Alright you now no longer drink, drug, or gamble. So, what’s there to do in recovery? Well, dust off that old mitt or bowling ball and get to having fun again. For anyone in recovery there is nothing like picking up old hobbies or adding new ones to your life. But, you won’t know this until you give it a shot! It can make a world of difference to your happiness and at the same time can help reduce stress.
Thus, let’s talk about what some people do to relax and enjoy themselves in this new found sobriety. Dancing…nothing like getting your funk on and grooving to the music. This could be at a concert or just hanging out with friends. Music certainly is a great way to lift your spirits! But, a person in recovery should also pay attention to listening to music that might have lyrics that romanticize drinking or drugging. This is where a person’s honesty and choice of music and their true desire to remain clean will be evident. The same thing is true about concerts. Be sure to always have a sober friend or two with you when attending such events.
Other great hobbies include fishing, knitting, jogging, and writing. These are also forms of meditation and a way to appreciate getting something done or just spending time enjoying quiet moments. Some people enjoy giving back to the community by volunteering or organizing fundraiser events. A recent article discusses a scientific view of the benefits of hobbies to one’s overall health. So, getting involved in any activity is helpful and can play a pivotal role in relapse prevention.
Addictive thinking can be very similar to criminal thinking. A lot of times these thinking patterns overlap. When a person is in active addiction he or she will often justify a lot of things. Moreover, in a lot of cases they just want to continue their addiction. Maybe he or she does not know how to stop drinking, drugging or gambling. Therefore, they are not even willing to consider stopping because they “think” that they have no choice. Sort of like the criminal who steals to survive. But, once a person gets into recovery he or she will learn that recovery is more than just putting the plug in the jug or stopping whatever their addiction is. It is about changing and changing one’s thinking.
There is no question about it that addiction is a thinking disease. So, let’s discuss how an addict’s thinking is like a criminal’s thinking. People who are prone to criminal thinking and addictive thinking often have a “victim stance” attitude. This attitude allows the person to blame others for situations that he or she really have created for themselves. For example, it’s the cops fault I got that DUI or I drink because I’ve had a rough life. These thinking patterns lead to irrational decisions.
Then there are the criminals or addicts who take the “good person stance”. He or she focuses on the good things they have done and ignore the harm. They might say I may make bad decisions here and there but I am a good person in general. Someone might also say,” I pay taxes and I get a DUI from this cop. I am paying more for his or her salary than anyone. The police should not have arrested me!” Now you also have those who promote the “unique person stance”. He or she might think no one in the whole world has experienced what I have been through. I was slighted, abused or made fun of in school, therefore I drink.
One of the first signs that a relapse is going to occur is that one’s thinking changes and a big piece of this is they start to compromise their values. A recent article discusses the problem of addiction and how it can contribute to crime in a community. So, if you are compromising your values and heading down the wrong path it is important to reach out for help and make some changes. Then and only then can recovery become a part of a person’s life.
According to psychologists, forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you. This is all regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is not forgetting or excusing the offenses. But, most importantly, it brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger which can lead to depression, anxiety and other health problems.
One way to think about forgiveness is through an analogy. For example, you are holding onto the bumper of a car and it drags you across the pavement. This is very painful. But, if you let go, it can’t hurt you anymore. So, letting go is an important part of the forgiveness process. It is the main step to improving one’s life. Along with reducing pain, forgiveness has other benefits such as decreasing anxiety, stress and hostility. Moreover, there is an increase in hope, self-esteem and well-being. This can lead to improved relationships with family and friends and a greater sense of control and power. A recent article discusses one powerful story of forgiveness.
Some people do not know how to forgive. Maybe they don’t want to admit they were taken advantage of. Or he or she might see forgiveness as a weakness. Sometimes a person’s ego gets in the way. Maybe the person doesn’t think the one who hurt them deserves forgiveness. Furthermore, if we are the one asking for forgiveness we may not get the answer we want to hear. Someone might say, ” no I don’t forgive you!” Some people think whoever is more in the wrong should apologize first. These types of thoughts are not useful and will only hurt those involved. So, whether it is asking for forgiveness or offering it to someone, forgiveness is a great sign of strength. It is one of the keys to peace and happiness in recovery. Forgiveness is the greatest healer of all!
Thirty day (inpatient) treatment programs are for drug addicts or alcoholics. Many people think entering these programs will cure them. Unfortunately this is not the case. Recovery is a life long process. Committing to a program is a great start to that process and is often needed. Many people try to quit on their own by attending an outpatient program, 12 step meetings or therapy. But having so much freedom can lead them right back to their addiction. That is why an inpatient program can be the answer for those who have had such failed attempts.
One advantage of an inpatient program is that it takes the person out of their active addiction environment. So, for a period of time, the patient can focus solely on their addiction. Patients also have the benefit of around the clock help. Mental health professions are always there to assist. They often will have access to doctors, psychiatrists and nurses. All of these professionals work together to address a patient’s needs. A recent article discusses one way to approach addiction.
In some facilities they will have a professional chef who prepares meals. Patients will learn about healthy living. They will have time to exercise and meditate. They will learn ways to cope with life. Group and individual therapy will teach skills to avoid a relapse. The importance of attending 12 step meetings and developing a plan for after treatment will be a main focus.
How to learn to live a clean and sober life is the name of the game when you seek treatment. As mentioned earlier it is a life long process to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol. So if you are fortunate enough to recognize a problem and get help before something tragic happens you are on your way to a better life!
For anyone with an addiction, a demanding job can make getting help a challenge. Many folks will say that he or she cannot take the time to get help because it will impact their work. It is quite normal for people to have these thoughts. But to continue an addiction without getting help will surely affect your job! So, although balancing work and recovery is not always easy, it surely can be accomplished.
Certain employment situations can make recovery and treatment difficult. Some jobs lend themselves to recovery more than others and some do not. Think of the food and beverage industry or a job where the company credit card or cash is readily available. This can facilitate using. Sometimes it might be necessary to change jobs because work is not conducive to living drug, alcohol or gambling free. But a situation like this must be a last resort. Therefore, it is often suggested that making a job change should be delayed in early recovery.
Fortunately, a company or the employee assistance program will work with the individual to get them the help they need. In addition, if you are in a rough work situation having supportive sober people in your life can help you get through it. In order to be successful with your sobriety balancing work and recovery is critical. Many people find that by doing this not only does their personal life improve but so does their career.
For those who struggle with taking time away from work, there are ways to manage this and get help. For instance, some people choose an intensive outpatient program (IOP) instead of an inpatient program. In this case, a patient will attend treatment classes at night which will teach the skills to live sober. In addition, technology has allowed others to get help through the internet. Williamsville Wellness has a program which is the only licensed program in the State of Virginia. It is called is Smart IOP and it is a six to twelve-week program, which consists of group therapy through specialized video modules, individual therapy, and case management meetings. This is all done online and meets the needs of those who work odd hours or those who live in areas where they do not have access to treatment.
For those seeking to stop an addiction, it is important to create a plan to make recovery as strong as possible. There are not always easy solutions but with some effort, it can be done. So, remember the words of Audrey Hepburn who said the following, “Nothing is impossible; the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’”
I recently had a conversation with a friend who is questioning whether or not he has a substance abuse problem. For him he knows I work in the substance abuse field. Therefore, it seemed natural for him to contact me about his concerns. But, there are many people who do not have the luxury of having someone close to them who might be able to point them in the right direction. So, asking for help is not always an easy thing. But, there are several ways to get guidance if you or a loved one needs information.
The first thing I would say is that if you are thinking you have a problem with substances then you probably do. “Normal” drinkers don’t have a conversation in their heads about having a problem. In the case with my friend, he explained to me that when he drinks a few beers he has the urge to use cocaine. But, he conveyed to me that he is not a regular user because it’s not always around. Yet, when it is there he can’t just take it or leave it…he takes it! Our conversation led him to make an appointment with a therapist. So, if you talk to a loved one or even a stranger about what you are thinking it’s a great start. Also, if you are too nervous to talk, write down what you are thinking and give it to that person.
Next, I would suggest contacting either your physician (or a physician) or someone in the mental health field. They should be able to advise you about what to do. In addition, there are resources in your community who will steer you right. Contact your local Community Service Board or even the local Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office. Also, I would highly recommend seeing a therapist. This is a great way to express what you are thinking without someone judging you. Finally, the internet is your friend too. Research different treatment programs in your area. You can also learn about the disease of addiction through the world wide web. A recent article discusses the dangers of trying to beat an addiction alone.
No matter what road you take it is critical to realize that stopping any addiction is much easier with the help of another person. The old saying goes…”A problem shared is a problem cut in half!” Try it and you will be on a course to an easier way of living.
Developing healthy relationships can be a challenge for anyone. Properly expressing one’s thoughts and feelings is one of the driving forces to getting along with others. It seems that some men may not have developed the social skills that can create better relations.
So, what are the key things a man can do to improve relationships with those close to him? Let’s start off with communication. For so long, I grew up not knowing how to express myself. I was a shy kid who was very unsure of himself and when I did communicate it was often a reaction to something. Unfortunately, my “reaction” almost always came out in anger. I did not learn until my mid-twenties that I had the ability to learn to change.
One of the first things I needed to do was learn about emotions and how to communicate them to others. I really did not have a good grasp on the range of feelings that occur within myself. Anger and happiness were the two emotions that I knew all too well. But, because I was fortunate to meet some “normal” level headed people, both male and female, my knowledge of ALL emotions developed. Moreover, my ability to express these feelings improved. It was a strength rather than a weakness to express my feelings to family, friends and sometimes co-workers.
Next, it was important for me to listen to others. The skill of reflective listening was critical for me to learn and it was developed by practicing it. For instance, one activity for me would be to sit with another person and when they finished one thought I would repeat back in my own words what they were saying. This helped the other person know that I understood what he or she was trying to convey to me. Another great tip I picked up was to try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I had to try to experience what they were saying to me. This tip helped me develop empathy. A recent article discusses some of these ideas and how they can positively impact children.
One of the biggest words of advice given to me was to think before speaking. In addition, it was okay to pause before speaking and maybe most important, it was okay to say I did not know the answer to something. So, my standard reply often would be “I don’t know but let me get back to you.” These skills helped me become more confident with myself and in general became a better person. I now had a range of skills that became the key to developing the connections with those in my life. Now, my life is more meaningful!
David Rogers, M.A., LPC: Therapist explains addiction and how to become a healthy person in recovery. He discusses how only stopping the addictive behavior is not enough. So, a person must learn coping skills to eliminate or deal with the triggers that cause them to drink, drug or gamble. He then reminds us that addiction is an attempt to meet legitimate needs through unhealthy methods. Dave lays out a blueprint for meeting those needs and how to solve the puzzle of addiction!
For anyone in active addiction, whether they know it or not, their disease makes most things tougher to handle. When a person gets into recovery he or she realizes that they now have a better grip on managing life. But, a person will not know this until they are abstinent from alcohol and drugs for a period of time. You see, for a person using substances, everyday tasks can be a challenge. Anything from doing a load of laundry to going to work can be difficult. So, a person who gets treatment will get back to doing the things that were at one time automatic.
One of the ideas that a person with an addiction needs to admit is that their addiction has made their lives unmanageable. This concept is quite simple when the person is honest about it. But, for an addict or alcoholic this might be a tough thing to see. For instance, there are people who drink or drug daily, yet they go to work and pay their bills on time. In addition, he or she may have never had any legal troubles due to their addiction. So, it can be quite easy for a person to deny that alcohol or drugs is a problem. However, this same person often is unable to socialize unless he or she has a drink in hand. Or, when problems arise there does not seem to be a solution. It can almost feel like the end of the world for them.
For the person in recovery he or she now has the ability to solve many problems which used to baffle them. If they can’t solve it on their own he or she is willing to ask for help. We have seen this time after time how putting down the drugs and alcohol can help a person think more clearly. Moreover, the feelings they might experience are not as extreme either. Life in general is simpler. But, for someone in active addiction not only can problems be magnified but it might be too late to get help. A recent article reviews the sad story of addiction. It describes the worst case scenario even for those who seem to have things together. So, if you are on the fence as to whether or not you have a problem it is worthwhile to take an honest look at how substances may be impacting your life.
Treatment Centers for Alcohol Addiction will often recommend that a patient attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to help maintain sobriety. So, what is AA? How do you know if you are an alcoholic? Who attends these meetings? When do these meetings occur? Do I have to speak or read during these meetings? Is it a religious organization? Are there rules in AA? These are just some of the questions people might ask.
AA is a group of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other. Some meetings will have a speaker do just that. They tell what happened when they were drinking, what it’s like now without drinking and how they did it. The whole point of AA is to help those with a desire to stop drinking. The only person who decides if you are an alcoholic is YOU! People from all walks of life attend these meetings. For example; doctors, lawyers, teachers, carpenters, retail associates, you name it… and even retired people attend. The nice thing about these meetings is that they have them at all times of the day. You can just do a basic internet search and find a meeting.
If you choose to attend a meeting you do not even have to speak. Just simply say, “I pass.” If you choose to speak you don’t even have to say you are an alcoholic, just give your first name and you don’t even have to say it if you don’t want to. AA is not a religious program at all. It is a spiritual program. There are no rules in AA. There certainly are suggestions but it is up to the individual whether to take them or not. A recent article discusses the benefits of AA. If you have the desire to stop drinking and want to try, Treatment Centers for Alcohol Addiction will often suggest AA is the place to go. It has a successful proven track record and has helped millions of people live sober.