The Effects of Addiction on Those Around You

Addiction Affects Those Around You

In a sense, addiction can be considered a disease, and according to some experts, it’s best described as a chronic brain disease. What most people might consider a character flaw, or something fixed through simple willpower is more aptly characterized as a mental disorder requiring specialized treatment.

This is important because it gets to the heart of why every addiction ends in tragedy. Addiction isn’t a choice, and it’s not something you can control. It always only goes in one direction, like any disease does, and to stop it, you need help.

The first mistake people make when they begin to realize that their drug use is getting out of hand is that they think they may be able to turn things back around. They make excuses for themselves, perhaps without even meaning to, thinking ahead to an opportune time to make a change while not realizing how far they’ve already fallen. Step by step, addiction takes control of your life. To be more accurate, it changes the way you make choices, robbing you of the ability to think critically about them. Your capacity to think becomes diminished, and your choices follow the same path. And then, it spreads and affects those around you.

Some make another mistake, of assuming that their choices are ultimately only their responsibility. Part of it is cultural – here in the United States, we’re often taught that personal responsibility is the ultimate virtue, and if you don’t look after yourself, then everything that happens can ultimately be traced back to you and your actions. In summary, what happens to you, happens because of you.

More often than not, life is at least partially determined by factors we can’t control. More often than not, we make mistakes at crucial times, because of the pressure of the moment. More often than not, a human being lives a life filled with a few moments of regret, and mistakes we struggle with forever.

That’s where it’s important to strike a balance between personal and social responsibility. It’s what community is for. That’s what friends are for. That’s what family is for. The biggest mistake many make when they first struggle with addiction is not getting help from others or seeking out treatment. We need to rely on each other to live better lives, and it’s only through trust and compassion that we can solve some of the bigger issues in the lives of our families. Otherwise, addiction can consume not only an individual, but an entire household.

 

Losing Their Trust

It happens slowly, at first. Yet over time, addiction begins to erode your personality, your reputation, and your reliability. We are ultimately only as good as our word, and if what we say cannot be trusted, people lose all faith in us. It might start as a way to let loose or blow off some steam, but over time, drug use can become compulsive, taking over everything else and putting it in its shadow.

That’s when people begin to stop trusting you. And that’s how it begins. Once the trust is gone, the relationships start to falter.

 

Crumbling Relationships

Did you know that rejection is one of the few forms of emotional pain that are treated by the brain in the same way as physical pain? We fear rejection on such a primal level that our bodies react to it as though it was physical – it actually hurts, like a real gut punch. But it doesn’t just apply to being rejected emotionally. It applies to all forms of social rejection, especially those on a romantic or familial level. The more important the bond, the more it hurts.

It makes sense, then, that addiction immediately leads someone down a spiraling path of mental anguish and depression. While it starts with your friends and family losing faith in you, that feeling can quickly become overwhelmingly painful. And it’s at that most vulnerable time that drugs become the most attractive. When it all just hurts too much, that’s when you need it the most.

 

Negativity and Stress

This spiral affects your thinking, your behavior, your actions, your words. And that, in turn, affects those around you, taking away their happiness at times and leaving them fearful, or angry. A household mired in addiction becomes tense and aggressive, and dangerous. Conversations devolve into fights, and your pain needs to be shared. It is spread around, eroding relationships even further, and destroying your family.

In a way, it isn’t your fault – but while addiction is not something anyone chooses, you do need to choose to get better. You do need to choose to accept the disease and accept the treatment. You do need to choose the hard path of getting sober again.

 

Isolation and Loneliness

The final and most dangerous effect of addiction is that it ultimately robs you of everything and everyone that you love. If you’re lucky, some might stay with you – but if you don’t accept their help or make an effort to change, or if they decide they can’t stand by you, then lastly, addiction leaves you alone.

Loneliness is a very dangerous thing, and it’s much more insidious than we might think at first. No one truly wants to be lonely. Even the shyest person seeks human contact, either through a select few friends, or a loved one. We need to be able to talk, touch, and be with others in order to thrive emotionally and mentally. Left alone, we wither quickly. The effects of loneliness are emotionally devastating and leave many in a deep depression, anxious of ever returning into a sober life, scared that they would simply repeat the cycle, hurt their friends, and go through the same pain all over again.

The deeper an addiction goes, the harder it is to cure, because the stress compounds and creates deep wounds that take years to fully heal. Depressive thoughts and irrational anxieties overwhelm every sensical thought, and the only impulse is to seek out a quick pleasure to drown out the overwhelming pain. It paints a vivid picture to imagine someone in a cold and empty room, all human contact lacking any form of sincerity, or that level of love and comfort that every person needs to survive.

But no matter how bad things get, they never have to stay that way. There is always a way towards something better, a healthier life, a happier future, a time when you can heal and be with the ones you love, mend broken bonds, and forge completely new ones. All you have to do is start the healing process, and never give up.

 

Sober Life In Houston

Sober Life in Houston

Like any large city, Houston, Texas has its fair share of problems. Known for the Houston Space Center, air conditioning, arguably the world’s best Tex-Mex and among the greatest preservations and greenery within any urban American city, Houston also has a drug problem. From rising marijuana and synthetic cannabinoid usage to drug use in schools, and the surfacing of an extremely potent and lethal synthetic opioid, it’s fair to say that drugs are an issue here. Learning to live a sober life in Houston around temptations is tough but with a lot of sober fun to do, it is easier.

And yet, it does not crack the top 10 major cities where drug abuse is a statistical nightmare.

As dangerous as drugs are, we live in a world where data can be used to skew opinion and create fear. And the last thing you need when you’re struggling to stay sober is feel scared about the city you live in – a city where millions of Americans lead peaceful lives without drug use.

You can join them, and live your life staying sober, and healthy. And you might even be surprised to hear that Houston is one of the best cities in the country for exactly that purpose. Sober living in Houston can be beautiful if you know where to look, and what to do. A national model for green city living, Houston is a great place if you want to balance growing urban progress with nature’s best and finest. That wasn’t so not very long ago, when Houston was known for concrete and mud rather than a blooming future. And with the years, its vision is growing ever brighter.

But even if parks aren’t your thing, there are plenty other things to do in Houston

A Primer on a Sober Life in Houston

Sobriety involves not being high – achieving a sober life in Houston is not difficult for most people. However, maintaining it can be a nightmare at first. Staying sober is not easy, but it helps to understand what you’re in for. The first few weeks after a serious addiction can be harrowing, even painful, and emotionally difficult. Mood swings are common and there may be a lot of pain to work through, psychologically.

Often, an addiction piles onto you while it encourages you to use in order to hide the pain – but the problems don’t go away, and the pain stores up until the moment you decide to stop using, when it all comes down on you.

But after that initial hurdle, things begin to rapidly look up. The cravings slowly disperse, and you can focus on building a better sober life in Houston. Being sober does not guarantee that things will be better – but it gives you the chance to make them better.

A city like Houston can help you stay sober by offering plenty of things to do. The number one enemy of early sobriety is boredom – if you are not preoccupied with something, then the addiction is likely to sneak back into the forefront of your mind, and back into your life.

It’s important to find something you can enjoy and dig into it as passionately as possible. As such, the first thing on your list should be finding something interesting to try out.

Next, you need people. Good people. Loneliness can aggravate an addiction – being alone for too long is not healthy, especially if you’re confronting questions about addiction that only people with similar experiences could answer. By attending group meetings, finding other sober people, and spending time with folks who have gone through many of the same experiences as you, you may find new perspectives, point of views, and helpful insights for living a sober life in Houston and overcoming this chapter of your life.

Finally, no matter where you live, having people and places to turn to when you really need help is important. There will be days when you feel like you just are not all there – and sometimes, you may even feel yourself coming dangerously close to using. If these thoughts enter your head and can’t be controlled, it’s good to have a panic button. Someone to call, go to, or a place to stay if you need help.

Finding Something to Do

It wouldn’t be a great city if it didn’t have a lot to do, and there’s no shortage of places to see and things to do in Houston. If you’re looking for something new, try:

  • A completely new craft or hobby. Pick a class or workshop and just dig in. From basket weaving to oil painting and welding, there’s plenty to try out.
  • A trip through history. Houston has no shortage of museums, built as memorials or for children to experience nature in an even more informative and educational way.
  • A journey through cuisines. As a metropolis, Houston has a little bit of everything from around the world’s kitchens. Take in Houston fine dining or enjoy the authentic Texan street food.
  • Something entirely different. From motocross meetups to escape games and popup food stalls, there’s always something going on in Houston.

There’s more, of course. Houston has several zoos, sanctuaries, adventure parks and national parks. Taking in nature is not only a serene way to spend an afternoon, but it can uplift your spirits and heal your mind. If you’re looking for something more contemporary, there are several avant-garde art installations in Houston, plus the famous Mecca of Graffiti at the Mullet. Having fun artistic things like this to go to make living a sober life in Houston easier.

Getting Help

Residential treatment centers, group meetings and sober living houses are just a few ideas of the kinds of places where you can get help quickly and stay for a while. These are often drug-free safe environments where sobriety is valued and protected.

Finding individuals who have been on this kind of a journey and can help you get to a better place can also be beneficial. From sponsors to paid and professional sober companions, there are many people out there capable of helping others get sober, stay sober, and find the kind of life balance they need to cut addiction out of their lives entirely.

Finally, friends and family play a big role to a stable sober life, regardless of where you live. Houston may be a big city with plenty to do in it, but if it doesn’t feel like home, it’ll be hard to feel comfortable here. Having friends around you can make you feel more like you belong, and they can help you find your place in the crowd.

At the end of the day, your journey to a better sober life in Houston will depend on countless factors – but as long as you push through and don’t give up, regardless of how many obstacles you may face, you will make it to a better and sober life.

 

Drug Withdrawal and How to Handle It

Drug Withdrawal

If getting clean was easy, addiction would not exist. Addiction is a disease characterized by compulsive substance use despite clear harmful consequences. Unlike doing something out of bad judgment, malicious intent, or temporary ignorance, a person struggling with addiction struggles to stop when their behavior is becoming painfully self-destructive. This is what makes drug withdrawal so tough to overcome.

Among many reasons, one that stands out as difficult to deal with is drug withdrawal. When the body reaches a certain point of substance use, trying to stop causes you to become physically sick. Your body rejects sobriety, pushing you to start using again to feel better. You are compelled to oblige – or suffer through painful symptoms on your way to getting clean.

For many, this is nothing short of treachery. For others, it is almost like their bodies are telling them it is okay to keep using. Either way, withdrawal symptoms are confusing – because of addiction is so clearly harmful and involves gradually destroying your brain and harming your organs, why does the body insist that you do not stop using?

To tackle that question, it is important to understand addiction and the organ it affects the most.

 

Dependence, Drug Withdrawal and Tolerance

We have defined addiction as a disease of self-destructive behavior, but what triggers it? The answer lies in the brain. When a person introduces a drug into the bloodstream through their preferred method, it makes its way into the brain. There, drugs bind to receptors in the neurons – the brain’s cells – mimicking other neurotransmitters that the brain produces naturally. Then, the drugs take their effects.

Benzodiazepines and alcohol function similarly, for example. These are both depressants, which means they reduce certain nervous activity and brain functionality. The reason alcohol causes cognitive impairment and makes you “drunk” is because of its effects on your motor function, and your language center. In this sense, alcohol is like sedatives and tranquilizers, which were commonly abused in the past.

Cocaine and amphetamines, on the other hand, are stimulants. They drastically drive up the amount of dopamine in your system, making you happy, excited, and motivated. This can come at the cost of straining the heart and other organs.

Opiates are special, in that they combat and block pain – but they also boast incredible addictiveness.

All these drugs have something in common, and that is this “addictiveness”. A drug is made addictive by how the brain reacts to it – when you take an opioid, a shot of vodka, or barbiturates/benzodiazepine, you experience a high that leaves you feeling great, and then crashing. That first use is never enough to cause an addiction, but the taste does drive the brain to crave a second hit. Over time, as the hits accumulate, the experience becomes a compulsive need.

That’s where dependence kicks in. Chemical dependence is when the body needs its drugs to continue functioning, to the point where it will react violently – through painful drug withdrawal symptoms – to the absence of drugs.

Tolerance plays another role, as part of the brain trying to defend itself from the powerful effects of the drugs by adapting to them. Adaptation is the key to survival, and it is the key to our ability to grow, learn, and get stronger. But in the context of addiction, adapting to the effects of a drug means it becomes progressively less effective at the same dosage, requiring a higher dosage to elicit the same response.

Over weeks and months, this drives up a person’s risk of hitting their overdose limit, while pushing them further and further into a place where no other form of stimulation can bring them any joy anymore.

Dependence, withdrawals, and tolerance. First and foremost, drugs attack and alter the brain, and everything else follows.

 

Different Drugs, Different  Drug Withdrawal Sypmtoms

Just as drugs affect the brain in different ways, so do drug withdrawal symptoms differ from drug to drug. While nausea and muscle pain are common symptoms, some withdrawal symptoms are much more severe than others, while some symptoms are more common among certain drugs.

Severity is not necessarily tied to the drug, of course – while withdrawal from depressants is typically more dangerous than  drug withdrawal from stimulants, a heavy addiction to cocaine can still be very difficult and painful to break.

 

Always Seek Medical Assistance

Due to the nature of drug withdrawal symptoms as dangerous side effects of long-term substance use, it is a good idea to seek help at a clinic, rehab center or sober living environment before you attempt to get clean and go through withdrawal.

Having medical professionals nearby could save your life should something go completely wrong.

 

Looking Into the Long-Term

It is impossible to tell what the future might hold, but you can determine where it goes by your own hand and intent. Over time, your recovery will lead you to dark places mentally – times when the urge to use is stronger than it usually is. For many of those times, staying strong can be enough to resist a relapse. But do not try solely to rely on yourself. While recovery is your journey, there is no shame in asking for help – and if you want to get better, you will need all the help you can get.

By involving your family and your friends in your recovery and helping them better understand addiction and the struggle you are going through, you can tap into a support system that allows you to stay clean even when you feel like you do not want to. Discipline can take you far in recovery, but there are times when you need motivation more than discipline, and times when neither work, and you just need someone to hold you and help you heal and cope.

Tackling drug withdrawal, overcoming the ordeal, and coming out the other side determined to stay clean is a strong start. Be sure to take every advantage you can get moving forward, from joining group therapies to living in sober living communities, to working with your therapist and your family to create a better understanding between you all and find the support system you need.

 

 

Sober Living in New York

Sober Living in New York

It’s New York, one of the financial capitals of the globe, and one of the most famous cities in the history of mankind. Aside from being gargantuan in terms of popularity and worldwide renown, New York is also quite the city. Sporting over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, freshwater turtles, 58 wild orchid species, its famous subway tracks, a spot in history for being the United States’ first capital, and a population of over 8.6 million– over double the population of Los Angeles – New York is the most populous city in America, and one of the largest cities in the world by population. Sober living in New York is a challenge beacuse of the vibrant city life that struggles with addiction. 

But New York is much more than facts and numbers. There’s a magic surrounding this city unlike almost any other, drawing to itself countless pioneers, visionaries, refugees, artists and more. A real melting pot of cultures, New York is home to countless cultures across its five boroughs, and there are few places on Earth where one can come across as many different peoples, languages, and cuisines within a single stroll through town than the Big Apple.

For all its wonders, it’s still a city full of faults, and recognizing that is the first step to learning to live in it. As with any big city in America, New York struggles with drug abuse and drug trafficking, and alcoholism, as well as the nationwide fight against opioids. Sober Living in New York, a city filled with so much nightlife and elicit activities can be difficult, especially if you know where to look to have your “fun”. But you already knew that. What you might not know is that there’s a lot to do in New York that doesn’t involve a sip of alcohol or a single pill – in fact, the city is full of ways to enjoy a sober night out or have a day trip without getting “turnt”. If you’re looking to have some sober fun in New York, here’s what you need to know.

It’s the Big Apple for a Reason

With a population of over 8 million, over 24,000 restaurants, nearly 100 museums, dozens of zoos, countless gyms and just as many workshops and classes, there’s never a time of day when you’ll find yourself at a loss of things to do, places to explore, foods to try, or experiences to enjoy.

But first, it’s time for a little pre-game pep talk about being sober, and what that means in relation to addiction recovery. Ultimately, being sober is more than just not drinking – it’s about not drinking for long periods of time. If you’ve struggled with addiction, then quitting is hard not because something keeps you from putting down the glass or the needle, but because you constantly want to pick it up again. You need the strength to keep that hand down – and you do that not just through sheer will, but by giving the mind other things to focus on.

Sober living treatment is about putting you in an environment where you can find out just what those other things might be, without the temptation of addiction luring you back into a darker and much more painful and consequent path.

Sober Living in New York

Addiction is not something you beat overnight – it’s a chronic disease that creeps up on you again and again, and it’s on you to beat it back. Just how easy that might be depends entirely on how much you’re enjoying your sober life, and that depends on how much fun you can have without a drink.

It also depends on your ability to cope under pressure without drugs. Life is not all fun and sunshine, there are many times when you need to get into a stressful position and stay there. Surviving the ordeal without relapsing is one of the greatest challenges of addiction treatment – but thankfully, it does get easier the longer you stay sober. It helps to have friends and family around you who care and want to support you, but don’t forget that this is your journey – and you need your own personalized path out of that dark place, and back into a point in your life where you can feel happy and content with sobriety.

Learning how to have fun without drugs can take a little bit of getting used to, but it helps if you’re coming out of a place of treatment and recovery. Here are just a few ways to enjoy Sober living in New York.

Plenty to See

Well-known for being a top tourist location in the US, New York has quite a lot of sights and sounds – but if you’ve been there for long enough, you’ll know to avoid the obvious tourist traps. Some more remote locations to check out, though, include mesmerizing and beautifully haunting locations like the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital, or preserved locations of genuine New Yorker art like City Hall Station.   

A Lot to Taste

New York is a cultural melting pot, and no where does it show quite as much and quite as often as it does in the selection of restaurants and countless cuisines the Big Apple has to offer. You could go for something as classically New Yorker as hotdogs and pizza, to something more specific, like a good Pho in Little Saigon, or an amazing hearty Bigos from Little Poland.

It’s almost impossible to count exactly how many restaurants NYC has, but there’s no shortage of them, regardless of if you’re looking for a culinary adventure, or just some great comfort food. Sober living in New York is about enjoying life to fullest still and food is major part of that.

Countless Experiences

Life is about learning, and there’s a lot of learning to do in NYC. There are countless classes for you to attend, workshops to sign up for, and seminars to try out. Whether it’s something you’re truly passionate about, like your career or industry, or a sport you’re really into, or just something you’ve never tried before and want to get good at, then no worries, there’s always something going on in New York for you to check out.

It’s all about knowing where to look. There are lots of portals online for singing up for classes, and many of them give you a large overview of what you can try out that week. Eventbrite is a particularly common tool and platform, and it allows you to filter events based on whether they’re seminars, conferences, workshops, or something else entirely.

Another option is just to give Google a go. If there’s something you want to try out specifically – like oil painting – then just give it a search! CourseHorse, TakeLessons, and Yelp are great places to look, and the local news might even have something.

New York is a big place, and there’s more to do than check out classes, local art centers, or hit up food places. The key is to figure out what you’re into – and pursue it with fervor. Having all these experiences to encounter make it easy to for Sober Living in New York.

Early Warning Signs of Addiction

Signs of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Regardless of if you are a parent, a friend, a relative or the person in question themselves, addiction is not necessarily one of the things you would expect to be sneaky. There may be something of a misconception that, most of the time, addictions are obvious. That there are obvious signs of addiction and a way to identify someone struggling with an addiction from the first meeting. Erratic behavior, or certain physical features, or even matters of hygiene.

But the truth is that addiction can hide in a person, to the point that many do not even realize they are struggling with an addiction until it is undeniable. The differences and warning signs of addiction are subtle in the best of times, and harmful yet inconclusive in the worst of times. Only a professional and the person themselves can declare someone an addict – but there are warning signs that, if diligently followed up upon, could reveal something critical.

Before we go into what signs of addiction to look out for when searching for early addiction, it is important not to forget the importance of basic decency and compassion. Nothing destroys the trust between two people like unfair assumptions and quick judgment. And if you truly want to help someone, then trust is imperative.

Do not judge, or assume – just look at the facts, conclude objectively, and pursue an adult conversation. This can be hard to do when emotions run high and entire relationships are at stake, but if you suspect someone else is struggling with an addiction, especially someone you care about, then it is important to stay calm and collected.

 

Drastic Personality Changes

People can change. But people typically do not change massively over the course of a very short period, unless there is a very influential catalyst driving that change. Regardless of what that catalyst may be, if the changes are negative, then it is fair to say that it is not a good catalyst.

For example: severe emotional trauma or excessive stress can push a person to adopt an aggressive, indifferent, or otherwise negative mood as a way of acting out and coping with their struggles. If the person you know is going through rapid mood changes, it could be a sign of stress.

It could also be signs of addiction and drug use. Drugs are psychoactive, which means they affect the brain and the mind, changing the way you think. Not only do the cause damage in the long-term, but short-term drug use can change the way a person behaves even when they are not high.

 

Frequent Lying

Another red flag is lying. People lie when they do not want the truth to be revealed – and if you have a close relationship with this person, then lying about basic things such as where they were recently or what they have been doing indicates that they have been doing something that they know is wrong, and they do not want you to know.

Finding out if someone has been lying, however, is not as easy as knowing that it is bad news. Try and snoop around a little, checking their social media and asking their friends to gather more information is you think you see signs of addiction.

 

Destructive Behavior

Aside from negative behavior and the onset of unhappiness or depression outside of a high, drug addiction also spurs people on to be destructive if it means getting their next fix. They might also lash out in the absence of drugs or become more prone towards risky behavior because of frequent drug use. This can quickly draw heavy consequences, including the loss of a job or terrible academic performance, and fights with others.

Observe the person you are suspecting and consider how their behavior and reaction towards things has changed. Are they impatient? Do old hobbies seem not to interest them anymore? Are they frequently unaccounted for, or unreliable and missing? These signs of addiction could be warning you about their drug habit.

 

Signs Of Addiction Is Not Always Drug Use

While these may be early warning signs of addiction , they are not necessarily indicative of addiction. Instead, they are a sign that something has gone wrong between you and the person you are suspecting, specifically along the lines of communication and trust.

Drug addiction is a terrible thing, but it is not the only cause of bad behavior or dishonesty. People lie and act erratically for many different reasons. Some of them are serious and carry long-term consequences, such as the development of depression. Others, however, may only be temporary, and are the direct result of some sort of external pressure causing your friend, relative or loved one to act out.

If you do not have some plausible evidence of drug use (paraphernalia, catching them in the act or getting confirmation of either from others you can trust), then any sufficiently stressful situation could be the root cause of the issues above instead of the signs of addiction. Either way, these are all signs that someone is struggling to cope with their situation, whatever it may be.

There is only one way to find out, and really make sure that your suspicions are not entirely unfounded.

 

Have an Honest Conversation

Nothing beats a good old conversation. Be honest, open, and come from a place of understanding rather than judgment. Open up to the person you are approaching. Talk to them about how people make mistakes, and about how we are defined not by these mistakes, but by how we react to their consequences and make up for our own fumbles. Being wrong is human, but a person’s own character is revealed by how they handle themselves and the situation.

And most importantly, let them speak. Try and understand their meaning. If something other than an addiction is causing this, it is still a vital issue that must be addressed and dealt with – perhaps they have been subconsciously crying for help. Teens especially need a lot of support growing up, as they have a lot of things to figure out.

But if it is addiction, then the most important question is whether the person wants to get better. It is unimportant how you feel about the situation – an addiction cannot be beaten unless the person being addicted sincerely wants to stop. The only thing you can do is make them see why they might want to and help guide them back to the path of sober living.

 

How to Keep Your Resolution to Kick Addiction

Resolution To Kick Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

For many, the New Year can be more of a reminder of old resolutions than a time for new ones. While the idea of new year’s resolutions can be put to effective use, many people take things a few steps too far and come across the problem of planning to bite off more than they can chew. There is a way to make your resolutions truly stick – and it can help completely change your fight against addiction, and help you follow your resolution to kick addiction.

When we write down resolutions that are vague, lofty, or completely unrealistic, we simply set ourselves up for failure. And when the year ends and a new one begins, the failure to do all the things you planned to do can crush your motivation to repeat what might feel like a pointless exercise.

Making your new year’s resolutions stick is a matter of taking a few steps to ensure that they’re more than platitudes, but real plans to change some part of your life within realistic parameters. We’re not meant to reinvent ourselves every year, and it’s rare to see someone completely change their life over the course of a few months – but you can take steps to become someone better, and make real progress with a resolution to kick addiction.

 

Make A Written Resolution To Kick Addiction

Any successful endeavor starts small, and in the case of a resolution to kick addiction, it all begins with something as simple as committing to your decision to go clean, and defeat your addiction.

It’s important that your resolution to kick addiction becomes your main goal, and not just staying sober. Sobriety is easy to break. And for many, suffering relapses early in the recovery journey is part of the process to reaching a stable, long-term abstinence, and finally kicking the habit. If you’re going to hinge your success on never relapsing, you make things harder for yourself.

On the other hand, the spirit is much tougher and stronger. If you commit to fighting your addiction for as long as it’ll take for you to be completely in control again, then you never get an excuse to give up, and let the addiction win.

Write down a succinct, concrete resolution to kick addiction, and post it somewhere you see it every single day.

 

Get A Support Group

Support can come from many places, and in many forms. You could seek the help of your family, coming clean on past mistakes and announcing your commitment to quitting – while needing help with it. You could look towards your friends, and ask them to stand by your side when times get tough, and keep you disciplined, motivated and on the right track. Or you could find new friends, and make new connections, through the Internet and by visiting local support groups and treatment centers.

When it comes to things like a resolution to kick addiction, anybody on a mission of their own needs all the help they can get. While it’s true that addiction is something everyone must confront and overcome themselves, having people in your corner can make a massive difference.

 

Set Other Goals

The key to fulfilling your new year’s resolution to kick addiction, is by picking up other habits. It can be hard to find a concrete goalpost in addiction recovery, unless you’re specifically counting the weeks and months – and even then, when you pour your effort simply towards reaching a certain date, what happens afterwards? Figuring out a healthy way to reward yourself and track your progress during addiction recovery can be incredibly hard, since the reward pathway in the brain is what addiction targets and warps.

However, there is a way to get around this and properly take advantage of the new year: set other manageable goals. Challenge yourself to go to the gym more often, and not just arbitrarily, but following a certain regimen. Either aim to lose a low amount of weight within a certain time period, or try and learn to do something you once could do, but now struggle with. Alternatively, pick a skill and learn or refine it, especially if it’s something you put off or have had trouble with for the longest time. The payoff for the effort itself will be a reward, and with other goals, you’ll find time flying past you much quicker.

 

Tackle The Year Change By Change

One mistake many people make is tacking too many resolutions onto their year all at once – and then trying to blast through them all. The key to really sticking to your plan is by sticking to your plan, and that starts with having a good one.

Even focusing on just two goals at a time can be a bad idea, depending on how much time and energy your goals will take. Instead, focus on changing one aspect of your life, and reaching one goal, before getting to the next.

If part of your overarching plan to defeat your addiction includes making new friends and learning new hobbies, then it can be simple enough to combine the two resolutions. If, however, your first goal is to learn conversational Spanish, and your second goal is to lose excess weight, then splitting your effort can greatly diminish your returns over time. Focus all your energy on one major, difficult goal, then move onto the next.

 

Relapse Isn’t Failure

Relapse is defined as any time when someone who is quitting an addiction uses again, even if only once. For some, this is unacceptable – and the shame and guilt that a relapse can potentially bring them is sometimes enough to create a cycle of more negativity and a stronger addiction.

Overcoming an addiction can only be done through positivity. While there are many reasons people struggle with addiction, it ultimately becomes the most potent coping mechanism a person has access to. With negative emotions, the attachment to drastic coping mechanisms like drug use becomes stronger. But by focusing on the bright side, by developing your discipline not through self-punishment and self-loathing but through finding reasons to enjoy a sober life, and continuously return to and long for a life without addiction, you’ll be guaranteed to stop relapses from occurring with time.

Simply put: if you beat yourself up too much about your losses, you’ll never see them as opportunities to learn how to win.

 

The Long-Term Effects of Addiction

Effects Of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Not everyone gets addicted – but those that do typically have few ways of knowing what their chances are. Addiction is not just a matter of going down a slippery slope of a few too many drinks after a particularly bad breakup – some addictions are genetically or environmentally-predisposed, and there are cases where people recreationally take drugs for months and simply stop out of their own volition, and eventually the effects of addiction will catch up to them.

Every addiction develops uniquely – some people struggle because their brain develops an addiction much more rapidly, while other people have a tough time feeling the effects of a drug the way others do. The factors affecting addiction are numerous – socioeconomic status, genetics and social/environmental richness all have evidence of influencing a person’s addiction in one way or another.

Addiction is not just a matter of responsibility or choice – that is far too simple. It’s a combination of environmental factors and individual factors. Your attitude towards life, your upbringing, your mental state, your genes, your lifestyle, your emotions and behaviors at the time of usage – all these things, when combined with the quality and quantity of the specific drugs used, the stimuli involved when using, and the possible reasons for your drug use affect the way the brain reacts.

But one thing is for sure – if you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction for months or even years, then you’re sure to leave a lasting impression on your brain and your body. But to understand the long-term effects of staying addicted, we must understand the short-term first.

 

Effects Of Addiction The Brain

Any psychoactive drug does a similar thing – it enters the bloodstream, reaches the brain, and affects the way your brain cells communicate with one another, effectively changing the way your body functions, affecting your mood and behavior, and even changing what you see temporarily.

The effects of addiction to a drug depends on the amount that was taken, and the method in which it was taken. The effects of addiction to different drugs can be different based on type as well. Hallucinogens such as psilocybin mushrooms send the chemical psilocin through the bloodstream and the blood-brain barrier into the brain itself, where its chemical structure replaces serotonin and attaches to its receptors, causing a “trip”.

Heroin, on the other hand, stimulates the release of different neurotransmitters related to pleasure, greatly dulling pain and producing a general feeling of euphoria. Other drugs have different effects of addiction; for example, alcohol is a depressant and blocks certain functions of the brain, inhibiting perception, hearing, vision and movement. Amphetamines and methamphetamine invoke the body’s fight or flight response, and induce pleasure. Nicotine greatly reduces stress through dopamine, but is highly addictive.

Drugs are typically ingested orally (the slowest possible method), through the lungs, or injected straight into the veins. Whatever method is used, the drug eventually makes it into the brain.

In the short-term, these drugs all have their individual effects, all of which relate to the way your brain perceives pleasure, and all of which deeply link to the reward system our brain uses to help us learn and develop habits for survival. In the short-term, it’s easy to see how we can develop a taste for these substances – the stimulating effects of addiction to cocaine and methamphetamine can seem amazing for boosting performance and suppressing appetite, while opiates can help block out most forms of acute pain. However, in the long-term, their effects of addiction are disastrous.

 

How Your Brain Reacts To Long-Term Drug Use

Sooner or later, constant drug use leads to the development of an addiction. However, aside from the effects of addiction itself, most addictive drugs cause long-term damage to the brain, specifically affecting your ability to recall and remember, diminishing cognitive capabilities such as decision-making and problem solving, affecting critical thinking skills, and cutting into your reaction times and reflexes.

In short, long-term drug uses slowly but surely deteriorates your ability to think and react normally. Research shows that some drugs have a more deleterious effect than others, with certain drugs like cocaine and meth leaving very long-lasting impressions of brain damage. Diminished decision-making through drug use also leads to increasingly risky behavior, causing some people to ignore any long-term or short-term consequences when seeking a high, even going so far as to commit crimes to get the next fix.

Aside from these signs of brain damage, long-term drug use is also highly associated with mental illness, typically due to the negative emotional consequences and mood changes that become a part and parcel of daily or regular drug use. Depression, anxiety and paranoia can all develop as part of an addiction, further feeding the emotional need to use and diminishing the effectiveness of certain approaches to treatment without a more comprehensive therapy plan.

 

Drugs And The Body

The effects of addiction may primarily affect the brain, but its effects on the nervous system are also coupled with havoc wreaked throughout the body. Different substances have different consequences.

Stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine greatly increase your heart rate and stress the heart muscle, leading to an elevated risk of cardiovascular failure, strokes (due to brain damage) and, in a related fashion, respiratory issues. Crack cocaine, crystal meth and long-term cigarette use all cause major damage to the lungs, including an increased risk of lung cancer.

The liver is at risk of failing not just through copious amounts of alcohol, but through opioid misuse as well. Painkillers and booze alike can cause a pickled liver and shut down the most significant toxin filter in your body. Your kidneys are at risk when stimulates and opioids are used, and alcoholism coupled with constant dehydration can also put extreme stress on the human kidney.

Cocaine and meth decrease appetite and lead to extreme weight loss, and suppress your body’s ability to fend off diseases and fight infections, leading to sores, open wounds that have trouble healing, and an increased risk of injection-transmitted diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

 

Achieving Sobriety

Drug addiction has terrible consequences, both mentally and physically. Anyone struggling with getting off drugs for months and years knows how hard it can be – and that no one chooses to enslave themselves to drugs.

However, treatment is not impossible. There exist many options nowadays for individuals looking to get better, from sober housing and communities to different forms of therapy, rehab, and more.

 

5 Things You Should Look for In A Recovery Community

Recovery Community | Transcend Recovery Community

A community approach towards addiction treatment is successful because it pits together many individual and unique experiences and journeys, teaching valuable and important lessons to those on the path towards recovery, such as the fact that they are never alone, and that there are many challenges they have not had to face, that others have overcome and grown past. Being in a recovery community for recovery can help people see their journey differently, with different perspectives all around.

Everyone experiences addiction in their own way, and processes it in their own way – while it’s rare for someone in a recovery community to find someone else in the exact same boat, listening to others speak about their experiences can help give the sort of perspective necessary for recovery to intensify.

That is why it is vital to choose the right recovery community when looking for a place for yourself or your loved one to improve and get better in a lasting way.

 

A Varied Approach

First and foremost, any legitimate addiction recovery institution should recognize that addiction is a varied disease – and it requires a varied approach. There is no one-size-fits-all program that all people in recovery should adapt to – that is a flawed way of thinking, and one that can alienate people and lead them to believe that there is no hope for them simply because they do not mesh well with a single approach.

Some people do brilliantly under the twelve-step program, for example. Others struggle immensely with it, and cannot grasp the concept of a higher power for themselves. Some even feel oppressed under the philosophy. Giving people room to explore diverse ways to heal can help them find a way that truly works best for them – and in a community environment, they can expose themselves to a much larger array of concepts and many ways of thinking.

Often, recovering from addiction means making more than a few drastic changes in life, and this can be quite jarring. It may mean discovering a newfound form of spirituality in life, or even a new religion. Or it may have nothing to do with that form of healing, and instead revolves around forming new relationships with people, and finding pleasure in simple things such as travel and trekking.

Variety is the spice of life – and in addiction recovery, it’s vital towards a successful recipe.

 

People You Like

The second thing to watch out for is a community and spirit you enjoy being in. If you feel like the atmosphere of your community is not one in which you feel comfortable, then you won’t get very far in your endeavors towards lasting recovery.

Some say that addiction is all about a lack of connection – that some people, especially those struggling with drugs on an emotional level, are lacking a sense of belonging and feel lost and lonely among their usual friends and family. Healing that by bringing you together with people you can relate to and bond with can help mend that fracture and eliminate the emotional sway that drugs hold over you, replacing it with new friendships.

People matter to us in general, even if you don’t care to admit to it. We’re social creatures, and we need people in our lives – from parents to lovers, friends to acquaintances, and even just strangers to pass by daily. One big step in recovery is feeling comfortable among people you care about, bringing yourself to feel secure and confident enough to accept that you are someone others can care about as well.

 

Things to Do In A Recovery Community

Nothing ruins recovery quite as much as getting bored – in all seriousness, one way to stem the urge to relapse is by keeping yourself busy. Making a schedule, trying out new things, experiencing new sensations, exploring new aspects of living – a hallmark of a good community experience is one where there are many things to do.

Community events, group support meetings, projects, therapy sessions, outdoor activities and more – if your recovery community centers its philosophy around replacing addiction with life and all its real, living joys, then you’ll not only find a way to lasting recovery: you’ll have fun doing so. And fun is important, especially when fighting against addiction or any other mental illness.

 

Goal-Oriented Recovery

Sometimes, giving life structure is exactly what we need to get out of a rut and into a good state in life. Addiction can easily throw life out of balance and put us on a chaotic and out-of-control track towards total wreckage – from broken relationships to career damage and a spiral of self-destruction. It’s not easy to get back from all of that without falling off the horse a few times – and aside from the massive emotional support that a community can give you, structure from living within a recovery community can also help you develop the necessary discipline to continue staying sober after your initial recovery period is over.

Yes, addiction is a chronic issue – but it gets easier to manage with time, and with the right tools. Goals, scheduling, and structure – these tools are immensely important early on and have carry-over later in recovery as well.

 

An Agreeable Philosophy

A good recovery community needs to be one where you can feel comfortable, one with people you can feel close to, one with many things to do and with the structure necessary to help you regain control over your life – but most importantly, you must find a community that operates on a philosophy that you can agree with. It’s important to have all sorts of different people around you with different opinions and points of view – but there should be some common ground, and in a recovery community, that common ground needs to be the recovery philosophy.

Every place has its own philosophy, its own pursuit of truth and a reason for its founding. Some places are driven solely by profit – other places are extensions of a founder’s firsthand experiences, shaped by them. While there is nothing wrong with operating a business efficiently and for the sake of profit, making something only for it to make money takes all the soul out of the equation.

Instead, find a sober housing program that seems truly genuine to you, one where you feel that the staff and organizers understand addiction and see you not as just another customer, or just a number on a spreadsheet, but as a person with individual needs and a purpose within the community. When you have found a place like that and begin to call it home, then your journey towards lasting sobriety will be much easier.

Four Benefits Of Being Sober

Being sober is the gateway that frees you to live a better life without drugs or alcohol. When you become sober, you are no longer stuck in the harmful cycle of addiction. The past is in the past, and now you can embrace the present with each new day.

Sobriety is not about increasing your willpower. Studies have shown that willpower begins to run low fairly quickly in most people. So instead of willing yourself to avoid the bad, when you focus on the good — specifically the benefits of your sobriety — you naturally move in a positive direction. As you get sober, here are four specific benefits to consider.

  1. You will feel better and live longer – As you move forward in your sobriety, you will continue to feel and look better physically. Your attitude will improve, and you will feel mentally healthy too. When your body no longer depends on drugs or alcohol to feel normal, it’s amazing how different you begin to feel.
  2. You can try new things – Sobriety enables you to fully engage in your life — trying new things and pursuing activities you put aside when you were intoxicated. With a completely new perspective, you will be able to appreciate each moment and either revisit past hobbies or find new a new one. Suddenly, you will have much more time on your hands because you are not under the influence.
  3. You can help others – Your sobriety can actually help and encourage others who struggle with addiction. A study by Maria Pagano found that recovering alcoholics who help others reduce their alcohol use have increased consideration for others and attend more meetings.1 Just sharing your own recovery story can help save lives!
  4. You can enjoy being fully present – Instead of drifting through life in pursuit of the next high, sobriety enables you to be fully present with the people in your life. You have the time and freedom to invest in relationships you ignored while under the influence.

As you grow in sobriety, it is important to pay close attention to how you feel. Sober traits are grown in your brain when you install sober states. If you don’t register your positive states — taking the dozen seconds or so to help them sink in — they make little or no difference to your brain. Then there’s no learning, no improvement in neural structure or function and thus no lasting benefit.2

“Today, life is all around me. I am able to conquer my fears sober, and I am able to dream sober. I am able to do what needs to be done, and I feel proud that I no longer have to rely on a substance anymore. I look at sobriety like an adventure I’ve never taken before.”

– Daphne, Heroes in Recovery

If you struggle with addiction, you’re always at a turning point. Sobriety requires change – and this change in your life is absolutely worth it. At Transcend Recovery Community, we are here to help. Please contact us at the number above, and we would love to support you on your path to sobriety.

  1. Struggling to Hold Onto Your Sobriety? Try Helping Someone Else.” Psych Central.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.
  2. Hanson, Rick. “Enjoy Sobriety.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 17 July 217.

 

Coping With Insomnia In Recovery

Coping With Insomnia In Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

In 2013 alone, nearly 9 million Americans reported regularly using sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest. The body needs sleep, and it will force it onto you if need be – but there are many situations wherein, out of one reason or another, that sleep simply refuses to come. Insomnia is the dangerous condition of sleeplessness, caused by emotional trauma and depression, pain, stress, and addiction. When someone suffers from insomnia, they have trouble sleeping when they should – which leads to irritability, a constant state of drowsiness and an incapability to function on a normal daily basis.

Understanding insomnia – and understanding sleep in general – is impossible without first understanding how and why your addiction recovery can cause severe restlessness.

What Is Sleep?

We are not entirely sure what sleep is, even after decades of research. However, we do know the basics: sleep is a condition wherein consciousness is suspended, the nervous system takes a break, and many important metabolic processes take place. In a way, sleep is a daily “refresh” button that takes several hours to fully run its course. Sleep is more important for growth early on in life, to the point where children are expected to have at least 10 hours of sleep a day in earlier years. Adults, on the other hand, seem to typically function best with anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of daily sleep, with individual variance.

These extended periods of sleep are made up of several cycles of distinct stages, from light sleep to REM sleep, segments of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement. It’s during this stage of deep sleep that infants and children develop the most, due to how it stimulates the brain regions used for learning. Research also shows that REM sleep is the most important stage of sleep for protein production, and thus muscle growth. A cycle takes about 90 minutes, and we drift in and out of these sleep cycles all throughout an average 7-9 hour sleeping schedule.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

We don’t know why – but we can guess. Most guesses estimate that there are functions the body and brain can’t complete during consciousness, due to how much energy and processing power consciousness takes. Sleep is a chance for the body and the mind to rest and hit a soft reset button. Sleep is typically controlled by your adenosine receptors, which cause drowsiness over the course of the day and are “flushed” over the course of sleep. Caffeine blocks these receptors, thus blocking drowsiness and preventing sleep.

Sleep can either be scheduled as a daily reoccurrence, or in segments throughout the day. Some cultures work into the night, rise with the sun and take naps – shorter instances of sleep – several times throughout the day. Hunter-gatherer societies slept when they could, and it’s believed that we evolved to sleep in the night simply because we’re just not very good at seeing much at night, and sleep might just be the most efficient thing to do at that time.

In other societies, like Japan, napping during the day is a normal part of a work life – it signals that you’re exhausted from hard work and that you practice a devout dedication to your career.

Regardless of how you sleep, it’s unanimously agreed upon that daily sleep is important. The body and mind both undergo several crucial metabolic processes during sleep – and not sleeping causes your body to begin inadvertently drifting in and out of consciousness. This is what makes insomnia, the inability to sleep normally, so dangerous.

Not only do you become irritable, sluggish and are trapped in a state of tiredness, but eventually, insomnia will cause you to drift into microsleep, unintended periods of unconsciousness lasting just a few seconds to a few minutes, at any given point in time. This narcoleptic symptom can manifest in the worst of times, such as on the road.

Overcoming Insomnia

Insomnia occurs when you’re incapable of sleeping, and there are many reasons for this. The biggest is stress. Emotional or physical stress will keep your mind too busy and too distressed to relax, and relaxing is the most important part of getting a good night’s rest. While depression and oversleeping are often tied together, anxiety and addiction are often conflated with insomnia.

Overcoming insomnia can be done chemically, but it’s not recommended. To truly get to the root of the issue, you must consult a professional and figure out what’s going on in your mind. Addiction can often mask the symptoms of insomnia due to addicts using their substance as a sleeping aid – scheduling their use to force a crash, or using depressants to knock themselves out. Without those substances, many recovering addicts will discover that they have trouble relaxing and enjoying a good deep sleep. In early recovery, this is normal, and something that might simply be treated with a temporary use of sleeping aids. But if it persists, it may be a sign of a deeper emotional issue.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Addiction is a disease that affects you in mind and body – it carries with it symptoms and comorbidities that affect the way you think, feel, behave, and function. In turn, to successfully overcome an addiction, you must tend to both the mind and the body. One can’t be healthy without the other, and in recovery, working on your mental health means working on your physical health as well.

It all ties in together – good sleep, healthy food and fewer vices will improve your ability to think, to reason, and even to tackle things like depression and anxiety. A balanced diet and regular exercise can change the way your brain functions, bringing balance to your moodiness and even reversing the damaging effects of certain drugs like methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, a healthy body can’t hide a troubled mind. If you’re still at unrest about something – if you catch yourself overthinking, worrying needlessly, getting anxious and panicking over unlikely scenarios, or waking up and having days of doubt and a total lack of feeling, then reach out. Talk to somebody. Find a friend to confide in, tell a therapist about your feelings, and seek out ways to discover what it is that bothers you, and why. Mental health issues are often the symptoms of repressed memories, thoughts and complexes that originated at some unfortunate point in our lives.

In other cases, people are born with it, and therapy exists to help them figure out how best to cope with it without breaking down under the pressures of mental illness.

When you start down the road to combat addiction and remain sober, you’re opening yourself up to a journey of self-discovery, and ultimately, a transformation. Not everyone’s addiction is a symptom of something else, but often enough, an addiction can deeply affect your overall mental health anyways. Getting sober again means confronting every effect the addiction has had on you, while coming to a good conclusion. It means forgiving yourself for past failures and mistakes, and believing in your own ability to stay sober, and live a meaningful life.