Taking Small Steps Towards Recovery

Taking Small Steps Towards Recovery

The recovery process can feel overwhelming, daunting, even terrifying at times. We’re being asked to push ourselves to confront painful emotions that have been blocked for years. We’re dealing with issues that have been buried within us, that take incredible strength to face. When we feel too overwhelmed and burdened by our recovery program, we’re less likely to be able to keep up with it. The stress can overtake us, and we can find ourselves relapsing or giving up on our goals altogether. One helpful solution for this very common problem is to break down our recovery program into small steps and take things one small step at a time, one day at a time.

When something about our program feels too daunting, let’s see how we can break it down into smaller steps that are easier to handle and navigate. For example, the idea of starting treatment can be so scary that we continuously put it off. Our procrastination is just a byproduct of our fear. To help ease our fears and break the treatment process down into smaller steps, we can start by researching treatment centers, getting tours of their facilities, speaking with their staff and alumnae, and reading testimonials about people’s personal experiences being in treatment. Chances are, when we look at things this way, they start to feel less scary and impossible to manage.

Small steps we can start to take are asking a family member or friend for help finding a therapist and making a list of support groups to attend. We can develop a gratitude practice where we list the things we feel grateful for every day, to help us with our feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety. We can start to get regular exercise to help us naturally lift our mood and combat depression. We can commit to seeing our therapist or going to a support group once a week. We can ask for help in connecting with a sponsor and then plan to communicate with our sponsor on a regular basis.

Taking small steps helps us to feel like a very large and complicated process is actually more approachable and manageable. We can start to feel like we’re capable of doing the work, and this self-belief can make all the difference in our recovery. When we feel defeated, like we’re climbing an uphill battle we can’t win, we’re more likely to give up altogether. Breaking larger things down into smaller steps can give us back our hopefulness and ambition, which can give us the motivation we need to keep going.

We’re here to give you the support and understanding you need for a successful recovery. Call Enlightened Solutions today: (833) 801-LIVE.


How Addiction Affects Our Instincts

How Addiction Affects Our Instincts

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Addiction, just like depression, can totally interfere with the normal functioning of our instincts. Whereas we naturally would work in our best interests, addiction can cause us to instinctively work against ourselves. We become self-destructive. Our instincts for self-preservation go out the window. Our main focus is not on our health and well-being but on getting our fix and holding onto the high. We aren’t self-protective. We don’t care for ourselves. Our relationships with ourselves suffer.

Addiction and depression can completely alter our perception of ourselves. We can become self-hating. We drown in feelings of shame and regret. We create a self-image based on self-rejection rather than self-love, and we build our lives around this image. We don’t feel deserving of love, kindness or respect, so we settle for relationships that reflect back to us our feelings of insecurity and unworthiness. We don’t feel we deserve forgiveness for our past mistakes and wrongs, so we are constantly berating, belittling and judging ourselves. We deny ourselves our own compassion and understanding. We become our own harshest critics. We seem to become proponents for our own demise rather than our success. We compete with other people and never feel like we measure up.

Having such a skewed sense of self can impact how we view the world. Sometimes we feel like the whole world, and the people in it, are out to get us. We feel powerless over the circumstances and events in our lives. We feel like the victims in our own narratives. We blame other people for our pain, and we struggle to take personal responsibility. Addiction can weaken our ability to look at ourselves objectively, to be courageous in our self-inventory, and to stay strong in our quest to improve ourselves. We can become self-pitying, negative and pessimistic.

When our perception of ourselves and the world is so tainted by addiction, it can negatively impact our instincts. We don’t have the normal instincts to want to be happy, to want to heal, to want to contribute to the world, to want to design a life we’re happy with. Our instincts aren’t to grow, learn, improve, build or succeed. Instead, we are self-deprecating, and our instincts are to hide away, to isolate ourselves, to retreat inward, to avoid people. We instinctively put ourselves down and hold ourselves back. We put ourselves in harm’s way. We take chances with our safety. We self-harm. We even contemplate suicide. Addiction and depression have a way of manipulating our instincts to deepen our dependence on the substances, behaviors and emotions we’ve been clinging to. Working to heal from our addictions means understanding our instincts and working to return them back to a healthier state.

The holistic treatment programs at Enlightened Solutions will help you to heal, mind, body and spirit. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


The Importance of Friendship

The Importance of Friendship

When we’ve spent years of our lives isolating ourselves from other people, and when we’ve experienced excessive conflict in our relationships, we can start to believe that friendship is unimportant and that it’s not worth the pain it has caused us. Our addiction can taint everything we feel, perceive and believe, including the importance of our friendships. The truth is, we all need other people. Over time, we learn that friendship can actually be one of the most important elements of our recovery. We can start to feel as though we never would have come so far without our friends.

As we’re working towards recovery, we learn just how important it is to be able to connect with other people. We often forget how important connection is when we’re embroiled in our own inner turmoil, our isolation and our relationship issues. Connecting with other people recedes in importance and falls to the bottom of our list of priorities. We forget that we have so much to learn from other people and their experiences. There is infinite wisdom to be gained from our friendships that can benefit our recovery and contribute to our wellness.

Learning how to be in a friendship and how to be a good friend is an important part of our emotional recovery. We learn patience, both with others and with ourselves. We are reminded of the importance of compassion and understanding. We learn how to give support, and just as importantly, how to allow ourselves to be supported. We often block this kind of intimate connection because we fear opening up to other people and being vulnerable. Our deep connections, our humility and our vulnerability add to our strength. Allowing ourselves to be open teaches us so much more about healing than we could ever hope to learn closing ourselves off to other people and isolating ourselves.

When we associate friendship with tension and conflict, it is often because we are in such a place of turmoil ourselves that we can only manifest relationships that reflect that turmoil. We attract other people who are similarly unhealthy. Many of our friends are addicts themselves. When we’re working toward recovery, we start to attract and manifest healthier relationships from a better place of clarity and peace. We learn how to build friendships based on trust, love and support. We grow together and support each other’s recovery. Sometimes our friends in recovery become the people in our lives who are closest to us, who understand us the most and who can best relate to our personal experiences. We find new companions to share our life journeys with.

Enlightened Solutions is here to give you the support, care and understanding you need for a successful recovery. Call (833) 801-LIVE today to get the help you deserve.


The Effects of Addiction on our Friendships

The Effects of Addiction on our Friendships

Those of us struggling with addiction and mental illness are no strangers to isolation. We isolate ourselves from the outside world and from the people who care about us. Often our isolation comes from a place of fear. We fear being judged and rejected. We fear being confronted on our issues. We fear leaving our comfort zone and pushing ourselves to do the difficult work of recovery. When we isolate ourselves, we miss out on all the wonderful benefits of friendship. We lose the opportunity to love and be loved, to help others and be helped by them.

Throughout the course of our struggles with addiction, we tend to accrue all kinds of relationship issues. We experience intense interpersonal conflict, painful endings to our important relationships, and burned bridges full of anxiety and frustration. When we haven’t learned how to have healthy relationships with other people and when we haven’t found a sense of inner peace within ourselves, it’s impossible to have peace with others. We come to associate friendship with difficulty, stress, effort and overwhelm. Many of us start to believe that the difficulty isn’t worth it in the end, so we stop trying. We resign ourselves to being alone, and we think we don’t need other people in our lives.

Our friendships are like reflections of us. Just like our other relationships, they can mirror back to us our wounds, our fears and our unresolved pain. When we have issues within us that have yet to be healed, we often direct them towards other people and they become issues in our relationships. We create conflict out of our own unresolved personal problems. We transfer our pain onto the people closest to us. We often are in denial about the severity of our pain and choose to turn a blind eye to it, focusing instead on the drama of our relationships because it can provide a form of temporary escape. Our issues with our friends can be easier to handle than the deep pain we’re trying to avoid within us. As our issues intensify, many of us decide we don’t want to deal with them anymore, and we separate ourselves entirely, breaking off friendships that took years to build. We convince ourselves we’re better off without them, and even though we miss them, we keep our distance. Our relationships often become another casualty of our addiction.

At Enlightened Solutions, our treatment programs include therapy, spiritual care, mentoring, holistic healing and trauma support, to help you heal yourself and your relationships. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


Learning as a Wellness Tool

Learning as a Wellness Tool

Learning can be a very helpful tool in our healing and recovery from addiction and mental health issues. Practicing a new skill, learning a new language, even trying a new recipe can boost our production of dopamine, one of the body’s feel-good chemicals that makes us feel happy and satisfied when we accomplish something. Exploring, learning and practicing new things can all help with our feelings of well-being, which can benefit our mental and emotional health and keep us positively occupied on productive things rather than on our addictions. When we feel more content and satisfied with ourselves, we’re less likely to be tempted to give into the temptation of addiction.

Some of us associate education with the tediousness of school, but learning can actually be a lifelong endeavor that brings us pleasure and fulfillment. When we open ourselves and broaden our horizons, we grow and expand to become deeper, more enlightened versions of ourselves. We break out of the mental constraints we were in that closed us off to deeper understanding. We gain insight and awareness that help with our mental and emotional development. We become stronger as a result.

When it comes to addiction and mental health, learning new things can mean the difference between staying stuck at plateaus of healing and breaking through to increase our wellness and making entirely new discoveries about ourselves. The more we know about ourselves, the better prepared we can be to handle any setbacks we come across. We have a clearer understanding of who we are and what it will take for us to heal. We learn more about our inner selves, our connection to other people, and the truths of human nature.

As part of your recovery, consider adding the element of learning. Is there something you’ve always wanted to pick up? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar, to cook, or to knit. Maybe there’s a language you’ve always been intrigued by, or a country you’ve always wanted to visit and learn more about. Give yourself permission to explore these things. Be open-minded and adventurous in your approach to your recovery. Recovering from the serious afflictions of addiction and mental health issues involves giving ourselves some enjoyment, some pleasure, fun and satisfaction. The feelings of pride and accomplishment we get when we learn something new and succeed at it can invigorate us and make us feel connected to ourselves again. The more we give energy to productive and positive things, the less inclined we are to self-destruct in our old ways.

The treatment programs at Enlightened Solutions include yoga, meditation, art and music therapy to help you heal holistically and have fun learning in the process. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


Dismantling the Shame Around Addiction

Dismantling the Shame Around Addiction

Of all the emotions we contend with throughout the course of our addictions, shame may be the most limiting and debilitating. Shame keeps us locked in cycles of self-deprecation, self-hatred and judgment. We find it impossible to forgive ourselves. We convince ourselves that we are shameful, immoral people rather than seeing ourselves as growing and learning from our mistakes. We don’t see our missteps as the normal part of our evolution that they really are. We create a self-image based on our shame, and we reject ourselves. Our self-hatred blocks our recovery and makes us seek refuge from our cruelty in our addictions.

Dismantling the shame around addiction is a crucial step in the self-acceptance process. We can consciously choose to shed the stigma surrounding addicts and addiction. We can reject the notion that addiction is not a real thing, that addicts use it as an excuse for immorality and recklessness. We can recognize just how destructive an illness it is and have compassion for ourselves in our struggles. We can see how pervasive and all-consuming addiction can be and commend ourselves for the strength in coping with it. We can choose to be proud of ourselves for not giving up on ourselves and our quest for recovery. We can see our healing and recovery as accomplishments, rather than seeing our addiction as a source of shame.

The shame we feel internally has a lot to do with our culture’s perception of addiction. Addiction is depicted in the same negative light as criminal behavior, homelessness and poverty, all of which are shunned and judged. As a culture we don’t lift up our most vulnerable populations. We don’t seek to uplift, encourage or love them. We reject them from the mainstream culture, making them outcasts. When we shame and shun people, it only causes them to sink lower into the depths of their pain. It exacerbates their existing problems. They become more depressed, more addicted, more likely to act out. The answer is to give more energy and attention to the people who need it, and to give them more love, not less. We can see all of our challenges as testaments of our strength, as special characteristics that add to our uniqueness. We can view our society as comprised of differing personalities, all coping with different and unique struggles that add to their growth and progress.

When we commit to seeing all of us as equal rather than judging people and placing them in hierarchies of goodness, status and morality, we open ourselves up to learning from each other and sharing in the beautiful experience of life. Dismantling shame in ourselves and in our culture is a gift we can give not just to the people living with addiction but from everyone else who can stand to learn from our experience and wisdom.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that every addict can recover. We provide the supportive community, care and healing modalities to help you regain your self-love. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


Creative Arts Therapy for Recovery

Creative Arts Therapy for Recovery

A powerfully transformative but sometimes overlooked tool in our quest for wellness is creative arts therapy. Many of us are more familiar with traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step programs and support groups, but creative arts therapy can be used effectively in conjunction with any existing program and can help improve our overall results. Whether it is music therapy, songwriting, sound healing, playwriting, visual arts, dance or movement, any kind of creative expression provides wonderful mental, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits that help us in our recovery.

When we engage ourselves creatively, we give ourselves an effective outlet to express ourselves, release our emotions and shift our energy positively. Creative expression is therapeutic and soothing. We find ourselves inspired and motivated. Pent-up emotions are allowed to come to the surface. We’re able to process difficult thoughts, feelings, fears and memories through our creativity, and this brings us feelings of well-being and comfort. Our productivity makes us feel satisfied and fulfilled. We can feel a renewed sense of purpose in finding our natural talents and passions.

Talk therapy can be intimidating, even uncomfortable, especially when we’re trying it for the first time. Delving into difficult subject matter can bring up very painful emotions. Arts therapy allows us to do this important emotional work but with the added benefit of creative expression, which can be disarming and comforting, not to mention fun and invigorating. We can find ourselves actually looking forward to therapy!

The goal with any kind of therapy is to dig deep and get to the root of our issues – our unhealed trauma, our unresolved fears and pain. When we’re working with creative arts, we can use our artistic medium of choice, whatever it is, to help us with that process. For example, you can try using a writing prompt and see where it leads:  

  • When do I remember first feeling afraid?
  • When was my first experience with addiction?
  • When do I first remember feeling depressed or anxious?
  • What will it take for me to be happy?
  • What kind of life do I want to live?

Writing prompts give us a question to try and answer as fully as we can. We can take our time to relax and free-write, without having any expectations of perfection or even cohesiveness. Don’t be unafraid to let your mind wander and write down anything that comes to mind. The expression and release of long-buried thoughts and feelings helps us to process them and make sense of them. We gain more clarity and understanding. We’re better able to communicate our feelings and open up to people, especially the therapists and other supportive people who can help us.

Through years of experience working with art and music therapy, we know how powerfully beneficial they are in healing and relapse prevention. Call Enlightened Solutions today: (833) 801-LIVE.


The Harm in Avoidance

The Harm in Avoidance

Our addictions and mental health issues can affect us in such dramatic ways that we develop a default coping strategy of avoidance. Because we so desperately don’t want to feel our pain anymore, we try to avoid it thinking this will help us to reduce how deeply we’re affected.  We soon come to see, though, that avoidance not only doesn’t help, it exacerbates the issue. Avoidance prevents true healing from taking place.

When we avoid the things that bother us, they become more overpowering. We feel increasingly more triggered by and sensitive about our particular issues. Our habits of avoidance can interrupt our lives in meaningful ways. We might isolate ourselves from other people out of fear that we will be hurt and to avoid feeling triggered by them. When we feel particularly triggered by certain people, we might avoid them altogether, causing our relationships to become estranged and distant. Often our loved ones don’t understand the impact their words or actions have on us, especially if we ourselves aren’t aware of them and haven’t been able to articulate our feelings to them.

Our avoidance can lead us directly to the addictive substances and behaviors that offer us some relief from our pain. We realize eventually that this relief is only temporary, and it is a form of escapism, not genuine healing. Our addictions become devastating manifestations of our avoidance. Many of us have been running from our issues for so long that we forgot what they were in the first place. We’re not conscious of what our original trauma was or why we’re in so much pain. We’ve buried our complicated emotions under layers of drugs, unhealthy relationships, self-destructive behaviors and toxic thought patterns.

Avoidance can cause us to develop harmful habits of denial and dishonesty. We can lie to ourselves and to the people in our lives in order to hide how severe our problem has become. We can be in denial for so long that we start to believe our lies and convince ourselves we’re fine. Denial can be dangerous and can be the fuel our addictions need to thrive.

Working to shed our habits of avoidance means making the conscious decision that we deserve better, that we deserve to heal. Choosing to face our problems head on can be some of the hardest emotional work we’ll ever do, but it is a crucial step in our recovery. If we remain avoidant, we only perpetuate our addictions and allow them to have control over us.

At Enlightened Solutions, we have the supportive staff, comprehensive resources and effective methodologies to help you in your recovery. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


When Addiction Runs in the Family

When Addiction Runs in the Family

Many of us come from families where addiction runs rampant, and if we’re not already experiencing addiction in our lives, there are some things we can do to help prevent it from overtaking us. Being genetically predisposed to addiction does not guarantee that we’ll succumb to the illness, and regardless of our family’s experience, recovery is always possible, for all of us. If addiction runs in your family, take some time to implement these steps in order to prevent addiction in your own life and that of your children and other family members.

Become familiar with the warning signs of addiction, including depression and mood swings, changes in appearance and behavior, loss of interest, apathy and isolation. Early detection is key, just like with any illness. The earlier we spot the signs of addiction, the sooner we can get help. When we are unaware of the warning signs, we are less likely to know when addiction is encroaching upon us. Familiarizing ourselves with the signs of addiction can help us to spot them in ourselves and in our loved ones, and can help us to stop it from developing before it has gotten out of control.

Educate yourself about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of growing our conscious awareness, being present in each moment, increasing our emotional intelligence, and learning to manage our thoughts and emotions. When we use mindfulness for addiction prevention, we learn how to handle the difficult feelings that our addictions tell us we are powerless over. We learn to face our emotions head on rather than developing habits of avoidance, denial and escapism.

Talk to your children about the prevalence of addiction in your family. Hiding the truth from them doesn’t prevent addiction, and our avoidance can actually work against us. Teach them about mindfulness and help them learn how to work with their emotions. Encourage them to practice meditation, journaling and other healing practices that are so powerful in helping us to maintain our serenity and inner peace.

Take advantage of therapy, for yourself and your children. If you or your kids are experiencing distress of any kind, signs of addiction, depression or debilitating anxiety, don’t hesitate to start therapy so that you can get the support you need. Therapy can help you to navigate the emotional complexities and difficulties of addiction and mental health issues so that you can learn healthy coping strategies. Therapy can help you to build your self-reliance and inner strength so that you can feel confident about functioning and thriving, even when faced with the struggles of addiction.

The community at Enlightened Solutions has been working with substance abuse and recovery for decades. Please reach out to us so that you can receive the help you deserve. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Is Everyone Who Takes Opioids At Risk For Addiction?

Two cars are in a serious accident. The drivers of both cars are rushed to the hospital with severe injuries. As immediately as possible after routine procedure, both patients are administered either an oral or intravenous dose of morphine to relieve the pain. Analgesic and relaxing, their pain subsides and they likely fall asleep. Both patients need surgery to heal internal wounds or close up exposed ones. For the pain which will result afterwards, the doctor informs them, they will be prescribed a prescription painkiller. Likely they will receive something like Hydrocodone, Oxycotin, Dilaudid, or Percocet. Each of these medications are morphine based, designating them as opioids. While they are in the hospital, their intravenous pain medications and oral pain medications will be monitored. Upon discharge, they will each receive specific instructions on taking pain medication and rehabilitating their body at home. One patient goes on to heal fine and doesn’t take another opioid medication until there is another serious issue with pain. The other patient will heal from their original injury but may not heal from their pain. In the process, they’ll develop an addiction to opioid painkillers. In the wake of the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, thousands of family members want to know the answer to one simple question: why?

New research published in the journal JAMA Surgery sought to answer this question. Though the number seems small, the amount of overdose deaths which could result has drastic implications- six percent of people who receive opioid painkillers for post-surgery rehabilitation continue using their prescription medication for at least three months post-procedure. Researchers found that the type of surgery or severity of the pain had little to do with the likelihood of using the prescription painkillers outside of their recommended expiration. The issue, researchers discovered, is a lack of screening for high risk factors which would contribute to the likelihood of substance abuse. Researchers called this “addressable patient-level” risk factors. Live Science reported on the findings. Increased risk for opioid abuse post-surgery had the highest percentages among patients who:

  • Smoked cigarettes
  • Drank alcohol
  • Had pre-existing substance abuse problems
  • Had anxiety
  • Were previously chronic pain patients

Opioid addiction can happen without a patient’s knowing that they are predisposed to developing a chemical dependency problem. Thousands of American have faced this problem in recent years, which has greatly contributed to the ongoing crisis with opioid painkillers, synthetic opioid painkillers including fentanyl, and a turn to heroin.