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The Therapeutic Benefits of Humor in Addiction Counseling

By Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC

When Norman Cousins suffered from a debilitating illness of his immune system, doctors predicted that he would not be alive very long. In physical pain every waking moment, Cousins checked himself out of the hospital, and prescribed comedy tapes as his medicine. Cousins discovered that for every 10 minutes he laughed, he had two hours of pain-free sleep. He lived 16 years longer than doctors predicted, and his story is chronicled in the book Anatomy of an Illness, which focuses on the therapeutic benefits of laughter.

According to Cousins:

  • Laughter releases endorphins in the brain that fight physical pain. This means that laughter is good for chemically dependent clients experiencing withdrawal.
  • Laughter protects our immune systems.
  • Laughter increases antibodies that fight infection.
  • Laughter increases natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells attack cancerous cells in the body.
  • Laughter decreases stress.
  • Laughter activates neurochemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, and thus acts as an antidepressant.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Humor in Addiction Counseling

July 3rd, 2018|Addiction

Outpatient PTSD Treatment

Traumatic events happen every day. For some people, time is enough to heal the fears and emotional upset caused by either experiencing or witnessing trauma, but for others, months and even years pass and they are still haunted by the incident. When this is accompanied by aggressive and disruptive mental health symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be the issue and treatment may be necessary. (more…)

May 2nd, 2018|Treatment
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    Depression Outpatient Programs: Value, Success Rates, and Flexibility

Depression Outpatient Programs: Value, Success Rates, and Flexibility

For the more than 17 million Americans living with depression, outpatient depression treatment may be the farthest thing from their minds. Many don’t believe that theirs is a problem that would be improved by treatment and those who know that their depression is hurting their lives don’t know where to turn.

The few who know about inpatient and outpatient depression treatment programs may feel intimidated by the potential cost of treatment and explore no further. But for those who take the time to discover how simple it is to find depression treatment help, the benefits are endless.

Different types of depression may benefit more from different types of depression treatment. You can choose a more intensive program at a center dedicated to the treatment of depression on an outpatient basis or use the building blocks of support groups, personal therapy, group therapy, homeopathy and Western medicine to create your own unique plan. No matter what you’re looking for in depression treatment, we here to help. (more…)

April 30th, 2018|Treatment

Signs and Symptoms of Work Addiction

Work addiction is a process addiction. A process addiction is an addiction to certain behaviors or processes that alter mood and brain chemistry. The term addiction encompasses any recurring compulsion or obsession by an individual despite negative consequences in their life and an inability to cease the activity and end it permanently. It becomes a problem when there is no balance and boundaries are weak.

As with drug and alcohol addiction, usually a bottom has to be reached before the individual will realize there is a problem especially when someone who overworks is much more rewarded by society than a heroin addict. A work addiction type is actually a manifestation of any number of underlying emotional and psychological issues. (more…)

April 26th, 2018|Addiction

What to Know About Working in Recovery

In 2012, 2.5 million people completed treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

It took a lot of people to rehabilitate these individuals and prepare them for life in sobriety. Who are these people and what do they do? How can you become one of them? You might be surprised to find many of them have actually walked in the same shoes as the addicts they treat. Many addicts are inspired to tell their stories to others in hopes that it will have an impact or help them in some way. For some though, this isn’t enough; they want to do more. Many addicts are out of work before they even enter treatment. In 2006, 33.2 percent of people admitted to treatment reported being out of work; that figure increased to 41.6 percent by 2011.

While unemployment can be a real concern for a lot of recovering substance abusers, the addiction treatment field is frequently looking for those who have firsthand experience with addiction and the compassion that comes with that experience. (more…)

April 26th, 2018|Recovery

Gaming Addiction

Video games are among the most profitable and widespread forms of entertainment. Most games offer an escape from reality and allow the player to experience new and impossible experiences.

As the ubiquity of video games increases, more and more of the population is exposed. Unfortunately, this may result in the development of a video game addiction. Video game addiction is a relatively new problem that is overlooked by modern medicine, but may be as dangerous as other, more illicit, addictions.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

Simply playing a video game once in a while does not constitute a gaming addiction. Rather a gaming addiction is an obsession with playing video games. Most gaming addicts start playing in elementary and middle school, Kansas State University explains. As the addict ages, he or she graduates from simple games to more elaborate games. These elaborate games often take hours or days to complete. (more…)

April 25th, 2018|Addiction


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been found to be equally effective forms of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

CBT works by attempting to change the way a trauma victim feels and acts by changing the patterns of thinking and the behavior responsible for negative emotions. CBT has been proven to be an effective treatment for PTSD and is currently considered the standard of care for PTSD by the US Department of Defense. In CBT, individuals learn to identify thoughts that make them feel afraid or upset and to replace those thoughts with less distressing ones. The goal is to understand how certain thoughts cause PTSD-related stress. Recent research on EMDR and CBT suggests that they may produce results comparable to some older and more commonly used therapies.

Exposure Therapy and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that involves assisting trauma survivors to re-experience distressing trauma-related memories and reminders. This re-experiencing helps patients emotionally process the traumatic memory through imagined confrontation with memories and real-life exposure to trauma reminders. Exposure therapy may be a necessary part of PTSD treatment, and organizations like the […]

April 24th, 2018|Treatment

Pros and Cons of Decriminalizing Drug Addiction

Several US states have recently decided to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.Along the same path,the general population consciousness is moving toward being in favor of decriminalizing drug use in general. Therefore, many people are considering the impact these changes might have on individuals, communities and our the overall culture.

Some compare the change in perception of drug addiction to the end of prohibition in the 1930s. However, many warn that decriminalizing drug use will lead to rampant addiction much worse than the epidemic is now. Because of these polarizing views, discerning the true pros and cons of these changes can be quite challenging.

Is Decriminalization the Same as Legalization?

Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. In Portugal, for instance, virtually all drug use was decriminalized in 2001.1 That does not, however, mean that drug use is legal. The distribution and sale of controlled substances is still a criminal offense in Portugal, but possession and use of drugs is handled as a public health problem and not criminal activity. Cases of substance abuse and addiction are handled by counselors, psychologists and social workers instead of police and prison wardens.

This allows people who are addicted to drugs to get help […]

April 23rd, 2018|Drug Abuse

Substance Abuse Treatment Options

People and their problems are complex. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are various rehabilitation program types, styles and treatment philosophies. What works for one person may not be as effective for another person. Part of that relates to the relatively new concepts of holistic treatment.

Those concepts take into account other mental and physical ailments that need to be addressed and treated in order for rehabilitation to be successful not just in the present but also over the long term.

For example, successful rehab for alcoholism may require treating Dual Diagnosis conditions, such as addiction that occurs alongside depression or another mental health disorder. Treatment philosophies can differ between rehabilitation programs, with some stressing cognitive therapies over pharmaceutical treatments, whereas others may weight their treatment plans more towards behavioral modification in highly structured circumstances. Some rehab programs utilize multiple approaches, adjusting the balance and focus of these approaches as treatment progresses.

Types of Rehab Programs

While rehabilitation programs are typically thought of in relation to substance abuse, there are other types of rehab programs as well. Sometimes courts order rehabilitation for some types of offenders, including those who may need assistance in reintegrating into society. These sorts of […]

April 23rd, 2018|Treatment

Tough Love Intervention Approach

In a stereotypical family, parents provide their children with unconditional and overwhelming love. Parents accept their children just as they are, and provide those children with a safe place to land if they make mistakes. The door is always open to the child, no matter what that child may do. While this method might work well for parents of young children, parents of teens often discover that unconditional love can seem like an open invitation to drug use and alcoholism.

When stressed parents head online to search for advice, they may find that their parenting style is blamed for these addictions. As just one example, a study from Demos compared parenting styles in thousands of families, and then determined the likelihood of alcohol addiction among the children. Researchers found that children of parents who performed so-called “tough love” parenting produced children who were unlikely to develop problems with alcohol. Parents at the other end of the spectrum were 30 percent more likely to produce children with alcohol problems. In short, a soft parenting approach led to addiction in kids.

Some intervention specialists take this idea one step further. Instead of encouraging parents and families to apply tough […]

April 23rd, 2018|Intervention