ASK MAx: SHOPAHOLICS

indexLET’S TALK ABOUT…..SHOPAHOLICS!!! “Shop til we drop!” is a common phrase as you are planning a day of shopping with your friends. There are movies, games, jokes about Shopaholics—but being a Shopaholic is serious.

One of my clients, that I treated several years back for being a shopaholic, recently dropped by to update me. We both agreed that this would be a great topic to spread the word through my column.

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Her husband had originally brought her to me because their marriage was in real danger. “I just can’t do this anymore.” he said as I was interviewing both of them. He explained that they had already declared bankruptcy for over $150K in “shopping” related expenses, and, lost their home because they couldn’t meet the mortgage.

A “shopaholic” is someone that is a frequent shopper that is unable to control spending. The husband of my client reported that she had an entire wall of the garage lined with tubs that contained items she purchased that still had price tags on them.

Shopaholics fall under a psychiatric disorder group known as obsessive compulsive behavior spectrum disorders that include over spending, employee theft, hoarding, as well as shoplifting/kleptomania.

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I had never treated a shopaholic, but, an assessment indicated that she met the criteria for “addiction”.

According to a Stanford University Landmark Study, “approximately 17 million Americans are compulsive shoppers/spenders”. Another report by the Journal of Consumer Research puts the number closer to 25 million.

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Terrance Shulman, Director of The Shulman Center for Spending, Theft, and Hoarding, and, author of “Something for Nothing”, says that shopaholics have “a sense of entitlement….life is not fair issues….they get a rush from risk taking.”

The first thing I did was bring her husband aboard with the agreement that he would take all forms of currency—cash, credit cards, checks, etc—away from her; she would not be allowed to even go to the grocery store. He faithfully did this.

He called three days later to say that he was worried about her because she had become very depressed, has been in bed since our appointment, and is suffering from sweats, vomiting, and loss of other bodily fluids. The same bodily reaction any person with addiction experiences when they stop their drugs—She was withdrawing.

She and I diligently worked on identifying her “issues”; which, as Shulman pointed out, centered around her lifetime sense of feeling she was never treated fairly from child to adult. On this recent visit, she said “What it really was about is my husband’s vision of a lifestyle that I didn’t fit into.”

The entire time she was working on her “addiction”, HE! was buying toys: a motorcycle, golf clubs, a motor home. It was like a recovering drug addict living with a drug dealer.

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Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce. “I’m doing much better now.” she reported. While I do shop, I am not overspending and I think about ‘why’ I am buying things.”

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If you think you may be having problems with spending, hoarding, shoplifting, go to http://www.shopaholicsanonymous.org/facts.htm and take their self-test.

If you need help, contact someone that is a Certified Addiction Councilor to help you.

Of course, it is just my opinion.

Glad we talked.

OPINION


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
_________________________________________________________________________________

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This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

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ASK MAx: PART 3 WHO ARE THE SUBSTANCE ABUSERS

drugLET’S TALK ABOUT…WHO ARE SUBSTANCE ABUSERS!!! Substance abuse has become a global socio-medical epidemic. Who are the abusers?

There is a perception of a stereotypical person that suffers with substance addiction conjured up with an image of a weak low functioning individual–filthy, disoriented,disowned by their family, and forced to a life of survival on the streets. You know, “those” people taking up space in the center of your downtown.

Substance Abuse 2Examples: someone that was just released from many years in prison, or from a mental institution, without benefit of any preparation, support, or resources to reintegrate into the larger, healthier population. “I am not going back to prison (mental institution); the streets are easier to survive.”

 

The adolescent banished from his family home because of drug behavior—“The streets are better than where I came from.”Substance Abuse 3

 

 

Or, the abused wife that finds she can escape her abusive lifestyles by learning to be Substance Abuse 4homeless. “The people with drugs took me in; I learned how to escape the reality of the street lifestyle by using drugs.”

Believing the obvious and stereotypical perceptions of people with addictions creates a smoke-and-mirrors social and medical challenge. The media and entertainment industries have helped perpetuate the stereotype about the traits of people with addictions.

While research studies show that people with substance abuse are largely a problem of adolescents males, the epidemic of drug addiction effects people of all ages and economic status. (Keep in mind, it is easier to do research among large groups of subjects that are still in school systems; it is more difficult to do studies focused on studying white collar professionals, housewives, or senior citizens.)

Substance Abuse 5According to a USAToday.com article, “…White-collar addiction is a problem that plagues professional business ranks and costs companies billions of dollars a year in lost productivity… ruin eminent careers..no profession is immune.”

In the book “Drug Addiction I: Morphine, Sedative/Hypnotic and Alcohol Dependence”, edited by William Martin , Chapter 4, states that women that abuse are encountered among housewives that present to treatment 5-7 years after their initial use leading up to 8-20 pain relievers per day.

The National Institute of Health’s report on “Substance Abuse Among Older Adults: An Invisible Epidemic”, reports that “Substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and Substance Abuse 7prescription drugs, among adults 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country. Yet, even as the number of older adults suffering from these disorders climbs, the situation remains underestimated, underidentified, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. “

The stereotypical image of “Who are the abusers?” allows us to ignore the real problems. There are a lot more professionals, house wives, and elderly than there are homeless, mentally ill, or, down and out people using drugs for survival.

The reality is people that abuse drugs can be anyone. Logic does not dictate that someone with security, stability, and intelligence be smart enough to choose not to be a person with an addiction—the physiology and psychology of addiction doesn’t really work in that way.

Substance Abuse 9The socio-medical epidemic reality is that a newborn can come into the world with an addiction, an elderly person can die with an addiction, and everyone in between is vulnerable to developing an addiction.

Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.

OPINION

 

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ASK MAx: DRY DRUNK

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LET’S TALK ABOUT….DRY DRUNKS!! “Dry Drunk” was a term to describe alcoholics that have successfully quit using alcohol, but continue to exhibit the same behaviors as though they were still using. The term is now extended to anyone that has stopped abusing any substances.

The real problem emerges with maintained sobriety. Learning to live without abusing substances is a process.

The process starts with detoxing the body.

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report that “about 70 percent of alcohol abuse incidents last as long as four years. Former people with other substance abuse addictions report that, even decades after quitting opiates, they still experience both physical and mental “withdrawal”.

Then there is learning to “fit in” with the “normies”: people that do not have addictive tendencies. People changing their lifestyle still have to make conscious decisions to stay away from the situations and people that enable them to use opiates. Integrating into a “normie” life poses many challenges.

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People who eventually “get it” on their own will:

-Educate themselves about addiction
-Seek out self-improvement programs, like going back to school
-In addition to traditional support groups, they will seek out professional counseling
-They will pursue other positive passions like a hobby, sports, community involvement
-They will become more conscious about their healthy: correcting their diets, regular exercise
-Learn better coping skills to experience ALL emotions and feeling
-Work on defining their Center that adjusts their morale compass.

People with addictions have over production of dopamine in their brain pathways. Dopamine plays a major role in reward-motivated behaviors—the pleasure area of the brain. By constant use of substances they train their brain to want more “pleasure”. Their preferred life feeling becomes “pleasure”. Given the choice of feeling pain or pleasure, of course, they abuse substances for the pleasure. The pleasure could last only a few minutes, but diverts their attention away from any valid emotional pain brought into their lives.

 

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If someone was encouraged through an intervention to “have to change, or else…” , their personalities might be quite surly reasons to be angry. These folks can succeed in maintaining not using by seeking support at a structured meeting, like 12 Step, where everyone knows their name and can empathizes with their “story”.

These folks often transfer one addiction to another. Going to meetings can be a substitute, or, taking up smoking, gambling, sex, shopping. If someone has addictive tendencies, identified by Dopamine levels in the brain they will find ways to create the pleasure the brain wants.

This group of people act as though they are still using because they don’t seek ways to completely change their behavior: primarily learning new ways to deal with everyday emotions, change communication, and catch up to their chronological age versus living their addictive age.

 

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Change takes work; work is not pleasurable; thus, fake it til you make it.

There are people that have not used, or abuse, for decades; still their behaviors are as though they are still using. If they were surly while using, they will be surly when not drinking. Thus, a “dry drunk”.

All this leaves a “co-dependent” dry drunk walking on egg shells and wondering what is going on!

Of course, it is just my opinion.

Glad we talked.

OPINION


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
_________________________________________________________________________________

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This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

Lifestyle Changes

ASK MAx: BLAMING THE FAMILY VALUES

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LET’S TALK ABOUT…”BLAMING OTHERS”…. Working with people with addictions I have learned that a common theme is to blame “others” for their addictive behaviors. “My dad was an alcoholic, so, of course I’m an alcoholic—it’s genetic.” “My mom used drugs and neglected us.”

When addiction isn’t involved, I hear “My dad deserted us.” “No one showed love in our home.” “My parents worked us to death.”

Developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson’s model of human development includes five stages of early development –prenatal through 18 years old; and, adds three further stages from adulthood into maturity, 18 through 65. The first five years usually sets the foundation for who we will become; from adolescence on, we start identifying who WE are based on the earlier developmental stages.

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Here is where I believe some people miss a stage: between18 to 25 (30 for men), we start having our own independent life experiences. We start realizing that everything we were taught as children that formed our values and belief system, may not be exactly what we now believe. Along the way we get to decide if we want to hang onto our family values, or, begin living our new belief system based on our individual journey.

For instance, I was a second generation Sicilian American. One of the important values of my immigrant grandparents that were instilled in my mother was that education wasn’t important for women—marrying was. So, my mother pressured me to marry immediately following high school graduation, instead of going to one of four colleges that I was accepted.

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When I was 25, I clearly realized that I disagreed with both of those values: I defined that my value was that if a woman wanted to be educated, she can; and, marriage at an early age isn’t necessary. Since family loyalty was a strong family value, and a value I chose to keep, it was very difficult to make a conscious choice to reject the education and marriage value.

Erikson’s model leaves plenty of room for continued growth and development throughout one’s life beginning with the crucial adolescent stage.

When a fifty year old man says “I cheated on my wife because my father cheated on my mother”. Whaaat?! I ask “What is YOUR value about fidelity?” “Well,” he responds “it is wrong.”

Wait, there’s more:

“If your belief value is that it is wrong to cheat, what was your thinking that allowed you to override your value?”

“I was really in the height of my alcoholism.”

“Did you stop drinking?”

“No, we divorced and I kept drinking…..when I joined AA and was sober, I made amends.”

“Did you and your wife get back together?”

“No, I married the person I had the affair with.”

Father cheated. Alcoholism made him do it. AA made him apologize.

According to Erickson, our parents/caregivers influence us for only approximately the first 10-12 years of our lives.

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Stop the cycle of blaming others: Taking “Ownership” comes from defining what YOUR value and belief system is.
If you are a blamer, STOP! Define YOUR values and belief system before moving on from here.
Glad we talked about this.

Of course, it is just my opinion.

OPINION


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
_________________________________________________________________________________

healertoday-logo-sm

This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

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ADVOCATING

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LET’S TALK ABOUT…ADVOCATING! Looking for a volunteer opportunity? Consider becoming an advocate for people that find themselves challenged by every day life’s systems.

“Advocacy” is often connected with being a proponent for public causes: changing zoning, laws, or tax structures. This type of championing for people requires getting involved with government agencies—something many people are reluctant to get involved.

Recognition and appreciation for those people that consistently and freely use their time to be everyday watchdogs for the public good. If you have never been one of these public advocates, you might want to include it on your bucket list. You, too, can make a difference.

Individual advocacy is becoming more and more needed.

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Everyday each of us has the opportunity to be a white knight to help guide someone through a system that may seem like a maze they are lost in. These people could be your neighbor, a friend, someone in your church, a street person.

For instance:

YOUTH: For kids who are in families that are under educated, having a mentor explain how to find a career, training, or enter higher education contributes to elevating the status of, not only the child, but, also the entire family. Have you ever experienced seeing the face of family members observing a first generation college grad accepting their diploma? Imagine having been responsible for helping to make that happen.

SCHOOLS: Research shows that getting involved in a child’s education is among the most important things a parent can do to ensure educational success. The public school systems are more complicated then thought—maneuvering it can be confusing for the kids as well as parents. Many parents are unable to advocate for their children within the schools. Granted privileges by parents to be a school advocate for their child, partners you for the child’s success, safety, and future. Imagine stepping in to advocate on behalf of the child to stop “bullying”.

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DISABILITY BENEFITS: When someone becomes disabled, they can apply for disability benefits. These claims can take up to two years or more! The longer the claim is stretched out, the worse their financial situation becomes; many disabled claimants end up on the streets homeless. Reasons claims take so long is that individuals that have filed don’t understand the complicated paperwork process; they don’t know their rights; and/or do not understand the system. Non attorney advocates can step in to herald a claimant’s successful application, and, to introduce local resources while waiting. Imagine preventing a disabled person from sleeping in their car.

MEDICAL: Medical advocates work outside existing reimbursement-based healthcare systems to bring individual’s the best care that is individual centered on the wants and needs of the individual. The medical advocate becomes the second set of eyes and ears during medical interactions. They are the note takers, observers, back-up questioners, and, often, interpreters. If you are a retired health care provider, you might want to consider volunteering in this much needed area. Imagine accompanying an elderly person to a medical appointment.

Everyday people can become white knights. Imagine becoming an advocate.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

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Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.

OPINION


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
________________________________________________________________________

healertoday-logo-sm

This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

Lifestyle Changes

 

ASK MAx: AA AS A TREATMENT MODALITY

LET’S TALK ABOUT…..ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (AA. Early on in formal residential treatment for addictions, the 12 Steps of AA program.
The treatment programs were VERY expensive and could only be useful to those with wealth. Health insurances started picking up a large part of the cost for treatment—but limited residential to 28 day. It was recognized that 28aa_logo days was barely enough time to detox.

Behaviors and education needed to be addressed.
Eventually the insurance companies started to pay for Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) which focused on continuing the detox program, as well, as following the 12 Steps to achieve recovery.
Finally, insurance companies encourage residential programs to also have a Continuing Care Programs (CCP). The CCP was for patients that had successfully completed residential and as patients began acquiring sobriety time to support the programs foundations.

There are three problems with the model above (the new emerging models in italic):Yellow road warning sign , Problems Ahead , 3d render

First, until recently, all three levels of treatment summarized above, strictly adhered to the AA 12 Step program: 12 Step was espoused in groups and individual sessions; patients were also required to attend outside AA meetings as part of the paid treatment program. The first 28 days is when the patient is most vulnerable because their body is detoxing. The first 28+ days are crucial to allow the body to detox itself to restore organs and thought to a healthier condition. This is a time to address education about the physical and neurological effects of addictive behavior, by addressing nutrition and exercise, and science of the brain and addiction.

Secondly, while the IOP program was usually to reinforce the AA programguilt-vs-shame-1024x744, guilt, shame, and codependency on the program was taught. “If you don’t work your (AA) program you will use again.” “If you drink again your will die.” “You will always be an alcoholic and drug addict.”Reinforcing the AA program as an ongoing optional “support group”, and focusing more individual client centered methods, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, reality therapy, and interpersonal therapy, that produces a more positive therapy outcome.When the CCP was used as a follow-up to how often the patient attended AA and if they were working their program with a sponsor of AA.

The CCP is a perfect time to use everything learned to date to real life application to family, work, and other interpersonal opportunities outside any treatment program or support group. Another words genuinely walking the talk; living life.

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Finally, by early treatment programs adapting the 12 Step Program as its business model, it violated the 12 TRADITIONS of AA, aa.org, particularly Traditions 6, 7, and 8.
money-07According to rehab.com, “Standard drug treatment facilities cost between $10,000 and $20,000 per month…Ultra-luxury and luxury treatment facilities are the most expensive, averaging between $20,000 to $80,000 monthly.” Imagine receiving the same quality “treatment” by simply donating $1 when the basket is passed around.
Today, because of addiction directed research, neurological breakthroughs, and changes in health care delivery, treatment for addictive behavior is changing. The national organizations that write guidelines for treatment, including insurance companies, are requiring a more holistic approach.
AA will always continue to be accessible to anyone who wishes to defeat their addictive behavior and “to become happily and usefully whole.”

 

Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.

OPINION


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
________________________________________________________________________

healertoday-logo-sm

This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

Lifestyle Changes