How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Learning to establish boundaries is a skill that can improve your quality of life. Boundary setting could involve avoiding or limiting your exposure to certain people, places, or even activities.

Setting boundaries in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) is critical to your success. You may need to set boundaries to avoid places that are triggering for your sobriety. A boundary may be necessary to create healthy relationships. It isn't always easy to set boundaries, especially when it comes to adjusting your lifestyle after addiction to drugs or alcohol.

When it comes down to it, setting boundaries for yourself in recovery can help you avoid relapse and determine your level of success. Setting boundaries is only half of the battle, though. You must also follow through with them.

Boundaries in Recovery

What are boundaries in recovery? Boundaries set in recovery can help you protect yourself from people, places, or things that could jeopardize your sobriety. During treatment, you will likely reflect on the things that led to and contributed to your substance use. Perhaps you grew up with a parent who had an addiction to alcohol. Maybe a family member abused opioids, which exposed you to these substances. A boundary could even be set to help limit your interactions with people who may cause you stress or tension.

People, Places, and Things

You may also set boundaries around certain places or activities. You might choose to avoid places where you used to obtain or abuse substances. Returning to an environment that holds memories of substance use can be highly triggering and lead to cravings.

Social events can also bring temptation. Setting boundaries when it comes to attending parties or gatherings can be very helpful. A few tips for boundary setting when it comes to attending parties or family gathers can include:

  • Making a plan to leave early
  • Bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages
  • Arriving early before things get too rowdy
  • Consider bringing a sober or supportive friend along with you

Follow Through

Setting boundaries is the first step. Step two is actually following through with the boundaries you have set. When it comes to setting boundaries with other people, it can sometimes be difficult to stick to the plan. For example, boundary setting can often involve close family members or loved ones. These tend to be the people we care about most and, thus, have the most significant effect on us.

Others may have trouble understanding the boundaries set. They may feel hurt or feel as if you are shutting them out. Involving family members and close friends in your treatment journey through a family program can help establish understanding and acceptance of the changes that need to occur.

Put Boundaries in Writing

One of the ways to ensure you remain aware of the boundaries you have set is to put them in writing. Often, writing things down can help you remember things. This can also help hold you accountable. If you have a journal, consider writing down your thoughts and experiences as you follow through with the boundaries you have set. This can allow for processing and help you recognize when you need to make adjustments.

Discuss Boundaries With Others

When you set boundaries in recovery, letting others know about them can be beneficial. Of course, if a boundary involves someone else, you will likely need to discuss it with them. In addition, it can be helpful to talk through your boundaries with your sponsor or therapist. They can offer feedback, provide suggestions, and help hold you accountable.

Stay True to Yourself and Reflect

When navigating life in recovery, you will have ups and downs and some doubts along the way. As you get more confident in your sobriety, it can be tempting to slack a bit when it comes to the boundaries you set fresh out of treatment. It is essential to reflect on the reasons you set the boundaries in the first place. Spend time thinking about why you felt it was necessary and what could go wrong.

When thinking about the reasons behind the boundaries you have set, remember where your priorities lie. You may feel pressured to break a boundary you have set to attend a certain party or to appease a loved one. In these moments, it is important to trust yourself and remain confident in your choice to set the boundary in question.

The upcoming holiday seasons are sure to bring plenty of family gatherings, parties, and celebrations. By setting firm, attainable boundaries, you can enjoy this time while still honoring your sobriety.

Setting boundaries is a very important part of the treatment and recovery process. It is crucial to make the necessary changes to relationships, habits, and lifestyle in order to support your decision to get clean. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients discover who and what may have contributed to their addiction and help them form healthy boundaries moving forward. We assess any trauma or co-occurring disorders that could have played a role in the addiction as well. Through our programs, clients learn more about themselves and how to cope with challenges they may face in recovery in healthy ways. Part of coping and continuing to heal in recovery involves setting and keeping necessary boundaries. If you or someone you love is battling drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to hear from you. To begin your recovery journey, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE.

How Can Mindfulness Help Me Focus on Long-Term Sobriety?

How Can Mindfulness Help Me Focus on Long-Term Sobriety?

Mindfulness is something that can benefit everyone. Teaching yourself to practice living and being in the moment can improve your quality of life in various ways. In treatment and recovery, mindfulness allows us to set aside feelings of shame and guilt and focus on our goal of sobriety. Mindfulness also encourages us to listen to our mind, body, and spirit. It promotes a connection to these three areas and helps us better understand ourselves.

Practicing mindfulness can also encourage relaxation and serve as an excellent strategy for stress and anxiety management. You can incorporate breathing exercises into your daily life to help relax your mind and calm your nerves. As a result, you will think more clearly and respond more appropriately to challenges that may come your way.

Mindfulness and Focus

In order to successfully engage in mindful activities, you must be able to focus. Mindfulness requires concentration and teaches you to improve your ability to focus. The first few times you attempt to meditate or engage in other mindful activities, it might be a struggle. We are so accustomed to multitasking in our everyday lives that focusing just on the present can be a challenge.

Practice and patience are essential here. The more you practice mindfulness, the better you will get at removing distractions and focusing on the present. Set yourself up for success by choosing a quiet environment free of noise and other external stimuli. After a bit of practice, you will become more comfortable and confident in your ability to focus using mindfulness.

The Importance of Good Focus in Recovery

Why might focus be important when it comes to maintaining sobriety? Focus is critical in recovery for several reasons. Being able to focus on your goals and focusing on yourself are two important reasons. Luckily, practicing mindfulness can help with both.

Here are additional reasons why good focus is essential in addiction recovery:

Good Focus Helps You Achieve Your Goals

You must be able to focus on your goals despite any external distractions or barriers. This can be easier said than done. As you complete treatment and are out on your own again, you may struggle. Old familiar places that remind you of your life before treatment can lead to temptation. People you used to hang around can often trigger old feelings or thought patterns.

Knowing that you will face adversity in recovery, you must remain focused on the goals you have set for yourself. Setting realistic, attainable goals before even completing treatment can help you stay on track as you transition back into real life.

Sometimes, writing down your goals each week or even each day can help you remain focused. Practicing mindfulness through meditation daily is also a great way to stay focused.

Good Focus Helps You Connect With Your Thoughts and Emotions

You must stay focused on yourself and remain in touch with your own thoughts and feelings. Being able to focus on your inner thoughts and feelings is something that mindfulness can help with. Often, we get so busy with work, errand running, and life in general that we can easily forget to check in with ourselves. Practicing mindfulness can help you remove distractions and redirect your focus.

The most important person when it comes to your long-term sobriety is you. While you can and should receive help and support from others, you are ultimately in control. With this control, you must make the decision to ask for help when and if you need it. Mindfulness can alert you to cravings or thoughts that could trigger relapse. When you find yourself struggling to focus on your sobriety, it may be time to get a little more engaged with groups or support networks.

Spending just a few minutes per day practicing mindfulness can help you re-center and re-focus on your goals and what you want to achieve or avoid. It gives you the opportunity to check in with yourself, so you can identify any harmful feelings or thought patterns that might stand in your way of success. You can also recognize any needs you might have for extra support.

Mindfulness and Treatment

Enlightened Solutions incorporates mindfulness into many different activities and programs we offer. We understand the value of a mind, body, and spirit connection and know that mindfulness promotes this relationship. You can experience and practice mindfulness through our yoga classes, experiential therapy activities, cooking and wellness groups, and more.

Staying focused after treatment and throughout recovery can help you achieve long-term sobriety and avoid relapse. By staying mindful of your goals, thoughts, and feelings, you can better navigate any challenges you may face.

Focus is key when it comes to maintaining your sobriety in treatment and recovery. The truth is that staying focused can be difficult. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to lose sight of our goals after treatment. We must develop a strategy for staying focused and keeping our thoughts and behaviors supportive of our recovery. Mindfulness can help you stay connected to your inner self and promote better focus and clarity when it comes to achieving your goals. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a variety of activities that encourage mindfulness and teach clients the value of reconnecting the mind, body, and spirit. We help our clients develop strategies and routines for incorporating mindfulness into their everyday lives while in treatment and recovery. If you or someone you love could benefit from our programs, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE

How Organic Eating Supports Sobriety

How Organic Eating Supports Sobriety

Do you eat organic? Some choose to search for exclusively organic ingredients for recipes, while others may buy organic produce here and there. Maybe you feel like organic foods are too expensive. You might find yourself price-comparing at your local grocery store, asking yourself if the extra few cents, or in some cases a few extra dollars, are worth it. Organic foods are free of harmful pesticides and often contain an abundance of beneficial vitamins and minerals.

If extra cost is a concern, it may be worth considering learning to grow and harvest your own organic foods. This can reduce additional costs and has many therapeutic advantages as well. Learn more about the benefits of growing your own organic produce here.

Consuming organic and nutrient-dense foods can benefit you in a variety of ways. When it comes to addiction recovery, eating a healthy diet can provide healing. It supports your sobriety by helping you feel your mental and physical best.

Mental Health Benefits

Eating a healthy, balanced diet made up of organic and nutrient-dense foods benefits your mental health in several ways. Have you experienced that sluggish midday feeling that tends to hit shortly after lunch? While this can undoubtedly be credited to a busy morning or perhaps a restless night before, it can be a result of your diet.

Eating whole and organic foods can help boost your energy and result in fewer mood fluctuations. This makes you more productive and more positive throughout each day. If you are in treatment or recovery and working to maintain your sobriety, this can be very important.

Keeping a positive outlook and staying motivated is critical throughout recovery. By eating organic and healthy foods, you are more likely to feel up to attending recovery meetings and going to therapy, and you will have the energy to engage in activities that you enjoy and can keep you busy.

Physical Health Benefits

In addition to mental health benefits, eating nutritious and organic foods can also benefit your physical health. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take a huge toll on your physical health, often causing damage to major organs and system functions. You likely are not maintaining a healthy diet during this time and may be depriving your body of the nutrients it needs. Eating organic foods can help your body heal internally and promote restoration.

Additionally, organic foods are rich in vitamins and minerals. This can help strengthen your immune system and lead to fewer health problems. If you feel good, you can better focus on your sobriety.

Eating Healthy During the Holidays

Eating healthy and choosing organic foods can sometimes be more challenging around the holidays. You are likely to attend events where others are preparing dishes and desserts that may not be part of your typical diet. It is important to continue to eat healthy even during the holidays; however, don't get yourself too worked up about it.

You want to be able to enjoy the time with friends and family and focus on making memories while keeping your goals in mind. Think about it this way: If you know that you will probably be having a few extra desserts one weekend, make an effort to make good food choices throughout the week. Or, be sure to balance your food choices throughout the weekend. Fill your plate with organic fruits and vegetables before having that slice of cake.

Here are a few tips for supporting your sobriety with healthy eating during the holidays:

#1 Bring Healthy Snacks

Planning ahead when it comes to the holidays is always a good idea in recovery. Just as you might plan to leave events early or bring a few of your own beverages to a party, plan to bring some healthy snacks to enjoy along with the dessert buffet at Thanksgiving.

#2 Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated complements a healthy, organic diet beautifully. Making sure you are drinking plenty of water in addition to eating well is key when it comes to feeling well after treating yourself to some pumpkin pie.

#3 Control Portion Size

Whether you are enjoying a delicious organic meal or feasting on some of grandma's sweet potato casserole, portion size is essential to keep in mind.

#4 Avoid Overthinking or Stressing

Stressing too much about what you eat during the holidays can make your time with friends and family less enjoyable. Make efforts to stay on track and eat whole, organic foods when you can.

Holidays are meant for spending time with those you love. Sometimes, that involves sharing brownies or other treats. Making efforts to eat healthily and choosing fresh, organic foods most of the time is what it is all about. This promotes your physical and mental health and, as a result, will aid in your successful recovery journey.

Organic eating has many benefits when it comes to overall health and recovering from addiction. The better you feel mentally and physically, the more likely you are to be successful in recovery. Eating healthy promotes better focus, better sleep, and even helps balance and improve your mood. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize the many benefits of organic eating and serve meals using the freshest organic ingredients straight from our farm and garden. We believe in the healing power of nutritious food and the ability it has to bring us together and create a sense of community. If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we would love to teach you more about the benefits of organic eating and holistic living when it comes to addiction recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.

sober st. patricks day

How to Have a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

For some people, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the life of St. Patrick (c. 385-461), the patron saint of Ireland. March 17 is associated with his death and commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. The day now is also a celebration of Irish culture and heritage and can include parades and festivals.

St. Patrick’s day is also a day to drink. In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular drinking holidays, right up there with New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. The holiday can be a fun and festive time. St. Patrick’s Day can be challenging for people who don’t drink when recovering from alcohol use disorder. The sight and smell of alcohol can seem to be everywhere and can trigger cravings. It is quite possible, however, to have a fun, celebratory time and maintain your sobriety.

Remember Your “Why”

If you are concerned about maintaining your sobriety on St Patrick’s Day, remember your “why” or the reasons you decided that abstaining from alcohol was the right choice for you. Spend some time writing these reasons down--the act of writing is helpful to many people because it engages more senses. You feel the pen in your hand and your hand resting on the paper, or you feel the computer keys under your fingertips. You see the words appearing on the page or the computer screen. You hear the pen or pencil on the paper or the gentle tap of the computer keys.

Write about how your life has improved since you stopped drinking and what your life was like before. Write about why maintaining your sobriety is important to you.

Staying Sober Around People Who Are Drinking

If being with people who are drinking won’t derail your sobriety, you could volunteer as the designated driver for your friends. If a group of friends is going to a party, you can be the sober friend who gets everyone home safely. If your friends are going out to bars, you can drive them from bar to bar, keeping everyone safe. Many bars and restaurants give free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers and, if you are at a party, being the driver provides you an excellent reason not to drink, a reason that even the most ardent drink-pusher should accept. Being the designated driver in either scenario enables you to be with your friends and gives you a very concrete way to be of service.

Plan a Sober Celebration

Another way to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and maintain your sobriety is to plan a sober celebration and invite like-minded friends.

Do you and your friends enjoy movies? If so, plan an Irish-themed movie night. Mix up some festive “mocktails,” prepare tasty snacks, dim the lights, and enjoy the show. Movies you can select from include My Left Foot, which won the Oscar for best picture in 1989; The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, or Once, released in 2007.

If you and your friends enjoy cooking, you could get together and prepare an Irish meal. Corned beef and cabbage are traditionally eaten on St. Patrick’s Day. You could also whip up some Irish stew and soda bread. Other traditional Irish dishes include black and white pudding, served at breakfast; coddle, a stew traditionally made with leftovers; and barmbrack, served at “tea time.” After dinner, you could play Irish trivia or listen to Irish music.

If you are part of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there may be an alcohol-free event planned in your area. Check online, or information may be available at one of the meetings you attend. Remember that many people want to go to a meeting during holidays; many chapters plan to hold meetings on those dates. You should be able to find a meeting to attend on St. Patrick’s Day. If you decide to go to a meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, you will likely find many people in attendance.

Virtual Events and “Sober St. Patrick’s Day”

Some communities sponsor alcohol-free events, and there are virtual events that you could attend online. For example, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of “Sober St. Patrick’s Day,” a global virtual celebration beginning at 4 p.m. in New York and 8 p.m. in Ireland. The virtual evening includes a cook-along and a preview of a musical tale about the life of St. Patrick. The evening is organized by the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, Inc.

Holidays throughout the year, including St. Patrick’s Day, can be challenging for people in recovery from alcohol use disorder. At Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol treatment center located in New Jersey, we equip our clients with the life skills they need to cope with urges and cravings and successfully maintain their sober lifestyle. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment facility; in addition to treating substance use disorder, we also treat mental health issues that often go along with addiction. Our focus is on healing the whole person, not just on treating the addiction. Our center is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy, and we create an individualized treatment plan for each client, including modern therapeutic techniques and ancient wellness practices. In addition to talk therapy and group support, we offer our clients a range of holistic treatment modalities, including family constellation therapy, brain mapping, yoga and meditation, and art and music therapy. If you are ready to be free from an addiction, or you have concerns about a family member or friend, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information. We are here to help.

burnout in recovery

How to Avoid Burnout in Recovery

At one point in your life, you realized you had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Your substance abuse was beginning to take over your life, interfering with work, family, and friends. You got help. You went through a treatment program, and you achieved sobriety. Now you are back in the “real world,” working hard to maintain the sober lifestyle that you worked so hard to achieve. You go to meetings; you work with your sponsor; you eat a healthy diet; you exercise regularly; you make sure you get enough sleep. You are doing everything right, so why does it all feel like so much work?

It may be that in your diligent work to live a sober lifestyle, you’ve forgotten why you wanted sobriety in the first place. You most likely didn’t decide to become sober for the sake of sobriety alone; you became sober to improve your life. Now it seems like sobriety might be your entire life. If you feel this way, you might be burning out on sobriety which could lead to a relapse--the last thing you want.

Symptoms of Burnout

You may be heading toward burnout if you find that you are tired of going to meetings, tired of hearing about recovery, tired of hearing the same people talk about the same problems. You may find yourself feeling irritable, feeling emotionally exhausted, or feeling like an imposter. You may be getting more headaches or stomach aches, or your muscles may feel tight all the time. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may feel tired all the time. These are all signs that you may be experiencing burnout.

Be Aware of Your Feelings

The first step to avoiding burnout is to be aware of how you feel—check-in with yourself. Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your body. Remember that it’s okay to feel how you are feeling. If you keep a journal, write about what you are experiencing. If you don’t keep a journal, now would be a good time to start. Writing can be a great way to explore feelings. In the process of writing, you can uncover how you feel and dig under the surface to explore what is causing those feelings.

Try Something New in Recovery

If you are tired of the meetings you usually attend, try out some different ones. Although you will always want to be in fellowship with other people in recovery, some new faces and new perspectives may rekindle your interest in sobriety. You may find a new favorite meeting.

Volunteer in your community, or get involved with service work if you are active in a 12-Step fellowship. You will be doing some good in your community, and you will be shifting your focus away from yourself and your feelings of discontent. Also, in the process of volunteering, you may make some new friends or strengthen existing friendships.

Conversely, you may want to cut back on some of your commitments. It’s okay to give yourself a break once in a while. You may need to recharge. Taking a step back could allow you to examine what’s working and what isn’t in your recovery.

Try Something New Outside of Recovery

Now might be the time to add a non-recovery activity into your life. Maybe you liked to paint once upon a time--now could be the perfect time to break out the paints and the easel. Perhaps you used to go on hikes every weekend, or you have happy memories of working in a garden with a relative. Making time for a hobby that is seemingly unrelated to your recovery may strengthen your recovery.

Finding something new that you love, or returning to a hobby that you used to love, is a part of why you recovered in the first place. Your addiction was taking over your life. Now that you are free from your addiction, you have time to discover or rediscover activities that you love.

Reach Out for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust. It may seem like you are the only person who has felt burnt out on recovery, but you aren’t. If you have a sponsor, talk about your concerns and what you are experiencing. Your sponsor may very well have gone through something similar. Discuss this with your therapist. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.

Although it may not seem like it at first, going through a burnout phase, a season of discontent, will strengthen your commitment to recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we realize that recovery is a lifelong process. As such, our relationship with our clients does not end when they complete their formal treatment program. Our alumni are a living testament to our recovery program. Their successes after treatment bring hope and encouragement to our current clients and to one another. We are a co-occurring treatment center, and in addition to substance use disorder, we also treat the mental health issues that often accompany addiction, including depression and anxiety. Our treatment programs are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and include traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities like yoga, family constellation therapy, and art and music therapy. We are located near New Jersey’s southern shore, and we customize a treatment plan for each client. If you are struggling with an addiction, or if someone close to you is, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

supporting your sober friends

How to Support Friends Who Don’t Drink

Drinking is pervasive in our society. We drink on happy occasions, at weddings or when we are celebrating a friend’s job promotion. We get together with friends after work for drinks. If we feel sad, we might go to our local bar to “drown our sorrows.” We drink at holiday dinners. We drink when watching the big game with friends.

With all the different occasions many drink alcohol, social situations can be a little tricky for people who don’t drink. However, you can support people who don’t drink. If you would like to support a non-drinking friend, try out some of the suggestions below.

Ask Them What They Need From You

It may seem a little simplistic, but you could just ask your non-drinking friend how you can help. If your friend is newly sober, they might need you to not drink around them. If a friend who doesn’t drink asks you not to drink around them, honor their request. If they have been sober for a long time or abstain from alcohol for medical or religious reasons, they may not care if you drink around them.

In social situations, don’t make a fuss about them not drinking. Receiving unwanted attention or a negative response to their choice not to drink could be hurtful. They could feel socially isolated or unwelcome. They might stop seeking support when they need it or start drinking again when they don’t want to. Depending on why they stopped drinking in the first place, the results of them drinking again could be concerning.

When Planning Events

If you are the person in charge of planning an event for an organization, make sure that a selection of non-alcoholic beverages is available and that they are served in attractive glassware. Part of what makes a festive occasion feel special is presentation. If you are hosting a party or a dinner at home, again, make sure that you have a couple of non-alcoholic choices available, attractively served. Learn how to make a few tasty “mocktails.” Find out what your friend drinks instead of alcohol and have some on hand. For example, one couple with a non-drinking relative might keep sparkling cider and water on hand as an option during Thanksgiving dinner.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t make any assumptions about the beverage choices of people you don’t know well. People choose not to consume alcohol for all sorts of reasons, and it isn’t any of your business. If you ask someone what you can get them to drink, and they request tonic water with lime, get them tonic water with lime without making a fuss or asking personal questions. If they want you to know why they aren’t drinking, they’ll tell you.

Remember that no means no. If you ask someone if you can get them a glass of wine, and they reply that they would like sparkling water, don’t insist. It’s perfectly fine not to drink. If someone tells you that they don’t drink, don’t respond by telling them that just having one drink won’t hurt. You don’t know that. One drink might hurt a lot.

Be a Good Listener and Source of Support

If your friend who has stopped drinking tells you about their experience, listen to what they have to say. If your friend is active in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), ask if you can go to a meeting with them. Anyone can attend meetings designated as “open.” You will learn more about what your friend has been through.

Celebrate their successes and triumphs with them. If they are happy because they have been sober for a month, a year, or a decade, be happy with them and for them. Tell them what a great job they are doing and what good things they are doing for their health. Tell them that you are impressed and inspired by their strength. If they have lost weight, compliment them. If their skin looks great, tell them.

Fun Without Alcohol

Find activities that you can do with your non-drinking friends that don’t revolve around alcohol. Meet for breakfast. Go out for coffee or tea. Get together and bake elaborate desserts. Instead of going to happy hour after work, go out together for a walk or run. Find places in your community with hiking trails. Go to the beach. Meet in the park and play tennis.

In a society where a lot of socializing revolves around alcohol, it can take a little more effort to think of activities that don’t. If you put a little effort into this, you may find that you enjoy these alcohol-free activities just as much as your sober friend.

In a culture where alcohol is so pervasive, it can feel daunting to contemplate not drinking. At Enlightened Solutions, we understand this. The goal of treatment is to free people from addiction so they can live a fulfilling life. We are a co-occurring treatment center located near New Jersey’s southern shore. In addition to substance use disorders, we offer treatment for the mental health issues that frequently go along with addiction, like depression and anxiety. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We customize a treatment plan for each client, and our focus is on healing the whole person, not just treating an addiction. In addition to traditional talk therapy, we offer a range of holistic healing modalities, including yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, family constellation therapy, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please call us today at (833) 801-5483.

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.


Why Living Life “One Day at a Time” Can Be Good for Us

Many of the sayings used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have moved from nondescript meeting rooms into our mainstream consciousness. These sayings include: “What other people think of you is none of your business,” “If you want what you’ve never had you must do what you’ve never done,” and “The healthy person finds happiness in helping others; thus, for him, unselfishness is selfish.” Possibly the best-known phrase to come from AA, however, is the phrase “one day at a time.” 

In terms of sobriety, “one day at a time” means that all you have to do is be sober today. That’s it. No long-range plans. In terms of changing a long-held habit, like drinking or using drugs, the thought of committing to being sober for the rest of your life can seem overwhelming. So break it down to one day, today. Just remain sober today. One day at a time.

Don’t Regret the Past

All people look back at episodes from their past with regret from time to time. If you have had a problem with drugs or alcohol, you may have a tendency to ruminate and beat yourself up over events that happened in the past, or perhaps actions that you didn’t take in the past. Your actions may have caused pain to the people who loved you. Dwelling on the past may be one of the reasons that you became addicted to drugs or alcohol in the first place, as many people drink or use to keep painful memories at bay. Dwelling on past mistakes can also be a trigger that could cause you to relapse. 

While it is impossible to forget the past, we can choose to not dwell on it. In fact, we can choose to be grateful for the past, even for the painful parts. What we have gone through has strengthened us and shaped us into who we are. When we find ourselves dwelling too much on the past, the phrase “one day at a time” can help to bring us back into the present, into today. We have no control over the past, but we can control our actions today. One day at a time.

Don’t Fear the Future

Thinking about the future can fill us with dread. If we have struggled with addiction or mental health issues, we can become afraid of the future. We might fear that we will start drinking or using again, or that our depression might return. We might be afraid that we will cause emotional distress to someone we love. We start to think about the future in terms of worst-case scenarios. We fear the future because we don’t know what will happen and we cannot control it. Excessive worry about unknowable future events can be a trigger that causes us to drink or use again. Although planning for the future is healthy and can be motivating, we never really know what will happen. As the saying goes, “life is what happens to us while we are making other plans,” so bring your attention back to today. You cannot control everything that happens today, but you can control the actions you take and your reactions to situations. Focus on today. One day at a time.

Additional Benefits of Taking Life One Day at a Time

Making the decision to focus on today instead of the past or the future can be very good for us beyond coping with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. As we learn to take one day at a time, we can also learn to cope with one challenge or problem at a time. At any given moment, most of us have a number of problems staring us in the face. It can seem overwhelming if we try to solve them all at once. Taking on one problem at a time is much easier, and much more effective.

In addition, when we focus on the present, we may find that we enjoy life more. We may notice the sights and sounds that we wouldn’t notice if we were obsessively focused on the past and the future. When we pay attention to the present, we can find more enjoyment in everyday activities, like eating a bowl of strawberries, taking your dog for a walk, or reading a book with a child.

Learning to Live Life One Day at a Time

So how do we learn to live life one day at a time? Part of how we do that is by making a conscious decision to focus on the present. When you notice that you are dwelling on the past or becoming anxious about the future, stop, take a breath, and bring your mind back to the present. You can use the phrase “one day at a time” as a reminder to bring your focus back to the here and now. Bring your attention back to what you are doing and what is happening right now.

Another way you can focus on the present is to shift your attention from your thoughts to your senses. Focus on something that you can see, something that you can hear, something you can touch, something you can taste, and something you can smell. Focusing on your senses will bring you into the present. It is a cliche to say that you need to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes you literally have to stop and smell the roses!

Learning to live in the present is a life skill that will help you in your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction and it is one of the skills that we will teach you at Enlightened Solutions. We are located on New Jersey’s southern shore and we are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that often accompany addiction. We individualize a treatment plan for each client that comes through our doors and we focus on meeting the needs of the whole person. In addition to traditional psychotherapy and support groups, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine therapy. If you are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us at Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-5483 today.

New Year

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Quit Drinking

Maybe you have been concerned about your drinking for some time. Maybe you worry that you drink too much or that you drink too often. Maybe you have had an experience that frightened you, like waking up in the morning and realizing that you don’t remember the night before. Whatever your reasons, you have decided to quit drinking for good. Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions, but very few resolutions last until February. Some people do keep their resolutions, but how?  By using some or all of the tips listed below, you will be able to keep your resolution and begin your new life alcohol-free.

Put It in Writing

Write it down. Write down that you are not going to drink alcohol anymore. Think about your “why.” Why did you decide to stop drinking? Was it to lose weight? Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to live a longer and healthier life? Do you want to have more energy to play with your children? Do you want to save money? Whatever your “why,” write it down and visualize your alcohol-free life.

Think About Why You Drink

Spend some time thinking about why you drink. Maybe spend some time writing in a journal to identify the reason or reasons that you drink. Do you drink when you’re bored? Do you drink to have fun with your friends? Are you using alcohol to cope with stress? Are you using alcohol as a way to avoid painful emotions? Many people find it useful to spend some time in therapy when they stop drinking to think about why they are drinking and to address the reasons that are behind the behavior.

Don’t Go It Alone

You don’t have to give up drinking on your own. Tell close friends and family members, at least those who you know will be supportive. You may be surprised at how much support you receive. You may find that someone close to you wants to stop drinking as well and, if that is the case, you can encourage each other on your journeys. Also, many people find it helpful to join a support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. Both organizations have meetings, free of charge, all over the world.

Learn New Coping Mechanisms

Many people drink as a way of coping with stress or painful life experiences and situations. Alcohol does make you feel better, but it’s only temporary. Many people report that the day after drinking they suffer from “hangxiety”--feeling more anxious after drinking than they did before. Finding new coping mechanisms can help. Meditation and prayer can help to reduce stress, as well as exercise. Exercising 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week can have a wonderful effect on your stress level as well as your blood pressure, your cardiovascular health, and your respiratory system. Some people report that writing in a journal helps to reduce stress and helps them identify solutions to problems that they are facing.

Find Ways to Stay Busy

When you stop drinking, you may find yourself wondering what to do during the time that you used to drink, and it’s important to stay busy. If you used to go to Happy Hour before you went home from work, you may find that that is a great time to attend a meeting of the support group you joined. You may find that going for a nice, long run relaxes you more than a drink ever did.

Decide How You Will Handle Social Situations That Include Alcohol

Although you may decide to avoid social situations that include alcohol, there may be an event that you just can’t get out of--perhaps a work function, a family wedding, or a close friend’s birthday party. Think about what you will say when someone offers you a drink if you feel that you need to say anything beyond “no, thank you.”  “I have an early meeting,” “I have an early flight tomorrow,” or “I’m training for a marathon and my coach doesn’t want me to drink” are all perfectly acceptable. Remember, however, that you don’t owe anyone any explanations.

Think About Treatment

Depending on how much you’ve been drinking and for how long, you may want to go through a treatment program. Many programs begin with a medically supervised detox, which is the safest and most comfortable way to get the alcohol out of your system. In addition, in a treatment program, you will be able to focus your attention on learning the new skills that will get you started on your alcohol-free journey.

If you are ready to say goodbye to alcohol, the staff at Enlightened Solutions are ready to walk with you as you begin your journey of recovery. We are licensed to treat co-occurring mental health disorders that frequently accompany alcohol use disorder, such as anxiety and depression. We offer a range of treatment options, which are tailored to meet the needs of each individual who comes through our doors. The services we offer include traditional talk therapy, both one-on-one and in a group setting, anchored in the 12-Step philosophy. We also offer a number of holistic therapeutic modalities including art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. At Enlightened Solutions, located in New Jersey, our goal is to treat the whole person, not just the addiction. If you are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse and ready to be free, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


The Positive Aspects of Stopping Drinking

Whether you give up drinking for a week, a month, or forever, you will notice tremendous benefits in many areas of your life.

Many people “dry out” in January, and some people decide to make it a permanent choice based on how much better they feel sober. If you have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time, going “cold turkey” can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Consult with your doctor, who may recommend that you quit drinking with medical supervision.

While giving up alcohol can be challenging, many people who do stop drinking find that what they gain in time, money, and health make it very worthwhile. 

Your Wallet and Calendar Will Thank You

It’s no secret that alcohol is expensive, especially if you drink in bars and restaurants. Alcohol has a high mark-up; when you order a $9 glass of wine at a bar or restaurant, you could probably buy the entire bottle at a store for $12. If you are in the habit of stopping in for a drink on your way home from work for two glasses of wine, at $9 per glass, you would spend $90 a week on your wine, not including tax and tip. Add to that you may want to have an appetizer with that wine, which adds to your bill. If you are drinking, you may wisely decide to leave your car in the parking lot and take a Lyft or Uber home, which is an additional cost. And if you were to shop after your two glasses of wine, you may find that your judgment is slightly impaired and that you make purchases that you shouldn’t.

If you stop drinking for a month, for example, you may find that you have more time. If you cut out your Happy Hour habit, you will gain back an hour or two every day that you can use to do something else, quite possibly something that you enjoy more or that is better for you. You will also gain back the time that you spend feeling a little bit under the influence and perhaps tired. If you used to overindulge occasionally, you will now not spend that time recovering from drinking too much the night before.

Your Body Will Thank You

The physical benefits of giving up alcohol are numerous. If you stop drinking, you may find that you lose weight for several reasons. Alcohol is often referred to as “empty” calories, meaning that alcoholic beverages have calories but provide very little nutrition. A twelve-ounce serving of beer has approximately 150 calories and a glass of wine has 120 calories on average. Drinks made with fruit juice or soda typically have more calories. Some people enjoy eating when they are drinking, which adds additional calories, and the food choices that people make when drinking aren’t always the best. Additionally, your body can’t store the calories from alcohol for later. This means that the alcohol calories get used first, so your body might not get around to using the calories from the nachos you ate, never mind the excess that your body has stored as fat.

If you stop drinking you may find that you sleep better. When you are drinking, you may fall asleep easily but find that you wake up during the night. This can interrupt your REM sleep, which leaves your brain sleep deprived. REM cycles of sleep restore your brain. Alcohol can also increase your risk of having sleep apnea, which is more frequent-than-normal pauses in breathing while asleep, or shallow breathing. Sleep apnea can leave you feeling tired during the day and can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease.

Other physical benefits of not drinking include being less accident-prone, improving your digestion, strengthening your immune system, feeling more energetic, staying more hydrated, and having better-looking skin.

Your Brain Will Thank You

The mental benefits of not drinking are numerous. After you stop drinking you may find that you are thinking more clearly, that it’s easier to concentrate and focus, and that your memory improves. If you have issues with anxiety or depression you may find that those conditions improve when you give up drinking. You may also find that your relationships are better and that you feel much more “present” in your life. It may become easier for you to make genuine connections with people. 

If you are ready to embrace a life free of drugs or alcohol and the many benefits associated with a sober lifestyle, the staff at Enlightened Solutions is ready to help you. Enlightened Solutions is located on the south New Jersey shore and is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that in addition to addiction they can treat the mental health issues that often occur with substance abuse. The staff at Enlightened Solutions develops an individual treatment plan for each patient based on their needs and their goals for recovery. The programs are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and include traditional talk therapy as well as a range of holistic treatment modalities, including family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, massage, art and music therapy, and equine therapy. If you are looking for treatment for drug or alcohol abuse call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-5483 today.