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The act of meditation has many forms.

The least complicated method is to simply sit and observe your breath for a minute or two. A more advanced practice might include an hour in quiet contemplation. Some techniques relax. Others may energize. Still others might sharpen focus. And for some people, meditation is a pathway to expanded consciousness that changes their lives for the better.

As scientific research continues to reinforce why meditation is beneficial for your wellbeing, technology is leading the way, making various forms of the practice more accessible. While many people learn meditation in a group or with a dedicated teacher, these apps allow for a private transformative experience whenever you like.

What Is Meditation?

By its simplest definition, meditation is a mind and body technique intended to enable a practitioner to experience improved overall health, including:

  • The ability to handle chronic symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, compulsiveness, high blood pressure, and others.
  • An opportunity to induce a more calming mental and physical state and to reduce stress.
  • The chance to condition the brain to be more responsive and change networks in the brain. In other words, regular meditation may actually prompt both neural networks—the extrinsic and the default—to be active at the same time, as revealed in this study New York University study with Buddhist monks.

Keep in mind that even though meditation is closely associated with monks and other members of religious organizations, the practice itself is not a religion.

How Meditation May Help Recovery

If you or someone you love struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, there are numerous triggers that may block the path to recovery. External influences might upset the natural state of inner calm. This may cause some people to be more reactionary, argumentative, or compulsive.

Meditation provides the opportunity to “simply be”—an aspect of mindfulness. If a thought arises, you let it pass without judgment. If you initially feel distracted, you can return to the commitment to meditate without reproach. Once your breathing settles into an easy rhythm, your parasympathetic nervous system prompts the “rest and digest” response, encouraging an enhanced feeling of peace and relaxation. Choosing the quiet over the chaos helps both mind and body reconcile with a new state of being.

Conversely, some individuals think the concept of stillness is an uncomfortable, even frightening, experience. Past trauma or mental health issues may make someone equate stillness with negative thoughts and emotions. So if a person who feels this way wants to try meditation but is uncertain about how they’ll feel, the method will make all the difference.

Types of Meditation Methods

Although it’s easy for most people to think of meditation as sitting cross-legged on a fluffy cushion, there are many different disciplines. Here are just a few.

Guided meditation. This may be helpful for people who want to have a more visual experience and take a mental journey. It may also include positive affirmations.

Walking meditation. Purposeful movement can induce a powerful calming effect. Sometimes practitioners walk in a circle, a labyrinth, or on a short path, heel-to-toe.

Mantra meditation. This is a good option if someone feels he or she may be too distracted by thoughts or external stimuli. The mantra may be one sound or a series of words.

Sound meditation. Various musical instruments, including bells, singing bowls, and gongs, create a vibrational atmosphere. This is helpful for both the body and mind.

Buddhist meditation. This method is acceptable for people of various faiths and for those who don’t follow a particular spiritual doctrine. It’s a training in stillness.

The Latest Meditation Apps

Many people purport that daily meditation has a profound effect on their wellbeing. But what if you don’t have a meditation teacher, or a group class you feel comfortable attending?

Meditation apps are incredibly popular now. While you can easily access numerous podcasts and videos by renowned experts such as Dr. Andrew Weil, Thom Knowles, Deepak Chopra, and davidji, having a quick mobile app seems to be a more fashionable way to stay connected to hundreds of styles and teachers. Try one of the following and see what you think.

Headspace. Initially free, with an optional monthly subscription. This company provides mindfulness training and guided meditation sessions. Available for both iOS and Android devices, it’s a more structured approach with step-by-step instructions to help create a sustainable daily meditation practice.

Insight Timer. Free. Also available for Android and iOS devices, this app features hundreds of meditation styles, soundscapes, and music, with different lengths and purposes. For example, one meditation might feature nature sounds, another is a guided sleep meditation.

Meditation Studio. Free on iOS products with an optional subscription; various monthly/annual plans for Android users. Dozens of experts offer hundreds of options, some guided, some with only music. The app also allows users to access a variety of meditation courses for further education.

breethe. After free trial, various subscription options for Android and iOS mobile devices. Includes guided meditations with and without music, and options for kids.

ZenFriend. Free, with in-app purchases for both iOS and Android devices. In addition to various meditation tools, this company offers a strong social media component to encourage a community of support.

Calm. Trial period, followed by various subscription levels for Android and iOS users. Voted “Best App of the Year” in 2017 by the Apple App Store, this company provides meditations for sleep and anxiety relief, as well as master classes to help change behaviors. There are also ancillary products for purchase, such as an essential oil mist to help with sleep.

For more meditation app options, check the reviews in the App Store or Google Play store, or consult with a treatment expert to learn more about various meditation techniques and if one may help you.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Master Charles Cannon: 23 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Meditation.
Forbes: 10 World Renowned Meditation Tech Experts Share What’s Next In 2017.
xoJane: I Tried (Almost) All The Meditation Apps In The App Store And These Are The Seven I Liked Best.

The post Meditation Apps for Daily Practice appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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The transition from the safe haven of a treatment center to the impact of the real world requires a shared mindset between loved ones.

For the individual completing treatment, as well as his or her loved ones, trying to balance hope with past disappointment, optimism with realistic expectations, and an onslaught of feelings with careful consideration creates a high wire act few people can navigate with ease. So these dos and don’ts may be helpful as you approach the days and weeks after treatment.

Post-Rehab Dos

When someone completes treatment for addiction, it’s a crucial step toward positive life changes. But the keyword is “step.” Addiction takes months or years to develop, and thus, recovery takes considerable time as well. Many other actions are necessary to achieve full wellness. Consider these steps to maintain a balance of expectations.

If you’re completing a recovery program, remember to:

Be patient. Consider your journey to this point and all you’ve accomplished so far. Each day you’re learning what being clean feels like. As you continue to understand what factors led to the point of addiction, you’ll need to stay mindful and focused on what keeps you well.
Use open, honest communication. It’s important to process thoughts and feelings in healthful ways. Constructive conversations—both positive and negative—are part of the healing process and affirm your place in the world as a whole being.

Learn the facts about addiction. Seek to understand your condition and how it impacted you and your loved ones. This knowledge gives you better control over your circumstances. Make sure to follow your aftercare plan and ask for help if necessary.

Understand the importance of forgiveness. Going to rehab to recover from addiction was a crucial first step for wellness. While rehabilitation may help you physically, allow the mental and emotional lessons learned during treatment to help move you to a state of forgiveness—of yourself and of individuals you believe may have wronged you or whom you wronged. This state shifts the power of understanding.

If you’re the loved one of someone released from treatment, remember to:

Be patient. At times, you may feel as though you’ve exhausted your patience with a loved one caught in the quagmire of addiction. Continue to recognize and acknowledge the journey to wellness, and show your support. Consider joining a group of like-minded individuals who understand what you’re going through, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Stay open to thoughts and feelings. Your loved one may have to process a lot of disturbing thoughts and feelings after leaving a rehab facility—and some might be directed at you. Allow for the healing journey to include ways to change behaviors and mend old hurts. In addition, allow yourself a path of direct communication to share your emotions with your loved one.

Learn the facts about addiction. Take time to understand your loved one’s addiction and why recovery will take time.

Understand the importance of forgiveness. You’ve likely experienced a number of serious situations with your loved one. Recognize that by forgiving him or her and encouraging a healing path, you’re providing unconditional love and support for the recovery journey—for both of you.

Post-Rehab Don’ts

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the world he or she lives in is often distorted. In this way, there are many knee-jerk reactions and toxic behaviors that can threaten the recovery process. Keep these important factors in mind.

If you’re completing a recovery program, avoid:

The definition of “normal.” If you’re leaving rehab, you’re not the same person now that you were before treatment. Relying on a typical definition of “normal” is setting up a series of expectations that may be overwhelming. Look to the present to inform how things should be.

Judgement. Your past behaviors may dictate much of what you feel now. Tread carefully and be aware of certain triggers and how to handle them without catapulting into blame or guilt.

Hiding drugs or alcohol. A slip into previous behavior such as trying to hide substances will only increase feelings of guilt and shame. If you feel you’re relapsing, reach out to a supportive counselor, sponsor, or loved one right away.

The misconception of immediate recovery. Overcoming drug or alcohol addiction is complicated, and more than 40 percent of people relapse. If this happens to you, it may mean your treatment needs to be adjusted, or you need a longer program. Remember: you haven’t failed, but it’s imperative to refine the recovery process.

If you’re the loved one of someone released from treatment, avoid:

The definition of “normal”. Allow for the fact that your loved one is changing every day from a person who was addicted to someone recovering from addiction. This means that who he or she was before may not be the same post-rehab.

Judgement. Keep an open mind during the recovery process. It would be easy—and some might say justified—to preach, nag, or lecture during this time, but it’s unlikely these approaches will change your loved one’s behavior.

Hiding drugs or alcohol. You’re not a warden. If you come upon drugs or alcohol and suspect your loved one is suffering a relapse, promptly address this in a direct manner. The misconception of immediate recovery. Adjusting your expectations to the difficulty of rehabilitation helps you gain a better understanding of what your loved one is going through and why it’s complicated. It’s not a moral failing if he or she relapses and needs further treatment.

Above All Else: Show Compassion

Compassion for yourself and other people is a primary asset during the recovery process. We all make mistakes. If we desire to learn from our mistakes and seek a better path of wellness, the support of one another in the post-rehab world is a vital component of success.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
Psychology Today: “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Loved Ones.
Great Oaks Recovery: Post-Rehab Do’s and Don’ts for Loved Ones.
Al Anon Active Board: Do’s and Don’ts.

The post Post-Rehab Dos and Don’ts appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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It’s easy to associate drug and alcohol use with social activity.

From dinner parties to holiday events, job promotions to a night out, it’s common for many people to use some type of substance to have fun, reduce stress, and fit in.

For someone who’s recovering from addiction, getting together with friends and family might seem like a minefield, filled with constant triggers that make maintaining sobriety more difficult. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Recognize the Importance of Bonding

People who suffer from addiction frequently have negative interpersonal experiences that are hard to let go. Consequently, they may opt to not engage with people, not know how to engage, or fear the results of getting too close to anyone.

However, evolving research reinforces the importance of meaningful connections for overall health.

  • Science Daily released findings from a 2017 study that concluded that dopamine is a crucial factor in human bonding. Dopamine is a chemical that prompts our brains’ pleasure and reward center. The study indicates “social affiliation is a potent stimulator of dopamine.” The researchers purport that a positive social network, in which all members give care and receive care, may potentially increase levels of dopamine.
  • Harvard Women’s Health Watch reports that in addition to providing pleasure, nurturing social connections influence a variety of health factors over the long term as much as healthy eating and ample sleep. The most obvious result of positive relationships is reduced stress, including the biological release of hormones that prompt a calming, nurturing response. The research indicates improved function of immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems as well.
  • Other studies point to compelling evidence for how quality relationships reinforce physical, mental, and emotional health. Regardless of age, who we hang out with may positively or negatively influence our behavior. For example, if we feel connected to individuals who like long bike rides on sunny afternoons followed by dinner and topical conversation on a restaurant patio, we’ll have a different psychological and physiological response than if we sat in a darkened bar surrounded by people who complain about their lives while they consume alcohol until late into the night.
Form a Recovery Community

Strong social ties provide an integral support system. Too often, many people in recovery feel isolated, afraid, shameful, and conflicted. When you establish a network of compassionate individuals, you’re creating a recovery community.

A recovery community, in its expanded definition beyond a facility or sober living house, is a fellowship dedicated to helping individuals move through the various stages of recovery. Your community may include:

  • A support group specific to your particular substance, such as Narcotics Anonymous
  • A recovery community organization that provides peer support and resources, such as Face It TOGETHER, for individuals and families affected by substance abuse
  • A counselor or life coach to help you reconcile certain behaviors and patterns
  • A spiritual or religious group that understands what you’ve been through and might be able to provide additional guidance

If you form a recovery community within the first weeks after treatment, you’ll have a stable foundation from which to build your comfort and ease in social situations.

Tips for Socializing While in Recovery

Whether it’s trying to fit in at neighborhood barbecue or looking for different activities away from negative influences, you have a lot of options for maintaining sobriety and creating stronger social bonds.

  • Choose friends and family who support your wellness journey. This way, you won’t have to explain or defend your actions for any reason. Anyone who tries to persuade you, even with a “Come on! What’s the big deal?” doesn’t deserve an explanation. A simple “no thank you” is enough—their perception of you isn’t your concern.
  • Hold a non-alcoholic drink. This psychological mechanism enables you to keep a literal hold on something and also dissuades constant inquiries as to whether you need a drink from the bar.
  • Work the event. If you’re staying busy and engaged, you’ll think less about the “don’ts” and “can’ts” and more about how you’re in control of yourself. So assume the role of a party photographer, or act as the scorekeeper for games, or be helpful as a member of the clean-up crew.
  • Call the host ahead of time. Whenever you feel like a particular environment or group of people might activate certain triggers, contact the host and let he or she know your circumstances and why you might make an appearance but need to leave early.
  • Explore different types of activities. A change of scenery, a set of new faces, and a chance to be curious and open—these factors are all available to you if you seek out alternative ways to have fun.
  • Ask someone to a movie or lecture. The ability to be present with another person while enjoying the film or a speaker is an easy way to enjoy his or her company without the use of drugs or alcohol. Afterward, arrange to talk about event over a cup of tea for about 30 minutes. This helps you engage socially without pressure to talk about anything else.
  • Volunteer. When you share a similar purpose with others, you’re involved in a circular exchange of caring. And you’re staying active. Volunteerism provides a number of benefits, including emotional stability, a greater sense of worth, a stronger social network, and improved outlook on life.

Finally, make sure to pause for a few moments when you return home to reflect. Consider how you felt going out, who you met, what you did, and how you feel afterward. More importantly, acknowledge that you’ve just experienced another crucial aspect of your journey, and why this matters to you.

To effectively socialize while in recovery, be mindful of your commitment to wellness and reinforce your social circle with like-minded individuals and activities to stay true to your goals.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
Psychology Today: Having Social Bonds Is the No. 1 Way to Optimize Your Health.
English Mountain: Staying Sober (and Enjoying Your Social Life!) in Recovery.
Johann Hari’s TED talk: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong.

The post Socializing While in Recovery appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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One of the most hotly-contested issues in treatment recovery is whether or not someone can have an addictive personality.

The quick, rather nebulous answer is “not really,” as “addictive personality” is not a psychiatric diagnosis.

The longer, more complex answer response involves who and what is being evaluated. However, in the general scope of understanding, medical research supports facts which indicate that people who may have other acknowledged mental health conflicts or certain personality traits are prone to display addictive behaviors as well.

The Definition of Addiction

According to the Addiction Recovery Guide, medical experts at the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the Institute of Medicine follow a definitive explanation of addiction as a brain disease:

“It’s the uncontrollable, compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences. Addiction is a condition caused by persistent changes in brain structure and function. Both developing and recovering from it depend on biology, behavior, and social context.”

This explanation is supported by extensive medical evidence.

Furthermore, most experts agree that a person can become compulsively obsessed or dependent upon anything, not just drugs or alcohol. This is why some people may have an addiction involving sex, shopping, cigarette smoking or vaping, gambling, food, exercise, gaming, or other substances and activities.

With this definition, not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol becomes addicted, just as someone who goes on a shopping spree after getting a bonus from work isn’t automatically a compulsive shopper.

But addiction is present if behavior devolves toward certain actions, such as:

  • Continuing the behavior even if it harms the individual or others in some way
  • Obsessing about the need to engage in the substance or activity
  • Acting on compulsive impulse to continue the behavior or refuse to/find it difficult to stop
  • Losing control over participating in the behavior, such as how much to participate or for how long
  • Denying there’s a problem with substance use or hiding the behavior
Factors of Influence

Medical experts don’t always agree on all points regarding the causes of addiction. Some totally comply with the concept of addiction as a brain disease and treat it as such. Others cite research regarding the role of genetics, environmental influences, personality traits, and learned behavior. In theory, both views are right.

For example, there are studies featuring twins with a genetic pre-disposition to alcoholism but separated at birth and placed in different households. While scientific evidence indicates genes contribute to a 50 percent risk of addiction, if environmental factors, personality traits, and learned behavior don’t trigger compulsive drug or alcohol use, it’s unlikely addiction will occur.

Conversely, if one of the twins experiences abusive trauma; suffers from mental illness; experiments with drugs or alcohol at an early age; is coerced by peer pressure; or is impacted by any other environmental or developmental factor, there’s a greater likelihood that addiction will manifest if the desire to use becomes a compulsion.

Once the affected twin’s brain is altered by the chemical effects of substance abuse, treating addiction as a disease is a more proven route to recovery. Reducing the biological dependency, whether or not the twin experiences physical withdrawal symptoms, is the first step. Then, systematically addressing the other factors through progressive treatment helps this twin regain balance and control of wellness.

Traits or Behaviors That Contribute to Addiction

Again, the medical community doesn’t acknowledge “addictive personality.” In her 2016 book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, Maia Szalavitz interviewed George Koob, an expert on neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction, and the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He summarized the issue by saying, “What we’re finding is that the addictive personality, if you will, is multifaceted. It doesn’t really exist as an entity of its own.”

What medical research supports is the acceptance of common characteristics and behaviors that, while seemingly conflicting on the surface, may coexist with addition:

  • Mental health conditions including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder
  • Risky and/or impulsive tendencies that create a spike in dopamine, also known as the “pleasure chemical”
  • Nonconformity, often demonstrated by defying authority, gain or loss of social structure (“fitting in”), or an expression of narcissism
  • Dysregulation, defined as an impairment in the regulation of the psychological, physiological, or metabolic process, especially in response to trauma
  • The presence of other addictive behaviors, such as someone who has a problem with alcohol developing a compulsive habit to gamble
Treating the Whole Person

While it might be easier to handle a loved one’s substance abuse problem by saying he or she has an addictive personality, it’s not really the case. As causes are revealed and treatments continue to evolve, it’s more likely that a combination of factors contribute to addiction. There’s hope that once these components are revealed and processed, an individual will develop a greater awareness of his or her risks contributing to addiction and will use comprehensive tools to manage them.

It’s crucial that an effective treatment program for substance abuse involves solutions for treating the whole person, not just the condition. This may require a more individualized plan aptly suited to address all factors contributing to addiction for a successful recovery and sustained lifetime wellness.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
The Addiction Recovery Guide: Addiction is a Brain Disease.
WebMD: Do You Have an Addictive Personality?
NIH: Alcohol Use Disorder.
Scientific American: The Addictive Personality Isn’t What You Think It Is.
PsychologyToday: The Myth of the Addictive Personality.

The post Is There Such a Thing as an Addictive Personality? appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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An inpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility is designed to treat people with proven methods of recovery therapy.

Nevertheless, what an individual truly needs to thrive through the process is based on a number of crucial factors.

As someone begins the vital journey of addiction recovery, a primary step is to research treatment facilities. Perhaps he or she, a loved one, or a health care provider is evaluating centers. During the selection process, it might be necessary to consider the advantages and disadvantages of rehab treatment away from home.

Pros for Rehab Away From Home

Inpatient treatment at a licensed care facility for drug and alcohol abuse continues to be a primary recommendation for recovery. But again, it’s important to weigh the impact of residential care and why location matters.

Individuals chose to leave home for rehabilitation for a number of reasons, including:

  • Privacy. It might be necessary for a patient to seek treatment in an unknown location if his or her reputation or employment status may be compromised.
  • Type of treatment. A facility closer to home may not provide the recommended addiction treatment for an individual’s condition, or have the optimum care plan for key mental health issues contributing to addiction, or offer a full opportunity for continuum of care necessary for a successful recovery.
  • Distance from negative influences. Environmental factors are often catalysts to addiction. Certain behavioral triggers for drug or alcohol use might be prompted by people, surroundings, or circumstances. A person may be more likely to complete treatment in a remote facility if immediate access to these triggers isn’t available.
  • Fewer distractions. The seclusion of a long-distance facility often feels like an extended respite, with permission, to focus entirely on self and individual wellbeing. This refuge from the challenges of daily life, whether as intensive as a toxic workplace or as mundane as doing the dishes, helps break the cycle of habitual use so new behaviors are formed.
  • Safety. Some people using illicit drugs may also be involved with dangerous criminals. Choosing a facility away from these interactions may be important for protection.

People also purport that entering a treatment program away from home reinforces a commitment to wellness. Leaving the facility may not be as easy, and travel expenses factor into impulsive decisions to quit.

Cons for Long-Distance Rehab

Needing association with what’s familiar isn’t the only reason why someone may choose a rehabilitation center closer to home. Other factors include:

  • Need for family alliance. Experts continue to recommend the benefit of whole family wellness for addiction treatment. If someone has loved ones near his or her facility, it makes it more convenient for visits, counseling sessions, and other stages of progressive assistance.
  • Accessible support systems. An important aspect for many people in recovery is to have counselors, support groups, and other resources available for accountability, guidance, and reinforcement of healthy choices. If this network is developed through a care facility at home, it may be easier for some people to continue than starting from scratch after being away.
  • Complications with employment leave. As of 2018, seeking treatment for addiction is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. So technically, if someone has to take a leave of absence to recover from substance abuse, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, certain employer and FMLA requirements may influence the final decision of care, such as a shorter inpatient stay nearby immediately followed by an outpatient program through the same facility.
  • Insurance coverage. As of 2018, the Affordable Care Act requires commercial health plans to cover treatment for addiction. However, policy conditions vary by plan and by state. An individual’s insurance coverage may not allow him or her to obtain care outside of the state of residence without substantial out-of-pocket expenses.
Check All Resources to Find Quality Care

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created a guide to use when researching drug and alcohol treatment facilities. The success of quality inpatient care, whether local or long-distance, depends greatly on individualized programs that take into account the:

  • Unique characteristics of someone’s problem
  • Design of a treatment plan and its purpose
  • Interaction between an individual and a facility’s health care providers
  • Availability of additional treatment services necessary to aid the recovery process

According to the NIDA, someone choosing a treatment center needs to consider vital questions, including but not limited to:

  • Are the center’s treatment programs designed with scientific evidence?
  • Do treatment plans meet an individual’s specific needs, and adapt as he or she progresses with recovery?
  • Is the length of the program effective for success?

The answer to the last question may also influence the decision whether or not to enter a facility away from home. The location of the center may, for example, make a difference if the treatment plan requires an extended period of time in care, such as 90 days, for effective recovery, plus a transition to a sober house for another 30-60 days.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

The post Pros and Cons of Rehab Away from Home appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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There are many health and wellness methods people use to prevent relapse after completing an addiction rehabilitation program.

One popular activity is yoga, because it helps individuals explore the connection between mind, body, and spirit; and how that connection fosters positive self-image and the ability to reshape life.

The Give Back Foundation (GBF) reports that approximately one in three people in the United States are either dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, or are greatly impacted by the addiction of a loved one. A specialized program designed for people in recovery is the Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, supported by the GBF.

The mission of the GBF is to extend the outreach of research-based yoga practices and make them available to marginalized populations. In addition to the 12-Step Recovery program, this nonprofit organization promotes yoga programs for people with cancer, veterans, individuals in prisons systems, members of the military, and people working through eating disorders.

What Yoga Can Do for You

Yoga practice is no longer a mystical Eastern method of movement. In 2016, there were nearly 37 million yoga practitioners in the United States alone. Numerous medical studies support the practice of yoga as a way to reinforce mind-body wellness.

The American Osteopathic Association lists a number of benefits derived from a regular yoga practice, including:

  • Less fatigue
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased flexibility
  • Relief from chronic stress
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Enhanced mood through natural dopamine release
  • Less joint pain
  • Sharpened concentration
  • Improved control over anxiety
  • Relaxed mind
  • Better connection with breath

People also see noticeable results from a regular meditation practice, including improved self-control, better self-confidence, and the ability to manage certain mental health issues more effectively, including anxiety and depression. Quite often, yoga and meditation are combined to form one session.

Yoga is also a wonderful tool to manage impulsive behavior, especially after brain chemistry was altered by drug or alcohol addiction. And some yoga instructors offer somatic healing therapy combined with yoga, which is a way for individuals to release psychological traumas from the autonomic nervous system through physical movement.

Yoga of 12-Step Recovery

Creator Nikki Myers developed Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR) in 2003 after her personal journey of addiction. As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, Nikki references herself as a recovering alcoholic and addict. In this interview with Gaiam’s program “Untangle,” she describes her remarkable journey.

She relapsed twice after substance abuse treatment, even with the aid of a 12-step program and yoga—just not simultaneously. She’s quoted on her website, “It was after the second relapse that I realized there had to be a union between the cognitive approach to addiction recovery offered by 12-step programs and the somatic approach to healing offered through yoga.”

Myers is now an addictions recovery specialist and yoga therapist. Her work with Y12SR is “a holistic model designed to address the physical, mental, and spiritual disease of addiction.” The program provides weekly meetings structured to help people find a safe place on the yoga mat to release trauma, while sharing the support and context of a 12-step program to undo the veil of ego, the “stinkin’ thinkin'” that affects the reality of how practitioners view the world.

The yoga concept of staying present and showing up on the mat every day mirrors the accountability of 12-step program and the intent of commitment. Y12SR practice, Myers believes, recognizes the powerful combination of somatic assistance from yoga movement and the cognitive initiatives of a 12-step program.

Instructors of Y12SR are yoga teachers, but also other professionals who deal with addiction behavior, such as social workers, mental health experts, and even probation officers. Through intensive training, potential instructors learn the sources of addictive behavior; the science of yoga and 12-step programs; and sustainable practices to enable individuals to experience long-term recovery, self-regulation, and the unity of mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Instructors are also required to attend further training in order to work with people who are struggling emotionally; create inclusive and safe spaces for people affected by addictive behavior; and cultivate a network of professionals who and institutions that can assist Y12SR participants.

As of 2017, there are more than 350 Y12SR meetings happening across the United States, led by certified instructors. The meetings are open to everyone, regardless of yoga ability, and designed to reinforce an individual’s existing recovery practices or assist someone affected by a loved one’s addiction. Each meeting is donation-based. Meetings may be held in community centers, treatment facilities, or yoga studios.

Find a Y12SR meeting near you.

Explore Yoga as a Wellness Option

If you don’t have a Y12SR program nearby, there are still options available to you.

  • Consider contacting a Y12SR leader to learn about comparable programs in your area.
  • Review the book, Healing Addiction With Yoga, by Annalisa Cunningham for insight and additional resources.
  • Attend a gentle yoga class and develop a relationship with the practice and the instructor, and let your knowledge grow from there.
To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
PsychCentral: How Somatic Therapy Can Help Patients Suffering from Psychological Trauma.
Yoga Journal: Yoga for Addiction Recovery.

The post Yoga of 12-Step Recovery/Give Back Yoga appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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If you’ve gone through rehabilitation for drug or alcohol abuse, you’ve accomplished a major life milestone that few people understand.

As a result, your concept of mindful behavior is probably more detailed than that of other individuals, as you recognize a healthy life includes abstaining from harmful substances.

How can you do this every day? A primary component of recovery wellness is to understand what triggers the desire to use drugs or alcohol, and to foster an awareness of the situation that allows you to rely on important techniques to handle cravings and urges.

Be Aware of Key Triggers

The term “trigger” is most often defined in behavioral therapy as a stimulus that relates to trauma. Trigger is also used to describe a psychological response that may prompt an urge or craving to use drugs or alcohol. Quite often, the stimuli that prompt negative feelings and unhealthy behaviors are what “trigger” someone to relapse into drug or alcohol use.

The internal and external triggers for individuals dealing with drug and alcohol addiction vary considerably. Someone who’s dealing with a deep emotional trauma may be triggered to use again by a situation that makes him or her examine feelings of self-worth or self-esteem. Another person who finds it difficult to participate in social functions without drinking may relapse in order to fit in.

An important step for continued recovery is to develop an understanding of which internal and external triggers may affect you. This allows you to have a greater awareness of feelings and situations that cause urges or cravings, and what techniques you’ll use to handle them effectively.

The primary triggers are emotional, environmental, and social.

Emotional triggers may include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Mental health issues
  • Self-esteem/self-worth
  • Stress

Environmental triggers may include:

  • A childhood home
  • A particular neighborhood
  • A frequent social setting, such as a bar, club, or recreation center
  • A workplace
  • A place of worship

Social triggers may include:

  • Meeting with people who continue to abuse alcohol or drugs
  • An encounter with a friend or significant other who either uses or prompts feelings in you to use
  • A call or visit from a family member who sparks negative emotional responses
  • A setting where you had to use alcohol or drugs to feel accepted
  • A recurring situation that makes you want to resort to drugs or alcohol in order to cope or because of the ease of availability

While these are common triggers, they don’t begin to quantify an individual’s unique experience.

Learn Your Triggers and How to Handle Them

In a treatment facility, part of the process of understanding addiction is to become more aware of who you are as an individual with and without the substances. Many people have a lot of factors to address head-on in order to fully recover not only from substance abuse, but also from a trauma that may have caused this abuse.

If you empower yourself to learn about who you are, then you’ll be more equipped to identify your triggers without fear or judgement.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggests visualizing internal and external triggers as a way to gain a better understanding of them and to create an action plan. Use these detailed worksheets for help.

Once you’ve outlined your known triggers, you can put your plan in place. Professionals who help people with addiction therapies suggest you control triggers by:

  • Being mindful of wellness. It’s important to eat right and exercise no matter what your goals for life may be. It’s even more important to support your sobriety with proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, and other positive wellness behaviors.
  • Understanding H.A.L.T. This acronym stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. For some people, a rush of these feelings may prompt a craving or increase the urge to resort to substance use. You can control these and other emotional triggers by learning to act, but not react to them. If you’re hungry, have a healthy snack. If you’re angry or lonely, talk with a sponsor, go for a run, journal, or phone a friend who supports your wellness efforts. If you’re tired, take a short nap or meditate for a few minutes. Trust that you have better techniques for managing emotional triggers than falling back into bad habits.
  • Resist the need to test or tempt yourself to prove control. Think again about the environmental and social triggers that you listed. It’s important not to test or tempt the strength of your recovery by placing yourself in situations that will only push you to the limit. Some people may be able to move forward after these situations, but experts caution everyone to avoid circumstances that continue to challenge the concept of healthy recovery or establish overconfidence in the ability to handle a situation without a plan.
  • Change your routine. Often, there’s a pattern to drug and alcohol abuse that may be connected to certain triggers. As you identify what prompts drug or alcohol use, you may see these patterns more clearly. Once you do, you’ll be able to decide what you need to do to encourage wellness.

In the first few months of recovery, it may feel as though you’re always referring to a list of dos and don’ts. Keep in mind your primary reasons for seeking help and why living without drugs or alcohol matters to you. Then you can take pride in your accomplishments, including the various techniques you use to stay healthy.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
Willingway: Understanding and Avoiding Common Relapse Triggers.
PsychCentral: 5 Tips for Managing Triggers during Addiction Recovery.

The post Avoiding Addiction Triggers appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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There are a number of reasons why someone slips into a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.

To return to firm ground requires techniques that promote wellness in a positive, life-affirming way.

In rehabilitation centers, journaling or daily logging is an application used by many counselors to help residents understand and process their circumstances. Many people use the practice of journaling to channel thoughts and feelings into a safe, non-judgmental place.

In everyday life, there are a multitude of benefits from embracing a journaling habit in order to stay in touch with emotions, share gratitude, work out moments of anxiety, express goals and aspirations, and recover from trauma.

Why Writing Therapy Works

Writing is often one of the top applications considered when discussing the success of art therapy in addiction treatment. The Center for Journal Therapy indicates the process is the “the purposeful and intentional use of reflective writing to further mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness.”

There are many mental health professionals who use journal therapy with their clients so concerns and issues can be written down, discussed, and analyzed. Sometimes, this is the method used in rehabilitation centers and, often, outside of treatment facilities if someone is in private talk therapy. It’s believed journaling allows individuals to be intentional with their writing. As a result, they’re more open toward introspection or reflection about life and circumstances.

Research supports the use of therapeutic journal writing as a way to:

  • Allow safe distance to overcome trauma
  • Assess environmental and emotional triggers
  • Create an easier passage to release difficult thoughts and emotions
  • Identify supportive or positive aspects of life
  • Provide tangible grounding during anxious or uncertain times
  • Calm the immune system with a process of release

With all this in mind, it’s not enough to simply vent thoughts or feelings through journaling. The vital next step to developing stronger emotional awareness and a greater understanding of self; the true healing path is to want to comprehend and learn from your written observations.

Even if someone isn’t presently working with a health professional, the act of capturing the “inner experience”—moments, emotions, thought patterns, and other aspects of being—continues to work for many people moving forward in life. It’s full freedom of expression, without judgement.

How to Journal

Do you really a need to have a how-to guide for writing? No…and yes. The general consensus is there are few rules for the process if you’re doing it on your own, without counseling or a set health directive. What you choose to put on the pages and how you do it is totally up to you and within your control.

However, if you haven’t used this application before, consider these guidelines:

  1. The word “journal” isn’t limited to just writing. Although the term is most often associated with words, you can also explore your thoughts and emotions more visually if you prefer. Coloring, drawing, creating a collage, using watercolors, applying stickers, and other creative expressions may be more helpful to describe a situation, emotional trigger, positive reflection, or an incident.
  2. Use a notebook, computer, a sketch pad, or a preformed journal. Some people buy a $1.99 college-ruled lined notepad and never look back. Others feel more comfortable sitting at a screen and typing. Some individuals use open, unlined pages to write, sketch, and “live” in their experiences. And still others prefer to have more order with books designed to guide a user with prompts, ideas, lists, and additional techniques to stimulate the process. For example, a prompt such as “Identify the qualities you admire in others” can help someone venture into many areas of emotion and thought.
  3. No editing! Okay, so there may be one “rule” to this process: stay in the moment, or the stream of consciousness, in order to get to the heart of what you think or how you feel. If journaling evokes feelings of perfection or criticism and you feel compelled to “check yourself” by rewriting, scribbling out, or otherwise correcting previous entries, resist that temptation. You’re not being graded, analyzed, or evaluated in any way. Staying present even as you contemplate the past or consider the future increases your emotional awareness. It’s harder to accomplish that in edit mode.
  4. A journal can be shared or it remain private. Unless you’re journaling as a way to open up to a health professional during a talk therapy session, you’re under no obligation to reveal the contents of it to anyone unless you want to.
You’ve Completed a Journal: Now What?

Finally, another question often asked about writing therapy is whether or not to keep each journal when it’s complete. This is a matter of personal preference.

Some people encourage continual growth by reviewing previous journals and seeing how far they’ve come and what they’ve accomplished. These individuals often keep their journals for months or years to use as points of reflection.

Others are more inclined to allow whatever they thought or felt in a particular moment to exist only in that space, and have no desire to revisit it. Once a journal is complete, they may be inclined to destroy it in a ritualistic way, such as tearing out sheets and burning them, to acknowledge the passing of old habits and aspects of self that no longer serve them.

Again, just as you chose to express yourself without judgement, you can decide what to do with these observations in the same way.

Any practice that allows you to feel safe, understood, and progressive in life is a good one. Consider adapting some form a journaling to reveal more of your best self.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
The Center for Journal Therapy.
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Study.
The Health Benefits of Expressive Writing.
The Therapeutic Writing Institute.

The post Journaling for Emotional Awareness appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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It’s December—the season of holidays for most Americans.

New Year’s is around the corner, a time of fresh starts and enthusiastic resolutions. “I’ll start [dieting, exercising, meditating, budgeting, etc.] after the holidays,” many of us think, not wanting to “spoil” the time with family or miss out on opportunities for indulgence. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, you might have the same attitude: why enter treatment now, when it means you’ll miss the holidays at home? Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait for the New Year?
Consider the following reasons to enter rehab now—before the holiday season is in full swing.

1. You’ll avoid opportunities to use at a time when stress can trigger the need for escape.

Everyone knows that holidays are not always the uplifting, joyous occasions that we want them to be. Holiday preparation and scheduling cause stress, and parties with friends, family, and coworkers all offer excuses to indulge. The holidays also make many people feel lonely, exacerbating the pain of being single, childless, or estranged from loved ones. If you enter into addiction treatment early in the season, you’ll avoid these triggers and be surrounded by caring counselors and staff members who can help you work through the painful, complicated emotions.

2. You’ll give yourself and your family a more relaxing holiday.

If you are suffering from addiction, you already know that you don’t have the emotional capacity to participate in holiday cheer. The stress and pain you feel affects your loved ones. Whether you are using heavily or trying to hide your use (and suffering through withdrawal until you can be alone and use again), you are not doing yourself or anyone else any good.

Entering treatment during this time is an act of profound self-care and profound generosity. You are giving yourself a break from the pain and guilt of not being who you want to be—and you’re giving your loved ones a break from the worry and stress they feel about you. Your loved ones will probably agree that taking care of yourself is the best gift you could give them.

3. You won’t miss the holidays just because you’re in treatment.

Most quality treatment programs celebrate holidays and do their best to help residents feel the warmth and generosity of the season. Decorations, special meals, and events like caroling or gift-making will help you participate in the holidays. If you come from a home where holidays have generated only bad memories, learning how to celebrate meaningfully with others may even feel redemptive. It may inspire you to create new, healthier family traditions when you return home.

Also, you won’t miss out on seeing your loved ones during this time. Families can visit you in treatment, and you’ll be more equipped to interact with each other from a place of sobriety and hope.

4. The timing is often ideal for school or work.

Most of us have more time off work or school this time of year, making it an ideal time to enter treatment. If you work in retail, the opposite might be true—this might be the most intense time of year, requiring the most overtime. If that intensity provides a healthy distraction for you, use that to your advantage. But if it adds to an already stressful season, consider whether the bigger paycheck is worth your health.

5. The timing is often better financially.

If your health insurance plan has a large deductible, chances are that you’ve already used most of it by November or early December. What better time to seek the treatment you know you need—when the cost will be fully covered by insurance?

6. The treatment center will probably be less busy than usual.

Since many people choose not to enter treatment during the holidays, treatment centers are not at full capacity. The more relaxed atmosphere will allow for greater attention from staff and a more intimate bond with the other residents.

7. You’ll have a jump start on the New Year.

Entering treatment now will mean that you are sober by the time January arrives. You can enter the New Year with a clear head, a healthier body, and a network of resources to support your continued recovery. When the next holiday season comes, you’ll have a year of sobriety under your belt and be better equipped to create meaningful—and sober—traditions with family and friends.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, please consider contacting Twin Lakes Recovery Center and speaking to an admissions counselor. We will help you celebrate the holiday—and your decision to begin a journey of recovery.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

The post It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year—To Enter Treatment appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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Georgia topped headline news in fall 2017 because of a serious epidemic.

Medical professionals sounded the alarm and experts from around the United States discussed the dangerous rising trend of opioid use in the Peach State.
The Georgia Department of Health indicates “deaths related to drug overdose (OD) are now almost equal to deaths due to motor vehicle crashes.” In Georgia, OD deaths tripled in just 15 years.

In 2015 alone, there were 1,307 OD deaths in the state—of that number, 68 percent were caused by prescription opioids and, to a lesser extent, heroin.
Additional statistics report that in 2014, more than one-third of Georgia’s 159 counties had higher drug OD rates than the nation’s average. Data from the Substance Abuse Research Alliance (SARA), a program of the Georgia Prevention Project, indicate these are mostly rural counties with “limited access to substance use disorder treatment and/or medication-assisted treatment.”

The Office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr reports that from June 2016 to May 2017, “the total number of opioid doses prescribed to the state’s patients surpassed 541 million—approximately 54 doses for every man, woman, and child in Georgia.”

The Use of Opioids for Pain Management

The SARA defines opioids as: “a class of drugs that act on the body’s opioid receptors including natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids. Natural opioids include drugs such as morphine, which are derived from the resin of the opium poppy; semi-synthetic opioids such hydrocodone and oxycodone; and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and methadone.”

Opioids are prescribed to reduce moderate to severe pain, and can be especially helpful for people with accident-related injuries, in post-surgery recovery, or managing cancer treatment.

The SARA explains that opioid drugs “mimic the body’s natural response to pain” through the Mu receptors located in the “brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, and intestinal tract.” This simulation not only blocks pain signals, but also increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine release produces a pleasing, sometimes euphoric, effect.

However, effective pain management and reduction has always been a difficult aspect of medical care, because if the root cause of pain can’t be isolated and treated effectively, patients often require powerful medication to handle daily life.

The dichotomy, according to Science magazine, is drugs that are supposed to provide patients relief often result in hyperalgesia: a condition that reduces the effect of medication and may make individuals more sensitive to pain. Patients reliant on opioids for pain management have amplified sensations, which prompt the need for increased doses or more intense substances.

The Rise of OxyContin

Morphine drips and long-release pills are standard end-of-life care treatments to ease excruciating pain. The general consensus among medical professionals is while opioid drugs are dangerously addictive, this isn’t a concern in palliative care. For decades, awareness of opioid addiction potential prevented health professionals from prescribing opioid alternatives to people with debilitating conditions wanting to experience lives with less pain.

In 1995, Purdue Pharma, a privately-held company in Connecticut owned by the Sackler family, released OxyContin. This long-lasting narcotic—manufactured with oxycodone, a derivative of heroin—included a marketing campaign designed to convince prescribing physicians of a safer, more effective way to treat a number of conditions that caused people moderate to severe pain. The risks were minimized or hidden.

The SARA reports that since 2000, national prescription opioid ODs increased 200 percent, with 125 million Americans abusing prescription pain medication in 2016. In Georgia, prescription OD deaths spiked to 558 in 2014, compared to 152 in 2001. From 2009 to 2014, the state led the nation in “increased encounters related to prescription opioids.”

In an interview with NBC News, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb stated, “the practice of over-prescribing opioids helped drive opioid abuse.” NBC News further notes, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 33,000 people died from opioid ODs in 2015 and more than 2 million people are addicted to the drugs.” These drugs now include illegal street sales of OxyContin, Percocet, and heroin; and in other settings, fentanyl and methadone.

In 2007, federal courts ordered Purdue Pharma to pay 600 million for the felony charge of “misleading customers about OxyContin’s addictive potential.” It’s one of the greatest fines levied on a drug corporation. Three company executives pled guilty to “misdemeanor misbranding,” and the court fined them 34.5 billion.

In late 2017, multiple news agencies, including The Washington Post, Esquire, Newsweek, and The New Yorker, exposed the calculated and financially-beneficial strategy behind the manufacturing and marketing of OxyContin.

Next Steps for Georgia Residents

Estimates by the SARA indicate that Georgia’s health care costs related to opioid misuse were 447 million in 2007. The increase to date since that time is approximately 80 percent. In-patient care related to opioid drugs rose to $15 billion in 2012.

There was a slight drop in opioid-related ODs in Georgia in 2015—549 from 588 the previous year—but that doesn’t reduce the imperative action necessary to help people learn the dangers of and recover from opioid addiction.

The SARA compiled a phased action plan that includes:

Increased use of naloxone. This is an opioid antagonist medication that first responders, parents, and educators can use to reverse an opioid overdose without extensive side effects.

Improved access to disorder treatment. This includes medically-managed detoxification, recovery support services, behavioral therapy, and support for family members with loved ones in recovery.

Increased funding for prevention programs. In 2010, the SARA reports the Georgia legislature “significantly reduced funding” for substance misuse programs. It recommends a greater focus on prescription drug education programs that target parents, young adults, and teens.

The SARA cites the groundbreaking results of the Georgia Meth Project, the pilot program that evolved into the Georgia Prevention Project, as the basis for this action plan.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, we can help. To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.

Other Sources:
Substance Abuse Research Alliance: Prescription Opioids and Heroin Epidemic in Georgia.
GPB News: Inside Georgia’s Opioid Epidemic.
Online Athens: Opioid crisis hitting Georgia especially hard, speakers at UGA conference say.
The Seattle Times: Experts: Opioid crisis is hitting Georgia especially hard.

The post The Opioid Crisis in Georgia appeared first on Twin Lakes Recovery Center.

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