How Co-Ed Group Therapy Helps Aid Recovery

How Co-Ed Group Therapy Helps Aid Recovery

There are many successful resources for people struggling to overcome addiction, even just at Enlightened Solutions alone. For every treatment method offered, counseling is a resource that is available to every one of our clients. We offer group co-ed therapy as well as individual therapy since not everyone is comfortable sharing their experiences in front of others.

Before you dismiss the idea of co-ed therapy, let’s take a look at some of the reasons it has high success rates. You may find that it’s worth giving a chance, in addition to or instead of individual therapy.

The Wisdom of Mixed-Gender Discussion

At other addiction treatment facilities, it’s common for men and women to be separated, even though they’re all there to discuss the same issue. There are some valid reasons for this, as many people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with intimate traumas like sexual abuse. For people with that background, it’s understandable why they may feel more comfortable in single-gendered spaces. It’s also why co-ed therapy is never something that is forced on our clients.

However, part of group therapy, in general, is to benefit from the wisdom and experiences that others bring to the table.

Not everyone is in the same place in their journey of recovery; some may be further along on that road than others. Some may be getting treatment at a facility for a second or third time. Group therapy allows people to learn from the experiences of others, whether it’s through lessons learned from past mistakes, healing strategies, coping mechanisms that worked (and ones that didn’t), and much more.

Life is experienced differently by men and women, and while not everything shared in co-ed therapy may be directly applicable, it provides a wider scope to understand the effects of addiction.

Meaningful Connections in Co-Ed Therapy

At the start of addiction treatment, single-gender groups are recommended before co-ed ones. This is because the start of treatment can be overwhelming, and introducing the dynamic of co-ed therapy may be uncomfortable. Understandably, we want to remove as many stumbling blocks as we can in order for clients to get the most out of treatment. As clients move further along in our programs, becoming more comfortable with the new environment and the people they meet here, co-ed therapy can become a valuable tool for processing and understanding the nuances of addiction.

In co-ed therapy, we aim to facilitate a healthy dynamic between clients who are sharing parts of their lives with us. In order to accomplish this, we aim to diminish distractions by guiding discussion in the following ways:

  • We keep the focus on gender-specific issues that men and women face, as it relates to substance abuse and addiction.
  • We ensure our clients are comfortable and feel safe in this space.
  • We aim to increase participation by developing self-confidence rather than by pressuring people to share who may do more listening than speaking.
  • We aim to remove gender-specific boundaries and expectations that exist outside of the treatment facility, so everyone is on equal footing.

The Benefits of Co-Ed Group Therapy

Not only are the experiences of men and women different, but so are their thought processes. Even talking about the same topic can yield many unique perspectives that members of one gender or the other may never have considered.

Improves Relationships

Since addiction is an issue that affects relationships with family, or perhaps even originated at home, the perspectives of men and women shared in therapy can help clients better understand the nuances of their relationships with mothers and fathers, or husbands and wives. This may be a limited understanding, but it can help enable clients to improve relationships with these family members once they return from treatment.

Men and women can also offer advice or suggestions for the opposite gender on how to address sensitive issues surrounding addiction, as it relates to mixed-gendered relationships. It’s also true that, while many people relate better to members of their own gender, some people are the opposite.

Strengthens Communication Skills

Co-ed therapy is one way to create an environment in which people of all types of communication styles feel comfortable. While the differences between the genders are significant, there are also more commonalities than perhaps many people realize. Clients may find that they are more equipped to engage with the opposite gender upon leaving treatment and returning back to their daily lives.

Co-Ed Therapy at Enlightened Solutions

At Enlightened Solutions, we understand that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment. Clients are assessed and recommended specific treatment modalities on an individual basis. Some may be recommended for co-ed therapy, while others will not. An atmosphere of trust and safety is critical for any kind of treatment method to be successful.

At the same time, it’s also important to recognize that much of daily life is filled with interactions between both genders. Therefore, it is important to learn (or re-learn) how to build positive interactions and relationships, and the safe space offered at Enlightened Solutions is a great place to do that. As clients transition to life outside of treatment, the skills they learn in co-ed therapy will serve them well as they form new relationships in daily life, or attempt to rebuild old ones.

No matter what type of treatment method you're looking for, Enlightened Solutions is likely to provide it. We evaluate and assess our clients based on many factors, including (but not limited to) physical and mental health, the severity of the addiction, past experiences, and present needs. Our assessment is thorough and conducted by licensed professionals who are as compassionate as they are knowledgeable. The treatment approach of our facility centers around holistic methods, which are intended to facilitate healing in the mind, body, and spirit; not just in the physical body. To learn more, call us at (833) 801-LIVE to speak with our staff. Don't wait any longer to begin your healing journey.


How to Know When a Partial Care Program Is Needed

Is a Partial Care Program Right for Me?

Anyone struggling with addiction will need help stopping abusing substances; however, not everyone needs the same kind of help. For those whose condition is not severe enough to require an extended hospital stay or 24/7 rehabilitation, there is a treatment option called partial care. This treatment type is basically how it sounds: addiction care that is part-time rather than full-time.

What exactly does partial care entail? How can you know if this type of care is right for you? Let’s take a look at the factors that help answer these questions.

What a Partial Care Program Entails

Sometimes referred to as a partial hospitalization program (PHP), partial care programs involve highly focused care while at home or at a sober living facility. Less intense than a full-time care program, clients have can set their own hours as is convenient to their schedules. Some people will arrive for care in the morning and leave by the afternoon. Others may have a specialist come to their home during the same time frame to receive their care. Even if it’s not full-time treatment, the quality is the same.

Clients can continue with work, classes, or caring for their families while also working on their sobriety. The part-time model allows them to practice the new coping skills they are learning while out in the real world. The combination of independent living with flexible treatment allows clients to develop healthy confidence, independence, and healthy living habits to sustain long after the partial care ends.

How to Know if a Partial Care Program Is Right for You

Partial care is a great option for those who need help transitioning from a long-term, intensive care program back into their normal pace of life. It is effective for those who are far enough in their treatment to start regaining some independence. Partial care is also recommended for people who cannot commit to full-time care.

Other factors that indicate that you may be a good candidate for partial care include the following:

  • You have completed detoxification and are physically stable
  • You already live in a stable environment that supports your recovery goals
  • You've recently experienced a relapse and need additional help keeping to your sobriety goals
  • You need a flexible treatment program that works with your busy schedule and additional responsibilities

Recommending Partial Care Programs for Clients

Because treatment depends so much on a client’s unique circumstances, the Enlightened Recovery staff will first conduct an intake. This involves a series of questions that will assess biological and psychological factors to better understand the client's needs. Treatment goals and history of addiction, as well as current mental health, are also considered.

If home care is desired, we also conduct an assessment of a client’s current living situation. This is to determine whether the home environment is able to sustain sobriety goals. Clients who come from living situations that enabled substance abuse, or foster codependency, will be recommended partial care at our facility.

Once it is determined that partial care is the appropriate treatment plan, we will recommend meeting with an addiction counselor to discuss the specifics involved. We don’t practice a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment, so every program we offer is expected to be modified as needed. In every form of treatment, we advocate for motivation, small steps toward positive changes, and wellness in every aspect of life.

Treating a condition as complex as addiction means not just rooting for clients to stop drinking or doing drugs (although that is necessary); it involves a complete overhaul of one’s life, undoing and replacing every unhealthy habit with a healthy one. It involves a change in mindset and newly acquired coping skills. All of these things work together to effectively prevent relapse in the future.

Partial Care at Enlightened Solutions

The partial care program at Enlightened Solutions is flexible but effective, utilizing evidence-based and holistic therapies that address the whole person. Mental, emotional, and physical health are all considered part of the comprehensive treatment we offer. We recognize that every person is different, which means that partial care is not uniformly recommended to everyone. Some of the personalized partial care programs we offer include:

  • Therapy for individuals, groups (gender-specific or co-ed), and families
  • 12-Step programs
  • Trauma care
  • Art and music therapy
  • Nutrition and wellness groups
  • Mentorship
  • Spiritual care
  • Mindfulness and meditative practices

As with all forms of treatment, partial care involves a mutual effort on behalf of our clients and staff. This means that we trust our clients will uphold their commitment to avoiding behaviors or activities that may interfere with their care. With this in mind, random drug tests will be periodically administered, as well as regular health assessments during the duration of the treatment. This is a huge reason why we advocate for supportive home environments if clients choose to receive partial care. The accountability that comes from supportive home life is vital to maintaining sobriety goals and successfully completing the treatment.

Deciding which treatment program is right for you, or if you need treatment at all, can be intimidating. The staff at Enlightened Solutions is here to help you make these important decisions. Our customized care has helped many people overcome the struggle of substance abuse and addiction, meet their goals for sobriety, and go on to live healthy, full lives. From medical detox to individual or group counseling, 12-Step programs, healthy eating programs, and much more, all our programs are customized to the unique needs of our clients. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak with a member of our staff. Help is here for you – don't wait!


Why Detox is Necessary for Recovery

Why Detox Is Necessary for Recovery

Detox is a physically and emotionally strenuous, but ultimately necessary, part of overcoming substance addiction. This is the process of excising the body of harmful substances, which can result in symptoms known as “withdrawal.” Only once this process is complete can a person begin their recovery journey with a clear mind and healthier body.

Let’s explore more specifics of what this process can look like, who needs it, and how it works at Enlightened Recovery – a holistic facility that focuses on sobriety and overall wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Our staff is uniquely equipped to help guide clients during what can be a scary, anxiety-ridden experience, minimizing pain and discomfort as much as possible.

Detox for Addiction: What to Expect

During the detox process, it is extremely important to keep a person safe and as comfortable as possible, even though some discomfort is to be expected. This happens because the body has been used to functioning on a certain dose of alcohol or drugs for so long and needs to “relearn” how to operate without them. A person must reach some level of physical stability before additional treatment can begin.

The body begins to undergo detox when not supplied with the usual amount of drugs or alcohol it’s become accustomed to. One critical reason people choose to detox under medical supervision is so they don’t relapse – if only to make the symptoms stop. This is arguably the hardest part of getting sober, yet it’s the most necessary. In assisted detox, you can rest assured that your physical needs will be met by professional and compassionate staff.

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

Detoxification is one of many steps to living substance-free. It is highly recommended to undergo this process under the guidance of a medical professional since it is difficult to know ahead of time how the body will respond to withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • Stomach cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms and aches
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Shaking or body tremors
  • Intense sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

Detoxing under medical supervision can help reduce these effects of withdrawal symptoms while receiving round-the-clock patient care.

When Detox Becomes Necessary

The type of substance being abused is a factor in determining whether medical detox is necessary. Other factors include comprehensive medical history and overall physical health. The duration is also important, as well as other mental health conditions that are present, which is referred to as co-occurring disorder.

Below are some of the most commonly abused substances that require medical detox.

Alcohol

Chronic binge drinking is one of the most common forms of substance abuse. The intensity of effects that alcohol can have on a person depends on their body type, medical history, and whether it has been combined with other medications or drugs. Prolonged addiction to alcohol can cause damage to nerve pathways and brain chemicals, which affect emotions, bodily functions, breathing, and heart rate. Detox helps a person come off the influence of alcohol without going into cardiac arrest or other potentially life-threatening side effects.

Opioids

Opioids include painkillers that are commonly prescribed to patients recovering from surgery. They are effective at masking severe pain but are also very addictive. They can also be overly prescribed to patients, which makes them easy to abuse when not monitored carefully. Coming off of these drugs can result in withdrawal symptoms, as they affect the brain’s natural ability to regulate pain. Medical detox is necessary in order to regulate the neurological response as the drugs leave the system.

Stimulants

Also called amphetamines, this drug is often taken in the form of cocaine but can also be found in caffeine and nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms can last several days to a full week, with side effects of hallucinations and paranoia. Health issues such as high blood pressure or liver disease can affect the severity of these symptoms, especially if the individual has a history of brain injuries or seizures.

The Detox Process at Enlightened Recovery

Enlightened Recovery is a treatment facility that takes both a medical and holistic approach to recovery from substance addiction. We oversee this journey from the point of detox and beyond, cleansing both body and mind of harmful substances.

Our treatment is personalized to each person according to their unique medical and emotional needs. Not everyone experiences substance addiction to the same extent, so the treatments we recommend will take that unique history into account. We believe that medical detox is best for those who have experienced substance addiction for several months or years, as it is the most effective treatment to address the long-term consequences of drugs and alcohol on the body.

Many people come to Enlightened Recovery with co-occurring conditions, such as addiction and depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health diagnoses. For these people, an approach that treats both conditions together rather than separately is most effective. Treating substance abuse separately from mental health can actually have the effect of worsening one or the other. Our staff understands the complexity of co-occurring disorders and is able to provide care accordingly.

In addition to detox, we also tailor treatment plans to include various holistic treatments, therapies, and other tools for recovery. These treatments and therapies include individual and group therapy, mental health care, experiential therapies, nutritional support, and more. We are careful to consider a client's unique goals, preferences, and substance abuse history when recommending additional care.

Detox is difficult, both emotionally and physically. It's one of those moments in life where things have to get worse before they get better. But when things start to get better, they really do get better! At Enlightened Recovery, we have had the honor of helping many people overcome the damaging effects of prolonged substance abuse and go on to live full, sober lives. Our holistic approach focuses on the whole person, including mental and emotional health, in addition to physical health. Our treatment recommendations are tailored to the unique needs of the people in our care. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak to a member of our staff.


How Group Learning During Treatment Benefits Recovery

How Group Learning During Treatment Benefits Recovery

Many treatment methods have been proven to treat substance addiction successfully. These methods can be a combination of mental and physical health treatments, as substance abuse affects both the body and brain. One successful treatment involves group learning, in which one or more facilitators lead a group of clients, perhaps anywhere from five to 15 people, to discuss their sobriety journeys with one another.

This may seem intimidating on its face, but it’s a similar model that sobriety groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs use and have seen great success from. For people who are afraid of upsetting close friends and relatives or may experience a good deal of judgment for this particular struggle, it can actually be easier to share with strangers than people they actually know. In group settings like these, there is no prior reputation to uphold; it’s already a given that everyone is there for the same reason. One thing is certain: These people understand how hard it is. They understand at a personal level that few others can.

Many group sessions are organized around an issue that is common to group members, regardless of age, sex, background, etc. These topics can range from dealing with stress or loneliness in healthy ways to building self-confidence and developing a sense of self-awareness and humility. The support that is built in group learning is different than what you would experience when meeting with a therapist one-on-one (though that is also helpful for many people).

The Benefits of Group Learning for Sobriety

There are many causes of addiction; scientists believe it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Whatever it was for you, there is likely another person (or two, or three, or more) in a group whose addiction has similar roots. Knowing you aren’t the only person to experience trauma, depression, grief, or family members who also use drugs or alcohol can help make it easier to open up about your own struggle. You may not feel comfortable speaking up at first, but you never know what you might say that makes another group member feel seen and less alone.

Additional benefits of group learning include:

A Supportive Network

People need communal support to thrive, with or without an addiction problem. But in the process of recovery, it’s essential. It can be hard to find that particular support in one’s own family or friend group, but a group learning environment at a treatment center is full of people working towards the same goal. Having a support network can also show you how to effectively communicate your needs and learn to ask for help when you need it. The fear of asking for help often keeps addiction hidden and enables it to thrive. But asking for help can break the spell of secrecy and shame.

Feeling Connected

Group therapy probably isn’t the first place one would think to go to make new friends, but it happens. People who have been through the same depths can often bond for life. When you have a solid connection to others, you also develop a strong connection to yourself by recognizing your own strengths. Connecting to others in group learning can help provide a greater sense of purpose after you leave the recovery program and start a new sober life.

Getting Beyond Your Comfort Zone

This is arguably one of the hardest parts of group learning activities and therapies, especially for introverted personalities. But seeking help for addiction is already a hard, uncomfortable process. This is a place where it’s safe and encouraged to take emotional risks. Communicating your struggles with a group can make it less intimidating to advocate for yourself outside of the group – that is, asking for help or support when you need it. Communicating fears, traumas, and other emotional stressors can become easier with time and deepen your relationships with others going through similar things.

However, while there is a lot of overlap in experiences in group settings, no two people are exactly alike. Exposure to different perspectives and stories is part of how we grow into more well-rounded, compassionate people.

Learning New Skills

Part of rewiring a brain that’s been damaged by long-term substance use involves learning new cognitive and behavioral skills. This can look like replacing unhealthy behavior patterns with healthier ones and learning better coping mechanisms. One benefit of learning these skills in a group setting is that it allows you to practice them with others. Interacting with others can help inspire new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around you.

Group settings can also allow for feedback, both to you and to others. When your self-image is distorted, learning new skills in a group can increase self-awareness. It is essential to improve how we live and interact with others before reinitiating ourselves into the world outside the treatment facility.

Learn From Others at Enlightened Solutions

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of group learning activities to help our clients heal and cope. Some groups are gender-specific, while others are co-ed to enhance learning from those who differ from us. We also offer nutrition groups, family therapy, and more.

Many people might feel strange about doing group learning activities while in recovery simply because addiction is such a personal thing. However, you may find (as many of our clients have) that group learning allows everyone to learn from and encourage one another. At Enlightened Solutions, we firmly believe that it takes a community and a strong support network to fully recover from substance addiction. This community not only encourages you during challenges to sobriety but can also help hold you accountable and remind you why you are pursuing sobriety in the first place. To learn more about the treatment programs we offer, contact Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


How Stress Contributes to Substance Abuse

How Stress Contributes to Substance Abuse

Stress doesn’t cause addiction, but there is an absolute correlation between high cortisol levels and substance use. For many people, the push to use drugs or alcohol comes from an inability to manage stress or anxiety in healthy ways. Substances, then, become a means of “escape” from dealing with uncomfortable emotions or circumstances.

Here we will explore the link between stress and substance use. Enlightened Solutions, a holistic facility that helps people recover from addiction and mental health disorders, offers a variety of programs and assistance for handling stress in sustainable, natural ways.

The Link Between Stress and Substance Use

Like many physical and mental health conditions, there is no single cause of substance abuse. It has its roots in both genetic and environmental factors. People from families where substance abuse is prevalent may be more at risk, though certainly not guaranteed, to struggle with addiction themselves. Those who work or live in high-stress environments may also be more at risk. One common denominator in both scenarios is stress. Those who experience chronic stress are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those who don’t.

Stress, of course, is a part of life. In our early history, stress was critical for humans to protect themselves from environmental threats. Today, stress can still serve that purpose, but in many cases, it is brought on by factors in our personal lives as well. Some people may thrive in stressful, fast-paced environments, but many others do not. The increase in stress in certain people can enable them to seek quick fixes for overwhelming emotions. This is how addiction can begin.

Stress that is not dealt with properly can have consequences on both physical and mental health. When combined with accumulated damage from substance use, the effects can be more disastrous. Some health issues related to stress include high blood pressure and heart rate, cardiovascular disease, and migraines. A combination of lifestyle changes and medical interventions may be needed to help reduce stress levels and address the “need” for drugs or alcohol to feel calmer and more relaxed.

How Substance Use Affects Stress

Substance use and stress can feed each other in an unhealthy cycle. Alcohol can affect parts of the brain that manage feelings of pleasure, behavior, and impulse control. The consequences of prolonged substance use can lead to losing a job, housing, or damaging relationships – all contributors to feelings of stress. The discomfort associated with withdrawal can also contribute to stress, which is why many people who undergo the detox process by themselves often fall into relapse.

Suggestions for Managing Stress in Healthy Ways

The mind and body both benefit from managing stress without substances. Some helpful techniques include the following.

Reach Out for Help

Addiction is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to conquer alone. Having a supportive community is paramount for reducing stress and having a successful recovery. This can include family members, close friends, people in 12-Step meetings, or a sponsor.

Practice Meditation or Mindfulness

Promote feelings of calmness and relaxation by focusing on the present, practicing breathing exercises, observing thoughts without judgment, or observing the beauty of nature. If an individual does not have the means to attend a meditative program, there are plenty of free meditative apps to download.

Eat and Sleep Well

It sounds basic, but it’s incredible how much better we feel when we eat healthily and get the right amount of sleep. Insomnia and poor diet can contribute to stress because our bodies and minds are more equipped to handle it. Experts recommend three healthy meals a day and eight hours of sleep at night.

Make Time for Exercise

Just 15-20 minutes a day of physical activity can go a long way toward reducing stress. This is because the endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals, released from the brain can help us feel more relaxed and happy. Take a lap or two around the neighborhood, do some jumping jacks, ride a bike, or join a local gym to help relieve chronic stress.

When Stress and Addiction Become a Co-occurring Disorder

The phrase “co-occurring disorder” is how medical professionals refer to more than one mental or physical health condition occurring at the same time in a person. Stress is one of the most common co-occurring disorders associated with substance abuse. Others may be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or clinical depression alongside addiction. Those with existing mental health disorders are more likely to develop a substance addiction, though this is not guaranteed. It’s also common for prolonged substance use to trigger or cause mental health conditions.

If an individual is experiencing a co-occurring disorder, it’s recommended that they seek treatment from a facility that specializes in that condition. This way, both disorders can be treated together rather than separately. This is the most effective way of treating co-occurring disorders.

Manage Stress and Substance Abuse With Enlightened Solutions

Enlightened Solutions is a treatment facility specializing in holistic practices for a “whole-person” approach to health. Whether a person is dealing with high levels of stress, substance abuse, or both, our treatment programs can help. We offer inpatient detox, outpatient programs, 12-Step programs, individual and family therapy, and more to address and treat both conditions at once. We are also passionate about incorporating healthy life choices, such as clean eating and exercise, to promote both physical and mental health.

If you're struggling with substance abuse and stress, you are not alone. Many people turn to substances as a means of coping with uncomfortable situations, but it doesn't have to be that way. Enlightened Solutions is uniquely equipped to help you deal with both addiction and stress. Through a variety of therapies, inpatient and outpatient treatment, an emphasis on holistic care, and healthy eating, we can address your mental and physical health to support your overall wellness. Our facility has helped many people recover from addiction, develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress, and achieve long-lasting sobriety. To learn more about the services we offer, please call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Why Substance Abuse Increases in Colder Months and How a 12-Step Program Can Help

Why Substance Abuse Increases in Colder Months and How a 12-Step Program Can Help

What’s the connection between colder weather and substance abuse? Unfortunately, the latter tends to increase when the former happens. That’s not to say that cold weather causes substance abuse. However, there is an uptick in depression during the shorter, darker, winter days. Because many instances of substance abuse are triggered by depression, the correlation between winter and substance use is legitimate.

For this reason, it is important to become familiar with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and learn new ways that you can best cope with it.

How Cold Weather Influences Substance Abuse

Colder weather, falling leaves, and snowfall can signify the excitement of the holiday season for some. For others, it’s a seasonal change that puts a damper on many activities. You may be forced to stay home when the roads are too slick to drive on safely. There may not be much to do inside a small space, and you’re disconnected from friends and loved ones. Sometimes people are driven to drink or do drugs due to boredom. Others turn to these substances as an escape when feeling lonely or isolated.

The cold weather and shorter, darker days, combined with increased drug use, create an adverse biological effect. Depending on the type of substances used, breathing can become labored and difficult. It’s already harder to breathe when the air is cold, and more challenging for the body to regulate its temperature normally. Combined with drug use, such as opioids, which are known to cause breathing issues, this further increases the possibility of a dangerous overdose.

If people live alone, the chances of not being able to get help in time also increase. This isn’t the fault of winter necessarily, but it’s safe to say that more people go out partying, bar hopping, or doing drugs and drinking with friends when the weather is more favorable. Under those circumstances, medical help is more easily found. With less sunlight and shorter days, many people experience a vitamin D deficiency (the vitamin found in natural sunlight). This deficiency can worsen or cause depression, which also plays a role in substance abuse.

Using the 12-Step Model During Winter and Beyond

The 12-Step model is not a medical treatment but a framework to help people understand their experience of addiction and create better habits in place of using substances. The model can be followed any time of year but can be especially helpful during the winter season.

The Twelve Steps involve:

  • Helping people recognize and admit to having a problem with addiction
  • Surrendering control over the addiction, acknowledging that a higher power is needed to overcome it
  • Developing an awareness of the problematic behaviors that are either part of, or caused by addiction, and learning a healthy sense of restraint
  • Creating and embracing opportunities to practice that restraint and develop a healthier self-image
  • Developing healthy self-acceptance to change certain behaviors
  • Compassion for people who have been affected by and still struggle with addiction (including ourselves)
  • Cultivating tools to practice all of the above throughout daily life

These steps have a long track record of success in helping people conquer substance abuse addiction and achieve sobriety.

12-Step Programs Help Promote Sobriety Year-Round

All of the information above may sound bleak. However, the winter season doesn’t have to be depressing when you’re prepared in advance for the challenges it presents. One way to equip yourself with healthy coping mechanisms for worsened depression symptoms is to participate in a 12-Step program.

The basis for national recovery programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step programs break down recovery steps into small, manageable bites. The goal is to help people who struggle with substance abuse overcome their addictions, as well as the compulsions that drive those addictions.

The 12-Step model is intended to be worked out in a community, such as the people who regularly attend weekly recovery meetings. Spirituality is an essential component of the 12-Step process, but it doesn’t have to be a religious-oriented spirituality if you don’t want it to be. The 12-Step liturgy emphasizes an ecumenical “higher power” that is not specific to any one religion.

Ultimately, the 12-Step model works best when people are committed to helping others in addition to helping themselves. Those who have moved further down the list of the Twelve Steps can be a source of encouragement to those who are starting it for the first time. Different people will also have unique ways of implementing each of the steps, which are written somewhat vaguely on purpose so they can be adapted in unique ways. Through these steps and regular communal support, many people find that their mental health improves, leading them to flourish in other aspects of life. This is one of the most sustainable ways to contribute to long-term recovery.

How Enlightened Solutions Can Help

Our holistic, “whole-person” approach to substance abuse treatment aims to promote physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The 12-Step model is just one of the ways we do this with our clients, helping them to identify any destructive thought or behavior patterns, improve life management, and learn healthy coping skills. Together, these qualities help to promote not only sobriety but also an improved understanding of the self. This allows our clients to discover renewed spiritual understanding, purpose, and fulfillment to improve their lives.

Conquering substance abuse is hard at any time of year, but winter presents some unique challenges to certain people. The days are shorter and darker; the cold can make even the happiest people miserable. Bad weather can keep us isolated and separated from friends. All of these factors can contribute to the possibility of relapse or overdose. But you can prepare in advance for this challenging season by participating in 12-Step programs. At Enlightened Solutions, we strive to help people cultivate healthy coping mechanisms for life's challenges and become healthy not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. If you struggle with substance abuse and are concerned about your sobriety this winter, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Why You Should Volunteer During Treatment and Recovery

Why You Should Volunteer During Treatment and Recovery

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and help others. It's especially rewarding when you're in recovery from addiction, as it helps increase feelings of gratitude and happiness that help prevent relapse. There are many ways to volunteer, depending on what you're passionate about – from packing food at food banks, to serving homeless shelters, to helping other people achieve recovery in your community.

At Enlightened Solutions, we firmly believe that volunteering is integral to the recovery process. You help yourself in significant ways when you spend time helping others.

The Many Benefits of Volunteering

It's a given that volunteering helps others, but did you know there are other benefits as well? Here are just a few of them to consider.

Form Healthier Connections

Substance abuse and addiction thrive in isolation. They draw people away from their families and friends, which is required to keep drug or alcohol use a secret. Isolation also occurs as a result of the deep shame that is associated with addiction.

Volunteering is a great way to draw you out of that isolation and form a healthy support network. You can meet new people and learn from those whose lives and circumstances differ from yours. This exposure is part of being a more open-minded, well-rounded individual. It may require leaving your comfort zone, especially if you have an introverted personality, but that kind of discomfort is occasionally good and healthy for us.

Improve Your Self-Esteem

The cycle of shame from addiction can understandably impact self-image and self-esteem. You may think that addiction makes you weak-willed, even though it's a disease that requires treatment like any other. When you serve others through volunteering, you can start to see yourself in a more positive light – as someone who cares and wants to give back. These feelings can help rebuild a brain that has been damaged by prolonged substance use, in which the only way to feel good about anything was to get drunk or high.

Volunteering can teach your mind to feel good with natural feel-good hormones, and you can access these by helping other people. As you start to rebuild your confidence, you'll find that you don't need substances anymore.

Manage Your Recovery Time Better

What will you do with your time now that you're no longer getting drunk or high? Perhaps you're looking for positive, healthier ways to keep busy and avoid relapse. Volunteering can help you with developing healthier time management skills. Whether serving on a local school board, attending community support meetings, or assisting with local blood drives, there are endless ways to fill your time. The less idle time you have, the better your chances of staying sober.

Improve Your Mental Health

Many people with substance use disorder (SUD) struggle with co-occurring disorders. This is when substance abuse occurs alongside a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. Often, these conditions fuel each other, or one causes the other (the scientific consensus is unclear).

However it happens, one way to manage the symptoms is to look beyond yourself and focus on others. Volunteering helps accomplish that task. In addition to helping others, which floods the brain's pleasure center with dopamine, you are building healthy, long-lasting connections with others.

Help Others in Need

While there are many personal gains in volunteering, the main point is to help others. It's about giving back to the community that helped you get sober. It's also about providing access to resources for others who may be struggling in the same way you once struggled. If someone helped you at some point during your recovery, at no benefit to themselves, paying it forward is the best way to pay them back.

Develop a Sense of Purpose

The world can feel like a big, aimless place when you are newly sober and struggling to find your place within it once again. Perhaps you struggle to fill your time productively now that you're no longer using substances or hanging out with people who do. Filling that time with volunteering can help you feel needed and useful. Taking the focus off yourself and directing it toward others will also help you stay sober. When people are counting on you to show up and fulfill certain responsibilities, there is an additional layer of accountability that can keep you grounded and resist the temptation to use.

Learn New Skills and Gain Experience

Many people have trouble getting their lives back on track after struggling with addiction. Perhaps they lost their job and need help getting back on their feet. If that's you, volunteering is a great way to help you develop the skills and experience necessary to one day get a job in that field.

Volunteering is a two-fold process that helps the people being served as much as the people serving them. When you volunteer for a cause you're passionate about, you can network with like-minded people and be able to ask for references from people you volunteer with.

The skills learned in substance abuse treatment can serve you well in the world of volunteering. Not sure where to get started? Think about the causes you're passionate about, and see what opportunities are available in your community. The right opportunities are out there, waiting to be discovered.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that giving back to the community is a vital part of the addiction recovery process. There are many ways we recommend our clients do this. Whether it's making coffee or setting up chairs for 12-Step group meetings or serving as mentors for other people in need of accountability, we can help you find volunteer work in a setting you're passionate about. Not only will volunteering help take the focus away from yourself and allow you to help others, but it can also lead to opportunities for rebuilding a life that has been negatively impacted by drug or alcohol use. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (833) 801-LIVE.


How to Avoid Using Substances to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

How to Avoid Using Substances to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Recovery from substance abuse is challenging at any time of year, but it can be especially discouraging during the long winter months. We often forget just how much impact natural light has on our overall mood until the days become shorter and cloudiness is the new norm. Increased feelings of sadness during this season are such a common phenomenon that it has a name: seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Those in recovery from substance abuse may already have depression. Seasonal depression, on top of that, can potentially increase the risk of relapse. Fortunately, support is out there. Learning about healthy resources can help you cultivate healthy coping strategies that don’t involve alcohol or drugs.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD functions similarly to clinical depression. The symptoms – pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy for longer than two weeks – can overlap. For most people, the onset of symptoms happens during autumn and worsens after Daylight Savings time, when the days contain less sunlight. Symptoms can naturally dissolve on their own come spring, but the months leading up to that change in season can feel long and begrudging.

Other symptoms of SAD include losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, disrupted sleep, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. People in recovery from addiction may experience an increased temptation to use substances during this period.

The Link Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Substance Abuse

It’s quite common for people experiencing addiction to have a co-occurring mental health disorder. The most common mental health disorders include anxiety and depression, which can be an underlying cause of substance use as a means of “escaping” negative emotions. Using substances as a coping mechanism for depression can train the brain to rely on those chemicals to feel better, altering the pleasure center to lose interest in other activities. When the effects wear off, it will require higher amounts of drugs or alcohol to reach that place of pleasure again. This is how addiction develops.

SAD and substance abuse can go hand in hand, though they do not have to. While the correlation between SAD and substance abuse exists, there is no definitive proof that one causes the other. These conditions are more likely to affect people who are already predisposed, either through genetics or their environment.

Building Resilience While Coping With SAD in Recovery

It’s a two-fold battle to simultaneously deal with SAD and substance abuse recovery. Don’t beat yourself up for struggling more during this season – you are far from alone! Here are a few suggestions to prioritize recovery during these literal dark days.

Attend Recovery Meetings

Local 12-Step meetings can be constructive for building community and finding encouragement. Chances are, you will not be the only person struggling harder with recovery during the winter months. This is an opportunity to talk with others who share that same experience.

Meet With a Mentor or Sponsor

Most 12-Step groups have a sponsor or mentorship program where you can meet one-on-one outside of group meetings for individual help. These mentors or sponsors are often further along in their recovery journey and can offer encouragement, accountability, and advice.

Practice Healthy Self-Care Habits

You’ll want to be especially kind to yourself during the winter season. Make sure you’re eating well, getting plenty of exercise, and getting outside when you can. The sun is still present even on cloudy days, and a little bit of natural light is better than none at all.

Holistic Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment

The most common treatment for depression is antidepressants. These medications are an effective solution for managing depression symptoms for some, though not everyone responds well to them. Some antidepressants cause unpleasant side effects in certain people, which your doctor should explain before prescribing them. These side effects can include weight gain, insomnia, and a loss of libido. It often requires tinkering with the dosage or changing medications more than once to find the proper regimen.

These medications can correct chemical imbalances in the brain but aren’t a permanent solution. That’s why Enlightened Solutions believes in developing healthy coping mechanisms along with holistic treatments that can be easily integrated into your lifestyle. There is no prescription needed for healthier life choices. Many people who have had little luck with prescription drugs find renewed hope and solid answers in our treatment program. The natural healing path may not be for everyone, but we believe it is the most effective.

Natural Treatments for SAD in Recovery

We offer a variety of treatment methods for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse that are natural and sustainable. While we are not against using medications, we discourage relying on them as the primary way of changing negative thought and behavior patterns. Instead, we recommend a combination of herbal supplements, experiential therapies, acupuncture, and more.

We believe that true clarity and peace are possible when the body is free of as many unnatural chemicals as possible. This is part of our comprehensive “whole-person” approach. Being unwell in the body leads to unwellness in the mind and spirit. Our treatment methods aim to heal you completely rather than specific parts and pieces. We teach our clients to find solutions within themselves, which are free to access at any time, without a prescription or the need for insurance. With this approach, unwanted side effects can be avoided.

Recovery from substance abuse is hard, and the dark days of winter certainly don't make it any easier. If you struggle harder with depression and the temptation to relapse once you turn the clocks back, you are not alone. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of natural and sustainable treatments for co-occurring disorders, including mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and more. Whether you need to detox from drugs or alcohol or a rehabilitation program specific to your situation, we are here to help. If you're struggling with SAD, addiction, or both, please call us today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak with our knowledgeable, compassionate staff to learn about your options. 


Am I Putting Off Treatment?

Are you a procrastinator? Maybe you are when it comes to little things. Or, perhaps, you tend to put off the things that matter most. This may be out of fear of failure or rejection or for other reasons.

When it comes to making the call to seek treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol, you do not want to procrastinate. If things have escalated enough to make you consider getting help, you need to take that first step.

Putting off getting help for a substance abuse issue can be extremely common. We will discuss some of the reasons one might do so below. You might relate to a few.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that procrastinating when it comes to seeking treatment can be a life-or-death decision. One day can make all the difference when it comes to getting help. You could overdose or make a risky decision that could cost you your life.

Reasons People Avoid Getting Help

Asking for help is not always easy. Depending on the type of person you are, there could be a long list of undesirable things you would rather do. It is important to understand how strong the power of addiction can be and recognize the urgency of the situation.

A few things that might lead someone to put off treatment could include the following:

  • Denial
  • Shame or guilt
  • Stigma
  • Fear of loss

Denial

One of the more common reasons you might be hesitant to seek treatment is denial. You might think you have everything under control. Can you really stop using substances at any time? Do you have the desire to stop?

You might find yourself going back and forth about whether you actually need treatment or not. The word "addiction" refers to something that has grown out of your control. Could this really be the case for you?

If you are contemplating whether or not your problem is worthy of treatment, the answer is probably yes. More than likely, you have felt the inability to make the decisions you want to make regarding substance use and need some support.

Shame or Guilt

Shame and guilt almost always accompany addiction. We all have people we care about in our lives. Typically, the choices we make due to substance use cause some disappointment or hurt for those we love. This can lead you to feel ashamed or even embarrassed.

The fact that you have lost control can be cause for shame in itself. If you are someone who likes to feel in control, knowing that substances have stripped that away can feel very defeating.

Do your best to accept these feelings, but fight to overcome them. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it is a sign of strength and concern for your well-being. Those who love and care for you will support your decision.

Stigma

The stigma around addiction has evolved throughout history and still exists in today's society. Luckily, therapy, treatment, and speaking up when you need help are becoming more widely accepted.

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with substance use disorder (SUD) is one that is still relevant enough to create some fear of judgment and rejection for those struggling with it. Do your best to let go of these fears. Putting yourself and your health first is commendable.

Fear of Loss

When you think about entering treatment, you might think that this will lead to great loss. You might be concerned about losing your job, friends, or relationships. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer several different program options, some of which allow for flexibility that could enable you to keep working. Of course, this depends on your specific situation and the level of care you need.

As far as friends and loved ones go, our family program encourages others to get involved so they can learn more about addiction and develop tools for healing and moving forward. Those who truly care will want the best for you and they will be supportive of your journey to recovery.

Don't Wait Any Longer

These are just a few reasons you might avoid making the call to seek treatment for your addiction. You could make many different reasons and excuses to justify delaying treatment. Whether you are struggling with alcohol, opioids, benzos, cocaine, or other substances, you need to take the first step to regain control of your life.

Continuing to make excuses prolongs the problem and can lead to a more difficult healing a recovery process. Every day and every minute counts when it comes to seeking treatment for addiction. If you are considering making a call, it is time to take action. You have a beautiful life waiting for you in recovery.

It can be easy to put off seeking help for addiction to drugs or alcohol and entering treatment for a variety of reasons. Shame or guilt can keep you from confronting the issue and making the call. Even stigmas or fear of judgment can stand in the way. Perhaps you are worried about losing your job or someone you love. Delaying treatment will only make matters worse. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we would love to speak to you about our programs and discuss how we can help. To begin your journey to recovery, reach out and call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


How to Cope with Occupational Stress in a Healthy Way

How to Cope With Occupational Stress in a Healthy Way

Work is often stressful. Whether you have tension with a coworker, a boss that always seems to be breathing down your neck, or endless deadlines that have you on edge, there will always be stressors when it comes to work. Of course, some jobs are more stressful than others. Some days or seasons may be more stressful than others as well. Because stress is inevitable, it is important to know how to cope with stress at work in a healthy way.

Stress can be a major trigger for substance use and abuse. It is well known that work can be one of the main stressors for many, so coping well with work-related stress is critical. You might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol after a long day or week at work. While this may start in moderation, often, as the stress increases, so does the amount or frequency of substance use.

There are many healthy ways of coping with work-related stress that do not involve drugs or alcohol. A few healthy ways to cope with stress at work can include:

  • Exercise and eat healthy foods
  • Take breaks and time off
  • Try therapy or counseling
  • Consider a job or role change

Exercise and Eat Well

One tip for stress management is making sure you are living a healthy lifestyle. While this may sound cliché, it is true. If you are living a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and incorporating some physical activity into your weekly or daily routine, you are more likely to handle stress better. This is because these things promote better sleep, better mood, more energy, and better focus.

With all of these advantages comes better functioning. When you function better at work, you are more efficient. Often, when you are more efficient, you have less work-related stress. You are better able to meet your deadlines, can focus better on your specific job tasks and duties, and have a better mood for interacting with your coworkers and supervisors.

Take a Break

By law, you are legally entitled to breaks throughout your workday. Of course, the number of breaks and duration of each break can vary depending on the length of your shift. It is advisable to take advantage of these breaks.

It can be easy to get so focused on a project or task that you forget to take breaks during the workday. You may be so busy that you forget to even take a lunch break. This is not healthy. It is so important to take breaks when appropriate at work. This gives your mind and body time to refresh and re-energize and focus on something other than work just for a moment.

Taking a break can also mean taking a day off. If you work full time, you are often allotted some paid time off throughout the year. Giving yourself time to decompress and relax, even just for a few minutes, can be very beneficial to your stress levels.

Go to Therapy

Therapy can be very beneficial when it comes to managing stress. Sometimes, just talking about problems and issues that stress you out can be helpful. Therapists can also provide some ideas for coping with your specific situation and challenges.

Therapy can also help you process your thoughts and feelings about your job and help you discover areas in which you may need to make changes. This could involve changes to your daily routine, changes to any extracurricular activities that may be causing stress, or appropriate changes to your job or role.

Make a Change

Sometimes, a change of job or career is what is most appropriate. Burnout is absolutely a real experience and often results in built-up and unresolved stress and tension. Sometimes, a job that is generating a lot of stress and anxiety may just not be a good fit. If this is the case, it is okay.

You might try several different career paths before settling into something you feel is a really good fit for you. Being self-aware and acknowledging when a change is needed is important. Many services and resources are available to help you discover career options that could be a good fit.

Again, it can be common for work-related stress to be a trigger for substance use, which can eventually lead to addiction. At Enlightened Solutions, we can help you develop strategies for coping with stress in healthy ways. We can teach you how to incorporate healthy habits and routines into your lifestyle to help you respond well when you feel stressed.

Work is sometimes stressful. For some, work can be stressful often. Sometimes, the lack of work or a job can be a stressor. Stress can lead to substance use, which can eventually lead to addiction. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way is crucial. At Enlightened Solutions, we teach clients how to handle stressful situations throughout their recovery without using drugs or alcohol. You will learn strategies for reducing stress independently such as deep breathing techniques and meditation. You will also learn to identify when it might be time to get help or seek guidance. We incorporate holistic activities to benefit your overall health, which reduces stress and improves overall mood and mental health. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to help. Give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.