Entries tagged with “Tips for Recovery”.


By: Aspen Stoddard/staff writer

After more than a decade of using substances to avoid my “self,” one of the hardest parts of transitioning into sobriety was learning new tactics for dealing with the cycle of anxious thoughts spinning constantly in my mind.

Sure, I understood the idea of living one day at a time, but the fear of having to sustain this thought-battle in my mind permanently taunted me. How would I ever get through? It was right around this time period that my therapist suggested meditation.

“Have you ever tried?” she asked. I had not. I started to get a little angry: I needed real help. Being inside my mind was part of the problem.

“It works for me,” she said. “I find I have more energy afterward.”

I tried not to laugh. I imagined myself sitting cross-legged on some maroon rug trying to keep my eyes shut. I wouldn’t last ten seconds. My thoughts churned inside my head like hurricanes. There was no way I would be able to quiet my mind. In fact, I believed trying to sit still would only make the thoughts worse. I also thought that meditation was a practice that one needed to grow up with in order to efficiently perform. I’m a small-town girl who has experience in self-destruction. What did I know about meditating?

So instead of taking my friend’s advice, I returned to the chaos of my mind and continued struggling within the way I had grown used to.

After a few weeks, and at a point where I was feeling worn out and on the verge of running back toward drugs to ease my mind, the idea of meditation returned to me. I decided to give it a shot. I began with guided meditations, which allowed me to listen to someone tell a story.

If you have ever listened to a guided meditation, then you can probably imagine the soothing voice suggesting: find a place to sit down. You can choose a soft pillow or a cushioned-chair. Just find a place to sit down and be comfortable and then close your eyes. Concentrate on the cool air streaming through your nose. Just stay right there. Breathe. Think only of the flow of oxygen moving in and out. Allow thoughts to enter and exit your mind without attempting to interpret them. In other words, relax. Allow yourself to be.

I sat with my eyes pinched closed, my body taut with tension, and a voice in my head telling me that it was time to relax (not telling—more on the verge of panicking). I could only think about how I didn’t know what I was doing.

But then slowly something strange happened. After about five minutes into the session, I was suddenly only aware of the muscles in my body and the woman’s voice who was guiding me. I felt the circuit of energy moving in waves through me. When I finally opened my eyes, tears streamed down my cheeks. Not so much because I had an out-of-this-world spiritual experience (though, that would come later after more practice) but because of the relief my brain felt. I had, if only for that short moment, escaped from my anxious thoughts.

I escaped without poisoning my body.

One of the common misconceptions about meditation is that you must force your mind to empty. The reality is quite the opposite. Rather than forcing the mind to be silent, meditation asks that you allow thoughts to freely flow without judging them. For the addict in recovery, I think this is one of the most essential terms-—judgement. As addicts in recovery, we are professionals at judging ourselves. We are not so expert at acceptance. Meditation allowed me to begin to forgive myself for hurting myself and others. Through a steady practice of meditation, I could allow those thoughts to enter my mind and let them pass.

It has been a few years now since I started practicing meditation. I find that I am more stable when I am practicing. When I get off track and start skipping sessions, I feel myself spiraling. Meditation forces me to sit with myself, to be aware of my awareness, to allow a maelstrom of thoughts to appear and disappear without trying to over-analyze them.

But don’t just take my word for it; in a recent study by Harvard in 2011, researchers found that an eight-week program of meditative practice changes the gray matter in the brain, the region that controls stress, memory, empathy, and our sense of self.

Again, keep in mind that meditation works best as a daily practice. It’s best to find a way to incorporate meditation as part of your lifestyle than to see it as time-absorbing exercise. You don’t need a lot of time. In fact, I started with just ten minutes a day.

Check out these websites for a variety of specified guided meditations:

 

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 


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Happy couple
Addiction is not just a physical affliction nor is it only emotional or mental. When it comes to recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, a successful comprehensive plan should include ways of understanding and treating your body, mind, and spirit.

That’s why gaining the ability to stop using drugs and alcohol is just one part of the whole-person care recovery process. By the time you enter a treatment facility, your addiction has taken over your life and has consumed your every waking moment. Your personal, professional, and social lives have all been but damaged.

Whole-Person Care Approach

Because addiction disrupts every part of an addict’s being, treatment must address the needs of the entire person for it to be successful. The goal of treatment is to provide you with an environment where you can heal, restore, and renew your life.

Similar to a holistic recovery, the whole-person approach builds on the realization that addiction is only a symptom of a much larger problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the principles of effective addiction treatment is placing the emphasis on the multiple needs of a person, not just on his or her drug use. This includes a person’s medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal issues. It is also important to make sure the treatment is suitable to a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.

While no single addiction treatment is suitable for all addicts, this program works with the client’s preferences and ideas. Some courses of treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies
  • Medication management
  • Detoxification
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Personal training and cardiovascular exercise
  • 12-step programs
  • Alternative therapies such as animal assistance, art, or sports
  • Meditation

Treating the Whole Body

This type of treatment combines traditional and alternative-based therapies with a slant toward natural treatments and remedies instead of relying solely on pharmaceutical ones. The whole person care approach focuses on treating:
Mind: Specialists work with you to determine what led you to seek out substances in the first place. You can learn a new skill set for handling problems and challenges in your life.
Spirit: Besides counseling for your recovery, you may also receive treatments to help with stress, depression, anxiety, or similar conditions. Treatment options may include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and spiritual instruction.
Body: Treatments such as nutritional education, exercise, massage, and a healthy diet help promote your well-being. Your body will probably be in need of repair and recuperation after being ravaged by alcohol or drugs. A strong body can help defend all types of illnesses and conditions.

How This Approach Works

The whole person care approach to recovery is a long-term treatment that focuses on self-improvement. It helps you identify the causes of your addiction, understand its triggers, and create a recovery plan. This program can help patients by:

  • Stopping the addiction earlier rather than later
  • Understanding the events that led to your substance abuse
  • Coping with triggers through relaxation, thought disruption, and visualization
  • Finding alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse

By working to bring the natural balance back to your life, empowering change, and building self-esteem, this approach has been shown to provide long-term recovery solutions instead of a short-term reprieve.

Addressing Other Health Issues

Those with addictions have the same medical issues as non-addicts, but their symptoms may be elevated because regular health care isn’t sought. About 45 percent of Americans seeking substance abuse treatment have been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.

Dental care is another health problem often plaguing addicts. For instance, if you are addicted to opioids, you may wind up with a dry mouth since this is one of the side effects. If your body does not produce enough saliva, bacteria will grow and cause tooth decay. Oftentimes, you won’t be thinking about brushing your teeth when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. A whole-person approach to recovery will help address all related health issues, often by putting you in touch with other health specialists who can treat other concerns.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 


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Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love and appreciation for your significant other, but date night can feel awkward when you’re newly sober. Instead of worrying about how you’ll avoid the drinks at your favorite restaurant or club, why not plan an alternative Valentine’s Day date?

Create a Custom Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt can be a unique way to celebrate Valentine’s Day if you’re willing to put in the prep time. If you’ve been together for several years, your clues can lead to locations such as where you went on your first date, where you had your first kiss, and where you said “I love you” for the first time. If you’re a new couple, you can use simpler riddles leading to basic locations such as the glove box of your sweetheart’s car or inside her coat pocket. Whichever approach you choose, just make sure to be standing by with hints in case your partner has trouble deciphering each clue.

Don’t forget to have a special surprise waiting at the end of the hunt. Try a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a scrapbook of memories you’ve shared together, or tickets to an upcoming concert or sporting event.

Plan a Movie Marathon
Cuddling with your sweetheart under a cozy blanket while you share a tub of buttery popcorn is indescribably romantic. The possibilities are endless with this Valentine’s Day date idea, but here are a few film suggestions to inspire your creativity:

  • Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
  • Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze
  • Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
  • 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler
  • Twilight with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
  • The Notebook with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdam

If you’d rather forgo the overly romantic movies, try sharing your favorite films with each other or binge watching a TV show on Netflix you’ve always wanted to see.

Get Moving
Any activity that keeps you moving will take your mind off your first sober Valentine’s Day. Physical activity releases endorphins, leading to feelings of closeness and connection. Biking or hiking through a favorite park or nature trail is always fun, especially if you plan a special picnic lunch at the end of the day.

For the young at heart, miniature golf is another wonderful Valentine’s Day date idea. Some mini golf courses also have go-karts, batting cages, paintball, or laser tag— giving you endless activity possibilities.

Learn Something New
The recovery process involves replacing past destructive behavior patterns with positive new coping mechanisms. One way to do this is by exploring new hobbies that you can enjoy by yourself or with your partner.

Community colleges have a number of adult continuing education classes you can take. Cooking and ballroom dancing classes tend to be the most popular choices for couples, but you’ll also find classes covering everything from aromatherapy to how to plant a garden in your backyard.

If you can’t find a class that interests you and your partner, plan to master a new skill together at home. For example:

  • Buy the ingredients to make each other a plate of homemade truffles instead of a store-bought box of chocolates.
  • Pick up a pair of white coffee mugs and oil-based paint Sharpie markers, then get in touch with your artistic side to make each other a sweet keepsake of your love.
  • Read each other classic love poems, then try to write your own romantic poetry.

Museums are another wonderful place to go when you’re looking for a drug and alcohol free way to expand your mind. Whether you’re passionate about art, history, or science, there are an abundance of museums to explore in almost every city in the country. Look for one offering guided tours, then plan to stop at the gift shop for a special memento of the day.


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