Entries tagged with “Relapse Prevention”.


7 tips for healthy eating in recoverySubstance abuse has long been linked to nutritional deficiencies. The empty calories in wine, beer, and liquor reduce the desire to consume a healthy diet, while the urge to seek a high from illegal drugs often causes substance abusers to skip meals in search of their next fix.

If you’re in recovery, following a balanced diet can help repair the past damage caused by substance abuse. Proper nutrition will also help alleviate symptoms of withdrawal (such as headaches and stomach upset), reduce cravings, and boost your energy levels.

Here are seven tips for healthy eating in recovery:

1. Drink Lots of Water
In detox and the early stages of recovery, dehydration is a common concern. It’s recommended that you drink 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman should try to drink 75 to 150 ounces of water per day.

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try making infused water by adding fresh fruit and herbs to a pitcher of water and chilling it for several hours. Watermelon and mint, citrus and cucumber, or strawberry and basil are a few popular combinations you can try.

2. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Current federal dietary guidelines recommend that you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables for each meal. This is great advice for everyone, but it’s particularly helpful for people in recovery.

Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants, which help boost your immune system, restore the appearance of your skin and hair, and protect the body from free radical damage. Grapefruit is especially beneficial during detox and early recovery because it helps regulate your digestive system while lowering cholesterol and preventing kidney stones.

Any vegetable you enjoy is a good choice, although leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, and dandelion provide a source of chlorophyll to help rid the body of harmful toxins and promote detoxification in the liver. If you’re not a salad lover, try adding leafy greens to a smoothie. Combine 1 cup greens, 1 cup liquid, and 1 ½ cups fruit. The fruit will give your finished drink a sweet taste that masks the flavor of the greens.

3. Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains are those that contain the bran, germ, and endosperm instead of losing nutrients while being refined. Whole grains are packed with insoluble fiber, which keeps you from being constipated and helps control your appetite. They’re also high in antioxidants and packed with essential nutrients.

Whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and air-popped popcorn are the most common types of whole grains. However, more adventurous eaters may want to branch out and try options like quinoa, bulgur, millet, and buckwheat.

4. Add Wild Salmon as a Source of Lean Protein
Protein helps recovering substance abusers repair damaged cells. Wild salmon is an excellent protein source because it is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon can be baked, broiled, or grilled and paired with a side of mixed veggies or brown rice for a filling and delicious meal option.

5. Snack on Seeds and Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are wonderful choices for snacks since they have enough protein to regulate your blood sugar and keep your mood stable throughout the day. Try making your own homemade trail mix by combining your favorites with dried fruit and a bit of whole grain granola. One serving of trail mix is approximately ¼ cup. You can keep premeasured portions in plastic sandwich bags to avoid overeating.

6. Limit Consumption of Fast Foods, Sugary Sweets, and Caffeine
During recovery, one common mistake that people make is replacing their abused substance with fast food or sugary sweets. These foods create temporary feelings of satisfaction, but can result in weight gain along with making you feel bloated and sluggish. It’s best to reserve these items for special occasions only.

You may also want to avoid beverages containing caffeine during your recovery. Caffeine provides a temporary energy boost, but can result in mood fluctuations that make it harder to resist cravings for alcohol or drugs.

7. Keep a Food Journal
Nutritionists often recommend keeping a food journal to learn more about how different foods affect your mood and energy levels. This exercise can be useful in identifying areas where you need to improve your nutrition, as well as strategies that work well in reducing your cravings.

By: Dana Hinders


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holidaysFor people in recovery, New Year’s Eve can present a minefield of obstacles to staying sober that aren’t present on other holidays. There is the idea that celebrating the change from one year to the next is linked with popping corks and consuming alcohol. Anyone who plans a quiet evening or who doesn’t join a party may feel as though they are “missing out” on the festivities.

To keep your goal of staying sober on New Year’s Eve intact, you need to start with a plan. The strategies listed here will help you stay aware of the pitfalls at New Year’s Eve parties while giving you suggestions about avoiding the temptation to drink.

Tips for Staying Sober When Celebrating New Year’s Eve

Plan new traditions for your new lifestyle
You’re no longer the same person you were when you were drinking. Your New Year’s Eve celebration doesn’t have to be the same, either. Let go of any pressure to keep doing things the same way, “…because this is the way we’ve always done it.”

Look for family-friendly activities as an alternative parties
Instead of going to a party where you know alcohol will be served, consider going to a family-friendly activity in your community. Many of these are available for free or at low cost. Your local library, community news channel, and chamber of commerce website are all good sources of information for what’s going on in your community.

Attend parties where drinking is not the focus of the evening
Choose the types of parties you attend carefully. Dinner and dancing is a much better option than a cocktail party. If the evening’s festivities include some type of event or activity, as opposed to simply consuming alcohol, it’s a much better option.

Bring someone to the party with you
A good friend can keep you engaged in conversation so you don’t get bored while making sure you leave the party before you start to get tired. Both of these are red flags that you might be vulnerable to having a drink. The person you bring could be a friend, relative or your sponsor. Make sure the person you choose will support you in maintaining your sobriety throughout the evening.

Rehearse saying “no” to alcoholic drinks in advance
If you decide to attend a New Year’s Eve party and you know that alcohol will be served, go over how you will turn down an invitation to have an alcoholic drink. Keep in mind that you don’t have to explain your reasons for not wanting to drink alcohol.

There are plenty of people who don’t drink because they are taking medication, they are driving home after the party and don’t want their judgment to be impaired, or for religious reasons. A simple, “No, thank you, I’ll just stick to Diet Coke” will suffice. If anyone questions you about your choice, simply repeat your response. Then stop addressing the question.

Very few people will be rude enough to push the issue. If they do, you can always walk away from the conversation. Or leave the party entirely.

Limit the time you spend at a New Year’s Eve party
You don’t have to stay at a New Year’s Eve party until midnight and you don’t have to arrive early in the evening, either. Limiting the amount of time you spend around people who are drinking will make you less likely to be tempted to join them.

Plan something fun for New Year’s Day
The fun of New Year’s celebrations doesn’t have to be wrapped up into one evening. Plan an activity for New Year’s Day that you can look forward to. Friends and family can get together to see a movie, visit a museum, go ice skating or tobogganing (with hot chocolate afterward) or play cards board games together.

If the fun will continue into the next day (or beyond), there is less pressure to make one party or celebration the one time that attendees have to pull out all the stops. Without that pressure, you may feel less tempted to have a drink. It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s a party, but you have other times when you can have fun as well.

If you slip on New Year’s Eve…

Despite your best efforts, you may slip at a New Year’s Eve party and have a drink. Some people think that one drink means their entire sobriety is ruined and that there is nothing they can do but continue the slide into a full-blown relapse. This is not true.

If you slip on New Year’s Eve (or any other day of the year), recognize it for what it is. Call your sponsor. Go to a meeting. Do what you need to do to get your recovery back on track, including seeking professional addiction treatment.


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When we acknowledge that addiction is a brain disease it becomes easier to understand that there is a battle going on inside the addict’s head.  They hear the “voice of the disease” saying that they need drugs and alcohol to cope with life, or they really don’t have a serious problem, or what they do is no one’s business. And then there is the “voice of recovery,” reminding them of the consequences that have come from their use of drugs and alcohol, their inability to make wise choices, and the knowledge that “just one” will never be enough.

This battle inside an addict’s head intensifies at the beginning of treatment.  Addiction uses manipulation, dishonesty and denial to protect itself, and when the use of drugs and alcohol stops, the addiction fights back.  There are unpleasant physiological symptoms, increasingly strong cravings, and intense thoughts and dreams about using.  It is at this stage that tough love is often necessary to keep someone on the path to recovery.

All too often we see addicts wanting to leave rehab within the first week of treatment. Many think “I can do this on my own,” even when the individual’s past experiences prove otherwise.  Staying in treatment for those first few weeks and learning how to begin a strong recovery are not easy. Quitting crosses the mind of most.

Consequences Help Overcome AddictionIn these times, it is crucial for family and friends to stand strong as well.  If they want the person they care about to stay in treatment and change his or her life, they must resist the temptation to believe the manipulation and lies.  A great way to do so is to create consequences for quitting, such as revoking financial support, housing or even friendship. Failing to do so is like abandoning the fight against addiction before it has really begun.

Joe provides a good example:

After five days in detox he was feeling better than he had in years, his family could hear a new person on the phone, and excitement for a new life began to grow.  Joe said all the right things about how “this time will be different” and how he was ready to be a new man.  He argued that he did not need to stay in treatment; he was ready to start his new life now. So he left.

Two weeks later Joe relapsed.  It wasn’t that he had been intentionally insincere, but he was nowhere near ready to begin recovery on his own.  He had not learned the necessary skills to think in new ways, nor had he established a support network to help him manage the challenges of recovery.  A month later, Joe admitted defeat, and began addiction treatment for a second time.

Marie’s story does not have a happy ending:

Ten days into her treatment for a heroin addiction, she begged her mother to come and get her. She missed being at home, she would never use drugs again, and it would be different this time. During each phone call she used tears and pleading. Even though Marie’s counselor explained to her mother the pattern of manipulation, and how Marie needed to push harder to get beyond her cravings, she did not want her daughter to be sad.  Two weeks after Marie’s mother picked her up she died from a drug overdose.

Recovery should not be a negotiation.  For many people it is a life or death decision to fight a disease that destroys families, careers, relationships and lives.  Everyone who cares about someone trying to break free from addiction must be ready to stand strong.  There must be consequences for abandoning the fight – because they motivate the addict to win.

Try these: “If you leave treatment early you cannot come home.”  “Our relationship will end if you are not prepared to stop using drugs and get help.”  “Don’t expect me to pick you up or offer support if you don’t make a sincere effort to stop.”

These are the resolutions that help people overcome times of weakness and stay strong in recovery.  Without consequences, the addict will often choose the easy way out.

Before your loved one goes into treatment, decided what the consequences of quitting will be. Don’t be afraid to be tough – because you are fighting the addiction as well – and draw a very hard line.  By standing firm, you are showing your true love, and you may end up saving someone’s life.


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