Navigating Your First Year of Sobriety

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

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

Consider a Sober Living House

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

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

Create a Routine

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

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

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

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

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

Seek Support From Other People

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

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

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


Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse is a common side effect of initial recovery. You want to get better and not give in to these triggers to drugs you are experiencing, but you go back to bad habits because you do not know how to control these triggers. It is important to come up with a plan on what to do when you face the three stages of relapse so that it never happens again.

Emotional Relapse

Emotional relapse is when you may not be thinking about using, but your emotions are getting the best of you. You may be feeling anxiety, anger, isolation, and mood swings. This can make you not want to ask for help if you are experiencing withdrawal or showing up to 12 step meetings. If you are not taking better care of yourself, it means that your eating and sleeping habits are suffering. This stage will occur before a person is even aware that they are in danger of relapse. Luckily, this is an early stage of relapse which will make it easier to climb back from. 

Mental Relapse

In mental relapse, you feel like you are constantly debating yourself. There is a part of you that wants to go back to your drug use, but another part of you knows how important it is to continue with recovery. Earlier in this phase, you are just thinking lightly about using. Later in this phase, you would be thinking much harder about using. You go back to the memories you had of the places you were using at and the friends you were with all in a glamorized matter. This can lead to you lying to others about how you are feeling during your recovery and planning your relapse when you know everyone else will be busy. As the temptation gets stronger, making the right choices will become even harder.

Physical Relapse

If you do not do anything to prevent relapse from occurring, this is when the physical phase occurs. This is the stage where you start making efforts to go back to bad habits like driving to your dealer. You may just be thinking that you are only using just this once to make yourself feel better. The truth is that it only takes one time to break your sobriety and have multiple moments after that where you use. Once you enter this stage, you need to go back into treatment as soon as possible.

Relapse Triggers

Drugs were a way for you to escape all of your negative emotions. For example, drugs may have been there for you whenever you needed to relax. You could also be thinking about the people and places that you have a habit of visiting back when you continued using. Since these people and places were such a big part of your life, you may not be ready to give them up. You could also be living in an area where you are constantly surrounded by drugs or alcohol and it is too hard to look away. Even when you celebrate, you are used to substance abuse as a way to enjoy yourself. The most important thing to think about when you are experiencing these triggers is that while these drugs may have made you feel good in the short-term, these drugs have a way of ruining your life in the long-term.

What To Do for Relapse Prevention

First, start recognizing certain behaviors about yourself. Recognize how you are isolating yourself and need to seek help as well as your anxiety, eating, and sleeping habits. Not changing your behavior will leave you emotionally drained which will make you want to find an escape in drugs or alcohol. Take better care of yourself by thinking about why you use in the first place. If you took better care of yourself, you would not feel any need to use drugs or alcohol to help you feel better. 

Think really hard about the fantasy you have when you get these mental urges. You normally follow through with them, abuse drugs or alcohol, and then you feel terrible about it later. Keep thinking about all of the times you have followed through your mental urges and how you have felt after. You may have thought that since you have gotten away with lying about your addiction in the past, no one will know about your relapse. You will follow through with your recovery if you think about all of the negative things that have happened to you before. Whenever you have an urge to use, call a friend or a sponsor to talk you down and help you no longer feel alone. You can also go to a meeting, knit, color or do anything else that will occupy your time. After half an hour of occupying yourself with healthy activities, the mental urge will be gone.

Most importantly, it is important to make changes to your routine. This means cleaning your house of any drugs or alcohol in any rooms you have them as well as hiding places that you keep them. Delete the numbers of your friends who use drugs on your phone as well as drug dealers. Avoid visiting bars or hanging around where drug dealers go. By speaking to someone about your stressors and any negative feelings you are experiencing, you will have an easier recovery knowing you do not have an urge to use.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses 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 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.


Tennis Champion Creates a Healthcare App

Tennis Champion Creates a Healthcare App

In 1993, it seemed that Murphy Jenson was on top of the world when he won the French Open Doubles Championship. The truth is that even drug addiction can occur to championship athletes who acquire trophies and fans. Murphy Jensen used his experience with drug abuse to create an app to help others who share the same struggle.

The Risk Factors Leading to Addiction

Jenson attended the University of Southern California on a tennis scholarship. He was feeling out of place at that school where he felt he did not measure up. He felt that by taking drugs, he would be more confident. Jensen also told the Tennis Channel that he was also not prepared for the attention that he received after winning the French Open Doubles Championship such as the parties and nightclubs. He was given a $150,000 check and had no idea what to do with it since he was all alone. Once he spent money on drinking, Jensen felt like he could not stop. His heavy drug use would lead to Jensen missing tennis matches. 

Murphy Jensen’s Treatment Strategy

Jensen first went to treatment in the mid-1990s recommended by a therapist. Because he was scared of being discovered that he was in therapy and felt he would hurt others by telling them he had a problem, Jensen did not complete the program. After the 1999 US Open in Los Angeles, Jensen underwent detox and was admitted to outpatient sober living for a year while traveling on tour. Jensen then participated in 12 step programs and life got better.

Murphy Jensen’s Relapse

Unfortunately, in 2004, Jensen relapsed. During the 2006 French Open, Jensen was feeling like he was physically and mentally dying from and without drugs and alcohol. It was through that relapse that Jensen realized that treatment needed to be his top priority. He did not know the severity of his situation and understood that he needed to be all in. Ever since June 6th, 2006, Jensen’s obsession with drugs and alcohol has never returned. His recovery program includes support group meetings 3-4 times a week and therapist checkups. Jensen has decided to dedicate his life to abstinence from drugs and alcohol as well as helping others with the same struggle.

Murphy Jensen’s Regrets

Jensen wished that if he could go back when he was still struggling with addiction, he would change his way of thinking about substance abuse and recovery. He would, at first, hate himself for his addiction and felt like it was the worst thing that could have happened to him. Instead, Jensen takes all of the hardships and struggles from his addiction and uses that to be the best person he could be. By helping others with addiction, he feels like he is showing the world how far he has come.

Murphy Jensen’s Advice for Those with Substance Abuse

Jensen believes that he got well because of his willingness, surrender, and service to helping others. He feels no shame telling his story and would prefer to do that compared to just simply giving advice. Jensen feels that he is willing to take direction and let others help him as he knows he will always need it. He also feels that the more he surrenders to his temptations, the more he wins. By living service to others, Jensen is living a life beyond his dreams.

WeConnect Health

Five years ago, Jensen and Daniella Tudor co-founded WeConnect Health which is a technology company designed to prevent relapse from substance abuse. With the app, you can schedule routines to stay on track for recovery. You will get gentle reminders, rewards for completing recovery activities, and a GPS verification for routine locations. You can also receive support from your recovery team and will better stay connected through the app. You can also earn gift cards as rewards for the tasks you complete as studies show that sticking to a routine will increase your chances of having a successful recovery.

What We Can Learn From Jensen’s Story

Jensen’s story teaches us that addiction is not new or uncommon. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that 130 people die every day from drug overdose. That addiction is a brain disease with relapse being one of the side effects. It does not make you weak or immoral if you need to seek treatment for it. Jensen also felt fear, guilt, and isolation if anyone were to discover his drug addiction. These are very familiar feelings that those with substance abuse tackle all the time and make recovery much harder to seek. 

It is also important to know that drug treatment is available and effective. Just because one method of treatment does not work does not mean another will not. Some feel they can get by on medications and others benefit from behavioral therapies and support groups. You can also do a combination of practices. The important thing is to do what is best for you and your physical and mental health. Jensen also developed a connection to peers in recovery, his therapists, his family and members of the tennis community. Hiding your drug addiction will not make it go away, but it will stay inside you and continue to grow. By following Jensen’s example, this will give you the courage to break the stigma and be able to help others accomplish everything that you have done during your recovery. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses 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 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.


Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

When we are in recovery, we soon discover that the challenges of addiction don’t disappear overnight. We still face the same addictive urges and temptations. We still live with the stress and overwhelm that drove us to our addictions. One of the best ways we can maintain our sobriety is create a relapse prevention plan. When we are hit with urges, our instinct is often to respond with frustration, resistance and panic, which can make us more likely to run to our addictions to escape the painful emotions we’re feeling. Creating a relapse prevention plan for ourselves provides us with a useful and effective tool we can keep with us moving forward, to help keep us on track with our sobriety.

1. Create a Routine

One of the greatest threats to our sobriety is a lack of routine. If we are on vacation, are not working or in school, or don’t have another outlet for our time and energy, we are more likely to find ourselves swayed by the temptation of our addictions. Create a routine for yourself full of things you enjoy, healthy activities, and productive ways to spend your time. Make attending meetings, going to therapy and working with your sponsor part of this routine. Give your energy to keeping this routine and make it a commitment for yourself.

2. Find an Accountability Partner

When we have someone to be accountable to, we’re more likely to stay the course of our recovery. This partner can be a sponsor, another friend in recovery, a family member, therapist or mentor. This person should be someone with whom we feel comfortable checking in and giving regular updates on our progress. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss with them any challenges, temptations or even relapses that may arise. Keeping track of our progress, even when we stumble, can help us keep ourselves on track.

3. Choose Calm

We commonly become stressed, anxious and panicked when we’re faced with an addictive urge. We worry we’ll relapse. We fear we’ll always be suffering in this way. When we practice mindfulness, we can more easily calm ourselves down, which can help us avoid some of the emotional overwhelm that can lead to relapse. Practice doing things that bring you feelings of peace and calm. Repeat calming affirmations such as “I will get through this. I am at peace. I am reaching my goals.” Use other calming practices such as meditation, journaling and talking with a supportive friend.

Enlightened Solutions was created to help people learn more about addiction and to find the support of a community that understands the struggles firsthand. Call (833) 801-LIVE today to get the help you deserve.


You Only Need 3 Things To Set Boundaries In Your Life

Relapse Prevention

In the beginning of the recovery journey, it is important to become aware of the primary focal points for the recovery process to ensure lasting recovery.  In the dominant model, Alcoholic Anonymous, the primary focal points are unity, service and recovery. These focal points are intended to keep those in recovery grounded in the core principles while also bringing attention to maintaining tension between these three focal points.  It is thought that a balance between these objectives bring some measure of assurance in lasting recovery.  

The words unity, service and recovery when lived in a balanced tension with one another will bring forward a recovery lifestyle.  This lifestyle will contain intimately connected relationship with other alcoholics (unity), a consistent practice of carrying the message to other people in recovery (service) and recovery through an ongoing self-reflection process through the 12 Steps of the program (recovery).  However, for many people in recovery, especially those with some continuous sober time, these practices can become rote.  So in addition to doing all of these actions, there must be an honest reflection about whether these practices feel alive or if they have become rote.  

Beyond the practices mentioned and assessing the aliveness of them, it is important to cultivate relationships that the addict feels safe in being fully transparent.  In AA, for some, this shared transparency will only occur in the sponsorship relationship.  However, it is valuable to cultivate more than one relationship where absolute transparency feels safe, so that you have a network of support.  It is also important to recognize that being fully transparent in all of your relationships is not necessarily healthy either.  It is part of the recovery journey for many addicts to learn how much to disclose in each relationship according to the social context of the relationship.  

Finally, the goal is for recovery to become a lifestyle.  In the beginning, it can be overwhelming to take on so much change yet we must move towards these goals with daily actions.  As time goes on, recovery needs to begin to feel like an integrated essence across all facets of our life rather than being a siloed compartment of our life.  Yet, it takes time for this transformation to occur and it is imperative to support the addict with being focused on the goal while also gentle with the process.

 

Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a harmonious approach to holistic treatment, bringing together the best of evidence-based, alternative, and 12-step therapies. Call us today for information on our transformation programs of treatment for addiction and alcoholism: 833-801-5483.


The Challenge Of Relapse Prevention In Eating Disorders

How do you prevent a relapse for an eating disorder?

Food is a choice everyone has to make throughout the day every day. Unlike drugs and alcohol, there is no option to “not pick up no matter what”. Recovering from an eating disorder requires eating differently, thinking differently, and living life in a different way. Through treatment for eating disorders, we learn how to regard our bodies and minds with compassion. Therapy, physical activity, meetings, and meditation are all tools we pick up in order to live a healthy lifestyle without abusing ourselves through harmful behaviors. Like any recovery program, we are prone to slip up on our practice. Cutting a few extra calories from our meal plan might seem innocent when we are struggling with uncomfortable feelings of poor self-esteem. Taking therapy time as “self-care” time and missing an appointment can become an easily repeated pattern. These small changes can seem harmless. Recovery is not meant to be rigid without a margin for error. However, the flexibility can only go so far until it has a negative effect. Eating disorders live in the part of the brain which create habits. Habits are one of the most difficult psychological processes to change. Once a new habit starts leaning toward an old habit, it can quickly change. Old thoughts and voices can come creeping in, encouraging dangerous behaviors, critical observations, and more. Though we live in a world that obsesses about diet, exercise, food and body regularly, it can be life threatening for someone recovering from an eating disorder to go there.

During the early recovery months, it is important to stick to routine, including diet and exercise plans, as well as treatment plans. Stay honest about your experiences with challenging thoughts and moments. We are likely never the only one who is struggling with recovery. If the pressure of an eating disorder comes on too strong, make sure to reach out to someone immediately. We are equipped with a lot of tools to help ourselves, but sometimes the most powerful tool is asking for someone else’s help.

Recovering from eating disorders is absolutely achievable. One day, the voices will get quiet and the choices will become easy. Time, work, and dedication are required. You can find the support and encouragement you need with Enlightened Solutions. Our day treatment programs provide care for eating disorders and co-occurring mental health or substance use disorders. For information on our holistic method of healing, call 833-801-5483.


Relapse Prevention: Mindfulness over Matter

Mindfulness based stress reduction has become an integral part of addiction treatment programs in recovery centers. Incorporating mindfulness based practices into an individualized treatment plan produces great results. Used to treat depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and more, mindfulness based practices alleviate symptoms and encourage recovery. Even physical ailments such as chronic lower back pain are proving to be greatly helped by mindfulness based practices.

For some providers, the mindfulness movement is not rooted in enough science. Dozens of scholarly articles are published every week on the evidenced success of mindfulness. Body, mind, and spirit are helped by these practices and science is proving it. Still, “evidence based” treatment modalities have been around longer. Despite growing evidence for mindfulness, providers are quick to stick with what they know.

Mindfulness for Relapse Prevention

Thankfully, there are movements encouraging a wider adoption of mindfulness practices. Evidence based relapse prevention and mindfulness based stress reduction have fused to create “Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention”. Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention uses meditation in combination with cognitive and behavioral skill building. Adjusting an addict’s relationship to their emotional state is a preventative measure when it comes to relapse.

Relapse is a process. Seeing relapse as a singular episodic occurrence undermines the power of addiction as a whole. Cravings and negative emotions are accomplices to the relapse continuum. Developing skills like emotional regulation and coping mechanisms are necessary for dealing with the negative emotions. Addiction is, in many ways, a coping mechanism for people who are unable to regulate their negative emotions. Cravings are a byproduct of the neuroscience of addiction. By way of association, when negative emotions return, cravings increase. Before picking up the first drink or drug, the brain has already assumed the substance has been consumed, hence cravings.

Meditation and mindfulness encourage healthy detachment. The association between negative emotions and cravings adjusts. In fact, brain images reveal that overtime, mindfulness and meditation practices actually change areas of the brain where cravings occur. Using the cognitive and behavioral skills fostered in a mindful way allows emotions to become an experience rather than a trigger. Living life on life’s terms becomes manageable without feeling vulnerable to life’s every whim.

The recovery process starts with healing, starts with hope, and starts with you. If you are interested in recovering from drug and alcohol addiction through a spiritually minded and holistic program of healing, call Enlightened Solutions today 833-801-5483.