The Celebrity Therapist

The Celebrity Therapist

Celebrity Deaths from Pain Medication Addiction

posted by sherrygaba

With the recent deaths of Corey Haim, Brittany Murphy, and Michael Jackson, most psychotherapists and physicians, who may not necessarily work in addictions, are becoming more mindful of this growing epidemic of pain medication addiction.  Yesterday the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office determined that Simon Monjack, the husband of Brittany Murphy, died from acute pneumonia and severe anemia, which were the same two conditions that caused his wife, Brittany Murphy’s death.  Although no illegal drugs were found in Brittany’s system, she had elevated levels of Vicoden and drugs from over-the-counter cold medicine in her system.  In her husband’s case, they found some prescription drugs in his system, as well.

Was this another case of multiple doctor shopping?  There are many doctors abusing the system by prescribing painkillers rather than referring clients to pain clinics, not initiating drug histories, or finding alternative treatments.  This, of course, can lead to addiction if these painkillers get into the wrong hands.  The other danger is mixing painkillers with psychotropic medications.  The combination can be lethal.

As a psychotherapist who specializes in addictions, I have been aware of this pervasive problem for years.  In most cases, I tend to believe my clients are exhibiting “drug seeking behavior” when they are visiting doctors or emergency rooms more often. Overmedicating can also bring on the addiction for someone who has been clean and sober for many years.    There are too many abuses of the system both by doctors and their patients, which is obvious as seen by the recent deaths of celebrities from this fatal disease.  Working on Celebrity Rehab again is another reminder for me of the pervasive problem of addiction in our society.  These celebrities are getting the treatment they need, but what about the countless others who are not celebrities that are in the grips of their disease and are not seeking help?   

 If you think someone is abusing the system and is showing signs of drug seeking behavior, start noticing if he or she is making decisions that don’t align with his usual behavior and is using the medication to deal with emotional pain or to cope with stress.  Notice if he or she is not taking the medication as prescribed.  Is he or she less present in their relationships at home or at work? Are you seeing this person putting him or herself in situations that can cause danger to others such as driving when medicated?  Be aware if this person is suddenly seeing new doctors or visiting multiple pharmacies and finally, is this person needing refills way before the prescription is up? Look for the signs and symptoms and perhaps you can be an advocate for him or her in receiving the proper treatment and saving someone’s life or perhaps your own if you can relate to this blog.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” will be out.  She is the Life Coach and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and presently is filming Celebrity Rehab 4.

Learning to Prioritize What is Important

posted by sherrygaba

As I go back and forth from the set of Celebrity Rehab, seeing clients, spending time with family and friends, and making time for me, I remember some advise a Life Design Life Coach, Leslie Gail, best selling author of Life Simplified: A weekly Guide to Creating a Life you Love, gave me a while back.  She reminded me  “you simply can’t be everything to everyone and do everything for everyone, something has to give and it isn’t time.  She had me look at questions such as “Do you feel there is enough time in the day?”, “Do you feel as if there are enough hours to get everything done?” These were great questions to reflect upon. 

One of the lessons I learned was to try to simplify my life and reprioritize.  For example, I just won’t be able to get to my emails as often during this busy time or spend as much time on my Facebook and Twitter.  I have learned to take the “should be doing this” out of my vocabularly and I have learned to do what I truly want to do.  I also have learned to delegate delegate delegate.  I have hired a virtual assistant to help me with computer issues which has been vital for the building of my business.  I hired someone to help clean my house every two weeks, which is a God send.  I have had to let go of being all things to all people.  I just put one foot in front of the other as the 12 step program has taught me. 

Here are some suggestions regarding time management:

1.    Log a week
   
Before you can find time when there isn’t any, you need to take a look at where you are currently spending your time. Take a typical week and journal how much time you are devoting to each activity. For ex. work, commute, childcare, exercise

2. What do you value
   
Next make a list of everything you value in your life from the most to the least. Do your weekly tasks parallel what you value the most or things of little value to you?  Begin creating a life that resembles what your top priorities are.

3. 3 Questions
    Instead of focusing on all the minute tasks you feel you need to accomplish every day, refocus your time. Ask yourself these three questions every night: 1. What is important about tomorrow  2. What must get done tomorrow  3. What is coming up in the future that I can begin preparing for.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist specializing in addictions. Sherry is the Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”

Celebrity Rehab: Learning to Live in Compassion

posted by sherrygaba

 I have the privilege everyday to work with addicts and alcoholics.  Most recently I am working on Celebrity Rehab 4 with Dr. Drew on VH1.  This is my third season, and every year is uniquely different.  One thing, however, I do notice with my clients is the lack of  compassion they have for  themselves.    Often my clients, both in and out of rehab, are filled with shame; and this is what hinders them from forgiving themselves at times.

 

Anyone who is in recovery can look back on times in their life when others have deeply hurt them, and when they have deeply hurt others. But we cannot let those wounds fester forever, because they will cripple us. Learning to live in forgiveness and compassion are important and interrelated parts of the recovery process.

           

You need to begin appreciating the gifts of sobriety even if you’re still finding your way to your sober life, because embracing what is positive brings more positive change to you. But to appreciate what your life is offering you, you must first learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes and forgive others who have caused you pain. And to forgive, you must have compassion–for yourself and for others.

           

So you can’t have appreciation without forgiveness, and you can’t have forgiveness without compassion. But compassion is not always easy. And sometimes it runs right up against our notion of justice. How can we have compassion for those who have hurt us so deeply? How can we expect others to have compassion for us when we have hurt them? And how can we have compassion for ourselves when we have screwed up so badly?

           

Rabbi Jackie Tabick has an interesting take on that subject. She’s the first woman in Britain to be ordained as a rabbi, and you can watch her talk about what Judaism says about balancing compassion and justice here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jackie_tabick.html. She makes the point that if all we had in the world was compassion, we’d also have chaos; justice is what creates the boundaries that give us a sense of right and wrong. But a world with only justice and no compassion is a world without God. The problem is that justice is easy for us humans to dish out, but compassion is hard.

           

Rabbi Tabick said something in her talk that I think can make it easier for all of us to find compassion within us. She said, “This idea of compassion comes to us because we’re made in the image of God, who is, ultimately, the compassionate one. What does this compassion entail? It entails understanding the pain of the other. But even more than that, it means understanding one’s connection to the whole of creation. . . . I call that unity God. And that unity is something that connects all of creation.”

           

So the compassion we put out into the world comes back to us, because we are all connected. Our profound compassion for others is what leads others to forgive us. Ultimately, compassion for others is what enables us to forgive ourselves.

 

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addictions.  She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab.  Sherry has a simple program of seven action steps that will transform anyone in recovery. By shifting focus from addiction (whatever the addiction is) to doable behaviors that align with sobriety, anyone can enjoy a purposeful and meaningful new life.

Does Lindsay Lohan or You Have Emotional Sobriety

posted by sherrygaba

 I would say this is the one of happiest and most productive times in my life, but at the same time, one of the most stressful times.   As I have mentioned, while my book, “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” is coming out, I am working on Celebrity Rehab, publicizing my book on various media outlets (like today appearing on E! News), finishing up endorsements for my book, seeing clients in my practice and a Malibu Rehab, writing several blog posts a week, and trying to find time for my family, friends, and  for myself.  Although as we say in the program, these are “quality problems”, if I don’t stay abreast of my emotions, I will certainly become overwhelmed and un-balanced.  I have often seen with my clients, whether they are celebrities or not, that unless they do a daily check on their emotions,  the stress keeps building and ultimately they enter into self-destructive behaviors.

Emotional sobriety is about keeping your emotions balanced so that you can handle life’s ups and downs in a grounded, joyful, and productive way. Emotions have an effect on our thinking rather than the other way around which is thinking impacts our emotions. When your emotions are un-regulated, your thinking gets off track.  That is why you often here in the 12-step program alcoholics and addicts have “Stinking Thinking.”  Having your emotions off balance will effect every area of your life including your work, your relationships, your health and well-being, and everything that is important to you.   You won’t be “in your game” because you are allowing your emotions to determine how you live your life and handle life’s ups and downs. 

When your emotions are aligned and you feel centered, you don’t shut down or withdraw.  You tend to have more resilience and can handle stress more effectively.  You can tolerate whatever comes your way, because you are in since and not on overload.  Your body will feel more expansive and fluid versus feeling in-flexible and tight. 

Bill Wilson wrote a very insightful letter to a friend who was suffering from depression. This letter was written in 1956 and published in the AA Grapevine in 1958. This is one of the most important pieces that Bill wrote because it discusses the next step in recovery – our emotional sobriety. Recently I have read a new book that discusses the insights in Bill’s letter and relates them to the works of many of the pioneers in psychotherapy and family therapy. I highly recommend this book for any of you that want to learn how to better hold on to yourself in relationships. It’s written by Dr. Allen Berger author of the Hazelden Classic 12 Stupid Things that Mess Up Recovery. His new book is titled 12 Smart Things to do When the Booze and Drugs are Gone.

 

Here are some tips for staying emotionally fit:

1.    Avoid numbing out behaviors.

2.    Stay abreast with how you are feeling internally (your body).

3.    Stay active, exercise, walk, and move.

4.    Nurture your relationships.

5.    Live a purposeful and meaningful life.

 

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”

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