How to Date When You Are Newly Sober

How to Date When You Are Newly Sober

It may have been your go-to invitation to tell your date that the two of you should grab a drink together. Now that you are in treatment and entering a newly sober world, you might not know what to do if your partner casually tempts you to get a drink. By keeping firm about how important your sobriety is and thinking of sober activities that you both can enjoy, you will have an amazing first sober date. 

Dry Date 

While you may have chosen to lead a sober lifestyle, it does not mean that you will not feel tempted to drink again if you are hanging around places that serve drinks. This can mean avoiding places like bars or any other venues that serve drinks. Do your research in advance before the date and see if there are any places in your area that are alcohol-free. 

You can try to have your date be in the daytime instead so that you and your date can get out for some fresh air. Examples can mean going horseback riding, having a picnic in the park, going to a museum, or to the fair. You may be safe with family-friendly activities as they will not endorse alcohol beverage sales with children around. Your date may take you as a more creative person this way in coming up with various unique activities that will bring life and fun into your day compared to the predictable drink out.

Be Honest

The first step of the 12 Step program tells us that it is important to admit that we are powerless when it comes to alcohol. If you know that about yourself, it is important that you let your date know that too. You may be scared that if you put on your online dating profile that you do not drink, no one will want to take a second look at your profile. Do not assume that everyone is looking for someone to drink with. There are people looking for a date that have no interest in drinking whether they are in recovery or not. If your date asks you why you do not drink, plan out what to respond. You can initially just start off saying that you no longer drink. Then once the two of you get to know each other better, you can share your story.

Qualities in a Partner

If your date has a problem with you not drinking, do not feel like you did anything wrong. Anyone who has a problem with you not drinking is not someone that you should be spending time with. They could be completely disrespectful and still want to drink in front of you without caring about your chances of relapsing. Think if you want the type of date who understands what recovery is, is currently in recovery themselves, or just does not want alcohol to be a part of their diet. Keep in mind that it can be hard to date someone who is also in recovery in that if your partner relapses, you may feel the need to do the same to avoid sticking out or because seeing your partner enjoy drinking will remind you of how you used to enjoy it. While this may happened, it does not mean that it will always happening when dating someone who is also in recovery. 

Avoid Love Addiction

Because you are no longer drinking anymore, you could still be seeking something else to hook onto as a replacement. Do not use your partner is a replacement drug as it can scare them away. This can mean that you have decided that you are in love with your date when you have not known each other that well. You want this to be something that works out for you which will cause you to rush things and push onto them. It is important to take it slowly as it will ensure that you continue having more dates with this person. Make sure that you are emotionally at a place where you can handle new emotions that come with dating and be prepared in the outcome of this being a lasting relationship or being one that does not work out. 

Not Turning Back to Alcohol

You may have gone into this relationship thinking that there will be no problems now that you are going into this sober and that this may be a lasting relationship. While not drinking anymore may increase your chances of having a lasting relationship, it does not mean that there still will not be problems as sober couples still have fights and breakups. When that happens, do not use that as an excuse to go back to drinking. If you are feeling angry or emotional, go into another room and try to breathe and the two of you should speak when you are both calm and collected.

Continue with Recovery Tools

Living a sober dating life does not mean you should stop what you are doing to achieve sobriety. This means continuing to go to your 12 Step meetings, seeing a therapist, mindfulness techniques, exercising, and anything else to help you with your sobriety. Once you and your date decide to enter a serious relationship, that person can help you towards recovery like attending meetings with you. Knowing how important your sobriety is and being honest with your date will ensure a successful relationship. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center using evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to Feel Happy When You Feel You Do Not Deserve It

How to Feel Happy When You Feel You Do Not Deserve It

When people have depression, they may feel that they do not deserve to be happy for a number of reasons. When they feel that way, it can mean that they will push away anything good from happening to them. It is important to understand your worth if you are expected to have a long and happy life.

One reason why someone may feel they do not deserve happiness is based on sins they have committed in the past. All that person can see are the hurt they have done to others or feeling they could have done more. It is like if you were a guard or a police officer that was on duty during a tragedy that took the lives of many and you wonder what you could have done differently. Because they know that they cannot turn back time, all they can think about is feeling guilty and regret. They feel that they need to punish themselves for the rest of their lives since there is no one else around to punish them like being sent to jail or a facility.

You also could be experiencing survivor’s guilt when you have survived something that others in your position have not. You could have been in a bus crash and been one of the few survivors and are constantly wondering why you lived and others died or have been in the military and watched your men died while you were able to go home to your family. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. This guilt of surviving a tragedy can haunt you going forward without getting professional help.

It is also possible that when someone is abused physically or emotionally, they feel they are not worthy of love from anyone. They may feel dirty and not care about any future abuse that they suffer at the hands of anyone since they feel they do not deserve to be treated well. This can lead to prostitution. It is also possible that this abuse stemmed from childhood and left a dark cloud on the child growing up feeling like they did something wrong. This is also what can prevent women from being married or having children feeling like the abuse they suffered could be passed onto their children.

If you struggle from body dysmorphia, it could be another reason why you feel you do not deserve to be happy. You probably look at yourself in the mirror and think you are unattractive and that nothing you do will change it. That only pretty people deserve to have everything because of the effort they put into their looks. You could have been bullied by your peers at school or your own family about the way you look and lack self-esteem. It can also be if you are not making enough money and feel you are not worth anyone being nice to you or going on a date with you. You could have come from a poor background and feel worthless because of your current state.

Do not feel like you are wrong if you experience brief moments of happiness such as smiling with friends or laughing at something funny. Everyone is entitled to be happy as it is a positive emotion that everyone should feel no matter what their current situation is. If you feel guilty about people you have wronged or hurt, you should write a letter to those people apologizing what you did and seek forgiveness. If that person is no longer alive, you can still write a letter to them of everything that you wish you could have told them when they were still alive. You could also speak to the families of the deceased persons to help bring closure to yourself. This will help you move on knowing that you did the right thing and that we have all done things that we wish we could have done differently.

You should also be telling yourself that you did the best that you could. Maybe you feel if you had a certain skill set that you have now or were a little older at the time of the incident, you would have done things differently. You need to tell yourself that we get scared and do not always know what to do in a given situation. We can only do the best we can with what we are given and hope that the next time we do things differently.

Try to figure out what is triggering your depression. Maybe you start hating yourself whenever you watch the news or when you see others being more successful than you. If you have trouble figuring out your trigger points, speak to a therapist. You could try things like cognitive behavioral therapy to change your negative thought patterns or exposure therapy to help you relive why it is you feel you do not deserve happiness. If you have done wrong in the past, the best way to move past it is by not making the same mistakes again or making better choices. This can mean volunteering to help victims of abuse or changing how you treat others. Or maybe you did nothing wrong and you still need to have someone tell you that. Do not be afraid to let others know you are hurting. Everyone deserves to be happy and should do whatever it takes to make sure we stay happy.

At Enlightened Solutions, we are here to help you remember that life can be full of happiness and enjoyable moments, once we learn how to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.

Changing the Narrative of Addiction

Changing the Narrative of Addiction

When it comes to looking at addiction honestly and removing the stigmas around it, those of us who have lived with addiction firsthand can begin to change the narrative of it for the larger culture to be able to learn from our experiences. We can express ourselves and speak about our experiences. We can shed light on the truth of addiction and how pervasive it is in our families and communities. We can illuminate for people just how destructive and debilitating it can be in our lives.

For us to be honest about our struggles with addiction, we have to muster a level of courage we might not think we possess but which is part of our inherent inner strength. Once we realize our potential and claim our voice, we can tap into the strength and courage within us. Many of us have only ever discussed our addiction with those closest to us, with our support groups, close family and friends, or therapists. Many of us haven’t even brought ourselves to tell our loved ones about our addictions. Why would we hide such a huge part of our lives from other people, especially those that care about us? The answer lies in fear – the fear that fuels the stigmas around addiction in the first place, and our fears of being judged and rejected by the people we love and by society in general.

Fear causes us to misunderstand each other and the illness of addiction. Just as depression and mental illness are still widely misunderstood, addiction also suffers from the negative stereotypes, stigmas, misconceptions and misinformation surrounding it in our culture. Working to summon our courage means realizing that we might always have fear on some level but that we can transcend it. We can give addiction a face and a name. We can change the dialogue around addiction to be inclusive of the addicts who have had personal experience with it, not the people who are most judgmental and fearful of it. We can give ourselves a voice and reclaim the discourse around addiction, for ourselves and for our larger communities. We can redefine addiction as something that impacts our lives but doesn’t have to dictate them entirely. We can see our addiction as something we can learn from rather than be devastated by. Healing from our addiction can be part of what empowers us, rather than just being a memento of our self-destruction. The memories we hold of our struggles can motivate us to move forward, rather than staying stuck in the past, mired with regret.

The community at Enlightened Solutions has years of personal experience with addiction, recovery, and helping others in recovery. We can help you too. Call (833) 801-LIVE.

Stigmas Around Sex Addiction

Stigmas Around Sex Addiction

The stigmas surrounding addiction have become a dominant part of our mainstream cultural dialogue but were generated from a place of fear and lack of understanding from people who aren’t addicts themselves. Without having experienced it firsthand, addiction can be a complicated and difficult thing to comprehend. Just as all addictions carry specific stigmas and stereotypes associated with them, sex addiction has come to be viewed a certain way that is unique to it. Since sex itself is still taboo in so many ways, and since sex is such a powerful force in our lives, there is a great deal of fear, trepidation, misunderstanding and misinformation when it comes to sex addiction.

A common misconception about sex addiction is that it is an excuse for promiscuity and reckless, dangerous sexuality. Addiction as a whole carries the weight of shame with it for many people, and with sex addiction, this can be even more true. Sex addicts can be drowning in shame for the compulsive acts they’re engaging in. We can feel as though we’re totally out of control, like our actions and our bodies are not within our control but being driven by a compulsive force. Many of us don’t want to be promiscuous. We want loving, healthy, monogamous relationships but feel as though we can’t stop ourselves from having casual sex, cheating or otherwise acting out. We feel ashamed of our sexual history, of the partners we’ve been with, of our choices and behaviors. We feel sadness, regret and remorse after our sexual encounters. Just as alcoholics are not using their addiction as an excuse for destructive behavior, sex addicts are not using their addiction as an excuse for promiscuity.

Another stigma surrounding sex addiction is that sex addicts are immoral, deviant people. This belief is based on the larger belief that sex is wrong, that having sex for pleasure is an immoral thing to do, and that our sexuality is a source of shame. Addiction can impact and taint every area of our lives, but it doesn’t rob of us of our inherent goodness. We can be suffering from addiction and still have compassion and kindness. Addicts are not necessarily bad people, and sex can be a beautiful thing when treated with the respect it deserves. Sex addiction is not a badge of immorality just as alcoholism isn’t. Understanding sex addiction and how it affects people’s lives involves looking at some of the stigmas that addicts have to live with on a constant basis.

If you’re living with sex addiction and struggling to feel understood, you’re not alone. Sex addiction is one of the most common co-occurring conditions we address in our treatment programs at Enlightened Solutions. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.

Addiction in our Relationships

Addiction in our Relationships

Living with addiction means our addiction impacts every single area of our lives. We can see the drastic effects of our addiction everywhere in our lives, and very visibly on the health of our relationships. When we’re addicted, we often attract other addicts, and our relationships are built on a foundation of unhealthiness and instability.

Addiction presents itself in our relationships in various ways. Codependence is one of them. We are not only dependent on our addictive substances and behaviors, we also become dependent upon each other. Our unhealthy relationships can be based on toxicity, attachment and lack of independence. Our relationships become codependent in nature, and we struggle to function independently, to hold onto our own identities and to feel whole within ourselves. We feel like we need the other person to survive. We feel like we can’t live without them. Our relationships are not comprised of two healthy people coming together to share of themselves. Instead, they are two broken people full of insecurity and pain bringing their issues into the mix and bringing each other down. Healthy unions are practically impossible in this kind of climate. Our relationships are so full of our fears and unresolved issues that there is little room for growth and healing. We subconsciously hope that we’ll get better, that the other person will change, that somehow our love will conquer all and cure us. For many of us, though, our relationships only exacerbate our existing problems. We fall deeper into our depressions. We become unhappier and more afraid.

When our relationships grow from a foundation of addiction, they often have nowhere to go but down. We have a tendency to enable each other’s destructive habits and addictive behaviors. We perpetuate each other’s patterns. We make excuses for each other, we lie for each other, we cover up each other’s problems. Our relationship can become a safe haven for our addiction to fester undisturbed. We retreat into the comfort and distraction of the relationship rather than face ourselves. Any willpower we might have had can go right out the window when the people we love are urging us to drink or use with them. We trust the people we’re with, and subconsciously we want to believe that they have our best interest at heart. When they themselves are addicts, though, they don’t have the clarity or peace of mind to act in your best interest, let alone their own. Our self-destructiveness becomes a joint effort, and we self-destruct together. We cause ourselves and each other increased pain, adding a growing list of issues to heal from onto our already existing unresolved issues.

Recovery requires that we take inventory of everything in our lives that is detracting from our capacity for healing, and this often includes our relationships.

Call Enlightened Solutions today to get the support you need to focus on your recovery: (833) 801-LIVE.

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.

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.

Choosing Faith in Moments of Crisis

Choosing Faith in Moments of Crisis

When we’ve been struggling with addiction, many of us have become all too familiar with experiencing serious crises in our lives. The ways in which we manage to handle our stress during a crisis and respond to the issues at hand can help determine whether we will make it through the crisis successfully or create more turmoil for ourselves. We experience conflicts in our relationships, spikes in our feelings of inner turmoil, and difficult situations with our health, stress levels and finances. We can feel particularly worried and even panicked when we see these issues as debilitating crises rather than as challenges to overcome.

Our default emotional response to difficulty is often one of fear. We react to our feelings of overwhelm and stress in ways that compound our fear rather than soothe it. To work with our crisis management, we can practice having faith, staying calm and being grounded.

To help calm ourselves down, we can practice deep breathing exercises. One exercise that is particularly beneficial for anxiety is 1:2 breathing where we make our exhale twice as long as our inhale. Try repeating affirmations such as, “This too shall pass. I believe in my ability to get through this. I have faith in myself. I can stay calm. I am at peace.” We can stop our anxiety from overwhelming us to the point where we feel as though we’re losing control over our thoughts and emotions. We can choose emotional responses that calm us down rather than creating extra stress for ourselves.

When we are operating out of fear, we make it harder for ourselves to think clearly and act rationally. We have harder time processing our thoughts and feelings. We can overreact, panic and become pessimistic and even paranoid. When we’re in this place, we don’t have the clarity we need in order to allow things to work out naturally for us. We’re pushing things forcefully, and this form of resistance just makes things harder for us. We’re manifesting with an energy of fear and negativity, which brings us more circumstances reflecting these things. We create more fear-inducing and negative situations to have to contend with.

The challenge for us in these moments is to focus on faith rather than fear, on hope rather than negativity. Practice visualizing the best possible outcome. Learn how to look for the silver lining in even the most challenging situations. Uncover the blessings and the lessons available to us in every moment of crisis.

We believe in treatments that connect mind, body and spirit. At Enlightened Solutions, you will benefit from the healing modalities we’ve seen be wonderfully effective in helping countless people recover. Call (833) 801-LIVE today for more information.

The Spiritual Side of Addiction

The Spiritual Side of Addiction

Examining addiction, we’re used to looking at the mental, emotional and physical factors of addiction, the correlations between addiction and our mental health, our emotional wellbeing and the physical effects. What many of us fail to realize is that addiction is just as much a spiritual illness as anything else. Looking at the spiritual side of addiction can give us more insight on how to heal from addiction.

Addiction, like other mental and emotional health issues, can arise from the spiritual disconnection we feel from our higher power and our inner selves. When we feel disconnected, we can feel alone and isolated, lost and hopeless. We can feel empty and deeply lonely. We turn to our addictions to fill the void we feel within ourselves. Our addictions are our attempt to escape the deep pain we feel at not being spiritually connected and fulfilled. We’re avoiding confronting the spiritual emptiness we feel, that can make life feel pointless, hopeless and sad. It can really hurt to feel unfulfilled, to feel uncertain of our purpose in life, and to feel as though we’re not living up to our potential. When we don’t feel connected to our true selves and our greater purpose in life, we can be self-destructive and direct our energy in unhealthy ways. We can feel too afraid to do the work we need to do to explore ourselves and learn about ourselves on a deep level. We can grow to hate ourselves.

When we look at our addiction as a spiritual manifestation, we can address the spiritual causes – the trauma we’ve experienced, the losses we’ve sustained, the pain we have yet to heal from. Our spirit is at the core of our being, so everything we experience has a spiritual effect. To heal from our addiction, we can focus on our spiritual healing. How can we heal ourselves at this core level?

Since our disconnection is such a major factor in our unhappiness, we can remedy it by seeking connection – connection to our higher power, to our inner selves and to kindred spirits. We can try praying to our higher power, to our source of creation, to the greater power within our life force. We can explore different religions and spiritualities to find one that resonates with us, that brings us feelings of peace, comfort and security. To help us connect with ourselves, we can use meditation, journaling, and creative expression. To connect with kindred spirits, people who understand us on a soul level, we can seek out opportunities to create community and fellowship, through support groups, recreational activities, attending classes and volunteering.

Healing from addiction is as much about healing spiritually as it is achieving sobriety. The two are interconnected. When we are working on our spiritual health, we are more likely to be able to heal emotionally and to create lifestyle changes that will serve us in our recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in treatment that connects the mind, body, and spirit. We employ holistic therapies, community building and reflection to support our recovery. Call us today: Call (833) 801-LIVE.

Investigating our Triggers

Investigating our Triggers

For those of us living with addiction, something we often have in common is that we are easily triggered by certain things. Our triggers are the things, events or people that cause us anxiety and distress. We normally feel inclined to want to avoid our triggers at all costs. Our instinct is to not want to have to feel the weight of the bothersome trigger. We try to escape the sadness and fear that accompany them. Part of our recovery is learning how to manage the things that bother us so that we can be at peace no matter what comes our way. Our avoidance has a way of making issues grow stronger until they are totally overpowering us. To work through our triggers, it’s so important that we take the time to investigate them so that we can move through them instead of avoiding them, so that we can reclaim our power and maintain our inner peace.

To investigate our triggers, let’s take a closer look at them. What is it exactly that caused the spike in anxiety and sadness for you? Was it something someone said or did? Are you triggered by specific people, events or statements? Rather than running from your trigger, turn towards it. Face it, and lean into it. As you expose yourself to your trigger, you become more desensitized to it. The more you face your triggering issue head on, the less power it threatens to wield over you.

Let’s start to examine what our triggers represent. We might not be consciously aware of the reasons we’re so triggered, and the more we avoid our issue in question, the less awareness we’re able to develop around it. Let’s dig deep and look at what underlying issues are triggering us and causing us to feel so distressed. For example, someone mentioning death might be particularly triggering for you if you’ve experienced a tragic loss.

Once we know what is fueling our triggers, we can take the necessary steps to do the important healing work we need to do. We can start therapy, attend support group meetings and work with a sponsor. The first step is mustering the courage to face our triggers head on and reminding ourselves that even though they hurt, they don’t have to overpower us if we don’t allow them to.

Addiction has layers of complexities that we aren’t always familiar with. At Enlightened Solutions, we have years of experience helping people heal in profound, life-changing ways. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.