Alcoholism and Addiction

Alcoholism and Addiction

A significant percentage of my practice is comprised of individuals struggling with alcoholism and addiction.  For most of these individuals, shame and guilt are pervasive, chronic, and destructive.  Many individuals struggling with alcoholism and addiction are blamed by others and/or themselves for their lack of motivation and willpower.  Unfortunately, the addictive process is much more complex than willpower and motivation alone.

An important part of the therapy I provide is increasing awareness and knowledge of the ways, in which, alcohol and drugs affect the brain.  When working with individuals struggling with alcoholism and addiction, I provide a gross oversimplification of the neurophysiological aspects of alcoholism and addiction.  I educate my clients about three different parts of the brain, the brainstem, sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain, the limbic system, also known as the mammalian brain, and the neocortex, aka the newest brain.

The brain stem is a knob of neural tissue sitting atop the spinal cord that controls breathing, swallowing, heartbeat, etc. (things that do not require consciousness). This is where we have our fight, flight, and freeze responses.  Damage to this area results in death

The limbic brain is located over the brain stem and contains all the emotional and social generating aspects that allow for genuine attachments and feelings to occur.  Damage to this area of the brain affects our emotions and abilities to attach to others.   This part of the brain does not deal in reason or logic.  For instance, we cannot direct our emotional lives, as we can our motor system to reach for a cup.  If we are feeling so sad, it is not possible to will ourselves to be happy.  This mid-brain area is also where our reward system is located.  Our brains are so sophisticated that they are actually hard-wired (reward system) to ensure that we will repeat life sustaining activities, such as, eating, drinking, procreation, attachments, relationships.  What happens in our brains when engaged in any of the above, is that dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved with feelings of pleasure, euphoria, motivation) among other neurotransmitters, is released, which on a non-conscious level informs our brains that this activity is important, must be remembered, and most importantly repeated.  The result is that we are drawn automatically, unconsciously towards these natural rewards, as our brains equate these things with survival.   The reward system is important to understand, as this is the system that drugs of abuse exploit and why cravings occur.

The neocortex is the seat of consciousnesses and of complex cognitive processes like perception, reasoning, abstract problem solving, learning, decision making and motor control.  When we are emotionally regulated, this part of the brain is able to function efficiently and effectively.  If we become dysregulated, which involves the limbic brain, the neocortex is impaired in functioning (i.e. Logic may go out the window, consequences do not matter, will power is compromised).    Research states that the limbic region of the brain is the one that calls the shots and that the entire neocortex continues to be regulated from the paralibimbic regions from which it evolved (Lewis, Amini, & Lannon, 2000).

Alcohol and drugs enter the picture as they target the reward system in the limbic brain and cause unnatural amounts of dopamine to be released.   Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of salience (signaling survival importance and reward prediction), which is why food, sex, relationships, and quenching thirst are all dopamine releasing behaviors.  However, these natural rewards produce 1-½ times the normal baseline of dopamine, while some drugs can produce up to 10 times (amphetamines) the normal baseline, alcohol (2 times) cocaine 3.5 times, nicotine 2.5 times.  This may result in alcoholism and addiction, as the user is driven on a non-conscious level to continue drug seeking and using.  The user’s brain has now associated the drug with survival.

Unnatural spikes in dopamine raise the pleasure threshold, meaning that activities that were once reinforcing or pleasurable no longer even register, hence we are unmotivated to do those things.  To complicate matters, our brains do not tolerate unnatural amounts of dopamine, so the brain actually decreases the dopamine available via decreased synthesis, decreased receptor sites and increased reuptake enzymes.  The result is that less dopamine is available, making it difficult for the user to experience any pleasure in life, unless he/she is using.  Eventually, even taking drugs will not result in the user feeling pleasure, however, the drugs is needed to prevent painful withdrawal symptoms and just to feel okay.  In addition to dopamine alterations, serotonin and opioids in the brain are decreased, resulting in anhedonia, compulsivity, perseveration, pain, depression, etc.

Alcoholism and addiction cause an extreme state of stress in the brain, which triggers the stress aversion system in the brain.  When the brain is under stress it releases corticotropin-releasing factor
(CRF), which unconsciously signals the user to seek out the reward system to cancel out the stress system.  Since the pleasure threshold in the reward system has been altered, natural rewards will not suffice, motivating the user to take the drug to experience pleasure and respite from stress.  Taking the drug provides initial relief, but again is stressful to the brain and so the cycle continues.  Continued drug use produces a chronically over stimulated stress response.

The above information provides a simplistic explanation regarding brain functioning in individuals suffering from alcoholism and addiction.  The intent was not to provide a comprehensive account of the neurophysiology involved, but rather to help decrease shame and guilt in those who feel that their lack of morality and willpower are their Achilles heel.

Alcoholism and Addiction – Santa Barbara Counseling Resources

Alcoholism and addiction are tricky diseases. They are very complicated to understand, and many people who have never been through them might never understand them. For people suffering from alcoholism and addiction, there are resources in Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas that can help. While AA and NA are great programs, not everyone will benefit from the ‘anonymous’ group camaraderie that these programs promote. Some people will do better with private counseling, while others will  need an inpatient program or intensive treatment facility to help them out.

If the addiction is too severe, there are medically supervised treatment programs that patients can attend in the surrounding Santa Barbara areas. This is important because there are a couple of drug addictions that have worse withdrawals than any of the effects that occur while taking the drug. Also, it is well known in the professional rehabilitation community that alcoholism is one of the few diseases where the withdrawal can actually kill you faster than the disease itself. Therefore, there are instances where medical supervision is necessary for alcoholism and addiction recovery, and the resources are out there for the people who need them.

Santa Barbara alcoholism and addiction resources are not all created equally. Some people will find a certain program or therapist to serve them better than others. Therefore, whether you are seeking treatment solutions for yourself or someone in your life, you need to make sure that the solution fits the person. If you’re not a group person, you will probably fare better in one-on-one treatment. If seeing other people and knowing their struggles are similar helps you make it through the day, a group treatment program might be effective. It’s all about finding what works for the person who is undergoing alcoholism or addiction treatment or counseling.

Alcoholism and addiction are serious mental and physical diseases that are about much more than the drugs and the alcohol. Professional rehabilitation specialists and counselors understand that there are underlying issues and the drugs and alcohol are only symptoms of the condition. People need to be sure to find resources that are trained in alcoholism and addiction recovery specifically so that they can get the best possible treatment that there is. Make sure that you take the time to check out all the options that you have and figure out what works best for your needs or the needs of the person that you are finding help for.

About The Author: For over 10 years, Dr. Adina has been studying drug addiction relapse, self injurious behaviors, alcoholism and addiction.  For more information, please visit

Alcohol Addiction Drug Therapy – Santa Barbara Therapy Resources

Santa Barbara has plenty of resources for alcohol addiction, drug therapy, and other treatment programs. You will have to take the time to check out what’s available and make sure that you get the treatment that you need, no matter what that means. There are so many different types of programs to choose from and it is up to you to determine which ones best suit your needs. Alcohol addiction, drug therapy and treatment facilities will be able to provide you with the help that you need when you need it. All that you have to do is ask.

Santa Barbara alcohol addiction, drug therapy, and treatment centers can be found online. You can learn a lot of information by doing research this way because you will be able to read all about the different facilities and what they have to offer. You should always choose alcohol addiction, drug therapy or treatment programs that suit your specific needs and desires, including your personal comfort level with the treatment process and the therapist(s) that you interact with. Although the media and Hollywood have turned addiction treatment and rehab into a sort of ‘thing’ to do, it is a serious process that is only suggested for people who are committed to getting clean.

Alcohol addiction, drug therapy, and other treatment programs are not easy, nor are they designed to be. They are created to help you get better and recover from your addiction. This entire process is very complicated and each facility will have different methods that they employ to get the best results from their treatment. You need to consider all of the options that you have and choose the one that gives you the therapy and treatment that suits your needs. If your addiction is severe enough, medically supervised alcohol addiction, drug therapy, and treatment programs might be recommended.

Rehabilitation and recovery is something that anyone can handle if they have the will. It’s not just about stopping the drug or alcohol addiction. Drug therapy and treatment programs are designed to teach people how to relive their lives and be in control because in the past, alcohol and drugs controlled their lives. Take the time to check out the different resources that you can find in Santa Barbara for alcohol addiction, drug therapy, and other treatments and make sure that you find the most reputable rehabilitation or therapy program that suits your specific needs.

About The Author: Dr. Adina is highly recommended as a Santa Barbara therapist also in the Ventura area.  She specializes in alcohol addiction drug therapy.  For more info, pls. visit

Santa Barbara Therapist – How to Choose the Best Resources

When you decide to see a Santa Barbara therapist, you will have to make sure that you choose the right provider. Everyone has different needs and ideas of what they expect from therapy, so it will be up to you to determine which criteria matter most to you. Of course, you should always make sure that the Santa Barbara therapist is licensed and reputable for the work that they do, and that they offer an environment and attitude that you are comfortable with. Not every therapist is right for every person, so you will need to do a little detective work to find the one that works for you.

The right Santa Barbara therapist will provide you with a few different things:

-A comfortable environment where you can be yourself and discuss your issues

-A level of comfort and trust in your relationship that will build over time

Convenient appointments and a location that is easy to get to

-An affordable cost, as well as potential financial options if you are in a hardship position

-Specific training to help with your issues directly

-A professional, reputable demeanor while still being personable

-Proper education and training in therapy and counseling

These are some things that you should look for when checking out Santa Barbara therapist options. Every therapy solution isn’t right for everyone, and it might take you some time to find the therapist that works for you. That’s fine, and you should not feel bad about taking time out to see what your options are and which providers can give you the best Santa Barbara therapist services for your needs. Just make sure that you do take the initiative to look beyond the phone book and check out the resources that you have to choose from.

While it might be easier just to pick a random Santa Barbara therapist and see how things go, you don’t want to waste your time with something like this. You should do whatever you can to ensure that you are getting the best Santa Barbara therapist depending on your specific needs. There are therapists for all kinds of needs, including addiction counseling, depression, anxiety, anorexia and bulimia, relationships, and other behavior disorders or issues that you might be facing. Don’t be ashamed that you’re seeking help, because with a little effort you can find the ideal Santa Barbara therapist for your needs, no matter what those might be.

About The Author: When it comes to your Santa Barbara psychotherapy needs, Dr. Adina is one of the best, offering you counseling and prescription drug addiction treatment.  Visit today.

Santa Barbara Counseling Center – 3 Elements to Consider

When you are looking for the best Santa Barbara counseling center for your needs, there are many different things to think about. You will need to determine which one is best for YOU, and not just best in general. Your specific needs are very important because the treatment will not be effective if it doesn’t suit your situation. Make sure that you take the time to check out your options and choose the best Santa Barbara counseling center based on your own criteria. Here are three things to consider to help in your decision making process:

Convenience of access: Does the Santa Barbara counseling center give you easy access? Is it close to where you live or work so that you can get there easily? You should make sure that you choose a center that provides you with access and convenient appointments that fit your schedule.

Comfort level: Once you have narrowed down your choices, you cannot make a concrete decision until you schedule an appointment. Talk to the therapist that you have chosen and make sure that you feel comfortable. You should feel completely comfortable while waiting for appointments in the center and when talking to your counselor. Otherwise, the therapy that you get will not be very effective.

Cost: You might or might not have health insurance. Either way, you need to know the costs of your mental health treatment if they involve you paying out of pocket. While your mental health is important, it does you no good to find a Santa Barbara counseling center that you cannot afford. Take the time to check out all the options that you have and find the most affordable center that you feel comfortable with. Of course, you should check to see if they have payment plans or other options if you need them, as well.

Using these three elements, you will be better able to narrow down your options and choose the best Santa Barbara counseling center for your needs. Everyone has different elements of their own that they want to include, so make sure that you include those things that matter most to you aside from these elements. In the end, the only thing that matters is that you find a Santa Barbara counseling center that can give you the mental health treatment that you need, regardless of what anyone else thinks. If you are comfortable with a reputable Santa Barbara counseling center and can afford the services then that’s really all that matters.

About The Author: Dr. Adina has a well respected Santa Barbara Counseling Center, offering prescription drug addiction treatment and counseling around the Santa Barbara and Ventura areas.  Visit