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.

Conclusion
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
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.

Self-Care
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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What is a Binge Eating Disorder?

According to the American Brain Society a Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is defined as “an eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of excess food consumption. The disorder differs from common (and normal) over-eating in that the sufferer often feels that their eating is out of control and that they are powerless to stop the compulsion to eat.” Most individuals will feel as if they have no control over their eating habits leading to them eating too much and too quickly, even when they are not hungry, which results in discomfort. If an individual you know or yourself experience this type of binge eating at least once a week for three consecutive months, you may be diagnosed with BED.
Individuals who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder often eat when feeling under stress, feeling as if one is starving, engage in rapid eating, and at times will feel as if it is taking longer than normal to feel full. The individual often can experience feelings of shame, sometimes will eat alone due to those shameful and guilty feelings, and can begin to experience depression. Feelings of distress related to that behavior is common.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
There are so many contributing factors to an eating disorder whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder. Social media, the society pressures, emotional and physical stress, and just the overwhelming feeling of being out of control can alone contribute to these disorders. Although BED is associated with these stressors, the exact cause is unknown. Some known factors that can increase your risk of developing BED include the following;
A family history of eating disorders. If your parents or siblings have, or had, an eating disorder, you are at a greater risk of developing one.
A history of mental health concerns or negative self-worth. This can include depression, anger, anxiety, a strong need to be in control, perfectionism, a need to please others, and negative feelings about yourself.
A history of dieting.
Significant loss, relationship problems. BED can be a way of trying to deal with stress and distance yourself from emotional pain.
Traumatic History. A history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, weight discrimination, and/or bullying has proven to be a contributing factor to both mental health and negative feelings towards self resulting in the need to control.
Social Distancing and Pandemic Effects on Binge Eating Disorder
Due to the current events taking place there is an increase in panic and anxiety surrounding the majority of the society at this time. This has created this urgency to stockpile and purchase more food then typically would be purchased in a single week or so causing a very challenging environment for an individual who has binge eating tendencies to be surrounded by at this time. As previously mentioned a typical coping skill for someone who is isolating, experiencing feelings of being out of control, or overly anxious is emotional eating. This can fuel that desire to binge eat.
Risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder
Similar to other eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia, binge eating disorder is a medical condition that can result in critical health complications. It can be difficult to gain control over binge eating but your physical, mental, and emotional health depends on it. Some of the risks associated with this disorder include the following; obesity or overweight, high blood pressure, fatigue, joint or muscle pain, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and heart concerns. These are just some concerns that could arise however there can be many other areas that could be affected both physically and emotionally.
Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder
Treatment approaches are not cookie cutter and vary depending on the person and the diagnosis they presently have. There are a variety of types of treatment that could be beneficial including different levels of care; inpatient, Partial Hospitalization (PHP), Intensive Outpatient (IOP), outpatient services (which include individual and group counseling services) and day programs.
The treatment team should include a registered dietician, mental health professional, and your family/support. There are a variety of treatment approaches that have been identified as successful components for treating eating disorders which include;
Cognitive behavioral therapy. When engaged within cognitive behavioral therapy the individual will focus on their behaviors as well as their thoughts and feelings related to the eating disorder. This approach enables the opportunity to begin to identify the need to change and action steps to help with that change process.
Family-based therapy. At this time, family members will be provided with the opportunity to learn different ways they can engage and help you restore healthy eating patterns.
Group cognitive behavioral therapy. In particular short term talk therapy could be beneficial. Group therapy can be challenging because it forces you to be in a vulnerable state where you are in an environment where you are expressing your concerns and feelings with others around you. It can help you address thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to your eating disorder, learn skills to manage symptoms, and regain healthy eating patterns with other individuals who are also in a similar situation as you. It’s a great way to feel accepted and not alone.
It is important during this time that you continue to focus on specific skills that will help with managing your anxiety which can help eliminate some of those impulses to binge eat. This would include practicing meditation and mindfulness techniques, journaling, limiting screen time, engaging with your pets, reading, listening to music, and reminding yourself of gratitude. These are just a few suggestions at this time however remember help is still available and you can access treatment at any time even during a worldwide epidemic by calling your local medical provider or the national hotline at 800-931-2237
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Is Nutrition Important in Recovery?

Is nutrition an important part of recovery? No, not necessarily, but should it be? Absolutely! Any doctor will tell you that nutrition is something important to pay attention to, regardless of whether or not you are in recovery for substance abuse. So why should nutrition be important in recovery?
Health Can Help
When we were using drugs and alcohol, those chemicals did a lot to our bodies and it is unlikely that they had positive effects to our health. When we become sober and in recovery it can be hard to decide to try to be healthy with things like nutrition, especially when we just want to eat for the simple fact that maybe we did not eat a lot while using drugs and alcohol.
Another thing that can happen in the early stages of recovery is the need for instant gratification and things like candy or over-indulging with food can be an easy way to feel instant gratification. Starting to pay attention to what we eat can make us feel better about our decisions and this may also help guide our recovery to better decisions as well.
Nutrition Can Relieve Stress
One thing that a lot of people in early recovery find as a great way to relieve stress is regular exercise and if this is you, then you already know that most personal trainers or people that like to work out would also suggest trying to follow a guideline to proper nutrition to get real results from exercise. By following proper nutrition guidelines and exercising in early recovery a person is already setting themselves up to see and feel results from hard work, much like making the daily decision to not use drugs and alcohol.
Nutrition May Lead To Better Decisions
Making nutrition an important part of recovery can not only have a ripple effect on better decision-making, but it can also turn into a new hobby of cooking. Greasy take-out food and eating at restaurants all the time may not be the easiest way to focus on getting better nutrition, so starting to cook for yourself may be a better alternative. Cooking for yourself instead of buying fast food or getting take-out every night is not only a much easier way of obtaining proper nutrition, but it is also a great way to save some money.
Guidance From a Professional
Trying to figure out your own nutritional guidelines can be overwhelming and may even lead to some unhealthy diets or other dietary problems. You should always seek out a professional nutritionist for advice when starting to make nutritional changes to your diet.
Conclusion
So is nutrition going to be important for everyone’s recovery? Probably not, but it is definitely a great way to start making some good life decisions and could contribute to a more positive recovery overall. Will implementing proper nutrition keep you clean and sober, not directly, but it could help. The important decisions that we make in early recovery can really contribute to the rest of our life and adding nutrition to that list of important decisions can help us start to make some other very important changes for our overall health.
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Finding Balance Amidst COVID-19

As we adjust to what has become the new “normal” it has become increasingly more difficult to find balance in our lives. We are stuck between the feeling of normalcy and emergency. Given the current climate it is important to hang on to the stability that we all once felt just a few short weeks ago. We are living in extraordinary times, facing new and unprecedented challenges. Despite the chaos and uncertainty we are experiencing we must find a new balance to get us through these times, not only for ourselves but those around us as well.

Work
With the stay at home order in full affect many of us are adjusting to more of a work from home routine. It is imperative that we remind ourselves daily that this is only temporary. Finding balance when working from home can be challenging to say the least. We are now struggling to manage all of the household duties while being productive. Creating a conducive home office or work environment is crucial to staying on top of your responsibilities. Get up, take a shower and get dressed for the day as if you were going into the office. You will find that this promotes efficiency and increases motivation. Additionally, know when to stop! Keep your routine, do not over extend yourself. We cannot turn to work to pass the time; otherwise you may face depletion. No ones balance looks exactly the same, find what works for you.
Relationships
The beauty in quarantine is that it has allowed so many of us to slow down and really embrace each other (metaphorically speaking, of course). Use this time; take advantage of it to really strengthen your personal relationships. For a lot of us this was an area in our lives where we were struggling to find balance. As life begins to move faster and faster our personal relationships feel the affects of that. Set aside time to reach out to your loved ones or a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile. Designate time to spend with your children or significant other one on one. You may be surprised what you missed while you were caught up in the ebb and flow of life.
Self Care
It’s easy to get lost in the noise of what’s going on around us. We are all searching for ways to deal with the fears, stressors and uncertainty that has come along with Covid-19. Taking care of our mental and emotional well being has proven challenging but very necessary. Now more than ever, we have to allot time to ourselves. Designate hours throughout the day to take a break from the news and social media turn your attention to something more positive. As the cold weather breaks spend time outside, the benefits of sunshine and vitamin D are monumental. Try something new. This can be a book you’ve been meaning to read, a recipe you’ve never tried before or a new hobby you otherwise didn’t have the time for. Use this time to invest in yourself, it will greatly benefit you during and after quarantine.
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I Thought I Would be Further Along in Life

Do you feel as though you are not where you should be? Has your substance abuse stunted your personal or professional growth? You are not alone! I’m sure many of us can relate to that daunting idea that “I should be further along than I am”. For many recovering addicts and alcoholics we spent a majority of our lives looking for the next fix with little to no emphasize on future plans or goals. Or maybe, we have put thought into the future but feel those goals are now unobtainable as a result of our addiction. Entering into sobriety we are overwhelmed with thoughts of “I would be here if I didn’t do this” or “I should be well on my way by now”. What I can tell you is that we must make peace with our past in order to conquer our future.

Stop comparing yourself to others
Social media, the blessing and curse that it is, allows us to stay up to date on the happenings of our former friends, classmates and acquaintances. We must remember that what we see is not always what we get. People only put the best of themselves out there for the world to see on social media. They do not highlight the struggles or the hard work. It is easy to fall into this negative mind set but yields very little positive results. We must understand that our journey is our own; we cannot allow the successes of others to have any impact on us.

Fact checking: Where I used to be vs where I am
fact-check
verb
investigate (an issue) in order to verify the facts.
When we find ourselves dwelling on past mistakes or the “what could have been” we quickly become complacent and ungrateful for what we do have. If you find yourself in this mindset, fact-check yourself. Look at all the facts, put them on paper, say them out loud. How are we so quick to fact check sources online but find it so hard to afford ourselves that same grace. I think most of us can agree that being where we are is much better than where we were in active addiction. Do not neglect this detail. Rejoice in the idea that you are no longer a slave to a substance you are free to have new experiences.

Setting goals
Setting goals can be very hard for people like us. We are instantly hit with “I don’t know what I want to do” but we all have to start somewhere. We are given the opportunity to re-start our lives and have new experiences. Entering into sobriety opens up a world of possibility. When setting goals the SMART method can be very useful. S (specific) M (measurable) A (attainable) R (realistic) T (timely). Make a list of things you would like to achieve. Think about and visualize where you want to be in as little as one week, one month or one year. The thing about goals is that they can stay exactly the same, can be modified or change completely. As you grow in sobriety you are open to so many new experiences. Be present, take action and most importantly, be kind to yourself. We all have to start somewhere.

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”
― Greg Reid
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Benzodiazepines (Xanax): What You Need To Know

The importance of understanding the uses of prescription medication when introduced to a potentially addictive substance
By Alisha Barnes, M.S, LPC

What Are Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepine refers to a class of medication, which is more often recognized by the individual brands, including Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin, amongst others. This class of medication is typically seen as a line of defense against Generalized Anxiety Disorder, various Panic Disorders and PTSD, dependent upon the individual symptoms. It is intended to calm the general nervous system and relieve those uncomfortable symptoms that we have come to recognize along with anxiety, including difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, irritability and restlessness. While effective and presumed safe in short-term use, Benzodiazepines have become increasingly abused as we better come to understand the mechanisms in which they operate.

How Does It Work
Anxiety is a product of the fight or flight system located within the amygdala of the brain. It is responsible for alerting us to potential danger and serves an essential purpose when functioning properly. Consider prehistoric days, when cavemen came across Saber Tooth Tigers or Wooly Mammoths; their survival required a quick response, free from the delays associated with the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that allows us to rationalize and weigh our options). Thus, the fight or flight response allowed for a quick decision based purely upon immediate survival, weighing only two questions, do we run, or do we fight? It continues to serve a practical function even by today’s standards, as admittedly we are not entirely free from the potential for physical, emotional or mental danger. Yet an anxiety disorder develops when the brain is “stuck” in the fight or flight response for a prolonged period of time, that it comes to have a heightened response, recognizing potential danger where it does not necessarily exist. Benzodiazepines were introduced to temporarily take that system “offline.” It allows for the dulled response from that specific brain function and provides nearly immediate relief from the resulting symptoms. This can be essential in allowing the body the ability to relax from the increasing demands of hypervigilance.

The Benefits and The Consequences
As with most medication, along with relief comes side effects or consequences. On a short-term basis, Benzodiazepines allow the brain and the body the opportunity to rest. Yet on a long-term basis, it can actually serve to increase the overall feelings associated with anxiety when not actively taking the medication. Consider a child who attends school every day, but falls asleep, without fail, every fourth period, right in the midst of math class. While we can say that his body is physically present, his mind is not. Would it surprise anyone to learn that this child’s grades are slipping in that particular class? Of course not, as we recognize the inability to learn if we are not mentally present. The same can be said of anxiety. If anxiety is the product of an over-reactive fight or flight response, then the goal is to teach that part of the brain the more appropriate response, not take it “offline” entirely. Each time that specific portion of the brain “falls asleep” so to speak, it loses an opportunity to work through the identified threat in a manner that would allow it to reconstruct its response all together. Overtime, it is easy to see how this could create a sense of dependency. Let’s return to the boy in the math class; each time the bell rings at the end of the period he is startled awake, unaware of his surroundings as he attempts to blink them into focus. Why would the brain respond any differently? As the fight or flight response comes out from the relief offered by any member of the Benzodiazepine family, it is forced to reground itself to its surroundings, seeking to locate the potential threat and even more aware of its looming presence. One could say that it lost an opportunity to confront the threat and by so doing, gain confidence in its ability to protect.

The Alternative
While Benzodiazepines can be effective in short-term use, they are often prescribed and taken well beyond the recommended period of use. In fact, it is often surprising to learn that this class of medication is not encouraged to be taken beyond two weeks at a given time, as it creates an increased likelihood of dependency, as well as a negative ripple effect of heightening the initial response of anxiety. Instead, it can be beneficial to seek out natural means of calming the associated symptoms, as this provides a teaching opportunity to the fight or flight response, during which time it is able to recognize its ability to “survive” what appears to be a threatening situation and to implement a healthy set of coping mechanisms in doing so. Consider the importance of learning to breathe through anxiety, to develop a set of grounding skills when a panic attack feels as though it may be on the rise, to implement various body movements to address the agitation or physical restlessness. All of the above serve as a means to both control the symptoms as time goes on, without the risk of dependency and with a greater potential for long-term success in doing so. As always, it is important to speak with a doctor or medical professional when experiencing ongoing symptoms of anxiety and to determine the best course of action in treating the individual symptoms
The post Benzodiazepines (Xanax): What You Need To Know appeared first on Steps to Recovery.


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