For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.
No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.
Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.
But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.
This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.
Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.
And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.
If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.
Decide how to talk about it
Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.
When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.
Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.
Include your support system
Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.
Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.
Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit
One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.
If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.
Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.
The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.
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Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Just this past Sunday the nation saw one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history in Las Vegas. This immense and indescribable tragedy shocked the world as news reports and live footage filled the airwaves after a gunman opened fire with high-powered rifles at an outdoor music festival. At this point there are at least 58 dead and over 520 wounded, making it the deadliest mass shooting in recent history.
The heartbreak and weight of this tragedy truly cannot be put into words. The unimaginable loss is without parallel. Beyond those who lost their lives in such a senseless act of violence, the impacts this event has had on countless friends, families and loved ones are unfathomable.
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, mental health must be a priority. How we address and protect the psychological well-being of every American must be a very serious part of the conversation. We have to take a close look at how we are facing mental health, and support those who have been traumatized in the wake of such horrific events.
PTSD of Mass Shootings
The risks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is extremely elevated in situations like this. Research on mass shootings is not extensive but is sufficient enough to allow for some preliminary conclusions. One study examined 15 mass shooting events to review consequences of the incidents upon survivors. From these studies conclusion, researchers stated:
- Prevalence of post-disaster diagnoses (predominantly PTSD) in these studies ranged from 10% to 36%
- Much higher percentages reported sub-threshold PTSD
- Very few participants reported no symptoms
One 1994 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that in the acute post-disaster period:
- 20% of the men met criteria for PTSD after a mass shooting
- 36% of the women met criteria for PTSD
The same study looked at those with post-disaster PTSD who also met criteria for another post-disaster psychiatric diagnosis, especially major depression. They found:
- One-half of the women met the criteria
- One-fourth of the men met the criteria
Experts say most people will recover fully from post-disaster PTSD within 6 to 16 months, but most still emphasize the importance of support.
Not only can those present at the tragedy be affected directly, but also those not present but connected to the location or individuals present can be affected vicariously. You don’t have to experience something so horrifying first-hand to suffer a severe impact. An attack like this can have deep emotional effects on those who witness the event, or even for those all over the world following the story.
Part of dealing with the residual effects of tragic events and disasters is to understand how conditions like PTSD can impact people. PTSD can result in emotional, physical and even cognitive issues that some people may not know how to recognize or cope with.
Emotional Effects of PTSD Include
- Grief or sadness
- Emotional numbing
- Loss of pleasure derived from familiar activities
- Difficulty feeling happy
- Difficulty experiencing loving feelings
Physical Effects of PTSD Include
- Startle response
- Cardiovascular strain
- Increased physical pain
- Reduced immune response
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased libido
Cognitive Effects of PTSD Include
- Decreased concentration
- Impaired decision making
- Impaired Memory
- Decreased self-esteem
- Reduced self-efficacy
- Intrusive thoughts/memories
All of these things can cause other more personal issues. Some will experience difficulty with intimacy or social relationships. Isolation and alienation can develop at work, at school or even at home.
According to PTSD United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for those suffering from PTSD:
- 70% of adults (approximately 223.4 million people) in the US have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives.
- Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD.
- Approximately 44.7 million people today either have struggled or are struggling with PTSD.
With PTSD, a lot of people actually turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Some will rely on substances as a form of relief when PTSD brings feelings of isolation or depression. However, as people try to numb or distract themselves from these feelings, they tend to create more problems through substance use.
Often times, the substances only fuel feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety.
Make Mental Health a Priority
This week, October 1 through October 7, is Mental Illness Awareness Week. There is no time like the present to discuss the current state of mental health across the country. Now is always the time to advocate for better support, services, and acceptance when discussing mental illness and mental health in America.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
- 9% of all U.S. adults (43.4 million)qualified as having mental health issues in 2015
- Approximately 20-21% of incarcerated Americans have a “recent history” of mental health issues
- 70% of young people caught up in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health issue
- 46% of people living in homeless shelters live with severe mental health issues and/or substance use disorders (SUDs)
In the aftermath of such profound tragedy like the recent shooting in Las Vegas, or even natural disasters like recently with Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, there should be a very direct conversation about mental health. We should also work diligently to ensure that while the world grapples with opioid addiction and drug abuse, that more people don’t turn to self-medicating to fight feelings of loss, terror or alienation.
For all survivors of recent tragedies, or those affected indirectly, there are ways to take care of yourself and monitor your own mental state. Make your own mental health a priority. Protect yourself from destructive behaviors, and reach out for help in the wake of such emotionally compromising events as what happened in Las Vegas.
The national crisis hotline also offers confidential and free services 24/7/365 Call (775) 784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839-863
Our hearts and prayers go out to all those touched by this tragedy.
If you or someone you love is struggling with trauma, don’t let substance abuse make it all even worse. Drugs or alcohol are not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Safe and effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is paramount to creating lasting transformation in the lives of those who are struggling. Providing powerful therapeutic resources with education and innovation makes a significant impact on those who have the opportunity for quality care. An essential part of this process is an active relapse prevention program.
Relapse prevention is a system that influences many aspects of individual recovery from addiction. So what is a relapse? And what makes a relapse prevention program so indispensable?
Relapse Prevention: What is Relapse?
First, let us look at the most basic definition or relapse. If we break it down a little we can better understand what it means and how it happens.
- In general– a relapse is to suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
- With medicine– relapse is also referred to as recidivism or a return to a past condition.
- In the context of drug use (including alcohol) – relapse is a reinstatement of drug use and drug-seeking behavior. It is the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of
So the common thread here is that a relapse is when someone:
- Experiences a period of improvement from a problem…
- Is healing from a previous condition…
- Has a period of abstinence, then they experience a recurrence of the initial problem/condition
With addiction, relapse means someone ends a period of improvement and falls back into drug-seeking behavior or even drug use. When you are recovering from a serious addiction, drinking or consuming a drug can sometimes be referred to as a “slip” but it is essentially a relapse. Many recovery advocates and experts are of the opinion that “recovery” means making improvements to behavior, not just abstinence. Therefore, they might say the “real relapse” actually starts when the behavior regresses to the old destructive or compulsive patterns. Some will warn you that you are in the process of a relapse without having used drugs.
Whether you believe the relapse is the behavior or the actual physical manifestation of using narcotic drugs or drinking, you can still see the real value in offering relapse prevention strategies to help avoid either circumstance.
Relapse Prevention: Knowing the Signs
The following are a few signs or behaviors that might indicate that someone may be in the process of a relapse.
When someone is experiencing low moods and lack of energy they might be in a state of depression. Other mental health disorders may begin to intensify and thoughts of suicide may also occur.
Everyday difficulties that occur regularly become overwhelming. The most basic problems can’t seem to be solved.
The individual may begin to avoid social or personal activities they once enjoyed, isolating and ignoring their responsibilities.
Someone in the stages of relapse may become irritable or even confrontational without reason.
The person may rationalize or minimize any attempt at acknowledging and addressing their behaviors.
When Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) sets in someone can be at a higher risk of relapse. They can have trouble with memory, emotional overreactions, and sleeping problems, become accident prone or overwhelmed by stress.
Lack of Control
Food, sex, caffeine, nicotine, work, gambling, or other activities become out of control. Their compulsive behaviors become consistent without thinking about the consequences.
Feeling of Immobilization
Immobilization is that feeling of desperation. People feel trapped and start to think that there is no way to solve their problems other than using or drinking.
When experiencing cravings someone may convince themselves the only way to feel better is to use or drink, and they try to justify it.
Abandoning Support System
If someone is in the stages of relapse they may begin to ignore their support systems. They might stop attending support groups, therapy or communicating with their sponsor or loved ones.
Chemical Loss of Control
In a relapse, someone recovering from addiction will eventually begin using drugs or alcohol again to solve problems, even if these problems are only being made worse by their use.
Any combination of these symptoms could mean that someone is headed towards a relapse. In some cases, they may have even relapsed already.
Taking action before someone even comes close to a relapse can make all the difference between lasting recovery and dangerous regression. An effective drug and alcohol treatment plan will include a relapse prevention program in order to help people create a solid foundation from which they can build a sustainable recovery.
Understanding the signs of relapse and the serious risks of going back to drug abuse can help someone who may be struggling in their recovery to stay grounded. It is more difficult for someone to know how to take action, and what kind of action to take if they don’t have an understanding of addiction. Palm Healthcare Company places tremendous value on the importance of education in relapse prevention.
In respect to education about relapse, people should also be made aware of the difficulties they may experience with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). When people can anticipate or at least understand the difficulty they may experience with PAWS, they can prepare themselves with healthy and preventative strategies.
Relapse prevention programs should also teach each individual new coping skills to utilize in challenging times. When someone is struggling with their recovery, they should have resources available to them to keep themselves accountable. It is vital that people be taught new and productive methods for recognizing things that are bothering them and addressing them.
Another huge aspect of protecting yourself from relapse is to establish strong habits that keep you to be as mentally and physically healthy as possible. It can be regular exercise, better eating, social and personal relationships, or pursuing your passion or continuing your career. Find a way to care for yourself so that when your recovery is threatened you care enough about your life to protect it.
Having people that support you can make it easier to overcome adversity when it presents itself. When someone has to deal with their troubles alone they may not always see the whole picture; they may not see all the ways to address the issue. Having a support group or a therapist are just a few ways someone trying to recover from drugs or alcohol can make sure they have a safety net in place.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in helping each individual to create a personal plan for recovery that includes relapse prevention and continued support. Our facilities all emphasize the value of comprehensive education, awareness, coping skills, self-care, and aftercare. The solution to drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t end with eliminating the substance, that is only the beginning.
In the event of a relapse, getting the individual to go into an addiction treatment program can be the best way to help them before things get too bad. Getting them back on the road to recovery is crucial, and be sure to look for a program that has a comprehensive relapse prevention program.
Relapse is NOT necessary for recovery, but relapse prevention is. Even if you or someone you love has relapsed, there is still hope to take action that can help you create lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
The devastating path of Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented and catastrophic flooding throughout southeastern parts of Texas. The Lone Star State has been all over the news since the tropical cyclone touched down, becoming the first major hurricane to make landfall on American soil since Wilma in 2005.
Some areas received over 40 inches of rain in a 4 day period, with peak accumulations reaching as high as 51.88 inches. The flooding and damage from the storm has besieged hundreds of thousands of Texan homes, displacing over 30,000 people.
Since its initial landing in Rockport, Texas there are reports of at least 46 confirmed deaths.
Sadly, the tragedy is not yet over. As efforts continue to pour in to relieve the suffering communities, Brock Long calls Hurricane Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history. Long says the expectation of recovering from this destructive natural disaster will take many years.
Still, there is hope. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is telling the world that they are happily on the road to recovery. Turner states:
“We’ve turned a corner,”
Yesterday the Mayor also noted there are already numerous signs of hopeful progress, including:
- Declining shelter numbers
- Power restored to most of the region
- The Astros’ doubleheader on Saturday
- More Metro bus lines resume service Friday
- Shipping channel reopening on limited basis
Leave it to the state where they do everything bigger to have such an inspiring bounce back after facing such difficulties. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone where the motto is friendship and the country is uniting to help those in need.
As the nation pulls together during a time of crisis, so too must an individual pull their own personal resources into maintaining their mental, emotional and physical well-being in the face of disaster. So to add more to the conversation, we want to talk about 5 ways to stay sober during a natural disaster.
The news of another possible threat in the form of Hurricane Irma has been worrying many communities, while there has yet to be a definite answer as to whether or not it will make landfall in the United States, and if so- where.
So let us talk about something that is important for those in the recovery community to keep in mind.
Trauma and Relapse
We want to point out that because natural disasters can be traumatizing experiences, they can put some who are struggling to overcome addiction in a more compromised position. These events stir up anxieties concerns important parts of life, like:
- Personal security
- Physical health
- Psychological well-being
Even healthy people with no history of substance use disorder are frequently traumatized by these sudden and uncontrollable events.
Therefore, it only makes sense that some who are unequipped with healthier coping mechanisms will often turn to trying to escape these fears with drugs or alcohol. It is their natural defense.
Some may find that the traumatic event itself does not inspire cravings, but the aftermath is far more influential. Survivors of natural disasters may be more vulnerable to relapse as they struggle to cope with what has happened.
5 Ways to Stay Sober During a Natural Disaster
Have a network
One way that people are able to stay sober during a natural disaster is that they have a strong network of reliable friends, other individuals in recovery and even sometimes counselors they can stay in contact with. Keep your A-team on speed dial and stay in touch with them, even when the disaster is over.
This is pretty much always crucial, but we should emphasize it because too many people will overlook it when it matters the most. Stay honest with those around you about your emotions and how the disaster has affected you, especially when you are feeling like you are in a bad place.
Maintain a routine
Having a routine, even in the face of tremendous difficulties, can help you to retain some semblance of normalcy while dealing with a tragedy. When trying to stay sober during a natural disaster you may find comfort and coping skills in the simple things like taking care of your hygiene, exercising or even meditating. Have a healthy routine to fall back on when the dust settles.
Helping others is already a huge part of continued sobriety for a lot of people. Many recovery programs promote a life-style that suggests helping others and being of service. Do what you can to be there for those around you, and your community. However, always remember to take care of yourself as well. Don’t push yourself too far and avoid putting yourself in danger.
Find a support group
While support groups already exist for those in recovery, sometimes they are especially useful with trying to stay sober during a natural disaster. Don’t rush out in the midst of something dangerous trying to get to a meeting, but immediately after the traumatic events seek out a support group or some form of counseling to help you process the tragedy. Even if you don’t feel specifically vulnerable at the time, it is healthy and productive to try and connect with others in a time of crisis.
In fact, if not for you… do it for them.
There is often no way to predict how something so damaging will show up in your life and what it may do to you physically, mentally or emotionally. Yet, having an effective strategy in place might help you be ready for anything.
Do everything you can to make sure that you stay sober during a natural disaster, so that one tragedy doesn’t create another in your life.
Stay safe everyone!
In the face of great adversity and turmoil we are gifted the opportunity to be better than our anxieties and our traumas. Staying sober during a natural disaster may not seem as important as just staying alive, but for some of us it is essentially the same. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398