How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work?

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

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

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

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

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

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

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

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

The steps can be split into three main stages:

Acceptance

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

Personal Growth

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

Helping Others

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

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

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

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

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

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


Getting the Most Out of Your Recovery With Yoga

Yoga is a practice that uses physical poses to connect the mind, body and breath. The benefits of yoga include stress relief, pain management, and a general improvement in overall well-being. It also helps you gain self-awareness and explore your spirituality. 

Yoga is a powerful tool for holistic healing and recovery from addiction. Substance abuse treatment programs use yoga to help prevent relapse, ease withdrawal symptoms, and provide a healthy way to cope with stress and other negative emotions. It can be an integral part of your daily routine at a treatment center and for the rest of your recovery journey.

How Can Yoga Help You Cope With Stress and Anxiety?

Almost half of the people with a substance use disorder also suffer from an underlying mental health condition. Feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression can cause people to turn to drug abuse - drugs and alcohol may produce temporary calming effects or provide an escape from reality.

Part of the addiction recovery process is learning to reduce anxiety and stress and deal with these feelings in healthier ways. Feelings of anxiety stem from the central nervous system - it is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Yoga can help regulate your nervous systems, making you feel calmer and more relaxed, which in turn reduces the urge to seek a substance.

Yoga can affect your nervous system by impacting GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels in the brain. GABA is a chemical that inhibits brain activity and calms your central nervous system. Research has found that yoga increases GABA levels, improving mood and reducing anxiety.

Yoga may also affect the ‘vagus nerve’, a powerful nerve that delivers messages from the brain to the digestive, respiratory, and nervous systems. The vagus nerve causes a calming response in your nervous system, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Yoga involves breathing exercises and other practices that can activate this nerve, helping you manage stress and experience feelings of oneness.

How Does Yoga Help to Manage Pain?

Many people start using prescription drugs like opioids to relieve chronic physical pain and later become addicted. People in recovery may search for another way to ease their pain and yoga can help. 

Lower back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain and affects millions of people in the United States. Research has shown Iyengar yoga can be used to decrease the intensity of lower back pain of participants and increase their health-related quality of life - that is, improve the aspects of their well-being that their health impacts. In addition, it can help prevent someone from returning to drugs to relieve pain and the feelings of depression that often accompany it.

How Can You Use Yoga Alongside the 12-Step Program?

The 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a set of guiding principles for overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety. They focus on self-acceptance, spiritual well-being, and the development of meaningful bonds between one another. Yoga can support addiction recovery and offer a holistic healing experience that is cognitive, spiritual, and somatic - so it works very well alongside the 12-step program.

Practicing yoga is a way to explore these principles from a body-mind approach. It is an opportunity for introspection where you can learn to accept yourself as a whole. Yoga and meditation also further the development of your spirituality. They can help fulfill the sense of longing for connection or deeper experience that many recovering addicts (people in recovery) recognize as an underlying cause of their addiction.

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center that focuses on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities to provide a holistic healing experience. Our treatment plans include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. You will find us near the southern shore of New Jersey, where we provide optimal healing and relaxation.

If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 to learn more about our treatment options.


The Inner Workings of Rehab

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

What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

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

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

What Treatment Options Do Rehab Centers Offer?

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

These treatment options may include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are The Different Stages of a Rehab Experience?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Somatoform Disorder Is Scary, but What Is It?

Somatoform disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions where you experience unexplained pain and other bodily symptoms. Somatoform symptoms cause serious distress but are not entirely attributable to any known medical condition or other mental disorder, and they can have a considerable impact on your daily life and well-being.

Symptoms of somatoform disorder manifest in different ways. These include:

  • Pain
  • Neurological disorders relating to your central nervous system 
  • Problems in your stomach, gut, and digestive system
  • Sexual problems

Having a somatoform disorder can be stressful and frustrating. You may feel unsatisfied that there is not a simple medical cause that doctors can treat to end the pain. Sometimes friends, loved ones, and others around you do not appreciate the levels of distress and the challenges you face as a result of the illness. However, the distress and sensation of pain you experience are real, even if there isn’t an underlying medical explanation.

While it may not be possible to find a medical cause, you can still treat and recover from somatoform disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and treatment for co-occurring disorders can all help to manage symptoms so you can enjoy your daily life.

What Are Some Types of Somatoform Disorder?

There are many types of somatoform disorder, including:

  • Somatization disorder - where you experience several different kinds of physical symptoms
  • Undifferentiated somatoform disorder - which causes a smaller range of symptoms
  • Conversion disorder - causing only voluntary motor or sensory function symptoms
  • Pain disorder - where psychological factors cause or worsen pain
  • Body dysmorphic disorder - where you become overly concerned by a real or imaginary defect on your body
  • Hypochondriasis - an illness anxiety disorder where you are extremely worried about your health

How Does Somatoform Disorder Relate to Depression and Anxiety?

Somatoform disorders often lead to general health anxiety and fears about the cause of the bodily symptoms. However, stress and other mental health issues may also be a driving force behind the disorder. A study by the American Psychiatric Journal found strong associations between somatoform disorders and other psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. 

How Does Somatoform Disorder Lead to Substance Abuse?

Somatic symptoms and other related disorders cause bodily pain that can be severe and difficult to manage. As a result, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to ease symptoms and escape from feelings of stress and frustration.

Marijuana, opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines can all help to relieve pain and anxiety. However, these drugs are also addictive. Using illicit drugs or prescription drugs in ways other than your doctor prescribes may lead to substance use disorders that can devastate your health and social life.

How Does Drug Use Affect Somatoform Disorder?

Drug abuse and addiction may also affect somatic symptoms. Medications like opioid painkillers can make you hypersensitive to pain and exacerbate the symptoms of somatoform disorders. In addition, withdrawal symptoms and side effects of drug abuse may worsen gastrointestinal, sexual, and coordination problems.

How Can You Treat Somatoform Disorder?

Somatic disorder treatment often involves different kinds of therapy and treatment for co-occurring disorders like substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression which may underlie somatic symptoms. 

Treatment is more successful if doctors recognize the disorder quickly and avoid unnecessary testing and ineffective treatments. In addition, health care professionals should deliver diagnosis and treatment with empathy and a complete understanding of the pain and distress the patient is experiencing.

Treatment for co-occurring substance use and somatic form disorders should treat both illnesses simultaneously. Somatoform disorders can be a driving factor behind substance abuse, and if ignored, drug-seeking behaviors can re-emerge, even after long periods of sobriety. Holistic treatment that focuses on underlying mental and physical conditions is fundamental to recovering from both kinds of disorder.  

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We offer a holistic treatment program that treats underlying mental health issues alongside addiction. Our location on the picturesque south shores of New Jersey provides an optimal setting for healing and relaxation.

Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy, and we provide each client with an individualized recovery plan. We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or someone close to you seeks relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 


Sound Therapy: The Sensational Healing of Sonic Power

Sound Therapy: The Sensational Healing of Sonic Power

Recovery from addictions is not always the same for everyone. Individualized approaches and treatment plans tend to yield better results for those seeking change from addictive behaviors. Exploring alternative therapies, such as sound therapy, may give you more options for your treatment program.

Sound therapy and other sensory therapies can help you heal by incorporating the mind-body connection. Sensations that we experience can elicit emotional responses and release pain. Sound can be a powerful way of stimulating our sensory pathways to help us heal from underlying causes of addiction.

Some sounds in nature, like waterfalls or calm rain, can have a calming effect on us. Other sounds, like musical notes or percussive instruments, can induce specific emotions. Sound therapy can help us learn mindfulness and reduce stress. What might you experience during a sound therapy session?

Mindfulness: Combating Your Distracting Thoughts

A sound therapy session may begin with some basic mindfulness exercises to help you relax and focus. You might even be asked to put a blindfold on to minimize sensory input from your eyes to elevate your sense of hearing. You may complete some breathing exercises or meditation. These exercises can be therapeutic in and of themselves, as you can also utilize mindfulness practices in other areas of your life.

The purpose of practicing mindfulness during sound therapy is to allow distracting thoughts to disappear from your conscious mind so that you can focus on the session. Remember that you can use mindfulness and breathing exercises outside of your sound therapy sessions!

Techniques and Sounds: What to Expect

Sound therapists may use a variety of devices and instruments to create sounds during your session. Sound therapists may use simple instruments like Tibetian sound bowls, gongs, or chimes, to create sounds. The sounds may also be akin to natural sounds, like white noise or other ambient non-musical sounds. Your sound therapist may also use pre-recorded sounds from electronic devices during your session.

As your sound therapist repeats or plays the sounds, you will be asked to relax further. You may feel certain emotions during the session, as sounds can trigger specific feelings in our minds. Sound therapists may also use a technique known as bilateral stimulation.

Bilateral Stimulation in Sound Therapy

Bilateral stimulation is a way of stimulating the brain by producing sensations that alternate from one side of the body to the other. A sound therapist may use bilateral stimulation by producing a sound for one ear and then the other ear in a repetitive, side-to-side fashion.

Bilateral stimulation activates both hemispheres of the brain and can help you relax more easily. Bilateral stimulation is a common practice in other therapies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and your sound therapist may use this technique during your session as well.

Music Therapy: A Type of Sound Therapy

Music therapy can also be considered a form of sound therapy. During a music therapy session, you will listen to or engage in playing music with a trained music therapist. You may be asked to sing or write songs to learn new ways of expressing your feelings and emotions. A music therapist may also play specific songs to help you experience certain emotions within a safe environment.

Music and song can have a powerful effect on the mind and you might find yourself experiencing emotions that you struggle with managing. Your music therapist can help you learn to manage these emotions after eliciting them during your session.

The Benefits of Sound Therapy

Sounds, like music and specific pitches, can induce an emotional response in your mind. You may associate a specific song or sound with a memory or a thought. Sound therapy can benefit those in recovery from addiction by teaching new ways of relaxing and providing safe environments for experiencing emotions.

Following a sound therapy session, you may feel more relaxed and better able to manage stress. Sometimes, the after-effects of sound therapy sessions can carry over throughout the rest of the day. You may also benefit from learning how to focus and silence distracting thoughts as you engage in mindful practices during your sessions.

You may feel less anxious and experience positive mood changes. If you utilize alcohol or other substances as a means of relaxing or distracting yourself from thoughts, sound therapy may be a healthy substitute for your addictive behavior.

You may find yourself able to relax more easily without the negative effects of substance or alcohol addictions. Incorporating alternative approaches to treatment, like sound therapy and music therapy, can enhance your existing recovery plan.

Alternative therapies can help you to find newer and exciting approaches to manage your addictions and enhance your recovery treatment. Some approaches may be new to you and exposing yourself to a variety of treatment options can help you feel more in control of your treatment. Sound therapy, and other sensory therapies, can teach you how to relax, focus, and be more mindful throughout your day. In recovery, finding choices and alternative therapies can empower you to cultivate a unique and individualized approach to your recovery treatment. You will be inclined to participate in your recovery if the treatment suits your needs and interests. At Enlightened Solutions, we understand the value of sound therapy and other therapeutic techniques in helping our clients learn to cope with their addictive behaviors. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to find a pathway to recovery that fits your needs and personality!


Thoughts as Behaviors: Challenging Our Belief Systems

Thoughts as Behaviors: Challenging Our Belief Systems

What are our thoughts? Are they random impulses presenting themselves in our minds like a movie or a dialogue? Are thoughts in our control and representative of our inner selves? Are they deeply significant or are thoughts inconsequential? The answer is all of the above! Thoughts can be strange or silly, prompting us to shrug them off as unimportant.

Thoughts can be insightful and deep, like an epiphany or a realization (or what is known as an “Ah-ha!” moment). They can be within our power and control, as well as random and chaotic. Some of our thoughts constitute our core belief systems.

When we are in recovery from addictions, we might find that our core belief systems do not serve us well. We may have long-held thoughts that are distorted or overblown. Some of our core beliefs may be misguided or not true to our personal philosophy.

While some thoughts are random and out of our control, others, like beliefs, can be viewed as behaviors. Behaviors can be shaped, changed, ceased, or modified. Two effective therapies for challenging our steadfast beliefs are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Both CBT and DBT are considered evidence-based practices, meaning that they have been proven to be effective and helpful.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Challenge Maladaptive Thinking

“Cognitive” refers to our conscious brain activities, generally referring to our thoughts. Any thought within our awareness, whether manifested by us or at random, can be considered a cognitive process. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help those of us with distorted thinking or maladaptive thought patterns.

For some of us in recovery, we may have been told things that are not necessarily true or may not realize that we have damaging thought patterns. These thought patterns can distort our self-image, disrupt our development of confidence, and affect our overall mental wellness.

In CBT, the person meets with a therapist to begin the process of challenging and changing these distorted beliefs and thought patterns. The therapist will help the person identify and recognize their distorted or unhelpful beliefs. Once these beliefs are realized, the person can begin to test how these beliefs hold up in reality.

For example, a person may think “I will never be happy.” This distorted view of themselves affects much of their self-esteem and their motivations to change--why challenge themselves if they will never be happy? The therapist may ask them to begin noting times of the day when they do feel happy to challenge this belief.

The person will then begin to notice when they do feel happy and content, then they can understand how to change their environments, activities, or behaviors to feel happy more often. Once they understand that their beliefs are not reality, they can begin to dismantle these long-held thought patterns.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Learning to Tolerate Distress

Another practice of challenging distorted thinking is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). “Dialectal” refers to opposition between two opposing forces; in DBT, this is referring to the opposition of reality and our emotional responses to reality. DBT is generally used for people with difficulty managing their emotional regulations.

They may have an extreme overreaction to changes or unanticipated events due to distorted patterns of thoughts that make them feel anxious or fearful. DBT helps people with “black-and-white” thinking, which leaves them feeling that things are either great or terrible with little to nothing in between.

People who can be best helped with DBT may have a difficult time reacting appropriately to stressors. For example, they may have the same emotional reaction to accidentally dropping a cup of coffee as they do to losing a loved one. During DBT, they can learn to respond more appropriately to the varying degrees of stress in life.

A therapist in DBT will guide the person to handle distress. Someone may have never learned healthy ways of handling stressors in life and have extreme reactions to the slightest changes. DBT focuses on distress tolerance and challenges thought patterns by exposing the person gradually to distress within a safe environment.

In DBT, a person will begin to realize that distress can be tolerated in healthy ways and they learn to respond more appropriately to stress. Similar in approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in DBT a person will also have tasks outside of therapy to test the reality of their distorted thought patterns.

One of the key differences between CBT and DBT, however, is the factor of actively learning to tolerate distress. When beginning recovery, we may begin to notice our thought patterns and beliefs with more awareness than when we were in the throes of addictions.

Once we become more aware of distorted ways of thinking and reacting, we can find therapies to help us challenge our thoughts and our reactions.

Distorted thought patterns and belief systems can keep us stuck. Our thoughts and beliefs can negatively impact our self-esteem and self-confidence. We may have self-defeating thoughts of perfectionism, catastrophizing, or worthlessness. We may have an extreme overreaction to any stress in life due to distorted thoughts or black-and-white thinking. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help us think more clearly and respond more appropriately to the world around us. Sometimes, the root causes of our addictive behaviors are due to unhealthy thoughts about ourselves or life in general. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in challenging belief systems that no longer serve to better ourselves. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to discuss some of our therapeutic approaches to cognitive distortions and unhealthy thoughts.


7 Excuses People Give for Not Getting Help for Addiction

If you have a loved one with a substance use disorder, you have probably encouraged them to get help only to be constantly rebuffed. It may have even led to arguments or fights. It can be terribly frustrating to watch drugs and alcohol destroy the life of someone you care about and be unable to stop it. Often, a better approach to encouraging treatment is being willing to listen without judgment.

Not only will this help you better understand what your loved one is experiencing, but this kind of compassion is also often more persuasive than all the pressure tactics in your arsenal. You may hear some of the following excuses people give for not getting help, identified by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health.

“I Don’t Have a Problem”

Approximately 95% of people with substance use disorders who don’t seek help just don’t believe they have a problem. Some of these people legitimately don’t see their drinking or drug use as excessive or problematic, while others are in denial, and others are aware they have a problem but they are too afraid to do anything about it and insist that everything is fine.

If you spend all your time around other people with substance use issues, your baseline for normal use may be off. If your loved one really believes they don’t have a problem despite overwhelming evidence that they do, it may be time for an intervention. At the very least, they will no longer be able to ignore the ample evidence of a substance use disorder. Interventions led by experienced facilitators have a good track record of getting people into treatment.

“I’m Not Ready to Quit”

When a loved one tells you they realize they have a problem but they aren’t ready to quit, it can be even more exasperating than flat out denial. To the average person, if drugs and alcohol are causing serious problems in your life, it’s time to quit. However, if they don’t quit, it means they have some compelling reason. This is when it is particularly important to listen and try to understand your loved one’s ambivalence.

Most people with substance use issues don’t use drugs and alcohol just because they love them so much—although that’s certainly true sometimes—but rather because drugs and alcohol help them cope with some kind of pain, often resulting from trauma or abuse.

Whatever the case, quitting feels like giving up something vitally important, whether it’s a way of coping with challenging emotions or a way of connecting with friends. It’s important to understand this if you want to help them move forward.

“I Can’t Afford It”

People often believe that addiction treatment is for rich people but in reality, there are treatment options for every budget. If you have no money at all, there might be 12-step meetings or free clinics in your area. If you have a little money at your disposal or decent health insurance, you can see a therapist who specializes in substance use issues. Moving up, you can look into outpatient programs and residential programs.

There is even a wide range of prices for these programs and the most expensive ones aren’t necessarily the best. There are more ways than ever to pay for addiction treatment, including insurance and government programs. Treatment programs usually have people who can help you figure out how to afford treatment. While whatever help you might be able to afford might not be exactly what you need, it’s still better than no help at all.

“It Will Affect My Job”

This is one of the more pragmatic objections to treatment. It’s true, for example, that there is still a stigma attached to addiction and it’s true that taking time off for treatment might mean missing some opportunities for advancement. However, there are several important things to note. First, your employer can’t fire you for taking time off for addiction treatment. The Family Medical Leave Act will protect your job for up to 12 weeks.

Second, there are a lot of treatment options that won’t require you to miss work at all. You can go to 12-step meetings, see a therapist, or enter outpatient treatment while still living at home and going to work.

Third, a substance use disorder will also affect your job sooner or later. Addiction is a progressive disease and even if you are able to keep it from affecting your job performance right now, your work will likely suffer in the future. It’s far better to do something about your substance use on your own terms, rather than waiting for your boss to notice, assuming they haven't already.

“I Don’t Want People to Know”

As noted above, the stigma of addiction is still very real, despite progress in recent years. It’s a legitimate concern, especially for people whose livelihoods depend on their reputation. As with work, your friends, family, and neighbors will eventually notice your substance use and it’s better to address it on your own terms. Treatment programs and therapists are bound by the same confidentiality as doctors and hospitals, so your best chance of keeping your substance use issues private is to be proactive about getting them under control.

“I Don’t Know Where to Get Treatment”

This is another pragmatic challenge. Although it seems like treatment programs are everywhere these days, it’s hard to know who to trust. Even among quality, reputable treatment programs, not every program is a good fit for every person. Choosing a good treatment program may feel completely hopeless to someone with a substance use issue, especially if they have a co-occurring condition such as major depression or an anxiety disorder.

Be willing to thoroughly research the most appropriate treatment program for your loved one. If you don’t know where to start, more often than not your doctor, therapist, and even your local church will have a list of resources for you to contact.

“I Can Quit on My Own”

Finally, some people with substance use disorders like to believe that they could quit if they really wanted to, and don’t think they need treatment or any accountability. In reality, one typical sign of addiction is trying to quit but being unable to. When your loved one says they want to quit on their own, they’re still trying to pretend they have control over a situation they lost control of a long time ago.

If they insist on taking this approach, discuss specific plans, goals, and timelines for quitting. Set up clear lines and methods of accountability, such as “How long, specifically, will it take you to get sober?” and “How do you intend to accomplish it?” You can also ask “How can I know you’re really not drinking or using in secret?” It’s great if these questions and methods of accountability can effectively work. If not, it strengthens your case for getting your loved one into a more structured plan of treatment.

Getting someone you love to accept treatment for a substance use disorder is one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face. Addiction tends to make people deceptive and willing to do anything to avoid quitting. Knowing some of the common excuses can help prepare you for the challenge.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that the roots of addiction are complex. It’s difficult for people to come to terms with having a problem and it’s difficult to face the reasons for the problem. That’s why we strive to create a supportive, positive environment that uses both modern therapeutic techniques and ancient wellness practices, such as yoga and meditation. To learn more about our approach to treatment, call us today at (833) 801-5483.


6 Misconceptions About Addiction Treatment

6 Misconceptions About Addiction Treatment

Of all the people in the US who have a substance use disorder, only about 10 percent ever get help for it. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that a lot of people have mistaken ideas about what addiction treatment programs are like. These misconceptions, along with just not knowing what to expect at all, scare people away from treatment or at least give them plausible-sounding excuses not to go. Although treatment for addiction certainly has its challenges, it might not be what you expect. The following are some common misconceptions about treatment.

“You Have to Hit Rock Bottom for Recovery to Be Possible”

The most common myth about treatment for a substance use disorder, and the one that probably does the most damage is the idea that you have to hit rock bottom in order to recover. This idea keeps people from seeking help when they consider their own substance use only mildly problematic and it prevents family and friends from encouraging someone they are concerned about to get help. In reality, “rock bottom” is whenever you want it to be. It’s when you decide that you don’t like the direction your life is heading and you want to make a change.

It’s not even really necessary to be committed to getting sober. Pretty much everyone feels ambivalent about entering treatment but many of these people do pretty well. Some people don’t even want to get help. Consider drug courts, for example. These courts give non-violent drug and alcohol offenders the option to seek treatment rather than serve jail time, an opportunity most defendants take advantage of, even if they are far more enthusiastic about staying out of jail than about getting sober. Despite their reluctance to enter treatment, research shows that drug court participants typically have much better outcomes--less recidivism, better employment status, and so on--than people who serve jail time.

“Treatment is Too Expensive”

People see that some celebrity or other has announced they’re entering treatment and they draw the conclusion that treatment is only for the rich and famous. While there are posh treatment facilities for the upper crust, these don’t necessarily have better treatment outcomes. At luxurious facilities, your money often goes to amenities rather than treatment and so more moderately priced programs typically offer a better value.

What’s more, treatment has never been more affordable. Because of the opioid crisis, there is now more federal money available for treatment, and state and local governments are also offering more assistance as well. For most people, insurance will pay for at least some of their treatment and most quality treatment programs work with several insurers. In short, treatment is probably more affordable than you would think. Contact a few programs you’re interested in and see if they can help you pay for treatment.

“Detox Is All You Really Need”

Detox is often a major obstacle to recovery. Many people are so afraid of withdrawal symptoms that they just keep drinking or using. It might make sense then, that many people believe that if they can just get over that particular hump, then they’ll be fine. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how it works. Every stage of recovery has its own challenges. Once you get past the detox hump, you still have to deal with cravings, friends who don’t support your recovery, co-occurring mental health issues, and so on. Addiction is a complex problem and physical dependence is rarely the only factor.

“Treatment is Boring”

A lot of people imagine treatment as going to some sterile facility where they don’t know anyone, following a strict schedule, spending endless hours in classes and group therapy sessions, interrupted only by sleep and bland meals. Perhaps even worse, you may imagine having to participate in some kind of pep-rally style positivity. In reality, there is a lot of variation in treatment programs.

The best programs are designed to be challenging and engaging. There will always be challenging times, like facing your demons during therapy but much of treatment is also about finding out what brings you joy and connects you to other people. At various times, you might engage in exercise, sports, outdoor activities, art or music, and any variety of activities. Recovery works best when it’s about discovering joy and meaning rather than relying on grim determination.

“You Have to Find Religion”

It’s no secret that AA and similar groups were originally based on the idea of religious conversion. You can’t beat addiction on your own, so you rely on a higher power to help you. There are certain corners of the recovery community where people believe that a spiritual awakening is the only path to sobriety but it’s just not true. Plenty of people enjoy a strong recovery without such an “awakening.” Recovery is always an individual journey.

Many of the principles work for many people, but in the end, you have to do what works for you. Even in the 12-Step approach, more people typically benefit from the group support and the systematic process than from any religious conviction. If your faith helps you recover, then great, but it may not be for everyone and it doesn’t have to be.

“Recovery Ends After Treatment”

Finally, a lot of people have this idea that you can go into a treatment program, they fix you up, and you’re no longer addicted when you leave. In reality, treatment is more like a training camp. You learn a lot of recovery skills, interpersonal skills, emotional regulation skills, and so on. You find out if you have any co-occurring mental health issues and you begin treating those.

However, you have to carry all this work through to your regular life after you leave. To that end, it’s typically a good idea to step down levels of care or at least pay special attention to making a smooth transition through therapy and regular attendance of 12-Step meetings. Treatment is really only the beginning but it can give you a good head start and a map for the road ahead.

There are somewhere around 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US and whatever negative preconception you have about treatment is probably true of at least one of them. However, good treatment programs know that real change comes from engagement and self-discovery, not from being badgered or bored into compliance.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that joy and connection are the keys to a strong recovery. We offer a variety of services, including interventions, individualized treatment, and transitional care. To learn more about our program, call us today at 833-801-5483.


6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation for a Stronger Recovery

6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation for a Stronger Recovery

Addiction science is still relatively new and researchers are making new discoveries all the time. In recent years, the role of inflammation in addiction and mental illness has started to gain attention. Some studies have found that inflammation may contribute directly to addictive behavior while other studies suggest that inflammation plays a significant role in at least some forms of depression, which in turn increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder.

In the case of depression, researchers believe the inflammatory response, which is meant to fight infection and prevent the spread of disease, triggers a series of behavioral changes. These include fatigue, slow movements, sleep disturbances, isolation, and inability to concentrate--all common symptoms of depression. When you’re actually fighting an infection, these symptoms aid your recovery but when you’re not, you just feel depressed.

It’s also possible that in some people, stress triggers an inflammatory response because, from an evolutionary perspective, your body is preparing to face a physical threat. The inflammatory response gives your body a head start in fighting any infection that may result from injury. That’s why the current thinking goes, life stress can trigger a depressive episode.

It’s clear that if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, inflammation is not your friend. Keeping inflammation under control should help you feel better and it will likely improve your physical health too. Here are some suggestions for reducing inflammation.

See Your Doctor

First, if you’re feeling the symptoms of inflammation, the first thing to do is see your doctor. Symptoms of inflammation may include body pain such as aching in the muscles and joints, fatigue, excessive mucus, rashes, and digestive issues. As noted above, depressive symptoms such as excessive or disturbed sleep, poor appetite, poor concentration, and social isolation may also be symptoms.

Seeing your doctor about these symptoms is important because they could signal a variety of medical issues, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, asthma, hepatitis, and other conditions that may require medical treatment.

Fix Your Diet

There are two major considerations with diet: avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Of the two, avoiding inflammatory foods is probably the most important. The worst offenders include sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which are especially abundant in sodas; trans fats, and omega-6 fats, which are common in fried foods and packaged pastries; vegetable and seed oils; refined flour, such as white bread and pasta; and processed meats. Cutting these foods out of your diet should help you feel better pretty quickly.

On the other side, anti-inflammatory foods will make you feel a bit better and they’re typically nutritious as well. Anti-inflammatory foods include berries, especially blueberries, fruits like oranges and cherries, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil. When in doubt, go for whole foods with a minimum of processing.

Coffee and Tea

As discussed above, what you consume has a major effect on your inflammation. Because many people drink their inflammation as well as their calories, coffee and tea deserve special mention. Drinks high in sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, such as sodas, energy drinks, and fancy coffee drinks may be contributing to your inflammation more than anything you eat. It’s better to replace those drinks with tea or coffee.

Both are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Green tea is the best in this regard, but all coffee and tea offer some benefits. One recent study found that the mechanism by which caffeine keeps you from falling asleep may also reduce the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.

Manage Your Stress

As noted above, inflammation is often triggered by stress as the body prepares to face a physical threat. Unfortunately, this system is not well adapted to our current, more chronic forms of stress. Prolonged levels of high cortisol impair the body’s ability to manage inflammation and this is likely one reason chronic stress increases your risk for a number of health issues, including heart disease, obesity, and more frequent illness.

Managing your stress by reducing your obligations, getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, socializing with positive people, finding ways to relax every day, and so on, can significantly reduce inflammation.

Exercise

Exercise is important for recovery for many reasons, including improving your mental health. There are several mechanisms by which this works and one may be that it reduces inflammation. We don’t entirely understand how exercise reduces inflammation but studies show that regular moderate exercise does reduce inflammation markers in the blood.

This may happen because exercise stresses the body, causing minor damage, which is managed with increased production of anti-inflammatory molecules. However, it works, it’s clear that even 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, each day reduces inflammation.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight significantly increases inflammation in the body. Excess body fat actually releases inflammatory chemicals and research suggests that this is a major reason obesity is linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression.

The good news is that many of the behaviors that reduce inflammation also help you maintain a healthy weight. Eliminating inflammatory foods, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, and exercising regularly make maintaining a healthy weight much easier, and the anti-inflammatory effects are compounded by fat loss.

More and more research is finding that inflammation is a mediating factor in many diseases, including depression. The good news is that unless you have an underlying medical issue, you can do a lot to reduce inflammation and the consequent health risks just by making a few healthy lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. Furthermore, these various efforts tend to reinforce each other.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that the secret to a strong recovery from addiction is living a happy, healthy life. Our program emphasizes holistic, individualized treatment for mind, body, and spirit. To learn more, call us today at 833-801-5483.


Intervention

How to Write a Compelling Intervention Letter

If you’ve tried reasoning with your loved one, encouraging them to get help, and yet their substance use only seems to be getting worse, it’s possible that the only thing left is to stage an intervention. Most people are familiar with interventions; they’re when you get some family members and possibly some close friends together, confront the person about the obvious damage their substance use is causing, and ask them to accept help.

A lot goes into a successful intervention and you should always enlist the help of an experienced interventionist to guide the process. However, one part of the intervention that you may be deeply involved with is writing an intervention letter. There are two main reasons for writing a letter beforehand. The first is that you want to have something to say and you want to say it without rambling. In other words, you don’t want to find yourself drawing a blank when it’s your turn to speak—after all, it is a form of public speaking—and you don’t want to go off on tangents that eat up everyone else’s time. The second reason is that interventions are often emotionally intense and you don’t want to get drawn into any arguments that might derail the process. With those two things in mind, let’s look at some considerations for writing a powerful intervention letter.

Start with love and support.

First, it’s critical to open your letter with a sincere statement of love and support. When someone walks into an intervention, they instantly become defensive. It’s important to remember—and to remind them—why any of you bothered to engage in such an unpleasant task. You wouldn't do it unless you were genuinely concerned for the person and wanted them to be happy. It’s often a good idea to share a happy memory or express sincere gratitude for something the person did for you.

Emphasize that addiction is a disease that needs treatment.

When you’ve expressed your love and support, it’s typically a good idea to follow it with a statement about how their behavior when using drugs and alcohol is at odds with the decent, kind person you know they really are. What’s more, you understand that they have been behaving in this uncharacteristic way because addiction is a disease; one that needs treatment.

Give specific examples of how substance use has hurt your loved one.

After you’ve expressed your love and support and stated your belief that addiction is a disease, it’s time to move on to the meat of the letter: the real harm that drugs and alcohol have caused your loved one, and by extension, their friends and family. There are a few important points to keep in mind about this. The first is that you want to keep your examples as concrete as possible. Value judgments and generalizations open you up to arguments, so stick to facts. Instead of something like, “You’re always getting drunk and starting arguments for no reason,” go with something like, “Last Wednesday, when you were drunk, you were yelling at me so loudly that the neighbors called the police.” You can say that you felt scared, angry, hurt, and so on, but try to refrain from attributing feelings, thoughts, and motivations to the other person.

Next, stick to incidents you’ve experienced firsthand. For one thing, this gives you more credibility since you’re not relying on hearsay and rumors. Another reason is that there is a room full of people who are going to share their own stories and there’s no point relating a secondhand version of their stories.

Finally, resist the urge to embellish or labor your points. The incidents you choose should speak for themselves.

Ask them to accept help.

After you’ve shared a few examples of how substance use is hurting your loved one, reiterate that addiction is a disease and ask them to accept treatment. Say that treatment can be effective and life can get better. If they won’t do it for themselves, ask them to please do it for you.

State the consequences of not accepting help, when appropriate.

Sometimes it’s necessary to spell out the consequences of not accepting help. This is only done in a small percentage of cases and your intervention specialist will make a judgment on whether an ultimatum is appropriate in your case. If you do give your loved one an ultimatum, you have to be prepared to follow through. If you say that you’ll take the kids and leave unless your spouse accepts help, then you have to do it. Otherwise, they’ll know they can just continue to do whatever they want because your threats are meaningless.

Ask for feedback before the intervention.

With so much at stake, writing an intervention letter can feel like a huge task, especially if you don’t write very often. To make it manageable, start by breaking it down into the smaller tasks described above. Do a little brainstorming. For example, when you are writing the part describing the effects substance use has had on your loved one’s life, see if you can come up with 20 examples—from those, pick the most striking three to five to detail in the letter.

After you have a first draft of the letter, the real work begins. Put it away for as long as you can, to get a little space. That might not be long under the circumstances. When you look at it again, read it to yourself aloud. When you do that, a lot of awkward phrases will jump out at you. Since you have to read it aloud anyway, you might as well do it early. Make sure to have someone else look at it, so you can get some perspective from outside of your own head. Finally, you will probably have an opportunity to read the letter during a rehearsal or at least to show it to the interventionist. Take their feedback seriously; they have a lot more experience with interventions than you do.

An intervention is typically the last resort, but they often succeed in getting people into treatment. The important points of an intervention letter include opening with love, emphasizing that addiction is a disease, spelling out as concretely as possible the consequences of your loved one’s substance use, and asking them to accept help. At Enlightened Solutions, interventions are one of the many services we provide. To learn more, explore our website or call us today at 833-801-5483.