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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What is Mindfulness and How Does It Work

Mindfulness is a practice that has gained popularity in mainstream America within the last decade. Mindfulness by definition means a cognizance and awareness of something, but within psychology, it means a specific focus on one’s own state of being in the present moment. This includes thoughts, feelings, reactions and bodily sensations.

One of the most important aspects of mindfulness is that it is a categorization of these factors without the presence of judgment or evaluation. By not categorizing a certain emotion or feeling as “right” or “wrong,” it allows for an individual to gain a deeper understanding of their state of being, mind, and body without an assessment of the validity of those sensations.
By removing a self-assessment of rightness, mindfulness allows human beings to take notice of the unique processes that govern their mind and body and take actionable measures to improve their mental state and overall happiness.

How Mindfulness Works

Traditional mindfulness is practiced through meditation; however, as modern adaptations have formed so have other methods of cultivating a mindful state of being. The process of cultivating mindfulness can be difficult for beginners to grasp at first, but after practice, it becomes a much more natural, fluid process. There are four main tenants to focus on when entering a mindful state of being, each aspect being equally important.

  1. Become aware of the thoughts and emotions defining your being. Pay close attention to reoccurring patterns of thought or spikes in emotional response. Do not fall into the trap of reprimanding yourself for feeling something “wrong” or “pointless”. Approach this evaluation with the understanding that all thoughts and emotions, good and bad, are a part of you. Emotions and thoughts are mercurial and fleeting, so do not let the negative thoughts define you, just try to notice and understand them.
  2. Take notice of the environment around you and try to focus on the minutia of your environment that usually would escape your thoughts. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you and make them a conscious thought in your evaluation of yourself.
  3. Tune into your breathing and try to implement a calm, repetitive cadence that will calm your pulse and your mind to a state of relaxation. If you are feeling an intense emotion, like anger or anxiety, be especially conscious of your breathing patterns and attempt to regulate your breathing as much as possible.
  4. Pay attention to the physical sensations your body experiences. These sensations can be as simple as the whip of a brisk breeze on your skin or the feeling of warm water on your skin as you wash your hands. Notice how your body responds to these stimuli and become aware of the unique code of sensational responses that your body possesses.

By becoming aware of these four factors, an individual can begin to cultivate a mindful state of being that is rigorously engaged in the present moment.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become popular recently in part due to the numerous benefits it can provide. One of the main benefits many people cite is the reduction of negative feelings and stress. This lessening of tension and anxiety results in a brain that is rewiring itself to experience positive emotions and reactions in the place of negative feelings. This factor has tremendous implications for all individuals, but particularly those that suffer from substance abuse addictions.

Mindfulness has become a common practice within the therapy and rehabilitation community because of its ability to help create healthy, happy responses where previously negative, self-destructive responses arose. This can mean that someone who would normally go seek alcohol when feeling sad can now be mindful of that sadness and re-route it into something more positive and healthy.

Just as this can be extremely important for those suffering from addictive responses, it can be helpful for new parents coping with the stresses of raising a child, students that struggle with behavior problems and aggression within the classroom and it can even help medical professionals connect with their patients on a deeper level.

In addition to these examples, there are innumerable other individual situations that can be positively affected by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can also enhance personal relationships, both romantic and platonic, by cultivating a mindset that has regulated emotions and increased empathy. Some studies have shown that practicing mindfulness increases activity in the networks of the brain that regulate emotional responses, making it an ideal practice for any individual seeking a more balanced state of mind.

How to Practice Mindfulness on a Daily Basis

Mindfulness can and should be practiced every day in order to be most effective. There are many methods for practicing mindfulness, with varying levels of success based on the individual. Some of the most popular methods of practicing mindfulness are:

  • Traditional meditation: This is the most common method for practicing mindfulness and is characterized by a set time of complete quiet and solitude in which the mind is emptied of thought and the surroundings and body are felt. Traditional meditation fosters a state of calm that can be carried on long after the set time has elapsed.
  • The Body Scan: In this exercise, focus on the most distal part of your body first, the toes, and work your way up the entire body focusing on each sensation as you go. Do not try to change or control the feelings you encounter during the scan, just accept them as they are and continue on. End the body scan with your head, and if time permits, begin again.
  • Detailed Focus: Pick an item or person in your life and begin conducting a very detailed analysis of this item or person with all of your senses. This exercise will force you to engage in the details of the specific moment and be present.
  • Kindness Meditation: In this exercise, focus on yourself first and extend compassion and kindness to yourself. From there, do the same to the closest person to you. Continue this process until you are extending compassion to everything within reach.
  • Movement Meditation: Many individuals have an activity they feel calms them down, whether it is swimming, walking, running, or any other activity. Choose an activity you enjoy and then engage in each physical sensation that arises while practicing this activity. If swimming, notice the ripple of the water around you, the pull of your shoulder muscles as you drag your arm in the water, and the tension in your ankles as you kick. This exercise will allow you to engage in the details of the present and to appreciate all of the efforts that go into the movement.

Mindfulness is a state of being that can tremendously alter the way an individual experiences the world and interacts with others. This has made practicing mindfulness a beneficial therapy especially within the rehabilitation community.

Living with an Alcoholic

Living with an alcoholic is a uniquely challenging experience that is extremely prevalent in American households. Alcoholism is classified as an alcohol use disorder, but just as with other addictions, it is generally characterized by an addictive cycle of behavior. Alcoholism not only affects the addict but those living with them and those who care about them.

Signs You Are Living with an Alcoholic

While some people may be well aware that they are living with an alcoholic, many individuals struggle with determining whether or not their loved one is an alcoholic or merely drinks more than is recommended. Nobody wants to accuse someone they love of being an alcoholic, so many will try to lessen the implications of their loved one’s actions in order to avoid confrontation.

This approach may feel like a safe alternative since alcohol abuse is quite common but sometimes this can be a strategy for avoiding the issue. This process of denial can lead to strong emotional responses that are merely repressed and rerouted into other potentially dangerous behaviors.

Before addressing your concerns with your loved one, begin cataloging their behaviors and actions to confirm whether they may potentially be an alcoholic. Keep an eye out for some of the following signs that you may be living with an alcoholic:

  • Alcoholics have a physical reliance and dependency on the consumption of alcohol. They will have cravings for alcohol frequently and will have a difficult time stopping once they begin drinking.
  • Alcoholics will experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to abstain from consuming alcohol. The unpleasant nature of these withdrawal symptoms often pushes alcoholics back towards consuming alcohol.
  • Over time, the continued consumption of alcohol increases the alcohol tolerance of the drinker. Alcoholics will continually have to increase the frequency and volume that they are drinking in order to maintain the same experience.
  • Alcoholics sometimes attempt to conceal their addiction by hiding their alcohol in unsuspecting places around the house and consuming it when they are alone. These hiding places will vary based on the individual, but may be places like laundry closets, under the sink, in drawers beneath clothes, and in the garage hidden in a cabinet. There is no reason alcohol should be hidden around the house, so if this is the case then the individual recognizes there is something wrong with their behavior, and rather than attempting to change their behavior, is merely seeking to hide the severity of their addiction.
  • Alcoholics will become agitated if they are not able to drink when they want to. Generally, they will establish a timeline that allows them to indulge in their addictive behavior at the intervals they deem necessary, and when this schedule is interrupted they will become irritated and angry.
  • Alcoholics often experience trouble in their personal relationships, careers, or with the law.
  • Alcoholics can sometimes experience a loss of pleasure in the things they once enjoyed as they become more addicted to the consumption of alcohol. Their value system may shift so that their highest priority is consuming alcohol.
  • Alcoholics may experience blackouts or lose blocks of time as a repercussion of their extensive abuse.

If some or all of these factors are present, it is possible that you are living with an alcoholic. Individuals cohabitating with alcoholics experience a unique set of challenges.

The Challenges of Living with an Alcoholic

Living with an alcoholic can be an extremely difficult situation that is emotionally trying and may sometimes feel unmanageable. The most difficult aspect of living with an alcoholic is the feeling of helplessness that comes with watching a loved one harm themselves and others and being unable to convince them to change their behaviors. In addition to this, there are a number of other challenges often experienced by those living with alcoholics.

  • Alcoholics may experience mood swings. These mood swings can sometimes be misdirected at those living with the alcoholic. The best tactic for avoiding this is a lack of engagement. By removing yourself from the situation and not reacting, you will save yourself the emotional trauma of dealing with alcohol-fueled mood swings.
  • Timelines may be determined by alcohol consumption. This factor can be especially troubling for young children that are solely at the discretion of their alcoholic parent. One way to deal with this situation is to try to nail down schedules in advance and offer continual prompts for upcoming events to remind your loved one of their responsibilities.
  • Alcoholics may demonstrate a willingness to damage relationships and people when under the influence of alcohol. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of living with an alcoholic. When this situation arises, do your best to remember that you are not to blame for their actions and that you cannot control their behavior.
  • Alcoholics may seek encouragement that what they are doing is acceptable. The best way to deal with this is to either avoid giving an opinion at all or to point out some of the flaws in their logic of why their behavior is warranted. By doing this, you will begin to dismantle the narrative they have constructed that condones their alcoholism.

Things to Remember When Living with an Alcoholic

  1. You are not to blame for their addiction or behavior.
  2. You cannot control what they do.
  3. You do not need to accept their bad behavior. Set boundaries you are comfortable with to maintain your sense of comfort at home.
  4. Do not enable them.
  5. Find support and help. Even if an alcoholic is not ready to seek treatment, that does not mean you should not establish a support system to help you.
  6. Never drink with them.
  7. Do not hesitate to leave if their addiction begins to negatively impact your life.

 

Alcoholism is an extremely prevalent addiction that affects not only the alcoholic but also each person in his or her life. Perhaps those most affected are the individuals living with the alcoholic and bearing witness to their destructive cycle of addictive behavior. If you suspect that your loved one may be suffering from alcohol abuse, the first step is to seek support from a professional who specializes in substance abuse. The therapist will work with you to establish healthy boundaries and behaviors as well as provide you with the resources you need to get your loved one help. To speak to a professional at Casa Palmera for advice about your loved one struggling with alcohol abuse call the 24/7 helpline at 888-481-4481.

Overcoming Addiction: Your First Year of Recovery

Once sobriety is attained, the journey of overcoming addiction continues. In the first year of addiction recovery, a number of circumstances, emotions, and urges can arise. Addiction recovery differs for each person, but understanding how to overcome addiction and maintain sobriety amidst outside circumstances and pressures is key to successfully overcoming addiction. The first step in this process is to know what to expect in the first year of addiction recovery.

 

The Realization that Everyone Recovers Differently

When embarking on your first year overcoming addiction, it is important to remember that everyone recovers differently and each will experience different emotions, triggers, and struggles throughout the process. It is a natural human instinct to want to compare yourself to someone else you know who has also gone through addiction recovery, but this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and pressure that exist only because of perception.

Give yourself the space to find your path to overcoming addiction and explore what methods work for you in combatting potential addiction triggers that in the past would have caused a relapse. Do not measure your success against others, because every person has a different set of circumstances, personal experiences, environmental factors, and physical ramifications that are present in their addiction recovery.

Any comparison between two addiction recoveries will be skewed from the outset. To avoid doing this, make a list of personal goals and milestones that you want to achieve in your first year overcoming addiction and come up with a reward for attaining each one. This will make a schedule that is uniquely bound to you and your journey overcoming addiction.

 

The Ending of Relationships and Friendships

To maintain sobriety and prevent the chances of a relapse, it is vital that all relationships that encourage addictive behavior be reevaluated and potentially terminated. As hard as it can be to let go of a friendship or relationship, it is sometimes necessary to successfully remain sober.

If any person in your life makes you want to engage in addictive behavior; tempts you with alcohol or drugs, brings you into situations where addiction triggers exist, or pressures you to return to the cycle of addiction, they do not want what is best for you and are not supporting your goals in overcoming addiction. This can be a tough and emotional reality to deal with, but some relationships and friendships will have to end for you to successfully maintain addiction recovery.

 

The Emotional Tides

Addiction recovery is a process with many emotional twists and turns, and the toll they take can be tremendous. Frequently, there are feelings of sadness, depression, and disappointment that seem to follow people around throughout the first year of overcoming addiction. Many people struggle to combat these emotions and find them a catalyst that pushes them back into the cycle of addiction, but that does not have to happen.

Feeling a broad range of emotions after entering addiction recovery is entirely normal and to be expected. It is important not to let bad days push you back towards engaging in addictive behavior, as all this does is put you back at the very beginning of the cycle of addiction.

It is important to keep in mind throughout your recovery how far you have come, the challenges you have overcome, and the bravery and determination you have exhibited throughout the process simply by continuing in your course of overcoming addiction. Take note of these accomplishments and use them as a reminder of difficult days of how resilient you are and how much farther you want to go in your recovery.

Just as you may experience these lows, you may also experience some days that leave you feeling overconfident. Further into your first year overcoming addiction, you may begin to feel that you have beat your addiction and no longer need to engage in the same rigorous, preventative behaviors.

For some people, this may mean that they seek out old friends with whom they drank or used drugs since they are now confident they can be there and not feel tempted to engage in addictive behavior. However, this is precisely the kind of behavior that will heighten the chances of relapse and endanger the sobriety you have worked to achieve.

It is important to know throughout your first year of recovery that there will be high and lows and to weather them both without making quick decisions or engaging in behaviors that will jeopardize your sobriety.

 

The Importance of Schedules

One of the best methods for how to overcome addiction is to create schedules and boundaries that will keep your life structured and on the right path. One way to implement a plan is to get a job with set hours in an environment that is free of addiction triggers since this will keep each day consistent and will occupy your time with a healthy career. Another way to do this is to keep a planner that has time blocked out with specific activities and goals set for each day, week, month, and the year.

These goals can range from personal to professional to monetary, but regardless of the type, they will give you a place to focus your efforts and achieve milestones at which you can reward yourself. If you are a part of a program or have meetings with an addiction counselor, make a consistent schedule each week to ensure you never miss these important meetings. In addition to this, make sure you include an activity in your schedule that gives you a healthy release of frustration and energy to help prevent the urge to engage in addictive behavior.

Addiction is not something that goes away, but determining how to overcome addiction is the key to having a successful addiction recovery. The first year overcoming addiction can be tough and emotionally trying, but remember to be kind to yourself and revel in your accomplishments instead of dwelling on your shortcomings.

 

Conducting a Successful Alcohol or Drug Intervention

A drug or alcohol intervention takes place when a group of family members and friends come together to confront the person they believe needs to seek treatment. During an intervention, family and friends give their loved one an understanding of the consequences their addiction has had on others as well as the severity of their addiction.

When attempting to conduct a successful alcohol intervention or drug intervention, there are a number of steps that must be taken to ensure the person being confronted has less likelihood of rejecting the intervention, and the proper measures are in place for them seeking a recovery program after the intervention.

A drug or alcohol intervention can be an extremely stressful and sensitive event, so it is important that it be a well-researched and methodical undertaking. The below steps will help provide a set of guidelines for initial measures and actions that must be taken to conduct a successful alcohol or drug intervention.

Formulate a Plan

Every intervention begins differently, some with only a single family member or friend wanting to intervene, but each intervention must start with a plan. If it is only a single family member or friend who originally had the idea to stage an intervention, it is important to seek out other loved ones that would also like to participate in the intervention, and that will aid in the planning process. In addition to forming a group of family members and friends, it is vital that professional help is sought at this stage in the process.

Professional help may take many forms for an intervention, whether it be a qualified professional counselor, mental health professional, or psychologist. Casa Palmera offers a variety of professional resources to assist with interventions. However, no matter which route you choose, having professional guidance to help inform the process is necessary.

Intervention can bring to the surface anger, betrayal, resentment, and deeply seeded disappointment, so having an outsider that can be objective and rational is imperative.

Research and Document

The research and documentation phase lays the groundwork for a successful alcohol intervention or drug intervention by giving the severity of the situation the forethought it requires. An unsuccessful intervention can encourage an increase in addictive behaviors and disassociation from loved ones and friends. This is important to keep in mind, as this phase can be time-consuming and tedious at times.

Before beginning an intervention, loved ones must ascertain the severity of the person’s addiction and their situation so that the best possible recovery program can be selected. Whether it be an alcohol intervention or drug intervention, the steps will be the same. Once a complete understanding of the circumstances has been reached, it is time to select a recovery program for when the intervention is successful.

The recovery program that suits each person best varies depending on the type of addiction, the personality attributes of the person, and the circumstances which they are currently in. Take the time to research multiple recovery programs, visit them, and speak to their on-staff personnel to be sure that the level of care and environment will suit the person best.

Once a recovery program is selected, each loved one taking part in the intervention should take the time to document how this addiction had affected their life and the consequences it has had on their relationship. It is important to record these feelings beforehand so that the emotional charge is under control during the meeting.

It is important that the person does not feel attacked during the intervention or demeaned, so keeping the message consistent, heartfelt, and rational is critical. The family members and friends attending the intervention should meet beforehand to share what they have written with one another so that they can provide constructive criticism and create a cohesive message to get across. This message should show their loved one that they care, that their addiction is hurting themselves and the people they love, and that it is necessary to seek a recovery program to attain sobriety. Once this step is complete, it is time to establish consequences.

Establishing Consequences

When preparing for an intervention, it is necessary to develop a set of consequences that will occur if your loved one chooses to reject the intervention and not seek recovery. For the family and friends of someone struggling with addiction, their addictive behaviors may be destructive financially, emotionally, or physically.

For some people, it may be that they will no longer be able to have contact with their child if they are exposing them to dangerous and unstable circumstances. For others, it may be that they will need to find other housing if they are bringing illegal substances or dangerous behavior into the home.

These are just two examples, but for each member attending the intervention it is important to determine where these boundaries will be drawn should their loved one choose not to seek help so that they can be communicated and understood by their loved one during the decision-making process.

Decide on a Time and Place

The final step in the process is to decide on a time and place to hold the intervention. Be sure to consult the professional that was sought in the initial phases and schedule the intervention according to their availability to attend. Having someone who is qualified and outside the situation to mediate the intervention drastically increases the probability of a successful intervention, so take this scheduling step first.

Once their availability is determined, consult amongst the intervention attendees and plan a time that works for each person. Once this is done, select a place to hold the intervention that is calm, will be undisturbed, and will offer the privacy that a meeting this sensitive requires.

At this time, invite the loved one to the intervention without disclosing everyone that will be there or that the intervention will take place. It is important that the loved one not feel ambushed, so be conscientious when beginning the intervention to make sure that they are given ample time to adjust to what is happening and understand the situation.

At the culmination of these events, the intervention takes place. Laying the groundwork properly will bolster the chances of the intervention being successful and provide everyone involved with the best possible circumstances.