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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Why the High-Functioning “Alcoholic” is Still Dealing with Alcoholism

Alcoholism 7Alcoholism often brings to mind images of a negative stereotype, but a good number of people addicted to alcohol bear little resemblance to the stereotype. They are people who meet several diagnostic criteria for alcoholism while still managing to hold their life together with apparent success. They are high-functioning alcoholics.

The high functioning alcoholic goes to work or school each day, pays their bills and may have an intact marriage; but beneath the surface, things are not as they should be. They are good enough, though, for the person to feel justified in denying that they have any kind of alcohol problem. After all, alcoholics don’t mow their yard, get promoted and remember birthdays ….right?

The high functioning alcoholic may do all of this and more, and yet have an addiction to alcohol that is degrading the quality of their life and the lives of close family members. For example, one sign of alcoholism is tolerance for alcohol. Does the person need to drink more alcohol today to achieve the same feelings than they did in the past? People who drink habitually develop a tolerance for alcohol and will need ever-increasing amounts of it.

Another sign of alcoholism is a preoccupation with alcohol. If the person spends a significant amount of time thinking about drinking, or planning when, what and where to drink it is an unhealthy distraction. Alcoholics become edgy and uncomfortable if they cannot have a drink at the time and place where they expect to be able to drink. They don’t recognize this as withdrawal, but that is just what it is.

Another sign of alcoholism is a changing social landscape. People addicted to alcohol enjoy spending time with others who drink and rarely with anyone else. They will avoid social occasions which don’t include alcohol and won’t have close friends who do not also drink.

The high-functioning alcoholic usually thinks they are just fine, when they are anything but. For help knowing how to approach someone in your life contact the professionals at Family Guidance. They understand and can offer needed support.

The Link Between Heart Health and Mental Illness Could be Stronger Than Imagined

Sometimes what seems like the obvious explanation turns out not to be the best explanation. This is theGet-Help-Now2 case when it comes to heart health and mental illness. For many years conventional wisdom said that the two problems were connected, but largely due to behavioral factors. People struggling with depression might be more likely to eat high fat foods or smoke cigarettes as a way to cope with negative emotions, for example.

Recently, medical and behavioral health experts are increasingly suspicious that the two problems may be biologically linked. The connection between heart health and mental illness has never been in dispute, but the nature of the connection is one that is only slowly coming to light.

Stress is believed to be a risk factor for heart problems even though there are, as yet, no scientifically established links. What is known is that stress can trigger production of hormones which, in their turn, elevate heart rate and blood pressure – things that are proven risk factors.

The heart – mind connection can work in the opposite direction too. Suffering a stroke can lead to struggles with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. A growing body of research suggests that physiological factors may actually be behind both problems (heart health and mental illness) so that the same chemicals within the body which trigger heart disease may be the very ones also responsible for certain mental health concerns.

Whether you find you are feeling anxious and depressed following medical problems with your heart or want to address these mental health issues before they have a chance to progress to other physical health areas, take control of your health and contact the Family Guidance Center today. Because they are so deeply connected, treating one problem brightens the outlook for the other.

Increasing Number of Young Women Being Diagnosed with ADHD

ADHD 12One way to know that a certain condition has become more prevalent is to track the number of prescriptions written to treat the illness. It probably wouldn’t surprise many to learn that prescriptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications have skyrocketed in recent years.

Most medical doctors and mental health specialists agree that around five percent of the childhood population is affected by ADHD. A new report now shows that the greatest jump has been occurring in the number of prescriptions written for young women between the ages of 19-34 years. The disorder does affect adults, but it is an illness which starts in childhood and most people are diagnosed with the condition while they are still in grade school.

At those early ages, boys are at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls. This creates a curiosity given the surge in female diagnoses/prescriptions which are being handed out at later ages now. Some are wondering if the disparity might signal that young girls with ADHD may not be being identified earlier in the course of the illness.

Lately girls aged 19-25 are being prescribed medications like Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse and Concerta at a rate that is 27 percent above that of young girls four to 18 years old.

Apart from the years of unnecessary struggle, the sad part of missing a childhood diagnosis is that as a woman grows up and is expected to take on greater responsibility, the effects of the illness can create tougher and tougher challenges for her.

If you are a young woman who was never diagnosed with ADHD as a child but who is finding it beyond difficult to stay organized, complete tasks and meet your many responsibilities, you may want to consider an assessment. The experienced mental health professionals at Family Guidance can provide one, even as a walk-in. Call us today.

NFL Team Owner Shares Stigma Around Addiction May Keep People From Seeking Help

Donald Sterling is battling for ownership of his LA Clipper basketball team after recent offensiveAddiction 6 comments were made public. It’s a story that has captured national headlines. But perhaps with less visibility another problem has been brewing.

The controversy centers on Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL Indianapolis Colts franchise. On March 16, 2014, Irsay was pulled over by police while driving in an Indianapolis suburb. Police asked Irsay to submit to a blood alcohol test, a request he refused. By state law, that refusal triggers a one year suspension of Irsay’s driver’s license.

Eventually police officers obtained a warrant that demanded the blood test. But driving while intoxicated was only part of Irsay’s problem. At the time of his arrest, police also found nearly $30,000 worth of prescription drugs and cash money in his car. Effective May 27, 2014, the owner’s driver’s license was suspended for one year. Irsay is also facing four felony charges of possessing a controlled substance.

Irsay has refused most requests for comment, but did grant a print interview with The Indianapolis Star. During that interview Irsay made several oblique references to alcoholism and addiction. He said alcoholism and addiction, while similar to physical diseases such as heart disease or leukemia, still bear a cultural stigma. That stigma, he said, keeps many people from asking for help. The owner mentioned his own family history alluding to unsuccessful battles with alcohol or addiction, especially in the lives of his dad and granddad.

Irsay never directly reported addiction to prescription drugs or alcohol, although the owner has spent time in rehab treatment. He did say, however, that he takes prescription painkillers to deal with back and hip discomfort under the supervision of a physician.

The question making recent headlines is this: if the NBA will go to great lengths to deal with inappropriate language, should the NFL be involved when a team owner has an obvious problem with substance addiction? So far NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken no action.

If someone in your life is struggling to acknowledge  a dependence on alcohol or prescription drugs, you don’t have to sit by and do nothing. Contact the addition treatment professionals at Family Guidance. They can discuss some next steps you can take to help your loved one. Call them today.

Bipolar Disorder and the Marriage Relationship

Couple 1Bipolar disorder is an illness that brings with it emotional highs and crushing emotional lows. The roller coaster ride is tough enough for the person with the illness, but spouses get taken along on the ride as well. How can you prevent the symptoms of a spouse’s illness from causing damage to your marriage? Thankfully, many marriages can and do overcome the challenges of bipolar. Here are some ways to protect your relationship when your spouse is living with bipolar.

1. Remind yourself that the illness is not the person. You married a person and that person is still present.

2. Find your own support system. You give a lot of support to your partner, but you need it too. It may be a support group, your pastor, a therapist or a close group of friends.

3. Create some space for yourself. Having a job or hobby which can remove you from the situation for short periods is helpful and maintains healthy perspective.

4. Insist on medication compliance. This is a common point of contention in marriages, but find a positive way to keep your partner faithful to the regimen.

5. As hard as it can be during some periods, keep the dialogue between you going. Ask your spouse what they feel they need from you. Let them know how you are feeling. Good communication is a vital part of every healthy marriage.

6. Bipolar Disorder isn’t only extremes. There are periods of evenness in between. Stay alert to what triggers the times of stability.

7.  Laugh  – as often as you can.

Marriages where one spouse has bipolar can be strong, but it requires added effort. If your spouse has the condition, look for support at Family Guidance. You can learn more about your spouse’s illness and meet other spouses in the same situation.