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!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28942748

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360575/

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/10/09/768665411/changing-your-diet-can-help-tamp-down-depression-boost-mood

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/food-mental-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/food-and-mood-is-there-a-connection

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.

 

References:

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.

References

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.

References:

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.

References

addiction-recovery

Pumping Iron for Sobriety: The Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Most people are well aware of the challenges that people face when they’re going through the addiction recovery process.

When people first quit drugs or alcohol, they often experience intense cravings. They also typically encounter a series of withdrawal symptoms.

But one of the biggest challenges that people are forced to face over time is the boredom that comes along with quitting drugs or alcohol. People suddenly have so much free time and no idea what to do with it all.

Exercising can help with this particular problem. When people who are going through addiction recovery make exercise a bigger part of their life, it chews up a lot of their time. This makes it easier to say “no!” to drugs or alcohol.

And this is far from the only benefit that recovering addicts will enjoy when they exercise on a regular basis. Here are 6 others.

  1. Reduces Stress

Stress is something that affects almost everyone in America. One recent poll revealed that the U.S. is one of the most stressed-out countries in the entire world.

Stress is what drives a lot of people to use drugs and to drink, and it can also lead those who are in addiction recovery to revert back to their old ways. Many people will relapse and run back to a substance after going to drug rehab simply because they can’t handle the stress in their lives.

Exercise is one of the ultimate stress-busters. By going for a run, lifting weights, or taking part in a fitness class, a person can eliminate almost all of the stress that they feel.

Exercise releases endorphins within the body that can also reduce the symptoms associated with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. It can work wonders for a person’s overall well-being.

  1. Rebuilds the Body

People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol don’t take great care of their bodies. They’re so worried about finding their next high or getting their hands on their next drink that they don’t eat or exercise enough.

The good news is that a person can reverse a lot of the damage that addiction can do to their bodies. But they need to be willing to work at it over time.

They can put themselves back on the right track by making it a point to hit the gym at least a few times every week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get at least 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity” or 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.”

But it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world for someone in addiction recovery to work out even more than that. This will allow them to rebuild muscles that haven’t been used for a long time and increase their overall strength.

They should also maintain a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of essential vitamins and minerals as well as other nutrients.

  1. Makes It Easier to Make New Friends

One of the biggest mistakes people make when recovering from an addiction is spending time around old friends who are still using drugs or drinking alcohol. This puts them right back in the center of all the action and makes it difficult for them to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

To combat this, people should strive to surround themselves with new friends who don’t use drugs or drink alcohol if possible. But it can be tough to do this when you consider that most people stop making new friends sometime around the age of 25.

Exercise can make it a little easier by allowing people to form bonds with others based on their love for working out. It’s easy to create connections with new people when you’re taking part in an activity like exercising that you both enjoy.

  1. Increases Energy

In theory, working out all the time might seem like it would zap you of all your energy during addiction recovery. And at first, it might just do that. Your body won’t be used to going for long runs or lifting heavy weights at the start.

But over the course of a few weeks, working out can increase the oxygen levels in your body quite a bit and make you feel more energetic all the time. This will give you the energy you need to make it through your days without giving in to any temptations that surround you.

  1. Improves Sleep

Drug and alcohol addiction can make it almost impossible for a person to get a decent night of sleep. It’s not uncommon for those who use drugs or drink all the time to get just a few hours of sleep each day.

It’s important for people to get back on normal sleep schedules during addiction recovery. Exercise can help with this over a period of a few months.

You may struggle to fall asleep at the beginning of addiction recovery. But over time, working out with help to regulate the systems in your body and prepare your body for sleep each and every night.

  1. Provides a Strong Sense of Purpose

Beating an addiction once and for all requires a person to find something new to focus on in life. That might mean focusing on repairing relationships with family members or focusing on getting an education and a better job.

Exercise can help in this area, too. Working out will call for a person to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve them. This will provide them with a sense of purpose and give them a good reason to get up each day.

Stay on the Right Path During Addiction Recovery

Exercise is regarded as one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for those in addiction recovery. People who exercise in recovery often increase their chances of avoiding relapse.

But before a person starts to use exercise on the road to recovery, it’s essential for them to get the addiction treatment they need. It’ll make their recovery process go a lot smoother by giving them the necessary tools.

Take a look at what our addiction center treats and contact us today to take advantage of our services.

References:

sober-friends

Rebuilding Your Social Life: How to Find Sober Friends After Rehab

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects over 23 million Americans.

Like many other chronic diseases, addiction can be treated but not cured. Following a treatment program or rehab, it’s up to you to manage your recovery and avoid the triggers that fueled your addiction.

When you’re new to recovery, finding sober friends is an important part of that management. And the first step to finding those friends is knowing where to look.

But first, you should know exactly why it’s important to have friends that share sobriety with you. Keep reading to find out.

The Importance of Sober Friends

The first step of recovery is abstaining from drugs and alcohol. But a successful recovery involves more than abstinence. It means creating new healthy habits that help you lead a more fulfilling life.

Addiction is a disease characterized by the pursuit of a substance despite the negative consequences to health, relationships, and responsibilities. This is how addiction often leads to isolation and loneliness. Addicts push their friends and family aside as their emotional responses become increasingly dysfunctional.

Sometimes, the friendships that existed before treatment consisted mostly of people who sustained the addiction. As you learn to make healthy decisions about who you spend your time with, that group of friends is likely going to change.

Being new to recovery, it’s crucial that you surround yourself with people who support your sobriety and engage in activities that encourage an active, healthy lifestyle. You’ll find that surrounding yourself with sober friends has a number of benefits.

Recovery can be lonely when you have nobody to relate to. You may quickly find that friends and family who have never suffered from addiction can’t possibly grasp the complexity of it.

But sober friends share that experience with you and give you an outlet to share the ups and downs of staying sober. They can help you understand your addiction and offer insight that others can’t. You’ll benefit from having people to share your experiences with and engage in activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

As you develop friendships with sober friends, they’ll also help keep you accountable. They’ll be the first people to call if you feel like you might relapse and, if you do, they’ll know how to help you get back on track.

How to Find Sober Friends

Now that you’re ready to surround yourself with a circle of supportive, sober friends, where do you start? The stigma around addiction means that too many people face recovery on their own. But finding other sober people isn’t as hard as it might seem, it just means knowing what to look for.

Join a Support Group

The easiest way to find sober friends is to join a support group for people in recovery. With over 1 million members in the US, the AA program is probably the most well-known group for recovering addicts and alcoholics.

If you don’t subscribe to the 12-step program, there are plenty of other support groups for people in recovery. Many of these groups organize substance-free activities for members that will fill the nights and weekends of your calendar. And beyond giving you a great venue to meet other sober people, some research suggests that participating in a support group gives you a higher chance of remaining substance-free.

Start Exercising More

Exercise is good for everybody – but it’s especially good for people in recovery. Exercise helps to relieve anxiety and stress, enhance your mood and releasee endorphins. It also helps heal your body and mind from the damage you caused during your addiction.

As an added bonus, joining a gym, fitness class, or yoga studio, is another way to make friends. Friends made while participating in these activities are likely friends who care about living a healthy lifestyle. And, whether they’re sober or not, the most important factor in the friends you make is that they encourage and support you to be healthy.

Meetup.com

It’s 2019 and plenty of people are using the internet to meet likeminded people. To facilitate that, platforms like Meetup.com allow people with shared interests to create activities based on those interests. When you attend meetups, the conversation is easier because of all of the people attending share an interest.

Look for a Meetup specific to sober people by searching “sober”, “non-drinkers”, or “sobriety” within your geographic location. If there aren’t any Meetups specifically for sober people, you can take it upon yourself to create one.

There are also Meetup groups for everything from yoga and meditation to business networking and food touring. Although not centered around sobriety, this will expose you to people who look for entertainment in more healthy activities, and not at the local bar.

Use Social Media

Facebook has over 2 billion users worldwide. It’s the most popular social network in the world, and you can use it to meet sober friends. It’s as easy as looking for Facebook groups that are based on sobriety, your interests, and/or your location and engaging with their discussions and events.

On Instagram, a quick search for hashtags that mention sobriety returns 1000s of posts. Another important social network, Instagram is an opportunity to build an online network of likeminded people and gain inspiration from each other’s successes.

And if publicly owning your recovery isn’t ideal for you, then you don’t even have to use your own profile. You can create an anonymous, secondary profile that’s in no way linked to your real name. In today’s world, a strong online community can be just as important and supportive as conventional circles.

More Tips for Recovery

Finding sober friends and friends that support your sobriety is integral to a successful recovery. They’ll hold you accountable, offer companionship and understanding, and keep you on the right track as you adjust to your new life.

Finding those friends is a matter of putting yourself out there. You might meet sober friends in support groups and Meetups specifically for people in recovery. But friends who share interests such as yoga, hiking, or other healthy pursuits are also a good source of support.

Managing addiction comes with unique challenges. To help you navigate those challenges, check out our blog for more tips and advice on living sober.

References:

https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2001284_2001057_2001044,00.html

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

sobriety

Sobriety: Steps to Recovering from Substance Abuse

Why did you decide to get sick?

Can you imagine, going up to someone with a cold, or flu, and asking them that? The absurdity of choosing to be sick applies to people who are struggling with addiction.

Addiction isn’t a choice, it’s more like a complex illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that struggling with substance abuse is actually a type of brain disease. One that affects multiple brain circuits, including the ability to control behavior.

While addiction is involuntary, sobriety is absolutely a conscious decision. Individuals who decide to get sober, usually come to this decision in a time of need. Things in their life keep going badly, and they know in their heart they need to make a change.

Are you or a loved one beginning their journey into recovery? Staying clean may be a simple step to take, but it’s anything but easy. Read on to learn how to set yourself up for success.

Allow Yourself to Feel in Sobriety

Because so many people think addiction is a choice, many will try to change by gathering up their will power. With the best of intentions, friends and family members might even offer advice like, “you got this!” or “you’re going to beat this thing!”.

It’s wonderful to have a lively spirit and encourage yourself as you enter sobriety. Sometimes, you do have to fight, warding off cravings, or temptations to use. Yet, being sober, isn’t one long fight, or battle, requiring you to stay strong.

In fact, if you really want to heal inside and out, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel everything, the good, bad, scary, and unknown. Don’t try to block out certain thoughts, or emotions because they aren’t “strong” or “warrior-like”.

Instead, try to approach each day with little to no judgment. Everyone’s journey to recovery is going to be different.

While one person may struggle at the beginning, someone else might not have trouble until day 5. Be patient, and continue to not use, no matter how strange being clean may appear at first.

Preparing for Pink Clouds

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “pink cloud”, in reference to recovery? This phrase references a phenomenon that frequently occurs during the early stages of sobriety. The pink cloud describes a magical, “all is right with the world”, feeling that can happen when someone starts their journey to recovery.

Once an individual decides to get clean, their life will start to change. For some, the changes happen gradually over a period of time. While for others, major positive changes seem to happen almost overnight.

As the pain of active addiction starts to lessen, the pink cloud starts to sink in. Individuals will report feeling like they are high on life, and nothing can stop them from staying clean. Now, recovery doesn’t feel like a chore or burden, but instead, it feels like a miracle.

Be careful, the pink cloud phenomenon is a temporary way of being. It’s not uncommon for people to start creating unrealistic expectations for recovery because of pink cloud feelings. They start to think things are always going to feel this good, simply because they aren’t using.

Yet, in reality, life can hurt everyone at times, whether they’re addicts or not. Part of recovery is being able to accept that life will have both highs and lows. Yet, this doesn’t have to be a depressing aspect to consider.

Remembering life has highs and lows can provide comfort for when you’re feeling down. It can also help prepare you that nothing will ever stay exactly the same, things are always changing.

Avoiding Triggers or Cues

The American Society of Addiction Medicine considers addiction to be a chronic brain disease. One that involves an individuals inability to control substance abuse. Since you can’t completely cure addiction, it can always pop back up at any time because of a trigger, or cue.

When a trigger occurs, a sober individual can find themselves desperate to use again. There are certain cues addicts won’t be able to avoid, like feelings or memories. Sometimes even a dream about using can make sobriety feel twice as hard as it was the day before.

Since there is no long term cure, individuals who battle addiction, have to stay vigilant in their recovery. Part of setting yourself up for success is controlling the things you can. Specifically by avoiding people, places, and things that can trigger, or cue, your addiction.

People and Places

Do you have a friend or family member who is still using? You might feel tempted to reach out to them through a phone call, or maybe even visit. 

Unfortunately, they might end up convincing you to jump back into active addiction. Without even meaning to, an offhanded comment, from someone still using, could start your track back to using.

They might mention how much fun they had the other night, or how well they are doing. You’ll start thinking to yourself, “hmmm, is being clean really worth it?”.

Avoid the places you used to use at, as well as the people you were using with. A phrase you might hear in recovery rooms is, “if you stay at a barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get a haircut.”. Meaning, if you stay around people or places where using occurs, you’re eventually going to join in.

Lifestyle Changes

There are so many different things that could send your addiction to go into overdrive. One of the biggest things that threaten your sobriety is the music you listen to. This is especially true for addictions to “party drugs” or substances used in a social setting.

The partying type of music you may have listened to while using drugs or alcohol will send messages to your brain that it’s time to use again. The phenomenon is similar to the way an ice cream truck’s tune can send kids running for a treat.

Your mind remembers what it felt like to have pain taken away because of a substance. In an attempt to make you feel good, your brain will try to convince you it’s time to start using again.

Instead of torturing yourself, find new types of music you can enjoy. You could also try listening to music you used to enjoy before you started using. 

Sana Lake Recovery Center is proud to be able to assist you on your road to recovery. Our mission is to provide families with the support and guidance they need, to feel whole again.

If you’re ready for a change, or just have some questions, we’d be more than happy to help. Just reach out to us.

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