Sober Fitness: How physical exercise can help you on your journey of recovery

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we know how important physical exercise is to a recovering addict or alcoholic. These individuals have experienced a life full of destruction and unhealthy habits that directly affect their bodies. Many of them haven’t done physical exercise in years and are not planning on doing it. At Eden our goal is to show case the alternative options available to a patient and their families. We aim to educate and inspire along the way, we aim to show that your body is cable of amazing things if you just put your mind to it.

Society has painted a picture of rehabilitation centres across South Africa and the world as a negative horrible prison to be in.  It is portrayed and imagined as being a facility with hospital beds, IV drips and group counselling sessions. These resources are present in many centres, but that is only a fraction of what the recovery process can offer to a struggling addict and their families. At Eden we are constantly obsessed with providing the patient with more than just a recovery plan. We believe that the patient needs to be taken back to basics.

Our treatment is simple; it comes from the hearts and the minds of dedicated professionals. At Eden Recovery we believe the basics are vital for healthy success. During the addicts active use or abuse phases the substances cause a massive release of Dopamine. Dopamine is released into the brain and causes a euphoric feeling many get addicted to. At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we see exercise as a natural technique to restore the brains balance of dopamine, or the “happy-inducing” chemical. We follow the premise that physical exercise and physical activity can restore the dopamine levels in the addict’s brain to pre-abuse heights. Although the “high” one can receive from exercising is not nearly as potent as the artificial blends we consume, it more realistic, cheaper and long term.

Not only does it provide a physical response but exercise can assist with psychological healing. When exercising the brain focuses on the task at hand, and very rarely drifts to drugs. In addition the neurotransmitter, dopamine, will eventually flood their brain helping the addict with the way they view themselves. It can potentially lead to the increase in self-confidence and their abilities to perform a task successfully. A study of recovering addicts published in Mental Health and Physical Activity, showed that physical activities and exercise can lead to a sense of accomplishment, improved health and the confidence in staying clean and sober.

Recent studies from UCLA found that physical exercise is powerful enough to provide an anti-depressant like affect and that exercise was associated with a drop in stress hormones.  At Eden we apply this knowledge in conjunction with well thought out diet plan and amino-acid treatment that the patients take daily. At Eden Recovery Centre we harness the physical the effects of a well-structured exercise program and use them therapeutically.

Over time exercise is not just seen as hard work but becomes eventually becomes their reality, their therapeutic treatment away from rehab. Mirror, mirror on the wall, I will always get up after I fall, and whether I run, walk or have to crawl, I will set my goals and achieve them all. Physical exercise can be your next goal, next achievement and ultimately your next reality.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Rehabilitation & Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Relapse: Picking up my old habits

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation our dedicated team aim daily to help those who crave a second chance. Addiction as we know destroys many lives not just the addict’s. At Eden we believe that it is the addict infecting their bodies with their substance of choice. This selfish behaviour ultimately affects those around them, often quite dramatically. However many of these users go on to have massive success in their recovery. They prove to themselves and those around them that they are not defined by their past actions. This metamorphic process for me as a therapist is probably one of the most special moments that I have the privilege to see.

However sometimes these willing and motivated individuals stumble and fall along the recovery road. We refer to this as a relapse. This relapse is often so terrible because the addict has instilled hope in those around him or her unknowingly. When an addict is admitted for treatment the mood is predictably gloomy, but with hope growing. The family and friends eagerly await the changed person to exit the gates of the treatment centre. Thus when a relapse occurs this hope drops down twice as hard as before treatment. The families and friends are disappointed and often eject the addict out of their lives for good. Unfortunately relapse is often part of the journey. Note relapse is part of the journey, but the addict’s journey should by no means be defined by constant relapse.

Relapse doesn’t just happen with the individual using their substance again, this process can happen weeks if not months before they actually physically use something. The families often see the process of relapse as impulsive, and this is not true at all. Relapse consists out of three very important and interconnected stages.

Stage one is known as emotional relapse. During this stage the recovering addict is not actively pursuing thoughts of using or drinking again. This stage is known for its confusing factors. The recovering addict can actively recall the last time they used but they don’t what to repeat this excursion. The ironic thing is that their emotions and behaviours at the time may be putting their recovery at risk. Some of the warning signs I have dealt with include:

  • Not being in touch with their emotions
  • Focus more on the behaviours and problems of others, and not seeing their own, defensiveness
  • They are not attending any recovery meetings, and if they are they are not present emotionally.
  • Sleep difficulties often set in
  • Eating patterns are poor, irregular or even excessive
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation
  • Anger

The second stage is known as mental relapse. If the recovering addict does not find help before this stage ends, they will most likely relapse. Mental relapse is associated with the back and forth movement of using and not using. In other words parts of the brain want to use and another part wants to stay sober. At Eden we believe the longer the addict stays in the stage the stronger the carvings will get. This stage is often accompanied by:

  • Lying
  • A strong desire to use and not use at the same time
  • Romanticising past use
  • Scouting for opportunities to use
  • They minimize possible consequences
  • Start socializing with old friends with whom they used

Stage three of relapse is referred to as physical relapse. This is where the part of the brain that wanted to stay sober lost the battle. The recovering addict is no longer in recovery and has taken up their old habits. This stage carries so much emotion and devastation. It goes without saying that this stage is quite excruciating for some, but by no means the end. Some patients only relapse once and realize what truly is important and they move on for the better. This sounds counterproductive but often this is exactly what that person needs to ensure a successful recovery.

Not every patient relapses during their recovery journey. However just because some do, doesn’t mean that they have failed in recovery and by no means does it mean they should give up. I have had the privilege to work with addicts that relapsed can came out stronger from that one event than others in two years of recovery. There is a recovery quote that truly resonates with me and it reads, “I am not defied by my relapses, but by my decision to stay in recovery despite them”.

-Shaun Pyper, Therapist, Eden Rehabilitation & Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Toxic Relationships: A dysfunctional pattern that consumes your existence

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we work with many forms of addiction. However what happens when a person is exposed to a toxic relationship. Many schools of thought agree that toxic relationships can potentially lead to addiction. At Eden we often see this phenomenon. However don’t be misguided by this statement. Addiction is not always caused by a toxic relationship and many people that are in a toxic relationship don’t always go on to develop an addiction. However these two factors have been proven to correlate with each other in certain situations.

A toxic relationship can be defined by using a variety of complicated sentences. However if we break down a toxic relationship to its constituent parts it will look something like this. A toxic relationship is simply a close connection that involves negative patterns and cycles. It is a relationship formula that consists of ingredients such as excessive control, jealousy, selfishness, manipulation, hostile atmosphere, feeling drained, lack of communication, feeling unworthy and the list goes on. At Eden Recovery we often see couples come in with these unhealthy patterns, and they don’t even realize it. Some patients I have worked with would label their past toxic relationships as “noxious”, “hazardous”, “poisonous” and even “deadly”. From the outside we look at these dysfunctional connections and struggle to comprehend why someone will stay in such a relationship. However it’s not always as simple as that. Toxic relationships can often be caused by two polar opposite personality types. In other words the people in the relationship are just not compatible with each other. In cases like this I have seen that no individual is truly to blame. The toxicity is just caused by the inability to communicate and establish healthy boundaries. These relationships often share different goals and believe structures, which unknowingly pushes the two individuals apart. In a toxic relationship like this it takes two to tango, two individuals that have equal devastating effect on the relationship.

However not all toxic relationships can be easily explained like this, and definitely not all requires two to tango. In cases like this I often find one unhealthy individual that for a lack of a better word preys upon others. We all have probably at some point in our lives experienced a toxic relationship of some degree or even been the perpetrator. However a true toxic relationship can cause the victim to literally feel as though they are trapped, being smothered and oppressed. It robs them of their freedom and actually dissolves their ambitions and dreams. It slowly eats away at their souls and causes chronic unhappiness. The perpetrator cunningly manipulates when the victim tries to push away and inevitably the victim return. They often do so because they were made to truly believe that it was their fault and that they need to change. One pattern I’ve seen with some of my patients is that they feel that they are being “mean” and that the person deserves a second chance or simply due to obligation. These perpetrators have an uncanny ability to make the victim feel that they are emotionally, psychologically and even physically dependant on them. However they don’t realize they have never truly made a decision they have just been coned, played like an instrument a puppet dancing to the tunes of their perpetrator. Often these

Soul assassins may have a major psychological diagnostic disorder like Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This hostile atmosphere often pushes a person to numb their emotions with various substances, often not succeeding in the process. The addiction was caused by the relationship, but because of the addiction they were even more powerless and broken. At Eden often treating the real cause can possibly resolve the addiction.

A healthy relationship involves hard and meaningful work, great discipline, motivation, a unifying purpose, intent and mutual desire. A dysfunctional relationship will never truly possess any of these qualities. “It’s not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds on the heart and the scars on the mind”- A. Mirza.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Alcoholism and my family: family denial

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we define alcoholism as a complex disease of the brain and body that is often marked by chronic relapse. This disease involves the compulsive need and use of alcohol regardless of serious health and social consequences. However alcoholism isn’t just the addict’s problem it is a family affair and often a very dark one. Alcoholics can be of any race, gender, and background or income level, it doesn’t discriminate. Alcohol may be infecting the addict but it is affecting the entire family structure. At Eden Recovery we know addicts are masters of justification. We see this time and time again where families confront the addict on their behavior. The addict then replies with plenty justifications often very believable ones to why their life is such a mess. The ironic and most concerning factor is that within alcoholism it’s not just the addict that denies the addiction but the family as well. At Eden we refer to this as family denial. The family members start denying the real problem because that is what the alcoholic is doing.  Family denial within a dysfunctional system occurs in at least three ways:

  1. Systematic Denial
  2. Protection against exposure
  3. Primary patient philosophy

Systematic denial essentially means that the entire system is denying the existence of a drinking problem. This denial occurs because the perceive alcoholism as some sort of reflection upon themselves as individuals and a family unit. Forget that the problem exists so that I don’t need to be faced by the cold reality of my life.

The second way family denial can occur is known as the protection against exposure phase. It simply means that the family unit will not discuss the problem or disruption as a method to shield them from the stark reality. They essentially avoid this topic because if they don’t they have to talk about it admit that it exists and find a solution. During this phase the non-alcoholic parent will generally attempt to protect the children from any exposure to alcoholic parent, i e the addict.

The third way in which this denial can take place is referred to as the primary patient philosophy. Within an alcoholic family the perception is that the alcoholic is the first concern, the person to be helped first. This essentially means while the alcoholic drinks the family is falling apart and struggling on a daily basis and many may even collapse. As long as we carry this belief we ultimately deny intervention for the non-alcoholic members. At Eden we do not ignore the effect the alcoholism has had on the family. Many dysfunctional families learn to cope with the disease by adapting to minimize the effects. Ultimately the members within a family structure behave like this to survive, therefore they are not living. At Eden we believe that it is vital to educate the families and spouses on matters like denial and family denial. At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre our Addiction Counsellors help the addict and their families come to terms with their problems, the real problems. Our goal is to eliminate any form of denial from the family’s side as they are ultimately the ones wanting change. The sad reality is that addiction doesn’t just kill the addict. It kills the family, kids and people who tried to help.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Denial in Addiction

The reality of one person might be the illusion of another.
At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we know how damaging an addiction can be to a person and their families. Addicts often refuse to admit that they have a problem and some never do. The dictionary defines denial as the refusal to admit the truth or reality. At Eden we believe denial is the willful doubt in the face of overwhelming and credible evidence.

Denial is the addict’s only survival tool to ensure future substance use. A person that abuses one or various substances cannot deal with the realities of daily life, hence why they turn to a chemical coping strategy. This over time then becomes their realities. The denial is used as a defense mechanism to reject any reality that they are not comfortable with. At Eden we know that addicts often have very little insight into their own condition and this can lead to a very rigid form of denial that can be extremely difficult to penetrate. At Eden Recovery we know addicts are masters of justification. We see this time and time again where families confront the addict on their behavior. The addict then replies with plenty justifications often very believable ones to why their life is such a mess. At Eden we believe that it is vital to educate the families and spouses on matters like denial and even possible excuses. For example: “I drink because I can’t find a job” or “Everybody is doing it”. Ultimately there is no real justification for abusing substances. At Eden Recovery we ensure that the families are aware of this because without the knowledge an addict can easily manipulate their way out of a situation. This behavior ensures that they will never consider the real source of their problem.

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we often talk about Type A denial and Type B denial. Type A denial is when a person sees, understands and knows that they have a problem. However when they are confronted regarding their problem they will strongly deny it, knowing that it is true. This type of denial is usually accompanied by a lot of lying and dishonesty regarding various topics. Type B denial is when a person is partially or totally blind to their problem. This is a more severe form of denial where the addict refuses to accept the reality. Through a magnitude of justifications, rationalizations, self-deception and excuses the person will actually believe they do not have a problem. At Eden we believe an addict like this is being honestly dishonest. Denial can often be very sensitive and even tricky to deal with because the addict is not even aware of its existence at times. At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre our Addiction Counsellors help the addict come to terms with their problems. They use various techniques to help the person gain insight and grow therapeutically. Every addict deserves a second chance and at Eden we are honored to be part of a persons journey. Second chances are not given to make things right, but are given to prove that we could be better even after we fall.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Trauma and Addiction

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we know addiction is far more complicated than people often believe. Addiction doesn’t occur overnight it is a process that often occurs years before going to rehab. Addiction slowly creeps up on you over weeks, months and even years. It waits for you, for that one weak moment you are not paying attention; it is by all definitions very patient. At Eden we believe that people use substances for many reasons. One of those reasons is to mask the pain that they feel on a daily basis.

It’s often said by addicts that they are not addicted to the substance but rather addicted to the momentarily relief of pain that the substance offers them. I once worked with an addict that explained addiction to me as, “imagine living without air, and now imagine something worse”. As non addicts we often are quick to judge and label their actions, but rarely do we stop and wonder why? We are so conditioned to criticise the addiction without asking why the pain that lead to the addiction. By no means does this justify all their past actions, but understanding needs to be present.

The link between trauma and addiction is strong and rooted in research, particularly childhood trauma. At Eden we firmly believe that pain is often a great determining factor for potential addiction in adulthood. Psychological trauma is defined as a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Psychological trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. Physical trauma is defined as a serious injury to the body. Often physical trauma leads to psychological trauma when not properly dealt with at the time, for example Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each person has their own unique way of dealing or succumbing to trauma.

Therefore trauma whether, physical or psychological, is always defined by the person experiencing the pain. The definition is entirely subjective, if you thought it hurt, then it did. I once asked an addict why you use, knowing how damaging your addiction is. He said that he once read the story of a woman that suffered from Anorexia and why she kept starving her body knowing what it is doing to her health. He said, “I used cocaine not for the high or the thrill, I used it because it provided me with a release from the reality of my emotional pain. The pain this addict was referring to was the loss of his child years ago. He continued saying, “Even knowing that I am damaging my body, my soul with each line that I consume, the compulsion to use more and escape a little further consumed me”. There is often a misconception that psychological trauma must constitute a massive life event, which is not true. As mentioned previously trauma is subjective, and any event that is experienced as shocking or painful can be traumatic for that person. Rape, Divorce, job loss, child abuse, war, emotional abuse, physical abuse or even Bullying can lead to trauma. Events like these, along with a vast variety of others factor may leave individuals with scars that run much deeper than the surface we are exposed to.

With the advances in Neuroscience and more research studies being conducted we now know more about the link between trauma and addiction than ever before. During times of high stress your brain’s executive control center, the cortex becomes interrupted by survival-orientated instincts deep inside your inner brain. These instincts overrule logical thinking, diminished cognitive processing and decrease your ability to inhibit behaviour.
The amygdala, your brain’s threat detection center can become overactive. This over activity can create a state of constantly looking for, seeing and or assessing threats. Logically if you are in constant state of processing events, it can leave you intensely anxious, fearful and vulnerable.

The hippocampus is at the helms of your memory processing center and this then becomes underactive due to the trauma. Instead of placing the memories in the outer-layer of your brain for long term storage, the memories get hung up in a present day loop. This leads the individual to experience and re-experience intrusive, disturbing and uncomfortable recollections. The addiction is then seen to help reduce the sensation that post trauma changes create. The brain is there to ensure the survival of the individual. It puts these traumatic events outside your conscious awareness for a brief period. This is to ensure that one can function and get to a safe place. The problem comes in when we don’t ever then address these problems and at Eden it is our privilege to be able to help you with this healing. The healing process is not easy nor is it fast. . Michele Rosenthal once wrote, “Fear drives all post-trauma related behaviours, healing focuses on resolving the fear”. In other words it’s often the trauma of the past that is driving the addiction of the present.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Emotional Eating: Consuming your life piece by piece

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we deal with many addicts on a daily basis.  However society has created an image that rest in our minds of a stereotypical addict. This stereotypical addict is generally addicted to either alcohol or drugs. But what happens when the person is neither addicted to alcohol or drugs? What happens when the individual is addicted to eating? As a society we have grown accustomed to criticizing addiction. The sad reality is that our understanding of what addiction is, is often very limited. It’s with this limited view we criticize the drug addict and embrace the food addict. The sad and unfortunate reality is that emotional eating is socially accepted. There is no difference between one individual that uses food to cope with stress and one that uses cocaine. Both parties rely on a substance for relief regardless of what that substance is.

Emotional eating or often referred to as  stress eating is using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. The effects of certain foods can lead to addiction in a matter of time. Sugar is found in a vast variety of food products and is one of the worst culprits. The reason for this is because sugar possesses great addictive properties and because it is legal, cheap and socially acceptable. Furthermore it has massive effects on the reward centre of the brain, this involves neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Experts agree that sugar can potentially be just as addictive as cocaine. When the drug addict uses a substance, dopamine is released in the brain leading to a euphoric sensation, sugar does the same. Researchers in France found that the consumption of sugar can be experienced by the brain as even more rewarding and attractive than the effects of cocaine. Unfortunately emotional eating is not seen as a problem until the person reaches a state of obesity. It is argued that obesity is the direct result of binge eating and food addiction. Dr Gabor Mate, author of “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” believes that the roots of addiction are all the same. He argues that addiction can take any shape or form, any activity can be addictive.

From the compulsion to collect stamps to the need to enjoy copious amounts of sweets, addiction is present. Ashley Gearhardt the creator of the Yale Food Addiction Scale believes the struggle individuals face with food addiction compared to those faced by let’s say alcohol or drugs are very similar. In both cases the addict will often break their own rues “I’m not going to drink today or I’m going to eat healthier today”. As soon as they start drinking or eating the intensity of the substance is just too powerful and controlling it in that moment becomes virtually impossible.

At Eden we often see family and friends criticize the addiction and very rarely ask why the addiction is present. It is a well-known fact that past traumas and addiction go hand in hand. Just like with any addiction, food addiction can be caused by traumas that occurred in the individual’s past or day to day struggles. These individuals tend to connect food with comfort, power, safety and generally other positive emotions that they need. This vicious cycle fuels the emotional eating pattern. They eat because they are stressed and then stress because they have eaten so much and so the cycle continues. These individuals are also sensitive to changes in their daily life and any added stress will lead them finding comfort in their substance of choice. At Eden we believe that people use substances for many reasons. One of those reasons is to mask the pain that they feel on a daily basis. It’s often said by addicts that they are not addicted to the substance but rather addicted to the momentarily relief of pain that the substance offers them.

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we believe regardless of what the individual is addicted to they need intervention. Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle-Napoleon Hill.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916

Over-the-Counter Medication: Addictive Epidemic

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we understand that we live in an age that is dominated by advance medicine that can solve a problem instantaneously by consuming a wonder tablet. We are conditioned to trust the “system “and consume whatever is available to us without questioning anything or anybody. But where do we draw the line when the misuse of medication is ultimately because of us and not a physician. OTC medication is affecting a large number of the population and has developed into a serious problem over a number of years in South Africa. At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we talk about substance misuse or abuse. This refers to the use of a drug that deviates from approved social or medical patterns usually through self-administration e.g. using painkillers, readily available at pharmacies, grocery stores and even online stores.

Codeine is one of the most destructive culprits in South Africa and is considered highly addictive. Codeine, found in tablet form or cough mixtures, is a narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine and hydrocodone and is part of the opioid family. When an individual consumes the medication containing codeine, it enters the body and eventually makes its way to the brain. Here the codeine binds to receptors in the brain that are responsible for transmitting sensations of pain through-out the body. The fast acting affect quickly decreases any level of discomfort and reduces the pain. Codeine is found in a number of medications including Myprodol, Mybulen, Benylin C, Synodol and Sinutab C to only mention a few. According the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America there are more than 300 000 OTC products on the market. This is a massive amount of potential addictive substances. At Eden we know that many people use OTC medication to gain a “legal High” if you will. They consume massive amounts of tablets or bottles containing cough mixtures. But we also know that many people don’t know what they are really taking. A large number of these individuals act on advice from friends or family or abide by acceptable social constructs, so they believe. When these individuals take various kinds of substances together the way they affect the body can change. This theory is called drug-drug interaction. The theory postulate that a person taking different medications will have an increased risk for side effects and the main interaction types are: Duplication, Opposition and Alteration.

Duplication occurs in the body when you take two types of medicines that have similar active ingredients. Essentially it can give you “way more than you bargained for. This can result in damage to your kidneys. Opposition occurs when consuming medicines with opposite effects. For example using OTC decongestants may raise your blood pressure and this can act on medication that lowers your blood pressure. The final interaction type is known as Alteration. Here one medicine can potentially change the way your body absorbs, spreads, or processes other medicines.

Regardless of how these substances work in our bodies, one is clear they are extremely addictive and potentially deadly. They can lead to symptoms like, but not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Addiction

Guideline to follow when taking OTC medication:

  1. Always try to limit the consumption of OTC medications. Essentially only take them when you really need them.
  2. Explore alternative more natural options for pain. For example ginger, turmeric, lavender and sage to mention only a few.
  3. Always talk to your physician or pharmacist first and do your own research. Don’t forget to ask as many questions as you need, ultimately the medication will enter your body not the physician’s.
  4. Don’t take medicine with alcoholic drinks.
  5. Always follow the directions on the package.

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation our dedicated team of professionals aim to assist any individual and their families that may have fallen victim to OTC medication addiction. This is a serious problem in South Africa and at Eden we aim to fight the battle each and every day with commitment, knowledge and dedication. We believe if you treat the disease you won’t be as successful as treating the person.

Are Tattoos Addictive?

tattooAt Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we frequently get asked whether tattoos can be addictive or not.  Tattoos are an ever more present occurrence in our modern age. Views and opinions regarding tattoos have steadily changed over the last 40 years.

Since the dawn of man people have been etching tattoos into their skin. These marks served as status symbols, amulets, and signs of religious beliefs or love, punishment and even for medicinal purposes. Traditionally tattoos carry with them a negative stigma. This is due to the fact that majority of a given population associated tattoos with evil, criminality and deviant behaviour. Recently more and more people decide to get a tattoo or continually return to the needle for more ink. Some believe this is due to a younger generation that view tattoos as a way to control their identities and express their creativity.

Reasons why a person might be addicted to a tattoo?

Physiological Theories

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we often hear myths or well justified arguments why people believe that tattoos are addictive. One of the arguments explains that based on a physiological level people get addicted to the pain they endure during the process of a tattoo. There is no real scientific proof to substantiate this argument; however people can get a natural “high” from the adrenaline and endorphins being released by the brain. The release of these chemicals is in response to the pain caused by the needle. Another compelling physiological argument is called the pain substitution theory. This theory states that a person might be drawn to a tattoo time and time again due to the self-mutilation factor. It states that a person will engage in this practice, because they find a sense of control when causing themselves pain. At Eden Rehabilitation we believe that this is used in a therapeutic capacity where one would use physical pain to relieve emotional or mental stress.

Psychological Theories

When we talk about tattoo addiction at Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we always consider possible psychological theories. These theories provide us with valuable and potential substantiation as to why people choose body art. Many psychological theories suggest that attention and self-expression can play a vital role in acquiring a new tattoo. The vast majority of people that are “inked” use tattoos as a form of artistic expression. Each tattoo has a meaning which is significant to the person wearing it. In some cases it can be as simple as “I thought it was beautiful”. At Eden Recovery Centre we understand that regardless of the intent behind the tattoo, the owner of his or her new ink finds it possible to use artwork on their bodies as a satisfying way of expressing who they believe they are.

More psychological theories include the aspect of spirituality. For decades Japanese artists considered their work to bring about spiritual awakening. In modern times people can use religious icons to express their devotion to their beliefs. For a part of the population tattoos can serve as a therapeutic tool after traumatic events. During this process a tattoo is used to commemorate or celebrate an event or a person in their life. This tattoo can then lead to therapeutic growth. In a qualitative study done in 2016 it was found that tattoos can serve as a form of therapy.

Other Theories

Less well known theories can add their weight to the discussion on whether tattoos can be addictive or not. One such theory suggests that people become addicted to the collection of tattoos. This suggests an aspect of compulsive hoarding. Other theories believe that people often get tattoos because it is seen as an organizational obligation. This means that it might be mandatory for people who form part of prison gangs or biker groups to get new ink.

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we believe that addiction is a compulsion which a person has no self-control over. Most of the time addiction is not the reason why many people get several tattoos. Most individuals get body art because they want to get them and not because they need to get them.

All the theories give compelling reasons why any individual might want to get a tattoo or more tattoos. But these theories do not provide any scientific proof that a tattoo can be addictive. However what people can get out of a tattoo for example pain, reactions, acceptance, self-expression or even healing can be considered as potentially addictive. The argument regarding tattoo addiction is ongoing. The simple answer is that we don’t know whether tattoos are addictive or not. At Eden we believe that it is too early in terms of research to say whether a tattoo can be seen specifically as an addiction.

The Dangers of Prescription Medication

Prescription MedsAt Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we understand that we live in an age ruled by the prescription pad and dominated by our need to satisfy a hunger within us. We are conditioned to trust the “system “and consume whatever is prescribed to us without questioning anything or anybody. For a large portion of the population this has become more than a daily struggle, but a way of surviving. The use of prescription medication has developed into a serious problem in South Africa, and is more common than most people would like to believe.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we talk about substance misuse or abuse. This refers to the use of a drug that deviates from approved social or medical patterns usually through self-administration e.g. using painkillers, prescribed by your physician.  Many people who consume prescription medication are blissfully unaware of what they put into their bodies. Others with more experience of the effects of a particular substance know exactly what that substance can do for them. There is a general belief that abusing prescription medication is not as bad as using street drugs like Heroin. This however is a common misconception. Due to this popular misconception many people test the theory believing they know better and that one more will not hurt. It is this naivety that ultimately leads to an addiction.

What most people don’t know?

Many prescription drugs that we have readily available on a daily basis are more harmful to our bodies and minds than we actually know. This includes Dexedrine and Ritalin, stimulatory substances as well as painkillers like OxyContin and Pethidine. The reason why many of these man-made or synthetic substances are so dangerous is due to the high potency of synthetic ingredients. Ritalin is a common drug that is used to treat learning disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. What makes this drug potentially dangerous is that the tablet contains tiny particles of insoluble fillers. These solid materials and other stimulatory effects can potentially harm the body. Prescription drug effects can include:

  • Blocking the small blood vessels
  • Liver, Lung and Kidney damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses
  • Erratic, bizarre and sometimes violent behaviour
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Permanent damage to the blood vessels of the heart and the brain
  • Strong psychological dependence

The fact of the matter is many substances were once prescribed without a concern for patient safety, only later to be banned. The substances were banned because the evidence of harmful effects could no longer be ignored. These prescription medications once included Cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, Methamphetamines and Heroin. All regarded today as hard street drugs.

How to prevent prescription drug addiction?

Many people today use prescription medication because they believe it is well justified. They believe that it is needed to either function or sleep well. Recognise them for what they are- lies. What drug prevention strategies can one employ to avoid addiction? The first step to avoiding addiction or even dependence is to educate yourself on what medication you are using. This does not mean to check the spelling of the brand, but rather what it does to your body and mind.

Before taking any medication know what you use it for and the potential effects it may have on your body and mind. Mandela once wrote “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. You don’t need to change the world, but it can help you to change your world. Explore alternative methods that you can utilize to achieve a specific state e.g. sleeping by listening to music. Always look for alternative methods before taking medication that will alter your natural brain chemistry. Do not self-medicate, always follow the instructions of the physician exactly as prescribed.

Do not share or give medication away. Your script was intended for you and your presenting complaint, not your neighbour next door. Get out more, exercise regularly, eat healthy and enjoy the conversation and laughter of the people you treasure. This is a big stress relief and is obtained through a natural process.

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation our dedicated team of professionals aim to assist any individual that may have fallen victim to prescription medication. At Eden Recovery and Rehab Centre we do not believe in just helping the addict, but insist on supporting the family. An addict might be the one that is infected, but it is the family and close friends who are affected by the addiction. The sad reality is that addiction doesn’t just kill the addict. It kills the family, kids and people who tried to help.