How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fellowship of people in recovery from addiction that has helped millions of people in the United States and across the globe. A recent scientific review of numerous studies found that AA helps people maintain abstinence in the long term more than other addiction treatment methods. 

Alcoholics Anonymous provides a setting where you can learn from shared experiences, develop strong support networks and interpersonal skills, and experience the healing power of helping one another. AA meetings are free, accessible to everyone, and can offer support throughout your entire recovery journey.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an informal society that encourages people in recovery to meet together in support groups and share their experiences of addiction. It has a community of over two million members worldwide and aims to facilitate the sharing of strength, hope, and mutual support between members as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.

AA membership is free - the only requirement is the initial will to stop drinking. AA is non-political and is not aligned with any other institution. Meetings are self-organized, and there is no central authority directing the operation of each group. Members are free to design their meetings in the way that best suits their members.

What Is the 12-Step Method and How Does It Help Addiction Recovery?

When Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook founded Alcoholics Anonymous almost one hundred years ago, they collectively wrote ‘The Big Book’, which lays out the 12-step method for addiction recovery. 

While not all AA programs now follow the 12-steps, most members find them to be a powerful tool for overcoming addiction and maintaining abstinence. Many other self-help groups, including Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, have also adopted the 12-step philosopy. 

The steps can be split into three main stages:


The first steps involve accepting that you are powerless over your addiction and giving yourself over to a higher power. Accepting your addiction helps you overcome feelings of shame and re-instills a sense of self-worth. You learn to love yourself so you can love the world around you and commit to a life of sobriety.

Personal Growth

The next steps focus on spiritual development and personal growth. They involve recognizing harmful thought patterns and behaviors and replacing them with healthier habits and decisions. They also require making amends to others for the harm you have caused them. This helps you avoid destructive feelings of guilt and lets you find self-worth in the humility and compassion you have shown.

Helping Others

The final step is to share the 12-steps with other people in alcohol recovery. Teaching the 12-steps to others helps you reinforce the steps in yourself and strengthens your commitment to your recovery goals.

What Are the Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous Over Other Treatment Options?

  • AA’s most powerful asset is its ubiquity and accessibility. Addiction is a chronic illness, and recovery is a lifelong process. You can attend AA meetings free for the rest of your life, providing you with a constant source of invaluable support and guidance.
  • AA meetings also give you the chance to support others in recovery. Helping another recovering alcoholic helps you to heal and remain committed to your own recovery journey.
  • When you join a local AA program, you become part of a local community. You’ll meet other people who share your goals and form strong friendships. You may also spend time with these friends outside of AA sessions, which can help you stay away from alcohol and triggers.

At Enlightened Solutions, our entire treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy. We integrate the 12-steps into our treatment approaches and connect you to local AA groups to support you once you have left the center.

Enlighted Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment facility- we focus on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. Our individualized recovery plans combine a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation.

If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


New to Recovery? Find a Sponsor

You did it. You gave up drugs or alcohol and you are now sober. You have been through a treatment program, and perhaps have been in a sober living facility for a while, a controlled living situation designed to bridge the gap between formal treatment and living on your own. Now you are on your own.

Many treatment centers are based on the 12-Step philosophy. If the one you went through was, you probably began attending 12-Step meetings during treatment. Depending on where you went through treatment, you may be able to keep attending the same meeting, or you may need to find one closer to where you live.

If you need to find a new 12-Step meeting to attend, the standard recommendation is that you attend several until you find one that you really like. That meeting will serve as your “home” meeting, the one that you attend the most, and with regularity. Bear in mind that there are substance-specific meetings, like Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous, to name a few. Also, in this time of COVID-19, many meetings are held virtually, so you can attend a meeting anywhere in the world.

After finding your home meeting, many people who have been in recovery for a while recommend that you find a sponsor. While you aren’t required to have a sponsor, most people in recovery find it helpful.

What Is a Sponsor’s Role?

A sponsor is someone who has been in a 12-Step program and who is stable in their recovery. Your sponsor is the person you will typically contact in between meetings if you have questions or concerns, although you can contact anyone you want. Your sponsor will work with you as you work the 12 Steps and will function as a guide to the 12-Step program overall. It’s helpful if your sponsor is aware of how AA functions beyond local meetings.

You will usually meet with your sponsor in between meetings to work on the steps and check in on how you are doing overall. A sponsor is good for your recovery by helping you in continuing to abstain from drugs and alcohol and to remain active in the recovery program. This has been shown to be the case by research done by an organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Qualities You Should Look for in a Sponsor

Finding a sponsor is relatively easy. At some meetings, the leader will ask people who are willing to serve as sponsors to raise their hands. Also, as people share their experiences during meetings, listen to see if there is someone whose story resonates with you and for someone you feel comfortable with. You will probably talk to your sponsor a couple of times during a typical week, so you should find someone you feel comfortable with and someone you can see discussing your addiction and the ups and downs of recovery.

Your sponsor should be someone who has been sober for a year or longer, someone who has worked the steps at least once, and someone who has been through a whole year of events and happenings, like holidays, that can bring about urges and cravings. You may also want a sponsor whose addiction was to the same substance as yours--if your problem was with alcohol, you may want a sponsor whose issue was with alcohol. Also, you may want a same-sex sponsor. Although this is a recommendation, it’s not a rule--there are no rules to finding a sponsor. You may want to find a sponsor with who you share common interests, perhaps a love of running or classical guitar. Or you may want a sponsor who you wish to emulate in a way other than sobriety. For example, if one of your concerns is to get your professional life back on track, you may want to find a sponsor who is successful in their career.

Once you have identified a sponsor and they have accepted, it can be helpful to set up mutual expectations. This can prevent problems down the road. You and your sponsor will be spending time together outside of meetings as you work through the steps. Your sponsor will also be one of the first people you call if you are faced with a situation that could trigger you to want to drink or use again. Your sponsor should also have a clear sense of boundaries and understand and accept the limitations of the role; while your sponsor is an important person in your life, they aren’t your therapist or your medical doctor.

Benefits to the Sponsor

The sponsor benefits from the relationship just as much as the one being sponsored. For the sponsor, helping someone work the steps is a powerful refresher. Most people are flattered when they are asked to be a sponsor because it means the hard work that they have done in attaining and maintaining sobriety has paid off and now they are in a position to help someone else do the same. It’s a win-win situation.

Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment facility located on New Jersey’s southern shore, is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. As such, we encourage clients to attend a 12-Step meeting after they leave formal treatment as part of their ongoing recovery. A big part of being a part of the 12-Step fellowship is either working with a sponsor or serving as a sponsor for someone new to recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we focus on treating the whole person as a unique individual with individual needs, not just the addiction. We are licensed to treat the co-occurring disorders that often accompany addiction.  As such, we offer a number of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, family constellation therapy, and equine therapy. We also offer traditional psychotherapy to our clients. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, call us at (833) 801-5483.


Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself to Others in Addiction Recovery

When you first start recovering from a substance use disorder, whether you enter treatment, start going to 12-Step meetings, or some other method, you’re taking your first steps into unfamiliar territory. You’re never quite sure if you’re doing the right things or if you have any chance of succeeding. It’s normal to look around and compare your progress to others to try to reassure yourself or at least estimate your progress. However, making these kinds of comparisons only make you feel worse and endangers your recovery. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others while recovering from addiction, or, really, at any other time.


Comparisons Lead to Depression and Anxiety


Teddy Roosevelt famously said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In our hearts, we know this is true. You might be thrilled with your new car until you see your friend’s new car, for example. There’s always something better out there that can ruin our enjoyment of what we have. 


What’s more, there appears to be something inherent in comparisons that makes us unhappy. One pair of studies found that spending more time on Facebook correlated with more feelings of depression. Perhaps more to the point, the second study in the pair found that people who made more comparisons on Facebook had worse depressive symptoms, even when they felt they were the same or better than the people they were comparing themselves to. 


Perhaps this effect is a mix of uncertainty, self-consciousness, and critical judgment. Either way, making fewer comparisons is an easy way to protect your mental health. This is especially important for addiction recovery, given that at least half of people with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health issue, chief among which are mood disorders and anxiety disorders.


Comparisons Can Give You an Excuse to Quit


It’s important to keep in mind that pretty much everyone who enters treatment is deeply ambivalent about staying sober. You feel obligated to say and act like you want to get sober and you might even believe it, but the addicted mind is tricky. 


One common problem people face early in recovery is called “terminal uniqueness” in 12-Step circles. It’s the belief that you’re unlike everyone else there in some fundamental way. For example, you may see your own substance use issues as situational and temporary while seeing your peers in treatment or in the rooms as “addicts.” Therefore, you feel you shouldn’t have to engage with treatment in the same way as others. This can be a huge barrier to progress.


On the other hand, you may see someone doing very well in recovery and feel like that person has some fundamental advantage that you lack. You can’t imagine that person starting where you are and ending where they are. You feel like you’ll never be that person, so you might as well quit. Addiction is always looking for a way to get back into the game and comparisons—good and bad—provide that opportunity.


Comparisons Are Never Accurate


If comparisons are estimating your own position, progress, and potential, they are not even particularly helpful for that. No one ever enters recovery in the exact same circumstances. They have different addictions, different mental health issues, different personal histories, different personalities, and different resources. There is an essentially infinite number of combinations, which is why it’s so important for treatment to be individualized. However, it also means any comparison you make is not going to be accurate or valid. 


What’s more, you’re always making comparisons based on limited information. Not only do other people have different advantages and disadvantages, but you never really know what those are. And you never really know how they are doing in recovery. So much of recovery is in your head. Someone may outwardly appear to be doing well but inwardly feel like a train wreck. Furthermore, the future is inherently unpredictable. You never really know who is going to end up having a strong, lasting recovery.


Comparisons are Never Useful


Aside from helping you figure out where you are, you might hope that comparing yourself to others might prove useful in some way. However, that’s typically not the case. While you should certainly listen to others and learn what you can, it’s crucial not to make the mistake of assuming you will have the same needs in recovery as anyone else. Again, this is why individualized care is important. You have to be aware of your own priorities in recovery and stay focused on those, rather than trying to win someone else’s race. It hardly matters if you outdo someone else in some area if it doesn’t help you achieve your own goals.


Comparisons Turn Recovery Into a Competition


Finally, it’s important to remember that recovery is not a competition. Recovery should be about cooperation and mutual support. The more connected you feel to people in your sober network, the more likely your recovery will last. If you want to undermine that connection, one of the fastest ways is to regard all of your peers in recovery as rivals and feel diminished by their successes. In fact, the opposite is true. When one person in your sober network succeeds, it helps everyone. Not only does it show that recovery is possible, but feeling happy for other people’s success improves your sense of wellbeing.


Comparing ourselves to others is one of those things we all do sometimes but we would all be better off if we stopped. Comparisons make us unhappy and don’t provide us with any useful information. It’s far better to focus on the things that matter to us and the things under our control.


 At Enlightened Solutions, we know that joy and happiness are essential to living a sober life. Our holistic programs combine evidence-based treatment with spiritual and wellness practices that help our clients live more fulfilling lives. To learn more about our programs, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

Gaining Some Positivity Amidst Hardship In Recovery 

When addiction is present, it becomes harder than ever before to maintain a clear focus. We become confused about our sense of purpose in life, and addiction can cause us to focus only on the search of substances – which do us no good. Parts of our lives that perhaps used to be incredibly important to us – such as our relationships, hobbies, professional status and more – can become diluted and minute compared to the raging high that comes with addiction. Recovery is challenging for this very reason – it requires pushing through the fog of addiction and seeing something better. At the beginning of recovery, it can be hard to see this – and, in some cases, days can be extremely hard because it may feel like things will never get better. However, that’s the power of positivity – and you just need to change your mindset towards it.

Changing Your Point of View

Life is all about perception, and if you change your perception to one geared more towards positivity, you’ll find that your entire life changes.

For the human race, it’s completely normal for the mind to wander towards the negative. If you’ve ever focused on something negative that someone has said to you over something positive that happened during your day, or if you’ve struggled with letting go of a negative situation that happened to you in the past, you’re not alone. However, it becomes frustrating for people who feel like these negative thoughts take over with no escape – and that’s when you really have to start looking within.

As human beings, we’re hardwired to view the negatives as a form of protection. Despite this happening, the neuroplasticity in our brain still provides so much hope that the brain can become geared towards greater hope and positivity. It truly takes a lot of practice in positivity in order for positive changes to be made, but with that practice, one will find that it’s much easier to see things in a positive light once those small changes are occurring on a daily basis.

Put It into Practice

If you’re ready to embrace more positivity into your daily life, it’s time to begin trying out the following exercises:

  • Realize what’s going on around you – when we start becoming investigators of our own thoughts, it becomes a lot easier to recognize patterns of thinking and how they’re influencing our daily life.
  • Get excited over the small things – even the small recovery goals that you meet should be recognized. There’s a lot of inner work that must take place in order for most positive changes to happen, and that’s something that you can relish as you continue on your journey.
  • Recognize the wonderful qualities of people around you – by recognizing the good in others, it becomes easier to see great qualities in yourself. In life, it also becomes easier to see the positive because you’re recognizing it within yourself as well.
  • Practice greater self-compassion – instead of criticizing yourself, focus on saying kind and loving things to yourself. Practice self-compassion by understanding that as a human being, you’re going to make mistakes – but you are still capable of so much love.
  • Express gratefulness – at the beginning and end of each day, take a few moments to identify some of the things you’re incredibly happy to have in your life – including the progress you’ve made in recovery thus far.

 Fostering Mental, Physical and Spiritual Wellbeing in Recovery

There are many aspects of recovery that can truly aid in healing and rejuvenation, but it all takes practice. For example, frequent reading, prayer and walks in nature can help reel in the mind back to the present moment; this can be incredibly wonderful for people who experience a lot of negative thoughts throughout the day that prevent them from making the most of their daily lives. Through activities like this, it becomes easier to reel in those thoughts – rather than perpetuating that horrible cycle of negativity that can cause relapse.

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), also encourage positive thinking by helping people work through some of the hardest situations that’ve happened in their previous lives and acknowledging the power that they have in the present moment. We can’t find restoration until we do some deep soul work, and 12-Step programs offer a conducive space for people to work through some of their past issues and grow. 

By practicing positivity, the notion of life purpose and recovery can become much easier to grasp. Rather than feeling lost and abandoned, those in recovery can talk to others and learn from their experiences while knowing that there’s hope for the future. Sponsors further support individuals by guiding them through some incredibly tough life situations, and positivity can fuel motivation to continue on trying through it all.

If you are battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone, and there is hope for your recovery. At Enlightened Solutions,  we understand the complexities of addiction and foster hope for the future. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

How to Apply the 12-Step Program to Your Life 

While we’re still in the start of the new year with spring right around the corner, you may be considering ways that you can boost your recovery journey and enhance your daily life. New Year’s resolutions made with good intention have been left by the wayside, especially if goals are lofty and steps aren’t being made. However, you may still wish to strengthen your coping mechanisms, participate more in our support groups and engage in more material that uplifts the soul. If you’re currently seeking treatment at Enlightened Solutions, you’ve achieved an incredible feat – recovery is the first step towards greater living. No matter how challenging life can seem at times, it’s good to know that you’re not alone; as you’ll likely discover, there are so many people who are working hard to enrich their lives as well – and while it all takes hard work and dedication, the 12-Step program can help people achieve their recovery goals. 

The 12-Step Program: What it Is

Originally developed in 1938, 12-Step programs have changed the lives of thousands of people by providing them with tools and resources to heal. 12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are meant for anyone and everyone – and the fellowship provided can greatly help people feel supported as they navigate recovery. In 12-Step programs, anonymity is a crucial component so that members feel safe – and that helps people to express themselves more freely in meetings as well.

 In Akron, Ohio, Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, two men who had battled with substance abuse, designed 12-Step programs based on what had worked for them personally in achieving sobriety: 

  •   Abstinence
  •   Fellowship with others
  •   Surrendering to a higher spiritual power

They ultimately wanted to create something that brought people together to gain a connection with a higher power, with honest, peer support and spirituality being several crucial components to recovery. Now, there are 12-Step programs that have become expanded all over the world – and their aim is now to not only help those who struggle with substance use disorders, but also those who battle with other addiction issues, such as gambling, sex, technology addiction, and others. Certain spiritual components associated with inner growth include humility – and 12-Step groups talk about these types of concepts while also allowing people to engage in discussion about these ideas. Humility is an incredibly important tool for healing because it allows us to gain perspective by doing the following:

  1. Realizing that a higher power has more control than our sense of ego
  2. Being honest with other people about our faults
  3. Attempting to make amends with others when possible
  4. Viewing recovery as a way towards greater spiritual connection

There are a number of topics that can be covered throughout the 12-Steps, such as honesty, faith, surrender, willingness, forgiveness, recovery maintenance and more. If you’re looking to really get involved in a 12-Step program this upcoming year, it’s time to get started.

 12-Step Program Application

The great part about 12-Step programs is that they’re incredibly straightforward and allow for easy application of what’s been learned in meetings. Even though each person may be experiencing something different, the reality is that the underlying pain is quite universal; this way, peers and advocates in recovery can be sure to speak the same type of “language” with one another because it’s through emotion and pain – and that is something everyone can relate to. If you’re looking for something that can be used to help you in daily life, 12-Step programs are incredibly helpful to get you there – and they’re not meant to serve as a cure.

It's easy to apply the 12-Steps if you think about it:

  1. Make a visual representation of the 12-Steps. Consider each step specifically and what it means to you, and this will make it much easier to apply to your daily life.
  2. Acknowledge some of the major questions that you may be having about the 12-Steps. For example, you may be wondering if you have any fears about believing in something greater than yourself – or you may like to contemplate on what the idea of sobriety means to you. Thinking and even writing out your answers in a journal can help you solidify the 12-Steps in your daily life.
  3. Read books that promote what you’re doing. Go to a library and take a look around – get recommendations from those who are in your 12-Step program. Reading can often open the gateway towards other perspectives and life circumstances, which can enhance your recovery.
  4. Make an active decision to add more love and connection into your life. Focus on looking at the good qualities that you have, as well as the good qualities in others. Connect with a Higher Power through meditation, prayer, nature walks and more. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we want to help you heal from addiction and are committed to putting you and your recovery first. We offer a comprehensive range of services including outpatient treatment, post-rehab services, continuing care, and long-term treatment including 12-Step programs. Enlightened Solutions offers a safe and nurturing space for recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

The Power of Grace

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, grace is “the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation.”

Of all of the things we need most in our lives when we feel we have failed at everything, grace is the gift that can encircle us with love, lift us up, and inspire us to believe in ourselves and become better people. Whether we receive this grace from God or another higher power, the most important thing is to surrender ourselves and receive it. It will give us power we never knew possible.

Divine Influence

One of the first things we do in treatment is to admit that we are powerless and turn our lives over to God. What happens in that moment when we surrender ourselves is more than magical, as we allow divine influence to enter into our hearts and into our lives, then the healing begins.

There is so much power in admitting that we are powerless. Seeking power from a divine source allows us to be helpless and strong, all at once, and we gain wisdom as we plead on our knees for the gifts of forgiveness, strength and grace.

Regenerate and Sanctify

We have seen ourselves at our worst, and are now taking the steps to regenerate. Regenerate our bodies, minds, and souls. We seek treatment to cleanse our bodies of our substances and renew our physical strength. We seek treatment to cleanse our minds of cravings, old habits, and thought patterns. And we seek treatment to cleanse our souls of the pain and emptiness that we tried to compensate for in our addictions.

To sanctify means to purify, or make holy. We have the opportunity now to clean our slate, before God, our family and friends, and most importantly, ourselves. With divine grace, we can seek and achieve forgiveness and make ourselves whole again.

Inspire Virtuous Impulses

Up until this point, impulses have meant something entirely different to us. It started out to be all about us – our pain, our emptiness. Then it became about the substance, and those impulses became stronger and more difficult to resist. Until it seemed impossible, and we no longer had control over our impulses at all.

With grace, we can develop virtuous impulses. Looking outside ourselves to provide a smile, a kind word, or service to another human being. No matter how rough we are feeling, grace provides us with the impulse to do virtuous things and be a better human being.

Strength to Endure

Starting on the recovery path is only the beginning. Every day is another chance for negative thinking, old habits, and unhealthy appetites to rear their ugly heads. Strange how rebuilding our lives isn’t an overnight project, but rather a daily struggle with all kinds of bumps in the road. We face the consequences of our pasts, the reality of our present, and the needed courage for our future.

But we don’t have to face each day alone. With the grace of a higher power, we can receive strength beyond our own. When we feel like we are at the end of our rope, there is a loving hand there to support us and keep us from falling. When we turn to a higher power, we find that we can do things we never thought we could do on our own. 

Resist Temptation

There may never be another day without the temptation on some level to use or abuse our substance. Just like practice makes perfect, it might get a little easier the more often we resist, but it definitely does not feel that way. As a mere mortal, resisting the temptations of addiction is next to impossible. However, with grace, we draw upon a strength that is beyond mortal.

When we feel alone, when we feel that we are being tested beyond our limits, we can reach for divine grace and receive renewed ability to resist temptation. Our cravings will not go away necessarily, but our burdens will be lightened as we turn to our higher power.

Grace is Infinite

The best part about divine grace is that it is limitless. Like a bottomless well, or the vast oceans, we can dip our cup in the water and it will always be full. Grace is something given us, but it is given only to those who ask. We need only ask for grace and it will be given to us bountifully by the higher power of our choice..

We have the opportunity to receive grace every day of our lives. Through prayer and meditation, we can receive the refining and strengthening powers as often as we ask – we just need to reach out our hands and surrender to the power that is beyond our own.

We can choose to be sanctified and regenerated by divine grace. Enlightened Solutions is the perfect place to begin our recovery journey and learn how to access grace in our lives. Find your grace today. 

If you are battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone, and there is hope for your recovery. At Enlightened Solutions,  we understand the complexities of addiction and foster hope for the future. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

Using Spirituality to Combat Negative Emotions

Using Spirituality to Combat Negative Emotions

Recovery causes us to look inward – and many times, we’re faced with troubling thoughts, truths, and understandings of the world that make it hard to breathe. Detoxification is one of the first and hardest hurdles to get through in addiction recovery, and it’s because it’s a major change; the physical and emotional ups and downs associated with addiction recovery can cause anyone to want to curse the world at times, and self-pity can even begin to seep in if you feel like your entire world has shifted. When this happens, it’s easy to blame others, God, and situations for happening to you. Depression can even appear every now and then, especially as we wish that we could simply “snap” our fingers and life would settle into place. Of course, it’s never that easy – and through these challenging situations, it’s time to turn towards spirituality for ultimate healing.

Taking Responsibility For the Past

In the past, researchers have explored the way that addiction recovery impacts a person both physically and mentally – major changes, such as with sobriety, can cause a person to experience symptoms of withdrawal. Regret, anger, and deep sadness can occur, and we may even find self-loathing to will itself into existence; we ask ourselves, “how could we have ever let things get this bad?” While these concerns seem very real, it’s important to remember that while we can’t change the past, we can change the present in an effort to change the future. 

Addiction is a disease that takes over the mind, body, and spirit. There are a million fingers that could be pointed for how and why addiction has occurred in your life, but that wouldn’t help you move forward; now is the time to step up and embrace recovery. One of the most powerful ways you can do this is by building up not only your emotional and physical health but by working on building your spiritual side as well. 

How Spirituality Fits into Recovery 

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, have long covered the topic of spirituality and have helped many people build stronger connections with God. Spirituality opens up our horizons and gives us the space to change our perspectives on ourselves and our lives – and that is when we tend to see some truly transformational experiences occur. Spirituality is felt within the heart and throughout the body, and it’s a major factor for sobriety; the connection that we build with a Higher Power constantly reminds us that as human beings, we’re bound to make mistakes – but by taking responsibility for our actions and understanding that we can’t control every aspect of life, those seemingly challenging situations suddenly become easier to navigate. 

Spirituality truly helps us to focus on the bigger picture that is life, rather than ourselves. 12-Step programs (such as AA or NA) embrace spirituality by guiding people through a series of steps that ultimately help them learn more about themselves and their connection with God, or a Higher Power. While addiction pulls us away from the things that matter most – such as family, friends, happiness, mental health and physical wellness, career aspirations, hobbies and interests, education and so much more, spirituality reels us back in and reminds us of these things. For those who’ve battled with addiction recovery for several years, this feeling of being spiritual can uplift their spirits and cause them to gain an entirely new, wondrous perspective on life – and issues that used to appear so big and concerning now are considered so small in the grand scheme of things.

Pushing Past Negativity

Anger and numbness are common feelings for those in recovery, especially at the beginning as they’re trying to find their way. Hope and faith in a brighter future, however, are two aspects of spirituality that involve relying on a Higher Power to ensure that everything gets taken care of – because we can’t control everything, even if we’d like to. Hope is so powerful, as it’s what helps us continue trying and moving forward despite what may be bringing us down. Faith is what helps us rely on a Higher Power – it brings us humility and moves us away from the egotistical self. Anger and depression weigh us down – hope and faith lift us up.

Previous studies have explored the notion of faith, and they’ve found that those who have more faith in their sobriety goals tend to be less depressed and frustrated. Rather than dwelling on the idea that they could fail, fall short of their goals or experience hurdles along the way, these individuals have faith that everything will be okay – and in doing so, they inherently make their lives more positive in nature.

If you’re ready to pursue a path of sobriety, spirituality, and healing, speak with one of our admissions experts today at 833-801-LIVE.

4 Ways Doing Service Work Can Keep You Sober

4 Ways Doing Service Work Can Keep You Sober

Getting sober is a long tough path. Once you’ve gone through the physical and mental stress of detox the next part of recovery is staying sober. It’s a lifelong journey, but there are a few things you can do to help maintain your sobriety. Service work is one of those things. 

Service work is any type of volunteer work that puts you in service of others. The 12-Step programs recommend service work and a myriad of opportunities are available, ranging from small meeting commitments like setting up chairs and making coffee to General Service commitments like Area Delegate and Grapevine Representative.

 Benefits of Doing Service Work:

  1. It’s a fulfilling way to make some amends: The hard truth is that while you were on your path of addiction odds are you did some damage to those around you. Whether it be, family, friends or your community. Doing volunteer work can help to alleviate some of the guilt and regret you may have towards your past. It’s a way to make a positive impact.
  2. Service work builds bonds: A very important part of recovery is building bonds with people that are sober. It provides you with friends that won’t be influencing you to use. These types of bonds also give you people to surround yourself with on days when you are struggling. People that can help ease your pain and take your mind off of your addiction.
  3. It provides a commitment to your 12 step program: It can become easy to say I am okay today, I don’t need a meeting. That thinking early on can lead to a downward spiral heading straight back to addiction. Making a commitment to your program as small as making coffee, bringing snacks, or even just unlocking the door for everyone else can be the tiny step you need to keep you going back. 
  4. Having an outlet will keep your mind in the right frame: Have you ever heard the term “ an idle mind is the devil’s playground”? It’s true. It’s easy to get thoughts stuck inside your head. When you are idle those thoughts can and will take over. The best way to avoid that happening is to stay busy. Doing service will keep you busy. 

As you can see there are 4 great ways service work can keep you sober. It provides fulfillment, builds bonds, creates commitment and gives you an outlet. If you’re in a program ask your sponsor about opportunities. Not in a program, that’s okay run a quick google search for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to do what you need to so you can maintain sobriety, and for more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE today.

How to Date When You Are Newly Sober

How to Date When You Are Newly Sober

It may have been your go-to invitation to tell your date that the two of you should grab a drink together. Now that you are in treatment and entering a newly sober world, you might not know what to do if your partner casually tempts you to get a drink. By keeping firm about how important your sobriety is and thinking of sober activities that you both can enjoy, you will have an amazing first sober date. 

Dry Date 

While you may have chosen to lead a sober lifestyle, it does not mean that you will not feel tempted to drink again if you are hanging around places that serve drinks. This can mean avoiding places like bars or any other venues that serve drinks. Do your research in advance before the date and see if there are any places in your area that are alcohol-free. 

You can try to have your date be in the daytime instead so that you and your date can get out for some fresh air. Examples can mean going horseback riding, having a picnic in the park, going to a museum, or to the fair. You may be safe with family-friendly activities as they will not endorse alcohol beverage sales with children around. Your date may take you as a more creative person this way in coming up with various unique activities that will bring life and fun into your day compared to the predictable drink out.

Be Honest

The first step of the 12 Step program tells us that it is important to admit that we are powerless when it comes to alcohol. If you know that about yourself, it is important that you let your date know that too. You may be scared that if you put on your online dating profile that you do not drink, no one will want to take a second look at your profile. Do not assume that everyone is looking for someone to drink with. There are people looking for a date that have no interest in drinking whether they are in recovery or not. If your date asks you why you do not drink, plan out what to respond. You can initially just start off saying that you no longer drink. Then once the two of you get to know each other better, you can share your story.

Qualities in a Partner

If your date has a problem with you not drinking, do not feel like you did anything wrong. Anyone who has a problem with you not drinking is not someone that you should be spending time with. They could be completely disrespectful and still want to drink in front of you without caring about your chances of relapsing. Think if you want the type of date who understands what recovery is, is currently in recovery themselves, or just does not want alcohol to be a part of their diet. Keep in mind that it can be hard to date someone who is also in recovery in that if your partner relapses, you may feel the need to do the same to avoid sticking out or because seeing your partner enjoy drinking will remind you of how you used to enjoy it. While this may happened, it does not mean that it will always happening when dating someone who is also in recovery. 

Avoid Love Addiction

Because you are no longer drinking anymore, you could still be seeking something else to hook onto as a replacement. Do not use your partner is a replacement drug as it can scare them away. This can mean that you have decided that you are in love with your date when you have not known each other that well. You want this to be something that works out for you which will cause you to rush things and push onto them. It is important to take it slowly as it will ensure that you continue having more dates with this person. Make sure that you are emotionally at a place where you can handle new emotions that come with dating and be prepared in the outcome of this being a lasting relationship or being one that does not work out. 

Not Turning Back to Alcohol

You may have gone into this relationship thinking that there will be no problems now that you are going into this sober and that this may be a lasting relationship. While not drinking anymore may increase your chances of having a lasting relationship, it does not mean that there still will not be problems as sober couples still have fights and breakups. When that happens, do not use that as an excuse to go back to drinking. If you are feeling angry or emotional, go into another room and try to breathe and the two of you should speak when you are both calm and collected.

Continue with Recovery Tools

Living a sober dating life does not mean you should stop what you are doing to achieve sobriety. This means continuing to go to your 12 Step meetings, seeing a therapist, mindfulness techniques, exercising, and anything else to help you with your sobriety. Once you and your date decide to enter a serious relationship, that person can help you towards recovery like attending meetings with you. Knowing how important your sobriety is and being honest with your date will ensure a successful relationship. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center using evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Boundaries to Set For Those Struggling with Addiction

Boundaries are important for any kind of relationship you have whether it is between you and a friend, spouse, who you are dating, a professional, or someone with an addiction. These boundaries lay down the ground rules of what is considered to be appropriate behavior and actions. By establishing boundaries between yourself and your loved one facing addiction, you will be able to take care of yourself and establish a clear understanding of your wants and needs and clear communication of your thoughts and feelings.

When It’s Important to Establish Boundaries

The time to establish boundaries with your loved one with addiction is when you are constantly criticizing that person. You keep criticizing them for their bad behavior, but they are still ignoring what you are saying and causing more trouble. It can also be when you keep covering for this person liking lying for them when others ask about their behavior, covering for them at work by calling in sick for them, picking up that person from the bar, or bailing them out of jail.

It can also be when you are taken advantage of or if that person is stealing your money. You have felt like letting it pass because you know that their addiction is not their fault. At the same time, it is your bank account that is being wiped clean. You may also feel like you have to walk on eggshells around this person because they are quick to anger and depression if you say something to antagonize them. To avoid being afraid of your loved one, setting boundaries will show how you feel about their unhealthy behaviors and not letting them get away with it.

What is Allowed Near You and the House

Let your loved one know that if they plan on staying in your home, let them know what is and is not acceptable in your home. If you do not want illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine in your home, let your loved one know about it. If you do not want your loved one to drink in the presence of children, tell them that. You are being nice by letting your loved one stay in your home knowing that they have a problem with drugs. Let that person know that if they do not listen to you, they can find somewhere else to live or will notify the police. This is your home that you are kind enough to accept a guest in. Setting boundaries will give you control over where you live as well as the safety of your children.

Who is Allowed In Your Home

Your loved one may be in recovery but is still inviting their friends who still drink or do drugs. You should not have to put up with the wild parties of people in your house smelling like booze or people shooting up on drugs. You and your children should not have to be a witness to unhealthy behaviors and you should put a stop to it. Let them know that you may not be able to stop your loved one from keeping their friends but that they have no business appearing in your house and substance abusing in front of you and others.

Refusal to Rescue

Many people with addiction end up in jail for either possession of drugs or crimes involving in acquiring drugs like robbery or assault. If your loved one is not getting help, then that increases their chances of many jail visits. Maybe in the past, you have bailed your loved one out more than once and brought them back home. This time, you need to let your loved one know that you are not to bail them out again. That they need to take responsibility for their actions. Your loved one may not want to acknowledge their drug problem, but they should acknowledge the punishments that arise when the law takes notice of your criminal activities.

Refusal to Lend Money

Another way that you could enabling someone’s addiction is lending money whenever they ask such as telling you they are behind on rent, groceries, bills. If they have a drug problem, you know that they are using it to acquire more drugs. You are no longer a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a neighbor, etc. You are instead an enabler, caretaker, or a pleaser. Always giving money whenever your loved one asks is not taking care of them but ignoring their problem. A boundary you can set on them is that you refuse to give them any more money. That if they are in a financial bind, they can seek treatment to fix their thoughts about needing drugs or to get a job of their own to fund their drug habit instead of continuing to come to you. It may seem harsh to refuse when a loved one asks for money, but you are merely doing it to take care of yourself and your own financial assets.

Refusal to Lie or Cover Despite Circumstances

The most important thing you can tell your loved one who is struggling with drug addiction is that you will not lie or cover for them anymore. That your loved one needs to take responsibilities for their own actions. Setting these boundaries will show how much you take that person’s drug addiction seriously and to help them better be aware that they need treatment.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.