writing in an addiction recovery journal

Creating an Addiction Recovery Journal: How Recovery Journaling Can Help You Heal

When a person has been through treatment for a substance misuse disorder, it is essential to find ways to continue on a positive path so that relapse does not occur. Starting an addiction recovery journal makes the process much easier. In fact, keeping a journal brings a number of benefits. 

For example, it is a powerful tool to document thoughts, reactions, and feelings in a central location. During times of overwhelming feelings, a journal provides valuable insights. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we teach members how to create successful long-term recovery plans, including keeping a recovery journal.

What Does it Mean to Create a Recovery Journal?

Indeed, writing things down is a helpful way to process feelings and to stop them from tormenting a person’s brain. Oftentimes, problems seem less worrisome when they are down on paper. Instead of writing random thoughts on different pieces of paper, a journal is a good way to keep things together. Also, it allows a person to track progress throughout recovery. In fact, it is possible to look back and be amazed at how much was accomplished.

A recovery journal does not have to be fancy. Overall, a basic notebook, a computer file, or a recovery app may be used. Since no one else will ever read it, a person can be totally honest. In the end, it is a great way to deal with emotions instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.

Certain Things to Include in an Addiction Recovery Journal

  • Daily emotion
  • Overall plan for recovery
  • Any identified triggers
  • Plans for avoiding triggers
  • Thoughts of gratefulness
  • Priorities
  • Motivations to stay on a positive path
  • Victories during recovery
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Meditation or relaxation techniques that are successful
  • Eating habits
  • Short-term and long-term goals
  • Reflections of progress
  • Hopes for the future

How Recovery Journaling Helps with Long-Term Recovery

Even if a person is not a good writer, creating a journal can be one of the most helpful tools for his or her long-term recovery. Also, recovery journaling is healing. Besides helping to deal with a substance misuse disorder, it can help with a mental health disorder as well.

Connecting Emotions and Making Changes

During recovery, it is essential for a person to commit to his or her emotions and to be ready for change. Recovery journaling helps an individual become more open and to comprehend feelings outside of a traditional therapy session. 

In fact, having a record of experiences helps to identify and to appreciate progress. In other words, it becomes easier to set goals and to document the positives and negatives along the way.

Acts as a Reflective Tool

Most people lead busy lives. There may not be enough time to plan for the future. For example, if a person is recovering from a substance use disorder, he or she may not know how to steer clear from alcohol at a friend’s wedding. The individual can reflect on the problem and answer important questions with useful solutions.

Helps the Body

Altogether, writing helps a person process emotions. As a result, his or her mental health is improved. Also, it has been shown that writing strengthens the immune system and lowers blood pressure. In other cases, it has decreased depression and increased emotional health.


A drug misuse disorder is challenging. Many people lose themselves. In treatment, certain questions arise. Keeping an addiction recovery journal helps to address major issues and to track progress. Also, failures are documented. This shows a person that it is possible to get back on the right path after setbacks.

Replaces Unhealthy Habits

In essence, journaling brings organization to a person’s life. This is a positive way to deal with issues that arise. When a person has an alternative to using drugs, healthy habits can replace unhealthy habits.

Self-Talk Therapy

In treatment, members participate in individual and group therapies. For the most part, keeping an addiction recovery journal is like private therapy. A person can safely write about things that are on his or her mind and focus on feelings that are associated with them. This decreases the weight of the issue and helps to identify responses that are associated with it. Therefore, it is easier to let go of the problem. 

Also, it is possible to write self-affirming reflections that raise self-esteem and offer ways to positively get through the issue.

Keeps Recovery in Check

Recovery is often a rocky process. Many times, a person faces challenges. By keeping a recovery journal, it becomes possible to identify certain things that indicate relapse. For example, a person may note that he or she ignores group meetings or therapy sessions. 

Documentation helps to recognize danger signs. On balance, a person is motivated to remain on a successful path of recovery.

Other Benefits of Journaling

  • Alleviates stress
  • Provides a positive spin on different situations
  • Helps to move toward a goal
  • Helps to maintain accountability

Different Types of Journaling

There are a number of recovery journaling techniques that are beneficial for individuals who battle substance misuse disorders.

  • Stream of Consciousness. This type of journaling occurs as an individual sits for a set period of time and writes anything that comes to his or her mind. It is essential not to edit anything. In other words, grammar and spelling are unimportant.
  • Diary. By and large, a diary is kept as a person writes all essential details of each day.
  • Gratitude Journal. This type of journal is best for a person with negative thoughts. In fact, forcing a person to focus on positive things helps to change his or her outlook on life.
  • Spiritual Journal. All in all, this journal includes regular observations that involve a person’s spiritual development. In other words, it is like a log that follows a person’s internal journey.
  • Health Journal. This type of journal includes an outline of ways for a person to live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential for a person who wants to make the most out of his or her recovery.

Things to Write About

Ultimately, there are no right or wrong things to include in an addiction recovery journal. There are no pressures, and things are totally kept personal and private. Therefore, a diary may contain dates, times, and feelings. 

Also, a person may include an event and feelings that are linked to the event. Other times, an individual might add reflections of things that could have been handled differently. To become more appreciative about life’s little things, a journal may include one thing that makes a person grateful each day.

Recovery Journaling Tips

When a person is not sure how to begin an addiction recovery journal, there are a few tips to follow. To begin, a person should set aside a few minutes each day to document feelings and experiences. Also, it is important to write in a private place without distractions. Consistency is key. Therefore, it is essential to stick to a regular schedule. It is always smart to keep a pen and paper handy. 

Ultimately, the urge to jot a feeling down can come at any time. Finally, an individual can review entries every few days so that reflection is possible.

When is the Right Time to Begin Recovery Journaling?

As can be seen, keeping an addiction recovery journal brings a number of benefits. Eliminating mental clutter and enhancing a person’s memory aids in healing and recovery. Therefore, there is never a right or wrong time to begin recovery journaling. However, there may be a few times when a person realizes that it may be exceptionally helpful.

  • When Overwhelmed. Journaling clears the mind. Also, it helps to release negative feelings.
  • Throughout Recovery. Certain studies have shown that journaling inhibits healing. During recovery, a person needs an outlet that takes away the pain and eliminates symptoms of mental illnesses. For example, a person with depression, PTSD, and eating disorders often finds great relief from journaling.
  • When Self-discipline is a Problem. Many times, people get stuck in ruts and procrastinate. In other words, motivation becomes low. In order to achieve goals, recovery journaling provides a visual reminder of what needs to get done.

Long-Term Recovery Tips from Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we understand that recovery is a life-long process. For example, it is filled with many ups and downs. At our treatment facility, we teach members ways to enjoy success. In fact, one way that we stimulate positive recovery is by encouraging journaling. 

In essence, it offers a safe place to vent frustration, fear, and disappointment. Also, it is a wonderful opportunity to set goals, document success, and be grateful for things that are usually taken for granted. In other words, an addiction recovery journal is a unique expression and a record of a person’s journey to wellness. For more information, contact us today.

self care in recovery

Why You Should Prioritize Self-Care in Recovery

Self-care is extremely important to your mental, physical, and behavioral health. But, self-care in recovery takes on new importance. While you are actively using drugs or alcohol, often, basic self-care is not a priority. As a result, your mental health and self-worth further decline. So, an important aspect of treatment is defining what self-care means to you.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is any experience that recharges your mind, body, and spirit. It can include taking a long shower, exercising, and spending time with loved ones. Attending therapy is crucial self-care, specifically in recovery. Self-care in recovery means reprioritizing what brings you joy, connection, and peace of mind. 

As important as it is to understand what self-care is, it’s crucial to understand what it isn’t. Self-care is not putting other’s needs before yours, overextending yourself, or having poor boundaries in relationships. Above all, self-care is not overlooking what makes you happy. 

Some people think self-care is selfish or indulgent. But, it is the total opposite. By practicing self-care and learning to love yourself, you can be fully present for those you love. At the same time, self-care in recovery can help center you and encourage Recovery for Life. 

Self-Care in Recovery

Building a routine of self-care in recovery is vital in maintaining your recovery. Because with recovery, come back the people and activities that your addiction chased away. Although these are incredible blessings, they can make you focus less on your self-care. As a result, cravings and thoughts of substance use start creeping in, and you risk the recurrence of use.

In recovery, there is an expression, ‘ anything you put in front of your recovery, you stand to lose.’ Now that you are getting back what substance use disorder took away, you don’t want to lose it again. It is crucial to remember your self-care in recovery and practicing things that maintain mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Self-care in recovery is not a concept; it is an action. You must put into action the practices of self-care in order to make it a daily habit. Today’s culture says self-care means luxury vacations, spa days, and 5-star dinners. And while those are nice, they are occasional experiences. And the idea behind self-care in recovery is finding daily things that make you happy. 

6 Elements of Self-Care in Recovery

Self-care includes taking care of your whole being. This means living a balanced lifestyle – being mindful of nutrition, exercise, and sleep. It also includes setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-acceptance, and becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

There are 6 elements to self-care in recovery that will nourish your entire well-being. While they are beneficial in recovery, everyone should practice self-care. 


Caring for your body inside and out is physical self-care. It means getting eight hours of sleep every night, taking a long walk, and cooking wholesome meals. When you prioritize your physical self-care, you have more energy for yourself and others. 


Emotional self-care is vital for your overall well-being. Whether it is friends, loved ones, or your therapist, you need someone to help process your feelings. Additionally, using art, music, and dancing is a great way to release negative emotions. 

Self-care in recovery helps you avoid people and situations that can be stressful and cause cravings. But setting boundaries and recognizing your thoughts and feelings are all part of self-care. Above all, self-care in recovery helps you work through your past experiences by releasing your emotions. 


Trying new activities that mentally challenge and stimulate you are great ways to practice mental self-care. Read a new book or put a puzzle together. At the same time, a meaningful and inspiring conversation with a friend is also self-care. Trying new activities can prevent you from getting into a stagnant mind frame, leading to thoughts of substance use. 


Your spiritual self-care in recovery is often kick-started in holistic therapy programs. These programs incorporate yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into your treatment plan. Maybe you find spiritual happiness in books, or perhaps you find spiritual peace walking through the forest. Your spirituality is personal and makes you feel connected to a higher power. While also lessening the feelings of isolation and loneliness. 


Social self-care is important because having close relationships in life is crucial. So, taking time to nurture these relationships is an essential element in self-care. But, social self-care also means being aware of the relationships that are not beneficial to your recovery. Joining 12-step groups and volunteering are great ways to build healthy new friendships. 


Practical self-care involves the aspects needed to sustain life. For example, buying groceries, doing housework, and budgeting. Some people think of these as chores. But, in recovery, it makes you feel responsible and accomplished. 

Practical self-care may mean decluttering your home and designing a calm living space. Handling finances can be a burden, but setting up a routine can make it easier. If you struggle with mental and emotional issues in recovery, controlling the practical areas in your life can be very rewarding. 

Daily Practices of Self-Care in Recovery

People in recovery may be out of practice when it comes to self-care, and it can be challenging to get started. However, there are many simple things you can do daily to incorporate self-care in your life. 

Stay Connected

When you feel connected, your recovery thrives. For this to happen, you must be part of a supportive community that knows what you are going through. They can offer you advice, love, and support in your recovery journey. Staying connected to others often means joining groups that prioritize spiritual wellness. 

Practice Mindfulness

Being mindful means being fully present in both the good and bad aspects of life. Being mindful in everyday life reduces the chance of losing sight of your overall wellbeing and recovery. For example, yoga and meditation are two practices of sitting peacefully and compassionately with yourself. 

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t take much time. To begin with, 15 minutes of meditation or yoga can make you feel refreshed and ready to tackle any challenges. Making these practices part of your daily morning or evening routine is an easy habit to promote your recovery.

Be Creative

When you were younger, were you creative? Did you like to paint or dance? Unfortunately, substance use quickly makes those activities unimportant in your life. Maybe your childhood was difficult, and you never discovered your creative side. Addiction treatment is the perfect time to explore this side of yourself. 

Recovery offers the chance to find your passion, such as photography, making jewelry, or drawing. Find a hobby that brings you joy and enriches your mind and spirit. Everyone is creative in their own way, so if you find drawing boring, then dancing may bring you joy instead. 

Self-Care and Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude

An important aspect of self-care in recovery is having an attitude of gratitude. Many people struggle with the concept of gratitude. However, it is simply valuing the good things that happen to you and taking time to acknowledge and be thankful for them. In recovery, this is an extremely valuable part of self-care. 

Take Stock Of Things You’re Grateful For

Whether you have a lot of good in your life or don’t, you can always find one thing to be grateful for. For instance, in recovery, you can be grateful for making it this far. Or, you might be grateful for the people who helped you when you couldn’t help yourself. 

Recognizing all the reasons you are blessed, what has gone wrong, and how your life is better is crucial in self-care in recovery. You may want to use a gratitude journal to track your recovery progress. Doing this is a great way to look back and be grateful for how far you have come. 

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Although there are many things to be grateful for, too many people spend time looking for big things to be thankful for. However, things don’t need to have significance to be grateful. Maybe someone wished you a great day, or your favorite plant bloomed; there are endless reasons to be grateful. 

What makes you happy on a daily basis? Is it the taste of fresh coffee in the morning or learning something new? Whether it is a favorite tv show, a good book, cleaning your house, or sitting under the stars, it is worth recognizing if it brings you joy. 

Helping Others Brings Joy

Typically, people are happier when they help others. It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer at a community shelter or help your friends or loved ones; it triggers the brain’s reward system in the brain. This leaves you feeling overall happier. Helping others is another facet of self-care. 

Forgive Others and Yourself

The biggest threat to being happy is thinking you have to be perfect. Self-care in recovery is not comparing yourself to others. You struggle with a disease known as substance use disorder, so you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed

Although you made mistakes, you are now in recovery and trying to do better. So recognize that because forgiving yourself is crucial self-care in recovery. At the same time, you need to forgive those who may have said or done things to make your life harder. Forgiveness gives a new perspective and more things to be grateful for. 

Discover Self-Care in Recovery at Sana Lake

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Our holistic therapies are beneficial in building positive self-care in recovery. Contact us today to find out more. 

Is Legalized Drugs a Good Thing?

Legalized Drugs: How Will Legal Mushrooms and Marijuana Affect Addiction Rates?

The 2020 election proved voters wanted to ease restrictions on recreational and medicinal drug use. With many people asking, is marijuana going to be legalized? Well, on November 3rd, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota answered this question. They made legal weed news joining 11 other states passing legalized drugs. 

Voters in Oregon also approved two landmark measures – one allowing legal mushrooms and another decriminalizes small amounts of illicit drugs. Measure 109 allows the use of psilocybin or magic mushrooms in therapeutic settings. While Measure 110 makes small amounts of certain drugs a civil violation with a $100 fine. 

Is Legalized Drugs a Good Thing?

Just as many people ask, is marijuana going to be legalized, many people ask why have legalized drugs. Both sides of the issue continue making legal weed news with good arguments—for example, the effect of legalized drugs on addiction and incarceration rates. However, the money states can make off legalized drugs is a great selling point. 

Arguments Against Is Marijuana Going to be Legalized

The anti-side of legalized drugs argues that using marijuana or cannabis regularly can lead to addiction. Drug addiction is a major problem in America. And many people worry legalizing marijuana will worsen addiction rates. 

Arguments against legalizing recreational marijuana include:

  • Marijuana is addictive and changes the natural chemical makeup of the brain. These changes affect the body’s physiological functions. 
  • When more people use marijuana, the higher the rates of cannabis use disorder. 
  • Although not as physically dangerous as other drugs, marijuana can cause a decrease cognitive skills and motivation. These effects can interfere with memory, opportunities, and performance. 
  • Making marijuana as socially acceptable as alcohol and tobacco can lead to unpredictable consequences.
  • Legalizing marijuana can cause the youth to view it as harmless. 
  • Psychiatric issues can be challenging to diagnose in those who use cannabis. 

Legal Weed News Argues For, Is Marijuana Going to be Legalized

In 2012, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana. Since legalization, Colorado has collected over $1.2 billion in taxes and fees. Last year alone, legalized drugs brought in over $302 million. However, Washington blew them out of the water collecting $395.5 million last year. 

When the answer is yes when asking is marijuana going to be legalized, a boom in local economies happens. More people will open independent dispensaries and grow shops increasing jobs. This increase in jobs benefits everyone – individuals, businesses, and governments.

Legalized Drugs and Teen Addiction Rates

Arguments for legalizing recreational marijuana include:

  • Marijuana is physically less harmful than alcohol.
  • Most individuals incarcerated for cannabis are otherwise law-abiding citizens.
  • Attempts at controlling the supply of marijuana with incarceration have failed.
  • Just as with tobacco use, universal access to education and treatment can decrease the demand.
  • Marijuana is not a gateway drug – marijuana use doesn’t typically lead to using other drugs.
  • Tax money from cannabis can fund prevention programs.
  • Government regulation of legalized drugs offers a safer and purer substance, unlike buying illicit drugs.

Legalized Drugs and Addiction Rates

Some people believe that legalized drugs will lead to higher addiction rates. But, the statistics don’t support this belief. Furthermore, as people understand addiction more, the opinion is changing. For example, addiction is seen as a mental health disorder and not a criminal one. 

In 2001 the world was watching as Portugal made legal weed news and legalized drugs. And now, over a decade later, drug use has not gone up. However, arrests, incarceration, and overdose rates have all gone down. 

For example:

  • Portugal’s drug use rates are far below European and U.S. rates
  • From 1998 to 2011, people in addiction treatment increased by over 60 percent
  • Overdoses dropped from 80 in 2001 to only 16 in 2012.

Legalized Drugs and Teen Addiction Rates

In Colorado, one benefit of legalized drugs is their impact on teen marijuana use. A federal survey shows since legalizing recreational marijuana, teen marijuana use has dropped. 

The number of high school students who used marijuana between 2011 and 2017 dropped 11 percent. At the same time, teens who tried marijuana also dropped 11 percent. One reason may be legalized drugs, and their restrictions make it difficult for teens to obtain marijuana. 

Legal Weed News and Opioid Use

Between 2000 and 2016, 4027 people in Colorado suffered fatal opioid overdoses, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. However, their study in 2017 found opioid-related deaths fell more than 6 percent. So, these stats show that legalized drugs have positive impacts on opioid use rates. 

Legal Weed News, Legalized Drugs, and Incarceration

The term “decriminalization” is thrown around a lot lately when discussing legalized drugs, specifically cannabis. However, decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Simply put, decriminalization of marijuana simply reduces the consequences of breaking some marijuana laws. 

Legalized Drugs

Most states which have decriminalized marijuana, for example, don’t press criminal charges for small amounts of legalized drugs. For example, getting caught with typically less than an ounce will not result in jail time or a criminal record. However, like an open container violation, a fine may be issued.

Legal Weed News: Colorado Crime Rates After Legalized Drugs

It’s been 8 years since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use. And, as you would expect, marijuana arrests plummeted. For example, between 2012 and 2017, marijuana arrests dropped 56 percent. 

However, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations’ latest annual report, all forms of violent crimes have been steadily rising over 5 years. But, Gov. Hickenlooper isn’t ready to blame legalized drugs just yet. Some people believe the rise in crime is because of an increase in the transient population.

Medical Cannabis and Legalized Drugs

The medical benefits of cannabis have been studied and debated for decades. THC, the main component of cannabis, does have medical benefits. In fact, there are FDA-approved drugs that contain THC, such as Marinol and Cesamet. 

Although there are arguments against medical cannabis, there are so many personal stories of how medical cannabis helped physically and mentally. But, above all, it has helped some people recover from prescription drug addictions. 

Legal Mushrooms and Mental Health

The main ingredient in several types of psychoactive mushrooms is psilocybin. It is commonly homegrown or found in the wild while being sold dried or fresh. Scientists and mental health professionals consider psilocybin a promising treatment in a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. 

Like other psychedelics, legal mushrooms cause profound consciousness and perception changes. The effects of legal mushrooms typically last 4 to 6 hours. But, the peak effects of legal mushrooms occurs 2 to 3 hours after ingestion. 

The effects of legal mushrooms include:

  • Sensory enhancement
  • Seeing objects that appear to be floating or moving
  • Unusual thoughts and speech
  • Personal insight and reflection
  • An excited mood

However, legal mushrooms can overwhelming or mentally jarring. But, taken in a therapeutic setting can lead to deeply meaningful and positive life-changing experiences. Dozens of studies are showing significant benefits in treating the following disorders with legal mushrooms. 

  • Cluster headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Are Legal Mushrooms Addictive?

Legal mushrooms are not considered addictive nor cause compulsive use. Because the experience is so intense, most people limit their use of legal mushrooms. Besides, the body quickly builds a tolerance to psilocybin. 

This tolerance leads to needing more for the same effect. But, using legal mushrooms repeatedly for a few days actually takes away any effects from legal mushrooms. Cross-tolerance occurs specifically with legal mushrooms and LSD. Cross-tolerance means if you take LSD one day and legal mushrooms the next, the legal mushrooms will have no effect. 

Treatment Centers Respond to Legalized Drugs

Although legalized drugs like marijuana are considered organic, harmless, and safe, they can be addictive.  The NIDA suggests around 9 percent of those who misuse marijuana will develop a marijuana addiction. But, if you start using as a teen, that rate goes up to 17 percent. 

Although marijuana isn’t physically addictive like heroin or alcohol, it can be psychologically addictive. Because most people favor legalized drugs, there is a misconception about addiction and the need for marijuana addiction treatment. 

Legalized Drugs and Treatment at Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake, we understand that the availability of legalized drugs can lead to addiction. So, if you find yourself struggling with a marijuana use disorder, we have a personalized program to help. Our comprehensive recovery approach sets our members up to achieve Recovery for Life. 

From traditional to holistic therapies, treatment may include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Co-occurring disorder treatment
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Holistic therapies – yoga, meditation, mindfulness, nutrition, journaling

Your Recovery for Life Starts Today!

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental health disorders, it’s time to get help. From medical detox through our aftercare programs, our doctors and therapists are with you each step. Contact us today to find out more. 






5 common relapse triggers

5 Common Relapse Triggers: How to Avoid Them

More than 85 percent of individuals in recovery relapse in the first year after receiving treatment

It’s important to understand how relapse happens before knowing about the most common addiction triggers. Thoughts in our mind, as well as people and places in our environment, are all factors that can contribute to relapse. First, we’ll break down how relapse works, then we’ll talk about what to do when you come across them.

The Three Stages of Relapse

Contrary to popular belief, relapse doesn’t just happen in one moment. Relapse is a gradual process that ends in the physical act of using drugs or drinking. Before you know the five most common addiction triggers, you must educate yourself on the three stages of relapse so that you understand it and know what to expect.

Emotional Relapse

Emotional relapse, which is the first stage of relapse, consists of troubling or confusing feelings. You might not be actively thinking about using, but you’re remembering what it used to feel like when you did. You’re also in denial about the possibility of relapse.

Typical signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Bottling up your feelings
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Not regularly attending recovery meetings
  • Poor hygiene
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends
  • Going to recovery meetings but not participating

Mental Relapse

During a mental relapse, your thoughts are drifting toward using again, even if part of you doesn’t want to go back to that part of your life. This can be a tough stage to come back from, so you’ll have to do some relapse prevention planning and get a family member or trusted friend involved. 

Typical signs of mental relapse include:

  • Glorifying past drug/alcohol use
  • Craving drugs or alcohol
  • Thinking about people with whom you used drugs
  • Planning for the next time you’ll use drugs
  • Thinking how to better control your drug use
  • Lying to your loved ones

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the official act of using drugs and alcohol again. Once you’ve physically relapsed, it can be hard to realize that you need help.

The 5 Most Common Addiction Triggers

By knowing the typical addiction triggers that can spur you to use drugs and alcohol again, you can prevent relapse from ever happening. Keep in mind that you don’t need to beat yourself up for giving in these triggers. Recovery can be extremely difficult, but knowing what your triggers are in advance can help you stay drug-free in the long run.


People who and places that you associate with past drug use are common addiction triggers. When you start hanging out with old drinking buddies, even if they no longer drink, you’re more likely to reminisce about using and feel tempted to drink again. 

When you’re recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction, you must have a response to these people if you end up encountering them and they ask you to have a drink. Think of healthier ways to spend your time, like having dinner with your partner or seeing a movie.


Stress is one of the most predominant addiction triggers. Troubles at work or home can drive a person to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings. If in the past you constantly turned to harmful substances to deal with your problems, then you’re at an even higher risk of relapsing.

Try to evaluate the stress you’re going through. If there is a certain situation that consistently stresses you out, like a financial situation or an abusive relationship, try to avoid or get out of it. Listing the people, places, and things that stress you out can also help prevent relapse.

If you’re feeling stressed by conditions in your everyday life, try practicing healthier coping mechanisms like mindfulness. Meditation, exercise like yoga, eating healthy, can all help you find peace within yourself and give you feelings of achievement.

One of the most important things you can do in recovery is learning which scenarios stress you out and finding healthy ways of dealing with them. Your therapist or mental health counselor can help you do this as well. By eliminating stressful situations and people from your life, you can make positive changes and strides that will lead you to long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol. 

Negative Emotions

Feeling sad, angry, or ashamed are precursors to relapse. Learning how to healthily deal with these emotions is key to avoiding relapse. When you use drugs and alcohol to cope with these feelings, they only provide temporary relief. Once the effects wear off, these challenging and negative emotions will still be there to bother you. 

When these feelings come on, you need to realize that everyone feels upset or angry sometimes. Don’t view these feelings as setbacks. Rather, use them as opportunities to grow and understand yourself better. In the same way that you deal with stress, you need to also deal with these emotions. Release your feelings through writing, painting, or drawing. Negative emotions can usually lend wonderfully to creativity.


As big a part as unhappy events can trigger a relapse, celebrations can play similar roles. During weddings and birthdays, you might get overconfident and feel that you can handle one drink, but this can be a risky action. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol have trouble controlling how much they can consume, and you might find yourself relapsing at a special event. When friends and family are around, this can be incredibly embarrassing.

Figure out what to do before a celebration happens. Tell yourself that you need to stay humble and know that you could lose control even if you have just a small drink. 


Seeing someone take a drag of a cigarette or smoke marijuana, as well as looking at people drinking at a bar can immediately bring back memories of drug use. When you encounter these objects, think about how drug use negatively impacted your life. Concentrate on all the good that being sober has brought you.

Besides the above five addiction triggers, others include H.A.L.T. (feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired), having an untreated mental health disorder and boredom.

How Can I Prevent Relapse?

Some addiction triggers are unavoidable. When you feel a craving coming on, don’t try to cover up the feeling; accept it, and let it pass. You’ll usually feel it for about 15 to 30 minutes before it fades. 

Regularly attending recovery meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery will help to keep you accountable for your actions and keep you humble. There is a saying in AA, “Just for today,” which means that you need to take your recovery one day at a time. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are also trying to permanently abstain from drugs and alcohol will be good motivation for you.

Keep yourself busy with hobbies you enjoy that don’t revolve around drinking or using drugs, like riding your bicycle, exercising, crafting, journaling, cooking or playing board games with friends. It’s possible to enjoy life without harmful substances taking over.

It’s extremely helpful to develop a relapse prevention plan, which is one of the many services we offer at Sana Lake Recovery Center. Even by doing all this, it’s still possible for you to relapse.

What If I Do Relapse?

If you do relapse, the first step is to ask for help. There is no shame in seeking assistance from your friends, loved ones, or sponsor. It’s not unheard of for drug-dependent persons to relapse in their first year of recovery, so don’t be discouraged if you do. Recovery is a lifelong journey that takes plenty of willpower and dedication to maintain.

Sana Lake offers a wide range of addiction treatment programs as well as multiple types of therapy and sober living programs. Whether you have a severe addiction that requires inpatient treatment or a mild one that only requires some outpatient sessions, we have a treatment plan that will meet your needs.

Addiction Recovery Programs

Addiction recovery programs are proven to help millions of users all over the world with addiction triggers and drug and alcohol cravings. They provide a supportive community of people who have been where you are and have managed to maintain recovery throughout their life. Below are a few examples of addiction recovery programs that you can find all over the U.S.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Arguably the most popular and well-known recovery group, Alcoholics Anonymous follows a 12-step approach that acknowledges a higher power and forces people to admit they are powerless over addiction. In AA, you are assigned a sponsor who will help you through your addiction recovery and be there for you when you encounter an addiction trigger.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

NA follows the same model as AA, except it focuses more on addiction to illegal and prescription drugs like alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl. NA also has sponsors who will help keep you accountable.

SMART Recovery

If you don’t believe in a higher power and want a more scientific approach to recovery, SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training) Recovery might be the perfect group for you. SMART Recovery emphasizes methods for helping drug-dependent persons improve their lives and develop healthier lifestyles. SMART Recovery also uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative behaviors and thoughts into positive ones so that you can make productive lifestyle changes.

Relapse Prevention at Sana Lake Recovery Center

At Sana Lake, we can help you devise a relapse prevention plan so that you can be aware of your addiction triggers at all times. Once you complete medical detox in which harmful substances are flushed from your body, the real work of recovery begins. In addition to therapy and other aftercare activities, relapse prevention is a crucial part of the recovery process. 

Our licensed therapists can help you identify your triggers and help you take steps to avoid these. If you can’t always avoid them, your therapist will teach you coping skills for when you come across these situations.

Whatever your addiction, our certified professionals at Sana Lake can help you achieve your recovery goals and kick drugs and alcohol for good.

Identify Your Addiction Triggers and Prevent Relapse Now

See how the clinical staff at Sana Lake Recovery Center can help you reach your recovery goals. Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives who can talk you through our various treatment processes. You don’t have to struggle with your addiction by yourself. Call us today!



Nutrition and Mental Health

Food for Thought: The Link Between Mental Health and Nutrition

You are what you eat. No doubt, you’ve heard this saying before. And, while it’s unlikely that you’ll turn into the chocolate bar you just ate, the old saying has a bit of truth to it. When it comes to the food we eat, it’s important to remember that it has a real impact on many areas of our lives.

It’s easy to assume that food is only meant to serve a simple purpose: to fill our stomachs and provide us with energy. But, the truth of the matter is that food affects us in more ways than that. A healthy diet can help to improve our physical, emotional, and mental health. But, consuming food that isn’t healthy can negatively impact our health, both physically and mentally.

That’s correct — there’s a connection between mental health and nutrition.

Can a Poor Diet Cause Mental Illness?

In a word, yes. However, medical professionals and scientists are still researching the exact connection between nutrition and mental health. But, many scientists are certain that there’s at least some sort of link between the two. There are several reasons why professionals believe this connection exists. 

You can think of your diet as the type of fuel you feed to your brain. The food you eat can affect your mental health in many ways. Certain types of food can either intensify or bring about symptoms of mental health disorders. For example, foods and beverages that are high in sugar have been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. ADHD is a mental health disorder that is characterized by hyperactivity and difficulty focusing. In cases like this, the foods people eat may have a somewhat direct correlation to their mental health.

Also, food can affect one’s overall mood. Since the systems within your body affect one another, what happens in one area of your body intertwines with and impacts what happens elsewhere. Simply put, what you eat goes into your digestive system. But, this has an impact on the neurons that flow throughout your brain and body.

To explain further, your brain produces a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This neurotransmitter, which you can think of as a “messenger chemical”, plays a role in sleep and appetite regulation. What you consume has an impact on the production of neurons and neurotransmitters in your body. So, when you consume harmful or unhealthy foods, this affects the production of serotonin. As a result, you may begin to experience sleep problems or disturbances in your appetite. As you might imagine, this can lead to changes in your emotions and your overall mood. That’s why it’s best to focus on the importance of a healthy diet.

Nutritional Psychiatry: A Closer Look at Nutrition and Diet

The study of food and mood (diet and mental health) is often referred to as nutritional psychiatry. Some also refer to this ideology as nutritional neuroscience. But, regardless of what you may call it, it’s important to realize that there is, in fact, a connection between what one eats and his or her mental well-being. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “consistent epidemiological evidence, particularly for depression, suggests an association between measures of diet quality and mental health”. In other words, your diet can be a contributing factor when it comes to the development of certain mental health disorders, including depression.

It’s important to note, however, that mental health disorders are both serious and complex. Depression disorder, anxiety disorder, ADHD, and all other mental illnesses are caused by much more than poor diets. Many other factors contribute to the development of these mental health disorders. So, it’s not likely that individuals who have poor eating habits will develop mental illness solely because of their diet. 

Even so, the fact that food has an at least partial connection to one’s mood and mentality, proves the importance of clean eating. With that being said, let’s discuss some of the food items you might consider avoiding or limiting in order to prevent any mood disturbances due to diet. Then, we will address some dietary options that can boost and encourage physical, emotional, and mental health.

Food Items That Contribute to Poor Mental Health

When it comes to the connection between mental health and nutrition, individuals should consider some specific truths. Firstly, remember that nutrition plays a major role in physical health. As a result, it can also have a massive impact on the way a person feels and behaves. What we consume has the ability to affect our energy levels, ability to focus, level of motivation, and much more. So, it is absolutely necessary to take care of our bodies by giving them the fuel that they need.

Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we know that each individual has different needs when it comes to mental and physical health. So, you should certainly speak with your physician and other medical professionals to find out what’s best for you as far as your diet is concerned. However, there is some general nutrition-related information to consider when it comes to taking care of your physical and mental health.

Having said this, here are some foods that you might avoid or simply limit, especially if you already have a diagnosis of a mental health disorder:

  • Red meat
  • Foods that are high in sugar
  • Large amounts of sodium
  • Excessive amounts of saturated fats

Again, it is certainly best to speak with your doctor about your diet. As we have mentioned, your diet is not the only thing that affects your mental health. But, it can definitely contribute to low moods or symptoms that are related to mental health disorders. So, it may be necessary to adjust your eating habits in order to improve your health in every area of your life!

Now that we’ve discussed some foods that you may need to consume less of, let’s talk about some dietary components that may prove to be beneficial to your health.

A Diet That Promotes Emotional, Physical, and Mental Health

If you’re not sure where to start as you seek to improve your diet, know that there are many options. The following foods can be thought of as “brain food” as most of them can improve your brain’s functionality and increase energy levels within the body.

  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Vitamin D-rich foods
  • Lean meat/protein (fish, chicken, etc.)

Taking care of your mental health is beneficial for many reasons. When your mind is healthy, the rest of your body can also become healthier. Also, mental health disorders can cause other difficulties to occur in your life. Believe it or not, this could include substance use disorder.

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Substance Dependence

Once a person develops a mental health disorder, it’s possible that other challenges could arise. For instance, an individual who suffers from depression may begin self-medicating with alcohol use. Unfortunately, many people turn to alcohol and drug use in order to find relief from the symptoms of their mental health disorder. As a result of this substance use, people may develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Chemical dependency is very serious and can cause negative effects on the lives of those who suffer from them. These effects are only intensified by the presence of a mental health disorder. 

When a person suffers from both substance dependence and mental illness, it means that he or she has co-occurring disorders. Professionals call this a dual diagnosis and it’s important that individuals receive treatment and care through a program that can treat both disorders.

Thankfully, many treatment facilities offer this kind of program. We certainly do here at Sana Lake. So, if you or someone you know needs help overcoming the effects of substance dependence and mental health challenges, please reach out to us right away.

Let Sana Lake Help Treat Mental Health Disorders in Your Life

As we discussed earlier, mental health is not solely influenced by diet. There are many other factors involved. Some mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are influenced by past experiences. Disorders such as anxiety or depression can occur because of the effects of stress or grief. So, it’s important to keep all of this in mind when it comes to getting treatment for mental health disorders. 

Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we strive to treat our members with excellence and understanding. We are aware of the fact that many of the individuals who come to our facility need individualized care. After all, everyone is different and has unique needs. We work to meet those needs and help members to live healthy lives once treatment is complete.

Whether you are dealing with mental illness or someone you know is struggling, we’re here to help. Just contact us to learn more about our services. Begin your journey to a healthier life today!








holistic alternative to opioids

Holistic Opioid Alternatives for Chronic Pain

Opioids work directly on the parts of the brain that perceive pain. They are derived from the opium poppy and are the main ingredient to many painkillers. Once they are taken, they act on what are called opioid receptors, present in the brain, spinal cord, and even the digestive tract. Then, they block pain signals and generate morphine-like symptoms on the body.

These receptors are also the ones that allow people to feel pleasure. So while they also lower perception of pain, they also make a person feel relaxed. That is why the chemical and neurological effects of opioids can often lead to addiction

As a legal drug, opioids, or opiates, are used for pain management for moderate to severe pain. They require prescription and monitoring, and in most cases, they should be used for short periods of time. However, some conditions might require some form of pain management for long. Cases of chronic pain or even cancer require long-term use of painkillers.

In this case, a doctor will tell a person the best way and dosage to consume, and for how long. It is crucial that the doctor’s orders are followed, because of the high risk of addiction, and other side effects.

The Opioid Crisis

It is not rare for people to become dependent or addicted to opioids, especially after using it for too long. While they are controlled substances, their effects can only be predicted if used correctly. And even then, there is still a risk. In fact, as of now, the U.S. is going through what is considered an opioid crisis.

Studies have shown that this opioid crisis started in 1999. The year marks the rise of prescription opioid overdose deaths. That was the “first wave” of the said crisis. Next, around 2010, is when the second wave started. The main culprit for deaths was heroin. Not long after, the third and current wave began. It was in 2013, and the drugs that have been causing alarming reports of deaths since are synthetic opioids.

Missouri has not been immune to this wave, either. From 2015 to 2017, the number of synthetic opioid-related deaths almost tripled. However, the number of deaths reported involving prescription opioids hasn’t improved much, either. Since 2010, an average of 250 people has died every year, with yearly numbers reported staying between 200 and 300.

The Dangers of Opioids

As stated, one of the possible outcomes of opioid use is dependence. In the case of prolonged use, one might become tolerant and require higher and higher doses. As for addiction, a person with a tendency for dependence might develop a substance use disorder after treatment.

There are many side effects and symptoms that come from the constant use of opiates. Some of them are: 

  • Sedation (excessive in higher doses)
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Physical dependence and/or tolerance
  • Respiratory depression
  • Muscle rigidity and/or spasm
  • Immunologic dysfunction
  • Hormonal dysfunction
  • Increased sensitivity to pain

Although every drug has its side effects, opioids can have some of the most dangerous ones. Its use needs to be closely followed by a doctor, and their instructions need to be followed. For some, however, holistic opioid alternatives might be the only way to go.

Holistic Opioid Alternatives For Treatment

For many, using opioids for pain management is not an option. Family history of addiction or previous experiences with dependency are factors that might discourage someone from taking them. These might actually be reasons why a doctor won’t prescribe opioids, even. These factors put the person at a risk group for addiction to opioids.

But whatever the reason might be, there are healthy, holistic opioid alternatives. Now, the right choice for you would depend on the health condition you are dealing with. But there are options for many different purposes.

Chronic, Physical Pain Holistic Opioid Alternatives

Persistent, physical pain might not have a cure depending on the condition. But even in these cases, there are multiple ways to lessen the pain without using meds. Some of the effects of physical stimuli and stressors can be dealt with through holistic treatment or therapy.

Acupuncture – One of the most popular holistic opioid alternatives for pain management. The technique is comprised of light needle punctures on specific parts of the body. The goal is to place them in a way where the pain signals are cut. Some practitioners might also add in electrical stimulation, a version of the technique which is called electroacupuncture. Generally, a person is supposed to feel numbness, distension, or even tingling in the areas the needles go. 

Massages – There are many different techniques to choose from, so you can experiment until you find what works for you. Shiatsu, Swedish, cross-fiber – there are many to pick from. A professional might be able to recommend the right type of massage for you. Each is meant to mix friction and pressure techniques for different purposes and ends

Physical Therapy – a mix of exercises, kinesiology (the study of body movement), and shockwave/electrotherapy, physical therapy is the complete package. It is often used even to treat veterans, and others who have had strenuous exercise and severe wear of muscles, cartilage, and/or bones. Probably the most effective, albeit intense, holistic opioid alternative for physical pain.

Cupping – While not a new technique, it has recently become more commonly used among practitioners. Cupping is done by applying local suction on the skin with round utensils. This is meant to help blood flow and avoid blood stagnation or energy. People might get it for pain, inflammation, relaxation, and even as a deep-tissue massage. It is not rare for people to pair cupping with other holistic opioid alternatives for pain, as well

Chiropractic Care – Described as treatment through manipulation of the spine, there are literally more than 200 chiropractic techniques. The reason for focusing on the spine is because it is the center of the nervous system. In layman’s terms, chiropractors use techniques that help “crack” the spine and readjust the positioning of posture. It is a common holistic opioid alternative for pain management, with many professionals easily found almost everywhere.

Alternative Medication 

For those going through major, severe complications, not all of the previous options are possible. People who need holistic opioid alternatives while battling cancer, for instance, might have limited choices. In this case, there are some medications and less intense remedies that can help with the pain.

Acetaminophen – Mostly recommended for cases of mild to moderate pain. It is known by other popular brand names, such as Tylenol, or as paracetamol. It is also used for treatment for severe pain for cancer patients or post-surgery recovery. However, they are only safe if the patient takes the recommended dosages. 

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – In many cases, inflammation is the main culprit for chronic pain. In these cases, an NSAID might be the safest opioid alternative. As they reduce swelling, this might help reduce or stop the pain altogether. However, they should be taken cautiously, since they can cause cardiovascular and/or gastrointestinal problems. 

Non-opioid Prescription Drugs – There are other controlled, prescription drugs that can be used for pain management. Tricyclic antidepressants, for instance, are often used for nerve, muscular, or skeletal pain. Anticonvulsants/anti-seizure medication can also be an alternative to opioids. These, however, are not taken only when needed and need to be taken on a daily basis, with or without pain. Otherwise, they might not be effective, either.

While holistic opioid alternatives might have some side effects, they are more predictable than most opiates. Some of these solutions might only be adequate for short periods of time. Prolonged use of some of those drugs could cause ulcers, blood clotting issues, liver and/or kidney problems, and the list goes on. 

Self-medication, however, is never the best answer. Any medication you might take should be done so through the recommendation of a doctor. Only a professional can tell you how to best treat your pain, especially in the long term. Some drugs can cause a bad, maybe even lethal reaction if combined with others. So always consult with a doctor before taking anything.

Getting Treatment 

If you become addicted to opioids either through treatment or use of illicit drugs, you are not alone. Right now, you are one of many, many more who deal with the struggle of opioid addiction. But it doesn’t have to be like this for long. Opioid addiction can be managed, and there is treatment available for those in need. And we at Sana Lake Recovery Center want to help you get through it.

Along with our many options, we offer a holistic approach to recovery. We believe that treatment can be even more than chemistry and meds. It is also about the mind, the body, and the spirit as well. While we provide psychiatric and medical aid, we also offer neuropathic, holistic, and wellness programming. 

So if this sounds like what you or a loved one might need, visit our website and contact us today. You can learn about all the options we have for you and the tools we can give you to get better. Our team will be glad to guide you through this journey not just into sobriety, but into a healthier, happier life.







new hobby ideas

Cave Paintings: 9 New Hobby Ideas to Support Your Recovery

Recovering is all about you, and what better way to celebrate a new start than with a new hobby?

But let’s face it: no one person is alike, and we all have different interests. So which hobbies are best? If you’re painting skills are akin to a neanderthal’s, should you even bother?

The truth is, there are hobbies that can impact your recovery’s success. The trick is finding the right one for you.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 9 new hobby ideas that will help keep you focused, encouraged and positive. Sober living can bring lots of new experiences in your life. Which is your favorite?

9 New Hobby Ideas

Hobbies keep you active and help you avoid addiction triggers. Plus, they are great for enhancing self-esteem and communication.

Finding the right activity might mean trying out several and see how you feel about each. The secret is not to worry about how “good” you are; instead, it’s all about how much you enjoy the hobby.

1. Journal Writing

Are you an introvert? Do you feel better after discussing your thoughts and feelings?

Try journal writing.

Writing in a journal can be an entirely solo experience or a tool for interaction with a friend, loved one or a trusted therapist. It’s up to you which path you choose.

Either way, expressive writing evokes mindfulness. Because writers engage with their thoughts and language, they not only increase thoughtfulness but even their communication skills.

Further, studies suggest journal writing helps in achieving goals. When writing about ambitions, it signals your intentions to the brain. When opportunities occur that could help your goal, the brain flags them.

For those in recovery, these changes are paramount. They can help individuals consider their actions deeply, communicate their thoughts and emotions with others and work towards aspirations.

2. Painting

Recovery is a time of healing, but it can also be a difficult period full of intense emotions. Painting and other arts are helpful hobbies if you experience these extreme feelings.

Painting, drawing and other art forms allow the artist to express him or herself without words. This is constructive for recovering people who may struggle with feelings of guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety.

The act of being creative allows individuals to lose themselves to the art process, which enhances concentration skills.

Similar to writing, there is also research that shows art fosters growth in other areas. Those who participate in artistic activities and search for employment, for instance, find jobs faster than those who do not participate in artistic activities.

3. Meditation

Yoga is a healthy outlet that strengthens the body, but the meditation practices associated with it also strengthen the mind. In fact, meditation reduces stress and improves heart health.

Many people falsely assume meditation is only achieved through the standard method of closing your eyes, crossing your legs and being silent.

However, meditating can occur while running, rock climbing or painting. It is defined as slowing down the mind to focus on bigger notions, such as the self or the world.

In recovery, it is essential individuals contemplate themselves, their actions and the world in a way that is comfortable for them.

4. Hiking

A multitude of evidence points to the advantages nature brings to the mind, body, and spirit. Hiking adds to these benefits with exercise and is an option for anyone of any age who has access to trails or green space.

Hiking itself is excellent for the cardiovascular system but being outside is also helpful for your mood and mind. Several studies indicate green space calms the mind because the brain is not overcompensating for the many noises, visual cues and multitasking daily life requires.

Research also demonstrates green space reduces anxiety and depression, which makes it a fantastic hobby for those in recovery.

5. Volunteer

When you don’t feel good about yourself or the world, helping others is a great way to change your perspective.

Volunteering provides individuals with a sense of purpose, providing meaning during a time that may sometimes seem overwhelming. Volunteers also feel healthier; one poll indicated almost 80% of volunteers reported feeling healthier than normal.

Finally, volunteering encourages social interactions beyond the scope of recovery. The focus isn’t on the recovering individual but on assisting someone else.

Not a people person? Volunteering can still be a new hobby; consider helping a local humane society.

6. Cooking

Want some spice in your life? Try out cooking.

Many people don’t consider cooking as a form of art, but chefs literally make masterpieces from scraps—just like a painter weaves an image from paint.

The great thing about cooking is that recovering individuals can determine what environment is best suited for them. They can cook at home, with friends or in a classroom setting.

7. Sports

Sports is a mixture of exercise and social interaction, making it one of the best hobbies to pick up for recovering individuals.

First, the exercise reduces stress, enhances memory and encourages imagination. But that’s not all.

Other studies show sports provide meaning for players. They also help transform identities for some individuals, providing a social and engaging routine that aids in the recovery process.

8. Gardening

Remember how we said green space reduces stress, anxiety, and depression? Why not immerse yourself in the outside world as a hobby?

Gardening is one of the simple hobbies that most people can enjoy. Even an in-house herb garden for those in a city is beneficial.

Gardens instill responsibility in the owners while they also reap the benefits of the outside world.

9. Horseback Riding

Equine therapy creates a relationship between horse and human. It also teaches responsibility to those learning to care for another being.

More than that, it provides a sense of acceptance.

Studies demonstrate horse-assisted therapy even increases the likelihood of recovery retention.

Choose Your Outlet

Horseback riding, volunteering, gardening… the options are endless for those trying to identify themselves during the recovery stage.

Considering new hobby ideas is a great way to stay motivated and to remind ourselves of recovery’s importance. Which hobby is right for you?

But don’t forget your hobbies may be only one tip for staying sober during or after recovery. Learn a few more suggestions and start on your hobby today.

Don’t worry; even if your paintings look like primeval cave drawings, remember that you are participating in something that is for you. The point is to immerse yourself in the new experience and to find enjoyment in a new, healthy activity.



employement gap explanation

The Employment Gap Explanation: How to Frame Rehab in Job Interviews

Spending time in rehab and recovery inevitably leads to gaps in your resume. Sharp-eyed employers will want to know why you’ve had periods of unemployment. Do you know what you’re going to tell them?

The time you’ve taken to heal yourself is essential – but how do you frame that for potential employers without risking your employment opportunities?

This guide will help you decide how best to hone your approach to answering tricky interview questions about your recovery period. Once you’ve considered the points below, you’ll be ready to provide a confident employment gap explanation that any employer will accept.

The Big Question: How Do You Give an Employment Gap Explanation After Rehab?

Before we look at ways to gain confidence for your post-recovery job interviews, let’s tackle the elephant in the room first. Employment gaps on your resume will be obvious to any potential employer: they’re guaranteed to ask about them.

How do you navigate such a tricky subject without damaging your employment opportunities?

Option One: Tell the Truth (But Not the Whole Truth)

You don’t have to go into detail if you’re not comfortable or think it may harm your chances of getting the job.

The most important thing about explaining any employment gap is to put a positive spin on it. This will show employers that you are an optimist and likely to be a solution finder instead of a problem-creator.

You can tell your interviewers that you spent a period facing ill health and that you’re now fully recovered. Alternatively, explain your absence from work as a family crisis that needed handling but is now over.

Both of these options are the truth – but they still cover your privacy. Addiction is a legitimate illness, and it causes family crises, too. You’re not lying by keeping the detail as minimal as possible, yet offering some explanation will put employers’ minds at ease about your employment gap.

Option Two: Be Totally Honest

If you feel comfortable, be totally open and honest about your employment gap. This may depend on the type of employer you’re trying to land a job with, too. With a little research, you’ll get a feel on their approach to employee addiction recovery.

Some jobs may even benefit from a completely frank approach. For example, if you want to use your recovery experience to help others by working for an addiction center or community program, your real-life experience is essential to understanding clients.

If your addiction has affected your criminal record, make sure you’re up-front about this. If you don’t admit to a record and you’re hired, but your employer later finds out, they can fire you for misconduct.

How to Get Through Your Post-Recovery Job Interviews

When you’ve decided how much you’re going to say in your interview, it’s time to think about how to use your experience to bolster your application. Keep these things in mind to give you confidence in your interview.

Think About Other Activities Completed During Recovery

Consider the activities you did as part of your recovery program. Did you take up meditation? Perhaps this helped you learn how to keep a level head. Perhaps you joined a team sport to improve your fitness and social skills. This’ll look good to employers seeking team-oriented workers.

If you’ve taken a cookery class to learn more about healthy eating in recovery, this is a new skill that demonstrates multi-tasking and time management. If you’ve taken up an art class, it shows creativity.

Think about the hobbies you’ve taken up during your recovery process: you are guaranteed to have developed new skills valuable to any employer.

Don’t Flat-Out Lie

It’s tempting to simply extend your employment dates on your resume to make it seem as if there are no gaps at all.

You might even want to make up a job to put on your application to cover up the gap.

Don’t do this! Your employer could check out your background and, if they find out you’ve lied, won’t consider your application further. Employers won’t take on dishonest employees – but they will consider those who own their mistakes openly and honestly.

If, however, a potential employer pushes you to answer in-depth questions about your recovery, you don’t have to share with them. If you’re not sure how to respond, try this answer: “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to go into such personal detail at this stage of the interview process”.

This makes it clear that you feel the interviewer has overstepped boundaries, but if you were to reach a second or third interview stage could be something you discuss in more detail. This gives you more time to consider how you’d like to approach these questions before the next interview.

Remember the Law is Your Friend

While proving discrimination at the interview stage is tricky, it’s not impossible. If you feel – or have had direct feedback confirming – that you didn’t get the job because of your addiction, act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against anyone with a previous substance abuse problem who is no longer using drugs. If you’re passed over for the role specifically because of your previous addiction, you have grounds for legal pursuit.

While you may not wish to start legal proceedings against a company, it’s worth knowing that the law is on your side.

Weigh Up the Benefits of Sharing Your Experience

Disclosing your addiction and recovery journey with a potential employer opens up help from them further down the line.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives you an entitlement to access help from your employer with ongoing recovery activities. This may include therapy, counseling, or further rehab.

How to Stay Sober When You’re Working

Once you’ve given a satisfactory employment gap explanation, the next step is to accept a job role. This is a fantastic step forward in your lifelong recovery.

However, going into employment again can risk a relapse. New working hours, added stress, and juggling family responsibilities can make you feel like you need to use again to cope.

That’s what intensive outpatient programs are for. They’re designed for working professionals who need the support of a rehab program but who can’t give up their job to become an inpatient.

Read about intensive outpatient programs to find out how to stay sober and succeed in your new job.


sponser in recovery

They Have What You Want: How to Find a Sponsor in Recovery

Relapse is more common than you might think.

According to many reports, 40 to 60 percent of people relapse within a year of starting their sobriety. That’s even with professional treatment.

With the right resources and support system, however, you can avoid relapsing. Why ruin all of your progress when you could put a plan in place instead?

With the right person at your side, you can avoid a relapse.

Set yourself up for sobriety success!

Here are seven qualities to look for in a sponsor. Now you can start your search and find a sponsor who can support you in your recovery.

1. Attend 12-Step Meetings

When trying to find a sponsor, the best place to start is at a 12-step meeting.

Finding the right sponsor can feel a little daunting, but that’s natural. After all, this is important. Thankfully, 12-step meetings can help narrow down your options.

These forums allow you to learn a little about the prospective sponsors in your area.

During some meetings, the proctor will ask if anyone is looking for a sponsor. Let the group know you’re looking. If you already have someone in mind, ask them.

If you’re shy about the situation, that’s okay too. Ask the person leading the meeting if they can help. They might even have a list of sponsors already prepared.

That way, you’re using the resources at your disposal to find a sponsor.

2. Ask About Experience

Ask the prospective sponsor who long they’ve been sober and in the 12-step program.

Between one to two years of abstinence is preferable.

You can also ask if they’ve sponsored someone before. Knowing how they’ve responded to certain situations can help you determine if they’re the right fit.

For example, ask how they would respond if you relapsed.

They should already have an understanding of how to respond to this and similar situations. Discover what to do if you relapse, yourself. That way, you and your sponsor are both prepared.

A good sponsor will have worked through the 12 steps themselves, too. That way, they can guide you with their own experiences as a reference.

3. Avoid Romantic Interests

Choosing a person of the opposite sex as your sponsor can seem harmless at first. However, it’s usually not advisable. Instead, choosing a sponsor of the same sex can help you avoid romantic entanglements.

Selecting a love interest as your sponsor could actually complicate and impede your recovery.

Remember, this time is about making choices that are best for your mental and physical health. A same-sex sponsor can help you prevent potential issues.

That way, you can stay focused on your recovery.

Gays or lesbians trying to find a sponsor should choose someone of the opposite gender for the same reasons.

4. Pay Attention

Consider your 12-step meetings an opportunity for a little research.

During these meetings, pay attention to what people say. If you already have someone in mind as a potential sponsor, listen up! How you react to their stories could tell you a lot about their potential as your sponsor.

Do they inspire you more than other people at the meetings?

Do you both share similar worldviews or stories?

Listen when they share and take mental notes. You might see something in them that you hope for your own recovery. If you think you connect with this person, ask them to become your sponsor.

5. Make Sure They’re Available

According to an eight-year study of nearly 1,200 addicts:

  • Only about a third of people abstinent for less than a year remain abstinent
  • After a year of sobriety, less than half will relapse
  • After five years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent

Sticking to your sobriety now makes it easier in the future.

As you look for a sponsor, make sure they’re available to commit. Regular contact is important. That way, the two of you can develop a bond.

Sponsorship is an individualized process. That means your relationship can vary depending on what you need. The time involved—how frequently you meet and connect—could vary, too.

If you’re new to recovery, focus on someone who is available for constant support.

Right now, your cravings and the temptation to break your sobriety might feel at an all-time high. You might even still experience withdrawal symptoms.

While 24/7 support might not work for you both, a sponsor with open availability is important. That way, you can ask questions or get help if you’re feeling those cravings.

You should also ask your potential sponsor if they’re sponsoring other people.

If they are, they might not have the time to commit to a newcomer.

Make a Plan

Once you find a sponsor, make a plan for maintaining contact. This can include regular check-ins or one-on-one meetings.

This can also include attending regular 12-step meetings together.

As you’re establishing your plan, discuss expectations for your partnership.

That way, you’re both on the same page.

This plan can set you up for success and ensure you have the exact amount of contact you need.

6. Choose a Trustworthy Person

When trying to find a sponsor, look for someone you can trust.

After all, you’ll share a lot of fears, insecurities, and secrets with this person. Look for someone who can provide the confidentiality you need.

That way, you’ll feel safe and capable of speaking freely.

7. Avoid Downers

A pessimistic sponsor won’t have much to contribute to your recovery. In fact, they might actually do you more harm than good.

Positive thinking can benefit your mental and physical health. Try to choose a sponsor with a supportive, upbeat attitude.

That way, you can maintain a positive attitude throughout your recovery as well.

This will help you embrace the positive changes in your life, too!

Sobriety Success: 7 Tips for How to Find a Sponsor

With these seven tips, you can find a sponsor who’s ready to aid your recovery. Remember to search for a sponsor you can trust. Their experience will lead you towards your own success.

That way, you can avoid a relapse and keep your recovery—and life—on track.

Contact us today for additional help and support with your recovery.


recovering alcoholics

8 Medications, Foods, and Drinks a Recovering Alcoholic Should Avoid

Throughout the world, 107 million individuals have an alcohol consumption disorder. That is an estimated 1.4% of the total population. These numbers are quite disturbing but there is hope at the end of the day.

More and more people are taking the step to give up alcohol and the world is filled with recovering alcoholics on their way to full recovery, thanks to rehabilitation centers and supportive families.

Being a recovering alcoholic is tricky outside of treatment, and many face temptations and challenges on the road to full recovery. Most of the temptations exist in the form of food, drinks, and even medication.

8 Things a Recovering Alcoholic Should Avoid at All Costs

Not knowing what exactly to avoid during the recovery process can lead to relapse.
Are you a recovering alcoholic or know someone who is and are looking into what things to avoid?

Here are 8 things (foods, drinks, and medication) to avoid.

1. Sugary Foods

Many individuals on the road to recovery struggle with taking too much sugar, another bad habit that can cause harm to the human body. Alcoholics often experience a spike in their sugar levels after consuming alcohol because the human body usually converts alcohol to sugar.

When recovering alcoholics quit alcohol, their blood sugar levels drop and they begin craving sugary foods and drinks to fill that void. Recovering alcoholics need to stay away from too much sugar.

Sugar has a way of giving individuals a deep crash that often leads to depression.

So if a recovering alcoholic takes too much sugar, they might end up feeling depressed, which is quite dangerous during the recovery process. A depressed recovering alcoholic might end up craving alcohol to get rid of the feelings and that might cause a relapse.

2. Too Much Coffee

Recovering alcoholics should reduce the number of coffee cups they have per day. Work on only taking one cup of coffee per day, and mostly during morning hours. Coffee is also known to spike the body’s sugar levels.

Because of this, recovering alcoholics who take too much coffee do so because they feel like the coffee stands in the gap of the alcohol, to give them the same spike without getting drunk. Too much coffee is not safe for people trying to keep off alcohol because of the blood sugar crash on the other side of caffeine.

If a recovering alcoholic crashes, then relapse happens.

3. Foods Cooked with Alcohol

At one point in time, you may have heard people claim that when you cook food with alcohol, it cooks off and does not have any effect on a person when they eat the food. Well, that is not entirely true. The entire amount of alcohol used in cooking meals does not cook-off and the retained amount is a threat to a recovering alcoholic.

The amount of alcohol that will cook off is determined by the amount of alcohol used in the specific recipe.

Even when the alcohol cooks off and the traces of the alcohol are minimal, the alcoholic-cooked food can act as a trigger to a recovering alcoholic. Therefore, it is better to avoid any foods cooked with alcohol, as a recovering alcoholic, because you do not need any reminders of alcohol.

Why would you risk interfering with the recovery process based on claims that could be inaccurate? Prevention is much better.

4. Preservatives and Additives

This category of things to avoid as a recovering alcoholic is not really food. However, many foods contain preservatives and additives. These interfere with digestion and cause changes in the intestines, which in turn cause molecules to become oversized.

This effect tends to overwork a person’s liver and considering that a recovering alcoholic’s liver might already be damaged, this is not a good thing. When the liver becomes weaker, the immune system will also become weak and the body will not be able to fight germs easily.

5. Unhealthy Amounts of Calories

Some alcoholics look malnourished due to their poor eating habits. Many alcohol users take many calories from alcoholic drinks. Therefore, since as an alcoholic, you already took a large number of calories into your body, you need to avoid the calories during your recovery period.

Eat a healthy diet, balanced with enough vegetables and mostly the green leafy ones. Eat lots of fish, lean meat, and poultry and have avocados. You need enough of the minerals and vitamins you were not getting during your drinking times.

6. Alcoholic Mouthwashes

Recovering alcoholics should avoid all mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Go for a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol by choosing from the many available options.

Make sure you always read the labels on such products to know the ingredients contained in it.

7. OTC Meds That Contain Alcohol

Many of the medication we buy over the counter is safe, but some of them contain alcohol. Avoid such if you are a recovering alcoholic. Make sure you read all the labels on all the liquid cough medicines you buy.

Many cough syrups are known to contain alcohol, but there are several which do not contain alcohol. You need to take those that do not contain alcohol.

8. Strong Pain Medication

Strong pain meds like narcotics, needed after surgery can be tricky for recovering alcoholics. The medications cause anxiety and if a person takes them without the help of someone else, they might relapse due to the anxiety.

In cases where a recovering alcoholic is in dire need of strong pain medications, a person close to the individual needs to handle the medication and ensure that the patient takes the medication as directed.

This caregiver needs to monitor the individual until the last day and put away all leftover drugs. While you may not expect a recovering alcoholic to suffer in pain, we do encourage you to be cautious about the use of pain medications.

What to Avoid as a Recovering Alcoholic

A lack of knowledge is very dangerous. You should ensure you consider this list of things recovering alcoholic needs to avoid during the recovery journey. Keep off all medication containing alcohol, and any food cooked with alcohol.

Also, reduce caffeine and calorie intake. Follow the advice and the journey to achieving sobriety will become easier.

Contact us if you need help with your recovery process, or if you are ready to start the recovery journey.