Sherry Gaba Psychotherapist and Life Coach


Avoid Holiday Binge Eating:When Enough Isn’t Enough

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Sherry Gaba LCSW,   is a Psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach who S specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction;  a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention,  and Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Sherry is also the Psychotherapist featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew PInsky on VH1.  Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking 

 

The human body is actually a very remarkable machine. Just think of all the ways in which our body and our brain work together to allow us to survive and thrive every day. One important relationship to consider is the link between the brain and the sensations of hunger and satiation. Satiation is a term that is used to signify the feeling of fullness that allows us to push away from the table and leave that last bite of chocolate cake on the plate.

When we are hungry our body signals us to eat through low levels of a hormone called ghrelin. Once we consume food another hormone, leptin, floods into the blood and travels to the brain, cancelling out the message sent by the hormone ghrelin as the levels of leptin rise. Once in the brain leptin triggers a chemical reaction that tells the brain that you are full or satiated.  People that chronically overeat can actually cause their brain to respond less to the increased levels of leptin by repeated overexposure. In this way the brain simply ignores the satiation hormone and fails to signal that there is no need to keep eating.

While you cannot control hormonal responses in your body, you can, with addiction therapy and careful monitoring of food, change your brain’s ability to respond to the leptin in the blood. Working with an addiction therapist and nutritionist you will need to develop a healthy daily diet that includes at least 1800 calories for women and 2000 calories for men and also includes foods from all the food groups. Once you have daily eating plan organized then you need to follow these four steps on a daily basis:

  1. Use portion control including weighing and measuring foods at meals to retain you brain to see what is normal, healthy and nutritious food intake.
  1. Develop the goal of eating at least 5 smaller meals a day and avoid skipping any meals, keeping your ghrelin hormone (hunger trigger) low and your blood sugar regulated.
  1. Change your diet to include healthy food choices that are naturally filling such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber will help with feelings of satiation as your body chemistry begins to respond.
  1. Before eating anything stop and check in mentally for signs of hunger. If you don’t feel hungry don’t eat, but do something else you enjoy to feel good about yourself and your choice.
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The Connection Between Trauma And Addiction

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Sherry Gaba LCSW,   is a Psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach who S specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction;  a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention,  and Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Sherry is also the Psychotherapist featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew PInsky on VH1.  Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.   

Trauma is a word that we hear a lot in typical conversation. Trauma, by definition, is any type of experience that causes distress or emotional disturbances for an individual. In some cases trauma may be strictly emotional and psychological while in other situations there may also be a physical component.

For example, a person that witnesses a death or a serious accident may experience emotional and mental distress over the images that they remember from the event. A person that was actually in the incident may have physical trauma or injury as well as the mental distress and disturbance of the experience.

Trauma is very personalized and can be different for different people based on life experiences, upbringing and even your current emotional health. What one person may see as a traumatic incident that is distressing or shocking may not be problematic for another individual. This is why trauma is often so difficult to identify, treat and manage for both mental health professionals as well as for individuals.

What I found when preparing my notes for my book, “The Law of Sobriety” is that many of the people I worked with in addiction recovery had significant trauma in their life that they had not addressed. This could have been trauma from a dysfunctional family as a child, current or past abusive partners or spouses, or trauma from things they had witnessed or lived through that were not relationship based. Often the individual was bothered by these distressing memories but didn’t seek help or even know that they had been traumatized by the experience.

These people often dwelt on the negative emotions that were part of the memories of the trauma. The more they dwelt on the negatives the more that other similar negative experiences occurred in their life. Often alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping or food was used as a way to try to self-medicate and get to a less stressful emotional space. The result was that that negativity caused by the trauma fueled the addiction.

Working through the negativity of trauma and learning to focus in on positives in your life is key to breaking the trauma and addiction connection. It is possible to put trauma behind you and to overcome the fears, disruptions and negativity associated with these events in your life and move forward as a sober, happier you.



Boundaries, Protecting Yourself And Dealing With Partners

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Sherry Gaba LCSW,   is a Psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach who S specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction;  a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention,  and Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Sherry is also the Psychotherapist featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew PInsky on VH1.  Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.   

Often people that develop addictions in their life are dealing with very dysfunctional family histories. Within the family there may have been very little sense of respect and personal accomplishment, instead everything was done to please a parent or to cover up a secret within the family. This leaves the children unable to understand how relationships work. Their negative experience with the most basic relationship; that of a child and parent, is so distorted that the best they can do is to try to sustain the same type of relationship with someone else.

In “The Law of Sobriety” I state that, “Some of the more common relationship boundaries that addicts and alcoholics overstep include extremes of attachment: they either get too close and fused with another person or remain distant and disengaged from that person.” This over-attachment leads to a complete submission to the other person where individuality is denied in order to be just what that person wants. Knowing if you are in this type of attachment issue is important so that you can start to develop and define boundaries that allow you to be you while still remaining a strong partner in a relationship.

Talking to your partner isn’t always easy. You do need to be able to communicate several specific items to begin to set up boundaries. These include:

  1. What is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable in the relationship
  2. How open and honest communication can occur in the relationship
  3. Consequences for failing to follow the boundaries developed

As the recovering addict or alcoholic you have to find your own true self and learn that you can exist without that other person. You may find that to bring about a positive relationship you have to get out of the current negative one. This means recognizing that you have options in future relationships, releasing those doubts and negative messages, and being open to helping yourself by finding a partner that will honor, respect and love you for who you really are.



Teens and Panic Disorder

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The teenage years are never easy, everyone has difficulties with body image, friendships, dating issues, independence and handling a range of new experiences that are unique from those of childhood. It is very common for teens to have stress and anxiety about these events and situations, but sometimes the anxiety reaches a sudden and intense level that is truly defined as panic.

Panic is the state that occurs when the brain and hormonal system is pumping adrenaline to be able to get out of danger. This allows the body to be able to react very quickly to get away or to stop and defend itself. This is typically known as the fight or flight response and, in most situations, it is very helpful. There is also a third possibility when humans feel threatened and this is to simply freeze in place. All three of these normal responses to danger have evolved over generations to become automatic and instinctual.

However, sometimes the brain starts to perceive danger where none is present. This may be because a situation appears similar to something that was traumatic in the past and the brain generalizes that maybe danger will be present here as well. This leads to a condition known as panic disorder or, in more outdated terms, a panic attack.

The typical signs of a panic attack include:

  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Sweating, shaking and feeling dizzy
  • Chest pain, nausea or pains in the throat, stomach or the neck
  • Numbness in the limbs
  • Cold or hot flashes
  • Feeling the need to void the bladder or bowels

Teens and adults that are experiencing panic disorder symptoms or panic attacks often understand and are aware of the fact that the fear is unfounded. This adds to the problem since they often feel very embarrassed and, as some people have described, “like they are going crazy”. Often people begin to worry about having a panic attack and start to avoid places they feel may be problematic, leading to even more isolation and more worry when they have to venture out of their safe zone.

Learning the breathing and relaxation techniques as I outline in the mindfulness and mediation practices of “The Law of Sobriety” can be very helpful in remaining calm and balanced. This won’t happen overnight, but with practice you can learn to create a harmonious and calm mental state that translates into a relaxed physical state. Bringing in positive energy allows you to remain positive and, with counseling and support, you can overcome panic and respond to situations in very appropriate ways.

Sherry Gaba LCSW,   is a Psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach who S specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction;  a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention,  and Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Sherry is also the Psychotherapist featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew PInsky on VH1.  Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.  



Addiction Recovery: The Importance of Intentional Choices

Sherry Gaba LCSW,   is a Psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach who S specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction;  a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention,  and Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Sherry is also the Psychotherapist featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew PInsky on VH1.  Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.  

We make choices all day every day and, for the most part, the choices we make are relatively minor in our lives. Do we have pizza or salad? Does the blue shirt look better than the green or do I get this project done today or rush through it tomorrow? For those working on their journey in recovery the importance of choices is much more relevant. Simple decisions can either create the opportunity to move forward or can result in a return to addictive types of behaviors. “The Law of Sobriety” focuses in on the way that choices impact recovery and how intentional decision making is a skill that is critical for change.

In order to make intentional decisions that promote recovery, get rid of the negative and bring in positive energy and opportunities there are three important steps to take. Using these steps as a model for big and small decisions and choices will ensure that you are not reverting to negative behaviors and thoughts.

Step 1: What options do I have?

Most decisions that we make are not yes or no options, there is a whole range of possibilities. It is just easier to break everything into its simplest possible form, which may be forcing you back into negative thought patterns and decision making models. Instead look outside the box to determine what options are out there.

Step 2: What are the pros and cons of the choice I am about to make?

This is the reality check part of the intentional decision. Most choices have potential positives and possible negatives. Understanding the risks and the benefits to the decision takes thought and careful consideration. Looking only at one side or the other may close doors or limit our decision making to things we have already done before.

Step 3: Will this decision move me forward in my recovery and positive lifestyle change?

If the decision has positives, but those positives aren’t moving you in the direction you want, they aren’t really positive for you. A promotion that requires you spend more time on the road, more time away from your support system or adds stress to your life may seem positive from a financial point but may not be positive overall.



Teen Addictions And Divorce

Sherry Gaba LCSW, a psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach, is featured on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.  Sherry specializes in addictions, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and facilitates a women’s group.   Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction; she is also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention, Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.  

Teens are more at risk than ever for addictions related to the breakup of their parent’s relationship. Currently in the United States the divorce rate is over 50% and the instance of single parenting after divorce or with never married parents continues to grow.

Kids that don’t have both parents in their life, at least in some predictable form, are much more likely to be involved in alcohol and drug use and the potential for abuse. This is because the “missing” parent and the child’s relationship to this adult in their life is literally ripped apart. Kids end up feeling the absent parent doesn’t love them, doesn’t value them and doesn’t feel they are important. This creates low self-esteem, depression and anger that will build up over time.

Grief, loss, depression, anxiety and chronic stress in a child or teens life are all key triggers for possible alcohol or drug addiction issues. Parents that may turn to alcohol or drugs during divorce to deal with their own issues may compound the problem. Not only will kids see this as an acceptable coping mechanism but it also provides an easily available source of drugs and alcohol for the teen. Lack of parent understanding, availability and willingness to address the issue only makes the situation worse.

As a parent there are things you can do to help ensure that addiction risk is minimized for your teen when the family is going through a divorce. Make sure you include the following strategies in your interactions with your kids.

  1. 1.   Talk about addiction issues

Sometimes parents fear talking about addiction because they belief it may actually contribute to the problem. In fact talking proactively about addiction to children is essential in prevention. If you aren’t comfortable work with a coach, therapists or counselor that can help you to have these difficult conversations.

  1. 2.   Co-parent together and do not create conflict

The lower the level of conflict the children see during and after divorce the less likely they are to have substance abuse issues. Parents that are able to put aside their differences and focus in on their children, which means both parents spending time with the kids, have the lowest risk factors for teen addiction issues.

  1. 3.   Watch for signs of stress, anxiety or depression in children and teens during the divorce and the years that follow

Monitor your child and teen at all times. This means providing appropriate levels of supervision and getting to know their friends. While this may seem old fashioned it is still the most effective way to let your kids know that you love them and care



Talking About Addiction: Broaching A Difficult Subject With A Friend

Sherry Gaba LCSW, a psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach, is featured on Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction; she is also a contributor to Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention, Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. 

Talking to a spouse, partner or child about addiction can be very difficult to say the least. However, in these types of relationships there is already a bond and strong emotional tie that helps to have the conversation even if it is tough to talk about. The same is not always true if you are worried about the behaviors and choices that a friend is making that may be signs of addiction.
 
Basically in this situation you are faced with two choices. The first is to just ignore the behavior or avoid being in situations with the friend where those behaviors are likely to occur. If your friend has a drinking problem you can choose activities that don’t include alcohol or, if she has a shopping addiction problem, you can avoid those trips to the mall. While this solves your problem of how to address the issue, it does nothing to help bring the reality of the behavior into focus for the addict.
 
Your second choice is to sit down and have an honest, meaningful conversation with the friend. This is not the same as an intervention but it may be the first step in getting support. This is not a conversation you want to start without first thinking through what you want to say. You will also want to plan where you have the conversation and find a place that is comfortable for you both. Avoid any situations where the addiction is present and don’t have the conversation if the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
 
By focusing on specifics and not making judgment calls or blaming the individual you can help the conversation stay as calm and informative as possible. Try to stick to:
  • Giving specific information describing changes in behavior since the addiction. This needs to be in non-judgmental language and reflect how these changes are negatively impacting the friend’s life and relationships. This may be particularly important if spouses and children are involved or if their job is at risk.
  • Providing information about how addiction is not a lack of control or willpower but rather a chemically based brain disorder that can be treated and managed. Providing this information is often critical to get the other person to understand you are not finding them at fault.
  • Sharing your heart and your genuine concern for their life, happiness and safety. Most addicts don’t realize that others know they have a problem and sometimes just knowing that others know prompts them to get help.
While talking to a friend about an addiction may be difficult, it can also be life changing. Have information for resources in your community that provide addiction recovery support on hand and make sure your friend gets that information when the conversation ends.