Watch an EMDR Session. How Does it Work?

Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing Therapy

There is a real trend amongst holistic drug treatment centers to offer EMDR therapy as a part of an overall addiction recovery program.

EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing therapy, is a still somewhat controversial therapeutic technique that supposedly helps people to cope with the memory of traumatic events. Proponents rave about its efficacy and simplicity, and skeptics just want to see a bit more research data before jumping to firmly on that EMDR bandwagon.

But what is it? What is it supposed to do, and why should you get it done? I could explain, but this short video, produced by a therapist who uses the technique, does a pretty good job of answering these questions while letting you watch the process.

Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing Therapy

There is a real trend amongst holistic drug treatment centers to offer EMDR therapy as a part of an overall addiction recovery program.

EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing therapy, is a still somewhat controversial therapeutic technique that supposedly helps people to cope with the memory of traumatic events. Proponents rave about its efficacy and simplicity, and skeptics just want to see a bit more research data before jumping to firmly on that EMDR bandwagon.

But what is it? What is it supposed to do, and why should you get it done? I could explain, but this short video, produced by a therapist who uses the technique, does a pretty good job of answering these questions while letting you watch the process.

Music Therapy as Addiction Treatment – Can Drumming Circles Help?

I am not a holistically inclined kind of guy, and regard with skepticism many of the more mystical claims made by alternative practitioners. I have to admit though, my hardened shell is crumbling as I get old, and I guess, soft. Meditation works, it does wonders; yoga apparently offers as much against relapse as group therapy, and acupuncture shows an incredible ability to reduce the suffering of those going through detox and withdrawal pains.

No one can say with certainty why these activities help, but they do, the anecdotal evidence is strong, and evidence based studies confirm their efficacy. And music therapy, apparently, also works very well as a complimentary therapy for addiction treatment, as it does in many other health promotional fields.

Does Music Therapy Work?

It works; people sing its praises, but the relatively new discipline still lacks those strong scientific and evidence based studies used to convince all of us doubting naysayers of its merits. It’s getting there though. There are music therapy degree programs at many respected universities, an accredited association of trained and professional therapists, and increasing acceptance in the health world – an acceptance grudgingly earned by those that have to respect the results it shows.

Late stage Alzheimer’s patients, completely incommunicative, can still on a preconscious level participate in group sessions of rhythmic music – a last communication from a fading mind. Music is elemental and emotional, and far removed from the conscious chatter of our forebrain – our thinking brain, and so it makes sense that music could be an effective tool to delve into our emotional selves. And that, when patients receive appropriate guidance from a trained professional, is what seems to happen.

Addicts or alcoholics in recovery are encouraged to make music, as a way of releasing-purging-deep seated and destructive emotions. Emotions that may be too painful to put into words – emotional experiences that may influence our behaviors – yet that we couldn’t put into words even if we tried. Through self expression, addicts bleed off some emotional intensity, and may then be better able to manage what remains. Some techniques used include using music and imagery for relaxation and anxiety control, self expression through group lyrical song writing, and most commonly as used in addiction treatment, through drumming circles.

In shamanistic and ritual traditions from cultures across the world, drumming serves to facilitate an altered and ecstatic state. It influences a trance like state; and in the mind, it produces theta waves of deep relaxation, similar to a meditative consciousness. Anecdotal evidence from practitioners suggests that drumming in a group can transform fragmented and angry individuals, and produce a state of group harmony and openness, perfect for the exploration of group therapy. Those that work with troubled youth report that through drumming, they can often break through a tough external veneer, and get to the real kid inside. And the drummers love it. Participants in drumming therapy report a high satisfaction, and in an Australian study, the use of music therapy in treatment increased total-length retention rates.

We don’t yet understand addiction, not really, and so we still lack that perfect treatment formula. We do know, intuitively and experimentally, that addiction exists on a mind-body-soul plane, and that treatments that combine cognitive/ psycho therapies and medical health promotion – with a third more intangible “spiritual” element, seem to offer those in recovery more. Spirituality is a tough nut though – hard to define, even personally, and very tough to study scientifically. It’s an intangible, but it’s a valid and necessary part of life-changing addiction treatment, and it is a necessary and vital part of the human experience.

No one is saying the music alone offers a cure for addiction, but it does seem a valuable peripheral therapy – and to be honest, it sounds kind of fun too.

 

I am not a holistically inclined kind of guy, and regard with skepticism many of the more mystical claims made by alternative practitioners. I have to admit though, my hardened shell is crumbling as I get old, and I guess, soft. Meditation works, it does wonders; yoga apparently offers as much against relapse as group therapy, and acupuncture shows an incredible ability to reduce the suffering of those going through detox and withdrawal pains.

No one can say with certainty why these activities help, but they do, the anecdotal evidence is strong, and evidence based studies confirm their efficacy. And music therapy, apparently, also works very well as a complimentary therapy for addiction treatment, as it does in many other health promotional fields.

Does Music Therapy Work?

It works; people sing its praises, but the relatively new discipline still lacks those strong scientific and evidence based studies used to convince all of us doubting naysayers of its merits. It’s getting there though. There are music therapy degree programs at many respected universities, an accredited association of trained and professional therapists, and increasing acceptance in the health world – an acceptance grudgingly earned by those that have to respect the results it shows.

Late stage Alzheimer’s patients, completely incommunicative, can still on a preconscious level participate in group sessions of rhythmic music – a last communication from a fading mind. Music is elemental and emotional, and far removed from the conscious chatter of our forebrain – our thinking brain, and so it makes sense that music could be an effective tool to delve into our emotional selves. And that, when patients receive appropriate guidance from a trained professional, is what seems to happen.

Addicts or alcoholics in recovery are encouraged to make music, as a way of releasing-purging-deep seated and destructive emotions. Emotions that may be too painful to put into words – emotional experiences that may influence our behaviors – yet that we couldn’t put into words even if we tried. Through self expression, addicts bleed off some emotional intensity, and may then be better able to manage what remains. Some techniques used include using music and imagery for relaxation and anxiety control, self expression through group lyrical song writing, and most commonly as used in addiction treatment, through drumming circles.

In shamanistic and ritual traditions from cultures across the world, drumming serves to facilitate an altered and ecstatic state. It influences a trance like state; and in the mind, it produces theta waves of deep relaxation, similar to a meditative consciousness. Anecdotal evidence from practitioners suggests that drumming in a group can transform fragmented and angry individuals, and produce a state of group harmony and openness, perfect for the exploration of group therapy. Those that work with troubled youth report that through drumming, they can often break through a tough external veneer, and get to the real kid inside. And the drummers love it. Participants in drumming therapy report a high satisfaction, and in an Australian study, the use of music therapy in treatment increased total-length retention rates.

We don’t yet understand addiction, not really, and so we still lack that perfect treatment formula. We do know, intuitively and experimentally, that addiction exists on a mind-body-soul plane, and that treatments that combine cognitive/ psycho therapies and medical health promotion – with a third more intangible “spiritual” element, seem to offer those in recovery more. Spirituality is a tough nut though – hard to define, even personally, and very tough to study scientifically. It’s an intangible, but it’s a valid and necessary part of life-changing addiction treatment, and it is a necessary and vital part of the human experience.

No one is saying the music alone offers a cure for addiction, but it does seem a valuable peripheral therapy – and to be honest, it sounds kind of fun too.

 

2009 Addiction Treatment Budget Cuts – Prison Lobby Cheers; Predicts Record Profits to Come

They say that every dollar spent on addiction treatment and prevention yields a 7 dollar societal dividend. Hey – you gotta’ spend money to make money right…

Or maybe not – as the Bush administration must like money, yet once again they have cut total spending on addiction treatment and prevention programs; shaving an additional few hundred million or so from the 2009 budget. They must have a master plan – those crafty buggers. They must know something we don’t!

Here are some of the highlights:

  • SAMHSA, the main recipient of federal funding, will receive 70 million less in 2009 than in 2008.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment will lose 63 million.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention will lose 36 million.
  • The Center for Mental Health Services will limp on, short 126 million.
  • The Safe and Drug Free Schools Program will lose 194.8 million in 2009 (but how important are safe and drug free schools anyway?)

It’s not all bad though; the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse will actually see a funding increase in 2009 – that’s right, an extra four hundred thousand dollars…

Well, it seems crazy to me – but when you consider that spending on drug related law enforcement has increased a whopping 57% during the last 8 years (treatment is up 3% – a below inflationary increase) I guess they’ve just decided on going ahead with Plan B…throwing EVERYONE in jail!

Americans now jail 1 in 100 – A record high, in any country, and at any time.

 

They say that every dollar spent on addiction treatment and prevention yields a 7 dollar societal dividend. Hey – you gotta’ spend money to make money right…

Or maybe not – as the Bush administration must like money, yet once again they have cut total spending on addiction treatment and prevention programs; shaving an additional few hundred million or so from the 2009 budget. They must have a master plan – those crafty buggers. They must know something we don’t!

Here are some of the highlights:

  • SAMHSA, the main recipient of federal funding, will receive 70 million less in 2009 than in 2008.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment will lose 63 million.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention will lose 36 million.
  • The Center for Mental Health Services will limp on, short 126 million.
  • The Safe and Drug Free Schools Program will lose 194.8 million in 2009 (but how important are safe and drug free schools anyway?)

It’s not all bad though; the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse will actually see a funding increase in 2009 – that’s right, an extra four hundred thousand dollars…

Well, it seems crazy to me – but when you consider that spending on drug related law enforcement has increased a whopping 57% during the last 8 years (treatment is up 3% – a below inflationary increase) I guess they’ve just decided on going ahead with Plan B…throwing EVERYONE in jail!

Americans now jail 1 in 100 – A record high, in any country, and at any time.

 

You Can Afford Rehab – You’re Just Not Trying Hard Enough!

For any number of reasons, the vast majority of alcoholics and drug addicts never get help for their disease, and one reason given (with some regularity) for not getting treatment, is an inability to pay for it.

Treatment costs can be high – many thousands of dollars for residential care, and sure, a lot of people can honestly say that they don’t have the money.

At least, they don’t have it just sitting around.

And there may be some people that, no matter what they tried, couldn’t come up with a few thousand dollars – but most of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, could.

Take 2 hypothetical situations as examples

Scenario 1. I say to you – if you can give me $5000 in 30 days, I’ll give you 1 million back. You’d say it was a scam, of course, but just imagine it’s a real offer and you would get the reward. Could you scrape together $5000 to earn a million? Could you sell a car, or another prized possession? Could you borrow the money from friends, family, a credit card or a personal or home loan? Could you work for at least part of it? If you really believed that a million was coming; you’d get the $5000, one way or another. You would.

Scenario 2 I say to you – if you don’t give me $5000 in 30 days, you will die on that 31st day. Assuming again that you believe this to be true – could you get the money? More than likely, you could.

So, if you could answer yes in either of the above scenarios, you must admit that you could, if the stakes were high enough, compile a few thousand dollars in a relatively short period of time. You might need to make some sacrifices, but you could do it; yet when considering money for treatment, most people don’t seem willing to make these self same sacrifices.

Will You Make Any Sacrifices?

People say they can’t pay for rehab even with an expensive car (or 2 or 3) sitting in the driveway. When people say they can’t afford drug treatment, what a lot of people are truly saying is that they can’t pay for drug treatment without making any sacrifices.

Now, the two scenarios outlined above are a bit extreme. No one is going to give you a million dollars for going to rehab, and you’re probably not going to die if you don’t get help this month.

BUT

No one that quits drinking or drugging suffers financially for it. In 5 years, if you can get clean and sober, you will have more money. You will likely live in a nicer house (this has been studied – it’s true) and drive a nicer car. You won’t be spending all your money on intoxication, you’ll perform far better at work and you’ll have fewer healthcare expenses. Money is not a great reason to get sober, but when you look at the big financial picture, getting sober always pays off.

Also

Addiction is a disease. It’s progressive, and without treatment, it’s ultimately fatal. You probably won’t die this month or the next, but if you can’t stop using drugs or drinking, you will die from it eventually. Getting together some money for treatment could save your life.

Invest in yourself. Make some sacrifices to get the medical care you need. You probably can afford rehab; you’re just not trying hard enough.

For any number of reasons, the vast majority of alcoholics and drug addicts never get help for their disease, and one reason given (with some regularity) for not getting treatment, is an inability to pay for it.

Treatment costs can be high – many thousands of dollars for residential care, and sure, a lot of people can honestly say that they don’t have the money.

At least, they don’t have it just sitting around.

And there may be some people that, no matter what they tried, couldn’t come up with a few thousand dollars – but most of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, could.

Take 2 hypothetical situations as examples

Scenario 1. I say to you – if you can give me $5000 in 30 days, I’ll give you 1 million back. You’d say it was a scam, of course, but just imagine it’s a real offer and you would get the reward. Could you scrape together $5000 to earn a million? Could you sell a car, or another prized possession? Could you borrow the money from friends, family, a credit card or a personal or home loan? Could you work for at least part of it? If you really believed that a million was coming; you’d get the $5000, one way or another. You would.

Scenario 2 I say to you – if you don’t give me $5000 in 30 days, you will die on that 31st day. Assuming again that you believe this to be true – could you get the money? More than likely, you could.

So, if you could answer yes in either of the above scenarios, you must admit that you could, if the stakes were high enough, compile a few thousand dollars in a relatively short period of time. You might need to make some sacrifices, but you could do it; yet when considering money for treatment, most people don’t seem willing to make these self same sacrifices.

Will You Make Any Sacrifices?

People say they can’t pay for rehab even with an expensive car (or 2 or 3) sitting in the driveway. When people say they can’t afford drug treatment, what a lot of people are truly saying is that they can’t pay for drug treatment without making any sacrifices.

Now, the two scenarios outlined above are a bit extreme. No one is going to give you a million dollars for going to rehab, and you’re probably not going to die if you don’t get help this month.

BUT

No one that quits drinking or drugging suffers financially for it. In 5 years, if you can get clean and sober, you will have more money. You will likely live in a nicer house (this has been studied – it’s true) and drive a nicer car. You won’t be spending all your money on intoxication, you’ll perform far better at work and you’ll have fewer healthcare expenses. Money is not a great reason to get sober, but when you look at the big financial picture, getting sober always pays off.

Also

Addiction is a disease. It’s progressive, and without treatment, it’s ultimately fatal. You probably won’t die this month or the next, but if you can’t stop using drugs or drinking, you will die from it eventually. Getting together some money for treatment could save your life.

Invest in yourself. Make some sacrifices to get the medical care you need. You probably can afford rehab; you’re just not trying hard enough.

Addiction Recovery…Don’t Do It Alone

We, as humans, are social animals.

From birth we learn from our family; as children, friends take on a bigger role until when in our teens, the collective wisdom of our peers exerts a primal influence. As adults we tend to think it all past us, but in reality our peer environment still influences our actions and perceptions, and the people we choose to associate with tend to have a profound impact on our lives.

And this is why although recovery alone is possible, recovery in a group is far more possible, and for the best likelihood of success recovery should harness the power of the group.

As using addicts or alcoholics, we tend to associate socially with others who share our life-focus for intoxication; it’s a natural byproduct of the disease! We take our social cues from our group of peers, and in a big way what we perceive to be acceptable standards of behaviors are derived from what others around us are also doing.

If I drink 12 beers a day but my friend drinks 24 beers a day, well, I’m a moderate drinker!

Getting into rehab offers a lot. It offers a period of enforced sobriety, which can transform a life on its own. It offers the wisdom and guidance of addictions professionals, and it offers classes in relapse avoidance and life skills that impart the tools we’ll need to succeed. But more, much more than this, it also offers us the inspiration of others also in recovery.

We learn through the process of group recovery that although we are unique as individuals, our problems with drugs and alcohol share an incredible similarity. We also see that if others, who have it just as bad as we do, can recover – then there is no reason why we can’t too. There is a real sense of inspiration that comes from working together towards a common goal with others who share the same troubles; and it can work a real magic on even the most reluctant and hard-headed of addicts.

Rehab is supposed to be a place of transformation, and there is true power in this collective effort of recovery. You might be able to do it alone, but it’s easier and far more likely done in a group setting.

Find a place of healing where you can find your inspiration. Find a group of fellow alcoholics or addicts who understand you as you understand them, and start your journey towards recovery together. It helps.

We, as humans, are social animals.

From birth we learn from our family; as children, friends take on a bigger role until when in our teens, the collective wisdom of our peers exerts a primal influence. As adults we tend to think it all past us, but in reality our peer environment still influences our actions and perceptions, and the people we choose to associate with tend to have a profound impact on our lives.

And this is why although recovery alone is possible, recovery in a group is far more possible, and for the best likelihood of success recovery should harness the power of the group.

As using addicts or alcoholics, we tend to associate socially with others who share our life-focus for intoxication; it’s a natural byproduct of the disease! We take our social cues from our group of peers, and in a big way what we perceive to be acceptable standards of behaviors are derived from what others around us are also doing.

If I drink 12 beers a day but my friend drinks 24 beers a day, well, I’m a moderate drinker!

Getting into rehab offers a lot. It offers a period of enforced sobriety, which can transform a life on its own. It offers the wisdom and guidance of addictions professionals, and it offers classes in relapse avoidance and life skills that impart the tools we’ll need to succeed. But more, much more than this, it also offers us the inspiration of others also in recovery.

We learn through the process of group recovery that although we are unique as individuals, our problems with drugs and alcohol share an incredible similarity. We also see that if others, who have it just as bad as we do, can recover – then there is no reason why we can’t too. There is a real sense of inspiration that comes from working together towards a common goal with others who share the same troubles; and it can work a real magic on even the most reluctant and hard-headed of addicts.

Rehab is supposed to be a place of transformation, and there is true power in this collective effort of recovery. You might be able to do it alone, but it’s easier and far more likely done in a group setting.

Find a place of healing where you can find your inspiration. Find a group of fellow alcoholics or addicts who understand you as you understand them, and start your journey towards recovery together. It helps.

Are anti drug vaccines the treatment of the future? Meth and cocaine vaccines almost ready for FDA approval.

I was just reading about a pair of vaccines being developed for the treatment of both cocaine addiction, and addiction to crystal meth. These are two pretty powerfully addictive substances, and if these proposed vaccines can do anything to increase the odds of success, then they would be very welcome additions to the current addictions treatment arsenal.

The way they work is that drug addicts are given a series of injections over three months, with each injection increasing the level of antibodies in the blood stream. These antibodies are designed to recognize, target and attack the drug, preventing it from reaching the brain. As more antibodies are released into the blood through further injections, decreasing amounts of the administered drug (cocaine or meth, each vaccine works for only one specific drug) actually make it to the brain. The vaccines are given over three months, and levels of the antibodies rise very gradually. The vaccine’s effects become noticeable after a month, and by three months, most of any administered drug is destroyed before reaching the brain. Because the process is so gradual, addicts feel little discomfort from the process of getting weaned off of their drug of choice.

Basically what these vaccines accomplish is that they allow addicted people to continue to use their drug, and get gradually less dependent on it through the action of the antibodies on the blood. As less and less of the drug actually makes it to the brain, the level of dependency falls, and it is far easier to ultimately quit using, with minimal or even no withdrawal symptoms experienced. These vaccines are not designed for prophylactic use across the general population, but are specifically to be used for drug addicts trying to stop using. These drugs are reported to greatly help with the ability to get off a drug, but do nothing to prevent a relapse, and as such they must be combined with other treatments if the individual is to remain drug free over the long term.

I think that these vaccines are really exciting, and if people motivated to stop using could get to rehab already virtually off the drug, they could then really expend all of their energy and focus to the learning needed, and a lot less to the discomfort and anxiety of withdrawal. These vaccines have one more step of testing to go before being submitted to the FDA for approval, and lets hope that all goes well, and before long meth and cocaine addicts can benefit from this new medical treatment for addiction.

Research reduces barriers to drug treatment

Since elected officials have repeatedly proven that they are far more likely to lock up a drug addict then offer needed help, we need to change the way we try to improve access to treatment.

There are tens of millions of Americans with substance abuse problems requiring professional intervention, and only a small percentage of these people are getting the help that they need.

While undoubtedly a significant percentage of these people have the means to afford drug treatment, and for whatever reason choose not to get it; it is estimated that about 30% of these people, or many millions of Americans, have no health insurance coverage nor have the financial capabilities to afford comprehensive drug treatment expenses.

The fact that so many millions of Americans are slipping through the health coverage cracks in our Country should appeal to our humanitarian natures and induce a desire to enact change; but even if we view the issue callously and economically, we still come out far ahead by reducing the barriers to treatment entry.

Substance abuse cost’s Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year in criminal and justice, health care and reduced productivity costs; and conservative estimates have 1$ spent on treatment reaping an eventual 7$ savings in societal costs. Since the numbers seem so overwhelmingly in favor of enacting social and economic change towards better treatment access, why are we not spending more public tax dollars on the very sound investment of drug treatment?

"Because drug treatments don’t work"

Well actually they do work, and drug rehab programs save countless thousands of lives a year…but the nature of addiction is such that often a single period of drug treatment doesn’t induce permanent change, and thus the treatment statistics per individual rehab visit are not particularly encouraging. It’s hard for public officials to publicly commit great resources to programs with such low success rates, and since incarceration and "getting tough on crime" are so much easier to sell to the electorate, we are continually enacting short sighted and ineffective policies.

I think that ideally we should divert a massive influx of dollars into both treatment programs and addictions research, but since I don’t think that this is likely to occur lacking enormous political will; we should instead concentrate on increasing spending into addictions research. We need to develop better pharmacological and treatment interventions, and once we do have something more concrete to offer, something that does increase the recovery rates per individual rehab visit, then I feel that the political motivation to fund needed substance abuse programming will materialize.

So get out the pen and paper, and if you’ve been touched by addiction either yourself or through the pains of a loved one, empathize with those that still need help, and let your State and Federal elected officials know that the funding of addictions treatment research is important to you.

How many more billions are spent in the development of hair loss, and erectile dysfunction medications than in all addictions research combined? Not that government funded Viagra trials…but still, it’s funny how our priorities can get so distorted.

Since elected officials have repeatedly proven that they are far more likely to lock up a drug addict then offer needed help, we need to change the way we try to improve access to treatment.

There are tens of millions of Americans with substance abuse problems requiring professional intervention, and only a small percentage of these people are getting the help that they need.

While undoubtedly a significant percentage of these people have the means to afford drug treatment, and for whatever reason choose not to get it; it is estimated that about 30% of these people, or many millions of Americans, have no health insurance coverage nor have the financial capabilities to afford comprehensive drug treatment expenses.

The fact that so many millions of Americans are slipping through the health coverage cracks in our Country should appeal to our humanitarian natures and induce a desire to enact change; but even if we view the issue callously and economically, we still come out far ahead by reducing the barriers to treatment entry.

Substance abuse cost’s Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year in criminal and justice, health care and reduced productivity costs; and conservative estimates have 1$ spent on treatment reaping an eventual 7$ savings in societal costs. Since the numbers seem so overwhelmingly in favor of enacting social and economic change towards better treatment access, why are we not spending more public tax dollars on the very sound investment of drug treatment?

"Because drug treatments don’t work"

Well actually they do work, and drug rehab programs save countless thousands of lives a year…but the nature of addiction is such that often a single period of drug treatment doesn’t induce permanent change, and thus the treatment statistics per individual rehab visit are not particularly encouraging. It’s hard for public officials to publicly commit great resources to programs with such low success rates, and since incarceration and "getting tough on crime" are so much easier to sell to the electorate, we are continually enacting short sighted and ineffective policies.

I think that ideally we should divert a massive influx of dollars into both treatment programs and addictions research, but since I don’t think that this is likely to occur lacking enormous political will; we should instead concentrate on increasing spending into addictions research. We need to develop better pharmacological and treatment interventions, and once we do have something more concrete to offer, something that does increase the recovery rates per individual rehab visit, then I feel that the political motivation to fund needed substance abuse programming will materialize.

So get out the pen and paper, and if you’ve been touched by addiction either yourself or through the pains of a loved one, empathize with those that still need help, and let your State and Federal elected officials know that the funding of addictions treatment research is important to you.

How many more billions are spent in the development of hair loss, and erectile dysfunction medications than in all addictions research combined? Not that government funded Viagra trials…but still, it’s funny how our priorities can get so distorted.