25 Dec 2014
You’ve been through rehab and counseling for your addiction. You went through the terrible symptoms of acute withdrawal during detox when you thought you would never get relief. You are in recovery now, attending support group meetings and trying to carry on with your life. You were sure that by this point in your sobriety you would be feeling better, like a whole new person.
Unfortunately, you feel terrible. You could be going through protracted withdrawal, the persistence of withdrawal symptoms after they should have cleared. Instead of giving in to the urge to use in order to find relief, work through these symptoms and stay sober.
What you experience during detox is acute withdrawal. Your body reacts to the elimination of the drug or alcohol and leaves you with intense cravings and other awful symptoms. Many addicts give in during this phase, especially if they have no support to get through it. Once you have completed detox, you probably thought those feelings and symptoms were over. If they persist at a lower intensity, you could be experiencing protracted withdrawal.
Symptoms Of Protracted Withdrawal
Symptoms of this condition have been seen with opioids, methamphetamine, marijuana, benzodiazepines and cocaine and include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory difficulties
- Loss of sex drive
- Unexplained physical pains
How an addict experiences protracted withdrawal is unique, but these are some of the possible symptoms that have been recorded. You may be feeling any of these or just feeling generally bad and down.
Tips On How To Cope With Protracted Withdrawal
Talk To Your Doctor
If you still aren’t feeling well long after detox, talk to your doctor and any other health professionals with whom you are working. Your doctor can go over your symptoms and eliminate any other possible health problems that could be causing your symptoms. If your health team determines that you are going through protracted withdrawal, there are things you can do to speed up your healing process and help you get through the struggle without giving in to a relapse.
Understand It Will Not Last Forever
First and foremost, understand that it will not last forever. It may seem like it now, but protracted withdrawal will ultimately end. To assure yourself of this, read up on the subject and talk to your doctor and therapist about your concerns. If any of your symptoms are related to mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, seek professional help. Work with your therapist or a new specialist to target these particular problems. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe medications to help. It may seem counterintuitive for an addict, but there are new developments in drugs that can help opioid and alcohol addicts in particular.
Partake In Healthy Habits
Train yourself to engage in healthy habits. Being healthy will help you feel better even as your withdrawal symptoms persist. Anything you can do to improve your physical health will help. This means getting enough sleep every night, eating a nutritious and complete diet and getting plenty of regular exercise. Social support is helpful too, so enlist a buddy to make positive health changes with you or at least to exercise with you.
Continue Addiction Treatment And Be Patient
Finally, be sure to continue with your addiction treatment. Even if you completed a lengthy stay in rehab, you know that addiction requires follow up and regular care. Go to support group meetings and continue with regular therapy sessions. Remember to be patient. You are going through a difficult time, and you probably expected to feel better by now. You will feel better. Put in the work, stay healthy and continue your treatment.
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01 Dec 2014
Getting treatment for drug addiction is the only way to heal from this terrible disease. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse, treatment guided by caring professionals is essential.
It is also important to understand that the disease of addiction is chronic. Like other chronic diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes for instance, addiction needs continuous treatment over a lifetime. You can never be cured of your addiction, but you can learn to manage it.
If you are thinking of going to rehab, know that the time you spend there will set you on your path to lifelong sobriety. It is important to spend enough time during this initial phase of treatment learning how to live a sober life.
Whatever you do, don’t skimp on your time spent in a good and caring rehab facility. Research shows that the best outcomes result from at least 90 days spent in residential or intensive outpatient care.
Why You Should Consider A Long Stint In Rehab
Here are several reasons you should consider a long stint in a good rehab in order to heal:
- Get past detox – Detox, that time when drugs leave your system and you get beyond withdrawal, can last longer than you think. Detox is important, but by the time it’s done, you may find you have limited time to work on actual treatment if your stay in rehab is only 30 days. Going through detox is hard, but it isn’t the part of rehab that helps you learn to be sober.
- Learn new habits –Your addiction is a habit. Your brain has learned a habit of regular drug use. In order to change those habits and learn new ones, you need time. You are going to rehab to learn how to have an entirely new lifestyle. You must take your time on this or your new healthy habits will not take root.
- Heal your brain – Your drug use has caused actual changes in your brain. It is possible to reverse those changes, but it takes time. Research has shown that in brain scans of patients receiving treatment, positive changes are still occurring up to three months after starting treatment.
- Work on relationships – The main goal of rehab is to heal and to overcome your addiction, but there are many other things to work on if you have the time. Your addiction has probably wrecked several of your relationships, for instance. If you spend enough time in rehab, you can work on repairing those.
- Treat mental disorders – Many people who struggle with addiction are also battling mental illness, whether they know it or not. Spending enough time in rehab will give your treatment professionals a chance to diagnose and treat any co-occurring disorders. When you recognize and treat mental illness you have a better chance at being successful at sobriety and living a more enjoyable life.
- Step down treatment – If you can afford the time to do so, your rehab should be followed by a step down in care. This means going from residential rehab to a sober living house or to intensive outpatient care. Doing so allows you to begin to practice your new habits and skills while still having the support and treatment of caring professionals. Going cold turkey from rehab to real life can be a shock and may lead to relapse.
Long-Term Rehab For Life-Long Sobriety
Rehab is an important step toward becoming sober and you should not skimp on it. If you are able to take the time away from work and family, spend as much time in rehab and step down treatments as necessary to help you be successful in your new, sober lifestyle.
Discover How To Choose The Right Drug Rehab For Yourself Or Your Loved One!
Many of us have long known that time spent in the great outdoors is restorative and healing. Studies are now proving that there are powerful mental, emotional and physical health benefits to spending time outside and being immersed in nature.
If you are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, add outdoor time to your to-do list. Camping, hiking or even just a stroll in a city park will do amazing things for you and, when you feel better, you strengthen your sobriety.
The Benefits Of Being In Nature For Recovery
Our modern lives tend to keep us indoors more than ever before. With technology, many of us stay in to play video games, read on our e-readers, surf the net and connect with people on social media rather than face-to-face. The unintended consequence is that many of us spend little time outdoors.
Make a change and get outside more often. Doing so will give you numerous health benefits. It will help you stay sober as you find new meaning and satisfaction in your life.
Being outdoors means being more active. When you are more active you will be physically healthier. You will be stronger and may even lose weight. When you feel better you will be less likely to give in to urges to relapse. Perhaps even more important to your long-term sobriety are the mental health benefits of the great outdoors. Research has found that walking outside regularly can reduce the severity of depression. Being in nature also reduces feelings of stress, anger and anxiety; it drops blood pressure and helps improve memory and focus.
How To Add More Nature To Your Life
Spending more time in nature could be as simple as sitting outside in your backyard in the evening or going for a walk around your neighborhood instead of watching television. Here are some other easy ways you can get back to nature:
- Go for a walk – Going for a walk will give you the dual benefits of being in nature and getting exercise. If you can, find a place to walk that is as removed from human development as possible. A state or national park is a good choice, but if you can’t get to one, a city park works. Even just a walk around your neighborhood can be helpful.
- Start a backyard garden – Work on your yard or garden to get back to nature. Just weeding a flowerbed in the yard can be restorative, but you can aim bigger too. Try starting a vegetable garden. It will require regular maintenance and will get you outside often. As an added bonus, you’ll have plenty of fresh, organic produce.
- Enjoy the view – Research suggests that just looking at a nice, peaceful and natural view can be enough to give you positive health benefits. If you are not in a position to exercise or go for a walk, find a nice park bench with a pretty view and take it in.
- Take kids to the park – If you have kids, turn of their devices and take them out to play. This will benefit both you and the kids. You will all reap the rewards of spending time outside, getting exercise and, best of all, spending quality time together.
Nature is a powerful force for good and too many of us have become disconnected from it. As a recovering addict you stand to benefit immensely from spending time in the great outdoors. Replace a few of your TV shows or some of your smartphone time with a trip outside. You won’t regret it.
Learn More About Interesting And Unique Types Of Alternative Drug Treatment Programs!
06 Nov 2014
One of the most important factors for a recovering alcoholic in staying sober is the support of friends and family. Developing a strong support network of caring people is crucial to helping a recovering alcoholic. Even when she feels strong in recovery, know that there will be moments of weakness. These are the times when she should be able to lean on you and other supportive friends. With that in mind, understand how important your role is and be sensitive to your friend’s needs. Think before you speak and avoid saying something that will hurt her feelings or her recovery.
Be Careful To Not Say These Things To A Recovering Alcoholic
You’re Not Really An Alcoholic
Nothing could be more insensitive than belittling your friend’s struggles. Whether or not your friend describes herself an alcoholic is not up to you to decide. Even if you were along for the ride, you have no idea what her battle is really like. Only she can know that. Also understand that alcoholics in recovery are still alcoholics. The disease of addiction is one that is lifelong. Your friend will always struggle to resist the urge to drink. Don’t downplay that struggle.
I Feel So Bad For You That You Can Never Drink Again
Pity is the last thing a recovering alcoholic needs. She also doesn’t need to be reminded of the fact that she can’t drink anymore, possibly ever. What she does need is your support in being sober. This doesn’t mean you can’t drink anymore. It does mean that you can play up the other great things you can do in life without drinking. Instead of feeling sorry for her, get her to join you for non-drinking activities. Work out together. Hang out in coffee shops. Become volunteers together for a cause that is important to both of you. Help her embrace a sober life and see how great it can be without alcohol.
You Just Need More Willpower
Nothing is more offensive to a recovering addict than a discussion of willpower. If you don’t understand the disease of addiction, read up on it. Being addicted is about much, much more than simple willpower. Addiction is not a failing in your friend; it is a medical condition. She required treatment and support to stop drinking. Willpower alone cannot help any addict. Thinking that it can is an insult to your friend and her struggles.
Let’s Meet At That Bar We Used To Like
Your friend in recovery may be strong and firm in her sobriety, but you should never assume that she is OK with meeting up in a bar. It is especially insensitive to suggest a bar in which she used to drink. Addicts need to avoid triggers in order to resist the urge to relapse. She may be comfortable being around alcohol, or even other people who are drinking, but let her bring up that fact. Never make that assumption for her. She may go along just to prove her strong sobriety, but it could end up being a mistake. Instead, suggest that you hang out at home, at a café or coffee shop, a park or anywhere else but a bar.
Being a friend to a recovering alcoholic is not always easy. Some days it may feel like walking through a minefield. If you are sensitive to your friend and her needs and you think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth, you can be the good, supportive friend that she really needs.
Support group membership can be an important part of your recovery from addiction. Experts agree that there are several important elements to effective treatment for addiction. One of those elements must address the social needs of the addict. You can and should go through individual counseling and other types of treatment, but you also need social support. A support group is a great way to get that aspect of treatment.
Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Support Group
When you join a support group, make sure you make the most of the experience.
1. Finding A Support Group
The first important step in having a positive support group experience is finding the right one for you. Don’t be afraid to try a few meetings with different groups to choose the one you like best. There is no rule that says you have to commit to a group after attending just one meeting. Contact community centers, religious organizations, your local library and the local newspaper to find available support groups. You can also speak to your doctor or search online for available groups.
2. Participating In A Support Group
Once you have found a group you like and in which you feel comfortable, start attending meetings regularly. You won’t get much support if you only go to meetings sporadically. You need to develop a rapport with your fellow members, get to know them and let them get to know you, even if it is anonymous. Participating is important too. It’s ok to just listen at first. You may not feel comfortable speaking up right away, but push yourself to start participating after a few meetings. You will get the most benefit from your group when you start to talk and share.
3. Be Honest And Open
An important reason for anonymity in support groups is that it helps everyone to feel better about opening up and sharing. You will get the most out of your experience if you don’t hold back. When it’s time to tell your story, be open, tell the truth and share as much about your experience as you can. Speaking out loud about what you have been through is a powerful tool for healing. The experience of being supported and comforted by those around you is restorative.
4. Work With A Sponsor
Support groups offer more than just a crowd to hear your stories and to which you can listen. They also offer the possibility of developing a meaningful relationship with a sponsor. Working with someone who has been in your position and who has more sober years than you is a wonderful tool for your own sobriety. This relationship can be long term and can be something you turn to in your times of need.
5. Get Involved
A support group is also a great way to get involved in something positive. Replacing your old, bad habits with new activities that have a positive impact on your life is an important step toward long-term sobriety. Get involved in organizing meetings and other events. Volunteer your time and talents to making the group more successful. When you’re ready, volunteer to be a sponsor and help someone else who desperately needs it.
Support groups are powerful instruments for lasting change, but only when you immerse yourself in the experience. Sporadic attendance and weak participation will only take you so far. To really get the most out of a support group you need to attend regularly, get involved, work with a sponsor and open up to your fellow members while also listening to their stories.
I Think I Feel Better … How to Know If Your Therapy Is ‘Working’
09 Oct 2014
Peer pressure is a powerful force. The need to conform to the crowd and go along with what seems normal is a natural part of being human. We know it from experience and we know it from scientific research.
If you have worked hard to get through rehab, get sober and are determined to stay sober, you have to make important life changes. One of those changes is getting rid of old friends.
In fact, having a strong support group is crucial to your recovery. But, if any one of your old friends is still using or doesn’t fully support your sobriety, it’s time to say goodbye.
Reasons To Cut Old Friends Out Of Your Life After Rehab
Here are the best reasons to make the difficult choice to cut old friends out of your life:
- Old friends will try to tempt you with false memories of happier times. The truth is that while you were using, your life was in the toilet. Some of your old friends, however, will try to convince you that life was better then, that you had more fun and were fun to be around. The reality is that these friends don’t want to live in the toilet alone. They want someone to justify and validate their lifestyles. Don’t listen. They are wrong and you are better off sober.
- Putting yourself in high-risk situations will cause you to relapse. It just makes good sense, but research has also proven this fact. Recovering addicts are far more likely to relapse if put into risky situations. These include being around people who are using drugs or alcohol. Facts don’t lie. If you surround yourself by people who use, you are more likely to use as well and to undo all the hard work you put into your recovery.
- Your old friends do not have your best interests at heart. If you have an old friend who is still using, his daily motivations for nearly everything he does revolve around his addiction. Every choice he makes, and how he interacts with people, is related to his need to drink or use drugs. This means that, even if he sounds like he is supporting you and cares about you, your well-being is low on his list of priorities.
- Poor support will cause you to relapse. Another finding from research about addiction and relapse is that support is crucial to staying sober. One of the leading factors in people who go back to using after treatment is a poor support system. Friends from your past do not constitute a strong support system. You need people who truly care about you and your health and well-being. These are friends and family members who are sober enough to care.
Recovering From Addiction? Put Yourself First
Overcoming addiction is a huge challenge. By getting help, going through rehab and working to avoid a relapse, you have already put in a huge portion of the work. Now you just need to live your life as a sober person and resist those nagging urges to use again. They will lessen with time, but there are few things more detrimental to your resistance than old friends.
If you abused drugs or drank too much with someone in the past, those habits will be even more difficult to resist when you are around him. If these friends really do care about you they will understand that you can’t be around them.
Put yourself first, stick with your sober support group and learn to make new friends. You won’t regret it in the long run.
29 Sep 2014
It may sound too simple, and nothing can replace a good addiction treatment program, but engaging in new activities and hobbies can be a powerful way to help overcome addiction. To truly get sober and into successful recovery from your addiction, you need high-quality care from experienced professionals, support from friends and loved ones, and hard work on your part. But there are also tools and resources to help support your recovery and these can make all the difference. Consider getting involved in a new activity to aid your sobriety.
Recovering from addiction means facing a long-term battle with urges to use again. No matter how far you get in your sobriety, there will always be a little voice telling you to turn back to substances. It may not be there every day, but it will be there at your low points and when you feel your worst. There are many professional and useful suggestions for how to resist these urges: know your triggers and avoid them, cut ties with old friends, lean on sober friends, keep up with therapy and stay healthy. These are great ideas, but add one more: get involved with new activities.
Hobbies For Recovery
Hobby is a quaint and old-fashioned word, but it refers to doing something, anything, that is meaningful to you. It could be something you used to do, but lost sight of during your substance abuse period. Or it could be something entirely new, something you always wanted to try, but never got around to doing.
As an addict you turned to drugs or alcohol as a source of meaning in your life. Maybe it filled a void you always felt you had. Maybe it helped you to suppress trauma that has been chasing you since childhood. Maybe you were lonely and being high or drunk helped you forget that fact. Meaningful activities can play the same role, but in a healthy and beneficial way. They bring meaning to your life and help you connect with others. When you have something to which you devote your time and energy, you leave less room for the drugs and alcohol of your past.
To get involved in a new activity means you need to figure out what you want to do. Reflect before you get started and think about the kinds of things that have always interested you. Is it music? Art? Working with animals? Helping others? Tap into what moves you and then start trying things. You may need to try a few new hobbies or activities before you find the one, but there’s nothing wrong with that. You might even make some new friends along the way. Look to your community’s ongoing education programs, a local community college, your church or volunteer organizations to find the activities you want to try and then dive in.
Beware Of Substitute Addictions
As you begin your new adventure in sobriety, be aware of the possibility of a substitute addiction. As an addict you have a natural tendency to go overboard and become obsessive. Watch yourself for signs that you are getting addicted to your new activity. Be aware of how much time you spend on it and if you are neglecting other responsibilities. Your new hobbies should help you, not become a substitute for drugs and alcohol.
As long as you have the support and professional care you need for your addiction, adding a hobby or new activity can only help you. The meaning and fulfillment you find could be just what you need to help you down the path to long-term sobriety.
24 Sep 2014
Being an alcoholic means living with a lifelong disease. If you have gone through rehab or any other form of treatment and are now in recovery you have taken huge steps to get back control of your life and to treat your disease. Remember that addiction is chronic and that you need to treat it for the rest of your life. This means that it will always be a health concern for you. No matter how long you have been sober, a relapse is always possible.
With something so big going on in your life, it doesn’t make sense to keep it a secret from your friends and family members. So how do you come out and tell people? It will be scary at first, but know that your loved ones will support you.
Steps To Come Out And Tell People You’re A Recovering Alcoholic
Start slowly and take this advice:
- Start With A Support Group – The people who will be most sympathetic to your alcoholism are those who also struggle with the disease of addiction. Joining a support group is a great tool for maintaining your sobriety and a useful way to practice talking about your addiction and recovery. The members of your support group will be supportive. No one there will reject you or ridicule you. Tell your story here and you will start to feel more comfortable opening up to others.
- Tell Your Sober Loved Ones Next – The sad fact is that the friends with whom you used to drink may not support your new sobriety. They may take your admission of alcoholism as an accusation that they too have a problem. This comes from a defensive standpoint and denial on their parts, but for you it can feel hurtful and devastating. You can confront these friends eventually, but start with your sober loved ones. They are more likely to be loving and supportive of the changes you’ve made in your life.
- Arm Yourself With Information – When you talk to your loved ones about being in recovery, be prepared to educate them about the disease of alcoholism. Most people still have no idea what addiction really is, that it is an illness. Talk to them about your personal experiences and why you felt you had to stop drinking, but also about alcoholism in general. Help them to understand the disease and they will be better able to support you.
- Tell Your Friends And Family What You Need – It is also important that you provide your loved ones with details about what you need from them. It may be confusing for them. If you need them not to drink around you, make that clear. If you can’t meet up in a bar, make sure they know that. They will want to help, but will need to know how.
- Be Patient And Give Your Loved Ones Space – In spite of your best efforts, some of your loved ones may not take the news well. Be prepared to give them space if needed. The bad reaction will probably be due to shock. Provide them with resources about alcoholism and give them time and space. They will come back to you when they’re ready.
Telling people that you are an alcoholic in recovery is never easy. It is important, though, because your disease is a part of who you are. When you take the time to educate the ones you love and tell them what you need for support, you may be surprised at just how much support you receive.
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