WHAT IS CBT? –  Why Should You Care?

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WHAT IS CBT? –  Why Should You Care?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) a particularly useful type of a part of talk therapy. CBT can work just as well or better than medication for some people, to treat depression and a host of other Dx’s (diagnoses). As a result of tests and considerable research showing that it is highly effective, it is accepted as “evidence-based medicine”, meaning most insurance companies will readily accept that form of treatment. In fact, it can often be the treatment of primary choice when dealing with TBI’s and other challenging Dx’s such as anger, addiction, coping issues and self-esteem issues which are often at the core of many problems therapists deal with.

CBT can be an effective treatment for different severity’s of depression whether mild or moderate. Highly skilled therapists also use CBT even for more severe cases. In certain cases, CBT can be the most effective when combined with other forms of treatments, for example antidepressants or other drugs along with therapy. In other cases, they may not be needed or can be reduced as determined by your personal physician or psychiatrist.

How Does CBT Works –

A therapist who is CBT trained helps the patient identify negative or false thoughts and uses various methods to stop and replace those negative thought patterns with new positive and realistic thoughts.

First, CBT makes you aware that you have these thoughts. This is the key. You learn to be more aware of what thoughts are continually going around in your head in a negative loop for most of every day making you feel unhappy and unsettled.

Then it teaches you to  STOP them, substitute them for ones that are true, wanted and either positive or at least accurate and reasonable – and often to then reason through better ways to solve problems or react. In fact that negative loop thinking often blocks the move to problem solve.

The almost immediate change in your emotion/attitude leads to a change in your behavior which reduces anxiety measurably. That change can help ease your depression, anxiety and certainly anger and tension, and some phobias as well – all leading to a happier, calmer life.

You may need weeks of CBT before you start to feel better but you are likely to see results starting right away if you use the STOP method daily to short circuit the thoughts . This generally will cause you to want to use it more, which will eventually lead to automatically using CBT all throughout the day to counter over-reacting and allowing unwanted thoughts to substantially block your happiness. If you ask clinicians if they like CBT, they will likely tell you they use it themselves automatically many times each day.

However –

-You cannot substitute negative thoughts with untrue “happy” thoughts and positive affirmations.

-Your problem thoughts and the issues they cause will likely return, but when using your CBT skills it will be much easier to control them and get back to realistic ones before both your emotions and actions get out of control.

-CBT cannot “cure” everything, though you may think that from internet searches of it.

-To see results from CBT, you must absolutely commit yourself to the process until it becomes an automatic part of your day. This is a large part of what the current popularity of “Mindfulness” is about – learning to pay attention to how you feel and what thoughts caused those feelings.

-CBT cannot change a problem family or work situation but it can help you cope better.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.com, web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

How Pet Care Can Help You Recover From Tough Times

Photo by Samson Katt

How Pet Care Can Help You Recover From Tough Times

Valentino Therapy, Ask This Therapist, Intensive Recovery are pleased to welcome guest author Rufus Carter of Recovering Works who wrote this article. You can see more at http://www.recoveringworks.com

Making it through 2020 is a triumph in itself. You might have experienced a health issue, lost income, family problems, or other types of fallout from the upheaval the year brought with it. A new year brings with it new challenges — particularly, the challenge of making ends meet if financial struggles are still rumbling through your life. 

Pet lovers in particular, take heart. There are many different gigs you can acquire that make use of your passions while providing you with enough money to stay afloat, and interacting with pets is known to help reduce stress levels. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Consider Dog Walking

There are plenty of in-demand pet services for which people will pay good money when they are in need. As an added bonus, many of these types of services require little to no experience or training; integrity and the ability to follow through with assigned tasks are the most important aspects. One of these types of gigs is dog walking. In order to be a good dog walker, Barkly Pets explains you’ll need to be a good communicator and planner, be detail-oriented and be able to be on your feet, walking around at various speeds, for an hour or more each day.

Become a Pet Boarder

If you enjoy spending time with animals, you may want to consider spreading out your talents for a longer duration each day. If so, why not go the extra mile and become a cat or dog boarder? Many people go out of town, whether for work or vacation, and worry about how their pets will be taken care of. In many cases, it can be a major source of stress in the weeks leading up to a trip. By becoming a pet boarder, you will help to ease the minds of the people in your community while making money and spending time with furry friends!

To board pets at your place, make sure that the situation is ideal. There should be enough room for the dogs to move around and play, as well as a nearby outdoor area, such as a fenced yard, park or walking trail, to exercise dogs each day. If you are boarding cats, you should provide a litter box. All animals should have bowls of food and water. 

While you may want to only board one pet at a time, if you have enough space for tending multiple pets, make sure that you have the ability to separate their areas if they do not get along with each other.  

House or Pet Sit

Another option, if you do not have the space of your own for pet boarding, is to house or pet sit instead. This is similar to pet boarding, but instead of keeping the pets at your house, you go to your clients’ houses and keep an eye on things while taking care of their pets’ daily needs. This can allow you to take on other projects simultaneously, such as craft projects to sell on Etsy or teaching music or art lessons over Skype. A word of caution: to avoid hiccups, Solo Traveler recommends getting full instructions in advance of your sitting stint, and getting clear contact instructions that you keep in a handy spot. 

Start Strong — Not Stressed

Starting a business of your very own is a great way to earn income and enjoy the flexibility needed to take care of yourself. It can feel a little complicated, but you don’t need to go at it blindly. There are some excellent resources and tools on the web that can walk you through all the steps necessary to become official and get up and running, like ZenBusiness. ZenBusiness has already successfully launched over 100,000 small businesses. And with a solid Zen Business start, you’ll be that much more confident and prepared for a bright future. It’s a quick and affordable way to get your new pet biz off the ground.

Getting over the challenges of 2020 is difficult enough in itself, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet things can be that much overwhelming. Why not put your love of animals to work and reduce stress at the same time? Through useful gigs like dog walking, boarding or house sitting, you can make enough money to stay afloat — and if things really take off, you might even find your new vocation.

Valentino Therapy offers therapies for individuals, couples, children and families. Connect today by calling 415-215-5363 or click here to schedule a free appointment. 

Wine Can Be Unhealthy

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The Wine Institute says the average American adult drinks about 2.95 GALLONS of wine per year. 

Of course wine is regarded as healthy for some, in some cultures, in moderation.

No one wants to be an alcoholic, yet few really know how many drinks it takes to get a DUI or that it can have very negative effects that my surprise you.

Here are some things to think about:

1. You may gain weight or even develop Alcohol Body (often called Chicken Legs because you can get a big, round chicken belly with really thin legs). Alcohol is an inflammatory that adds calories.

2. Even though you think you are a moderate, “healthy” drinker you could develop serious liver health issues, including cirrhosis which you might think only affects “serious alcoholics”. The European Association for the Study of the Liver, reported from their studies back in 2015 that increasing alcohol consumption past the “moderate” threshold—up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men—can increase the prevalence of alcohol-induced cirrhosis) by 11.13%. If you think that isn’t a serious percentage, ask your physician.

3. Alcohol seriously disturbs your sleep. The nightcap to assure you will feel sleepy can lead to addiction faster than you think. It is officially a “sedative”.

According to the NCBI/NIH (National Institute of Health – gov’t medical info) the majority of people do not discuss their sleep problems and insomnia with their physicians, choosing to self-medicate instead. Using alcohol only 3 nights in a row can lead to it not making you sleepy as desired and greatly disturbs the proper ratio between Deep Sleep and Rapid Eye Movement sleep both of which are essential for the sleep cycle to have proper physical and emotional health. As the alcohol metabolizes in your digestive system, it can disrupt your REM cycles—causing your deep sleep cycles to only last 40 minutes instead of 90 to 120 minutes.

In my private practice, Valentino Therapy in Sausalito, CA, I see an increasing number of people, especially seniors, who drink at least a glass before bed, awaken 2 to 4 hours later when the alcohol metabolizes, try to get back to sleep unsuccessfully, then drink more and develop either alcohol dependence or addiction surprisingly quickly. They are challenging to treat as they firmly believe that they can’t sleep without it. By using it, they wake up tired and feeling unwell every day.

4. I often rely on findings and research from the dependable Mayo Clinic. They say drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to very unhealthy levels. Alcohol can cause temporary increases in your blood pressure, but if you drink long term you’ll see long-term increases, most likely, which can be dangerous.

5. In my addiction psychotherapy practice I rarely meet a depressed person who isn’t using alcohol excessively. Alcohol is a depressant! Why drink a depressant when you are depressed to feel even more depressed? The American Psychological Association reports it can worsen mental health issues and increase feelings of depression and anxiety

6. Ladies, your risk of breast cancer may rise, so if you have a history of breast cancer in your family it would be wise to discuss alcohol use with your Dr. The Annals of Epidemiology report just one to two drinks a day can increase a person’s breast cancer risk between 30 and 50%.

7. There are a lot of TV ads these days for meds to treat A Fib (atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat) which used to be associated with heavy drinkers as one of the risk categories (though many are born with the condition). Recent studies, some controversial, claim just one drink per day for those with A Fib can be dangerous with a higher risk of dizziness, heart palpitations and higher risk of stroke. 

8. Ladies another issue: Most women are not aware that drinking wine is connected to worsened symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder as well as potential cycle changes. There are many research studies on this. To cite only one: Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, analyzed information from 19 previous studies in eight countries involving more than 47,000 participants in total. The researchers found that drinking alcohol was linked with a 45 percent increase in the risk of PMS and that heavy drinking— or consuming more than one alcoholic drink a day — was linked with a 79 percent increase in the risk of PMS.

9. There are many more health issues that are related to drinking in general including tongue and esophageal cancer, rosacea and more. I urge you to educate yourself, protect your health and make wise choices.

This article was written to inform and help others and may be reprinted to be used to assist others without seeking prior permission. 

Authored by Sharon Valentino, CA LMFT, MA, Masters Level RAS, CATC level IV, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (51746), owner of Valentino Therapy at 3030 Bridgeway, Suite 108, Sausalito, CA 94965, Clinical Director of Marina Harbor Detox and Clinical Director of Heartwood House Detox. She is a Psychotherapist, Advanced Registered Addiction Specialist and Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor.

You can follow her at:

www.valentinotherapy.com or https://www.intensiverecoverywork.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist or Valentino Therapy 
Instagram: Ask This Therapist or Sharon.Valentino.MFT or Sober Coach and Family Support,
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist

INTENSIVE RECOVERY

Starting now: New, Private, Very Small, Intensive Therapy Workshop
Starting every 4-8 weeks, once a week during the evening.
Personal attention to each person and individual needs.

Up to 4+ compatible participants, due to very limited space for COVID safety.
$1,800 for 8 weeks meeting once a week for 2.5 hours
Individual attention and group therapy and deep work due to the small size.
Intensive Recovery Workshop will include therapy, sharing, support, CBT, DBT, some art therapy, meditation theory & practice, and deep work. This program is for intensive recovery from divorce, tragedy, addiction, relapse prevention, trauma or just for attainment of goals and better health – and for those who benefit from individualized, customized attention and won’t/can’t attend an IOP.

Who doesn’t have something they want & need to change to improve the quality of their lives? Some folks are in recovery, others want to eat, drink, live in much healthier ways, some have detrimental habits of behavior or abuse substances occasionally or continually, some don’t take critical care of their health or eliminate toxic relationships. Others are challenged by major life changes, divorce, Grief and Loss and other life events. We all can use some support. Some people prefer a private approach and their own recovery plan in lieu of an IOP program – and a safe place to talk and grow.

Everyone agrees to maintain at minimum 6+ ft. distance and wear masks as needed or requested. There will be a no touch forehead thermometer check prior to the start of each session. If a person has elevated temperature s/he would be encouraged to leave and obtain further testing ASAP. Wearing gloves is encouraged for those who would prefer to or for using the restrooms. 
Optional, but encouraged to get COVID tested first – which may change due to COVID vaccinations.

VALENTINO THERAPY
3030 BRIDGEWAY, SUITE 108, SAUSALITO, CA
SHARON VALENTINO, LMFT, sv@valentinotherapy.com, 415.215.5363
Website: https://www.intensiverecoverywork.com
https://www.valentinotherapy.com

How to Value Yourself and Become a Valuable Person.

Photo by Samson Katt

We are naturally drawn to those with self-confidence – that comes hand in hand with valuing ourselves.

We need to grow beyond our own embedded ways of thinking, of speaking to people, of assumed ideas to become mature enough to be a truly valuable person to ourselves and to others. It has never been more important than in these unusual times.

Yes, travel that isn’t confined to the 5 Star Hotels and tourist environs can be very instructional and eye-opening. An interesting book about that is “Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World” by Rita Golden Gelman. Yet much more of value, in my opinion, is what’s right in front of us every day.

Become friends, actual friends, with persons both much younger and older than you, persons that look and speak differently than you do – that eat different foods. In particular, the wisdom of elders and children is astonishing. Talk with them, not at them, better still…just listen. Ask questions and just listen. Eat their foods, if you are lucky enough to have the chance – even better if they choose to share their beliefs about spirituality and the world through their eyes. People from a different regions of our own country, their experiences and thoughts can be as interesting and enlightening as someone who was born in a tent or villa.

Soften your words and sharpen your ears lest something really important might slip by when you are preparing what you want to say next. This is how to become valuable, to be open, to be a learner, a student of new and different ideas that you never might have been exposed to. To be kind. To think before reacting and take two or three breaths first.

Should these ideas change you and your opinions? Not necessarily. But being truly open and curious can change everything. It can make all the difference in obtaining and maintaining sobriety.

Value. Value added – it’s something we choose. It’s a gift we gift ourselves.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Stay safe,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.com, web: www.valentinotherapy.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

INTENSIVE RECOVERY WORKSHOP

VALENTINO THERAPY

3030 BRIDGEWAY, SUITE 108, SAUSALITO, CA

SHARON VALENTINO, LMFT, sv@valentinotherapy.com, 415.215.5363

INTENSIVE RECOVERY WORKSHOP

Starting now: New, Private, Very Small, Therapy Workshop Starting on Wednesday or Thursday day nights as soon as 3-4 are committed.

Who: Up to 3-4 compatible participants due to very limited space for COVID safety available to those who commit to the program first and tender payment via cash, PayPal, Venmo or a check.

What: Group Therapy with individual attention due to the small size. Intensive Recovery Workshop

will include therapy, sharing, support, CBT, DBT, some art therapy, meditation theory & practice. This program for intensive recovery attention, relapse prevention or just for attainment of goals and better health and for those who won’t attend an IOP.

When: Likely on Wednesday or Thursday nights starting soon. If the latest group starts after 11/15 it will be on Monday night (when the current group concludes).

Where: 3030 Bridgeway, Sausalito Conference Room adjacent to Sharon’s office; possible other locations or outside meetings will be considered

How Long: 6:30 to 9, for an 8 week commitment. There will be a break mid-evening for movement and/or snacks.

How Much: $1,800 for 8 weeks can be paid weekly if desired – but the commitment is for 8 weeks, no exceptions. There are no refunds for missed meetings. Sorry.

Safety: Everyone agrees to maintain at least a 6 ft. distance and wear masks as needed or requested by others. There will be a no touch forehead thermometer check prior to the start of each session to test for increased temperature readings. If a person has elevated temperature s/he would be encouraged to leave and obtain further testing. Wearing gloves is encouraged for those who would prefer to or for using the restrooms. Optional, but encouraged to get COVID tested first.

Why: Who doesn’t have something they want & need to change to improve the quality of their lives? Some folks are in recovery, others want to eat, drink, live in much healthier ways, some have detrimental habits of behavior or abuse substances occasionally, some don’t take critical care of their health or eliminate toxic relationships. We all can use some support. Some people prefer a private approach and their own recovery plan in lieu of an IOP program.

Requirement: No use of alcohol or substances 24 hours prior to session including Adderall, Red Bull Extra or “enhanced” Kombucha, etc. If it appears this has not been followed, expect to be asked to leave until next week. NO EXCEPTIONS. You cannot trigger others.

*Please note: The building will be locked and no one can enter (security cameras) without wearing a mask. Try to come about 5 minutes early so everyone can get in about the same time, otherwise call my cell 415.215.5363 so one of us can come down to the front door and let you in.

Peace

afterglow avian backlit birds

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

Hi,

Like many I was thinking about 2019 and hopeful for 2020 to be a year of peace for you and our country.

End of 2019 Reflections:
– How have I grown this year?
– What good things have happened to me this year?
– Do I have anything I need to clean up from last year?
– What is my intention for 2020?
– What no longer serves me?
– What will I let go of?
– A year from now you will wish you had started what  ___ today?
– How can therapy best support you this new year?

Warmly,
Sharon

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
e: hello@sobercoachandfamilysupport.comweb: www.sobercoachandfamilysupport.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT, & sobercoachandfamilysupport
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

Is Your Drinking a Problem?

assorted wine bottles
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com
Is Your Drinking a Problem?
 
Binge and excessive drinking have lately become a much bigger problem in my area in the past five years, and not necessarily with youth. It is probably in your community too.
 
Surprisingly, the number of people in their 40’s and 50’s say they cannot stop drinking once they start is increasing. Cannot stop at all regardless of the consequences to their careers and relationships. Yet they don’t want to stop drinking. 
 
It is time to get real about the consequences and what is dangerous drinking.
 
No part of your body is unaffected by drinking alcohol. Most of us know the liver is greatly affected, which can lead to cirrhosis as it can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at one time, so the rest circulates through the body. The central nervous system is depressed right away because alcohol is quickly absorbed by the small intestine and stomach and right into your blood.
 
In my experience, nearly all who say they are having problems admit they drink more than the average “pour” and they forget how much they actually drink in one sitting. Virtually all have to estimate how much they consumed during their last drinking event. Older persons and those with little food in their stomachs are affected faster and more profoundly than the average 25-year-old. People with parents or grandparents who have drinking problems are generally much more affected and endangered as well. Back to what is a true pour or serving in the U.S.
A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. All the drinks are about the same and beer is not “safer” than any other of these substances.
Therefore a standard amount of pure alcohol is:
· 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
· 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
· 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
· 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).
 
What is moderate, controlled drinking?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. However, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that people who do not drink alcohol, start drinking for any reason. (1.) 
 
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. 
Drinking is a problem anytime you can’t stop and won’t stop at 1 or 2 drinks per day.
Drinking is a problem when you drink every day.
Drinking is a problem when you drink more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
What is Dangerous Binge Drinking?
NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. (2.) And the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month. (3.) Many in the treatment community feel these definitions are out of date and the number of drinks should be defined as much lower.
Heavy Alcohol Use
SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
So how do clinicians diagnose Alcohol Use Disorder? We (psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, clinicians of all licensing, treatment centers, etc.) are all required to use the DSM 5, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” published by the American Psychiatric Association. Insurance nearly always requires a DSM 5 Dx (diagnosis).
To Dx with the DSM-5, if a person exhibits two or more symptoms from a list of 11 criteria, they are diagnosed as having an alcohol use disorder, with classifications of mild, moderate, and severe.
 
What are the types of Alcohol Use Disorder Severity 
When a person is diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, the severity of the condition is determined by the number of symptoms they have.
Mild: 2-3 symptoms present
Moderate: 4-5 symptoms present
Severe: 6 or more symptoms present
 
What are the symptoms used to Dx severity? 
The DSM-5 lists 11 symptoms that can be used to determine if someone has an alcohol use disorder.
1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
 
Impact on your health, well-being, and appearance
Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can cause health problems, per the Mayo Clinic (4.) and many other sources:
·      Hair Loss. Alcohol depletes your hair follicles of essential minerals, including zinc. Zinc deficiency leads to hair fallout. The effects of alcohol on your hair does not take years to show up as you’ll begin to notice strands of your hair falling out more frequently. If you don’t stop drinking, you’ll eventually have thinner hair, with noticeable scalp showing in your part line. You might think that your hair loss is genetic, but it could be due to alcohol use.
·      Lines and Wrinkles. Alcohol dehydrates your body – every organ. As your body’s largest organ, your skin shows the effects of dehydration since wrinkles will first start to appear where the skin is thinnest, around the eyes. The longer you drink, your skin will develop even more lines and wrinkles, causing you to look like a much older person than your numerical age. While both sexes are affected, women seem to experience this somewhat more dramatically than men initially.
·      Eye problems. Excessive drinking can cause involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) as well as weakness and paralysis of your eye muscles due to a deficiency of vitamin B-1 (thiamin). A thiamin deficiency can also be associated with other brain changes, such as irreversible dementia, if not promptly treated.
·      Sagging Skin. Alcohol depletes vitamins and nutrients, so your skin won’t be able to produce as much collagen as it needs. Collagen is the substance that is responsible for keeping your skin supple and firm. This makes the skin on your face sag, causing that jowly look that is usually only seen on the elderly. 
·      Heart problems. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and it increases your risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke. Even a single binge can cause a serious heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.
·      Weight Gain. Alcohol is full of empty calories. One glass of red wine is about 125 calories. Many beers have at least 100 calories in each bottle. If you order mixed, flavored drinks and cocktails, expect your weight to soar. Alcohol is also full of sugars, which the body turns to stored fat. Some people gain weight in their stomach, giving them “booze belly”. Others gain weight all over.
·      Neurological complications. Excessive drinking can affect your nervous system, causing numbness and pain in your hands and feet, disordered thinking, dementia, and short-term memory loss. Having memory problems? Is it taking longer than usual to remember a fact or a name?
·      Broken Capillaries. Drinking alcohol often leads to flushing, which is when excess blood rushes to the face, a temporary overall temporary redness. Often it results in broken capillaries, particularly around the nose and cheeks which are often permanent.
·      Kidney Problems. Simply put, alcohol contains toxins that your body is not designed to handle. Your kidneys have a hard time processing the alcohol that you drink so fluids build up in your body and face, causing a bloated look. This can happen even to relatively slim people. The eyelids look swollen and the whole face takes on the appearance of being bloated. This condition may continue and worsen as alcohol use continues.
·      Digestive problems. Heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), as well as stomach and esophageal ulcers. It can also interfere with the absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients. Heavy drinking can damage your pancreas or lead to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
·      Increased risk of cancer. Long-term, excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, colon and breast cancers. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer.
·      Liver disease. Heavy drinking often causes increased fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis), inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and over time, irreversible damage and scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis).
·      Birth defects, Weakened immune system, Medication and alcohol interactions, Diabetes complications, Bone damage and many more too numerous to list here.
Do you need help?
Stopping drinking excessively is tough for most people. Talk to your medical doctor right away and also check what resources are available through your insurance. Medications can help many. 
Some people can resume drinking sensibly after a period of “drying out” and getting healthy – but, honestly, most cannot if they’ve allowed their drinking to become habitual or are unable to stop once they had a drink or two. 
Seek the support of qualified addiction clinicians who actually have certifications in this field. Unfortunately, almost anyone can claim they treat addiction.
AA and other support organizations have helped many. Check out all the resources available to you because your life, your health, your looks and your quality of life depends on it.
Seek the support of your family and loved ones. You don’t have to drink and people supporting you don’t have to drink in front of you, so please don’t tell them it won’t bother you. It will sooner or later.
 
Sources:
1. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon. 8th ed. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services and US Dept of Agriculture; 2015.
3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov

Sharon Valentino, LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health

Please check this site for more information in the future on treatment and more.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
e: hello@sobercoachandfamilysupport.comweb: www.sobercoachandfamilysupport.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT, & sobercoachandfamilysupport
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress: Valentino Therapy & Sober Coach-Addiction Hurts & Ask This Therapist

Practicing Gratitude Can Dramatically Change Your Life

group of people making toast

Photo by fauxels 

Practicing Gratitude Can Dramatically Change Your Life

Some of us may have had Thanksgiving with friends or family at some point where it was expected to go around the table before eating to say what each person was grateful for. Perhaps you will be asked to participate again this year. Why? Well, the name of the day is THANKSgiving. While others amongst us will choose to spend the day in rest and relaxing solitude – but the importance of gratitude is that it has the ability to quickly and dramatically change anyone’s life.

Everyone has the ability to practice gratitude by being thankful for what we have and to express appreciation as it costs nothing and expends little time.

Daily writing down what you are grateful for is one of the simplest ways to improve satisfaction with life, but many haven’t heard that it actually changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning better, while making us healthier and happier according to UCLA research. That work showed gratitude can boost serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine, very similar to Prozac’s effects but much cheaper with no side effects.

What’s the best way to practice gratitude?

Thanking people for any kindness as soon as possible and daily writing down three things you are grateful for is simple and proven very effective. As you might guess those three things should be substantially different each, or most, days.

Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, conducted research showing if you write down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row it significantly increases your level of optimism and, shockingly, that holds for the next six months! Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is obviously easy, free and takes little effort but the rewards are so extreme why wouldn’t you make a point to do it daily?

Just a few of the research proven benefits are:

  • Gratitude is very good for your health. “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
  • A study from UC San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful had better heart health, less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.
  • Yet another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. Researchers at the U’s of Utah and Kentucky reported that stressed law students who had gratitude or optimism actually had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies.
  • Gratitude adds more relationships to your life. While saying “thank you” constitutes good manners, showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to be open to becoming friends. So thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, and acknowledging other people’s kindness can lead to new opportunities.
  • Surprisingly people who keep a gratitude journal test at a reduced dietary fat intake around 25% lower and stress hormones like cortisol are 23 % lower in grateful people!
  • Having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain.
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. What we think of ourselves affects all aspects of our lives.
  • Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to a longer, happier life.
  • Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  • Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before bed, and you are likely to sleep better and longer.

So… what are three things you are grateful for right now?

1.

2.

3.

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Sharon Valentino, MA, ChT, CA LMFT, Psychotherapist, Behavioral Health
Calif. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC51746
Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist (MRAS) & Level IV Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC IV), Masters Counseling Psychology
Addressing: Stress, Anxiety, Relationships, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Pain, Memory Issues, Addiction, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Substance/Anger Abusers (ACA’s), Tech Execs & Engineers, Creatives & Designers – Private Online Therapy (Telemedicine) is available via HIPPA provider’s security.
Ph: 415.215.5363, e: sv@valentinotherapy.comweb: www.valentinotherapy.com
e: hello@sobercoachandfamilysupport.comweb: www.sobercoachandfamilysupport.com
Social Media: Google My Business – Valentino Therapy
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist & Valentino Therapy
Instagram: Ask This Therapist & Sharon,Valentino.MFT, & sobercoachandfamilysupport
Facebook: Valentino Therapy, Parenting With Help, and Ask This Therapist