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Archive for November, 2018

What happens when we numb our feelings with Drugs and Alcohol?

Posted on: November 29th, 2018 by

What are feelings and emotions?

 

Why do I feel alone, afraid, happy, or sad?

By definition, a feeling is an emotional state or reaction. “a feeling of joy.” Sometimes a feeling can come as a belief, especially a vague or irrational one. “He had the feeling that he was being watched.” Feelings can be a result of things you picked up on as a child, or even things you learned through regular life lessons. These feelings always have a trigger.

When I first came to detox, and began my journey of recovery, I suffered with severe anxiety. Before understanding myself better, I suffered from social anxiety, which in turn led to me not wanted to speak out about the problems I was having. I tend to bottle my emotions up, because I don’t want to burden someone else with my problems. I also don’t want to feel embarrassed, or suffer from being denied for my feelings.

Drugs, Alcohol, And my Feelings

 

What are the effects that Drugs and Alcohol have on my feelings?

Humans are seldom aware of the feelings and emotions they have. Feelings are misunderstood, and very unappreciated. Feelings and emotions are normally associated with drinking and drug abuse. We use these chemicals to numb our feelings and emotions. Whether its childhood trauma, or simply trying to get more social at a party or event.

These chemicals temporarily allow us to function in ways we couldn’t due to our fears, and anxiety.
Before I came to treatment, I never would have thought that maybe I was trying to cover up my feelings and emotions. I would have honestly told you I was a victim of circumstance, and that drugs and alcohol were my issue. Take those out of my life, and help me get on my feet, and everything would be fine.

What’s wrong with numbing my feelings? Is drugs and alcohol really my problem? Can’t I just go to a Drug and Alcohol detox and get right back on with life?

This may sound like a perfect solution to every day life. The truth is, it only makes things worse. Once that drink or drug wears off, it only leads us to craving more of that substance. Or very frequently causes us to seek harsher drugs. Those feelings come rushing back in, and we begin to feel those uncomfortable feelings more than before.

My first realization of this truth is when I started working my 12 steps in A.A. As I stated before, I thought drugs and alcohol were my problem. Being unaware of how life worked, I figured once I get through detox and the withdrawals, everything would be fine. I thought I could live a normal life. I began realizing that I had a lot of negative thoughts, which were very present when my mind cleared up. Finally, I had come to the realization that I had been blocking all my feelings, not just the negative ones.

What happens when I use drugs and alcohol to numb my feelings and emotions?

As author and researcher Dr. Brene Brown explains, “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
When we use alcohol and drugs in an abusive way, we are not only blocking out the pain, hurt, and fear. Were also blocking out any sense of joy, or happiness we could feel in our life. When we do this, we can also start losing our process of decision making. Lack of connectivity to others, and lack of fear of consequences can lead us to do some pretty stupid things.

At this point I had lost everything and I just didn’t care, and was content with my life style. Once upon a time, I would live under bridges, end up in jail over and over again. I would steal, and lie, and was never aware of my actions, or the consequences they brought into my life. I would always say, “I am a victim of my circumstances.”

The best part is as soon as I came to terms with all of this, I had a defense. Cognitive behavioral therapy, and working my 12 steps brought me to an understanding of why I continue to drag myself down. After working there steps, I now realize I was drinking, and getting high because I was covering my anxiety, and fear.

Managing your emotions, and changing the way I react

 

How can I manage my feelings of anxiety, and fear?

There are multiple forms of therapy that are designed to help you understand, and react differently to feelings or emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. When we learn to recognize a thought or feelings, we can then come to terms with it, and find a solution.

How can I recognize my feelings, and find a solution?

There are a lot of different ways we can go about finding a solution to a negative thought or feeling. When we work the steps of A.A., we begin to trust in our higher power to direct us to react differently. Through CBT we learn positive and negative ways to react.

• Recognize the emotion.

• Understand what triggers that emotion, and why.

• Establish a plan of action to counter that emotion.

Getting out of my comfort zone was the best decision I ever made. Overcoming a fear of rejection, and denial can be a very hard thing to do. Once I came to realization that it didn’t matter what people thought about me, I began to explore things in my life I never knew were possible. I finally understood that I do have a voice.

I finally understand that its not about who I’m trying to “impress.” Or what I’m trying to succeed at. Its about why I do things. I’m not speaking at a meeting to impress people, but to help people. This is just an example of a solution that I learned, and something that has helped me along my journey. Things like meditation, and prayer can also help you become more aware.

 

Are you or a loved one is suffering from negative emotions like anxiety, fear, or depression? We can help you find a solution. Call us today at 714-443-8218.

Steps to Finding a Drug and Alcohol Detox

Posted on: November 26th, 2018 by

Which drug and Alcohol Detox is right for you?

If you’re struggling with addiction, the decision to seek treatment is the first step to changing your life. But after making that decision, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of the next step.

If your addiction is severe, you can’t simply stop using. You may need to detox in the care of medical professionals. Detox is physically painful and emotionally draining. You’ll want to make sure you’re in good hands. Depending on where you live, there may be many detox centers to choose from. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?

Do You Need Drug or Alcohol Detox?

Over time, your brain and body adjust to the presence of drugs in your system. This is why you experience intense cravings when you don’t have access to your substance of choice. Also, why with certain drugs, you’ll experience withdrawals when you stop using. Depending on the substance, these withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from simply uncomfortable to physically dangerous. Even fatal.

If you incur severe withdrawal symptoms soon after you stop using, you probably need detox. And if you’re detoxing from alcohol, benzodiazepines or opioids (for example heroin or prescription painkillers), it’s recommended that you always do so under medical supervision. Professional detox is also recommended for those who have co-occurring mental health concerns. This is known as polydrug addiction – an addiction to more than one substance.

Inpatient or Outpatient Detoxification?

Outpatient Treatment

Depending on the severity of your addiction, you could be a candidate for outpatient treatment, which would allow you to sleep at home but attend treatment during the day. This is an option only if your withdrawal symptoms are minimal. You should make this decision with the help of an addictions specialist. Outpatient treatment is best for those who don’t have a long history of drug or alcohol abuse. Also, those who have a safe home environment and are in otherwise good physical and mental health.

If you don’t meet the criteria for outpatient treatment, you have a few options for inpatient programs. Hospitals have traditionally supported the detox process, but the aftercare is minimal and you will likely be on lockdown in the hospital’s psychiatric ward. Hospital facilities aren’t normally comfortable and do not allow contact with the outside world. The advantage to detoxing in a hospital is that if there’s a medical emergency, you’ll receive immediate treatment.

Inpatient Detox

If you’d like a more comfortable and supportive setting to safely detox, then you should consider a private inpatient rehab facility. You’ll receive round-the-clock clinical care, medications to alleviate detox symptoms and counseling to help you work through the issues that drive your addiction. These facilities often allow you to bring your phone and other personal devices and also allow loved ones to visit. Additionally, you’ll get a specialized treatment plan based on your needs, rather than the cookie-cutter 12-Step programs that hospitals normally offer.

Finding the Right Detox Program for You

Here are some questions to help you determine what type of facility to look for, based on your unique needs.

  • Do you need a facility that accepts insurance?

Depending on your financial situation, you may need to find a facility that cooperates with insurance companies. It’s important to ask this up front before you get too far into the planning process.

  • What certifications should the detox center and its staff have?

The detox center should be certified by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit body that evaluates healthcare organizations to ensure they provide safe and effective treatment. A detox center should have medical doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors on staff.

  • Do you need treatment for co-occurring disorders?

If you need treatment for co-occurring disorders, make sure the facility you choose has specialized clinicians on staff who are able to treat you, and ask any facility you speak to if they would make a personalized treatment plan that takes your co-occurring disorders into account.

  • Can you bring your pet?

Your pet is a part of your family, and sometimes the only family you have. Also, If you feel anxiety at being separated from your beloved pet, find a facility that can accommodate you both. Many pet-friendly rehabs exist.

  • How far are you willing to travel?

If you need to stay close to home, that will narrow down your options for detox centers. However, you may want to remove yourself completely from a toxic environment by traveling to another state. Determine if you’re willing to travel, where you’d like to go and what type of environment would work best for you.

  • What will you do after detox?

Detox lasts anywhere from three to seven days – but it’s only the first step in a long journey to recovery. Consider staying on to complete a 30, 60 or 90-day stay at the facility to develop healthy habits that will support continuing sobriety. Choose a facility that can accommodate your desired length of treatment.

  • How will you stay sober after detox?

You may want to consider completing an intensive outpatient addiction treatment program after detox, or you can choose to pursue outpatient treatment after a stay in a facility. The facility you choose should offer to develop a comprehensive aftercare plan for you. A strong alumni network, help with finding recovery groups, and a relapse prevention plan should all be offered by the facility you choose if you’re concerned about relapse.

Getting the Addiction Help You Need

The decision to enter detox is the first step to getting and staying healthy. But the detox process can be mentally and physically taxing: it’s important to have the right care in place to keep you comfortable and safe.

4 Indispensable Tips for Couples in Recovery

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by

If you’ve been in a relationship with an addict, or as an addict, you know all too well the extent to which addiction can take its toll on relationships.

To a large extent, committed couples live in a reality that they co-create, and they share every aspect of their lives: their children, their home, their pets, their food, their finances and many of their habits. Their influence on each other can’t be underestimated. If you’re struggling with an addiction and you’re in a relationship with another addict, chances are that you’re also sharing your substance abuse.

While addiction clearly has detrimental effects on sufferers’ lives, it also vicariously affects their partners. The fears, denial, illogical reasoning and compulsive behaviors experienced by addicts are, more often than not, contagious. Drug use leads to conflict, which in turn leads to more substance abuse. Taken together with a host of other factors that come into play when addiction enters into a relationship, it’s easy to see why, for couples who struggle with addiction, rehab should be at the top of the priorities list.

Potential Pitfalls of Couples Addiction Treatment

While there are obvious and reasons why a couple would be motivated to seek treatment together, there are some potential drawbacks to take into consideration. The first year of sobriety is a notoriously challenging time even without the addition of relationship dynamics into the mix. In fact, because of the deep levels of self-discovery that are characteristic of this phase, addiction professionals generally advise people not to date in early recovery.

It’s no accident that, as relationship expert Bob Navarra points out, “addiction brings with it a divorce rate four times higher than average.” In addition to the codependency and erosion of trust so characteristic of addict relationships, relapses can send either partner into a spiral of anger and disappointment. All that increased conflict can be triggering, adding to the urge to use when stress levels reach a boiling point.

Lasting Relationships, Lasting Recovery, Couples can recover together

But for all of the potential drawbacks, couples’ addiction treatment certainly offers some compelling pluses, too. You, your partner, your relationship and your addictions are all intertwined – what affects one piece of the puzzle affects all the others – so it only makes sense that in order to heal fully, all must be treated simultaneously. Also, stable relationships can help your chances of long-term recovery – the chance of relapsing after completing a couples addiction treatment program together go down significantly due to the fact that both individuals are sober at the same time.

While being in a relationship with another addict can undoubtedly be crazy making at times, you can also take comfort in knowing your addiction-related issues aren’t all one-sided – you’re both familiar with the internal processes of addiction, because you’ve both experienced them first-hand. There are certain things you just won’t have to explain as if they’re completely new information, and being in the same stage of the recovery process certainly has its practical advantages.

Aside from being pragmatically expedient, making recovery progress together can actually reinforce the bonds of your relationship. There’s nothing like setting goals and reaching milestones together to cast an optimistic light on a relationship, especially if its value in your life has been somewhat questionable at times. Because of its innate challenges, the recovery process can really bring out the best in people and showcase their strengths, not least of which are the bravery it takes to look deep within yourself and take responsibility for your life, pursuit of higher life goals and the commitment to riding out difficulties in order to make them happen. Having a front row seat to your partner’s personal growth can be rewarding beyond your expectations.

How Couples Handle Early Sobriety: A Team Effort

Take responsibility for your own sobriety.

Adopt this mantra: “Self-care isn’t selfish.” Though the vast majority of us have had martyrdom drilled into us by a culture that values burnout as a badge of honor and self-sacrifice as an enviable trait, the truth is that prioritizing your own well being isn’t just good for you, it’s good for everyone. When you don’t take charge of your own mental health, you start looking to others to do it for you – and we know where that road leads. In a recovery-focused relationship, your sobriety is top priority – and that means taking space when you need it, communicating your needs and doing whatever else you need to do to stay on top of that goal.

Stay in drug counseling.

We repeat: stay in counseling. A solid aftercare program is recommended for recovering folks of all relationship statuses, but maintaining a connection with a therapist you trust is an indispensable asset for a couple dealing with the throes of early sobriety together. You need an objective third party to turn to when you hit a rough patch, and you each need a reliable source of support other than each other. Remember – when you hit a hurdle, don’t take it out on your relationship. Stick to your daily practice, up your therapy and group meetings and you’ll be back on track before you know it.

Commit conflict resolution cooperatively.

The same rules apply here as do in any healthy relationship. Don’t avoid issues, don’t personally attack each other, keep your conversations’ focus on the issue, respect your partner’s feelings as being valid and look for common ground. If you keep running into recurring problems and don’t feel you’re making enough progress on your own, your therapist can help you talk things out in a session or give you some helpful techniques to try at home.

Change your environment, Don’t put yourself around drugs and alcohol

Half of any battle is removing the obstacles in your path. Give yourself the best chance of recovery success by making a commitment to avoid the following aspects of your past life:

  • People – Old party friends, dealers, anyone who doesn’t support your sobriety and toxic relationships in general.
  • Places – Oft-visited bars, houses or any settings that remind you of using or prompt you to use.
  • Things – Triggering situations and activities you associate with using.

Once the above are out of the picture, you’ll be amazed at how much room there is for new and exciting things in your life. This is a great opportunity to explore interests and hobbies that are healthy, creative and social, and do it together, making your life all the more full and fun in the process.

Set Yourself up for Relationship and Recovery Success With Couples’ Addiction Treatment

Remember, there are three recoveries to consider: yours, your partner’s and that of your relationship. If you’re seeking treatment as a couple, make sure you find a therapist who has experience working with couples in your situation, as the industry standard is generally to separate couples during treatment.

Broadway Treatment Center specializes in couples’ addiction recovery and offers a curriculum specifically designed to treat both partners in the same facility; our groundbreaking program has received accreditation through the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval. For more information and to explore your treatment options, contact us today.

Tattoos as Symbol of Addiction Recovery

Posted on: November 15th, 2018 by

Tattoos are powerful symbols that, for many people, carry great depth of personal meaning – so much so that some tattoo aficionados view their bodies as a canvas on which to display art that they feel represents who they are. But even for those who don’t take it quite that far, tattoos can still be used to epitomize an important person, life event or message. And for many in recovery from addiction, tattoos related to their sobriety are both celebratory of their new life choices and prudent reminders of their past.

Singer and mental health advocate Demi Lovato is an example of just that. The openly recovering star got a tattoo of the word “free” on her right pinky finger just four days after she admitted that she had relapsed, which she announced with her new single “Sober”. The song grapples with the guilt and disappointment she felt as someone who carries the weight of obligation to both her family and her fans: “Mama, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore/ And daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor,” she croons. “And I’m sorry for the fans I lost who watched me fall again/ I wanna be a role model, but I’m only human.” Lovato’s team all got the same tattoos as a show of their free, unified spirit. Said her hairstylist, César Ramirêz, “Love is accepting someone for who they are and for who they are not!”

Each Sobriety Tattoo Has Its Own, Unique Meaning

Sobriety tattoos hold different meanings for different people: They can be a symbol of your ability to overcome your troubled past, an ever-present reminder not to slip back into your old ways, or both. They provide a visual cue that might serve as a stronger aide-mémoire than simply carrying what you’ve learned in recovery around in the recesses of your mind. And just like sobriety itself, they represent a commitment to something that will last for the rest of your life.

One person describes their decision to get an AA tattoo this way: “I decided to imprint the AA symbol on my index finger because it’s my first finger and I wanted to always remind myself that sobriety was my first priority in life. I got the tat exactly when I had two years sober. When I first stopped using, I got a ‘First Things First’ bumper sticker for my car, so I guess you could say that was a test run for the tattoo.”

These adornments can symbolize not only the darkness of your past, but the brightness of your future: “I got my first recovery tattoo on my 40th birthday. I was a little over two months sober. It is a Tree of Life to represent my new life and my new focus on my emotional and spiritual growth,” says another woman of her ink. The process of getting a tattoo is, in a way, emblematic of the treatment process – the pain is temporary, but the rewards are everlasting.

Should You Get a Tattoo in Early Recovery?

Before you go walking into your local tattoo parlor, it’s worth taking some time to weigh the pros and cons of this long-lasting decision. Though tattoos themselves are losing their stigma and can be found on people from virtually any age group or walk of life, recovery is unfortunately still largely stigmatized. Having a visible and recognizably sobriety-related tattoo could turn out to be a talking point for a lot of conversations you don’t necessarily want to have – especially in the workplace, depending on your field.

Another consideration is what happens if you relapse. Will you then see your tattoo as a symbol of failure? If so, it could actually serve to increase your guilt – which, by the way, is a major driver of addiction. Consider this seriously before you take the plunge.

Many people find themselves wanting tattoos in early sobriety, but there are a few potential drawbacks to this. Firstly, tattoos aren’t cheap. If your funds have been compromised by addiction, it may be wise to wait until your financial house is in order before investing in something ornamental. Because skin art is permanent, this is not an area where you should skimp on quality – you don’t want to end up with something you regret because you went the budget route.

Remember, impulsivity is a hallmark of addiction – exactly the kind of behavior you’re in recovery to learn to control. Have some patience, foresight and planning. Take your time and make sure you really want what you’re getting; make sure you have the budget for quality work and that getting this piece isn’t disruptive to your financial planning.

Getting a Sobriety Tattoo? Some Things to Keep in Mind:

If you’re thinking about getting a recovery-related tattoo, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want it to be visible? Is it important to you to be able to easily cover it up?
  • Are you okay with discussing your recovery if someone has questions about the meaning of your tattoo
  • Do you want it to be an identifiable symbol of recovery, like the serenity prayer, AA triangle or a 12-Step motto?
  • Do you want it to be a larger piece that you add to over time?
  • Or, do you want it to be a small, understated piece that’s a little reminder to yourself?

Other factors to consider:

  • Don’t rush when choosing the design – this image and/or text will be on your body for the rest of your life.
  • Research images you want and look at existing tattoos for ideas.
  • Select your tattoo artist carefully and ask for their feedback and creative input on your design.
  • Think about how this tattoo will affect your work life and employment prospects.
  • Choose a design you can be proud of.
  • Think about what placement you want.
  • Consider your pain tolerance – different parts of the body are more painful to get tattooed than others.
  • Tattoos require you to properly clean them, shield them from the sun and refrain from swimming while they’re healing. Do your timing and circumstances allow for adequate aftercare?

Your path to recovery is unique to you, and so is your tattoo. The choice is yours, but make sure to take your time and carefully weigh all your options before making this important decision.

If you’re feeling shaky in your sobriety and need a boost of extra treatment or support, Broadway Treatment Center can connect you with resources and help you explore your options. Contact us online or call us at 714-443-8218 today.

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