Holding a Job in Recovery

Holding a Job in Recovery

When it comes to addiction and career survival, those who are willing to seek help are more likely to keep their jobs, and actually get better ones, than those who try to hide their addiction or refuse to get help out of fear of losing work. Simply put, there are protections in place to allow you to get help if you need it, without having to fear for your job safety.

But how likely are you to be able to hold onto that job during recovery? Many people going into recovery worry for their future. The idea that drug use taints your professional career is not completely unfounded, but it’s a fear that is often exaggerated in the minds of many facing a future in recovery.

With the right support, a drug-free home or living environment, and professional guidance, you can hold onto your job. Furthermore, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees who qualify are allowed to take 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave due to medical reasons – including receiving treatment at a rehab facility for drug and alcohol use. Furthermore, employers are required to maintain confidentiality, and keep your treatment private.

One way or another, you have to seek help to get sober and keep your job – or find a new one. Once you are past rehab and back in a working environment, you’ll want to do your best to stay sober while keeping your job. Here are a few ways you can continue to work while still working on your recovery.


Find A Sober Living Home

After rehab, the best thing to do to help you transition from residential treatment to everyday living is a sober living home. Sober living homes are drug-free communities designed to help recovering addicts find a place to lead normal lives under a set of strict rules to help reinforce sobriety, help promote self-discipline, and instill a commitment to rules, schedules, and responsibilities.

Tenants are encouraged to pay their own rent, help out with chores, keep clean, keep a job/attend school, and participate in events and meetings. Sober living homes include random drug tests, and drug use is strictly forbidden. This keeps everyone safe from temptation, giving them a controlled environment to focus on finding their own two feet right after spending 1-3 months in rehab.

Tenants are also encouraged to regularly communicate with other tenants, form bonds and friendships, and participate in group events. While exact rules differ from sober living home to sober living home, the majority of sober living homes are built as places where recovering addicts can stay (as long as they need to) and work on their sobriety before moving back into their old homes, or into new ones.


Prioritize Your Recovery

Keeping your job is definitely important, but if you find yourself stressing over work to the point that it’s bringing you to the brink of a relapse, you have to take a step back and evaluate other options. Your recovery should be your top priority, and at times, that means getting better at stress management.

Work is naturally stressful, and almost any job will bring days when you’re simply not having a very good time. But if you’re consistently being pushed to your limit, day in and day out, and you have to make a choice between your job and your recovery – always choose your recovery. If left untreated, your addiction will take your job anyway, and so much more. Getting better should always be your priority.


Communicate with Your Employer

Discuss your recovery plans with your employer, insofar as you’re comfortable, and insofar as you’re required. While your motivation is simple – getting better – your employer’s motivation is simple as well: see to it that you get back to work as soon as possible.

Your employer might appreciate clear and proper communication, regarding what you can and cannot handle, and what changes (if any) you might have to observe once you’re back at work.


Finding Work in Recovery

If you lost your job early on in addiction and are looking for work while in recovery, your best bet is to ask around. Ask around with friends, ask around your neighborhood, and ask online. Many companies today hire through the Internet, and job searching is as hard as it has ever been.

Start by sitting down and creating a comprehensive, easy-to-read and pleasing resume. Some sober living homes offer professional help and classes to help you develop better speaking skills, and other important tips necessary to land a job interview and subsequently ace it.


Additional Resources

There are various job posting sites throughout the Internet, and if your skills allow you to work from home, then you can decide to freelance or become a contractor and offer skills to companies on a contract or per-project basis, while looking for something more permanent.

Alternatively, several different job postings exist specifically looking for people with a history and experience in recovering from addiction, as well as knowledge on the subject of treating addiction and addiction therapy. You don’t have to receive formal training to become a counselor or a recovery worker, unlike applying to become a therapist or working to become a psychiatrist.

Ultimately, people are looking for smart and dedicated individuals with an intimate history with addiction, and a lot of time spent working on their own recovery. You don’t have to look for work revolving around recovery, of course. Jobs are more than just was to make money – the reason we suggest work based on recovery is simply to provide an extra incentive to stay on-the-ball, however, you should pick a career or a job that comes closest to what you want to do. A good job that keeps you engaged and interested can do a lot to help you stay focused on recovery and staying sober – and a job that keeps you engaged and interested can be a tremendous amount of fun.

Forming Healthy Habits in Recovery

Forming Healthy Habits in Recovery

While at first glance, recovery seems to be about getting sober and staying sober, it’s an involved process that lasts a lifetime. To “recover” is to overcome addiction, and in most cases, that means making sweeping changes. Living life as an addict can leave a person malnourished, and saddled with thoughts of guilt, self-deprecation, and anxiety. Rehab and medical attention are necessary first steps for many struggling with drug addiction, as a way to get a better picture of an addict’s physical health, as well as their best path forward.

Because of the lasting damage that drug abuse can cause, finding ways to improve an addict’s health are crucial. It might just start with one or two new habits, but it’s important to make changes to the way you live as you continue through the recovery process. Here are a few healthy habits that will help you not only get back on your feet but build a rewarding and fulfilling sober life.


Create A Daily Schedule

First things first: a schedule. Schedules are tremendously useful, because they give us something to set our clock by. Our internal clock, that is. Getting used to a productive routine helps us stay sane, make day-to-day progress, and harness a feeling of achievement at the end of each day. Additionally, when struggling with addiction, it’s important to find things to do.

In the early stages of recovery, cravings and ceaseless thoughts of addiction can drive you crazy. Couple that with boredom, and it becomes difficult to resist the temptation to go do something you might regret. Keeping yourself busy in the first few weeks and months of addiction is helpful. Over time, the cravings will let up and you’ll develop your own tools and habits to undermine your cravings, if and when they return.

Another reason why daily schedules are important is to maintain a sense that you’re getting something done every single day. This is especially important after early recovery, when addicts are most likely to succumb to symptoms of depression and develop other issues as a result of the emotional effects of going sober, and the stresses of recovery. Without taking the proper precautions, days can easily blend together. Find something to dedicate yourself to – school, work, a new course, a personal goal – and pursue it passionately.


Manage and Repair Your Circadian Rhythm

The circadian rhythm is the internal 24-hour body clock that we humans share with many other organisms. As the Earth revolves around its own axis, the sun passes through the sky and day turns to night. Most creatures on Earth have evolved to live their lives on a day-by-day basis, going through periods of activity and inactivity. While these internal clocks mostly run on their own, we do ‘reset’ them based on changes in daylight and nighttime, as well as a number of other factors.

Plenty of things can upset the circadian rhythm. Some people undergo serious mental and emotional changes during the winter time, when daylight is reduced, and most people wake up during what is still ostensibly the night. Meanwhile, many people struggle from stress-induced insomnia, as well as sleeping issues fueled by time spent exposed to blue-light mobile devices (which mimic daylight) and late evening caffeine.

Drug abuse can heavily affect a person’s circadian rhythm, throwing it completely out of balance and wrecking the body’s sense of time. Getting into the habit of sleeping and waking up at regular hours, day after day, can drastically improve your mood and help you manage the tasks you’re going to be facing every day.

Start by trying to get 8 hours of sleep every single night, and then adjust your sleeping times until you find yourself winding down around 9-10pm and falling asleep no later than 11:30pm. If you struggle with this, consider speaking to your medical professional about non-pharmacological sleeping aids, from relaxation training to stretching, incense, and hypnosis. Melatonin pills can also work but should be taken with caution, especially if you take other supplements or are on any medication.


Find Ways to Eat Better

Food has a massive impact on us, more than most might realize. We have to eat on a daily basis, and the fuel we subsist on has an effect on our physical and mental states. Food is digested and broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and certain chemicals that may affect the body in positive ways, negative ways, or both. Foods with antioxidant properties can help slow or combat the effects of free radicals in the body, for example, improving overall health. Certain minerals and vitamins are crucial for function, from iron and calcium to vitamin D and C. But too much or too little can cause deficiencies, imbalances, and serious symptoms.

It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet. Many drug addicts struggle to eat properly, because drugs often suppress the appetite (stimulants), provide an overabundance of useless calories (alcohol), or induce a craving for calorie-dense, nutritionally-poor foods (marijuana). Some of the effects of withdrawal can be attributed to a poor diet, the symptoms of which might have been masked by drug use. Eating healthy again can greatly change your physical appearance, give you strength, and massively improve your mood as well as overall self-esteem.


Exercise Regularly

Some people make the mistake of making a very difficult commitment to the gym, only to go once or twice and then quitting again. Start exercising on a manageable level, at home or near your workplace, for short periods of time.

Motivate yourself by doing things you genuinely enjoy when exercising, instead of treating yourself or trying to gamify your training. Seek out exercise that is interesting and engaging to you. You don’t have to go jogging or join the latest fitness fad or do yoga to find inner peace. Do whatever you want, as long as it’s safe and helps keep you active.

It doesn’t even have to burn many calories – the point of exercise, for the most part, is to get you moving. Movement and physical exertion can trigger the release of endorphins, and make you feel a little happier and a lot healthier. Meanwhile, weight loss (if needed) is done in the kitchen.


Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Goals are important for your mental health. With time, a routine will also make the days blend together. You need something to keep track of, and your sobriety on its own often isn’t enough.

Consider engaging in a hobby that allows you to steadily progress and measure your time as an investment in something you’re seeing steady returns in. A sport, an art, or some other pastime you can improve in will help you a lot in keeping your life interesting and giving yourself something to think about aside from your sobriety.


Tips for Being Confident in Your Sober Life

Being Confident in Sober Life

One of the unfortunate misunderstandings surrounding sobriety is that to be sober is to be happy – or that being sober is automatically better than being high. Or, worst of all, that you’ll stop ever missing the high.

Almost everyone who has been addicted to a drug can tell you that they still sometimes miss and crave the feeling of being high. They can also tell you that being high – and still being addicted – is not worth it.

And that is what sobriety offers – the ability to make that distinction, and to live a life knowing full and well that you will occasionally continue to crave something you can never have.

How can a person be confident in a life like that? It takes practice, determination, consistency – and fun. Most importantly, you need to have several reasons to actively enjoy and cherish not being addicted. If your sober life worse than the life you had when addicted, why continue to stay sober?


Understand What Addiction Is

Addiction starts as a choice, and it takes several choices (and commitments) to start on the path of recovery. But fundamentally, addiction is not something anyone chooses. It develops and progresses into a disease that can be treated and overcome with the help of professionals and the loving support of family and friends, as well as no shortage of discipline and hard work.

This is because, like many chronic illnesses, addiction can be recurring. When a person takes an addictive drug (a drug that can develop a physical dependence on its effects), their brain reacts very positively to that drug. Most drugs elicit a powerful reaction in the brain, releasing and amplifying a number of brain chemicals responsible for making us feel happy, or relaxed, or motivated. Meanwhile, these drugs have a direct effect on the part of the brain responsible for making us feel good for the things we do: the reward pathway, which ties into things like satiating hunger, seeking out sex, and accomplishing a difficult task.

One instance of drug use isn’t enough to make someone addicted, but it does give the brain a little taste of what it feels like to feel really, really good – better than ever before. Some people get hooked to that feeling faster than others, but with consistent use, drugs eventually elicit a response that changes the way the brain works.


Focus on Long Term

Breaking that change takes a very long time. By some estimates, it takes several months for the brain to finish recovering from long-term drug use – and even after that, there are permanent changes in the brain that cannot be reversed. Many people continue to crave a drug long after they’ve quit, despite decades of sobriety. Some people still think about getting high whenever they’re faced with extreme stress, despite years of building a sober life and staving off the urge to use.


Be Open to Help

There are stages and times in the recovery process when personal willpower just isn’t enough to stay sober. Most people who get treated for addiction actually relapse within the first year after treatment. It’s normal to struggle, it’s normal to crave – and it’s normal to need help. But you have to seek help. If you commit to sobriety, you’re also responsible for staying sober, even if that means relying on the support of others to make it through a trying and difficult time.

Outside of treatment, the struggle to stay sober continues, but it is easier. Early recovery is beset with strong cravings, post-acute withdrawal symptoms, and fresh reminders of days past. It’s the months and years after recovery where you begin to rely more on yourself, especially in the way of forging a new and healthy life for yourself. But no matter how long you’ve been sober, don’t ever feel too proud or ashamed to ask for help. It’s through the support of friends and family that most people make it through decades of sobriety, despite heart-rending struggles and tearful moments of weakness.


Always Work on Yourself

You can’t lose the motivation to stay sober. The key to that is consistently seeking out things to accomplish. Set short-term and long-term goals for yourself – realistic, concrete goals that you truly aim to accomplish, not hopes and dreams that rely on a combination of skill and luck. Mold your sober life into everything you wanted it to be before you got addicted – but over time, one step at a time.

Take an aspect of your life – your career, for example – and consider what you want to do and what you can do. Consider heading back to school for a degree you’re genuinely interested in, with the help of loved ones, or the state. Make a commitment to your new job to go above and beyond in your given position and aim above your current paygrade.

Seek out new hobbies and abilities. Read more. Widen your political perspective and hear from all sides of the spectrum. Save up to travel someday and strike up conversations with people from all over the world through the Internet. Join communities online and locally to speak about sobriety and the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead, as well as the ones you’ve already conquered. Make new friends. Improve yourself, little by little, day by day.

One day, you’ll look back and see the progress you’ve made mentally and physically, thanks to a new lease on life through sobriety. Sobriety itself wasn’t the key here, though. You were. You are. You can take control of your life – if you endeavor to stay sober.


Foster and Nurture Healthy Relationships

More than anything else, it’s important in sobriety to learn to rely on the love and compassion of others as well as your own convictions. You’re responsible for yourself, but you’re also responsible for others around you. Similarly, they’re responsible for you to a degree.

Healthy relationships are give and give – finding ways to live with your family and create bonds where you’re both there for each other is important in recovery. If you’re ready to seek out a partner, it’s crucial to find that same quality – a relationship where you both give onto each other, and benefit from truly being together.

It takes time to build relationships like that, partially because it takes time to rebuild the trust that is often lost when you begin to struggle with addiction. But every second spent rekindling old relationships and fostering new ones is worth it, even if the relationship ends in ruins. There’s a message to be learned from every encounter, if you think long enough on it.

No matter how long it takes for you to build confidence in your sober life, the start of each journey is always the same – you have to be willing to take the first step and get help.


Cutting Out Old Friends Who Encourage Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Friends in Recovery

Everyone needs friends. Friends make life richer and help us through hard times. There’s something about a platonic relationship – a friendship between two people – that isn’t possible between a person and their relatives, or a person and their closest, most intimate partner.

Friendship also exists on a spectrum. Some “friends” are simply acquaintances, or mutual friends whom you’ve only met once or twice in person. Some friends command a certain level of respect, but they’re little more than someone to catch up with and know from time to time. Others are virtually inseparable, and stick by you through your darkest moments, alongside family and partners.

But some friends aren’t friends at all. They pretend to be, or think of themselves as friends, but constantly betray their friendship with you by crossing over barriers best kept uncrossed, by behaving obnoxiously, being controlling, having no respect for you or your thoughts, or by trying to push you to be someone or something you’re not. Some “friends” are only out to hurt you, suck you dry, and leave you hanging. Other “friends” are deeply hurt themselves, don’t know how to ask for help or help others, and find themselves instead unconsciously working to pull others into their misery.

It’s hard to tell who those friends are at first. And often, it’s difficult to face the fact that some of the people you’ve passionately labeled as a “best friend” are indeed toxic to the core, and a danger to not only your sobriety, but your life in general. But committing to sobriety is all about facing the music and making necessary albeit painful or abrupt changes in your life. One of those changes involves cutting out old friends.


Peer Pressure is Never Okay

If you’re striving to get sober and stay sober, then boundaries are crucial. Rules matter. Structure is critical. You have to learn to be unyielding and disciplined in your commitment to something – and it’s in the spirit of that commitment that pressure, temptation, and cravings are at the core of what you need to be fighting against, or better yet, avoiding altogether.

Over time, it becomes easier to live in a world where you coexist alongside drugs, knowing perfectly well how easy it is to procure them, and deciding not to anyway. But it’s early on that that knowledge alone can make every day harder or just as hard as the previous one.

Having friends who try to pressure you to step past your boundaries and get back to drinking or using, then, is an absolute no-go. It’s already questionable that you would have to explain to your friends once that you don’t want to use drugs after announcing that you’re sober. If you have to do it more than once, it’s time to cut them off until they’ve found their own way to sobriety, or at least learn to respect others.

This may be harsh, but you can’t afford to be any less than harsh if you genuinely care about your own health, sanity, and future. It’s hard enough to stop using drugs when surrounded by individuals who genuinely care for you and want you to stay clean. How much harder do you want to make things for yourself?


Friends Don’t Hurt You

Hurt and help are two different things. A friend can be blunt but helpful. They can come off as offensive in the moment, but you may realize that what they said or did was critical. And sometimes, we hang onto friends even when we know they have their occasional bouts of aggressive, inappropriate, or problematic behavior.

One of these is not like the others. We all need friends we don’t agree with, and it’s normal to get in a spat with a friend now and again. But if you’re friends with someone who constantly has you making excuses for them, wondering again and again whether you should be friends with this person, or simply someone who has hurt you emotionally and shown no remorse over their words or actions, then you need to cut them out.

Stop giving leeway to those who don’t deserve it. If you’re struggling with sobriety and want to stay clean, any excess stress is just another plate for you to juggle mid-air. Unless you’re superhuman (and none of us are), you don’t have space for very many plates up there.

Friends don’t undermine your confidence for their own benefit, they don’t physically or verbally assault you out of nowhere, and they don’t make you take risks that you’re not prepared to take. They can put you in your place when you’re out of line, and they need to be there to give you a reality check when you’re being ridiculous yourself – but if they refuse to take the same from you and continue to exercise their control over others, you need to leave that friendship.


Toxic Relationships Cause Toxic Problems

Toxic relationships  are, sadly, not uncommon. Immaturity, hypocrisy, arrogance and a controlling behavior are just a few ways in which toxicity can manifest in others, and in your bond with them. Cutting a toxic relationship out of your life begins with recognizing it. There are a few signs that someone will cause trouble for you in your attempt at creating a new sober life, including:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Constantly lying to you and others
  • Never admitting they’re wrong
  • Taking without giving
  • Disrespecting your boundaries
  • Never taking responsibility for their actions


How to Cut Out Toxic Friends

When it’s time to cut old friends out of the picture, you’ll have to realize that it’s either going to be quick and painless, or drawn out and difficult. Start simple: tell them that you can’t be friends anymore. Give them a curt and concise reason. Don’t spend too much time explaining yourself – one or two examples is enough. Any more and you’re simply walking right into their pity party.

Do it in a public space, in person. If you do it in private or over the internet, they’re more likely to retaliate with lies and belligerent behavior, verbally or physically. Then, cut them out virtually. Block them from your phone, your social media, and everything else you can think of.

Lastly, forget about them. Don’t talk about them. Leave the past in the past and encourage mutual friends – if you have any – to drop the subject around you. It can be simple, or it can be needlessly hard. Most of the time, it’s up to you how things end up playing out. And finally, make new friends.


How to Make the Transition from Rehab to Sober Living

Rehab to Sober Living

The numbers on how many people actually get permanently clean after starting drug recovery vary wildly. It’s impossible to survey the entire ex-addict population of the US, and it’s also difficult to get numbers on people who have been sober for a specific or given period of time. So instead, people were surveyed to better determine the risk of relapse within a given time period. One study revealed that people who are sober less than a year have at least a 33 percent chance of relapse, while another notes that most (85 percent) recovering addicts relapse at least once in the first year after treatment. After five years, the chance drops to 15 percent, and decreases with time.

What this suggests is that recovering from addiction is hard, and clearly not a matter of willpower. Some researchers suggest that addiction should be considered a chronic disease like type I diabetes, that can be recurring and requires continuous treatment, be it in the form of therapy, group meetings, or just family support.

However, it’s also important to note that while over 20 million Americans live with addiction, only about 11 percent get treatment. With the right treatment, a person’s relapse rate can be drastically reduced. A good approach is to combine rehab programs and sober living homes.


Difference Between Rehab and Sober Living

Rehab programs, or residential treatment programs, are programs that usually last anywhere between a month and a few weeks, with the maximum time for the traditional model of treatment being about 90 days, although in some treatment facilities you can opt to stay for longer depending on certain circumstances. That being said, most rehab programs focus specifically on the earliest days of recovery, while helping recovering addicts look forward into the near future. Sometimes, rehab programs are meant to help people recover from relapses or enter back into a program if they’ve been in one before and feel they need another go.

Sober living is a different form of treatment. While therapy and group therapy can still be a part of the “program”, sober living homes and communities are more often than not a form of living arrangement, wherein recovering addicts live normal lives with an added set of rules, including curfews and drug testing. All tenants can stay for as long as they continue to pay rent, while being encouraged to either seek out a school or find employment. Sober living communities are less guided than a strict rehab program, and that added freedom gives many recovering addicts an opportunity to continue to grow and face distinct new challenges they couldn’t face in rehab, without the risk of relapse.


Making the Transition

Rehab programs are usually built to help people in the first and earliest stages of recovery. After quitting drug use, a number of physical and mental symptoms begin to manifest. The most common include irritability, social withdrawal, symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, as well as various symptoms associated with drug withdrawal, depending entirely on the drugs a person was using before they quit.

Other symptoms include post-acute withdrawal, wherein withdrawal symptoms can reoccur days or even weeks after the initial withdrawal period, as well as all the symptoms of early recovery/sobriety, which include serious moodiness, emotional rollercoasters, and powerful cravings.

All the while, rehab programs are often focused on helping recovering addicts address the issues that might have fueled or continue to fuel their addiction. Treating addiction can and often does involve therapy, because to help someone stay away from drugs, they need to learn to cope in other ways, deal with the fallout of months or years of drug use without relapsing and continue to live a healthy life both emotionally and physically to maintain their sobriety.

Taking the next step can be daunting, because sober living homes don’t offer the same sort of structure as a rehab program does – but they’re still structured. Most sober living homes encourage you to, on top of finding employment, also contribute to the community by doing odd jobs, taking care of certain chores, and encouraging you to stick to a regular schedule by scheduling group events and setting curfews. This can help you adjust to a better, more regulated life outside of treatment facilities, one where you can continue to take on a disciplined approach to living while dedicating yourself to your passions and responsibilities outside of rehab or sober living.


Addiction Isn’t Clear-Cut

And neither is recovery. There’s no real good way of telling how long it should take for you to “complete” recovery, in the sense that you’re no longer struggling with sobriety and can focus entirely on your new life. Some people say it takes a year to be sure, while others say that recovery is never really over.

Most rehab programs are meant to help someone through the early stages of recovery. It’s when you first stop using drugs that you’re at your most vulnerable. Cravings can be overpowering, and without the right sense of direction to help you know where you should be taking your life next, it can be difficult to keep yourself relapsing. The danger of relapsing increases even more as you begin to encounter some of the initial challenges of sobriety, alongside cravings and temptation.

However, that early stage of recovery does not end at any set point and will drag on a little longer than you want. While there is a biological limit for how long a drug can actively influence a user, everything else is highly individual. The time it takes for someone to physically and mentally recover from months, years, or decades of drug use depends highly on their mental and physical state, the drugs they took, and the quality of their recovery.


Sober Living is Worth It

Rehab can give you an excellent head-start – but jumping out of rehab into “the real world” can be a massive challenge for most people. There’s a reason the majority of people who go into recovery – including those who stay clean for years – usually relapse at least once within the first few months, up to a year. It’s only after anywhere between a year and two years that relapses become exceedingly rare, and it becomes easier to manage a sober life without ever feeling the overwhelming pressure that might tip one over the edge, despite everything.

That’s the primary reason why it’s a great idea to get into a sober living community right after rehab. The transition from rehab into sober living is at just the right level that you will continue to progress toward a completely new sober life. Because sober living homes actively encourage you to live a life outside of the community through consistent outside therapy and/or group help, as well as a job or school, you get to make a partial transition into living completely outside of any recovery programs, while still having the benefit of a professional, recovery-oriented environment.


Spending Time With Your Family During Recovery

Spending Time With Family

There are several reasons why you may not be spending time with family during your recovery. One may be that you’re scared to hurt them – or that they’re worried you’ll bring more tragedy to the table. Another might be that there are some serious differences between you and some of your family members and coming to terms on some of those differences might be impossible.

We cannot all lay aside certain conversations and arguments simply because it’s the holiday season. But it’s important to understand why family is sometimes critical to a person’s recovery from addiction. Don’t be scared to involve those you love – the accountability and support you receive from being a part of a family again can make you stronger in your attempts to stay clean.


Family Can Be Crucial

Family doesn’t have to be every relative you have, or even just your relatives. You might only consider your mother or little sister family, or you might have friends who have stuck with you for so long that they’re practically brothers and sisters. Whoever is closest to you, they will continue to be some of the most important people in your life for the next few months.

Rather than being a solo venture, recovery is often about how the people around you help you shape a new you. It’s through our relationships with others and the commitments we make and steps we take towards changing our lives with or for others that we cement a recovery. Moving away from drug use always leaves a person vulnerable and in a state of confusion about their life and their goals. Something like a new job or a fiery passion can help us stay sober, but it’s in our darkest moments that our family and friends keep us from plunging back into addiction. But getting back to good terms can be difficult.


Using the Dinner Table

It’s a common tradition in tribes across the planets throughout countless civilizations to gather to eat. Even to this day, every major gathering and event of loved ones and relatives revolves around a planned feast. The dinner table is where we all come to take a seat, put aside trivialities, and take time to appreciate a good, wholesome meal. It’s over the dinner table that the most important conversations tend to happen. It’s across from two opposing sides of a dinner table that long-standing arguments and confrontations between family members can potentially come to an end.

No matter what day it is, we can all come together to eat. And eat we must. Everyone has to eat at some point in the day, and few of us, thankfully, have to go without eating. If you’re struggling to find the opportunity to be with your loved ones for one reason or another, then suggest food. No matter how small of a starting point that may be, the best way to get everyone together is through a meal.


Work on Individual Relationships

Family isn’t just important in the context that we have to stick together. Individual relationships matter as well. The relationships between a parent and a child, between two lovers, or between siblings, are some of the strongest and most important bonds we can experience. Just as you should focus on being with your family over the holidays and learning to be a part of a bigger group once again, you need to work on individual relationships as well.

There are such things as irreconcilable differences. There are times when two people simply can’t be together, in any given context. But rather than experience the pain of being brought together over and over again, it’s important to learn to separate yourself completely from that other person. But that doesn’t mean you have to remove everyone you both associate with, as well. You can accept that you’ll never be on speaking terms with your parent, but still have your adult sibling be a big part of your life.


Why It Hurts to Fight

Family trouble is common, and it’s perfectly natural to be in conflict with those we love and care about. But it also hurts the most to fight those we truly love. And sometimes, it’s not worth maintaining and continuing an argument past a certain point. If ever there is a time for forgiveness and concession, it would be towards the end of the year, as all things wrap up, and everyone looks forward to the possibilities of something new and better on the horizon.

You don’t have to believe in Christmas or give in to the spirit of any other holiday to accept that, on a fundamental level, we all need people who love us and who we can love. Whether they’re your relatives or your friends, having a family around is important – especially through this cold and at times very dark season. Recovery is not a solo project, and as much as you might believe that it’s on you to change and be a better person, it’s also important to learn to accept the help of others on your way to making better choices.

When a person passes away, we often sit and think on what kind of legacy they left behind. When the time comes to focus on only the most important and positive attributes of a person, we home in on the things that set them apart, the things they did for others, the things that made them selfless and important within the context of something bigger than themselves. Addicts cannot be selfless while they’re addicted, because part of the addiction is the urge to focus entirely on your own need to “scratch the itch”. But a recovering addict can be anything they want, and recovery gives you the opportunity to shape the story of the rest of your life and turn your legacy into anything, be it someone who struggled with addiction and lost, or someone who struggled with addiction and won, became a loving wife or husband or uncle or aunt, a father, a mother, a teacher, a mentor, a role model, a respected community member, or a professional without peers.

Making big changes starts at home, with the people you love the most. By being there for them and being a part of their lives during your recovery, you set the tone for what’s to come in the future.

Avoiding Temptation Around the Holidays

Avoiding Temptation on the Holidays

The holiday season is a “time for toys” and a “time for cheer”, but for most American adults, it’s also a time for good food and good drink. Among scents of myrrh and pine, most American households also enjoy traditional foods, differing from culture to culture, from a Christmas ham to Yiddish potato pancakes and Cajun catfish. And for each dinner table, there’s at least a few bottles of wine or eggnog to go around.

But the holiday season is more than just a few days of solstice and feasting. With New Years around the corner, it’s important to be reminded of the deleterious effects of binge drinking, the toll that New Years takes on many people’s plans of sobriety – and ways to avoid getting steamrolled and relapsing just a few hours before the start of a brand-new year.

If you’ve been staying sober, it can be a little difficult to stay committed to your sobriety while everyone else is indulging in a bit of drink this season, especially on New Year’s Eve. Learning to avoid temptation is crucial if you’re going to stay committed.


Holiday Drinking

Next to Mardi Gras, no event in the entire year features as much booze and indulgence as New Year’s Eve. Known as one of the biggest parties thrown worldwide, it’s understandable that almost everyone of the right age – and many who are too young – are going to binge while watching the ball drop and the countdown begin.

The average adult consumes 4.4 drinks on New Years Eve, with many thousands of Americans consuming far and beyond much more than that. Anecdotally, countless Americans recount waking up on a January morning the next day feeling sick, while statistics show that 40 percent of women and 47 percent of men binge drink on New Year’s Eve. Furthermore, nearly half of all surveyed women and a good chunk of the men associate New Years Eve with booze the most, making one of the booziest holidays in the country by perception, and the de facto second booziest holiday by statistics.

Champagne, beer, and wine are the most preferred drinks of the winter season, swapping beer and wine for tequila and vodka as the new year rolls by. According to surveys, over a quarter of men reported blacking out on New Year’s Eve, alongside 16.7 percent of women. Adults in the 40-44 age range drank the most across both the winter holiday season and New Year’s, followed closely by adults aged 20-24.

In short? The numbers say that Americans start boozing up as soon as the beginning of December and go all out towards the final hours of the year – often with deleterious consequences, including accidents, drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, black outs, and death. But that doesn’t mean you have to indulge in the same way. Surviving holiday drinking means keeping an eye open for alternatives, staying stubborn, and understanding why binge drinking now is the worst idea you could go through with.


Navigating a Stressful Holiday Season

It’s not all fine and dandy sometimes. For many – especially parents – the holiday season is a time for stress and planning. If you can get into the Christmas spirit, you might be able to mitigate some of this – but by and large, it’s possible that the winter season is going to lay you flat on your back and roll over you with tasks, deadlines, costs, time constraints, all while calling for dozens of impossible juggling acts.

Navigating this stressful holiday season is an artform in many ways, but there are some essential tips to help keep you sane – and sober. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:


Make time for yourself. This sounds absolutely ridiculous given what you’re already making time for, so keep your “me time” short. Instead of an hour-long bath, enjoy a 15-minute hot shower at the end of the day. Instead of relaxing with some tea and video games, get a short play session into your evening just before bed, or finish a chapter or two of your new book.

Instead of spending an hour at the gym, cut it down to 15-20 minutes at home. Don’t drop your hobbies completely – it’s normal to do so when time constraints call for it but consider instead reorganizing your day, so you get at least a few minutes in to be yourself, with yourself, no matter what.


Get help. Professional help is one thing, especially when you’re worried about relapsing, but consider just getting help in general. It’s not a good thing to have too much on your plate, so chances are you might be able to mitigate some of the stress and costs of the winter season by collaborating with a friend or family member. Combine forces, and bring families together for a joint holiday celebration, which will be easier on the pockets and the calendars.


Find alternatives. Yes, stress makes you want to drink. It’s normal to crave old vices when under pressure, but it’s important not to give in. That means having a way to vent when things get bad. It’s a good idea to find a therapist, or work with your current one, to find your healthiest possible alternative ways to deal with stress while avoiding drinking during the holiday season.


Furthermore, it’s a good idea to dig up a list of delicious alternative drinks for the holiday season if you’re going to be having anything to drink during events, meals, and get-togethers. If you’re the kind of person to enjoy making cocktails, get inventive with different concentrates, fruit juices, sodas and waters. Make your own mix or try any of hundreds of online sober alternatives.


It’s About Family

The holiday season is about family, whatever that might mean to you. Some people aren’t on good terms with their biological family – but that just mean you turn to your friends as crucial loved ones.

The holiday season is a time to be with those that matter to you the most, celebrating moments passed, and looking forward to a completely unpredictable and exciting future. You don’t need booze to enjoy another person’s company – in fact, you might be surprised how rewarding it is to celebrate the holidays completely sober.

The Benefits of Recovering in A Luxury Setting

Benefits of Luxury Recovery

The recovery process should be neither grueling nor painstaking – recovery is hard enough as it is, and you don’t need to consider making things harder for them to be more “effective”. Too many people still see addiction as a mortal sin or as a blight on their character, a thought often fueled by depressive thinking, or the opinions and thoughts of others. To those who think their addiction is a form of moral failure, recovery feels like a punishment, one they have to relish by taking on as much pain as possible in order to atone.

Regardless of what your spiritual or religious beliefs are, addiction is not a moral failure, and the idea of punishment is as far removed from addiction treatment as possible. Addiction is treated, like any illness or disease should be, through the use of therapy and possibly medication. Like any treatment, there can be discomfort and pain, both physical and emotional, as well as complications. And like any treatment, there’s a ratio for success and the potential of relapse. But under no circumstances is any professional, reputable treatment facility in the business of making you atone.

As such, comfort and compassion are top priorities. Recovery is hard enough, so hardship and suffering don’t have to emphasized. The more comfortable a person is during the healing process, the more open they are to listen and learn, and grow. Treatment isn’t about making someone drag themselves through the dirt for a spiritual awakening and true redemption, but it’s about helping them find the right state of mind to address the effects of their addiction, analyze how they came to be addicted in the first place, and assess what they’ll have to do and change to lead a better life outside of treatment.


Sobriety Isn’t Grungy or Painful

Aside from treatment itself, there’s the erroneous belief that sobriety is boring, a necessary chastity practiced by people who otherwise simply can’t control themselves, and that imbibing infrequently is a privilege for those who don’t have to shackle themselves to something like being sober.

That’s one way of seeing it. But perspective is everything when talking about sobriety. Many choose to see it as a punishment, and they either relapse, or stay sober out of spite, so as to have a reason to be angry at others, excusing any outbursts as part of the process. Dry drunks are still emotionally volatile because of the negative perception towards sobriety, and they’ll remain that way until they change their mind or go back to drinking.

Sobriety isn’t a punishment, or a life sentence. It’s a choice many have to make after addiction treatment, but not one they should make unwillingly. Sobriety means a better life, it means better memories, it means having the ability to perceive the pleasures and joys of life in their fullest and most glorious form. Sure, it also means life is unfiltered, and there’s a lot to feel bad about out there. But if therapy should teach you anything, it’s to understand how your choices and perception help you shape and mold your own life.

To that end, luxury rehab is more than just a more expensive variant of the programs usually offered by most treatment facilities. By combining the latest in therapeutic practices with a more complete understanding of addiction treatment accumulated over years and decades of experience, most luxury rehab centers and luxury sober living communities offer experienced staff, top-quality amenities, and a focus on helping residents make the most progress possible within the length of the program.

Sober living homes in particular benefit from offering a certain level of luxury, because they don’t have set programs, and tenants can stay as long as they need to. A wider and more qualitative range of amenities and treatment options means tenants can benefit from a treatment plan that is more accurately suited to their particular circumstances.

This can help them feel more understood, and it can speed up the treatment process. For example, not every treatment facility or sober living community can offer a variety of different forms of talk therapy, aromatherapy, meditation classes, physical therapy, yoga, and the ability to spend time out on a beautiful beachfront, or out on a nearby hiking trail. Most treatment facilities are limited by certain factors including cost, and with fewer limitations come greater opportunities for a more effective treatment.


Much More Than Just Comfort

So far, the benefits of recovery in a luxury setting are comfort and treatment that prioritizes a patient’s individual needs. But there’s more behind a luxury setting than the fact that it’s nicer. Nice is good, and it’s conducive to treatment. But so is quality and experience. We’ve also emphasized that. You do get what you pay for, and a luxury setting is indicative of more than just comfort.

There is no exact cure for addiction, and treatments that work for some don’t work for others. Just as it’s important to recognize each patient’s individuality and need for unique treatment, it is equally important to value the work and effort that goes into finding out exactly what it is a patient responds to, and how to best help them. Luxury settings also often mean a greater variety of options.


Making Lasting Progress

Treatment is one thing, but recovery is a lifelong commitment. That means your journey starts at rehab or in a sober living home, but it never ends. And that’s not a bad thing. Life itself is a day-to-day journey, and while it has its downs, it also has its ups, and making the most of those is the key to a happier life. It’s no different in recovery. Dwelling on mistakes only increase your chances of making new ones, but if you learn from them, you can continue to improve on your recovery and recommit after a relapse in such a way that you know what to avoid for the future.

No matter how your treatment begins, that attitude is crucial. But it isn’t eternal. Support is necessary as well. It’s important to have people around you to convince you to stay strong when you feel like you can’t.


Tips for Maintaining Sobriety

Tips For Maintaining Sobriety

The essence of addiction treatment is to stay sober. But that’s not really why you go into treatment. As simple as that objective might sound, a more accurate description would be to learn to enjoy sobriety.

That’s a message a lot of people tend to miss as they embark on their journey of recovery. Some people misunderstand sobriety as a lifelong oath to not have fun, but ultimately, it’s fun that keeps you sober. Very few people have the willpower to be sober, perpetually miserable, and not willing to relapse.

You might be able to stay sober just for the sake of sobriety for a while, but the temptation eventually catches up with you. You have to replace it over time with things that make staying sober well worth it, over a life of addiction.


Have a Backup Plan

No matter how committed you are to your day-to-day, you can still have bad days. The brain takes a solid few months to recover from an addiction, and the emotional effects of those days can linger for years – to the point that it can be considered a chronic disease. Aside from how drugs scar the brain and change the way you process certain things, drug use is also very difficult to deal with from a stress aspect. As such, the scarring it leaves behind can be significant enough that, some days, it all just seems like too much and you would rather be getting high.

That’s why you need a backup plan. A place to go, a person to call, a thing to do. A list of things for when you really need something to remind you that being sober is worth it, and that you really shouldn’t break your commitment. In sober living circles and similar such groups, recovering addicts with enough time and experience under their belts become sponsors to those who are new to the program, and struggling. Part of sponsorship is having someone to call or rely on when you need that emotional support.

But the same goes for any support system. Call your parents, or your partner, or someone you can trust who can help set you straight. Sober living homes are perfect for this. But if you’re feeling that the stress you’ve been going through has gotten to your head but you finally have the time to take a break from it all, then going on a short vacation or staying at a nice sober community can help you get your head back on straight, and focus on the days, weeks, and months ahead.


Work on Your Relationships

Few things in life are as fulfilling as being in a healthy loving relationship with another person. It could be platonic, or a romantic bond between partners, or the parental bond between a parent and their child. Whatever relationship you want to focus on the most, take your time to work on them. Spend more time with your loved one or friend and learn to trust them.

If you had a lot of “friends” before sobriety who helped encourage you to get to where you were, then chances are you’re through with those relationships and might be in need of some new friends. The Internet has made finding such friends easier than ever. You don’t even have to go hang out in places to find people – just get into a local online community of an interest of your choice and attend the local meetups. It could be a group dedicated to board games, or sports, or a movie series, or something else.

The stronger your relationships with those you care about the most, the less likely you are to relapse.


Keep Things Fresh

Aside from potentially making new friends, also consider trying out new things. It never hurts to explore your creative side, check out new hobbies, or generally spend more time doing things you’ve never done before.

Sobriety is a great time for exploration. It’s arguably the best time for it, as you’re meant to try and figure out who you are now that you’re attempting to put this chapter of pain and struggle behind you. That means testing things out, being creative, and taking the time to think and consider what you might want to try out, no matter what it might be.

That means doing things you might’ve been scared of before, even if it means something out of the norm like trying your hand at being a barber or taking culinary classes.


Establish a Career

Or, more accurately, make a living doing something you actually enjoy doing, and something that’s worth doing. Some people get into addiction partially because of the stress of working a job they don’t care for, either just for the money or because there are no alternatives. Work is important, not only because we have to make money to support ourselves, but because having a job and maintaining employment gives you a sense of purpose. This feeling is even stronger when you’re doing something you care for more strongly.

On the other hand, some people find it fulfilling to climb the ranks of employment and reach a greater position of power within a certain company. Or sometimes, being a reliable part of a small business can give you that feeling of being integral, having the responsibility and accountability that might have been missing in your life before.

These tips are not the only ways to stay sober. Everyone has their own tricks and ideas, and it’s not guaranteed that because one thing worked for someone, it’ll work for everyone else. However, a lot of these tips essentially boil down to the same thing: work on yourself. Whether it’s improving your ability to communicate and coexist with others, gaining new skills, spending time with old hobbies, or taking the time to focus on your future, there are countless things worth doing with your time now that you have more of it to spend. The only question is where to begin.


How to Plan A Sober Event

How To Plan A Sober Event

To anyone who has partied, sober parties sound like a drag. Dry parties are usually frowned upon and considered boring. And in many cases, they actually are. But when the focus is on creating a fun party – not just a regular party without booze – then the alcohol is quickly forgotten, and the real party can start.

But if you’ve never planned a sober event before, then the idea alone can be intimidating. There’s usually a lot that goes into a party or event, but for anyone who has struggled with alcohol enough to have to go sober permanently, party planning beings and mainly focuses on keeping the booze going. However, it’s actually not that tough to throw a good party without a drop of alcohol, provided you already know you can have a good time while sober.

We’re going to go over a few quick and easy pointers for planning a sober event, so you don’t feel too lost, but it’s best if you don’t start trying to plan sober events while you’re still in the early stages of recovery. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a good time but consider laying off really rowdy gatherings in general until you’re through the early stages and well into your recovery journey. At some point in a person’s addiction, parties often just turn into excuses to get drunk or high anyway – when that’s no longer an option, fun has to be redefined as something the new you can enjoy.


If It’s Something More Serious

Sober events that don’t necessarily revolve around making a memorable evening out of it don’t really have to be any different, other than not offering booze. If your work environment somehow encourages alcohol at company gatherings or if you’re in charge of hosting a family get together and would not like to have any alcohol at home, then it’s important to warn everyone beforehand that there won’t be any alcoholic drinks, and that you would not like any at the event. If necessary, you can even ask people who bring their own booze anyway to please leave it in their car.

Drawing boundaries is very important, especially if you’re in your first year of sobriety. You want to be firm about what you’re allowing around you, and if you’ve decided you want to plan and host an event with no drinking, then you have to see it through completely.


For Parties

It’s a slightly different story if you’re hosting a fully-fledged party. If your goal is to entertain your guests – many of whom might not have completely pledged to sobriety like you have – then it’s important that you not only show them a good time, but much more importantly, help them stave off boredom.

The number one reason people drink at parties is, so they don’t get bored – or, in other words, to make things happen. When you’re drunk, you’re pretty likely to make your own fun. Sometimes, that might mean embarrassing yourself or someone else – but until then, the process can be entertaining. It also helps that on top of being a substance that lowers inhibitions, alcohol also causes people to generally feel a little better about themselves and be a little happier at times.

Your best shot at helping your guests stave off boredom ultimately depends on your guests. If you and your friends are the type to play video games, it’s a pretty easy way to keep some folks entertained. All you need is a console, a competitive game, and a couple controllers. Encouraging others to bring their consoles or starting a LAN party is another option. Fighting games are a solid option, as are party games like the Mario Party series, or team play games like FIFA and Rocket League.

For the less gaming-inclined, there’s the option of hosting a movie marathon – preferably horror or comedy – or even going old school with some good old board games. Of course, sometimes you’re just not going to please everyone with your choice of entertainment, so have something for the taste buds as well.


Lots and Lots of Good Food

One thing you might notice is that you get to taste food a little better when you’re not drunk. Sure, food might generally taste better when you are drunk, but you get to appreciate flavors a little more when you’re sober. That gives you the opportunity to come up with a large variety of different party dishes to make a distribute, with the intent of giving everyone something they might enjoy.

Variety is key, so make sure to make something sweet, something spicy, something a little salty, some crunchy things, some chewy things, and some creamy things. Refrain from overly sweet or filling foods and stick to stuff that’s easy to eat – nachos, sliders, tortilla with salsa and guac for your vegan friends, fries and sauces, dips, churros, mini pancakes, cheese sandwiches, and any other number of delicious food items.


Different Drink Options

With all that food comes the need to wash it down, and regular mineral water gets old pretty fast. Spice things up with something more interesting, like strange juice blends, Indian non-alcoholic yogurt drinks, novelty sodas (not the unpalatable stuff, though), or other strange but pleasing drinks that your guests probably haven’t tried before.

And sure, throw in something not everyone might like – maybe you’ll awaken someone’s hidden tastes. Again, go for variety, to make sure everyone gets something they like.


Good Music

We’ve taken care of the hands, eyes, and tongue, but we need something for the ears. Music is ultimately what really gets a party going and sets the tone for the night. Unless you’re planning a dance-off, you probably don’t want anything too hype, and unless you know that your music tastes will match up nicely across the board, you also don’t want to make any bizarre choices that are just too out there. Sure, you might be a fan of Pearl Jam or you might really like free jazz, but maybe go for the safer, but still obscure option. Genres that easily slip into the background but makes for a great chill atmosphere include chillhop, ambeat, jazz hop, or trip hop.

If you’re looking to spice things up a bit, then use an online radio. There are lots of configurable radios that let you pick out a kind of sound and customize your choices as you listen. Put the radio to a vote with your friends, and tune into the kind of music you can all enjoy.


Know Your Crowd

There’s probably always going to be one person who just doesn’t enjoy a good get-together without a bit of booze. It’s important to keep in mind that that person won’t be satisfied, and that’s okay. You don’t have to cater to everyone’s wishes, especially if those wishes would go against your boundaries.

What’s most important is that you have some fun – and that you learn it’s possible to throw a good party without drinking so much that you forget half of what actually happened.