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.

Self-Care for Addiction Recovery: 30 Tips for Supporting Your Sobriety

Self-Care for Addiction Recovery: 30 Tips

When substance abuse takes over your life, it results in all the important things– your relationships, work, school, and your mental and physical health– taking a backseat. That’s why one of the most freeing aspects of recovery is getting back in the driver’s seat of your own life. However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the busyness of modern life and forget to take care of yourself. Especially because in the past, we’ve been in the habit of putting our wellbeing last. Using self-care in your addiction recovery can be a great method of prioritizing yourself and your wellbeing.

What is Self Care? 

Self-Care is a buzzy term these days and usually makes us think of someone taking a bubble bath or going to the spa. It can be those things, but it’s also so much more.

Self-care is any activity we do, on purpose, to better take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Think of it like recharging your battery. Acts of self-care can reduce anxiety, improve our mood, and is a great way to reconnect with ourselves. 

Above all, it’s about giving yourself permission to put yourself first. For addicts, putting themselves first is challenging because in the past they’ve prioritized drugs and alcohol over everything else. But recovery is about putting yourself and your wellbeing first, and self-care is a great tool for the addiction recovery process.

 

Why Self-Care is Important for Addiction Recovery

Because active addiction is a form of self-abuse and creates negative coping mechanisms for the stresses and challenges of everyday life, it results in self-harm. On the other hand, self-care is about rewiring those coping mechanisms in healthy ways that are kind to our minds and bodies. It is the opposite expression.

Taking the time to prioritize and care for yourself is a way to practice self-love and creates better self worth, self-esteem, and mental wellbeing. 

 

Incorporating Self-Care Into Addiction Recovery Plan

 

  1. Take Time for Self-Reflection

Firstly, spending a few minutes each day to check in with ourselves can be a very grounding practice that can deeply aid our recovery. 

Consider asking yourself: How am I feeling today? Have I learned anything about myself today? What am I grateful for today? Which actions did I take to strengthen my recovery today? Did I learn any new triggers today? 

Taking the time to answer ourselves honestly can be a helpful way of staying present in our daily lives. Which leads us to our second Self-Care suggestion…

 

  1. Keep a Journal 

Further to the above on Self-Reflection, taking time to write out our thoughts on paper is a great way to relieve a racing mind, identify triggers, and help us get to know ourselves better. It can be the classic “Dear Diary” or some people like to make bullet lists, keep gratitude journals, write stream-of-consciousness style– really, there’s no wrong way to do it so do whatever feels right.

 

  1.  Set Boundaries 

Learning to set boundaries is a key part of protecting your sobriety, which makes it one of the most important act of self-care you will practice. They can come in many forms: some are physical, like leaving a situation which risks your sobriety, and some are mental or emotional, such as telling someone when something doesn’t feel right. 

For example, in the past you may have had a friend or social group who either supported or joined in on your drug and alcohol use. Now, as a newly sober person, one of the most difficult parts of recovery may be realizing that those friendships no longer work in our new lives. In many cases, cutting off contact is necessary to protect our sobriety.

However, boundaries can also be less severe than cutting people off completely. Sometimes it is just about setting emotional boundaries, such as speaking up when someone violates your moral compass or says something that makes you feel bad. And of course, there are physical boundaries such as leaving if you find yourself in a situation where drugs and alcohol are being used. 

The most important part about creating healthy boundaries is not feeling bad about setting them. You are in control of your life and wellbeing, and you are responsible for it too.

  1. Get Outside

It’s free, it’s right outside your front door, and studies show that it improves mood, reduces stress, and may fight depression. So get outside and take a walk, a hike, a bike ride, or sit in the park and read a book.

Spending time in nature keeps you active and is great for our mental wellbeing. If you’re feeling low, restless, or struggling with drug cravings, nothing’s stopping you from lacing up your shoes and going out for a run. Furthermore, using meetup groups to get your outdoors time can be a great way to meet friends who fit into your new sober lifestyle. Bonus!

 

  1. Practice Mindfulness

So much of our life is run on auto-pilot. When you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, are you really thinking about brushing your teeth or are you thinking about your to-do list for the day? By always living in the future and worrying about our next task, we never live in the “now”. 

That’s where mindfulness comes in. It means being in the present moment, fully aware of where we are and what we’re doing. In other words, not being distracted by what’s next or what’s happening around us. 

Living in the “now” is often difficult for those in recovery. Recovery writer Beverly Conyers puts it best: “Most of us in addiction recovery are former escape artists looking to avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with daily life. We’re good at not being there. Being present helps us learn to cope with reality as it actually is—not how we perceive it.” Consequently, mindfulness becomes that much more important. When practiced regularly, it helps us better cope with what comes our way each day.

Mindfulness: Live in the Moment - Self-care for addiction recovery

Next time you’re doing something mundane, try to be in the moment. Putting your shoes on? Think about when you were a kid learning how to tie them– bunny ears, loop-de-loop, etc. Feel the texture of the laces and the sensation of your shoe enveloping your foot. 

It might sound silly but mindfulness is a practice. Therefore, taking that extra second to be in the present moment can be very grounding. The more we do it, the more we build our mindfulness muscles and those benefits will spill over into our daily life. 

 

More Self-Care for Addiction Recovery Tips

Calming Activities

1. Get lost in a book. 

2. Take your lunch break outside. And note how much better you feel afterward.

3. Set your alarm early in order to watch the sunrise.

4. Listen to a bedtime story. Yes, really! Calm, the meditation app, offers Bedtime Stories for Grownups, read by actors like Matthew McConaughey and radio personalities like Laura Sydell of NPR. (Plus, it doesn’t always have to be bedtime since stories are great anytime!)

5. Turn off your phone for an hour and feel the power of some peace and quiet.

6. Go to bed early or sleep in. And don’t feel guilty about it!

7. Test out aromatherapy. They smell great but more importantly, essential oils have proven benefits to our mood and mental health. 

8. Make a cup of coffee or tea but instead of drinking it on the fly, sit down and take the time to savor it (hello, mindfulness).

9. Do some doodling! And get a doodle book to keep them all in. 

Personal Growth Activities

10. Write a list of the things you like about yourself (and then tape it to the your mirror!).

11. Listen to a guided meditation. Apps like Headspace are great for this and so is Youtube.

12. Know your burn-out signs, then learn to respect them.

13. Close your eyes for 10 seconds and breathe deeply. After that, try doing it for 20 seconds, then 30 and so on. 

14. Try Breathwork. There are tons of tutorials online and it is of great help to lots of mental health problems. For example, did you know the practice has been associated with reduction in anxiety and stress in studies? 

Productive or Physical Activities

15. Do some meal prep. It works double duty by saving time and it improves your health. In addition to all those, it saves money because you aren’t eating out or wasting food. Bonus!

16. Declutter your closet and donate any unwanted items to charity. You get a double feel-good moment by giving to others in need and having an organized space. 

17. Or similarly but less ambitious, clean out just one single drawer. Ahhh the calm feeling of opening a newly organized drawer…

18. Learn a new skill on sites like SkillShare or YouTube, such as painting or bookkeeping.

19. Get a workout in. For example, hold a plank for a few minutes and done! Five minutes, ten minutes, an hour– anything is beneficial.

20. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start cleaning your space. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish in such a short amount of time. 

Social Activities

21. Connect with others in recovery. Making friends is certainly a great way to support your recovery since you can relate to each other’s experiences, struggles, and triumphs.

22. Go to church, temple, or any place of worship or spirituality that fits your beliefs and religious views (even just virtually for now!). 

23. Similarly, going to a meeting can be a great way to get extra support for your mental health and commitment to sobriety (again with the virtual option being a great choice).

24. Write a review of a business you love and spread some positivity!

And Most Importantly…

25. Lastly, if you are in need of extra support, ask for the help you need (see below). 

 

When Self-Care Isn’t Helping

We hope you’ve found this article on using self-care for addiction recovery support. However, while self-care can be a great practice for your mental health, it is not a magic pill. If you find yourself needing help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Harmony Recovery Group. Our kind and supportive staff are always here for you. Call us anytime at (866) 461-4474.

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241490/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/

Cinco De Mayo meet “Cinco De Sober”

Cinco De Sober Ways to Celebrate Sobriety

For most people, Cinco De Mayo conjures images of margaritas and tequila shots. It’s one of the most drinking-heavy holidays in the US which means it can be especially triggering for people in sobriety. But it doesn’t need to be this way. 

For those in recovery (and for those who just don’t want to feel terrible the next day), we present Cinco De Sober.

Here’s how to celebrate: 

1. First, Set up a Virtual Call 

Since we’re in the age of Social Distancing and we can’t have any group celebrations in person, gather your sober support online for your Cinco De Sober celebration. 

2. Order in Mexican Favorites or Create your Own 

The best part of any celebration or party is the food, right? Cinco De Mayo is the perfect excuse to pig-out on some of the best cuisine on the planet. Mash up some guacamole and put it on literally everything. Tacos? Yes. Burritos? Double yes. Nachos? Heck yes! If you’re needing some recipe inspiration, Pinterest is your new best friend.

3. Mix Some Delicious (Non-Alcoholic) Drinks 

Curve the craving with an assortment of traditionally non-alcoholic Mexican drinks. There are so many flavorful choices that routinely do not contain alcohol. 

Guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit, we made a list of Classic Mexican Drinks that don’t include alcohol, read about some of our favorite recipes on our fellow Harmony Recovery Group Center, Harmony Oaks‘ page. 

 

4. Get Online & Get Some Games Going

Now that everyone is ready with food and drinks, it’s party time. This is the perfect excuse to play some games together– stay classy with Table Topics (here is a great list) or have all the laughs with a phone app game like Psych!, basically a trivia game where the point is to lie about the answers.

 

And there you have it, a Cinco De Sober celebration, Quarantine Style.