Supporting a Loved One During Recovery

Navigating the recovery process can be difficult for both the person undergoing recovery and their loved ones. Recovery can present new physical challenges as well as emotional hurdles. Often, the recovery process is also a period of repairing damage caused during an extended period of addiction.

Repairing and rebuilding relationships, along with forming new bonds, is an integral aspect of addiction recovery. It is important to understand that recovery is not a “one-size fits all” process, but rather a journey that is as unique as every individual that undertakes it. Because of this, the following tips are a general effort to provide guidance that may or may not apply to your specific situation.

Communication is key

Having strong communication skills is an important foundation to any healthy relationship. This is particularly true when your loved one is going through the recovery process. Maintaining open and honest channels of communication is an important way to support your loved one and strengthen the bond between you.

Open communication helps your loved one feel safe enough to share where they are in their recovery process. It also allows them to be vulnerable when discussing potential difficulties or setbacks they may be experiencing during recovery. Communication can help your loved one recognize negative patterns or emotions that crop up during recovery.

Recognizing these patterns or emotions can help them seek out alternative means of dealing with emotions, and guide them towards forming healthier lifestyle routines. Both of these are critical to ensuring the success of any recovery program.

Be open to supporting the addict in your life

Many people who are currently going through recovery have faced addiction in the past. Sometimes those coping with an addiction have failed to completely recover or made promises they have failed to keep or could not keep in the first place. Rebuilding trust after addiction is perhaps the most challenging aspect of helping an addict during recovery.

However, it is important to remember, in order for the addict in your life to have the greatest chance of success in their recovery, it is necessary that they have unwavering support from loved ones. Being mindful of past failures is acceptable, but also be open to treating this effort to recovery as a new experience.

This can be a difficult undertaking for you and can test the bonds of your love. However, being mindful of the previous tip: maintaining open and honest communication can help you to navigate this process.

Build a support system for yourself

As the saying goes: no one is an island. No one person can hope to be the sole supporter of someone in recovery. Often, supporting an alcoholic or drug addict in recovery can be taxing. In order to give them the best support possible, you must also be sure that you have your own support system in place.

Friends, other loved ones, and relatives can all help give you the support you need to cope with loving an addict. Having a person or multiple people in your life that you can lean on for support during difficult times can give you the strength you need to see your loved one go through the recovery process. Your support system can also give you guidance, and even teach you how to help an addict throughout recovery.

Learn about the recovery process

There are many paths to long-term recovery. Spend some time to learn about the recovery process, and the specific path your loved one is taking to break the cycle of addiction. Being knowledgeable about the process will help you feel in the loop as your loved one progresses through their recovery. It will also give you a base of knowledge from which you can discuss recovery.

The recovery process is difficult – being knowledgeable about the process will convey to your loved one that you understand what they are going through. Being knowledgeable about the recovery process also enables you to spot potential setbacks or pitfalls as your loved one goes through recovery.

Knowledge about the path to recovery will both allow you to recognize if your loved one is returning to old patterns, while also giving you the foresight to guide your loved one to making beneficial and helpful life choices.

Actively engaging in the recovery process of your loved one along with the aforementioned tips provides the best benefit. There is perhaps no better way to support your loved one on their path to recovery. Engagement with the process is also the most effective way to determine how successful the recovery is going, and improve the odds of success for your loved one.

Having an engaged, informed, and communicative loved one can be a valuable asset of support and strength for the addict in your life. Learning about the recovery process, including speaking to professionals and staff in the recovery program your loved one is enrolled in, will empower you to stay informed, while also giving you a foundation of knowledge.

Having this foundation can open new avenues of communication, and will demonstrate to your loved one that you understand what they are going through. Engagement with the recovery process demonstrates to the addict in your life that you care about their future and invested in their success. At the same time, it is important for you to ensure that you are taking care of yourself.

Building up a strong support system can alleviate some of the stress and emotional fatigue that can arise through supporting an addict in recovery. Having others to rely on for support will allow you to be more available for support and guidance for the addict in your life. Helping an addict in recovery can be a balancing act, but with the right tools, knowledge, and mindset, it can be an uplifting and positive experience.

If you or someone you love needs advice or guidance to help an addict, call 888-481-4481 to speak to a medical professional at Casa Palmera.

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Rebuilding a Relationship After Addiction

One of the most devastating and lasting effects of addiction can be on the relationships with loved ones and those close to an addict. Spouses and family members, in particular, can experience the alienation and loss of trust that often results from addiction and its accompanying behaviors.

Sometimes, the damage that an addiction has brought on a relationship can seem irreparable, to both the addict and those close to them. Nevertheless, navigating the process of rebuilding and repairing relationships after addiction is a cornerstone of any successful recovery program.

In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges that addicts and their loved ones will face when working to rebuild a healthy relationship in recovery and present some tips that we hope will prove helpful to those undertaking this journey.

 

Rebuilding Will Take Time

In today’s digital age, we as a society are more prone than ever to desire instant gratification. However, rebuilding a relationship after addiction takes time. For some, this process can take years.   Whether someone you love is an addict in recovery, or you yourself are going through recovery and seeking to repair damage caused by your addiction, you must be prepared to be patient. This can be difficult for many to cope with, particularly early on in the recovery process.

Many loved ones, or former addicts, want their relationships to return to a state of normalcy after an addiction. It can present a new source of stress if this does not happen immediately. Repairing the damage caused by addiction is going to be difficult or even painful at times. It is important to remember that the period of rebuilding is a process of reforming old bonds, and forging new, stronger bonds. This period of growth is essential to cultivating long-lasting, loving, and meaningful relationships.

Trust

Rebuilding trust is the most difficult and time-consuming part of recovering from addiction for many relationships. For the addict seeking to rebuild trust with those they love, they must demonstrate over time that they are trustworthy and this requires them to be vulnerable. Even when their loved one or significant other does not validate that belief, they must continue to show that they are worthy of trust.

Demonstrating that you are trustworthy is a process of showing that no matter how big or small the issue, the person you love can once again count on you to follow through. For former addicts, this process, while difficult, can be beneficial in multiple respects.

First, it helps to show your loved one that they can again rely on you or believe you when you say something. Secondly, it proves to yourself that you are worthy of their trust. This can be a validating and powerful way for you to further experience loving yourself once more.

For those that are in a relationship during addiction recovery, learning to trust them again can be especially difficult. Ultimately, allowing yourself to trust someone again, that has proven themselves untrustworthy in the past, requires allowing yourself to be vulnerable again.

Over time, you will begin to see that your loved one in recovery is not the same person as they were when they were using. Even if it is hard at first to trust your loved one in recovery, learn to trust in the recovery process itself. Over time, the trust will come.

 

Create and Maintain Structure

Creating and forming a new and healthy routine in an addict’s life is an important part of any recovery program. Building new life skills and creating routines that encourage accountability are a strong part of recovery programs.

Transitioning structure into your relationship is a useful tool to help you rebuild your personal relationship with an addict in your life. The structure can be useful to create and maintain healthy boundaries. While boundaries are particularly important for those whose loved ones are suffering from addiction but have not yet undergone the recovery process, creating clear boundaries in a relationship is also crucial in nearly any healthy relationship.

As such, when rebuilding a relationship with a recovering addict in your life, clearly defining and demonstrating boundaries can provide structure and consequently stability in your relationship.

Along with using boundaries to provide stability in a relationship, for loved ones seeking to rebuild a relationship with someone in recovery, a structure in their relationship can add a much-needed sense of normalcy. Addiction can affect the lives and relationships of those around the addict, and one subtle but profound result can be a constant feeling of instability. Creating and maintaining structure in the relationship with an addict can demonstrate what your expectations of a normal relationship are, and implement a form of stability in both your life and the addict’s life.

By creating a more stable relationship, you are also forming a relationship that integrally has a greater sense of normalcy. This can be particularly beneficial for both sides during the early stages of recovery when past hurts or suppressed emotions can come to the forefront.

Rebuilding a relationship after addiction can test the bonds that form between people. Those of us who have loved ones in recovery have already seen how drug addiction affects relationships. Although it can be difficult, rebuilding a relationship after addiction requires work, time, and patience. Trusting in the recovery process can help lay the foundation for rebuilding trust between yourself and the addict in your life over time.

It is important to remember that when rebuilding your relationship, the foundation you create during and after the recovery process can lead to a longer, healthier, and more meaningful relationship. If you or someone you love is struggling to rebuild a relationship during recovery or treatment call 888-481-4481 to speak to a medical professional at Casa Palmera.

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Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution During Recovery

This year do you want to learn a new language, reconnect with old friends, learn to play the guitar, live a healthier lifestyle, save more money, or volunteer for a charity? There is an abundance of commendable, beneficial New Year’s resolutions to consider.

Unfortunately, making a New Year’s resolution is not typically the issue—the difficulty comes with keeping the resolutions. Setting a new goal can seem like a daunting, unobtainable task while in recovery. Many strategies can help you stay motivated and stick to your resolutions.

 

Choose Your Resolution Wisely

The first step to keeping your New Year’s resolution is to create the best one for you. Consider resolutions that put both your personal interests and sobriety in the forefront. Although there are a number of admirable goals, it is important not to pile your plate too high and make sure your goals are achievable. If you attempt to accomplish too much at once, you risk the possibility of becoming overwhelmed and giving up.

A good approach is to brainstorm about a list of possible resolutions that can contribute to your sobriety and happiness. Next, pick the resolution that speaks to you the most. This goal should be your top priority as you kick off the New Year. By narrowing your focus on one key resolution, you are more likely to achieve this goal.

 

Write Your Resolution Down

Once you have confidently selected a New Year’s resolution that will aid in a maintaining a sober lifestyle, you should write it down and keep it somewhere you can easily refer to it. According to a study conducted at Dominican University, those who write goals down on paper are more likely to complete them. It will also help you to make the goal more concrete and contribute to the likelihood of success.

Another astounding study conducted by Harvard University revealed that written goals could lead to successful outcomes. In the study, individuals who physically wrote their goals down made an average of ten times more financially as opposed to those who kept their goals floating around in their minds.

In addition to putting your goal on paper, leave yourself little-written reminders in places you frequently visit throughout the day. These friendly reminders will help to reinforce your resolution and keep it fresh in your mind. The extra boost of motivation during the day will help to make you successful.

 

Make Your Resolution SMART

In addition to dusting off your journal and writing your goal down, you must ensure that your goal is “SMART.” SMART goals embody key characteristics that aid in increasing the goal’s probability of success.

The “S” stands for “specific,” meaning that your goal must not be vague. For example, instead of creating a resolution to lose weight, make a specific resolution to lose ten pounds by exercising for an hour every day and eliminating processed food from your diet.

The “M” represents a “measurable” resolution meaning that you must establish a way that you can track your progress and success. If your goal is to volunteer for a charity, make your goal measurable by saying you will volunteer for your local animal shelter once a week.

The “A” stands for “attainable.” In this case, attainable means narrowing your goal to something you can reach within your means. If your resolution is to learn a new instrument, think about what instruments you have at your disposal, what you have space for, and what skills you already have that may help with one instrument over another.

The “R” represents “realistic.” During recovery, it is important not to overwhelm yourself with an unobtainable goal. Think realistically about what is possible and recognize that even small steps toward a positive, sober life are good steps.

Lastly, the “T” stands for “time-based.” A time-based resolution is one with time-sensitive benchmarks that help keep you on track. For example, instead of making a resolution to save more money, create a time-sensitive goal to save $1,000 every two months.

By creating SMART goals, you will think about your resolution on a deeper level. This thought process helps you set realistic milestones that will bring you closer to achieving your resolution. Sometimes during recovery, a minuscule molehill can feel like a gargantuan mountain. However, by breaking your resolution down to bite-sized pieces with the SMART goal strategy, you will be able to retain focus and motivation throughout the New Year.

 

Combat Negativity

Another strategy for sticking to your New Year’s resolution during recovery is having confidence in your commitment to be sober and in your resolution. Temptations and naysayers are bound to cross your path at some point during your life and can lead to self-doubt and hinder your motivation. You can address this by preparing yourself before a negative encounter strikes.

One way to prepare yourself is to compile a list of all of the positivity related to your New Year’s resolution. Ask yourself how your resolution can positively affect your life. You can also try writing about why you chose this specific resolution and how you think your life will be different once you have accomplished it.

By internally rationalizing your goal, you can prepare for real-world experiences with individuals who may doubt your will power and positive life choice.

 

Stay Positive

One of the best ways to stay on track with your sobriety and New Year’s resolution is to keep yourself focused on positive and meaningful experiences. A large number of addictive substances release a compound called dopamine, which creates a sense of pleasure. This momentary sense of gratification leads to a harmful and long-lasting desire to seek pleasure and fill this need. It is important to replace the ongoing desire with experiences and activities that are authentic and gratifying. Boredom can leave room for temptation so fill your day with positive experiences that leave you with a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

A strategy would be to keep your calendar filled with things you enjoy. If your resolution is to live a more active lifestyle, try exercises that you enjoy such as joining an intramural sports league or a hiking club. If your resolution is to learn a new language, try collaborating with a friend over lunch to practice your skills.

If you or someone you love is having a hard time keeping a resolution of sobriety, Casa Palmera can help. Take the first step towards healing and call 888-481-4481 for more information about Casa Palmera’s treatment programs.

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10 Tips for a Sober New Year

The New Year represents a clean slate and an opportunity to realign your life. With the New Year comes a refreshed sense of purpose and the motivation to create a happier, healthier you. This new beginning provides a great opportunity to focus on positive goals that will contribute to a sober New Year.

 

Set a Goal for the New Year

Take time to consider what you want to achieve in the New Year. Whether this goal is sobriety or a new goal you want to achieve with your newfound sobriety, it is important to think about what you truly want.

Take time to meditate, brainstorm, journal, discuss with loved ones, and reflect on what will make you happy this year. Once you have determined what you want to achieve, write that goal down somewhere visible in order to remind yourself on a daily basis.

 

Take it Step by Step

In the beginning, your big picture goal may seem overwhelming. However, everything must happen day-by-day and one-step at a time. Take your goal and create a timeline that outlines the small steps you must take each day or month to achieve this larger goal. By breaking your goal up into digestible steps, it will not seem so daunting. Make your plan and make it happen.

 

Choose Your Circle Wisely

Some believe that we are a reflection of the five people who we are closest. Our relationships can greatly affect our lifestyle, choices, and attitudes; therefore, it is crucial that you choose your innermost circle wisely.

 

Although sometimes the choice is difficult, take the New Year as an opportunity to let go of individuals bringing negativity or temptation into your life. When you let go of those no longer uplifting you, you make room for the positive people. Be mindful in choosing your circle, you are not only shaping yourself, but also creating a support system for your sobriety and new goals.

 

Eat Delicious & Nutritious Meals

The saying “you are what you eat” may be cliché but it certainly rings true. By maintaining a well-balanced, nutritious diet, you will physically feel better. Refined sugars, high sodium, empty carbohydrates, and artificial fats are satisfying in the short-term, but leave your body feeling empty and sluggish.

When your body is recovering, it is important to arm it with the best nutrition possible. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, non-processed foods will help keep your body at its best. Take the New Year as a chance to make healthier choices in all facets of your life.

 

Exercise

When exercising, your body releases endorphins, which naturally creates feelings of happiness. Regular exercise helps to improve your mood naturally as well as necessary for keeping your body in shape. Remember that as you move from place to place in life, your permanent home is your body.

Treat your body with respect and keep it in the best condition that you can. Regular exercise is an important component of overall good health. You can diversify your exercise routine by incorporating yoga, hiking, biking, nature walks, dance, sports, strengthening classes, running, and more.

Staying active will keep your mind focused on positivity instead of the slippery slope of boredom and negativity. Adopt a regular exercise routine this year in order to feel better both physically and mentally to support your sobriety.

 

Stress Less

Stress affects everyone and can severely affect your health. Stressors may include financial, work, relationships, and sometimes the list seems endless. The impact stress has on you is not always defined by what happens, but rather how you react to it.

When you are feeling stressed, try taking ten deep breaths as you take a step back and remove yourself from the situation. Reflect on the stressful situations you conquered in the past and how you got through it. Remind yourself that you will get through this too.

Identify the root of your problem and make an action plan about how to resolve the issue one-step at a time. You may feel overwhelmed resulting in a higher stress level. An action plan will help you to better analyze the situation and keep stress manageable.

 

 

Consider Spirituality

Feeling connected to a higher power can help you keep life’s speed bumps in perspective. Whether it is religion or a spiritual connection to the universe, a bond with something larger than yourself can remove stress and provide guidance.

Studies have shown that a large number of individuals who identify as being spiritual also identify as being happy. Whether it is going to church or giving mediation a try, consider spirituality as a tool to maintaining your sobriety in the New Year.

 

Support Yourself with Self-Confidence

Unfortunately, we tend to be our harshest critics. Take time to celebrate yourself and all that you have accomplished this year. It is easy to become obsessed with what you have done wrong instead of looking toward the future. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, concentrate on everything you have done right.

Every day is a new opportunity to make good choices. It is important to believe in yourself and be your own cheerleader. Do not beat yourself up over the little things. Try to maintain focus on the larger goal. Give yourself a pat on the back and trust that you can do it.

 

Be Gracious

Negativity is a dangerous path that can lead to choices that are more dangerous. Try to be aware of your thoughts and actions and take notice when you are being negative. Instead of thinking about everything that is going wrong, think about everything that is going right.

A simple change in mindset can work wonders when it comes to your happiness. Try starting a “positivity journal” where you write one thing you are grateful for each day. Whether it is a major accomplishment or a simple smile from a stranger, focus on the things that make you feel grateful.

 

Reward Yourself

With big goals for the New Year, do not forget to reward yourself. Treat yourself for each little benchmark that you have accomplished towards your goal. Keep track of your progress on a timeline. Whenever you take a step closer to your goal, acknowledge that accomplishment.

Rewards may include taking yourself to dinner, seeing a movie, having a cup of your favorite tea, going on a weekend trip, or doing something you enjoy. Self-recognition about your progress toward sobriety will aid you in staying motivated to meet your goal.

If drugs and alcohol are causing added negativity and stress in your life, call Casa Palmera at 888-481-4481 to speak to a caring professional about treatment options.

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Signs of Relapse & Triggers to Be Aware Of

One key factor of recovery is learning about and acknowledging common triggers that may cause an individual to relapse. When a person goes through the treatment process, they become aware of what led them to drink or abuse drugs in the first place. By avoiding or eliminating addictive triggers, it becomes easier to stay on the path to sobriety.

While relapse triggers are not always obvious or easy to spot, it is important to keep an eye out for them in order to remedy them before they turn into bigger problems. Triggers won’t look the same for every person however, here area few common triggers and signs of relapse.

Missed Recovery Support Meetings

One of the tell-tale signs that someone may be on the verge of relapse is they’ve suddenly turned away from their support system. Just like anyone else, those in recovery have good and bad days. More good days than bad is ideal, but it doesn’t mean a person is “healed” from their alcoholism or addiction.

Support group meetings are an ongoing part of the recovery process. Recovery is not a passive phase. Programs are put in place for a reason. They must be attended to on a consistent basis and taken seriously enough to maintain a schedule, even if it feels they may not be necessary. Keep an eye out if your family member is suddenly skipping meetings because they are too busy or insist they don’t need to attend. It can be a telltale sign of relapse.

Hanging Out with Bad Influences

When someone makes the decision to become sober, they must say good-bye to their old way of life. Oftentimes, this means letting go of drinking pals or those they know who use drugs. In order to maintain your own sobriety, it’s important that you are not faced with these temptations day in and day out.

When the holidays roll around and old faces pass through and connect out of the blue, it may make a person in recovery feel nostalgic. But if you see a friend or loved one hanging around with friends that don’t support their sobriety, you need to reach out and see what you can do to help as this is a common relapse warning sign. It may seem harmless at the time, but it can be all too easy to start using again. Avoiding these negative influences gives your loved one a better shot at sticking to his or her sobriety.

Secrecy and Sneaking Around

Sudden elusive behavior or not admitting to where they’re going or where they’ve been can be a sign of relapse. Although no one wants to jump to conclusions, if you are concerned, share your concern with your family member. Give them the benefit of the doubt to explain their actions or confirm they aren’t using again. Approach the situation calmly so that your concern isn’t misinterpreted as an accusation. After all, it’s their well-being and health that is at stake.

Outbursts or Mood Swings

When a person doesn’t have a handle on their feelings, it might make most sense to them to turn to the bottle or start using again. If you recognize short tempers or signs of instability, it can be a sign of relapse. Don’t take lightly the feelings of others. Pull your family member aside in a quiet moment or schedule time at a later date to check in and ask how they are feeling.

The Three Main Stages of Relapse

A study by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine breaks down relapse into three main levels: emotional, mental, and physical. Relapse happens gradually, which makes being aware of signs and addiction triggers even more important to prevent it from occurring.

Emotional Stage

In the emotional stage, individuals aren’t consciously wanting to use, but may be remembering their last relapse or when they were at their rock bottom and are fearful of repeating it. Relapse symptoms to watch out for in this stage include many of the signs listed above, such as missing or not sharing at support meetings, keeping emotions closed off, and isolation. People in this stage may also experience a lack of appetite and bouts of insomnia.

As a loved one, ask yourself if your friend or family member in recovery is actively practicing self-care. Do they seem extra anxious or stress-ridden? Have they been unable to sleep or eat on a consistent schedule? A person who is in the emotional stage of relapse may not outwardly be showing signs of a potential relapse. It may take some prompting to ensure the person feels supported and is taking care of themselves in a healthy way.

In its early stages, emotional relapse doesn’t seem as harmful as the rest of the stages. Eventually, the worrying or denial of a problem will lead to restless or irritable behavior, which as it builds, can lead to addiction relapse.

Mental Stage

This stage may be more difficult for family members and loved ones to identify and address. The feelings someone is going through during recovery may be well hidden from others. During a mental relapse, a recovering addict may begin craving alcohol or drugs again. They may start thinking about people or places associated with their use in the past and begin to minimize their actions of the past.

In this phase, a person who has gone through treatment and is in recovery may feel like they have what it takes to not “get out of hand” or can handle the idea of using again on their own. It’s during this phase that it is most helpful to avoid any situations where temptation will be around.

A drink at a party or a glass of wine at a family dinner may appear relatively harmless, but for a person recovering from addiction, it can be the first step towards a downwards spiral. Rather than testing those limits or “bargaining” for just one drink, it’s a wiser decision to opt out as much as possible. Whether that means not attending such events altogether or choosing a non-alcoholic alternative, the desire to drink can easily be reignited with just a few sips.

Physical Relapse

This is the stage where a person actually uses again. The use of any controlled substance, no matter how small, can easily lead someone into a full-on relapse.

If addictive triggers aren’t identified early on, it may be hard to realize the likelihood of a physical relapse because there may not have been any significant relapse warning signs before.

It’s always a good idea for family members to check in and ask questions, if concerned. A simple “how have you been feeling?” can mean a lot to a person struggling with their sobriety. An invitation to coffee or a walk around the neighborhood might be a good distraction for someone who feels overwhelmed by the desire to use again.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of relapse or experiencing issues in the recovery process, call 888-481-4481 to speak to a medical professional at Casa Palmera and get the help and support you

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Tips for Staying Clean and Sober During the Holidays

The holidays are a joyful time of year for some, but for others, it can bring on more anxiety than any other season. From the crowds of shoppers to the overflow of family gatherings or time spent away from loved ones, it can be tough on anyone to make it through to the New Year in a peaceful state, let alone those in recovery.

For people who are struggling with their sobriety or know that the holidays are a prime time for their cravings and temptations to creep up, it’s important to have a plan in place for staying sober during the holidays. By being proactive and knowing how to handle holiday parties, family dinners, travel time, or other events that may cause additional stress or challenges, you are more likely to succeed in staying sober during the holiday season.

If you are a recovering addict or a loved one of someone who has struggled with addiction in the past, here are a few ways to stay sober during these festive holiday months.

Provide Alcohol-Free Alternatives

Wine, eggnog, and other holiday spirits abound at dinner tables and social gatherings each December and into the New Year. If you are hosting such an event, make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic options available for your guests. Expand beyond the standard soda, coffee, or tea, and create non-alcoholic versions of punch, hot cider, or other wintertime favorites, so no one has to miss out on the flavor or fun of these seasonal drinks.

Schedule Engaging Activities

Many families who gather for the holidays center a lot of the activity around lounging around, often with drinks. This lack of engagement can lead to boredom, which is not a good spot to be in and can lead to someone in recovery thinking “just one” won’t hurt. Rather than face this potential scenario, make sure you have plenty of plans on your calendar that don’t involve alcohol, such as ice skating, baking, or heading to the movie theater, concert, or a play.

Stick to a Meeting Schedule

Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to skip AA meetings. Even if you’re traveling, research meeting times and places before you go, so that you have a healthy outlet set up in advance, for when you find the temptation too strong. The holiday season typically conjures up feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and anxiety that might catch you off guard, even if you’re not a recovering addict. It’s a smart idea to have a built-in support system ready to lend a hand or a listening ear when you need them most.

Adjust Your Priorities

The holidays can be overwhelming. It’s not uncommon for people to feel pulled in several directions. One reason is because of the expectations put upon people by family members, friends, and even co-workers. Don’t feel like you have to say ‘yes’ to every invitation or promise to stay at an event later than you think is best.

Practice saying ‘no’ when you feel your schedule is getting too full or you’ve been talked into something you’d rather not do. Decline invitations graciously. Dedicate a set amount of time at events you know you need to make an appearance at. Map out which events you need to attend as well as which events you can avoid altogether.

Identify Possible Triggers

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone, especially if there are unpleasant memories that surround them. By pinpointing sensitive areas and talking them over with a trusted friend, you can avoid the possibility of relapse. Keeping emotions bottled up without allowing them to be released in a healthy way is a sure way to face problems down the road.

Exercise Your Body (and Mind)

When the weather gets darker and the days become shorter, it’s all too easy to hibernate inside. Exercise gets the endorphins going and makes you feel motivated to take on the holidays. It’s also a good stress reliever and can help clear your mind before you set out for a family function or holiday party where you know you’ll be faced with certain triggers. Additionally, if meditation isn’t already part of your daily regimen, look into different apps or guided meditations that might work for you.

Brace Yourself

The holidays often bring around old friends and family who may not be up-to-date with the most personal parts of your life, like your recovery. Plan ahead for ways to exclude yourself from potentially uncomfortable situations or think of what you want to say to the questions that most likely will be asked. Having a game plan can help you from feeling on the defensive. Those who respect you will respect your sobriety and the ability to have fun without the need to drink.

Celebrate Your Sobriety

This is important. It’s most likely been a difficult road to get you to where you are today. Embrace your sobriety and be thankful for your health and look forward to the future ahead in the New Year. Focusing on the positive can help you stay sober. It’s an achievement you should be proud of and feel good about going into the New Year.

For friends and family members of people who are in recovery, take the time to talk to your loved one ahead of time. Talk through any concerns or challenges on either side. Work together to set them up for success and ensure they have the support they need throughout the holidays and into the New Year.

Create a welcoming atmosphere that honors their sobriety and lend a helping hand to those you love, if they should need it. The holidays are a time to practice kindness, offer forgiveness, and embrace feelings of joy. As you go through the coming weeks, keep looking forward to the opportunity of each new day.

If you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol or drug abuse during the holiday season, call 888-481-4481 to speak to a medical professional at Casa Palmera today.

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Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, almost 2 million people in the United States abuse prescription drugs or are struggling with an opiate addiction. And the number is increasing rapidly.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include illicit substances such as heroin as well as legal prescription drugs such as morphine, fentanyl, OxyContin, and hydrocodone, among others. Prescription opiates are frequently used to manage pain in patients who are recovering from a serious injury, struggling with arthritis, or who suffer from severe back pain. Although these drugs don’t directly treat these ailments, they help mitigate the pain and discomfort a person may be experiencing.

Despite their alleviating effects in the treatment of pain, opiates can have damaging effects on people if abused. Opioids are highly addictive substances that can lead to serious health complications. One of the most severe side effects associated with opiate dependency is the onset of withdrawal symptoms once a drug leaves the system.

What is Opiate Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is a side effect that many people struggling with opiate addiction fear to go through because it can be a very unpleasant experience. Common side effects include anxiety, insomnia, pain, diarrhea and tremors, among others.

One misconception about opiate addiction is that withdrawals only happen to “junkies.” But this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. People can also experience painful withdrawals after abusing legally prescribed drugs.

How long does opiate withdrawal last?

The length of opioid withdrawal can depend on many variables such as the age of the person, the half-life of the drug, the severity of drug abuse, and the length of time the person was abusing the drug. Generally, individuals who have been using drugs for longer periods will experience withdrawals that are more difficult (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Long-term users can typically expect five days of opiate withdrawal symptoms before they start to subside. Some underlying medical or mental health issues may also change how long withdrawal will last, as the brain works to restore itself to where it was before the opiate was introduced.

For drugs like heroin, which have a shorter half-life and are shorter-acting, withdrawal symptoms can begin six to twelve hours after the last dose. With longer-acting drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine, symptoms may take anywhere from one to two days to appear. Withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opioids usually peak within one to three days and taper off over the course of a week.

Chronic symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and dysphoria may last for weeks or months following withdrawal. Many systems in your body are altered when you take large amounts of opiates for a long time. Withdrawal effects occur because it takes time for your body to adjust to no longer having opiates in your system.

While the physical symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal, do not last quite as long as the psychological symptoms, they can feel like a lifetime to someone who is currently experiencing them. It is hard to pinpoint an exact withdrawal timeline, as all cases are different, but most cases of opiate withdrawal follow a generally standard timeline.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

Beginning with cravings for more opiates and symptoms of restlessness and anxiety, the early phases of opiate withdrawal increase in adversity as the calming effects of the drugs wear off and nervous systems are re-stimulated.

Days 1 – 2

If you have been using opiates with a short half-life, you should expect to begin experiencing withdrawals approximately twelve hours after your last dose. However, if you’ve been using something with a longer half-life, such as methadone, you can expect to begin experiencing withdrawals approximately 30-48 hours after your last dose.

The first two days are generally the most difficult days to get through, oftentimes leading to relapse. The withdrawal symptoms usually kick in about twelve hours after the last dose was taken.

Once the withdrawal process fully begins, the most noticeable symptoms are muscle aches and pain. Because your muscles have forgotten what it’s like to not be numbed, the feeling can be excruciatingly painful.

Along with sweating profusely, most people will experience pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. Those going through withdrawals almost always experience anxiety, which can sometimes lead to panic attacks. A runny nose or general cold symptoms may also be present but are minor compared to the others.

Day 3 – 5

By this point, the worst of the pain should be over, though not completely gone. The ability to eat solid foods and keep them down may be difficult during this time. The individual should try to eat small portions to stay nourished.

Diarrhea tends to subside during this period, although usually, this is due to lack of appetite. Goosebumps, shivers, abdominal cramping, and vomiting are all common symptoms.

Slow-acting opiate withdrawal symptoms should be subsiding. However, long-acting opiate users may still experience sweating, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, and digestion issues. Back and leg pain will begin to diminish.

Day 6 – Beyond

Once most people reach day six of the opiate withdrawal timeline, they have generally made it through the most difficult symptoms, but it’s not quite over yet. It still may be difficult to eat and it is normal to still experience nausea and anxiety.

During this period of time, the body is learning what endorphins it needs to create again. When an individual abuses opiates, the drugs tell the brain what to feel. Now, an individual should be able to take charge again. Levels of natural chemicals in the brain will take time to rebalance.

The withdrawal symptoms will involve physical and emotional changes. You are looking at anywhere from two to three weeks for the physical symptoms to completely disappear and one to three months for the emotional and psychological symptoms to do the same.

The duration depends primarily on how long you have been using and at what levels. Most people continue to use because they are scared of going through withdrawal. A person can learn how to live without opiates with developing the right attitude, qualified medical supervision, and a desire to build healthy habits (National Institute of Drug Abuse).

If you or someone you know is dealing with opiate addiction or going through withdrawal, Casa Palmera can help. To speak to a medical professional, call Casa Palmera at 888-481-4481.

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What Drugs Are Opiates?

Opiates, originally derived from the poppy plant, have been around for thousands of years. People use opiates for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Some opiates come from the raw, natural opium. While other opiates are manufactured to have the same chemical structure as the raw opium.

Opiates include a variety of drugs ranging from legal drugs such as fentanyl, codeine, and morphine to illegal drugs such as heroin. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to depress or slow down the body’s central nervous system.

There are three classifications of opiates. The first group is a naturally occurring opium derivative including morphine. The second group contains partially synthetic derivatives of morphine called opioid drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The third group contains synthetic compounds like Fentanyl, alfentanil, levorphanol, Meperidine, methadone, codeine, and Propoxyphene.

Natural Opiate Drugs

Natural opioids, as their name implies, come from a natural source known as the opium poppy plant. While some opioid drugs are completely manmade and manufactured in a lab, natural opiates come directly from this plant and the milk that comes from its seedpods. Though they are often thought to be less harmful than synthetics, they can still become addictive and cause dangerous respiratory depression.

Throughout history, opium was used as an anesthetic and remedy for nervous disorders, cancers, and migraines, among other conditions. Morphine, prescribed as a pain reliever, is a natural opiate, but is frequently used to illegally to get high.

Synthetic Opiates

Much like opium, synthetic opiates act on the same areas of the brain as opium and produce many of the same effects. Synthetic opiates are man-made, and offer treatment therapies for opiate addiction. They are created using chemicals not found in the poppy plant or from morphine or opium. The actual chemicals used vary from drug to drug and chemist to chemist.

Semisynthetic Opiates

Heroin, the most abused opiate drug, is a semisynthetic opiate derived from morphine. Drugs like heroin and OxyContin are often included with opiates. Although, they are actually considered semisynthetic opioids because they are derived from other naturally occurring opiates.

Semisynthetic opiates, developed as a safer alternative, have most of the same side effects as other opioid medications. Both synthetic and natural opium alkaloids are involved in the production of semisynthetic opiates.

Some of the most common opiates include:

Opium

According to statistics compiled by the Foundation for a Drug Free World, more than 13 million people worldwide use opium. Opium has the appearance of black or brown tar and commonly smoked by the individual. Made from the white liquid found in poppy plants, opium is one of the most expensive opiates in the world and is attractive to many addicts drawn to the powerful nature of the drug.

Heroin

One of the most dangerous drugs in the world, heroin claims countless lives each year. Heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected. While all three methods are dangerous, injection is by far the most dangerous, as individuals who share dirty needles with other users after injecting heroin are at a high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis.

Many people abusing heroin do not realize it is an opiate. Processed from morphine, this street drug has taken many lives over the years.

OxyContin

Sometimes referred to as “Hillbilly Heroin”, OxyContin has proven to be a problem for addiction treatment professionals and emergency room workers alike. OxyContin is a prescription painkiller like Vicodin, but the drug is a time-release medication –designed to distribute its active ingredients over time. Problems arise when individuals begin snorting or injecting the addictive drug, allowing them to inject all of the opiates at once – thus putting themselves at risk for overdose and illness.

 

 

Hydrocodone

This opiate is known as a narcotic analgesic. It can be successfully used to relieve pain. Hydrocodone is a prescription drug that is sold as Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab and other name brand prescription painkillers.

An opiate drug, hydrocodone is highly addictive. While not everyone with a hydrocodone prescription will develop hydrocodone addiction, most will become physically dependent on the drug. This prescription drug is used to treat pain, but has also become popular on the street.

Codeine

According to the World Health Organization, Codeine is the most widely and commonly used opiate in the world. It is usually administered orally and has a reputation of being the safest of all the opioid analgesics.

However, this can be misleading since many individuals become physically dependent on the drug after extended and repeated use. The most common medical use of Codeine is used to suppress chronic coughing. Almost all cough syrups in the United States that require a prescription contain Codeine.

Morphine

The most active substance in opium is morphine—named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine is a very powerful painkiller, but it is also very addictive. Morphine is prescribed by doctors for the treatment of serious pain. Unfortunately, many people have come to abuse this drug illegally, as they enjoy the effects it has on their body.

Methadone

Methadone has been growing in popularity since the 1940’s, at which time it was synthesized from methadone due to a morphine shortage. It may not share the same chemical characteristics as heroin and morphine, but the end result is oftentimes the same. In today’s world, methadone is commonly used for the treatment of a narcotic addiction, however, many people become addicted to this drug due to the way it makes them feel.

For more information on drug abuse and treatment options contact Casa Palmera. Call 888-481-4481 to speak with a medical professional.

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How to Deal with an Alcoholic Parent

Dealing with an alcoholic parent can be a difficult and painful experience. Getting help for a parent suffering from alcoholism can seem out of reach and unattainable. At times it can even seem impossible. However, there are steps the children of alcoholic parents can take to secure the help they need and guide them on the path to recovery. Strategies that children of alcoholics can use to help their loved one recover from this devastating disease includes processing guilt, building support, effective communication and consulting with a licensed professional.

 

Let Go of Guilt

As a child of an alcoholic, you understand how alcoholism affects the lives and relationships in a myriad of destructive and unhealthy ways. The first step in helping an alcoholic parent is to help yourself better understand the disease by consulting with a medical professional. The professional will help you with resources and help you to acknowledge that you are not to blame for your parent’s alcoholism.

Oftentimes, children of alcoholics suffer guilt over their parent’s substance abuse. Sometimes the parent specifically places blame on their children, whether explicitly or implicitly, for their behavior. Successfully helping a parent recover from alcoholism cannot come from a place of guilt. The children must recognize that the parent is responsible for their actions and their behavior.

 

Ensure Your Safety and Create a Support System

An important part of helping yourself is also ensuring your safety and security. Alcoholism can frequently lead to abuse particularly with loved ones and those in intimate relationships with the alcoholic. Whether the abuse is emotional or physical, it is your responsibility and priority to ensure your safety

If a parent is abusive, it is important to create distance and get yourself in a safe space. Sometimes this can seem impossible particularly if it involves young children of alcoholics. However, recognize that there are people you can reach out to for support and guidance including other family members, teachers, school counselors, and friends of the family. Find someone you trust and allow yourself to be vulnerable to open up to them about the problems you are facing.

While many children of alcoholics are embarrassed, ashamed, or feel guilty over the substance abuse of their parent, it is again important to recognize that the disease is not yours, and nor is the responsibility for that disease. There is no shame in reaching out to others for guidance and help. In doing so you can help build a support system for yourself, which is an important step in helping an alcoholic parent.

 

Organize and Communicate Your Feelings

With your safety secured and your support system in place, take the time to communicate with your parent exactly how you feel and specifically what you would like to see change. Only do so if your parent is not violent towards you. If your parent exhibits violent tendencies, seek professional help for a guided intervention with medical professionals.

First, write down what you would like to communicate. Think of the ways that your parent’s alcoholism has negatively affected your life, your family, your relationship with your parent, and anything else that you can think of. Organizing your thoughts on paper before you discuss them with your parent can be beneficial for both you and your parent. It can allow you to sift through the emotional trauma of living with an alcoholic and pinpoint specific examples of how their disease has impacted your life.  

Your parent may not be aware of some of these effects, and certainly sharing your perspective is an important tool to demonstrate the negative impact their alcoholism has made on those around them. Having your thoughts written down provides a tool for reference tool as the conversation will inevitably be emotional and may be met with resistance or denial.

When you are ready to have the conversation with your parent, it is important that you choose an appropriate time and place. Do not attempt to have the conversation with your parent when they are heavily intoxicated and less likely to hear what you are trying to communicate. Speak from a place of love and compassion. It is always good to be prepared if the person reacts with anger or outright denial to the message you are trying to convey.  

The conversation will have a greater impact if your loved ones can see that their actions and behaviors have genuinely hurt you and that you have a deep desire to see them recover. Use “I” phrases such as “I have seen…” or “I have experienced.” Speaking from a first person perspective about how your parent’s alcohol abuse has affected your life limits the ways in which your parent can dispute your claims since they are your own experiences. Also, speaking in these terms can minimize the appearance that you are placing blame on your parent.

 

Find the Right Treatment Plan

To achieve lasting recovery, it is important to seek treatment from a qualified medical professional or recognized treatment facility. It is important to research different treatment plans and to find the option that is best for your parent. Well respected facilities are typically accredited by organizations such as The Joint Commission which sets predetermined criteria and standards for quality care and patient safety.

Things to consider when researching treatment options are whether the treatment facility has both inpatient and outpatient treatment, how many medical staff they have, the ratio of medical staff to patients, and the cost of specific treatment plans. If your parent is open to discussing treatment, find out what type of treatment options they would be open to and help guide them towards seeking help.

As with anything, developing the right treatment plan is a crucial step towards a successful recovery. Be engaged in the process and open to suggestions from those around you including your support system, other family members, loved ones, and medical staff. There are many different paths to recovery, and speaking with a qualified medical professional can help you determine which path is right for your loved one.

 

To speak to a qualified medial professional at Casa Palmera, call 888-481-4481.

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How to Cope with Loving an Addict

Loving an addict can be one of the hardest and most trying experiences. Addiction, whether it be to alcohol or drugs, can have long-lasting and negative effects on those closest to the addict. Below are some strategies for those who love an addict can employ to cope with their loved ones’ addiction, while at the same time guide them towards a path of treatment and recovery.

For the person who loves someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be heart-breaking to watch the cycle of addiction spiral out of control. Oftentimes, it feels like your relationship is secondary to their addiction. It can leave you feeling powerless before the strength of their addiction and helpless to steer them towards recovery.

The downward spiral of addiction results in the destruction of their life including relationships with those around them, loss of a job, and withdrawal from society. Their actions hurt not only themselves but can also hurt you. While things can seem hopeless at times, there are steps you can take to help both you and the person you love.

 

Acknowledge the Addiction

The first and most important step you can take is to recognize and acknowledge their addiction. Whether addicted to alcohol or drugs, identifying and acknowledging their addiction is the first step towards freeing yourself and your loved one from the cycle of addiction.

While some cases of addiction have clear and present signs, others are less apparent, particularly to those closest to the addict. Look for ways in which the addiction has had a negative impact on their lives and the lives of others including with yourself, others they are close to, their job, and changes to their health and finances.   Sometimes looking at the effects of the addiction can help you better understand the severity level of the addiction.

Acknowledging that your loved one may possibly be suffering from an addiction problem can be difficult. The person may not have been an addict when you first met and may have only drank or used drugs occasionally or socially. However, over time your loved one began to rely more on drugs or alcohol to treat the demands or pain they are faced with. An important first step is for you to recognize that there is a concern and consult with a professional to better understand the next step to get the help they need.

 

Set Boundaries in Your Relationship with the Addict

Once you have identified and acknowledged their addiction, it is important to set clear and firm boundaries for yourself and for them. You must identify the ways that you may have been enabling their addiction in the past, and create boundaries to prevent these behaviors in the future. For those closest to an addict, it can be difficult to identify the ways they are enabling their loved one’s addiction because it can take on many forms.

Developing an understanding of addiction and its effects can help you to see how your actions may be enabling them to continue with their addictive behaviors. Setting proper boundaries in a relationship with an addict is crucial in order to show them exactly how their addiction is affecting the lives of those they love. It is important to commit to your set boundaries and communicate with the person you love why you are needing to change your own behavior.

 

Love Yourself

With proper boundaries in place, those who are in love with an addict can move towards loving themselves again. Often the destructive cycle of addiction and substance abuse will take an emotional and physical toll on those closest to the addict. In order to help the person you love, you need to take care of yourself first. This can be particularly difficult for parents, family members, or spouses/partners of addicts.

Loving yourself first is not an act of selfishness or callousness. Rather, loving yourself first allows you to create a healthy space from which you can help the addict in your life. It allows you to be in a better mindset supported by strength and clarity to better help the person you love. Taking a step back from an addicted loved one and helping yourself first is perhaps the most difficult step most people face. However, it is necessary in order to truly help the addict in your life through their process of recovery.

 

Build a Support System

As part of loving yourself, reach out to those around you for support. Begin to build a network of those you love and who love the addict in your life. Other members of your family, loved ones, friends, and others close to you can help lend strength and knowledge to helping the person you love. Speak with the members of your support system about how the addiction has affected all of you, and take the time to document this information.

Your support system is there for both you and the addict in your life. Even if you are the primary point of contact with the addict in your life, your support system will provide you with a point of stability you can rely on. A strong support network can also help demonstrate to the addict that there are people around them that care about them and want to see their life change for the better.

 

Determine a Treatment Plan

Loved ones can learn how to be in a relationship with an addict by acknowledging the persons addiction, setting boundaries, empowering yourself, and building your network of support. A strong support network should always include a qualified medical professional who will assist the patient and family through the recovery process.

The professional is instrumental in developing the individual’s treatment plan which will greatly increase their chances of a success. A comprehensive treatment plan should include spiritual, physical, and emotional components. In addition, the medical professional will provide guidance to loved ones by providing support and directing them to the resources needed to help the patient along with their journey.

 

If you are in need of a medical professional or treatment advice, call Casa Palmera at 888-481-4481 any time of the day.

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