Marriage in Recovery

Dana’s Perspective
If you’re familiar with 12-step recovery, you may have heard the suggestion from some members to stay out of new relationships within your first year. While this is not a requirement to find or maintain recovery, there are some valid reasons why people often make this suggestion. Relationships are not easy for most of us as humans and may be particularly more challenging for those in early recovery. Not only are you embarking on a journey of learning about yourself, trying to love yourself, find forgiveness and peace, but your partner in recovery may also be trying to do those very same things. Insert: complicated, confusing feelings. After a long time of substance abuse, you may not even be able to identify your feelings let alone understand them or communicate them to your partner. How do relationships work? Effective, honest, transparent communication.

Why is this challenging in early recovery?
Well, we likely don’t even know yet who we are as individuals, what we stand for or what’s important to us, not to mention the hole that addiction sometimes leaves in us. Sometimes filling that hole is our only motivation, whether it’s sustainable or not. We call this instant gratification. Relationships based in instant gratification are sometimes detrimental to those in early recovery, and this is why we often hear this suggestion about staying out of relationships in the first year.

Building a Foundation
Okay so, had to throw the disclaimer out there to start with. I can only write about my experience, and in my experience there’s a lot of mixed feelings about dating or being in a relationship with another person in recovery.
I met Ross when I had about 2 years clean. By that point in my recovery I had a steady job, a network of people in recovery, some step-work under my belt, and had learned a lot of lessons (sometimes the hard way) from previous relationships. Was I looking for a life-long partner? No, not then. I struggled with commitment and wasn’t sure I wanted to give up my independence or ‘freedom’. Through the process of getting to know him as well as getting to know myself in a relationship with him, I learned a lot about the importance of honesty with myself and him, as well as transparent communication with him about how I’m feeling, where I’m at and what I need. You see, I spent many years of my life (before, during and after active addiction) in codependent relationships. I had to learn to live without being codependent before I could be in a healthy, committed relationship where both individuals have their own sense of identity. If I had met Ross at an earlier time, I wouldn’t have been in the same position to have a healthy relationship with him.

Managing Recovery and the Relationship
What’s worked for us has been that we maintain our own recovery processes while still using the principles that we’ve learned in recovery within our relationship. We’ve never attempted to ‘sponsor’ each other, and we don’t make demands or suggestions to each other for things that we may need to work on in our recovery. We do, however, use principles like acceptance, powerlessness, tolerance, patience and love in our relationship. When it gets difficult, or maybe we’re not getting along as well as we’d like to, we have the principles of the fellowship to help guide us in our individual journeys and ultimately, as a team. My husband loves his recovery, and I love that about him. It is not at all a primary motivator for me to engage in my own recovery, but there is something motivating about watching someone that you care about participate in their recovery. At the end of the day, we understand each other’s needs and we give each other space to be individuals. I wouldn’t have learned how to do this if it wasn’t for the foundation that I built in recovery prior to our relationship, and that same foundation that I stay committed to working on with or without him as my husband.

Ross’ Perspective
Dana and I are on the same page about the importance of why 12-step programs have suggestions related to relationships and recovery. Relationships are a sensitive and important topic to discuss with anyone in early recovery, because they involve emotions and feelings which can be uncomfortable things for anyone. Basically, I do not suggest getting into a relationship if you are just starting your recovery and I definitely do not suggest getting married if you are just starting your recovery.

What Works for Us
To keep it simple, I really believe that our own individual recovery looks very different for both of us and that’s why it works. I could easily try and suggest or try and control what Dana’s recovery looks like, but I already know that wouldn’t work, so why try?

Now, on paper, our recovery may look pretty similar. We both attend the same 12-step fellowship, sometimes attend the same meetings, have sponsors, we both sponsor other people, we both are actively working the 12-steps, we even both have the same homegroup, but our recovery looks very different. The main reason my recovery looks very different than hers, we are very different people. Like I said earlier, we have our own recovery which really means that I do not seek out her advice when I am looking for direction from my sponsor. It also means that I do not try and make her recovery look like mine and she doesn’t try to make my recovery look like hers.

I do, however, believe that she helps me in my recovery all the time. Living a life in recovery for me means that I am actively trying to change my attitude, perspective and actions so that I can be a better person. It doesn’t have to do with drugs, because once I put down the drugs, now I have to change myself so that I do not go back to using drugs, which means to me that living a life in recovery is the way I choose to change. Was that confusing? All I am saying, is that Dana helps me in my recovery, because I live with her and love her. I am constantly trying to practice my own recovery so that I do not act on my old patterns of behavior (destructive ones that were active while using).

At the end of the day, we both understand that we need to allow each other to be individuals. And with that comes the understanding that we’re going to be human sometimes. We continue to help each other grow both inside and outside of our marriage and allow each other the space to grow as humans too. Does this mean we’re perfect and our marriage is perfect? No, as we said we’re human too. But we do feel as though what we’ve learned in our recovery thus far helps us understand each other a little more and offers us to have more empathy for each other. We both do our very best to live our lives by the principles that we’ve learned in recovery, and we’re on the same page about teaching those same principles to our daughter as she grows up. In any marriage, not just ones in recovery, the principles of love, forgiveness, compassion, patience and honesty are so important. We’re both very grateful to have learned these practices in recovery so that we can use them, not only in our marriage, but in our lives as individuals, children, siblings, employees, friends, sponsors and parents.
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What to do if You’re Furloughed and Need Treatment

This is an extremely uncertain time for a lot of people around the nation right now. What can make this time even more challenging is if you find yourself struggling with substance use disorder and in-need of treatment, but you’ve been furloughed or laid off by your employer. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about seeking treatment for some time now, but your job has been a barrier. If you’re currently furloughed this may be the best time for you to enter treatment for substance abuse.

Step One – Do you still have insurance?
Some employers are offering to continue health insurance coverage even during the layoff period. If you have a Human Resources department, reach out to them to find out what’s happening with your insurance. If you don’t have a Human Resources department or contact, reach out to your supervisor to find out who is best to speak with about your health insurance options. You do not need to disclose to anyone that you are seeking substance abuse treatment, you’re just collecting basic information about your health insurance benefits, which is your right to know as an employee.

Step Two – What if I don’t have insurance during the furlough?
If your employer informs you that they won’t be continuing health insurance coverage during the furlough, ask them about the option to COBRA your current policy. COBRA is a benefit that allows employees to continue health insurance coverage after leaving employment. To find out your eligibility for COBRA, ask your employer if they can provide you with information in how to apply for this benefit. Most employers automatically mail the information to you, but if you ask ahead of time, they might be able to expedite the information to get it to you sooner.
In addition to COBRA, you can also look into a Marketplace insurance policy to cover you until you return to work. Check out to view the options available in the marketplace.

Step Three – Finding a Treatment Provider
For more information on how to find a good treatment center, check out previous blog that outlines useful information here. The main takeaway from the blog is that looking for a quality treatment provider is important. The blog outlines what characterizes a treatment center as quality, and some important things to look for in your search.

Step Four – GO
If you’re considering substance abuse treatment and you’re furloughed from work, right now is the best time to seek help. Do not wait. The withdrawal and detox process can be very complicated, uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening. It’s important to seek treatment in order to have medical and addiction professionals monitor your symptoms and help you navigate what you’re experiencing. You may feel alone and isolated already due to the pandemic, but the fact is that you don’t have to be alone, and in this time you shouldn’t be. Addiction treatment is open and available and if you’re willing, now is a better time to go than ever.
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What To Say on a Sober Anniversary

If you are grateful for a friend or family member that is celebrating a sober anniversary, then be sure to let them know. This sounds simple enough, but it is not always the case. Letting people close to you know that you are proud of them for celebrating a milestone in recovery can really help the recovering person in more ways than you may imagine.
There are many ways to show you care for the person who is celebrating a sober anniversary. Finding the right way for that person is up to you, but here are some suggestions for what to say on a sober anniversary and also various ways to show you care.

Why Sober Anniversaries Are Important
An anniversary in recovery can be a pretty big event for the person who is celebrating. Many people in recovery may refer to their sober anniversary as being more important than their own birthday. Typically, this can be the case if the person who is celebrating is very proud of the accomplishment and may also be due to the fact that they could feel more gratitude in their life than when they previously recognized their own birthdays in the past. For example, the person who is celebrating a sober anniversary may only have memories of being very intoxicated on their birthdays prior to getting sober, so it is only natural that their anniversary may represent celebrating life sober.

Attending or Planning Your Own Sober Event
Some simple ways to say that you are proud of someone on their sober anniversary is to make sure that you are present for whatever way they are celebrating. If this means that they are speaking at a local 12-step meeting or other support group, then choosing to attend whether you are in recovery or not is an appropriate way of showing appreciation for the person. Another way to show that you are proud would be to plan a small party or dinner for the celebration. One obvious suggestion is to be mindful of where the event was going to be scheduled, preferably not a bar or other venue where alcohol may be the focus.

How To Show You Care
Another simple way to say that you care for the person celebrating an anniversary in recovery is to give them a card or just let them know in person that you are proud. If attending a speaking engagement where the sober person is sharing their experience, it is also usually appropriate to bring flowers, a cake or even balloons for the person. If you feel moved enough to speak yourself, you can probably even do that.
The biggest part about showing that you care is to make sure you get your point across to the person on their anniversary date. Showing up, speaking up and being a part of a person’s anniversary celebration is a huge way of saying to someone that you care about their recovery and the sober person they have become.
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Benzo Detox during COVID-19 Crisis

We already know that active addiction is isolating, let alone struggling with addiction in a national emergency on-lock down. If you’re in this type of situation, like most of the country, you might be struggling even more than usual with feelings of depression, anxiety, restlessness, and increased cravings or withdrawal symptoms. If you’re currently experiencing withdrawal from benzodiazepines or worried that you will be experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s important that you reach out for help right away.

The Dangers of Withdrawal Alone
Withdrawal from benzos is not only uncomfortable mentally and physically, but it is also potentially life-threating. Some of the severe symptoms that can come along with benzo withdrawal include hallucinations, seizures, psychosis or psychotic reactions and increased risk of suicidal ideation. Some other common symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations, muscular stiffness or discomfort and hand tremors.

Why A Medically Managed Detox is Important
In order to effectively and safely detox from benzodiazepines, it’s important that a licensed treatment provider is involved in the process in order to prescribe the appropriate medications, take vitals, and address any adverse symptoms that may present while detoxing. A doctor can prescribe medications that can help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal in order to provide more comfort to the individual. Without these medications, the detox process can be very challenging, uncomfortable and harmful.

Navigating Coronavirus Restrictions
Treatment providers are continuing to provide care to those in need of treatment and are engaging in admissions screening processes to assess risk prior to admission. By doing this, they can ensure that people that are in need of services are still able to access those services in a safe way. If you’re worried about whether or not you’ll be able to get into treatment due to COVID-19 restrictions, just reach out and ask about the protocol around admission. Substance Abuse Treatment is considered an essential service, as your or your loved one’s life is essential. In order to keep yourself safe prior to admission, be sure to follow the recommendations from the CDC and WHO on social distancing and monitor any symptoms that you may be experiencing.

Substance abuse and addiction doesn’t stop just because of a national emergency. On the other side, neither does recovery. It is still possible to access treatment for benzo detox and find your journey toward recovery. Don’t wait until it’s too late, reach out for help today.
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Is it Safe to go to Treatment during the COVID-19 Crisis?

Right now is an unprecedented and trying time for many. With social-distancing being the number one recommended precaution against the Corona virus, it can be difficult to justify entering a treatment facility even when you know you are in need of help. It can be hard to know what to do. When the country is in a health crisis, and you find yourself in crisis as well, how do you decide on the best course of action?
There are a number of factors to consider, for yourself as well as for others;
Are you struggling with Alcohol or Benzodiazepine?
The effects caused by withdrawing from either of these substances can result in seizures and can be deadly. Attempting to discontinue using these substances on your own can prove fatal. It is not recommended to abruptly stop using or to self-detox regardless of social-distancing practices. Seeking professional assistance from a facility that can offer you 24/7 medical supervision is a must.
Have you recently overdosed?
If you have overdosed while using any substance, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention. Entering a facility that can offer 24/7 medical supervision is always recommended; as is going to the ER, seeing your PCP, or calling 911. This is a serious and life-threatening side effect of substance abuse and should be treated as such regardless of social-distancing recommendations.
Does the facility you are choosing take precautionary measures/complete prescreening for the virus?
Ask the facility if they are screening clients for the COVID-19 virus prior to admission. Often, facilities will ask a series of questions prior to admitting a client (have you been to an infected area? Have you been in contact with an infected person? Are you feeling symptoms? Etc.), facilities will also check client’s temperature and overall well-being prior to admitting them.
Does the facility you are choosing have a plan in place?
Ask the facility you are looking into what their isolation or quarantine plan is in the event that someone in the building contracts the virus. A reputable facility will be taking this seriously, and it is important to take it seriously for yourself and others as well. Ask if they have had any known cases of a client having the virus while under their care. Ask how they are taking care of their staff as well.
How are you feeling?
Are you feeling flu-like symptoms? Have you been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus? If that is the case, your best option would be to first seek help through a hospital. It will be just as important for you to get tested and to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 as it will be to address your struggle with substance abuse. A hospital or ER can address both temporarily. It is equally as important for each individual to take precautionary measures as it is each facility. Inpatient treatment is the best course of action when it comes to substance abuse, and a hospital will not be able to offer you 30 days of substance abuse treatment, but if you think you have contracted the Corona virus the ER is recommended prior to potentially admitting to a treatment facility. At a time like this we must look out for others as well as ourselves.

Social-distancing and cleanliness are top priorities in every community at the moment. Your health and well-being, and the health of others, take priority as well. Do not let the Corona virus stop you from getting help. Be smart about what course of action you choose. COVID-19 is serious, and so is substance abuse. We are all helping each other through both together.
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10 Ways to Prevent Relapse

Relapse does not have to be part of recovery. To ensure that you or a newly sober loved one don’t fall victim to a relapse there are many things that you can do. Preventive techniques and coping skills can really help someone before they relapse and some of them are very simple. Here are 10 simple ways to prevent a relapse from occurring.

Talk to a friend
It sounds so simple, but talking to someone about what you are thinking or feeling can really help get you through that tough time. Whether you have been thinking about drinking or using a drug, letting someone know is an easy way get it off your chest and can alleviate the thought or craving. Sometimes it’s the action of talking about it that helps, but the feedback that you may receive from the person you told could also help get you through the tough time.

Find support
If you don’t have friend or someone you can talk to when you are feeling close to a relapse, then finding support is very important. Drug and alcohol support groups exist all over the world. 12-step groups advertise in newspapers and various news sources, but there are many other types of support groups also. A simple google search can help you find very specific support groups in your area for what you are looking for. If a support group isn’t what you want, that’s fine too. Therapy and counseling is a great way to get support as well.

Stay busy
Trying to stay busy is a great way to prevent a relapse in early recovery. Find a hobby or a job and start working. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can get distracted from a thought about relapse when you are busy working or doing something like a hobby. Boredom is an easy way to find yourself close to a relapse, so if you stay busy then you are less likely to get bored.

Stay away from old friends
12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have a suggestion that it is a good idea to stay away from old drinking buddies after you enter recovery. This suggestion is really for preventing a relapse, because the idea is that you could run into an old friend and find out that all you had in common was drinking or using drugs, so inevitably, you would relapse with them. Obviously, this isn’t always the case with old friends, but if your old friends do use drugs or alcohol, then staying away from them will probably make it easier for you not to relapse.

Clean out your car and house
Making sure that your car and home are free of drugs and alcohol is a great way to ensure that you don’t relapse. It is not always easy to be able to clean out your home and car by yourself especially when drugs and alcohol are the main thing that you are throwing away, so try and see if you can get a friend or family member to help. If you are able to have someone else do it altogether, it is probably even safer.

Try yoga or exercising
Taking up practices like yoga or starting to exercise can be great ways to calm the mind which may end up helping prevent a relapse also. Whether you are looking for a drug free rush of endorphins or just need to take a deep breath and meditate, yoga and exercise is a great way to use your energy. Many people find it necessary to get out excess energy in order to relax or focus better and this could help prevent a relapse, because not only is yoga and exercise going to have you breathing heavily, but it is also a great way keep you focused and relaxed in life.

Change your phone number
In order to stay away from triggers like people that used to sell drugs to you, it is a good idea to have someone delete those numbers from your phone. Take it one step further and you could change your phone number altogether.

Help someone
Giving your time to someone in need is a great way to stop thinking about whatever it is that is making you feel like relapsing. This is another simple tactic for keeping busy, but it is also self-fulfilling. Maybe you have a friend that needs someone to listen to them or just needs a ride somewhere. Either way, both is giving of yourself to that person and helping them, which may also help you forget about whatever was bothering you in the first place. Just be careful if you are trying to help someone who is using drugs and alcohol. It is probably a good idea to have some other sober help available if you find yourself in a situation where you want to help someone who is currently using drugs or alcohol.

Take your medication
If you are prescribed medications for a mental health condition, then make sure you continue taking them while you are sober. Just because you may not be feeling anxious or depressed, doesn’t mean that you should abruptly stop taking prescribed medications for those conditions. A relapse can occur after a person stops taking their medications, because the person may start feeling anxious or depressed again and use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with these conditions. Please talk to your doctor if you are thinking about stopping a medication, rather than trying to stop taking it by yourself.

Stay Connected
If you were in a substance abuse facility and have left that treatment center, then try and stay connected with regular communication with staff or attendance at alumni events. Staying connected to the place that may have started your journey to recovery is a great way to prevent a relapse.
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Fun Ideas for a Sober Bachelorette Party

Having the task of planning a bachelorette party is a big responsibility, whether you’re planning it for yourself or someone you love. Maybe you’re sober, or the bride is sober, or you just want to have a bachelorette party that isn’t revolved around alcohol. All too often we see pictures on social media and Pinterest about ‘cute’ bachelorette party drinks or drinking games, or parties that are planned in bars or clubs. This mainstream view of bachelorette parties is not how all of them are, or have to be. There are many fun ideas for bachelorette parties that don’t involve alcohol.
Get Crafty
I’ve seen it done before where women make arrangements to go to a wood-making class and makes personalized signs for the bride. These are signs that she can hang in her home and create everlasting memories. This can also be done with dishware! Each attendee at the bachelorette party makes a piece of dishware that the bride can use in her own kitchen. Each time that her and her significant other sit down to eat; they’re reminded of the love that went into each plate or bowl. This is a super cute idea for someone that might appreciate hand-made gifts. Another idea similar to this is to go to a pottery class, each member of the bridal party can make a unique piece of pottery to commemorate the special day spent together.

Dinner and Desert
If you’re a part of someone’s wedding, I’m sure you know them well enough to know about their favorite food or restaurants. Make reservations at a cute or swanky restaurant that is either or fave or something new. You can accent the reserved table with some cute decorations (I’ll namedrop Pinterest here too), as long as you check with the restaurant that you can have access to the table ahead of time. If you add an additional layer of fun, plan some games to do during dinner. A really fun game I’ve done is to create a scavenger hunt that the bridal party has to complete before the night is over. Some examples that don’t include drinking could be; find someone at the restaurant to sing the “YMCA” song with you, prank call a friend, dance with a stranger, etc. This can create a ton of fun memories to talk about for years to come.

Spa Day
Who doesn’t love a spa day? Plan a day where the bridal party gets facials, nails, hair, massages, etc. done. It’s relaxing and a great way to spend time together. I mean, let’s be honest, what bride doesn’t need some R&R before her wedding day?

Get Away
Plan a getaway for the bridal party for a night or longer somewhere that the bride enjoys, or that you think she would enjoy. This doesn’t have to be a super expensive vacation; rather you can find an affordable Airbnb in a local town or somewhere just a few hours away. Have everyone pitch-in on food and other necessities and explore the area that you’re visiting. What makes this extra fun – taking a road trip with the gang.
When I had my bachelorette party in recovery, my sister planned a camping getaway in her RV. My bridal party was pretty small, so everyone was able to stay in the RV and we had a great time. We spent most of the time just hanging out in nature, sitting and laughing by the bonfire, and we also planned a couple events like doing a ropes course at a local mountain. It was an easy, affordable trip and we had an amazing time that I’ll remember forever.
Bachelorette parties don’t need to cost an arm and a leg, and certainly don’t need to include drinking. There are plenty of fun things you can do based on what the bride likes and enjoys.
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Ways to Have a Sober Bachelor Party

Obviously, the number one thing to do in order to have a sober bachelor party is to not drink, but can it be that easy? Yes, it can be very easy to celebrate someone’s bachelor party and still have fun without drugs and alcohol.
Early in recovery it can be hard to think about those milestone events, like your own wedding day and not drinking that cliché glass of champagne during your best man’s toast. Or not getting drunk at your own bachelor party, but these classic scenarios are not all about getting wasted. Wedding planning and the events leading up to that big day have almost nothing to do with drinking or drugs, but for some reason it can seem so hard to imagine those life events without drinking or drugs in early recovery.

Get Creative and Think Outside the Box
Whether you are getting married or planning your best friend’s bachelor party, drugs and alcohol do not have to be a part of the party. Some of the best ways to plan a bachelor party are to make it be about something that the groom really enjoys. Thinking outside the box, like taking a weekend trip or visiting somewhere for the day are usually great ways to start the planning.

Plan a Trip
If you are the best friend to the groom and have to plan a sober bachelor party, then try thinking about the groom and all the stuff that matters most to them. If they really enjoyed skiing at a mountain house while growing up or playing cards on the porch at the lake, then you already know that recreating a similar scenario will be a perfect way to celebrate a bachelor party without drugs and alcohol.

Do Something Local
Maybe going away for the weekend is hard for the group that will be coming. Why not just make it a day trip to somewhere special? Renting a big van, bus or even limo and riding it to a high-end restaurant is a great way to celebrate a sober bachelor party too. All that may be needed is a night out on the town with close friends and relatives, enjoying good food in an elegant ambiance. That could make almost anyone forget that alcohol is not a part of the evening.
Not into going to a fancy dinner with friends? Then how about some games at a local adult arcade? There are tons of different places that offer entertaining games for adults without drugs and alcohol having to be part of the entertainment. You can really have a fun time with old arcade games or even the newer 3D ones that offer a little more thrill while celebrating a buddy’s bachelor party.

The People Make The Party, Not The Drinks
These are just a few suggestions for how to get a memorable bachelor party started without any need to get high or drunk, but the main thing that is really going to make the party memorable is the moment you are with all of your friends and family celebrating. It doesn’t really matter what the scenario is as long as everyone there is present for the moment and not wasted on drugs or alcohol.
Try taking some of these ideas listed above and make them your own. Try looking up some local game spots in your area if you’re not interested in an arcade. The options for sober and fun bachelor parties are almost endless, because all you need is the people for the party and the sober environment.
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10 Fun Things to do When You Are Sober

In the beginning of sobriety, trying to find fun activities can seem hard. Typically, this can be due to the fact that almost everything prior to getting sober involved drugs and alcohol. Now, you have to find new ways to have fun that do not involve any mind or mood-altering substances.
Sometimes it can feel like there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, but this is very far from the truth. Most things that you used to do while using or drinking can still be done without drugs and drinking and they may even be more fun!
Sporting events
You can go to sporting events sober and even remember who won! Trying to break the habit of getting a beer or two every inning of a baseball game may seem dumb when you first get sober. After you experience your first game sober, you will definitely see that the sport has a lot of action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Sure, some people feel like the only way to dance is with some ‘liquid courage’, but have you ever tried dancing without drugs or alcohol? It is quite the rush and can really make you realize that you never needed the stuff in the first place. Next Friday night, try sweating it out on the dance floor with some sober friends.
You can workout at home or in the gym. Nobody needed drugs and alcohol to have fun with exercise, so why would you need it now. If you don’t want to commit to a gym membership then try going for a run around your neighborhood or at the local park. The endorphins will kick in and you may feel way better than you ever did high on drugs.
Go to the movies
Watching movies at home with friends can be fun, but going to the movie theater sober is a whole different way to really experience the movies. You can really get a thrill with 3D movies and they’re definitely cheaper than any day using drugs or alcohol.
Whether its painting a picture, knitting a scarf, making something out of wood, there’s so many different things to make with your own two hands. Some people really find that they have a talent for making things when they get sober. Others may reconnect with an old passion for making things they used to make before they started getting loaded. Either way, there are so many things to create when you can think straight!
Spend some time outdoors
Go for a hike! Parks and local nature spots are all around and you can really feel alive when you are outdoors hiking. Grab a snack, a friend and some boots, and you are ready for a hike. You don’t have to climb a mountain, but you can always go exploring in nature without drugs and alcohol.
Have a game night with friends
Play games with your friends! Board games, cards, video games, sports…there are literally a million different ways to have fun playing games sober with friends.
Go to a concert or live music event
Seeing your favorite bands and artists doesn’t have to be ruined just because you put down the blunt or beer! Try going to a concert with your friends and you will see that it is even better sober. Many live concerts and festivals even have areas of the event that promote sobriety!
Plan a trip or vacation
Whether it’s just a drive to the local beach or booking tickets to Europe, travelling sober is the best way to see the world. You can really remember how good of a trip it was and even avoid getting in trouble going through customs! Just remember your passport and you can go anywhere you want.
Learn something new
If you want to go back to school, take an art class or even just read a book. Learning can be fun sober. Many people are intimidated to go back to school, only to find out that when they are sober, they really enjoy learning. You don’t have to go back to school to learn though. Picking up a book or watching an educational documentary can be just as fun sober.
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How to Help a Teenager Struggling with Drug Addiction

Many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, but few realize how dangerous that can become. Drug abuse during someone’s formative years can have long-term cognitive effects as well as lasting effects on their conduct, demeanor, and quality of life. It is important to remember that experimentation does not always lead to addiction; the most salient course of action would be to create a safe and judgment-free space for your teen to feel able to be honest with you about their experiences. Early intervention and education are the best methods in terms of helping a teen who may be developing bad habits.

Warning signs
Symptoms of drug abuse may vary and can only be determined on an individual basis. It can be hard to differentiate between general teenager angst and drug abuse, and no single symptom can definitively ascertain whether or not a child is abusing drugs/alcohol. Some red flags may include:
red eyes
sudden lack of interest in hobbies/extracurriculars
poor hygiene
dropping grades
changes in eating habits
rebellious behavior/rule breaking
excessive sleeping/trouble sleeping
detention/suspension from school or other disciplinary action
depression-like symptoms
Teenagers can be notoriously rebellious and are sometimes struggling to find their own identity. Creating open lines of communication and being proactive are the best methods for early intervention. Asking difficult questions compassionately and being actively involved in your teen’s daily routine can help prevent drug abuse now and later in life. Teens who feel supported are more likely to be honest and to ask for help if need be.

Commonly Abused Substances
Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications are the most commonly used substances in teenagers. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 teenagers have abused prescription medications. By age 18, 58% of teenagers reported having had at least 1 drink, and 24% of students admitted to using marijuana. 5.8% of students polled in 2019 reported they were cigarette smokers. Most teens reported they accessed these substances through a parent or the parent of a friend. This was usually unbeknownst to the parent but it is imperative to remember to keep any alcohol or prescription medications in a safe place in your home and away from children.

How to Help
If a teen has already attempted to stop using substances on their own and has been unable to, it’s important that they receive support in doing so. Therapists, addictions specialists, school psychiatrists, and pediatricians can help diagnose if a teen is struggling with substance abuse as well. Often, adolescents are not the most forthcoming about their emotional health or use of drugs. Enlisting the help of a professional can ensure your child gets the help that they need. It is important to remember that there are many resources available to a family who needs help supporting a child who is struggling. Home drug tests can help uncover an issue, and there are many adolescent programs available to children and teens of any age. If you feel you need some assistance in finding these facilities or more resources, a good first step would be to reach out to your healthcare provider. Many adolescent substance abuse programs allow teens to continue with schoolwork as well as offer counseling and family therapy services.
Lastly, it is always important to create an environment where a teen feels like they are able to share and will be received with compassion. A child or teen who feels loved and supported is always more likely to seek help or to be honest about needing it. Parental involvement is the strongest factor in preventing drug abuse and detecting mental health concerns early on.
Parents need support too. Don’t neglect to reach out to your own doctor or professional for guidance and advice. There are many online forums, support groups and therapists who can help to support families and parents as well. Remember, no one has to do this alone.
The post How to Help a Teenager Struggling with Drug Addiction appeared first on Steps to Recovery.

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