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.


Friends

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.


guitar

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.


Journaling

Three Ideas for a Spiritual New Year’s Eve

When we think of celebrating New Year’s Eve, for many of us the images that come to mind are the images that are fed to us by the media: you go to a big party. If you are married, you go with your spouse. If you are single, you go with a date or you go hoping to meet someone. Either way, there is dancing and drinking. At midnight you drink a glass of champagne to ring in the New Year. It can be a great time, but maybe this year you want to do something different. Maybe you don’t drink. Maybe you aren’t in the mood for a big party. Maybe you want to spend the time more reflectively. Here are three ideas for how to spend a more contemplative New Year’s Eve.

Declutter Physically and Mentally

Decluttering and organizing has been in the media a lot recently. Decluttering your physical surroundings can help lighten your mental load, which would be a great way to start the new year. Also, if you want to bring new things into your life--new clothes that fit the career you aspire to, a new habit to improve your health, a new spiritual practice--whatever it is, you need to make space for it. Spend some time on New Year’s Eve getting rid of possessions that you no longer want or need. Get them physically out of your home.

Spend some time thinking about habits. Maybe you stop for coffee every morning on your way to work. If you really enjoy that part of your morning, then keep it. If not, change it. Maybe you would like to spend 30 more minutes at home reading or meditating. Think about the habits of the mind. Do you speak critically to yourself? That would be a good mental habit to change. Have you been holding onto anger? Your anger may be completely justified, but it is only hurting you. Do you still feel guilty about something that is over and done with? Maybe it’s time to let that go. Just as you removed the physical items you no longer need, you can remove the mental junk as well. Take a piece of paper and write down the habits you want to remove from your life and the old anger, hurt, and guilt that you no longer want to carry with you and then you can burn the paper to symbolically rid your life of that negativity.

Create a Vision for What You Do Want

Now that you’ve cleared out some space--physically and mentally--you have room to bring in the new. A great way to make what you want tangible is to create a vision board. To start, spend a few minutes writing down goals you want to achieve in the coming year, experiences you want to have, and what you want your life to be like. You will need a poster board or foam board, tape or glue, something to write with, old magazines, photos, or images from the internet. You will want to include a picture of yourself somewhere on the board and make a collage. If you want to become more physically active maybe you have a photo of a swimmer. If you want to work towards a promotion at work maybe you find an image of a nice office or some other image that speaks to you. Add words, affirmations, inspirational messages, quotes you enjoy, and anything else you want to your board. When you are finished, take a few minutes and enjoy your work. Put your finished board someplace where you can see it every day and use it to keep what you want uppermost in your mind.

Some people make separate vision boards for different aspects of their lives. For instance, you might make one for work and one for home. If you have set a major goal for yourself, perhaps to run a marathon, you might want to create a board just for that. The key to making a vision board is to create something that speaks to you, and you should have fun while you are doing it.

End and Begin the Year in Meditation

Now you have spent some time getting rid of what no longer serves you, literally and symbolically, and you have spent some time contemplating what you do want. Now it’s time to quiet your mind. Take some time to mentally review the year, focusing on special memories and accomplishments. Shortly before midnight, settle in to meditate. If you are new to meditation, that’s okay. A simple way to meditate is to focus on your breath. Sit with your eyes closed, and notice your breathing. You will begin to feel more peaceful. End the old year, and begin the new year with a feeling of peace.

Part of the recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol involves visualizing what you want your new life to be. Having a vision can help sustain your commitment to sobriety or influence your decision to begin your journey. It isn’t enough to treat your addiction; the underlying issues that led to the addiction need to be addressed, and you need a powerful vision of what your life can be when you are free of addiction. At Enlightened Solutions, we tailor a recovery plan for each client that reflects their needs and goals.  We offer a range of treatment modalities designed to treat the whole person, including individual and group counseling, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, and equine therapy. We provide our clients with the skills they need to be successful in the new life they are creating.  To take that first step into a life free from addiction, call us at (833) 801-5483.

 


7 Tips for Handling Peer Pressure in Addiction Recovery

7 Tips for Handling Peer Pressure in Addiction Recovery

We tend to think of peer pressure as something that mainly affects adolescents. The phrase conjures tedious lectures from teachers, school counselors, and DARE officers.

While peer pressure is certainly strongest for adolescents, as social creatures, most of us are vulnerable to peer pressure to some degree throughout our lives. Peer pressure is still fairly strong even in young adulthood, between 18 and 25.

We all look around to see what other people are doing, especially if we’re in an unfamiliar situation. When you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, you’re not only fighting your own cravings but possibly the expectations of your family and friends as well.

In a perfect world, everyone around you would respect your wish not to use drugs or alcohol, but in reality, you’re likely to face peer pressure at some point. Here are some tips on how to handle it.

Think Ahead and Avoid Potentially Problematic Situations

The best advice, especially for someone new to recovery, is to think ahead and avoid putting yourself in a position where you’ll have to resist peer pressure. Whenever you’re getting ready to go somewhere, it's a good idea to deliberately ask yourself, “Who might I encounter there and will they pressure me to use drugs or alcohol?” It may sound a bit silly, but making deliberate predictions about possible difficulties trains your brain to anticipate problems.

Prepare an Excuse in Advance

We can’t always avoid situations where we might be tempted by drugs and alcohol. If you’re going into a situation where, say, someone might offer you a drink, it’s a good idea to have an excuse prepared in advance and visualize yourself in some possible situations.

For example, if you’re going to an office party where there’s alcohol, typically you won’t need to say anything more than “No thanks.” You might feel obliged to offer some further comments such as,”I’m driving,” or “I have an early morning.”

You might want to have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand to deter offers. The important thing is that you imagine some likely scenarios beforehand so you’re better prepared to deal with them.

Bring backup.

When going into a situation where you might feel peer pressure to drink or use drugs, it’s a good idea to have sober backup. Bring a friend. The best backup would be a sober friend, perhaps one from your 12-Step group, who can remind you of your intention to stay sober and provide some accountability.

Even if your friend is not in recovery, if they’re willing to stay sober, you’ll feel less on the spot when you refuse. Don’t underestimate the value of moral support. You don’t want to feel like you’re alone against the world.

Learn to Say No, Politely

Saying no is often harder than it seems. You may have to resist pressure from someone you’re not used to saying no to, perhaps even a parent or spouse. In those cases, it can take a bit of courage.

It’s also important to remember that when some people hear “no,” they infer judgment, like maybe since you quit drinking and using drugs, you feel like you’re better than they are. Since people with substance use issues have feelings of shame and self-criticism already, you don’t want to imply judgment of the other person. Sometimes it’s important to make clear that you’re refusing for personal reasons.

Be Prepared to Set Boundaries

In any case, your goal should be to set healthy boundaries with the people around you. The point is not necessarily to cut anyone out of your life—although that will sometimes be a good idea—but rather to let people know what behaviors are and aren’t ok.

Setting boundaries is about learning to say no—politely—but it’s also about listening and respecting other people. You can’t control other people though. All you can do is let them know how you expect to be treated and if they can’t accept that, then you should probably stay away from them.

Use Peer Pressure to Your Advantage

You’ve probably heard the saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. We all unconsciously pick up habits from our friends and family. We set our baseline expectations on their behavior and we adopt each other’s basic assumptions.

This is a big problem if you’re trying to stay sober and hanging around the same old crowd. However, it can work to your advantage if you’re spending most of your time around other sober people, especially if some of those people have been sober for a while.

Gradually, you adopt the behaviors and habits of sober people and the idea of using drugs and alcohol will begin to feel a bit foreign. This is one major reason a strong sober network is such a major part of a successful recovery.

It Gets Easier

The first few times you refuse a drink from someone you would typically drink with, it can feel uncomfortable, even jarring. You might feel like you’re throwing a wrench in the works or perhaps even jeopardizing the relationship.

However, it soon gets easier. After two or three times, your not drinking or using drugs becomes the new normal. People stop offering and you don’t even have to think about it.

The hard part comes at the beginning when you’re afraid of being judged or offending someone. And, of course, everything gets easier with practice, so the more you say no, the easier it will be in other situations.

Peer pressure is just one of the many situations that you have to learn to deal with in addiction recovery. A big part of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, and dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is learning to anticipate and deal with these peer pressure situations.
At Enlightened Solutions, we use a variety of proven methods to help our clients build the skills for a long recovery. For more information about our programs, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


Fears of a Sober Life

Fears of a Sober Life

Not everyone enters the sober life confidently. If you have been an alcoholic or addicted to drugs for years, it may be hard for you to picture your life without it. By knowing what your fears are towards entering a sober lifestyle, you will realize those fears are only in your head and that sobriety can turn your life around for the better.

Willpower

One fear you may have is that you do not have the willpower to stop substance abuse. You are afraid that if you try recovery, you will fail. Failure is a big fear for everyone whether you abuse substances or you do not. Instead of thinking hard about what will happen if you fail, think more about what will happen if you do not try. If you do not try, your money will continue to run out, your health will decline, your relationships will continue to be torn, and you will continue to be a person that no one will recognize anymore. The worst that can happen during sobriety is that you relapse. But if you relapse, just remind yourself how normal it is and continue on with your treatment. Lean on to your sponsor, friends, and family.

Dislike For Sobriety

A second fear can be that you are afraid you will not like sobriety. You were always used to having drugs or alcohol in your hands and spending all of your free time doing drugs. Without it, you have no idea how to fill up that time and will feel like you are suffering. We tend to fear the unknown. We cannot see what our future will be like and are used to a routine. The truth is that you should instead walk into a sobriety lifestyle with a positive attitude. Do not assume that you will hate it before you have even tried it.

Being Boring

A third fear is being afraid that you will see yourself as boring as well as your friends. Drinking and drugs tend to make us think we are more fun as we have lost our inhibitions. We just do and say what instantly comes to our minds without thinking. It is called “liquid courage” as the substance gives you the courage to be outgoing. Loss of inhibition, though, is not considered a good thing as many bad things can happen to you. You can end up saying something that hurts someone’s feelings, sleeping with strangers, using up your entire savings, or end up intoxicated behind the wheel. It is never boring to be safe and healthy. You will actually be more fun to be around knowing that intoxication from substances cannot limit you. You can fully enjoy everything and people can have fun around someone who is thinking straight.

A Boring Life

A fourth fear is that no drugs or alcohol will make your life boring. Life with drugs and alcohol have made you feel sick and made your life more complicated. Without it, you have unlimited energy to do all of the things you want to do. You can do anything you want and still have fun without drugs or alcohol. You can go to a movie, a carnival, go traveling, play sports, and more that will make you smile. Think about all of the money you will have now that used to always be spent on drugs and alcohol. Now, it can be used to fund a vacation or buy presents for the people who have been there for you through this journey.

Coping Mechanisms

You started drinking or doing drugs most likely as a way of coping with trauma or problems that you did not want to face. A fifth fear is not knowing how to cope anymore without drugs or alcohol. Pain is scary to experience. But, one benefit of pain is that it is a reminder that you need to get help. Drugs and alcohol may seem to make you feel better about your inner trauma, but can actually make you feel worse. This is what causes you to abuse substances more so that the effects would be greater. Instead of relying on drugs or alcohol to help, rely on your therapist and other helpful methods that you learned in treatment. Learning healthy coping skills will teach you how to turn your sadness into happiness so you can be in good spirits around your social circle.

Losing Friends

A sixth fear is that your friends will no longer be around you when you are sober. You are scared that they used to think of you as fun when you were intoxicated and that you will have no friends left after. Your true friends will support your recovery. They will not force you to go back to old habits. If they do, these are people that you need to cut out of your life. Being sober will allow you to make lasting friendships that are real. 

Everything Will Be Different

A seventh fear is that your life will be so much different without drugs or alcohol and you are not prepared for it. Yes, your life will be different, but it will be so much better. Be excited about entering into treatment. Your life of hangovers and guilt will be over. By choosing to have a sober life, you have a better chance of having a positive and beneficial life with your loved ones.

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.