Addicted To A Lifestyle Of Drugs

A male driver making a drug payment through window

How To Help Someone With Drug Addiction

What is surprising to hear and learn is that the love for a substance is only half the battle; the other half is the lifestyle surrounding the drug. At first, a new substance makes you very excited; its discovery and introduction into your life brings you joy and floods your mind with anticipatory “high” sessions full of fun and excitement.

Until you become hooked. You have been chasing that first high which felt so great but never attainable again. You believed that with repetitive use, that first great high would be experienced again. You soon come to an acceptance that achieving that first great high will never happen again, but now you are confronted with a new problem: withdrawal.

Many users report that the lifestyle surrounding a drug is what they enjoy: getting the natural rush when heading towards “the spot” to obtain the drug, the paraphernalia of the drug, meeting with other users to share the drug, enjoying certain activities while high on the drug, etc.

When helping someone suffering from a drug addiction, you have to understand that their lifestyle has been hijacked from them:

  • They may no longer have money
  • They may no longer have family support or friends
  • They may be suffering from a physical or mental illness
  • They may have lost all hope and drive to better themselves
  • They may be on the verge of becoming homeless
  • They may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms, preventing them from obtaining a job (their job becomes preventing future withdrawals)

We have a tendency to become irritable and distasteful towards drug addicts. But we must remember one crucial point: we are all humans battling a different type of struggle. We must not look at each other as being better or worse; rather, we need to try to understand each other’s struggles and difficulties.

Listen to a drug addict’s stories, concerns, struggles and pain! Make suggestions and give advice at appropriate times, but in a calm and supportive manner. Expect relapses! They are part of the recovery process. Most importantly, use your heart and imagine being in their shoes! Do not put on your bias lenses which prevent you from understanding where they are coming from.

And lastly, never give up hope on someone suffering from a drug addiction! If they see you giving up on them, what bit of energy is left for them to not give up on themselves? Sometimes, you may be their last hope and if they lose that as well, what else is there to live for? That is when suicide becomes a viable option in the mind of a drug addict with poor judgement and a distorted reality.

Help prevent suicide, mental illness and suffering by being kind, listening and offering help to people suffering from a drug addiction!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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It Feels Good To Be Yourself

Eyeglasses with black frames on the ground by swimming pool

Being Honest With Yourself

One of the best feelings to experience is making the transition from an insecure and false persona to being yourself; it feels as if your old self has dissolved, followed by the birth of your true self. A great deal of pressure is lifted and you now feel like you have room to breath and express your true nature.

The days following the birth of your true self is like learning to live again; everything seems new and vibrant but somewhat unfamiliar. You have been viewing the world with your old lenses for such a long time, that you have to readjust your perspective of reality. The readjustment phase is swift and bitter sweet!

But do not be fooled by the self-transformation which you have experienced. You have to work at consistently being yourself! This can become a challenge at times with changing circumstances: meeting new people, experiencing new situations, feeling pain, going through stress, etc.

Your personality can become easily influenceable by various people and situations; a lot of times, for the worse. You may become a victim of manipulation without your knowing; others may attempt to win you over for their selfish purposes. Always keep an eye out on new people and situations and make sure to keep yourself in check!

The most important factor is to remain honest with yourself. If you cannot do that, then how do you expect others to be honest with you? Believe it or not, being honest with yourself takes practice: you need to be able to express your values and morals during difficult situations, maintain your characteristics in various situations and be able to treat yourself with respect while experiencing pain and losses.

And do not discount the influence of alcohol and drugs; they have a very smooth and easy way of altering your personality without your knowing or caring. This is because substances alter your consciousness and perception of your surroundings; they get an A+ grade for performance when you are most vulnerable, such as when experiencing stress or a mental illness.

As you can see, being yourself is a wonderful feeling that can easily be taken away from you by external influences. Keeping yourself in check on a daily basis is a very important step to maintaining your true self and promoting further growth of your personality. One tool that you may find very helpful is called mindfulness; this technique will help you with self-reflection!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Tired From Working Too Much

Tired man holding his face and wearing sunglasses and a white dress shirt

Work Fatigue

The alarm rings. The bowl of cereal is made. You jump into your work clothes. You head towards your choice of transportation. Another day of work has arrived and you tell yourself, “damn, I am so tired and I don’t know why.” The repetitiveness of work can drain your energy level if you do not introduce other forms of stimulation into your life.

Some people work too many hours. If you are one of them, then you may need to rethink your career choice and ask yourself if it is worth it. Working too much takes away time that can be utilized for fun activities such as socializing, dating or playing sports.

Then there are people who work acceptable hours but do not have any other form of stimulation in their lives. They either come home and watch television, play video games or surf the web. The problem with these activities is that they are not as good for you as working out or socializing.

Watching television, playing video games and surfing the web are fun activities but can become repetitive and contribute to your fatigue. In addition, these activities do not require any other participants; they can be done by yourself.

On the other hand, socializing, whether through sports or going out helps to more effectively take your mind off work. This helps you relax, unwind and curb your work fatigue to the side. It is more effective to communicate your concerns than to isolate yourself at home in front of an entertainment system.

And then there are people who work the right amount of hours and have a stimulating and diverse life, but still feel fatigued. In this case, the solution is to take life day by day and become accepting of your fatigue. Do not try to fight it. All you can do is assure yourself that you are getting a good night’s sleep, staying positive, finding enjoyment in your work and having as much fun as possible!

With everything in life, moderation is key to avoiding burnout and living a happy and prosperous life!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Violent Entertainment And Community Effects

Adolescents playing violent video games on laptops

Do Violent Video Games Make People More Likely To Be Violent In Real Life?

Violent entertainment will never go away just as porn never has and never will; the amount of dopamine released in the brain’s reward center is keeping these industries alive. The demand is too great and the profits too enormous for the entertainment industry to drop violence altogether. But this is exactly what needs to be considered if we want to help decrease gun violence in the United States and around the world.

The reality is that violent video games, movies and songs contribute to mass shootings. A child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up every piece of information that comes along its way; especially entertainment. When you introduce a child to a violent video game, he or she unconsciously registers the sequence of events that occur in that video game; memories become consolidated faster than any exam that child will ever study for.

Even if a child who plays violent video games has no intention of ever picking up a gun, things happen in life which stir up a child or adolescent’s feelings, emotions and thought processes. Adolescence is the period of a person’s life where they identify more with their peers and less with their parents.

During adolescence, image and popularity are very important objectives. Some adolescents struggle with being accepted by their peers and start to experience anger, frustration, hateful thoughts, depression and even mental breakdowns.

And guess what comes back lurking into their lives when they start feeling anger towards their peers? Their unconscious mind suddenly floods their conscious mind with acts of violence it had previously registered from video games, movies and violent hip hop lyrics. An adolescent may actually retreat back to these forms of entertainment to get their dose or “fix” of bullets and armor.

What was once intended as being entertainment can sometimes turn into a reality. With so much anger and hatred boiling in vulnerable and fragile adolescents, they no longer are able to think clearly because their emotions are flooding their mind. In addition, their undeveloped and immature frontal lobes lack the judgement and reasoning required to prevent them from doing something catastrophic.

To believe that the only main solution is tighter gun regulations or the banning of guns is naive and a disservice to the people of the United States. So many factors play a role in gun violence in the United States:

  • Under-treated mental illness and mental health stigma
  • A culture fueled by the love for guns
  • Violent entertainment
  • An international black market which will never go away
  • Hatred for other races, ethnicities and cultures

To remove violent entertainment from our society would almost be a shock for a large portion of the population who has engaged with these forms of entertainment for a long time. But in the long run, it would help developing minds focus on positive things such as education, sports and socializing rather than wasting countless hours glued to violent screens.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Ways To Calm Anxiety

Woman leaning on bed suffering from anxiety

What Helps With Anxiety?

Running away from it is definitely not the answer. Anxiety is a very uncomfortable mental sensation that can happen at anytime and anywhere. Genetics, substance abuse, stress, trauma, physical disorders and other mental disorders can trigger anxiety.

Before turning to psychotropic medications, psychiatric evaluations or making any drastic lifestyle changes, it is important to remain calm and find a quiet place to unwind and analyze yourself. Attempt to understand what may be causing the anxiety; often times, a source can be pinpointed with some careful self-observation.

Are there people who are bringing negative energy into your life? Are you more stressed and worried than you usually are? Are you afraid of future events bringing you dismay? Are you experiencing a repetitive and dull lifestyle with little to no pleasurable activities to spice things up?

Analyzing your life is not a difficult process if you commit some time and energy to the process. But you must be interested in understanding and bettering your life for this technique to work. Not surprisingly, many people don’t have the courage nor desire to analyze themselves, naively thinking that their life will get better.

There is a high chance that anxiety will not go away on its own without some sort of intervention. Perhaps try to meditate using a technique called mindfulness; practicing it daily will allow you to become more in tune with yourself as well as help clear the cluster of thoughts that accumulate day after day.

Talking with a person you trust can also help alleviate anxiety. There is something soothing about sharing your thoughts and feelings with a person who you feel comfortable around. If you are the type of person who holds in a lot of feelings without sharing them with others, anxiety can develop as a side effect.

Exercising is a great way to alleviate anxiety. It helps refresh your mind and body and diminish stressful thoughts and emotions. Implementing a consistent exercise routine is one of the best lifetime investments that you can introduce into your life; you only stand to gain.

Lastly, if you are still suffering from anxiety after trying the above techniques, then you may need to seek psychiatric services. You will either be started on an antidepressant, psychotherapy or both; there is no shame to either treatment. Many people are on antidepressants and undergo psychotherapy for various reasons.

What matters is that you defeat your anxiety and live a comfortable and rewarding life!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Blaming Others For Your Actions

Man blaming someone else by pointing finger at them

Stop Blaming Others

Sometimes the basics need a refresher. One common theme that still persists in our society is the blaming of others for our actions. We have a tendency to find fault in someone else before we stand guilty ourselves. Blaming each other contributes to the anger and violence circulating amongst us.

Rather than blaming others, we need to admit to our faults and correct them. This will help us remain honest, grow as individuals and build character. And even if someone else is to blame, it is unnecessary to point the fingers at them; life has a way of delivering justice.

It is human nature to be selfish and self-protective; not a lot of people demonstrate altruistic behavior like an ant colony working for the queen. Most people want to be the queen and have others do the favors and hard work; and if not done, blaming becomes the automatic defense mechanism.

One can argue that another problem with our mental health in America is that we are not honest with ourselves and are quick to blame others. If we are feeling depressed, there must be someone else at fault that is causing us to feel this way. If we are feeling anxious, it is because someone else’s behavior is making us uneasy.

Finding excuses rather than making improvements is why mental illness remains a serious problem and concern in our society. We are fueled by differences in culture and beliefs which sometimes lead to hate in regards to another individual’s race, ethnicity or background.

And hate leads to another Sandy Hook, Las Vegas or El Paso shooting. We look and hope to find problems which are external to ourselves, when in reality, most of the problems stem from our lack of accepting responsibility or practicing self-improvement.

Rather than blaming others, look into your own eyes and make the necessary changes that will turn you into a better person!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

El Paso Shooting

Mentally ill person wearing armor suit and carrying shotgun

Turning A Blind Eye To Mental Illness

A manifesto. Accumulation of hate. Thoughts of killing. Destruction. Elimination. All fueled by deep hatred stemming from malfunctioning brain circuits; neurons releasing too little or too much neurotransmitters in different regions of the brain. Meanwhile, the clues pile up on social media and nobody does anything about it.

This is the problem with gun violence in the United States: mental illness is still not receiving the full attention and focus that it needs to prevent such catastrophes from taking place. People witness disturbing social media posts or odd behavior by a certain individual and do nothing about it.

Whenever you see something, say something! Mental illness can no longer be ignored. For how much longer will America turn a blind eye to mental health? Guns do not kill people; people kill people! A deep hatred towards another race, gender, ethnicity or creed stems from mental illness. All emotions originate from the brain.

Anger, jealously, hatred or fear; they all originate from the brain. There is no hatred without something malfunctioning in the human mind. When you have a person take twenty innocent lives and injury twenty-six people in a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, you know that mental illness played a role. You would have to be naive and ignorant to believe otherwise.

Some would argue that America is overmedicated and that we need to rely less on prescription drugs. How can this argument stand when every other month there is a shooting spree in a different state? We can ban all the guns in the world but people with mental illness would still obtain them very easily via the black market.

Banning guns is like starting a modern day “war on drugs” by attempting to make everything illegal. We are finally admitting that the “war on drugs” has failure, as evidenced by the modern opioid and methamphetamine epidemics, soon to be followed by a stimulant epidemic.

Banning guns is not the solution; it never will be. The solution is ending the mental health stigma and coming forward to share our problems rather than spraying them on innocent lives. We need to be honest with ourselves and step out of the darkness where mental illness sometimes takes us.

It is time for America to come out of the closet regarding our mental health crisis. We can no longer treat this subject lightly or else innocent lives will continue to be robbed. Violence, murders, suicides and drug abuse all stem from an under-treated society. We are being prescribed medications but we are not fully forthcoming with all of our problems.

The psychiatric medications are acting as temporary bandages rather than long-term solutions. Some people do not even know the significance of the medication which they are taking. This is because we are superficially addressing the mental health crisis. We can no longer be ashamed of sharing our problems with each other.

And this applies to the rest of the world as well. By coming together and sharing our mental health concerns, we will make this world a better place and decrease violence and hatred exponentially!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Spurts of Hope

Woman hoping and praying beside tree

My Living Hope

There are days when everything seems gloomy and all hope is lost; we can all relate. You lose interest in all of your activities and become bombarded with a deep feeling of sadness as if an elephant were sitting on your chest. The last thing you want to do is smile and be optimistic.

You wonder if life is even worth living anymore. You search for cracks of happiness only to return back to square one: sadness. You somehow find the strength to engage in some of your usual activities but with much less passion and enjoyment. You wonder if there is a magic pill that can take away the gloominess; there never was and never will be one.

As the day passes, you appreciate the short spurts of hope that creep into your consciousness; they somehow alleviate the pain, at least momentarily. But the key is to build off these spurts of hope and dig yourself out of the blackhole. These spurts of hope are the antidote to the start of depression; use them to avoid the development of a serious mental illness.

Feeling sad is part of life; there is no way to avoid it. The important thing is how you handle the sadness; some get over it and move on while others spiral down into major depressive disorder. Sadness is the yang and happiness is the yin; complementary forces in which the whole is greater than the individual emotions.

To appreciate happiness is to experience sadness; without the negative emotion, we would not know what happiness would feel like. But when there is way too much yin or yang, there is concern for mania or depression. Therefore, a healthy balance is always key to enjoying life.

Find your living hope and allow it to help you today!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Woke Up Thankful

Woman sitting on bench near flowers smiling and being thankful

Living Thankfully

Starting off your day in the right direction depends a lot on your mindset upon awakening. The thoughts that you experience when you wake up have an influence on the rest of your day; they guide the direction in which your mind will navigate.

One of the best ways to start your day off right is to practice being thankful. It is so easy to focus on the things that are bothering you in life and lose sight of your blessings. If being thankful is a difficult objective for you, then you might want to consider mindfulness.

Even if you are battling many difficulties, being thankful reminds you of the nice and good things that are in your life; it helps you come back to a centered state of mind when you are too far down in a negative direction. It is important to remain emotionally stable in life because it helps you stay clearheaded and perform at your best.

Waking up thankful is one of the nicest feelings that you can experience: it is warmth, comfort and bliss. You love yourself when you are thankful. You feel that life is worth living every second of it. It puts you in a good mood which you radiate onto the rest of the world.

Being thankful is to live again.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Immigrants And Mental Illness

Hispanic immigrant mother holding daughter in her arms

Mental Health Of Immigrants And Refugees

Border crossings. Family visits. Coming in the legal way. Despite the method of arrival, it is important to recognize the mental illness suffered by immigrants on their long journey into a new country. To ignore it is to be naive and ignorant of another human’s mental health.

There is no doubt that when a person leaves their country behind and flees with a couple of hundreds of dollars and a little hungry boy to take care of, their chance of developing a mental illness skyrockets. The act of leaving takes courage but also brings a lot of anxiety upon traveling towards a foreign land, with no certainty of the final outcome.

Many immigrants also battle depression after leaving their country. At first, they may seem excited to leave their old life behind, but as reality catches up, depressive symptoms also begin to appear. On a long and unknown journey, their appetite may decrease, their sleep may become fragmented, their interest in activities may plummet, their guilt of leaving their families behind may increase and they may even begin experiencing suicidal thoughts.

On the other hand, it is important not to discount immigrants with psychotic disorders who pose a threat to those around them. Many stories have appeared on the news about illegal immigrants kidnapping, murdering and even raping young females. Should immigrants with psychotic disorders be barred from entering a new country?

Some would argue that we need to provide care for all; mental health has no boundaries. While others would argue that immigrants with psychotic disorders should receive the help they need prior to immigrating to a new country. The reality is that many immigrants may have an undiagnosed psychotic illness that becomes apparent once they have arrived to their final destination.

It is important to bear in mind that mental health should not be discounted in immigrants leaving their country to seek a better life. The same way in which immigrants undergo medical evaluations upon their arrival in a new country, is the same recognition and attention that mental health deserves. To ignore mental health in this population is to allow violence and suicide to spread like wildfire.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)