Category: Helpful Tools for Sobriety

A Recovering Alcoholics Guide to Selecting the Best Drug and Alcohol Rehab

6 Years of Sobriety, 10 drug and alcohol rehabs… I know What to Look For

When I got drunk for the first time at age 16 I had no idea that I would eventually become the go-to expert on rehabs. Did I go to school for addiction counseling studies? Kind of. I mean, that’s not what my degree is in but I can promise you that when I was in school addiction was the subject I put most of my time in to. You see, I’ve been to 10 different treatment centers in 4 different states. No, not as a visitor – as a patient. When you spend that amount of time in institutions trying to figure out why you can’t stop stealing money out of your mom’s purse to get high, you gain a lot of perspective. You learn the ins and outs or the rehab’s treatment protocols and I had 9 other drug and alcohol rehabs to compare them to. I was a walking, talking, real-life “Yelp” constantly in search for the best drug and alcohol rehab. In addition to living in treatment centers, some for as long as 6 months, I have also visited over 30 rehabs on speaking engagements since getting sober.

Shouldn’t I ask A Doctor What Makes a Great Treatment Center?

Best Drug Alcohol Rehab

To many it might feel more comforting to ask a doctor or a therapist what to look for in a substance abuse center. I totally get that, but I disagree. Many times, the doctors and staff are not addicts or alcoholics. They read a lot about it, have done a great job helping so many of us find recovery, but they will never, ever know what it is like be addicted.

If you want to know what makes the Bronx Zoo so great you would ask the Zoo keeper. He’s going to tell you all about the humane practices at the zoo and about how much time the monkeys spend in the sunshine. But if you really want the truth, if you really want to know everything that goes on in the zoo, you must ask the monkeys. Today, I am the monkey.

The Best Drug and Alcohol Rehabs Will Have These 10 Things

#10 A Staff Filled with Addicts and Alcoholics

My eight-year-old sister was born without her right hand. Not a big deal, but she always felt so different from the other kids. One day she was trying to figure out how to serve a tennis ball at her tennis class. Lots of the kids tried to help, the instructor had a bunch of ideas too, but nothing seemed to work and my sister didn’t seem to pay much attention to their ideas. “Day have boaf hands how da heck can dey know how to swerve whiff just one?” She’s eight so those are not typos, it’s how she talks. Cute huh? Well it’s not as cute as the 12-year-old boy who showed up the following week of tennis camp, he had one arm and showed my sister what to do. She listened, she learned and she served.

That is why you need to make sure that the drug and alcohol center you are going to or sending someone to is jam-packed full of alcoholics and addicts. We need to be speaking to the recovering alcoholics who have been to the same places in hell and found their way out. One alcoholic helping another is and always will be the foundation of recovery. “Do you have recovering alcoholics on staff?” That would be the first question I would ask. I’ve been to a few places who didn’t have any recovering drug addicts working for them and it didn’t work, for me atleast.

License and Registration Please – Now You Get to Ask for It!

#9 Licensed and JCAHO Accredited

The Best Drug Rehab

This should go without saying but it is so important, it needs to be said. You must ask the rehab in question if they are licensed by the state they are in and if they are JCAHO accredited. Any decent and credible drug rehab will be JCAHO accredited. JCAHO stands for The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and is known throughout the US and the gold standard in accreditation for many healthcare fields including substance abuse. As an independent, non-profit organization that certifies and accredits over to 20,000 healthcare institutions JCAHO will have its name on any rehab worth of sending the person you love. Yes, all 10 of mine had the JCAHO stamp of approval.

#8 Dual Diagnosis Treatment

When I went to my first rehab in 2002, the idea of dual diagnosis had been around for 10 years. This was good for me because I had a bunch of other stuff wrong in my head other than addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is the practice of treating co-occurring mental health disorders as part of a curriculum and not as seperate disorders. This is an essential component for any drug and alcohol rehab center that claims to be the best. We now know that there is not a hard line between psychiatric health and addiction, they are one in the same. Patients with bi-polar disorder and an addiction for crack should be treated for both simultaneously. The previous method of treatment required the addict to be clean and sober for months before treatment for the additional disorder would begin, an almost impossible task. Dual-Diagnosis is now common practice but not in all substance abuse treatment centers. If they don’t have dual-diagnosis treatment DO NOT GO THERE, even if you don’t think your loved one has any other co-occurring disorders. When my depression and anxiety was finally treated along with my addiction recovery truly began for me.

Rehab Romances, The Main Reason I Went To 10 Rehabs

#7 Gender Specific Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Rehab

Once the drugs and the alcohol left my body I ran straight for the other thing that made me feel great, girls. At the first 9 treatments, I went to I had 9 rehab romances, 9 new girlfriends in rehab. All day long I thought about them, impressing them, finding ways to sneak out and make out with them. I never focused on me and what I needed to do to recover. Until the last rehab when I was told I would be kicked out on the street if I even spoke to one female patient. Nothing scared me more than being homeless, so I complied. What I found was that I could focus on myself and focus on the things inside of me that needed to be changed without worrying how It would make me look in front of Sally. It also helped me create better friendships and bonds with the men at my rehab, the friends I would rely upon when treatment concluded.

#6 Aftercare Treatment Program

When my family was considering a rehab for my second stint I told them, “It has to have something for me to do after treatment is over.” See, the first time I went right back to my old stomping grounds and, well, I got stomped. An aftercare program offers therapy in both the group and individual settings on a less frequent basis while still providing a high level of substance abuse care. Many believe that after 28 days, the journey is over. This couldn’t be more untrue. I was at my best when I followed the recommendations of the treatment staff and was held accountable by the team involved in my aftercare. I have found involvement in an aftercare program to be the difference between making it to one year of sobriety and not.

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The Patient Is the Family and The Family Is the Patient

#5 Family Addiction Program

I can tell you that the biggest reason I went to 10 rehabs instead of 11 is because of a family program. My parents, brothers and sisters needed to understand all the ways they are helping me stay sober and all the ways they were helping me get high. These are not easy to understand and vary based on the individual. Family must be involved in the treatment process if recovery is going to be possible. It might seem like a good idea to make sure your son’s car has gas in it so he can get to a meeting after he leaves treatment, right? WRONG! If he wants to stay sober he needs to get his own gas. If you keep doing everything for him he has no incentive to do anything himself. Trust me I learned this the hard way. I rode a bike, took the bus and ate expired burritos from Walgreens for a year, I never wanted to go back to that, so I never picked up drugs again. The family program took my parents enabling away and in turn I stayed sober. No family program? No Go!

#4 Alumni Recovery Program

“Hi, my name is Jimmy I went to treatment her 3 years ago and this past May I celebrated 3 years sober.” Nothing is more powerful than that. Alumni programs are awesome because they put current patients hand in hand with former patients who have their lives back on track and who used to sit in the same seat as the person with one day sober. The amount of hope supplied by an active alumni program cannot be overstated. Besides hope alumni take patients and bring them into their sober circle of friends and even jobs. I never felt more alone than when I was drinking, I never felt more alive than the first time my alumni buddy picked me up and took me to the movies with 10 other sober people.

“Everyone Has Issues, At Least I Know What Yours Are” – My Boss

#3 Vocational ProgramsF

The Best Alcohol Rehab

I had never had a job outside of the family business. The reason was that any other place would have fired me for sleeping in the dressing rooms and using painkillers at the register. I never went on an interview or wrote a resume. A vocational program takes care of all those things and helps the addicts and alcoholics re-integrate into society. Yes, an addict is not a great person to hire. But a recovering alcoholic or drug addict is many times the most productive, kindest and hardest working person on the staff. People in recovery live their life by a certain set of principles that are sought after by employers. My boss loved that I was in recovery because it gave him insight into my issues and created an open dialogue in the office. Now, you should not rush into an interview and say I’m an addict thinking that will get you hired. There is a certain way to do that, and a solid vocational program will show you how to do it.

#2 Reputable Halfway Houses in The Area

You got out of rehab, now what? I moved in with my rehab girlfriend then relapsed, I moved in with my parents then relapsed, this last time I went to a halfway house and have not used since. Areas that have a high population of reputable halfway houses or sober homes usually have one of the best drug and alcohol rehabs close by. People in recovery need other people in recovery to stay sober and they need to learn how to live again. Sober homes are great places to hold the addicts accountable and help them learn how to do all the things “Normal” people do. Many cities do not have these resources available so make sure the treatment center you choose to go to has an adequate network of sober homes available before you check in.

#1 People Who Love Their Jobs

Ask the admissions person if they love their job, if they do there is a good chance you have nothing to worry about.

5 People You Need After Drug & Alcohol Rehab

This Team Will Help Enhance Your Recovery Post Drug & Alcohol Rehab

Many new to recovery from addiction and new to drug & alcohol rehab think that after 30 days they will never drink or use drugs again. This is not the case. Rehab is just the start of the recovery process. Finding and maintaining long term and permanent sobriety takes daily maintenance and must involve a host of professionals and support figures. These 5 people or groups of people are essential to helping addicts and alcoholics recover from the disease that plagues them.

drug rehab

Recovery from Addiction Takes a Team of Experts

5. Sober Friends In Recovery
After rehab, many addicts feel that they can return home to the same friends they had before. Research suggests that this is not an idea conducive to recovery. People in recovery from addiction tend to have the most success when they associate with others in recovery. When men in recovery and women in recovery stick close together their programs and lengths of sobriety tend to flourish at higher rate. People and even family members who do not share the disease of addiction are often times incapable of truly understanding or relating to the recovery of an addict.

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4. An After Care Group
Just because rehab has ended doesn’t mean that recovery from addiction has stopped. The most successful men and women in recovery remain actively involved in some form of recovery support group for up to one year after successfully completing drug & alcohol rehab. Many times, individuals participate in Aftercare programs, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and/or Outpatient(OP) therapy.

3. Chemical Dependency Therapist

In addiction to the people that make up group therapy, another person that is essential to recovery is the Chemical Dependency Therapist. Many of the addiction professionals offer one-on-one counseling for their clients after they have completed rehab. A relationship with a Chemical Dependency Therapist that continues for 1-2 years after rehab increases the chances of recovery from addiction.

Once Rehab Ends the Real Work Begins

2. 12 Step Recovery Group

alcohol and drug rehab

Nothing so much ensures recovery from addiction as one alcoholic/addict working with another. Since the 1940’s programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have been helping millions of men and women find and maintain recovery from addiction. Participation in these programs gives the addicted individual the greatest possibility of attaining many years of sobriety post rehab.

1. A Sponsor
Being simply a member of a 12-step program is rarely enough to support a full and permanent sober life. Individuals who have the greatest success in recovery from addiction attain a mentor or what AA calls a sponsor. This is a person who has struggled with addiction in the past and has be sober for a reasonable period. This person has completed all 12 steps of addiction recovery groups and is in most cases the addict or alcoholics number one source of support.

Quitting Smoking Significantly Reduces Risk of Alcohol Relapse

Quitting Cigarettes Helps Prevent Alcohol Relapse

A new study published in Science Daily finds that alcoholics in recovery who smoke are at a greater risk for alcohol relapse than individuals in recovery who don’t smoke. Traditionally recovery has included therapy for all mind and mood altering substances, but left cigarettes out of the equation. Now scientist are finding verifiable evidence that ceasing nicotine abuse could be the secret that helps people stay sober, preventing alcohol relapse.

Many in Alcohol Abuse Recovery Smoke Cigarettes

alcohol

Most adults who have problems with alcohol abuse also smoke cigarettes, most recovering alcoholics smoke as well. In the groups that smoke and are still actively using alcohol, the craving to smoke is much more intense once the alcohol hits their system. Many finding it difficult to drink without smoking. Once recovery is introduced those in recovery continue to keep smoking for fear of removing another substance from their daily routine. Local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings commonly have large crowds outside the meeting smoking cigarettes. In alcohol abuse recovery smoking has created a bond between members and is used since it does not get the user high. Since the study has been released many fearing alcohol relapse are beginning to attempt to quit smoking, which many find much more difficult than putting down the drink.

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Quitting Smoking Improves Health and Prevents Alcohol Relapse

“Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health,” says Renee Goodwin, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. “But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it could prevent alcohol relapse.” Researchers involved in the study followed 34,653 adults in alcohol abuse recovery. They were assessed at two intervals, three years apart from each other. In the study daily smokers were found two-times more likely to suffer an alcohol relapse compared with nonsmokers.

The Link Between Alcohol Abuse and Smoking Is Hard to Break

relapse

Behavioral and neurochemical links between smoking and alcohol are cited as potential causes for the link between smoking and alcohol relapse. For many in alcohol recovery their drinking and cigarette use began at the same time. This would cause a psychological link between the two that could take years to break. Alcoholics who stray away from their treatment plans and 12-step groups and continue to smoke lose the influence of the recovery community and can be pulled towards alcohol relapse by the internal link of cigarettes and alcohol. Many in recovery groups caution people to not quit to many things at once and use thing mantra as a reason to continue nicotine use. Now science has provided unequivocal proof that smoking should be discontinued at the same time as drinking to decrease the risk of alcohol relapse. For those who looking to apply the 12 steps of AA to nicotine, there are Nicotine Anonymous groups with many meetings available in most cities across the US.

How To Stay Sober In A Hurricane!

In just minutes Hurricane Mathew will strike South Florida and it has the potential to be absolutely catastrophic. To make matters worse the people I love the most the addicts and alcoholics in recovery could be without power and will have no way of getting to a substance abuse recovery meeting for what could be days. This could making in challenging for them to stay sober.

So here are 5 things you can do to stay sober during a hurricane.

5. Listen to a Recovery Podcast During a Hurricane.

Recovery Insider has many podcasts that you can download to your phone or stream to your mobile devices. Many of these are full meetings recorded for time like this when making it to a meeting is impossible. Now yes this is contingent upon having power so download now.

4. Set up a Recovery Phone tree.stay sober

By setting up a recovery phone you can make a list of 5 people to call to discuss where you are at in your recovery. These 5 people will then call 5 more people and the list goes on. Try to keep the conversations centered on problems and solutions related to recovery. Do Not talk too much about the storm.  These conversations should be all about recovery and will keep you further from a drink.

3. Make a Gratitude list, a Long one.

Hurricane Mathew is about to drop hell upon you. There is no better time to make a list of the things you are grateful for. Now is the time to remind yourself that except for these next few hours your life away from heroin and crack is pretty great! Make sure your gratitude list is long and comprehensive. Just making a list of the people you are grateful for will help fill it out. List everything you love. This will raise your spirits and help you through the hardest parts of the storm.

2. Read The Big Book or other recovery literature.stay sober purring hurricane-matthew

Now is the time to go back to basics. Reading the big book or other recovery literature suck as Drop the Rock or Living sober will help you out just as much as a meeting. After all the big book is actually a meeting in print. Start at the beginning and start reading. You may be surprised at just how much the distraction of reading the book will help. Reading recovery literature will get your mind off the cows flying around out side and back on the most important thing, staying sober.

1. Pray

If you have never done it before now is the time to start. It does not have to be anything specific, just have a conversation with God; she’s the reason you’re in this situation in the first place. Pray for your loved ones to be safe. Pray for your favorite recovery-meeting house to come out of the hurricane unharmed and, most importantly, pray for God to help you stay sober today.

A 5 Step Guide To Picking The Right Substance Abuse Treatment Center

The 5 Things To Look For In A Substance Abuse Treatment Center

When your son, daughter, husband, wife or friend says those magic words; “I need Help”, you have no time to lose. You need to get him or her into a substance abuse treatment center and you have to do it fast. The addict or alcoholic you love could change their mind in a second, or pick up the needle one last time and lose their life. Time is not on your side, but you also can’t just send them to the first treatment center you click on. Here is a quick guide to make sure you choose the best treatment center to help your loved one in their battle against substance abuse. A Great Substance Abuse Treatment Center Should Have These 5 Things.

substance-abuse-treatment

1. Aftercare: Long Term Substance Abuse Treatment.

Any substance abuse treatment center with a high success rate will have an aftercare program. Long-term engagement with substance abuse therapists and frequent meetings with fellow alumni are fundamental to ensuring, permanent sobriety. Addicts and alcoholics cannot make it alone. A helping hand and a friend who has overcome the same substance abuse obstacles is one of the most important ingredients in life-long recovery.

substance-abuse-treatment-center2. Substance Abuse JCAHO Accreditation.

Any credible treatment center should be JCAHO accredited.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is the gold standard of substance abuse accreditation and a higher level of accreditation than CARF. JCAHO is an independent, non-profit organization that certifies and accredits over to 20,000 healthcare institutions. If the Substance abuse treatment center your loved one is attending is JCAHO accredited, you can rest assured that he or she is being taken care of by one of the top treatment centers in the country.

3. Family Program for Substance Abuse.

The family is the patient and the patient is the family. A substance abuse treatment center who provides substance abuse treatment and education to the family as well as the patient are far more successful than the rest. If the family gets well, the patient gets well.
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4. Gender Specific Substance Abuse Treatment

The issues that effect men and women are very different. Substance abuse treatment centers that separate mean and women into different substance abuse counseling groups put their clients in a much more productive environment. Many times women find it difficult to truly feel safe around men in a treatment center. Separation by gender allows for the women to truly focus on themselves without worry. It also allows men to talk about personal issues they wouldn’t normally discuss in front of women.

5. A Highly Trained Treatment Staff

No two addicts are alike and no two mental health professionals are a like. It takes an experienced staff trained in all areas of treatment to be able to fully service the substance abuse clients in their care. Ask the substance treatment center you’re looking to if they have therapists trained to handle clients with past issues with trauma, eating disorders and relapse. The more experienced and diverse the Substance abuse treatment staff, the better hands your loved one is in.

Group Therapy – What Should I Expect?

Group Therapy

If we haven’t experienced group therapy firsthand, we probably have a pretty inaccurate and dramatized conception of what to expect. We tend to base our hypotheses on what we have seen portrayed in the movies and on television – a solemn circle of disturbed sickos, sharing secrets, crying, and hugging one another with uncomfortable intensity. As it turns out, this representation is not altogether too far off. However, the experience of group therapy is not as scary at you may be making it out to be, and the benefits are both extensive and crucial to prolonged and meaningful sobriety.

The Importance of Gender-Specific Group Therapy

If you are attending inpatient addiction treatment for the first time, you should expect that the majority of your stay will consist of group therapy sessions in one form or another. Many of these sessions will be facilitated by a licensed therapist, and will revolve around pertinent recovery and addiction-related topics, such as: relapse prevention, dual diagnosis disorders, trauma, and healthy relationship building. Because group therapy sessions require individuals to open up honestly about highly personal topics they may not normally discuss, gender-specific addiction treatment proves extremely beneficial. Therapists will work to uncover underlying causes of substance dependency in group settings. In many cases, underlying causes are directly tied in to past emotional, sexual, and physical trauma. A large percentage of women suffering from addiction and alcoholism underwent some form of significant sexual trauma at some point in their lives – usually at the hands of a member of the opposite sex. Because of this, women usually find it far easier to openly discuss personal matters in a group of compassionate and same-gendered individuals. On the other hand, many men have a hard time openly discussing painful experiences and deep-seated emotional distresses in the presence of members of the opposite sex, usually because societal gender roles disallow men from conveying what they mistakenly view as ‘weakness’. If you are looking into an inpatient treatment facility for yourself or your loved one, be sure to look into gender-specific options for the best possible results.

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Different Types of Group Therapy Sessions

You will likely be exposed to a multitude of group therapy sessions, many varying in structure and intention. Take a look at some standard session formats in order to help further familiarize yourself with what to expect.

  • Therapeutic group discussions.

Group discussions will be facilitated by a single licensed addiction therapist or a group of licensed clinicians, and will allow clients to openly discuss recovery-related issues in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Relapse prevention courses.

Therapists and the team of licensed addiction specialists will facilitate groups geared towards the installation of relapse prevention techniques. Clients will be taught healthy coping mechanisms, how to deal with potentially triggering situations, and what steps to take in case they feel their recovery is ever being compromised. They will also be instilled with a ‘spiritual toolkit’ of tools to employ throughout their recovery in order to protect their sobriety.

Clients will employ role playing, self-depiction, and dramatization to take a further look into their own lives. Acting out specific events helps clients to relive, address, and heal on a deep and thorough level.

  • Meditation and spirituality.

Spirituality classes will focus on the role of spiritual connectedness in addiction recovery, and are geared towards teaching clients to bolster a connection with a higher power of their understanding through mediation, prayer, and certain holistic methods of healing.

  • Introduction to the 12-step method of recovery.

Clients will be introduced to the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous and will be exposed to in-house meetings, typically brought in by members of outside groups. In some cases, clients will be transported to outside meetings.

  • Life skills.

Clients will be instilled with basic and pertinent life skills, such as communication, healthy boundary setting, the job application process, self-care, and healthy relationship building.

If you are looking into an inpatient treatment program, be sure to ask about the group therapy sessions the specific program has to offer. The incorporation of therapeutic healing in a group environment is essential to early recovery, seeing as ‘group therapy’ (by way of Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step fellowship) will be a necessary maintenance tool for years to come. For more information on the Lighthouse group therapy model, please contact one of our trained representatives today.

‘One Day at a Time’ – And Other Helpful Cliches

If you have ever been exposed to any 12-step program of addiction recovery, you have likely had the pleasure of hearing quite a few favored clichés. Long-time members of Alcoholics Anonymous readily share classics like “one day at a time”, “it works if you work it”, and “keep coming back” – but what do all of these sayings truly mean? Because we tend to hear these well-worn and incessantly recurring mottos on a near-daily basis, we sometimes brush them off, rarely taking the time to sit and consider how valuable they truly are. Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly recalled adages, and try to identify the indispensable message of recovery in each.

Common and Meaningful AA Clichés

“One Day at a Time”

In early recovery (and frequently later down the line), the concept of a lifetime of total abstinence can seem a little overwhelming. For this reason, it is highly suggested that recovering alcoholics stay exclusively focused on maintaining sobriety ‘just for today’. Upon waking, it is suggested that we get on our knees and pray to God to help keep us sober over the course of the next 24 hours. Considering we have all of the tools necessary to make it through a 24-hour period unscathed, this amount of time seems entirely manageable. Old-timers also like to say, “Just drink tomorrow.” If we tell ourselves each day that we can drink tomorrow, tomorrow will never come. And eventually, as a greater amount of sober time is accumulated and the program is thoroughly worked, the desire to drink will dissipate entirely.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Self-deception is relatively common amongst addicts and alcoholics. We convince ourselves, while early on in our active addictions, that we have everything under control – that we can stop whenever we want, that we don’t really have a problem (if everyone else would just stop being so dramatic). We almost constantly go against our gut instinct, shutting out the moral and integral voice in our heads and our hearts that tells us what is right and what is wrong. One of the most beautiful gifts of sobriety is the self-awareness we begin to foster. We become more in-touch with our genuine selves than ever before, and we begin the rewarding and fulfilling process of authentic self-discovery. ‘To Thine Own Self Means’ true simply means trust your gut instinct – set boundaries, protect your own sobriety, and have fun learning to love who you are.

“Keep Coming Back”

The majority of long-standing AA members did not ‘get it right the first time’. You will hear many members admit that they were not “one white chip wonders” – meaning that relapse is a part of their stories. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to be a safe place for those who are struggling to come and share and be greeted with nothing but support and understanding. It is important that you continue coming back to meetings when you stumble and fall – the compassionate fellowship members will pick you right back up, loving you until you learn to love yourself.

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“It Works If You Work It”

Essentially, this axiom simply means, “If you work the program of Alcoholics Anonymous thoroughly and honestly, it will undeniably, absolutely, without fail, work for you.” When people refer to ‘the program’ they are not necessarily only referring to the completion of the 12 steps. It is important to work the whole inclusive package – fellowship as much as possible, stay involved in service work, and begin to take others through the steps as soon as you’re able.

“Stick with the Winners”

Don’t hang out with the people who sit in the back of the meeting playing Candy Crush, laughing at the speaker and glamorizing their using days. Spend time with those who have prolonged and quality sobriety – those who have worked the steps with a sponsor, attend meetings on a regular basis, partake in service work, and are taking other men or women through the steps themselves. ‘Stick with the winners’ simply means spend your time with individuals you respect and admire – men and women with time, who are consistently doing the next right thing.

Don’t brush off these clichés next time you hear them – take into consideration the fact that each bears a meaningful message, and that they have survived the decades for a reason! Please feel free to share your favorite recovery cliché below… we look forward to reading your contribution!

Addiction Recovery – A Lifelong Journey

Many individuals who are newly exposed to the beautiful and fulfilling world of addiction recovery believe that their journey will both begin and end with inpatient treatment. However, this could not be more far from the truth, seeing as inpatient treatment is but the very beginning of the lifelong journey of addiction recovery. Addiction is unlike many other diseases in the sense that it requires ongoing attention once it is in remission; attention by means of continual spiritual attentiveness and growth. Other chronic diseases may require constant attention if they are to be kept in remission – for example, those with diabetes must stay on top of their blood sugar levels and take necessary actions if these levels become abnormal. Diabetes, however, is a disease of the body exclusively, while addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit inclusively. Like other chronic diseases, those who suffer from addiction must upkeep their health and adequately treat their symptoms for the remainder of their lives if they wish to stay in remission and avoid relapse. The difference is – those who suffer from substance dependency issues must work to maintain their spiritual (as opposed to their physical) health.

Crucial Stages of Early Recovery

Early recovery is crucial to the overall process of addiction recovery in the sense that the foundation laid will set the tone for the remainder of one’s sobriety. In most cases, early recovery can be broken down into several crucial segments. These individual stages are typically as follows:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient Addiction Treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Continual Aftercare

Depending on the individual, more stages may be required (for example, individuals with co-occurring psychological disorders may be expected to complete partial hospitalization programs upon graduation from inpatient treatment). Let’s take a closer look at each stage of early recovery to better understand why each is so crucial to the overall process.

Medically Monitored Detox

Medically monitored detox is crucial to early recovery, often required during the withdrawal phase of dependency. When an individual ceases using drugs and/or alcohol abruptly, they will inevitably experience harsh withdrawal symptoms – often so painful they quickly lead addicts back to using. Medical detox clinics are designed to keep clients physically safe, prescribing any medication necessary to avoid potentially life-threatening symptoms. They are also designed to make the overall process of withdrawal significantly more bearable.

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Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Inpatient addiction treatment is where the true recovery process begins. Clients will undergo a rigorous, therapeutically-centered schedule, geared towards uncovering and addressing underlying causes of substance dependency while treating any co-occurring disorders. The goal of inpatient treatment is to get all of the difficult therapeutic work completed in a safe and secure environment while introducing clients to the program of recovery, and instilling all of the tools and coping mechanisms necessary to maintain fulfilled sobriety for years to come.

Aftercare

Aftercare usually entails an extended stay at a halfway house or sober living facility. Most stays will last anywhere from 30 days to 9 months, though those who spender longer periods of time in halfway have been proven to experience much more success in maintaining long-term sobriety. Halfway houses are designed to allow clients higher levels of personal responsibility and freedom while maintaining a certain level of accountability – providing a seamless transition into everyday life without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Continual Aftercare

Continual aftercare is the portion of the process that requires regular and frequent upkeep. For most recovering addicts and alcoholics, aftercare is a highly personalized and unique experience – the trick is finding what works for you and sticking to it. For many individuals, continual aftercare comes in the form of a 12-step program of recovery. The amount of dedication a program of recovery requires will vary from individual to individual. Some will choose to attend a meeting a day for the remainder of their lives, while some will find that attending a home group once a week is sufficient. It is important to avoid drawing comparisons when deciding what works best for you and your sobriety – each recovering addict is unique, and each program of spiritual recovery is highly personal. Take time to develop yours, and try to remember to trust in the process!

Believe it or Not, Playing This Old Video Game Reduces Drug Cravings

Can a Video Game Help With Drug Cravings?

In an international collaboration of science, research, and video games, psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology have uncovered something pretty cool.

Playing Tetris – yes that Tetris – three minutes a day for one week reduces cravings for drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and other compulsive behaviors.

Tetris Has Been Shown To Help Alleviate Drug Cravings

We’re not making this up! Researchers published their findings in the journal Addictive Behaviours and sparked a lively discussion online about the merits of using video games in behavioral healthcare treatment.

This latest discovery comes on the heels of a report from researchers at Cambridge University, published in early July in the journal Psychological Science, that playing Tetris has potential as a treatment for PTSD.

What’s going on here? How is a video game – an incredibly simple one at that! – showing potential as a multidisciplinary tool in treating addiction and mental illness?

Read on to find out!

The Tetris Effect

“The Tetris Effect,” as we’re calling it, was discovered after psychologists from Queensland University of Technology in Australia and Plymouth University in England teamed up to study how the game impacts compulsive behavior.

They put together a small study involving thirty-one people. All participants were relatively young, ranging from eighteen to twenty-seven years old.

Their instructions were simple – text researchers whenever they had a craving for drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc. Researchers also periodically checked in and prompted participants to report any cravings.

Of the thirty-one people involved in the study, fifteen were asked to play Tetris for three minutes after they experienced a craving. They then reported back to researchers about whether they were still craving drugs, booze, etc. or whether it had passed.

This study lasted a week, with those who were asked to play Tetris repeating the experiment an average of forty times.

So, what did the psychologists running the study find? Well, here’s where things get really interesting.

Playing Tetris reduced cravings by an average of 13.9% over the course of seven days. Not only that, but it also reduced “strong cravings” participants experienced when they were actually drunk.

The abstract of the study, excerpted from Science Direct, lists the following highlights:

    • Playing Tetris weakened cravings in natural settings.

 

    • Tetris was effective for drug cravings as well as food and activity cravings.

 

    • Effect was consistent over a week.

 

  • Tetris was effective on higher cravings experienced under influence of alcohol.

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Why Does Tetris Work So Well to Reduce Cravings?

That’s the real question, right? After all, it’s surprising and neat that playing a simple video game has the potential to help addicts and alcoholics in early-recovery…but why?

Well, according to the authors of the study, it all has to do with the way Tetris interferes with how we process information.

Think about it like this – when you have a craving, it’s intense and overpowering. All thoughts besides getting high (or drunk, or overeating, etc.) are swept from your mind. Basically, it takes over your entire mental process until it passes.

Well, when someone has a craving and interrupts it by playing Tetris, that breaks the cognitive hold the craving has. Tetris is a visually stimulating and, as the levels progress, complicated game. It simply isn’t possible for someone to maintain both a craving and focus on the game at the same time.

will rehab one day be playing video games
is this what rehab will look like in the future?

And that’s the secret – simple as it may be – to using Tetris to help with recovery from drugs, alcohol, compulsive behavior, and, in some cases, PTSD.

The other neat thing researchers discovered was the longevity of “the Tetris Effect.” Remember, it was shown to reduce cravings for up to a week after participants played.

While it’s still unclear why this is – it doesn’t really matter, right? There’s now an incredibly practical and easy way to go out and help yourself if you’re having intense cravings!

Of course, we’re not suggesting Tetris is all someone needs to treat addiction. Still, it’s a useful tool for those struggling in early-sobriety.

What do you think? Let us know on social media!

What’s the Most Sober City in America?

Can You Guess?

Talking about sobriety apps and social sobriety seems almost redundant at this point! Lighthouse has already reported on a variety of ways people in recovery are using social media to help stay sober – what’s next?

Well, the fine folks over at Recovery.org figured it out! They recently put together a great article on the most popular recovery hashtags, the most sober cities, and the most sober states in America!

They also recorded the least sober cities and states. They took all this information from Instagram…so it may not be the most scientific. Still, it’s a pretty good cross-section of what recovery looks like online in 2015.

Find a breakdown of the most sober cities below, as well as some images courtesy of Recovery.org!

The Most Sober Cities

Before we list the actual cities, a quick note on how this list was calculated – it’s based on the number of times hashtags like #recovery and #sobriety were mentioned in a specific city.

Does Delray Beach top the list? Well, unfortunately not…but we are in the top 10!

  • 1) Costa Mesa, California
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  • 2) Los Angeles, California
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  • 3) San Jose, California
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  • 4) New York City
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  • 5) Murray, Utah
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  • 6) Pasadena, California
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  • 7) Heath, Ohio
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  • 8) San Diego, California
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  • 9) Delray Beach, Florida (hey, that’s us!)
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  • 10) Albertville, Alabama
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  • 11) Midvale, Oklahoma
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  • 12) Santa Clarita, California
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  • 13) San Francisco, California
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  • 14) Malibu, California
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  • 15) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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  • 16) Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • 17) Austin, Texas
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  • 18) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • 19) Simi Valley, California
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  • 20) Santa Monica, California

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The Most Sober & Least Sober States

Now that we know the most sober cities, it should be easy to guess the most sober states…right? Wrong!

Well, sort of wrong. Check out the list below to see what we’re talking about.

  • 1) Utah
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  • 2) California
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  • 3) Florida
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  • 4) Oklahoma
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  • 5) Nevada
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  • 6) Alabama
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  • 7) New York
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  • 8) Connecticut
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  • 9) Arizona
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  • 10) Ohio

Based on the list of the most sober cities, we assumed California would be first, Utah would be second…and so on. Turns out that isn’t the case.

While the sober cities list only measures the popularity of sobriety using #sobriety and #recovery, this list uses a ton of hashtags, including ones like #soberlife, #alcoholicsanonymous, and #wedorecover.

Once you add all those in, Utah becomes the clear winner. In fact, the popularity of recovery hashtags in Utah is over twice as much as California! And don’t even get us started on little old Florida.

Okay, now we know the most sober states…what about the least sober? Well, they are:

  • 41) Wyoming
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  • 42) West Virginia
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  • 43) Arkansas
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  • 44) Wisconsin
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  • 45) Montana
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  • 46) Iowa
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  • 47) Kentucky
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  • 48) North Dakota
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  • 49) South Dakota
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  • 50) Mississippi
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It’s interesting that states like Kentucky and West Virginia – located in Appalachia and among the hardest hit by heroin and painkiller abuse – rank so far towards the bottom of #sober states.

You’d think those states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic would also have a thriving recovery community, right? Maybe a small recovery community, but still some.

Turns out that isn’t the case. What we can take away from that fact is the idea that recovery should be everywhere and anything we – men and women in long-term recovery from substance abuse – can do to make that happen is well worth the effort!

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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