How Can I Help Loved Ones Understand Addiction?

How Can I Help Loved Ones Understand Addiction?

When you are recovering from addiction, it becomes clear that some who have not experienced addiction firsthand may struggle to understand it. It can feel isolating when your loved ones do not know what you're going through. Helping your loved ones to understand addiction better involves taking it one step at a time to build more effective communication.

Addiction is a family disease. Addiction to one family member can create toxicity in the entire unit. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in incorporating loved ones into the healing and recovery process.

Can My Loved Ones Understand Addiction?

Without experiencing addiction firsthand, your loved ones will have a different perspective on addiction. However, they can understand it as they learn alongside you. Loved ones are likely to have frustrations. Your behavior, choices, and journey are unfamiliar to them, which can be frustrating. Additionally, addiction commonly brings chaos, which likely has impacted their lives as well as your own.

There are certain aspects of addiction that you can help your loved ones to understand. By incorporating them into your treatment, they can learn about addiction as a disease. At Enlightened Solutions, we help family members to understand that addiction is a disease. As they learn about the different aspects of addiction, it can give them a more educated perspective that goes beyond their direct experience of watching you struggle with substance abuse.

Your loved ones can also learn by communicating with you during your treatment. In family sessions, all parties have their turn to speak and share. Both sharing and listening are educational experiences. Your loved ones have the opportunity to learn about your direct experience with addiction and be able to share theirs. This setting helps all members to communicate, connect, and understand each other better.

Benefits of Your Loved One's Participation in Treatment

You and your loved ones make up a family system. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), when a family member's thinking and response to addiction changes, the entire family system changes. This, in turn, has a very positive outcome for all involved.

It is helpful when your family understands addiction and how they can support you in a way that benefits you and them. Their participation in treatment provides the tools to protect their health and aid in the recovery process. While every family unit looks different, family therapy in addiction treatment often includes learning about boundaries, communication, and respect. This will be two-sided, meaning you and your loved ones will both need to make adjustments to these aspects of your relationship.

There are many benefits of including your loved ones in treatment. Below we will outline a few that can be highly impactful for you and your loved ones.

Family Healing

Addiction often causes a tremendous amount of damage to your relationship with your loved ones. In Enlightened Solutions' family program, we work to address this. We want to involve family and loved ones in the process of healing so that they can heal alongside you. When this is facilitated in a safe environment, such as a family program, it is more likely to be successful. You and your loved ones will learn the skills needed to both heal and move forward with an improved relationship.

Family healing means more than simply addressing each individual. It is a unique blend of addressing the past and looking forward. For you and your loved ones to heal, you must find a way to function differently in the future. We help your loved ones learn the skills they need to protect themselves while improving their understanding of addiction as a disease.

Strengthened Communication

As the foundation of the relationship, communication is vital. For both you and your loved ones, many adjustments will improve your relationships. You and your loved ones can learn how to communicate how you feel and what is happening internally. This helps both parties heal and move forward with a more intimate knowledge of each other.

Improved communication helps you and your loved ones in and out of your direct relationship. In recovery, you will be returning to many social situations that will benefit from the practice you have put in through our family program. Practicing listening, articulating, and exploring different ways to communicate will help you at work and with other friendships in your life. Recovery will require you to make changes in many aspects of your life, including relationships. A family program, like the one at Enlightened Solutions, helps you learn how to communicate better as you move forward.

Healthy Boundaries for You and Your Loved Ones

Communication is also vital in the formation of new and healthier relationships with your loved ones. In many families in which a member has struggled with addiction, there is commonly a lack of boundaries. Healthy boundaries are integral to healthy relationships for you and your loved ones. Acknowledging and communicating these boundaries will help all parties care for their needs while maintaining a relationship.

Without experiencing addiction firsthand, it can be tough to understand. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a family program that can be participated in remotely or in person. We believe in the power of family healing. In sharing your experience, your loved ones can start to understand you better. As they learn more about the process of addiction, the relationships will change. Healing as a family requires listening and sharing from all parties. As you hear about each others' experiences, you can work together to adjust how you function as a family unit. To learn more about our family program and how we can help you, call (833) 801-LIVE today to speak with a staff member. 

How to Disclose Your Addiction to a Loved One

Delivering news that you know will be unpleasant is always hard. This could include something like informing someone of a mistake, loss, or lie. When it comes to disclosing the fact that you are struggling with substance addiction, you could get various responses.

Let's first discuss who you may want or need to share this information with. It can be common for those struggling with addiction to hide their problems from others. This often leads to dishonesty, mistrust, and even strained relationships. When things become tense, and you feel the need to lie to your loved ones, this may indicate that it is time to be honest and disclose your addiction.

Telling a Spouse or Partner

Informing your spouse or partner of your addiction can be challenging. You may fear rejection or a negative response. The risk of losing the person can sometimes be enough to keep you from telling the truth.

Sooner or later, those close to you will become aware that something isn't right. When it comes to your spouse or partner, chances are, they have already become a little suspicious. When you are struggling with addiction, your behavior tends to change, priorities shift, and you may display some signs of dishonesty or secrecy.

If your spouse or partner has noticed any of these signs, they may already have an idea of the issue. Having an open and honest conversation could help them feel more justified in their feelings and observations.

Telling a Parent or Sibling

Sharing with a parent or sibling that you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be equally challenging. Often, we want our family members to be proud of us. Making good choices is something that many families aim to instill in their children. Knowing your parents or family will be disappointed can be a barrier to breaking the news. Addiction does tend to impact the whole family.

One of the things to keep in mind is that, in most cases, your family members love you unconditionally. This means that even if you share some information that they may not like, they will still love and support you.

Being open and honest about your struggles can often improve your relationships with family members. Again, they have likely noticed a shift in your behavior and actions and may feel a little relieved to know that you are aware of the issue and willing to talk about it.

Telling a Friend or Roommate

Informing a friend or roommate of your addiction can be a bit uncomfortable. Your friends or roommates may also drink alcohol or use drugs. They might be struggling with addiction as well, or maybe they consider themselves to be more recreational users.

In this case, talking to them about your addiction may or may not alter their behavior or decisions. However, being clear about your concerns and your decision to seek support is important. You may need to evaluate the friendship or reconsider your living situation if they do not support you or do not share similar goals.

On the contrary, you may still have some friends who don't use substances, or perhaps you live with roommates who do not share your lifestyle. Ideally, these people will encourage you to seek help and will support you in your efforts to get clean.

How to Break the News

When it comes time to have the difficult conversation, be sure you are prepared. You want to be sure you schedule enough time to have the conversation, as there may be follow-up questions or a discussion. Most likely, the person you are delivering the information to is going to want to talk through options for getting help.

Be sure to have the conversation in an appropriate environment. This is not a conversation you want to have in a public place. Struggling with substance abuse can come with some shame and guilt and certainly carries a fair share of stigma. Having the conversation in a private place can make all parties more comfortable.

Lastly, be honest. Most likely, there have been some instances that have resulted in a lack of trust up to this point. As a result, it is very important to be upfront about your struggles and make an effort to be fully transparent about how addiction is affecting you.

Having this conversation can often come as a result of the decision to seek treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we help facilitate communication and provide guidance when it comes to mending broken relationships. Our family program helps to inform your loved ones about your situation and provides tools for navigating the healing and recovery process. Disclosing your addiction to those you care about is never easy, but it is an essential step toward recovery.

Discussing your struggle with substance abuse with loved ones can be challenging. You may receive negative feedback, judgment, rejection, or worse. It is important, however, to share your struggle with those who may be in a position to support you or encourage you to seek help. They may also serve as a great support system as you exit treatment and enter recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a family program that helps to facilitate communication and growth among family members and loved ones in treatment. We help create understanding and encourage methods for healing everyone involved. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How Do I Know If My Loved One Has an Addiction?

How Do I Know If My Loved One Has an Addiction?

Are you up late at night losing sleep because you’re worried about your loved one? Maybe they seem to be acting a little differently lately. Maybe their priorities have shifted, or they’re hanging with a different crowd these days. Whatever the reasons for your concern, it’s never a good feeling to have to ask yourself whether your loved one could potentially be struggling with drug or alcohol abuse.

In this situation, it’s important to know the warning signs and be able to determine when it is time to seek help. Many changes can occur when someone is engaging in substance abuse. There are often physical symptoms and signs as well as behavioral changes you may observe when someone is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Typically, once addiction becomes severe enough, it is very difficult for anyone to hide the telling signs and symptoms. Things can often escalate quickly, so it is important to be aware and take action as soon as you suspect there may be a problem. Below are a few things to look out for if you are concerned that your loved one may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Behavioral Changes

Usually, those close to you know you best. So, while there are some common signs and symptoms, it’s important to note that your loved one may display signs or symptoms that may not align exactly with some of the examples provided. Some common behavioral changes can include increased frustration or irritability, loss of interest in activities your loved one used to enjoy, a short temper, or seeming withdrawn or distant from family members and friends.

Of course, these behaviors can be a result of other things that may be going on and causing distress. It is important, however, to try to figure out if addiction could be the cause of the behavioral changes you’re seeing. If you are seeing behavioral changes in addition to any of the physical changes listed below, chances are good that substance use may be a factor.

Physical Changes

There are a few physical changes that can be indicators of addiction. Often, addiction interferes with your appetite. This can result in excessive weight gain or weight loss depending on the person and the substance being used. Often, these fluctuations in weight appear to be quite drastic and seem to happen pretty quickly.

Another physical change that could occur if your loved one is engaging in substance use can include changes to the eyes. Many substances can either cause pupils to dilate or shrink. If you notice a change in your loved one's appearance, specifically in reference to pupil size or eye redness, it may be worth looking into.

Additionally, a person's level of care when it comes to hygiene and appearance can change with addiction. They may seem a little more unkempt or could possibly be observed dressing inappropriately for the weather. For instance, many heavy users may tend to carry drugs or paraphernalia with them. In an effort to hide these objects, they may wear more layers of clothing or choose clothes with larger pockets.

When to Get Help

Noticing any of the symptoms mentioned above could certainly indicate that there is an issue, but not always. Sometimes, there may be another issue at hand contributing to behavioral or physical changes in your loved one. It’s important to be aware of common signs and symptoms of substance abuse, but it’s also important to trust your instincts. Again, you know your loved one best and know when there is something out of the ordinary going on.

Make it a point to try to confront your concerns and have a conversation about the signs and symptoms you have observed. They may open up about a potential problem with drugs or alcohol, or they may become defensive and deny that there is an issue.

Treatment facilities will conduct a thorough assessment of your loved one and determine the best plan for treatment. They will go through the detox process, helping them to cleanse their body of all drugs or alcohol before entering into treatment programming. They will be taught new, healthy ways of living while healing mentally, physically, and spiritually to ensure the best future possible.

You never want to believe that someone you love and care for has an addiction. While coming to terms with this reality can be extremely disheartening and devastating, it’s important to get your loved one the help they need. Pay close attention to their behavior and appearance if you suspect they may be using drugs or alcohol and could have a problem. Getting help early on can reduce long-term damage and lead to an easier transition into recovery.

Learning that your loved one has an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be extremely tough to process and cope with. There are many common signs and symptoms to be aware of and look out for if you are suspicious that there could be a problem. It’s important to get help as soon as possible if you do discover that someone is struggling with substance abuse. Enlightened Solutions offers excellent options for treatment and provides activities and uses strategies to promote holistic and healthy living. Our therapists aim to identify any co-occurring disorders at intake or contributing trauma that might need to be addressed to ensure complete healing. Let us help your loved one overcome this challenge and find sobriety. If you or someone you love is battling addiction, we would love to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How Can I Build Healthy Relationships In Recovery?

How Can I Build Healthy Relationships in Recovery?

Relationships are an essential part of life. We all need human interaction. Friends and family members are great to have around during happy times, and especially during tough times.

Knowing the value of positive relationships, it is important to learn how to identify them. How do you build healthy relationships, and what makes some healthy and others unhealthy? This can be determined by how you feel and behave and whether they support and encourage positive aspects of your life.

If you are or have struggled with substance abuse, likely some, if not most, of your relationships during that time were not healthy. Typically, those battling addiction surround themselves with others living similar lifestyles. As a result, your social circle will likely change as you enter treatment and progress through recovery.

Impact of Others

The company you keep can have a huge impact on you. Those around you can be more influential than you might think. For instance, spending time with people who prioritize healthy eating makes you more likely to follow a healthy diet. You tend to conform to similar interests and activities. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.

When it comes to addiction, your behavior can often be reinforced by those you spend time with. Individuals that use substances tend to hang around others that also use substances. This can be for a variety of reasons. This could be out of convenience. Accessing substances may be easier in specific environments. Individuals that use substances may also spend time together because there is a lack of judgment felt when others around them are engaging in the same behaviors.

As you enter treatment and begin your journey to recovery, you will find that many, if not all, of the individuals you used to spend time with will fall off. Without drugs or alcohol, you may find that you don’t have much in common with these people. You will now be interacting with others who may be going through treatment or are already in recovery.

Connecting During Treatment

Building relationships in treatment can create a sense of community and reassure you that you are not alone. You are surrounded by others who are going through the same process and can likely share your perspective. Health and wellness groups are often held in a group setting, helping to facilitate new friendships and connections during treatment. Many programs will include skill development specifically to assist you in building and repairing relationships.

Equally important as connecting with others during treatment is connecting with yourself. This bond could even be considered to be the most important. It can be common to lose touch with yourself as a result of addiction. You may forget who you are and become very disconnected from the things and people who really matter. Treatment is an excellent time to re-establish your internal connection and build new habits of checking in with yourself regularly.

Connecting in Recovery

Some relationships may carry over from treatment to recovery as a result of the bonds created with peers during the experience. You will also begin to form new relationships following treatment. These relationships are very important. As mentioned previously, those you spend your time with can have a huge impact on your life.

Choosing your friends and connections wisely is more important than ever. Aim to identify like-minded people. This can be done by attending recovery meetings and continuing to remain involved in programs as an alumnus.

This is often a time for rebuilding broken relationships that may have been damaged due to your addiction. Many times, bonds with close friends and family members become strained due to your behavior while using drugs or alcohol. It is important to take steps to reconnect with those who care about you and support your recovery, as they can help you remain on track and encouraged.

Facilities, such as Enlightened Solutions, often elect to involve friends and family members in the treatment and recovery process. Studies show major advantages to having a strong support system following treatment. As mentioned by Henning Pettersen, Anne Landheim, Ivar Skeie, Stian Biong, Morten Brodahl, Jeppe Oute, and Larry Davidson in their article, “How Social Relationships Influence Substance Use Disorder Recovery: A Collaborative Narrative Study,” “[Substance use disorder] treatment providers should involve clients’ networks to a greater extent when designing new treatment approaches. They should invite significant others, family, and friends of the client to treatment programs in the interest of promoting and prolonging positive relationships relevant to establishing sobriety.”

This supports the value of positive relationships in recovery. By attending regular meetings and staying involved, you can continue to build your support network following treatment and throughout recovery.

Building relationships is not always easy. In fact, the older you get the more difficult it seems to become. Addiction can cause you to damage positive relationships and develop negative ones. When you make the decision to enter treatment, your social circle is bound to change. Enlightened Solutions offers group therapy and classes to encourage connectedness and facilitate group learning and healing. Many activities involve learning communication skills, conflict resolution, and other abilities that will help you build new healthy relationships after treatment and throughout recovery. Our health and wellness groups are always held in a group setting, as we find great value in creating a sense of community and learning new things as a team. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, make the decision to seek help today. Call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE.

How to Make New Friends When You’re Sober

How to Make New Friends When You’re Sober

One of the common challenges for the newly sober is finding new friends. It’s typically a good idea to distance yourself from friends who still drink and use drugs. They often won’t support your recovery and just being around them can trigger cravings. Furthermore, when people get sober, they often realize that drugs and alcohol were the only things they had in common with certain friends and they otherwise aren’t very interesting.

This can put you in a dilemma in the early days of recovery: You don’t want negative people in your life but neither do you want to be lonely. Loneliness itself is distressing and can increase your risk of anxiety and depression. Therefore, it’s helpful to try to make some new friends. If you’re the kind of outgoing person who makes friends easily, this won’t be a problem, but if you’re more introverted, guarded, or just socially awkward, the following tips may help.

Take the Initiative

First, if you want to make new friends, you may have to take the initiative. When you’re a kid, you just sort of end up being friends with people who you’re around all the time but as an adult, things are different. If you want to spend time with someone, you actually have to make a plan and follow through and you can’t always rely on the other person to get things started.

Don’t Push Too Hard

Although you may have to take the initiative, it’s also important not to push too hard. You’re basically just extending an invitation that the other person can accept or not. You can’t force someone to be your friend. These things have to happen in their own time.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

One of the major problems people face in making new friends is fear of rejection. This is obvious when it comes to dating but less obvious when it comes to friendships. You think you would feel like an idiot if you invited someone for coffee and they just weren’t interested in spending half an hour with you. It’s important to keep in mind that rejection is not a value judgment on you, at least not an objective one.

Sometimes people are guarded and wary of new people. Sometimes they legitimately don’t have time. Sometimes they won’t like you for reasons that have nothing at all to do with who you are. The main point is that if you are willing to take the risk, you will probably end up making a few good friends. At worst, you may get a reputation as a friendly person.

Put Yourself in Favorable Situations

The other major component to making friends sober is to put yourself in situations where there are more opportunities to make friends. There are two main components to these situations: You see the same people on a regular basis and you share some common interest. Familiarity is perhaps the more important of the two because we tend to feel more comfortable around familiar people but sharing a common interest makes conversation much easier. The following are some common situations where you are more likely to make new friends.

12-Step Meetings

For people new to recovery, 12-Step meetings are typically the best places to make new friends. These groups are inclusive and there are typically several meetings available in your area. There are also specialty groups in many areas. These may be men-only, women-only, gay, and so on. Some groups may have a sort of informal niche. The point is that you can probably find a group where you fit in pretty well.

One major advantage of meeting friends at a 12-Step meeting is that they will typically share your commitment to staying sober. And since you’ve had many of the same experiences, you will be able to communicate in ways other people might not understand.

Sports Leagues

If you’re not really a talkative person, joining a recreational sports league, an exercise group, or an exercise class might be the way to go. Exercise is already a great thing to be doing in recovery, with many mental and physical health benefits, and making exercise social compounds these benefits by adding social interaction and accountability.

You’re more likely to show up to the gym or the basketball court if people are waiting for you or if your friend comes and drags you along. Playing on a team or running in a group is an easy way to become familiar with people and get to know them. Since exercise gets your endorphins going, people who exercise together are more likely to have positive associations with each other, much like sharing a good meal.


It’s easy to make friends in school because you see the same people every day for years. While you probably don’t want to go back to school, you may enjoy taking a class. It doesn’t have to be anything too serious, although many friendships have been forged by cram sessions for organic chemistry and other challenging classes.

You can take a class in cooking or tennis or art. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s something you enjoy and something that will put you in contact with the same people for a few weeks or months. Learning new skills and getting into new interests is also great for recovery overall.


Finally, make use of “weak” social ties. These are people outside your immediate circle of friends and family, who typically mostly know each other already. This is an underutilized resource when job hunting and the same is true for making new friends. Ask about the friends and acquaintances of your friends and family. If someone sounds interesting or like you might have something in common, see if you can get together.

For example, your cousin has a friend who is a year sober and likes the same music you do. Maybe you arrange to have lunch with your cousin and ask him to invite his friend too. Sometimes these work out and sometimes not but these kinds of associative connections are easy to make and follow through on with lower than average risk of major problems.

Having a strong social network is one of the keys to a strong recovery. Feeling connected, feeling a sense of belonging reduces stress and gives you a sense of purpose and accountability. Making friends is mainly a matter of being willing to make the first move and putting yourself in situations where you meet people who share your interests and values. After that, you just have to be patient and let your friendships develop.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that connection is crucial to a strong recovery. That’s why family and community are core principles in our approach to treatment. To learn more about our addiction treatment program, call us today at 833-801-5483.


9 Tips for Resolving Conflict in Addiction Recovery

For most people, interpersonal conflict is the most significant source of stress, with the other contender being financial stress. Conflict can arise in any relationship for many different reasons. It can occur because of differing expectations, conflicting goals, or simple misunderstandings. Whatever the cause, conflict is often distressing and adds to your problems. People typically cite stress as their primary trigger for cravings. The better you can resolve disputes, the less stress you will have in your life and, we hope, fewer cravings. However, most of us are never taught how to resolve conflict. Some conflicts will require mediation or family therapy to resolve, but most can be managed on your own if you keep the following tips in mind.


Acknowledge There’s a Problem

Some people don’t mind conflict, and others even thrive on it. However, most people don’t like it and would rather avoid it, even to their detriment. They might go so far as to pretend there’s no problem at all. However, pretending doesn’t make the problem go away. Just as someone with agoraphobia severely limits themselves by not leaving the house, you severely limit yourself by avoiding conflict at all costs. The first thing, then, is to acknowledge there’s a problem and objectively consider if you would be better off trying to resolve it.


Don’t Discuss it While Angry

While anger can be motivating in certain circumstances, it tends to intensify conflict rather than resolve it. If a dispute arises, give yourself time to cool down before you discuss it. Anything you say while angry may only make matters worse. You never forfeit your right to tell someone off, and you can always do it tomorrow after you’ve thought it over. If you don’t have that kind of time, at least pause and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that you don’t want to say or do anything you can’t take back. When you’re feeling calmer, you can begin discussing the issue.


Remember What’s Important

When trying to resolve a conflict, keep the big picture in mind. Often, we are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to arguments. We get fixated on some small benefit or even just being right, and we lose something of greater value. For example, family members often alienate each other over politics when neither side gains anything from being correct but loses everything over continued conflict. 



The first significant step toward actually resolving any sort of conflict is to be willing to listen. It can be challenging to put aside your own desires and opinions for a few minutes and listen to what the other person has to say, but it’s essential. Listening is a skill in itself, but it starts with giving your full attention. When they’re finished talking, reflect back what you just heard. Use phrases like, “So what it sounds like you’re telling me is--” and try to characterize their statements as accurately as possible. This, in itself, is a powerful way to resolve conflict because you will often discover that you’re not actually dealing with conflict but a misunderstanding. If there is a legitimate conflict, at least you will be starting with an accurate understanding of each other’s position.


Avoid Placing Blame

Most conflict doesn’t arise from any sort of malicious motive. You may have heard the expression, “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Perhaps stupidity is often too strong a word for ordinary conflicts, and “misunderstanding” would be more appropriate. Furthermore, disputes often arise because two people just want mutually exclusive things. There isn’t a bad guy as the needs and wants of neither is more legitimate than the other. It’s important to acknowledge that what the other person wants is reasonable and not make matters harder by attributing to them either malice or stupidity.


Identify the Underlying Issues

The next step is to identify the underlying issues when you’re able to approach the conflict with a reasonably calm and fair mind. We often think we know what an argument is about, even though it’s about something else entirely or perhaps even several different things. For example, say a married couple is arguing because the wife asks the husband to pick up the kids at school, and he says he can’t. The underlying issue for her might be that she believes he expects her to do everything and doesn’t respect her time. The underlying problem for him might be that he’s made a prior commitment and doesn’t want to fail in his obligation. When you’ve identified what the real underlying problems are, you can begin to work on solutions.


Find Areas of Agreement

For more intense arguments, it’s good to start by looking for agreement, however small. You both want the kids to get picked up from school. You both want the other to feel appreciated, and so on. This partly goes back to remembering what’s important. In many relationships, you want to remember that you’re really on the same side and dealing with an issue of how to cooperate. It’s much easier to solve problems as teammates rather than as adversaries.


Come Up With Solutions

When you understand the underlying problems as well as the areas you both agree about, you can start working toward a solution. In the example above, perhaps there’s some way the husband can meet his obligation and pick up the kids. Maybe the wife can pick up the kids, and he can take something else off her plate. Often, the willingness to compromise is just as important as any particular solution you come up with.


Be Willing to Forgive

Finally, be willing to forgive the other person following the conflict. Don’t agree to a solution, then go around feeling resentful for the next six months because you didn’t get your way. Being willing to forgive is better for your mental and physical health, and it’s better for your relationship. 


At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that recovery from addiction is about far more than quitting drugs and alcohol--it’s about living a happier, more fulfilling life. Being better able to communicate and resolve conflict improves your relationships and makes you happier. That’s why we put special emphasis on family and relationships. To learn more about our approach to addiction treatment, call us today at 833-801-5483


4 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills Now

4 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills Now

Whether you’re concerned about a loved one’s substance use and you want them to get help or you have substance use issues from which you’re trying to recover, better listening skills can be a huge asset. Social connection is one of the most important aspects of addiction recovery.

It creates a sense of belonging and accountability that can get you through the toughest challenges of recovery. Strong relationships are built on compassion and mutual understanding.

On the other hand, interpersonal conflict, resentment, and alienation make recovery much, much harder. A lot of the conflict we experience is caused by a lack of social skills, both theirs and ours.

Improving your social skills is a huge topic, but it begins with being a good listener. Listening is a crucial skill that few of us are ever taught. The following are some listening skills you can start using right away to improve your relationships.


Give Your Full Attention

First of all, when someone is talking to you, give that person your full attention. It’s so common for us to be looking at our phones while someone else is speaking that we’ve begun to think it’s ok. It’s not.

When you’re looking at your phone while someone is talking to you, it signals that you don’t care that much about what they’re saying. You might think you’re one of the small percentages of people on the planet who can authentically multitask, but you’re not.

Your attention is switching back and forth from your phone to the person and you are definitely missing something. If someone is talking to you, give them your full attention, even if it’s something minor. If you want someone to listen to you, you have to listen to them.


Reflect Back What You Hear

The next major listening skill is to reflect back what you hear. In other words, give a concise summary of what they just told you. This will typically sound like, “So, what you’re telling me is—” This relatively small change accomplishes several big things.

First, it makes you a more engaged listener. Think back to lectures in school and remember how you suddenly paid more attention when the teacher said something would be on the test.

When you’re in the habit of reflecting, it’s like being aware that everything you hear is going to be on the test. You’re looking for the essence of what the other person is saying, so you can reflect it accurately.


Second, reflecting signals that you care about what they are saying and that you’re interested. We’ve all had the experience of telling someone about something important to us, only to get a curt response like, “Cool story.”

You may not care about the particular thing someone is telling you, but paying attention signals that you care about them, which is usually more important.


Finally, reflecting improves the quality of your communication. Most of us don’t communicate as clearly as we think we do because we already know what we’re trying to say.

Reflecting lets the other person know whether or not they’ve really gotten their point across. This helps avoid problems resulting from misunderstandings.


Aim First to Understand

Reflection is the first step in understanding what someone is trying to tell you. We often make the mistake of thinking that communication is primarily about self-expression.

We want to be heard and taken seriously. However, for real communication to happen, we also have to listen and understand


Defensiveness is the real challenge to understanding. We want to be right and we want people to understand why we do what we do, that our mistakes arise from specific circumstances, not from our being inherently bad. 


Unfortunately, being too eager to defend or explain ourselves can impede real communication. Sometimes people are going to tell us things we don’t want to hear.

Sometimes these things will be justified and sometimes not, but your first priority should be to understand. 


One way to avoid the reflex to argue or defend yourself is to approach the conversation with curiosity. For example, someone tells you, “You always give up when things get hard,” you might feel like responding, “No, I don’t,” or “You’re one to talk.”

However, if you approach the conversation with curiosity, you might say something like, “Do you really feel that way?” or “Can you name some other times that was true?” In this way, you can turn an argument into a conversation. It may turn out that you should enforce your boundaries or defend yourself against unfair accusations, but it’s important to start with understanding. 


Validate What You’ve Heard

When you correctly understand what someone has told you, the next step is often validation. Validation means you can at least understand why the person did or said what they did in a particular situation.

Validation is a way of showing empathy, that you sort of put yourself in their place, even if you don’t approve of what they did. That’s a crucial point—validation is not approval. It’s not, “You did the right thing,” but rather, “I might have done something similar under those circumstances.” 


Validation is especially important when communicating with people with substance use disorders. Most of us realize that drug and alcohol use is not a healthy response to trauma or other emotional challenges, but sometimes it’s the only way someone knows how to cope. This is important to realize both for friends and family, and for people in recovery. We all make the best decisions we can at the time and it helps to remember our own mistakes before criticizing others.


Becoming a better listener is one of the many skills that will help you both in recovery and in life. It immediately improves the quality of your relationships and it’s a great way to learn new things, especially about yourself. All it takes is a sincere intention to improve and little practice with the skills described above.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that a lasting recovery from addiction is really about living a better, more fulfilling life. We believe in treating the whole person, mind, body, and spirit. To learn more about our approach to treatment, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

One of the most common things we are told by guests during a funeral is “I am sorry for your loss.” While you may be genuine in your response, coming up with different responses that come from your heart can make a big difference in how that person goes forward in their grief. Speaking from your heart and empathizing with what your loved one is going through can be a big help to their sadness and guide them back to happiness.

I Am Here For You To Lean On

You may not know what to say to someone who has lost someone if you have never been in that situation before. That person probably feels lost in the world and is questioning how life works like losing a spouse that they pictured spending their whole lives with or outliving your child. It can seem awkward and scary because you do not want to make anything worse for that person. But, doing nothing about a friend’s grief will make that person think you do not care enough to reach out. Just letting someone know that you will be there for them will provide them with a great source of comfort and warmth. It just needs to be told in the simplest way so that a person should never have to wonder if you will be there for them. Do not force being there for that person if your loved one is not ready to let anyone in yet. Just give them the option that if you are looking for a lending hand, you will be there to hold it and help feel better. 

I Can See You Tomorrow If You Would Like

Telling someone to let you know if they need anything is a very general request. Your loved one is too absorbed in their sadness to think of a helpful task for you. You should instead pick a task and commit to doing so. You can tell things that person things like you will bring a cake or a casserole to their house tomorrow or that you can just come for a visit to talk. You can also offer to help them do any chores that can lighten their load like any laundry, cooking, or picking up groceries. You can also help out your loved one’s children like picking them up from school or making lunches for them. Letting that person know about the task you are willing to accomplish for them will show that you are serious.

It Is Okay to Feel This Way

We tend to feel bad about feeling bad or crying in front of others. It may be common to tell someone not to cry because we want them to feel better. The truth is that your loved one will not feel better because you tell them to. You need to let them know that it is okay to feel sad. That they can try for the person they are grieving for and to let it out. Just let that person be how they are naturally instead of trying to change them. And again, let them know that no matter how bad they are feeling, they can always turn to you.

Ask About That Person

Remember that when someone is grieving, no one should forget about the person who passed away. You can ask that person if they have any favorite memories they should like to share or moments that made them laugh with them. Maybe you have never met the deceased person before and you would like your loved one to educate you on them. It will show them that you care enough to get to know someone that you never had the chance to meet. Or if you have met that person, you can share with your loved one your favorite memories of that person to make them smile again. 

Say Nothing

Sometimes, words do not need to be said because that person may be too distraught to respond or listen to anything you say. If you do not know what to say or you are worried that what you may say may make your loved one even more upset. When this happens, give your loved one a hug to provide them with the comfort they are seeking. Sometimes, listening to your loved one vent about their feelings is enough without having to provide commentary. Do not judge or give advice to your loved one unless that is something they are seeking from you. 

Expression in Other Ways

If you do not know what to say, show your sympathy for that person in other ways. You can help that person out with funeral expenses or send gift cards for food delivery services if they are too distraught to cook or leave the house. If your loved one does not want money from you, you can also offer to donate to a charity in that deceased person’s name whether it is related to the cause of death or a charity that person appreciated. It may feel strange being in situations where you are comforting someone who has lost someone as what you say cannot change the circumstances of that person’s death. But, being there for someone who has lost someone can make a big difference in that person’s mental health showing that there are people out there who are still there for them and are loved.

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 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.

Moving On From the Grief of a Breakup

Moving On From the Grief of a Breakup

Getting over a breakup can be a very hard thing to do. You grieve just like you would any other tragedy when this is something that you do not see coming and you have to picture your life without your partner around. By finding ways to occupy your time and focusing on yourself as a person, you will be able to move on from the grief of your recent breakup.

Searching for Answers

You may have thought everything was going great between you and your partner. Then out of nowhere, he or she tells you that it is not working out even though it was working for you. You become obsessed with finding out why this has happened and you keep replaying your whole relationship in your head until it makes you sick. You may have a lack of sleep as all you can think about is the pain and confusion. This may cause you to ask your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else who has seen the two of you together to tell you what was wrong. At the same time, you are spending your time telling yourself that all of those potential problems were not worth a breakup.


Denial can be a hard emotion to get out of. You were not ready for your world to change and to accept these new changes. This places you to continue to stay in that world where you and your partner were happy because you felt safe. You do not want to believe that this relationship is over, so you will do everything that you can to save it. It can mean constantly calling, texting, or visiting your ex-partner until they want to get back together with you. You do not want to grieve because you know how painful that will be for you. This will mean that you will temporarily hold off on grieving by trying to save your relationship from crumbling.


Because you know how painful it is to be sad about the loss of your romantic relationship, you instead feel like it is easier to be angry. This anger can mean that you will lash out at your partner whenever you see them to break their hearts just like they broke yours. You may also direct anger at yourself in that you know whatever it was you did cannot be undone, leaving you to self-harm or take part in dangerous tasks with no thought to what will happen to you. The truth is that being angry at your ex-partner or yourself will not turn things back to the way they were. That you may be trying to avoid the grieving process without knowing that anger is part of it.


You might feel that by accepting your relationship is over, it means that you are giving up and surrendering. Acceptance only means that you are in tune with reality. You are telling yourself that it is over between you and your partner because you have to. You are more aware now that you and your partner are not meant to be. Boundaries will have to be a key thing that both you and your ex-partner will have to establish. It can be harder not to see your ex if you both have children. The point is to limit the time you two spend together and to find other focuses as a healthy distraction to what you have lost. For the sake of your mental health, you need to learn to let go of some things instead of holding on.


Hope is a new emotion you will experience during the grief of your failed relationship. Your hope is not directed at your relationship being fixed, but being able to live without your partner. It is hard to hope for something that you have no idea what will become later. But you can have hope that you will be able to smile again and save your energy towards your job, your children, or someone new in your life that will fill in the holes in your heart that your ex-partner created.


While you may not have a partner anymore to look good for, look good for yourself instead. This means showering, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. Make sure to spend a lot of time with your friends and family as they can provide you with a sense of comfort and show you that you can experience love all around you. Get back to your regular routine of taking care of your children, pets, and going to work on time. Do not use drugs or alcohol as a method of coping as all it will come to is you wasting yourself away and making your grieving symptoms worse. This is also a good opportunity to explore new interests and activities to draw your energy on and make you happy.

Learn From Breakup

To provide yourself with closure as you look back on your old relationship, think of what problems you two were facing as well as if you intend to repeat those mistakes or go after the wrong type of person again. Do not see a breakup solely as a loss of something. After grieving from a breakup, you will realize that this is an opportunity to meet people who are better for you and to learn to love yourself. 

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 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.

Woman Uses Instagram to Teach Others of Her Boyfriend’s Addiction Recovery Journey

Woman Uses Instagram to Teach Others of Her Boyfriend’s Addiction Recovery Journey

Instagram is a social networking tool where you can post pictures and videos of yourself and your friends as well as including filters to them to give them a sense of style. Instagram can also be a good way to document a person’s journey such as trying to lose weight or even trying to recover from addiction. A woman from Nottingham decided to use Instagram as a tool to document her boyfriend’s heroin addiction to teach followers how bad it can get and to encourage others to go into treatment.

Using Instagram to Stay Sober did a study to show how Instagram can help those struggling with addiction to help recover. Hashtags like #sober, #soberlife, and #12steps have been used in over 79,000 posts. #Soberlife was the most common addiction recovery hashtag with 32,707 mentions followed by #sobriety which has 19,033 mentions. Recovery programs like #narcoticsanonymous had 1,638 mentions and #alcoholicsanonymous had 1,272 mentions. The study also showed that Utah had the most addiction recovery posts 144.4 posts per capita and California had 70.8. Ironically, Utah has one of the lowest national rates of illicit substance abuse with California having high levels. This shows that substance abuse must be fairly new in Utah and more people are interested in learning about it. 

Instagram has the power to let users stay anonymous compared to Facebook where you are told to put in your personal information in your profile. Instagram helps give people space where they can share their experiences of addiction without having to worry about coworkers or family members knowing about it. While unfortunately there are websites that can trigger a person’s addiction, there are also others that encourage others to seek treatment.

Instagram Addiction Recovery Accounts

One Instagram account is called “Sober Quotes” that posts life lessons and motivational advice to get through the hard days of keeping sober. “Let’s Help Broken Ones” focuses on promoting self-love and passing it on to others. Users can also ask questions or messages in 300 characters for account creators to answer. “12 Steps to Recovery” provides messages of hope and messages of healing through the 12 steps. “Recovery Daily” provides encouragement through faith in a Higher Power. This is good for those who incorporate their religious beliefs into their recovery.

A Relationship Starting with Addiction

Lisa Selby met her boyfriend, Elliot Murawski, in 2015 at Alcoholics Anonymous. While they quickly fell in love with each other, Murawski relapsed and was sent to jail for two years and eight months after he was caught drug dealing to support his habit. Elliot first tried drugs when he was 12 and moved onto illegal substances when he was 15. After keeping his relapse a secret from Selby for three months, he finally confessed to her about it. This inspired Selby to create the Instagram account, @bluebaglife, to better understand her boyfriend’s addiction. The account was named after the little blue bag that Murawski would keep his drugs in. This account now has 11.5 thousand followers. 

Creating An Honest Addiction Recovery Instagram Account 

Selby started to take photos and videos of Murawski to better understand her boyfriend’s addiction in the hope it would help him detox. She would also show Murawski the pictures that she took of him when he was high to help each other understand what it was doing to both of them. She would take pictures of him looking high, pictures of the needles and other supplies used for drug supply, and even a picture of himself staring at a needle filled with heroin. Murawski would help Selby out with her Instagram account by sending letters and captions for her to use despite having no access to social media. 

There would be honest posts of Murawski suggesting to Selby that they should do drugs together and her refusing. She also posted a caption where she explains how she would see syringe packets surrounding her as she ate breakfast. He would hide his drug habits in his car and then in the bathroom. He then began using drugs in front of her. Selby was then able to learn from him where he acquired drugs and how it was done. Because she lost her mother to heroin use, Selby wanted to learn through her boyfriend about what made her lose her mom.

Instagram Account Reactions

This couple was amazed to see how many followers they were getting and how much they were supporting Murawski to overcome his drug use. In order to prevent people from being triggered by the photos and videos that were posted, the account was created as private. Selby said that she is proud of the network that she created through this account and hopes to help others suffering from addiction. Making accounts like these will encourage others to be honest about their addiction. By seeing the worst of drug addiction through these photos and videos, this will make others feel incredible joy when that person reaches recovery. 

Elliot Murawski’s Recovery

Murawski has been clean for two years and believes that Instagram is the reason why he reached recovery. Now, Selby is using Instagram to help others tell their stories of addiction. Breaking the stigma on popular social media platforms can make a difference. These Instagram accounts will show the honest brutality that addiction can inflict on someone and can encourage others that there is always time to better your life.

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 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.