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Cathleen Cunningham,MA, LMFT
(310) 427-1030
1826 S. Elena Ave. Suite D
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
cathleen@redondotherapy.com
ADDICTION

If you or someone you love is suffering from drug addiction or substance abuse, I can help. With many years of experience, I understand the many challenges that you and your family face. My approach is based on what you need. I start with behavioral incentives and move to ways of changing your beliefs, identify negative feelings and finally, finding alternative solutions to your problems. My goal is to help you identify and avoid triggers, teach you relapse prevention techniques and develop new coping skills. You are not alone; research shows that one out of twenty Americans over the age of 12 meet the criteria for being addicted to one of these substances. I understand the fragile psyche of the individual who is addicted and I am committed to working closely with every patient to rebuild their self-esteem while helping them overcome the physical and psychological nature of their addiction.



 

Addiction is a Family Disease

As much as alcohol and drug addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body, it is also a disease that affects the whole family. One family member with drinking or drug problems means the entire family suffers; it impacts the stability of the home, the family's unity, mental health, physical health and the overall family dynamic. That family dynamic will gradually unravel unless its members get the help and support they need.

Addiction & Alcoholism -- Breaking Down The Disease

There are several stages that the family of an addict goes through. There are typical patterns displayed by families that have dealt with an alcoholic or drug addicted child/sibling/parent/relative, and while this pattern is not identical to the stages the addict experiences, they are similar. Because so much of addiction is based on denial, this is one of the first stages of this family disease.

The addiction is rationalized, abnormal is considered normal and family members either can't handle the reality or ignore the reality all together. Once this behavior begins, it's followed by a series of stages that include such things as: preoccupation, fear, guilt, remorse, distrust, and avoidance. Ultimately this amounts to a continual downward spiral that has the family resenting and disliking the one person they need to be supporting. It's easy to lose sight of what's important in situations like these and it's important to get the help you need. I can help your family unite and take a plan of action.

Codependency

 

Codependents tend to live their lives in response to the addicts behavior or attitudes. You no longer have a life of your own, and you may find yourself unable to relate to others in a healthy way. The codependent may take on the responsibility for their loved one, react by denying there is a problem, or become angry, ashamed and resentful of their loved one.

If you believe you might be codependent, the first step is to admit you have been adversely affected by living/working in a dysfunctional environment and your life has become unmanageable. Small steps are better than no steps. Accept your limits by understanding you cannot fix your addicted/dysfunctional loved one alone. I am here to help you regain control of your lives and learn to live healthier ways and make better choices.

 

Adolescents & Addiction

 

Teen’s are still developing judgment and decision making skills. This may limit their ability to assess risks accurately and make sound decisions about using drugs. Drug and alcohol abuse can disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control. You should consider therapy if your teen abuses alcohol and/or other drugs coinciding with family and/or school problems, poor academic performance or involvement with the juvenile justice system. I can help with the many stages of drug and alcohol use that may lead to adolescent dependence including:
  • Experimental use -- typically involves peers, done for recreational use; the user may enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.
  • Regular use -- the user misses school or work; worries about losing drug source; uses drugs to "fix" negative feelings; begins to stay away from friends and family; may change friends; shows increased tolerance and ability to "handle" the drug.
  • Daily preoccupation -- the user loses motivation; does not care about school and work; has obvious behavior changes; thinking drug use is more important than all other interests, including relationships; the user becomes secretive; may begin dealing drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal problems may increase.
  • Dependence -- cannot face daily life without drugs; denies problem; physical condition gets worse; loss of "control" over use; may become suicidal; financial and legal problems get worse; may have broken ties with family members or friends.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms

 

Some of the symptoms and behaviors of drug dependence include:
  • Confusion
  • Continuing to use drugs even when health, work or family are being harmed
  • Episodes of violence
  • Hostility when confronted about drug dependence
  • Lack of control over drug abuse - being unable to stop or reduce alcohol/drug intake
  • Making excuses to use drugs
  • Missing work or school, or a decrease in performance
  • Need for daily or regular drug use to function
  • Neglecting to eat
  • Not caring for physical appearance
  • No longer taking part in activities because of drug abuse
  • Secretive behavior to hide drug use
  • Using drugs even when alone

Intervention and Teenagers

If there is a teenager that has a drug or alcohol problem and requires an intervention, there are a few things to know. Some issues need to be dealt with more sensitively when a teenager is involved. The teen is likely to be more defensive and feel attacked more easily. These feelings can lead to worsening of the problem and a deepening of animosity among family members. I am a professional who works with teenagers and interventions specifically to make sure all these issues are being addressed properly.

Remember, friends or loved ones might not recognize that they have a problem. It is in the hands of those who care the most to step in and get them into a treatment program.

Intervention


If a loved one is stuck in the throes of addiction and substance abuse and can’t move forward – often times an intervention may be your only chance to get them into treatment. Please call me at 310-427-1030 to discuss a treatment plan that's right for you.

Remember, friends or loved ones might not recognize that they have a problem. It is in the hands of those who care the most to step in and get them into a treatment program.


Commonly Abused Substances

  • Central nervous system depressants include alcohol, barbiturates (amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital), benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax), chloral hydrate, and paraldehyde. These substances produce a sedative and anxiety-reducing effect, which can lead to dependence.
  • Opiates and narcotics are powerful painkillers that cause drowsiness (sedation) and sometimes feelings of euphoria. These include heroin, opium, codeine, meperidine (Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxycodone (Oxycontin). These substances are highly addictive and detoxing off leads to physical withdrawals.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants include amphetamines, cocaine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate (Ritalin). These drugs have a stimulating effect, and people can start needing higher amounts of these drugs to feel the same effect (tolerance).
  • Hallucinogens include LSD, mescaline, psilocybin ("mushrooms"), and phencyclidine (PCP or "angel dust"). They can cause people to see things that aren't there (hallucinations) and can lead to psychological dependence.
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient found in marijuana (cannabis) and hashish.
  • Nicotine  Nicotine is highly addictive. The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker's risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases.



Anxiety, Stress Management & Depression

Life Transitions

Crisis Intervention