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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a severe mental health issue characterized by emotional dysfunction, persistent feelings of emptiness and relationship problems. According to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD affects 14 million American adults at some point in their lives.

What Is BPD?

While our earliest understanding of BPD revolved around the idea that people with the disorder were on the “borderline” between psychosis and neurosis, we now know this assumption is inaccurate. A more apt term for BPD might be “emotional dysregulation,” since an inability to self-soothe is a hallmark of this form of mental illness.

When facing emotional upheavals, a person with BPD may engage in impulsive or risky behaviors to cope. Substance abuse, self-harm, violence, driving under the influence and binge eating are a few examples of activities you might try to temporarily feel better. The problem is that these behaviors make matters worse in the long run.

While our scientific knowledge of what causes BPD is still somewhat lacking compared to our understanding of other mental illnesses, many researchers believe this disorder has genetic and environmental components. Traumatic experiences in childhood or early adulthood may also play a role in whether someone eventually develops this disorder.

Evidence-Based Therapy for Treating BPD

While there’s no cure for borderline personality disorder, some treatment methods have proven to be highly effective. Dialectical behavioral therapy, pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan, is the first form of psychotherapy shown to successfully treat BPD in controlled clinical trials. A therapist with experience in using DBT to treat borderline personality disorder will teach you skills to decrease emotion dysregulation and unhealthy attempts to cope with strong emotions.

In your customized DBT program, your counselor might recommend a hybrid of group and individual therapy. They will also expect you to keep track of your symptoms and progress throughout therapy. You can learn four central skills in DBT.
  • Mindfulness meditation: Your goal should be to live more fully in the present moment and observe experiences without judgment.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Set reasonable boundaries, become more assertive and manage conflict in your relationships.
  • Distress tolerance: Improve your coping skills and gain strategies for responding constructively.
  • Emotional regulation: Interpret your feelings and find healthy, non-destructive ways to manage them.

How to Find a Therapist Specializing in DBT

If you have received a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, you can ask your health care provider or your state’s psychiatric association to refer you to a DBT specialist. You can also find an online list of therapists who have completed DBT-specific training offered by affiliates of the Linehan Institute or the University of Washington Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics.

Dialectical behavioral therapy is one of the cutting-edge treatments we offer at Complete Harmony, a holistic, non-12-step drug and alcohol rehab program in California. Since BPD often co-occurs with substance abuse disorders and other mental health challenges, successful recovery requires treating both issues simultaneously. To learn more about achieving lasting recovery and learning to manage BPD symptoms, contact us today.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is Your Spouse Hiding Their Drinking?


Cognitive dissonance is a defining characteristic of substance abuse disorders. This term, coined by psychologist Leon Festinger, refers to a psychological phenomenon in which a person’s actions and beliefs become disconnected. It explains why people who drink to excess might take extreme measures to disguise their activities or downplay their problem’s severity.

As your spouse’s substance abuse progresses from tolerance to dependence to a full-fledged addiction, they might inwardly admit they have a growing struggle, but could still outwardly refuse help or brush off your concerns. In observance of Alcohol Awareness Month this April, what are some warning signs of hidden drinking, and how can you tell if your spouse has been covering up a worsening drinking habit?

1. Secrecy

Drinking excessively can lead to extreme guilt, whether someone is embarrassed about things they did under the influence or ashamed by their inability to walk away from alcohol on their own. A habit of secrecy can arise from a problem drinker attempting to minimize their shame. For example, alcoholics may try to mask their drinking by pouring alcohol into a different vessel such as a soda can or reusable water bottle.

Having a secret stash of alcohol is another sign of hidden drinking. If you stumble upon bottles in a closet, drawer or cupboard, or under or behind furniture, it’s a red flag that your spouse is trying to conceal their issues from you.

2. Dishonesty

Someone in the grip of an active addiction might say or do things they’d never have dreamed of before alcohol took over their life, including lying to health professionals and loved ones. Since addiction changes the brain’s pleasure and reward system, someone who relies on alcohol will struggle to feel “normal” when they aren’t drinking. It’s no exaggeration to say that the desire to drink can become an overriding compulsion, to a point that your spouse might start routinely lying to you about where they go or who they spend time with.

3. Denial

Many people with substance use disorders also surround themselves in a cloud of denial, deliberately choosing to ignore all the problems their substance use is creating. Your spouse might try to dismiss or minimize symptoms like mood swings or gastrointestinal upset. They might angrily rebuff you if you suggest that they cut back on their alcohol use or ask them to go to therapy. Or, they may claim they can quit whenever they choose to and don’t need professional help.

Holistic Residential Rehab in California

It can be challenging to notice when someone you love has a drinking problem, especially when they go so far to hide the issue from you. If your spouse has carefully woven a shield of secrecy and deception to conceal how much and how often they drink, you may have trouble spotting the warning signs.

Don’t despair if you have reasons to suspect your spouse is abusing alcohol. Alternative addiction treatment is available to help your partner get their life back on track. At Complete Harmony, we empower our clients to break the cycle of substance abuse outside the confines of traditional 12-step treatment. Contact us today to learn more about how to get help for your loved one.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Holistic Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction

As our understanding of mental health issues continues to evolve, the array of options for treating co-occurring disorders has correspondingly expanded. Today’s rehab programs are more sophisticated and accessible than ever before, but the sheer number of choices could start to feel overwhelming. As you research inpatient treatment facilities for yourself or a loved one, here are some advantages of holistic treatment to be aware of.

What Is Holistic Treatment?

Your overall well-being includes psychological, physical, social and spiritual components. Traditional rehab programs may include one or two of these facets, but holistic methods involve addressing all these aspects simultaneously. By combining clinically proven treatment modalities with complementary therapies like meditation, acupuncture, massage and yoga, a hybrid approach represents the best of both worlds.

Despite representing an alternative to conventional anxiety and addiction treatment, holistic programs like the one we’ve created provide the full continuum of care, including evidence-based approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Are You a Good Candidate for Holistic Treatment?

If you’re in the early stages of researching qualified treatment centers, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that addiction recovery isn’t a cookie-cutter process. For best results, it’s worth your time to do your homework to find a facility whose health and wellness philosophy aligns with yours.

Anyone can achieve lifelong sobriety and serenity by following a holistic treatment plan, but the holistic approach might specifically benefit you if you have any of these characteristics.
  • You are returning for another round of rehab after experiencing a relapse.
  • You prefer to take a secular, non-12-step approach to recovery.
  • You have a dual diagnosis of addiction and anxiety or another mental health condition.
  • You’re searching for a program that is versatile enough to adapt to your specific needs.
  • You struggle with low self-confidence and believe you’d benefit from a program that emphasizes personal empowerment.
  • You feel that science-backed treatments would suit your needs better than a mostly faith-based approach.
  • You’re interested in uncovering and addressing the underlying causes of your addiction and anxiety with help from a professional counselor.
  • You believe you have the inherent ability to overcome anxiety and live a healthy, happy life without relying on maladaptive coping mechanisms.

California’s Leading Holistic Treatment Provider

At Complete Harmony, our professional clinicians will develop your addiction and anxiety treatment program to meet you where you are. For people who would rather rely on secular, research-based methods, we offer supportive substitutes to the 12-step approach. If the idea of surrendering to a higher power in addiction recovery resonates with you, we will guide you through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the foundation of your recovery. The choice is yours.

We’ve created a hybrid addiction treatment model that fuses proven therapeutic modalities with supplementary amenities like nutrition coaching, yoga, massage, professional counseling and chiropractic care. Here, you’ll heal all aspects of your well-being. Connect with us today to learn more about holistic treatment for a dual diagnosis.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Value of Patience in Addiction Recovery

Recovering from a substance use disorder requires more than merely finding an accredited treatment center and enrolling yourself in the program. You might be surprised to learn it’s a multi-stage process that may include detox, psychotherapy, group meetings, education on healthy coping mechanisms and self-care strategies to prevent a relapse.

For many people, two significant stressors in addiction recovery are the time commitment involved and the realization that maintaining sobriety requires a lifelong process. Patience will be an essential ingredient in your success. Consider these benefits of becoming a more patient person.

1. Learn to Live in the Now

The idea of temporarily putting your life on hold so you can fully focus on completing an addiction treatment program might be daunting. After all, today’s always-on, instant-gratification culture has led to the prevailing mindset that there should be a quick fix for any problem. However, in many cases, this attitude can be dangerous and can even lead to addictive behaviors in an attempt to “solve” problems. For best results, it’s crucial not to rush through your recovery process. Take things one step at a time and appreciate what you learn at each stage of the journey. Practices like yoga and meditation can help you become more mindful and less likely to dwell on the past or worry about the future.

2. Process Challenging Emotions

In addiction recovery, you may find difficult feelings like shame and guilt bubbling up to the surface. If you abused substances to mute mental health symptoms or sweep emotional responses under the rug, you’ll need to learn healthy ways to work through these once you achieve sobriety. Patience can help you accomplish this goal. In setting realistic objectives and taking steps to achieve each one, you will learn the value of putting in the work to receive the reward.

3. Appreciate All Your Progress

When you embrace the idea that there are no overnight solutions in recovery, it can be incredibly encouraging to look back on the progress you’ve made and evaluate how far you’ve come on your path to sobriety. You might find it helpful to keep a journal and review past entries on a set schedule – for example, once a month. You’ll be able to see how you’ve grown and evolved as a person when you consider the solutions you’ve found to various obstacles.

How to Cultivate Patience

If you’re easily frustrated or find yourself giving up at the first sign of adversity, you will be glad to know you can build your capacity for patience the same way you might work on improving your strength, balance or agility when you exercise. Here are some tips for doing so.
  • Don’t try to take shortcuts: No matter what you’re doing, focus your full attention on it. Remind yourself that anything worth your time is also worth your energy.
  • Pick up a new hobby: Pastimes that require a slow, deliberate approach, like crossword puzzles, gardening or needlework, are excellent for helping make you a more patient person.
  • Add daily mindfulness practices: Meditation and breath control exercises can help you de-stress, let go of negativity and live in the moment.
  • Stop rushing through your days: Be grateful for the simple pleasures in life; slow down and reward yourself for daily accomplishments, no matter how small.

Cutting-Edge, Alternative Addiction Treatment

Complete Harmony offers a full range of clinically proven addiction treatment modalities, coupled with holistic amenities like acupuncture, massage and yoga, to put you on the path to wellness. To learn more about non-12-step therapy in California, contact us today.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Why Empathy Is an Essential Ingredient in Addiction Recovery

Empathy is the ability to relate to others and view the world from their perspective. This quality can form the foundation for healthy relationships and improve your connections with others. It helps validate and reinforce your most crucial treatment takeaways as you repair relationships you might have torn apart through your self-destructive behavior.

Making Empathy Part of Your Recovery Process

As your attachment to drugs and alcohol grew, you may have driven away friends and family or hurt people who were close to you. Once you commit to a sober lifestyle, one of your challenges will be to mend fences you damaged during your years of active substance abuse.

Addiction can cause self-centeredness as obtaining and using drugs or alcohol becomes a priority. Part of changing your life for the better includes restoring your emotional stability. In group and individual therapy, you will discover the support you need to guide you in replacing negative habits with healthy ones.

Your first step in becoming a more empathetic person is to tune into your emotions. Use your thoughts and feelings to try to understand other people’s lived experiences. You can start by talking to peers you meet during rehab or in your recovery group about their involvement with substance abuse. During these conversations, take the opportunity to practice your active listening skills and demonstrate you’re paying close attention.

Benefits of Practicing Empathy in Recovery

While each person has different takeaways from recovery, consider these advantages of making empathy one of your sobriety goals. Practicing empathy helps you:
  • Avoid getting stuck in a negative feedback loop
  • Improve communication skills, leading to less conflict
  • Gain more profound compassion
  • Become more selfless and put others’ needs ahead of yours
  • Learn to listen without passing judgment

Are You an Empathetic Person?

To help you assess how well you relate to others and put yourself in their shoes, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you find it easy to tell when someone is upset?
  • If you notice a friend or co-worker seems more subdued than usual, do you ask if they want to talk about it?
  • Can people count on you to provide practical advice?
  • In a conversation, do you listen to what others are saying, or do you find your mind wandering?
  • Are you good at reading between the lines and picking up on things others leave unsaid in conversations?
  • Are you usually excited about the chance to meet and talk to new people?
  • Can you respect someone else’s views and values, even when you don’t agree with them?
  • Do you tend to connect emotionally with your favorite characters in movies and TV shows?

Embrace Your Recovery

If you’ve resolved to make 2021 the year when you seek help for a substance use disorder, Complete Harmony proudly provides a full continuum of holistic treatment options. People looking for an empowering alternative to traditional 12-step recovery programs will find it here. To learn more about what we offer, speak with one of our recovery advisors today.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Best Gifts for People New to Recovery

Only a few shopping days remain until Christmas, and you might still be looking for the best gifts for everyone on your “nice” list. It can be especially challenging to select presents for people who are recovering from substance abuse issues. If someone you care about is in the early stages of addiction recovery, how can you spread holiday cheer without triggers? Here are some gift ideas you can use.

1. Inspirational Books

Many people who successfully overcame addiction issues have published inspirational books about their journey. If your loved one is a bookworm, you can give them the gift of reading this holiday season with a memoir that reminds them they aren’t alone and inspires them to keep working toward their goals.

2. Exciting New Experiences

People in active addiction often lose sight of previously enjoyable activities because drinking or drug use becomes their top priority. Now that your loved one is clean and sober, show them how rewarding life can be by taking them ziplining or skydiving. If they’re not thrill-seekers, arrange an afternoon at an outdoor ice rink or a cultural attraction like an art museum.

3. Online Classes

E-learning has flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic, so buying online courses for your loved one could be an excellent gift idea. Since boredom can be a significant relapse trigger, they’ll need activities that fill their spare hours, and learning something new is an excellent way to stay busy and expand their horizons without leaving home.

4. A Sober Getaway

The idea of vacationing without drugs and alcohol may be somewhat foreign to people who are new to recovery. You can make the most of this opportunity to help reinforce their new lifestyle by taking them on a sober getaway. Pick a destination and activities that will minimize the chance of encountering triggers, like a yoga retreat or a camping weekend.

5. A Pet

If your loved one is far enough into their recovery that they’re ready to take on the responsibility of being a pet parent, a companion pet can be an excellent gift for someone new to sobriety. Spending time with a pet can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Dogs can encourage their humans to exercise more, since they benefit from going on daily walks. Pets also provide unconditional love and comfort. Many dogs and cats are intuitive enough to pick up on their humans’ mood and know when something isn’t right. Since taking care of a pet is a major commitment, ensure your loved one is ready and willing to look after another living being before following through on this gift idea.

Spreading Holiday Cheer Without Triggers

Armed with these gift ideas, you can make the holiday merry and bright by slipping the perfect present under the tree or into your loved one’s stocking. And, if someone you care about is caught in the cycle of addiction, consider giving them the gift of sobriety by researching treatment options for them. At Complete Harmony, we offer a holistic approach to addiction rehabilitation and non-12-step programming tailored to each client’s unique needs. Contact us today to learn more.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Maintaining Your Sobriety on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and many people are looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy their favorite dishes and gather with family and friends. However, if you’re working on your recovery, you might be dreading Thanksgiving and all the pressure it brings.

Even if you have successfully stayed substance-free for several months, holidays like Thanksgiving often represent a unique temptation to drink. How can you enjoy the long holiday weekend without jeopardizing all the hard work and progress you’ve accomplished up to this point?

1. Bring a Non-Alcoholic Drink

Many Thanksgiving hosts consider it polite to offer their guests a choice of alcoholic beverages. Someone might thoughtlessly hand you a beer without realizing what a risk that could represent for you. To combat this, arrive at the gathering with a cooler full of your favorite non-alcoholic drinks, and be sure to keep your beverage of choice close to hand at all times.

2. Have an Exit Strategy

Gatherings like Thanksgiving can be stressful and triggering for many people. Plan what you’ll do if you start feeling overwhelmed and need to take a moment to yourself. For example, you might find a quiet area where you can sit and practice deep breathing techniques until you calm down. In some cases, you may even decide to leave early. Have a polite excuse planned ahead of time, and if you drive yourself to the get-together, make sure you park somewhere nobody else is boxing you in.

3. Be Grateful

Don’t lose sight of the true spirit of Thanksgiving: practicing gratitude. Make a list of everything you have to be thankful for this year – improved physical and mental well-being, new friendships and the opportunity to make a fresh start in your life. You can even begin or end your day with a gratitude meditation to help you count your blessings and reflect on the things that bring you joy.

4. Rely on Your Sober Support Network

A sober supporter can keep you grounded and remind you of your goals to remain substance-free this holiday season. If you can’t find a friend to attend your Thanksgiving gathering with you, ask if they’re willing to respond to your calls and texts during the day. Attend a group meeting or schedule a therapy session before or after Thanksgiving dinner to stay on the right track.

5. Offer to Help

Staying busy is one way to keep your mind off any cravings that might arise. Before dinner, offer to pitch in with tasks like last-minute decorating or food prep. After the meal, lead the cleanup efforts by doing dishes, taking out the trash and tidying the kitchen. The host will appreciate having an extra pair of hands, and you’ll be able to demonstrate your commitment to your recovery by showing everyone how much progress you’ve made.

Cutting-Edge Addiction Treatment

If you’re exploring addiction treatment facilities and are looking for alternatives to traditional 12-step therapy, consider the holistic approach. At Complete Harmony, we provide a range of evidence-based options combined with complementary therapies that will start you on the path to a mindful, well-rounded recovery. Connect with us when you’re ready to learn more.
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