Women, Depression, Stress and Anxiety: Menopause, Pregnancy and Other Depressive Factors

Women are a high risk group for clinical depression. Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with depression, although the exact reason for this discrepancy is unclear. It’s possible that social conditioning makes women dealing with depression more likely to seek medical assistance than men. Hormonal differences between the sexes may also play a role.

Female and Male Depression

Until puberty, female and male depression rates have a 1:1 ratio. Boys are as likely to experience symptoms of depression as girls. By adolescence, however, the ratio changes to 2:1 and remains so throughout life.

Hormones are known to affect behavior and mood in both men and women. Hormonal changes over women’s lifetimes are generally more intense that those of men. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause all have a significant effect on female hormones. Some research suggests hormonal changes at puberty make women more susceptible to depression than men.

Women, Depression and Symptoms

Women and men tend to report different symptoms of depression. Men report increased irritability, sleep problems and loss of enjoyment in pleasurable activities. Women tend to report feelings of guilt, sadness, worthlessness and fatigue. This does not necessarily mean symptoms of depression in women differ from those seen in men; only that men and women tend to focus on different aspects of depression.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression

The months after childbirth are extremely stressful. In addition to caring for a newborn, a mother’s body undergoes significant hormonal changes as it adjusts to no longer being pregnant. Many women experience a period of sadness and mood changes commonly called the baby blues. Symptoms of the baby blues usually diminish over time.

For some women, however, baby blues symptoms increase in severity into full-blown depression. Postpartum depression can occur for several months after childbirth. The risk of postpartum depression is higher in women who experienced depressive episodes prior to (or during) pregnancy.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a depressive illness that affects some women in the week before menstruation. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (or PMDD) causes symptoms of depression including anxiety and irritability. PMDD is more than “just” PMS – symptoms are severe enough to prevent women from functioning normally.

Menopause and Depression

Menopause marks another major hormonal change in a woman’s life. Some women may experience depression as they enter menopause. Post-menopausal women, however, experience less depressive episodes.

Women, Stress and Symptoms of Depression

Both men and women experience stress, but some studies indicate that women respond to stress in ways that make them more susceptible to depression than men. Women, according to this research, have feel the effects of stress over longer time periods, which may raise the risk of depression.

It’s worth noting here that, interesting though such studies are, they deal in generalities. Everyone has a unique response to stress that affects their risk of depression either positively or negatively.

Women, Depression and Treatment

Women and men respond to the same depression treatments, with some differences. Women, for instance, tend to be more willing to engage in group therapy than men, possibly due to societal views on communication and male stoicism.

Pregnant women should consult their doctors before taking antidepressants, as some depression medication can cause birth defects. Postpartum depression treatment with antidepressants must also be handled carefully if the mother is breastfeeding, as depression medication can pass to the baby through breast milk.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is treated in much the same way as clinical depression, although PMDD may also be treated with nutritional or hormone therapy.

Many women who experience symptoms of depression never get the help they need. Those that do receive medical care usually find dealing with depression becomes much easier.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder: When Panic Attacks become Panic Disorder

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

The term ‘panic disorder’ is hotly debated. Conventially, it means someone who experiences a number of panic attacks which in turn, limit the extent to which that person lives her/his life. Panic attacks, as the words imply, are episodes of feeling high levels of fear, even terror, in situations where feeling so panic-stricken and afraid is totally inappropriate. While it’s life-saving to panic when there is real and present danger, many people who experience what we call panic attacks, feel intense fear in places like a shopping Mall, a movie theatre and while they’re out driving.

Panic attacks come out of the blue

Most people who experience panic attacks experience them out of the blue. The person is likely to feel any and all of the physical symptoms of intense fear including:

  • shortness of breath
  • racing heart beat
  • sweaty palms
  • dry throat
  • feeling sick in the stomach
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling lightheaded and faint

When you feel fear the very powerful hormone adrenaline is pumped into your system. That adrenaline is part of what is called the Flight/Fight syndrome. Under normal circumstances, adrenaline performs the very important physiological function of preparing you to run away, escape quickly from danger, or to stay and fight your way out of it. The most upsetting thing about a panic attack is that the person feeling those intense feelings knows full well that there is no sabre toothed tiger on the attack. There is nothing to fear – except the feelings of being out of control and of being afraid.

When someone experiences those feelings of inappropriate panic at, for example, the local Mall for the first time s/he may be able to write it off as something strange that happened on that day. When the same feelings of panic occur on several visits to the Mall, the person is very likely to avoid going to the Mall. That leads some medical practitioners and counsellors to use the label ‘panic disorder’ to describe that avoiding behaviour.

Considering the whole person and finding solutions to upsetting panic rather than in using labels that make people feel like they have an illness is the appropriate way forward. Experiencing panic attacks is not pleasant. It’s not a disorder. Panic attacks and even phobic responses are emotional responses that needed to be managed and rewritten. Not behaviours that need to be labelled as disorders.

A Panic Sufferer’s Plea: Dealing with Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia in Your Relationships

panic sufferer

Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia can negatively affect relationships. The sufferers may be more dependent on family members than they would like to be, and family members may resent having more responsibilities shifted onto them because of the loved one’s limitations. The sufferers often feel misunderstood by their family members who have never experienced the puzzling symptoms themselves. Good communication without blaming each other, and information are critical in coping with panic attacks.

The Plea of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia Sufferers to their Family Members

Please don’t treat me as if I were defective, weak, or “crazy.”

You wouldn’t judge a person who came down with a heart problem or diabetes. Panic disorder has its roots in heredity and physiology, just like those other illnesses. People from all walks of life can have panic disorder, even the rich, famous, and successful. Just about everybody has some health issue. I have this.

Please don’t call me a hypochondriac.

My body is making me feel like I am terribly ill or losing my mind. These feelings are real, physical, feelings and they can be observed in a laboratory. Panic disorder symptoms are not imaginary like in hypochondriasis. They mimic the symptoms of some serious illnesses. It would be helpful if you would offer to accompany me to the doctor so we can rule out any medical problem.

Please don’t tell me to calm down, I have already tried that a million times.

All I do is try to calm down and it doesn’t help. Telling me to calm down makes me feel like a failure, even though it is well documented that simply “calming down” doesn’t work with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Medicine and/or cognitive-behavioral treatment with a specialist are what does help. Maybe you could help me find treatment instead, or just reassure me that I am safe.

Please don’t tell me that I am doing this to myself or that I “have to stop”.

You wouldn’t blame people with diabetes or cancer for causing it themselves. You wouldn’t expect them to magically cure themselves. If I knew how to stop the symptoms, I would.

Please don’t think that I’m just making this up, or faking it to get out of doing something or going someplace.

I don’t know why my symptoms come and go, or why I am able to do some things without panicking and not others. But experts will tell you that this is the nature of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Maybe this disorder does “get me out of” doing things but, I am paying a huge price for this. It’s like my life is being closed off to me. I’m unable to do the things I love to do as well as things I don’t like. I would never choose this as a way of slacking off. All I want is my life back.

Please don’t tell me, “oh just do it.”

You have to understand that sometimes the simplest task seems as impossible as jumping off the top of a mountain. If someone told you to jump off the top of a mountain, would you be able to “just do it?”

Please don’t let me suffer when help is available.

If we have been to the doctor and ruled out a medical cause, then please help me find a therapist who specializes in Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia treatment so I can finally be convinced that Panic Disorder is what I have. If the diagnosis of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia is correct, I have an excellent chance of getting better.

Oh, and last but notlLeast…

Thank you for trying so hard so far, and for not giving up on me. Just like I can’t be expected to have some magical knowledge about how to handle my panic attacks, I know that you can’t be expected to have magical knowledge about how to handle a person with panic attacks. Let’s not let it come between us. Let’s keep talking.

40 Million U.S. Adult Anxiety Disorder Sufferers: Chronic Anxiety that Affects up to 20% of the U.S. Population

anxiety disorder

Millions of Americans suffer a chronic anxiety disorder of some type. Severe anxiety is the most common emotional disorder worldwide, with depression coming in at a close second-place. Anxiety and depression often co-exist, which can worsen the symptoms of each. The symptoms of anxiety can be terrifying and sometimes debilitating but there are effective treatments to help with coping and recovery.

Causes of Anxiety Conditions and Disorders

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorders can be related to other mental/emotional disorders, including depression and traumatic or stressful events. They can also be related to physical illnesses that can act as triggers for the development of them or as a contributing factor for ongoing anxiety symptoms. These illnesses include endocrine disorders (hormone gland problems), such as thyroid disorders and problems with glucose regulation in the body, including diabetes and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar episodes). Chronic stress syndromes and illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and sleep disorders can also contribute to the symptoms of anxiety disorders, as can other pain-related illnesses such as chronic arthritis and neurological diseases. National Institute of Mental Health-Anxiety Disorders

Manifestations of Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural emotion but becomes a problem when it occurs too often or out-of-context, meaning it occurs at inappropriate times and is disproportionately elevated in response to insignificant triggers (phobias) or to things that should not trigger anxiety reactions. Standing in a check-out line at a store for example should not trigger a severe anxiety reaction but can be a very real problem to people with anxiety disorders. A perceived threat of any kind can cause some anxiety sufferers to experience panic reactions or chronic worry. They may also feel on-edge and experience apprehension about a number of things that people with normal anxiety levels give very little consideration to. Some anxiety disorders manifest with obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors and many anxiety sufferers exhibit the aspects or symptoms of more than one anxiety condition. If these type reactions occur for a six month period or longer, this would indicate a person is experiencing at least one anxiety disorder according to the NIMH.

Substance Abuse and Coping Behaviors

Anxiety study groups and medical sources, including the NIMH state that anxiety disorders are often related to substance abuse and negative behaviors. Alcohol and drug abuse is often resorted-to as a coping method for chronic anxiety or in some cases the substance abuse may be a cause of anxiety conditions. Other self-coping methods some anxiety sufferers may resort to are sexually deviant behaviors and other habits of escapism, such as gambling, pornography or self-injury.

Anxiety Treatments

When anxiety disorders are related to physical illnesses, treatment for the medical condition can relieve or in some cases completely resolve the anxiety symptoms. For some medical patients, the anxiety has become a learned-behavior and may still require mental health therapy or psycho therapeutic medications (anti-anxiety drugs and/or anti-depressants). Therapies that are used to help people with anxiety disorders are designed to help them cope with anxiety and to work better with the emotion for more positive responses to it. Some therapies include “exposure techniques” in which an anxiety sufferer is slowly exposed to the phobia(s) that are causing them problems in life, so that they become less fearful of them.

Biofeedback techniques may also be used, which helps anxiety sufferers to observe their bodily responses to anxiety and stress and to develop strategies for redirecting those responses and channeling them into positive, rather than negative reactions. One of the more successful therapies is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which incorporates aspects of these other therapies into techniques that also help anxiety sufferers to react differently to anxiety triggers and to learn not to fear anxiety symptoms but rather to recognize them as natural bodily responses.

Which Foods Help Improve Bipolar Disorder Symptoms?

food for bipolar

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is an increasingly common mental health condition, where sufferers experience periods of mania (feeling euphoric) and clinical depression.

While mainstream approaches to treating bipolar disorder include therapy and anti-psychotic medications such as olanzapine and mood stabilizers including lithium, improved nutrition may also have a role to play.

Foods to Help Bipolar Disorder Sufferers

In addition to mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics and antidepressants, making simple changes to dietary intake will likely make a difference to those affected with bipolar disorder. Even making sure one has a balanced diet, high in fibre and rich in vitamins and minerals will improve mood and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

In Eat Yourself Happy, Isaac & Isaac, highlight key foods to help bipolar disorder sufferers, to include the following:

  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) – rich in omega-3 help boost mood;
  • Nuts and seeds – peanuts, pumpkin seeds;
  • Wholegrain fibres – rich in magnesium (calming mineral); and
  • Brazil nuts – rich in selenium.

Nutrition for Bipolar Sufferers on Lithium

The reason why eating foods rich in selenium (such as Brazil nuts) may help those suffering from bipolar disorder, is due to the effects of lithium, which is a commonly used mood stabilizer. As identified by Isaac & Isaac, lithium can affect the way the thyroid gland functions, while selenium is believed to help improve thyroid function.

Drinking plenty of water, particularly in warmer weather, is also important for those taking lithium as it will help the individual to maintain a balance of lithium levels. Sufficient fluids are required to help the kidneys to get flush the lithium, which must be excreted in urine to avoid toxicity.

Improve Bipolar Mania Reduce Tyrosine Levels

Another important aspect of improving bipolar disorder symptoms through nutrition, relates to the amino acid tyrosine. In the mania episode of bipolar disorder, reducing tyrosine is recognised to be a helpful approach to improving symptoms.

As identified by Isaac & Isaac, tyrosine-rich foods to reduce or avoid during episodes of mania, include as follows:

  • Mature cheese;
  • Beans;
  • Cured meats;
  • Pickled vegetables;
  • Chocolate; and
  • Aubergines.

In addition to avoiding or limiting intake of foods rich in tyrosine, it is also important to try to reduce intake of caffeine and alcohol. Whilst taking antidepressants, anti-psychotics or mood stabilizers, drinking alcohol may have potentially serious effects.

As highlighted above, bipolar disorder involves episodes of mania and clinical depression, with lithium, olanzapine and therapy being common forms of treatment. Nutritional approaches to bipolar disorder, include cutting out tyrosine-rich foods and eating foods such as nuts and seeds, those rich in selenium, omega-3 and magnesium.

Addict’s Journey to Hell and Back: Substance Abuser Discusses Longterm Addiction to Alcohol and Drugs

people who abuse drugs

Gene E. was 14 when he started raiding his family’s liquor cabinet. Healing for the longterm addiction that followed came years later through a 12-step program.

“Alcohol immediately filled a certain emptiness in me that made me all powerful, all that I could and wanted to be,” says Gene, who lives in the Northeastern United States. All the great writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner were drunks, he says during a recent phone interview, Recalling how the forbidden liquid would burn his throat as it went down, he explains that back then, he was “devouring” Hemingway, and he loved the association.

The Alcoholic’s Addiction is a Great Escape

“The first addiction was literature coupled with booze, cigars and movies. They were all a great escape.” The whole idea, he says, was to get outside of himself. He felt very uncomfortable in his own skin. Although there were no alcoholics in his family, Gene says if one drinks hard and long enough, he or she can develop an insatiable craving for alcohol.

“I didn’t know I was getting into addiction. I was having a wonderful time and living life to the fullest. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t doing what I was doing because to me, they were living boring, shallow and monotonous lives.”

Gene’s drinking continued as he matured into adulthood and married at age 20. Calling himself a “functional alcoholic,” he was able to work and carry on a seemingly normal life without his addiction being obvious to outsiders. His wife knew about his drinking, he says, but she wouldn’t admit to herself that it was as bad as it was. “I was always drinking at home; I was never not drinking.

“The alcoholic figures nobody really knows. Nobody ever called me an alcoholic. They know something is off, but they can’t figure out what it is.” Still, maybe they did know at his place of employment, he says, admitting that he never advanced in the workplace as he should have had he not been drinking.

The Alcoholic Exhibits Grandiosity Coupled with Low Self-Esteem

Alcohol is an elevator going down, he adds, and you choose where you want to get off. The unacceptable becomes acceptable and you cross many moral boundaries. Gene admits cheating on his first wife and stealing from his company, a major jewelry manufacturer. “The alcoholic has grandiosity coupled with low self-esteem.” It’s a very common thing, he explains.

His addiction to drugs followed. Alcohol and drugs are the same thing, notes Gene. It’s a way of getting out of yourself. “Marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, Black Beauties … the only ones I didn’t do were those never offered me.” By now, he was divorced, having left his wife for another woman. (He later married and divorced his second wife soon after.)

It was the 1970s when drugs were plentiful at all the clubs and bars. “Women were very much after cocaine, and I was always very much after women. All the people I knew possessed a certain amount of cocaine.” Still, alcohol was his primary drug. “Everything always started and ended with alcohol,” he says.

In 1985, Gene was living with a woman who was also a good drinking companion. The couple got into an argument one day while indulging in a large bottle of wine. After boozing for a couple of hours, their fight escalated. He suddenly picked up the wine bottle and smashed her on the face, breaking her nose. She called the police. Gene left before they came, checked into a hotel, then visited a bar to soothe his troubles away by means of more alcohol.

After revealing to the bartender what had just occurred, he felt remorseful and returned home. Gene saw his girlfriend carried out on a stretcher, with their neighbors looking on. The police handcuffed and arrested him, and an order of protection was issued against him.

Taken to jail, Gene was put into a cell with about 17 others. “You hear the clang of the heavy door and don’t know when you’re getting out,” he says. He recalls bumming a cigarette from one of his cellmates. Looking around, someone was throwing up in a corner, having swallowed a load of Valium that he had been peddling. A hole in the other corner served as a toilet. He remembers his cellmates passing around a discolored baloney sandwich.

Arrested on a Friday night, he was released in his own recognizance the following Monday morning. The judge sentenced him to 90 days’ attendance at 90 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. He complied, going to meetings daily for three months. On the 91st day, Gene celebrated by getting drunk.

That drink, he says, started the worst period of his alcoholism. His girlfriend, who had dropped the charges, became his third wife in 1987. It was also the year his mother died, and he couldn’t get out of bed to attend her funeral. “I called my sister and told her to take care of the whole thing,” he says. “I got a load of cocaine, and I was destroyed.”

He had reached bottom , realizing his only salvation could come from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. Gene began attending AA meetings in 1987, which he continues to this day. He has not touched a drop of alcohol or any drug since then. Each of the steps, he says, allows the alcoholic to make peace with himself and others whom he has hurt along the way. “The 12 steps are about ego deflation, humility and getting to the right size of who you are. It’s about your place in the world in relation to others.” Addiction is progressive, he notes, but so is recovery.

Substance Abuse Treatments: Recovery From Alcohol and Drugs

Recovery From Alcohol and Drugs

Most abusers are unable to treat themselves to stop abuse. It is important for those with any problem with drugs or alcohol to seek the best treatment.

Illegal drug abuse and alcohol abuse has been a problem for decades and within the past few years, prescription drugs are now the choice for children and adults.

Today, if you find you are taking more and more of your prescription painkillers and the normal doses are no longer working, you should seek treatment.


The best substance abuse treatment is a residential stay in a treatment facility. Many facilities are a month in duration, but a more lengthy stays of 90 days to six months consisting of drug treatments and therapy is more effective. Cognitive therapy is the treatment of choice in many residential treatment facilities in association with relapse therapy. Follow up and after care is important and more effective in preventing relapse, than a detox treatment only. Cognitive therapy, which is a specific type of therapy that works on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, has a higher success rate in treatment.

Another form of help with continuing sobriety once one is free from alcohol and drugs is sober living homes. These homes require patient to be alcohol and drug free while living at the home and remain under a curfew at night. Most homes generally allow people to attend community programs, outpatient programs, or a 12-step program of choice during the evenings.

Holistic Treatment Centers

If traditional treatment centers are not acceptable, holistic treatment centers may be the answer. Holistic centers will work on detoxifying, drug treatments, and psychological therapy including group therapy and cognitive therapy.

Holistic centers, in addition to traditional drug treatments, offer alternative medicine such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation. They work on the whole person’s needs on a spiritual level. That does not mean holistic centers will try to change beliefs; the purpose of working on spiritual needs is to find a balance in your life to be better prepared to face the daily stresses of life.


The first treatment in any rehab program is detoxification, getting rid of the drugs in the system. A physician may prescribe medication to ease the pain and cravings that detox programs can create.

Although detoxification is the first treatment in treatment centers in conjunction with other treatments, detox by itself is not recommend for drug abusers because it can be dangers. Detoxification is effective in many cases with an acute drug overdose with one particular drug.

Detoxifying methods use medication, including anesthesia to help by-pass withdrawal symptoms such as sweats, tremors, and cravings, not unlike medications used in the cessation of smoking. Twenty-four hour supervision and treatment staff experienced in detox is important when choosing the detoxifying route. Counseling and follow up are necessary to avoid relapse.

Treatment centers are prevalent in every state. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site offer many treatment center programs according to where you live.

Substance Abuse Treatment: What can I expect when I go to Rehab?

substance abuse


Short for detoxification, many who enter treatment still have chemicals in their systems and will need medical supervision while their bodies adjust to living without these substances. For some, such as heroin and other opiate users, the “detox” process will primarily help with the patient’s comfort level. For those who have been using drugs such as alcohol or Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, and other common prescription tranquilizers) medical intervention is not a luxury but a necessity, as the physical withdrawal from these and other chemicals is potentially deadly.


Following the initial “drying out” period (another term used for the detoxification phase), most treatment centers offer a strong educational component to their programs. During this time patients learn about the drugs they and others have been using, how they affect their bodies, their families, lives, and society as a whole, and information about the disease of addiction. In addition, various coping skills and relapse prevention methods are taught to prepare patients for leaving treatment.

Group Sessions

Perhaps the most common practice among treatment facilities is to enable the community to gather in groups and discuss their addictions, most often in a structured format. Usually the day will begin with such an assembly, and end in the same manner. These sessions may be facilitated by center staff, by group peer members, or a combination. During this time, those in treatment are given the opportunity to share their common experiences, challenges, and hopes in a structured environment where they can find support.

Family Meetings

Many treatment centers stress the importance of family involvement with the treatment and recovery process, and have one or more opportunities for family members to participate in either educational or therapeutic aspects of treatment, if not both.

Aftercare Planning

Most often developed by the patient with the help of a primary counselor, an Aftercare Plan is a framework for sustained sobriety and recovery to continue beyond treatment – basically the “what next” plan. It may consist of a combination of possibilities depending on individual needs and abilities such as weekly substance abuse counseling, IOP (Intensive Outpatient) treatment, AA or NA meetings, residence at a halfway house, and other personal goals.

The Five Most Common Addictions, From Gambling to Alcoholism

different types of addiction

When addiction is mentioned, many people automatically think of drug or alcohol abuse. But there are numerous forms of addiction, ranging from gambling to overeating. Addiction is defined as a dependency on a certain action or substance. An addiction occurs whenever a person becomes dependent on that specific action or substance to meet his or her emotional needs.

A person may not even be aware they have an addiction until the results of overeating or compulsive gambling begin to take a toll. It is believed that certain personality traits such as low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence may be factors that contribute to an addictive personality.

Help for Compulsive Gambling

Many addictions, such as gambling, start as a small problem that gradually escalates. The gambler enjoys the high of uncertainty and the thrill of winning. The problem gambler may start out making small bets that grow increasingly larger and more risky.

The effects of compulsive gambling can be devastating and may result in the loss of jobs, homes, friends and family. A person who believes that he or she may have a gambling addiction should seek counseling. Help can be found at the National Council on Problem Gambling, which has counselor information as well as a 24-hour confidential hotline.

The Dangers of Food Addiction

Compulsive eating is often a reaction to loneliness or rejection. Overeaters may compensate for an empty feeling inside that has nothing to do with food. The chronic overeater must find other ways to reward themselves besides eating, such as getting involved in various social activities.

Breaking the compulsive eating habit can be difficult because food is so easy to obtain. The effects of overeating can lead to dire consequences such as obesity and health concerns. There are many weight loss programs which can provide help and support. One of these is Food Addicts Anonymous.

Overcoming Sex Addiction

Just as overeating is not always about food, sex addiction is often more about unfulfilled emotional needs than a desire for unlimited sex. Sex addiction is often linked to low self-esteem. People with sex addictions may feel unloved and crave affection and attention, and may find sex a way of temporarily boosting their self-esteem by feeling wanted and needed.

Sex addiction can lead to loss of relationships as well as a high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Individual or marriage counseling by a licensed expert is often the best route to overcoming this type of addiction.

Battling Alcoholism

Alcohol is widely abused. It causes the illusion of a high but it is really a depressant. Alcohol is also very addictive. It is known that some people are more prone to alcoholism than others. Cravings for alcohol may have a genetic link and other psychological factors may also play a part.

Alcoholism causes many health risks such as liver and kidney damage. It also causes marital problems, job loss, and driving while intoxicated is the cause of many accidents. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are invaluable to keep the problem drinker on the road to recovery.

Beating Drug Addiction

Addictive drugs include heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Usually people begin by experimenting with drugs. The need for them escalates until they become dependent upon them. Like alcoholism, drug dependency is both physical and psychological, which makes it very hard to break the habit without counseling and outside intervention.

Many times, people with serious addictions must be checked into a rehabilitation center for a period of time in order to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal and to keep them from giving in to the temptation to go back on drugs while they are in recovery.

With any addiction, the first step is admitting the need for help. Support groups or counseling can be of invaluable assistance to beating any kind of addiction from compulsive gambling to drug or alcohol abuse.

Family Interventions Break Cycle of Addiction: A Confrontation of Love Can Help Those Who Do Not Seem to Want Help

family intervention

It has been said that no alcoholic has ever quit drinking because he or she wanted to. They quit because they finally reach bottom, a time of pain and a Moment of Truth.

Alcoholism and drug dependency is an insidious disease. In 2016, an estimated 22.3 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence (“Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings”, Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA.)

There is a major obstacle in addressing this disease, however. Alcoholics and drug dependent people often refuse to accept help, and if left untreated the disease continues and progresses often until death. Sometimes, people need to help alcoholics face their “Moment of Truth.”


Chemical dependency is a disease of denial. According to the book “I’ll Quit Tomorrow, A Practical Guide to Alcoholism Treatment”, Dr. Vernon Johnson, Harper Publishers, 1980, there are some 50 types of defense mechanisms which may be at work to protect the disease (anger, projection, rationalization, etc.) Too often the chemically dependent person is unaware that he or she may have the disease of dependency. They cannot see reality as others see it, nor do they realize that it is the substance use itself which is making them ill or destroying their families. When told of behaviors or actions committed while under the influence, they think the family member is “crazy” or “against him or her.”

A Family Intervention or Crisis Intervention

There may be a time when family and friends feel they need to take action on behalf of a drinker or other drug user, perhaps even to save their life. One effective method of helping the chemically dependent person is through what is known as an Intervention. An intervention is a type of family confrontation. It is not designed to get someone to stop drinking or using drugs, it is a process of bringing a person to a point of agreeing to enter into a program for an evaluation and treatment. This is important – most alcoholics or addicts cannot stop drinking or drugging without structured help. The goal of an Intervention is to penetrate that defense system to the point of allowing them to recognize the problem and thereby agree to seek help.

Two Levels of Intervention

First, try a “casual”, informal intervention by speaking to the chemically dependent person about your feelings and concerns. Share your concerns in a caring and compassionate manner, without judgment or criticism. Try to get the person to see the reality of the situation. Leave brochures or pamphlets about alcoholism or drug dependency, and provide names and numbers of local referral resources.

Second, if this does not work, try a “structured” family intervention, a process through which the family and friends come together and lovingly, but firmly, review the alcoholic’s drinking. Describing in detail the situations and behaviors, and how the drinking has affected them.

A structured Intervention seizes the seriousness of the situation and utilizes this as a turning point. By melting down the defenses through love instead of battering it down with anger, often the denial system does dissolve.

Goal of Alcohol Intervention or Drug Intervention

The goal of the Intervention is not to get a person to stop drinking or using drugs. It is to help the person agree to a referral to a treatment program for help. The intervention attempts to present reality in a loving, caring and nonjudgmental fashion; to communicate the seriousness of the situation; and to motivate the person to accept help.

In a family intervention, the family needs assistance to structure it for success. Many treatment agencies have an experienced Intervention Specialist who is willing to work with the family or employer to help arrange the Intervention. The place to start is by contacting a local Treatment Agency or your Employee Assistance Program for more information.

Finally, families should get help for themselves. Dependency is a family disease and families suffer sometimes more than the alcoholic himself or herself.