What is the Best Way to Process Grief?

Grief is a strong emotion caused by a deep sense of loss (this is often, not always, a result of the death of a loved one). Facing such heavy emotions may lead you to wonder what exactly is the best way to process grief. However, there is no one best or perfect way. It is very personal, and some days will be harder than others. Everything that makes you a unique person, from your past experiences to your personality, will impact your grieving process. It is completely okay (and expected) that your grief experiences may differ than those around you. Still, you can do some things to help yourself process grief in a healthy manner.
Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings
Understanding how you feel will help you process those emotions at your own pace. You do not have to show a tough face or refuse to shed a tear in order to be strong. Strong also means facing your grief. Be kind to yourself! Grief may be entirely new to you, or stir up difficult emotions that challenge your typical feelings and routines. Denying that those feelings are real may make it much harder to address them. You cannot heal a wound without recognizing its existence.
Of course, accepting your feelings can be difficult if you do not know what to expect. Learning the emotional symptoms of grief can help you accept and find the words to talk about those feelings. Emotional symptoms of grief can include: numbness, confusion, shock, denial, sadness, anger, guilt, and fear. A common misunderstanding, however, is that there is a certain timeline for each stage or symptom. Be patient with yourself- there is no right or wrong timeline for processing grief! You may experience some of these emotions at the same time, more than once, or not at all. You’re experiences with each stage will vary, especially as you experience different memories or triggers. This is normal! Remember, you will not feel grief this heavily forever.
Finding a way to express yourself during this time is helpful. Many find comfort in journaling and art.
Another key element in accepting your grief is forgiveness. You may be experiencing anger or resentment towards or a lost loved one. Some people also experience guilt. Unresolved resentment may make it difficult to make peace with yourself. It is okay to be angry with a lost loved one. Allow yourself to explore the causes of these unfinished feelings. Your reactions are valid. Forgive yourself for feeling this way.
Connect with the People Around You
People need people! Know that you are not alone. Talking to people you trust, whether that be friends or family, about your feelings and experiences can help you process your emotions and begin to heal. If grief comes from the loss of a loved one, talking to others that cared for that person may also be beneficial.
Beyond talking, strive to create positive moments when possible! With time, good experiences can and will outweigh moments of grief. Building relationships can be a great way to create these good experiences! If you struggle to find community in your own circle, look to support groups, faith communities, or hobby-based groups. Some of these groups are very strong online, providing an option for community building even during a pandemic.
Maintain a Healthy Routine
Mental health and physical health are connected! When coping with grief, many people neglect to take care of their physical health. Additionally, studies show that two-thirds of people in grief experience physical symptoms, including exhaustion, change in appetite, nausea, and insomnia. Taking care of yourself is key when dealing with grief, as grief is so emotionally and physically draining. Make sure that you get enough sleep. Feed your body healthy foods. Another way to stay healthy is to make sure you get up and move! Studies even show that exercise can release endorphins (a natural way to make you feel good). Focusing on a routine is a way to make sure you are maintaining your health, even when your grief feels like it takes all of your energy. Consider adding habits to your routine that you enjoy, like joining a sports league, focusing on a faith, or learning a new skill.
Another important step is to look to the future! Plan things that you are excited about. Having something to look forward to can help you to move forward.
Sometimes, grief feels so heavy that people may turn to unhealthy things that they think will help them cope. People facing grief are especially at risk for abuse of drugs or alcohol, or other unsafe outlets. When grief feels heavy, search for coping mechanisms or routines that will add positivity to your life, as opposed to choices that may lead to more loss.
Seek Help
While you are strong enough to work through your grief, sometimes it is better to have help! This may be the most impactful step you can take towards processing grief. There are many helpful sources available to reach out to when struggling with grief. Support groups can provide groups of peers that are also struggling with grief. Counselors can also provide a support system. Talking to a professional therapist can help you process your emotions in a safe space. There is no shame in seeking help, especially when dealing with emotions as raw as grief. It is also important to recognize that there is a difference between grief and depression. Always seek help if you feel you may be experiencing depression.
Grief may feel too heavy, but remember that you can handle this! Knowing what to expect and healthy coping mechanisms will help you process this grief. With support and your own timeline, you will cope and find peace.

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How to Be Sober and Keep Your Friends

I am sure you have heard the popular recovery cliché, “Stay away from old people, places and things.” This statement is a heavily emphasized suggestion for any newcomer coming into recovery, because it is a strong belief that it is important to distance yourself from things that may trigger or surround you with your old lifestyle which could lead you back to using drugs and alcohol. The other side of this is that not everyone that you may have been friends with while in your addiction is bad for your newly sober life. Here are some ways to navigate early recovery so that you can keep your friends, especially the ones who support your recovery.

Get Honest
Being honest with your old friends about your new life in recovery is important for many reasons. You don’t have to run out of rehab telling everyone that you are sober now and used to live a life filled with illegal drugs or copious amounts of alcohol, but getting honest with some of your old friends may be a good idea. Try calling or sitting down with your friends and letting them know what you have been through and what you are doing now to make changes in your life. This is a good first step if you want to keep your friends, because it will help build a foundation of trust and also give them the opportunity to show support for your recovery or ask any questions.

Give Up The Negative Ones
Thinking about giving up or turning your back on all your old friends when you are getting sober sounds impossible and also ridiculous. I think most people feel resistant to the idea that they must stop being friends with everyone they knew during their addiction, but that is not what we mean when we say, “Stay away from old people, places and things.” What we mean is, stay away from the negative ones and that’s it. Figuring out who is supportive for your recovery and who is a trigger can be hard for some people, so approaching situations should be handled with care when trying to figure out who you should keep from your old friends and who you may want to stay away from.
If you are unsure of who may be supportive of your recovery and you do not want to just stop having all interactions right away with some people then try calling them and talking to them that way first. Honestly talking about what kind of changes you are making in your life for your sobriety may be a good first step for most people, but how you have those conversations is also really important. If you know that some people you were friends with during your addiction may need to hear about the changes that you are making for your sobriety, but you are unsure if seeing them in person is a good idea, then try calling them and telling them that way. If after the call they still seem supportive and you want to continue your friendship, then make plans to hang out, but if the conversation on the phone seemed to not go positively and that person was trying to get you to go back to your old lifestyle then you already know whether you should try and keep them as a friend.

Sometimes It Isn’t So Clear
If you are unsure if keeping certain friends is a good idea, then you can try a few things in order to figure out without jeopardizing your recovery. What I mean is that you do not have to try and hang out with everyone who you were once friends with during your addiction, because this could lead you into a situation that could get you high or drunk. Talking to another person in recovery about some of your old friends and whether they may be supportive for your recovery or not is a good first step in helping you weed through the confusion. Another way to safely make this determination is to bring along a person in recovery when you are first meeting up with an old friend. This is a great way to have some support in times when you may not even realize that you needed the support.

Old Friends Come And Go
Just because when you first get sober you may have to say goodbye to some old friends does not mean that they will not be in your life later on. Plenty of times in my life I have had the conversation with an old friend about my new life in recovery and it turned into a situation where we parted ways.
At the same time, plenty of those old friends reached out to me when they decided that they had a problem and wanted help. You can become reconnect with your old friends again who may not have been healthy for your recovery in the beginning. The number one thing that you have to keep in mind is that your recovery must come first and if putting yourself in a position to help someone is going to jeopardize your recovery then maybe you should help them differently then you originally planned. Being supportive of someone does not mean you have to compromise what you believe. Ask others in recovery what they think before you get into a situation that could be tricky to get out of with your recovery intact.

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Being a Father in Recovery

Recovery has taught me a lot of things about myself and has helped me grow into a man that I could not have imagined when I was using drugs and alcohol. It has taught me that I can be responsible. It has taught me that I can persevere through hard times in life. It has brought me to a place of honesty, understanding and compassion. It has prepared me to be a father to my family.
Thinking about being a father before recovery was an impossible idea and long-lost dream. I think I always knew that I wanted to be a father, but when I was using drugs and alcohol there was no way I could have been so selfless to comprehend the task. Selflessness is the epitome of fatherhood and without recovery I would never have been able to achieve a minute of it.
Being Selfless
The simple idea of deciding to stop what I was doing while I was using was an unimaginable task. Think about it. When someone is in the grips of addiction, can they just decide to stop doing drugs in the middle of using? No. That is exactly the reason why recovery had to come first before fatherhood could ever take place. I had to learn how to not be so impulsive and also how to not react to everything. I had to learn that even when I want to do something else, maybe there is another responsibility that I must take first.
Now, being a father in recovery is the most rewarding thing in my life. Everything that my recovery has taught me was for this moment. No matter how annoyed, angry, frustrated, sad or selfish I want to be, as soon as I see my daughter’s smile or pick her up to hold her, any negative emotion that I was feeling quickly drifts away. This is the biggest gift of being a father in recovery.
My wife and I are constantly asking each other if it’s really real that we created such a special little girl. We watch her learn and say things now and it never ceases to amaze me how much she changes every day. Thinking about the day she was born and what she is doing today seems like such an unthinkable journey, but it’s probably the most realistic adventure in my life. I’ve been able to clearly see the changes daily from that moment in the hospital when she was born to where she is now, talking, walking, playing and even gaining her own independence.
Parenthood is definitely the hardest thing that I have ever done with my life, besides getting and staying clean, but both are the most important things in my life too. No matter how hard parenting gets, I can never quit and I never would want to either. My recovery still comes first, but being a father goes hand in hand with my recovery.
As I write this blog now, I am still playing, talking and keeping my daughter entertained with her stuffed animals that she brings me and communicating with the almost incomprehensible language that she speaks to me all the time. This is what parenting is all about, trying to juggle between the things that I need or want to do for myself and also taking the time to be a father to my daughter at the very same moment.

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How to Rebuild Relationships After Recovering from Addiction

When an individual is in their active addiction they are faced with a lot of consequences from physical to financial losses but also their support system and family supports are typically affected as well. When you are starting your recovery process this can be overwhelming in regards to focusing on not only making amends with those in your life that you feel you have hurt or affected but also can be overwhelming when you try to think about rebuilding those relationships and mending the broken ties. It can be difficult and not easy. It takes time and consistency because of the fact that not only do you have feelings around the relationship and your actions that affected that specific relationship but the other individual(s) also have some feelings that could very well include anger and resentment towards you.

Repairing relationships in recovery can be done with these important tips:

Communicate and Listen
Relationships require communication. It’s important to be transparent in recovery not only with yourself but with others involved. You need to start to trust them by allowing them to be involved in the recovery process. Start by letting those you want to reconnect with know how you are feeling, what you are struggling with, and be vulnerable to the point where you can apologize about the actions you engaged in while you were in your active addiction. It’s ok to ask for help and let them in, not only does that help you and your recovery but it also helps them see that you are taking your recovery seriously and that you are trying to move forward.
Listen to their concerns. Allow them to provide you with feedback and encouragement. Try to really listen to what they are expressing to you. Remember at one point you were really pushing those loved ones in your life away and placing your substance use as a priority. This causes mixed feelings from them in regards to where they stand in your life. You have to give them the ability to express their feelings and concerns in order to be completely on the same page. This helps with the ability to communicate more effectively as well as building the trust between you both in the relationship.

Be Honest With Others While Making Amends
In order to move forward in not only your recovery process but also working on repairing those relationships you have to be open minded and accept that you have made mistakes and in a way hurt those in your life and around you. Rather than carrying guilt and shame about your past, apologize to those around you, and be comfortable with the idea of asking for forgiveness. This is a step you will work on with your sponsor within the 12 step program so don’t be afraid to ask for help when this becomes overwhelming. Being able to make amends with those in your life not only helps you with rebuilding that communication between you both but it also helps with building the trust that has been lost.

Be More Involved in Their Lives
Think back to when you were actively using drugs and alcohol, most likely your family and friends became secondary to your drug of choice and you were not as active in your relationships. Focus on the activities that you may have been absent for whether it was birthday parties, anniversary dinners, school activities, or just regular get togethers with friends, challenge yourself to be more present. Be more open minded to pushing yourself to engage more actively. This again ties back into the concept of trust. They are used to you forgetting about an event or isolating yourself from them, so now you have to challenge yourself to be more present and active in their lives. Sit down with them and ask them what they would like to see you do, what they need from you, what they miss about your relationship. Set up goals or a plan together to be more engaged and active together.

Reach out to Sober Supports and 12 Step Meetings
Getting involved in support groups is so important. The old saying “It takes a village” is so accurate for those that are in recovery from addiction. Attending meetings will help you to connect with others that have the same or at least similar situations that you do. Support or advice from others in the same situation can go a long way – and keep you accountable. Work with a sponsor when it comes to working on the 12 steps. Learn how to make amends with those in your life and the steps to take to get to that point with your loved ones. Go to a meeting when you are feeling frustrated or that you are not doing your best- because lets be honest you are going to feel frustrated at times. There is also a possibility that your loved ones may not be ready for the conversations that you are trying to have or ready to forgive you and if that happens you will need the support from others to help you through this process and be able to maintain your sobriety.

Take it one day at a time
A big part of the healing process is the acceptance that life hasn’t stopped for you. It can be overwhelming to see how much those around you have changed or grown without you being physically and emotionally present for this change. Interests and priorities change. Be understanding that this is going to be a challenge for you to not only learn about them all over again but also be able to catch up to them in their life. Take it one day at a time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the person they need or be able to jump into these high expectations that they may have set while you were in treatment. Communicate with them your concerns, listen to their concerns, and come up with a plan together. Be patient and realize that it will take time to earn their trust again. This patience and your ability to stay humble throughout the process will make it easier. Set small goals together.
You have to remember there are going to be ups and downs in the recovery process. There will be easy days and hard days. You have to trust within yourself and focus on the tools you have learned throughout your recovery. Be open minded and understanding that there may be individuals in your life that struggle with forgiving you and may take longer to trust you again. Some relationships may be “fixed” sooner than others. Focus on your recovery and your actions to help you navigate through this process and be comfortable with asking for help..at the end of the day you have to be comfortable with being vulnerable especially with your loved ones if you want the chance to have a healthy relationship with them again.

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Effects of Depressants

Depressants are psychoactive drugs that slow down the activity of the central nervous system, which reduces a person’s alertness and slows down their breathing and heart rate. In other words the individual is in more of a relaxed state. Medical providers tend to prescribe the depressant drugs for situations that include anxiety or sleep concerns. The most common form of depressants today include the following; alcohol, benzodiazepines (minor tranquilizers), and barbiturates. Individuals also use depressants to self medicate to help them cope through concerns involving depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
What are the effects of Depressant?
Depending on the depressant drug the individual consumes, the effects can be different. Here are some of the common depressants used and what the effects of their use can bring onto the individual;
Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. Due to the initial positive behavioral effects of alcohol, many people don’t realize that the substance is a CNS depressant. Alcohol can actually increase anxiety and stress rather than reduce it, as well as cause negative reactions such as anger, aggression, and depression. Chronic alcohol use can also lead to dependence, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop usage of the drug.
Barbiturates, or “downers,” are a type of CNS depressant that is typically prescribed to help with anxiety, tension, and sleep disorders. These drugs can generate a feeling of euphoria and relaxation even when taken in small doses, which encourages abuse in some. Because the potential for addiction and overdose is so high, the drugs are no longer commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep problems.
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are central nervous system depressants that are prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, convulsions, and other acute stress reactions. Common benzos include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. Benzodiazepines cause the individual to experience the sleep-inducing, sedative, and muscle-relaxing feelings. Due to this effect, an individual can develop a tolerance leading to a dependence to the benzodiazepines.
Signs and Symptoms of Depressant Drug Use
Depressants affect one of the brain’s neurotransmitters which in turn causes the individual’s brain activity to slow down helps them to relax more. Signs that someone is under the effects of depressants include:
Lack of self-control
Slurred speech and blurred vision
Impaired judgment and mental functioning
Nausea and vomiting
Memory loss

Side Effects of the Use of Depressant Drug Use
When people engage in the use of depressants over a long period of time or even in the short term, it creates multiple side effects some of which could be life threatening. One concern with the use of depressants is that over time the individual can develop a tolerance to them which can cause individuals to become more dependent on them and cause concerns when trying to stop the use.
Becoming addicted to these drugs can be difficult to overcome and when the individual is taking too much at once, or using depressants with alcohol or other drugs, this can slow their heart and breathing enough to cause death. Someone who is dependent on depressants can also have dangerous withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Depending on the type of depressant the individual is taking, the withdrawal can be life threatening, this is considered higher in an individual who is engaging in barbiturates more than benzodiazepines. However, barbiturates and benzodiazepines, both can cause symptoms that are more serious than some other types of drugs. Including seizures, tremors, psychosis, nausea, and insomnia to name a few.

Other side effects of depressant use includes
impaired sexual function
insomnia and other sleep problems
breathing problems
convulsions (similar to seizures)
depression and other mental health issues

Treatment For Depressants
Attending treatment for Depressant use is very important. Due to the nature of the withdrawal the individual can experience it is highly recommended that the individual attend a medically monitored detox facility. Once completing the medically monitored program a recommendation can be made for the individual to engage in a Counseling program. Therapy can be engaged through both inpatient and outpatient programs. Ranging from art therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, however tends to be the most commonly used for this type of treatment due to the fact it focuses on modifying the person’s thinking, expectations, and behaviors while improving ways to cope with life’s stresses.


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What You Should Bring to Inpatient Rehab

Making the decision to go to rehab can be the biggest and hardest decision you may ever make. Stressing about what you can bring to rehab doesn’t have to be a part of the process. It seems like the simple question of what someone can bring to inpatient rehab can become a huge stressor for most people entering treatment for the first time. It may even be a reason why someone decides to not admit, but it doesn’t have to be.

What Not To Bring
Before we discuss the things that someone should bring to an inpatient rehab facility, lets discuss what you definitely should not bring. This might seem obvious, but drugs and alcohol would be the number one thing to not bring to rehab. Although, this may seem obvious to some, it is not always obvious to others. Bringing drugs or alcohol into a rehab can get you into some big trouble. Some of the problems that could arise if you were caught bringing drugs and alcohol into a rehab facility are that you could get kicked out or even have it reported to the police. Bringing drugs into rehab can not only jeopardize the safety of everyone there, but it can also ruin any chance of you getting something positive out of the experience.
Another part about bringing alcohol into a rehab facility that a lot of people don’t think about is any products that contain alcohol in the ingredients may also not be allowed into the facility. Shampoos, conditioners, hand sanitizers, aerosols, mouth wash, these are just some of the items that may list alcohol in the first few ingredients on the bottle. Most rehabs will not allow someone to bring in any toiletry or other related item into the facility if it has alcohol in the first few ingredients and some may not allow a product containing alcohol at all.
Electrical items are another commonly prohibited item in most rehabs. Hair straighteners and curlers can be a major fire hazard and most facilities will either decide to hold the item in a safe for after the person discharges from the facility or they may have a policy that you can use the item at certain times and some facilities may even have a designated straightener or curler for the patients. Other common items that could be considered fire hazards and may not be allowed include fans, heaters and lamps.
Things that are expensive can also be commonly prohibited from entering into a rehab, because they can become the target of theft easily. Some rehabs may suggest not to bring expensive and nice clothing into the facility, while others may even prohibit it. Something to keep in mind is that you may not want to bring your expensive clothing items into rehab, not only because they may become the target of theft, but also the rehab may have a policy that all clothing items including shoes must go through a special treatment before you can have the item again. Heat treatments for bed bugs and other preventative measures are commonly taken for all incoming client belongings such as clothing items.
Lastly, some other electrical items that are usually not allowed into inpatient facilities are things like video game consoles, televisions, air conditioners and anything else that could be either be expensive or a fire hazard. Some people really feel compelled to have these creature comfort items while in rehab, but typically the facility you are entering will have their own version of these items and they do not want you bringing your own in for various reasons.

What To Bring
Let’s talk about what you should bring to inpatient rehab now. The typical stuff that you might bring on a trip or vacation is usually the first way to think about packing for rehab. Clothing that makes sense for the time of year and location that you are going should be considered. If you are going to somewhere that is warm, bring shorts and tee shirts. If you are going somewhere cold, bring a jacket and some sweatpants or jeans.
Having a couple books with you may also be a good way to spend some of your down time while in rehab, so make sure to pack something to read. Playing cards or another small games may also be allowed in the rehab, but more than likely the facility has their own games for you to play with during your down time.
Money may not be needed for anything while someone is in rehab, but it may be nice to have some cash at times. Facilities may have candy or other food items for sale in vending machines. Ordering food for takeout may also be an option at times too, but more than likely you will need your own money for this. Bringing quarters may be useful at some facilities that require them for making phone calls or using the laundry machines.
For people who use nicotine, packing enough cigarettes or other nicotine products is usually a must. The rehab may have a policy that let’s someone buy from a store locally during their time in he facility, but most will want you to bring what you need. Keep in mind, receiving mail or even a care package from family or friends is typically not a problem also, so if you run out of nicotine that may be an easy way to handle it.

Being prepared with the things you need for inpatient rehab can be a very important part of getting yourself ready to go so if you have further questions about what you can or cannot bring to the facility then you can likely get answers from either calling the facility and asking or checking their website for a list. Cellphones, wallets, keys may be allowed at times in some facilities, but more than likely you can just have the items locked in a safe and get them back at the time that you are leaving. Remember, inpatient rehab isn’t jail so if you forgot something, just ask the staff and they will likely be able to help you figure out a way to get whatever you may have forgotten.

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Can Holistic Therapy be used for Pain Management?

Pain is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not. Whether it’s a paper cut, a pulled muscle, a fall you take, it’s part of our daily lives. Typical situations allow the pain to only last for a short period of time, once you are healed the pain typically stops. However there is a more intense pain that is known as chronic pain which is completely different. According to WebMd, “Chronic pain is different. Your body keeps hurting weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Doctors often define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more.” This can be due to a number of different contributing factors including; Past injuries or surgeries, back problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, nerve damage and many other conditions.
Chronic pain is not something that just affects you physically but also emotionally. It challenges you in so many ways because of the limitations you are faced with due to having to adjust or accommodate the symptoms of the pain you are experiencing. When you are in recovery this is so much more difficult. For some, their addiction may have been fueled by the need to manage the pain they are experiencing. Most doctors prescribe pain medications which include opioids to help manage the pain the individual is experiencing. This is not a good solution for everyone especially when you are in recovery. Self medicating is something that is common in the addiction population and having chronic pain is no different than the other contributing factors that play a role in the desire to self medicate. So what do you do now that you are in recovery? How do you manage your pain while you are trying to also manage your recovery and live a sober lifestyle?
Holistic Therapy for Pain Management
Holistic therapy is utilized a lot throughout treatment programs for those in Drug and Alcohol treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, A Holistic Therapy approach focuses on the relationship between mind, body, and spirit, attempting to understand and address how the concerns in one aspect of an individual can lead to concerns in other areas. Individuals who are in treatment for Drug and Alcohol understand that there are a combination of changes they are going to experience. These changes can include physical, behavioral, and emotional changes as well as the ability to work on their physical cravings. Understanding this allows the individual and professional to fully treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – as well as help manage the pain that is being experienced in the moment.
Holistic Therapy provides a variety of approaches that can benefit the individual whether it’s through essential oils, exercise, breathing exercises, or hypnotherapy. In particular for pain management some techniques can include;

Mindfulness Awareness and Meditation
This is the act of bringing their attention to their breathing in order to connect with what’s happening in the present moment. This can be very beneficial for those who experience an increase in anxiety or panic. Taking a few minutes out of their day to clear their mind and practice focusing on their breath can be very beneficial. Meditation may improve sleep, memory, and attention span; it also helps regulate your emotions. Best of all, it can be done at home, at any time. Depending on the meditation exercise the individual engages in it can take as little as 5 mins. Even better there are several apps you can download on your phone to help you with this (headspace app, calm app, and the Insight Timer app).

Exercises and/or Yoga
If the individual is looking for something a bit more physical, consider yoga. Like mindful meditation, this technique involves quieting their mind and focusing on breathing while they flow through a series of physical poses that build strength and flexibility. Other low impact exercises like pilates and swimming exercises are also beneficial because it increases the core stability and control that could help manage your pain.

Aromatherapy and Massage Therapy
A therapeutic massage can be very beneficial for an individual who is experiencing pain as it is a type of holistic therapy that helps manage the pain and stress you are experiencing presently. This type of massage focuses on one specific area and applying a right amount of pressure to help address the needs you have at that time instead of a full body massage. Aromatherapy is a form of massage therapy that is also beneficial because it helps relieve muscle tension, stress, and pain as well as the individual’s mood in the moment. It involves the use of gentle and soft pressure while also utilizing essential oils which enhances the relaxing atmosphere.

Acupuncture works by applying needles, heat, and/or pressure to specific points on the body. It allows the body to focus on healing itself and faster in the moment.

Essential Oils
Essential oils can be inhaled or applied directly to your skin when you mix it with a carrier oil (water, coconut oil, juju oil, or other types of oils). Many specific oil types like lavender, peppermint, Rose Oil, and Bergmont oil to name a few have been identified as being beneficial for you when you are experiencing swelling and pain. By massaging the oil blend into the area that is hurting you you are allowing the oils to work on that target area.

These approaches again are only a few that are identified presently and can be useful. It is important to remember to follow up with a professional/therapist who is trained in Holistic therapy for proper guidance. Holistic Therapy may not be beneficial for everyone, treatment is patient centered however having an open mind and being willing to try to challenge yourself in your recovery process is the first step to a very successful recovery process.

Resources:Hopkinsmedicine.org; Therapeutic MassageUSPainFoundation.org; Holistic Approaches to Chronic PainWebmd.com; Alternative Approaches to Pain Management
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Being a Mom in Recovery

Just a little disclaimer, I’m doing my best not to cry while writing this. The fact of the matter is that I feel extremely blessed to be able to write about this topic. Not only because I’m grateful to be someone in recovery from addiction, but because I am beyond grateful that I get to experience motherhood in this journey. Talk about a wonderful life, man.
Now listen, recovery and motherhood are HARD sometimes, don’t get me wrong. But if there’s one thing that recovery has taught me, it’s to find gratitude in anything and everything.

I spent most of my life not only in addiction but also not really wanting children. I viewed myself as someone who would grow old by myself and not really having anyone rely on me. I love my independence, even still (when I can find some time). It wasn’t until I was about 30 (I had around 5 years clean then) that I thought about having a child with my husband.

The Beginning
Fast forward 2 years later, I’ll have 8 years clean on May 17th and my daughter will be 2 on the 23rd. When I found out her due date was on my clean date, I knew it was just meant to be. I remember the exact moment during my pregnancy that I knew I had to start applying the principles I’ve learned in recovery to what was to come. I was standing in my kitchen by myself, feeling completely overwhelmed, confused, unsure and stressed out. Within a few seconds my recovery tools clicked in and told me I had to pull it together and be strong, not only for myself but for my growing daughter. I remember standing there, tears covering my face, and saying out loud “we got this girl, we’re going to be alright.” I carried that with me through my whole pregnancy, and still lean on it today during the terrible 2 tantrums.

It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it
Sometimes I find myself in the same position I was in in the kitchen that day, overwhelmed, stressed out, spread too thin. In those moments I find myself relying on what I’ve learned in recovery about patience, trust and love. I also finding myself leaning on the women and other parents that I’ve met in recovery, from whom I’ve learned SO many valuable lessons from their experiences. My sponsor is a mom of 3, and her grace and ease just inspire me daily. When I find myself struggling with a full-time job, a master’s degree, a family, and everything else I have going on, I look at the women in recovery all around me and pull strength from them. At the end of the day I know I’m not alone in any of this, how can I not find gratitude and hope in that?
Sometimes I imagine what it would look like if I decided to use again, and there’s not one part of my mind that makes that seem worth it. Imagining the pain that my daughter would experience without her mother, are you kidding me? Not in a million years. I continue on in my recovery not only for myself, but for her.

Something that’s really important for me as a mom and woman in recovery is to make sure that I find some time (even just 5 minutes sometimes) for myself and to practice self-care. In order to be a good mom, I have to make sure I’m taking care of myself. Whenever I talk to a mom that’s struggling, I make sure to ask her about her self-care. This is especially more challenging now during quarantine, now that my daughter is home 24/7 with me and my husband. I’ve been leaning on my recovery now more than ever to get through this and remain strong for myself and my family. “We got this girl, we’re going to be alright” means more right now than it has in the last 2 years.
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Do the 12 Steps Really Work?

So, you are wondering if the 12 steps really work? Well, I guess that depends on what you consider to “work.” In my opinion, I do believe that the 12 steps work, but I also want to define some things first before we get into why I think they work.

My Old Solution
The solution to my problem was and still is the 12 steps. What I mean is that when I stopped using drugs and alcohol then I had to relearn how to live much of life. This sounds like a pretty intimidating statement, but it’s the same as a cliché that I’m sure you may have heard, “There’s only one thing in recovery that you have to change, everything.”

My Problem
Now, if drugs and alcohol were my solution to my problem, then what was my problem? This could simply be defined as a need for controlling exactly how I wanted to feel all the time. So, the simple solution to my problem would be either to stop that mindset altogether when I stopped using drugs or find another way to keep having control over my feelings.
Before I go on, let’s talk about the control that I had to have over my feelings when I was using drugs and why I see that as my problem. The reason I believe my problem was an issue of controlling my feelings can be summed up by another cliché that you may have heard, “whether it was raining or snowing or your birthday or my birthday, it didn’t matter, I had to use drugs and alcohol.” This phrase really does a great job of explaining that no matter what was going on in life, using drugs and alcohol was a part of the process for most addicts. I’d like to take this concept a little bit further now by saying that no matter what was going on in life, I had to use drugs in order to control the feeling associated with that moment. For example, if I was on a roller coaster ride and I was feeling excited and happy, then I wanted to use drugs to feel even more excitement and happiness. Or another example is, if I had just experienced a break-up in a relationship, then I wanted to numb out my feelings altogether by using drugs. So, the point here is, rather than just letting my natural feelings happen in life, I had to manipulate them constantly with drugs and alcohol.

My New Solution
The solution to my problem is the 12 steps and that’s why I think they work. What this means can be very personal to someone, but I will say that in my experience I had to go through the 12 steps with a sponsor and do it the way they suggested in order for it become the solution to my problem. Doing the 12 steps didn’t just mean writing or answering questions for my sponsor, but it meant starting to learn new ways to react, behave and think. If using drugs was my solution to everything, then I needed to learn a new solution to everything which came with the knowledge and application that doing the 12 steps taught me. This doesn’t mean that the 12 steps taught me some secret information in order to live a perfect life. This just means that some principles and concepts were easier for me to understand at this point in my life because of what the 12 steps had done for me.

The 12 Steps Work
So, let’s get back to what I mean when I say the 12 steps work. I mean that they have helped and continue to help me live a better life. When I was using drugs and alcohol, my life seemed pretty destructive and negative in almost every way. Without drugs and alcohol, my life was starting to get better, but at times still seemed pretty destructive and negative in a lot of ways. Eventually, when I worked the 12 steps, then my life started to change for the better and I could start to see a lot more positive growth in myself. For example, the notion of being able to stop and think before I reacted to an uncomfortable situation was possible for me after I started working the 12 steps. Another example that the 12 steps was working in my life, was that I could start to live life without needing distractions all the time. I didn’t need to constantly have the T.V. on or the radio blasting, I could sometimes just sit in quiet and be okay with it. These are just a couple of small examples that were evidence to me in early recovery that the 12 steps do work.
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What Should I Do if My Loved One is in Treatment?

Whitney’s Personal Experience
Hearing that a loved one is going away to engage in substance abuse treatment is a difficult thing to hear. While it may be apparent that someone close to you needs help, sometimes it’s not quite that black and white.
Perhaps you didn’t realize the severity of the problem, and then you begin to question yourself and what you could have done differently.
My sister is currently 22 months clean from all substances. And when she made the decision to engage in treatment, it came after a very real, raw conversation within our family.
There were tears, and there were proclamations, but above all else there was understanding. We, as a family, understood that she had made a decision for herself and we were prepared to support that journey, even if it meant she would need to be far away from us to do so.
She understood that it was okay for us to be silent, and a bit ignorant to the complexities of the situation. It was okay for us to not know all the right things to say in the moment, because as she was going through her journey, we would be going through our own as well.
Growing Together
The time she spent in treatment was a time for us to learn and grow in our own ways as the family of a person in recovery. My parents attended family sessions, and we engaged in al-anon meetings to further understand and educate ourselves on what it means to be an addict.
It took time for us to fully absorb all the information and work on better assisting my sister as she transitioned into a new phase of her life, but she never lost her patience with us. She continued to understand this was a marathon for us all and not a sprint.
Moving Forward as a Family
The most important things to remember as you and your family forge ahead on a new path is to provide support in the manner in which it works for your specific situation, educate yourself on the things you don’t understand, and remain open to the process.
There may be peaks and valleys while your loved one is in treatment, and it may get hard to be away from them and feeling as though you’re not helping them through such a life-alerting moment.
But the power of presence and just showing up where you need to be can do wonders for your loved one in ways you may not immediately see.
Continue to practice patience and understanding and you can get through this time and a become a stronger ally to the person who needs your support more than ever.
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