Treating PAWS

Tips for Surviving PAWS Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is frequently seen in individuals who have already completed the acute detox phase.  Treating PAWS requires patience and good self-care.  Here are some additional tips for reducing the effects of PAWS. Be patient. You can’t hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. But remember, even after one… Read More »Treating PAWS

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Stages of Withdrawal Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol involves two distinct phases:  acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal.  When individuals experience symptoms common to the post-acute period they are diagnosed with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Acute Withdrawal: Usually lasts 1-2 weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and every person is different. Post-Acute Withdrawal: A group of symptoms that occur after acute withdrawal. … Read More »Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Establishing Boundaries

What Are Boundaries? Establishing boundaries is an important task for those with substance use disorders and their families.  Boundaries are limits people set in order to create a healthy sense of personal space. Boundaries can be physical or emotional in nature, and they help distinguish the desires, needs, and preferences of one person from another.  In other words, a boundary tells another person what I’m willing to accept of their behavior.  Learning… Read More »Establishing Boundaries

Active Listening

Introduction Active listening is the practice of listening to a speaker while providing feedback indicating that the listener both hears and understands what the speaker is saying. Therapists and other mental health professionals regularly practice active listening, but it is not exclusive to therapy.  Components of Active Listening There are three primary components: Comprehending– Comprehension is a shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction. This is the first step in the… Read More »Active Listening

Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

What are the Differences Between Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation? I’m frequently asked to explain the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation.  So, what are the differences?  The short answer is this: sex is about your body, gender is about who you feel yourself to be, and sexual orientation is about to whom you’re attracted sexually. Biological Sex “Sex” is purely biological. It is determined by physical characteristics including sex chromosomes,… Read More »Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

What to Expect from Counseling

Counseling 101: What Happens During a Session?​ One in five American adults has a mental health condition. Research has shown that these mental health conditions can be treated effectively. Scientists continue to disprove the stigmas surrounding mental health.  As a result, more people have acknowledged the value of modern therapy.  But many people have no prior experience with counseling.  This leaves them wondering what to expect from counseling.  Making the… Read More »What to Expect from Counseling

Cognitive Distortions

What are Cognitive Distortions? Edit Column Cognitive distortions are biased or exaggerated thought patterns or beliefs. They are usually irrational, or misrepresent reality in some fashion.   The concept was first proposed by Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It was during his treatment of patients with depression that Beck realized his patients often expressed thoughts and beliefs that did not necessarily correspond with reality.  Beck recognized these negative cognitions often existed outside of… Read More »Cognitive Distortions

Recovery and Sexual Health

Why Are We Talking About Sex? Sexual health and recovery is a frequent topic of discussion in my group therapy sessions.  In active addiction, the dependency on drugs and alcohol interferes with the ability to experience healthy intimacy.  Emotions are numbed and the capacity  to form meaningful attachments is impaired.  Often, the desire for sex is severely diminished due to the use of drugs and alcohol.  If sexual activity does… Read More »Recovery and Sexual Health

Do 12-Step Groups Really Work?

I’m frequently asked “Why do I need to go to AA meetings?” “How is a 12-step group going to keep me sober?” Frequently, my response will be “Going to meetings provides accountability. Working the steps helps you change your life. I will often point-out to these skeptics that the word “alcohol” is used only once in the 12-steps. Step one says: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that… Read More »Do 12-Step Groups Really Work?