

People in isolation are far more likely to become suicidal. People with disabilities or chronic illnesses are more likely to live in isolation because they can’t transport themselves or aren’t well enough to go out. Perpetual isolation can make people feel like others don’t notice or care about them or wouldn’t notice if they didn’t exist. This naturally leads to sadness, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

Recent tragedies or losses also contribute to these feelings. Be cognizant of family history. Those with a family history of suicide are more likely to commit suicide themselves. If multiple family members or friends have committed suicide, urge your family member or friend to seek counseling. Talking through emotions may help your loved one see that suicide is not an option.

Preventing Suicide

If you or someone you know is suicidal, he or she needs immediate help from a mental health professional. Cognitive/behavioral therapy can improve mental resilience and prevent suicidal thoughts and actions. Medication (such as antidepressants) may also help.

The stigma of suicidal thoughts and actions often prevents people from getting help. You can sign a stigma-free pledge that lets people know that you see the person, not the depression or mental illness. Let others know that you are a source of compassion, understanding, and assistance. Take the Stigmafree pledge today, click the button below and take the pledge.

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How To Incorporate Substance-Free Methods Of Reducing Mental Health Symptoms Into Your Lifestyle

According to the Association for Natural Psychology, approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from mental health issues. Prescription medications, such as antidepressants, have been over-prescribed and do not effectively treat these illnesses.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of substance-free methods to treat mental illness. In several cases, these methods have worked better than prescription drugs do to combat mental health issues.

Besides working more effectively, substance-free methods are also safer than prescription medications, which are sometimes addictive and come with a host of side effects.

Why You Should Avoid Psychiatric Drugs

Psychiatric drugs produce many side effects and prove to be more problematic than they are helpful in treating mental illness. According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, 286 drug regulatory warnings, 278 studies and more than 400,000 adverse reaction reports have been filed with the FDA.

However, substance-free methods did not contribute to these alarming numbers. In fact, they helped improve mental health for several patients.

What Are Substance-Free Methods?

As the name suggests, substance-free methods combat mental health issues without the aid of prescription drugs. Examples of substance-free methods include lifestyle changes and dieting.

Lifestyle Changes

Altering one’s lifestyle can help him or her regain and maintain a better mental balance. When issues in lifestyle are addressed, mental health issues are easier to combat.

One approach to this is filtering what comes into the mind. What we allow into the mind can have an impact on mental health. This solution requires practice and concentration, but it’s a step toward better mental health.

Resting the mind is also beneficial. The mind is like the body’s motor: It needs to rest and refuel. A mind that is constantly running can have a negative impact on mental health. Getting adequate sleep without the use of medications is important to regaining mental health.

Exercise can be another key factor in combating mental health issues. Exercise acts as a long-term treatment. The Association for Natural Psychology shows that exercise can:

  • Help focus the mind
  • Stimulate positive emotions
  • Contribute to self-worth
  • Increase endorphins and natural opiates (giving the brain a sense of well-being)
  • Improve the heart
  • Improve weight loss
  • Help give the mind a rest

Because of the increased endorphins and stimulation of positive emotions, exercise is a fantastic way to ween off antidepressants.

Attention to lifestyle issues is a great place to start in addressing mental health issues. Where attention is given, alterations can happen – which helps improve mental health.


Dieting can have a significant impact on mental health. A proper intake of the basics will help improve mental health. The basics include:

  • High-potency vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids
  • Fish oils

These help brain function by providing fuel the brain needs.

Cutting out processed, high-fat and other unhealthy items and replacing them with all-natural, fresh foods also delivers better results. Replace fried foods, hydrogenated oils and trans fats with unsaturated fats found in fish, olive, vegetable and seed oils and omega-3s (found in flaxseed, seafood and nuts). Replacing trans fats with unsaturated fats helps clear the body’s systems and improves mental and physical health.

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco products should also be avoided. These substances affect mental clarity and can alter the brain in a negative way.

Caffeine is another culprit. You should cut back significantly on your consumption of coffee or caffeinated sodas, or cut them out of your diet completely.

What To Consider When Reducing Mental Healthy Symptoms

If someone is on prescription drugs, he or she should not stop the medications abruptly. According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, no one should attempt to withdraw from medications without a doctor’s supervision. Additionally, keep in mind that substance-free methods are effective at helping ween patients off medications.

Mental Health Treatment At Summit Behavioral Health

The mission at Summit Behavioral Health is to help individuals who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues improve their overall quality of life. Natural and holistic approaches are emphasized in Summit’s treatment programs, with a focus on the patient’s long-term health.

Summit Behavioral Health knows the importance of substance-free methods and these strategies can be effective in reducing mental health symptoms.

How The Chemicals In Our Food Are Leading To Mental Health Disorders

As children, we’re all told we are what we eat. There is certainly truth to this, and eating right offers substantial benefits when it comes to overall health.  Our bodies are finely-tuned instruments and it truly matters what we put into them. But, you may not have considered that the food we eat can also greatly impact our mental health, too.

Consider that your brain is responsible for your thoughts, movements, heartbeat, breathing and senses around-the-clock, 24 hours a day. To keep it functioning optimally, it requires a steady source of nutrients. What you put in your mouth has both an immediate and long-term impact on the structure of your brain and how it functions. The brain works best when it is supported by high quality food with the optimal amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, an increasing amount of research is showing that an unbalanced diet, high in refined sugars, can greatly impair brain function and worsen symptoms of common mental conditions, like depression.

The Connection Between Mood And Food

According to Harvard Health Publications, only in recent years have medical experts acknowledged a clear link between what we eat and how our brains function and how we feel. Today, there is a growing focus on this connection, and the consequences of what we eat, how we feel and our behaviors.

One of the discoveries researchers have made is that there is a connection between bacteria in the gut and brain function. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, as well as balance moods and prevent pain, is largely produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, the production of serotonin is influenced by “good” bacteria in the intestinal microbiome that help us absorb nutrients and activate neural pathways that travel between the gut and the brain. When there are insufficient levels of this bacteria caused by an unbalanced diet, serotonin production decreases, and brain function suffers.

Linking Sugar And Depression

Holding Sugar Cubes-Linking Sugar And Depression

Sugar has also been shown to suppress a hormone produced in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Individuals with depression and schizophrenia commonly have critically low levels of this hormone. High-glycemic foods, such as those with high-refined grains or added sugar are also linked to higher rates of depression.

Additives And Other Ingredients That Can Negatively Affect The Brain

Sugar and high-refined grains aren’t the only two ingredients to avoid if you’re struggling with symptoms of mental illness. There are a few common ingredients typically found in processed food that are linked to decreased brain health.

A growing number of researchers are looking at the potential dangers of genetically-modified ingredients. The theory is that they negatively impact gut flora, allowing pathogens to take hold which eliminate the healthy microbes necessary for mental health.

Glysophate, which is an herbicide commonly sprayed on food crops, has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies which are necessary for healthy brain function. This is leading to many nutritional experts to recommend organic produce, particularly for patients with a history of mental illness.  As well, additives such as artificial sweeteners and colorings can impact mood, as well as negatively affect physical health.

Self-Medicating Mental Illness With Alcohol Or Drugs

Unfortunately, many individuals who struggle with mental illness like depression, anxiety or even schizophrenia use alcohol or drugs to alleviate painful symptoms. This can lead to a devastating cycle that can be very difficult to break. It is also why balanced nutrition is such an important component of addiction treatment. When treated right, our brains have incredible healing ability. Along with eliminating drugs and alcohol, a proper diet can help “reset” the brain. Often, these changes can dramatically improve symptoms of mental illness.

Share this thought-provoking article with colleagues and friends and family. You never know who you may help change for the better.

Find Out More About The Impact Of Nutrition On Recovery

The Delusion That Alcohol “Enhances” Our Personalities

It’s simply human nature to be concerned about how others perceive you. This leads to a need for acceptance and approval – especially in those who find it difficult to be social or engage with others. For some individuals, there is unfortunately the belief that alcohol can help overcome the challenges of shyness and social anxiety. This assumption leads many people to alcohol who use it as a coping mechanism and as a way to connect with others.

The Link Between Shyness And Drinking

Surround Yourself Positivity-Delusion Alcohol Enhances PersonalitiesThere is a clear connection between shyness and drinking. Why? The lowered inhibitions that come with drinking can greatly reduce shyness and increase confidence. Of course, this isn’t a healthy solution to a timid personality. Rather, drinking eventually leads to reckless or belligerent behavior and ultimately addiction.

Many shy individuals discover that a couple of drinks greatly reduces the uncomfortableness of timidity. In fact, alcohol is so effective in “treating” shyness, that many become dependent on it from the first drink. Unfortunately, alcohol is not a sustainable solution for an introverted personality. It only creates more problems. The only solution is overcoming this bashful characteristic to improve the ability to interact with people without alcohol.

Self-Medicating With Alcohol

Of course, shyness isn’t the only personality trait that is connected with alcoholism. Many people who suffer from depression, stress, anger issues, PTSD, anxiety and other conditions use alcohol as a way to improve their personalities. In fact, the majority of individuals who are addicted to alcohol are using it to self-medicate to numb the feelings of a co-occurring disorder. It makes sense that those suffering the painful symptoms of these conditions would turn to alcohol as a readily-available solution for medicating their underlying problem.

Stopping The Pattern Of Alcohol Addiction

Decide To Rise-Stopping The Pattern Of Alcohol AbuseRegardless of the social disorder, alcohol is not the solution. In an individualized treatment program, you will obtain the help you need to overcome your addiction along with solutions for dealing with its underlying causes. In the case of shyness, the only way to overcome it is to interact with others on a consistent basis.

It’s easy to fall back into a pattern of isolation, and this can be very risky for those in recovery. Shy individuals who do not have a strong support system around them are far more likely to relapse. Regular 12-step meetings and group therapy are particularly beneficial in helping to sustain recovery and develop new social skills that can minimize the chance of relapse.

Individualized Treatment Plans

There are many programs to treat alcohol addiction. However, if you are using alcohol as a way to enhance your personality or overcome shyness, your treatment needs include new strategies for engaging with others in healthier ways.

At Summit Behavioral Health, we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all treatment program. Rather, we carefully assess your specific situation and needs to create a treatment plan that is truly designed to support your long-term recovery. Call now to speak to an addiction specialist. Help is only a call away.

Like what you’ve read? Read more in: How Your Personality Type Affects Recovery

Let us help you take the first step in your recovery. The time is now. Recovery is always worth it.

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Mental Health Problems And Their Relationship To Addiction

It’s no secret amongst mental health professionals and addiction specialists that mental illness and addiction often exist as co-occurring disorders. This renders each condition more difficult to diagnose and more difficult to treat.

The Relationship Between Mental Illness And Addiction

Mental Health Problems And Relationship To AddictionThough the heartbreaking relationship between mental health problems and addiction is common, it is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. What research has shown is that there is a cause and effect between mental illness and substance abuse. Frequently, an individual with a condition such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder will use drugs or alcohol to numb themselves from painful symptoms of their mental disorder.

Untreated mental illness often fuels drug or alcohol abuse, leading to a vicious, self-defeating cycle that can be complex to treat. For most individuals with co-occurring disorders, simply going “cold turkey” isn’t an option. Treatment for both conditions needs to happen simultaneously to overcome the addiction and sustain recovery.

Are You Or A Loved One Self-Medicating A Mental Illness?

While anyone can develop a substance abuse problem, those with certain mental disorders are at greater risk. The following are common conditions associated with addiction:

  • Depression – It’s ironic that individuals who suffer from undiagnosed depression often turn to alcohol which is, in fact a chemical depressant.
  • Anxiety – Dealing with day-to-day challenges can be overwhelming for those with anxiety disorder which often leads to alcohol or drug use to alleviate unmanageable feelings, particularly in social situations.
  • BipolarDisorder – Dramatic mood swings are a hallmark of bipolar disorder. Many people who suffer from this condition turn to drugs or alcohol to balance their moods.
  • PostTraumaticStressDisorder – Flashbacks, sleep issues, and anger are just a few of the symptoms associated with PTSD. Those who don’t obtain effective treatment often turn to substances for comfort and solace.
  • Schizophrenia – This serious form of mental illness can be devastating and notoriously difficult to treat. Drug use is common among those with this condition to self-treat delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis.

Addiction, Mental Illness, And Getting The Help You Need

The conditions listed above, exacerbated by drug or alcohol abuse, can wreak havoc on an individual and their loved ones. The medically-proven connections between addiction and mental illness are well-documented, yet difficult to identify.

The first step is obtaining a comprehensive evaluation of both the mental illness and the addiction to identify the extent of the co-occurring disorders and the best treatment options. With each passing day, the problem will only get worse. Don’t wait. Call now and get the help you deserve.

Healing and recovery are possible. The staff at Serenity at Summit will treat you with the respect and care that you deserve.

Learn More About Our Addiction And Mental Health Treatment Program

Are You At Risk For Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

During the detoxification phase of recovery, the addictive substance physically leaves the body. Symptoms of withdrawal can range widely from mild to very serious. And, the duration of this phase can vary from a couple of days to a week or more. In some circumstances, symptoms can last as long as 12 weeks. This extended period of detoxification is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and it is caused by chronic overexposure to a substance.

Who’s At Risk For PAWS?

Individuals who enter recovery after a long history of drug or alcohol abuse are most likely to develop PAWS. It’s commonly marked by mood swings and memory lapses, as well as prolonged symptoms of withdrawal. In some individuals who have abused drugs or alcohol for years, withdrawal can be a dangerous process that requires medical supervision in a controlled and safe environment like our personalized detox program at Serenity at Summit.

Because withdrawal is so complex and unpredictable, it’s not something to attempt alone. Simply quitting is rarely an option, particularly for those who have a long history of using drugs or alcohol. Those who attempt to go “cold turkey” at home are often overwhelmed by their symptoms and quickly return to the substance they are abusing.

Individualized, Holistic Detox

At Summit Behavioral Health, we offer individualized, holistic addiction detoxification at Serenity at Summit. Treatment is provided by a highly skilled and experienced medical, clinical, and holistic team that is available around the clock to guide each individual through this earliest stage of recovery.

Our detox program also offers many holistic treatment options to help ease symptoms and begin healing the body, mind, and soul. These include:

  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional Assessments
  • Creative Arts Therapies
  • Journaling
  • Hypnotherapy

Many forms of group therapy are also encouraged during this time including 12-step, stress management, relationship building, and relapse prevention.

Individuals who require inpatient detoxification, whether for typical symptoms or for an extended case of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, require professional care in a peaceful and comforting environment.

Learn More About Our Drug/Alcohol Detox Program By Calling Now!

How Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment Can Help Those Suffering From Addiction And Mental Illness

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly nine million adults have co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Yet, only a small fraction of these individuals receive treatment for both conditions.

At Summit Behavioral Health, we believe co-occurring disorders treatment provides better outcomes and a greater opportunity for long-term recovery. This is why we offer a unique approach to addiction recovery that is personalized to the individual and any co-occurring disorders they may have including mood, anxiety, and personality disorders.

Treating Addiction And Mental Health Issues

Our dual diagnosis treatment process is provided by certified physicians and clinicians who have extensive experience in treating individuals with coexisting addiction and mental health issues.

The process begins with a complete mental health screening to identify underlying mental health issues and determine the best treatment strategies and support to address these issues throughout the addiction recovery process.

The next step is tailoring an integrated treatment plan that offers the best chance for living an addiction-free life. The treatment process includes:

  • Detoxification Program
  • Educational Programs
  • Individual Therapy
  • Medical Support
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Trauma Informed Care Sessions
  • And much more!

Stopping The Cycle Of Self-Medication

Approximately 50 percent of all individuals who have one or more mental health disorders also suffer from substance abuse. Many of these individuals start using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment programs must simultaneously address mental health and the addiction. Research has shown that the likelihood of relapse is extremely high in individuals with co-occurring disorders who only receive treatment for their addiction and not their mental illness.

Common disorders that are often diagnosed along with substance abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

Help Is Available For Those Suffering From Addiction And Mental Illness!

If you or a loved one is battling both substance abuse and mental illness, there is help available. Don’t delay in giving us a call for additional information on our co-occurring disorders treatment. Our professional and caring staff is here to help you or your loved one take that first step toward healing and recovery.

Learn More About Alcohol And Mental Health: 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Alcohol Abuse’s Effect On Mental Health

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I Have A Dual Diagnosis, What Now?

For many individuals in recovery, they are surprised to discover that they have a dual diagnosis of both an addiction disorder and an underlying mental health condition. Having co-occurring disorders is more common than most people realize, and it’s something that requires careful consideration when developing a long-term recovery plan. It’s helpful however to first understand why dual diagnosis is so common.

Why Is A Dual Diagnosis So Common?

Some groups are more prone to dual diagnosis than others. These include veterans and those in poverty who are at a higher risk of abusing alcohol and/or drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. However, nearly one-third of all individuals with mental health conditions also experience substance abuse problems.

When you’re suffering from conditions such as depression or anxiety, you naturally look for ways to numb the discomfort. Drugs and alcohol often become the go-to solution and a source of self-medication. Unfortunately, this solution often worsens the condition, and soon a much bigger problem begins to take over. Both withdrawal and long-term recovery can be particularly challenging if the substance abuse isn’t treated along with the mental illness.

Getting Help For Your Dual Diagnosis

Overcoming mental illness and addiction is a complex process that requires the support and guidance found in an integrated treatment program. Dual diagnosis treatment requires a multi-pronged approach to treatment that addresses the addiction and the underlying mental health problems.

The vast majority of medical experts believe that addiction and mental health conditions are linked and need to be treated together. When only the addiction is treated, mental illness typically worsens. Likewise, addiction does not just go away when only the mental illness is addressed.

At Summit Behavioral Health, we don’t use a cookie cutter approach to our co-occurring disorders treatment. We believe that only after a careful evaluation, can an individualized treatment plan be created. This plan can incorporate counseling, exercise, nutrition education, and relapse prevention to address the co-occurring disorders.

If you have not been able to sustain sobriety after being treated in a standardized facility, you may not have had the treatment you need to address both your addiction and your underlying mental health issues.

Our integrated outpatient mental health and addiction treatment can help you:

  • Overcome the grip of addiction to alcohol and drugs
  • Identify and understand your triggers for using and how to sustain long-term sobriety
  • Develop workable strategies to prevent relapse

With effective treatment, support and the right tools, you can successfully achieve sobriety and manage your mental health.

There is hope and healing for those who get help.

Call now to learn more about our effective treatment for dual diagnosis!

PTSD – Not Just For Vets

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder that recently has been in the news due to high rates among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. While the prevalence of PTSD is high with those who have served in the military (about 30% of all war veterans), it also occurs with some frequency within the general population.

What Causes PTSD?

Anyone who has gone through, seen, or has learned about an event involving death, serious injury, or sexual violation can develop PTSD. However, not every soldier, first responder, or witness to a violent crime acquires the disorder.

As with many mental health conditions, there are usually underlying risks that increase the risks for some individuals. These include:

  • Inherited mental health risks
  • Specific temperaments
  • Having experienced other trauma earlier in life such as childhood abuse or neglect
  • Underlying mental health problems such as depression or anxiety

Symptoms Of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD can start within a month or so of a traumatic event or may not appear for years after the event. Often, these symptoms begin to disrupt daily life and cause tension in relationships. PTSD symptoms are typically grouped into four categories:

  • Intrusive Memories – Recurrent memories of the traumatic event. These are often referred to as flashbacks.
  • Avoidance – Trying to avoid people, places, or activities that are reminders of the traumatic event.
  • Changes in Thinking and Mood – This includes negative feelings about oneself or others, feeling numb, loss of interest in activities, memory problems, and hopelessness.
  • Changes in Reactions – These include angry outbursts, aggressive behavior, self-destructive behavior, difficulty sleeping, and being easily frightened.

PTSD symptoms vary in type and intensity from person to person. For some, disturbing thoughts or feelings can be managed by simply talking with loved ones. However, others have severe symptoms that require professional help. This is especially true if there is self-destructive behavior involved such as alcohol or drug abuse.

The Link Between PTSD And Substance Abuse

Of the nearly four percent of U.S. adults who acquire PTSD during the course of a given year, many will develop substance abuse problems. In a recent survey of individuals suffering from PTSD, 34.5 percent of the men had a history of drug abuse or dependency during the lifetime. For women, the rate was 26.9 percent. Many mental health experts believe that people with PTSD use substances to reduce stress and anxiety linked to PTSD.

Getting Help For PTSD And Substance Abuse

At Summit Behavioral Health, we believe that individuals struggling with PTSD and substance abuse require individualized treatment programs that are focused on emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. Through our co-occurring treatment for mental health issues and addiction, we offer a full range of services that provide the best opportunity for long-term recovery.

You Don’t Have To Battle PTSD And Addiction Alone.
Call Us Now And Get The Help You Need!

Is Your Loved One Suffering From Bipolar Disorder And Addiction?

When a person is dealing with a mental health issue and addiction at the same time, he or she is referred to as having a dual diagnosis. In the past, those conditions were treated separately and many times at separate facilities. Rather than treating each concern separately, here at Serenity at Summit, we offer an integrated and more effective treatment approach where both concerns are treated concurrently.

Bipolar Disorder Facts

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health disorder that affects a person’s sense of physical and emotional well-being. If your loved one is living with bipolar disorder, they are at higher risk of having issues with relationships, finding and sustaining employment, becoming injured in an accident or committing suicide than the general population. They are also more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol than people who do not live with this disorder.

  • According to the results of several studies, over half (56.1 percent) of those with bipolar disorder also had a substance dependency issue.
  • Alcohol was the most commonly abuse substance for 46 percent of people, while 41 percent developed a drug abuse issue.
  • People living with bipolar disorder were more than three times more likely to have an alcohol abuse or dependence issue and seven times more likely to have a drug abuse or alcohol dependence issue than the general population.

Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder

Does your loved one suffer from these symptoms?

  • Up and down episodes of mania and depression
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Irritability
  • Rapid speech
  • Difficulties at work and home (especially in personal relationships)
  • Erratic behavior
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Racing thoughts

Help For Bipolar Disorder And Addiction

At Summit Behavioral Health, our caring staff includes certified physicians and clinicians who have experience treating clients who suffer with a dual diagnosis. We will be with you and your loved one every step of the way, including:

  • Giving support during drug/alcohol detoxification
  • Individual therapy sessions (with a dedicated therapist)
  • Group counseling
  • Offering educational programs for stress management and mental health to use for the long-term
  • Relapse prevention

If you or a loved one is dealing with bipolar disorder and need help for addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, call us now. We can help!

Dual Diagnosis: Anxiety Disorder And Addiction

It is normal to feel anxious from time to time, and most people find ways to cope with these feelings so that they don’t get out of control. When someone is living with an anxiety disorder, the situation is much different. The uncomfortable feelings can take on a life of their own and interfere with everyday activities. Someone in this category is at a higher risk for having a mental health and an addiction, which is referred to as a dual diagnosis.

How Anxiety Disorders are Related to Addiction

A number of people who are living with an anxiety disorder will turn to alcohol or drugs to try to control their anxiety. This type of behavior, is known as self-medicating, and it never gets to the root of the problem that led to the person developing the anxiety disorder initially. The anxiety disorder could be due to some type of psychological stressor in the person’s life or a chemical imbalance.

When addiction is a factor, the substance abuse tends to muddy the waters and make it more difficult to separate out the symptoms of the underlying mental health disorder. Using chemicals can also make anxiety symptoms worse. Some of the types of drugs that can have this effect include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Certain prescription drugs

Find the Right Treatment for Anxiety Disorder and Addiction

At Serenity at Summit, we understand that it’s not uncommon for our clients to need dual diagnosis treatment. We offer an individualized outpatient treatment program that is tailored to fit the needs of each individual client and the disorder they are living with.

We can offer our clients support through the detoxification (detox) process so that they can become physically free from the effects of drugs and/or alcohol. Our treatment program also includes one-on-one therapy sessions with a dedicated therapist. We also offer educational programs, which allow our clients to receive information about stress management and their disorder.

Relapse prevention is an important part of our program, since our clients need to be able to recognize triggers that will alert them to the possibility of a potential slip before it becomes a full-blown relapse. Ongoing medical support is always available to our dual diagnosis clients as necessary.

You don’t have to live another day with anxiety disorder and addiction – call us now to find out about our intensive outpatient addiction treatment program!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About PTSD

When something traumatic happens to us, it is not unusual to need some time to recover afterward. An event like having experienced or witnessed a serious accident, a natural disaster, a violent assault, the sudden death of a loved one or a terrorist incident is not something that a person will be able to simply move on from overnight.

While most people eventually recover with time and proper support, someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PDSD) is unable to pull out of the cycle of depression and anxiety months or even years after the incident. The following are things you may not be aware of regarding PTSD.

Things You Didn’t Know About PTSD

1. Symptoms May Not Appear Until Months Or Years After the Precipitating Event

A person can be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing symptoms for at least a month. The flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness and avoidance of people and places that are reminders of the trauma may not start until months or years later.

2. Not Everyone Diagnosed With PTSD Directly Experienced Or Witnessed The Trauma

Some people with this disorder who learned about a trauma that affected a family member or a close friend developed symptoms afterward. Others who develop PTSD, but did not directly experience the trauma are first responders who are exposed to repeated traumatic events through their work (i.e. police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians).

3. More Than Two-Thirds Of People Exposed To Mass Violence Develop PTSD

Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, this figure represents a higher rate than people exposed to natural disasters or other types of traumatic events.

4. Women Are More Likely To Develop PTSD Than Men

Twice as many women as men develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Children develop it as well. The disorder often co-occurs in conjunction with substance abuse, anxiety or depression, per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

5. PTSD Is Not A Character Flaw Or A Sign Of Weakness

If a person could be exposed to one or more traumatic events and walk away without ever giving them another thought, we would probably wonder about their ability to experience empathy or compassion. Depending on a person’s personality, emotional makeup, whether he or she has experienced traumatic events in the past, and other stressors, post-traumatic stress disorder symptom may develop. We don’t blame people who are exposed to a toxic environment if they develop cancer, so it makes no sense to blame those who need help for PTSD.

Co-Occurring Treatment

Here at Summit Behavioral Health, it’s not uncommon for us to see individuals coming to us for help who are dealing with both an addiction and a mental illness (co-occurring disorder or dual-diagnosis). We believe that treating post-traumatic stress disorder (or any other mental health disorder) must be done in conjunction with addiction treatment. By focusing on dealing with the deep-rooted reasons for the addiction, we help completely heal the entire person – emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Summit Behavioral Health offers supportive and professional co-occurring treatment for those dealing with both a mental health issue and addiction. We provide stress management, individual and group therapy, long-term coping skills and other services to our clients to focus on their successful long-term recovery.

Don’t Suffer For One More Day…You Really Don’t Deserve It – Call Us Now!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Dual Diagnosis

When a person is living with a mental health concern and a substance abuse issue, they are described as having a dual diagnosis. Both conditions require treatment from experts who have experience treating clients with this type of profile.

Here at Serenity at Summit, we treat clients with both co-occurring disorders as part of our services.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Dual Diagnosis – But Should

1. There Is A Definite Link Between Mental Illness And People With Substance Abuse Issues

  • Three-quarters of people with alcohol and substance abuse problems may also be dealing with a mental illness.
  • Approximately 90 percent of men with schizophrenia may also be dealing with an addiction.
  • Just under two-thirds (64 percent) of psychiatric in-patients may have either a previous or current problem with drug use.
  • About 25 percent of individuals who have anxiety disorders, depression or bipolar disorder and an addiction to drugs or alcohol also have another mental health issue.

2. A Person With Dual Diagnosis Will Typically Share Certain Characteristics And Experiences

  • Be estranged from and lack family and community support
  • Won’t be cooperative with medical staff
  • Probably will have severe psychiatric symptoms
  • Very emotional
  • May move frequently or be homeless
  • High risk for relapse
  • Seen by Emergency Departments or hospitalized often

3. Early Intervention And Specialist Care Are Often Not Available To Clients Who Need Dual Diagnosis Treatment

4. If A Dual Diagnosis Client Gets Into An Addiction Treatment Program, Counselors May Consider The Mental Illness As A Secondary Issue Or Merely A Side Effect Of The Addiction

If the client looks to the mental health treatment system for help, the addiction may be considered as the secondary issue or a side effect. Neither approach sees the two issues as being equally important or treats them concurrently in the same manner as dual diagnosis programs.

5. Health Care Professionals May Not Involve The Family In Treatment

This is unfortunate, because the family can often provide valuable information about the problems and experiences of the person who has the dual diagnosis.

We here at Serenity at Summit like to include the family and their input and support in our client’s treatment. We also help educate a recovering addict’s family to be the best example possible and to obtain helpful life and family skills.

Serenity at Summit has a program for dual diagnosis clients. Our expert staff treats both health concerns concurrently to achieve a full recovery.

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