Sunday, October 17, 2010

Addressing Addictions: Are your habits out of control?

Do you find it hard to stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors? Would you say you have an addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, other drugs, food, gambling, pornography, chocolate, caffeine, or the internet? While some addictions may have more serious consequences than others, it is important to take note of any personal habits that are out of control. We should be concerned about our well-being when we engage excessively in activities to give us pleasure and relief from stress and pressure but the behaviors actually in the long-run diminish our physical and/or mental health.

Some personality traits have been associated with addictions. They are:
- Impulsive behavior, difficulty delaying gratification.
- A high value of breaking rules.
- A sense of social isolation.
- A sense of heightened stress.

Here are some warning signs to consider:
1. You find yourself moving from one unhealthy habit to another.
2. Drinking or drugs have led to problems in your job or relationships.
3. You have a parent who struggled with addictions.
4. Your life tends to be full of drama.
5. You have difficulty making meaningful relationships.
6. You often feel out of control in one or more areas of your life.
7. You become obsessed with things quickly.
8. You lie about your habits to your friends and family.

If you are concerned that you may have an addictive personality, here are some things you can do:
1. Identify which things you feel you could develop an addiction to and avoid them before they become addictions.
2. Focus your energies on healthy activities to replace the unhealthy strategies that you are using to cope.
3. Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, prayer, muscle relaxation, and exercise in moderation.
4. Write down the negative thoughts you have when you feel pulled to engage in the addictive behavior. Then write down an argument against those negative thoughts. Instead of accepting negativity, resist by trying to look at the situation in another way.
5. Break down the things you need to do into doable small goals so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
6. Educate yourself. Find information on-line or in the library about the substance or habit to which you are developing an addiction. Information is empowering and can help give you strength to work toward healing.
7. Consider seeking professional help. Addictions are challenging but you don’t have to face it alone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recognizing the Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence and dating violence are wide-spread issues that affect people of all backgrounds. An abusive relationship can be emotionally, verbally, sexually, or physically abusive. Often the abuse starts off small and then escalates. Abuse in a relationship is not just about someone losing their temper. It is about power and control. It is based on their belief that they have the right to control and abuse you. Unfortunately many of us miss the warning signs that demonstrate a pattern of unhealthy behaviors. We often hope the behaviors will go away or hope that they are not a big deal. It is very important to learn to detect the warning signs so you can get to a safe place, physically and emotionally. Abusive people will try to date many people. The key is to trust yourself enough to know when someone is crossing the line. It is true that all relationships will have disagreements but abuse, violation, and violence are never acceptable.

Here are some important warning signs that you may be with an abusive partner:
Do you:
• Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
• Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
• Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
• Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
• Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
• Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Do the following descriptions describe your partner?
• Extreme jealousy
• Constant insults or ridicule
• Telling you what you can and can’t do
• Financial Control
• Possessiveness or controlling behavior
• Making false accusations
• Keeping you from seeing or talking with family and friends

Does your partner:
• Humiliate or yell at you?
• Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
• Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
• Blame you for his own abusive behavior?
• See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
• Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
• Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
• Destroy your belongings?
• Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
• Force you to have sex?
• Destroy your belongings?

If you answered “yes” to one, a few, or all of the questions, here are some steps for you to consider.
1. Break the isolation and shame by finding a safe person. You may want to confide in a friend, family member, therapist, police officer, or co-worker. Make sure it is someone you feel you can trust.
2. Remind yourself that the abuse is not your fault. There is no action that justifies abusive behavior.
3. Think about the possibility of getting out of the relationship. Consider the safety issues and the practical issues of where you would go and how you would go.
4. Look on-line or contact the local police station to find out available resources in your area. Resources may include counseling, housing, childcare, transportation, and legal advocacy.
5. Remember healthy relationships are based on love, respect, and trust. If those things are absent, you are not in a healthy relationship.
6. Be patient with yourself. It can be a very difficult and frightening experience to think about leaving an abusive person.
7. Consider counseling for yourself and see if your partner is willing to go to counseling. It is recommended that you both go individually instead of having sessions together.
8. Get more assistance by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).