When drug and alcohol addiction take over, many addicts are unable to uphold regular routines related to cooking, eating, cleaning, and general self-care. Malnutrition is often a common side effect of addiction. At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we have seen just how powerful good nutrition can be for addicts in active recovery.
When the body is strong, as it is when we practice good nutrition, we are better able to combat disease and addiction. When our bodies are weak, as is the case for many people who struggle with, our bodies cannot fight addiction and manage withdrawals that are typically present in the recovery process.
Nutritional deficiency doesn’t just impede recovery, it can cause severe health degeneration overall. When malnourished, the body lacks the proper vitamins and minerals to combat illness in general. Addicts are more likely to become ill or contract an infection because of their weakened immune system.
And because drug and alcohol abuse often suppress feelings of hunger, it is easy for addicts to miss meals or not to eat at all. What’s more, certain drugs and alcohol cause loss of appetite which prevents them from seeking out not just good food, but any food at all.
Nutrition in the Recovery Process
At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we take a holistic approach to managing addiction. One of the cornerstone approaches to recovery is to initiate a good nutrition plan into the rehabilitation process. As a patient’s body becomes stronger through good nutrition, they can begin to exercise to improve muscle tone, promote circulation, and create a routine based on good health habits.
Alcohol and drug abuse can have lasting effects on the body. It’s important to understand how these substances can impact our lives, our health, and our livelihood. By introducing nutrition into patient routines and recovery plans, we’re able to combat those effects and teach new, healthy habits.
Below are some ways nutrition can help you or your loved one regain a healthy lifestyle in recovery:
Increase Your Vitamin B Supply
Alcohol is directly responsible for the decreased amount of vitamin B in the body, which includes pyridoxine, thiamine, and folic acid. By adding more B vitamins to your diet, you can help fortify the nervous system functions and response, which can help during stressful times like recovery and withdrawal. When these vitamins are lacking, people can become anemic or suffer from nervous system malfunction, which can often be difficult to reverse.
In extreme vitamin B deficiency caused by alcohol abuse, people can develop a condition called Korsakoff’s Syndrome. This is a brain disorder that combines anemia and dementia.
Trying to treat two parts of the body is difficult, but with the introduction of food rich in B-vitamins and vitamin B, recovering addicts can rebuild their amino acids and essential fatty acids and may start to feel better physically and emotionally. Because our body does not produce these vitamins naturally, we need to get them from our food supply. You can imagine that an addict that doesn’t eat regularly, or doesn’t feel the urge to eat may be starving themselves to death, in addition to any other complications brought on my alcoholism or drug abuse.
Incorporating increased vitamin levels into a diets of patients at Alpine Recovery Lodge is important to our work and our beliefs. We’ve seen how a simple change can improve the lives of addicts in recovery and it can start them on the path to long-lasting recovery. Education is an important component of our work and we ensure that we provide information that patients can use to make informed choices about their health now and in the future.
Healthy Nutrition Helps with Withdrawal Symptoms
Nutrition deficiency may also compromise a person’s recovery when it comes to managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. During withdrawal, people can suffer a great deal. The body and mind undergo serious health concerns, like seizures and delirium tremens, which can worsen quickly if not supervised or treated by a medical health professional.
Withdrawals are a very real side effect in the recovery process. Many people have lost their battle with substance abuse during the withdrawal phases because their bodies were unable to deal with the physical complications. These symptoms and complications are often exacerbated by lack of nutrition, hunger, or loss of appetite.
With regular, balanced meals, recovering addicts can more easily cope with their withdrawal symptoms. These nutrients ensure their bodies are strong enough to cope with the changes to their body’s chemistry and reduce the risks of long-term side effects, which can even include death.
Healthy nutrition is not only good when addicts are first going through rehab, but for their continued success in recovery. It’s very important to incorporate balanced meals into their routine so they can the necessary nutrients on a regular basis.
Exercise is Good for the Mind and Body
With any good nutritional plan, exercise is sure to follow. Studies suggest that exercise is highly effective to aid recovery from substance abuse. While some recovering addicts may not be ready for exercise when first undergoing treatment, it is something to incorporate as soon as possible to help regain strength, circulation, and routine into their lives.
Exercise not only provides profound and lasting physical and mental effects on someone who is recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, but can also help recover sleep patterns, reset one’s Circadian Rhythm, and improve overall mood.
When exercising, dopamine is released into our blood streams. This is a chemical that is triggered in our brains when we eat foods that taste good, enjoy something in life, and of course, consume drugs and/or alcohol. Exercise can have the same or an even better effect on dopamine levels than any of these other activities. It’s why runners claim to have a “runner’s high” when they are striving toward a goal and why athletes can play sports on broken bones because they are so “hyped up” on exercise. Adrenaline is a powerful thing and we’ve found that one good decision can lead to another, especially when it comes to avoiding drug or alcohol consumption.
A Holistic Approach to Recovery at Alpine Recovery Lodge
At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we believe that good nutrition plays a huge role in helping patients work towards a healthy lifestyle without drugs and alcohol. We use a holistic approach to battle addiction and help people abstain from substance abuse. With addiction continuing to be a major problem for many people, we work to ensure that our patients benefit from our full attention and a personalized treatment plan that is right for them.
Whether you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol, don’t wait to call us. We can help you get on the road to recovery faster than you think. We’ll be there every step of the way, ensuring you get the nutrition, support, and guidance you need to manage your addiction and regain your life. Give us a call to learn more about our residential rehab program.
At first glance, it might seem that art and addiction don’t have much to do with one another. We understand that, but art therapy is one of the holistic treatments we offer at Alpine Recovery Lodge.
When people hear that we offer art therapy to our patients, they have a lot of questions. They want to know what it is, how it works, and whether it can help people struggling with addiction.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is sometimes misunderstood, so let’s begin with a definition. Specifically, art therapy is a form of therapy in which clients use art, the creative process, and the artwork they create to express and explore their emotions.
The forms of art used may include drawing, painting, and sculpture. Typically, art therapists have a broad knowledge of visual art and creativity, as well as training in therapy. The goal of art therapy is to use art to enhance more traditional therapeutic techniques.
Art therapy may be practiced in hospitals, wellness centers, crisis centers, private practices, and in rehabilitation facilities like Alpine Recovery Lodge. It can be very effective at treating addiction, trauma, and mental health problems like depression.
One question we get asked frequently is “What happens in an art therapy session?” That’s a good question to ask.
The short answer is that the art therapist will work with the patient, helping them learn about their creative process and create artwork. The focus is more on the process than on the finished product.
Because art therapists have training in both the visual arts and therapy, they guide the patients to use certain media that may help them express their emotions. For example, working with watercolors may be frustrating for some patients because they’re wet and can be difficult to control. A patient who struggles with anxiety may prefer something easier to control like colored pencils.
The specific form of an art therapy session may vary depending on the art therapist and the patient. Here are some specific things that the sessions may do:
Expression of disturbance. Addiction is often linked to trauma of some kind. For some patients, expressing their trauma and the emotions associated with it can be impossible. Interpreting the artwork patients create in a therapy session can help the therapist understand the patient’s emotions and work with them to process them in a healthy way.
Letting go of denial and shame. Denial and shame are negative emotions that can get in the way of healing. People who struggle with addiction may need a safe way to express their shame – and art can give them a way to do it.
Embracing creativity. Creative expression is good for the brain. Even people who don’t think of themselves as artists can learn to express themselves through visual media.
The art therapist will direct the patient, introducing them to new concepts and media, and encouraging their use as a means of self-expression.
How Does Art Therapy Help with Addiction?
Now, let’s talk about some of the specific things that art therapy can do to help patients overcome addiction. There are four key things that art therapy can do.
Promote Personal Integration
Personal integration refers to a patient being able to express their emotions in a natural, honest, and healthy way. It’s strongly linked to self-image and confidence. Expressing their feelings through art helps recovering addicts address their emotions and bring them together into a coherent self-image – something that can be difficult to do with words.
Emotional and Impulse Control
It’s common for people who struggle with addiction to have a difficult time regulating their emotional responses. They may be prone to dramatic outbursts, particularly when they feel threatened or ashamed.
This behavior is also linked to poor impulse control – something that leads to addiction. Art expression can help patients learn to modulate their emotional responses and learn to view them as an experience instead of something that’s beyond their control.
Perception of the Self and Others
It can be very difficult for addicts to see themselves and others clearly. They may struggle with shame and that can cause a disconnect between the reality of who they are and how they perceive themselves.
Art therapy can help them stay in the present moment without getting distracted by anxiety, regret, and worry. Patients learn to identify their emotional responses to their own thoughts and other people. Over time, this art-induced mindfulness can be an important skill to prevent relapse.
Addiction is, at its core, behavior. For that reason, behavioral change is at the heart of any addiction treatment. It’s not easy to change the way we behave even if we don’t have a problem with substance abuse.
Art therapy can drive behavioral change because it is self-directed. While the art therapist provides guidance to the patient, ultimately, the decision of what to create and how to create it is for the patient to make.
Another way of looking at it is that art therapy gives patients a new outlet for their negative emotions and struggles. Instead of turning to their substance of choice, they can turn to artwork as a way of expressing themselves and coping with their emotions.
Common Questions about Art Therapy
So far, we’ve addressed some of the biggest questions you might have about art therapy. However, there are a few other things that we get asked by incoming patients and their loved ones. Let’s address those now.
Do patients need art experience or training to participate in art therapy?
No. The only training required is on the part of the therapist. Art therapists can work with patients who have no art experience at all and help them learn to explore the creative process and express their emotions through art.
What kind of art do patients make in art therapy?
The types of art a patient makes may vary depending on the therapist and the patient’s personal preferences. Here are some examples:
Creating models or sculptures with clay
Using papier-mâché or other media to create a mask
Painting with acrylics, watercolors, or other paints
The therapist can help the patient choose the best media and projects to express themselves and accelerate the healing process.
Do art therapists critique their patients’ work?
Therapists do not critique their patients’ work. They work with their patients to interpret the art they create in an emotional framework. The insights gained through interpretation are then used to help the patient cope with negative emotions and memories as they relate to addiction.
Do patients keep the art they create in therapy?
Patients may choose to keep any or all the art they create in art therapy sessions. Some patients prefer to leave their creations with the therapist. It’s a personal choice.
Will your art therapist show your artwork to anybody else?
The art created in your art therapy sessions is protected by patient confidentiality just as anything you tell your therapist would be. Your therapist may not and will not share it with anybody else.
A patient may, of course, opt to share their artwork with the people in their lives. That’s their choice, but the therapist does not have the right to share their patients’ artwork with outsiders.
Art Therapy at Alpine Recovery Lodge
Artistic expression is deeply personal. As such, it can provide therapists and patients with insights into the patient’s emotional state – and point the way to healing.
To learn more about the therapy we offer at Alpine Recovery Lodge, please click here.
Admitting that you have a problem with drinking is difficult for many people. Social drinking is something that’s common, and it can be tricky to know when your drinking has crossed the line into alcoholism. In fact, we get a lot of calls at Alpine Recovery Lodge saying:
I’m afraid I might be an alcoholic. How can I tell?
Asking that question might very well be the first step to recovery. The key is knowing how to answer it accurately. In this post, we’ll talk about the questions you can ask yourself to decide whether drinking has become a problem for you.
Is My Drinking Excessive?
The first question to ask requires some definition since “excessive” is a subjective term. There are two kinds of drinking that might be considered excessive.
Heavy drinking is defined as having more than four drinks a day 14 drinks in a week if you’re a man under the age of 65. For women (and everyone over 65), the standard is three drinks a day or more than seven in a week.
Binge drinking is drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short time. The standard here is five or more drinks in two hours for men, and four or more drinks in two hours for women.
If your drinking falls into one of these two categories, you may be an alcoholic. However, it’s important to note than an occasional bout of heavy or binge drinking is not, by itself, confirmation that you’re an alcoholic. If it happens all the time, you probably have a problem with drinking.
Do I Drink When It’s Not Appropriate or Safe to Do So?
Another red flag of alcoholism is drinking in dangerous or inappropriate situations. Here are some examples:
Drinking in the morning before you go to work
Drinking when you know you’ll be behind the wheel of a vehicle
Drinking when your doctor has told you not to mix alcohol with prescription medications
Drinking when you’re responsible for young children
Alcoholics tend to disregard societal and moral restrictions about when it’s appropriate to drink. If that sounds familiar, you may be an alcoholic.
Is Drinking a Priority for Me?
You may have heard that the person you’re in a relationship with is the one whose calls you always take. That idea applies to drinking too. If you always answer the call of alcohol while ignoring responsibilities, it’s a clear sign that you have a drinking problem.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios to illustrate what we mean. First, what happens if you have a bill to pay but doing so will leave you without the money to buy alcohol? If you put off the bill-paying to go to the liquor store, that’s a clear sign that alcohol is playing an unhealthy role in your life.
Likewise, do you have plans with friends and cancel, so you can stay home and drink? Or do you find yourself spending less time with non-drinking friends, so you can go out and drink? These are both signs that you might be an alcoholic.
Do I Drink in Secret or Lie About My Drinking?
This question is a key one because for many alcoholics, it’s the thing that alerts their loved ones to the fact that they have a problem.
Drinking in secret might involve hiding a flask in your desk drawer at work, or even keeping bottles hidden around your house, or drinking only when you’re alone.
Lying about drinking might mean denying that you’ve been drinking when you’re asked a direct question. It might also mean lying about where you’ve been, who you’ve been with, or what you’ve been doing. Any one of these things is a red flag for alcoholism.
Have I Blacked Out or Lost Memories Due to Drinking?
Anybody can overindulge in alcohol, but if you’re routinely blacking out or forgetting what you did because of drinking, you have a serious problem.
Sometimes, alcoholics deny having blacked out. It can be very frightening for family members and friends to see you out of control or be unable to wake you. Denial is a common response – but if you’ve had people talk to you about behavior you don’t remember, you must acknowledge that drinking has become a problem for you.
Has My Tolerance for Alcohol Increased?
With any addictive substance, a key warning sign that you have a problem is when you need more of the substance to get the buzz you want.
For example, when you first started drinking, having one strong drink might have been enough for you to feel the effects of the alcohol you’d consumed. Over time – and with repeated heavy drinking – you might find that you need three, four, or even five drinks before you start to feel intoxicated.
To answer this question, it’s helpful to think back and ask what your tolerance used to be. Then, be honest about how much you’re drinking now. If it’s increased dramatically, you might have a problem.
Am I Defensive About My Drinking?
How do you react when people talk to you about drinking? It’s very common for alcoholics to have one or more close friends or family members talk to them about drinking. If you reacted with anger or defensiveness, that could be a sign that you’re an alcoholic.
For example, you might turn on the questioner and bring up something that they’ve done. This is a form of deflection. Another sign might be if you yell at the person questioning you and act as if they’ve personally attacked you.
Do I Make Excuses for My Drinking?
A question has to do with making excuses for drinking. Here are some examples:
I’m just drinking because I’m stressed out and it helps me relax
I had a hard day and I deserve a drink
It’s a special occasion
Any one of these things could be acceptable to say for someone who doesn’t have a drinking problem. But if someone confronts you about your drinking and you answer with one of these statements (or something like them), you’re making excuses – and that’s a problem.
Do I Crave Alcohol When I Don’t Have It?
Sometimes, a person who is an alcoholic may convince themselves that they don’t have a problem because they don’t drink all the time. However, that’s only one way that alcoholism manifests itself.
If you can go hours (or even days) without drinking, it doesn’t mean you’re not an alcoholic. The question to ask is if you think about alcohol and physically crave it when you don’t (or can’t) have it. It’s common for alcoholics to feel depressed and experience other withdrawal symptoms when they can’t drink. If that sounds familiar, the chances are good that you’re an alcoholic.
Is My Drinking Interfering with My Life?
This last question is an important one because it encompasses many of the things we’ve already talked about. Here are some signs that your drinking may be taking over your life:
You are sometimes unable to do your job properly
You have experienced disciplinary action or reprimands at work related to your drinking
You’ve fallen behind on life responsibilities like cleaning your house, paying your bills, or taking care of your health
People in your life have expressed concern that your drinking has become a problem
Your personal relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers have suffered because of your drinking
If any of these things sounds familiar to you, the likelihood is strong that you have a drinking problem.
Answering “yes” to one of these questions may not be enough to indicate that you have a problem with alcoholism. However, if you’ve answered “yes” to three or more of them, you have a problem with drinking and may be an alcoholic.
If that’s the case, you need to know that there is help available. To learn about Alpine Recovery Lodge’s treatment program, please click here.
There are few things more frustrating than watching someone you love struggle with addiction. We know that because we see the fallout of addiction every day at Alpine Recovery Lodge.
We often get calls from people who want to know if they should force the person they love into recovery. There’s a lot of misinformation about this topic. In some states, involuntary commitment is considered a civil rights violation – and there are other potential downsides to forcing someone to get treatment.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the reality of forcing someone you love to get treatment for their addiction.
The Rules of Involuntary Commitment
The first thing you need to know, as we mentioned above, is that involuntary commitment is more difficult in some states than in others. Most states have a process for people who have severe mental illness.
In some states, the standards for involuntary commitment are very high. You may need to prove that the person who’s addicted is dangerous to themselves or other people to get a judge to agree to send them to rehab against their will.
Sometimes, people are forced into recovery by the court. For example, some states will offer people who have been convicted of drunk driving an expungement of their record by attending treatment.
The one situation where involuntary commitment is almost always possible is when the person struggling with addiction is a minor. A person who’s under the age of 18 can be sent by a parent or legal guardian to recovery whether they want to go or not.
When Should You Consider Forcing Your Loved One into Recovery?
There are times when forcing a loved one into recovery may be the best choice. Let’s talk about some of the signs that forced rehab may be called for.
You’ve Tried Other Methods
The first thing to ask is whether you’ve tried to get your loved one into recovery using other methods. Forcing someone into recovery should never be your first step. It’s an extreme measure and should be treated as such.
Other things that you might try first are:
A one-on-one conversation where you talk to the person about recovery and why you think they need help
A professional intervention with an addiction or mental health specialist
If you’ve tried these things without success, then involuntary commitment might be the only thing that will work.
The Addict is Dangerous to Themselves or Others
The next thing to ask is whether the person who’s struggling with addiction is dangerous to themselves or others. Danger is the standard for involuntary commitment in many states. It’s a way of safeguarding people who are unable to control their behavior.
For example, if your loved one got behind the wheel of a car, blacked out, and had a single-car accident, that might be an indication that they should be forced into recovery. The accident could have been worse, and you don’t want to tempt fate.
Another scenario that might call for involuntary commitment is if the person you love is neglecting their children because of addiction. (Another option here might be to call your local Child Protective Services office and report them.)
You may also want to consider involuntary rehab if your loved one is exhibiting self-harming or psychotic behavior due to drug use. These situations clearly illustrate that the person in question is potentially dangerous.
It May Help Them Avoid Worse Consequences
Sometimes, an addict is forced into recovery because they’re given an alternative that’s worse than the thought of getting treatment. For example:
They’re convicted of a crime and given the opportunity to expunge their record by getting treatment
They’ll lose their job if they’re not actively seeking treatment
They’ll lose custody of their children if they don’t seek treatment
These things may be enough to force an addict’s hand and get them into rehab. This might be considered the “carrot and stick” method, where rehab is the carrot.
When Is Forcing Someone into Recovery a Bad Idea?
Now, let’s talk about involuntary commitment from the other side. When is it a bad idea to force someone you love into recovery?
The first indication is that you haven’t tried anything else. It’s very rare that forcing someone into recovery should be your first choice. It should be considered a last resort. If you haven’t already tried an intervention, don’t consider forced recovery unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.
Likewise, if the person you love is willing to talk about their addiction or admit they have a problem, forcing them into rehab probably isn’t the answer. They may already be on their way to recovery. If you try to push them, it can backfire on you.
If you’re not willing to be the bad guy in the situation, that’s another reason to hold off. Someone who truly doesn’t want to go into recovery may resent you for forcing their hand. You must be willing to be the one to take the heat if you try to force them to do something they don’t want to do.
Finally, you must be willing to offer the addict your full support if they go into recovery. You shouldn’t force them if your intention is to wash your hands of them once they commit to treatment. They may push you away, but you’ve got to be ready to step in if they need you – and to support them when they’re out of rehab.
Can Forced Recovery Work?
It’s a misconception that an addict must be ready for recovery before it can be effective. That may be the case for some people, but it’s a mistake to think that forced recovery can’t be effective. It can.
It is true that most recovery programs work on the idea that the addict must admit their addiction to heal. A person who is forced into recovery may be combative and angry at first – and admitting they have a problem may not be something they can do.
However, it’s also true that sometimes the simple process of detoxification can clear the addict’s head to the point where they can then admit that they have a problem. Detox is a painful process, but some drugs work on the addict’s brain in such a way that they can’t think clearly when they’re high.
In other words, addressing the physiological aspect of addiction may help some addicts cope with the mental and emotional aspects, as well.
Another argument in favor of forced recovery is that some treatment is better than no treatment. Even if the addict doesn’t fully commit to the treatment, they’ll be attending group and individual therapy and hearing some positive things about the possibility of overcoming addiction.
So, let’s talk numbers. Most people who enter rehab voluntarily overcome their addictions. The margin with people who are forced into rehab is slim, especially if the person in recovery won’t (or can’t) admit that they have a problem and need help.
Some might argue that a slim chance is better than none. It’s very rare for an addict to kick an addiction without help. A few might be able to get clean by attending 12-step meetings, but for many others, an inpatient treatment facility gives them the best possible chance of success.
The bottom line here is that in some cases, forced recovery may be effective. It’s certainly the only choice if you have a minor child who’s struggling with addiction, and it may also be an option for people who are a danger to themselves and others.
To learn more about the treatment options at Alpine Recovery Lodge, please click here.
Recovering from an addiction is a challenge for everybody. Because it’s difficult, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about what’s involved in addiction recovery. In fact, we spend a lot of time at Alpine Recovery Lodge debunking myths so that our patients and their loved ones know what to expect.
The thing about recovery myths is that they’re dangerous. Addicts sometimes use them as justification for bad behavior, and their loved ones may inadvertently encourage bad behavior because they believe certain myths.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this collection of 7 myths about addiction recovery. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know what to believe – and which myths you can leave behind.
Myth #1: Relapse is a Normal Part of Recovery
The first myth we want to talk about is that relapse is a normal part of recovery. In a lot of ways, we consider this myth to be one of our worst enemies. Why? Because it encourages addicts to behave as though there’s no chance they can succeed the first time they try to overcome their addiction.
Like most myths, this one has some reality behind it. It’s true that many people who struggle with addiction relapse at some point. Recovering from an addiction isn’t easy and we’re all human.
The issue we have with this myth – and the reason it’s dangerous – is that it claims that relapse is normal. Normal is not a word we would choose. In fact, this myth may encourage self-defeating or harmful behavior in addicts. It can also lead to family members treating recovering addicts as if a relapse is inevitable.
The truth is that relapses happen but they’re not a foregone conclusion. One of the things we focus on in our recovery program is teaching addicts how to recognize – and cope with – relapse triggers. We believe that with the right tools and support, it’s possible for any addict to recover without relapsing.
Myth #2: Relapsing Means That You’re a Failure
Our next myth has to do with relapse, too. We hear from recovering addicts all the time who tell us that they’ve failed because they’ve relapsed. They are overcome with shame and guilt.
The danger of this myth is that it can make addicts feel that they are worthless when in fact the opposite is true. Addiction changes people’s brains. It requires time, commitment, and help to overcome an addiction, and some people need more help than others.
When an addict believes that relapse is a failure – or when their loved ones believe it – they may feel that it’s not worthwhile to try again. A sense of hopelessness is an addict’s worst enemy. So, if you or a loved one experiences a relapse, try to be gentle and understand that recovery is a process.
Myth #3: There’s Only One Way to Recover from Addiction
We often talk to patients who are resistant to some aspect of recovery because they haven’t known anybody who has tried it before. They know someone who quit cold turkey or used some other method to overcome their addiction and they think that’s the only way.
The truth is that every addict’s road to recovery is a little different. There are some elements of recovery at Alpine Recovery Lodge that are universal – for example, group therapy is a part of everybody’s treatment here. But, we also recognize that what works for one person may not work for another.
One of our specialties is working with patients who have a dual diagnosis of addiction and a mental health problem like depression or bipolar disorder. In other words, the recovery method that works for you is the one that’s right for you – and we’ll work with you to find it.
Myth #4: All Addicts Must Hit Rock Bottom Before They Can Recover
When you see movies and television shows about addiction, they nearly always represent addicts as people who must hit a dangerous rock bottom before they can admit they have a problem. That’s true for some people, but not for others – and that’s why this qualifies as an addiction recovery myth.
The truth is that most addicts have a breaking point. That’s the moment when they realize that their addiction is out of control and they need help to recover. Some people have what we call a high rock bottom. That means that even a small disruption of their lives may be enough to set them on the road to recovery.
Some addicts, sadly, never reach rock bottom. For them, rock bottom is death. Addiction is like a long train ride. Some people get off much earlier than others, and others stay on the train until the last stop. Ultimately, the addict is the only person who can decide to get off the train – and they’re free to do so at any point.
Myth #5: Recovery is Boring
It’s very common for recovering addicts to romanticize their former lives. When they’re in recovery – and spending their days in individual and group therapy – they may look back at the things they used to do and dismiss recovery process as boring.
This is a particularly dangerous myth. The truth is that a life of addiction is a life of crushing predictability. Addicts are always looking for their next fix. The things they used to love – including work, hobbies, and loved ones – fall away as their addiction takes over.
In recovery, there’s room for so much more than addiction. We often see people emerge from our programs with a new zeal for life. They’re ready to learn new things, meet new people, and remake their lives as they want them to be. There’s nothing boring about an opportunity for a fresh start in life – and that’s what recovery offers.
Myth #6: Recovery Is All About Deprivation
This next myth is related to the last one. We find that it’s common for people to think that being in recovery is simply a lifelong commitment of depriving themselves of something they love.
We choose to frame this issue in a different way. While it’s true that recovering addicts will be depriving themselves of addictive substances, we suggest that they view this as a choice instead of a deprivation. Depriving yourself of one thing is not the same as living a life of constant deprivation.
Instead, it requires an understanding that addiction has a price tag – and you can choose not to pay it. There are real rewards associated with recovery. Focusing on them can help make recovering addicts feel empowered instead of deprived.
Myth #7: Recovery Will Solve All Your Problems
For many of the people we treat at Alpine Recovery Lodge, the most dangerous point in their recovery is the moment when they’ve finished our program and they’re ready to leave. That’s because there’s sometimes a misconception that having completed a recovery program means that their problems have ended for good.
This is a touchy myth to overcome because recovery is such hard work. People who come here and commit themselves to recovery and therapy have already succeeded – but that doesn’t mean that life won’t present problems and challenges on the other side of rehab.
Both individual and group therapy can help recovering addicts prepare themselves to deal with the problems that exist outside of recovery. It’s common for addicts to have significant work to do repairing interpersonal relationships and careers. We work hard to give them the tools they need to do so.
Recovery is a long and difficult process. Understanding what’s true – and what’s a myth – can help recovering addicts and their families prepare for it and give them the best possible chance of success.
To learn about our addiction recovery programs at Alpine Recovery Lodge, please click here.
Recently, we helped a woman who called us wanting to know if she should stage an intervention for her sister, whom she suspected was abusing alcohol and drugs. We get that question a lot at Alpine Recovery Lodge. It’s difficult to watch a loved one struggle with addiction – and an intervention might seem like the best way to help.
Interventions can be effective, but they’re not always the best choice. In this post, we’ll explain what you need to know about interventions, so you can decide whether holding one is something you should do.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a face-to-face meeting between a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and the people who have been affected by the abuse. Most often, the attendees include family members and close friends of the person who is struggling with addiction.
Sometimes, the people who want to stage the intervention will enlist the help of a professional. It can be helpful to have someone there who understands addiction and can guide you through the process.
For that reason, it’s very important to understand when an intervention is appropriate and how to organize it.
When is an Intervention Appropriate?
An intervention may be the best way to get your loved one to confront their addiction and understand the ways it’s affected the people who love them. Let’s review some of the ways to tell if an intervention is appropriate for your loved one.
The first sign that an intervention may be appropriate is denial. If your loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol and attempts to address it casually have failed, it may be time to take a more formal approach and stage an intervention. Sometimes, being confronted with all the ways their behavior has affected people may help open the addict’s eyes to the reality of their situation.
Another potential sign that it’s time for an intervention is if the person you love has become a danger to themselves or others. For example, if they’ve been arrested for driving under the influence or if they’ve blacked out, they need help. These behaviors aren’t safe and may cause real and lasting harm.
It’s very common for people who love a person who’s struggled with addiction to enable their behavior in various ways. For example, you might:
Loan them money even if you know they’re using it to buy drugs
Make excuses for their behavior and help cover for them when they renege on obligations
Pick up the slack in caring for their kids or home
Give them a place to stay when they’re using drugs or alcohol
An intervention may be a way to let your loved one know that the enabling behavior is going to stop. In other words, you can tell them that their addiction is going to have consequences. Sometimes, the threat of withdrawing assistance can be enough to get your loved one to admit that they need help.
Finally, you may want to consider a group intervention if you’ve tried talking to the person one-on-one and it hasn’t worked. It’s possible that the inclusion of other people might get through to them.
When is an Intervention Not Appropriate?
There are times when an intervention is not appropriate. It can be a scary and difficult thing to confront someone you love about their addiction. Let’s talk about some of the things that might mean that an intervention isn’t something you should consider.
The first and biggest issue that rules out intervention is mental illness. It’s very common for people who struggle with addiction to have a dual diagnosis of a mental disorder. In fact, 50% of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have a dual diagnosis.
The reason that mental illness can complicate an intervention is that the person being confronted may not have the emotional wherewithal to cope with the intervention. In some cases, an intervention with a professional who’s equipped to understand the dual diagnosis may be appropriate, but it’s not the time to try an intervention on your own.
Another thing that might rule out an intervention is your attitude about addiction and recovery. If any of these things apply to you (or to anyone who might be involved with the intervention), you should reconsider:
You’re angry with the person and unable to control your anger
You’re judgmental on the topic of drug and alcohol abuse
You’re scared to the point that you can’t remain calm
Do not attempt an intervention if the person you’re confronting has a history of violent behavior or suicidal ideation. Any kind of confrontation may be dangerous to them and to you. There are other ways to get help if you need to.
Finally, it’s very important to be prepared to follow through on any consequences you mention during the intervention. If you can’t stick to what you say, there’s no point in holding an intervention.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Chances of Success?
Invite only people who can offer the right kind of support and feedback. Anybody who is angry, co-dependent with the person being confronted, or likely to continue enabling behavior should not be included. An intervention is not meant to shame or confuse the person who’s addicted.
Learn as much as you can about the substances your loved one is abusing. You’ll be better able to make your points if you understand the dangers of fentanyl addiction or whatever your loved one’s substance of choice is – and knowledge can also make you feel more secure as you approach the intervention.
Be prepared with treatment options. For example, you might find a detox and recovery program in your area, print a list of local Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and bring some printed resources to share with your loved ones.
Have a plan. If you’re working with a professional, they should take the lead. If not, choose one person who can be calm and have them run the show. This is not a time when you want participants to be shouting over one another or vying for attention.
Choose a place that’s comfortable for the person being confronted. Never stage an intervention in a public place or in a place that the addict will associate with addictive behavior.
Avoid “you” statements that shame and blame the person who’s abusing drugs. Instead, use “I” statements to explain how their behavior has affected you.
Be prepared to follow up. If you issue ultimatums or arrange for treatment, check in with your loved one and see if they’ve followed through. Make yourself available to help within the parameters you’ve laid out.
End it if things get out of hand. If the person being confronted becomes angry and lashes out, you should not continue. That may be a sign that you need professional help to confront them in the future.
Even if you do everything correctly, an intervention may still fail. Be prepared for that and make sure that you stay true to whatever you said about ending enabling behavior. Sometimes, the person who’s struggling may come around after having some time to think about it.
Staging an intervention can be a positive thing if you understand the risks and do it properly. The key is to do your best to determine if the person you love might be receptive to a group intervention – and to follow the steps we’ve outlined here to increase your chances of success.
If you have a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, click here to view our treatment options and get in touch with us. We’re here to help.
Opiate abuse isn’t new, but in the past two years, there has been more talk on the epidemic of opiate addiction in the news and in headlines. In fact, we get more calls now about opiate abuse than we have at any time in the past.
Opiates are commonly prescribed for pain. The fact that they’re a form of prescription medication can make it difficult for people to spot the signs of addiction. When a drug is sanctioned by your doctor, you might not treat it with the same caution that you would an illegal drug.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of 8 alarming facts about opiate abuse. These can help you understand why opiates are addictive and why it’s important to be careful when taking them.
#1: Non-Medical Use of Opioids is Increasing
The first thing you need to know about opiates is that opiate abuse is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have been growing steadily. In 2014, there were:
81,631 emergency doctor visits for non-heroin opioid overdoses; and
66,023 emergency doctor visits for heroin overdoses
That’s a total of 147,654 overdoses in a single year. Of course, those numbers don’t include people who abused opiates but didn’t visit an emergency room or doctor due to an overdose.
#2: Opiate Abuse Can Be Fatal
Another alarming fact about opiate abuse is that it can be fatal. CDC research found that the number of deaths due to opioid overdoses quintupled between 1999 and 2016. That number correlates with a similar increase in the number of opioid prescriptions, which was four times as high in 2010 as it was in 1999.
In total, 600,000 people have died because of opiate abuse between 2000 and 2016. That works out to an average of 115 deaths per day. A related fact is that the amount of pain reported by Americans has not increased. It’s just that doctors are prescribing more opiates than they used to.
#3: People Don’t Always Get Opioids from Doctors
Doctors are prescribing opioids frequently, but that doesn’t mean that every person who abuses these drugs gets them with a prescription. In fact, one of the most disturbing trends in opioid use involves people getting drugs from friends or family members.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), approximately 50.5% of all people who abuse opioid drugs get them from someone they know. Only a little over 22% get them from a doctor, and the remainder obtain them from other sources.
This may be due in part to a perception that prescription drugs are safer than so-called “street” drugs, when in fact they can be equally as dangerous if misused.
#4: Use of Prescription Opiates May Be a Gateway to Heroin Abuse
While prescription opiates, like oxycodone and fentanyl, have been in the news lately, it might be easy to forget that one of the most dangerous street drugs is also an opiate. We’re talking about heroin.
Heroin is highly addictive and – for some people – may be easier to obtain than prescription medications. In fact, nearly 80% of people who use heroin say that they misused prescription opiates first.
We want to note here that it’s not common for people who abuse prescription opiates to turn to heroin. Only about 4% do, but it’s still a fact worth noting. People who are addicted may turn to more dangerous options if their opiate of choice isn’t available.
#5: The Opiate Fentanyl is More Addictive than Heroin
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s often prescribed for breakthrough pain, especially in people who have been taking other opioids for a long time. It can be a useful drug for controlling pain, but it’s also highly addictive and dangerous.
In fact, fentanyl is approximately 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. A lethal dose of fentanyl is only 3 milligrams. That makes it very easy to overdose – especially because fentanyl is a short-acting drug. Its effects wear off quickly and may prompt users to take another dose before it is actually safe to do so.
Fentanyl affects the brain in the same way as other opioid drugs, but its strength is what makes it dangerous for many people.
#6: Opiates Change Your Brain
One of the most alarming things about opiate abuse is what it does to your brain. As you know, opiates are most commonly prescribed as painkillers.
Opiates are designed to react with one or more of your brain’s four opiate receptors. They can:
Reduce your perception of pain without eliminating its cause
Create a sense of euphoria or elation
Slow respiration and digestion
It’s the second reaction that makes opiates addictive. In some people, the feelings of euphoria produced by opiates trigger an addictive reaction in the brain. It’s linked to the release of the hormone dopamine, which creates a feeling of well-being. The person who takes opiates may want to take more of the drug in question to replicate that feeling of euphoria.
Over time, they will require more of the drug to get the same feeling. This creates a cycle where the addict needs to constantly increase their dosage.
#7: Doctor Shopping is a Real Problem
You may have heard that some addicts go “doctor shopping” to get supplies of the opiate drugs they are addicted to. While this problem is not a widespread one, it does point to one reason that opioid addiction is on the rise.
A recent study found that only one in approximately 143 opioid users obtained prescriptions from more than one doctor in a short period. That works out to 0.7% of all opioid users, but those users bought more than 2% of all prescriptions – and 4% of all opiate drugs by weight.
The problem is that a lack of centralized prescription information makes it difficult for doctors to identify those who might be seeing more than one physician to get drugs. Adding to the issue is the ability of patients to pay in cash when they visit a pharmacy. 49 states have created monitoring programs to make it more difficult for doctor shoppers to obtain multiple opiate prescriptions.
#8: Heroin Overdoses Are Increasingly Common
Prescription opioids might be a gateway to heroin, as we mentioned earlier. The increased use of these drugs might explain, at least in part, why heroin overdoses have dramatically increased.
In fact, heroin overdoses have jumped from approximately 2,039 in 2002 to 13,219 in 2016. That’s a 533% increase.
In 2017, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price noted that the United States loses more people to drug overdoses each year than it lost in the Vietnam War.
The News Isn’t All Bad
While these facts are alarming, we want to note that the news isn’t all bad. The recent discussion of the severity of the opioid epidemic has led to scrutiny – and action.
In 2017, Price announced the first distribution of federal funds to combat the opioid crisis. A total of $485 million was distributed to all 50 states and US territories. The money is meant to be used on prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Funds were allocated based on the number of overdoses and the need for treatment facilities and resources.
We Can Help with Opiate Abuse
Opiate abuse is a significant problem. If you or someone you love has a problem with opiates, whether they are prescription drugs or illegal ones, we’re here to help. Click here to learn about our drug rehabilitation programs now.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of heroin use and over-dose has nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. It’s also reported that more than 8,200 people died in 2013. Unfortunately, this statistic is on the rise since the last study and people are still abusing the drug and need help.
In the United States, heroin use and addiction doesn’t just affect one demographic. In fact, addiction levels are on the rise for men and women, various age groups, and nearly all income levels.
Heroin abusers need to decide- for themselves- when to cease their dependency on it. Abusers can stop on their own using online resources and a strong support system; however, the withdrawal symptoms might elicit relapse. A professional detox is the most successful way to rid an abuser’s body of the drug.
The more you, the heroin abuser, and your family know about supervised detox programs the greater success you’ll have.
You can understand how the program runs and what effort is needed on your part. Family and friends can recognize what you’re going through and learn how to be supportive every step of the way.
A supervised detox offers a safe and sure way for you to rid your body of the drug and toxic influences in a medical environment. This also reduces the risk of complications, if they occur. For some patients, their detox program may necessitate medication.
If you complete the program with absolute determination and purpose, you and your family will see immense progress.
For all who are involved in this journey: Outlined below are the five things you should know about a supervised detox program and how to continue progressing after.
#1 Admission and Initial Assessment
At the first stage, doctors will give you a medical assessment. This is used to calculate your heroin use-level and help design a detox program and treatment plan for you.
You can expect questions similar to the ones listed below:
How long have you been a user?
Are you taking other drugs? If so, which ones?
If you drink alcohol, how often?
Have you tried treatment before?
Are there any other mental or physical problems you’d like us to know about?
As part of the assessment, you will also be given a physical exam to thoroughly determine your health condition. Your medical history will also be used with your written and physical assessment to create the best treatment plan for you.
Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to be honest on your assessment.
#2 Withdrawal Period
The next stage of the detox treatment is going through withdrawal. The intensity of the symptoms depends on how heavily you used heroin.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
Muscle aches or spasms
Nausea or vomiting
When your body has been under the influence for long-periods of time, it’s not uncommon for it to malfunction. The endocrine system could misjudge normal experiences such a pleasure and pain and exaggerate them.
The fear of experiencing withdrawal symptoms deters many abusers from stopping. In a supervised detox program, the staff helps ease your symptoms and manage your cravings.
In these facilities, where resources and support are readily available, you have a higher probability of completing the program, and moving on to treatment. Supervised detox also reduces the chance of relapse and overdose in a safe and comfortable environment.
#3 Medicated Treatment Regime
In the third stage, the staff administers the supervised detox treatment plan, which is based on your assessment.
Sometimes, your treatment plan includes medications which control your cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The medications may include the following:
Methadone: A synthetic opioid that helps reduce cravings. The drug mimics the opioid receptors in the brain. This strategy helps stabilize you while you’re in withdrawal.
Buprenorphine: Another synthetic opioid similar to Methadone except less intense. It only stimulates a part of the brain’s opioid receptors. It relieves the withdrawal symptoms and also hinders misuse by putting a limit on the blissful heroin effect.
Naltrexone: This medication completely blocks the brain’s opioid receptor. Naltrexone is sometimes taken even after the supervised detox is completed. This long-term drug regime discourages relapse and further heroin abuse.
Suboxone: This medication combines the Buprenorphine and Naltrexone to suppress heroin use. If taken properly, you will receive the effects of Buprenorphine. If the doctors first crush and then inject it, you will have extremely discomforting withdrawal symptoms.
The medication’s aim is to free your body of heroin and any of the drug’s impacts on your body. This is accomplished over time and on a decreased schedule. The timing depends on your history with the drug and withdrawal symptoms intensity.
#4 Non-medicated Treatment Regime
You have the option to elect for a treatment that doesn’t involve any pharmaceuticals. This is often referred as “social” detox.
This treatment often takes place in residential or inpatient facilities. The benefit is that you’d be in an atmosphere that supports and fosters your goal. You’ll be around people who have the same aspirations as you and can encourage you.
You’ll have support from not only your therapists but also your peers. If you do need it, there is medication available. Unlike the medicated detox program, this one uses natural medications to lessen your withdrawal symptoms.
#5 After Supervised Detox
Your journey is not over once you’ve completed your detox. The detox merely clears your system of the drug and its impression on you. After the detox and withdrawal symptoms have ceased, you can focus on treating your addiction habits.
Behavioral therapy is the most common way to treat heroin addiction. These sessions concentrate on the core causes of your substance abuse and cravings during and after treatment.
This is a great phase for your family to be involved in. Therapists can advise them about how to best support your progression and help you adjust to life at home.
The type of behavioral therapy offered depends on the treatment center and its philosophy, any present psychiatric disorders, and your preferences. Generally, there are three types of therapies available:
Family Therapy: It includes you and your family members.
Group Therapy: It’s with the company of other addicts.
Individual Therapy: It’s a one-on-one session.
There is still a wealth of resources available if you cannot participate in behavioral therapy or need support after.
Online resources helped former addicts further their progression and avoid relapse. The two most common are listed below:
Narcotics Anonymous provides a twelve-step program through regular group meetings. The website provides resources ranging from literature about addiction to finding a meeting.
SMART Recovery offers direction for finding support groups, starting your own, and an online community for between sessions.
Now, Take the First Step Towards Recovery
You’ve been given all the information about how to help yourself.
Now, it’s up to you to rouse up the courage to make a change for yourself and the people around you.
If you’re committed to receiving treatment, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Does this treatment facility offer everything I need?
Does this treatment program use medications?
What types of therapy are available?
What support or resources are provided by the treatment program?
What type of staff are employed in this treatment facility?
How much will it cost? And does my insurance cover it?
~ 40% of the people struggling with mental illness and drug addiction seek out treatment for either one.
~ 5% receive treatment for both issues.
When someone exhibits symptoms of both drug addiction and a mental illness, such as depression, they are battling a Dual Diagnosis.
Dual Diagnosis can come in many combinations:
Alcoholism and Depression
Weed and Anxiety Disorder
Painkillers and Bipolar Disorder
In most cases, the symptoms and problems of drug addiction can negatively affect those of a mental disorder.
Dual Diagnosis sometimes occurs when patients try to do something to ease their anguish. These patients often turn to self-medication in the form of drugs. In some cases, depression leads to drug addiction; and in others, the drug addiction causes depression.
To inform you and your loved ones about Dual Diagnosis, please read about the connection between depression and drug addiction. You can also read on about finding treatments available to you.
There’s a difference between having a bad day and depression. A bad day occurs on occasion, while depression is a mental state that lasts for weeks or even years.
Symptoms vary person to person, but there are common ones:
Loss of activity pursuits
Irregular sleep patterns
Depression alone is difficult to treat long-term. And the symptoms get worse with substance abuse, making it even more difficult to treat.
Symptoms of Drug Addiction and Depression
Regardless of whether you or your loved one was diagnosed first with depression and then drug addiction, or the reverse, it can be hard to distinguish between the two.
Common symptoms of drug addiction and depression are:
If you or a loved exhibit these symptoms, then you may a dual diagnosis.
The next question you might ask: Did drug addiction cause the depression? Or did depression initiate the drug addiction?
Well trained therapists will be able to figure it out using a psychological evaluation. Additionally, reports from family members and friends, work employers, and even court records can help clarify which one came first.
Why is it Important to Know Which Disorder Came First?
For treatment purposes, it becomes extremely imperative to know.
For patients whose drug abuse was from depression, they will undergo a longer and different treatment regimen. They will receive a supervised detox and possibly have a medical intervention. All before receiving treatment for their depression.
For those where depression was from drug addiction, they will be taken off their drugs. After, therapists will evaluate if the patients truly have depression.
How Does Depression Lead to Drug Addiction?
Depression causes a downward spiral. It makes people feel sad and lonely and show disinterest in their hobbies.
People affected by depression often try to assuage it with illegal or prescription drugs. The drugs temporarily alleviate their symptoms and makes them feel better. However, once the drug wears off, the feelings of despair return. This causes some people to use drugs even more, which leads to drug addiction.
How Does Drug Addiction Lead to Depression?
Drug addiction worsens or intensifies depression symptoms because it mimics them.
Since addiction and depression symptoms are so close, you may not even realize you have the disorder. When the drug is removed from your system, then a proper depression diagnosis can be given.
Drug addiction undercovers underlying issues such as childhood or adulthood abuse, other traumas, blocked memories, family structures, or a combination of things. Therapy can help work through these problems without depending on drugs.
There are thorough treatments available for both drug addiction and mental disorders. Doctors and specialists use medication more frequently since it is more effective.
The best treatment is rigorous outpatient or inpatient treatment programs. By the end of these programs, you can stop your dependency and learn to manage your depression in a healthy manner.
Dual Treatment for Drug Addiction and Depression
The best option if you have a dual diagnosis is a dual treatment plan. Drug addiction and depression feed each other. Both need to be addressed to put a stop to the cycle.
A vigorous dual treatment program concentrates both on the drug addiction and underlying causes of depression.
A dual treatment may include:
Onsite medical assistance
Relapse prevention support
An effective treatment plan uses a combination of the strategies listed above.
Limits of Treatment
One of the major misconceptions of treatment is that it solves your problems upon completion of a program. Treatment is actually an ongoing process and requires support from therapists, group sessions, and family members.
Ideally, the treatment plan would work and you learn how to cope with depression and not relapse. However, that rarely happens.
In most cases, one-third of people with depression go to remission; one-third show progress but not in remission stage; and finally, one-third doesn’t feel better than when they started. To remedy this, long-term treatment needs to use both medication and therapy.
Overall, long-term treatment significantly reduces the risk of drug addiction and stages off symptoms of depression.
New Treatment Options
Treatment options are expanding and improving with our continuing understanding of co-diagnosis.
Treatment plans might use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) when antidepressant medications and other established depression treatments do not work.
Scientists and doctors are creating new medications that will use new neural pathways for depression symptoms.
There’s even studies that hope to manipulate genes to help curb addiction.
There are also online resources readily available to help you.
Dual Diagnosis provides information for different support groups:
Dual Recovery Anonymous: A 12-step program that helps patients recuperate from drug addiction and mental illness. It concentrates on preventing relapse and improving the quality of attendees’ lives. The group urges people to build a support network.
ERG: Everyone’s Recovery Group: A 12-step program that’s inclusive to all types of addicts. The hope is that people will be more motivated hearing other people’s recovery and progress stories.
Double Trouble in Recovery: A 12-step program tailored specifically for dual diagnosed patients. People who have only a drug addiction or diagnosed with a mental disorder are also welcome.
Dual Disorders Anonymous: A fellow ship of men and women who wish to help those with both mental disorders and drug addiction.
Dual Diagnosis Anonymous: The group talks about the importance of group therapy and medicated treatment. The group wants its members to share their recovery stories along with their struggles.
Schizophrenics Anonymous: An adapted 12-step program run by non-professionals for those suffering from schizophrenia.
Depressive Manic-Depressive Association: National organization whose meetings provide scholastic information about self-help.
Help Yourself or Your Loved Ones
There’s no need to wait, you can now make an informed step towards recovery.
When someone goes into rehab, we often get questions from families about what they should be doing while their loved one is undergoing treatment. Our number one answer might surprise you. We tell them to take care of themselves.
The truth is that when you love someone deeply, watching them struggle with addiction is very difficult. You want to help but you’re not sure what to do. And even after they start rehab, you may worry that you weren’t supportive enough.
That’s a lot to carry. That’s why we emphasize self-care and healing for the family members of our patients.
Why Self-Care Is Important
Before we share our self-care recommendations, let’s talk about why self-care is important. As we’ve already mentioned, caring for a loved one who is struggling with addiction is hard work. You may have put aspects of your life on hold as you tried to help them.
Addiction takes a toll on everyone in the family. You may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, relieved, sad, scared, and hopeful all at the same time. That’s a lot of emotions – and can drain you physically and emotionally.
Of course, you may also be wondering what things will be like when your loved one returns home. It’s essential for you to take some time to heal, rest, and recover from what you’ve been through. Only then will you be able to be a positive, supportive influence after rehab.
In other words, self-care is an important part of the recovery process for you and your recovering addict. You might not have a problem with addiction in that you’re not drinking or using drugs, but that doesn’t mean that addiction hasn’t taken a toll on you.
With that in mind, here are some ways that you can take care of yourself while your loved one is with us.
#1: Find Ways to De-Stress
One of the best things you can do is find ways to relieve the stress and tension that resulted from your loved one’s battle with addiction. Stress takes a physical and emotional toll on you, and it’s not possible to heal if you’re still feeling its effects.
Some things that may help include:
Getting fresh air and exercise
Journaling about your experiences
Seeing a therapist or counselor
These things can help you let go of your worry and anxiety and live in the present. The more you can de-stress, the better you’ll feel.
#2: Get Your Life in Order
It’s common for family members of addicts to experience disruption and confusion before their loved one goes into rehab. It’s important to use the time that they’re away to take care of things that may have fallen by the wayside.
Here are some things that you may need to deal with to get your life back on track:
Paying bills, balancing your checkbooks, and catching up on late payments that may have occurred because of the financial strain due to helping your loved one
Cleaning your home and getting rid of items that might be triggering to you or your loved one, including drug paraphernalia and reminders of addiction
Reconnecting with friends and family members you haven’t seen in a while
Catching up on work, errands, and other parts of your life that may have taken a backseat to your loved one’s addiction
Reprioritizing the elements of your life
Use this time to take control of your day-to-day, add balance to your life, and get things back on track.
#3: Find Support
Dealing with addiction isn’t easy. It’s very common family members of addicts to feel overwhelmed, burdened, and guilty. Your loved one’s addiction isn’t your fault, but it can feel that way – especially if family dynamics have not been balanced or healthy.
One of the best things you can do is find the support you need. The rehab process will give the recovering addict in your life support and guidance, but you need help, too. You may be feeling a lot of anger and confusion, and getting help now will put you in the best position to be supportive and helpful when your loved one comes home.
The kind of support you seek out is up to you. You may decide that one-on-one counseling is what you need to work through your emotions. Or, you might decide that a support group designed for friends and family of addicts is the best choice. You may even decide to try several support options before settling on the ones that work best for you.
Keep in mind that not all support has to be in person. There are online forums and support groups that you may want to try as alternatives to face-to-face therapy.
#4: Set Boundaries
It’s very common for healthy boundaries to be destroyed by addiction. Addicts tend to push boundaries by involving people in their addiction. Sometimes they borrow money to support their addiction; other times they simply take what they need.
Emotional boundaries are impacted by addiction, too. If you reach a point where you find yourself taking responsibility for someone else’s behavior and letting self-care slip, it’s a good sign that your relationship was a codependent one.
The solution is to think about your relationships and decide where your boundaries should be. Keep in mind that the only person whose behavior you can control is your own. Everyone else – including the addict – must take responsibility for their behavior.
Setting boundaries can be very difficult in the wake of addiction. It can take a long time to find and enforce them, but it’s important to begin that work while your loved one is in rehab.
On a related note, it’s a good idea to think about what you might need to do to enforce the boundaries you put in place. Your loved one will learn about healthy boundaries in rehab, but understanding on an intellectual level and putting what you learn into practice are two different things.
#5: Have Fun
There’s nothing fun about addiction. A lot of times, friends and family members of addicts find that their lives end up revolving around addiction.
The time when your loved one is in rehab is an opportunity for you to let loose and have a good time. Making time for social events and outings is a good way to shed some of the stress that has accumulated, and remind yourself of who you were before addiction became something you had to think about.
Sometimes, people feel guilty about having fun while someone they care about is in rehab. But keep in mind, fun is important in our lives. When you give yourself permission to have fun, you’re also laying the groundwork for positive things to come back into your life.
The healthier and happier you are, the better your relationship with your recovering addict will be. Having a bit of fun is an essential part of reclaiming your health and happiness.
Start Practicing Self Care
Watching a loved one cope with addiction is an exhausting, all-consuming thing. It can make your life feel very small – and getting back to normal represents a significant challenge.
Engaging in self-care while your loved one is in rehab is the best thing you can do to lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship with them post-rehab. Learn more about our rehabilitation services and how they can help your loved one by visiting our website.