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.

 

Building the Perfect Sober Living Environment

Perfect Sober Living Environment

Maintaining sobriety is an individual journey, and not necessarily something you can give a step-by-step instruction on. Every individual has to decide for themselves how best to deal with the challenges and struggles that lay ahead – but there are many different ways to mitigate the risk of relapse and help someone figure out their own way.

Addiction treatment – that is, recovery programs and resources – have always centered on helping a patient get sober and stay sober. For decades, psychologists and doctors have puzzled on how best to help addicts. The cruelest of methods certainly never work and punishing addicts through prison sentences always sends them right back where they started. Doing nothing, however, doesn’t help either, and too often leads to death.

Addiction has been deemed a brain disease, but there is no medication for it. No pill to pop, no shot to take. There are substances that can help a patient survive an overdose or lessen the physical and psychological impact of withdrawal – but for all intents and purposes, the brain on drugs and the nature of addiction is something we’re closer to understanding than ever, but we don’t fully understand it yet.

But we do know the risk factors that help it develop and grow. The biggest risk factor, outside of a person’s genes, is their environment. Environmental factors are ultimately what push a person to first start using, and that’s what gives way to addiction. Factors like stress, trauma, and pressure all stack onto each other and compound the issue. In much the same way, environment is critical to treating addiction. By helping an individual stick around in the right healthy sober living environment, they can overcome their addiction, and learn to maintain their sobriety – not just in the right environment, but anywhere else too.

 

A Drug-Free Environment

The first step to the perfect sober living environment is the most important – it has to be completely free from temptations. A drug-free environment is the only way to ensure that an individual doesn’t even have to think about the dilemma of using or not using – just as with addiction itself, they’re left with no choice, initially. The ability to choose is meaningless when only one choice looks appealing – but as time passes and the scales even out, the benefits of staying clean will outweigh the potential of a good time indulging in old habits.

Sober living environments maintain this drug-free rule very strictly. Mandatory random drug testing is common among sober living homes, and tenants caught with drugs are punished as per each sober living home’s rules, from getting kicked out to losing significant privileges.

This can be recreated at home. Maintain a strict no-drug policy at home with your loved one when they return from their program, to help them slowly fit into life after rehab and sober living, although there are challenges to consider.

 

Plenty to Do

A drug-free environment is the first step to a perfect sober living home. The next step is creating an alternative to drugs.

Addiction happens because the brain responds to the overstimulation provided by drugs in a unique way. Other things, in comparison, begin to dull. Some things are heightened, but only under the influence of the drug. In sobriety, however, the memory of the drug remains – without the high. A big part of learning to stay sober is learning to remember not just what it’s like to be high, but what it’s like to genuinely enjoy and love life and everything it has to offer.

For that, every individual needs a gateway. That stepping stone back into a different life. For some, it’s art, for others it’s food, and yet others it’s a sport. It could be anything. Something you can grow through, something you can learn through, something with which to spend your time. Something to do.

Sober living homes are often structured to offer plenty of amenities. Some are built close to nature or offer regular access to a fully-fledged gym facility. Some sober homes offer art classes or give you the opportunity to practice a musical instrument or take classes for a particular skill and passion. Whatever it may be, you need something to tether you to the idea of staying sober.

 

Rules and Structures

Boredom can be a terrible thing in early recovery. If you don’t have anything to do, and no structure to go by, your brain might shift its thinking to the most obvious place – your cravings and temptations.

Ignoring them is easier when you’re busy doing something else. Maintaining a rigid daily schedule isn’t that important later on in recovery, when you can afford to be more flexible, but early on, it’s critical to spend as much time as you can doing the things you should be doing.

That, and community, are two reasons why rules and chores are a big part of the perfect sober living environment. By doing something not just for yourself but for others, alongside others, you can help someone regain their trust in people and develop a stronger sense of community. This is important, because when you learn to trust others, you learn to rely on them in times of need, as well. Communities exist so when one of us is down, we help each other pick them back up.

By keeping our surroundings clean and adhering to certain rules, we agree to do good not just for ourselves, but for others. We agree to be reliable to one another. This might seem like a strange lesson for someone struggling with sobriety of all things, but it’s a feeling of loneliness and a lack of connection with others that feeds addiction above all else. The hopeless feeling that no one can help you. Through working with others on the same path as you, you can begin to see that if everyone helped one another through the same struggles, things would be easier.

 

Sober Needs Are Unique

There are many things that go into creating the perfect sober environment that differ from one individual to the next. Experimentation and flexibility are, then, key. At a certain point, it’s important to listen to an individual’s needs and understand what they are. People grow through recovery and learn to orient themselves differently. Some people find God, or join a religion, or devote themselves to a goal. Others devote themselves to family, or their work. Sober living environments help people find that something.

 

What Is the Next Step Towards Sobriety After Rehab?

Heading Toward Sobriety

Getting through rehab can be tough, and it’s certainly a satisfying accomplishment. The entire point of residential treatment is to give you a primer on how to get sober and stay sober – but it’s really just the first leg of your journey. As primers go, they’re meant to get you started for the rest of the process, and for drug recovery, the next “step” is simply maintaining what you’ve got.

Sobriety is not difficult to achieve. Stop using drugs for just a few hours and you’ll be sober. Most addicts get sober every now and again, even when they don’t want to, because maintaining a constant high is difficult, expensive, and dangerous. However, staying sober is an entirely different thing. Sobriety as a lifestyle rather than a consequence of time takes longer to get used to than the average length of a rehab program – so going over your first steps right after rehab is very important. Here are the key things you need to keep in mind after your first rehabilitation program.

 

Avoiding Relapses

Contrary to what might be popular belief, relapses are actually quite common. This is important not because it means most addicts don’t want to stay sober, but because most addicts can’t stay sober for long even after a rehabilitation program. It takes the brain much longer to completely adjust and get used to sober living before you can freely live around the temptation of drug use and face the challenges of regular life.

That doesn’t mean you should insulate yourself from life’s challenges and responsibilities, but it is important for addicts and families to acknowledge and accept that relapses commonly occur in the first six months of recovery, and an addict needs patience, compassion, and a dedicated support system to help them get back on their feet and get right back into recovery. The worst thing to do isn’t to relapse, but to relapse and lose hope in the idea of genuine long-term sobriety. It’s possible if you put the work in, but you need to spend the time needed for said work to take effect.

You can reduce the possibility of a relapse in several different ways. First, you can work hard to identify potential triggers. Figure out what makes you crave drug use more. Stress is a big factor, as are stimuli that remind you of previous occasions of drug use, from something as simple as a song or driving past a specific area, to something as complex and faint as a scent or a conversation with an old friend about the old days.

Avoid things that are more likely to make you want to get high as best you can and be sure to always have a friend or family member you can contact if you feel you’re close to making a big mistake. Another thing that helps is to spend the first few months after rehab being really busy, but not in a way that presents you with endless amounts of stress. Do something satisfying but do something that takes the hours of your day and makes them disappear, until you hit the hay, exhausted.

 

Getting Socially Situated

There’s a lot of things to do right out of rehab. Chances are you haven’t magically adjusted to regular living straight away. Get yourself situated at home first, by finding your place. If you live alone, make it a habit to keep your place clean. If you’re living with your family or with some friends, find ways to help out around the house. Do chores and do your part for the family.

Another thing to get used to is making a living. If you’re still going to school or need to go to school, enroll and get started. Otherwise, look for work if you don’t have any, or return to your job. If your job was a source of major unnecessary stress (and possibly a reason for your addiction), speak to your friends and family about seeking new work and doing something more fulfilling with your time.

Money is obviously an issue, and it can be difficult to get work after recovery, but with the right work history you might be able to pull a better job with better hours for yourself. It can be scary to give up a source of income, but if that’s costing you your sanity and can be a source of risk for relapse, it isn’t worth it.

Finding your place at home, at work, and in the community in general is a solid step in the right direction. It might sound “boring” at first glance but being part of society can be fulfilling if what you do and who you are actually matters to your family and your neighbors. If you commit to sobriety, you get the chance to build a better life for yourself without addiction getting in the way.

 

Learning to Be Sober

Most rehabilitation programs last a few weeks, up to about two months. That’s not enough time to get you situated with sobriety, and all the things you have to consider about it. Learning to be sober isn’t really difficult in hindsight, because we’re meant to be sober for the most part – but when you’ve spent enough time struggling with addiction, your brain’s notions of satisfaction and fun can be a little different from the norm. With time, a lot of these feelings fade and even reverse themselves, but until then, getting used to sober living might take a little continued help even after rehab.

While group meetings are one way to maintain the recovery journey, another alternative is to go from rehab into sober living. Sober living homes are facilities that specialize in providing a drug-free environment of tenants, while they live normal lives, attending to chores, seeking out work, spending time with their neighbors, and finding interesting hobbies in their spare time. If you’re worried about relapses or struggle with life outside of rehab, sober living can be a nice in-between step for rehab and regular sober life, so you can continue to adhere to a schedule and some rules, while gradually adapting to life without drugs.

 

Consider Continuing Care

Group therapy/support groups, one-on-one cognitive behavioral therapy, and regular check ups are just a few ways to continue your recovery treatment after rehab is over. Therapy is especially useful if your addiction was or is tied to other issues, like an anxiety disorder, or a mood disorder like depression.

It takes time to get used to the sober life, and professional help can make a serious difference.

Things to Do While Staying at A Los Angeles Sober Living

Things To Do At A Los Angeles Sober Living

Sober living homes and communities are different from most residential treatment facilities our outpatient drug recovery clinics. The first line of recovery is usually the inpatient or outpatient facility that helps an addict get back on their feet, make it through the detox and withdrawal phase, and come to terms with the basics of living a sober life before the program ends. But sober living communities are facilities that specialize in a different form of treatment – specifically, sober living.

Sober living on its own can be a form of treatment if planned out right. Sober living homes in Los Angeles usually consist of a property close to the beach or close to nature, with staff, various amenities, and a completely drug-free environment. Yet what sets these communities apart from rehab facilities is that they offer a greater degree of flexibility, and don’t rely on programs. Instead, patients pay monthly to stay at a sober living home, while obeying the rules of the house, often including:

  • Curfews
  • A form of employment or enrolment
  • Monthly rent
  • Shared chores
  • A strict drug-free policy

Some sober living communities have other rules, such as keeping gender-separate areas with a joint common area and requiring that all tenants/patients attend scheduled group meetings as a form of therapy, or that tenants seek one-on-one therapy for their recovery outside of the sober living environment.

However, all sober living homes are structured around giving recovering addicts a set of responsibilities and rules to follow, while giving them the freedom to spend their free time as they see fit. In this sense, sober living homes are meant to help people who have just gotten out of rehab slowly readjust to living a drug-free life. Sober living is an even better idea if you’ve just relapsed and need a place to get back to working on your recovery. While your schedule is quite flexible, and you can stay as long as you can afford to, there are quite a few things to do at a sober living community.

 

Find Work

Most sober living homes require that you either find work or enroll at a school. It’s okay if you’re not immediately getting employed, as long as you’re actively looking and can pay your monthly dues.

Work is a great way to kickstart your sober life, if you find something engaging. Working or learning a new craft is a good way to be productive during the day, while giving you a better sense of structure for your day. A proper job will also help you improve your sleeping habits, and help you work on your ability to uphold and maintain responsibilities and be accountable to others. When you have a job as an employee, you’re going to have to show up to work on a set time, do your work, and meet your employer’s standards.

Everyone knows this – but the lesson behind it is that a job is a good way to work on your ability to gain another person’s trust. The simple honesty of a job is that you do what you say you’re going to do and build a reputation for yourself as someone who works hard and maintains a sense of integrity. This significantly helps with drug recovery, because a simple and honest job can keep you on the straight-and-narrow.

It’s important to try and find something engaging. You might not get your dream job right away, but find something that interests you nonetheless.

It’s known that getting a job is, of course, easier said than done while recovering from addiction. Often this isn’t because an addict is less likely to look for work, but because employers are much less likely to hire former addicts. However, resources exist to help you seek work. If you have any positive referrals from your past, or long years of work experience, that will make your task much easier.

 

Get a Hobby

A job is one thing, but as we know, all work and no play is a bad idea. Sober living isn’t meant to be boring, and it isn’t meant to punish a person for addiction. Instead, sobriety is a chance at a better life, one filled with actual joy rather than an artificial euphoria that cycles back into dread after each high.

Finding ways to enjoy yourself is an important part of the equation. This is where a hobby comes into play, but this is meant to be more than just something you’ll do to arbitrarily pass the time after work. Hobbies – things we genuinely enjoy doing in our free time – are important for the human psyche. We need to engage in relaxing and stress-relieving behavior on a regular basis and finding ways to have fun while sober is critical especially during early recovery, when it can be very difficult to adjust to a sober lifestyle.

Take up a creative hobby, or a form of exercise, or even seek to compete. A great way to commit to sobriety is by finding some form of incentive to stay sober – competition is a great incentive, as you have stay clear-headed to practice, train, and win. Many make it out of their addiction by way of a sport, or by way of a personal challenge, such as completing a marathon. Lifetime commitments are important for recovery, because they give you more reasons to stop using forever.

 

Connect with Others

This may be the most important piece of the puzzle – real human connection. Being in a real and meaningful relationship with another human being is almost impossible when you or the other person is stuck struggling with a severe addiction. Relationships are built on trust, and addiction tears that down, often making it difficult to remain accountable and responsible. As an addiction progresses, it continues to push others away. Learning to make friends, working with your family through family therapy, and even start or continue a romantic relationship takes time, and emotional stability. Rehab, therapy, and sober living can help you better come to terms with yourself, and be happy around others.

What Does a Gender Specific Sober Living Bring to The Table?

Men & Women's Sober livings

Early recovery and sobriety can be such difficult phases, emotionally and mentally. Getting through recovery and finding yourself on the other end alive and well is exciting, and for many residential treatment facilities or sober living communities, the prospect of a sober future is finally possible and achievable. Many describe these days as filled with rollercoaster emotions – your heart jumps from one end of the emotional spectrum to the next, and you go from feeling manic, to depressed, to angry, to serene, and back again.

Managing this rollercoaster and getting through this first phase of recovery is difficult, especially because many experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or intense cravings or want to satisfy some other form of wanting by feeding an inner craving for physical contact and lust. In some cases, while drugs can be an aphrodisiac, true embittered and passionate love is only possible in full sobriety – and the prospect of being with another human is scary for some, and exciting for others.

That is one reason why gender-specific sober living communities can help some individuals find a safer and better way to a sober future.

 

Why Relationships and Sex Aren’t A Good Thing During Early Recovery

It’s normal to miss human contact, love, and even lust. But it’s important not to let those emotions overwhelm you and distract you from what’s really important. Many people share stories about rehab sex and rehab romances, and while it’s true that some facilities struggle with residents finding ways to couple up and get illicit, it’s important that this subject isn’t just treated with irreverent levity but with the seriousness that it deserves.

Sex and relationships at such an emotionally fragile moment in a person’s life are a bad idea. You don’t want to engage in such behavior because it can cause serious emotional harm and it could tremendously set back your recovery if approached impulsively.

Some people find themselves stuck in their situation not just because of drugs, but because of the highly volatile combination of sex, love, and drugs. Some people get addicted because of a manipulative partner, some get addicted to pay or sex, or use sex to pay for their addiction. Others got addicted after the fallout of a nasty breakup and aren’t emotionally ready or mature enough in their newfound sobriety to engage anyone intimately, romantically, or otherwise.

Sex is all fun and games when you’re feeling confident and secure, but it can be life-shattering when turned into a mind-game, a power-play between two individuals, the means for one to get off on the emotional torment of another. Understanding the potential dangers and volatility in engaging with other fragile people early in recovery is important. Don’t get involved – not yet, at least. There’s always room for love and lust when you’re stronger. But not right now.

Among gender-specific sober living environments, it’s even more important for homosexual tenants to understand the risks of engaging with others. Even in sober living homes that specifically separate tenants on the basis of sexual orientation, bisexual tenants should be careful to avoid getting too close with a potential love interest. Friendships and camaraderie are important but developing stronger feelings for one another can be dangerous when everyone is still fresh off recovery, dealing with the ramifications of early sobriety. In time, you can let the heart want what the heart wants.

 

Addiction is Different for Men and Women

The potential fallout of a bad breakup or a bad hookup is only one aspect of why gender-specific sober living arrangements matter. Addiction and mental health issues are fundamentally different between men and women.

Men generally struggle with different codependent diseases than women do, and while every individual is ultimately unique in their own sense of self, and separate from just their gender, the fact that men and women experience mental health issues and addiction differently is enough to justify creating different environments and programs for men and women. For example:

  • Addiction is generally much more likely among men than women, but women get addicted much faster, due to the effects of estrogen on dopamine, particularly in cocaine.
  • Women are more likely to develop depressive symptoms and signs of an anxiety disorder, while men are more likely to be paranoid or struggle with aggression.
  • Women are more susceptible to cravings and relapse and may need treatment specifically to address these issues.
  • Women often get addicted for very different reasons, including self-medication, peer-pressure, and abuse, in a different degree than men.
  • Men are more likely to be alcoholic, and alcohol triggers a greater release of dopamine in men versus women.
  • Men are more likely to struggle with addiction if they start drug use early in life, while that doesn’t matter for women.
  • Men are much less likely to self-report addiction or substance misuse, while women are more likely to realize addiction and take steps towards getting help. Men require a greater focus on solving denial, while women more often do not. Unfortunately, men are more likely to enter treatment if threatened with an ultimatum by the law or an employer.

It’s naturally dangerous to assume a person’s individual addiction factors solely on the basis of their gender, but the differences are numerous and significant enough to suggest that treating people differently by utilizing gender-specific treatment programs and gender-specific sober living environments can help. Nevertheless, therapists in any environment focus on a patient, with as little bias as possible, in order to tailor an effective treatment plan.

By entering a gender-specific sober living environment for men or women, you can often save yourself the trouble of being distracted by thoughts of relationships or lust, while focusing entirely on your treatment, especially early on or after a hefty relapse. Sober living homes work hard to foster camaraderie and a social setting, encouraging tenants to communicate and work with one another to identify similarities, forge friendships, and help one another deal with the challenges of recovery. This can be done more smoothly in a gender-specific environment.

What Can Your Sober Life Look Like in Los Angeles?

View of Los Angeles from Griffith Observetory

So, you’ve entered a sober living program, and have managed to control your addiction to a point. You’ve found yourself a place to stay, you’ve found a reliable job, you’ve made new friends – you’ve essentially done all the things you’re supposed to do, except the most important thing: figure out how to have fun.

No one ever said sobriety was going to be a ban on fun. In fact, with a little help, you’ll have more fun in a week of being sober than you ever had while drunk or high. Let’s go over what your sober life is likely going to look like in the City of Angels.

 

Lots and Lots of Time

If you spent a lot of time struggling with drugs, you might’ve gotten used to there not being very many hours in a day to work with. While time doesn’t go by fast when you’re high, a lot of time is spent passed out or without memory. After a while, the days can sort of blur together. Not to mention the finances of being addicted.

While sober, time moves much more slowly. And the more we pay attention to it – especially when doing things we don’t want to do – time begins to slow to a crawl. You’ll fight your way through a day at work and realize that there’s still quite a few hours of time on the clock before you’re remotely ready to hit the hay, and if you haven’t really figured out what you like (besides drugs), it can be difficult to stave off boredom.

So, sit down and plan a schedule. If you’ve got a lot of time, the thing to do is spend it. Work in a workout – having some exercise on a daily or regular basis is going to keep your head clear, help you work off stress and frustration, get you into better shape now that you’re sober, and improve both your self-esteem and your appearance – which is going to help a lot at getting to know new people all over town.

Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore – you can turn it into something useful both socially and mentally. Pick a dance course, a sports club, or a new fitness trend and see if you have any fun with it.

 

A Chance for Nature

Los Angeles might seem like the kind of place that’s plagued most by Californication, but there is a lot of virtue and sober beauty to go around. In a city of nearly 4 million people, not everyone has the chance to be obsessed with glitz and glamour, and there’s a lot of nature and simple living to behold.

From any of the city’s several trails, treks, parks, and green urban neighborhoods, sometimes the best way to clear the head and put a little smile on your face is by heading out into the outdoors and enjoying the copious health benefits of a lungful of fresh air and the sunshine on your skin. If trees and green isn’t your thing, head out to the beach and enjoy the fact that most of California’s beaches are all public property, for you to stroll around. Here are just a couple great beaches to check out if you’ve got an afternoon or two.

 

Enjoy the Simpler Pleasures

While it’s true that nothing works as fast or hits as hard as a shot of heroin, you’ve probably established by now that the cons very heavily outweigh any potential pros. There are still many ways to relax while sober, starting with visiting some of LA’s best Koreatown spas and enjoying their lovely atmosphere and amazing service. If you’re not looking for relaxation, tickle your funny bone at any of LA’s comedy clubs and enjoy a night filled with laughter. You can take an improv class and have your own stab at comical fame or learn something else entirely.

 

Hit the Trampolines

It’s scientifically proven that one surefire way to have some fun is to jump around and launch yourself to moderately greater heights. There are several trampoline parks all throughout LA, which are all about the ridiculously simple recipe of jumping a little bit to feel better.

You can practice flips and techniques and use the park as a way to kickstart (or jumpstart) an excursion into tricking or parkour training, or you can just head out to the park with a few friends and make a little afternoon out of it. Trust us – trampolines aren’t just for kids, and if you were ever disappointed at the fact that you probably outgrew the one in your own backyard, these parks are perfect.

 

Your Time Is Your Own

Ultimately, however you spend your sober time is up to you. What’s important to remember is that being sober isn’t about being sober, it’s just about not being drunk. That might seem confusing at first, but the faster you figure out that you shouldn’t obsess about sobriety, the faster it’ll become normal – and the faster you can integrate it into your life.

Living isn’t about dulling experiences with drugs, it’s about experiencing life in its entirety, whether that means sitting back on a Saturday night and enjoying a quiet book to the tune of a blues playlist on Spotify, to hitting up the nearest dining experience or theater play with a crew of friends. You can choose to spend your time however you want, and no longer have to play by the rules of drug addiction.

The hardest part about being freshly sober and finding ways to kill time and stress, but the only way to figure out what it is that you enjoy most is to try all the things. Take classes, take on physical challenges, meet new people, learn instruments and languages, explore the fringes of your city, pretend to be a tourist, and generally try to live life with a little spontaneity. It might seem like fun is out of the question once you’ve dedicated yourself to being booze-free and drug-free, but that’s completely false. Now is the time for the fun to begin.