Addiction and ADHD

grayscale image of man with ADHD and addiction

Our understanding of the nervous system is still in its childhood in many ways. Since our knowledge of this system is still young, so too is our comprehension of brain disorders. Two such disorders are Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. These are commonly known as addiction and ADHD. Understanding how these issues occur, and how they work together can help people living with these conditions.

The Addiction and ADHD Connection

Doctors and researchers have seen a recent rise in teenagers and young adults who have both SUD and ADHD. Studies have also shown that those with ADHD may be at higher risk for developing SUD. This is likely due to similar brain function in both substance abusers and those with attention deficit issues. This similarity leads to several traits common in both addicts and those with ADHD. These include:

• Difficulty controlling impulses
• Impatience
• Emotional Agitation
• Reward Seeking
• Dislike of Boredom
• Trouble with self-regulation

These problems are caused by the reward pathways in the brain. People with both ADHD and SUD need a lot of stimulation to feel good. Often, they need increasing stimulation to get the same positive feelings. This means they constantly need more in order to get the same feeling of satisfaction.

Risk of SUD in People with ADHD

The similar brain operation of people with ADHD and SUD is only the beginning of the problem. People with ADHD have difficulty with impulse control. They also have a constant need for stimulation. As a result, they have more troubles operating in society. This leads to environmental factors that create more challenges. These include:

• Social isolation or feeling different from their peers
• Trouble with work or school
• Difficulty focusing
• Feelings of hopelessness and frustration
• Conflict with authority such as teachers, parents and bosses
• Poor performance in the often boring tasks of everyday life
• Desire to calm their overactive mental system

These problems begin in childhood and adolescence. In their youth, these people often feel less able and less intelligent. Those struggles can plague them into adulthood. This causes them to feel lonely and depressed. They feel unable to function “normally.” This leads to low self esteem and poor self-image. Often they’ll turn to substances to help alleviate these feelings.

Many people with ADHD report wanting to slow down their brain. They want to feel better without the irritation and crushing boredom that afflicts them when they are forced to merely sit still. This naturally leads them to alcohol and cannabis.

Sometimes the drugs used for ADHD treatment may also lead to addiction. Many ADHD medications are stimulants or amphetamines. These include:

• Adderall
• Concerta
• Desoxyn
• Dexedrine
• Focalin
• ProCentra
• Ritalin
• Vyvanse

If a doctor has prescribed these medications to you or a family member, it is important to be aware of signs of amphetamine dependence.

Warning Signs of Amphetamine Dependence

Anyone who uses an amphetamine should be aware of the dangers. Even when taken as prescribed, these might not always be beneficial. If any of the following symptoms occur, it is important to seek out a doctor’s advice immediately:

• Increased anxiety or insomnia
• Memory loss
• Sudden changes in weight or appetite
• Using more than prescribed
• Behavior changes
• Differences in relationships
• Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can be highly varied. These will only happen when a person stops taking the medication. Adderall withdrawal can be especially difficult. The symptoms of withdrawal usually include nausea, fatigue, insomnia, vomiting, irritability, and depression. Typically these only occur if medication has been taken excessively. Stopping after prescribed use should have limited side effects.

Managing ADHD Without Medication

The first thing necessary for managing any disorder is the help of trained professionals. Before you attempt any treatment regimen, you should consult with a physician. They can suggest how to cope with ADHD without medication. It is helpful to talk with a family doctor, as well as a psychiatrist and a neurologist. The more help you have the better your chance of success.

It is possible to manage attention deficit disorders without medication. Those that are concerned about substance use disorder might wish to consider these options. However, it is important to know that research does not suggest ADHD medications cause SUD. Though some medications can be abused, it is extremely rare in those who actually have ADHD. Typically, the people who misuse medications like Adderrall do not suffer from ADD or ADHD.

Handling SUD and ADHD Together

Recovery from SUD is more difficult for people with ADHD. Each disorder reinforces the other. In order to recover fully, each illness must be treated separately. They must also be treated together. Here are a few treatment suggestions.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Studies have shown Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is useful for both SUD and ADHD. This is a good starting point, since these issues begin in the brain. Medication can ease the symptoms of ADHD. This allows the person to be calmer and more receptive to other treatments.
There are also medications which can reduce drug cravings. Many of these do not interact poorly with ADHD medication. However, when taking multiple medications it is vital to have the supervision of a doctor.

Support Groups

Support is a key component in recovery from SUD. It is likewise helpful to have a support group for ADHD, though these are harder to find. Any support system is positive. There are many addiction support groups available. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the most popular, but they are not the only choices. Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART), Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, Rational Recovery, and many others are equally useful for managing substance use.

ADHD groups include Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). These have support groups for those with ADD and ADHD. More information can also be found through the National Resource Center on ADHD.

Therapy

Working with a mental health professional can assist in managing both SUD and ADHD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be highly effective in treating SUD. It can also help manage some of the impulsivity of ADHD. Using a psychiatrist is also positive. They are able to help manage both medical and psychological issues. This creates a more total treatment.

The key to treating addiction and ADHD is to take action. Because these disorders start in the brain and then infect every part of life, they won’t go away on their own. It is necessary to find medical help, therapeutic help and as much support as possible. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you or your loved one can begin the process of living better. If you have any questions about addiction and ADHD or treatment for addiction, you are welcome to call us at (704) 970-4106

How to Talk to Your Partner About Their Addiction

couple talking about addiction

Addiction is a family disease. It affects everyone in the life of the addicted person. If you feel that your spouse or partner has an issue with addiction, it can be tough to address it. But it’s important to do so. Here’s how to prepare before you speak to your partner about their addiction.

Know the Signs

Many don’t know they have a substance use disorder. Even if their addiction is obvious to everyone else, they’re often trapped in denial. You must be ready to break through this denial. The way to accomplish this is by being able to indicate undeniable evidence. There are a few major signs that they are indeed addicted:

• Legal Troubles from their Drug and/or Alcohol Use
• Work Problems
• Issues Meeting Responsibilities
• Financial Difficulties
• Health Concerns
• Relationship Challenges

Use these to highlight where their drinking or drug use has created problems. Show examples of each one. You will need them as reference points during the conversation. Emotions run high during discussions about addiction. This can cause the conversation to be derailed. Having this list will give a structure and allow you to help stay on topic.

Prepare in Advance

Having the list of challenges caused by your partner’s addiction is a good first step. But it helps to go further. You likely have hurt feelings surrounding your partner’s addiction. These can cause the dialog to quickly collapse into argument. To avoid this, write out exactly what you want to say.

It is critical that you do some research on treatment options in advance. Know what is covered by your partner’s insurance or what the financial options are. It’s good to understand the difference between residential treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Outpatient (OP), and Partial Hospitalization (PHP). If you have any questions, contact a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. The staff there will gladly answer your questions and explain their programs. They may also be able to assist you in deciding which choice is best for your partner.

It also helps to understand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA can allow them to take time off of work without fear of losing their job.

Here’s a few items to have ready:

• List of problems addiction has caused
• Possible treatment options
• A written statement that is emotionally supportive

If possible, avoid deviating from your script. Addicts can quickly turn defensive and throw you off course. Know all the points you want to make to ensure you are able to persist.

Once you’re prepared, schedule a time with your partner to talk. Make sure you have sufficient time for the discussion. Try to approach them at a time when they’re going to be sober, but still relaxed.

The Talk

The major point here is to offer to help. It’s very tempting to accuse or blame. Try to recognize that your partner is living with a difficult mental health disorder. Emphasize that you care about them. Explain that you see how much they’re hurting. Clarify that you only want to help them get better. By showing sympathy, empathy, and compassion, you avoid putting them on the defensive.

It helps to begin by saying you know how hard things are for them. This is the point where you cite the evidence of your partner’s addiction. Tell them you think the two of you can solve the problems by addressing the core addiction issue. Then offer solutions.

Be ready for them to get angry. They may refuse to listen. They may blame you. The entire dialog could turn into an argument. That’s perfectly fine. Try to remain calm and rational. That’s the point of preparation. Say what you need to say as kindly as you can. Voice your concerns. Afterward, ensure your own mental health is managed by having support from friends and family ready for you.

If you want to know more about treatment options for your partner or have any questions at all about how substance abuse treatment works, please give us a call at (704) 970-4106

Why is Aftercare so Important for Recovery?

group of former patients supporting one another outside

I Got Treatment. What’s Next?

You did it. You admitted there was a problem in your life. You acknowledged that you could not handle it on your own. You enrolled in a treatment program. Maybe it involved detox. It might have been either inpatient or outpatient. You learned a lot about yourself, and you have done some really hard work. Kept showing up to group meetings and made it to therapist appointments on time. You should feel good about the choices you have recently made. Honestly, you deserve to feel good after exerting that level of commitment and concentration. But a treatment program, no matter how intense, is not realistic long-term. The purpose of treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient, is to help you eventually return to your own life. So, recovery doesn’t end just because your program ended. Treatment is often just the first step. Recovery is a lifestyle. It is a journey that lasts as long as your life lasts.

What Is Aftercare?

At the end of your treatment program, your doctor or counselor will likely give you some information on aftercare. Don’t overthink it; it’s nothing complicated. Aftercare is simply a deliberate, intentional plan for your continued success. If you’ve been taking prescription medications as part of your treatment program, you’ll want to keep taking them. For you, aftercare might include further appointments with your therapist, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly to start out. Your therapist or counselor may likewise suggest group therapy sessions. Still, other alternatives for aftercare include 12-step programs like the faith-based Celebrate Recovery. If you prefer a secular option, you might consider Rational Recovery.

Why Does Aftercare Matter?

Treatment programs can be incredibly successful transitions. But the biggest factor in your success is not just which treatment program you chose. What matters most is how you participated in your treatment program. Schedule and structure can help you recover successfully. However, you must remember that a treatment program is not real life. Treatment programs teach us a lot, but the best care providers cannot live our lives for us. Treatment programs allow us to escape from life, even for just a little while, to an environment that encourages sobriety and recovery. When in treatment, we learn the skills necessary to continue to choose to recover. To continue recovery after treatment ends, we must take some of that order and regimented living back with us. We ought to wake up and to go to sleep at the same time each day. We ought to prepare and eat healthy meals that nourish us properly. We ought to push our bodies with movement and exercise. We also ought to mend our relationships with friends and family and to find hobbies we enjoy. Aftercare can keep us motivated and accountable to keep walking the road we began when we enrolled in treatment. It can help us form partnerships with others in recovery who will support our life choices. In treatment, you began trying to understand and undo some of the habits that led you into addiction. Aftercare helps by further educating you on how to create and maintain new habits.

What If I Still Have Questions?

If you’d like to know more about Harmony Recovery Group’s aftercare options, call us now at 866-461-4474

Adventure Therapy for Substance Abuse

front of a kayak in a river surrounded by mountains

As you’ve probably heard, again and again, addiction is a disease that affects the mind, body, and spirit of those who suffer from it. Adventure therapy for substance abuse is one way you can address all these elements at once and get your recovery off to a healthy start.

In this post, we’ll examine just what adventure therapy for substance use is and how it can help you make the changes necessary for an authentic recovery.

What Is Adventure Therapy For Substance Abuse?

Adventure therapy for substance abuse uses a combination of nature, fellowship, and personal challenges to invigorate your spirit and increase your feelings of self-worth. Its purpose is to address multiple aspects of your well-being simultaneously and help you access internal recovery resources you didn’t know you had.

While every adventure therapy workshop is a little different, most use some combination of the following methods to promote trust, psychological well-being, and a feeling of community:

  • Kayaking, rafting, and other forms of team boating
  • Rope climbing
  • Skiing
  • Camping
  • Rock Climbing
  • Trust falls

Adventure therapy employs a team approach to problem-solving, thus setting a precedent for the healthy group dynamic that’s so necessary for recovery.

The Benefits of Adventure Therapy for Substance Abuse

Adventure therapy is a fun and challenging way to start off or enhance your personal recovery. Here are some of the benefits clients gain from participating in it:

  • Increased feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment
  • Heightened sense of community
  • A deeper connection to nature and an enhanced spiritual life
  • The formation of trusting, supportive relationships
  • Increased ability to handle stress and frustration
  • Improvements in physical, mental, and emotional health
  • Learning to rely on others and the value of being reliable

Obviously, this is a partial list. Typically, clients all reap a different set of benefits from the activities involved in adventure therapy. However, almost every client emerges from the experience of adventure therapy with a new perspective on themselves, the natural world, and the unexplored ways they can interact with others.

The Value of Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

True recovery requires you to make profound internal and external changes. This is an accepted fact in the recovery community, but it’s a statement that might seem vague to many people. That’s why it’s important to be specific when discussing the merits of this or that treatment modality.

At some point, it becomes clear to most people with a substance disorder that their current way of life isn’t sustainable. In other words, they come to realize that what they’re doing just isn’t working. This is when the question of what to do inevitably arises. Obviously, the answers to this question will be a bit different for everyone. However, there is one thing that most recovered people have in common– they worked diligently to change their habits and consistently get out of their comfort zone.

This is one of the main reasons that adventure therapy for substance abuse can be so beneficial. Addiction is a disease that thrives on isolation and inactivity. Adventure therapy goes a long way toward eliminating these enabling conditions right from the start. No one’s saying that a few days out in the wilderness will change your life forever all by itself. However, evidence-based adventure therapies can definitely help create a renewed self-worth.

National Safety Month: What is Safety Planning in Recovery?

Safety Planning for Addiction Recovery

June is National Safety Month so we’re taking this time to talk about safety planning in recovery. Safety planning is all about preparing for a sober lifestyle. As with anything, the recovery journey is full of ups and downs but it is the most worthwhile journey we will ever take. It’s important to prepare ourselves for the inevitable temptations, cravings, and challenges that will come our way in our new sober lives. 

Safety planning in recovery prepares us for difficult times and reminds us of the rewards we reap by remaining sober. 

 

Crisis Information

First, it’s important to assess what we will do if we find ourselves in a high risk situation, have slipped and used a substance, or are in crisis and considering using. 

Write or print this information out and keep it with you (including phone numbers).

 

Who can I call to support my recovery if I am struggling or in crisis? List them. 

__________________________

__________________________

__________________________

 

Where is a safe space I can go if I am struggling or in crisis? List them. 

___________________________

___________________________

___________________________

 

My treatment center care number is: 

____________________________

 

Preventing What’s Avoidable

Remember your “why”

Remind yourself of why you are sober. Your sobriety and your reasons for it are your guiding force. Check back to this list often to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals. 

 

Preventing unnecessary stress

Removing the risk of unnecessary stressors in our lives can reduce triggers that may tempt us to use. Stress isn’t always one big event but several small ones that can build up over a day, week or month and cause us to lose our heads. Preventing unnecessary stressors like lost house keys or having to pay late fees because you didn’t re-register your car in time can go a long way in protecting our mental health and therefore sobriety. 

Examples for organizing your life to prevent unnecessary stressors can include: 

  • Always put your keys in the same place.
  • Keep a spare key with a trustworthy friend or family member in case you get locked out. 
  • Keep a file folder of important documents and information so it’s all in one place when needed. 
  • Set reminders in your phone of important dates like your car registration, lease agreement, driver’s license expiration etc. 
  • Try to build some savings to fall back on when unforeseen expenses arise (if possible, of course)

 

Identify high risk people in your life

This is one of the hardest parts of recovering, realizing that there are people in your life, who you may even consider close friends, who can put your sobriety at risk. It might be someone you used to use with, or it could be someone who is emotionally abusive or triggering. Whatever the reason, making a list of high risk people and setting boundaries to protect your sobriety is an important part of safety planning. 

 

Keep a list of tools and actions that support your sobriety

Often we may struggle because we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Having a list of ways you can support your sobriety is helpful. Use them when you realize you are not putting yourself first. This list can be acts of self-care that you find helpful, activities you do to keep your head clear, or people you can see or talk to who make you feel safe and supported. Sometimes we forget all the different tools we have, keeping a list can be a good reminder for when you find yourself in need of support. 

 

Preparing for the Unavoidable

Identify triggers

Writing down and identifying triggers and early warning signs such as certain behaviors or changes in your attitude towards recovery are important so you can catch yourself early. Remember HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you’ve relapsed in the past, include the triggers that led to that path in this list. 

 

What to do when cravings happen

What are some coping strategies I can use when cravings come up? List them. Examples could be going for a run, calling a friend or sponsor for support, or engaging in a hobby to keep your hands occupied. These should be actions that can be taken specifically to distract yourself from cravings rather than self-care acts. 

 

Things I can say if someone offers me a drink or drugs

It’s good to have some go-to lines tucked away for instances like this. Whether you want to explain that you are in recovery or opt not to give an excuse and simply say no, being prepared with your answers ahead of time will help when the moment comes. 

 

What If I Relapse? 

The purpose of safety planning is to support your recovery and prevent relapse. When committing to sobriety, the goal is maintain this new lifestyle long-term, but relapses do happen to some people. Having a plan in place can mean the difference between relapse as a slip and a full-blown reactivation. 

Create a plan for who you will call, where you will go, and who will take care of your children or pets (if applicable). Remember this does not give you immunity from relapsing, it is a worst case scenario plan. Be aware that if you are tempted to pick up, do not use the same dosage as you did before as your sobriety has lowered your tolerance. 

Lastly, if you do relapse, know that treatment can help get you back on the right track. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction, or relapse contact us today. At Harmony Recovery Group we are here to help.

Experiential Therapy for Addiction

Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

.Treatment programs that take an integrated approach to addiction and mental health have been shown to offer the best outcomes. This is because integrated treatment addresses a broad range of problems related to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. It is comprised of a combination of traditional psychotherapies and evidence-based experiential therapies, which include hands-on activities. This blend of treatments can help people examine a variety of issues from different angles to promote meaningful, holistic healing.

Experiential Therapy for the Treatment of Addiction

Experiential therapies are a vital component of a high-quality, comprehensive addiction treatment program. They involve activities that help people feel successful as they work through obstacles in different settings. This is because these activities offer a sense of accomplishment, introspection, and self reliance.

Experiential therapies typically operate using the basic principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other conventional therapies. They offer a number of benefits for those in recovery from substance abuse, including helping them do the following:

  • Improve self-awareness by observing how they respond behaviorally and emotionally while engaging in a purposeful or enjoyable activity
  • Make sense of emotions that are difficult to express
  • Uncover buried emotions or memories in a safe, supporting environment
  • Identify emotional responses that manifest during certain life situations
  • Lastly, take action to initiate positive life changes

Experiential therapies are facilitated by trained therapists who help people make meaningful associations between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But these activities are also about having fun and may lead to the discovery of healthy hobbies that can be helpful to engage in during recovery.

Forms of Experiential Therapy

Art Therapy

During an art therapy session, participants engage in a diverse variety of art-based exercises, such as the following:


  • Recreating an experience visually
  • Expressing emotion in colors and shapes


  • Creating art to relieve stress and have fun
  • Viewing/discussing the creativity/art of others


In general, art therapy can help participants express emotions in non-traditional ways and integrate past experiences with creative self-expression.

Other benefits of art therapy include the following:


  • Healing of emotional wounds
  • Altering unhealthy thought and behavior patterns
  • Reduced denial and uncertainty


  • Increased motivation regarding recovery
  • Increased self-reflection and awareness
  • Reduced feelings of stress and shame


Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Music Therapy

Music therapy includes a variety of music-themed interventions that help people to address a variety of physical, emotional, mental, and social needs.

During music therapy, a therapist engages participants in activities, such as the following:


  • Listening to music for inspiration
  • Relaxation
  • Interpreting song lyrics


  • Writing songs as a means of self-expression
  • Creating music with instruments or singing
  • Moving to music to express oneself reduce stress


Music therapy has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety. It can also motivate people to change and actively engage in treatment.

Other benefits of music therapy include helping participants do the following:


  • Achieve and sustain a positive emotional state
  • Express and tap into difficult emotions
  • Relax and reduce stress


  • Discovered shared experiences with others
  • Foster communication
  • Experience significant personal change


Overall, music therapy is intended to promote creative thinking and self-awareness, which are essential to recovery.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy takes place outdoors and may include activities such as hiking, climbing, camping, kayaking, etc. In adventure therapy, engaging with nature itself is therapeutic. As a result, participants experience individual growth, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

Activities used in adventure therapy include initiative activities that involve problem-solving and collaborating with others. They also feature cooperative activities that foster positive interactions and a sense of enjoyment, as well as support activities that teach participants to trust and count on others.

Adventure therapy is an active process that serves as a medium for change. A trained therapist helps participants relate the lessons learned during the adventures to their own experiences in recovery. In addition, the therapist observes the stress levels of participants and ensures that each person is achieving a positive momentum.

Outdoor adventures may be useful for the following:


  • Reducing the risk of relapse
  • Lessening drug and alcohol cravings
  • Decreasing frequency of bad thoughts
  • Reducing stress and mental fatigue


  • Improving focus and concentration
  • Fostering a positive outlook
  • Engaging in realistic goal-setting
  • Developing better control over impulsivity


Yoga

Yoga is combines controlled breathing with movement and meditation. It’s led by a certified instructor who guides the class through a range of poses that improve physical and mental strength, endurance, and flexibility. The instructor may also integrate inspirational teachings into the class to increase spiritual benefits. Likewise, the end portion of yoga typically includes a meditation exercise.

During yoga, participants concentrate on their breathing and poses, which keep them into the present moment where they are better able to examine their thoughts, feelings, and physical state. Mindfulness increases self-awareness and teaches the mind to exist in the present rather than fretting over the past or future.

Yoga is commonly used in addiction treatment programs for its many mental and physical health benefits to people in recovery, including the following:


  • A higher level of mindfulness
  • Greater awareness of body and mind
  • Deeper spirituality
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD


  • Decreased stress
  • Reduced cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Greater physical strength
  • Reduced depression and anxiety


Experiential Therapy for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sitting in a quiet environment while focusing on the breath and allowing thoughts to pass through the mind without responding to them or placing judgment on them.

Meditation encourages awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. It helps people accept their experiences and feelings for what they are rather than repress or fight them. Meditation promotes better decision-making, relieves cravings, and lessens the need to abuse drugs or alcohol during particularly stressful or emotional events or periods.

A substantial body of research suggests that mindfulness meditation is beneficial for treating addiction in the following ways:


  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Alleviating pain
  • Reducing depression, anxiety, and stress


  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Improving responses to external events
  • Promoting feelings of calm and peacefulness


According to research, meditation can actually change the brain’s structure by increasing its volume in regions related to emotional regulation and decision making. It also reduces the volume of the area associated with stress, anxiety, and fear.

Experiential Therapies Support Healing

Choosing a rehab program that offers a holistic approach to addiction recovery can have several long-term benefits. For example, experiential therapies allow people to grow and reflect and make meaningful connections to the coping skills and strategies they are learning in traditional therapy.

Experiential treatments should be enjoyable, engaging, and enlightening. By integrating them in the recovery journey, healing and well-being can be promoted during the treatment process and beyond.

Get Help Today

Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs that feature psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. We also offer several experiential treatments, including art, music, and adventure therapy, as well as medication and yoga.

If you are struggling to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today! We are committed to helping every person we can to break free from the cycle of substance abuse so they may begin to experience the happy, healthy lives they deserve!

6 Tips for Staying Sober Over the Holidays

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

It will soon be the season for family gatherings, work-related parties, and around the clock socializing. It’s also a season that poses unique challenges for people newly in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. The holidays also typically involve seeing old friends and family and engaging in rituals that may have involved drinking or using drugs.

Unfortunately, we might not get along with some of these “loved ones,” and there may be a history of trauma, resentment, embarrassment, and general unease. Emotional triggers, coupled with environmental ones, can be a threat to those who are not fully entrenched in recovery. Beware if you have yet to fine-tune the coping skills you need to deal with problems without resorting to the use of drugs or alcohol.

6 Tips for Holiday Sobriety

The following tips and advice can help those new to sobriety better navigate this time of year successfully and avoid relapse.

1. Reconsider Traditional Ideas Regarding Recovery

People in early recovery often refer to the need to “stay strong.” Unfortunately, an inability to do this presupposes that you are weak. Moreover, using language that stigmatizes addiction or implies judgment can be unhelpful and throw a negative element into your thinking.

Instead of promising to stay strong, for example, you could vow to remain in the present, and focus on each moment and day, one at a time. It’s common knowledge that in recovery, being committed to never using or drinking again is daunting for most people. What is helpful, however, is living in the present and not worrying about the past or the future. In other words, you can make it through New Year’s Eve without drinking and worrying about tomorrow.

Another way to go about this is to drop the word “relapse” and replace it with something that sounds less permanent, such as “recurrence.” The term relapse not only implies that there is a defect of character or moral failing, but also that a person has somehow fallen into a pit in which he or she must struggle to surmount. Looking at it another way can help you in the event you have a misstep. Know that having a recurrence of substance use, although not good, does not have to be the end of the world. Any setback, no matter how minor or major, can be overcome as long as you are still alive.

2. Stay Connected to People Who Support Your Recovery Endeavors

Many times, people who support you in sobriety are close friends and family, but not always. Sometimes, it might be a counselor or therapist, an AA sponsor, or even a coworker. In other words, showing up to a family gathering while everyone is getting their drink on might not be the most supportive environment for you. But by leaning on group support or professional help, you can still get the emotional buffering you need to get through the day.

Plan to engage with whatever support system you use during relatively normal times on the holidays as well. Stay connected to whoever is helping you and keeping you accountable, rather than falling back on those who might not be the best role models during this time.

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

3. Make a List of Things Enjoyable About the Holidays That are Unrelated to Substance Abuse

Most children, although not all, have many fond memories of the holidays entrenched in their psyche long before drugs or alcohol came into the picture. Now may be the time to tap into those memories. For example, staying awake late trying to get a glimpse of Santa, or getting up early to open presents.

As adults, of course, our view of the holidays change a bit. But we can still look forward to getting and receiving gifts, cooking, eating, socializing, and engaging in activities that are fun or creative. You don’t have to be drunk to play cards with your cousin or watch “A Christmas Story” for the 50th time.

4. Reconsider Holiday Obligations

Unfortunately, the holidays are a time in which people feel obligated to participate by going to parties or family gatherings. You have to remember than you can opt out, and even do so for another purpose, such as attending AA meetings or volunteering.

If you decide to do this, you will also need to gauge the situation and figure out who needs an explanation and who doesn’t. Not showing up to an office party might not be a big deal, but not turning out at a family event might require some tactful, gentle explaining. Remember that this is your recovery, and it needs to be prioritized. If someone doesn’t understand or accept your explanation, that’s on them.

5. Pick Your Events Carefully, Plan Your Exit if Needed, and “Bookend” Triggering Situations With Support

Along with the potential for opting out, comes a little strategy and planning. Recovery occurs one moment at a time. If you structure your time during the holidays, sobriety can feel a lot more manageable. Also, including support group meetings or conversations with sponsors that surround these events can help you stay focused. Stay in the mindset that this is also your day, and it cannot be compromised for the sake of others.

For example, you might choose to go to a family gathering and stay for dinner—AA meeting, dinner, then talk to sponsor. Then you only have one or two hours at a time you need to manage. By the end of the day, it’s all over, and tomorrow, everything and everyone might be back to normal.

In terms of an exit plan, this may be as simple as telling the host your intention to leave by a certain time. Or, devising an excuse to use beforehand in case you need it.

Staying Sober Over the Holidays | Harmony Recovery Center

6. Plan Ahead to Manage Enablers

Almost every person in recovery will be offered drugs or alcohol at some point. The holidays may be particularly troublesome for this fact. People who occasionally have “one too many” may not understand what addiction really is. You might end up in a situation where you feel pressured—and therefore tempted—to imbibe.

For these reasons, when you attend a holiday gathering, you may have to be prepared to stand your ground. You can choose to be honest, saying “I can’t drink.”

Or, you can use another excuse such as that you don’t engage in substance abuse for health reasons.

Getting Help

If you are struggling to remain sober in recovery or feel you need help with a substance abuse problem, effective treatment is available. Harmony Recovery Center offers individualized, comprehensive programs that feature clinically-proven therapies, activities, and educational services that are extremely beneficial for the recovery process, including cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Addiction is a chronic mental and physical disease that can last a lifetime. But, you don’t have to overcome it alone. Call us today to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery.

 

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How to Get Clean and Sober

How to Get Clean and Sober

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Helping people get clean and sober and sustaining long-term recovery are the primary goals of any substance abuse treatment program. Achieving this is often possible using a combination of intensive therapeutic services and continuing aftercare. Although this is possible to do on one’s own, research has shown that the best outcomes are achieved when a person undergoes a comprehensive addiction program and continues with long-term therapy and counseling.

The First Step is Recognizing the Problem

Before a person can get clean and sober, he or she must recognize the need for treatment. It may be daunting to admit that there is a problem, but if drug or alcohol abuse is interfering with school, work, school, or relationships, professional treatment is likely needed.

If a loved one is suffering from an addiction, it may be necessary to stage an intervention in an attempt to convince them that they have a problem and need help. Addiction specialists and those trained in these types of interventions can help guide loved ones through this process and offer the best chance for its success.

The next step is to seek professional treatment from a licensed and accredited rehab center as soon as possible. It is also essential to learn about the challenges you may face and begin to understand what the process of recovery is really all about.

Challenges

Withdrawal symptoms are a significant challenge for recovery from substance abuse. Some substances cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the user abruptly stops using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are the result of dependence, a condition in which the body has adapted a substance’s presence and cannot function “normally” without it. These symptoms can be highly pleasant, dangerous, and can compel the user to relapse to ease withdrawal symptoms. 

For this reason and others, it is not recommended that a drug or alcohol abuser try to quit “cold turkey” without undergoing a medical detox. Severe complications, both physical and emotional, can arise. In some cases, such as those related to alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawal can be life-threatening.

Another danger for many is that relapse can result in an overdose. This may be more likely as a person’s tolerance has been reduced, and if the user tries to return to a previous dose, their body may be no longer equipped to handle it.

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Never Underestimate Triggers

It may not be that hard to remain sober while undergoing a treatment program because the environment is drug-free and conducive to sobriety. And the longer a person receives treatment, the greater the likelihood that he or she will be equipped to remain sober long-term. However, after treatment is over and a person returns to the real world, he or she will be faced with many of the same stresses and triggers that were present before. 

Unfortunately, relapse is considered to be a relatively normal event in recovery. Overconfidence in one’s ability to cope with life’s stresses is one of the main reasons why people relapse, even those who have been in recovery for years. For this reason, it’s vital to use the coping skills learned in treatment actively and reach out for help at the first inkling that a return to using may be imminent.

Understanding Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery, in some ways, is a life-long process that involves several stages before a person can wholly be free from dependence on alcohol or drugs. Individuals go through these stages in different ways, and the duration of time required depends on the person’s personality and genetic makeup, the environment in which they live, and the properties of the specific substance of abuse.

For some types of drugs, such as benzodiazepines, a gradual tapering of the dose over time under the care of a trained healthcare provider may be needed to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. Such a tapering process may extend the length of time it takes to recover from chemical dependence and may affect emotional dependence, as well.

Leaning on the support of family and friends is another essential component of recovery. This, in and of itself, can sometimes pose a challenge, especially if many of the former user’s friends or family are still using drugs or alcohol. For this reason, the person in recovery may have to find a new support group of friends who are already clean and sober. Peer support groups and sponsors can often fill this role.

In some cases, family therapy or counseling may be necessary to help the former user’s family members understand the treatment process. Therapy of this kind can show loved ones different ways they can offer support and be helpful in fostering the individual’s recovery.

Treatment Options

How to Get Clean and Sober | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Treatment for substance abuse should be customized to the specific needs of the person seeking treatment. Not all treatment approaches work as effectively for all people. Also, chemical addiction often requires different treatment options than one that is primarily psychological in nature. 

And, notably, there are frequently co-occurring mental health conditions that people who abuse substances experience, such as anxiety or depression. These disorders must be addressed in conjunction with addiction in order for treatment to be effective.

Currently, the most common forms of intensive treatment are heavily based on behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support. In some instances, medication is also necessary to wean the person off of a drug or to prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings that could hinder a person’s ability to remain clean and sober.

Treatment can be performed in a hospital, detox or rehab center, or at home using outpatient services. In many cases, a medical detox followed by intensive treatment is the best approach to ensuring that an individual is given the best chance for recovery. 

During medical detox, a person is monitored by healthcare professionals and provided with medications and emotional support while the body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. While detox is the first step, it doesn’t address the underlying causes of substance abuse, which is something that an intensive recovery program is designed to do.

Addiction treatment programs offer clients assessment, support, structure, therapy, counseling, and medication to assist in their recovery. These programs can also help to address the underlying issues that contribute to drug abuse in the first place, and teach people how to replace their maladaptive substance abuse with healthy habits and behaviors.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment programs in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We specialize in both substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.

Our programs feature evidence-based therapies and services beneficial to the recovery process, including, but not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group support
  • Art and music therapy


  • Mindfulness meditation and yoga
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness education
  • Aftercare planning


After the initial treatment is complete, the recovering addict should collaborate with a healthcare provider or other specialist to develop a plan to avoid triggers and prevent relapse in the future. Relapse prevention is just as vital as detox and treatment because failure at this stage can undo much of the progress already achieved.

If you or someone you love is struggling to get clean and sober, contact us today and find out how we can help!

What Is Holistic Healing for Addiction?

Holistic Healing for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

An ongoing trend in addiction treatment in the past few years has been to incorporate alternative or holistic treatment practices into more conventional therapies. In fact, a wide variety of holistic approaches are being used in addiction treatment centers across the United States.

What Is Holistic Healing?

The term “holistic” refers to interventions that address the “whole person” or a concurrent focus on the mind and body for total healing. Many addiction treatment centers view holistic practices as an opportunity for people to better address their physical, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes social needs. By using these complementary techniques, people may experience improvements in their recovery and other aspects of their everyday life.

What Is a Holistic Healing Program?

Addiction treatment programs that employ holistic techniques make thorough use of an integrated physical, emotional, and spiritual approach to develop a comprehensive treatment regimen. Many of these services are categorized as complementary or alternative therapies, some of which are rooted in practices that stem from cultural traditions.

Examples of holistic techniques include the following:


  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Reiki


  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Biofeedback


  • Nutritional therapy
  • Herbal treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Adventure therapy


These are just a few of the diverse treatments that are considered to be beneficial for holistic healing. The key element that these techniques have in common is that they are intended to treat the whole individual and improve overall well-being. This element contrasts with a focus on a single aspect of a person’s symptoms or behaviors.

Keeping this in mind, a holistic approach to addiction should, essentially, seek to curb isolated addictive behaviors. It should also address a broad range of factors that play vital roles in the development of addiction.

Using Holistic Healing Techniques for Addiction Treatment

In some instances, holistic techniques are employed to augment specific aspects of more traditional recovery treatment. In doing this, these practices may help with the following:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Anxiety, depression, or other psycho-emotional problems that appear to have contributed to the development of compulsive substance use
  • A lack of spirituality
  • Unhealthy eating habits and malnutrition in combination with substance abuse

Supporters of holistic practices contend that they can improve the chances of long-lasting recovery from addiction. It is generally advised, however, that holistic therapies be used in conjunction with traditional treatments, in contrast to merely using them as a substitution for more conventional approaches, such as behavioral therapy.

Holistic Healing for Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

How Effective Are Holistic Healing Techniques?

People who are investigating holistic treatment programs may find it challenging to locate research that supports the effectiveness of these practices. Indeed, scant research has been conducted on many holistic approaches, and research that is out there has had mixed results. As such, the efficacy of some of these techniques in promoting lasting recovery is unknown. For this reason, they have often been the subject of debate.

Holistic practices may interest those who would otherwise be leery of more traditional therapies. Likewise, their presence may make a person more comfortable with receiving more conventional treatments. It may promote a willingness to try other evidence-based approaches that offer a higher likelihood of long-lasting recovery.

Also, the use of these practices can put people at ease and more engaged in their treatment, making them better able to deal with the challenges of rehab. For these reasons alone, holistic approaches can be beneficial components in a more extensive, conventional, evidence-based program, despite the lack of evidence supporting them.

Holistic and Traditional Approaches in Addiction Treatment

Most experts contend that conventional, clinically-backed intensive treatment for addiction is more likely to help a person to achieve sobriety and maintain recovery. Holistic approaches may include a broad range of therapies that may offer additional support and make treatment programs more interesting and fulfilling in general.

People who are considering rehab may need to research each specific facility’s holistic healing offerings. They need to inquire about the therapies that the treatment center provides and the qualifications of those who will be administering the therapies.

It is true that many alternative treatments do lack evidence regarding their effectiveness. However, some holistic techniques, when used to complement more conventional addiction treatment therapies, certainly contribute to greater treatment satisfaction.

Getting Help for Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers integrated, research-based programs comprised of therapeutic modalities shown to be essential for long-lasting recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer group support


  • Health and wellness education
  • Substance abuse education
  • Mindfulness meditation


  • Art and music therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Aftercare planning


Our caring staff specializes in the facilitation of both traditional and holistic recovery approaches. If you or someone you love is ready to end the vicious cycle of addiction, contact us today—we can help!

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What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House | Harmony Recovery Center

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House – Many people choose to reside in a group sober living environment following inpatient treatment for addiction. While people tend to use these terms interchangeably, it is important to understand that a sober house is not the same thing as a halfway house or three-quarters house.

One of the biggest dangers that people face coming out of treatment is relapse and vulnerability to high-risk situations. Both sober living homes and halfway houses help to protect people in the early stages of recovery by offering an environment conducive to peer support and accountability.

These residences also usually provide access to counseling, support groups, and employment resources. Residents are held accountable for their sobriety and must adhere to strict rules, curfews, and sometimes require drug testing.

What Is a Halfway House?

Halfway houses are places that are sometimes designated for people who have been released from prison or who may have also undergone an alcohol or drug treatment program while incarcerated. This type of halfway house is often sponsored by state funds to help those recently released from prison reacclimate to life in the outside world. Not all halfway houses are used solely for this purpose, however.

Some are designed to include any person with a substance use disorder who needs further support during or after an addiction treatment program. This environment can be very beneficial in allowing people to move forward while surrounded by a community focused on support as each member transitions from one way of life to another. Halfway houses often require enrollment in or completion of some type of treatment program, and these houses also tend to limit a resident’s stay.

What Is a Three-Quarters House?

A three-quarter house is a transitional environment that offers less supervision than traditional halfway houses. These sober living environments are unregulated. Reputable three-quarter houses can help people transition out of intensive treatment, and living in such an environment may be a positive final step that a person can take before their re-entrance back into normal life.

In a three-quarter house, drugs and alcohol are still banned, and they generally provide fewer resources and require less accountability. Also, residents aren’t usually drug tested, and support group attendance is optional. Moreover, these homes allow residents more freedom as they become accustomed to living without constant supervision and support.

What Is a Sober Living House?

Halfway House vs. Sober Living House | Harmony Recovery Center

After residential treatment, it can be challenging to transition to the outside world while continuing to commit to a substance-free life. The main function of a sober living house is to help those in recovery who need extra security and support by giving them a place to go that is free from drugs and alcohol and the triggers that they will eventually have to face in the real world.

Unlike a halfway house, however, residents do not always need to be enrolled in a treatment program to reside in a sober house, and there may not be a limit set on the duration of time that one can live there. This difference can be vital for those who are contemplating their long-term options and feel that they would be helped by access to community support and personal accountability for a longer period.

Sober living houses are frequently, but not always, owned and operated by treatment centers, or they are closely affiliated with them and located nearby. Transportation is often available to go to and from outpatient treatment and other services.

Aftercare Treatment in Recovery from Addiction

While inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment are fundamental, after treatment is over, a long-term plan is still needed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about half of all individuals treated for substance use disorders will relapse at least once. Therefore, aftercare treatment becomes just as vital to sobriety as the initial investment in addiction recovery.

A long-term aftercare plan should address the following:

  • Holding the individual accountable and responsible
  • Ensuring that he or she does not use addictive substances
  • Minimizing relapse triggers in the environment
  • Helping the person take care of responsibilities such as paying rent and performing household chores
  • Placing the person within a caring community of support
  • Giving the person a commitment to adhere to over time

Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Harmony Recovery Centers offers evidence-based psychotherapy, counseling, and group support in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. We also provide aftercare planning services as well as alumni activities to ensure that former patients remain supported and active long-term in their newly established sober lifestyle.

Recovery from addiction is often a lifelong endeavor, but no one should have to go through it alone. You can reclaim your life and begin to reimagine it in a way you never thought possible. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and foster the healthy, happy, and fulfilling life you deserve!