Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Robert Mittiga (IMAC)

For two decades, researchers have been struggling to identify the biological and environmental risk factors that can lead to addiction to alcohol and other drugs. These factors form a complex mélange in which the influences combine to bring about addiction and to make its treatment challenging. But scientists know more about addiction now than they did even 10 years ago, and have learned much about how the risk factors work together.
The widely recognised risk factors include:
Genes: Genetics play a significant role: having parents with alcoholism, for instance, makes you four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics. More than 60 percent of alcoholics have family histories of alcoholism.
Mental illness: Many addicted people also suffer from mental health disorders, especially anxiety, depression or mood illnesses.
Early use of drugs: The earlier a person begins to use drugs the more likely they are to progress to more serious abuse. (Fact).. people who start to abuse drugs or alcohol under 25 have 10 times greater risk of developing addiction than of those who start using after 25.
* Social environment:  People who live, work or go to school in an environment in which the use of alcohol and other drugs is common – such as a workplace in which people see heavy drinking as an important way to bond with co-workers – are more likely to abuse drugs.
* Childhood trauma: Scientists know that abuse or neglect of children, persistent conflict in the family, sexual abuse and other traumatic childhood experiences can shape a child’s brain chemistry and subsequent vulnerability to addiction.
The kids most likely to get addicted are the ones who also have other problems. Forty percent of people who start drinking before they are 15 years old develop alcoholism. Addiction is at the end of a spectrum of substance use problems; for most people, though not all, addiction arrives after other phases of drinking or drugging go uninterrupted. That’s why it is so important to treat substance use problems in their earliest stages. Although genetic researchers are trying to identify the genes that confer vulnerability to alcoholism, this task is difficult because the illness is thought to be related to many different genes, each of which contributes only a portion of the vulnerability.
 487814_10151319723271799_237113026_n                Stress and Addiction  
Science shows that stress and addiction are so closely intertwined that to recover, people with addictions must learn new ways of coping with stress.
Stress and addiction produce some of the same changes in brain systems and so they are intimately connected.. Animal studies have shown that the brain changes associated with stressful experiences are also associated with more sensitivity to the effects of drugs of abuse. For people who have addictions, stressful life experiences such as divorce, job loss and conflict are often associated with craving and relapse. In addition, people with addiction often have poor coping strategies and turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve stress. While it is impossible to remove all stress from the lives of individuals with addictions, teaching coping strategies and treating stress-related disorders is an important factor in stable recovery from addictions.
Co-occurring Disorders
A significant portion of people with addictions also suffer from other mental health illnesses, called co-occurring disorders. Without comprehensive treatment, people with co-occurring disorders are far less likely to recover from their addictions.
People with addictions often suffer from other mental health disorders. Some with untreated mental health problems start using alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate. Conversely, there are cases where an individual begins to develop the symptoms and signs of a mental illness only after using drugs; suggesting that drug abuse caused or exacerbated the mental disorder. Illnesses that frequently co- occur with addiction include:
* attention deficit hyperactive disorder
* bipolar disorder
* conduct disorder
* depression
* post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
* schizophrenia
Frequently, caregivers try to treat one illness without becoming aware of or addressing the other. So health practitioners helping a person with depression, for instance, may neglect to screen and treat the patient for alcoholism. Conversely, a caregiver working with a person with a cocaine addiction may fail to recognize and address an underlying bipolar disorder.
Careful assessment and treatment of co-occurring disorders is critical to maximizing the chances of success in treatment. If both disorders are not treated the chances of recovery are poor. If one of the co-occurring disorders goes untreated, both usually get worse and additional complications often arise.
front_page_right_image                  THERE IS HOPE
Most people, when they think of addicts tend to conjure up the quintessential image of a dirty, unkempt junkie wallowing in the gutter. But in reality that is usually not the case. ADDICTION affects people from all social strata.  As I stated previously in this chapter there are many types of addiction. Substance addictions, drugs and alcohol are the most widely recognised, yet there are Process Addictions e.g., gambling, eating, sex, shopping and many others. We could describe it as any activity, lifestyle or manner of conduct that becomes so overwhelming in a person’s life that it evolves into an obsessive compulsive behaviour (as well as a thinking process) which corrupts the very core of a person’s character. And off course there is a strong neurological component.
Despite a measure of compulsiveness’, people suffering from addiction can and often do, function in society with relative anonymity. It is only when they seek help that their “cover” (so to speak) is blown. In many cases we interact daily with people suffering with serious addiction issues and never realise it. They are our family members, our co-workers, friends, clergy, and yes even our teachers, policemen, firemen, doctors, lawyers and even politicians. The people that we look up to and admire the most have just as much of a chance at becoming addicts as the poor, uneducated from broken homes.
Addiction seeps into every facet of virtually every person’s life. Even if you do not have an addiction, and no-one in your family or circle of friends (that you know of) have any addictions, you are still affected daily on some level. Consider the drunk driver on the roads putting you and your loved ones at risk or to the warehouse worker who loses your package because he// she is too busy being wrapped up in the drug culture to pay attention to their job. Negatively and positively, we all affect each other every day. There is a theory in science by Edward Lorenz called the Butterfly Effect. Essentially a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.
Addiction and recovery affect more than just our social interactions. There is an economic toll to be paid as well. According to some estimates a combined $30 billion was spent or lost in 2010 on health care, lost productivity, premature death, crime and auto accidents related just to alcohol and drug abuse alone. Roughly 75 percent of all that money was paid for by public sources, which means Australian taxpayers are footing three quarters of the bill.
With some 12 million taxpayers in Australia this means that the average sum paid by each individual taxpayer amounted to approximately $2,500. Interestingly, a study in the USA recently suggested that this could be reduced to under 1/10th of the cost when a comprehensive treatment is provided.  Current conservative estimates are that 10% of the population suffers from Addiction. This amounts to approx 2 million people. Sadly less than 8% of these people actually receive any type of effective treatment. Clearly this leaves a huge GAP. For every person suffering from addiction there are at least 5 others directly impacted.
It is very clear that this is an issue that needs or attention at every level of our community. Addicts are not “THOSE” people they are OUR people.
There have been many ways we have tried to fight the issue of drugs in our community. Most notably through the self help organizations of AA and NA. So far comprehensive treatment in a facility or out-patient program offering a wide range of modalities has shown to be the most successful method of helping addicts return to a more productive and healthy lifestyle. It is widely known in the treatment services industry that the majority of those with addiction issues also suffer from some form of mental illness. This may require expanded medication or psychological treatment to go hand in hand with education and support services.
As previously noted; even small changes in complex systems can have dramatic affects. Rather than scorn, shame and ridicule as motivators for addicts to improve their lives, and the lives of those who love them, and indeed the lives of us all; perhaps to be treated as a person with a disease who deserves dignity and respect could be one small change (on all of our parts) that could improve one life, as well as all of our lives dramatically.
It is time for all of us to take a different approach to addiction, and most importantly our leaders could start the ball rolling by taking a more serious approach to this major public health problem.
Call us TODAY for assessment Ph 0439 399 809 International +61439399809
“Addiction mankind’s great unifying experience” Stanton Peele

TOXIC SHAME: The core of Addiction: By Robert Frank Mittiga Recovery Coach

TOXIC SHAME: The core of Addiction and Codependency

By Robert Frank Mittiga
Shame is so painful to the psyche that most people will do anything to avoid it, even though it’s a natural emotion that everyone has. It’s a physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system. You might blush, have a rapid heartbeat, break into a sweat, freeze, hang your head, slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact, withdraw, even get dizzy or nauseous.

Why Shame is so Painful
Whereas guilt is a right or wrong judgment about your behavior, shame is a feeling about yourself. Guilt motivates you to want to correct or repair the error. In contrast, shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws. The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation — from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else. Shame induces unconscious beliefs, such as:
• I’m a failure.
• I’m not important.
• I’m unlovable.
• I don’t deserve to be happy.
• I’m a bad person.
• I’m a phony.
• I’m defective.

Chronic(Toxic) Shame in Addiction and Codependency
As with all emotions, shame passes. But for addicts and codependents it hangs around, often beneath consciousness, and leads to other painful feelings and problematic behaviors. You’re ashamed of who you are. You don’t believe that you matter or are worthy of love, respect, success, or happiness. When shame becomes all-pervasive, it paralyzes spontaneity. A chronic sense of unworthiness and inferiority can result in depression, hopelessness, and despair, until you become numb, feeling disconnected from life and everyone else.
Shame can lead to addiction and is the core feeling that leads to many other codependents’ symptoms. Here are a few of the other symptoms that are derived from shame:
• Perfectionism
• Low self-esteem
• People-pleasing
• Guilt

For codependents, shame can lead to control, caretaking, and dysfunctional, nonassertive communication. Shame creates many fears and anxieties that make relationships difficult, especially intimate ones. Many people sabotage themselves in work and relationships because of these fears. You aren’t assertive when shame causes you to be afraid to speak your mind, take a position, or express who you are. You blame others because you already feel so bad about yourself that you can’t take responsibility for any mistake or misunderstanding. Meanwhile, you apologize like crazy to avoid just that! Codependents are afraid to get close because they don’t believe they’re worthy of love, or that once known, they’ll disappoint the other person. The unconscious thought might be that “I’ll leave before you leave me.” Fear of success and failure may limit job performance and career options.

Hidden Shame
Because shame is so painful, it’s common for people to hide their shame from themselves by feeling sad, superior, or angry at a perceived insult instead. Other times, it comes out as boasting, envy, or judgment of others. The more aggressive and contemptuous are these feelings, the stronger the shame. An obvious example is a bully, who brings others down to raise himself up, but this can happen all in your mind.
It needn’t be that extreme. You might talk down to those you teach or supervise, people of a different class or culture, or someone you judge. Another tell-tale symptom is frequent idealization of others, because you feel so low in comparison. The problem with these defenses is that if you aren’t aware of your shame, it doesn’t dissipate. Instead, it persists and mounts up.

Theories about Shame
There are three main theories about shame.
The first is functional, derived from Darwinian theory. Functionalists see shame as adaptive to relationships and culture. It helps you to be acceptable and fit in and behave morally in society.

The cognitive model views shame as a self-evaluation in reaction to others’ perception of you and to your failing to meet certain rules and standards. This experience becomes internalized and attributed globally, so that you feel flawed or like a failure. This theory requires self-awareness that begins around 18 to 24 months old.

The third is a psychoanalytic attachment theory based upon a baby’s attachment to its mother and significant caretakers. When there’s a disruption in that attachment, an infant may feel unwanted or unacceptable as early as two-and-a-half to three months. Research also has shown that a propensity for shame varies among children of different temperaments.

Healing Shame
Healing requires a safe environment where you can begin to be vulnerable, express yourself, and receive acceptance and empathy. Then you’re able to internalize a new experience and begin to revise your beliefs about yourself. It may require revisiting shame-inducing events or past messages and re-evaluating them from a new perspective. Usually it takes an empathic therapist or counsellor to create that space so that you can incrementally tolerate self-loathing and the pain of shame enough to self-reflect upon it until it dissipates.

Treatment of toxic shame is paramount in addiction and codependency recovery. FOR HELP today contact us  Ph 0439 399 809   Email

ADDICTION IS A DISEASE NOT A DISGRACE: By Robert Frank Mittiga Recovery Coach


by Robert Frank Mittiga (IMAC)


Addiction is primarily a brain disease, meaning permanent brain chemistry alteration as result of either repetitive ongoing substance abuse, or the repetitive abuse of some behavioural process such as gambling or even sex. In other words addiction is a “Primary Disease” and not a symptom of some other pathology. However it always has some component of emotional disfunctionality that parallels this disease, or if you like “fuels the addictive disorder”. This is extremely important to understand, because simply putting the “cork on the bottle” so as to speak, is only a small part of the solution, however an important first step.  I view addiction as a biological, emotional, and spiritual disease.

The World Health Organisation’s definition of addiction is “a pathological relationship to ANY mood altering substance, behaviour, event or thing that has life damaging consequences. What is important to note here is that it is the individual’s “pathological relationship” with the substance or behaviour that is really the problem.

Nearly all human beings have a deep desire to feel happy and to find peace of mind and soul. At times in our lives, most of us find this wholeness of peace and beauty, but then it slips away, only to return at another time. When it leaves us, we feel sadness and even a slight sense of mourning. This is one of the natural cycles of life, and it’s not a cycle we can control.

Addiction, on its most basic level, is an attempt to control and fulfil this desire for happiness. Addiction must be viewed as a process that is progressive. Addiction must be seen as an illness that undergoes continuous development from a definite, though often unclear, beginning toward an end point.

We can draw a strong comparison between addiction and cancer. For us to understand all the different forms of cancer, we must first understand what they all have in common. All cancers share a similar process: the uncontrolled multiplying of cells. Similarly, we must first understand what all addictions and addictive processes have in common: the out-of-control and aimless searching for wholeness, happiness, and peace through a relationship with an object or event. No matter what the addiction is, every addict engages in a relationship with an object or event in order to produce a desired mood change, state of intoxication, or trance state.
  • The alcoholic experiences a mood change while drinking at home or at the local hotel or bar.
  • The food addict experiences a mood change by bingeing or starving.
  • The addictive gambler experiences a mood change by playing poker machines, betting on horses or other sports, or gambling in the casino, on the internet, or even playing the latest craze poker.
  • The shoplifter experiences a mood change when stealing clothing from a department store.
  • The sex addict experiences a mood change while browsing in a pornographic bookstore or the internet, having affairs, using prostitutes, using voyeurism.
  • The addictive spender experiences a mood change while going on a shopping spree.
  • The workaholic experiences a mood change by staying at work to accomplish another task even though he or she is needed at home.
Although all of the objects or events described are vastly different, they all produce desired mood changes in the addicts who engage in them.
Types of Highs
Addicts are attracted to certain types of mood changes or highs. Individuals in the grips of addiction chase different but specific addictive highs, in which they are attracted: arousal, satiation, and fantasy. Arousal and satiation are the most common, followed by fantasy, which is part of all addictions.

Both arousal and satiation are attractive, cunning, baffling, and powerful highs. Arousal comes from amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, and the first few drinks of alcohol, and from the behaviours of gambling, sexual acting out, spending, and stealing, and so on. Arousal causes sensations of intense, raw, unchecked power and gives feelings of being untouchable and all-powerful. It speaks directly to the drive for power. Arousal makes addicts believe they can achieve happiness, safety, and fulfilment. Arousal gives the addict the feeling of omnipotence while it subtly drains away all power. To get more power, addicts return to the object or event that provides the arousal and eventually become dependent on it. Arousal addicts become swamped by fear: they fear their loss of power and they fear others will discover how powerless they truly are.

Unlike the power trip of an arousal high, a satiation high gives the addict a feeling of being full, complete, and beyond pain. (Arousal gives the addict the feeling that the pain can be defeated.) Heroin, alcohol, marijuana, valium, and various behaviours such as overeating, watching TV, or playing slot machines all produce satiation highs.

The satiation high is attractive to certain types of addicts because it numbs the sensations of pain or distress. This pain-free state lasts as long as the individual remains in the mood change created by the addictive ritual. But this type of high attaches the unknowing addict to the grief process. The trance always fades away and sensations always disappear, leaving the addict with the original pain plus the loss of the pleasurable sensations. Over time, satiation addicts are forced to act out more often (if they’re behavioural addicts) or increase their dosages (if they’re substance abusers). The satiation high gains control over the person, always promising relief from pain. Ultimately, however, the pain returns, deeper and more persistent, until it turns into grief and despair.
The Trance
It is helpful to view intoxication – the mood change of the addictive ritual – as a trance state, especially when examining behavioural addictions such as gambling, spending, and sexual acting out.

The trance state is a state of detachment, a state of separation from one’s physical surroundings. In the trance, one can live in two worlds simultaneously, floating back and forth between the addictive world and the real world, often without others suspecting it.

The trance allows addicts to detach from the pain, guilt, and shame they feel, making it extremely attractive. The addict becomes increasingly skilful at living in the trance and using it to cover painful feelings. In the process, he or she gets a sense of power and control, but also becomes dependent on the trance, which is part of the progression of the addictive process.

The addict views the trance state as a solution to a problem. Gamblers often state that the gambling allowed them to be with people without really being with them. The trance salves grief and sorrow. It fills up emptiness, no feelings of pain, as long as the individual is in the casino or pokie venue. Addiction and trance offer the illusion of a solution.

Our attraction to trance-like sensations grows out of our natural desire for transcendence to contact and live within spiritual principles. It is our desire to reconnect with the divine. The sensations of the trance produce a feeling in the individual that connection has taken place. It creates a virtual reality in which the spiritual experiences give us increased meaning and the skills to connect with meaning again, with healing and compassion. They give us a stronger belief in relationships and humanity. After experiencing the quasi-spiritual experience of the addictive trance, people are left with the pain and anxiety they were trying to escape, in addition to the emptiness created when the soul realises that no true connection has taken place.

Thus, the trance state is a part of the definition of addiction as a spiritual illness. Addiction is an illness in which people believe in and seek spiritual connection through objects and behaviours that can only produce temporary sensations. These repeated, vain attempts to connect with the Divine produce hopelessness, fear, and grieving that further alienate the addict from spirituality and humanity, and eventually end in either, death, prison or insanity.

The good news is that addiction can be treated, as well as the underlying pathology. Treatment does not provide a “quick-fix”. Proper treatment and recovery is a slow process and requires a real willingness and commitment. It requires a strong support mechanism and professionals that really understand this complex pathology. It also requires change in one’s life, not just the addictive behaviour, but also how one is living their life, which in itself can be a major trigger to the addictive illness. There is hope, if you can reach out and ask for help. This is a major first step.
Robert Mittiga is  a International Master Addictions Coach (IMAC) The Addictions Academy USA    
Ph  (+61) 0439 399 809(7days)    Email
If you or someone you love are in the grips of addiction, you can reach out today by picking up the phone. Addiction is a disease NOT a disgrace. 

Robert Frank Mittiga Addictions Recovery Coach AUSTRALIA

Robert Frank Mittiga 


Founder and pioneer of various private rehab/recovery programs in Australia

Robert has worked tirelessly helping many individuals and their loved ones who have been in the grips of all types of addiction, from drugs and alcohol, to gambling addictions, sex addictions, love and relationship addictions, food addictions, eating disorders, work addiction, and co-dependency.

Robert has also been in recovery from his own addictions for well over 24 years. After suffering and addictions for many years he began his own recovery program in 1992 going through a life-saving rehab program in the USA. On returning home to Australia, he began to start a journey of studying addiction and co-dependency through a variety of resources. He also started a University Diploma in Addiction studies whilst working as a volunteer in a rehabilitation facility in Adelaide South Australia. He became very effective as a group therapist and interventionist, and he realised he had a natural gift for working with individuals with chronic addiction. He quickly realised that the most important factor for working with individuals in the grips of addiction was the relationship between the therapist and the client.

Over the years Robert began to understand through his own recovery, and also working with many other addicts in early recovery that treatment would have to involve more than just getting sober. He carefully observed that many individuals were also suffering trauma, often childhood trauma, childhood neglect, emotional abandonment, and many other underlying issues that left untreated became significant triggers for relapse. As he became frustrated with rigid models of treatment that he was working in, he began studying and researching various other models, and thus developed his own “Wholistic” model of treatment. This model involved four main components, Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual. He approached treatment addressing all four areas of the individual. His approach became very successful for his clients and was recording much more success for ongoing abstinence, as well as far greater all round wellness from his clients.

After starting his own treatment programs in Australia, which also included residential treatment facilities, he continued to continuously study all aspects of addiction and co-dependency, including the neurological aspects of addiction and he continues to explore more effective ways to assist individuals in early recovery. He also began to introduce many tools for his clients that needed extra tools, such as acupuncture, hormonal treatments, craniosacral therapy, a system of alternative medicine intended to relieve pain and tension by gentle manipulations of the skull regarded as harmonising with a natural rhythm in the central nervous system.

In his journey of learning and helping, he also began to realise that often the whole family needed help, when addiction was present in a family system. In his treatment model he began to offer family support programs, as well as individual counselling and therapy for other family members, which also included spouses. This also has proven to be paramount the overall treatment process. He found that when the whole family engaged in treatment the outcomes where extremely more successful than those that didn’t participate. This has now become an integral part of Robert’s approach to treatment.
Today Robert works as a Private Recovery Coach and often travels nationally in Australia as well as internationally to assist individuals and their loved ones in recovery. He also has an extensive network of other professionals that he uses for his clients. Robert also encourages 12-step program participation for his clients, and their loved ones.


CALL ME TODAY PH 0439 399 809 TO DISCUSS YOUR RECOVERY PROGRAM All calls strictly confidential. Email  DIRECT PH 0439 399 809