Let Your Inner Phoenix Out

Posted on March 18, 2015 By


Let Your Inner Phoenix Out

For those of you who are unfamiliar with or who need a refresher about, the story of the phoenix comes from Greek mythology and is the story of a bird that bursts into flames and then rises again from the ashes. It’s a symbol of rebirth, change, renewal, and most of all, rising above – any obstacle or adversity.

For those of you on the daily grind (i.e. everyone), the smallest of irritations can get us all a fluster, causing us to expend our precious energy on getting angry at stupid things and people. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Take back your power and let your inner phoenix out.

Here are 5 steps to reclaim your power:

#1. Acceptance – of the situation and person(s) involved

Easier said than done, yes, but, after the initial irritation or anger (depending on the severity of the infraction), decide to completely accept the situation as it is. Let go of your need to control the other person.

Now, this isn’t the kind of thing that you just say, “OK I accept this.” This sort of thing will take time and practice to be able to do and it has to be a genuine, internalization of acceptance. Ways to support you in achieving this are practicing meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga.

#2. Managing expectations

Once you feel like you’ve fully accepted the situation and/or person as they are (think: it is what it is), then it’s time to get clear with yourself about what your expectations are and how you can manage them better. Basically, it’s about being open to learning a lesson from the experience.

However, be careful not to focus on the situation or the other person’s behavior because these are the things you cannot control. If you’re not careful, you could be assuming the role of victim, which will never allow you to grow from these things.

#3. Decide what steps to take

Once you know what you want, such as how you can better deal with a similar situation in the future, ask yourself what steps you have to take to have that happen.

Keep in mind that, for the most part, the steps we have to take usually take us out of our comfort zone. We may have to compromise and even sacrifice something — maybe a relationship, or a job. Be prepared for fear to pop up at this point.

You are well on your way to taking back your power; now you can take that deep acceptance and turn it into empowered action.

#4. Write or journal

Write down all the excuses you have – usually self-limiting beliefs – as to why you can’t take these steps to create what you want. For each one, ask yourself, “Is this really true?” and, “What’s the worst that could happen if I did such-and-such?” Usually, the worst thing that can happen is *just* a bruised ego.

Go through all the reasons you have written down and throw out the ones that are simply not true. Now you’re left with just the reasons why you can’t take those steps, which most likely have to do with logic and logistics, such as lack of enough money or time. Then, start strategizing on ways to find solutions to these…

#5. Find a workaround

No matter how desperate the situation, there are always solutions or workarounds. No matter what the reason is that you can’t create what you want, there’s a solution, if you’re willing to look for it and make it happen. As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder and/or mental illness, let our Addiction Specialists help you find the solutions to your problems. The Orchid Recovery Center treats women with substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental illness so that they can heal and recover and go on to live successful lives free from their addiction and its repercussions. Please call toll-free 1-877-9588 today.

Cure for Addiction and Anxiety in Genetics

Posted on March 17, 2015 By

Cure for Addiction and Anxiety in Genetics

For a long time there has been a great deal of work put into trying to discover the exact link between our genetics, or mental health and our addictions. The answer has been pondered, studied, and speculated as a major factor in how we can trace and treat mental illness, behavioral impulses, and even problems with substance abuse. Some have suggested that changing the way that a gene in the brain region operates may actually offer a new solution to reducing addictive cravings and depression at the source.

Most studies into the topic centers on the concept of manipulating proteins that bind to specific DNA sequences and influence the function of a person’s individual genes. It seems like now maybe all that work is showing some results, as recent research into neuroscience has uncovered a genetic mutation in the human brain that produces a molecule with the ability to not only reduce anxiety and cancel out unpleasant memories, but could also offer a natural resistance to addiction to some drugs, including marijuana.

The “Bliss Molecule” Mutation

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a genetic variation in the brain makes some people intrinsically less anxious, and naturally more able to forget fearful and unpleasant experiences.

This molecule derives its name from “ananda,” the Sanskrit word for bliss, and according to experts, an estimated 20% of American adults have this mutation we are talking about. This gene produces higher levels of the so-called “bliss molecule”, anandamide. Once it binds to the endocannabinoid system it replicates the calming effects associated with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and is also comparable to other drugs.

So essentially this little miracle mutation actually has the ability to mimic the sensation one feels from getting high.

This isn’t something brand new to the human body by the way. Humans all produce levels of anandamide and most also produce a lower amount of FAAH, which is an enzyme that deactivates the molecules effects. It is the individuals who produce greater levels of anandamide who have a mutation in the gene that produces FAAH, resulting in more consistent activation of the endocannabinoid system.

Applying it to Addiction

So now that we got all that “blah, blah, blah science!” out of the way, where does the part about addiction and genetics come in? Well anandamide and addiction intersect is the cannabinoid system, which also oversees the release of a pleasure sensor all too familiar- dopamine!

The researchers involved believe that individuals with the variant FAAH gene experience less anxiety and thus are less likely to turn to external substances to reduce that feeling, including marijuana.

Have you ever met someone who had a very unsatisfying experience with marijuana, well studies have even suggested that ingesting marijuana is an unpleasant experience for the people with variant FAAH gene, and using the substance often leads to decreased happiness.

Mutated Monkey Business

A group of researchers at Wake Forest University discovered that much like people, monkeys with low levels of dopamine type-2 (D2) receptors in the brain’s reward center were more likely to self-administer cocaine. One of the leading researchers Dr. Michael A. Nader noted that of course all drugs that are commonly abuse create a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, which then triggers a sense of pleasure and craving.

But when Dr. Nader exposed the animals genetically less prone to use cocaine, they ultimately lost D2 receptors and started to self-administer the drug as well. So while they did not begin with at a high risk, these monkeys were able to develop a dependence on the drug and Nader has connected that to the decrease of D2 receptors.

What was most exciting was that this effect was in fact reversible: With abstinence, 60 percent of the primates’ D2 receptor levels normalized. The clear implication is that anyone regardless of genetics can become addicted or even abstinent if given the right environment to support the change.

So all together what we are getting at is that if there could be a treatment strategy developed that would reproduce the impact of anandamide in correlation with the variant FAAH gene, there could be a positive impact on a variety of conditions including:

  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Addiction

But the gene being manipulated to work against marijuana dependence is also capable of having a direct impact on the dopamine production involved in various other substances including:

  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Alcohol

How can this be applied? I’m no scientist, but my guess is to provide some sort of tool to modify how the brain reacts to substances, or to supplement the feelings associated with drug abuse and repurpose them for the “bloss molecule” which could also be used to curb anxiety. Either way it is huge to see the connections being made as far as modern medicine, biology, and treatment for such troubling afflictions like addiction or mental illness.

 Mental illness, addiction and our genetic make-up are continuing to be pulled closer and closer together by science, and in the process stigma is slowely but surely overcome and the future of treatment continues to look brighter and more effective for saving those who need it most. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

5 Tips For Surviving Detox at An All-Women’s Facility

Posted on March 16, 2015 By

5 Tips For Surviving Detox at An All-Women’s Facility

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

The number one reason that people put off treatment is their fear of the withdrawal symptoms they will inevitably experience. Thankfully, there is detox at an at all women’s facility that can treat you medically for your withdrawal syndrome so that you can be as comfortable and safe as possible.

Although detox can be a difficult transition into treatment, it’s necessary and way better than going cold turkey. Medical detox is essential because, after abusing alcohol and other drugs, your body and mind have become dependent on those substances. Coming off drugs is no walk in the park but, going to a detox facility is far more comfortable than trying to do it on your own. In detox, medical professionals will be able to administer medications to treat your physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Now that you’ve decided to go to detox and possibly rehab, here are 5 tips for surviving detox at al women’s facility.

#1. Pack comfy, warm clothes

Because of the nature of withdrawals, you’ll want to control as much as possible when it comes to your comfort level. And keep in mind that medical facilities are kept at cool temperatures as a way to keep the incidence of germs spreading. Therefore you will want to bring warm clothes.

Remember: you’re not there to impress anyone so bring your favorite, comfortable clothing. Also, bring clothes for a wide range of temperatures too. When you’re detoxing, you’re body temperature may be all over the place, trying to regulate itself. Pack so that no matter what, you’ll be able to be comfortable.

#2. Bring something to do on your down time

It’s important to keep occupied and, although your detox program will include some group and individual therapy, there is typically a lot of down time in detox. One of most important tips for surviving detox is to bring things that will keep you entertained. Bring books, music, a journal, writing/drawing/painting utensils – whatever will help you pass the time.

#3. Ask about phone privileges

Detox is the first the first level of care in drug and alcohol treatment and so the focus is on getting you physically ready for rehab or to go back home – if that’s your plan. As such, cellphones and other personal devices are not allowed or are heavily regulated. Other facilities will provide a facility phone and you will need to have a calling card to make outbound calls. Find out about phone policies before you go to detox so that you will be prepared. If you will not have access to your cell phone, make sure you write down all important numbers.

#4. Share your feelings

Detox is not a time to “grin and bear it.” The staff needs to know how you are feeling so they will be able to treat you effectively. Be honest about your symptoms you, and if you start to feel weak or shaky, you should definitely let a staff member know immediately. Detoxing from certain drugs can be dangerous, so it is essential that you let them know.

#5. Take advantage of the resources

Detox facilities are specifically designed to give you the support you need when you are going through withdrawal. Besides the medication, they also have staff that is experienced in treating people suffering from the disease of addiction. Also, detox facilities usually give you access to other beneficial treatments like group and individual therapy, 12 step groups, referrals to inpatient treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc. Utilize all the resources offered by the treatment center. Remember- you are in detox so that you don’t have to go through this alone. Use all the help that is being offered to you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or another substance, help is available. Please call us toll-free at 1-800-777-9588 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. We are here 24/7 to help you figure it out and to point you in the right direction. Withdrawals are no doubt scary. But the compassionate staff at our all-women’s detox and rehab, The Orchid Recovery Center can make your transition into a sober lifestyle a seamless and comfortable one.

Smoking Marijuana Reshapes Your Brain

Posted on March 13, 2015 By

Smoking Marijuana Reshapes Your Brain

Given the status of the refer revolution that seems to be taking place in many places across the country as a result of the pot policy reforms that have been shaping up since the November midterm elections, it should seem relevant that people be more aware of the impact that this particular drug can have on the individuals using it.

Marijuana is credited as the most commonly abused drug in the United States, with an estimate of about 2 out of every five 5 Americans reporting that they smoke marijuana, with 10% of the population attesting that they use marijuana on a daily basis. Now this may sound like refer madness, but a recent study claims that teens who smoke weed for just 3 years could indeed damage their long-term memory, and can even reshape your brain.

Marijuana on the Mind

When marijuana is smoked, it is almost instantly absorbed into the blood stream and travels to the brain. THC binds with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which appears to alter mood and cognition through its actions on the receptors it binds to. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence various functions, including memory.

Newly completed research developed at the Northwestern University in Chicago examined a group of people in their early 20s who had used pot daily for around 3 years in their teens. Researchers utilized computerized brain-mapping scans in this study and they found some troubling patterns, including:

  • Participants had an abnormally shaped hippocampus, a region of the brain that is crucial to memory retention.
  • Participants performed 18% worse on long-term memory tests than people of similar age range who had never used the drug.
  • The study also examined the impact of teen marijuana use on young adults with schizophrenia and found that they performed 26% worse on memory tests than young adults with schizophrenia who had never smoked pot.

Professor John Csernansky of Northwestern was a co-leader on this study went on to go into a little more detail about the impact this has on an individual and stated that,

“The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family,”

Previous research by the same team has linked poor short- term and working memory performance to abnormal shapes of three other brain regions including:

  • Striatum
  • Globus pallidus
  • Thalamus

There may also be a correlation between length of marijuana exposure and memory loss, since researchers saw the most change in the hippocampus among participants who had used the drug for more consecutive years. Still, it remains uncertain whether marijuana is the direct cause of these effects. According to Dr. Mathew Smith who was a co-author of this study,

“It is possible that the abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to marijuana abuse,”

Now that being said, Dr. Smith still suggests that the evidence implies that the participants who were abusing marijuana for a longer period of time had greater the differences in hippocampus shape, which proposes that marijuana may actually be the cause. Still more research has to be done to decipher whether or not this is the case.

Trouble for Teens Using Weed

In another study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry other researchers came to numerous conclusions about the accountable impact on teens using marijuana, which suggested young people who use marijuana experience several negative impacts from prolonged marijuana use:

  • Are 18 times greater chance of marijuana dependence
  • Are on average 8 times more likely to use other illicit drugs later in life
  • 7 times more likely to attempt suicide, although the researchers did note that evidence was not sufficient to support a theory that there is a direct link between marijuana use and suicide.
  • Adolescents who use marijuana daily are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used marijuana.

Weed Withdrawal

Too many people do not realize the reality behind addiction, especially when it comes to weed. A drug is a drug, and addiction is a very real illness. There is a list of weed withdrawal symptoms for those who become habitual users, including:

  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia, nightmares, vivid dreams, using dreams, trouble falling asleep
  • Drug craving
  • Mood swings: from depression to anger to euphoria and back again
  • Nervousness, restlessness, loss of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Digestion problems, such as cramps, or nausea after eating
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of sense of humor
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Shakiness and dizziness

While all this may seem a little exaggerated, this is very real. While marijuana becomes more accepted in this country for medicinal purposes, and pot advocates are in full force, the certainty of how early drug use can effect young people’s growth should always be acknowledged.

Marijuana affects the brain, like every other drug, and one of those effects can be a development of a serious issue with dependency. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


Zoe Kravitz Talks Struggles with Eating Disorder

Posted on March 11, 2015 By
Zoe Kravitz Talks Struggles with Eating Disorder

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Lately there has been plenty in the news about celebrities both in recovery and in active addiction, be it drugs and alcohol or compulsive disorders like an eating disorder or gambling addiction. There have been some celebrities opening up about their experience with eating disorders and sharing their experience in efforts to raise awareness, and another great talent has done exactly that this week.

Once in a while it is always uplifting to hear a story of struggle and success from a star who shines on and off camera. 26 year old actress Zoe Kravitz, daughter of famous rock star Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet recently opened up about a 4 year period where she was locked in a battle with anorexia and bulimia as a teenager.

“I was bulimic and anorexic in high school. I felt as though food had this power over me. Instead of looking at food the way you should, to be thankful that it nourishes your body, it becomes an enemy in some strange way, which is a really sad thing, and it’s a lot about anger.”

Zoe Kravitz starred in The X-Men: First Class as Angel Salvadore said her eating disorder began at age 13 when she would compare herself to models and women in magazines saying,

“I was mad that I didn’t look like the girls in the magazines and I was torturing myself. I didn’t feel attractive.”

She eventually sought therapy, but it didn’t help until she was finally ready to get well.

“I relapsed and relapsed. Then it got to the point where I had to make the decision for myself that I would stop. You have to want to be done.”

As an adult, she has maintained her recovery with exercise and healthy eating, stating she is not a “skinny” but instead a “foodie”.  This isn’t the first time Zoe has spoken up about her experience and about how the images of female beauty around her impacted her younger life to strive for an (unhealthy) image of perfection. In fact just last year, Kravitz spoke about revisiting her history with eating disorders while playing an anorexic and bulimic woman in the film The Road Within, including how she was able to relate to the character and draw inspiration from her own experiences.

“I’ve struggled with it myself in the past. There are a bunch of images that are thrown in our faces all the time about what we’re supposed to look like at 14, 15, 16. It’s confusing. I think every woman can identify with that struggle.”

While this was an empowering opportunity for the young star, it could have also been one full of temptation, and it possibly could have stirred up another relapse because for the role the actress also had to lose 20 pounds. However Zoe said that she obtained the targeted weight in what she considered to be “in the healthiest way possible” such as going on a cleanse where she drank clay, which she said both cleans the body and fills you up. That along with a Mason jar of pureed vegetables a day was her diet, in combination with exercise.

Also for the role Zoe had done quite a bit of online research into anorexia and bulimia in online support communities, and upon stumbling onto ‘Pro-ana’ and ‘Thinspiration’ sites for people pro-anorexia, she said it was “very scary” to see a forum where people were supporting each other’s destructive eating habits.

This is just one of many powerful stories of artists who have faced down and overcome some serious obstacles in their past, and strive to keep inspiring others by speaking out about the reality of mental health issues, addiction and compulsive disorders. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588