How Quitting Alcohol Can Revitalize Your Life

When you stop drinking, you see immediate improvements in your life - you have more time, energy, and money. Quitting alcohol improves your physical health, your mental well-being, and your appearance. It can help you heal relationships with loved ones, excel at work, and turn your life around.

How Can Quitting Alcohol Improve Your Health?

Even drinking small amounts of alcohol can be harmful to your health. However, drinking more than the recommended guidelines significantly increases the risk of developing long-term health problems, including cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and a weakened immune system. Alcohol-related health problems are serious and widespread - more than 95,000 people die each year in the United States due to excessive drinking.

Luckily, your body is an incredible creation that can repair itself. Research shows that some of the damage alcohol causes to your liver, gut, heart, and brain begins to heal as soon as you stop drinking. This is true regardless of your age or how long you have been drinking - it is never too late to enjoy the benefits of being sober.

Quitting alcohol can also help you lose weight. Alcohol contains the second-highest amount of calories of any kind of food, and excessive drinking is often a key contributor to weight gain. Alcohol contains ‘empty calories’ that have almost no nutritional value - it doesn’t benefit our bodies in any way. 

Stopping drinking is a chance to start eating well, exercising, and practicing self-care - the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.

How Can Quitting Alcohol Make You Happier?

Drinking too much is not only damaging to your physical health - alcohol abuse and alcoholism (or alcohol use disorder) is also linked to mental health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Around 50% of people with alcohol use disorder also have another co-occurring condition. Quitting alcohol makes you less likely to develop anxiety or depression and is a crucial step in recovering from existing conditions so you can live a joyful and productive life.

Recovery from alcohol also helps you to improve your overall well-being and feel better in yourself. Heavy drinking often comes with feelings of guilt and shame, which can be exacerbated by difficult relationships with loved ones or problems at work and home. As you recover from alcohol, you may grow in self-confidence, appreciate your self-worth, and enjoy healthy and happy relationships with those around you.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol on Your Thinking and Memory?

Excessive alcohol consumption also affects your memory and other cognitive functions. It can make you think less clearly, decrease your attention span, and impact your problem-solving skills. Quitting alcohol can help you reverse these changes so you can increase your mental performance at work and in your daily life.

What Can You Do Instead Of Drinking Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol takes away your time. Getting drunk can take a whole evening, night, or day and the hangover the next morning may leave you confined to your bed. Stopping drinking gives you the chance to rediscover old passions, find exciting new hobbies, and leaves more time to care for yourself and your loved ones.

Alcohol is also expensive. Even moderate drinking can become costly - if you drink only one $5 glass of wine a day, you end up spending $1825.00 over the whole year. When you give up alcohol, you can use this money for other more valuable things like family holidays, home improvements, or just living a more comfortable everyday life. 

Quitting alcohol may not be easy, but you can overcome your addiction and revitalize your life with the right support. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients powerful tools to move forward in their sober lifestyle. 

We focus on healing the entire person and not just treating their addiction. Our recovery program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan. Our licensed treatment center near the southern shore of New Jersey is the perfect place for 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


sober st. patricks day

How to Have a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

For some people, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the life of St. Patrick (c. 385-461), the patron saint of Ireland. March 17 is associated with his death and commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. The day now is also a celebration of Irish culture and heritage and can include parades and festivals.

St. Patrick’s day is also a day to drink. In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular drinking holidays, right up there with New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. The holiday can be a fun and festive time. St. Patrick’s Day can be challenging for people who don’t drink when recovering from alcohol use disorder. The sight and smell of alcohol can seem to be everywhere and can trigger cravings. It is quite possible, however, to have a fun, celebratory time and maintain your sobriety.

Remember Your “Why”

If you are concerned about maintaining your sobriety on St Patrick’s Day, remember your “why” or the reasons you decided that abstaining from alcohol was the right choice for you. Spend some time writing these reasons down--the act of writing is helpful to many people because it engages more senses. You feel the pen in your hand and your hand resting on the paper, or you feel the computer keys under your fingertips. You see the words appearing on the page or the computer screen. You hear the pen or pencil on the paper or the gentle tap of the computer keys.

Write about how your life has improved since you stopped drinking and what your life was like before. Write about why maintaining your sobriety is important to you.

Staying Sober Around People Who Are Drinking

If being with people who are drinking won’t derail your sobriety, you could volunteer as the designated driver for your friends. If a group of friends is going to a party, you can be the sober friend who gets everyone home safely. If your friends are going out to bars, you can drive them from bar to bar, keeping everyone safe. Many bars and restaurants give free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers and, if you are at a party, being the driver provides you an excellent reason not to drink, a reason that even the most ardent drink-pusher should accept. Being the designated driver in either scenario enables you to be with your friends and gives you a very concrete way to be of service.

Plan a Sober Celebration

Another way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and maintain your sobriety is to plan a sober celebration and invite like-minded friends.

Do you and your friends enjoy movies? If so, plan an Irish-themed movie night. Mix up some festive “mocktails,” prepare tasty snacks, dim the lights, and enjoy the show. Movies you can select from include My Left Foot, which won the Oscar for best picture in 1989; The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, or Once, released in 2007.

If you and your friends enjoy cooking, you could get together and prepare an Irish meal. Corned beef and cabbage are traditionally eaten on St. Patrick’s Day. You could also whip up some Irish stew and soda bread. Other traditional Irish dishes include black and white pudding, served at breakfast; coddle, a stew traditionally made with leftovers; and barmbrack, served at “tea time.” After dinner, you could play Irish trivia or listen to Irish music.

If you are part of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there may be an alcohol-free event planned in your area. Check online, or information may be available at one of the meetings you attend. Remember that many people want to go to a meeting during holidays; many chapters plan to hold meetings on those dates. You should be able to find a meeting to attend on St. Patrick’s Day. If you decide to go to a meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, you will likely find many people in attendance.

Virtual Events and “Sober St. Patrick’s Day”

Some communities sponsor alcohol-free events, and there are virtual events that you could attend online. For example, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of “Sober St. Patrick’s Day,” a global virtual celebration beginning at 4 p.m. in New York and 8 p.m. in Ireland. The virtual evening includes a cook-along and a preview of a musical tale about the life of St. Patrick. The evening is organized by the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, Inc.

Holidays throughout the year, including St. Patrick’s Day, can be challenging for people in recovery from alcohol use disorder. At Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment center located in New Jersey, we equip our clients with the life skills they need to cope with urges and cravings and successfully maintain their sober lifestyle. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment facility; in addition to treating substance use disorder, we also treat mental health issues that often go along with addiction. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just on treating the addiction. Our center is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy, and we create an individualized treatment plan for each client, including modern therapeutic techniques and ancient wellness practices. In addition to talk therapy and group support, we offer our clients a range of holistic treatment modalities, including family constellation therapy, brain mapping, yoga and meditation, and art and music therapy. If you are ready to be free from an addiction, or you have concerns about a family member or friend, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information. We are here to help.


supporting your sober friends

How to Support Friends Who Don’t Drink

Drinking is pervasive in our society. We drink on happy occasions, at weddings or when we are celebrating a friend’s job promotion. We get together with friends after work for drinks. If we feel sad, we might go to our local bar to “drown our sorrows.” We drink at holiday dinners. We drink when watching the big game with friends.

With all the different occasions many drink alcohol, social situations can be a little tricky for people who don’t drink. However, you can support people who don’t drink. If you would like to support a non-drinking friend, try out some of the suggestions below.

Ask Them What They Need From You

It may seem a little simplistic, but you could just ask your non-drinking friend how you can help. If your friend is newly sober, they might need you to not drink around them. If a friend who doesn’t drink asks you not to drink around them, honor their request. If they have been sober for a long time or abstain from alcohol for medical or religious reasons, they may not care if you drink around them.

In social situations, don’t make a fuss about them not drinking. Receiving unwanted attention or a negative response to their choice not to drink could be hurtful. They could feel socially isolated or unwelcome. They might stop seeking support when they need it or start drinking again when they don’t want to. Depending on why they stopped drinking in the first place, the results of them drinking again could be concerning.

When Planning Events

If you are the person in charge of planning an event for an organization, make sure that a selection of non-alcoholic beverages is available and that they are served in attractive glassware. Part of what makes a festive occasion feel special is presentation. If you are hosting a party or a dinner at home, again, make sure that you have a couple of non-alcoholic choices available, attractively served. Learn how to make a few tasty “mocktails.” Find out what your friend drinks instead of alcohol and have some on hand. For example, one couple with a non-drinking relative might keep sparkling cider and water on hand as an option during Thanksgiving dinner.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t make any assumptions about the beverage choices of people you don’t know well. People choose not to consume alcohol for all sorts of reasons, and it isn’t any of your business. If you ask someone what you can get them to drink, and they request tonic water with lime, get them tonic water with lime without making a fuss or asking personal questions. If they want you to know why they aren’t drinking, they’ll tell you.

Remember that no means no. If you ask someone if you can get them a glass of wine, and they reply that they would like sparkling water, don’t insist. It’s perfectly fine not to drink. If someone tells you that they don’t drink, don’t respond by telling them that just having one drink won’t hurt. You don’t know that. One drink might hurt a lot.

Be a Good Listener and Source of Support

If your friend who has stopped drinking tells you about their experience, listen to what they have to say. If your friend is active in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), ask if you can go to a meeting with them. Anyone can attend meetings designated as “open.” You will learn more about what your friend has been through.

Celebrate their successes and triumphs with them. If they are happy because they have been sober for a month, a year, or a decade, be happy with them and for them. Tell them what a great job they are doing and what good things they are doing for their health. Tell them that you are impressed and inspired by their strength. If they have lost weight, compliment them. If their skin looks great, tell them.

Fun Without Alcohol

Find activities that you can do with your non-drinking friends that don’t revolve around alcohol. Meet for breakfast. Go out for coffee or tea. Get together and bake elaborate desserts. Instead of going to happy hour after work, go out together for a walk or run. Find places in your community with hiking trails. Go to the beach. Meet in the park and play tennis.

In a society where a lot of socializing revolves around alcohol, it can take a little more effort to think of activities that don’t. If you put a little effort into this, you may find that you enjoy these alcohol-free activities just as much as your sober friend.

In a culture where alcohol is so pervasive, it can feel daunting to contemplate not drinking. At Enlightened Solutions, we understand this. The goal of treatment is to free people from addiction so they can live a fulfilling life. We are a co-occurring treatment center located near New Jersey’s southern shore. In addition to substance use disorders, we offer treatment for the mental health issues that frequently go along with addiction, like depression and anxiety. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We customize a treatment plan for each client, and our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition to traditional talk therapy, we offer a range of holistic healing modalities, including yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, family constellation therapy, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please call us today at (833) 801-5483.


The Unhealthy Quest for Perfection: Body Image Disorder

Many of us have a physical characteristic that we don’t especially like. Maybe you would like to be thinner, or that one eyebrow is a little higher than the other, or you think your nose is too big. If you are like most people, you probably spend a little time thinking about these perceived flaws and then get on with your life. If you don’t like your nose much, you might learn a few tricks with makeup, you might turn your face a certain way in photos, or you might even consider getting a nose job. Maybe your desire to be thinner causes you to adopt a healthy diet and spend more time exercising. That’s normal. 

But for some people, the perceived flaw (usually something that other people don’t notice or don’t think is a big deal) becomes an obsession. This obsession has a name: Body Image Disorder or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). People with BDD spend hours each day thinking about their perceived flaw(s). People suffering from BDD fixate on perceived flaws frequently related to facial features, hair, skin, the appearance of veins, breast size, muscle size and tone, genitalia, and weight. They might have several cosmetic procedures in an endless attempt to fix the “problem” and never be satisfied with the results. According to an article published on the Mayo Clinic’s website, people with BDD spend an inordinate amount of time looking in the mirror, grooming, dressing to hide the “flaw,” and seeking reassurance from other people about their appearance to the point where these actions interfere with their daily life. People suffering from BDD tend to isolate and avoid social situations.

Prevalence of Body Image Disorder

 Staff at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment center licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, among them body image disorder, estimate that up to four percent of the United States population suffers from body image disorder.  In addition, according to the OCD Foundation, 80% of people with a body image disorder have attempted or will attempt suicide. 

BDD and Eating Disorders

If someone with BDD is fixated on their weight, they may develop an eating disorder. A study of 1600 health club members found that of participants who indicated that they had an eating disorder, 76% had BDD as well. Results were published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders. Eating disorders have been described in a blog published by Enlightened Solutions as “an addictive relationship with self-destructive eating patterns.” 

While there are many types of eating disorders, three of the most common are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.

People suffering from anorexia restrict the number of calories they consume and the types of food that they eat. They may also exercise excessively and may use laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or diet aids in an effort to lose weight. Frequently, people with anorexia equate being thin with their self-worth. According to information found on the Mayo Clinic’s website, symptoms of anorexia include extreme weight loss, fatigue, hair loss, anemia, kidney problems, bone loss, and heart problems. In extreme cases, anorexia can result in sudden death from abnormal heart rhythms or electrolyte imbalance. 

People with bulimia binge and purge. They eat an amount that exceeds what someone without the disorder would eat in a two-hour period. Most people with bulimia purge by vomiting, although some will purge by fasting, exercising, or abusing laxatives or diuretics. People with bulimia use the restroom during or right after a meal and will sometimes avoid eating in public. Medical problems that can develop in people who have bulimia include tooth decay and gum damage, damage to the esophagus, electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure, and heart problems.

According to the Enlightened Solutions website, binge-eating disorder is described as repeated episodes of “eating an amount of food that exceeds what most people would eat within a two-hour time period.” People suffering from this condition frequently eat when they are not hungry, eat until they are uncomfortable, eat very quickly, and frequently eat alone because of feelings of shame. Physical problems caused by binge eating disorder include heart problems and obesity. 

Related Mental Health Issues and Substance Use Disorder

People who suffer from BDD frequently have co-occurring mental health and substance use issues as well. According to an article on BDD that appeared on the Mayo Clinic’s website, people with BDD often have major depression or other mood disorders, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, social anxiety disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Staff at Enlightened Solutions have noted shame, guilt, stress, and anxiety, and that many of their patients with BDD have experienced trauma at some point in their past. People suffering from BDD use the fixation on their perceived flaws as a way to cope with painful emotions and memories.

People suffering from BDD also frequently have substance use disorders as well. According to a study that looked at comorbid SUDs with BDDs, 68% of the subjects reported SUDs. Alcohol and cannabis were the most frequently abused. A study published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders had as participants women with different types of anorexia. The findings suggested that SUDs are more associated with “bulimic symptomology.” Among people with BDD who fixated on their weight, stimulants were the most commonly abused substances. People with BDD who muscle size and tone might abuse steroids.

Help Is Available

Fortunately, help is available for people suffering from BDD. Treatment usually involves psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be particularly helpful because it helps you learn to challenge your negative thoughts about your body image, learn to handle your triggers without constantly looking in the mirror, and learn to generally improve your mental health.

While there are no medications specific to BDD, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be helpful, as is following your treatment plan, keeping your appointments with your therapist, learning about BDD, practicing the skills that you learned in therapy, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and exercising (but not obsessively).

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), also called Body Image Disorder, is a serious mental and physical health issue. The disorder interferes with daily life and many people with BDD attempt suicide. People suffering from BDD often have other mental health issues and substance use disorders. BDD is one of the disorders treated at Enlightened Solutions and we can help you through a combination and traditional and alternative therapies. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment facility and we are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders like BDD. We are located in New Jersey and grounded in the 12-Step philosophy. We focus on healing the whole person and work to uncover and treat the underlying issues that are causing BDD. The holistic treatment modalities we offer include yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, acupuncture, nutrition education, equine therapy, and chiropractic work. If you or someone close to you is suffering from BDD, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


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.


Navigating Your First Year of Sobriety

You did it. You recognized that you had a problem with drugs or alcohol, you sought out treatment, and now you are ready to embrace your new, substance-free lifestyle.

Being newly sober is wonderful and exhilarating, and you may feel like your life is beginning all over again. The first year can also be challenging as well, says the staff at Enlightened Solutions, a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction that is also licensed to treat the mental health issues that frequently accompany substance use disorders. The first year of sobriety can be a fragile time in a person’s life, and relapses do occur. So what can you do to make your first year successful?

Consider a Sober Living House

After completing a treatment program, you may want to live in a sober living house for a time if that is appropriate for your situation. (If you are married with children, for example, you will probably need and want to go home to be with your family). A sober living house is a facility that provides a structured and supportive living situation for people who have finished treatment programs for drug or alcohol abuse. These facilities provide a transition to mainstream society from the highly structured environment of a treatment program.

Moving into a sober living house can have many benefits, but the most important one is that you will be surrounded by people who are all focused on recovery. In addition, at a sober living house, all the residents have responsibilities related to maintaining the house, but not as many as you may have in your own home. This lightened responsibility leaves you with more time to focus on your recovery.

Create a Routine

One of the most important steps you can take in early recovery is to create a routine for yourself. In treatment, you followed a highly structured and very busy routine. If you aren’t returning to a  job or school, you may find yourself with lots of spare time on your hands. Before treatment, you may have spent a lot of time with your abused substance of choice and if you have time to fill it can be easy to slip back into old, self-destructive habits. Boredom can often lead to relapse.

Recovery is about more than cutting out your substance abuse; recovery is about filling your time with life- and soul-affirming habits. Your routine in recovery should include the healthy habits that you want to incorporate into your life.

One of the habits you will want to develop is that of planning and eating nutritious meals. During the time when you were abusing your substance of choice, eating healthy meals may not have been uppermost in your mind. Part of recovery is healing your body and you need nutritious meals to do that.

Another habit you may need to develop in recovery is making time for regular exercise. Exercise has tremendous benefits, both physical and mental, including reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep. In addition, exercising is a terrific way to take up the time that you used to spend drinking or abusing drugs. The most important thing to remember in choosing an exercise is to pick a form of exercise that you enjoy, be it training for a marathon, taking ballet class six days a week, or rock climbing. (Be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning your exercise program.)

You will also want to make time for a spiritual practice. You may want to affiliate with a faith community, attend regular services, and study that tradition’s holy texts. You may want to begin your mornings with meditation and prayer. You may want to start a yoga practice and combine spirituality with physicality. You may find that you are more in touch with the spiritual aspect of yourself when you are in nature and can make it a point to regularly spend time in the natural world. Whatever spiritual practice resonates with you, know that spirituality is an important part of your recovery and should be a part of your regular routine.

Seek Support From Other People

You don’t need to recover from addiction on your own; in fact, you probably shouldn’t. When you are in recovery, especially in your first year of sobriety, the help from other people will be invaluable.

The most obvious place to seek support will be from other people in recovery because they know exactly what you are going through. Attending support group meetings usually begins while you are still in treatment and will be important to you throughout your life. If you went through treatment in the community where you live, you may already be in a support group; if not, you should find one. Many people in recovery choose to go to 12-Step meetings and many treatment centers incorporate the 12-Step tenets into their programs. Twelve-Step meetings are available worldwide and many meetings are substance-specific, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous. Other people in recovery choose to attend SMART Recovery meetings, another abstinence-oriented program. Many people also find that working with a therapist is very helpful in recovery. In addition, you may find that some of your friends and family members are supportive of your recovery and will help you maintain sobriety.

The first year of recovery is a very exciting time, but it can be challenging as well. To be successful, you will need to establish healthy habits. At Enlightened Solutions, we will teach you the life skills that you need to build a solid foundation for a lasting recovery. Enlightened Solutions is a drug and alcohol treatment center licensed to treat co-occurring disorders. We are located on New Jersey’s southern shore and rooted in the 12-Step tradition. Our focus is on treating the whole person and we develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Our treatment program combines traditional talk therapy, both one-on-one and in a group setting, with ancient wellness practices, including meditation and yoga. We offer a number of holistic treatment modalities including Family Constellation Therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), art and music therapy, sound therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, equine therapy, and nutritional education. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and are ready to break free of a life controlled by drugs and alcohol, call us at (833) 801-5483 to learn more about our programs.


New Year

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Quit Drinking

Maybe you have been concerned about your drinking for some time. Maybe you worry that you drink too much or that you drink too often. Maybe you have had an experience that frightened you, like waking up in the morning and realizing that you don’t remember the night before. Whatever your reasons, you have decided to quit drinking for good. Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions, but very few resolutions last until February. Some people do keep their resolutions, but how?  By using some or all of the tips listed below, you will be able to keep your resolution and begin your new life alcohol-free.

Put It in Writing

Write it down. Write down that you are not going to drink alcohol anymore. Think about your “why.” Why did you decide to stop drinking? Was it to lose weight? Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to live a longer and healthier life? Do you want to have more energy to play with your children? Do you want to save money? Whatever your “why,” write it down and visualize your alcohol-free life.

Think About Why You Drink

Spend some time thinking about why you drink. Maybe spend some time writing in a journal to identify the reason or reasons that you drink. Do you drink when you’re bored? Do you drink to have fun with your friends? Are you using alcohol to cope with stress? Are you using alcohol as a way to avoid painful emotions? Many people find it useful to spend some time in therapy when they stop drinking to think about why they are drinking and to address the reasons that are behind the behavior.

Don’t Go It Alone

You don’t have to give up drinking on your own. Tell close friends and family members, at least those who you know will be supportive. You may be surprised at how much support you receive. You may find that someone close to you wants to stop drinking as well and, if that is the case, you can encourage each other on your journeys. Also, many people find it helpful to join a support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. Both organizations have meetings, free of charge, all over the world.

Learn New Coping Mechanisms

Many people drink as a way of coping with stress or painful life experiences and situations. Alcohol does make you feel better, but it’s only temporary. Many people report that the day after drinking they suffer from “hangxiety”--feeling more anxious after drinking than they did before. Finding new coping mechanisms can help. Meditation and prayer can help to reduce stress, as well as exercise. Exercising 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week can have a wonderful effect on your stress level as well as your blood pressure, your cardiovascular health, and your respiratory system. Some people report that writing in a journal helps to reduce stress and helps them identify solutions to problems that they are facing.

Find Ways to Stay Busy

When you stop drinking, you may find yourself wondering what to do during the time that you used to drink, and it’s important to stay busy. If you used to go to Happy Hour before you went home from work, you may find that that is a great time to attend a meeting of the support group you joined. You may find that going for a nice, long run relaxes you more than a drink ever did.

Decide How You Will Handle Social Situations That Include Alcohol

Although you may decide to avoid social situations that include alcohol, there may be an event that you just can’t get out of--perhaps a work function, a family wedding, or a close friend’s birthday party. Think about what you will say when someone offers you a drink if you feel that you need to say anything beyond “no, thank you.”  “I have an early meeting,” “I have an early flight tomorrow,” or “I’m training for a marathon and my coach doesn’t want me to drink” are all perfectly acceptable. Remember, however, that you don’t owe anyone any explanations.

Think About Treatment

Depending on how much you’ve been drinking and for how long, you may want to go through a treatment program. Many programs begin with a medically supervised detox, which is the safest and most comfortable way to get the alcohol out of your system. In addition, in a treatment program, you will be able to focus your attention on learning the new skills that will get you started on your alcohol-free journey.

If you are ready to say goodbye to alcohol, the staff at Enlightened Solutions are ready to walk with you as you begin your journey of recovery. We are licensed to treat co-occurring mental health disorders that frequently accompany alcohol use disorder, such as anxiety and depression. We offer a range of treatment options, which are tailored to meet the needs of each individual who comes through our doors. The services we offer include traditional talk therapy, both one-on-one and in a group setting, anchored in the 12-Step philosophy. We also offer a number of holistic therapeutic modalities including art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. At Enlightened Solutions, located in New Jersey, our goal is to treat the whole person, not just the addiction. If you are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse and ready to be free, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


Trauma and Addiction

Exploring the Relationship Between Addiction and Trauma

When we hear the word “trauma,” many of us think of a soldier returning from combat duty and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But trauma doesn’t only come from experiences in military service. Trauma can come from myriad events, including being the victim of, or witness to, violent crime; experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; developing a serious illness or chronic health condition; sustaining a serious injury; being in a car accident, or losing a loved one. In addition, a person doesn’t have to meet all the clinical criteria of PTSD to be suffering from trauma.

In thinking about trauma, it’s important to understand that everyone has a unique experience with trauma--what causes PTSD in one person may barely cause a reaction in another. For example, two women are in car accidents. Both sustain non-life-threatening injuries, and the cars are totaled. The first woman recovers from her injuries, gets another car, and goes on with her life. The second woman recovers from her physical injuries, gets another car, but develops PTSD. Every time she gets behind the wheel of a car, she experiences debilitating panic attacks. It is three years before she can confidently drive. This example serves as a reminder that every person is unique and experiences life’s events differently. Trauma is trauma, no matter how big or small the originating event may seem to others. If people are made to feel like they are “overreacting,” or that they need to “just get over it,” they may feel ashamed and may not seek out the psychological help that they need.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), outlines the types of symptoms that a person suffering from PTSD may exhibit. As explained by staff at Enlightened Solutions, these symptoms are grouped into four categories:

  • Intrusive symptoms--including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, bodily sensations;
  • Avoidance symptoms--attempts to avoid thoughts, conversations, people, places, sounds, situations, or images that remind the person with PTSD of the trauma;
  • Negative cognition or mood symptoms--depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, shame, blame, anger, horror, negative thoughts, dissociative symptoms, fuzzy memory of the events, lack of positive emotions; and
  • Altered reactions--irritability, hypervigilance (always feeling “on edge”), aggressive behavior, self-destructive behavior, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, poor concentration, poor sleep.

Addiction--A Symptom of Trauma?

Trauma frequently leads to alcohol or drug addiction. Many mental health care professionals have indicated that trauma can be an indicator of addiction. In a report published by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), 75% of people who have experienced abuse or violence report that they have issues with alcohol abuse. Thirty-three percent of people studied who reported symptoms associated with trauma as a result of an accident, illness, or disaster indicate that they have problems with alcohol. Nearly 80% of veterans who served in the Vietnam War who are treated for PTSD also have alcohol use disorder. Women who have experienced trauma-inducing life events have a greater chance of developing alcohol use disorder than women who have not experienced traumatic events. Adolescents who have been sexually assaulted are four times more likely to abuse alcohol than their peers, more than four times more likely to abuse marijuana, and nine times more likely to abuse other drugs.

Treatments for Trauma

If a person is in treatment for substance use disorder, any underlying trauma must be considered and addressed in order for the person to fully recover. If trauma is not addressed, the person is particularly vulnerable to relapse. According to information published on the Mayo Clinic’s website, part of the treatment for trauma is psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy and can include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Cognitive therapy is used to help patients recognize the ways of thinking, or cognitive patterns, that are keeping them rooted in the trauma. In exposure therapy, patients are exposed to the situations or memories that they find frightening in a safe manner, sometimes using virtual reality programs. EMDR combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements to help patients process traumatic events.

Alternative or complementary therapies can be especially helpful in treatment for people who have experienced trauma, particularly modalities that involve the body as well as the mind. It is said that the body can store memories much like the brain does, but without the context that the brain provides. Treatment that uses the body in some way, like equine therapy, acupuncture, or yoga and meditation, can help to access memories that may be deeply buried and can help people to integrate their minds and bodies.

At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that unprocessed trauma may be at the root of substance use disorder for our patients and we work with them to address trauma, as well as mental health issues that may underlie their addictive behaviors. Enlightened Solutions offers healing for the whole patient, not just their addiction. We develop a treatment program for each patient based on their needs as well as their goals for therapy. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and combines traditional talk therapy with a range of holistic treatment modalities. Alternative therapies that we offer include family constellation therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, yoga and meditation, sound healing, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We are located on the southern shore of New Jersey. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and seeking compassionate healing in a soothing environment, call us at (833) 801-5483.

 


Coping with Holiday Stressors

Managing Sobriety This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving conjures up images of happy families traveling to spend the holiday together. Grandma or mom is presiding over the kitchen, fixing a glorious meal that rivals any meal seen on a magazine cover. Grandpa or dad is watching the game on television. Happy children are playing and adorable dogs are romping. Even the family cat is happy.

But what if your Thanksgiving doesn’t look like that? What if your family doesn’t get along? What if your Thanksgiving is populated by actual real humans instead of entertainers direct from filming a Thanksgiving special? 

For some, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time with family. For others, it is filled with stress, anxiety, or loneliness. If you have recently embraced a sober lifestyle, Thanksgiving can be particularly stressful.

Several aspects of Thanksgiving can be stressful and potentially triggering, especially for people newly in recovery. These stressors include traveling, staying in someone else’s house, and Thanksgiving dinner itself. With a little planning, however, Thanksgiving can be a pleasant, substance-free time.

Traveling During the Thanksgiving Holiday

If you have to fly to reach your destination, bear in mind that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days in the entire year. If you hate crowds or are afraid of flying, and you are committed to sobriety, you will face some challenges.

Since you no longer will have a drink or two to help you deal with a jam-packed airport, canceled flights, and lots of time spent waiting, you will have to resort to other, albeit healthier, coping mechanisms. Allow more time than you think you need. If the airline says to be there two hours in advance of your flight, do it. Maybe even come a little before that. The last thing you want during Thanksgiving is to be anxious about missing your flight. Bear in mind that the other travelers will possibly be anxious and short-tempered. Call upon the resources you learned in recovery, like deep breathing, to stay as relaxed as possible.

If you are afraid of flying and this is your first time flying sober, you are facing another challenge. Use deep breathing or another technique that you can do seated. This can get you through takeoff and landing, and any turbulence that you may encounter in the air. Bring a book or game to distract yourself. In addition, travel with as little luggage as possible.

Staying in Someone Else’s Home

Staying in your parents’ or a sibling’s home can be a source of stress. Even if your relationships with your family are positive, visiting your childhood home as an adult can bring back childhood memories and possibly unresolved issues. When you are a guest in someone’s home, you need to abide by their rules and be mindful of their schedule. Although it can be fun for everyone to be together under one roof, it can throw off your routine. Ask your host (your mom? dad? sister?) if they mind if you do yoga in the living room at 5 a.m., go for a run every night two hours after dinner, or find an AA meeting to attend while you are in the area.

If your family enjoys wine with dinner, a beer while watching the game, or cocktails before dinner, give some thought to how you will handle the situation. If your family already knows that you aren’t drinking, your situation is easier. If your family or some family members don’t know and they are accustomed to seeing you with a drink in your hand, you may want to have a conversation with them before you arrive. This proactive approach can minimize awkwardness and may give you and them a chance to have a real discussion about the changes you have made in your life--if that’s a discussion you want to have. In any case, bring along whatever it is you like to drink and enough to share.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day festivities may include other relatives and family friends. Not all of these guests may know that you are sober by choice. As you would before going into any social situation where alcohol may be served, spend a little time thinking of what you will say if and when someone offers you a drink. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation; a simple “no, thank you” should suffice. Nevertheless, there are a few strategies and techniques that can help ease any awkwardness that could arise.

  • Help in the kitchen. It’ll be difficult for anyone to offer you a drink if you are busy.
  • Keep a glass in your hand. If you already have a drink, no one will offer you one.
  • Bring a festive nonalcoholic beverage to dinner. Other people may enjoy it as well.
  • Have a few responses ready if someone asks you why you aren’t drinking: you are taking medication that doesn’t interact well with alcohol; you are training for an event and you have an early workout scheduled the next day; you’ve lost your taste for it. Or you could simply tell people that you don’t drink anymore and change the subject.

Thanksgiving and other holidays can be stressful for anyone, especially if you have recently chosen a sober lifestyle. With a little forethought and planning, however, you can go and enjoy spending time with people you love while maintaining your sobriety.

Holidays and social events can be stressful, but in the recovery treatment program at Enlightened Solutions, you will learn the life skills you need to navigate social situations confidently as you move forward in your new life, sober by choice. Enlightened Solutions, located in New Jersey’s south shore area, tailors a recovery program to meet the needs of each individual client. The focus is on healing the whole person, not just stopping the addictive behaviors. The treatment options include talk therapy, both one-on-one and in groups, and a wide range of holistic treatment modalities including acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, yoga, sound therapy, family constellation therapy, horticultural therapy, art and music therapy, and more. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction or other mental health challenge and is seeking compassionate therapy in a comfortable and soothing environment, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-5483.


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.

Classes

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.

Networking

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.