How To Avoid Situations With Alcohol After Quitting

Avoid Situations With Alcohol

Making the decision to abstain from alcohol is a tremendous first step. Reaching that milestone is worthy of recognition and admiration. Maintaining the resolve to continue along the path of sobriety is another ballgame. While the decision to avoid alcohol consumption does become more solid, over time, there tends to be a middle period where the temptation to return to old habits can seemingly arise from nowhere.

Becoming aware of the most common factors which prompt a temptation to drink is taking a preemptive approach toward sticking with your goal of abstinence. Having options in place for behaviors to engage in, in place of drinking, is a proactive one. Both the insight, and the plan, work together to support your long term success of sobriety.

 

Know Your Triggers

Whether your temptation is drink alone, or with others, it is important to have a good grasp on what it is which prompts you to consume alcohol. For some, it can be a certain environment which is linked to the desire. For others, it can be certain feelings or thoughts which activate that old thirst. Whatever it is that you can identify as immediately proceeding your temptation is likely a trigger for you. Once you are able to decipher what those triggers for your drinking are, you can take purposeful steps to avoid placing yourself in that position or mindset.

 

Involve Your Support Network

Becoming sober is a great way of finding out who your true friends are. Even if those in your social circle aren’t making the same decision to abstain from alcohol, those who are truly concerned for your best interests will make necessary adjustments in their behaviors concerning you.  A true friend will respect your healthy choices, and won’t be one to put the temptation of drinking in your face.

Of course, if your friends and family are regular drinkers, it would be unreasonable of you to expect that they will suddenly exclude the behavior from a majority of their gatherings. It might even be the case that you find yourself to be the excluded one, as friends attempt to show their support for your sobriety by no longer asking you to join them. If this becomes the case, it will behoove you to work toward building a new, sober, social circle. Being surrounded by others who have made the same commitment to sobriety can be one of the biggest factors in sustained recovery.

 

Increase Your Responsibilities

One of the easiest ways to slide back into bad habits is to be lacking in good reasons not to.  When we are not expected by others to keep to a schedule, deliver results, or maintain productivity, it is all too easy to let ourselves slide. Accountability for the success of others can work for the benefit of one who is looking to avoid the temptation to imbibe. The old saying that, “Idle time is the devil’s playground” has merit for the person in recovery.

It is much easier to say no to a nightcap when we know we have to be at work early in the morning. It is easier to excuse ourselves from a tailgate party when we know that we have reports to write. Replacing the leisure time that you once spent on drinking with more productive pursuits can work to keep you focused on your new priority of sobriety. You may need to fill more of your time with endeavors such as adding a new job, gaining membership in a charity group, or returning to school.

 

Stay Active

Excessive drinking is most often associated with sedentary gatherings. Drinks are consumed while sitting around the bar, conversing at a table, or chilling out on the backyard patio. It isn’t often that you notice a drink in the hand of someone who is hiking a trail or swinging a tennis racket.

Staying away from the temptation to drink in a social setting may come down to the types of activities you engage in. When planning a weekend, or a night out, consider choosing options which will keep you up and moving. Even if engaging in aerobic exercise isn’t your thing, there are plenty of options which require your active engagement. Visiting a museum, window shopping at the mall, or taking a road trip will all give you that forward motion which works as a deterrent to sitting around and sipping.

 

Get To the Root of the Problem

Up until this point, the suggestions toward avoiding situations involving alcohol have focused on behaviors and external triggers. While these solutions are very good to apply in the short term, longer term motivation often depends on addressing the emotions and cognitions which threaten to override our own, healthy, decisions. Working toward fixing the core problems which you seek to avoid through engaging in substance abuse provides the best stability.

Earlier in life, the role of peer pressure can be a major player in our decisions to drink. We see all of our friends doing it, and we want to be included in their fun. Later in life, peer pressure tends to take a back seat, as it is replaced by factors such as stress, guilt loneliness, or social discomfort. We may be tempted to drink as a way of escaping the current problems of our work or personal life. We may drink as a way of attempting to numb painful memories of our past. We may drink to gather up the courage to say things that we don’t feel empowered to say, otherwise.

All of these types of motivations involve using substances as a substitute for making genuine changes. As long as we are allowing these types of issues to remain in the background, our resolve toward abstaining from alcohol is at risk. Consider engaging in therapeutic support toward working through any underlying, unresolved, issues. As you find more peace in your daily life, thoughts of drinking can become less of a temptation, and more of an unwanted nuisance.

 

The Impact of Environment on Recovery

The Impact of Environment on Recovery - Transcend Texas

Several years ago, scientists observed something interesting. They were testing the addictive nature of illicit substances on some rats in a lab.

The rats were simultaneously offered a drinking bottle with pure water in it, and one with cocaine mixed into it. They found that the rats who were isolated and bored quickly became addicted to the cocaine-laced water.

The rats who were surrounded by friends, family, and interesting activities tended to ignore the drugged water, and consistently chose the pure water when satiating their thirst.

While it might not sound appealing to compare our human behaviors to the behavior of rats, much of what we have discovered from our rodent brothers has consistently applied to our own circumstances.

The behavior of these rats in choosing to abstain from drug use when in a positive environment provided weight for the argument that sociologists have been making for years. The effect of our surroundings on our decision to remain sober is extensive.

The following are four environmental areas of your own to examine while you are crafting your new life of recovery.

 

Personal Life

Setting up your personal life in a way which fosters your ability to tend to your mental and emotional needs will provide the best foundation for sustained recovery.

When we are in a state of personal chaos, our ability to withstand temptations to escape the discomfort through drug or alcohol abuse is weakened.

For some, setting up a life of recovery means first establishing a routine which includes a steady paycheck and a stable living environment.

According to Maslow’s popular theory, we are not able to focus on higher needs – such as those for self-esteem and achievement – until some of our more basic needs are met.

We must know how our bills are going to be paid, and where the next meal is coming from, before we are able to relax enough to look further down the road.

Make sure that you are taking advantage of the resources available in your community to assist you in meeting these basic needs, and also taking advantage of those which assist you toward building a personal life which does not include fear of facing the next days and months.

 

Family Life

Family influence can include parents, siblings, and significant others. When we are young, our parental examples can shape our beliefs in the dangers of substance abuse.

Watching mom and dad get high or drunk can lead us to believe that escaping real life through these means is an acceptable behavior.

Similarly, following in the footsteps of an older sibling who is engaging in substance abuse leads some to indulge for the first time. Resisting the temptation to fall into destructive family patterns often requires the outside assistance of a positive support network.

As we get older, our partner or spouse tends to take over that most influential family role. Choosing a mate who supports our determination to remain sober and build a satisfying life can make a pivotal difference in how easily the task is accomplished.

For those who are already in a relationship which is distressed by dysfunction – or one in which the other partner continues to use substances – the road to success can be much harder.

Difficult decisions will likely need to be made, including whether to initiate more effective boundaries, or even whether to separate.

Relationship counseling may be your best approach toward making the tough decisions required of someone who is building a new, sober, life while remaining in a preexisting relationship.

 

Peers

There is an old saying which states that you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. While we are young, we may not have as much ability to select those whom we hang out with on a daily basis.

As we grow older, and become free from the dictates of school and neighborhood, we begin to have more options. Who we choose to spend our time with, as adults, can make a large difference on how we view ourselves.

Most studies of peer influence on substance abuse focus on the role that friends play in influencing us toward using drugs and alcohol in our youth.

While our adolescent behaviors can set the tone for our eventual relationship with substances, the influence of our peers extends beyond these early years.

If we are choosing to surround ourselves with peers who continue to abuse drugs and alcohol, we are placing ourselves in the mouth of the lion. We are always no more than one step away from deciding to join in.

 

Community

The communities in which we live form the basis for our cultural norms. Cultural norms set the standard for what is considered acceptable behavior, lifestyle, and aspirations for ourselves and the people around us.

America has its own culture, but if you have ever had the opportunity to travel to different states or countries, you are likely very aware of the differences that exist within each, separate, region.

On the other hand, those of us who tend to stay in one place may not be so aware of the difference that a culture of a town can make on our life decisions.

Two of the biggest differences in community cultures lie in the approach toward education and job distribution. Other important areas of cultural difference include the community approach toward mental health and substance abuse.

These factors are often related, indicating that living in areas with lower education and job satisfaction put a person at higher risk for drug and alcohol use. This influence can extend to the whole town in which you live, or can be isolated to the area of town which you are prone to hang out in.

The attitudes of our surrounding culture can create an unconscious idea for us about what our future holds. A community culture which doesn’t foster visions of a future of hope and achievement is not a good place for a person in recovery to stay, for long.

Regaining Confidence After Recovery

Regaining Confidence After Recovery - Transcend Texas

As destructive as it is, a life which is built within addiction can still provide us with an identity.

We establish a certain network of friends – or acquaintances – whom we come to rely on. We have our daily habits, which provide a sense of comfort in routine. And, we have our coping methods established, even with that coping method meaning that we are using a substance to avoid facing problems.

When stepping out into the new realm after recovery, it can feel as though we don’t know where to begin. Our former behaviors need to be reshaped; our thoughts need to be recalibrated; and our social circle may need replacing.

The world which we have built for ourselves while in addiction has been resigned to the past, and a new, uncharted, territory lay before us. When embarking on such an adventure, it is useful to take along some pointers about the best ways to stake a claim in your new land, and the best ways to lay your foundation for a flourishing kingdom.

 

Take Enjoyment in the Small Things

Each accomplishment which is reached after recovery is worthy of appreciation.

For those who were used to staying up all night, beginning to wake up with the morning sun is a sign of new life. It could be that you are using the extra energy that you have gained from sobriety by playing with the kids, or through taking your mate out to dinner. Your new habits may include lying in bed and thinking about your life, instead of getting up to use.

All of these moments are valuable.

Things which are considered mundane by others can be considered as special to someone who has recovered from addiction.

Those who are aware of the consuming power of drugs and alcohol are equally equipped with the ability to appreciate the small, positive, aspects of life. Someone who has missed out on experiences, due to not being in a right frame of mind at the time, knows how to value the opportunities which come with a second chance.

Make sure to take the time to fully savor those moments.

 

Make Plans for Growth

The best way to get lost is to not know where you are going. After getting your sober feet underneath you, it is time to start plotting a course of action.

For many, remembering the directions which were taken during our old life of addiction can be a starting point for knowing which spots on the map to avoid. Once we have traveled down a dead-end road – and come back from it – we know not to take that particular route, again.

Depending on where it started, being trapped in substance addiction can actually mean that we didn’t get to progress through our necessary stages of life development. This new period may be a time to develop the proactive relationship traits which we find to be stunted. It may be the time to discover new skills, or to finally decide what we want to be when we grow up.

Obtaining guidance for growth in these formerly neglected areas can be extremely beneficial. Finding a good therapist; enrolling into college; or signing up for a local job center training may be part of your next best steps.

Even for those who managed to find their place in life before becoming addicted, making plans for a new future is critical.

There was something about your old life which put you in a compromised place, vulnerable to the temptations to seek relief through addictive substances. Your task will be to uncover that weakness, eliminate it, and rebuild that section of your castle with newer, more sustainable, materials.

Educating ourselves as to our own cognitive processes and emotional needs can be the key here, and gaining such insight can be aided by the assistance of healthy friends; self-study; or a competent therapist.

 

Build the New

Just as your ending up in addiction didn’t happen overnight, the building of your new life won’t be immediate.

The amount of time that it takes to set yourself up in a positive direction will be proportionate to the amount of destruction – both internal, and external –  which was caused over the course of your addiction. Be kind to yourself during this time, and keep your expectations realistic.

The analogy of rebuilding credit after earning a dismal score can be applied to the process of rebuilding a life. Staying on the good side of a credit score requires that certain, sound, fiscal, practices be established.

For those of us who have ruined our credit before beginning those good practices, we can take comfort in knowing that credit is renewed after a period of seven years. New behaviors – and time – will be what gets us out of that hole of poor credit, just as those two factors will be what go into our establishment of a new, sober, life.

The further we get into our rebuilding process, the more confident we become. While our initial journey in recovery may consist of daily reaffirmations of our resolve to stay sober, subsequent months years will find that those former behaviors are rarely considered.

We begin to take healthy pride in our progress, and our self-esteem is regularly fed by our staying of the course. Our relationships with others are improved; our ability to manage stress is increased; and our financial situations tend to become more stable.

 

Keep Hope in the Future

The overall theme which is present in recovery, and beyond, is that of hope. Hope is the ability to envision a positive future, and it is this vision which drives us onward.

Your hope may lie in seeing your  children or grandchildren grow into content, well-adjusted, adults. It may be in leaving a financial nest egg to your descendants, or in being able to retire early. It may be in achieving an afterlife which is full of joy and fulfillment.

Whatever it is that you hope for, do what it takes to keep this vision always in front of you.

Can Pets Make A Difference In Addiction Recovery?

Can Pets Make A Difference In Addiction Recovery - Transcend Texas

Animal-based support has been used for physical therapy for quite some time, and it is becoming a popular technique for treating a range of mental health symptoms, as well. Emotional support animals (ESA’s) are currently being used to support those suffering under a range of diagnoses, including depression; anxiety; PTSD; and schizophrenia. They have been made available to assist traumatized witnesses in court trials; to assist those with a criminal background in readjusting to society; and to provide reassurance for children who have suffered abuse.

Including these furry companions in addiction recovery is a natural extension of their range of usefulness. The experience of adjusting to a life without the influence substances can be strenuous on the body, mind, and emotions.

Recovery from addiction requires that the body relearn how to function. It requires that thoughts be adjusted toward focusing on more positive behaviors and outcomes. It requires that we learn to manage our emotions in a more productive way. Pets can assist us with each of these dynamics.

 

Pet Lovers Get More Physical Exercise

Adequate physical exercise is known to produce benefits such as reduced weight; decreased risk for stroke and heart attack; and increased flexibility. The habit of engaging in regular exercise is a popular choice for those seeking to replace the destructive habits of getting drunk or high, and those who have pets are known to engage in more physical exercise than those without. While providing your non-human animal friend with necessary exercise, you will be reaping the benefits, yourself.

If you are looking for a companion animal to assist you the most toward getting up and moving around, dogs are the clear choice. Studies have shown that dog owners are more likely to stay on track with their fitness routines, and are prone to gain the benefits of walking more steps per day. Interacting with a canine companion while exercising can take any drudgery out of the task.

While not as convenient to own, another animal which naturally contributes to an increase in physical exercise is a horse. Riding a horse results in cardiovascular activity; better lower back, core, and thigh strength; and better balance. If owning your own horse is out of the question, there are often local stables which will provide riding lessons and other opportunities for interaction with these majestic animals.

 

Pet Lovers Experience Better Mood

In addition to exercise with your pet contributing to improved physical health, simply sitting with –  or petting – a companion animal releases chemicals in our brains which help us to experience positive emotions. The experience of a better mood is welcome during any type of life transition, and can provide a person in addiction recovery with some added emotional fuel toward sustaining it.

Those who have a bonded pet around them are shown to have reduced levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is associated with stress. Cortisol is an implicator in sustaining the flight-or-fight response, which can manifest as anxiety, irritation, and anger. Reducing it can result in more feelings of peace and amicability.

Simply petting our animals also releases oxytocin into our bloodstream, which is a feel-good chemical which contributes to our feeling bonded with another entity. This hormone is the same one which is released as a parent is bonding with a new baby, or when we are cuddling up with our significant other.

With our pet interactions resulting in both a reduction in stress, and an increase in bonding hormones, pets are helping us to set the stage for improving our human interactions, as well.

 

Pet Lovers Have More Opportunities to Socialize

Often times, choosing a life of sobriety and recover can mean leaving the social circle that we had previously been a part of. The process of forming a new, more positive, social network can take some time, and those in addiction recovery can experience a gap in companionship which can result in loneliness.

Here, again, animal companions can come to the rescue. While it is not supported that companion animals, alone, are enough to fulfill a person’s social needs, it has been found that those with pets are more prone to find reasons to socialize.

The type of pet that you choose can open the door to interactions with like-minded individuals. Dog lovers need only to walk their pal down to the local park, and they are likely to encounter others who stop to share in some related conversation. Cat lovers also abound, and taking a glance around the office work space can often reveal a kindred soul through noticing the mugs, bumper stickers, and mouse pads which hail the benefits of cat ownership.

Those with specialty pets can often find a host of supportive groups on the internet, which can sometimes even result in local get-togethers. And, as a starting point, simply examining the different sections at a local pet store can result in striking up an interesting conversation surrounding your pet of choice.

 

Options for Pet Therapy During Addiction Recovery

Within the realm of addiction treatment, these pets are incorporated into treatment under the heading of Animal Assisted Therapy, or ATT. Some drug treatment programs may already include pet interaction as part of their overall therapy regimen. Other options to directly owning a pet during your process of recovery can include volunteering at a local shelter, or participating in a nonprofit organization which is dedicated to the cause of helping others through animal interaction.

When considering the addition of your own therapy pet to your recovery process, be mindful that the official laws surrounding their inclusion in public spaces are currently evolving. Be prepared with documents from your licensed therapist or physician which validate your pet as an ESA, and be likewise prepared to educate the public in regard to their function.

One should also be wary of agencies which are offering false documentation toward establishing your pet as a companion animal. These crooked agencies charge a hefty fee for what would otherwise be offered, by a therapist, with no additional charges associated.

How To Live Sober In Texas

How To Live Sober In Texas

You have taken the enormous steps toward getting sober. You are ready to start on your journey toward living a full, rich, and meaningful life. You are not sure what comes next, but you know that you don’t want drugs or alcohol to play any role in it.

 Knowing that we don’t want substances in our lives is a great starting point, but it is usually not enough.  As humans, we have the tendency to want to do exactly thing that we are telling ourselves to refrain from.  Constantly thinking about not using drugs or alcohol means that we are still thinking about the drugs and alcohol.

A more useful tactic toward changing behaviors is to make sure that the unwanted behaviors are replaced with healthier ones. Telling ourselves “yes!” to something good works better than constantly thinking about avoiding something bad. The following are some ways to be proactive – rather than prohibitive – as you build your new life of sobriety.

 

Attend Support Groups

Chances are that there were several factors in your life which existed before the drugs or alcohol became the focus, and chances are that some of those factors are with you, still. Some individuals have struggled due to growing up with domestic violence. Others have experienced extreme trauma or grief. Still others struggle with diagnosed mental health problems, or have difficulty working with family members who are disabled in some way.

Support groups exist for nearly every situation imaginable. Whatever your situation, finding an applicable support group of others who have experienced what you have experienced can provide you with a sense of normalcy, and sharing sorrows and triumphs with them can provide you with a boost of confidence in your abilities to overcome anything that life has thrown your way.

When discussing support groups for former substance users, the two big ones usually come up: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA.) While some people swear by these organizations, others find that these groups are just not their cup of tea. When considering the benefits of support groups, make sure to do some research into the myriad of options that are available in your town, and find what is a good fit, for you.

A sober living community is often a better alternative to your typical support group. Sober living communities provide a more nurturing environment to constantly live in and you may find that you are more comfortable working on your recovery in that kind of setting.

 

Find a Therapist

If group participation isn’t your thing – or if you aren’t able to find a group which provides the support you are looking for – visiting a good therapist may provide the support you are looking for. Like with support groups, there are individual therapists who specialize in all manners of issues, from relationship dysfunction; to dealing with trauma; to helping clients to find practical solutions for life’s problems. Feel free to shop around, and find a therapist whom you believe is a good fit for your situation and personality preferences. If money is a prohibiting factor in seeking therapy, check with your local colleges and human services department. These organizations often provide free and low-cost resources.

 

Focus On Your Health

With all of the ravaging on the body that drugs and alcohol do, this new period of sober living is the perfect time to mitigate some of that damage. As a society, we have steadily gained insight into what it takes to keep this body machine running, and options abound for health education and participation. The time you once spent on destroying your health can now be used to optimize it.

Texas is not behind the times when it comes to healthy choices. In addition to health-conscious grocery stores, there is also a large selection of health-conscious restaurants. After filling your body with good fuel, there are many health clubs and fitness programs available for turning that fuel into muscle. Many who embark on a quest toward physical wellness find that they experience improved mood, as well, which is a win-win scenario.

For those reluctant to leave the house after a long day at work, there are more convenient options available. Companies like Blue Apron will deliver healthy, ready-to-cook, meals to your doorstep, and entire fitness programs are available, online, through companies like Les Mills. These two companies are only two examples of the types of convenient services which are available, so be sure to do your own research into the best options.

 

Take Some Classes

Education is not only a path to self actualization, it is also often the surest route toward improving our financial situation and work satisfaction. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? In many cases, that dream is still an option. Even if you aren’t able to fully embark on a new career, there is nothing to prevent you from exploring these original interests and passions through taking a few classes.

Local community colleges offer a wide range of subjects, and many of them offer convenient ways of completing the courses. With so much of the attendance population now consisting of adults over the age of 25, colleges have adapted to meet the needs of working students. Many courses are offered online, or during evening hours. Other convenient options include signing up with a national, online-only, college.

 

Knock Some Things Off Of Your Bucket List

There is a phenomenon which exists, in which we tend to not go to visit the wondrous sights that are in our own backyard. People will fly in, from miles around, to visit our state attractions, but we don’t ever seem to get around to doing it. As part of your new life, consider making a list of things that you have always wanted to do in your home state…and then do those things!

For those of the means and desire, taking a trip to a foreign country is a life changing experience. For those without such lofty ambitions, there are plenty of areas to explore close to home. Texas is a treasure trove of both natural wonders, and national history. From state preserves; to amusement parks; to historical sites, there are plenty of options for enriching your life with local experiences.

The Benefits Of Gender-Specific Sober Living

Gender Specific Sober Living

We live in a time when the concept of assigning people to tasks based on sex – creating boys and girls teams – is considered divisive, antiquated, and unfair. The advance of feminist equality movements have largely contributed to this mindset, and the movement’s observations of sexism practices being common in previous ages – and still common in some locations – are valid.  Sexist stereotypes have done much to limit people from their full potential, through insisting that our opportunities and abilities are dependent solely upon our chromosomal arrangement.

There are some who have reacted to the extreme nature of systematic, sexist, discrimination with a similar extremity. They will insist that, to abolish sexism, being male or female should play no part in any equation, whatsoever. Those in this group wish to go from assignment of male or female meaning everything, to it meaning nothing.

As noble of an idea as this may sound, erasing barriers and prejudice against one sex, or the other, does not erase the fact that the sexes are inherently different from one another. Males and females mature into adulthood differently; experience socialization differently; play different roles in sexual relationships; and participate in parenthood uniquely. Biology is not a reason to discriminate, but its impacting affect on our experiences is indisputable.

As with so many other things in life, balance of perspective appears to be the best answer to the issue of sex and gender differences. It is possible – and arguably desirable – to craft a society in which individuals are recognized for their unique attributes, rather than being lumped together as all being the same. An appreciation for the unique experiences associated with being female, or male, is the premise behind the construct of gender-specific sober living homes.

 

Gender-Specific Sober Living Promotes Validation of Experience

Anyone who has tried to explain something important to someone, only to have had that someone just not get it, knows how frustrating lack of understanding can be. If the idea that we are attempting to communicate is of a highly personal nature, we are even more prone to feel a sting of hurt and rejection when no indication of understanding is communicated by those listening. On the other side of the coin, feeling understood – and validated – can produce a cognitive relief, and flood our emotional senses with a warm glow of companionship.

Feeling understood and validated is a key to recovery. Before we are able to properly rid ourselves of the mental and emotional baggage that we carry, it is usually the case that someone else needs to acknowledge that it exists. This validation, in the form of empathy, is what most often frees us from the weight of being entangled and entrenched within our problems. Once some of that weight is lifted by the acknowledgment of another person, we are able to see, more clearly, a way out of or unpleasant situation.

As intelligent, intuitive, and kind as someone may be, there is really no way to know what another person’s journey has been like without walking a mile in those moccasins. When it comes to sex and gender-specific experiences, no amount of cognitive acknowledgment – or book learning – can substitute for actually having been there. If you want to test this theory, simply mention menstruation or childbirth during mixed-sex company at your next social function. It is most likely that you will see the males look awkwardly around the room, while the females emphatically join in with their own accounts of the experiences.

 

Gender-Specific Sober Living Offers a Safe Space

Many of those who struggle with substance abuse are coming from a background of trauma. Much of this trauma has been experienced with an abuser of the opposite sex. Statistics indicate that one of every six women has been a victim of rape, or of a rape attempt. Other studies find that 95% of the victims of domestic violence are female. There is strong evidence to suggest that there are gender differences in the role that each sex plays within the cycle of violence.

Whether you are a victim of violence; a perpetrator of violence; or neither, your gender assignment within society as it pertains to violence is associated. Males are most often viewed as aggressors, and females are most often viewed as victims. The fairness of these associations is largely irrelevant, as proclaiming them to be inaccurate, in your case, does not erase the statistics.

Domestic violence has roots in fear. When the majority of violence is gender-specific, the treatment for eliminating such fear also benefits from being gender-specific. Within the confines of gender-specific sober living, these fears are able to be safely explored, without threat of intentions being misaligned by the opposite gender. Both males and females are able to safely share their perceptions; concerns; and experiences with their fellow brothers and sisters in recovery, and can expect the relation and validation which can only come from those on a similar side of the playing field.

 

Gender-Specific Sober Living Keeps the Focus on Self-Improvement

While the specific numbers are not known, estimates indicate that over 95% of the population is sexually attracted to the opposite gender. This means that there is a very high chance, when dividing the sober living housing into male and female groups, participants are not going to be distracted by flirting. Exceptions will always exist, but the odds are good that you will not be looking to score your next partner from among your roommates.

Being free from the distraction of being sexually attracted to those in a group provides an environment for self-focus. There is a psychological concept that we are not able to attract a positive mate until we, ourselves, are in a positive state of being. As long as we are struggling with ridding ourselves of the demon of addiction, we are at risk for attracting others with similar demons. Tending to our mental and emotional needs while within an unromantic, gender-specific, space can prepare us for eventual partnership with someone who is similarly healthy and balanced.

What To Do When Feeling Withdrawal Effects

What to Do When Feeling withdrawl Effects

An inevitable stop along the journey of recovery involves experiencing withdrawal from the substance which has so long dictated your responses to life. The length and severity of the experience of withdrawal will depend on the type of substance has been affecting the body. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, for instance, can start as soon as a few hours after the last drink. These acute symptoms can last for a week or more. Other substances can take longer to make a difference in the body. Depending on the type and amount of dosage, detoxing effects from opioids can take up to a week to hit, and can last for nearly a month.

Regardless of the type of drug, few would say that detoxing after developing a dependency on a substance is entirely easy. When anticipating the need to weather the storm of withdrawal, it is helpful to be armed with information about the process. Planning ahead for any discomfort can make all of the difference in how smoothly we navigate the transition to our new life of sobriety.

 

Be Aware of the Source of Discomfort

It is all too easy to panic when we experience the severe mood swings which accompany substance withdrawal. We may believe we are failing in our ability to remain positive and focused. We may fear that the negative experiences are an indication that we don’t have what it takes to make it without the numbing effects of the drug. We may feel a combination of mental, emotional, and physical discomfort that robs of us the will to keep fighting.

In those moments, it is helpful to remind ourselves that all of this is a normal part of the process toward recovery. These temporary experiences are an indispensable part of the journey, and their root cause is the normal, biological, reaction to removing the influence of the substance. The mind, the emotions, and the physical body are all initially opposed to adjusting to your new life of recovery. The body tends to complain about the changes, just like a cranky toddler will insist that she doesn’t want to go to sleep. Your task is to stand your ground until that defiant child – or the rebelling state of your body – concedes in going to bed.

 

Give Yourself Time and Space

Your addiction wasn’t developed in a day, and getting rid of the influence of the substance won’t happen overnight.  Thankfully, though, the getting past acute withdrawal tends to take much less time than getting into ourselves into the depths of addiction took. All influencing substances have a half life, after which point the body begins to return to its non-influenced state. Educate yourself on the amount of time that the specific substance in your situation is expected to hang around, and mark your calendar with that future date of its departure.

The physical influence of the substance isn’t the only factor, however. Those who have relied on addictive substances for a significant period of time will have more hurdles than simply detoxing. Emotional and mental withdrawal symptoms can include mood dysregulation and cognitive distortions,

and can persist for much longer than the effects on biology. You may need time to relearn how to think, and feel, once the substance is no longer in control.

Rather than stressing about the presence of self-defeating thoughts or negative emotions, you can allow yourself the space to experience them. Mindfulness techniques are excellent to utilize for this purpose. With mindfulness, each personal experience is considered from an observational viewpoint. As opposed to allowing the mental and emotional experiences to dictate our actions, we simply acknowledge their existence. The experiences are validated – rather than frantically rejected –  through being acknowledged, and can then be allowed to pass on without action. The information gained from noting the experiences can be gathered toward educating ourselves on what tactics need to be put in place, in order for our continued progress to be solidly assured.

 

Seek Social Support

Remember that the temptations to return to our former life of addiction tend to be most strong when we are not in the company of positive people. When we are alone – or, worse, spending time with those using substances – our withdrawal responses can try to take the wheel and steer us toward relapse. A positive support system can provide us with inspiration; accountability; and resources to stay on course.

Professional substance abuse counselors are the ideal candidates for providing this type of support. They are trained in understanding the phases of recovery, and can supply you with evidence-based treatment methods. Many substance abuse counselors have gone through a similar journey, with their own addictions, and can attest to the joy that is to be found after succeeding in your recovery. They have added years of education and internship during their recovery, and have obtained a credential as a counselor as a capstone of their success.

The friends that are made during your participation in a substance abuse recovery program are also wonderful sources for support. You are questing companions, who are making this trek, together, toward wellness. Having the type of friend that you can call up at any time – and who will get exactly where you are coming from – can provide a huge relief during times of temptation and despair. You will not need to spend your energy explaining the details of your circumstances, as your recovery partners will already know all about it.

As yet another option for finding social support, there are individual therapists available in most every area of the nation. For those on a budget, you can check with your local colleges about sliding-scale therapy sessions. Many universities provide a training clinic, where those who are still pursuing their certifications and licensure are able to apply their therapeutic learning. While not as sustainable as gathering a good group of positive, like-minded, friends around you, popping in for a counseling session during tough periods may be enough to get you through the hardest points of withdrawal.

“Rules” to Keep In Mind After Recovery

4 "Rules" to Follow Post-Addiction Recovery - Transcend Texas

Considering recovery with a list of rules may not sound like much fun.

The concept of rules tends to imply that there are constraints, some of which may not align with our personal desires for freedom. If we approach our life journey as a sort of adventure – as Joseph Campbell alludes to – it can become much more palatable to accept the idea that there are rules that we are wise to follow.

The idea Campbell presents is that our human journey is a quest toward heroism. Our life journey is that of discovery. We battle demons and ogres; find powerful weapons; and return triumphantly with the holy grail of our choosing.

From this perspective, life can be considered as a game to win. And, as with any game, there are rules which guide us toward victory.

On the playing board of recovery, the following are some rules that can serve to keep you out of the dangerous swamps of fear, temptation, and relapse.

 

Rule #1: Be Kind To Yourself

People on the outside often mistake those in addiction as being selfish, hateful, people.

To the contrary, many of those who find themselves lost in addiction are some of the most loving, kind, people on the planet. Without the slavery of addiction, they are the kind of people who will give the shirt off of their own back to help another person.

The downside of being such a kind and loving person is that we can often give too much to others. When we fail to take good care of our own self, we eventually end up drained of energy. When we are drained, we are prime targets for the demons of addiction to launch an attack. Their only goal is too drag us off, and to stick us back into that mire of hopelessness.

The rule for not getting to this weakened point of vulnerability is to be kind to yourself.

While it may seem counterintuitive, we need to set boundaries around how much we are willing to give of ourselves. If we don’t keep back enough energy to meet our own needs, we will eventually end up being of no use to others.

It is the same concept which is applied during airline flights. Secure your own mask before assisting others to do the same.

When having those mental conversations that we all have, pay attention to how you are speaking to yourself. Are the things that you are telling yourself the same things which you would tell a friend or loved one in your situation?

If not, there is a chance you are being too harsh.

The golden rule is to “do unto others as you would have done to you.” It isn’t, “do unto others better than you would have done to you.” Love yourself, first.

 

Rule #2: Hold On To Your Vision of the Future

There is an ancient scripture which reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Having a vision of what our desired future looks like is imperative to maintaining hope and purpose. As you have made it this far in your journey of recovery, it is likely that you have already envisioned this joyful future. Your task is to not let that vision fade.

The mundanity of life can have a way of creeping in on us.

As we journey out of addiction, our practical responsibilities toward daily living tend to increase. We become more engaged in our work; our home life; and our contributions to society. While all of these aspects are the most rewarding part of staying sober, they can also become overwhelming.

Feeling overwhelmed with the short-term responsibilities that we face is yet another danger zone for relapse.

As part of your self-care and maintenance, take some daily time to refocus on the bigger picture. Utilizing imaginative or meditation techniques can work for this purpose. In your mind, or even on paper, sketch for yourself the details of your own, personal, promised land.

This is the place where your hopes and dreams which led you to recovery are manifested. This is the place that you are heading.

 

Rule #3: Plan For Success

Having the image of your desired future in front of you is very important, but it also needs some substance in order for it to be maintained.

The old adage of, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” rings true. Sketching out some solid, attainable, goals to reach along your ultimate journey toward peace and prosperity can serve to keep you on track.

A popular mnemonic device for setting goals is the SMART method. When using this technique, you will want to set goals for yourself that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Based

The experience of achieving smaller goals creates a positive feedback, which works to encourage us toward obtaining even loftier goals as we go along.

 

Rule #4: Confer With Successful People

Sticking with the theme of ancient wisdom, there is the proverbial idea that, “water seeks its own level.” While this is certainly true in physics, the saying is most often applied in a social context.

As life is an upward climb, it is all too easy to let ourselves slide back downward into a puddle of despair. When we are in a low place, we will naturally be drawn toward others who are not doing well in life. Once surrounded by others in a lower state, it is all too easy to get comfortable there.

A secret for staying our course toward success is to find pools of people who are at a higher level on this mountain climb. After making a short journey up your mountain, using your SMART goals, camp for awhile with the folks you find there. Utilize their knowledge and experiences as a stepping stone for your continued quest.

If these fellow travelers are worth their salt, they will joyfully provide you with the encouragement and information that you need to carry on. “Onward and upward!” is the mantra of this hero journey.

The First Step Toward Sobriety Is The Hardest

First Steps Toward Sobriety

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying, “Giving up smoking is easy. I’ve done it a hundred times.” Most people take this quote to mean that this clever author was making reference to just how difficult it is to give up an addiction. We may make up our minds to quit, night after night, only to wake up the next day and pick the habit up again.

That isn’t to say, though, that simply having the thought of quitting isn’t a good thing. Entertaining ideas of life without the influence of an addictive substance is actually the necessary precursor to making the plans to quit. After these plans are made, we can begin to take our first, solid, steps toward sobriety. It is taking these steps that Twain apparently struggled with.

 

Stages Of Change

In order to perform a self-check our progress toward recovery, it is useful to understand the process that occurs while removing ourselves from a life of addiction. While there are some variations to this formula, most substance abuse treatment programs recognize five basic stages of recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, the fact that you are reading this article indicates that you are already – at the least – in the second stage.

 

Precontemplation

Those who are in the precontemplation stage of recovery are recognizable due to their having no real desire or intention to get out of their addictions. They are apparently unaware of the damage that their habits are causing, both toward themselves, and toward their loved ones. Consequences of the substance abuse are dismissed and minimized, and the only real plans made are those surrounding how to continue to use, and continue to get away with it.

 

Contemplation

In the contemplation stage, we begin to take note of the destruction that our substance use and abuse is causing. We may start to feel sadness and guilt over our lack of sobriety, and may start thinking twice before indulging in a substance. We may begin to confess our inability to stop using to those closest to us, and may begin to talk about our desires to quit using.

 

Planning

During the planning stage, our contemplations have grown loud enough to spur us toward making a change.  Making resolutions is a hallmark of this stage, such as with our deciding that this time of using the substance will be our last. We may begin to engage in research toward into how we can gain the tools necessary to quit our addictive behaviors, and begin to daydream about how much better our life will be without being under the control of the drug or alcohol. The viability of the plans that we make during this phase can mean the difference between success, and failure, in our recovery.

 

Action

Up until this point, all of the stages of change have taken place in our own minds and hearts. The action phase is where our first, concrete, steps are taken toward sobriety. The action phase consists of putting our plans into place, and making the life changes that are necessary for removing ourselves from the addiction. We may let our partying friends and acquaintances know that we won’t be coming around, anymore. We may begin attending support groups, or finally enroll in a substance abuse treatment program that we have been considering.

 

Maintenance

The maintenance phase of recovery is the gold star, and a culmination of all of the hard work that you have put into crafting your new life without the substances. The maintenance phase is the time where only small tweaks in behaviors, and easier decisions toward avoidance, are utilized to keep you on your positive life course. The maintenance phase allows you to use the tools, successes, and triumphs experienced during the action phase as a means to keep the temptations at bay.

 

 

Taking Action Steps

Taking those first, concrete, steps toward sobriety is often the most difficult stage of recovery. It is much easier to think about doing a thing than it is to actually do a thing. As previously mentioned, making solid plans – which include utilizing the support of those who are knowledgeable and skilled in the process of recovery – can make your action phase a much more productive, and successful, venture. Once your plans are in place, your main task will be to muster up the courage to take action toward fulfilling them.

For some, the first action step is to enroll in a treatment program. This step takes a fair amount of courage, as there are many vulnerable factors involved. First, there is the fact that we must be willing to be vulnerable in admitting that we need help to remove ourselves from our addictions. Secondly, there is the fear of change that can arise, as we agree to upend our entire life structure in our pursuit of making things better. Thirdly, there is the anxiety that can accompany entering a new, unfamiliar, environment. Deciding to enter a treatment program can feel as though we are putting our lives into the hands of others, which can be a scary experience.

For those who are not quite willing, or able, to immerse themselves into the full experience of an inpatient treatment program, outpatient options are available. In addition to local meetings, county and local nonprofit organizations offer substance abuse disorder treatments as well. The important thing is that steps forward are made, in whatever form you are able to make them. Whichever road you take, you can end up in a sober living home to help facility recovery as well.

If you have previously made plans to get help, and then backed down from taking the concrete steps, there is no need to fret. The stages of change are often not linear, and a person who is destined for recovery can experience several attempts toward the maintenance goal before finally succeeding.  If you are ready to put your plan into action – for the first time, or again – it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a qualified intervention specialist. Having this concrete support can help you to stay the course.

 

Dealing With a Relapse

Dealing With A Relapse

When we set out to rid ourselves of our addictions, we are usually full of hope and resolve. We have a clear picture of where we are heading, and we are determined to reach our goals. We are not often equipped with the reality of the length of the journey, or with insight into the multitude of hazards, pitfalls, and temptations which will surface as we make our way toward our recovery. These setbacks can take us by surprise, and can set the stage for a relapse.

Relapse is so often a part of recovery that it is included as a topic in the bulk of recovery-based literature. While it is wonderful if you are one of the few who manages to avoid this experience entirely, know that you are in the blessed minority. If you do find yourself experiencing a relapse, it is helpful to know that you are far from being alone in it. The following are some tips to consider if you do find yourself in the relapse stage of recovery.

 

Consider Life As A Spiral

Addiction doesn’t usually happen overnight. It is most often a journey. There is a reason this journey is sometimes referred to as the “downward spiral,” rather than being called a straight plunge. A spiral winds slowly toward the center, with many instances of passing through territory which is similar to what was experienced, before. We may notice, through our addiction, that we have several opportunities to jump off of this crazy train. Those of us who end up at the very center of that downward spiral – or hit our rock bottom – do so because we don’t see – or don’t take – those multiple opportunities to end the ride before we crash into that hard surface.

The journey out of addiction is also often a spiral. This time, though, the journey is upwards. Just as you didn’t get into your addiction in one, fell, swoop, it is unreasonable to think that your journey out of it will be linear. There will be many opportunities for both successes, and failures, along the way. With each success, you get further and further away from your life of addiction. Each step backwards that you take will mean that you are playing with the idea of sinking back down to the black hole.

This spiral metaphor for the journey shows us that we don’t need to despair if we make a wrong decision along the way. The good news about the spiral process is that one step backwards doesn’t mean that all is lost. If you have already taken several steps forward, one backwards step doesn’t erase your progress. If you have been actively working toward your recovery –  and then make the bad decision to use a substance again – the key is to detox, dust yourself off, and then make sure that your steps upward continue to outnumber your steps back downward.

 

Avoid Shaming Yourself

One of the worst things that we can do during a relapse is to pile on the self-depreciation. Many who end up in addiction do so as a response to experiences an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts and emotions. The substances are often used as a means to escape these unpleasant perceptions. Adding more of the negative vibes to your plate won’t help you to avoid the temptation to numb or silence them. Ruminating on guilt or shame over an instance of relapse is a self-defeating practice, and can result in a strong temptation to give up. For those in recovery, it not relapse which is the enemy. It is giving up which needs to be diligently avoided.

When processing the fact that you have experienced a relapse instance, be kind to yourself. It may be useful to consider how you would treat someone else, if that other person were in your situation. Any encouragement, understanding, or support that you would provide for someone else who is working on recovery belongs to you, as well. You are just as deserving of that positive regard as anyone else. Rather than being bogged down by focusing on the failure, take this time to focus on all that you have accomplished, and to make plans for your next steps forward.

 

Surround Yourself With Insightful People

Often times, those in addiction have dragged family members and loved ones along for the ride. These people in our lives may be tired and hopeless, and may even feel angry and resentful toward us. They may have been hounding us, for years, about our need to get out of the addiction. When we finally make steps toward sobriety, they may feel as though all of their prayers and wishes have finally come to pass. When we experience a relapse, it can appear to them as though their hopes have been ripped away, once again. Their responses can be quite vicious in this scenario, and can consist of anything but continued support.

When we are working toward our recovery, it is sometimes best to temporarily separate ourselves from those closest to us. By removing ourselves from the familiarity of our loved ones, we have the opportunity to experience growing pains, without worry of their responses to our stumbling. Just as being unkind to ourselves after a relapse is counterproductive, experiencing the angry, blaming, disappointed responses of others can also result in temptation to give up.

Those who have insight into the process of recovery – which often includes trained professionals and former addicts – know that the process is often more complex than simply deciding not to use anymore. They understand that there is a large portion of ourselves which has no desire to use, even while we are actually doing it. Supporters with insight are able to nurture that positive part of our psyche, and will avoid emphasizing the smaller part of us which tempts us toward returning to the addiction. Through utilization of psycho education and a focus on the positive aspects of our journey, these folks can come alongside us and help us successfully navigate through the rough patches.