Q: Lately I have a problem controlling my anger. Can therapy help with this?

A: Yes most definitely, and I would encourage you to seek therapy for this problem. As a society we are experiencing more stress in our lives due to our jobs, or lack of work, family situations, and economic conditions. The ability to avoid inappropriate expressions of anger is a critical skill to living a healthy and happy life. There are many reasons why anger manifests. Usually it is because things are not going the way we want, or we feel we are not being treated fairly, or someone has done something unkind or is abusive. Or perhaps as a child we learned that anger and rage was normal behavior. However, none of these reasons can be used to rationalize outbursts of anger and rage.  With newer and tougher domestic violence and assault laws in effect it is more important than ever to learn healthy ways of expressing our emotions. There are always other emotions behind anger and rage such as frustration, humiliation, grief, disappointment, or shame (just to name a few).bAnger management classes or  individual counseling can help a person find more happiness, serenity, and tranquility.

Q: How Can I Make Sure My 16 Yr Old Never Drives Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?

A: There is a way. And my husband and I wish we had implemented this method back in the day when our sons were receiving their learner's permits. Here's how it works. Before a learner's permit is received, communicate ahead of time that driving is a high privilege and since you (the parent) are paying for the car and insurance and are liable for anything that occurs, that regular drug testing will be part of the process to maintain driving privileges. You can take it one step further and tell your adolescent that at the end of high school if they have not failed any drug tests they will receive a reward of some kind. Of course communicate to your teenager that you trust them, but there may be times when they are with friends and they may be tempted to drink or try drugs and then get behind the wheel. It is a fact that an adolescent's brain is not fully mature and regular drug testing functions as a deterrent. If this is communicated in a positive and motivating way at the beginning, most adolescents are quite agreeable. This method is a win-win for all concerned and will allow you to sleep more peacefully when they are out.

Q: What is IOP and Why Should Someone Go?

A. IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Program. It's intensive therapy on an outpatient basis. This means a person can still work and receive treatment without missing work. Since the treatment is provided on an outpatient basis an individual can still work and get the help they need. An IOP provides the structure many people need in the first stage of recovery from alcohol and/or drug addiction. It may also serve as continuing care treatment for those who are coming out of a residential rehab setting. We focus on gender-specific topics with an emphasis on addiction education, co-occurring mental health issues, coping skills, relapse prevention and the necessary tools for recovery. We also provide education for the families which is a critical part of treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Our brand new office provides a tranquil and upscale setting and our IOP is once of the most affordable in Palm Beach County.

Q: How Can I Save my Marriage or Relationships?

A: First let me say—we do not have the power to do this! Instead it is our job to help a person or couple figure out what went wrong with the relationship and then guide them through the process of fixing it. This requires a personal commitment from the couple and a decision to invest time and energy in this process. Conflict is unavoidable in close relationships. Most of us do not know what to do with it. We either try to avoid it which does not solve the issue or we attempt to communicate about it in unhealthy or destructive ways-such as blowing up or shutting down- that further distance or damage the relationship. Couples counseling is a process of learning how to get unstuck from old patterns of unsuccessful arguing and start using methods that work. Learning how to calmly and non-defensively listen is one of the most important steps in repairing a relationship. But the first step in saving any relationship is to make the decision to see a professionally trained and licensed therapist. Things can be back on track frequently after just a few sessions.

Q: What's the fastest way to get back into recovery after relapsing from drugs & alcohol?

 

A: The best way, since the relapsing person is usually very upset and discouraged after the relapse, is to enroll in a structured Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for drugs and alcohol. Why? An IOP provides the structure and intensive counseling to analyze exactly why the relapse happened. Then a new relapse prevention plan can be constructed and implemented with the help and support of experienced therapists and counselors. Substance dependence is a chronic illness that needs to be managed like other chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. If a person with heart disease began to have arrhythmia's or signs that their heart disease was out of remission, consulting a physician to analyze why there was a deviation would be common sense. Addiction is no different. Intensive outpatient treatment is a great option for those who want to get back into recovery but need to attend to life commitments and are functioning enough to do so. Clients can participate in the IOP program and still attend school, work and tend to other daily responsibilities. Additionally, most insurance covers outpatient addiction treatment. Please call our office at 561-745-8889 for more information.

Q: Jennifer, How Did You Become Interested in Addiction?

A: I have family members who are in recovery. I understand how misunderstood addiction is as a disease, and I cannot think of another disease that ravages families the way addiction does. Therefore, my passion and mission is to help mothers and fathers save their sons and daughters from addiction – or anyone who needs help. Most people don't know addiction is a chronic brain disease similar to other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. But the good news is, it's very treatable. When a person becomes dependent on drugs and/or alcohol, they become, as I like to describe it, like the walking dead. The disease begins to consume them and their life is not their own. Everything starts to revolve around their drug of choice. Damage begins to pervade every aspect of an addicted person's life - his or her physical health, sense of ethics or morals, social abilities and mental stability. A person who is chemically dependent often loses the ability to hold a job or run a business or to take responsibility for a personal relationships, and children. The drugs and alcohol temporarily numb painful feelings the person is trying to escape, but it also takes away all the good feelings a person normally experiences before becoming dependent. To enable the addicted person to take back control of his or her life, there needs to be intensive counseling and life skills training to relieve the guilt and help the person discover new abilities. A person must learn how to avoid situations and associations that trigger them back into drug use and learn the skills that result in a sober life style. As these skills are learned, the old life of addiction is left behind and a new life begins to materialize. The rewards of honestly earned sobriety are greater than anything offered by drugs and alcohol. Bringing a person back to life the way they were before addiction took over is possible, and being part of that process is very satisfying. "So what makes your Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) different from others?" Well most importantly I'm in this line of work because I truly want to help people break free from the chains of addiction. To be effective a true desire to help others must be present. Here, no one will be turned away. We will work with someone financially, and our facility is absolutely beautiful. Second, I'm very fortunate to have an incredibly talented treatment team. Frederick Presciti, L.M.H.C., C.A.P is our clinical supervisor and brings a wealth of experience in the mental health field. And Jonathan Benz, who has many years of experience treating addiction, is heading up our Intensive Outpatient Program. The rest of our dedicated counselors work with individuals in need of the numerous services we offer. With our caring group of therapists, and our state of the art facility, we can help conquer most addiction problems.

Q: Want to Reach an Important Goal?

A: Reduce Stress First. What's the best way to make an important goal really happen, like quitting smoking, losing weight or being kinder to others?

The best way I know to make these desired changes happen is to begin by reducing stress.  Why? Here’s how it works. It is very difficult to change our behavior if our nervous system is in over drive. When this condition is present we tend to overeat, over drink, over react, over worry, and behave in irritable or angry ways towards others. Making a serious effort to reduce stress makes achieving these goals easier. A proven stress reduction method called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), has three decades of scientific evidence behind it indicating its effectiveness and it has helped thousands cope with general stress, chronic pain, anxiety and illness. For example, University of New Mexico researchers found that participation in an MBSR course decreased anxiety and binge eating. Two decades of published research, also indicates that the majority of people who commit to this stress reduction method report an increased ability to relax, benefit from improved health, and overall quality of life. Please call to enroll in one of our five week introductory MBSR classes. 

Q: When should a person seek counseling or therapy?

A: People often enter counseling without a clear goal in mind. They simply know they don't feel well, are confused, or are suffering in some way. A good therapist can help define specific problems causing the discomfort. Rather than simply listening or reflecting, therapists have a duty to help the client define specifics and set goals. Licensed psychotherapists are trained to diagnose, treat, and provide support for many issues. Counseling is helpful for numerous situations but there are some conditions for which I would strongly encourage a person to seek help such as: Feeling unhappy on most days or feel a sense of hopelessness, worrying excessively or feeling constantly on edge, unable to concentrate on work or other activities, unable to sleep at night or constantly feel tired, changes in your appetite or weight, increased use of alcohol or other drugs, feeling overwhelmed by what is going on in your life, or having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else. Counseling does not have to take weeks or months. Frequently, solutions to problems can be found with just a few counseling sessions. My objective is to help a person conclude therapy as quickly as possible and clarify from the start what the goal of counseling is, how you know when it is achieved, and how long it may take to accomplish the goal.

Q: Does Best Life Counseling® Provide Services for Court Ordered Counseling?

A: Yes we do. Best Life Counseling® offers court ordered group counseling services for domestic violence, substance abuse, and anger management. The Palm Beach County and Martin County courts frequently require counseling for offenses related to domestic violence, shoplifting, driving under the influence, and anger management issues.

Our new state of the art facility provides an environment that is tranquil, welcoming, relaxing, and therefore conducive to learning. In the beginning most individuals are not happy about attending counseling that is court ordered, but it can turn out to be a very positive experience if the learning environment and the counselors are high quality. Many of our class members state that they look forward to their weekly groups once they get started. I encourage anyone who is court ordered for counseling to research which facility they attend. Since it is usually for many weeks, it pays to find a counseling center that provides the best experience and where you will be treated with respect and dignity. Please feel free to come to our Jupiter location at 1001 W. Indiantown Road Suite 107 and we will be happy to give you a tour!

Q: Should we create a contract for teens during their driving years?

After reading last weeks column, would you suggest that parents, regardless if their child has given them cause to be concerned, create the contract for teens to be tested for drugs and alcohol throughout their teenage driving years?  I did like the part about the reward.

 A: Yes. I highly suggest it for the following reasons. First, it communicates to the teen that they must be accountable since driving a vehicle is a very big responsibility, and accountability becomes part of the deal to retain driving privileges. Second, most parents do not realize how readily available drugs and alcohol are in the high schools, and it is easy to miss the signs of experimentation. All parents want to believe that their teen would never try or use drugs. Setting up the expectation of testing in a positive way early on can help a teen resist the peer pressure and temptation to experiment.nPeer influences have been found to be among the strongest predictors of drug use during adolescence. Schools have tried to take the initiative to offset drug use among adolescents by providing programs, but the problem still remains. Ultimately it is up to the parents. Many parents may think that “teens will be teens” and chalk up experimentation as “normal” behavior during these years.  But tolerating experimentation is a risky and dangerous business. Testing reduces the probability that an adolescent will get behind the wheel under the influence.

Q: I have been told to stop "enabling". What does that mean?

A: The best and simplest definition of enabling is "help that hurts the one you love". Paying his traffic tickets, picking up his room, lying to his boss, making excuses to protect his reputation, providing money, and in general removing all the "rocks from his path", is enabling. When families fail to set boundaries and prevent the addicted person from experiencing the natural consequences of choices made then enabling is occurring. Most parents and families of addicted individuals do not recognize that they are enabling. They do not understand it is the "fuel" allowing addiction to persist and personal responsibility to diminish. Here are some other examples. If a wife or husband is repeatedly tolerant of a spouse's drunken rages, this is enabling and it allows the alcoholism to continue. If a mother keeps bailing her 24 year old son out of jail and believes the police have something against him, that is enabling. Alcoholics who find a mate willing to accommodate their behavior can spend a lifetime without changing because they have someone who is strong and capable and who can hold things together, cover for them, and protect them from the penalties of alcoholism. Addiction is a family disease. Becoming aware of enabling behaviors is a critical step in overcoming addiction.