Why New Year’s Eve In Rehab isn’t a Bad Thing

Why New Year’s Eve In Rehab isn’t a Bad Thing

New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year. It’s the one holiday predicated on staying up late and drinking a toast at midnight. New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world are televised and seems like the whole world is having a party. If you are in treatment, you might feel like you are missing out. You might imagine your friends are having a great time without you while you’re stuck in a treatment center.

There is, however, another way to think about it. New Year’s is a time to reflect on the previous year and think about how you want the next year to be better. For most people, this means joining a gym they never go to or starting a diet that lasts about a week, but for you, it could mean taking a decisive step toward sobriety.

While every day is a good day to quit, think of the significance of having spent New Year’s Eve in rehab. Every new year will a kind of anniversary of your sobriety. While everyone else is getting ready to party, you will think about what you were doing last year and how far you’ve come. It will be as if the whole world is celebrating your recovery.

Then, of course, there is the practical aspect. On a night when everyone is at a party, your willpower will be pushed to its limits. If you are in treatment, you won’t be partying. Instead, you will be among people with the same goal as you, offering each other mutual support. This can become a new tradition. Instead of spending New Year’s Eve with your friends in their cups, you can spend it with your friends in recovery. It can be a kind of yearly affirmation in defiance of the common trend.

Spending New Year’s Eve in rehab is a chance for you to reframe the holiday. Whereas it was once an excuse to party, it can now be an occasion to reaffirm your commitment to sobriety. In future years, you can attend meetings or sober parties and share your experience with others in recovery. AA, NA, and other recovery organizations often host “alcathons”–24-hour meetings so people have somewhere to go on New Year’s–or sober parties. Those can be opportunities to have a bit of fun while getting to know people outside of regular meetings.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. Don’t let another new year pass without making a change. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

How Long Should You Plan to Recover?

Recovery lasts from now on. Addiction is not something like the flu that eventually goes away. There’s no point at which you can say, “I have achieved sobriety so now I can have a drink.” Addiction remakes your brain and the habits created by addiction are deep. Using again reactivates the old pathways and the old behavior comes back immediately. Addiction is like riding a bike–you never really forget.

Detox takes a couple of weeks, give or take, depending on the drug, the extent of the addiction, and how the detox is done. Detox is the part that includes withdrawal and the most intense cravings. After that, treatment at an inpatient center typically lasts 30 to 90 days. Those are the parts of recovery you can plan for to some extent.

After detox and treatment, it’s best to plan to make meetings and therapy a regular part of your week. Just as you have to eat, sleep, and exercise, you have to go to therapy and meetings. Those are maintenance activities. You might eventually stop needing regular therapy, but meetings continue to be useful. Not only is it good to be reminded what happens if you relapse, but supporting other addicts in recovery is part of your recovery.

You can never let your guard down because addiction always wants back in. If you spend 10 years sober, you bet some little voice in the back of your head will say, “Hey, look at that, 10 years sober. We have this thing beat. I bet we could have a beer with dinner, no problem.” A long stretch of sobriety is no guarantee. People do relapse after long time in recovery.

Despite that, it does get easier the longer you stay in recovery. Cravings come and go, but gradually diminish in intensity. You never really stop thinking about your drug of choice but it gets easier to stay away from it. The important thing is never to take recovery for granted. Don’t assume you can resist temptation and certainly don’t think you can stop once you start.

 

Recovery is a long term commitment and you have to work on it every day, but you only stay in recovery one day at a time. It’s a process that evolves as you go. You have to build routines and social support into your life that will do some of the healthy lifting. Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and make a plan for long-term recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.

When is the Right Time to Choose Sobriety?

You may know that you need to quit drugs or drinking but you may keep putting it off. You might have work, school, or family commitments that you don’t feel you can take a break from. It never seems like a good time. The problem is that, for most people, the perfect time never comes. There is always an excuse to wait.

It’s true that getting sober will be inconvenient. You have to detox, which will take at least a week or two. Inpatient treatment programs typically last 30 to 90 days and sometimes more. It might feel impossible to free up that kind of time to devote to sobriety. Even if you only start going to AA or NA meetings, you’re embarking on a major life change. It’s not just about finding an extra hour in your schedule.

You may worry that taking the time off work will hurt your career or your studies. This sort of calculation is a bit specious because your addiction will have a far worse impact on your career or studies if you don’t do something about it. It’s only a matter of time before your performance suffers. The longer you let it slide, the longer it will take you to get back to where you were.

The bottom line is that companies want sober employees, universities want sober students, and kids want sober parents. You may feel like you are letting them down by taking time to get sober, but in reality, it’s best thing you can do to be there for them in the long run. It’s better for everyone.

To paraphrase the old saying, the best time to get sober was 10 years ago; the second best time is now. The third best time is a specific date in the near future. That is, sometimes it really is a bad time, but if you have decided to get sober and you can’t start immediately for some reason, make a firm commitment for when you will start. Share it with your friends or family, or just someone who can hold you accountable.

Keep in mind that not all programs are the same. Although it’s best to do an inpatient treatment program to get your recovery off to a good start, there are many treatment options. You might do a clinical detox, then outpatient treatment, or go to meetings and see a therapist. Treatment is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You don’t have to spend 90 days in a residential facility. You just have to do something that takes you in the direction of sobriety, and do it soon.

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medical detox and we can help you find the best treatment options to help you continue in recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.

Sober Dating

Sober Dating

Dating while sober can present all kinds of challenges. For some people, social anxiety and fear of rejection are what led to addiction in the first place. Dating is often where these fears are most intense. Sooner or later your date will ask why you don’t drink. Will it be a deal-breaker when you say you’re in recovery? If it isn’t, will you be able to stay sober while dating someone who drinks? These are only some of the difficulties of dating while sober. Here are some suggestions for making it work.

Don’t rush. You go through a lot of changes when you enter treatment and recovery. Don’t be in a hurry to add the stress and anxiety of dating. Prioritize things that will help you in recovery–a healthy routine, regular meetings, steady work, and solid relationships with friends and family. When those things are more or less under control, which may take six months or a year, then you can think about dating.

Be careful who you date. Dating other people in recovery can seem like an ideal solution. Each of you knows what the other is going through and you both know you have to avoid triggers and find ways to have fun sober. There are even dating apps that match up recovering addicts. The problem is that relapse is always a possibility, and if one person relapses, it becomes that much more difficult for the other to stay in recovery.

Even worse is dating someone in active addiction. Some people are unconsciously drawn to this kind of relationship as a way of experiencing relapse vicariously, but it’s so obviously a bad idea that it should be avoided as a matter of policy.

Beware of old patterns. Relationships during active addiction are often characterized by drama and conflict. This seems exciting at the time but is usually destructive. In recovery, a solid relationship with a supportive person may seem lacking in excitement compared to earlier relationships. You may believe, based on your previous experience, and possibly even learned from watching your parents, that relationships are inherently tempestuous. This kind of expectation can make you feel dissatisfied in an otherwise healthy relationship. It may take a while for you to accept a new normal for healthy relationships, so as always, take it slow.

Be upfront about your sobriety. If you do online dating, say in your profile that you don’t drink. If your date asks why you’re sticking to water with dinner, it’s better to be honest and say you’re in recovery. If a relationship is going to work, the other person has to support your sobriety. Every relationship has its complications, and this is just one of those.

Dating is never easy and dating in recovery is no exception. Always prioritize your recovery and take new relationships slowly. If you or someone you love is currently struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can support you during treatment and recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.

Meditation Can Help With Pain

Meditation Can Help With Pain

One challenge people face in detox, especially detox from opioids, is pain. In addition to the irritability, nausea, and insomnia common for any kind of withdrawal, opioid withdrawal often includes bone, muscle, and joint pain as well. Your body is so used to feeling no pain at all that even normal sensations are painful. What’s worse, chronic pain is often the reason people get addicted to opioids to begin with. The idea that staying in recovery means living with pain can be an obstacle for people needing treatment.

Fortunately, there are healthier ways to manage pain. Some of them include therapeutic massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, and counselling. One particularly effective way to deal with pain is meditation.

Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, has been well researched. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can aggravate pain. More importantly, it can change your perception of pain.

One study on pain and meditation applied heat to participants’ legs and asked them to rate how much pain they felt. Experienced zen meditators felt less pain than non-meditators for any level of heat. Brain scans during the experiments showed that their brains actually process pain differently from non-meditators. Brain scans of zen meditators showed bright spots in the part of the brain that processes sensory information from the leg, indicating that they were more focused on the actual sensations of the pain. Non-meditators’ brains showed activation in various other parts, indicating they were more preoccupied with interpretations of the pain.

To put it differently, meditators felt pain but non-meditators suffered. The difference is subtle. Most of what we think is pain is actually what we tell ourselves about pain. When you feel pain, try to notice what you’re thinking. Typically, we think things like, “This is unbearable,” or “this will never stop.” Sometimes we imagine the pain is a symptom of something dangerous, or even fatal. These thoughts just make the pain worse. Mindfulness meditation is basically learning to experience pain for what it is–sensory information–and letting go of interpretations that turn pain into suffering.

The bad news is that unlike massage or acupuncture, meditation takes a bit of practice. The good news is that even eight weeks of short daily practice can make a big difference. Once you start to get the hang of it, mindfulness is a resource that’s always available to you when you start to experience pain.

Pain doesn’t have to be an impediment to recovery. At Gardens Wellness Center, we offer a variety of ways to manage pain and support you in recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

Can I Recover if I’m Not Religious?

AA and NA famously rely on submission to a higher power. Six of the 12 Steps involve God–deciding “to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God,” being “entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” asking “God to remove our shortcomings,” etc. A huge percentage of the Big Book is devoted to faith in a higher power. There is a chapter addressed specifically to agnostics. It can be summarized as, “Get over yourself and believe in God.” Meetings are often held in churches. You might wonder if recovery is only for the righteous.

While AA and NA are effective, they aren’t the only paths to recovery. There are a range of therapeutic approaches that have proven effective, usually combined with group therapy and sometimes combined with medication. Some of these approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management or motivational incentives, community reinforcement, motivational enhancement therapy, matrix model, and family behavior therapy.

Some of these approaches work better than others for specific addictions. For example, motivational enhancement therapy works better for alcohol, and the matrix model works better for stimulants. Cognitive behavior therapy is the broadest approach and helps you manage the stress, anxiety, and depression that can lead to relapse. A good therapist will have a variety of techniques and a lot of experience helping people recover from addiction.

Although the 12 Steps relies on a higher power, it can still work if you aren’t religious. In the Big Book, it quickly becomes clear that when they say you’re free to conceive of the higher power any way you wish, it means you can choose Jehovah, Yahweh, or Allah. In practice, however, people take greater liberty with the idea. For example, Frank M. at the AA Agnostica blog conceives of the higher power simply as reality. That means accepting that you, like everything else in the universe, are subject to the laws of cause and effect. You can’t have one drink–that’s just not how you’re made. Believing you can change the laws of cause and effect is asking for trouble.

It can be frustrating for an atheist or agnostic in recovery to be surrounded by people who have not only found religion, but believe you must find it too if you want to stay in recovery. One way to deal with that frustration is to use it as an opportunity to practice acceptance. Outside of addiction, you aren’t likely to have much in common with many of your group. That’s OK. You’re there to support each other in recovery and contribute whatever you can. NA or AA can still be a useful part of recovery if you can contribute to the atmosphere of mutual support.

Recovery isn’t only available to people with certain religious ideas and there’s no single approach that works for everyone. The best approach is the one that works for you and Gardens Wellness Center can help you figure out what that is. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

Five Ways to Start Your Morning for a Good Day When You’re Sober

Five Ways to Start Your Morning for a Good Day When You’re Sober

Good routines are important for recovery and sobriety. The more you can make healthy behaviors habitual, the less energy you will have to expend to live a healthy lifestyle. When you are healthy, you feel better, you have more energy, and you can deal more effectively with the stressors that may have caused you to use in the past. If you can do a few positive things every morning you will usually find the whole day is better. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Get up at the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends, and yes, it’s a drag. The problem is that your body doesn’t know about Saturday; it only knows about sunrise and sunset. Keeping a regular pattern allows your body to adjust and operate more efficiently. Make sure you go to bed at a time that allows to you to get about eight hours of sleep and get up when your alarm sounds. Don’t hit snooze. Hitting snooze just confuses your brain and makes you feel more tired. If you have to choose between setting a strict bedtime and setting a strict wakeup time, choose the latter. Your bedtime will naturally adjust after a few days.

Exercise. Light to moderate exercise in the morning is a good way to start the day. It wakes you up, it gets oxygen to your brain, and it gets you ready for the day. You don’t want to exhaust yourself first thing in the morning because you still have an entire day to get through but a brisk walk, a light run, or bike ride first thing in the morning does wonders for your mood. It will also work up your appetite for breakfast.

Eat a good breakfast. Some people don’t like breakfast and that’s fine. If you have struggled with an eating disorder, then definitely eat breakfast. The important thing is to eat real food. Choose something with a bit of protein and fiber. Avoid refined sugar and flour. Doughnuts seem like a great idea at the time but then you crash and feel terrible 30 minutes later. Think of the crash and eat something healthy instead.

Meditate. You don’t have to go full yogi. Just sit for a few minutes and enjoy the stillness before the day starts. Notice your breath, notice how you feel, and remind yourself that you can take a minute whenever you need it.

Eat the frog. Most days, you have to do something you don’t feel like doing. You groan when you think about it. Plan to do that thing as soon as possible, either before you leave the house, or right when you get to work, depending on what it is. Usually, it’s not even something that will take very long. It’s just something unpleasant. It’s best just to get it out of the way rather than spend the day thinking about it.

 

Remember, any time you want to make a positive change, start small. If you try to do it all at once, you will probably get discouraged and quit. Pick one positive habit, say, getting up at the same time every day, get comfortable with it and then add something else. Before long, people will be telling you about your amazing self-discipline and you won’t have any idea what they’re talking about.

 

Recovery begins with detox and treatment. At Gardens Wellness Center you can start to form the habits that will become the foundation of a long recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.

Courage Gives You Confidence

Courage Gives You Confidence

Getting clean can be a scary time. First, you have to admit you have a problem. Then you have to go through detox, which might be awful. After that, the long road of recovery begins. You might have to spend some time in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, talking about uncomfortable subjects. When you get home, you may have to clean up a lot of messes you made during your addiction. Through it all, you will be afraid you might relapse. It’s a lot to handle, but if you want to stay in recovery, you have to deal with each challenge as it comes. Sometimes you will have to do things before you are sure you are ready. It’s those moments you should remember that courage gives you confidence.

If you rely on courage, the confidence will follow. The reason for this is simple: you feel afraid because you are facing a new challenge. When you engage with that challenge, you will see that even if it didn’t go extremely well, neither was it a total disaster. You see you are a little closer to your goal and you know the next time will be better. For example, if you are making amends as part of the 12 Steps, the first time is likely to be awkward and uncomfortable. The second time is also likely to be awkward and uncomfortable but at least you will have a better idea of what to expect. It will take slightly less courage because you will have a little more confidence.

The question of confidence is likely irrelevant anyway. If you are an addict, you have probably done things you are not proud of. You may be used to people you love being disappointed in you. In these circumstances, you are probably not overflowing with self-confidence. It’s not something you can rely on. You need a different approach.

It’s better to accept that you don’t have confidence and instead rely on courage. If you are trying something new, especially something that could affect the course of your life, it’s perfectly reasonable to be afraid, and it would actually be strange if you weren’t. If you want to get better, you have to accept that fear and move forward. You have to have courage.

If you don’t quite feel like you can muster the courage, here are some things to keep in mind. First, you aren’t blazing a new trail here. You aren’t looking for a water route to India. Fear is meant to keep us safe and the safest thing you can possibly do is enter treatment and do the steps to recovery. You are entering a time-tested program of treatment, aided by professionals with years of experience. Millions of people have successfully fought addiction. It’s new to you but others have gone before.

Second, you aren’t alone. If you don’t already have people who care about you and support you, you will find some in treatment. Rely on your family and your fellow recovering addicts when you feel your courage is inadequate.

At Gardens Wellness Center, we offer support through detox and recovery so you don’t have to do it alone. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

Be Sensitive to your Senses in Early Sobriety

Be Sensitive to your Senses in Early Sobriety

Perhaps the most important part of recovery is figuring out what your triggers are and how to deal with them. A trigger can be almost anything–a place, such as a favorite bar, certain people you used to get high with, or any situation that causes you stress or anxiety. Sensory triggers can be very strong, especially smells. Your sense of smell is different from other senses in that it is hardwired directly into the parts of your brain responsible for fear, emotions, memory, and learning. It is the most primitive sense, strongly connected to food and sex. The smell of hamburgers on a grill, even from a mile away, can make you hungry.

Consider, then, the danger certain smells can pose during recovery. How many distinctive smells are associated with addiction? The smells of beer, tequila, and gin are unmistakable and they can fill a room. The smells of marijuana, meth, and crack are just as distinctive and disburse more widely when smoked. Even cigarettes can be dangerous. The smell of cigarette smoke is closely associated with drinking and drug use and although smoking is not as common as it used to be, you are likely to catch a whiff of cigarette smoke while strolling through any random neighborhood.

Smells can evoke powerful memories, sometimes things we’ve completely forgotten about. Sometimes these memories are bad and evoke stress and anxiety. We may hardly be aware of why we suddenly feel a bit rotten. Being suddenly confronted with a difficult memory may lead to cravings and wanting to escape.

All of this may be compounded by a period of sobriety. If you have been in a treatment center away from all alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, you have probably gotten used to their absence. Just as your tolerance to drugs and alcohol have gone down with abstinence, you are no longer used to the smell. When you find yourself in the world again, you will probably be extra sensitive to the smells you have been away from for so long. Even faint smells may have a big effect on you.

It’s important to pay attention to what you are experiencing–sounds, smells, images, people. They all have some effect on your emotions. Most of them are neutral or good, but some of them may be difficult. They may be stressful and strongly associated with your addiction. If you aren’t aware of what caused a craving or a feeling of anxiety, it can make you even more anxious. You might feel maybe you’ll never escape cravings and relapse is inevitable. If you notice the stimulus that caused the craving, though, you have a little more control over the feeling. You can say to yourself, “Oh, it’s a warm day and I smell cigarette smoke. This reminds me of that time my friend and I got drunk on his porch,” or whatever. Being aware also helps you avoid sensory triggers until you feel more able to manage them.

If you are struggling with addiction or relapse, Gardens Wellness Center can get you back on track and help you find ways of dealing with stress and triggers. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

8 Ways to See the Good in the World on a Dark Day

8 Ways to See the Good in the World on a Dark Day

It feels like we’re always surrounded by bad news and political hysteria. Even if you try to avoid bad news it always manages to seep in. As a great man once said, “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble; give a whistle, and this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Cute animals. Humans are hardwired to want to care for baby animals. They have big eyes and they’re just so adorable. It’s impossible to feel angry and depressed while looking at a baby squirrel. If there is a cute animal you can spend time with in real life, that’s the best option. They do cute things and you want them to be safe and happy and that makes you feel better. If you don’t have a cute animal handy in real life, you might be able to find pictures of some on the internet.

Gratitude. We’ve managed to survive as a species by being alert to threats. It’s easy to forget that at any given moment we have less to fear than to be grateful for. When things seem bad, take a few minutes and write down three things you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything major. In fact many things we really should be grateful for tend to fade into a the background. Maybe a parent has supported you through some really bad times. Maybe clean, drinkable water flows through pipes directly into your kitchen. Amazing!

Uplifting news. Most news is bad–political turmoil, wars, murder–and most of it shows up immediately on your phone. It’s like having a personal assistant who taps you on the shoulder to tell you every time a car bomb explodes somewhere in the the world. There is good news, though, if you know where to look and you actually look for it. If you are on Reddit, try subscribing to r/UpliftingNews or r/HumansBeingBros for acts kind and heroic. YouTube is full of heartwarming videos. When bad things do happen, remember Mr. Roger’s advice and look for the helpers.

Comedies. Comedies make you laugh, which is good. Comedies also have a way of transmuting bad times. A mortifying experience can be funny when properly reframed. Comedy can teach us to take ourselves and our problems less seriously. It shows us that even decent, intelligent, successful people sometimes make complete asses of themselves, and we should cut ourselves a little slack.

Do something nice. Doing something nice for someone else is one of the best things you can do to make yourself feel better. For one thing, it gets you out of your own head and gets you thinking about what others might need. For another thing, it gets you to think of ways you can actively make a difference, instead of despairing about the state of the world. It doesn’t have to be anything big. You can send 20 bucks to your favorite charity or text a friend to let her know you appreciate her. Be the change.

Listen to music. Music has a powerful effect on our moods, so use it wisely. If you’re feeling down, pass on Elliott Smith and maybe go for the Ramones or whatever cheers you up instead.

Spend time with friends. Humans are social animals. Many of our more dysfunctional mental states result from feeling disconnected. Spend time with people you like and who support you. Don’t underestimate how much better you will feel if you support them too.

Spend time in nature. Nature doesn’t care about what congress is doing or that fight you had with your boyfriend. Nature just keeps on going. Spending time outside with the trees and flowers is a good way to remind yourself that most problems are a matter of perception. Being in nature lowers stress and raises serotonin. It’s good to breathe fresh air and get away from the internet. Just don’t bring Werner Herzog along with you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you can look forward to better days and Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.