Why Family Support Is Important in Recovery

Family Support is Crucial in Addiction Recovery - TRC

If your family member or other loved one is going into recovery for a substance addiction, you might wonder exactly what your role should be. Although this journey is something that your relative has to go through on his or her own, family support is an integral part of the process.

You might not be sure how to act or react to various ways that your recovering loved one, but one thing that is for certain is that you can play a role in supporting your family member as he or she tries to recover from the addiction.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic

It’s likely that your relative has gotten pretty close to “hitting bottom” in various aspects of his or her life.

Often, this is the reason why those struggling with an addiction choose to seek help. Whether it’s a brush with the law, the loss of a job or a relationship, or some other major upheaval, a traumatic experience or loss is often the catalyst for change when it comes to addiction.

While going through the recovery process is going to be a huge and positive step for your family member, it’s not going to fix everything. Recovering from an addiction does not make the prior troubles go away. If your loved one is on probation or has lost his or her driver’s license, job, or spouse, going through recovery is not going to make that go away.

Also, the parts of your relative’s personality that might have made an addiction more likely are still going to be there. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on your family member; he or she will still be the same person they were before, and they will need to deal with the same problems they were before.

The main difference will be that they’ll be doing so without the help of the substance or substances that they were addicted to.

Your Loved One’s New Lifestyle Requires Family Support

There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to recovery. When your family member is in the intensive part of treatment, you might not be able to have any contact with him or her.

Accept and support this. In many cases, it’s not your relative’s choice, and even if it is, limited or no contact is something that he or she thinks will help.

Once your loved one is out of that phase of recovery, there will be a lot of things that they won’t want to do or won’t be able to do. For example, it could be an act of caring to not serve alcohol at your Christmas party this year so your family member won’t have to worry about avoiding it.

This won’t go on forever, but it will be important family support for their new lifestyle for some time after he or she returns home.

family support

Show Support for the Process of Recovery (Even If They Don’t)

There will be a lot of things about the recovery process that your relative might not like.

For example, he or she might get angry at the counselors at the rehabilitation center. They might get upset with their parole officer, or they might get sick of attending group therapy or support group meetings. They might even get tired of being sober and might be tempted to relapse (or they might actually relapse).

All of these feelings and thoughts are normal. There will be times when your relative does not agree with one stage or another of the recovery process. And that’s okay!

As his or her loved one, however, the best thing you can do is encourage your family member to stick with it. You know how far he or she has come, even if they can’t see it right now.

It might mean offering to drive your relative to appointments. It also might mean answering a phone call in the middle of the night if your relative is feeling tempted to relapse. And it might mean driving them back to rehab if there is a relapse.

Encourage your family member to stick to the course, if you can. It can really make a big difference, both now and in the future.

Get Support for Yourself

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your family member’s addiction and recovery process, that is a normal way to feel. It is stressful to be close to somebody who is going through a difficult time.

You might also be struggling with anger, guilt, sadness, and a host of other emotions. Don’t hesitate to get help for yourself during this time. You could join a support group for the family members of addicts, or you might prefer to seek individualized counseling.

Keep in mind that you cannot provide family support for a relative if you’re not taking care of your own basic needs. You have undoubtedly heard the oxygen-mask-on-an-airplane analogy. Make sure that you are eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and dealing with your own stress.

Remember that your family member’s problems, while they might affect you, are not your problems to deal with. Take a break when you need to, and ask another friend or relative to step in.

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Remember Who Your Loved One Is

During the most difficult days of the recovery process, it can be hard to remember who your loved one was before the addiction took over. Look back on the times you spent together and the great things that your relative has accomplished.

Also, look ahead to the future and what type of man or woman your family member is likely to be, once he or she has been sober for six months, a year, five years, or five decades. When you are struggling, remind yourself and your loved one about these images and thoughts.

If you are supporting a family member through the recovery process, good for you! You are doing something vital and kind for your loved one. Talk to the other members of your family about the importance of family support, and encourage them to also help out. The more support a person struggling with addiction has, the less likely he or she may be to relapse.

Also, you can all support one another. Don’t be afraid to seek help where you need it as you help your family member through this journey.

The Next Steps After Treatment

The Next Steps After Treatment - Transcend Recovery Community

Treatment programs do not last forever. You have spent a certain amount of time surrounded by like-minded people, learning hard lessons about yourself and tools to help you in the future. Your confidence and strength is at an all time high and you have a plan in place. You can do this.

Then the big day comes – the front doors open and you are finally free to move through life on your own, making wiser choices than you did before. You step out and realize you are all alone, figuratively speaking.

Transitioning from being an addict to being in recovery is scary. And it is a lifelong transition. And the life you previously had known is not going to be life you have today.

This means that your life must change. It is not enough to just abstain from the substance – you must not even want it!

You must make changes in your life that will fill the void that the drug was once attempting to fill. You have been armed with skills and you know how to use them – you just need to keep moving forward to avoid slipping backward.

Old habits die hard, they say, and boy were they not joking.

Find Friends and Build Broken Relationships

Everyone will tell you to find sober friends. Yes, that is extremely important. But finding sober friends isn’t enough.

There are plenty of people in the world who are sober and miserable, looking to bring those around them down, too. Fresh out of treatment, negativity is a big no-no and something to avoid.

Instead, search for positive, sober, and supportive friends. You may already have some or you may have to find new ones. Maybe you left behind when you turned down your path to addiction.

Either way, find them – you need them. Let them show you that there are ways to get through life while feeling fulfilled, without turning to a substance. And make sure you are honest with them so they can be the support you need. They may not fully understand your struggles, but they can still be there for you.

Recognize those individuals who are bad influences or those who are enablers. Look for them and disassociate yourself with them.

While we are on the subject of friends, it is also important to mend broken relationships.

You likely, at some point, have broken trust or wronged a close friend or family member. You may not have meant to, but were caught up in your addiction. Now is your time to correct those mistakes. Reach out to the hurt loved ones and slowly start to seek forgiveness and rebuild trust.

This will take time or it may not even work at all. But, it is worth a try.

Find New Interests

Idle minds and idle hands lead to nothing good. In fact, for someone in recovery, boredom can be extremely dangerous.

After treatment, you are going to want to seek something to keep you focused on your goals. Whether it is a new hobby, a new sport, or any new interest, a positive focus for your time leaves no time for anything else.

Brainstorm with your likes and dislikes and see what you can come up with. Think about the things that you used to like to do or enjoyed before you were gripped with addiction. Find something that will give your life a positive meaning and purpose.

If you are stuck, here are a few ideas to get your mind churning:

  • Exercise: Not only is exercise healthy for your body, it is also healthy for your mind. This is a great habit to pick up after treatment.
  • Writing: Holding feelings and thoughts in is never a good thing. Writing can be an outlet for you, as well as give you a chance to share your story and your struggles with others.
  • Arts: Photography, painting, sculpting, drawing, craft projects, knitting.
  • Volunteering: Helping others can make you feel wonderful. What better way to fill your time? Whether you prefer the elderly, animals, the sick, children, the homeless – many, many people could use your help. You have the power to make a difference.

Secure a Support System

Let’s face it – you need a support system.

You need to make sure that when find yourself at a speed bump or a complete road block that you have someone to turn to. Having a sponsor who knows and understands what you are facing is an excellent idea.

Having that friend who is brutally honest, full of empowerment, and loving support can make the difference between staying clean and relapsing.

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Seek Therapy

Once you complete your treatment program, make sure you seek therapy. Even if it is just once per week, every other week, or once each month – it can still make a difference.

Therapists can help you with goal setting and help with ways to attain those goals. They can also help you work through various emotions, feelings and behaviors. With the high percentage of dual diagnosis situations, it also gives therapists a chance to make sure there is no underlying disorder that could hinder recovery attempts.

And, let’s not forget that therapists can also be part of your much-needed support system.

Know the Signs of a Relapse and Have a Plan

A relapse can occur at any time after treatment. In fact, 40-60% of people will relapse at least once after treatment is completed. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, the biggest triggers for a relapse are stress, exposure to drugs, and people, places, things and moods that act as cues or reminders of one’s drug use.

Know what your triggers are and understand your feelings and responses. Have a support group or person on standby at all times in case you feel yourself falling.

Finishing treatment is not the end of the road – contrary to popular belief, the buck does not stop there. You will forever be in recovery and you must, therefore, always be prepared to encounter anything that comes your way.

If you stay busy, surround yourself with positivity and good support, as well as be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can grow and go far. You can do it.

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.



Finding A Purpose In Sober Life

Finding A Purpose In Sober Life | Transcend Recovery Community

No one can argue against the idea that sobriety is challenging for an addict. Struggling with addiction is more than a matter of choice or will – rather, it’s a medical issue, and sobriety involves an arduous and grueling rehabilitation and recovery period after treating the disease and transitioning to sober life.

To be sober means not to drink or use drugs – you can be sober for a day, or a lifetime. But when someone talks about sobriety, they usually refer to the commitment of continuing a sober life.

This abstinence isn’t just challenging because of the difficulties of early recovery, though, or because of the craving that drug addiction often leaves you with for weeks and months after treatment.


The Biggest Challenges Of Sober Life

Sobriety’s greatest challenge is the transition from relying on drugs to deal with life, to dealing with sober life. Addiction has several different meanings, but there are two overarching definitions: physical dependence, and psychological dependence. Either qualifies as addiction without further specification, but most of the time, people refer to physical dependence when discussing addiction as a disease.

In either case, struggling with drug use often means finding yourself in a position in life where things are doing downhill, and drugs become an effective coping mechanism for shutting out the pain and anger. Yet when drugs go away, the problems only become more apparent – and the only way out is through.

Getting past the initial few weeks of abstinence while dealing with the stacked consequences of addiction is what makes early recovery so difficult. The pressure to stay clean on top of a list of growing responsibilities can be overwhelming, and without proper support, it can be very difficult not to relapse.

But even with sober living support, making sober life better than your old life ever was is the key to staying clean. So how do you achieve that? How can you live a sober life more enjoyable and better than any high on earth? You do that by finding your purpose – and using it to stay on track, no matter how bad things might get. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But there are a few tips that might help you figure out what you need to do to continue your abstinence and overcome your fear of relapsing.


You Need A Goal

Everybody needs goals in life. Achievable, relatively short-term goals, and lofty life-time goals. These goals must be something you’re passionate about, hungry for, and willing to fight for. It might be a personal career goal, a sports goal, or an academic goal. It might be something you’re only a few weeks away from, or something that you’re planning to build towards for a decade.

Whatever goals you might have, sobriety gives you the chance to pursue them – and in pursuing them, you can guarantee your focus on living a sober life.

If you don’t have goals, then creating them might be a bit of a challenge at first. Begin with a form of self-improvement for which you have the time and resources. Something simple, like relearning an instrument you use and playing a single simple song, reading one book per week, or something similar. Whatever it ends up being, make sure it’s something you think you can achieve within a month – then make sure you achieve it.


What Drives You?

This is a question everyone must ask themselves at some point – and if they don’t know the answer, then their priority must be finding out what it might be. Life is unbelievably varied and complicated, and every individual has their own lot in it. You may never be able to see ahead into your own future, but you can decide what direction to steer towards. That’s why discovering your passion is important.

Some people grow up finding and dedicating themselves to their passion. They have their own stories about how they fell in love with a sport, a profession, or a goal, and they spend decades honing their skills, shedding blood, sweat, and tears to do the best they can, for the sake of knowing that they did it.

Yet most people do not find their passions so easily. Many only realize what they really want to do in life much later, past their youth. If you don’t know what your purpose or passion might be, then there’s only one way to find out.


Just Do More

Addiction robs us of time, money, and relationships. It can make people incredibly lonely and leave them struggling to stay happy. Yet with treatment, support, forgiveness, and therapy, you can get back on your feet and find the time in your life to dedicate yourself to living a better one.

Taking the time to try new things is imperative when your goal is to be happy with yourself. You may never know what your passion is until you discover it. So, take classes, visit new and strange places, learn new things, and be open for unexpected opportunities and fortunate happenstance.

Whether luck exists is something that cannot be quantified. But it is undoubtedly true that any given day is filled to the brim with opportunities that may change the way you live your life. You must keep your eyes open to catch them as they pass by, and never let go once you’ve found the right one.


Fueling Sobriety Through Passion

Setting a goal and reaching it is incredibly satisfying – it requires hard work and determination and has a powerful emotional and at times physical payoff. This is important for life in general, but it’s critical for sobriety. Addiction takes things from people, often including their pride and dignity. Most recovering addicts regret the choices they’ve made and the things they’ve done while addicted and feel ashamed or embarrassed. They may have strained their relationships with others, or they may have messed up with once-a-lifetime chances.

Getting out of that mental hole is important, because such negative thinking is conducive towards relapse and further problems. Yet to foster positive thinking, people need a win. Setting a goal and achieving it will give you the push you need to feel like you can go further, do more, and stay true to yourself. It will improve your self-esteem and your will to continue living a sober life, for the sake of the future.

The Harmful Repercussions Of Addiction

Repercussions Of Addiction | transcend Recovery Community

There is no doubt that addiction is a terrible beast – but it is not clear to many just how terrible it is, or how dreadful repercussions of addiction can be. While almost any addiction can be treated with the right treatment and the strength and patience to see the recovery journey through to the end, not every addiction can be fully reversed. Certain repercussions can last decades, or an entire lifetime.

It is always important to remind people that the goal is not to return to how things were, but to learn from the addiction, and use it to grow as a person. That being said, there will always be wounds  and repercussions of addiction to remind you of what has changed since the addiction, and here are some of them:


Addiction And Its Short-Term Consequences

The line between addiction and voluntary use is blurred because the transition happens so quickly and sneakily. People make mistakes, and for some, one of those mistakes includes taking an addictive drug to cope with another issue in life, or because of the pressure from others, or as a form of experimentation and rebellion.

For the unlucky few, once that reason to use passes, another lingers. An unstoppable craving, a constant desire for another hit. Addiction comes suddenly, making itself known only when you realize how hard you have to resist, only to succumb anyway.

The repercussions are immediate. For many, they begin as emotions, such as regret and shame. Despite the fact’s cruelty, being an addict is a mark against a person’s character in society, and that stigma is difficult to live with.

On top of this, short-term drug use very quickly begins to have an effect on a person’s brain, beginning with a susceptibility to more drug use, and evolving into damage to the person’s brain tissue, attacking their ability to reason, assess threats and risks, and make rational problem-solving decisions. With time, the repercussions of addiction can grow to become even more problematic.


Repercussions Of Addiction On The Body

The physical consequences of addiction vary greatly depending on the drug, the amount taken, and the duration of the addiction. For example, a survived overdose on a drug like heroin which greatly affects a person’s respiration can lead to brain damage and paralysis due to oxygen deprivation.

While most drugs can cause brain damage, especially with high use, some drugs lead to the deterioration of organs faster than others. Alcohol, for example, is poisonous to the body and takes a heavy toll on the liver to effectively filter and remove from the blood stream. This can cause severe damage down the road and can also affect he kidneys. Stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, on the other hand, increase the risk of stroke and heart failure, putting a strain on the heart.


Repercussions Of Addiction On The Mind

The repercussions of addiction on the mind are undeniable – on top of short-term mood and personality changes, as well as general changes in behavior and risk-assessment based on the deterioration of certain parts of the brain, the mental health of a person struggling with addiction is often endangered. Since addiction is tied to risk-taking, one may worsen the other.

Addiction ties together with symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as paranoia. In severe cases of addiction, certain drugs (including alcohol) can cause memory loss, further complicating things.


Repercussions Of Addiction On Relationships

Many people who struggle with addiction will struggle immensely to keep a relationship going, simply because an addiction entails prioritizing your own cravings over everything and everyone else, including your partner. This means losing the ability to put one another first and becoming a troublesome person to be with.

Some partners stick around, and if the love is genuine and strong, it can be a powerful pillar of support and an important part of the recovery process. Others stay but only long enough to make their leaving so much more painful and devastating to recovery. And many leave entirely, because they cannot live with the behavior of their partner.


Repercussions Of Addiction On Your Future

Aside from social, physical, and mental issues, addiction still comes with a heavy price in society. Being addicted is difficult to recover from, but it also puts a label on you that can be difficult to shake in many cases.

In the worst of cases, an addiction can land you in jail for certain criminal behavior. An addiction can muddy a person’s reputation and haunt them for years.


Repercussions Of Addiction On Happiness

Speaking from a strictly chemical point of view, nothing produces as much concentrated happiness within a few seconds as a drug. Drugs are designed through careful manufacturing to produce a powerful high, and there is a reason they are so addictive and alluring.

But this happiness does not last. The human body recognizes inauthenticity when confronted with it, and over time, the unnaturally powerful high becomes negated. The body sees many drugs as a form of poison and resists their effects to return to a state of normalcy.

Yet as a side effect, this tolerance builds up a thick hide against any form of satisfaction in general, leaving you miserable or unfeeling if not under the influence of a powerful drug. And as time passes, that drug needs to be even more powerful to recreate that first high.

Sobriety means living a clear life, one where you can enjoy life to its fullest, with the entire spectrum of human emotion. Loss, regret, joy and more – there is so much to life, and it is in your power to live a positive and happy life. But addiction will render you numb to all that so long as you struggle with the affliction, which is why it is so important to shake it off.

Addiction, as a consequence of artificial happiness, can rob you of the opportunity to experience real happiness. Getting that feeling back takes time. With time, you can heal enough to rediscover the joys in life – but the road to getting there is filled with hardships. This is why many fail to stay sober – the incentives are distant, and the journey is long for most. But it is undoubtedly worth it, as the alternative means dying due to addiction.


What Is The Most Critical Time Of Recovery?

Recovery From Addiction | transcend Recovery Community

Depending on your definition of recovery, it is a process that can last years, or a journey that lasts decades. One way or another, recovery is a very long period – but it can generally be cut into distinct phases, described largely by similar symptoms and issues that many people phase when in that “stage” of their recovery.

Given that sort of distinction, it makes sense that there are harder days and easier days – times when recovery is incredibly difficult, and times when it’s easy. Making the distinction, however, isn’t quite as easy as pinpointing to a specific stage and staying “this is the absolute most critical time for everybody”.

Recovery has its ups and downs, but just like everyone struggles with various parts of addiction, with different realities and circumstances and problems, so does everyone struggle differently throughout their journey. Some have an easy time getting into sobriety – but a tough time living with it for years. Others struggle immensely in the beginning, then find their peace, and never look back.

We’ll make a case for each stage, and then help you figure out how to deal with difficulties when they arise, regardless of what stage is most critical and difficult to you.


Making A Case For The Beginning

For some, there might be nothing harder and more important than starting recovery. Getting over the pain and emotional turmoil of withdrawal, only to fight those extreme cravings and urges, adapt to a whole new life, and tackle some very problematic and troubling emotions all without your most powerful coping mechanism.

All in all, the beginning of recovery can be an extreme rollercoaster, and it sets many people back into addiction through a continuous cycle of withdrawal and relapse. Some consider the beginning to be that hurdle in the ride, a big hill you must cumbersomely hike up before finally gaining momentum, running down the slope.

It’s true that early recovery comes with its own set of unique challenges. For one, it can be very hard to deal with emotions right at the beginning. The brain is also typically not used to sobriety, which can cause painful side effects in the form of nausea, headaches, and more. Sometimes, this withdrawal period can be dangerous enough that it requires emergency medical attention – it’s best to undergo withdrawal in a professional and medical setting, to avoid any complications and possible long-term damage caused.

Beyond that, early recovery will be the first time in a while that you might be confronted by painful emotions without a clear out, or a quick way to light up and fight against the stress, forcing you to learn all-new ways to deal with these emotions.


Making A Case For Post-Rehab

To some, the early phase of recovery is mostly stemmed by the fact that they spent that time in a dedicated residential treatment program, away from the temptations of addiction, and surrounded by features that are helpful to promoting recovery.

So, when all that ends, and you’re out of rehab, perhaps the biggest shock will be figuring out even more about what it means to live in sobriety, and deal with many of life’s biggest challenges – from unexpected loss and grief, to much more minor nuisances and issues.

For that, post-rehab might be the most critical stage for many, as it is the stage when you’re thrown into the chilly waters and expected to swim quickly and with much enthusiasm. You need to learn how to live, work, and study without the addiction, keeping it at bay while working with strange and difficult stressors. If you don’t have nerves of absolute steel or an alternative, post-rehab treatment plan such as living in a recovery community, there is much reason for it to be the hardest time of the three.


Making A Case For The Future

Recovery is clear-cut in the beginning – but as the years drag on, all it might take is one genuine issue to send you back to the beginning of your journey. The fear of this happening is quite real for many patients who struggle with addiction.

Things do get easier, but this anxiety can jeopardize your ability to deal with life’s challenges, as you might be afraid that one will push you over the edge.

In the end, what is most important is figuring out which time is most critical to you – and why.


You’re Not Alone In Recovery

Perhaps the most critical time is not necessarily the beginning, middle or far future – it’s the time you’re the loneliest. Loneliness feeds the feelings that drive addiction far more than anything else, and when you have no one, that’s when it’s hardest to look forward and feel hopeful for your future. It’s also when it’s the hardest to work your way out of where you are, and into a better life.

As selfish as we might feel sometimes, we can’t do much without others – we even rely on others to motivate us, and give us purpose in life.

Many people define themselves through others – artists live to create their art, but they also live to see what kind of an impact their expression has on their contemporaries, and they dream to see into the future and wonder how they would be received then.

Parents look to their children as a reason to keep pushing through every single day, no matter how tough, just to create a better future.

Young couples look to each other for strength and love, and ambitious leaders dream of how their achievements would shape their legacy and be remembered.

Without our peers, it’s difficult to be motivated, driven, or filled with purpose. But when we’re surrounded by friends and reminded that we’re worth something as human beings, it drives us to live up to the expectations of others and seek something better for ourselves – working through the most difficult of days, just to enjoy those precious beautiful memories we all have with our loved ones.

If you’re feeling lonely, please remember that you’re not alone. There are thousands of Americans out there who struggle just like you do, and many of them are online looking for help. Reach out, find new people, and you would be surprised at who you might meet, and what friendships might be waiting for you.


Why Should You Get Clean For The Holidays?

get clean for the holidays | Transcend Recovery

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

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

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

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


Get Clean For The Holidays: A Time For Family

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

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


A Good Time For Good Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Holiday Spirit Of Gratitude

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

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

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


A Time For New Commitments

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


Being Thankful For Recovery This Season

Thankful For Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

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


In The Spirit Of The Season

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

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

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

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

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

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


Why Gratitude And Thankfulness Make A Difference

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

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

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

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


How Your Way Of Thinking Can Affect Recovery

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

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

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


In Short: Be Happier & Thankful for Recovery

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

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

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


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

Medical Detox | Transcend recovery Community

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


Natural Detox

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

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

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


Step-Down Detox

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

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


Rapid Medical Detox

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

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

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


Staying Clean

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

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


Counseling and Therapy

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


Drug Treatment Programs

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

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


Peer Support During Medical Detox

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


Physical Health And Nutrition

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



Sobriety & Spirituality With Duran Duran’s John Taylor

Sobriety and Spirituality with Duran Duran's John Taylor | Transcend Recovery Community

John Taylor of the band, Duran Duran, says that “he never really enjoyed the taste of beer.” In fact, when he was growing up, most of his friends couldn’t wait to start drinking. But Taylor really become involved with alcohol when he was older and frequenting the night clubs with his band.

Taylor is the co-founder of Duran Duran, a pop band popular throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s. The group was formed in 1973 by Taylor who played the bass and Nick Rhodes who played the keyboard. Later, John Taylor joined them to play the drums, Andy Taylor played guitar, and Simon Le Bon was the lead singer.

Taylor shares in an interview with The Fix that alcohol didn’t always really do it for him. Although it was always a part of the nightlife, it wasn’t until he started doing cocaine that he found the energy to keep going all night. Initially, Taylor just though that his drinking and drug using was all a part of “being cool” and staying social. But little by little his habit with cocaine became more and more out of hand.

Although Taylor’s dreams of success were coming true, he admits:

“I started putting the cocaine before the gig. It became the juice that kept me going, and it made me a lot less consistent than I would have been, a lot more erratic.”

Over time, Taylor recognized that he needed to be a better musician and a better father. He wanted to become a better person. He slowly began to work on healing from drug use and drinking, starting with therapy. But Taylor says that although therapy helped, he needed more. At first, though, Taylor became dependent on therapy, arranging sessions in both LA and London, as he traveled back and forth. Finally, someone said to him that he needed to go to 12-step meetings. Taylor didn’t go right away, but he eventually went into a 30-day rehab program. And he’s remained sober ever since.

Today, Taylor describes his recovery as trying to remain responsible in his adult life. He explains that there is frequently a battle between the little boy in him who always wants to get away with things and the adult who needs to take responsibility for his actions. Taylor has become more and more responsible and mature because of the supports in his life and learning how to be more emotionally sober. He explains that his spirituality has helped him with that.

Taylor describes that having a Higher Power has helped him in his recent adult years. With help from a sponsor and other sober friends along the way, Taylor has found a way to be comfortable with spirituality, prayer, and moving at a slower pace. Taylor doesn’t have to have things “Now!” Instead, he knows he can slowly work toward the things he wants, without feeling manic like he used to.

Like most celebrity musicians, Taylor experienced the high of fame, fortune, and success which came at a cost – addiction and self-harm. But with the help of therapists, drug rehab, and 12-step meetings, he turned his life of fame into one of sobriety.