Reflections on a Year in The Last House

Reflections on a Year in The Last House
Dan B.

When I first arrived at The Last House on December 9, 2016, I had no expectation of staying even a month, let alone the full year. It seemed such a daunting task: long-term recovery in a structured sober living. These were phrases to which I was unaccustomed. Gradually, however, I came to understand their importance and how the latter of those terms facilitated the former.
In the Last House, I found a multi-faceted program of sobriety, accomplished most importantly through 12-step work and daily attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and naturally supplemented by their dinner groups, where both the positive changes and concerning goings-on of residents were discussed, and by the sober support network of the house’s residents,
graduates, and the West Los Angeles recovery community at large. I came to realize at The Last House, to be substance-free was the bare minimum barrier for entry; after all, alcoholic behaviors
do not disappear by abstinence of drugs and alcohol alone. Often these defects of character are amplified in the absence of mind-altering substances should they be left unchecked. The Last House put an emphasis on this in a way that none of my other treatment centers had, and I believe it made all the difference.
I had come from an expensive inpatient treatment center in Los Angeles. While there was some level of structure, in that some amount of cleanliness was expected and attendance of five Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week were required, it was not much more than a substance-free summer vacation (which was oxymoronic to me at the time), and while that kept my parents
feeling secure in my safety, it did not do much at all in changing my thinking or behaviors. I made the most of my time there I suppose; I made good friends, several of whom had no desire or faith in sobriety, which had been my sentiment, as well. Much of my time there was spent shirking responsibilities and rules, and scheming for ways to get high and still test clean. Expectedly, my relapsing eventually happened, and unsurprisingly, I did not get away with it. I will spare the details, since they are unnecessary, but neither the treatment center nor my parents were pleased with me. It was in this unaccepting state of resentment that l was informed I would be going to The Last House.
After leaving that rehab on less than amicable terms, my first few days at the house were difficult, as change always is. What I did notice immediately was how welcoming the residents and staff were. I did not expect a cordial mood, but perhaps a more somber one, yet everyone was genuinely friendly; it made me feel at home. I was assigned a “big brother,” a resident who had been at the house for a month or so and whose job was to show me the ropes and acclimate me to the house over the first few weeks.
During my initial months at the house I made many friends, faced a great deal of challenge, had my “covers pulled” many times in house groups regarding some of my unacceptable behaviors and actions, began my step-work anew, and adapted to the busy schedule of the house. It was a much more analog life than I had experienced previously—one sans my phone, computer, and a few other modern creature comforts previously seen as rights rather than privileges—but it gave me time to work on myself without extraneous distraction. Additionally, I attended Thrive Treatment, an intensive outpatient program closely associated with The Last House and other similar sober livings. Thrive proved invaluable, as it gave me the therapeutic outlet to express my emotions during this fragile period of my recovery.
The longer into my stay at The Last House, the more responsibilities I had to balance. At first, I thought that would only make living there more difficult, the opposite was in fact true. The house had gradually prepared me for these changes, and as the responsibility increased, so did the scope of my world and my freedom. The camaraderie at the house stayed consistently high from day one, but my feelings towards the house had shifted from resentment and fear to love and respect for the house I needed to get my life back on track.
The Last House has been an incredibly difficult and demanding program, but it has changed me in ways I once never thought possible. I am now self-sufficient, responsible, 16 months sober, balance work and school currently, and have learned to manage my life effectively. Due to the progress I have made, I will finally be returning to college full-time this coming August. The Last House has given me a fresh start at life and spawned many great friendships along the way.
I am tremendously grateful and eternally thankful.

Quinn DeLoreto – A Grateful Survivor

quinn deloreto– Quinn DeLoreto 1/12/16
I am nowhere near the broken man I use to be.
When I look in the mirror, I see a future, I see dreams and aspirations, I see somebody I like.
No longer am I haunted by the torments of my addiction, or the pain of not knowing who I truly
am or supposed to be.
I have found a purpose. My steps are meaningful, my voice is passionate.
The Last House Sober Living for men taught me the true definition of what being a man is.
A man has integrity, a man treats people with respect, a man handles responsibility, a man
shows up for life with a smile.
All of those concepts seemed foreign to me for such a long time.
Prior to accepting help, I had one agenda, and one agenda only.
To not feel the way I was feeling inside, and I would do anything to numb the pain of that.
It had been a long, rocky road for me. I couldn’t stop using, my addiction took my mind away
from me.
I kept letting my friends and family down, stealing from them, lying to them, manipulating
them…with no remorse.
Stuck in this vicious cycle, which seemed normal to me, but with no hope of finding a way out
of it.
No matter how much I used, when I came down, I felt waves of shame, of regret, of remorse.
The thing that made me numb for so long, no longer did the trick.
Something had to change.
The best 3 words I ever said were I need help
After 74 days in a wilderness rehabilitation facility, my counselor asked, well, what do you
want to do
I said, what will give me the best chance of changing my life?
And he said, The Last House.
Deciding to come to The Last House was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made.
Thus, beginning a process which changed the entire course of my life.
Fortunately, I came willing to do anything it took.
Slowly but surely, through their guidance and their direction I started to feel a change.
I had a feeling that my life might actually turn out to be something.
I was taught accountability, something I had lacked my whole life.
I was shown step by step how to conquer the things that held me back.
I learned to truly love myself, deep, deep down.
I was shown brotherly love
Men willing to continuously help their brothers up after falling.
Men who will tell their brothers when they need to correct behaviors they could improve on
Men who will give both ears to listen to how your feeling.
Men who know, failing is not an option.
Men who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober, one day at a time.
Through many ups and downs I ended up earning the privilege to graduate the last house.
It is an honor to have gone through such a program.
The beauty of it is the connection you have with other men who have graduated the program.

We stay in communication with each other, we hang out with each other, we go to meetings
with each other
We understand that WE is stronger then I.
If there is one thing I can could change about my life, it would be…nothing.
Everything happened for a reason and it took me exactly to where I’m supposed to be.
I talk with my family regularly. My family is so grateful for The Last House.
My parents got their son back, my brother got his brother back. My nephew got his uncle back.
And the connection and communication we have now has never been healthier.
All because I decided to be quiet and listen to What the Last House had to say to me.
My life has been evolving ever since, life has been falling into place, piece by piece.
I full heartedly belief I would be dead if I had not attended The Last House
A Grateful Survivor – Quinn DeLoreto (1-12- 16)

Am I Suffering From Insomnia?

suffering from insomnia

Am I Suffering From Insomnia?

Most people experience periods of time when they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, however for those with insomnia this is an ongoing struggle. Insomnia affects 30-40% of Americans a year and can have detrimental affects.


What is insomnia?


Insomnia is on going and includes a range of sleep disorders. The three most common types, Transient Insomnia, Acute Insomnia and Chronic Insomnia, affect millions of people around the world. Transient Insomnia occurs when symptoms last up to three nights. Acute Insomnia, also called short-term insomnia, is when symptoms persist for several weeks. Chronic Insomnia lasts for months and at time years, and are usually a side effect of another primary problem.


How long does an episode last?


Those with Insomnia have trouble falling or staying asleep and can be affected for a a few nights, weeks, or in chronic cases, months and years.


What causes Insomnia?


Medications and other medical conditions are commonly correlated with insomnia. Medical conditions like allergies/asthma, gastrointestinal issues, endocrine problems, arthritis, neurological conditions, chronic pain especially back pain. Insomnia can also be an indication of another sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.


Certain lifestyles can lead to insomnia. For example, taking naps, working at home in the evening, irregular sleep patterns and graveyard hours at work. Other factors that contribute to Insomnia are hormone imbalances and issues within the brain and its neurotransmitters.


In addition to medical conditions or lifestyle, Insomnia is often paired with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Substance abuse can also lead to Insomnia because of the stimulants or sedatives. It is not uncommon for those with Substance Abuse Disorder to experience episodes of Insomnia, especially during a binge.


Who get’s insomnia?


Anyone can experience Insomnia however there are certain people that are more prone to it. Travelers, shift workers, elderly, drug users, adolescents and young adults, pregnant women, menopausal women, and those with mental illness.


What are the symptoms?


  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up much earlier than desired
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Uncoordinated
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety around sleeping




There are many different types of treatment for Insomnia and everyone’s “sleep hygiene” will vary from person to person. The more common treatments include using relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, stimulus control therapy, sleep restriction, medication, sleep journals, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, avoiding caffeine and other substances, putting away technology/screens before bedtime, hypnosis, and mindfulness.


The Last House and Thrive Treatment Centers provide facilities that support a healthy sleep schedule. At these facilities, sleep is an important part of the healing and recovery process professionals understand how much sleep influences recovery.

Codependency and Recovery


Codependency and Substance Abuse:


What is codependency?


Before defining codependency, it’s important to differentiate dependence from interdependence. Although these terms sound similar, co-dependence is very different. Having needs and comfortably relying (depending) on others is healthy and a part of life. Interdependence is when both individuals mutually rely on each other and the relationship is equal; this is most ideal.


Co-dependency (often referred to as “relationship addiction”) occurs when someone relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self esteem needs. Two individuals who are overly dependent on one another create a co-dependent union. Often times, co-dependent relationships are one-sided, emotionally destructive and abusive.


This emotional and behavioral condition was identified about ten years ago in a study focusing on relationships in families of alcoholics and since then has been identified outside of homes with substance abuse. Co-dependency impairs an individual’s ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. This disorder is serious and has profound affects on many.


Who is usually co-dependent?


Although originally meant to describe someone or their loved ones with a chemical dependency, co-dependency can occur in spouses, children, siblings, friends, co-workers, etc. Often times, co-dependency occurs in dysfunctional families or families with mental illness.


There are different roles in co-dependent relationships; one individual is more overly-dependent than the other one, thus creating a care-giver role for the individual that is depended on. The care-giver is often referred to as the rescuer or benefactor. Other roles consist of family hero, mascot, adjustor, doormat, the rebel, scapegoat, bully, lost one, or the last hope.


The family hero and the rescuer have similar roles and can identify other’s needs and meet them but is without an understanding of their own needs. The youngest in the family is often times the mascot and uses humor or other things to distract the family away from the problem. The adjuster is never fazed by anything because they never let themselves be too attached to anything or anyone. The doormat is pretty self explanatory and lets other’s take advantage of them by taking most of the abuse.


What causes co-dependency?


Co-dependency is an inter-generational disorder in which the behaviors are learned by watching and imitating other codependent family members. As stated above, dysfunctional families are more prone to codependency. Dysfunctional families transpire when fear, anger, pain, or shame is experienced but ignored or denied. As a result, some members learn to internalize their own emotions and neglect their own needs and in turn their attention and energy are focused on other members of the family, usually the ill or addicted one. Individuals learn that in order to get the love they want from their family members or loved ones, they must sacrifice their own needs and take care of others instead.


Growing up with an unavailable parent will most likely result in co-dependency by the child taking on the role of caretaker and/or enabler. The child may assume responsibility so that the family doesn’t fall apart. When the “parentified” child becomes an adult, they repeat the cycle in their adult relationships.

It’s important for the family and loved ones to be part of this healing process and to understand each of their roles. The Last House Recovery Community and Thrive Treatment  emphasize the importance of family healing as a whole and offers family support.



What are the symptoms of codependency?

The following behaviors are signs that you are in a co-dependent relationship.


  • People pleasing
  • Guilt and perfectionism
  • Difficulty making decisions in your relationships
  • Having poor boundaries
  • Difficulty identifying feelings
  • Extreme or painful emotions that may result in reactivity
  • Denial
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Lack of trust in yourself
  • Poor self esteem
  • Fears of abandonment
  • Obsessions
  • Extreme need for approval
  • A need for control or a sense of responsibility for others’ actions
  • Caretaking
  • Difficulty with intimacy

Co-dependency and substance abuse disorder:


Co-dependency is often times a common and understandable reaction to a loved one with an addiction, especially when it is in full swing. Individuals will go into damage control by trying to fix the person or the family. Many times, family members or loved ones think they are helping the situation or the person with the addiction but are in actuality enabling them. Enabling can appear in a number of ways from being in denial of the addiction, not being honest about feelings and needs, or even providing the user with substances. This cycle goes on until something drastic happens like death or hospitalization.


Treatment for co-dependency?


Recovery from substance abuse and co-dependency usually starts with the user seeking treatment. However, it is just as important for the other loved ones or family members that are co-dependent to seek treatment as well. Individual psychotherapy is very helpful in addition to co-dependency therapy for the members of the dynamic.

Career Counseling







You’ve probably heard or been asked many time as a child, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I remember some of my classmates were able to answer right away with things like, “a teacher, a race care driver, a doctor, a professional soccer player”, the list goes on.  I, on the other hand never really had a definite answer. At first I wanted to be a chicken (that was when I was really little), and then an artist, a pop star, a cop, a forensic psychologist, you name it. Although I have a career now in social work, I realize that careers change throughout life.  It’s expected of us to go to college at some point and are then expected to pick a major, and somehow know what we want to pursue and do right out of high school. Many times, college majors don’t even lead to that specific job. A lot of us “grow up” and still don’t know what we want to be.

Some have a career but are ready for a change and want to explore other fields.

This is where career counseling can be a great tool.

What is career counseling?

Not having a job or having a job that is unenjoyable can lead to or exasperate depression, anxiety and stress. Most Americans will spend around a third of their life at work, making career choices extremely important for over health and well being.

Looking for a career can be extremely demanding and many feel hopeless in their search However, career counseling can help alleviate some of these struggles. Career counseling is a process that helps individuals understand and know themselves and the world of work, and is designed to help someone in choosing, changing or leaving a career.


Who uses it?


Anyone can use career counseling! Youth, adults, male and female, disadvantaged, minorities, incarcerated, dropouts, single parents, displaced homemakers, teachers, administrators, parents and employers use career counseling services in various ways. The earlier you get started on your career development the more prepared you will be! Career counseling is highly encouraged in colleges, especially for freshman so that they can chose a major wisely.


What does a career counseling session look like and how much does it cost?


Career counselors have a master’s in career development and are experts in career development theory, counseling techniques, administration and interpretation of assessments, and career information resources. They may work in a private practice or at a university or college. Social workers, psychologists, life coaches and recruiters can also provide career counseling.


If you are seeing a career counselor at a private practice, the pricing may be high and varies depending on the counselor. The average cost can range from $70-$100 per hour with additional costs for resumes and cover letters, which can be very costly for many. That is one of the reasons why social workers and school counselors might be more common to use for career guidance. Package deals or group sessions can help reduce some of the costs of career coaching/counseling.


Sessions with a career counselor/coach will vary depending on what the client needs. However, a general first session may start out with a thorough history of the employment, education, skills, personality and interests which is usually gained through an interviewing process. The information is then applied to job searches and categories through innovative technology.


Why is it beneficial?


There are a number of benefits that career counseling offers. Career counselors help individual’s competencies in self-knowledge, educational and occupational exploration, and career planning.

It also helps clients explore and resolve conflicts when deciding a major in college. Career counseling can also resolve internal conflicts that pertain to feeling adequate and confident when looking for a job.


When in career counseling, you can expect to learn more about yourself, gain educational and occupational information, learn about decision making and career planning, conduct a job search, apply to graduate and professional schools if needed, cope with career challenges, and learn to transition smoothly from one career to another.


When to see one?


Anytime is a good time to see a career counselor, however it is an even better time if you are noticing that you are stressed, overwhelmed and stuck in your career/job hunt.


Thrive and career counseling:


Thrive Treatment prides itself on keeping members connected to community during and long after the completion of treatment and are invested in helping individuals find purpose beyond sobriety. Helping members gain community involvement and purpose through a career is important and the professionals at Thrive work with individuals to help them find careers or career counselors.

Art Therapy and Substance Abuse

Art Therapy and Substance Abuse

art therapy and substance abuse



Have you ever noticed how much listening to music on a drive home relaxes you after a long day?

Maybe you’ve even felt the sensation of being taken to another place when drawing!

It’s possible you’ve experienced the therapeutic benefits of art.  


What is art therapy?

There are many types of therapy modules used by mental health professionals in treating individuals with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Art therapy is one of them and is used as a means of expression through creativity to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  The American Art Therapy Association defines it as the therapeutic use of art making within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living and by people who seek personal development.


Art can be used in various therapeutic ways. Creating art in itself can be therapeutic and it can additionally be used as a tool in “art psychotherapy”. Art Psychotherapy uses the creative process to find symbolism and understanding of emotions and experiences.


Art therapy does necessarily mean just painting and drawing. It can include other mediums of art like music, dance, drama and play, ceramics, sculpting, writing, etc.


History of art therapy: who started it, when and how

Art has been used since the beginning of human history as a medium for communicating and a tool to connect with others. It has been used by virtue of group interactions, conflict resolution, diagnosis and self expression.  Art therapy can be traced back to the 1800’s however in the 1940’s it was defined as a therapeutic discipline.


Where does art therapy take place?

Creating art can be done anywhere and anytime however art psychotherapy usually takes place in hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, private practices, and other clinical and community settings.

What is art therapy used for and how is it used in substance abuse disorder treatment?


Although art therapy is generally used as treatment for something- i.e. negative emotional state/ mental well-being- it can also be used for general stress, tension and self discovery.  Even coloring has many benefits!


Because creating art is often times a nonverbal process, it can not only help individuals explore emotions but is also help communicate feelings or experiences that one may not feel comfortable talking about in regular conversation.


Other benefits include personal development, increased coping skills, enhanced cognitive functioning, exploration and understanding of feelings, reconciliation of emotional conflicts, increased self esteem, and improvement in reality orientation.


Art therapy is specifically very beneficial to those in treatment for substance abuse disorder. It can help individuals work through the experiences, emotions and issues that have led to or worsened addiction. Art therapy has been used in substance abuse treatment since the 1950’s. There are many studies that show that using art therapy in substance abuse treatment centers enhance recovery. One study even showed that art therapy can help overcome ambivalence about recovery from substance abuse disorder. Art therapy can contribute to substance abuse recovery by decreasing the client’s denial of addiction, increasing the client’s motivation to change, providing a safe outlet for emotions and lessening the shame of addiction.


Substance abuse disorder is most successful when combined in addition to art therapy with other recovery services, such as detox, individual therapy, support groups, and family counseling.


What does an art therapy session look like?


The first thing to understand when participating in art therapy is that you do not need to be a good artist. You don’t need to make something pretty or nice, in fact, more meaningful things arise from some of the ugliest pieces.


For beginners, an art therapist may start out by having the individual or group create a magazine photo collage. The art therapist may give you a specific prompt when deciding on which images to pick. For example, you may be picking images that remind you of a certain relationship and as you are doing that the art therapist is helping if needed, offering their full attention to the clients, asking open ended questions and sharing their own observations. While discussing and viewing the finished piece, you may develop a different perspective on your problem. For example, you may find yourself focusing on a specific memory or event when talking about your piece or perhaps your made a different facial expression when looking at one of the images; this may lead you and the art therapist into another conversation and maybe to the root of the problem.

Professionals at Thrive Treatment Centers, understand the benefits that art therapy has to offer when in recovery for substance abuse. In addition to other therapy modules, Thrive Treatment Centers provide art therapy for clients on a regular basis.

The Last House Sober Living can provide a safe and sober living environment while attending Thrive Treatment.

OCD and Addiction

OCD and addiction

OCD and Addiction

by Claire Godden

While alcohol and drugs may provide a temporary reprieve from symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the combination only serves to worsen the condition over time.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” –  Mark Twain

Seeking early treatment for OCD  is extremely important but it’s never too late to get help even if you’ve been suffering with this illness for some time. Seeking treatment early for addiction is, of course, just as important.

OCD sufferers experience seemingly uncontrollable, unwanted, and intensely fearful thoughts. Instead of dismissing these intrusive thoughts, they give them meaning and significance that quickly generates a high level of anxiety.  They then engage in repetitive and compulsive behaviors in an attempt to keep the anxiety-inducing thoughts from becoming reality and to gain a sense of control. The compulsions often manifest as rituals such as counting or checking things.

Some examples of obsessive thoughts include the thought that you are going to hurt a loved one, constant thoughts about symmetry such as having all of your clothing in the closet lined up a certain way or all the jars and cans in your pantry in a certain order, or the thought that you will contract a serious illness and pass it on to your child if you touch the door handle in a public bathroom.

Grabbing a paper towel on your way out of the bathroom to open the door does not mean you have OCD. This habit probably doesn’t interfere with your life. However, if you must go back many times, take a fresh paper towel to open the door, and re-wash your hands each time until you feel it is safe for you to move on, it is likely quite obstructive and has a negative impact on your daily routine. Keeping your closets and cupboards organized is fine, but when thoughts of organization and time spent organizing things intrude on other areas of your daily life, you should probably seek help. You may have OCD if such symptoms are persistent and the obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions  are  intruding enough that they are having a detrimental effect on your everyday life. If this is the case, you must seek help.

A person with OCD has a greater chance of developing an addiction. Social isolation, depression, shame, and guilt can all be present with this illness and can increase the likelihood of the sufferer turning to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape and to cope.

A study published in The Journal of Anxiety Disorders in 2008 found that 27 percent of those who seek treatment for OCD also meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.

A helpful treatment for these co-occurring disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT takes a proactive approach to treatment and is extremely useful in helping people with OCD and addiction. CBT helps the sufferer connect their thoughts with their feelings and, ultimately, their outward behavior, thus promoting a far greater awareness of this thought-feeling-behavior cycle. The person’s reaction to their thoughts is addressed and they can learn that it is their anxiety and the distorted meaning they are attaching to the thought, not actual danger, that is causing the problem. CBT requires the individual to continue the therapy on their own, too, outside of the treatment sessions. This way, they can practice what they have learned continuously in real-life situations with all of the usual triggers.

The Last House and Thrive Treatment can both help with OCD and addiction.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein

OCD and Substance Abuse

ocd and substance abuse

“A physical sensation crawls up my arm as I avoid compulsions. But if I complete it, the world resets itself for a moment like everything will be just fine. But only for a moment.” —  Mardy M. Berlinger


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was briefly discussed in the previous blog written about Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse Disorders. In this blog, we are going to dive deeper into this type of anxiety disorder. We are going to further our understanding of OCD and the misconceptions on how the term is used in society. For example, you may have heard someone say something along the lines of, “I totally have OCD. I’m such a neat freak”. Phrases like these are not intended to insult those with OCD, rather they are used to relate to others and are an attempt to feel understood. However, as someone with OCD, I am offended and frustrated when I hear things like this. OCD is so much more than just wanting things to be in order.


So what exactly is OCD and how does it differentiate between those who like cleanliness and/or those who experience intrusive thoughts?


Many people prefer clean environments but it does not haunt their day or confine them to their homes. Intrusive thoughts happen to everyone and are quite normal. An intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea. Most of the time we are able to brush them off and move on with our day. However, people with OCD are not and these thoughts ruminate and become obsessions. These normal behaviors or thoughts become impairments for those with OCD.


OCD is a type of anxiety disorder, characterized by reoccurring thoughts that cause distress, anxiety and fear and cannot be easily brushed off. Some people with OCD attempt to relieve themselves from these disturbing thoughts by performing compulsions. This type of anxiety disorder is chronic, lifelong and can be extremely destructive to one’s life and relationships.


There are five subtypes of OCD:


  1. Contamination Obsessions with Washing/Cleaning Compulsions: Those with this type experience discomfort and excessively clean to avoid these anxiety provoking thoughts/fears of things being contaminated.
  2. Harm Obsessions with Checking Compulsions: Those with this type have distressing thoughts related to harming yourself or others and using compulsions/rituals to relieve your anxiety. This does not mean that those with these thoughts want to harm themselves or others. It’s actually quite the opposite. For example, you may have fear of running someone over and therefore pull over every couple minutes to check under your car to make sure that no one is there or hurt.
  3. Hoarding: This is a more commonly known type and has received media attention in shows like “Hoarding, Buried Alive”. This type actually has its own classification in the DSM. This type involves hoarding collecting numerous items that have limited value and eventually consume your living space. Hoarding is accompanied by a deep emotion attachment to these items and a fear of loosing these them. People with this type can obsessively collect anything from newspapers, old toys, to even trash and fecal matter.
  4. Obsessions Without Visible Compulsions: This type is often invisible since there are not visible compulsions but is instead characterized by unwanted obsessions relating to sexual, religious, or aggressive themes. Invisible compulsions include mental rituals such as reciting certain words, counting in your head, and excessively praying. People with this type usually avoid triggers because the thoughts that surface are so disturbing.
  5. Symmetry Obsessions with Ordering, Arranging and Counting Compulsions: People with this type feel a strong urge to rearrange things in a particular order that feels just right. People with this type usually exhibit perfectionism and will think or say things to themselves over and over again until it is performed “perfectly”.


There is also additional obsessive compulsive related disorders in the DSM: Skin Pricking Disorder, Hair-Pulling Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and OCD related disorders induced by a substance or another medical condition.


In most cases of OCD and in Substance Abuse Disorders, people feel helpless and controlled by their OCD and/or or their compulsions to use drugs and/or alcohol.


It is estimated that more than 25% of those who seek treatment for OCD also meet criteria for a Substance Abuse Disorder. Many times people with OCD will try to self medicate with alcohol or drugs to cope with the destructive and repetitive thoughts. And many times people with OCD and/or a Substance Abuse problem will try to hide their struggles.


Why is this dual diagnosis so dangerous?


  1. People with OCD and Substance Abuse disorder are more likely to be jobless and living on unemployment/ disability.
  2. Substance Abuse users with OCD are more likely to isolate themselves and be confined by their home.
  3. Hospitalization is more likely to occur.
  4. There is a higher risk of suicide for those suffering from both OCD and Substance Abuse Disorder.
  5. There is an increased possibility of relapse.


What does treatment look like for those diagnosed with OCD and Substance Abuse Disorder?


More often than not, people with OCD and Substance Abuse Disorder will not seek treatment themselves, which makes the involvement of family and friends vital. Intervention might be required as the first step before one can start treatment.  The next step involves finding a treatment center that treats these dual diagnoses.


OCD may require treatment centers and professionals to personalize the treatment plan even more than normal. People with OCD may need shorter therapy sessions or may have anxiety in group therapy (a form of therapy used in Substance Abuse Disorder). However, these barriers make it impossible for recovery.


Treatment for OCD and Substance Abuse Disorder usually requires motivational interviewing (goal oriented and client focused counseling), cognitive behavioral therapy (negative thoughts are challenged to alter certain behaviors), group therapy, family counseling and education, and stress reducing therapies like meditation.

If you have or know anyone experiencing OCD and Substance Abuse Disorder, it may feel like a battle between two versions of yourself. But you don’t have to fight this battle alone or for long. Treatment and recovery is possible and everyone deserves to live a life with a healthy and integrated version of themselves.

It is helpful for those struggling with addiction to live in a structured sober environment.  The Last House Sober Living in Los Angeles California is a highly structured sober living and a great place for people with OCD to recover.

ocd substance abuse

Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse

eating disorders

Research and evidence based practices have indicated that Eating Disorders and other Addictive conditions have overlapping similarities. This blog article will discuss Eating Disorders and the similarities between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse Disorder, as well as treatment methods.

An Eating disorder is a serious and often fatal illness that is characterized by irregular eating habits and deep concern over body weight and shape. Unhealthy eating habits include over eating, under eating/restricting, starvation, over exercise, and purging of food. Common types of Eating Disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder. Other Eating Disorders involve Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake, Night Eating Syndrome, Pica and Rumination Disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by weight loss or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight and restrictive dieting/eating with calories or certain foods. Bulimia Nervosa is depicted when someone binge eats and follows that behavior with purging such as vomiting and laxatives. Bing-Eating Disorder is described as periodic episodes of eating large amounts of food and lack of control during the binge. Avoidant/Restrictive is when someone is not able to meet their nutritional needs because of how food groups not eaten. Night Eating Syndrome is when someone eats at least 25% of their nutritional value after dinner. Pica is portrayed as eating substances that have no nutritional value or would not be considered food. Rumination is repeated regurgitation of food for a period of time that lasts at least a month.

Just like Substance Abuse Disorder, Eating Disorders are caused by a number things ranging from biological makeup, genetics, toxic environments, stressful life events, neurological chemical imbalances, and nutritional/hormonal deficiencies. Anyone can become a victim to this illness and usually eating disorders begin to surface in adolescents and young adulthood.

Eating Disorders affect about 30 million people in the U.S. and around 70 million throughout the world. Women tend to be more susceptible to Eating Disorders however men constitute 40% of the population with Binge Eating Disorder.


There are many symptoms and signs that indicate an Eating Disorder and symptoms will vary depending on the type of Eating Disorder. Some of the general symptoms include, food and weight being a primary concern, showing distress if weight goes up or down, a deep fear of being overweight or underweight, appearing uncomfortable eating in front of others, disappearing after eating a meal, hiding body with baggy clothes, having brittle nails and dental problems, and exhibiting extreme mood swings.

According to the DSM, the following must persist:


A persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. The DSM has additional criteria depending on the type of Eating Disorder.



eating disorders


Research suggests that about 50% of persons with an Eating Disorder are also abusing substances. Many times those with Eating Disorders abuse prescription drugs and over the counter medicine like laxatives. Additionally, alcoholism is a common addiction paired with Eating Disorders, mainly because alcohol can be used to trigger regurgitation. Substances can also be used to contribute to the Eating Disorder like methamphetamines that suppress appetite.


Some of the similar characteristics that Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse Disorder share are impulsivity, and lack of control. Research shows that the addictive nature between Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse Disorder are similar. The two illnesses are also linked to similar traumas like sexual assault, emotional abuse, death of a loved one, and sudden life changes.


Substance Abuse Disorder can develop during an Eating Disorder and or before/after. Although there aren’t many, there are treatment centers that cater to the recovery of those with Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse Disorders. Since both of these illnesses are similar in nature and the underlying issues pertaining to both may overlap, it is very important to treat both Eating Disorders and and Substance Abuse Disorders simultaneously and if in an inpatient facility. Successful treatment includes some of these modalities detoxing, taking medication, receiving nutritional counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, intrapersonal therapy and family therapy.


There are many ways to help you and/or a loved one with an Eating Disorder and Substance Abuse Disorder. You can empower yourself and others by staying informed, remaining proactive, and knowing that both of these disorders are treatable. Treatment is out there and recovery is possible!

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Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

bipolar disorder and substance abuse

It is very common for those who struggle with substance abuse to also struggle with an additional mental illness or disorder. One of the more common dual diagnoses with Substance Abuse is Bipolar Disorder.  More than half of those seeking treatment for Bipolar Disorder are also in treatment for substance abuse.


It’s important to understand Bipolar Disorder, identify it and treat it affectively. Of course, life is full of ups and down and part of being human is experiencing a range of emotions. However, Bipolar Disorder (a.k.a Manic Depressive Disorder) is characterized by extreme and unusual shifts in mood, emotion, and productiveness.


Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder about 3 percent of the U.S. population have. This mental illness usually surfaces in adolescence and in early adulthood and is a lifelong illness. Similar to substance abuse treatment, Bipolar Disorder must be carefully treated and supported throughout a person’s life.


Diagnosing someone with Bipolar Disorder can be complicated. Many times, people will be diagnosed with something like Depression before getting properly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This delay in diagnosis can postpone or prevent treatment.

Studies show that about 60% of those with Bipolar Disorder will abuse drugs or alcohol. If Substance Abuse goes untreated, it makes the road to recovery from Bipolar nearly impossible. When someone abuses drugs and/or alcohol, it affects mood and behavior which can also mimic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. This is why detoxing from substances is an imperative piece in the beginning stages of treatment.

Thrive Treatment Center understands how crucial it is to provide a safe and superlative detox in order for treatment to be successful and long term. Once someone with substance abuse has fully detoxed, highly qualified psychiatrists and therapists can accurately diagnose patients.

The following characteristics could be symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and or Substance Abuse:

Sudden mood change.

Periods of unusual personality change like hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.

Significantly decreased need for sleep.

Racing speech, flight of ideas, impulsiveness.

Poor financial choices.

Difficulty sleeping; early-morning awakening

There are many other symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.

Having a Dual Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse can make treatment more difficult. In order to provide ample treatment, substance abuse treatment should occur at the same time as Bipolar Disorder treatment and in the same program.

Some of the treatment plans offered include medications and different forms of therapy. The most successful therapy modalities used are Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and Trauma Therapies.

Recovering from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse is very possible and treatment is effective! Thrive Treatment Centers are a great place to recover and staff can guide clients to the road of recovery from Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse.