How Can You Best Support A Loved One During Recovery?

Support A Loved One In Recovery

Being with a loved one while they go through recovery can be a very scary time. It’s natural to want to support the person you love, but it’s much harder do so when you can’t completely understand what they’re going through – or worse yet, how to help them. It’s normal to be worried about what you should say or how you should act, and whether anything you do will even benefit them.

To begin, keep in mind that you are important to your loved one’s recovery. They’re going to need all the help they can get to stay on the path to sobriety. More importantly, you will need to help them get back up if anything happens to knock them down.

Chances are that you know what it’s like to live a sober life, but that “baseline” is something that addiction takes away from a person, replacing it with a nagging inner voice offering an “easy solution” to every problem. It takes time to block that voice out, and some days are easier than others. With your help, your loved one can make it to the point where they no longer hear that voice (or choose not to listen to it), but they will need your help. Here are a few ways you can support your loved one while they go through the recovery process.


Talk About Treatment

A good way to help out is to let your loved one know that they’re not alone – you are there with them. Talk to them about their treatment and ask how they are doing. Keeping an open line of communication is critical. The best way to show your loved one that you genuinely care is by being around, and by wanting to know how they are.


Offer Your Help

Sometimes, it helps just to tell your loved one that they can ask you for help anytime they might need it. Knowing they have someone in their corner can reduce the fear and anxiety of being alone after rehab. It can be scary to have so much at stake after treatment and to be able to throw it all away if the urge grows too strong. Help them remind themselves that relapsing doesn’t mean throwing all their progress away, and that if they feel close to losing control, that they can ask for help.


Be There for Them

It’s not a bad idea to either live with your loved one or help them find a roommate to stay with while they are going through the first few months of recovery. Be sure to give them a way to contact you but be realistic about how available you can be. This is where it helps tremendously to coordinate with friends and family. Discuss how you might all be able to pitch in to help your loved one and ensure that they always have someone to turn to if things get tough.


Learn More About Their Addiction & Recovery

It seems simple but it is so important: The more you know about your loved one’s situation, the more you might be able to understand what they’re going through and why they’re acting the way they are. There’s a difference between intellectually understanding something and having lived through it on a personal and visceral level. However, it’s still better to learn about their addiction and their recovery process than be in the dark about what might be going through their head.


Speak with Their Therapist or Doctor

With your loved one’s permission, consider going to a few meetings or sessions and learning more about what their therapist is doing to help your loved one, or engage in therapy together. While information online can help you have a better grasp of the “big picture” of addiction in general, it’s best to talk to a professional directly regarding the mental health of your friend or family member specifically. Their therapist or doctor may be able to give you suggestions about what you can do to help them make progress in recovery.


Be Honest About Their Progress

There are very few saints, and the recovery process isn’t hallmarked by cheerful moments and rainbows. There will be times of frustration, and while you should never be mean or hurtful, you should always be honest. Think of it this way – although the truth can cut like a blade, it’s far worse to be dishonest, deceitful or insincere. Instead of diminishing your loved one’s progress, highlight how far they’ve come. Acknowledge that they still have progress to make, and that there is behavior they will have to curb. Criticism is important, but so is praise.


Help Them Make Healthier Life Choices

Healthier life choices can be tremendously helpful with maintaining sobriety. A big part of staying sober is staving off negative emotions and excessive stress. Getting enough rest, getting some exercise, and eating good food are all healthy ways to help minimize stress and to have a greater quality of life. Help your loved one by embarking on a life journey together.


Take Care of Your Own Needs as Well

It’s easy to get lost in the mindset that you’re there to help, and that your needs are secondary to those of your loved one. After all, what they’re going through is incomparable to whatever stress you might have piled up, right? Wrong. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. Work with your family and friends to create a support system for your loved one, a support system you can be a part of but that doesn’t completely rest on you. Don’t take their entire burden onto yourself, and don’t make it your sole responsibility for them to succeed.

There’s no specific timeline for recovery. Everyone works through their addiction treatment at their own pace. While programs like rehab or inpatient treatment are often a smart first step in the right direction, the meat and potatoes of “recovery” comes from years of sobriety, and a fulfilling life that makes staying sober worthwhile.

Most relapses happen within the first year, with the bulk of those happening in the first six months. After that, relapses become increasingly rare. Surviving past that year mark is a big milestone for many – but it’s ultimately up to your loved one to know when they feel like they’ve reached a comfortable distance from their addiction, to the point where they no longer truly fear a relapse could happen anytime soon.

You Have A Responsibility To Yourself To Stay Sober

Responsibility To Stay Sober | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is a long fight – for many, it takes years of trying to stay sober to find the point in life where you feel like you can put it all behind you. Staying motivated throughout that fight can sometimes feel like an impossible task. However, thousands of Americans do it every year, tackling their addiction, and living day after day as a sober person.

While there is nothing wrong with sourcing your motivation externally, there comes a point in life when you must be the source of your own motivation – because if you do not truly want to stay sober, then no amount of support will help carry you through the time it takes to grow beyond an addiction.

Motivation is a central part of addiction. It helps to understand that the disease itself attacks your brain’s reward center, corrupting your sense of what is motivating – in a way, at its peak, nothing is more rewarding and motivating than the high, and getting past that to stay sober takes incredible willpower and lots of help.

That is why addiction treatment centers work hard to keep you sober and remove any temptation for the duration of the program. That does not make staying sober much easier – especially with a painful withdrawal – but it makes is much more doable.

Beyond the initial recovery and treatment, staying sober is something you must work at – and with the right tools, you have a solid fighting chance. But learning how to stay motivated after addiction means relearning what it means to be motivated.


What Drives You To Stay Sober?

Is there anything you are passionate about? Addiction is as much a physical disease of the brain as it is an emotional battle – severing the tie between yourself and the emotions you feel when you are high can take a long time, and a powerful substitute. While no one should go exchanging one addiction for another, it is a good idea to find an alternate coping mechanism – something you can focus on when times get tough, to relieve stress without resorting to addiction.

Because of its sheer variability and efficacy as a tool for self-improvement and better focus, exercise can be a powerful passion. The hard part is figuring out what form of exercise suits you best. Running, cycling, swimming, climbing, lifting, fighting – the only way to find out is to try.

Of course, physical activity is not the only thing you can be passionate about after addiction. Just like getting active, exploring your own creativity, and expressing yourself on paper, on canvas or on a recorder can go a long way towards making you feel better, reducing stress, and improving at something.

There are greater nuances to feeling motivated. Some people enjoy exercise, but only with the additional motivator of competition. Being passionate about being the best is a great way to hone your focus and develop a drive entirely separate from your addiction. Others prefer to collaborate, seeking to work with others on creative endeavors, in order to make something truly unique for everyone to be proud of.

If you want to stay motivated, then sobriety alone cannot be your sole motivator. You need something else – a passion that pulls you towards it, something that you cannot risk giving up for addiction, no matter how strong the temptation becomes. It needs to be something you can turn towards when times are tough, but also something you enjoy on a regular basis even when your day is going perfectly.

Once you have found your passion, you are one big step closer to stay sober and build a life that is not easily given up.


The Importance Of Support

The people who support you throughout your addiction treatment are more than just your support – they are people, with lives and dreams and goals and wishes. Often, they may be close friend and family, or they could the people you have bonded with while getting sober.

Seeing them as friends to care about can create an interdependent relationship where one supports the other – focus on giving, and you may find that you will receive more in the long run. Doing good for others also naturally elicits a positive response in us – we want to do good things for others, and feel good about doing good things, even if we do not receive anything in return.

Building strong bonds with the people who care for you, and for whom you care, can create a greater sense of responsibility towards not just yourself, but others. This accountability to stay sober for their sake will build upon you and give you another sense of purpose beyond your interests, passions, and dreams.

Your responsibility to yourself deepens – to stay true to the person you are becoming, and the tomorrow you envisage for yourself, you must keep on resisting any urge to go back to the addiction.


Staying Motivated During Sobriety

Beyond passion and support, another important aspect of staying sober is finding a way to support yourself financially, without taking on too much stress to bear. If you are in a line of work that is financially stable, but find yourself stressed beyond belief, then leave. Find support, ask for help, and do your best to get into a line of work you truly care about – it can save your life.

There is more to finding a job than really wanting it, and there is more to finding the right job than simply wanting to work in that industry. However, an important goal for anyone on the road to sobriety is living a healthy life. That includes finding work to sustain yourself and help support your family as you stay sober, while enjoying the work you do.


This Is Your Fight

Every step in the right direction can be incredibly fulfilling – but you have to make each step yourself. While others can help support you, you must progress on your own and reach the conclusions you need to reach to find an emotionally stable place away from addiction, in a sober life built around your responsibilities to yourself, your passions, your dreams, your hopes, and the people you care about.

This is your fight – and waking up day after day, it’s your decision to stay sober and live in defiance of your past and the mistakes you once made.


What Can a Sober Mentor Do for You?

Sober Mentor | Transcend Recovery Community

Sobriety is an individual state – it’s something you have to trigger on your own, maintain of your own volition, and pursue with your own agency. If someone pushes you to get sober, it won’t last. If someone gives you an emotional ultimatum to get sober, it won’t last. Even life itself cannot force you to get sober – until death takes you. And even then, you wouldn’t be sober. You’d just be gone. It’s on you to get sober and stay sober – but there’s more to sobriety than taking step for step on a lonely road. You have to do the lifting and make the decisions, but you can do so with a sober mentor or someone by your side, encouraging you, reminding you, helping you do the things you need to do the most in order to stay true to your own promises and live out the sober life you might have longed for.

That is what a sober mentor initially represents – the person in your life who helps you stay sober. But the keyword here is help. Help is always important. We need help, and support – not just as recipients, but as senders. Helping and supporting others can be extremely fulfilling – and in much the same way as you might need the help of a sober mentor to get through the toughest times of your recovery, someone will one day need you. Or maybe they already do.


What Is A Sober Mentor?

A sober mentor is a professional. They begin with the experience and the passion to help others – and then they follow that up with training. Sober mentoring programs exist for individuals who have gone through life facing their own hardships and challenges to meet and help people struggling through many similar challenges on their own road to wellbeing.

Sober mentoring is more than a sponsorship program, and it differs from many other programs. In a sense, it’s a one-on-one relationship with a transitional goal in mind – moving from a healing environment like a recovery community back into real life without losing hope or falling out of established sober habits.

Sobriety is not necessarily difficult to achieve. Many people stop using or drinking, and the motivations for doing so do not have to be particularly powerful. The struggle begins when a person has to actually keep up that sobriety, for days and weeks and months. Life is not streamlined, simple or idyllic – it’s messy and harsh, more so for some than for others. Withstanding life on your own two feet is hard enough but doing so while staying sober after months or years of substance use can be gut wrenchingly difficult, and seemingly impossible.

Sober mentors work to open your eyes to the possibilities of a prolonged and permanent sober life, one that makes you strong enough to face all of life’s challenges, including even the most tragic setbacks.

The sober mentor has multiple responsibilities, including keeping schedules for their clients, helping them emotionally and psychologically, collaborating with the client’s other treatment options and with their friends and family, and being skilled in crisis management, interventions, and more.


The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

If you don’t like your therapist, you’re not going to get much out of therapy.

This holds true for sober mentorship, as well. A sober mentor is a qualified professional doing their job – but that does not mean that they have to be cold or unfriendly while doing so. It’s important to find a mentor you’re comfortable with, someone with whom you share chemistry.

Beyond that, the mentor/mentee relationship may be one you have to prepare for. The first most important step is to establish within your own mind that you truly want this. A sober mentorship is voluntary – it isn’t a program that should be hoisted onto someone if they’re out of control, but rather it should be something a client decides to choose is best for their transition from a recovery community to regular living.

As such, prepare by considering how you want to incorporate your mentor into your life. Sober mentors are not sober companions – they usually do not get paid large sums of money to live with you and stand by your side 24/7. Instead, they may be available on a regular basis, meeting as often as you are comfortable with, and under certain emergency circumstances.

Decide when and how often you plan to meet, and what you want to accomplish with this relationship. Is your primary objective a smooth transition into a new job? Reconnecting with family? Staying sober for six months straight? Try and consider what matters most, and why.


Sober Mentorship In The Long-Term

Sober mentors can be both friends and professionals, yet speaking in concrete terms, sober mentoring is a service that is meant to be temporary. While some individuals might only need this sort of intense professional help for a few weeks, others can spend months or even years struggling with their addiction and various treatments.

The long-term view requires sober mentors to both focus on the now and provide tools that help clients deal with their own issues in the future, as well as working with close relatives and loved ones to help them understand what they might have to do to help the client prolong their sobriety and maintain it throughout recovery and beyond.

Choosing a sober mentor can help a person overcome the hardest, most challenging aspects of recovery – the early recovery period, when the cravings are the most powerful and the memories and emotions are at their strongest. But after a certain period of time passes, it is time for a client to move on towards a more independent stroll through recovery. While we all need support from those around us, seeking professional support forever is not a good sign of progress through recovery. The aim for sober mentors is ultimately to make their own existence in a client’s life obsolete, preferably as quickly as feasible depending on the client’s progress.

What Makes Staying Sober After Recovery So Difficult?

Staying Sober \ Transcend Recovery Community

Many people who have gone through the years and therapy needed to overcome an addiction will tell you that it can be horrendously difficult to admit your addiction, and then take the necessary steps to seek help, find support, forgive yourself and beat withdrawal. Many more will also tell you that, as hard as all that is, it’s just the beginning – and the biggest challenge will ultimately be staying sober long after the treatments are over.

In many people’s eyes, recovery is the period after addiction when someone decides to seek treatment, and undergoes at least an entire program getting their life together and going “back to normal”. But the thing is that this is a misconception. There is no such thing as normal, and there will never be a template life to go back to. When you go through an addiction, you can overcome it and change your life for the better by staying sober – but you won’t go back to living how you did in the past.

When treatment ends, life will be very different from how it used to be before the addiction. And no matter how much time passes, you still have to live with the memories of the feeling of addiction, and the things you did.

Coming to terms with that while staying sober and finding a way to live with and live past the temptation is the real key to beating an addiction in the long-term – and understanding why is important to explaining why staying sober is so difficult to maintain, even after treatment.


Staying Sober: Defining Sober

Sobriety is not abstinence – rather, it is having a clear state of mind. That means not just skipping out on your drugs of choice, but it also means skipping out on alcohol and every other drug, and for many people, it means skipping out on any medication that affects your mind unless medically necessary. To be sober, you have to not be using.

Maintaining your sobriety can be torture at first, which is why treatments and programs exist to make the journey a little easier, and help work you through the challenges as they arise.

But people make the mistake of thinking that once the treatment is over, the temptation and the cravings magically disappear. They don’t. Instead, you’re meant to use the time and resources given to you during treatment and recovery to amass a set of tools to work with in times of stress and need, to fend off temptation, fight off cravings, and work on staying sober.


The Temptation Of Addiction

The reason addiction has such a radical and long-term hold over the human mind has to do with both a set of psychological reasons, and a set of physiological reasons. These reasons are intertwined.

On the psychological side, an important part of recovery is seeing it not as a treatment for addiction to be excised out of your life, but more as a training for how to deal with addiction, and beat it into obscurity within your life. This takes several steps, the most noteworthy of which is self-love.

This has nothing to do with spirituality, self-motivation, or surrounding yourself with people who love and adore you. It’s not about amassing massive wealth, success, and fame. It’s not about becoming the perfect human.

It has to do with staring into yourself in front of a mirror, and making conscious decisions to turn into someone who is true to themselves, and likes it. Sometimes, you may have to make changes. Other times, you may have to learn to live with, and even love certain aspects of yourself.

Only then, when you’re independently okay with who you are as a person and don’t need to seek validation from others or from outside objects and titles, will you be able to completely embrace sobriety without a shade of doubt. This is because addiction feeds on doubt. It feeds on insecurity and fear. It feeds on worry and stress. If you can’t be happy with yourself, then you won’t be able to live a happier sober life – and the temptations will stay.

The physical reason why addiction is so difficult to overcome is that it warps the pleasure center of the brain, completely changing the way we perceive joy and euphoria. Things that used to bring people happiness – like their hobbies – fall out of favor, while the need for the drug takes over.

Rewriting that takes time, because the stimuli of drug use cannot be beaten. Overstimulation of the brain’s pleasure center is essentially why it gets warped, and recovering from the effects of drug use and staying sober can take years.


Losing The Routine

Every drug recovery treatment plan has a routine. Routines are helpful when fighting an emotional or mental battle – they help make life simple, give us something to do, and take away time that might otherwise be spent thinking about or doing something harmful.

The structure that a routine can provide also gives people a daily pattern to adhere to, and return to when things go wrong. A big part of struggling with sobriety outside of the confines of a treatment center or sober living environment is the fact that the routine often eventually falls away, and with it, the sobriety can suffer.

You don’t have to have the same routine all the time, but be sure to bring structure to your life. When the stress begins to knock down your routine, don’t let it all fall into disarray. Adapt, accommodate, and stay strong.


Why People Struggle With Relapses

Relapses occur astonishingly often, at least in the eyes of some. Others might recognize that a relapse is nothing to fear, and may even be considered part of the early recovery process for most people.

Having a relapse can be damaging to your overall progress, especially as it resets your sobriety counter – but that does not make it the end of your chance at staying sober, or worse, spell out your doom. A relapse is not a failure. It is just another experience with addiction, and an opportunity to learn and do better.

Through relapses, you can mark periods and triggers in your life that bring you closer to addiction and the cravings, and find ways to be more vigilant of these factors and avoid them or work around them. No matter how large your setbacks are, the most important thing is to keep moving forward and continue on the path to lasting sobriety.


Is Addiction A Choice?

Dealing With Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Life is all about choices. The people we choose to be with. The things we choose to do. The words we choose say. At the end of the day, our lives and what we did with them are our responsibility, and it is up to each of us to live a life well-spent, and well-lived.

At least, ideally, that would be the case. But we can’t always take responsibility. Sometimes we must accept that certain circumstances led to a bad outcome, and that we must move on past through those circumstances to make the best of things.

If something goes wrong, it’s not necessarily your fault. But it may not necessarily be someone else’s, either. Sometimes, when there is no one and nothing to blame, the hardest thing is to let it go. When it comes to addiction, in most cases, there is no single thing or person to blame. Addiction develops over time, and the factors that cause it likely developed over years.

But there’s a fine line between living a life free from meaningless grudges, and living a life free from accepting any responsibility or owning up to your own mistakes. Mistakes and failures are a part of life, and often enough when something does go wrong, it is our fault.

When it comes to addiction, one of the many questions people have is whether it is one or the other. Is addiction a matter of circumstance? Or is it a choice people make, their responsibility? It’s a tricky question – but anyone who tackles the issue on a personal level must find an answer to it.


What Choices Mean To An Addict

Choice is critical. To be able to choose, not just based upon some sort of biological programming, but out of your very own reasoning, is important. We all need to be able to choose our beliefs, our partners, our actions.

But true free will – and the ability to choose beyond some predestined way of thinking – is difficult. One thought leads to the next, and most “logical” conclusions are the result of inevitable, and uncontrollable circumstance. As such, these reactionary choices are still choices, but the one’s were forced to make.

This his how addiction works. Your brain compels you to think a certain way, and the choices you make are in favor of that way of thinking. But that doesn’t mean you’re really choosing anything. You’re forced to act a certain way.

Choosing outside of these cravings is exceptionally difficult – otherwise, addiction would not be a problem to begin with. It doesn’t have to do with willpower. Instead, it’s a matter of motivation.

Someone who struggles with addiction may not have the motivation to stay clean. They may find themselves constantly being doubted, by others and themselves. Sometimes, people lose hope in their own recovery. People in recovery need friends and loved ones to remind them what they’re fighting for, and to keep that motivation ignited and that passion burning.


No One Chooses The Pain Of Addiction

Regardless of whether you find that people are responsible for their own addiction, the fact remains that most people who struggle with a drug do not want the pain of their addiction. They don’t want to fear relapse, or overdose. No one needs that in their life.

In fact, no one should need drugs in their life. It’s only when something is missing, lost or stolen when drugs become a viable option to help us fill life’s voids. Unlearning that, and relearning how to live a sober life and be free to fill that void with real living can take months and years – but people go through those journeys all the time, putting one foot in front of the other best they can, despite their own cravings.

That’s the true power of choice in addiction – it’s the choices we make to become better people, and recover from addiction. Those are the choices that, in the end, count the most.


Choice Is Important For Recovery

While most would say that they didn’t choose to become addicted, choice is incredibly important for getting out of addiction. Overcoming addiction requires you to choose to get better, and commit to that choice completely. Unlike addiction, which can creep up on you, the road to long-term sobriety is long and its pain is very noticeable.

It starts with a simple and small commitment, such as wanting to get better. Then it becomes something more concrete, such as going to rehab, seeking the help of a known specialist, or joining a recovery community. Then it becomes a daily routine, a fight you must fight from sunrise to sunset, and beyond. Eventually, you’ll get past the painful stage, and you will begin to love live again.

Living life, the way it’s meant to be lived – without the cravings – can take some getting used to. But if you choose to get better on day one and commit to that choice – even through the failures and the hardships – there is always hope that one day you won’t feel like you need a fix when things get tough.


Blame And The Role It Plays In Addiction

Blame can be an incredibly destructive force in addiction. On one hand, blaming others will deflect the failure off yourself, and it will keep you from understanding the dangers of addiction, and learning how it can hurt others around you. On the other hand, blaming yourself too harshly will lead to another problem, wherein you may lack the confidence in yourself to stay sober, or even find a reason to.

Addiction is a terrible thing, and different people must struggle with completely different circumstances. But it’s always tough, and the last thing you need is to cast doubt on your ability to get better. While completely ignoring your failures is just as bad, being too hard on yourself can invite just as much trouble.

Try and find a way to continue believing in yourself, while acknowledging the work that must be done in recovery.


Why Should You Get Clean For The Holidays?

get clean for the holidays | Transcend Recovery

The holidays are a time to celebrate family, love, or whatever religious holiday exists then. For different people the holidays mean different things, and the traditions and schedules change with religions and regions. For some people, it’s an opportunity to live life differently over the next 12 months – and get clean for the holidays, for example.

Traditionally, the winter solstice has always been a celebration for the approaching end of winter and the lengthening of daylight.

But since we don’t really have as much to fear of winter as we might have centuries ago, other traditions have come around to take that place, such as celebrating the end of a good year and looking forward to the beginning of a new, and potentially better year.

For many Americans, the holidays are also a time for reflection. They’re a time to look back over the past 12 months – and beyond – and make a note of what’s been done and left undone. Many people carry a great burden in their lives, and some carry more than one. Shedding that burden, or turning it into a source of strength is the only way to keep on walking – otherwise, we all fold under it sometime sooner or later. And through the reflection that the holidays offer, there’s no better time to deal with your addiction than right now and get clean for the holidays.


Get Clean For The Holidays: A Time For Family

Family matters – even if it’s not your own family, but a family you’ve created through friends and loved ones. And no matter what you believe in or what the holidays represent to you, it’s important to be with the people you love when celebrating the holidays – and when fighting against addiction to get clean for the holidays.

Combine the two together, and the holidays aren’t just a wonderful time to experience the love and togetherness of family – but also to combat addiction, and make a pledge to staying sober while surrounded by those who matter most to you, for whom you can get clean for the holidays and stay sober.


A Good Time For Good Food

Christmas and the holidays in general are almost always a time of major indulgence and subsequent food comas. But maybe, this year could be a little different. If you’ve already stuffed yourself for Thanksgiving, you could put a twist on this year’s solstice by going the other way – a healthier way.

This isn’t just meant to be a cruel joke on the family. Instead, it can further help you cement the holidays as your time to get clean for the holidays.

People vastly underestimate the role nutrition must play in successful drug recovery, especially early on when the food tastes of most people struggling with addiction generally tend to lie on the extremely sweet side of things. Early recovery sort of regresses our tastes to juvenile levels, and we crave fat and sugar as ways to refuel rather than real food. Why isn’t exactly certain, although some suspect that it has to do with the damage that drugs wreak on the brain’s reward center.

Alcohol, cocaine, prescription medication, black tar heroin – it all works on the brain differently, but affects the reward center in much the same way. These substances mess with the way you perceive pleasure, to the point that it cuts you off from truly being happy in conventional ways for quite a while.

This means your idea of what’s yummy doesn’t correlate with what’s healthy anymore. Most people can appreciate a delicious pasta meal, or a well-seasoned lean steak. Instead, your tastes are skewed heavily towards what most affects your reward center – and nothing affects your reward center like fat, salt and especially sugar.

This is because as kids, these are our primary cravings to ensure that the young human body gets as many calories as possible (because before civilization, agriculture and industry, we evolved over millions of years to crave high-calorie foods for survival). The instinct to rely on what satisfies our reward center returns after that part of the brain has been heavily assaulted by drug use.

Reversing that takes time – and the best way to start is by starting on a healthy diet.

Beyond your lust for sugar, there’s another aspect to using nutrition as a tool to fight the cravings of early recovery – and that’s to help your body heal, and to fight off the dangerous effects of binge eating, both physically and mentally. Highly nutritious food is also important to reverse the damage done to the human body by drugs, including organ damage, gut damage, and even brain damage.

Just taking vitamins won’t cut it, either. Refined vitamins might get partially absorbed into the body, but we rely on a complex variety of foods to truly be healthy. Vegetables include phytochemicals that increase the bioavailability of minerals and vitamins from other vegetables and fruits. Think salads, baked vegetables, casseroles, soups, stir fries. Steamed fish, seared steaks, organ meats and glazed chicken. There are countless ways to prepare a mix of vegetables and meats and enjoy a complex, harmonic and delicious symphony of tastes and aromas, all on a budget and all while adhering to the holiday spirit.

It just takes a little research, and you’ll have half a dozen recipes in twenty minutes.


The Holiday Spirit Of Gratitude

The holidays are a time for reflection – but that doesn’t just have to mean reflecting on past tragedies and burdens. There’s also a time to reflect on all the good things that have happened – and in all honestly, focusing on them can be much more beneficial to your conviction to get clean for the holidays.

There’s enough misery in addiction, and enough shame and burden in early recovery. Most people feel depressed soon after going sober, and it doesn’t help that life is extremely difficult to adjust to right out the gate. You may even want the help of a Los Angeles sober living community to help your recovery.

But in a time for gratitude, happiness and togetherness, sobriety can truly flourish. If ever there’s a time to soak up positivity and fight against your addiction with everything you have to get clean for the holidays, it’s while the holiday spirit is alive and well.


A Time For New Commitments

The holidays aren’t just the end of the year – they’re the prelude to new beginnings, and new commitments. Now is the time to prepare for a new year, and the chance to make things right – to start a second life, and appreciate every second you get to breathe in this world’s air and put your own two hands to use doing things you love and care about, leaving the life of addiction far behind for a life spent well.


Being Thankful For Recovery This Season

Thankful For Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s Thanksgiving season, and for most families that means enjoying a delicious meal of turkey and assorted side dishes. Regardless of whether you’re making a trip across the country or hosting a dinner yourself, it’s time to be with family (or friends). But before we go off and indulge in all our favorite recipes, it’s important to remember what this American tradition is all about: giving thanks. For some, that may mean something as simple as being thankful for their family and friends, but for many they are thankful for recovery this season.


In The Spirit Of The Season

Centuries ago, the Pilgrims moved from England across to a foreign continent, in hopes of escaping to a world where they could practice their faith freely and own property. However, life for early European settlers was far from easy. On a land they didn’t know, dealing with crops they had never grown, living was hard.

It was through many tenuous truces and very little trust that both the Pilgrims and natives began to work together – and through the generosity and knowledge of their neighbors, the Pilgrims managed their first successful harvest. This trust endured 50 years, one of the only examples of peace between early European settlers and the Native Americans.

To give thanks, a historic feast was ordered – one that lasted several days, and involved more venison than bird.

Thanksgiving as a national holiday didn’t become an idea until centuries later, under Abraham Lincoln – but the intrinsic idea behind the holiday is giving thanks to the land, to God, and to the generosity of one’s neighbor for their kindness and humanity. The Pilgrims were immigrants, foreign in a new land, confronted by new challenges and forced to deal with new hardships. They worked hard to survive, endured these challenges, and went on to live peacefully alongside their neighbors for half a century.

In recovery, challenge becomes a daily fact of life. Escaping addiction is a life-long marathon, with days when the jog feels more like a sprint for your life. It can be exhausting, disheartening, and at times, it’ll catch up to you and set you back. But through the help of your family, your friends, and everyone else who has brought light to the darkest days of your recovery, you’ve made it this far.

And there’s no limit to how much farther you can go. Be thankful for recovery this season.


Why Gratitude And Thankfulness Make A Difference

Gratitude and thankfulness are far more than empty platitudes on a cheap Hallmark card. They’re essential to the development of an effective long-term recovery plan, for the simple reason that if you don’t feel good about the progress you’ve been making, then sooner or later you’ll find yourself disillusioned and unmotivated instead of thankful for recovery.

A lack of motivation will kill any journey, regardless of what the end goal may be. But staying motivated over weeks, months and years is very, very hard. You’re bound to doubt yourself, question your progress, and beat yourself over the head for what ultimately amounts to minor mistakes.

Being thankful for recovery won’t make those thoughts go away, they’re part and parcel of life. But it will give you the strength necessary to overcome them.

This is important: life will always seem heavy. But if you ignore the fact that it has its joyful moments, if you only focus on the dark parts and the negative thoughts, then they will consume you. The people around you can only do so much to help you out – it’s ultimately your perspective that decides how you feel about your life, and what you’ve done. There’s no way to go back and change things, so focus on all the better parts of the past and look forward with the intent of creating more of those positive moments and be thankful for recovery.


How Your Way Of Thinking Can Affect Recovery

Since psychotherapy and talk therapy have become viable tools in psychiatric medicine to help evaluate patients, diagnose problems and even create treatment plans, we’ve come a long way in understanding how our thoughts shape our behavior.

Drug use isn’t solely a mental issue – but it has a massive impact upon people’s mental states. Patients struggling with addiction tend to struggle with depressive thoughts and anxieties. They worry, fear, and expect the worst. On top of that, the guilt and shame of bearing the stigma of drug use makes it harder and harder to get out from under it all – and this contributes to a cycle of using, stopping, experiencing withdrawal, and using again.

But every now and again, through the help of loved ones and medical experts, the cycle can be broken. The person makes the conscious decision to stop, takes the necessary measures to fight back against their doubts, and makes it long enough to feel hope again. These moments don’t always last months and years – sometimes, relapse kicks in anyway – but it’s important to hold on to them.


In Short: Be Happier & Thankful for Recovery

This is where therapy tools like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy really help people who struggle with the emotional and mental aspects of drug addiction. And these tools provide insight into why a positive, thankful way of thinking can create such a massive difference in someone fighting against their addiction.

CBT is a method of therapy that reinforces positive thinking and a good mood to push back against depressive thoughts and anxiety. It doesn’t guarantee a cure to these thoughts, but instead arms patients with the line of thinking they need to live above them and be thankful for recovery.

That’s what thankfulness and gratitude can bring you: the ability to live above the demons of your addiction.


How Can Routine Help You Maintain Sobriety?

Maintain sobriety | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s hard to maintain sobriety – relapse rates will tell you as much. Addiction is more than a simple switch, to flipped on and off. Instead, it’s a gradual process that takes years or even decades to reverse. With time, it will become easier to deny your cravings. That, and people tend to become better at finding ways to live without drugs, no matter how tempting they may be.

However, getting to that point where you can maintain sobriety typically takes a long time. And in that time, the chances of giving up are very high.

Having a routine can help make it easier to overcome your cravings during early recovery, and help arm you with the tools you need to maintain sobriety in the long-term. We’ll explore why a simple routine can have a major impact on your ability to maintain sobriety in both the early recovery period, and over the course of your lifetime.


Consistency in Early Recovery

Early recovery is, if anything, inconsistent. First: the length of time spent in “early recovery” is different from person to person. Second: your mood may improve drastically one day, and crash down the other. Third: staying away from drugs will be harder than ever. Yet your motivation to maintain sobriety will be strong and fresh as well. This creates a massive inner conflict spanning days, weeks, and even months.

Creating and following a routine during this period of your recovery can massively improve your chances of not just avoiding relapse, but also help you get back on track as quickly as possible and maintain sobriety.

This is because routines offer consistency, which is sorely lacking during early recovery. Through a consistent routine, you’ll have something you can hang onto in times of chaos. No matter how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking, you know that on Monday you’re scheduled you hit up the gym at this time, clean up around the house at this time, and make that for dinner at such and such an hour in the evening.

Routines give you a sense of normalcy with which you can more easily adjust to living at home after rehab as you maintain sobriety.


Taking Your Mind Off Things To Help Maintain Sobriety

It’s important to create a routine that constructively helps you. Don’t just bore yourself to death, or try and be as “efficient as possible”. Give yourself room to explore creative endeavors, go to new events and meetups, spend some time reading a new book, and squeeze in a short workout. Doing these things will help you take your mind off the cravings, and introduce new sources of fun and pleasure in your life. Meeting new people, exercising and exploring new interests or your inner creativity can boost your self-esteem as well, which makes an enormous difference in addiction recovery.

Eventually, drug cravings do diminish. Whether they can go away or not may depend on the severity of an addiction, but given enough time and dedication, any addiction can be overcome.

Some people rely on their family and friends to keep them on the straight and narrow, especially early on when the temptation to swerve off the path of sobriety is very powerful. Others take it upon themselves, taking up every class and activity they can to find that one thing to obsess over to beat out the urge to use, smoke or drink. A sober living home can also help if you feel like the extra support will work well. Whatever works for you, remember that consistency is key.


The Power of Coping

The difference between a healthy habit and an obsession is the way you approach the activity in your life. Many of the things we do for fun or entertainment are activities we use for coping with life’s challenges. A negative coping mechanism is one that makes your overall life worse. It detrimentally affects your mood and thinking, cuts into your ability to work or concentrate, and consumes your thoughts far too much.

A positive coping mechanism helps you deal with life’s challenges effectively. Instead of distracting you from your problems, it gives you the clarity, focus, and confidence needed to effectively address them.

Take exercise. An unhealthy obsession with exercise can quickly destroy your body, alienate you from your friends and family, and consume your entire life. It can cause you to spend far more money than you need to. You begin to mask your problems in life by addressing perceived imperfections in your diet, or training protocol.

A healthy coping mechanism is when you use exercise to work off stress, set realistic goals that avoid injury, and use your daily or regular training session to help you build your ability to focus. You set the time aside to train – but you don’t let it rule your life, or consume more of your day than the rest of your schedule.

This difference is crucial when determining whether a habit helps, or simply hinders your ability to live life – and maintain sobriety. You’re not trying to create a distraction, you’re trying to improve your ability to enjoy the day-to-day, and be happy with the important things in life – the work you do, the talents you hone, the family you love, the friends you hang out with, and whatever else may give you purpose and meaning.


Are You Ready To Get Clean? Understanding The Different Approaches To Medical Detox

Medical Detox | Transcend recovery Community

You’ve already passed the first major hurdle. By admitting you have an addiction, it’s now possible to seek out a method that will help you get the substance out of your system and be ready for the next phase of the drug rehab program. What you may not know is there are several different approaches to medical detox that you can consider. Here are some examples to think about.


Natural Detox

The most basic form of detoxification is known as natural detox. A common slang term for this strategy is called going cold turkey. While you are under the care of a medical detox team, you simply stop taking the substance and do not substitute anything for it.

How quickly you go into withdrawal depends a lot on how much you normally take and how severe the addiction happens to be. It’s not unusual for an addict to notice the first wave of withdrawals within a matter of hours. The symptoms may range from minor irritants to serious reactions that require constant monitoring by your medical team.

This approach to medical detox does come with some risks. The team taking care of you during those first critical hours and days are trained to administer treatments designed to prevent the withdrawal from triggering issues with your heart or breathing. You will find that the desire to stop can be overwhelming at times. The team watching over you will provide the support needed to deal with each wave of pain, emotional outbursts, and the disorientation.


Step-Down Detox

This medical detox approach calls for employing a step-down approach that allows you to wean off the substance you’ve been using. Over a period of weeks or months, you incrementally decrease the amount of the substance ingested each day. The goal is to keep withdrawal symptoms under control as your body learns how to function again without requiring a higher dosage.

This approach also requires careful monitoring. Depending on what you are addicted to and how bad the situation happens to be, you may check into an inpatient facility for those first weeks. While there can be complications, having a medical professional on hand who can monitor your state and take appropriate action increases the odds of regaining control of your life.


Rapid Medical Detox

Rapid medical detox is a method used to clear your body of the substance faster and keep the level of discomfort to a minimum. With a rapid approach, you are given anesthesia and put into a state of sleep. While asleep, you are injected with blockers that prevent further absorption of the addictive substance. Some medical professionals will also use methods designed to get the remnants of the substance out of your system faster.

You remain asleep for the entire medical detox period. The professionals monitor your vital signs, ensure you receive nutrition by means of an IV and take whatever measures are necessary to protect your well being. When you are allowed to wake up, the physical craving for the addictive substance will be under control. That frees you to focus on ridding yourself of the emotional craving.

Work with your doctor to determine which detox approach is the best choice for you. Factors such as the general state of your health, the substance you are addicted to, and the severity of the addiction will all be factors in settling on the best method. Whatever approach you choose, know that once you get through the withdrawal phase, the chances of learning to control your addiction and reclaim your life are much higher.


Staying Clean

Recovering from an opiate addiction requires more than going through medical detox to purge the drugs from your body. Medical detox is just the first step in recovery and does not cure you from your addiction. Recovering opiate addicts must follow an aggressive aftercare program to help avoid relapse and sustain recovery.

Opiates, also known as opioids, are powerfully addictive requiring more than just an initial medical detox. You must pursue and sustain continuing treatment to overcome, or “arrest” your addiction. Here are some best practices to help you on your road to recovery.


Counseling and Therapy

By working with a behavioral health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or a substance abuse counselor, you may uncover what caused your addiction other than the drugs. You may learn how to change negative thought patterns and behaviors, and most importantly for addicts, how to handle environmental triggers. Psychotherapy can help you learn how to avoid self-destructive behaviors, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you with depression and anxiety, which are significant in the treatment of substance abuse.


Drug Treatment Programs

After you complete the initial medical detox from opiates, you will start to go through a psychological change, and you must fine tune that change. Drug treatment programs specializing in opiate addiction help you adjust your biological clock. Although your body is free from the physical addiction to opiates, the mental side of addiction remains steadfast, and you must learn to cope with the obsession to use again. Inpatient treatment programs, where you stay in a controlled environment for 30, 60 or 90 days, help you push your mental reset button.

If an inpatient treatment program is not an option, you can choose an outpatient treatment program. This form of treatment allows you to attend therapy sessions, meetings and receive supervised care during the day. However, many experts recommend you have a strong support system in place before you choose outpatient treatment. After completing medical detox, substance abuse professionals will conduct an assessment to determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is best for your level of addiction.


Peer Support During Medical Detox

A powerful tool in addiction aftercare is surrounding yourself with people who faced similar situations. Peer support provides a network of individuals who offer first-hand knowledge regarding addiction and aftercare. Seeking the counsel of an individual with a long period of sustained sobriety provides you with an opportunity to share your experiences with someone who has been through and understands the addiction cycle. This can be achieved alone or through a sober living community.


Physical Health And Nutrition

Opiate addiction causes many people to make poor lifestyle and nutrition choices. A key ingredient to the success of opiate medical detox aftercare is replenishing your body with important nutrients. In order to promote recovery in aftercare, you must heal your body by eating foods with complex carbohydrates that are rich in protein. Many addicts experience an increased appetite after medical detox, which can help or harm your recovery. If you experience an increased appetite, try to avoid foods with high levels of sugar or processed foods such as packaged lunch meats or boxed white pasta.



Dealing With Anger In Recovery

Dealing With Anger In Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

Anger in recovery is a common emotion to have. Anyone who’s gone through the motions of addiction, then rehab, detox and sobriety knows what it’s like to be set off by every tiny little thing, experiencing the urge to shout or be violent over seemingly nothing. Getting off the drugs doesn’t magically reverse an ill temper – and worse yet, often enough, getting off the drugs makes the anger a lot harder to manage.

To explore why anger is such a common issue for those in early recovery, we need to understand what anger is. Anger is a normal emotional response to a wide variety of emotional and physical phenomenon – the point of anger is to get us riled up, and physically capable for retaliation. It acts as a sort of manifestation of our inner incentive to take revenge on the things that hurt us.

However, anger is a very instinctive emotion, and a very dangerous one. It’s essential for any adult to be able to control their anger – to be able to react in a measured way, rather than losing control and getting into all sorts of trouble. For those struggling with addiction, anger is nothing new at all – in fact, it’s typically a huge problem.

This is because addiction may either uncover a previous anger-related issue – such as emotional suppression – or because the addiction itself acts as a coping mechanism to a major source of anger, constantly depriving people of their ability to safely express their anger. Other reasons include misdirected anger and self-loathing, poor examples of anger management in the past, having an ill-tempered personality – the list goes on and on, but always follows the common thread that addiction and anger go together due to a lack of proper closure.


Addiction And Blocking Anger In Recovery

Addiction dangerously develops an ill temper in the same way it can develop anxieties, and depressive thinking – through the constant depriving of healthy emotional expression. Drug use is a coping mechanism – it subverts and distracts you from pain and discomfort by flooding your system with positive chemical reactions. Aside from the physical addictiveness of drugs, they also foster an emotional bond by becoming the only answer you must stress, anger, hatred, sadness, and physical pain.

When you decide to give up drugs, you’re not just giving up the joy of a high – you’re giving up a coping mechanism, one which helped you sweep countless issues and negative emotions under the rug. With the rug gone, one slight breeze is all it takes to envelop your life in an angry dust cloud. And for most, exactly that will happen within the first few weeks of recovery.

With your primary coping mechanism gone, there’s nothing to block the anger out – and you’re forced to control your emotions instead. However, learning to do that after relying on addiction can take a little practice – and a lot of effort. Recovery and sobriety aren’t easy roads to walk – but if you want to be able to keep both feet on them, then you’ll have to learn not just to stay away from drugs, but also to live with yourself and your emotions without drugs. You’ll have to relearn what it means to be both physically and emotionally healthy – and one of the first steps towards doing so is learning how to control your temper and resolve your anger in recovery without incident.


Approaching Anger in Recovery

The first and foremost thing you should do is ask those around you how they deal with their anger in recovery. You’ll find a wealth of advice coming from different individuals with different backgrounds and reasons for their anger. Some might recommend physically channeling your anger, by doing things like punching empty water bottles. Others might recommend meditation.

If asking around your sober living community doesn’t help, then checking in with a therapist and asking for anger management classes is another option. Anger management isn’t always necessary, but if you or those around you find your temper to be a major issue in life, then getting help specifically for your anger issues is a good idea.

Keeping a journal is great, too. It lets you channel your anger in recovery through words instead of actions, giving you a way to vent that doesn’t hurt anyone, while helping you start down a path of self-therapy. Physical fitness may also help – being unhealthy can affect your mood, make you irritable and lower your ability to deal with emotions correctly. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help you regulate your body’s hormone levels, keep your mood normal, and help you lower or even eliminate angry outbursts.


Resolving Passive Aggressiveness

Many individuals harbor and express anger in recovery in a separate way, one they consider socially-acceptable and “healthy” – through passive aggressiveness. Instead of lashing out with angry tirades, tantrums and physical altercations, passive aggressiveness is usually expressed through more subtle forms of punishment. Ignoring a person, giving them backhanded compliments and deliberately sabotaging their efforts are all ways to express anger passively – yet this creates a toxic environment that breeds nothing but continuous grudges and stress.

Passive aggressiveness isn’t healthy. It’s destructive to yourself as well as those you’re trying to hurt, even if you don’t so much as lay a finger on them. However, blocking the anger out or ignoring it won’t work, either.

If you feel the urge to hurt someone emotionally and be passive aggressive towards them as punishment for a perceived wrong, then instead try and therapeutically tackle your situation and see what you can do to make things right. Try and schedule a one-on-one with your target of aggression and talk it out, instead, so they understand how you feel. Go through the motions to settle your anger in recovery and your stress through exercise, therapy, or meditation. Channel your frustrations into something constructive.

Dealing with early recovery and all the usual stresses of life can be monumentally difficult — but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be in control of your own emotions. Don’t give yourself the excuse that recovery is the reason for your outbursts and fits of rage – at the end of the day, you are the reason why you can’t control your own anger. It’s on you to learn how to, and to do it before you hurt those around you, directly or indirectly.