Substance Abuse and Learning Disabilities

The National Institute of Health estimates that about one in five people have a learning disability severe enough to interfere significantly with academic accomplishments.  Yet, other research estimates that only about one in four of these individuals with a learning disability receive proper treatment.  Since we know that learning disabilities are usually genetic, parents may fail to seek help for the very condition that impacted them.  Unfortunately, adolescents who are unaware of their learning disabilities are more likely to become involved in substance abuse, which only exacerbates their problems in school.  There is a higher incidence of substance abuse in the learning disabled population than there is in the general population.  No one is exactly sure of the nature of the relationship between the two, but there are logical hypotheses that are being researched.

Do drugs cause school failure or does school failure cause drug use?  It would be an interesting debate, but the bottom line is the two are in some way very much connected.  Yet, not everyone with learning disabilities is involved with drugs.  There has to be a reason.  For those who do fall victim to substance abuse, proper treatment is an important element of recovery. Durazzo et al, 2008;43(6):683-691,  2008

Oxford University Press, discovered that alcohol abusers with processing deficits were 14.2 times more likely to relapse with alcohol than alcoholics with normal processing. This presents a very compelling reason to test for such learning disabilities.

For any substance abuse program or treatment center to be truly effective the underlying issues of substance abuse must be clearly identified and re-mediated.  Dual diagnosis should not only include substance abuse and psychological problems but, given the high incidence of substance abuse with learning disabilities, should also include learning problems.  This, in essence, creates a triple diagnosis program.  Sobriety always comes first since, as those in the addiction field often tout, “You can’t do therapy on a drug.”  The cloud and fog need to go away before any serious work can be done.

As children and adolescents we spend almost half of each weekday in school and doing homework.  When there are learning disabilities, including processing problems, school becomes a battleground of failure.  Failure breeds low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and, often, normal peer rejection.  Pain is a great motivator.  Make no mistake about it.  While creating other problems, drugs DO numb the pain.  This is called self-medication.  Then, the person has a built-in peer group with which to socialize … other drug users.

Again, while not every person with learning disabilities turns to drug use, there is enough evidence to suggest those with learning disabilities who go untreated are much more likely to become involved with substance abuse than those who are treated.

Children and adolescents with untreated learning disabilities and substance abuse issues grow up to be adults with learning disabilities and substance abuse issues.  While the physiological effects of drugs on the developing body and brain are more severe, the life effects on an adult can often be much worse.

With proper standard psycho-educational assessments and such modern technologies as the DESA (Digital EEG Spectral Analysis), fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) scans, the learning disabilities and processing problems can be clearly identified.  Once identified, the individual’s treatment regimen must include the remediation of the problems if it is to have any chances of sustained success.  Substance abuse and learning disabilities create psychological problems.  It is a three-headed monster.  When only two of the three are slain, it is still very much alive and capable of inflicting great harm.  Certainly, identifying the problems early in childhood and adolescence is the ideal, but it is never too late.  Adults with learning disabilities can benefit from proper diagnosis as well.

Copyright 2009 Yellen & Associates All rights reserved.

The Facts About Substance Abuse Treatment

Entering a substance abuse program is the best way to overcome your drug or alcohol addiction. Your program may be versatile, understand that you may need to detoxify and then enter a rehab treatment or alternative program. Making the decision to get help is not a temporary fix for your problem; however by changing your habits and behavior and the way you think about drugs and alcohol, it can be a step toward a new life that offers freedom from drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

You May Need Detox

Depending on how much substance abuse you have; how long you have been using and the frequency of your use, you may need to enter a detox program before you go to a rehab treatment or alternative program. Detoxification will clean your system of the toxic chemical from your drug or alcohol abuse. Most doctors agree that medical detox is the best option for many drug and alcohol addicts, with IV therapy medical detox being the most preferred.

IV therapy medical detox allows the medication to be changed as the withdrawal symptoms change for an immediate effect. The patient remains comfortable throughout the process, which allows them to stay and complete the detox. Patients who attend this type of program are more likely to be successful in sobriety than individuals that use other programs.

Residential or Non-residential

A substance abuse rehab treatment program or an alternative program can be a non-residential program and a residential program. The accord is that residential programs seem to be more effective because they offer the individual a place to get away from the stress of everyday life and to rest and learn how to have a life that does not include alcohol and drug abuse. Further, the programs that seem to obtain the most success are the ones that build self-confidence, while inspiring hope and helping the individual plan for their future.

There are non-residential substance abuse rehab treatment programs that implement medical detox in the program. Most of these require that the individual also participate in a 12 step program such as A.A., N.A. or one of the other types that traditional 12 step offers. The individual would self-report to the doctor’s office or medical facility to receive medication to help with the detox and then report to the rehab for the meeting. The benefit to this type of program is that the individual can continue their daily routines while they are getting treatment.

The Program Philosophy is Important

Issues to consider in substance abuse treatment may be linked to the type of program: residential or non-residential, but also the philosophy of the program should be thoughtfully considered. If the program teaches that you have an incurable disease and that you are going to fail in your efforts to have a life that is free from substance abuse; you might want to reconsider the program. You want a program that will give you support and encouragement in your new life and not a program that will give you a feeling of defeat, use labels and judgments.

A New Life

Regardless of the method that you choose to use, the important thing is that you are ready to get the help that you need and you are closer to beginning your new life, free from drugs and alcohol abuse and addiction.

Anger in Substance Abuse Recovery

Anger in substance abuse recovery can be potentially dangerous. On its own, the emotion can cause high blood pressure which can lead to stroke; depression, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and a number of other physical conditions.

Drug abuse such as cocaine and heroin, as well as alcohol abuse can not only increase an individual’s anger but it can aggravate unresolved emotions and be a revolving door to further alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism. When it is combined with alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, it is important that the individual seek a substance abuse program that includes anger management in the recovery process.

Managing Aggression throughout Recovery

Individuals who have alcohol or drug abuse will act out their aggression in one or more ways including becoming physical such as punching, kicking or hitting. In some cases, the individual may vent their hostilities against a person or situation. It is not uncommon for individuals to seek revenge against the object of their feelings. On the other hand, some individuals never learn how to let out their emotions and so they hold it inside or they will avoid the source of their anger and refuse to acknowledge it. This type of internalized anger can be as damaging to the self as externalizing the emotion.

Persons struggling for balance find that participating in meditation or yoga helps them to manage their anger. Learning to take a deep breath and calm down and evaluate the situation before they react is also helpful. Additionally, developing ways to communicate aggression in ways that do not resort to physical or verbal abuse can help manage anger productively.

Best Methods for Treatment

Most substance abuse recovery counselors believe that when there is both anger and substance abuse, it is best to treat them at the same time. Therapy should be included to help the individual in recovery understand their rage, such as its origins, the triggers that aggravate it and how to effectively process it. Holistic therapies including meditation, yoga and acupuncture can help individuals remain calm and teaches techniques to control their emotions. Some counselors also recommend that the individual participate in group therapy.

Many individuals discover that after their substance abuse has ended, that they are not as angry or that it is not as easily triggered – in other words, they are able to better control their emotions. They also find that it is easier to understand their aggression, the reasons behind it and most realize that without drugs and alcohol abuse, the emotion is not as prevalent in their life.

Open Your Doors – Start A Substance Abuse Ministry

I received an interesting request to share information about starting a substance abuse ministry from a couple of readers who have read some of my recently published articles.

I know that there is an overwhelming demand for religious centered substance abuse programs in urban communities. Beyond requests for prayer or referrals, churches are seeking a better response to the outpouring of requests to help addicts in their congregation or community. Most of the demand is driven by the sheer volume of addicts and high risk behaviors leading to drug abuse.

Why a faith-based substance abuse ministry? It satisfies a spiritual void that most addicts are looking to fill. Unlike traditional approaches to substance abuse recovery, the faith-based substance abuse ministry connects religious approaches to tools toward recovery. Furthermore, there is a need.

Here is some information if you are looking to establish a substance abuse ministry.

Identify Your Target
Determine if you are going to focus on your congregants or include those outside the congregation. Knowing your target will help you shape your program design for one audience or two.

Set Clear Goals and Purpose
Having clear goals and purpose for the ministry are a must. Are you working with the individual or the individual and his or her family? Are you purposefully going to proselytize to non-believers? Your goals and purpose can be framed into your mission and philosophy statements.

Create A Belief Statement
The belief statement is the fundamental principle behind your substance abuse faith ministry. You can use the belief statement as an affirmation recited before every meeting.

Design An Orientation and Training Manual
You will need to have the ability to conduct orientations for participants and create training and recruiting tools to offer program facilitators.

Find Facilitators and Train Them
Look for people who are delivered from drug and alcohol addiction or have a heart for it. A person familiar with the recovery process will be best suited and will exhibit a passion for the calling. Orient and train them in the principles of the ministry and recovery services that will be offered to participants.

Advertise
Advertise that you are starting a recovery program. You can advertise many ways, in your church bulletin, using social media, or by placing a banner outside of your church. Once you advertise, people will come.

Set a Date
Establish a date and time for regular meetings. Most importantly, you must be consistent because participants are depending on you and will get into a habit of attending at a specified time and a place.

Hold a Meeting
Bask in the moment of knowing that you have created a successful substance abuse ministry. Holding a meeting is one of the most rewarding moments and accomplishments in your faith.

Share the Message
Once your substance abuse ministry is running successfully, spread the good news with others. Ministry is about sharing so that others can be brought into the body. Don’t keep it to yourself.

A word of advice is that a substance abuse ministry is more than a prayer. It is a connection to recovery using faith principles. If you want your substance abuse ministry to be successful, you will need dedication and devotion.