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Group Therapy for Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety we experience. It might be surprising to learn that we, as humans, actually experience anxiety for a good reason. Feelings like guilt, shame, and anxiety are designed to serve as internal information cues as we learn to navigate social situations and contribute to groups that we are involved in. However, social anxiety can show up in different ways for people. And in some cases, it can start to work against us and inhibit our ability to live our lives the way we’d like to.

WHAT DO I DO IF MY SOCIAL ANXIETY IS HOLDING ME BACK?

For many of us, social anxiety is a passing thought that reflects a concern of being judged. But for some of us, social anxiety can be a major life stressor. When social anxiety is at its most disruptive, there can be a deep sense of rumination, significant avoidance of social interactions, and a major fear of making a humiliating mistake in front of others. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important for you to know that you are not alone. Our team at CAST Centers has successfully helped hundreds of people living with social anxiety for over a decade. We are committed to understanding your unique situation as we help you address your concerns one step at a time. 

HOW DOES GROUP THERAPY WORK?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), group therapy is one of the most effective tools to address social anxiety. Our group therapy sessions are led by clinically trained professionals in both telehealth and in person settings. We use a strengths driven approach to create the space for you to connect with your authentic voice, align your actions with your values, and explore your struggles in a safe and judgment free environment. We’ve learned that group therapy works best by meeting you where you are and walking with you as you take the steps that can often feel too confusing or challenging to take alone.

The American Psychological Association notes that Group Therapy can be a healing, validating, and educational experience for those of us dealing with mental health issues. Being part of a therapeutic group means that you are able to tap into a safe and confidential source of support as you reflect on your thoughts and experiences. This valuable benefit, along with the opportunity to hear others speak about their personal struggles, often brings you new perspectives as you address your own challenges.

IS GROUP THERAPY SCIENTIFICALLY BACKED?

Additionally, research suggests that group therapy can help you build effective coping strategies and useful social skills to address social anxiety in your everyday life. Group therapy is clinically supported and has been indicated to be effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety and instrumental in improving self-esteem while decreasing depression and stress

If you are seeking help for your social anxiety, our team of compassionate mental health professionals offers free phone consultations to listen to your specific situation. Contact us today to take the first step!

What Level of Mental Health Treatment Do I Need?

Deciding to enroll in a mental health treatment program can sometimes feel like a confusing process. There is not a “one size fits all” solution, which makes determining the level of treatment needed no simple task. Therefore, it is essential to consider the full range of struggles present when designing an effective and deeply healing experience. That’s why at CAST Centers, we are here to offer you a personalized support plan and help you evaluate the treatment options available as you navigate your unique challenges. One of the collaborative approaches we take to support our clients is our Partial Hospitalization Treatment Program (PHP), also known as Day Treatment.

What is a Partial Hospitalization Treatment Program (PHP)?

CAST Centers’ PHP is a program with a format designed to deliver comprehensive and personalized mental healthcare. Whether you are “stepping down” from residential care, seeking treatment after completing an addiction detox process, or simply needing a bit more structure and support than weekly meetings with a therapist due to the weight of depression or trauma, the PHP level of care is tailored to target the roots of your specific challenges.

Our Day Treatment approach offers a one-of-a-kind blueprint that helps clients connect with their strengths and practice effective coping mechanisms. Clients attend three therapy meetings each day for five days each week. Daily engagements include individual therapy sessions, group therapy meetings, and innovative exercises that help you identify your values and achieve your goals.

Why Day Treatment?

Our PHP Program, was created with clinical research in mind. Studies suggest that the PHP level of care is associated with the following treatment outcomes:

Further, an independent review of our Day Treatment program found that clients who attended all of their sessions in their first week of treatment were significantly more likely to complete their full program and accomplish their treatment goals!

How Can I Speak with CAST Centers to Discuss if PHP is Right for Me?

Call us at (323)-329-4643 to speak with our team of compassionate mental health professionals.

CAST Centers is in network with Anthem Blue Cross, MHN Health Net and accepts most PPO insurances like Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare.

Is Your Mental Health A Disaster? Look At Your Decision Making Team

There’s an old saying that I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of before. It goes something like, “you are the product of your three closest friends.”

Have you ever wondered how true this statement actually is?

On one hand, the research says that we are social beings by nature. Studies show that social support has a positive impact on our mental wellness and our overall health. (https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970). It’s no secret that we tend to live longer and feel better when we’re connected with other humans.

On the other hand, we need to acknowledge that our social network is just one of the many parts of our lives. Yes, it’s a very important part, but focusing only on the influence others have on us can take away from our personal empowerment. When we start assigning fault to others (for example, blaming our struggles on those around us), we’re essentially surrendering control of our lives. And how can we ever expect things to improve when we avoid taking full accountability?

I often consider both of these perspectives when I’m coaching a client that’s trying to get back in control of their life. What I’ve found is that sound mental wellness comes when we create space for ourselves to get into the driver’s seat while also embracing the people that help us along the way. Simply put, real progress usually requires both individual and team efforts. You can be the most talented person in the world, but you’ll likely be leaving something on the table if you’re without the support of a good team. Conversely, you can have a great team behind you, but their impact will be limited without your decision making and direction leading the way.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

With this in mind, I’d like to share an effective strategy I created called “building your decision-making team”. This is an action plan from my NY Times Best Seller “One Decision” that’s designed for virtually anyone to use. The process starts with three steps:

1. Evaluate who your major influences are now.

2. Decide what areas of your life should be acknowledged now.

3. Make conscious decisions about what relationships you need to prioritize now.

Notice how all of these steps end with the word “now”. That’s intentional. Consider that my friendly push to get you into action mode!

Step 1 – Evaluate who your major influences are now

You may have a few close friends or family members that you communicate with often. These are the folks that currently make up your “decision making team”. You can evaluate these major relationships with a few simple questions:

  • What qualities or traits does this person bring into my life?
  • What qualities or traits do I bring into this person’s life?
  • What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses?

Are there any ways we can adjust our relationship to better support each other?

Consider these questions and don’t be afraid to grab a pen and paper if that helps you work it out. You may also find it helpful to share these notes privately with someone you trust.

Step 2 – Decide what areas of your life should be acknowledged now.

At this time, you can take a moment to check in with yourself and get a snapshot of your needs. Consider the following:

  • What areas of my life do I need to improve? (see VWM SPHERES Article)
  • What are my strengths that I can lean on to accomplish my goals?
  • What are my weaknesses that tend to slow me down and complicate things?

This step requires a bit of reflection and a lot of honesty. You can check out my previous article (link) if you need some help figuring out your areas of improvement.

Step 3 – Make conscious decisions about what relationships you need to prioritize now.

Now that you’ve essentially taken stock of your resources, let’s talk about the different roles that make up your decision making team. There are 12 distinct roles that I describe in “One Decision

These roles embody different characteristics and address specific needs you may have in your life. Each role has the potential to fill in for your areas of need and offer practical solutions to your struggles.

One of the most common roles that I’ve seen benefit others is “The Motivator”. This is someone who helps you keep moving forward when times get tough. They’re someone who cares enough to challenge you and always seems to know the right things to say. Someone who is dealing with anxiety, for example, may greatly benefit from forming a connection with a Motivator. The overwhelming nature of anxiety often makes us resistant to getting outside of our comfort zone, which is the perfect place for a Motivator to step in. If you’re someone who’s feeling stuck, feeling anxious about the future, or feeling unconfident for any reason, I encourage you to welcome a real Motivator into your team!

Another one of the roles that’s often overlooked in life is “The Sounding Board”. This is a person who is a great listener. Instead of offering opinions, they ask insightful questions that help you explore your thoughts and make sense of your confusion. If you’re someone who is living with depression or someone who’s mourning a loss, the Sounding Board is a really helpful resource to have in your corner. Often, when we’re dealing with overwhelming sadness, we shut down and stay in a place of pain and rumination. By speaking about our feelings and experiences out loud, we create the space to work out our struggles and make sense of things. The Sounding Board can help us put a face to our feelings and start figuring out our next steps too.

Finally, one of my favorite decision-making team roles is “The Connector”. This is someone who seems to know everyone and has the ability to introduce you to people who share common values. The Connector is a person who knows your goals, understands your interests, and helps you build your team even further. If you’re someone who is eager to achieve your dreams, then it’s important to have at least one Connector on your team to help keep your momentum going. Just remember to reciprocate the generosity that a Connector shares with you.

When it comes to our social circles, it’s incredibly important for us to open ourselves up to others and make conscious decisions of who we welcome in. If you’re feeling stuck and want to make a positive change in your life, I encourage you to take a closer look at your decision-making team. If you put in the time and effort to build your team, the people you surround yourself with can help you be a better version of yourself than you may have ever imagined. Look at any “successful” leader and you’ll see a group of people behind them who fulfill specific needs that help bring out the very best. Remember, you are the leader of your life. That means it’s time for you to build the decision-making team you need!

Life Coach’s #1 Key To Work-Life Balance

“Work-Life Balance” has become one of the most common topics people ask me about lately. I think this is because so much of our lives has been in flux this past year, and many people (perhaps you included) are finally getting the opportunity to get back in control now that the dust has settled. For example, some people are getting back into the office, while others have transitioned to working from home full time. Many people experienced significant life changes during the shutdowns, while others are eager to reestablish their old routines and rediscover their rhythm from months ago. Clearly, this is a dilemma that’s showing up for almost everyone and in a lot of different ways.

However, there’s one big problem with pursuing work-life balance that I think you should know – “work-life balance” does not exist. In this day and age, the idea is nothing more than a myth!

There are many reasons why I believe this is an obsolete idea. First, there are far too many variables in our lives that are constantly changing. Our personal priorities adjust daily, our professional objectives shift from week to week, and our social lives fluctuate depending on the time of the year (for example, our lives are pretty different on a random Wednesday in April compared to Thanksgiving weekend). We are not robots, and we can’t expect to instantly counterbalance every single demand of life like machines. Second, we are closer to our work than ever before because of technology. Perhaps it was much more realistic to have a work-life balance around 30 years ago, but times have changed. The internet is an endless stream of information and a direct pathway for customers, colleagues, and employers to contact us at any time. Simply put, the line between our “home” and “workplace” is blurred. Third, we have to realize that pure “balance” does not actually even do that much good for us. The idea that life should always be easy and entirely painless is far from the truth. Let’s get real here –

Sometimes we need to be uncomfortable to understand our needs better.

Sometimes we need to face adversity to grow out of unhealthy situations.

Sometimes we need to make mistakes to understand the value of our time better.

All things considered, I believe that expecting true “balance” for more than a moment is unrealistic at best.

So, if pursuing a constantly balanced work-life dynamic is impractical, what on earth are we supposed to do?!

I thought about this question a lot when I wrote my first NY Times Best Selling book, “Best Self”. While we can’t expect to control every moment of our lives, we can assess and address specific aspects of our wellbeing. So, I created a simple tool to self-evaluate what areas of your life need work and attention called “SPHERES”.

SPHERES is an acronym that represents the 7 unique areas of your life:

  • Social Life
  • Personal Life
  • Health
  • Education
  • Relationships
  • Employment
  • Spiritual Development

As a Life Coach , I always have my clients complete a brief self-assessment when we start working together to get a better idea of what areas we should be focusing on.

Let’s do a brief quiz to help you identify what areas of your life we can focus on improving. I’m going to ask you to rate each area of your life. Please take a moment to really think about your answers before responding:

1. Rate your SOCIAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean your social life is a mess and needs some help, while a “5” would mean that you feel your social life is perfect. Make sure to consider the quality and quantity of your social interactions: (Options 1 to 5)

2. Rate your PERSONAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you feel unwell and are in desperate need of action, while a “5” would mean that you have great self-confidence and frequently practice self-care. Make sure you consider how often you practice self-care and evaluate the tone of your internal dialogue.

3. Rate your physical HEALTH on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean that you are facing health challenges and need immediate improvement. A “5” would mean you are taking amazing care of your health and have little to no room for improvement. Make sure to consider how you feel physically and the behaviors that help or hurt your overall health.

4. Rate your EDUCATIONAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean this area of your life is extremely lacking, while a “5” would mean you are intellectually fulfilled. Make sure to consider how often you learn about yourself, as well as how your learning is influencing your personal development.

5. Rate your RELATIONSHIPS on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean your relationships are suffering, while a “5” would mean you are highly functional and supportive. Make sure to consider your relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners.

6. Rate your EMPLOYMENT life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you do not feel remotely satisfied with your job, while a “5” would mean you are very happy with your current work. Make sure to consider how your work influences your mental health and how well your job helps your life financially.

7. Rate your SPIRITUAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you feel disconnected entirely from your spirituality, while a “5” would mean your spiritual life is thriving. Make sure to consider how you’re using your spiritual life to support your pursuits and how rewarding your spiritual life feels for you.If you completed the quiz, you just took a step towards living a happier, healthier, and more authentic life. If you responded to any of the questions with a “1” or “2”, it’s time to immediately get into the driver’s seat. Any area of your life that you’re struggling with now has the potential to weigh down all the other parts of your life later. So, ask yourself,

What actions can I take today to improve my life immediately?

The next time you’re seeking “balance” in your life, I want you to focus on what you can do in the here and now. Shift yourself into action mode and start doing what you can to address the area that needs attention. Remember, we are always evolving as humans and our world is always changing. That means there is virtually always going to be at least one area of your life that needs attention. If you’re ever feeling stuck and don’t know where to start, you can bookmark this quiz and revisit it at any time.

Why People Discredit Me as a Life Coach

What’s your knee-jerk reaction when you hear that I’m a “Life Coach”?

Do you have any perceptions of what I do specifically?

Do you have any skeptical thoughts about me and my profession?

Do you hold any judgments or stereotypes about Life Coaches in general?

Or do you think there should be more life coaches in the world?

In my 18 years of experience working in mental health, Life Coach has been the profession that I’ve found to be the most creative way to help someone. It’s a job that’s allowed me to travel the world, work with a diverse group of clients, and help struggling people reconnect with their passion and purpose. However, being a Life Coach has also been one of the most controversial career titles that I could ever imagine. I’ve been in some weird and uncomfortable situations that have made me question my sanity (and test the integrity of my sobriety). I’ve also been highly criticized and publicly blasted by people that judged me before taking the time to understand my work. I’ve realized through these experiences that there are a lot of myths and misrepresentations about what it means to be a Life Coach. So today, I’d like to open up about my personal and professional experiences and break down the three biggest reasons why people discredit life coaches like myself.

Reason # 1 People Discredit Me as a Life Coach:

They Assume The Title of “Life Coach” Implies That I Know How to Navigate Life Better Than Anyone Else.

If you ever find someone that claims they have all the answers in life – RUN! I believe that life is an incredibly complex collection of events that no one person can entirely “master.” Let me be the first to tell you…

I don’t have all the answers.

I will never have all the answers.

I will always have aspects of my life that I need to improve.

I also struggle at times and face unique challenges in my life. (Just like we all do)

I’ve realized that many critics of my work start with the assumption that I, a Life Coach, must think I am some magical being that knows all and pushes my clients towards the decisions I feel are best. This approach couldn’t be further from the truth! The truth is, a good Life Coach is an unbiased, solution-oriented, and honest individual who can call out your blind spots and help you create a realistic plan to accomplish your goals. Being a Life Coach does not mean that I have everything all figured out (although that would probably make my job a whole lot easier if I did). It means that I am committed to helping my clients make authentic decisions that help them be their “Best Selves.” I believe in this strategy so much that the first book I wrote is titled “Best Self: Be You, Only Better.”

A life coach like myself focuses on a person’s behavior. We help people make changes through two simple concepts: action and accountability. I believe any significant change in life starts by making a conscious effort and committing to it. Life Coaches are also not necessarily facilitating therapy, but we will often give a series of supportive “pushes” at critical moments to help spark growth and change. This is why I often tell my clients that I am more of a strategic motivator or thought partner than a spiritual guide or psychological analyst (as a therapist may be better suited for).

Interestingly enough, I’ve found that seeing my clients in a more familiar setting (for example, a coffee shop instead of a clinical office) has allowed me to bypass much of the stigma surrounding Mental Health. I suppose this is because showing up on my clients’ turf shows them that I’m fully embracing their world. It also means that I’m sometimes going to lengths that other professionals in mental wellness may not be able to go. Whether my client is starting a new business venture, trying to clean up their life and get sober, or searching for something to reignite their flame in the middle of a world tour, I show up alongside them every single morning and help them reach their goals!

This level of involvement is a huge responsibility that a Life Coach should never take for granted. However, some coaches may not have the skills and experience to handle this power appropriately. This leads me to the second reason why people attempt to discredit Life Coaches…

Reason #2 People Discredit Me as a Life Coach:

Life Coaches Are Not Required to Hold any Specific Licenses or Certifications.

Like many other folks in the mental healthcare/mental wellness space, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone posing as a “professional” without any qualifications or merit behind their work. Unlike social workers and therapists, who are required to obtain a master’s degree, complete countless hours of supervision, and get licensed by the state, there are no official prerequisites to call yourself a “Life Coach.”

I believe this has led to many unqualified people claiming the title and hurting the profession’s legitimacy along the way. You don’t have to look far on Instagram to find several “Life Coaches” showing off all their apparent wealth and material possessions for clout. These are the folks that NEED you to know they are successful (specifically, more successful than you). They are constantly creating 15-second clips of them speaking aggressively with every single word captioned in bold font in an attempt to steal your attention and seem more profound than they really are (or, at least, more profound than you). They’ll often even say rude things to people to appear confident and knock others down a notch. The name of their game is making themselves seem better than you. That way, you’re more likely to see them as credible figures.

But let’s get refocused here – how can you actually tell if a Life Coach is a legitimate professional? I’d say that it starts with three simple steps.

1. Look at their professional experience.

2. Ask them about the specific details of their potential work with you.

3. Evaluate if this coach can be an enriching resource to you specifically. A qualified Life Coach should have no issue addressing all of these elements in detail. They should use their skills and experience to make it easy for you to evaluate their effectiveness and measure your growth.

Let’s use me as an example and practice the first step of evaluating a Life Coach. To start, you should know that I don’t have a Master’s degree, I’ve struggled with learning disabilities my whole life, I have a bit of a lisp when I speak too fast, I was on drugs before I even graduated high school, and I became addicted to substances to the point that I lost my opportunity to play college basketball. If you stopped here, I don’t think I would be the person who you imagined in your head when you heard the word “success”! However, my qualifications as a Life Coach become apparent when you look at my actual experience. I’ve been sober for 19 years, worked in mental healthcare for over 18, I spent many years as a certified drug and alcohol counselor and board registered interventionist, I founded one of the leading treatment centers in Los Angeles (CAST Centers), I’ve worked with dozens of A-list celebrities and athletes, and I am a 2x NY Times Best Selling author.

Suppose you simply judged a book (or, in this case, a Life Coach) by its cover. In that case, you’d likely either immediately discredit me for my surface-level shortcomings or get swayed by the flashy social media stars that call themselves Life Coaches. This is just the start of why I highly encourage you to take a long, thoughtful look at a Life Coach before making any judgments.

Reason #3 People Discredit Me as a Life Coach:

People Don’t See All the Hard Work That Goes Into Life Coaching. They Only See What Gets Shared on Social Media.

I’ve got to admit, I understand this critique and surprisingly agree with where this sentiment is coming from. Social media can be an inauthentic highlight reel that distorts our perceptions of what someone’s life is really like. It’s far too easy for literally anyone to create an “Instagram illusion” by buying followers and only posting the positive parts of life. We instinctively want to represent ourselves well, and we also instinctively want to categorize others to understand things quickly and move on. This shorthand thinking is why most people won’t look much deeper than the clickbait headlines that dominate today’s media. And sadly, I’ve seen that it only takes one negative headline to have a whole army of hateful comments (fueled by the courage of internet anonymity) coming right at you.

The reality is that none of these critics know what goes on behind the scenes; the good thing is that they do not need to know. Here’s something that I think we all can benefit from remembering: convincing people to change their beliefs about you is like trying to swim upstream. It can be a waste of energy that won’t get you anywhere. The people who discredit you typically don’t ever want to see you differently from how they initially chose to perceive you.

In my case, the critics don’t know about the countless hours of work that I put in with my clients. They also won’t care to know how many lives are saved by life coaches, and they don’t want to hear about the impact I’ve had on young professionals’ careers. Sometimes the headlines are more entertaining than the truth. And you know what? That’s okay! I don’t have to spend one single second convincing them otherwise!

I’d like to share an important secret with you that has helped me navigate negative comments and “haters” in life. No matter what our profession is or what we choose to share, I’ve found that we all run into “haters” in our lives. The secret is that the people leaving negative comments and putting you down were and never will be a part of your life in a positive way. These people won’t have your back, support your dreams, or offer any real support. There is no use for them in your life, so I personally find blocking these people online as a form of “spiritual whack-a-mole” that’s just part of moving forward.

There are things in life that we can’t control, but we can always strive to dedicate ourselves to our work and commit to our true purpose.

My goal is to always leave my clients in a better place than when I arrived. That seems to have worked very well for me because I still wake up feeling motivated and grateful to do what I do after all these years. I am so fortunate to be one of the many people in this world dedicated to helping others live a better life. I could have never imagined how magnificent and extraordinary it would be to work as a Life Coach!

My experience has shown me the importance of accepting that we ALL will be discredited by others at some point in our lives. Knowing this, we need to remember that we are worthy, and we are enough. When we focus on our craft, when we commit ourselves to our work, and when we invest our time and energy into our passions, we end up getting all the credit and validation we could ever need. True credit comes from within, and we have the power to award it to ourselves.

What Does Dual Diagnosis Day Treatment Look Like?

If you struggle with a mental health condition and have a substance abuse disorder, then a dual diagnosis day program at CAST Centers is an excellent option. Dual diagnosis refers to the case when a person has symptoms of substance abuse disorder (SUD) accompanied by a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.7 million adults suffer from a dual diagnosis of SUD and a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

It is not uncommon for those who struggle with substance abuse to have a mental health disorder. And often, the two problems make each other worse, making a recovery a more significant challenge.

Those with a dual diagnosis must get treatment because those affected by substance abuse and mental health disorders experience greater medical severity. They also tend to have more difficulty with social functioning than those without a co-occurring condition (Tirado-Muñoz et al., 2018).

Many individuals who suffer from the challenging symptoms of mental health disorders such as depressed mood, high anxiety, or psychosis turn to substances to self-medicate when mental health disorders go untreated

Day Treatment Program at CAST Centers

At CAST Centers, we treat mental health disorders and addictions simultaneously to ensure a smooth recovery from both conditions. Our approach to treating dual diagnosis patients is grounded in research and employs various techniques. According to an article published in the Journal of Psychiatric Services, research shows that outpatient treatment for dual diagnosis patients can be very effective (McCarty et al., 2014).

Our day treatment program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), meets five days a week and offers group and individual therapy. Group therapy allows you to process life situations and the complex emotions they generate while getting feedback from others experiencing similar problems.

Our day program provides an optimal transition for someone completing an inpatient hospitalization program or detox. Participating in the PHP day program at CAST Centers will help prevent you from relapsing into drug use following inpatient treatment.

Our Day Treatment Program offers:

  • Group therapy five days a week
  • Individual sessions with a therapist once a week
  • Individualized treatment plans
  • An opportunity for personal growth
  • A path to achieve sobriety
  • Guidance and support from licensed professionals
  • Treatment in a safe, secure, and confidential setting

The CAST Alignment Model

Our day treatment program at the CAST Centers employs a unique holistic approach, the CAST Alignment Model. This approach focuses on your personal development, which is essential to recovering from substance abuse and managing your mental health disorder. The CAM model reinforces the fundamental need to integrate emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. When struggling with a substance use disorder, a person’s life is often in disarray and lacking in these crucial areas. At CAST Centers, we will get to the root of your problems, which will help you come to a place of clarity and peace in your life.

Treatment at CAST Centers in West Hollywood

If you or someone you love struggles with dual diagnosis, CAST Centers can provide help and support. We will simultaneously treat your substance use disorder and your mental health condition to optimize your wellness and set you up to succeed in your recovery. Call us for a free assessment today!

(877) 657-8967

Sources:

●      McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D. R., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)65(6), 718–726. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300249

https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders

●      Tirado Muñoz, J., Farré, A., Mestre-Pintó, J., Szerman, N., & Torrens, M. (2018). Dual diagnosis in Depression: treatment recommendations. Patología dual en Depresión: recomendaciones en el tratamiento. Adicciones30(1), 66–76. https://doi.org/10.20882/adicciones.868

●      Subodh, B. N., Sharma, N., & Shah, R. (2018). Psychosocial interventions in patients with dual diagnosis. Indian journal of psychiatry60(Suppl 4), S494–S500. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_18_18

 

The Symptoms and Treatment of Meth Comedown

If you struggle with methamphetamine (meth) addiction, finding a way to stop and break the cycle of use can be extremely difficult. Meth is highly addictive and causes drastic changes in your brain chemistry, so stopping is often challenging.

Meth stimulates the central nervous system, causing a rush of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, leading to euphoria, increased energy, and focus. However, the meth high comes with many costs. When the pleasurable side effects of the drug wear off, your brain becomes depleted of dopamine and serotonin, and the meth comedown sets in. Meth comedown has significant consequences and can be life-threatening.

Meth Comedown Symptoms

Meth comedown and withdrawal can be intense and make you extremely vulnerable to physical and psychological problems. Common side effects include:

  • Intense feelings of depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Meth cravings
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

The severe symptoms of meth comedown often lead to more meth use and addiction. People may turn to other substances to cope with meth comedown, such as benzodiazepines like Xanax, which can also cause addiction.

Consequences of Long-term Meth Abuse and Addiction

Meth use has both short and long-term consequences. Long-term abuse can lead a person to experience hallucinations, depression, delusions, suicidal thoughts, and aggression. In addition, meth abuse can cause physical problems such as heart attacks.

Meth abuse is more common than you might think, and meth addiction can happen to anyone. In a survey of the United States, 4.7% of respondents reported having used methamphetamine (Galbraith, 2015).

Breaking the Addiction

It may take multiple attempts to achieve sobriety because meth is a highly addictive substance. While many meth users have an ongoing battle with their use, abstinence is achievable with persistence and commitment.

Factors That Lead to a Successful Recovery:

  • Social support
  • Resiliency
  • Being able to adapt to change
  • Hope
  • Persistence
  • Participation in substance abuse treatment

Research has shown that confidence in one’s ability to achieve and maintain sobriety is a strong predictor of whether substance abuse treatment will be effective. You may not yet feel confident in your ability to stop using meth. However, substance abuse treatment at CAST Centers will give you the tools you need to become successful in your recovery journey.

Cast Centers’ Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Treatment for meth addiction has been shown to be effective in reducing drug use and improving functioning (Hillhouse et al., 2007). At Cast Centers, we use a combination of treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to help you develop the coping skills needed to overcome your addiction.

Depression can make it harder to quit meth (Hillhouse et al., 2007). We realize the importance of treating co-occurring mental health difficulties. We treat depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and addictions.

CAST Centers’ Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is perfect for those who have completed an inpatient treatment program but still could benefit from continued support. This is a day treatment program that meets five days a week, offering group therapy daily and one-on-one sessions with a therapist weekly. The PHP is a great resource that can help prevent relapses following inpatient treatment.

Treatment for Meth Addiction at CAST Centers in West Hollywood

Whether you are recently sober, have been sober for years, or have recently relapsed, CAST Centers can help at every step in your journey of recovery from meth addiction. After treatment, you will feel more comfortable with yourself, confident in your recovery, and able to regain control over your life. Call us today for a free, confidential assessment: (323) 421-7892.

Sources:

●      Brecht, M. L., & Herbeck, D. (2014). Time to relapse following treatment for methamphetamine use: a long-term perspective on patterns and predictors. Drug and Alcohol Dependence139, 18–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.02.702

●      Galbraith N. (2015). The methamphetamine problem: Commentary on … Psychiatric morbidity and socio-occupational dysfunction in residents of a drug rehabilitation centre. BJPsych Bulletin39(5), 218–220. https://doi.org/10.1192/pb.bp.115.050930

●      Hillhouse, M. P., Marinelli-Casey, P., Gonzales, R., Ang, A., Rawson, R. A., & Methamphetamine Treatment Project Corporate Authors (2007). Predicting in-treatment performance and post-treatment outcomes in methamphetamine users. Addiction (Abingdon, England)102 Suppl 1, 84–95. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01768.x

●      Hussain, M. A., Iudicello, J. E., Morgan, E. E., Kamat, R., Heaton, R. K., Grant, I., & & the TMARC Group (2021). Apathy is associated with poorer abstinence self-efficacy in individuals with methamphetamine dependence. Addictive behaviors reports13, 100331. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100331

●      Li KX, Loshak H. Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction: A Review of Guidelines [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2019 Jul 2. Available from:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546585/

How Intensive Outpatient Therapy Helps with Depression

Symptoms of depression are often so persistent that seeing a therapist only once a week may not feel like enough to overcome the intensity of your depression symptoms. Depression can be an overwhelming experience that affects all aspects of your life.  An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) may be a great solution for you if you are seeking treatment for depression. IOPs offer highly customized support to you and will help you overcome depression. They will also prevent your depression symptoms from worsening.

What is an IOP?

An intensive outpatient program provides mental health treatment for depression and other mental health conditions. When depression symptoms are persistent and you feel like you may need professional assistance for your mental health, IOPs provide you with a high level of support. IOPs are designed for individuals who need a higher level of care than only meeting with a therapist once a week to every other week. IOPs do not meet every day, unlike a partial hospitalization program (PHP).

At CAST Centers, the IOP meets three days per week and offers a one-on-one therapy session with a therapist, as well as group therapy. IOPs have the advantage of not requiring overnight stays, and they give people more flexibility when it comes to employment and home duties. During the IOP experience, you have the flexibility to go about your life without significant disruption.

The effectiveness of IOPs for depression

Did you know that research shows that IOPs are just as effective as inpatient programs in treating depression? IOPs are highly effective for treating depression when you are not a danger to yourself or others.

IOP programs use a variety of therapy modalities such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to address depression symptoms. One research study that implemented DBT for depression in an IOP found that participants’ depression scores decreased significantly over the course of treatment; they also found that patients had an increase in hope due to therapy.  

Recognize the symptoms of depression:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling worthless
  • Low energy
  • Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Excessive crying
  • Thoughts of suicide

What are the benefits of IOPs?

In addition to meeting with a therapist individually, IOPs offer group therapy for support. The combination of group therapy and individual therapy will be able to effectively treat your depression symptoms.

Benefits of group therapy in IOPs include:

  • Enhancing your communication skills 
  • Providing opportunities for a cathartic experience 
  • Giving you honest feedback
  • Helping you see you are not alone
  • Teaching you new coping skills
  • Benefiting others by sharing your experience
  • Enriching your own perspective through discussions

IOP at CAST Centers

The IOP at CAST Centers is highly effective in treating depression, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, and anxiety. Sometimes, seeing a therapist once a week is not enough to overcome a depressive episode, and a higher level of care, such as an IOP, is necessary. The most important thing to know is that your depression symptoms will not last forever, and CAST Centers’ IOP is there to support you in overcoming depression.

Sources:

The Rise of Depression and Alcoholism During the Pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from lockdowns to serious illness, we have faced one obstacle after another, making it hard to cope with daily life. We all hoped the pandemic would be over by now, but it continues on, and as it does, it affects our mental health. While the COVID-19 pandemic impacts each person, it has been especially challenging for those with mental health difficulties to weather the storm and adjust to the “new normal.”

Depression is Prevalent

One of the most common mental health issues people have faced during the pandemic is depression. A study conducted by researchers at Boston University revealed that 27% of American adults had experienced depression during the first year of the pandemic. This is a significant increase compared with the 8.5% incidence of depression among adults before the pandemic. It is crucial to recognize the signs of depression in ourselves and our loved ones so we can know how to respond and when to seek treatment for depression.

Signs of depression include:

  • Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping more or insomnia)
  • Low energy
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Low self-esteem, or feeling worthless

Alcohol Use On the Rise

The pandemic has turned our lives upside down, and many people are turning to alcohol to cope. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people who drink alcohol and drink heavily. According to a recent study, more people have been turning to alcohol as a means to cope with the stress of the pandemic. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism can lead to alcohol abuse, a type of addiction that requires treatment to overcome.

Why are more people drinking?

  • To cope with depression and anxiety
  • Unemployment stress
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one
  • Social Isolation
  • The loss of financial stability

Before the pandemic, there were many healthy ways to readily cope with stress, such as going to the gym or seeing a movie. But because now many people fear contracting COVID-19 in public places, they are avoiding the beneficial social and physical activities they formerly enjoyed.

Pandemic-related restrictions on activities cause us to experience even higher levels of anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, as a result, many people have turned to alcohol and other substances to find relief. However, the relief alcohol provides is only temporary, and consuming alcohol can actually increase the amount of anxiety you experience when its effects wear off.

Signs you may be drinking too much

 

Signs You May Be Drinking Too Much:

If you have increased your alcohol usage during the pandemic and don’t know how to stop, CAST Centers’ day treatment program and Luna program offer the support you need to overcome the addiction and recover from alcohol abuse. CAST Centers treatment programs can help you learn the tools you need to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns that are preventing you from living your best life.

Sources:

 

 

 

Has the Pandemic Increased Your Anxiety?

Not a day goes by that we don’t think about the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives. The pandemic has triggered anxiety symptoms for many people. The ongoing lockdowns, economic distress, loss of loved ones, and social isolation are wearing us thin, making it harder to cope. For anxiety sufferers, this is especially true.

According to a recent study, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and alcohol consumption have risen by up to 50% during lockdowns. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased many individuals’ post-traumatic stress, fear, worry, and even thoughts of suicide. Another study published in the Lancet, discovered that cases of anxiety have risen 26% globally since the beginning of 2020, a marked increase in the number of people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Disruptions in daily life have exacerbated anxiety symptoms for those who were already struggling with anxiety disorders. Research has shown that those with pre-existing anxiety disorders experience higher levels of COVID-19 related stress than those without those pre-existing mental health conditions.

Having an anxiety disorder during the pandemic makes functioning even more difficult. Crippling anxiety can make you worry about what could happen to you or your loved ones if you or they develop COVID-19. This may result in going to great lengths to avoid socializing or going out in public.

How Does the Pandemic Impact Anxiety Disorders?

Common anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobia, and  generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is the most common. Given the threat of developing COVID-19, our anxiety is heightened.

 Anxiety causes us to live in fight-or-flight mode, always anticipating whether something terrible will happen. Excessive worry can make you feel exhausted, overly tense, and unable to concentrate: these symptoms are exacerbated by the stress of the pandemic.

The pandemic has been particularly hard for individuals with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. People experience more frequent panic attacks, and some have trouble wearing masks, thus finding going out in public and living a “normal” life very difficult. 

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and high levels of anxiety may find that the pandemic triggers compulsions such as the need for frequent hand washing and checking for signs of infection.

If you have an anxiety disorder, there are treatment options, and experienced therapists at CAST Centers can help you address and overcome your symptoms.

 

Signs You May Need to Seek Help For an Anxiety Disorder:

Anxiety Disorder Treatment at CAST Centers

Various therapies help individuals with anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the gold standard. Group therapy can be an especially beneficial mental health treatment for those with anxiety, as it can be cathartic to share your experiences with others. It is important to find treatment for anxiety because if anxiety is not reduced, it can lead to substance abuse and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

The Bottom Line

There is always hope. Living through a global pandemic is a challenge for everyone and creates additional mental health burdens for those living with anxiety disorders. However, with the right help from CAST Centers, you will be able to manage your anxiety and live a better life.

Sources:  

Compassion Fatigue Treatment & Prevention

By Morgan D. Love, MSW Clinical Therapist | CAST Centers

In the field of psychology, compassion is regarded as a practice involving elements of empathy and care.  Compassion is defined as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  Compassion fatigue typically occurs in response to the depth of empathic involvement required to work with individuals seeking help and is widely recognized as a pathway to occupational burnout and is detrimental to physical and mental wellbeing.  Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout, often experienced by those providing support to others, including caregivers, first responders, educators, and other paraprofessionals.  Compassion fatigue can develop rapidly, resulting from an intensive empathic involvement with people who are in active distress.

PREVENTING COMPASSION FATIGUE

The prevention of compassion fatigue starts with an awareness of psychological and physiological warning signs.  It is important to interpret warning signs as mindful data that your self-care needs are under-nourished. 

CULTIVATING CARE FOR SELF

As community helpers, healers, educators, paraprofessionals and overall compassionate beings; it is important to practice self-care with intention; otherwise, your ability to provide meaningful help to others will become compromised.   Macro level self-care includes connection to resources: such as, scheduling physical health appointments, embracing sleep and rest, practicing healthy nutrition, taking vacations, connecting with meaningful systems of support, and spending time doing activities of pleasure. It is also important to meet your emotional wellness needs by seeking professional support and asking for help.  This may include going to see a family doctor, trauma specialist, therapist, or psychiatrist.

Micro-self-care involves returning to the breath, and internal spirit, during the busiest of days, by taking a moment to breathe, strengthen self-awareness, practice self-compassion, set a daily intention, activate pause for self-embrace, or by practicing grounding exercises that integrate your five senses.

The American Psychological Association suggest that helping professionals should strive to maintain an awareness of their wellbeing and its potential impact on their ability to help those with whom they work.

MANIFESTING WELLNESS

Research has confirmed that performing meditation can improve self-compassion and decrease compassion fatigue. Mindful meditation is a powerful tool for grounding emotions, developing gratitude and kindness; and managing stress.

Self-compassion breaks, creating a self-care vision board, mindful eating, going on nature walks are additional effective practices that promote wellness and restoration. Helping those in need requires empathic involvement, while fostering mindful self-compassion, self-kindness, and integrating balance into your own life.

CAST Centers is committed to providing help and resources in our community. Please do not hesitate to call us if you or a loved one is seeking treatment for mental health or addiction recovery.

WELLNESS RESOURCES

Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) Measure

Compassion Fatigue Articles

Emotional Wellness Support & Lifestyle Coaching

How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

In recent years, social media has become a huge part of our everyday lives. Many people find themselves checking their social media at every break in their day. Social media certainly has had its benefits- granting many people the ability to connect with loved ones around the world, giving a voice to those who would otherwise not have one, and allowing people a chance to see things from a variety of different perspectives. Social media doesn’t come without its faults, though. With every benefit of social media comes issues that can adversely affect one’s mental and physical health, social relationships, and overall quality of life. So, are the risks worth the reward?

Social Media and Dopamine

Social media platforms are designed to keep their users coming back for more. When one logs into their social accounts, their brain releases dopamine, otherwise known as the “feel-good” hormone. Dopamine is typically released after pleasurable activities, such as eating a delicious meal. Our brains love dopamine. Because of this, they will keep craving the dopamine release often associated with logging into social media. Every like, comment and direct message fuels our brain’s desire to continue using social media.

The downside to this is that the more often dopamine is released, the more addicted to social media we will become. The more we use social media, the more dopamine we need to feel good. This becomes a cycle that can begin to adversely affect your overall mental health, causing issues like depression and anxiety. As we fall deeper into our social media addiction, our real life will begin to appear as though it is not enough.

Social Media, Self-Esteem, and Comparison

When we are constantly scrolling through other people’s highlight reels, it can be easy to fall into the trap that is comparison. With social media accounts dedicated to expensive homes, luxury vacations, and the “perfect” body, it can be easy to begin to feel as though your life and all that you have in it are not enough.

Social media can begin to have a huge impact on one’s self esteem, contentment, and overall happiness. As we watch other people post the best pieces of their lives, we may find ourselves wishing we can be them. Social media has a way of leading people to build the habit of constant self-evaluation.

People may find themselves viewing other’s highlight reels and thinking things like, “Am I pretty enough?”, “Am I behind on my achievements?”, or “Why doesn’t my partner love me that way?”. Things that used to be enough for us seem to begin to fade in value as we watch other people’s highlight reels on an everyday basis.

Excessive use of social media, paired with constant comparison, can begin to cause mental health issues like lower self-esteem, increased social anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.

Are Social Media Relationships Enough?

Speaking of loneliness, social media can certainly have its effects on our social health and wellbeing. Social media can be a great band-aid fix when you are missing somebody far away or feeling lonely. However, nothing compares to face-to-face interactions. When social media relationships begin to replace in-person relationships, problems will begin to arise.

Social media can be great for connecting with others, but it holds no match to the deeper, more personal relationships we can form in person. Social connections are crucial to a person’s overall health and wellness. The most glaring evidence of this comes from studies that have shown that people who are more socially connected have a lower mortality rate than those who are not.

What is it about social connections that are so powerful they even affect the mortality rate? Social connections control a person’s behaviors, perspective, and quality of life. When a person is surrounded by people who make them feel happy, healthy, and connected, they begin to behave in a happy, healthy, and connected manner.

Attempting to feel connected with others through social media can take away from these important interactions. More people are bringing social media into every moment of their day. They find themselves grabbing their phone first thing in the morning, scrolling through their social feeds at every meal, and finishing their days off with one last social media check.

This behavior prevents us from interacting with the people around us. It leaves us inside our own world feeling isolated and alone.

Is There Such Thing as Healthy Social Media Use?

Social media doesn’t have to be all or nothing. While it can begin to negatively impact your mental, physical, and social health when used in excess, it can be extremely beneficial to those who use it sparingly. So, how can we create a healthy relationship with social media?

  • Set clear and precise boundaries. Healthy social media use is all about creating a balance between your real life and the online world. You can create rules around your social media use, putting the phone away when hanging with friends or family, during mealtimes, first thing in the morning, and right before bed. If you are struggling to break away from the screen, leave your phone in another room to help create some distance.
  • Be mindful of your social media use. Think about what you are trying to gain from logging into your socials. Are you reaching out to a friend? Are you searching for inspiration for a new project? Try to keep your social media use intentional so you don’t get swept away in the comparison game.
  • Have some hobbies outside of social media. Make sure to enjoy life outside of your tiny phone screen. Take an art class, join a sports team, join a club, or read a good book. Whatever hobbies bring your world joy, enjoy them.
  • Take a break when needed. When your social media begins to feel less fun and inspirational and more stressful and depressing, take a break. Log out of your apps for a few days and give yourself a breather to live the life you are in right now. It can be easy to get swiped up in feeling as though you need to post all day, every day, or constantly check in on what other people are doing. However, it is crucial to remember to take some time to yourself every once in a while. Enjoy your time connecting face-to-face, love the blessings you already have in your life, and cherish the moment that you are currently in.

If you feel as though your mental health has been adversely affected by social media and believe you need help, reach out to a mental health professional. They can help you figure out why you are feeling the way you are and teach you ways to get through negative emotions.

References:

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