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When most of us think of addiction we think of people who are lazy, unable to perform their job, constantly out of it, and typically, jobless. Few of us think of high performers, excelling at their school, job, or family life – but the truth is that millions of addicts are high functioning. As many as 19.5% of all alcoholics qualify as high-functioning, able to function well in society and often completely hide their addiction from others.

For example, thousands of doctors across the country use alcohol and medication to deal with stress, keep themselves awake for long shifts, and to unwind after emotionally and physically grueling work weeks.

What is ‘High Functioning’?

A high functioning addict is typically not someone you would think of as an addict. They get good grades, they go to work, they are in the top of their class or employee of the month. They are often well-educated, business owners, surgeons, lawyers, and generally smart. Because they don’t fit the typical stereotype of an addict, and their addiction does not visibly affect their lives, many people assume they’re okay, even after noticing high levels of substance abuse or alcohol consumption.

Many high-functioning addicts feel the same way about themselves. If they’re still going to work, getting good grades, etc., they’re still in control and therefore able to stop whenever they want to. Despite that, most eventually crash, suffering blackouts, health problems, liver failures, financial repercussions, or other lasting damage.

Recognizing a High Functioning Addict

High functioning addicts can be difficult to spot. They typically hide in social conformity, meeting or exceeding expectations and doing whatever they want when alone. However, alcoholism and substance abuse all leave signs, and over time, they will show – especially to close family and friends.

Health Problems

Even a high functioning addict will begin to experience health complaints over time. Depending on what they are using, most will either gain or lose weight, experience blackouts, become irritable, experience problems with anger, depression, or anxiety, have mood swings, experience strong ‘low’ periods, and may exhibit long-term cold and flu symptoms. These signs can worsen over time as the addict becomes more and more hooked on their drug, uses more, or toxicity builds up in their system.

Social Withdrawal

High-functioning addicts may be the life of the party when they’re high, but they may often vanish, may have difficulty communicating, and may suppress relationships with old friends and family. This can relate to periods of highs and lows experienced by addicts, guilt over using, and the intent to seek out friends or acquaintances they can use or drink with. Friends or family members suddenly being too busy to spend time with you or reply to texts or calls with no other obvious changes in their lifestyle when you suspect of them of drinking can be a red flag.

Slow Decline in Performance

While high-functioning addicts may maintain a job, may be high functioning at work or school, and may even outperform expectations, this will begin to slip over time. As they become more and more addicted, they will make more mistakes, cause more problems, and experience more mental health problems which makes it more difficult to concentrate, respond to unpleasant social situations calmly, and to function well in normal social situations. Someone who is slowly slipping up and slowly becoming worse than they were is likely suffering from a health problem, which in combination with substance use, likely points to an addiction.

Financial and Legal

If someone is high-performing but frequently facing legal and financial trouble, the problem may point to issues with substance abuse. For example, if someone frequently receives parking or speeding tickets, never has money despite a good job, or otherwise has unexplainable problems, substance abuse may be the problem.

Consistent Substance Use

If you see someone using drugs or drinking on a regular basis, outside of societal norms, it’s usually a problem. In many cases, this also applies if someone appears to have a higher-than-standard tolerance for alcohol.

Hiding

Hiding substance use, especially legal substances, is usually indicative of guilt and may show that the person is struggling with consumption or is addicted. Many high-functioning addicts deny their dependence even to themselves, and part of that means hiding it from others. Someone going out of their way to drink or use without being caught but who is otherwise functioning well may be a high-functioning addict.

Getting Help

High functioning addicts may not suffer the immediate social consequences felt by most substance-dependent persons, but they are still suffering. Despite having a job and usually maintaining friend and family, high-functioning addicts put themselves, their mental health, and their physical health at risk. Long-term drug and alcohol abuse permanently damages the body including the liver and gut, may cause long-term problems with anxiety and depression, and will cause worsening health problems over time.

Getting Help for High Functioning Addicts

If you or your loved one is dependent on drugs or alcohol, you do need help. High-functioning addicts can keep up the façade of being okay for years, but eventually, cannot maintain it anymore. In most cases, high-functioning addicts eventually crash, suffering severe health problems, are involved in car accidents, or otherwise experience major trauma because of their addictions before seeking help. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, you may be able to prevent this and get them help.

Unfortunately, most addicts are good at denial and high functioning addicts even more so. With no (current) life problems to remind them of the dangers of substance abuse or addiction, it is easier to brush alcohol or substance abuse off as temporary and not an addiction. Working with a professional interventionalist may be a crucial step to convincing a high-functioning addict that they need help. Fortunately, many high-functioning addicts are very intelligent, eventually able to recognize that they do need help. However, accepting that help when it comes their way is sometimes another question.

High-functioning addicts are accustomed to taking care of themselves, often use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, and may feel that they don’t need professional assistance. Therefore, actually getting someone into rehab may be difficult.

It’s also important that your chosen treatment facility can create a personalized treatment program. Some programs offer an addiction recovery program for executives and professionals. This is because high-functioning addicts may need special treatment. They are often self-sufficient and may not function well in programs designed to teach self-sufficiency. Instead, they need behavioral therapy, stress management, and to learn to relax and handle emotions without drugs or alcohol.

If you or your loved one is addicted to alcohol, it is dangerous and will negatively impact your life and your health if it hasn’t already. Going to a professional treatment center will give you the tools to detox safely and begin to learn safe and effective coping mechanisms for living a happy life without drugs or alcohol.

Please contact Beginnings Treatment Centers today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, help is here. We are located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the best and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post What is a High Functioning Addict? appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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It was winter, I was weary from the cold, and bored from staying inside on yet another Saturday night. So I went on a movie hunt for addiction films, and this is what I found:

1. Trees Lounge – 1996

Perhaps best known for his roles in The Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire, Steve Buscemi not only stars in this film, he wrote it, and it was also his first directing debut. He plays the part of Tommy, an out-of-work mechanic, who spends most of his time languishing in a bar called Trees Lounge.

After losing his job, his girlfriend, and his uncle, Tommy finds himself doing cocaine with relatives and ending up at Trees Lounge. His “if only this wouldn’t have happened” attitude fosters his addictions and propels him through a convoluted series of drama until he comes full circle back at Trees Lounge.

2. Jesus’ Son – 1999

This film, based on a book written by author Denis Johnson, is set in 1970’s rural America. Its chaotic narrative features the drug-fueled life of a young man known only as FH as he chronicles his time as an addict along with all of the stories he collected along the way.

Both haunting and hilarious, it offers a direct look into the mind and heart of an addict as he stumbles through life learning the true meaning of compassion and how he can use it to heal himself while helping others.

3. Pure – 2002

Whether you have grown up in addiction, are an addict with children, or have simply recognized how your addiction has profoundly affected the lives of the people around you, this film will speak to you. While a young Keira Knightly plays a pivotal supporting role, the film focuses on the gritty reality of a ten-year-old boy named Paul, who lives with his heroin-addicted mother.

After his father’s death, Paul struggles to find a way to live a normal life and take care of his younger brother. The subsequent death of his mother’s only remaining confidante sends her into a downward spiral that Paul fears will cause her to completely abandon him. As he searches for answers, he befriends a pregnant heroin addict superbly played by Knightly.

4. Candy – 2006

An expertly portrayed tale of the perils and pitfalls of co-dependency in addiction, this film features a poet, played by the legendary Heath Ledger, who falls in love with an art student, Abbie Cornish. She, in turn, falls in love with his drug of choice. The journey of their romance with heroin and each other is revealed through three acts, entitled Heaven, Earth, and Hell.

As their heaven of drugs and sex floats down to earth, the film deftly guides you through the layers of destruction that eventually carries them to a hell where an innocent life is lost and there is no turning back.

5. 1982 – 2013

Based on the life of it’s writer and producer, Tommy Oliver, this film delves into the heartbreak and destruction of families during the crack cocaine epidemic in Philadelphia in the early 80’s. In this drama, a father is faced with having to make the gut-wrenching choice of standing by his crack-addicted wife or rescuing his young daughter from its effects.

Despite it’s period setting, it’s depiction of drug abuse and urban violence is just as timely as it would be today. Ultimately, it’s a poignant picture of a father saving his child.

Relatable characters and deep gratitude that I made it through my addiction and out to the sober side placed all of these movies on my top ten list.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction or alcohol abuse, contact Beginnings Treatment Centers today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, help is here. We are located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the best and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post Five Addiction Films You Have Probably Never Heard Of appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD is a diagnosed mental disorder in which a person suffers from an exaggerated sense of self-importance coupled with an excessive need for positive attention or admiration and the inability to understand or empathize with the feelings of others. While the term ‘narcissist’ is often used to describe anyone expressing an exaggerated sense of self-importance or paying too much attention to their appearance (e.g. taking too many selfies), 1-6% of the population likely suffers from it. This disorder frequently overlaps with the symptoms of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder. It is also very often found alongside substance-use disorders, as persons with narcissistic personality disorder are sometimes very prone to substance abuse and therefore, dependence and addiction.

If your loved one has either been diagnosed or is showing the signs of narcissistic personality disorder and are or may be addicted to a substance, there is help. Both narcissistic personality disorder and substance dependence can be treated with behavioral therapy (although substance dependence is easier to treat) and your loved one can get better.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder typically manifests in a variety of ways, with multiple DSM recognized types. However, most NPDs will show the following traits and symptoms.

Histrionics – NPDs will engage in histrionics for attention, showing an exaggerated need for praise and admiration.

Arrogance – A person with narcissistic personality disorder may act superior and arrogant and may feel that all praise is genuine and well-deserved, even when it’s not. This also manifests as entitlement, so that people believe they are owed something.

Denial – Like addicts, persons with narcissistic personality disorder are exceptional at denial and can easily brush off criticism or anything that does not flatter them.

Manipulation and Lying – Narcissists easily manipulate others through lying, blackmail, emotional pleas, and coercion.

Jealousy – Jealousy of others’ achievements, feeling that something was ‘their right’, jealousy of what they believe is their due, etc.

No Empathy – Persons with narcissistic personality disorder may have difficulty understanding how others feel. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t feel, which is more indicative of psychopathy than narcissism.

Narcissist? Addict? Or Both?

It’s important to note that narcissists and addicts share many overlapping traits. Manipulation, lying, emotional blackmail, bullying, inability to understand the emotions of others, seeming insensitivity, and even an excessive need for admiration are all commonly found in both cases of addiction and narcissism. If your loved one has displayed these traits since before using, they are likely a narcissist. If the symptoms are new since the addiction, your loved one is likely just addicted – even if they’ve been suffering for years.

Why? The effect of addiction on the ego and self-esteem are well documented. Substance abusers can aggrandize the ego in an effort to lie to themselves about their substance abuse – causing narcissistic traits and personality.

Substance abuse typically causes euphoric rushes through overproduction or synthetization of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Over time, this reduces natural production in the brain, reduces the ability of the brain’s reward system (you get a rush of dopamine when you do something good for someone else) to work, and even damages the brain’s neural pathways. So after using for an extended period an addict may develop emotional blunting so that they feel very little when not using – all they want or care about is the drug and they will do anything to get it. Because most people perceive others as themselves, a person who is emotionally blunted will believe that you feel to the same extent they do, not much at all. So, they will, often with little remorse, manipulate, lie, and steal in the same way that a very narcissistic person would.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Substance Abuse

Persons with narcissistic personality addiction are often drawn to substance abuse and alcoholism for a number of reasons. Dissatisfaction with others’, feeling as though no one understands them, and feeling like they are special and therefore either will not get addicted or using to be ‘cool’ are all common traits. Narcissists then go on to deny addiction, even when heavily addicted – and may be adept at lying, convincing others they can quit at any time, and otherwise refusing to face the reality of their own addiction.

For this reason, it can be particularly challenging to convince a narcissist that he or she needs help. You may need a professional intervention, a strong relationship, or some other drastic measure to get a narcissist into therapy. You will have to deal with denial, possibly anger, and strong emotions when forcing a narcissist to come to terms with their own addiction. Being empathetic, gathering a group of people your loved one trusts and loves, and being kind but firm is one way to slowly but surely convince them that they need help. If you make pleas about them and their health rather than their substance use, you may also have more success. For example, “I’m worried about you, please let me help”, instead of “you’re using again aren’t you”.

Personality disorders, including narcissism, also make it extremely more likely that a person will use and become addicted to a substance. In one study, 40% of alcoholics and 79% of drug users showed strong symptoms of personality disorders. While not the most common personality disorder, narcissism is the fifth most common, and therefore extremely prevalent in cases of addiction.

Treating NPD as a Comorbid Disorder

While narcissistic personality disorder is part learned-behavior and part genetic trait, it can be treated. However, it is crucial that the treatment facility understand the person’s mental and physical health history so that they can create a custom treatment plan capable of treating NPD as a comorbid disorder. Like with depression and bipolar disorder, the mental disorder is at least partially responsible for substance abuse. If you treat substance abuse without treating the disorder, the patient will likely simply return to substance use once out of treatment.

A clinical psychologist can create a behavioral therapy program designed to treat co-occurring disorders of NPD and addiction – so that the addict unlearns narcissistic behaviors while learning to cope with cravings, learning to cope with stress, and gaining the skills to move on with their life.

If your loved one has not been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder before addiction, treatment can become more complex. However, a good initial assessment with a follow-up assessment after detox can help many therapists to better understand the unique problems and mental condition of their patient, so that they can offer a personalized treatment program to meet their needs.

Narcissistic personality disorder is particularly difficult to diagnose and treat in addicts because many of the symptoms overlap, long-term users often develop strong narcissistic traits, and many will show the same behavior patterns whether they are addicted or addicted and narcissistic. Either way, you can get help, treat narcissism like the disorder it is, and get your loved one back.

Addiction and narcissism have a lot in common and often appear together. For this and other reasons, it makes sense to treat them both together. Your treatment facility should be able to offer a comprehensive addiction treatment program with behavioral therapy for both the addiction and the NPD – so that your loved one can make a full recovery. Good luck getting your loved one into recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with Narcissism and Addiction, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors – we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the best and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Addiction appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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Over 23.5 million people in the United States suffer from some form of substance use disorder. This means that most of us know someone who is struggling with an addiction, and one in five of us will have a close family member or relation who is addicted. If your loved one is addicted to a substance, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, substance abuse changes people. They often withdraw, become manipulative, and their entire life may center around getting more of their substance. Family members suffering from addiction, even those you were very close to, may constantly request money, ask you to pay rent, ask you to take on responsibilities, and ask you to lie for them. As a loved one, you obviously want to help them, and that means saying no.

How to Say No

Addiction changes how people act and react. A formerly calm person may get aggressive and angry when you say no. Your loved one may attempt to manipulate you. They may also attempt to push your boundaries to see what they can get away with. If you say no, make sure you can stick to it. If you say no and do it anyway, your loved one will take advantage.

  • Keep calm. Even if your loved one is angry, you can calmly explain why you can’t do something. “I’m sorry, I don’t have money for you”, “I can’t do that because I’m at work”, “I’m sorry but no”,
  • Don’t make it about addiction, make it about them. Addicts face social stigma, and they may feel that you care more about them using than you care about their health. Instead, try phrases that say you care about them. “I can’t give you money because I’m scared you will use it to hurt yourself with drugs”, “I don’t want to do that because I’m afraid for you,” “I’m afraid you’ll get in trouble if I take you”,
  • Stand your ground. If you say no, keep it at no. Expect the addict to use anything in their power to get you to change your mind, even hurtful things. Keep saying no, or “I’m sorry, but no.” Walk away if you have to.

If you love someone, it’s important to understand that doing something that allows them to buy more drugs is hurting them, not helping them. This is known as enabling behavior.

Understanding Enabling Behavior

Enabling is the process of allowing an addiction by offering support, care, or money to someone struggling with addiction. In some cases, it’s impossible to avoid, in other cases, it sneaks up on you. A child may start struggling and you help them with rent, only to realize months down the road that they’re using the money for drugs. A partner may have you take on more and more of the household responsibilities, until you’re doing everything and they’re drinking. By stepping up and taking those responsibilities, lending money, paying rent, and buying groceries, you’re giving your loved one the foundation to continue using.

Stepping back, deciding what is helping them stay addicted, and what will happen if you withdraw your support can give you the perspective to make better and more informed decisions.

Seeing Past the Manipulation

Addicts are often very manipulative. Most will focus on getting more of their substance, even at your expensive. This means that they will lie, offer excuses, and otherwise work to deceive you to get what they want. Your loved one many tell you they aren’t using, that they are in recovery, that they need money to take a course or class they need for a job, that they got a job and need something to help with rent till their paycheck comes and so on. Some people are very convincing.

While it’s difficult to say that you can’t trust your loved one, you probably can’t. Unless they can prove that they’re using something for a good reason or they can prove they are in recovery, the chances of any problem being a fabrication are high.

Creating an End Goal

If you’re currently helping your loved one, withdrawing that support will hurt. It will often have ramifications, and things may get considerably worse before they get better. Your addicted loved one may get angry and stop talking to you, they may lose their apartment or home, they may end up in jail.

It’s important to consider the possible ramifications of any decision, create an end goal for that decision, and work towards it. For example, if you want your loved one to go to rehab, you can say that and work towards it.

“I will help you, but I won’t pay for your addiction. Go to rehab first”

“I’m worried about you, I’ll pay your rent but you need to get help – I’ll drive you myself”

“I cannot help you anymore until you get treatment, I don’t want to help you hurt yourself”

While there is a risk in putting a condition on support, you can say that you are there, conditionally, providing you say that it’s about them and their health and their well-being.

Avoiding Tough Love

Tough love is the idea that you can withdraw completely and allow your loved one to crash and hit rock bottom on their own. Without any support at all, an addict is forced to confront the worst possible ramifications of their lifestyle choice and are therefore forced to go to prison, into therapy, or onto the street.

Unfortunately, tough love rarely works. People recover when they have the motivation and social support, and tough love can pull that away when people often need it the most.

Detaching with Love

Detaching with love is the concept of pulling away to protect your wellbeing and mental health, while remaining present in your loved one’s life. Here, you talk to them, offer support, listen nonjudgmentally, and care for that person – but you don’t invest in them. You know that your loved one is an addict so you don’t expect them to be better, you don’t stay up or put energy into their location or whereabouts, but you be there for them and get them into rehab when they’re ready. You may help to educate them, keep them safe, and offer Naloxone to prevent an overdose, but you do so knowing they are using or drinking.

If you can stop doing things for an addict who uses you to keep using and instead start being there emotionally, but in no other way, you can stop enabling without cutting your loved one off. When they need to talk, you can still be there, just not financially.

Getting your loved one into treatment is the best option to help them get better. A good rehab program will offer medically supported detox and will follow up with cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy to help rebuild your relationship, and aftercare to ensure that your loved one stays clean and sober.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors – we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the best and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post How to Say No to an Addict You Love appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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When I was growing up, people minded their own business. We didn’t ask each other how much money we made, why we were a part of a particular religion, or who we voted for in an election. And we all followed the golden rule that “whatever is said in this house, stays in this house.”

Nothing much changed when I started drinking, except some lies got thrown into the mix. Little white lies, my mother called them, harmless little fibs to spare someone’s feelings, because times were changing and not everyone respected your privacy anymore.

The more I drank, the more excuses I made, the more lies I told, but I didn’t see the true nature of the problem. Instead, I resented having to render an account for why I had to cancel something or why I wasn’t feeling well.

I resented having to offer an explanation for whatever I chose to do with my free time, and I resented having to lie about it, just because other people didn’t approve of how I spent it.

Of course, the day finally came when I burned my last bridge, and I was left with two choices: homeless center or rehab. Fortunately, I chose the latter.

I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason, so I decided to make the best of it and embrace the opportunity to better myself. I was 36 and I thought if I got my act together, it wouldn’t be too late to have a real life. My attitude was, “tell me what I need to do to get sober, and I’ll do it, and life will be good”.

I had no idea how much work was involved with getting sober or that I was going to have to flesh out and discuss my deepest secrets. When I learned that our secrets can make us sick, my only thought was, “Does getting sober mean I can’t have an ounce of privacy?”

My counselor gave me an answer I will never forget, because it was the first time any of this privacy stuff made sense. She said, “If you are harboring anything that you would be ashamed to share, and it doesn’t matter what it is, then there are issues in your life that need to be addressed.”

One word stood out, the word harboring. One of the definitions for harboring is, “to keep or hold in the mind”. It wasn’t about privacy at all! I don’t have to go around sharing every aspect of my life with everyone else. It was about harboring. It was about holding in the things that ate at me.

Those were the secrets that were making me sick. Those were the thoughts I had spent years trying to  drown with alcohol.

As an addict, I didn’t know how to live a normal life, because I never learned any healthy coping skills. I had been washing my cares away with alcohol since I was 14, so normal maturation had never taken place.

When I reached adulthood, there were suddenly all these life skills and responsibilities that everyone else in my peer group was doing okay with, but for me, it was all so heavy. I had been handicapped during the time I was supposed to be learning that stuff. I was secretly embarrassed by it.

My dirty little secrets began to snowball.

Yet, all I really needed to do was to answer a basic question, “Are my secrets aiding my recovery or are they hindering it?”

Answering that question truthfully has kept me well.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors – we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the best and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post Am I as Sick as My Secrets? appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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Data shows that more than 11% of children live with an adult who is addicted to a substance, nearly one in four U.S. children know an adult addict, and about 28 million children live with alcoholics. While levels of substance use, and their impact on family hierarchy and relationships vary considerably, Children of Alcoholics (CoA) suffer from arrested development, trauma, and often, abuse. This impacts growth and development considerably, resulting in distinct changes, personality subtypes, and common characteristics that many adult children of addicts share.

Children who are raised in families with an addicted parent are often faced with parental deficiencies such as less warmth and responsiveness, harsher interaction, and less physical or verbal engagement, maltreatment and abuse, less attachment patterns, and often consistent and repeated trauma. For example, children of addicts are more likely to be physically abused, to have to move suddenly, to experience frequent changes in lifestyle and parental relationships, and to find parents in uncomfortable situations or even blacked out. This trauma results in numerous changes, and many adult children of addicts suffer from the following common characteristics.

1. Trauma

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) are exposed to often frequent and repetitive trauma. Even in relatively normal households, alcoholic parents behave and react differently, may black or pass out, and may frequently abandon their child in favor of their substance. Studies show that this kind of trauma physically affects development, including of the brain – resulting in abnormalities or differences in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. These changes, which are developed during childhood stress or adversity, often do not go away, and continue to affect a child for the rest of their natural life.

Children who are exposed to traumatic events, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, car accidents, instances such as losing a home and being homeless, and other trauma may also experience PTSD. Left untreated, this will continue to cause problems well into adulthood. In one study, more than half of children exposed to early childhood trauma were affected by mental disorders or substance use disorder later in life.

2. Antisocial Personality Traits

ACoS are more likely to suffer from antisocial personality traits such as avoidance, irritability, feels less guilt, is more readily able to lie or manipulate, and disregards right and wrong. While many ACoS suffer from an opposite problem, antisocial traits are often directly resulting from a lack of empathy or emotional warmth from parents, abuse, and trauma. Adults with these issues are more likely to show aggression to people and animals, engage in theft, destroy or vandalize property, and blatantly ignore or break rules for the sake of it.

Because antisocial behavior in ACoS is typically either a coping mechanism or the result of changes to the brain, it is often approached with behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and teaching social skills.

3. Problems in Interpersonal Relationships

Because children of alcoholics are often raised with less emotional warmth and availability, sometimes blame themselves for their parent’s addiction, and are often emotionally or verbally abused, many develop maladaptive beliefs which inhibit their ability to form healthy or stable relationships with others. This can result in being emotionally withdrawn, not knowing how to connect, extreme reactions to small arguments, selfishness in relationships, and enabling or codependent behavior in relationships. Most need family therapy and therapy to move past these behavior patterns so that they can form and maintain normal healthy relationships.

4. Impaired Stress Management and Coping Mechanisms

Many children of adults develop maladaptive beliefs, which lead to internalized distrust, insecurity, emotional suppression, and constant anxiety. This often results in developing coping mechanisms, which can range from violence to drug use, or hiding. ACoS exhibit significantly higher instances of personal dysfunction, including anxiety, panic disorder, dysthymia, and social dysfunction in comparison with the general population, often strongly linked to instances of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment as a child.

This results in a strong tendency to use drugs or alcohol to cope, meaning that many ACoS benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), stress management techniques like mindfulness, and therapy.

5. Impulsive/Reckless Behavior or Extreme Resilience

Children of addicts are often put into high-stress situations early on, given more responsibility, and often forced to mature more quickly to deal with stress. For example, even very young children below the age of 10 may find themselves in a role where they care for themselves, siblings, and their parents in a way that is abnormal for someone of their age. At the same time, alcoholic parents are less often present, more emotionally withdrawn, and when capable of administering discipline typically do so in a way that is unhelpful. So, many grow into teen years and become rebellious, use drugs or alcohol themselves, vandalize, and otherwise flaunt or break rules.

This dichotomy of experiences typically results in one of two distinct personality types, either impulsive and reckless behavior or extreme resilience. In the first, adults are more likely to engage in crimes, gamble, spend money recklessly, speed, and otherwise behave recklessly. In the second, adults are more likely to be too careful, causing themselves unnecessary stress, but coping extremely well with hardship, pain, and problems.

6. Difficulty Managing Emotion

Combinations of stress, emotionally withdrawn parental figures, possible substance abuse as a teen, and trauma often result in adults who are emotional, but who don’t understand their emotions or how to control them. This can result in extreme reactions to small setbacks, anger, depression, anxiety, and other emotional difficulties. It primarily affects interpersonal relationships and self-management and discipline.

7. Prone to Addiction

While there are many factors linking ACoA to addiction, the two most clear-cut factors are genetics and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) or trauma. The ACE scale, which was developed based on a study of over 17,000 people, directly links traumatic events, like addicted parents, losing family members, divorce in the family, etc., to an increased chance of addiction as an adult.

The second factor, genetics, is more difficult to track but equally as problematic. Children of addicts are genetically more prone to becoming addicts themselves, through a combination of genes which change the body’s reaction to substances and epigenetics, which are inherited from parents when those parents drink or use before birth. While we are still learning about both, studies show that genetics, or a parent abusing alcohol before conception, can increase the risk of developing an addiction by 40-60%.

Adult children of alcoholics suffer from numerous problems, many of which can be helped with therapy. If you or a loved one are a child of an addict, reach out for help. Cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy can help you to learn and rebuild personal skills and coping mechanisms. If you are addicted to a substance, it is important to disclose a family history of substance abuse or alcoholism during intake.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the most active and best recovery communities in the United States.

The post 7 Common Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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Most people are aware that substance abuse in the United States is rampant, with millions addicted or dependent on substances like alcohol and opioids. But, when most of us think of addiction, we think of younger people, typically between the ages of 18 and 30 and typically, not seniors. While it’s true that substance use generally decreases as adults age, substance abuse in aging populations is a serious problem, with an estimated 1 million adults aged 65 or older suffering from a substance use disorder in 2014, and 2.8 million over the age of 50. Drug abuse among seniors is also on the rise, with illicit drug users over the age of 55 expected to move from 2.2% of seniors to 3.1% by 2020.

The Baby Boomer Effect

While drug use among seniors is increasing and expected to continue to increase, this is in part because of the baby boomer effect. Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 are entering senior populations. This generation also historically had a higher rate of drug usage than any other generation, leading to confusing statistics of teens and twenty-year old’s topping drug-usage statistics in the 1970s and 1980s, 30-40 years in the 1980s-1990s, and now seniors, aged 50-65+ using drugs at a higher rate than teens. While young people are still more likely to use drugs, and more likely to abuse them – and most frequent drug users are between the ages of 18 and 25 – seniors face more risks, and currently overdose or experience hospitalization because of substance abuse at a higher rate than teens.

Increased Health Risks from Substance Abuse in Aging Populations

While seniors are typically less likely to abuse drugs than teens and young adults, they are more likely to have chronic health conditions, prescription medication, and weakened immune systems. As a result, seniors are more likely to face negative health consequences, including physical and mental health problems and face a higher risk of overdose related death or hospitalization.

This is especially true in users who also take prescription medications, which may interact with substances in unintended ways.

What Substances are Seniors Using?

Most seniors abuse alcohol, (6 million), marijuana, and opioids. One report by the NSDUHs, defining binge drinking as having 5 or more drinks on a single occasion, showed that 3.4 million adults aged 64 or older reported binging, with more than ¼ of those reporting frequent binging or heavy alcohol use.

DAWN showed that in 2011, more than 750,000 seniors were admitted to hospital visits for illicit drug use or drug use in combination with alcohol or prescription medication. Of these, the vast majority involved the use of prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, with a smaller percentage involving abuse of benzodiazepines, alcohol in combination with other drugs, antidepressants, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.

In every case, alcohol was the most commonly abused and the most frequent cause of hospitalization and overdose, followed closely by opioid related drugs, such as narcotic painkillers.

Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Seniors

While alcohol is the most commonly abused substance, prescription painkillers are a close second. These substances are primarily narcotic opioid painkillers, like oxycodone and Percocet. Many seniors suffer from chronic pain, need surgery, or have conditions that require painkillers, such as arthritis. Doctors often prescribe painkillers easily, trusting that older users will be less prone to addiction and more level headed about use.

However, any long-term substance use leads to tolerance. This is especially problematic with opioids, which agonize opioid receptors in the brain, mimicking a natural process in the body. The body naturally changes to accept increased levels of peptides in the opioid receptors, leading to tolerance. So, someone taking a painkiller for arthritic pain may find that one pill no longer works – they have to take two. This process of tolerance leads many users to add on more as they self-medicate, developing an abnormal dependence and possibly eventually an addiction.

Studies show that 17-40% of all prescription medication in the United States is used by populations over the age of 50. This becomes a crucial factor when 40% of seniors also have 3 or more prescription medications, often for chronic illnesses. But, as doctors become more aware of substance abuse, they are largely simply limiting supply, without treating addiction. As a result, an addiction to a prescription opioid could result in an addict seeking out cheaper alternatives, like heroin, which is chemically similar to oxycodone.

An Untreated Epidemic

While nearly 3% of adults over the age of 65 suffer from a substance use disorder, many never seek out or get treatment until they have been hospitalized. Studies show that this phenomenon likely results from a combination of ageism, lone adults who no longer have close family members, and shame.

For example, many children see substance use disorders and they allow ageism to influence their thinking. “She doesn’t have too much longer to live anyway”, “Drinking is the only thing that makes him happy anymore, I can’t take that away”.

Others are either forcing themselves to ignore the fact that a respected adult needs their care, or are ashamed of it and don’t want others to find out, therefore working to hide the problem – enabling the senior in their care to continue abuse. While it often seems like the nice thing to do to allow a senior to continue using, doing so could dramatically shorten and reduce the quality of their remaining years – while separating them from the people they love.

Identifying Substance Abuse in Seniors

Seniors can become addicted in the same way as younger adults. However, because they typically abuse socially accepted substances such as alcohol and prescription medication, they typically hide it better. This can make identifying substance abuse in a family member or a friend more difficult than in a younger adult, but you can still watch out for signs and symptoms.

  • Increases in substance use – If someone increases the pills they are taking, takes them more frequently, or combines them with other substances and pills, they may have a problem. If you suspect your loved one has a problem, check the dosage recommendation on the bottle (or online) and cross reference it with what they are taking.
  • Multiple prescriptions from different doctors – Many people who are addicted to substances engage in a practice known as doctor shopping, where they attempt to get the same prescription from multiple doctors, often in several states. While this is less common than it used to be, because most opioid prescriptions are logged into an inter-state database, it can still be a problem.
  • Combining substances – If you know that your loved one should not be drinking with their medication and they start, it is a clear sign of a problem.
  • Changes in behavior – major changes in behavior, increases in selfishness, aloofness, or secretiveness are all indicative of a problem. While these changes can be a result of other life occurrences, they are a red flag if combined with other signs of addiction.
  • Guilt or excuses – Someone expressing guilt or giving excuses about taking medication is not taking it in a prescribed way, unless they have a problem with taking medication in general. You can also look for secretiveness, having substances with them at all times, and hiding how much or when they take pills.

While there are many other signs of substance abuse in seniors, these signs are among the biggest warning signs. If your loved one exhibits any of them, or avoids talking about substance use with you, it’s time to talk to them about their problem.

Substance abuse in aging populations is a public as well as a personal concern, largely because older adults suffer more from drug use.  Both alcohol and prescription painkiller substance dependence present a severe risk, resulting in worsening medical conditions, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, memory loss, and mood disorders. Combining drugs or medications, and abusing them also affects seniors more strongly than young people.

If someone you love is using, it’s important to get them help. While you may have to stage an intervention, or otherwise take drastic measures, getting your loved one into addiction treatment will help them to go through detox in a safe medical environment, get cognitive behavioral therapy to treat mental addiction, and learn the skills to cope with the underlying problems and stresses behind their addiction. Seniors are especially vulnerable to substance caused health problems, and getting someone help could greatly increase their quality of life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the most active and best recovery communities in the United States.

The post Substance Abuse in Aging Populations appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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No matter where you’re spending the winter, the season can be a difficult one for anyone. With less sunlight, no leaves, cold weather, and often some amount of isolation because fewer people go out and do things, many of us are prone to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder known as S.A.D.

If you’re recovering from alcohol dependence or addiction, feelings of depression and loneliness are triggers for cravings that can send you sliding into relapse. You also have to expect that more people will be drinking, because with less to do, many people do very little but drink at winter parties and events.

However, while it is more difficult to maintain your sobriety during the winter, you can stay sober and maintain your recovery. Planning how to approach triggers and cope with cravings, taking care of yourself, and taking steps to avoid feelings and events that trigger your addiction will help you stay sober.

1. Take Care of Your Health

Staying fit and eating right over the winter can be a lot more difficult than you’d think. Most of us don’t go out walking, don’t play outdoor sports, and eat significantly fewer fruits and vegetables in the winter months. But all of these things contribute to feeling lethargic, tired, and depressed, all of which are triggers for addiction. For example, Vitamin D, A, and E deficiencies mimic symptoms of depression and cause stress, which makes it more difficult to avoid relapse. Exercise and good food will naturally produce dopamine and other neurotransmitters in your body, helping you to feel better, giving you more energy, and working to reduce cravings by giving you a natural dose of the chemicals you’re craving.

2. Spend Time with Friends and Family

HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired), is an acronym that’s often used to describe emotional states that make recovering addicts more prone to relapse. If you’re lonely, you will have a more difficult time resisting cravings, you will have less motivation, and you will be sad.

To combat loneliness, spend time with friends and family where possible. You do have to ensure that it’s an alcohol-free environment and that your friends and family are supportive of your need to stay sober, but you should spend time with them whenever possible. Great ideas include going to active events such as hiking, ice skating, or hockey, playing board and video games together, going shopping together, and so on. You can also host sober parties and invite sober friends and family.

If you’re mostly on your own, you can still spend time with people from your sobriety group.

3. Avoid SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a common mental disorder where people exhibit depressive symptoms for part of the year, typically in the winter. This has been linked to decreased vitamin D intake through sunlight, decreased light exposure, and typically decreased activity and time spent in social groups. By watching your vitamin D intake, going outside to get more light, and ensuring that you spend time in social activities, you can avoid SAD and the depression that will likely trigger a relapse.

4. Attend Group Therapy

Attending group therapy, whether AA, SMART, or any other self-help group in your area, will give you the motivation and accountability to keep yourself sober. Self-help groups like AA work because they provide accountability, consistently remind you that you cannot slip up, and give you inspiration and motivation to keep going. In fact, AA attendees who continue to attend have an abstinence rate of about twice that of people who do not attend.

5. Participate in Events and Activities

Getting outside and doing things is a great way to boost your mood, get you to spend time around people, and provide motivation for staying sober. Getting out and doing things makes your life better, and that is the best motivation and reason to stay away from alcohol. You can choose to do nearly anything you want, from volunteering to skiing to winter festivals. Just make sure that alcohol isn’t available on location and if it is, you have a friend or partner there to back you up in case cravings hit.

6. Go to Sober Parties

A sober party might not sound like a lot of fun, but they can be more fun and more memorable than events with alcohol. Many sober groups host sober parties, but you can also host one yourself or find others hosting them. The idea is that you bring friends together, meet new people, and have fun without alcohol. Instead of drinking, you play games, talk together, share food, and otherwise get to know each better without intoxication. If you’re not hosting, it’s also a great way to meet new sober friends, whom you can trust that you can do things with without being pressured to drink alcohol.

7. Recognize Your Triggers and Plan to Cope with Them

Every person in recovery has triggers, and it’s important that you recognize yours and learn to avoid or cope with them. For example, common triggers include alcohol, people you used to drink with, places you used to drink in, things you used to watch, say, or do while drinking, stress, certain emotions, and people.

If you can sit down and recognize which elements and items make you want to drink, you can decide what to do about them when they come up. For example, most people are accustomed to drinking and staying up very late on New Year’s Eve. You may experience very strong cravings and a feeling of missing out on the day. How will you cope with it? What will you do instead? If you used to drink with a family member, how will you cope with seeing them over the holidays? How will you say no? How will you explain your sobriety without hurting their feelings? And if you have trouble dealing with stress such as winter traffic jams, how will you deal it with it and cope with the stress?

Writing out things that cause cravings can help you to give it a place, decide how to cope with it, and to prepare yourself so that when it comes up, you can react well.

Winter is often long, cold, and it can be lonely. But, by taking steps to fill yours with fun activities, friends, and social events, you can make it fun and completely sober. Just remember to take care of yourself, your health, and your mental health, and you’re already on the right track.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post 7 Tips to Stay Sober During the Winter appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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For most people, the holidays are about spending time with family, being loved, and having fun. But, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, facing the holiday season can be significantly more challenging. If you’re alone and preparing to face Christmas and New Year’s without your family and friends, it can be even more daunting.

But, just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean you have to relapse. You should expect to be tempted or even triggered, nearly everyone will be drinking, but you’re still in control of what you do. With a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that you’re ready to face the holidays alone, stay sober, and hopefully have a little fun at the same time.

You Don’t Need Alcohol to Have a Good Time

Most of us grow up with the kind of insinuation that alcohol is a necessary part of a party. Most of us have childhood memories of watching parents drink, often too much and grew up waiting to sneak alcohol into teen parties. It’s just ‘what you do’. But, while it’s socially normal to drink to have fun, it’s not a necessary part of it.

In fact, there are plenty of ways to have fun over the holidays without ever touching a drop of alcohol:

Attend a Sober Party – Most AA and sobriety groups host some form of sober party over Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re out of town, you can ask to join one as a guest and explain your situation. If you’re at home, you can ask around and attend one thrown by your local group, or throw one yourself. If you plan a sober party yourself, you do have to plan activities like games or TV, plan food, and, of course, non-alcoholic beverages.

Go for a Hike or Walk – Exercise and activity not only help you to pass time, they can also be fun and they can help you to feel better. Exercise releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which can make you happier, reduce cravings, and boost your energy. If it’s too cold out for a walk or hike, you can do plenty of things indoors like yoga, roller skating, ice skating, indoor skiing, and much more. Try to bring a friend if you can.

Find Something You Like to Do – If you can’t spend time with people you know and love around the holidays, you can entertain yourself with things you like to do. Just be cautious of spending too much time alone or tiring yourself out, which can trigger HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) which act as triggers for addiction.

Go to a Sobriety Meeting

Going to AA or another sobriety meeting might not sound like your idea of a good time, but it does get you out, around people who are going through the same things as you, and into a situation where you can talk about your feelings without judgement. Going to AA on Christmas and New Year’s will also put you in the right frame of mind, so you remember why you’re staying sober and have something to hold yourself accountable to.

If you’re away from friends and family for business or travel reasons, find a group in your area before you travel, try to contact or email them in advance, and attend as a guest.

Volunteer

Most of us like the holidays because we get to give to others, you can still do that even if your family and friends are gone. Volunteering your time is a rewarding and positive thing to do, even if it’s just for a few hours. Some of the Christmas and New Year’s volunteering opportunities involve soup kitchens, working in domestic shelters, handing out food and blankets, or donating your specific skills and time to the needy. You should not typically volunteer around recovering addicts who might still have alcohol, primarily because you might slip up if tempted.

Volunteering actually releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain, giving you a rush of happiness, and reducing cravings. Plus, you’ll be doing something good with your time, and you can be proud of yourself and what you’re doing. If you’re attending an afterparty or are in an area where alcohol might be served, you should discuss your history with the manager or the group before starting, and ask them to be courteous and not offer you alcohol.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself is an often-overlooked part of being alone, but one that’s important for maintaining your psychological and physical health. The kid in you might want to watch movies and eat pizza while the laundry and dishes pile up, but these things will just leave you feeling miserable. Take care of yourself, get exercise, shower at least once a day, keep your house, apartment, or hotel clean and tidy, and if you can, cook yourself a nice dinner to celebrate the holiday. If you can’t cook, reserve a nice meal in a restaurant and discuss that you can’t have alcohol with your waiter upfront.

Have a Backup Plan

Everyone drinks around the holidays. You will most likely end up in a situation where someone is trying to hand you alcohol and they may even be belligerent and rude if you turn it down. Have a backup plan, decide what you will do, and decide how you will tackle cravings.

You likely know what causes cravings, how they feel, and what to avoid. Many people find that writing out a list helps to clarify why and how those things cause cravings. It’s also helpful to write out options or responses to each of those things, so you have a response in place. For example, did you know that most cravings don’t last more than 15 minutes? If you can keep yourself occupied, you can get past it and you can maintain your sobriety. If you start craving alcohol, try setting a timer on your phone for 15 or 20 minutes and then doing something productive. Clean your house, your car, take a walk (not near a liquor store), play a video game, put together a puzzle, call a sober buddy, build something. If you can distract yourself until the craving is gone, you can keep going.

It’s always important to have someone to call or that you can talk to. If none of your family or friends are able, you can ask someone at your sobriety group to be your sober buddy. If you’re lonely, experiencing cravings, or just need someone to talk to, you can call them and talk – and it will help.

You’ve put a lot of work into your recovery. No matter how much you want a drink, no matter how much you miss holiday parties, and no matter how lonely or tired you feel on your own, the brief enjoyment from drinking won’t make up for losing the work you put into your sobriety. It’s important to keep that and your motivations to stay sober in mind.

But, it’s also important to plan your time, to try to have fun where you can, and to do things you enjoy. Sober doesn’t mean boring and it certainly doesn’t mean no fun.

Enjoy your sober holiday.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post I’m Alone, Can I Stay Sober Over the Holidays? appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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For most of us, the holidays are a time of celebration and spending time with family and loved ones, or simply enjoying life with friends. But, for those of us recovering from an alcohol use disorder, the holidays, from Christmas to New Year’s and all the parties and events in between, can be more than challenging.

Not only do you have to battle with your own inner demons and the part of you insisting that just this once is fine, it’s Christmas – you also have to deal with family and friends, alcohol everywhere, and often being put into stressful situations that make you want to drink.

Despite that, the holidays don’t have to mean relapse. By taking the time to prepare, understanding your motivation to stay sober, and planning your time, you can ensure that you are ready to maintain your sobriety over the holidays.

Planning to Be Sober

Whether it’s a Christmas party, an impromptu visit to the bar by colleagues, or your family drinking, you should be prepared to be tempted and probably triggered with alcohol. Nearly everyone uses Christmas and New Year’s as an excuse to drink and staying completely away from alcohol for the duration will likely be impossible.

Instead, you should prepare your motivation, write down why you want to stay sober, try to make a list of reasons to say no.

You should also:

  • Find a sober buddy. Who can you talk to when you get cravings?
  • Plan a response to cravings. Pick something to do that takes 10-15 minutes or longer and do it when you experience cravings. Most only last 10-15 minutes.
  • Get plenty of sleep in advance
  • Drink plenty of water and eat before you go out
  • Plan something to destress. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, etc.
  • Where are you going? Will there be alcohol? Can you bring your own drinks?
  • Who is there? Does everyone know why you are sober? Can you tell them?
  • What will you do if there’s alcohol in front of you? Make a plan and decide how you will act.
  • What will you do if someone asks if you want a drink? What will you say?
  • How will you respond to friends or family asking if you’re not drinking? How will you respond to teasing?
  • If you’re at a party, can you handle people nagging you to drink? Many people don’t respond well to others being sober, because it reminds them that they’re drinking. Can you handle someone being belligerent or rude about your sobriety?

Deliberately deciding how to respond to temptation, cravings, and problems gives you a default action to resort to – which is easier than making up your mind while experiencing cravings. Telling yourself “Someone will offer me alcohol and I will say no” is a lot easier than realizing that you have to make a choice when someone actually does hand you alcohol.

Staying Active

No matter what you’re doing on the holidays, chances are you’re spending a lot of time indoors and possibly not moving much. That isn’t good for you or your stress levels, especially if you’re around stressful situations or people.

Exercise actively helps you to stay calm, helps your body to produce endorphins like serotonin and dopamine to naturally reduce cravings, and will overall make you feel better. However, you shouldn’t overdo it. Exhaustion is triggering for many recovering addicts and it likely is for you as well.

Consider planning exercise or activities with family, such as sports, ice skating, hikes and walks, or dancing. You can also go the gym, practice yoga, go to an indoor swimming pool, or get exercise by yourself if you need the peace and quiet.

Spend Time with Others

You probably know that loneliness is a trigger for relapse, and it is even more so around the holidays. Most of us expect to spend the holidays with friends and family, being loved, and surrounded by people who care about us. That doesn’t always happen.

Whether your family is dysfunctional, you’re currently separated from them for whatever reasons, or you’re on your own for other reasons, spending time by yourself can be extremely difficult. Planning to spend time with others will help to boost your mood and will give you motivation to stay sober. For example, you can:

Attend Sober Parties – Whether you throw one yourself or attend an AA party or one hosted by sober friends, a sober party, where no alcohol is present, can be extremely helpful. If everyone is sober, you don’t have to be on your guard, and you can actually relax. Most types of self-help or support groups throw some sort of holiday parties, and you are likely welcome to join, especially if you’re willing to contribute to the food or helping to decorate before the party. More importantly, if you’re sober and your old friends aren’t, sooner or later they will leave you behind, and you want to have a place to go where you can have fun as well.

Go to AA – Attending meetings may be your last idea of a good time, but it can help you to get in the right mood and can help to ensure that you spend time with others. You’ll also have the opportunity to talk about any cravings you’ve had during the holidays, and you’ll get support from others who are going through the same thing.

Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to get out, spend time around others, and interact in a social environment. At the same time, studies show that volunteering actually helps you to destress and feel better. Volunteering, and helping others, sends a rush of endorphins to the brain, actively helping you to be happy and reduce cravings.

Have Fun

No matter what you’re doing, you should make sure you have fun. The holidays are a time when you should be doing something you enjoy – even if it’s just so you don’t feel left out. More importantly, you don’t need alcohol to have fun. Doing so means actively taking time to have fun, do things you enjoy, and making time for yourself as much as for other people.

This means:

  • Spending time with people you love
  • Doing activities, you like
  • Participating in social activities such as parties, games, dancing, etc.
  • Exercise
  • Playing games, watching movies, etc.

If you plan to have fun and decide how to do it in advance, you also won’t be left feeling bored and left out, even if most of your old friends or family are drinking. You know who drinks and doesn’t, so you can also plan to spend time with your sober friends or go to events with them.

Staying sober over the holidays can seem impossible, especially if it’s your first year without alcohol. However, with some planning, being prepared for cravings, and taking steps to ensure that you enjoy yourself without alcohol, you will have a good holiday. Most importantly, you will stay sober.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States.

The post How to Maintain Your Sobriety Over the Holidays appeared first on Beginnings Treatment Centers.

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