I am Dr. Evan Miller, an Addiction Specialist trying to remove the stigma around addiction and help people recover, AMA!
Hello everyone! My name is Dr. Evan Miller. I am the CEO & Founder of Akua Mind & Body (https://www.akuatreatmentprograms.com), an integrative addiction treatment program in Newport Beach, CA. I’m fairly new to the concept of Reddit, but I’ve noticed that there is a community of support here for addiction and recovery, and I’d love to reach out, help, be part of and contribute to the conversation!
My Short Bio: I’ve lectured nationally and internationally on addiction (http://www.addictionpro.com/ncad-conference/2014-speakers). I’ve also made appearances on TV as an expert in the field. I’ve also been interviewed in various print and digital media outlets (http://www.consciousrecoverybyclare.com/sportsandlossevanmiller). I am a registered Addiction Specialist and have a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. I have an extensive background in addiction program development, evidence-based treatment initiatives, and athletic performance enhancement. My research areas include addiction, sport psychology, personality structure, and archetypal psychology. I write a blog on Akua Mind & Body’s website and you can find my latest post here (http://www.akuatreatmentprograms.com/aboutus/articles/).
I’m only going to be online for an hour, so I will try to answer as many questions as I can. If you want, follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/akuamindbody) or Twitter(https://www.twitter.com/akuamindbody). Ask me anything!
Edit: That's it guys! I gotta go. If you have questions, please visit the Akua website or our social and send us a message. Had a great time.
Edit 2: So many more great questions! I'm going to try and answer the rest when I have the time.
What you just said and done is incredibly courageous. It is also the first step to healing.
Second, reach out to a licensed therapist who specializes in Internet addiction. They exist! Internet addiction is as real and just as habit forming as any other addiction. It can cause destructive patterns in your life. Asking for help and following through on a plan with your therapist will create an immediate sense of relief and provide solution for what you're struggling with.
What do you think about the movie Predator?
I haven't seen it actually.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about addiction?
That drug addicts live in alleyways, under bridges, or only in impoverished areas.
Addiction is right next door impacting every facet of society. Some of the most well-rounded, educated families suffer deeply from addiction. It crosses all socioeconomic divides.
My mom was an alcoholic and I avoid alcohol in fear that alcoholism could be genetic and I might have "an addictive personality" that has not been awakened. I don't think I will ever feel the urge to take up drinking but what are your thoughts on this?
There is a strong genetic component to alcoholism. However there is a strong genetic component to other various disorders such diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc. The thing to remember is that genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger.
So what I mean by this is who you surround yourself with, what you do for work, where you hang out, how you were raised, and all the other environmental factors are what "awaken" the behavior. Do you feel like the way you're living your life could awaken a drinking problem?
I've drank around six standard drinks every night for the past two-three years and binge heavily most weekends.
I want to stop, as I can now see that this isn't normal, despite what Australian culture might have led me to believe.
Do you think I am in danger of experiencing alcohol withdrawal if I go cold turkey? What would you recommend?
Edit: Both my father and grandfather are/were alcoholics. I also have an anxiety condition, so I would definitely say I self-medicate with alcohol. And I'm 23-years-old.
Given your history of drinking, my first suggestion is to see a physician. It is quite probable that you will experience withdrawal symptoms. A physician will help assess the severity, and, if needed, prescribe a detoxification regimen.
Alcohol withdrawal can be a dangerous process. So please consult a physician. Not sure what Australian healthcare is like, but in the US, most insurances provide some substance abuse coverage.
Thank you for your time.
Is weaning myself off something that you would suggest?
Agan, let's see a physician.
Cam you describe more of the detoxification regiment? What does that include?
Take a look at the Akua alcohol detox program here: http://www.akuatreatmentprograms.com/detox-programs/alcohol/. It's different everywhere, but this article describes some withdrawal symptoms.
What is the best way to support someone recovering from addiction?
It depends on your relationship. If it is your partner or a spouse, then make sure there are open lines of communications and that you support healing and not the disease. And what I mean by that is that you should be firm with your boundaries and not encourage their addiction. Don't lie for them, or cover up for them. Allow them the dignity to get well on their own while offering encouragement and compassion. It's a fine line.
For family and friends, you should create boundaries or even written contracts that everyone follows which states consequences for relapse. As a parent, try to create a safe place for your child to express themselves honestly and openly. Share some of your past struggles so that they feel the liberation to share their own. The worst thing you can do is make them feel closed off to their demons.
Can animals suffer from addiction?
That's a really good question. I know they can struggle from dependence because dependence is measured by the existence of withdrawal symptoms.
However, addiction takes on a psychological portrait. Some would say that it's difficult to access the inner world of an animal without the medium of language.
I used to drink 2 litres of diet coke/Pepsi Max everyday for many years. Would this be considered an addiction or merely poor self control on my part?
I know it is trivial compared to drug and alcohol addiction but it's something I've always wondered.
Do you feel like this is negatively impacting your life?
Physically? Yes. Mentally? Maybe.
I was only about 7/8 when I started drinking it and was 15 when I stopped. I was dependant on it 100%. If I got home from school and found none at home I'd go straight to the shop to buy it. I would be hostile towards my parents for not buying and having it ready for me. (Although that might have just been me being a little shit)
I used to suffer from depression and I currently have very bad anxiety if that changes anything.
Yeah it sounds like an issue that should be examined by a specialist. Given your history of depression and anxiety, the sugar from those drinks could play a significant role in your behavior.
The fact that you are obviously concerned about this is already suggesting that this is something you should get looked at.
What are your thoughts on food addiction? Should it be treated as seriously as drug addiction?
Yes. 100%. Anything that impairs your life to the point where you suffer a pattern of negative consequences should be examined closely.
The question I would ask is what is the food covering up?
This is not a personal problem (I am underweight and probably have the opposite issue). I ask because of the prevailing sentiment, especially on Reddit, that people who are overweight are selfish or lazy -- not usually something you'd hear describing serious drug addicts. I believe that seeing obesity as a symptom of food addiction can really help people understand why the solution is not so black-and-white as "eat less."
I like your approach. It's obvious that you feel passionate. I encourage you to speak up, speak louder, and carry the message.
Hey welcome to Reddit! Thanks for doing the AMA. There are so many people dying of heroin overdose. What made you want to get into addiction treatment?
First I fell in love with the clients. It was less about their drug use and curing heroin addiction, but more about understanding their minds. There is a very endearing quality to most addicts. And that is that there is a charisma that draws you in and makes you want to be a part of their journey. Whether it's heroin, meth or alcohol, those are secondary to the human who use them.
Is getting addicted to phones a THING? If yes, then how do you suggest a person can overcome it?
Also , is it possible for you to get addicted to a person?
Smartphone addiction is real. I think a lot of us struggling with it to some degree given how comprehensive mobile devices are. You can literally do anything on it. I would suggest setting time limits in terms of phone use. But that's easier said than done. This is a tough one for me, too!
As for being addicted to people, absolutely! This is called codependency. There's tons of research around codependency and many great books written on the topic. I would suggest Overcoming Codependency by Pia Mellody. Here's her website: http://www.piamellody.com/
I have a very weird addiction to pulling out my facial hair. Is that something to worry about?
It's not uncommon and it's actually called trichotillomania. You can consult a doctor or psychiatrist to help further diagnose you.
Which form of addiction is most damaging and hardest to overcome, psychological or physical? In my own struggles with addiction I've always found that while both fade over time, there's always a small corner of my mind that wants its blankie.
also, have you taken a look at the role that peer pressure plays in addiction? I'm curious mainly about peer pressure and relapse/failure to quit.
Finally, Sports: How important is confidence to athletic performance? Is confidence something to be "trained?"
Thanks Dr. Miller
The physical addiction usually fades quicker than the psychological. The psychological is that blankie that we call upon when life throws us a curveball. At Akua, we have an alumni program in which we try to create an ongoing community for people so that when the psychological triggers kick in, they have support.
Regarding peer pressure, there is significant research that speaks to peer pressure driving at-risk behaviors, including drug and alcohol use. Who you surround yourself with can be a slippery slope downward, or an easy hike upward.
As for sports, confidence is crucial for every athlete. The question becomes how to be confident without trying in the moment. Confidence needs to come naturally and can't be something consciously sought after while playing the game.
What is your opinion on methadone? Also suboxone.
Methadone is very, very dangerous. There are far better drugs to help quit the use of heroin. In fact, at Akua, methadone detox is the most difficult detox we do.
Suboxone is a safer alternative and a drug we use to help clients detoxify from heroin. However, I believe it should only be used in short-term settings with a definite ending to the taper.
Glad you're here,
Do you ever see addiction as a coping mechanism for manipulative/controlling significant others, bosses, or people the user believes to be in charge of them?
edit: Gotta run. I'll read the answer later. Getting to bed early so I won't be late for work.
Yes, quite a bit. Is this for you or someone you know? I'd love to know more about the situation.
Is it possible to provide psychiatric help and addiction therapy to a patient at the same time or is it either one or the other? I only ask because I've been self medicating with different drugs to deal with my depression and anxiety and it seems every doctor I talk to only want's to deal the addiction before dealing with the other stuff. Can therapy only work if you're completely clean?
Yes, definitely. It's the preferable method. At Akua, the first thing we do is a clinical assessment. And if you are suffering from other psychological issues in addition to addiction, then we will help treat both simultaneously. You can't treat one without the other. Remember, you can always see a different doctor if the one you are currently seeing isn't giving you the support and help you need.
And for that last question about therapy working only if you're completely clean, that isn't necessarily the case. Therapeutic work can be done in any setting. It's just a matter of how effective it will be.
Do you require a "higher power," in your efforts? Many addiction recovery plans require "recognizing that you are not in charge."
There is a spiritual component to addiction. Carl Jung highlighted this. To heal from drugs and alcohol, I believe that you should develop a spiritual program in which you tend to beliefs beyond yourself. Whatever this may look like. Regardless of religion.
I'm looking to get involved with addiction. Can you recommend any good ones? Preferably one that's fun, cheap, and with little health risk.
Picking up trash on the beach is a good one. Go for it. I grew up on the beaches and we need all the help we can get.
I think i am addicted to the internet, how do i over come this i start using the computer in the morning and it's in the blink of an eye it's 1 am in the night/morning? Also I feel like everything i do is auto pilot I just can't control it. I really want to quit but just can't and i don't know how pls help?
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