Guest Blog: Understanding Depression During Addiction Recovery

Note from Josh: While I take an extended break this summer, I wanted to provide some kind of content, so Patrick Bailey was once again nice enough to contribute several entries you’ll read over the next few weeks.

By Patrick Bailey

People who have gone through withdrawal or have witnessed someone suffer because of addiction understand how difficult it is. Besides the physical discomfort and pain, people in this process suffer from devastating depression that makes the recovery even more difficult.

Depression is a mental illness that can affect anyone and anywhere in the world, even those in rehabs. According to the report released by the Center for Disease Control, 10 percent of physician’s visit is because of depression. The World Health Organization reports that it is the leading cause of disability.

Depression is a mental illness that can happen anytime. In fact, it often strikes during recovery from alcohol or substance abuse and addiction. The symptoms often show during the first few weeks or months of the recovery phase. It is therefore essential that the treatment facility, be it a regular type or a luxury rehab in California, offers dual diagnosis treatment in order to effectively provide care should depression happen during recovery.

Causes of Depression During Recovery

There are many factors that could cause depression during the addiction recovery process. This includes the following:

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or simply PAWS is the usual phenomenon related to recovery. Depression can function as PAWS and commonly happens in the days or weeks after symptoms of acute withdrawal died down. The symptoms of acute withdrawal often coincide with detoxification and linger until the first few weeks of recovery. On the other hand, depressive symptoms can last for months during the recovery stage.

Changes to the brain related to addiction

During addiction, the brain is affected by alcohol or drugs. When you go to a rehab or a treatment facility, you are treated. As a result, your brain adjusts to the effects of the substances by decreasing the production of neurotransmitters that give you the high or feel good sensation. This includes dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.

These neurotransmitters are responsible for modulating your mood or simply tell you how you should feel. When these chemicals are at their optimum levels they can be translated as a positive outlook or a good mood. When these neurotransmitters are at their lowest levels, this could manifest as depression.

During the early stage of recovery, when the brain is still adjusting to life without harmful substances like alcohol or drugs, depression can happen due to low levels of dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. This usually happens approximately 90 days without drugs or alcohol. A brain functioning lower than normal and producing lower levels of these neurotransmitters can show symptoms of depression ranging between mild and severe.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis has a higher chance of occurring to people with substance addiction. Although there are also other factors at play such as family history. Usually, an untreated dual diagnosis like bipolar disorder, major depression, and other depressive mental issues may be the reason for depression during recovery. After all, there is a strong link between alcoholism and dual diagnosis as well as depression and substance addiction. Several studies show that many cases of substance addiction are due to the patient’s effort to numb the pain he is feeling.

Feelings of despair

Most patients undergo the stage where they grieve for the loss of drugs or alcohol in their life. This usually happens at the start of the recovery process. Letting go of your old habits or addiction, however crucial to your well-being, can still cause you to feel a sense of loss. In addition, emotions that were once repressed by alcohol or drugs can suddenly arise causing sudden negative changes in your mood.

Symptoms

During the addiction recovery stage, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of depressions. Signs can include the following symptoms that could manifest alone, or all at the same time:

  • Persistent emotional numbness or being in a sad, empty, or low mood
  • Recurrence of negative thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty to focus or concentrate
  • Changes in appetite (eating remarkable more or significantly less)
  • Having trouble sleeping, oversleeping, or staying asleep
  • Lack of motivation for hobbies that you once loved
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Frequent feeling of being guilty

If you or your loved one is experiencing or manifesting any of the symptoms listed for a couple of weeks or more, consult a healthcare professional about this.

Risks of Untreated Depression

Clinical depression that goes untreated and allowed to progress can compromise your recovery in rehab centers, treatment facilities, or wherever you are admitted. This is applicable especially during the first few weeks of the recovery stage when cravings are at their strongest. Negative emotions like anger, grief, sadness, feeling of helplessness, can trigger anyone to go back to their old habit.

There is also a great chance that the patient will have the urge to escape the facility because of the painful situation he is undergoing. Patients usually report ebbing of suicidal thoughts. The worst thing that could happen when depression happens during recovery is drug or alcohol relapse. Going back to alcohol or substance at this stage could have fatal results because of the high risk of overdose and deadly health effects.

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Guest Article: Making Early Porn Addiction Recovery Easier

Note From Josh: When Patrick Bailey asked if he could share the following article, I thought it was perfect. Learn more about Patrick, and his extensive health writing, at the end of this article.

By Patrick Bailey
Living in recovery from porn addiction can be a lifelong process full of challenges and wins. There are many emotions attached to your journey and navigating your new lifestyle may feel impossible at times. Luckily, the healthier habits you build over time will become easier as you understand your own behaviors from a psychological standpoint. Treating your journey of recovery with patience and compassion will help you move forward as a happy and fulfilled person who sees an optimistic future ahead.

Stay In Treatment

Contrary to popular belief, treatment is a tool you can use for life, not just from the period where you transition from facing your addiction into the beginning of recovery. In fact, the most successful treatments are ones you can integrate into your new lifestyle for the extra professional support. Rewiring your brain and practicing healthy behaviors is not something you need to go through alone. Because addiction can also impact other unhealthy coping mechanisms, consider holistic treatment or an inpatient approach to start your recovery with the most support. There are plenty of licensed psychologists and inpatient treatment centers available for you to lean on, both at the start of your recovery and throughout your new life.

“Crowd Out” Old Habits

Crowding out your old habits will be the easiest way to move forward from any unhealthy behaviors you’ve relied on in the past. Recovery may seem daunting at first, especially if your entire lifestyle has centered around your porn addiction. There is no shame in working hard to create the new lifestyle you want, and there will be moments where you’ll need to dig deep or ask for help in building a new habit to replace an unhealthy one. These new habits will strengthen over time and your patience will pay off after you’ve practiced filling your world with routines and thinking patterns that fulfill you.
Lean on resources and literature for ideas as you integrate healthy coping mechanisms to address your impulses and desires in ways that work for you.

Build Your Support System

The quality of your support system will help you feel encouraged and far less alone on your journey of recovery. Porn addiction can be isolating as people may not understand your struggles or experiences so far, but you can nurture a strong support system no matter how alone you feel right now. Even one high quality friend or therapist can make all the difference in supporting your healthy lifestyle. Check out hotlines,
support groups in your area, and even peer support advocates who are willing and able to be there as you challenge yourself. Learning to ask for help will be one of the most critical skills you will need to master in order to navigate future challenges, so make the practice a part of your early recovery.

Making recovery from porn addiction easier requires being able to ask for help and connecting yourself with the resources available to support you. Changing your habits can be mentally and emotionally draining, but will pay off in a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle when you find appropriate outlets for your emotions and desires. Living your truth as a recovering addict is a journey that will last for life, so lean on these resources to make your experience positive and manageable.

Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

I’ve Returned After Dealing with A Mental Health Crisis

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything here. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post just for the sake of it as a New Year’s resolution and unlike just about every other resolution, I really seem to be sticking to it…maybe almost too much.

Most of my absence over the last month-and-a-half has to do with the fact that I have been battling a bout of anxiety unlike I’ve ever felt in my life. I’ve always been an anxious person, but this involved things that I could intellectually recognize were false – like my sudden aversion to make left turns in the car – but I still had crippling fear. Thankfully, my doctor put me on two new medications and they appear to be starting to work in earnest.

I stay on top of my mental health these days as if it were a full-time job. I’m 43 years old now and was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder at 22 and bipolar disorder at 26. While I was in and out of therapy and generally took medication as prescribed, I was not militant in watching my mental health, especially in my mid-30s.

Instead of making sure my mental health was taken care of – and taking steps to correct it if not – I used my addictions to pornography and alcohol as the crutches to get me through the tough days. The stress and anxiety I felt in life was like a fire and my addictions were a bucket of water used to temporarily extinguish them.

Except it wasn’t a bucket of water. It was more like a bucket of gasoline. And with years and years of throwing gasoline on that fire, it was destined to eventually burn out of control.

That inferno came to a head five years ago last week, when I was arrested for crossing the line in looking at pornography that strayed from “young woman” to “older girl.” I never would have ever guessed I could be the kind of person who crosses past the line of legality, but I was at the end of a long run of not taking care of mental health.

I look back to that day and while it was the rock bottom moment of my life, I also wonder how much further rock bottom would have got had it not been for the police intervention. I wonder if I’d actually be here today or if my addictions would have led me to an early death.

The best thing for me to do a month ago was step away from my work, step away from this blog and simply focus on my mental health. My therapist put it to me so I didn’t feel guilty shying away from my usual responsibilities. She said that if I had broken both of my hands, I’d simply need to sit there and let them heal before I moved forward. Since I was in a time of crisis with my mental health, I needed to simply sit there and heal before I moved forward. Just because you can see the broken hands but not the broken mind doesn’t mean it’s equally as important to let heal.

I urge you if you think you have any mental health issues to see your primary care physician to discuss it and potentially get referred to a therapist or psychiatrist. There is no shame in taking care of yourself mentally, and as I showed from my neglect, the consequences can be damning.

 

Your Alarming Porn Statistic for November

So, in 2017, a couple researchers named Perry & Davis conducted a study to determine the effects of pornography on a relationship, specifically if there was any correlation between those who look at porn and if they maintained the relationship.

The findings were astounding, but not surprising. Check out this graph, which originally ran in Psychology Today (and also has more about the study.)

porn_use_2006_2012

Now, there can be a lot of interpretation of why the numbers are what they have discovered, and Perry & Davis do go into hypothesizing, but I’ll save that for the experts. There is no denying a correlation between a person’s use of pornography and the greater likelihood they are going to end the relationship.

What I Wish I Knew Before I Wrote My First Book

As many of you who read this site regularly know, I have been working on a second book for much of this year. It’s a self-help book written with an LMFT from California that is geared toward the female partner of a male pornography addict.

While the last part of the book is still being edited for clarity and content, I have begun the arduous task of finding a publisher. There are a lot of lessons I learned the first time around and am being reminded of as I look for someone to put their company behind the book. If you’re reading this, there’s about an 80% chance that you’ve got a blog of your own, and I would bet there’s just as equal a chance you’ve considered writing a book.

Here are the three main things I wish people told me before I started the first time:

It’s a very impersonal process – Despite the fact many agents and publishers specifically say, “We will get back to you within 12 weeks, if we don’t, it means we’re not interested” it is still a bit of a blow to the ego when it’s not even formally rejected. When they are kind enough to send a letter of rejection, 9 out of 10 times, it’s a form letter.

With a memoir, like my first book, it felt like a rejection of my personal story. It was as if my tale of redemption was not important. The most grueling, yet transformative part of my life – easily the part of my life that deserved a book – didn’t deserve most publishers’ attention

The truth is, publishing houses will get hundreds, if not thousands, of queries every year. Let’s say a publisher gets 1,000 queries per year. They may ask to see 150 manuscripts and of those manuscripts, they may only print 20. When you boil that down to real numbers, that means only 2% of the original queries become a book. Those are mighty odds no matter what your story is about.

It’s a very long process – Aside from the fact it took 8-10 months to write and edit the book to a point I was happy to share it, I started looking for a publisher in May 2017. It wasn’t until August that I found the right one. I had a few nibbles of interest here and there, but people either wanted me to change the language to make it more salacious or were trying to get me to front the money to publish the book to be my “partner.”

We originally planned for the book to come out in October 2017, but when I wanted to give it another hard edit to eliminate a few thousand more words to make it tighter, it was pushed to early January 2018.

Aside from the initial burst of sales in the first 10 days, it took about six weeks for the book to gain traction. My best selling months were actually April and May. I didn’t see my first royalty check until July. My guess is if you figured out the dollars and cents, I probably made 40 cents per hour.

You will be doing the marketing – Unless you’re with a mammoth publisher that makes up one of the big five, you’re working with a smaller publisher that may help with marketing, but you’ll have to carry most of the load. This website was started to help market the book – although it grew into something bigger. I spent many hours just as the book came out searching for people to review it (very few people review non-fiction) and for podcasts to appear on. Thankfully, over time the podcasts and radio shows started reaching out to me.

I know that a lot of people make the Field of Dreams-inspired mistake of “If you write it, they will come.” That’s not true. You have to drag them to it, give away free copies and hope they read it and tell others. If you don’t have it in you to spend dozens of hours promoting your book, don’t expect much in the terms of sales.

Also understand that many media outlets are not interested in promoting a book that is self-published. While there are many fine self-published titles, the fact is, a self-published book doesn’t go through the same vetting process as one that has a commercial publisher.

And, much like with finding a publisher or agent, most of the time your queries to media outlets will go unanswered or rejected with a form letter.

It’s a small miracle any book gets a legitimate publisher to stand behind it. I’m hoping that this second go-round is a little easier, but at least I know what I’m up against. If you are thinking of writing a book, good luck. It’s one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had.

 

 

Why do I have a pornography addiction awareness blog?

I was giving an interview to a podcast yesterday and was giving my standard answer to the “Why did you write this book?” question and it occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve ever directly answered the question on this blog which is strange, because the two reasons I write this blog are the same two reasons why I wrote the book.

1. To reach my fellow addicts who need to go get help

First, for addicts, or people who engage in pornography use more than they wish, I try to use my experience as a cautionary tale. Statistics suggest that one-out-of-three men between the ages of 18 and 35 believe they use too much pornography, have a problem with it, or are in the throes of a full-blown addiction.

I didn’t recognize I had a pornography addiction until long after I was arrested for inappropriate behavior with a teenager in a chat room. I believe one of the reasons that I never thought about porn addiction was that I never heard anybody talking about it.

Would it have stopped me before I let it get too far? I don’t know, nor will I ever know, but I can at least try to be that voice I never heard.

If you believe that you have a pornography addiction, please begin to get some help. That could mean a 12-step group, rehab, a therapist, online forums, research…whatever. Just don’t sit there are let the addiction fester. Check out the Resources page for more info on multiple ways to get help.

I know there is an addict reading this now who thinks, “I may have an addiction, but it clearly wasn’t as bad as yours.”

That’s probably true, and consider yourself lucky you have yet to reach the critical point that I did. If you think that I had some idea I’d ever reach the place where I was capable of going into a chatroom, look for a woman to talk to and make the mistake of engaging a teenager…well, you’re wrong.

I would have sworn to you probably up to the last two or three months before I made that horrible mistake I was incapable of doing such a thing – and I would have been telling the truth.

The gambling addict never thinks they’ll lose the house, the guy who snorts cocaine never thinks he’ll be putting a needle in his arm, the person who find solace in food never thinks they’ll get to 300 pounds.

If you have a problem – it doesn’t have to be an actual addiction yet – get some help soon. Stop this before it festers into something you can’t control.

2. To remind non-addicts there is no stereotypical addict

If you’re a male under 40 years old and you don’t look at pornography regularly, you are in the minority. If you’re a female under 40 that doesn’t visit a pornographic website at least twice a year, you’re in the minority. 98% of married men and 70% of married women under 35 report having looked at pornography at least once in the last six months. It’s not just people born post-1978 either.

Most people look at porn, but they won’t admit it. I think that they believe that people like themselves don’t look at porn and they are an exception. We need to acknowledge that more people look at porn than ever before, even if they’re not talking about it.

When I was in rehab for porn addiction, in 12-step groups, or in a group therapy setting, one thing always struck me: These are not similar people. I have met doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, people ranging in age from 19 to 78, the rich, poor and everything in between. I’ve met several women and people who can claim to be of just about every race.

Why is it important that we not stereotype who a porn addict may be? When we stereotype, we miss the outliers. If we’re led to believe that every porn addict is a 22-year-old pimply faced kid who lives in his mom’s basement and has never kissed a girl, we’re going to miss all of the others. It’s kind of like how we seemed to all agree that opiod users in the 1980s and early 90s were homeless types who weighed next to nothing and were making bad choices, not actually sick people. Now, almost everyone knows someone struggling with opiods and they don’t fit the morally bankrupt hobo profile.

Your husband, daughter, father, co-worker, clergy member, etc., may not only look at porn, they may have a problem with it. How would you really know?

I was a 37-year-old civic-minded business owner with a wife and two kids when my recovery began. I believe that the reason I had so much negative fallout locally was not only because of the charges against me, but because the community felt duped. Since I didn’t wear the tag of pornography addict on my sleeve, I certainly couldn’t be one, right? Well, they were wrong and I think felt betrayed for it. The reality is, you can’t spot a porn addict. The moment you think you can, you’re stereotyping and potentially missing something important.

 

 

 

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – April Edition

It’s been a month since I’ve written one of those rambling articles with a lot of little items that really don’t deserve their own posting but keep rattling around in my brain. Some are good, some are negative, but it’s time to clear some real estate in my head for other things having to do with porn addiction.

I did my first speaking gig at the Merrimack Public Library in Merrimack, NH, over the weekend. It has shown me that I can speak about this issue in front of people, despite my initial anxiety. It was a program called “Human Library” where an eclectic group of people gather and then library patrons bounce from one to another having 15-minute conversations. Some went better and smoother than others but it was great practice and gave me a fair amount of confidence that I can keep moving forward with this. If you ever see a “Human Library” event in your area, go check it out.

I’ve had three promised podcasts fall through the last couple weeks because the hosts had second thoughts or got busy doing something else. It’s frustrating because while I don’t sell a ton of books because of them, I still sell a few, get to introduce people to my website who didn’t know about it and continue in my recovery by sharing my story. Some of the excuses border on the illogical. One person, who specifically runs a porn recovery podcast worried that my book would be too triggering to his audience. I said that I didn’t think we would be reading from it, but he said he was afraid if they bought it that it would be too triggering. It’s a freakin’ porn recovery podcast. Everybody’s story is going to be triggering! It’s sometimes hard to separate my feelings of frustration, disappointment and rejection when somebody takes something back that they promised.

For some reason, my book has had a spike in sales over the last couple of weeks. If you’ve bought one, thank you, I appreciate it. I’m never going to get rich off it, but just having a handful of sales every week shows future agents and publishers that there is a market for this kind of book. Libraries have also been coming around, which is great. It’s exciting to not only know that it’s in 15 libraries in my home state of Maine, but also in at least another dozen at through the country and growing. If you haven’t bought my book, think of the money you spent on stupid crap last week. This is an interesting story of a guy whose head was too big getting his comeuppance and learning from it. Amazon has also been dropping the book in price here and there, so you can get it for a few dollars off if you’re paying attention. You can get it HERE.

I’ve had a couple of long conversations with my therapist about the time I’m spending working on porn addiction stuff. Like writing this blog, working on the next book, handling marketing and speaking gigs, etc. The thing taking most of my time in this area lately is talking to addicts one-on-one through email. My therapist (and two other people) have suggested to me creating a peer counseling business on the side. If I’m spending two hours a day helping people with their addiction, is it wrong to want to be paid for it, especially if it’s cutting into the time I’d be doing regular work? I’m avoiding paying work right now to write this. I’m on the fence with the idea right now.

The post I did last week with the Q&A had a ton of hits and I got a few questions from people. I answered them immediately, but I’ll be picking one to post later this week or early next week. If you have a question or need advice, drop me a line through the comments, contact page or email me directly.

OK, we’re at 675 words and while I could probably write another dozen of these paragraphs, I feel like I’m a little emptier in the head, which is never a bad thing.