Sober Life

8 Reasons to Live a Sober Life

There are many reasons that people choose active substance abuse over sobriety. Sometimes part of the reason for the continued abuse of substances is familiarity. People tend to like what they are familiar with. Sometimes the memory of what it was like before you started abusing drugs might not be or might not seem to have been pleasant.

This could be because you might have another mental health disorder that you did not know about that caused you so much pain that you self-medicated.

We at Sana Lake, are prepared to help you overcome your substance abuse disorder and any co-occurring disorder if you might have, and find a happy road to recovery. 

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?

A co-occurring disorder is any mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety that occurs in the same person as an addiction disorder. Sometimes people develop a co-occurring disorder before they develop a substance use disorder. However, it is possible to develop a co-occurring disorder after developing a substance use disorder.

There are many reasons to find your road to recovery. That road can often be difficult and full of stumbling blocks. However, you will gain a lot by giving up substances like illicit drugs, including prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you, and drugs prescribed to you which you might not be using according to your doctor’s orders. Here are 8 reasons to get sober: 

New friends

Many people who develop friendships when they are using substances are developing friends because of the substances and not because of their personalities. How many people who you consider friends would never come around when you do not have drugs?

How many times all you have to talk about are substances? If the drugs felt wrong after you took them did, they help you? If you have overdosed, did they use Narcan if they had it and did you go to the hospital and get admitted?

The Friends You Make During Recovery are Long Lasting

There are people who want to be there for you, even if you have a slip. You will have the opportunity to meet many people during your clinical rehabilitation program. There is often an ‘aftercare program’ in which patients have the opportunity to meet up after graduating from the recovery clinic for social events. The challenges and rewards of transitioning back to living outside the clinic will bring you even closer together.

12-Step Groups and SMART Groups and Good Ways of Making Friends

Another group of people who want to be there for you, and who want to be your friends are members of a 12-step group, a SMART group, and/or another post clinical rehab group. Depending on how your community’s group(s) are structured and how many groups there are, it is possible to attend 12-step program meetings every day of the week in some places. People who are attending post-rehabilitation programs will also know how you are feeling. They will be able to guide you through your ongoing road to recovery.

Family

You might not have had the best relationship with your family while you were using it. Clinical rehabilitation programs often work on repairing and strengthening that bond. That is why many clinics offer family therapy as well as couples therapy.

A Job and/or Education

Many people find at least some degree of fulfillment at work if they like their job. If you want to go back to working for a company, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes substance abuse disorder as a disability and offers some protections. This does not include people who were casual users and it does not include people who are currently using substances. These protections are for people who have gone through a clinical rehabilitation program and no longer use substances. 

Does the ADA Make It Easier to Find a Job?

Finding a new job, or regaining your old job, is much easier because of the ADA. Employers can no longer ask about your past substance abuse unless it would directly affect your ability to perform essential functions. They can not ask about any other health conditions like co-occurring disorders either. This can help you keep your substance addiction private if you choose to. 

Can I Continue My Education Instead of Going Straight to Work?

There are also many scholarships and grants available to people who have substance abuse disorders who want to go back to or go to college for the first time instead of choosing full-time employment right away. There are even more scholarships available for people who have one or more co-occurring disorders. Someone with co-occurring disorders like:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Bipolar 
  • Anxiety

As well as other mental health disorders can often qualify for scholarships and grants for only their co-occurring disorder(s) separately, not just their addiction disorder. 

Reach Life Goals

Many people find their lives stalled by substance abuse. If you are spending all of your time looking for your next high it can be hard to take care of less pressing life issues. However, once you get help for your substance abuse disorder you will have time to work on other life goals like:

  • Starting your own business
  • Learning how to code a computer
  • Fixing up a dream car that has fallen into disrepair
  • Add to your family
  • Write a book
  • Learn to play a musical instrument

And much more. You will not only have the time to do these things, but you will have the clear-headedness that goes with sobriety.

Money

People with addiction disorders often suffer financially. Often loved ones will eventually cut them off financially. People with an active substance abuse disorder might find it difficult to find a job or if they can find one, they might have trouble keeping it. 

Addiction is a very expensive disorder. Many people spend every cent they have on substances like alcohol and heroin. This means that there is not a lot of money left for food, clothing, or any other life necessities. There will be even less left for fun things like being able to go out to eat without thinking about how much you are spending that could be spent on substances. Having the money to buy a new kitchen gadget to make a dish that you have wanted to make for a long time is an example of a small luxury.

New Interests and Hobbies

Once you have the time, money, and mental clarity that comes with your road to recovery you will have the time for new hobbies. A hobby or interest is something you enjoy doing but isn’t a life goal or life achievement. You might want to learn a new language, rediscover a love of reading, art, you might pick up some more video games if you like that. 

Hobbies help make life worth living. Just because it isn’t a traditional hobby like building model planes it isn’t an actual hobby. Board games including the newer ones are also hobbies, as are things like skydiving, or extreme sports.

The Chance to Grow Old

There are many health problems that are caused by active substance use besides overdosing. Some of the health problems caused by substance use are:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Dental problems
  • Skin infections
  • Heart and heart valve infections
  • Cancer
  • Other mental health disorders can develop
  • Cancer
  • Liver problems
  • Severe respiratory problems
  • Kidney damage and/or failure

Direct health problems are not the only health problems caused by substances. Often people who use substances are living in an unhealthy, and/or notoriously dangerous environment.

Many are homeless and live on the streets. 38% of people who are homeless are dependent on alcohol. Another 26% of people who are homeless are addicted to other substances. Living on the streets can be extremely dangerous at times. 

Other indirect health problems caused by addiction are HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other problems caused by sharing needles and sexually transmitted infections caused by risky sex under the influence of substances.

A Life

Substances like drugs and alcohol can rob you of your life. You spend every day trying to get high instead of living. It will, and often does, suck the life right out of you. All you want is drugs and/or alcohol. That is no way to live.  

We, Will, Help You Recover!

Now is the time to get help. There are many more reasons to become sober. When you are ready to get back your sobriety and get all of these 8 benefits and more please contact us at Sana Lake today!

References

https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/ada/ch4.htm

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/health-consequences-drug-misuse/kidney-damage

grief and loss

Grief and Loss in Addiction Recovery

Loss is an unfortunate part of life. While the death of a close one is the definition of bereavement, grief can come from many other sources. A divorce or any other change in an important relationship, change in health, change in an environment like retirement, financial insecurity, as well as death can cause grief.

If you are struggling with an active substance use disorder and/or you are on your road to recovery it is important that you take care of yourself during any grieving process. If you grieving are in need of bereavement services, the specialists at Sana Lake can help.

The Death of a Loved One Can be Stressful for Someone with a Substance Use Disorder

Sometimes the period right after a person dies can be especially stressful for their loved ones. The family or other loved ones have to make burial arrangements, plan and often provide food to many people during a reception, determine the loved one’s last wishes including cremation or burial if they have not outlined it in their will, and make many other decisions, about many other things that cannot wait.

Many people do not leave wills or any record of last wishes behind so their loved ones have to piece together what they want by word of mouth from other family members and friends.

If the person has left a will, it might be because they were suffering from a terminal condition. When a loved one suffers from a terminal condition their loved ones will often start grieving before the person passes away. This is not uncommon and it is completely valid. All of this can be extremely stressful.

Stress from Grief can Cause You to Relapse

Emotionally stressful situations are one of the top reasons for people with alcohol use disorder relapse. There are small physical changes that go on in a person that happens during emotionally stressful situations like different cortisol levels and changes in basal heart rate that physically trigger cravings while an individual is experiencing a very emotionally stressful situation.

What are the 5 Stages of Grief?

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the famous steps that people with terminal conditions like late-stage cancer go through. Only later did doctors started to apply the steps to the people the individual has left behind. 

The steps of grieving are:

  • Denial 
  • Anger 
  • Bargaining 
  • Depression 
  • Acceptance

The Steps of Grief are not Predictable

It is noted that one of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s regrets in life was the misunderstanding of her emotional model. A person does not always go through all of the steps, they might not go through the steps in that order, some combination of that, or they might go through all of the steps in that order. 

Some people cycle through several steps over and over. A person can be stuck in a certain phase. Substances are not a way out of a phase. If you feel as though you are stuck in a phase it is time to see a specialist like a therapist who specializes in grief and bereavement.

If you cannot find a therapist with grief and bereavement specialty you should go see any therapist. A therapist is a medical professional and they will be able to advise you on how to find appropriate health professionals. 

How Long Does Grief Last?

There is no set limit to how long bereavement, in particular, lasts or any set limit on how long grief in general lasts. Sometimes the loss of a loved one can cause bereavement for a few months. Other times it can last over a year. 

Can Grief Cause Depression?

 However, grief can sometimes turn into depression. If a person suffers from an addiction and another mental health disorder, it means the individual has co-occurring disorders.

It is important to note that if you develop depression, even if you have been on your road to recovery for years, you still have a co-occurring disorder. If you need help with a substance use disorder either because of a relapse or if you are getting help for the first time it is important to find a treatment facility that treats co-occurring disorders. You cannot treat only one condition. You must take care of all of your mental health conditions if you want to start healing. 

What Could I Feel During the Grief Process?

The process of acceptance of loss is not smooth. It can often feel like being on a roller coaster. However, most of these emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations that a person might experience are:

Feelings

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Blame 
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Relief if it was seen as the person’s “time to go”

Thoughts

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disbelief
  • Hallucinations 
  • Preoccupation with who was lost

Physical Sensations

  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hyperventilating
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Weight loss or gain

Behaviors

  • Crying spells
  • Excessive activity
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable actives

Professional Help Can Stop You from Relapsing While Grieving

If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms to an extent that worries you or your loved ones it is important to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor who specializes in grief and addiction would be the best fit.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing cravings or thinking about using again but are unable to get to a therapist there are therapists many remote volunteer services that are offered for free.  

There are some services that provide free hotline services that are available in the form of text messages instead of a voice call. This is great if you are in a social setting where you cannot get away to call a hotline.

What Can I Do to Avoid Relapsing While Grieving?

It is important to get help before you relapse. You can guard yourself against starting the relapse process by:

  • Joining a bereavement support group
  • Calling a friend or other loved one and talk about the loss
  • Find a family therapist or a therapy group that you and your loved ones can go to help all of you through this time
  • Experiencing your emotions. During your stages of grief, it is important to not try to deaden your emotions. Suppressing your emotions can be very harmful. It can lead to:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Overeating 
  • Drug and or alcohol consumption which would impair your road to recovery
  • Overeating
  • Sleeplessness
  • And many other problems

Problems like anxiety and depression can cause relapse on their own, but the problem is greatly enhanced when the person is grieving. It is important to take care of yourself. You cannot help your loved ones through the grieving process if you are abusing substances or in rehab.  

How Can I Take Care of Myself During the Grieving Process?

There are some things that you can do to take care of yourself during the grieving process:

  • Eat healthfully
  • Exercise
  • Continue post-rehab meetings like SMART or the 12 step meetings
  • Do not isolate yourself
  • Join a grief group counseling group
  • Continue to engage in your routine

Can I Reach the Acceptance Stage of Grieving if I Have a Substance Use Disorder?

There is hope. After a person goes the grieving process the last step is acceptance. Sometimes acceptance takes a long time, for other people acceptance comes relatively quickly. The important thing to note is the word relatively. Grieving is a complicated and very personal process. It is just as healthy for someone to go through the steps of grief relatively quickly as it is for someone to take their time. Having an addiction does not stop your chances of finding acceptance and peace after the death of a loved one.

What Can I do if I Relapse Because I am Grieving?

If you have strayed from your road to recovery due to grief, that is very understandable. Many people have problems getting over the loss of a loved one. For someone with a substance abuse problem, that loss might seem overwhelming. A substance abuse problem can often compound the ill effects of grief, making it feel unbearable. But it will be ok. We at Sana Lake can help get you back to your road to recovery after the death of a loved one.

Sana Lake

If you need help returning to your road to recovery after the loss of a loved one or if you know someone who does, please contact us today!

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201707/why-the-five-stages-grief-are-wrong

https://familydoctor.org/grieving-facing-illness-death-and-other-losses/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/grief/art-20045340

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/bereavement

https://www.crisistextline.org/texting-in

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788822/

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:

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

importance of nature

7 Arguments for the Importance of Nature to Addiction Recovery

Overcoming an addiction is a difficult experience. Victims of addiction face hardships that extend beyond the addiction itself, impacting mental and physical health.

But one abundant force has the power to aid in recovery, providing support for the individual that furthers the healing process. And it’s something we have plenty of nature.

Increase your chances of recovery and find peace. Discover the importance of nature and how it can help foster a life free of addiction.

The Importance of Nature

Although many people believe the importance of nature is overstated, studies show otherwise. Wilderness therapy for older adults is beneficial and can help on a multitude of levels.

1. Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Individuals who suffer from anxiety are twice as likely as their peers to turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. Thus, many individuals seeking treatment from addiction also suffer from illnesses such as:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorders
  • PTSD

Nature can help with this. Nature lowers the levels of cortisol in the body, reducing anxiety and stress.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that activates in response to situations that are perceived to be dangerous. When we are in nature without the distraction of cell phones or other activities, however, the triggers that increase cortisol disappear.

As a result, cortisol levels decrease. In fact, 20 minutes of nature significantly reduces the levels of this hormone.

Levels reduce even further at half an hour.

For individuals in recovery, this offers a free experience that reduces the pressures associated with overcoming an addiction.

2. Increase Overall Health

High levels of cortisol affect the body. They weaken the immune system, lead to weight gain and increase the likelihood of heart disease.

By lowering these levels, nature literally makes individuals healthier overall. The likelihood of developing chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, decreases.

Being outside encourages exercise, which also increases overall health. Adventuring outside “unplugs” people from the hardships of daily life and encourages them to become active.

Nature time has a number of effects on mood, too.

Exercising increases endorphins, hormones that act as a happiness booster. It increases the brain’s sensitivity towards serotonin and norepinephrine, two other hormones that reduce depression.

It even reduces pain and gives individuals more energy. As you can see, it is valuable for those suffering from the after-effects of withdrawal.

Finally, being outside lets individuals obtain more vitamin D. Vitamin D also uplifts moods.

3. Enhance Self Esteem

It’s normal for people entering and participating in recovery to see themselves as “broken,” as something that needs to be fixed. The recovery process helps you understand that you are whole—you may simply need a little extra help to get back on track.

And nature helps here, too.

Did you know those who spend more time outside report greater satisfaction with their own bodies? Because the trees and birds don’t care what you look like, there is a healthy focus on the body. Those enjoying the benefits of nature focus on what their bodies can do rather than what they look like.

4. Boost Creativity

Life takes a toll on our ability to create, to open our minds to possibilities and utilize our imaginations.

Being outside, however, removes the barriers that hinder creativity and instead encourages us to utilize our five senses. A 2012 study found that an individual’s ability to solve high-level creative tasks after a four-day hike increases as much as 50%.

Researchers hypothesize the upped creativity is the result of opening ourselves to natural stimuli and reducing our reliance on technology. Nature enhances moods and lowers aggression; the constant attention necessary for daily use of technology, however, may increase negative moods that inhibit creativity.

5. Restore Mental Fatigue

We all suffer from fatigue. Those recovering from addiction or drug use do, too, and many times the sensation may feel overwhelming.

Wilderness therapy also alleviates any fatigue.

A prominent theory among researchers is known as Attention Restoration Theory. It suggests that the daily requirements of a technology-driven world require us to continually execute higher-order cognitive functions.

As a result, our brains become tired.

However, proponents of this theory believe that exposure to the outside world restores parts of and circuits within the brain that are stressed from daily use.

This is because the constant bombardment found in society, such as alarms, cars or cells, disappears. The natural world lets our brains breathe.

The consequence is that the higher-order functions we use often are rejuvenated.

6. Create Connections

Wilderness creates connections. It reminds us that we are one part of a much larger world.

It even helps us make friends.

Researchers speculate the spiritual and social benefits of nature arise from the knowledge that we are a sliver of a large ecosystem. It turns our attention away from regular self-interests and doubts that plague us and instead teaches us how we impact the world.

This knowledge fosters healthy ties with others because we are no longer interested only in ourselves.

7. Learn Kindness

Kindness is not only reserved for others. It should also be kept for ourselves.

Being outside inspires kindness and generosity. Recent experiments found groups exposed to beautiful photos of nature were more likely to act kindly towards others.

Furthermore, the experiments showed those around beautiful plant life were more willing to help others than those who were not surrounded by plants.

In recovery, it can be difficult to treat everyone with kindness and to remember that they have your best interests at heart. However, it may be even more difficult to be kind to yourself, to remember that you are working toward a greater life of fulfillment and that you have the ability to become the person you’ve always wanted to.

Plug into the World

Sometimes it takes plugging out, getting away from our cells and computers and televisions, to plug into the world and realize how miraculous every creature and individual is.

The importance of nature isn’t that it gives us all a breather; it’s that it reminds us how beautiful the world is and how beautiful our place is within it.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, reach out to us. We understand your struggles, and we are here for you.

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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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