The Inner Workings of Rehab

Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction isn’t easy. Overcoming addictive behaviors and staying sober requires motivation, support, and expertise. Rehab centers offer just this. They offer evidence-based treatment approaches under the guidance of professional staff and provide compassionate care to help you develop the skills to overcome your addiction and remain committed to sober living.

What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

There are two types of rehab centers - inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient centers offer part-time programs that fit in around your daily life. Programs may offer 10-20 hours of treatment each week so you can continue to work and fulfill other obligations.

Inpatient programs are intensive, residential rehab programs where you stay in the treatment facility. Programs vary in length but most last at least thirty days. Inpatient programs offer a safe and controlled environment with twenty-four-hour medical support. They tend to be more effective than outpatient programs for more severe cases of addiction. 

What Treatment Options Do Rehab Centers Offer?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment programs offer a combination of different treatment options tailored to match each individual’s needs. Everyone’s experience of addiction is different, and no single treatment approach suits everyone. Rehabilitation programs tend to offer a variety of different therapies and holistic healing approaches to provide a treatment experience that works for you.

These treatment options may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • 12-step program
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Experiential therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, and equine therapy
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Family therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Medically assisted detox

Addiction treatment programs help you identify the causes of your addiction and develop the skills to overcome them. This may involve learning what your triggers are and how to avoid them or developing coping skills to deal with triggers in healthy ways. 

Rehabilitation also aims to improve your mental and spiritual well-being. It is a chance to find joy and inspiration in sober life and commit to your recovery journey.

What Is Dual Diagnosis and How Does It Help Treat Addiction?

Almost 50% of people with a substance use disorder also suffer from another mental health condition. Co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression can be the driving force behind addiction. If ignored, they can cause addictive behaviors to resurface, even after years of sobriety.

Dual diagnosis programs treat co-occurring disorders alongside addiction. They offer a holistic healing approach that aims to treat the entire person. Dual diagnosis helps you overcome the underlying causes of your addiction so you can maintain sobriety in the long term.

What Are The Different Stages of a Rehab Experience?

A recovery program usually begins with an in-depth assessment of the nature of your addiction and your circumstances. This allows therapists, medics, psychologists, and other staff to design a treatment plan to suit you.

For most people, the next stage in the recovery process is detox, to remove all traces of the substance and its toxins from your body. Rehab centers typically offer medically assisted detox to ensure that withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible. 

After detox, the main part of the treatment program begins. You participate in therapy sessions, support groups, and other treatment modalities over several weeks or months. During this time, you learn and develop the skills you need to overcome addiction.

The final stage of rehabilitation is aftercare. Recovery is a lifelong process that requires continued support and commitment. Rehab programs may connect you with support groups in your local area, provide you with a sober companion, or offer guidance to family members. 

Aftercare programs help you to stay supported and motivated once you have left a rehab center and guide you to lifelong recovery.

If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse, recovery can seem scary or even impossible. However, with the proper support, anyone can recover from addiction. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients a variety of evidence-based tools to assist them with moving forward in their sober journey. We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating their addiction. Our world-class treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

We offer a range of advanced treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey offers unparalleled healing and relaxation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.

 

 


How To Avoid Alcohol Relapse

What is Relapse?

Once you leave an addiction treatment facility or outpatient program, the work doesn’t end there. You have most likely heard about the risk of relapse as something that can undermine the recovery process; however, it doesn’t have to. Understanding relapse, its causes, and how to avoid it is a key part of remaining substance-free and maintaining abstinence in the years to come.

Addiction relapse refers to a return to drug use after an attempt to stop and is a well-chronicled risk with any substance use disorder. In the case of alcohol use disorder (AUD), it refers to any time you drink alcohol after an intentional, sustained period of abstinence.

Relapse has three stages, and each stage has distinct characteristics:

Stage One: Emotional

The first stage of relapse can find the person isolating from others and missing 12-step meetings. They may find that previous mental health concerns begin to resurface, and they start to neglect their personal appearance and self-care.

Stage Two: Mental

This stage of the process presents with mental health changes; glamorizing or fantasizing about past drinking, internally negotiating over drinking and re-engaging with friends they used to drink with. They may also start to plan how they can drink again.

Stage Three: Physical

This is what most people imagine when they think about relapse; when a person in recovery starts drinking again. It is the hardest phase to fight back against and usually only occurs following an unmanaged period of emotional or mental relapse.

Causes of Alcohol Relapse

Many situations can trigger an urge to drink again. Some common occurrences that might lead to relapse include:

Sudden Changes or Crises in Personal Life

Many different things can upend a person’s stability. Job loss, grief, breakup, and changes in housing all put us under a great deal of mental stress. When this happens, coping mechanisms come into play. An effective treatment program will help build strategies for emotionally taxing situations, but these habits need to be maintained; otherwise, the temptation to return to the old crutch of alcohol may re-surface.

Return To Old Routines

Old situations, places, and people that used to trigger binge drinking are usually still accessible when someone is in recovery. If a person starts to go back to the routines and interactions of pre-recovery life, it’s likely to accompany a step back into an addiction mindset.

Untreated Mental Health Challenges

Substance use disorder often occurs at the same time as mental health or mood disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression, or PTSD). When someone in recovery suffers from these conditions without treatment, they can hinder an attempt to stay sober.

Negative Thinking Cycles

When negative thoughts arise and aren’t understood or managed, they can begin a cycle that leads addictive thinking to return. Thoughts can include negative self-labeling (I'm an addict), all-or-nothing thoughts (I thought about drinking, so my recovery has failed), catastrophizing obstacles (I can never overcome this upcoming challenge), or just be as simple as a total fear of change. Thinking like this can be managed, but it can break down our confidence and undermine our sobriety when it is left unchecked.

Isolating From Support Structures

When someone stops scheduling meetings with their sober partners or attending AA meetings, they isolate themselves in two ways. Firstly, these meetings provide a structured space to connect with the emotional side of recovery and offer the opportunity to talk and help each other through the challenges of remaining abstinent. Secondly, disengaging removes any accountability - something that can be used as an effective tool against relapse.

Relapse prevention is a core goal of effective addiction treatment. These setbacks can typically be overcome with effective coping skills, planning, and reflection. It is also essential to keep up with one’s community of support. Engaging with family and friends and allowing them to actively take part in the recovery journey makes the road a lot smoother.

Not everyone experiences a relapse, but it is not uncommon and can certainly be overcome. Avoid enabling. If you or someone you love has relapsed, understand that this does not mean returning to square one. This is a moment to figure out what extra support may be necessary and what areas of life have contributed to the relapse, then working out coping mechanisms to help prevent it from happening again.

We Can Help

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer clients the tools and techniques they need to overcome these obstacles and live a happy, sober life. Our therapeutic treatment is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and is designed to help you heal and stay sober long-term. In addition to talk therapy, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities, including meditation, art and music therapy, and family constellation therapy. If you or a loved one wants relief from alcohol addiction but is struggling with relapse, please call us today at (833) 801-5483.


Understanding MAT

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective approach to addiction treatment. As the name implies, MAT uses medications to help those struggling with addiction overcome their condition.

SAMHSA defines MAT as 'the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.'

Medical intervention is one aspect of a broader approach used in addiction treatment. Medication helps clients manage their problematic symptoms. As a result, they can engage more in other parts of treatment. Clients in addiction recovery programs receive intensive psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as life coaching and skills building alongside medical support.

What Does MAT Treat?

MAT treats clients struggling with:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
  • Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

The medications used in MAT promote healthy brain chemistry by rebalancing the hormones and chemicals in the body that have become out of balance due to alcohol or opioid misuse.

Some MAT medications block the effect of alcohol and opioids on the brain. This serves to reduce cravings and helps clients get through the withdrawal stage of recovery. 

Other medications prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed by abstinence from a given drug. For example, sudden cessation of opioid use can be dangerous if the client has a physical dependence. As such, MAT would involve substituting the client's substance of misuse with a safer, controlled substance, such as methadone. 

What Are MAT Medications?

Methadone

Methadone is an effective medication used in opioid addiction treatment. Methadone treatment aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a client stops using opioids. Withdrawal is one of the leading causes of relapse. Methadone helps clients get through withdrawal safely so they can start the rest of their recovery.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine reduces cravings for clients struggling with OUD. Similar to methadone, Buprenorphine is a partial agonist which means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a far lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine, unlike methadone, does not produce a high. 

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is prescribed under the brand name Vivitrol. Naltrexone reduces cravings and lowers rates of relapse in both OUD and AUD. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the brain's opioid receptors. As such, it becomes impossible to achieve the 'high' associated with opiate-derived drugs. MAT providers use Naltrexone after the detox stage of recovery, not before or during. 

What Are the Benefits of Medication-assisted Treatment?

SAMHSA reports that MAT helps clients struggling with AUD or OUD achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT supports clients on a chemical level while also supporting their behavioral health through behavioral therapies. 

Addiction treatment programs use MAT to suit the client's needs. Some medications and therapeutic approaches will be more suitable than others, depending on a range of factors, such as your history of drug misuse and your current health status. MAT's comprehensive and tailored approach offers a range of benefits to clients. Benefits of MAT include:

  • Increased engagement in rehab and therapy
  • Increased likelihood of completing a rehab program
  • Decreased symptom severity
  • Improved chances of gaining and maintaining employment
  • Reduced risk of relapse

Why Choose MAT?

There are many reasons to opt for MAT if you are struggling with AUD or OUD. MAT is an effective treatment approach for both of these disorders. Delivered alongside counseling and behavioral therapy, MAT is an integrated approach to addiction recovery. It can increase the time a person spends in treatment, which increases their chance of recovery success. 

Some people disregard MAT as substituting one drug for another, but this is not the case. MAT is safe. While MAT involves drugs, the medications used are highly regulated at a federal level and are FDA approved. MAT promotes addiction recovery by keeping the body as safe as possible. It reduces the risk of overdose that might happen if a client were to seek illicit drugs on the street. 

MAT is an approach to addiction treatment endorsed and supported by:

A comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment, MAT is a leading treatment type for both alcohol and opioid addiction. By easing withdrawal symptoms, MAT promotes greater resilience and encourages a deeper commitment to one's recovery. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage,reiki, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


burnout in recovery

How to Avoid Burnout in Recovery

At one point in your life, you realized you had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Your substance abuse was beginning to take over your life, interfering with work, family, and friends. You got help. You went through a treatment program, and you achieved sobriety. Now you are back in the “real world,” working hard to maintain the sober lifestyle that you worked so hard to achieve. You go to meetings; you work with your sponsor; you eat a healthy diet; you exercise regularly; you make sure you get enough sleep. You are doing everything right, so why does it all feel like so much work?

It may be that in your diligent work to live a sober lifestyle, you’ve forgotten why you wanted sobriety in the first place. You most likely didn’t decide to become sober for the sake of sobriety alone; you became sober to improve your life. Now it seems like sobriety might be your entire life. If you feel this way, you might be burning out on sobriety which could lead to a relapse--the last thing you want.

Symptoms of Burnout

You may be heading toward burnout if you find that you are tired of going to meetings, tired of hearing about recovery, tired of hearing the same people talk about the same problems. You may find yourself feeling irritable, feeling emotionally exhausted, or feeling like an imposter. You may be getting more headaches or stomach aches, or your muscles may feel tight all the time. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may feel tired all the time. These are all signs that you may be experiencing burnout.

Be Aware of Your Feelings

The first step to avoiding burnout is to be aware of how you feel—check-in with yourself. Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your body. Remember that it’s okay to feel how you are feeling. If you keep a journal, write about what you are experiencing. If you don’t keep a journal, now would be a good time to start. Writing can be a great way to explore feelings. In the process of writing, you can uncover how you feel and dig under the surface to explore what is causing those feelings.

Try Something New in Recovery

If you are tired of the meetings you usually attend, try out some different ones. Although you will always want to be in fellowship with other people in recovery, some new faces and new perspectives may rekindle your interest in sobriety. You may find a new favorite meeting.

Volunteer in your community, or get involved with service work if you are active in a 12-Step fellowship. You will be doing some good in your community, and you will be shifting your focus away from yourself and your feelings of discontent. Also, in the process of volunteering, you may make some new friends or strengthen existing friendships.

Conversely, you may want to cut back on some of your commitments. It’s okay to give yourself a break once in a while. You may need to recharge. Taking a step back could allow you to examine what’s working and what isn’t in your recovery.

Try Something New Outside of Recovery

Now might be the time to add a non-recovery activity into your life. Maybe you liked to paint once upon a time--now could be the perfect time to break out the paints and the easel. Perhaps you used to go on hikes every weekend, or you have happy memories of working in a garden with a relative. Making time for a hobby that is seemingly unrelated to your recovery may strengthen your recovery.

Finding something new that you love, or returning to a hobby that you used to love, is a part of why you recovered in the first place. Your addiction was taking over your life. Now that you are free from your addiction, you have time to discover or rediscover activities that you love.

Reach Out for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust. It may seem like you are the only person who has felt burnt out on recovery, but you aren’t. If you have a sponsor, talk about your concerns and what you are experiencing. Your sponsor may very well have gone through something similar. Discuss this with your therapist. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.

Although it may not seem like it at first, going through a burnout phase, a season of discontent, will strengthen your commitment to recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we realize that recovery is a lifelong process. As such, our relationship with our clients does not end when they complete their formal treatment program. Our alumni are a living testament to our recovery program. Their successes after treatment bring hope and encouragement to our current clients and to one another. We are a co-occurring treatment center, and in addition to substance use disorder, we also treat the mental health issues that often accompany addiction, including depression and anxiety. Our treatment programs are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and include traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities like yoga, family constellation therapy, and art and music therapy. We are located near New Jersey’s southern shore, and we customize a treatment plan for each client. If you are struggling with an addiction, or if someone close to you is, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Bed

“Make Your Bed”: The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day….Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven first gave that advice in 2014 as part of his commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin. His speech evidently touched a nerve, because it went viral and became a basis for his book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...and Maybe the World. Making sure that you have time for, and take care of, the little things ensures that the big things will happen too.

Sobriety: A Huge Change

Your decision to say goodbye to addiction and embrace sobriety is a huge change. When you went through a treatment program, you made many positive changes in your life. Embracing sobriety isn’t just about overcoming addiction; it’s also about creating a new, healthy lifestyle.

In treatment, your schedule was provided for you. You knew when to get up when to eat, when to workout, when to go to therapy, when to go to your support group, and when to go to bed. The routine was established to make sure that everything you needed for your recovery happened and to establish healthy habits. Now that you have finished treatment, you need to create a routine to ensure that you continue with those healthy habits.

Routine Provides Structure and Stability

When you were struggling with your addiction, your life was out of your control and your substance of choice was in charge. Through treatment, you regained control of your life. Having a stable routine will help you remain in control.

Routine provides us with structure. Knowing what we are going to do and when we are going to do it gives us control of our lives and a sense of self-efficacy. We know what to expect and we can prepare. A routine can even give us a sense of accomplishment because if we have a plan for our day, we will know that we have completed what we set out to do.

How to Create a Routine

When you start creating your routine, begin with what could be called your anchor points. Another way to think of it is to begin creating your routine by starting with the non-negotiable items. While those will vary from person to person, for many of us they will revolve around our work schedule and when our children (if we have children) need to be in school. Remember to include the time that it takes to get to and from the places that you go routinely. Time spent in transit may not be as important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people are working from home and some children are attending school online, but it is still something to consider.

Another set of vital anchor points to pin down is the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. When you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, it improves the quality of your sleep. And a good night’s sleep makes the next day so much better.

When you have established a few key anchors, you can begin linking other important activities to these points. For example, you may decide that after you wake up, you will meditate or go for a run. You might set out your clothes for the next day as part of getting ready for bed.

When you are creating your routine, remember that not every day will look the same and that’s okay. On some days you may be ferrying children to practice or rehearsal (although not so much during the pandemic) and on other days you may be attending your support group. What’s important is that you have a plan and you know what to expect.

What to Include in Your Routine

As you establish your routine, you will want to make sure you have time for activities that nourish your body and your soul and support your sobriety. You will want to make time to attend your support group. Many people in early sobriety go to several meetings a week. You will want to make time for appointments with your therapist. Exercise is important to your physical and mental well-being, so you will want to be sure that you include time for exercise several times a week. Include time to plan and prepare nutritious meals and be sure to include some time for self-care and household maintenance.

Having a routine does not mean that everything will be within your control, but it does mean that more of your day will go as planned. In addition to reducing feelings of anxiety, this will give you a sense of efficacy and accomplishment, and that feels really good.

Establishing a routine to follow in recovery may sound trivial, but it helps ensure that you attend to all the little details that require attention. When you succeed at the little things, you are set up to meet your big goals as well, like remaining sober. A routine provides your life with structure and ensures that you have time for the activities that nourish your body and soul. Learning to create routines is one of the life skills you will gain at Enlightened Solutions. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can help with the mental health issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition, to talk therapy and group support, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, and acupuncture. If you have been struggling with an addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are here to help you.


bed

Healing From the Outside In

A big part of addiction recovery is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. When most people think of therapy, that’s what they think of. The patient and the therapist talk. The patient talks about issues of concern and the therapist actively listens, guiding the conversation as necessary to help the client. Many types of talk therapy are used today and can be extremely beneficial.

But sometimes, we might feel like we are “talked out.” Maybe we have talked and talked and talked and it seems as if nothing has changed. We are tired of talking or we don’t want to talk. In the case of unresolved trauma, we might not be able to talk.

Fortunately, healing can happen in other ways. In addiction recovery, both the mind and the body need to heal. We can use the mind-body connection for healing. We can access the mind through the body. We can use various forms of touch in a therapeutic setting.

The Power of Massage

If you have had the good fortune to have a massage from a licensed massage therapist, you know how relaxing it can be--it’s hard for your mind to stay anxious when your body is relaxed. That is the mind-body connection in action. Psychological stress can be stored in our muscles and it can be massaged away. Although being in treatment for addiction is very beneficial in the long run--lifesaving even--it can be very hard work and stress can arise during treatment. In addition, anxiety is a common withdrawal symptom and a frequent co-occurring mental health disorder. Massaging away that anxiety is good for both the mind and the body and can create a profound sense of calm.

Acupuncture: An Ancient Healing Modality

Acupuncture is an ancient method of healing that originated in China. Very thin needles are placed at specific points in the patient’s body to treat various health conditions, both physical and mental. (The needles usually don’t hurt and many patients don’t feel them at all.) The goal of acupuncture is to improve the flow of the body’s energy, called the chi, along the body’s energy pathways, called meridians.

In the 1970s, acupuncture began to be used in addiction treatment and was found to reduce the stress experienced during withdrawal and cravings. The protocol used to treat addiction concentrates on five points on the ear and calms the nervous system, relieves anxiety, promotes healing of your organs, supports the work done by your liver, regulates emotions, and increases the strength of your breath. The benefits of acupuncture include increased energy, improved mood, reduced cravings, better sleep, inner peace, and relaxation. In fact, some patients become so relaxed during acupuncture sessions that they fall asleep.

Chiropractic Care: Connecting the Body and the Mind

A chiropractor once told a patient that the phrase “pain in the neck” was more than just a figure of speech. The idea that the weight of the world is on your shoulders is more than just a commonly used phrase. Many of us carry emotional stress and pain which manifests as physical pain in our bodies, particularly in our neck, back, and shoulders. If we are struggling with an addiction, the stress and pain we carry are even greater.

Chiropractic care is another treatment modality in which treating the body can have a powerful healing effect on the mind. The theory behind chiropractic care is that proper alignment of the skeleton and muscles, especially in the spine, will allow the body to heal itself. Chiropractic care is particularly effective for conditions involving muscles,  joints, bones, and connective tissue throughout the body. Chiropractic adjustments can be a very powerful way to relieve pain. Chiropractors also work to improve the range of motion in the body’s joints and include exercise and physical rehabilitation in the treatment plans they develop for patients. The overall goal is to restore function and prevent injury in addition to relieving pain.

In treating addiction, a chiropractor will correct misalignments in the spinal column. When the spinal column is in alignment, the nervous system can function properly and can better process the natural “feel-good” chemicals that the brain produces. When this happens, addiction is easier to treat. Also, because the patient’s physical health has been restored, addiction is easier to treat.

The Value of Human Touch

Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care are all holistic treatment modalities that involve therapeutic touch--direct human contact. The therapeutic relationship--the bond between the patient and the provider--is part of the healing. When we were in the life of addiction, our relationships with other people may not have been healthy or based on trust. Part of recovery is learning to trust again. Building a therapeutic relationship with a health-care provider can be part of that process.

Sometimes when you are in therapy, you reach a point where you feel like you are “talked out.” You might have an issue that you don’t want to talk about or you may have experienced trauma and are not able to talk about it. Fortunately, the mind can be reached through the body and healing can be brought about that way. This can happen through treatment modalities that involve therapeutic touch, including massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. These treatment methods are among the holistic treatment modalities that we offer at Enlightened Solutions. We are a drug and alcohol treatment center located on New Jersey’s southern shore. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders that frequently accompany substance use disorder. If you are struggling with an addiction and are ready to seek treatment, call us at (833) 801-5483. We can help you build a life free from the pain and destruction of substance abuse.


Valentine's Day

Single and Sober on Valentine’s Day: Now What?

For many people, Valentine’s Day brings to mind images of happy couples out on the town, enjoying dinner by candlelight and a bottle of champagne. Roses and a box of chocolates fit in that image somewhere too.

If you are sober, Valentine’s Day can be a little problematic because of the association of romance with wine, especially champagne, that is prevalent in our society. If you aren’t in a romantic relationship, Valentine’s Day can feel like a slap in the face. It may seem as if everyone is married or has a significant other except you. If you are committed to a sober lifestyle and single, Valentine’s Day can be especially difficult. Fortunately, with a little planning, you can celebrate Valentine’s Day in your own way.

Alcohol-Free Alternatives

If you choose not to drink alcohol for whatever reason, more and more flavorful options are cropping up all the time. A tried-and-true alternative to sparkling wine is sparkling cider, which comes in many different flavors. If you are a little more adventurous, a quick Google search will give you more mocktail recipes than you can drink. Try sipping on a mock sangria loaded with fresh fruit; a Mexican chocolate mocktail, a sophisticated hot chocolate drink livened up with cinnamon; or a rose lemon spritzer, complete with rose petals.

It doesn’t matter what you drink; what matters is that you recognize that holidays like Valentine’s Day can be triggers for some people. If you know that the day can be a trigger and you have a plan, you will be fine.

Reach Out to Other People

Although it may feel like you are the only person alone on Valentine’s Day, that is not the case. Valentine’s Day can be a great time to show some kindness to others. You might want to plan a party for other sober single friends, although, in light of COVID-19, you may choose to make it a virtual gathering. You might fix dinner for your favorite couple or offer to babysit for parents with young children so they can spend some time together without their kids. You could put together a basket filled with Valentine’s Day treats and take it to someone you know who is older and alone. Create small treat bags to give to neighbors. Take flowers to someone.

Showing kindness to someone else is as good for you as it is for them and being kind to others can improve your physical and mental health. Showing kindness to others increases the level of oxytocin in your system, which lowers your blood pressure and improves your cardiovascular health. Being kind also raises your serotonin level, which improves your sleep. In addition, performing acts of kindness lowers your cortisol level, the hormone connected with stress.

Focus on Yourself

Valentine’s Day as a single person can give you a good excuse to show some kindness to yourself. Part of what can be hard about being single on Valentine’s Day is gift-giving, so buy yourself a present. The present can be as simple or as extravagant as your wishes and financial circumstances allow. It might be an item of clothing or a piece of jewelry that you’ve had your eye on. Perhaps you want to purchase supplies or tools to support a hobby--a new lens if you love photography, golf lessons if most weekends find you on a golf course, or a subscription to a finance magazine if personal investing is your passion. Buy yourself some candy and flowers; binge-watch your favorite show; immerse yourself in a book; or plan a spa day at home.

You might choose to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Sometimes with all the business of contemporary life, the best gift you can give yourself is the gift of time. You might decide to take a weekend trip by yourself. Traveling alone might seem daunting if it’s something you’ve never done, but you may find that you enjoy it. You can go where you want when you want. You can spend the entire trip doing exactly as you please.

You might decide that Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to learn something new. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to knit. Maybe you want to learn to roller skate. Perhaps you used to make collages; gather up the supplies you need and start creating.

You may also decide to spend some time contemplating the sober lifestyle you have chosen. It can be beneficial to think about why you wanted to embrace a sober lifestyle and all the benefits that come with it. Think about the positive changes you’ve made in your life and the changes still to come.

Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. With a little planning, you can avoid the triggers and have a great day, either alone or with friends.

If you are single, Valentine’s Day can be a trigger. Happy couples are everywhere and many of them are celebrating with alcohol. With a little planning, though, you can avoid the triggers and celebrate the day in a way that makes you happy. At Enlightened Solutions, we will help you develop the life skills you need to avoid triggers and prevent relapse. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center licensed to treat co-occurring disorders. We offer a range of treatment options tailored to the needs of each client. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. Our services include talk therapy, both one-on-one and in a group setting, rooted in the 12-Step traditions. We offer a variety of holistic treatment modalities, including art and music therapy, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care, sound therapy, Family Constellation Therapy, and equine therapy. If you or someone close to you is ready to seek treatment for an addiction, call us at (833) 801-5483.


Meth Use

Your Brain and Body on Meth

The last time Sam used meth was following a breakup. She was terribly depressed and lonely, and she thought that meth would help her feel better. Instead, she said, it turned her into a “monster.” She recalls that when she was using meth she felt invincible and like she could do no wrong. In reality, she says, she was letting down the people she loved. The high she had experienced didn’t last and became more and more elusive.

In reality, she explained, meth turned her into a selfish, horrendous person. When you are high on meth, you can go for several days without sleep or food. You can’t hold a job when you use meth, she says, because your thinking and behavior becomes completely erratic and frequently violent. When your high wears off, you frequently feel depressed, anxious, extreme fatigue, and intense cravings for more meth so you won’t feel depressed, anxious, and exhausted. And so the cycle continues. Also, meth users can lose the ability to feel pleasure from daily activities. The only thing that brings them pleasure is the drug.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a synthetic drug made from pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used in cold and allergy medicine, and common household substances like acetone, drain cleaner, brake cleaner, battery acid, lithium, and others. According to the Department of Justice, meth can be produced in two types of labs: “superlabs,” which produce large quantities of the drug and supply organized drug traffickers or small labs that can be in homes, motel rooms, and cars, among other locations. (Meth labs also produce incredible amounts of toxic waste and are an environmental hazard.)

Methamphetamine comes in several forms (crystal, rocks, powder, and tablets) and can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug goes by a number of names on the street including meth, speed, ice, shards, bikers coffee, and crank, among others. Meth is also referred to as “poor man’s coke.”

Scope of the Problem

Meth use is prevalent in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 14.7 million people, or approximately 5.4% of the population, have tried meth at least once, 1.6 million people actively used meth in the year before the survey was conducted, and 774,000 people used in the past month. Meth is more widely available in the West and Midwest. The NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the information gathered is used to guide public policy concerning drug use. According to staff members at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol rehab center located in New Jersey, meth addiction frequently co-occurs with depression and anxiety.

Meth’s Effect on the Body and Brain

According to a report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of meth on the body and brain can be devastating and long-term. 

Perhaps the most common physical problem associated with meth use is the severe dental problems that can accompany the addiction. Commonly known as “meth mouth,” meth users frequently experience severe tooth decay and tooth loss. Meth users are frequently malnourished and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. In addition, meth users frequently have sores and scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. These sores come from users scratching nonexistent insects that they imagine crawling under their skin. Meth also leads to cardiovascular problems including rapid and irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. In addition, meth users are at an increased risk of having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease.

Meth’s effects on the brain are damaging as well. People who use meth experience severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and can become violent. People who use meth can develop psychotic features including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of insects crawling under their skin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these psychotic symptoms can occur months or even years after the person has stopped using meth.

Research discussed in the report has shown that meth causes structural and functional changes in parts of the brain. Imaging studies have shown changes in the dopamine system associated with “reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.” These studies have also shown that there are changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion, memory, decision-making, and the ability to stop engaging in “behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive.”

Signs That Someone May Be Using Meth

If you think that someone you love is using meth, there are indicators to watch for. Overall, he or she will lose interest in activities and people that used to be important, like career, family, and hobbies. Signs to look for include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Periods of no sleep followed by periods of excessive sleep, like 24-48 hours
  • Profuse sweating
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Skin breakouts
  • Visible dental problems 
  • Non-stop or rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior

Help for Meth Addiction Is Available

While meth is a very dangerous drug, the good news is that treatment is available. Treatment begins with detox. It is best if detox from meth is done in a treatment facility so the user will have medical supervision and be away from the environment where he or she was using. Following detox, treatment can begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found useful for meth recovery. CBT focuses on learning new ways to think about and cope with environmental stressors.  A type of treatment called contingency management interventions is also helpful and involves providing incentives for people in recovery to stay in treatment and abstain from drug use. The woman mentioned in the opening paragraphs sought treatment for meth use. She says that recovery was difficult but worth it. She also says that she will never touch meth again.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can destroy lives because of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies meth addiction. One of the treatment modalities we offer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be one of the effective treatments for meth addiction. We also offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, equine therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and sound therapy. In addition, we offer traditional psychotherapy and support groups rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We develop a treatment plan for each individual client. If you are struggling with a meth addiction and the devastation that it causes, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are located on the picturesque New Jersey’s southern shore for optimal healing and relaxation.


Drinking Coffee

January: A Time for New Beginnings

It’s January, the first month of the year. The longest night of the year is behind us and the days are very gradually beginning to get longer. Many people think about making new beginnings or changes in January. It’s a great time to make changes because so many people are making resolutions that would be beneficial to them or to stop doing something harmful. If you have thoughts about not drinking anymore, January is a great time to quit. If you have been sober but have relapsed, January is the perfect time to recommit to sobriety.

A Great Time to Quit

If you decide to quit drinking for good during January, you will have lots of company. January is traditionally a time for new beginnings, for people to evaluate what’s working in their lives and what isn’t working. For many people, what isn’t working is drinking alcohol, so they decide to quit permanently. Other people take a month-long break from alcohol, participating in what’s known as “Dry January.” Dry January began in 2013 in the United Kingdom as part of a campaign to raise money for alcohol abuse and treatment and has since blossomed into a worldwide phenomenon. While participating in Dry January is not in and of itself a treatment for alcohol use disorder, it can be easier to give up drinking because lots of other people won’t be drinking either. Alcohol consumption is very prevalent in our society and Dry January has helped normalize sobriety and remove some of the stigma associated with not drinking.

A Great Time to Quit Again

For some people who have previously given up alcohol and then begun to drink again, January can serve as an impetus for them to recommit to sobriety and either seek treatment again or start attending a support group. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people who have stopped drinking alcohol or using drugs end up relapsing. Relapsing after an attempt to stop drinking or using drugs is not a failure, but because of the “chronic nature of addiction…[that] can be part of the process...Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviors, and relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed.” What relapse does mean is that it is time to consider treatment again and going back to a support group if you have stopped.

Tips to Make Your Decision to Quit Drinking Stick

Deciding to quit drinking is a huge first step on your path. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your decision. 

  • You don’t have to go it alone. Let friends and family members who will be supportive know what you have decided. You may be surprised by how much encouragement you receive. You may want to seek more structured support like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. Both have meetings around the world that are free and you will find yourself surrounded by other people who have made or are making the same decision you are.
  • Spend some time thinking about why you drink. Are you bored? Lonely? Did you recently suffer a loss and you are drinking to dull the pain? Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism, but there are healthier coping alternatives available to you. You may want to start therapy.
  • Think about what you will say in social situations when someone offers you a drink. You could say that you have an early flight to catch, an important meeting that you need to be ready for, or a heavy-duty workout scheduled for the next morning. Or you could just smile and say, “No, thank you.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
  • Find something else that you like to drink. You may find that you love sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime twist or that fixing a cup of tea when you get home from work can replace your former evening cocktail.
  • Find something else to do during the time that you used to drink. Maybe you have decided to attend AA meetings and you find that there is a great meeting that happens at happy hour. Or you may find that you love to go for a nice long run right after work.
  • You may want to make giving up alcohol part of a larger commitment to your health. Make it a priority to eat healthy, nutritious food. Cook more of your meals at home. You can control the nutrition and calories and you will save a lot of money. Make sure that you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Also, this is a perfect time to start an exercise program.

You have decided to quit drinking--congratulations! The benefits of not drinking are numerous, lots of people will join you on your journey, and January is a wonderful time to start something new that will benefit you. January is a great time to quit drinking, but the best time to stop drinking is whenever you realize that there is a problem.

If you have decided that it is time to give up alcohol--whether it’s January or July-- we at Enlightened Solutions would be honored to help you on your journey of recovery. Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of your unique situation, enabling us to design an individualized plan for you. The program we offer is for the whole person, not just his or her addiction. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders that often accompany addiction, including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and combines traditional talk therapy with a variety of holistic treatment modalities. Alternative therapies that we offer include family constellation therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, yoga, meditation, sound healing, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We are located in New Jersey, near the southern shore. For help in overcoming your addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


Bubble Bath

The Role That Bubble Baths (and Other Forms of Self-Care) Play in Recovery

Did you have a bad day at work? Was traffic a nightmare on your way home? Did you argue with your spouse or significant other? Are you tempted to forget about your recovery and pour yourself a drink? Or maybe you had a fabulous day and are looking for a recovery friendly celebration. Either way, run yourself a bubble bath!  Enjoying a bubble bath may sound trivial in the face of addiction recovery, but a nice warm bath can be helpful in maintaining your chosen sober lifestyle. Why? A soak in the tub is an example of self-care.

January 8 is officially National Bubble Bath Day. The bubbles on top of the bathwater act as insulation and keep the water warmer for a longer period of time. If you have a cold or the flu a nice, steamy bath can help relieve nasal and chest congestion. If you’ve had a strenuous workout a soak in the tub can relieve sore muscles. A nice bath also helps to relieve stress and can make falling asleep at bedtime easier.

Why Is Self-Care Important in Recovery?

Self-care plays an important role in recovery because an active addiction can lead to self-neglect- lack of exercise, poor diet, increased stress, etc. Many people who are struggling with addiction turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with stress, boredom, or strong negative emotions. It’s a maladaptive coping mechanism, in that the drugs or alcohol helped- until they didn’t. An important part of recovery is finding healthy ways to cope with negative emotions, as well as healthier ways to celebrate. Making time to take care of yourself isn’t selfish; it is akin to putting on your own oxygen mask first when the cabin pressure drops in the aircraft before you help other people with their oxygen masks. Taking care of yourself helps you in your recovery and in maintaining sobriety.

Many people begin their journey of recovery because they want to start living to their fullest potential. Part of that involves taking care of your body and paying attention to your diet, your sleep, and exercise.

Foods to Avoid- and to Eat

Eat nutritious food. Most people who are struggling with a serious addiction either make poor food choices from a nutritional standpoint or lose interest in eating and fail to consume enough calories. Avoid or reduce your intake of processed food, refined grains, sugary beverages, and artificial sweeteners. Instead, nutritionists recommend that whenever possible you eat whole foods, which is defined as foods that are “not processed or modified from its original form” (U.S. News and World Report, “You’re In Recovery, What Should You Eat,” December 3, 2018), organic food, or locally grown foods.

“Sleep That Knits up the Ravell’d Sleeve of Care”

Playwright William Shakespeare was right when he wrote about the importance of sleep in Macbeth, calling sleep “sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds.”  Drug and alcohol abuse interferes with good sleep which is problematic because sleep restores your brain and your body. Adequate rest (seven or eight hours for most adults) helps with learning and recalling new information, solving problems, focusing on tasks, making decisions, and creating. While you are asleep, your heart and blood vessels are repaired. Sleep problems have been connected with heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity. Enlightened Solutions’ blog on Beating Insomnia During Addiction Recovery offers helpful tips to improve sleep. Avoid blue light (light emitted from television and computer screens) an hour before bedtime. If you have trouble sleeping, reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex. Keep your bedroom tidy. Set the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees. According to the National Sleep Foundation, that temperature range is the most conducive to sleep. Consider wearing an eye mask and earplugs to eliminate distractions. Reduce stress at night by writing in a journal, practicing mindful breathing, or meditating. If you need additional help to get to sleep, try natural sleep aids like melatonin, tryptophan, or GABA.

Exercise: Good for Your Body and Your Mind

Regular exercise is good for everyone (assuming there are no medical issues that would preclude exercise) and especially for those in recovery. Regular exercise can reduce the incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and other health problems. In terms of the mental and emotional benefits, spending 30 minutes engaged in aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing) will improve sleep, reduce stress, increase mental alertness, and improve mood overall. Exercise also leads to greater self-confidence and more social interaction.

For people in recovery, participating in a fitness program of some sort is very important for a number of reasons. A regular exercise program can provide structure for the day and fills some of the time that used to be spent drinking or using drugs. Exercise can distract you from cravings and can alleviate boredom. For these reasons and others, many treatment centers include exercise and fitness as part of their programs.

Proper nutrition, restful sleep, and exercise (and bubble baths) are all examples of self-care and are important to you in your journey of recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we do far more than help our clients reach sobriety--we equip them with the life skills and self-care techniques they need to maintain sobriety as part of the healthy lifestyle they have embraced. Our clients have the opportunity to learn to prepare organic meals from produce that they have helped to grow on our farm. Here at Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients a variety of fitness options and teach relaxation techniques that will lead to more restful sleep. We are located on the New Jersey shore and we offer alternative therapies to complement the one-on-one and group counseling that we provide. The therapies that we offer include art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and family constellation therapy. Every client has a treatment program developed specifically for them. If you or a family member are tired of addiction and are ready to break free, call us at (833) 801-5483.