Monthly Archives: December 2017

Support Groups and Rehab: A Look into Social Healing

It’s no secret that we live in the golden age of social media. These days we’re able to connect with each other on a whole other level compared to ten years ago. The different platforms we use to communicate with each other has allowed us to connect with others of similar likes, dislikes and even behaviors bringing forward different types of relationships. But what exactly does this mean for the individual struggling with addiction? 

Addiction isn’t just a faulty behavior pattern, it becomes an identity. This identity doesn’t just disappear when you decide to go into rehab. It becomes part of the core of our being and affects every aspect of our decision-making and overall life structure. In order to move out from a behavior that is life-threatening and destructive we can’t just change that which is destroying us without first acknowledging it and realizing that we must create a new identity, one that harbors the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions for our higher good. The best part is that we don’t have to do it alone.

In an age where external factors can be a huge threat for those who are on the path to healing from substance abuse, social groups are critical for a successful recovery. The right support group can be a safe place for you to share your journey. A group that reinforces sober behavior can help you create a new identity, shattering old, destructive thought patterns and help you see the alternative to what you have been accustomed to. Social support works because we humans are social creatures and rely on each other more than we care to admit. 

No society would thrive; no leader would be in charge if we did not look for support in the people around us. Often times that support doesn’t exist amongst our family or friends as they may not understand the path a recovering addict is experiencing. Members of a support group offer shared norms, values, and life struggles which are what often makes them so appealing and effective.  It’s not just about one professional telling everyone how to heal themselves; these are actual people discussing their triggers and off-days as well as their successes. They also offer a plethora of advice which can be constructive, provided the group is monitored by a qualified moderator. Above all, support groups offer a sense of belonging which is essential to the healing process. 

Finding the right support group can be a difficult task. In order for change to occur and a new, sober identity to rise, destructive behavior patterns must first be identified. The right support group will not only help those behaviors come to the surface and be an environment that creates a sense of belonging so that you can share your experience successfully, but also provide guidance and advice on what the next step could be. Creating a new identity and working towards a sober life is a difficult process, but as billionaire Narayana Murthy truthfully stated, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” 


Recovery and the Holidays: Be Prepared

The holidays may seem like a time of cheer and family gatherings full of laughter but it’s not a jolly old time for everyone, especially for people in the process of recovery from an alcohol or drug addiction. For recovering individuals, the holidays can be very stressful as it presents a new set of issues and worries, the most important being the fear of relapse. This is a valid concern and if a plan of action with a strong support system is not in place, recovering individuals can find themselves at loss and vulnerable to drug or alcohol seeking behaviors.

When feeling stressed and vulnerable, it’s common for most recovering individuals to fall back on an outlet that brings relief. For some, it could be a healthy defense mechanism like jogging or dancing but others might resort to less effective ways to release the emotional pressure, short term methods that will not be helpful in the long run, such as drugs and alcohol, especially if this is something the recovering individual resorted to in the past. It’s important to be mindful of the potential dangers when going down this road and coming up with a plan to fall back on could be the answer to a safe and sober holiday.

The first and most important step is to become aware of the potential problems one might face during the holiday seasons. Denial will only prolong suffering and could lead to more harmful circumstances. For example, if the recovering individual has not yet confronted family members, the idea of coming face to face with them now could be rather painful. There is quite a bit of research out there that shows how stress can cause dormant behaviors to surface and this should be a warning sign to those recovering from addiction. But there are also people who don’t have friends or family in their corner and the feelings of despair and isolation can also lead to relapse. It’s important to truly consider our circumstances in life and assess what are needs, and how they are being met at the moment. 

Another important factor to take into consideration is the reality that when someone is recovering from addiction, there are a variety of events and circumstances that can be a potential trigger. These triggers might not always be recognizable and they often take the recovering individual by surprise. But there are ways to prepare. Understanding the possibility of been triggered and facing the feelings that might develop from an event or circumstance can help prevent a relapse. For example, if a friend or family member is an avid drug user it is not a good idea to spend time with that particular person. Also, attending non sober parties at this time of the year can tempt the recovering individual to make a decision that he or she will later regret. When in recovery, especially early recovery individuals need not to feel guilty about refusing to take part in activities that will make them uncomfortable. For them, staying clean and sober is priority number one. If you have a family member in recovery be understanding and empathetic. You can also learn how you can provide support to him or her. If you can’t be supportive for whatever reason, just be kind, they do not need disapproval. If you are a recovering individual who have gone through rehab, follow your relapse prevention steps carefully and make sure you plan to have the appropriate companion that will support the sober life you have achieved. Always remember. ONE DAY AT A TIME.

We, at Florida Center for Recovery, know that the Holiday Season can be very trying, but your physical and emotional health comes first, even during the holidays. Whether you’re recovering from an addiction or just starting your journey, there is help out there for you. If you’re still struggling, connect with a counselor or a sponsor and they will be able to assist you in finding the best ways to cope during the holidays. Avoid shame, guilt, boredom and feeling overwhelmed as best as you can, as they are the biggest culprits in relapse. And remember that no matter how you wish to celebrate this holiday season, you come first. Your overall health is the key to your success and it’s ok to be selfish during this time of the year because you are healing and trying to find the best version of ‘you’ and that is the best gift you will ever receive. 


10 Tips to Help You Stay Sober During the Holidays

Happy Holidays to all reading this blog — present, past and prospective clients. We all know that the holiday season is particularly tough for individuals in recovery, but applying the skills learned during treatment can help you in keeping your sobriety intact. Yes, you can make it till January and beyond. Just prepare yourself by planning your sobriety strategies. Here are ten tips to help you stay sober during the holidays:

Sober Holidays Tip #1:  Remind yourself every morning how good it feels to be sober and how hard you worked to get where you are.

Sober Holidays Tip #2:  It’s okay to have a quiet Holiday Season. It is a good time to get rest and take time to meditate. Maintain your recovery routine as much as possible.

Sober Holidays Tip #3:  If you’re traveling, go to meetings wherever you are.  Find a meeting long before you get there. DON’T SKIP THIS ONE.

Sober Holidays Tip #4:  If you’re not traveling plan your own sober celebrations and don’t forget your AA or NA meetings.

Sober Holidays Tip #5:  Plan activities other than sitting around especially if your family holiday parties involve sitting and drinking. Maybe planning to stay with family for a while and then attending an event or volunteering at a shelter is a better option for you. Holiday concerts, sports events, outdoor winter activities; there are plenty of things to do during this time of the year. Grab a supportive friend and enjoy your time.

Sober Holidays Tip #6:  Limit the amount of time you spend with people who you know can make you crazy and “push your buttons”, especially if it is going to be the first time you will see them after you have gone through treatment.

Sober Holidays Tip #7:  Reach out to newcomers, even if you are a newcomer yourself. You can support each other. If you can’t afford lunch or dinner go for just a cup of coffee?

Sober Holidays Tip #8:  It’s okay to let people know you are now in recovery, but of course it is your choice whether or not you want to tell people. When friends or new people you meet at parties don’t know you’ve given up alcohol, they may lead you into temptation without intending to.

Sober Holidays Tip #9:  Make a plan for dealing with cravings. By now you may already know what works for you. Calling a sponsor, counselor or family member that can support you, working out at the gym, reading recovery books, and eating your favorite food or whatever else has worked for you in the past are all options that you have to keep in mind for when you feel tempted by your cravings.

Sober Holidays Tip #10:  Finally Practice TAMERS every day. Don’t let up on your brain healing activities. Practice TAMERS every day:

  • Think about recovery, Talk about recovery
  • Act on recovery, connect with others
  • Meditate and Minimize stress
  • Exercise and Eat well
  • Relax
  • Sleep

We wish you a safe and sober holiday season close to the ones that love and support you. Congratulations to all of our graduates. Keep up the good work and don’t forget to let us know how you are doing at our new FACEBOOK page:

10 Keys to a Successful Recovery

More people should know that drug and alcohol abuse is a disease and not just individuals who have no will power in controlling their drinking and drug use. While addiction can’t be cured, there are ways to manage it. The road to recovery is full of twists and turns but having a plan can help avoid pitfalls and possible relapses. Here are some important factors to consider in order to achieve a successful recovery: 

1) Take it one day at a time: When it comes to recovering from an addiction, the journey should be the main focus, not the destination. Don’t let old habits trap you, reach out to a coach or counselor if needed but stay the path and remember overthinking is overwhelming.

2) Make recovery your priority: There will be many important things that will come up for you after rehab but don’t forget that your number one priority is your physical and mental health and recovering from your addiction is a huge factor in that. Put yourself first and stay in touch with professionals who can support you on this path. 

3) Communicate: It can be lonely and isolating during recovery, make sure you are getting the support you need. Reach out to friends, family, sponsors, or coaches and communicate your needs during this time. You are never alone. 

4) Get out more: Join a fitness group, take up a sport or just venture out into nature more often to take advantage of fresh air and exercise that will greatly benefit you during this time.

5) Change your friends: If you feel that the people in your life have influenced you in a negative way, change your social circle. You don’t owe anybody anything and remember you’re now putting yourself first. Connect with likeminded people who have a positive impact on your life and don’t be afraid to end harmful relationships. 

6) Change your environment: If you feel you can’t go back to your old life and heal properly change your surroundings. Your goal is to replace bad habits with good ones so do whatever is necessary to optimize your healing process. 

7) Improve your diet: Along with proper exercise, a proper diet is an important key to a successful recovery. A good diet will benefit your physical and emotional health. Don’t be afraid to connect with a professional to get support. 

8) Join a support group: Recovering from an addiction is not a feat accomplished in isolation. We need the support of each other and we need to support each other through this process. 

9) Work or volunteer: Sometimes reaching out to others in need will cause us to come out of our shell and give us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that we have helped someone else.

10) Never give up: It’ll get hard before it gets easy but you’re not alone and you will get through this. Recovery from substance addiction is trying and some days you might feel like you want to give up but before you do reach out for support. This assistance will help shine a light on the issues you are facing and together with your counselor or coach you can devise a plan of action that will keep you on the right path. 


Breathing Exercises: A Key Factor in Addiction Recovery

The road to recovery after drug addiction is hard and requires a lot of personal strength. There’ll be good days and bad, ups and downs and even if you have plenty of emotional support there will be days you’ll think of giving in. During addiction treatment, you may have learned that breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn can help you along your recovery process.

While everyone knows that breathing is an essential part of life, most people don’t know the proper way to breathe to ensure their bodies get the maximum benefit. Learning a few breathing exercises can really help you through the tough days, and every one of us actually has a lot of control over how we breathe. Essential functions in our body are connected to our breathing and how we breathe can change that. Breathing operates the lymphatic system to remove other forms of waste in the cells; it detoxifies our body and also aids in a healthy digestive system. Learning to breathe properly has great physical and psychological benefits. 

Breathing exercises include:  

1) Counting your breath – a mixture of breathing and meditation, this method helps you to maximize your breathing ability. Sit quietly and notice your breath. Inhale and as you exhale count one. Do this until you reach five, and then start at one again. Make sure that you breathe naturally and not forced.

2) Morning breathing – This can be particularly helpful if we have trouble getting up in the morning or have insomnia. In order to stimulate the brain, we need a soft waking to relax our muscles. The following breathing exercise can get us started and help circulate oxygen to our brain and all of our muscles:

– Stand up straight with knees slightly bent

– Bend forward from the waist and let the hands hang down to the floor

– Relax the neck and let the head dangle

– Inhale as you roll up one vertebra at a time back to the upright position

– Exhale and slowly fold forward again

– Repeat five times, bending forward on exhale and inhaling as you roll back up

3) Abdominal breathing – When we suffer from anxiety and fear, our breathing is shallower. This puts our body into fight or flight mode and if we are not in actual physical danger this can cause severe chronic stress and panic. Reducing stress will greatly benefit your physical health and help prevent relapse. Breathe through your nose and diaphragm and inflate your abdomen without raising your chest. By breathing this way regularly, you can even lower your blood pressure. 

During recovery, your body is going through very difficult detox stages and improper breathing can not only slow down your progress but also cause your organs to function inefficiently. Understanding the benefits of breathing can really help you, particularly on those tough days. Once you realize how breathing exercises can help you change the way you feel you’ll want to incorporate it into your life on a daily basis. Breathing exercises are just one tool to help you achieve optimal health, talk to your counselor to find out other therapeutic methods you can use to keep your recovery on track.

Overdose: Prevention Saves Lives

The most obvious and surefire way to avoid overdosing on drugs and alcohol is to avoid using drugs and alcohol. But it’s not that simple for a great number of people. Alcohol and drug addiction is a disease and since there is no known cure, it must be managed as best as possible. Part of managing this disease is to understand the effects of misuse, particularly overdosing. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to quit drinking and doing drugs. If you or someone you love is not willing to quit it is essential to focus on harm reduction. One of the most dangerous things that those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction face is an overdose.

According to Harm Reduction Coalition here are some ways individuals struggling with addiction can reduce the chances of an overdose:

1) Learn about your tolerance to different substances and know your health condition so you can decide accordingly.

2) Avoid mixing alcohol with heroin/pills – this is an incredibly dangerous combination.

3) If drinking or taking pills with heroin, do the heroin first to better gauge how high you are – alcohol and especially benzos impair judgment so you may not remember or care how much you’ve used.

4) Use less after any period of abstinence or decreased use – even a few days away can lower your tolerance.

5) Be careful when switching from one type of opioid pill to another since their strengths and dosage will vary.

6) Always let someone know when and where you are using and ask them to repeatedly check in on you.

7) Make sure you have a naloxone kit on you and learn how to use it properly. Teach a friend who knows you are using drugs.

8) Find a good, nonjudgmental doctor and get checked out for any health factors that may increase your risk of overdose, like HIV, viral hepatitis, COPD, high or low blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease or other physical issues that could increase your risk for a stroke, seizure, respiratory problems or heart attack.

9) Be careful when changing modes of administration since you may not be able to handle the same amounts.

10) Take care of your friends, support each other and recognize the signs of an overdose:  slow or no breathing, gurgling or gasping, lips/fingertips turning blue, difficult to rouse (awaken), non-responsive.

If you feel someone is overdosing don’t hesitate to call 911. Have a plan ready anytime you or your friends will be using drugs and know how to respond in an emergency.

We hope that you are ready to heal from addiction and won’t need to depend on overdose prevention tips. Please get help. RECOVER is possible. We are here to help.

Staying Away from Unhealthy Behaviors this Holiday Season  

The holidays are just around the corner and many people are busy preparing for the hustle and bustle of reunions and get-togethers. While enjoyable for the most part, for many people it’s a time of stress and chaos which can bring about unhealthy behaviors. Drugs and alcohol play a big role in the recreational aspects of the holidays and it’s easy to get into trouble if you don’t have the facts.

For example, many people incorrectly believe that you can still drive under the influence provided you’re not slurring your words or acting erratically. This is wrong and very dangerous since the coordination needed for driving is actually compromised long before the signs of intoxication are visible. More so, alcohol has sedative effects which can cause the driver to nod off and fall asleep at the wheel. And despite popular belief, drinking coffee will not quickly sober you up before that drive home. The caffeine may help with the drowsiness but the effects that alcohol has on decision-making and coordination take time to wear off as your body processes it and returns to normal.

Another false and dangerous belief is that alcohol warms you up and insulates you from the winter cold and as a result, some people avoid wearing warm clothing outside after they’ve had a few drinks. The truth is that alcohol widens the tiny blood vessels right under the skin, so they quickly fill with warm blood. This can make you feel warm and even sweat. But your temperature is actually dropping because alcohol is depressing the part of your brain that controls temperature regulation. If you’re in cold weather and not wearing warm enough clothes this could lead to hyperthermia and even death so make sure you keep warm even if you don’t feel cold on the outside.

Many of the people in our inner circle of family and friends will share their ideas and beliefs, it’s imperative that we know what’s true and what’s not so that we don’t make decisions we will later regret. Following simple guidelines and using common sense can save your life and the life of someone close to you. The holidays can be especially stressful for recovering addicts, don’t feel ashamed to find that extra support if you need it. 

Florida Center for Recovery wishes you and your loved ones a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.