Entries tagged with “Tips for Recovery”.


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A lasting recovery requires you to replace harmful habits with healthy alternatives. Family-friendly recreation lets you stay on track with your sobriety while making special memories with the people you care about the most.

Although it’s always a good idea to chat with your family to see what activities are of interest, here are some suggestions to help you start planning your next adventure.


Plant a Garden
Planting a garden is a wonderful family project if you enjoy being outside and working with your hands. Watering, weeding, and harvesting teaches responsibility to kids of all ages. There is also evidence that growing your own food promotes healthier eating habits for the whole family.

If you don’t have the luxury of a big backyard, don’t automatically write off the idea of planting a garden. A small container garden can be placed on your porch or sidewalk. You might not be able to grow all the food your family needs, but you can grow fresh herbs, carrots, onions, and tomatoes with relatively little space.

Take Up Geocaching
Geocaching is the modern-day version of a treasure hunt. Participants use a GPS receiver and other navigational techniques to search for containers known as geocaches that are hidden all over the world. The geocaches contain logs that document the activities of past participants and tiny trinkets for trading.  

In addition to finding geocaches, your family can also try creating and hiding your own geocaches. Picking out trinkets to fill the box and choosing a special hiding place is a great activity for children who are too young to actively participate in the act of finding a geocache. Visit the Geocaching 101 website to learn more.

Be a Tourist in Your Hometown
Traveling to far away locations is certainly exciting, but planning a trip can be time consuming and expensive. As an alternative, why not explore some of the destinations in your community that you’ve previously overlooked?

Zoos, aquariums, museums, art galleries, historical sites, and local landmarks are excellent places to visit for the entire family. If you’re on a tight budget, look for attractions that offer free or reduced-price admission on select days.

Go Camping
Spending time in nature and getting away from electronic distractions offers the chance to reconnect with the people you care about in a more meaningful way. You don’t even have to travel far, since you’ll experience many of the benefits of camping even if you’re simply pitching a tent in the backyard.

Younger children will love to make s’mores, collect fireflies in a jar, or skip rocks along the river. Older children can tell ghost stories, plan a scavenger hunt, or see how many constellations they can find. Photographing the beautiful scenery or playing outdoor games such as cornhole and horseshoes are also great options.

Plan a Game Night
A weekly family game night is sure to provide plenty of special memories. Scrabble, Monopoly, and Yahtzee are classic games that can be enjoyed by players of all ages, but there are plenty of newer board games to consider as well. If you’re not sure what types of games your family might enjoy, see if your local public library has titles to borrow. Many libraries now offer board games, puzzles, and movies to check out in addition to books and magazines.

Add a little extra element of fun to your family game night by purchasing a thrift store trophy that you can award to the winner. Kids love having tangible evidence of their victory, especially when it’s the first time they’ve managed to win against a parent or older sibling.

Have a Movie Marathon
A movie marathon is the perfect chance to share your favorite classic films with your children or to enjoy a series such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter together. With today’s plethora of streaming services, almost any movie you want is available with just a few clicks.

Create a cozy atmosphere by encouraging everyone to change into their pajamas and covering the living room floor with pillows and blankets. Break out the popcorn, soda, and candy, then get ready to enjoy some quality family bonding time.

Volunteer
There’s no greater joy in life than helping others. Volunteering lets you give back to your community, make new friends, and build new skills.

Here are some volunteer ideas that are appropriate for the whole family:

  • Help build a home through Habitat for Humanity.
  • Care for pets at a local animal shelter.
  • Prepare and distribute care packages for the homeless.
  • Organize a canned food drive.
  • Clean up a local park.
  • Help elderly neighbors with yard work.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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What To ExpectWhen you’ve made the decision to seek addiction treatment, it’s hard to imagine what your life will be like without drugs or alcohol. Although no two people are exactly alike, this article outlines some of the issues you can expect to deal with during your first year in recovery.

Withdrawal

The term withdrawal refers to the physical symptoms you experience after drugs or alcohol leave your system.

Withdrawal symptoms depend upon the substance being abused and your length of use, but often include stomach upset, sweating, headache, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and mood swings. A medical detox helps you avoid dangerous side effects and keeps you as comfortable as possible.

Acute withdrawal symptoms start to taper off as your brain chemistry adjusts to a normal level. However, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from six months to two years. Common post-acute withdrawal symptoms include difficulty with memory and concentration, decreased physical coordination, and trouble managing emotions.

Counseling

Once detox has been completed, counseling is vital part of setting the foundation for long term sobriety. Counseling typically involves a mixture of individual, group, and family sessions. Your counselor may also recommend experiential therapies such as art, music, or equine therapy.

If you suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression or PTSD, your treatment plan will need to address both issues simultaneously. Often, people with mental health disorders turn to substance abuse to self-medicate the symptoms of their condition. If their mental health needs aren’t addressed, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain sobriety.

Celebrating 30 Days of Sobriety

Having 30 days of sobriety under your belt is considered a huge milestone. At this time, your withdrawal symptoms have become more manageable and your counseling sessions have provided you with the tools you need to begin a life free from the burdens of substance abuse.

Near the 30-day mark, you’ll likely be transitioning from an inpatient treatment facility to outpatient care. Your counselor will provide you with a detailed aftercare plan to make the adjustment process easier.

Creating a Strong Support System

After leaving an inpatient treatment facility, you’ll want to keep up the recovery momentum by creating a strong support system for yourself. Your facility’s aftercare resources are a good place to start, but you can also turn to support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to connect you with people who understand the challenges you’re facing.

People in the early stages of recovery often find that turning to their faith provides comfort. The new friends you meet in worship services and church activities can play a vital role in your recovery by providing encouragement and accountability, even if they have no personal experience with substance abuse.

Building Routines

During the first year of recovery, much of your time will be spent creating a routine for yourself. You’ll need to figure out how to balance work, family, social, and treatment obligations. Using a traditional day planner or a scheduling app on your phone may make it easier to keep track of appointments.

As you’re building a routine for yourself, remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Not giving yourself enough time to relax can create stress, which places you at risk of relapse.

Repairing Relationships

When you’re struggling with addiction, it’s easy to inadvertently hurt the ones you love. Restoring trust with friends and family will take time, so be patient with this part of the process.

A sincere apology is always a good place to start, but most people in recovery find that their loved ones respond well to seeing how hard they are working to stay sober. Keep your loved ones informed of your recovery milestones while making an effort to communicate honestly and openly.

Discovering Sober Hobbies

One of the most exciting parts of embracing a sober lifestyle is developing new hobbies. During your first year in recovery, give yourself permission to explore areas of interest—even if they put you outside of your comfort zone.

As you’re thinking about what activities appeal to you, consider aiming for a mix of solo and group hobbies. Solo hobbies such as reading, creative writing, gardening, or painting provide a way to distract yourself when cravings hit. Group activities such as joining a bowling league, volunteering at a local nonprofit, or trying out for a community theater production let you expand your social circle.

Avoiding the Dangers of Overconfidence

As you get closer to the one-year mark, it’s natural to become more confident in your sobriety. Feeling comfortable living clean and sober is an excellent sign, but overconfidence can be a risk factor for relapse.

It’s important to remember that addiction is a chronic illness. Just as someone with diabetes needs to continually monitor their blood sugar, eat right, and exercise, you’ll need to stay on top of your treatment plan to manage your sobriety.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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Goals for the New YearMaking New Year’s resolutions may be a time-honored tradition, but most of us aren’t very good at keeping those resolutions. Often, our lack of follow-through isn’t a matter of motivation or willpower. It’s because we haven’t taken the time to set goals that are effective in bringing about real changes in our lives. If you’re in recovery, setting SMART goals can help you stay sober and prevent relapse.

What Are SMART Goals?

Effective goals follow the principles outlined in the acronym SMART.

  • SPECIFIC: The goal involves a precise outcome that is desired.
  • MEASURABLE: The goal has a way to measure your progress.
  • ACTION-ORIENTED: The goal explains what behaviors you must follow to achieve your objectives.
  • REALISTIC: The goal is reasonably attainable given the current tools and resources at your disposal.
  • TIMELY: The goal comes with a built-in timeframe that gives you a sense of completion, such as doing something every day or once a week.

The SMART goal framework helps prevent some of the most common mistakes people make when setting goals by encouraging you to turn vague ambitions into specific and actionable steps that can be undertaken to achieve your objective.

Why Use SMART Goals for Addiction Recovery?

The SMART goals acronym can be used in any situation, but it’s particularly useful for people in recovery. Getting clean after being addicted to drugs or alcohol for a long period of time requires a total lifestyle change, which often feels overwhelming. The SMART goals acronym helps you visualize your recovery as a series of smaller and more manageable steps.

For example, one common goal people try to set for themselves in recovery is “I’m never going to relapse.” While this is certainly an admirable sentiment, the time parameter involved is too long and there are no steps explained for how you want to prevent relapse. (Remember that addiction is a chronic illness, you can’t simply pronounce yourself cured after going through detox.)

Better examples of goals to set for yourself include:

  • When I feel the urge to drink or use drugs, I’m going to call my sponsor.
  • I will write in my journal for 15 minutes before bed each night to better understand what factors in my life affect my cravings for drugs and alcohol.
  • I will exercise for 30 minutes per day to keep my energy level up and release endorphins to improve my mood.
  • I’m going to go to guitar lessons once per week, since music helps me cope with my cravings.
  • I will attend worship services each week, using my faith as a tool to assist in my recovery.
  • I’m going to apply for two jobs per week that offer at least 20 hours of work until I find a position that suits my needs.
  • On Friday nights, I will cook dinner for my family while we talk about what has happened during the week.
  • I will begin each day by spending 15 minutes celebrating the progress I’ve made in my recovery.

Short Term vs. Long Term Goals for Recovery

When setting SMART goals for your recovery, it’s important to think about both short term and long term goals. A successful recovery plan should include a mix of both goal types.

Short term goals are those that focus on the immediate challenge of maintaining your sobriety, such as controlling cravings, staying in contact with your sponsor, and attending therapy regularly. The sobriety chips given in AA meetings for 24 hours, 30 days, and 60 days of sobriety recognize the importance of setting short term goals in recovery.

For many people, long term goals often focus on what type of sober life they want to build for themselves. For example, you might be imagining a special anniversary trip to celebrate 25 years with your spouse. Or, you might want to finish your degree so you can be a good role model for your child as he or she enters high school. Long term goals can be one year, five years, or 10 years away—as long as they help keep you motivated on a day to day basis.

Evaluating Your Progress

Setting goals is an important part of creating a sustained recovery, but you also need to evaluate your progress periodically to make sure you’re on the right path.  If you’re struggling, it may be time to approach the problem differently. For example, if you’re worried you’re not making any progress finding post-recovery employment, you may need to arrange a meeting with a career counselor who can review your resume and offer some interview tips to boost your confidence.

It’s okay to make mistakes along the way, as long as you don’t use minor slip ups as an excuse to stop trying to live a clean and sober life.  Recovery is about progress, not perfection.

By Dana Hinders

If you or someone you love needs addiction treatment, please call St. Joseph Institute at 888-352-3297.