Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval – What Does It Mean to You

Florida Center for Recovery (FCR) carries the 

Medical Reviewer

Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.

Addiction and Drug-Related Crimes – Moving On

When addiction takes over, in addition to the physical and the emotional havoc to the individual’s life, it oftentimes brings with it legal troubles associated with drug-related crimes. These crimes are partially related to the need to support the habit and partially due to the feelings of invincibility which can become particularly pronounced with substance abuse. Those who experience legal trouble often end up with a felony on their record which compounds their problems of finding employment when they get sober. While each drug charge is different, having any drug offense conviction on record can make it very hard to find employment, and that’s why many states allow many types of drug charges to be expunged, giving the recovering individuals a second chance in life.

Removing a nonviolent substance abuse-related felony record depends on if the individual has no other arrests or convictions, he or she is a first time offender or was under the age 18 at the time of conviction. To get relief from the legal troubles stemming from substance abuse and addiction, the completion of an addiction treatment program may be mandatory, depending on the state.

The court understands that once those who have proven their intent and their desire to become sober, usually by completing treatment and abiding by the rules that were set forth for them, they become less of a risk to themselves and the society at large. In those cases that the criminal record can not be expunged, It may be tricky but not impossible to find employment. Employers and the general public these days are much more understanding and empathize with struggling alcoholics and drug addicts than the past. Past legal troubles can be overlooked and those with past convictions can get a pass provided they can show that all are in their past and they are now a different person than what their records show.

Therefore, the most important step on the path to recovery and a normal life is to get treatment and to show commitment to staying sober. This is easily accomplished if one stays out of trouble and sober for a year or so. After a year is behind them, generally, those with past troubles with drugs and addiction have a case to show the judge — sustained recovery and employment.

Everyone deserves a second chance and recovery is possible. You will achieve it if you believe it.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Seek help and use resources from legal aid where necessary
  • Speak to recovery support people to help with finding resources
  • Consider various recovery options with an open mind and open heart towards the process
  • Focus on the future regardless of whether you think it works out or not

Although it may feel impossible to move forward knowing that a felony record lingers over, there is always hope for renewal and restoration in recovery. Never give up. There is a life worth living, a life of dignity, working for a living and being a member of the community is only the beginning.

If you or someone you love has a drug-related felony, it helps to look at specific steps that need to be taken in order to have a clean record. For more information about expungement laws, please visit your state’s court website in which the criminal record happened.

Florida Center for Recovery
Clinical Excellence & Compassionate Care in a Healing Environment

If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs and alcohol, Florida Center for Recovery offers specialized professional treatment. 

For more information regarding treatment for individuals struggling with addiction and related mental health conditions, contact us at (800) 851-3291. You may also visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.

addiction support groups

Peer Support Groups in Addiction Recovery

Addiction and its underlying related mental health conditions place great pressure on recovering individuals —physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Although these pressures are addressed, treated, and supported during an inpatient stay at a rehab center, once the individual graduates from a treatment program, he or she is vulnerable and still in need of support. That is why one of the key success factors in sustaining recovery is the engagement with addiction support groups for peers in recovery. 

After treatment and no longer having daily individual and group therapy sessions, addiction support groups made out of peers becomes an anchor where individuals in early recovery can continue to develop the skills necessary for attaining healthier and productive lives. An addiction support group for peers in addiction recovery is in many ways a freeing experience. Thus, recovering individuals realize that they are not alone and hope and trust develop and grow among its participants.

How It Works

Addiction support groups use trained peers as supporters or friends. That way they can give social and emotional assistance and create a trusting and safe environment. However, peer support might also take place between non-trained peers, for example, between the visitors of a program. The aim of peer support programs is to strengthen:

  • self-esteem
  • self-control
  • coping
  • problem-solving skills

Sound discharge planning includes the recommendation of attending addiction support groups for peers in recovery. People shouldn’t overlook these types of interactions as well-meaning relatives and friends who have not experienced addiction could provide the level of support found in recovery peer groups.

What Is Peer Support?

Have you ever had a new experience or been to a new event and felt that there didn’t seem to be many people similar to you? Did you ever feel like you don’t have the same background or ideas as the other people in the group you’re in? 

Maybe you’ve talked to someone who hasn’t had the same experiences as you and they say “I know how you feel.” Inside, you’re probably thinking, “How can they know how I feel if they haven’t gone through it themselves?” This thought is what brought about peer support services.

Non-Clinical Support

Addiction support groups for peers feature the provision of non-clinical peer support. This can include activities that engage, educate, and support people as they make the changes necessary to recover from substance use disorders. 

Peers can offer guidance by sharing their own experiences recovering from substance use disorders (SUDs). Peers in addiction support groups can also help individuals with substance use disorders address their particular needs while early in recovery. Among them are improving social connections and identifying new positive social situations.

SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has defined peer support groups as support groups that include people who share common life experiences with the people they help. Addiction support groups for peers have proved to be an effective service for recovery from drug abuse as well as other behavioral health conditions. 

Importance of Support Groups

Peer support groups make excellent recovery tools because peer support specialists have been through the same experiences as the other people in recovery. Thus, an addiction support group for peers is able to find that commonality within its members and instructors that builds trust and allows the members to grow. 

Addiction support group programs realize that people go through times of stress and sometimes need the support of a friend or a peer. Peer support groups for drug addicts and people with alcohol use disorders provide early intervention strategies during stressful times by making the process of seeking help more normal and automatic. 

Keeping Recovery First

Peer support groups keep the idea of “keeping recovery first” by meeting people where they are in their recovery process as they help people with SUDs along their treatment and recovery journeys. 

Addiction support groups involve peer providers in all parts of their programs, including:

  • The nature of the program’s structure
  • Leadership
  • Strategies of the services offers

Peer providers fill a gap that frequently exists in both formal and informal treatment. It does this by focusing on recovery first and then helping to rebuild and reinvent the people’s communities and lives.

Studies that evaluated the effectiveness of peer support groups for people with SUDs found that such groups contain: 

  • better relationships with providers and social supports
  • reduced relapse rates
  • members with more satisfaction with overall treatment
  • increased times spent in treatment

3 Types of Addiction Support Groups for Peers for Recovering Individuals

There are three key types of addiction support groups for peers that people in addiction recovery can attend. These three groups include:

Mutual Self-Help Groups 

Alcohol-related disorders are very common in the U.S. In fact, approximately 30% of Americans meet the diagnostic standards for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) at some time in their lives. AUDs are also chronic conditions that require several episodes of care over many years to achieve full recovery. 

The professional health care system provides a combination of medication and behavioral interventions to try to deal with the disease of addiction, but it is a struggle. In recognition of the struggle to keep these problems in check by the medical profession, peer-run, mutual self-help groups (MHGs) such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) developed and grew rapidly over the past 75 years. 

In spite of the considerable advances in pharmacological and behavioral treatments for substance use disorders (SUDs), these MHGs continue to play an important role in helping millions of Americans achieve their recovery goals. As a result, MHGs are the most commonly wanted source of help for alcohol and drug-use disorders in the United States.

Why Try an MHG?

MHG members run these self-help groups themselves, usually in rented locations, and without professional involvement. And unlike professional interventions, individuals can attend MHGs as intensively and for as long as they want. There is no need for an insurance company to approve you or to reveal any personal identification. 

Another benefit of mutual self-help groups is that people typically have access to such groups during times when they are at higher risk for relapses, such as weekends and evenings. The aim of peer-run programs is to improve the quality of support available to individuals seeking recovery from mental health or SUDs. 

3 Principles of Mutual Help Groups (MHGs)

They are based on three core principles:

Based on the assumption that all participants have something to offer in recovery. Those in recovery work in groups to: 

  1. share their stories
  2. provide their personal input
  3. support each other as they progress in recovery

Peer Support Specialists 

Peer Recovery Support Specialists are people who are also in recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs) or co-occurring mental health disorders. The experiences that such people have had in life and in recovery make them uniquely able to provide support in a way that other people can benefit from. 

Some of the roles filled by peer support specialists include:

  • Helping peers express their goals for recovery
  • learning and practicing new skills
  • Helping peers monitor their progress
  • setting an example of effective coping methods
  • teaching self-help strategies based on their own experiences
  • supporting peers in speaking up for themselves to obtain services
  • developing and putting recovery plans into practice

Four Benefits of Peer Support Specialists:

  1. the specialist (an expert in recovery) can offer one-on-one guidance regularly with an addict
  2. Other staff members can interact with those in need by being present. They can also keep an open ear to the addicts’ needs.
  3. They provide visible role models for people to be able to follow in their footsteps
  4. Anecdotes of real-life experiences and challenges

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recognized peer support services as an evidence-based practice. Furthermore, it has ensured that The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would pay for peer support services. As long as peer support specialists were governed by a statewide training and credentialing program. The same as other types of healthcare providers.

Peer-Run Programs  

Peer-run programs incorporate non-profit organizations that are run by individuals who use behavioral health services. They are governed by a majority peer board and may receive private or government funding. 

The staff of these programs is made out of people who have experienced recovery first-hand. It especially promotes personal recovery by directly communicating with the recovering addicts, and helping them create positive platforms for their future. Peer-run organizations include:

  • Consumer operated services
  • Recovery community organizations
  • Peer drop-in centers
  • Clubhouses

The aim of peer-run programs is to improve the quality of support available to individuals seeking recovery from mental health or SUDs. They are based on three core principles:

  1. A recovery vision 
  2. Speaking truthfully
  3. Accountability to the recovery community

Basically, peer-run groups are responsive to the needs of the group members. Peer support groups are based on local needs that have been identified by the people participating. Individuals in addiction support groups for peers have active and important roles in laying the foundation for a sustained recovery. As a result, peer support group members promote the sharing of personal experiences and knowledge. 

Finding Treatment and Beyond

In most cases, peer support groups don’t replace the need for formal treatment or supervision, professional clinical guidance. This happens due to peers not having enough training to manage psychiatric conditions or high-risk situations. However, addiction support groups for peers still offer an enhancement to treatment. Such an enhancement to treatment offers many benefits to people with substance use disorders.

If you or a loved one needs professional treatment for a SUD, whether it’s to alcohol or illicit drugs, here at Florida Center for Recovery, we are here to get you on that initial path to recovery. We will design a treatment program specifically for you and with your input. 

When you are ready to leave your formal treatment here, you will be prepared to get the most out of any peer group. You’ll also be prepared to get the most out of life again. Contact us today–the sooner you start, the sooner you get back to a fulfilling life.



Is a 30-Day Rehab Program Enough to Make the Changes Required to sustain Recovery?

Addiction is a complex condition and individuals who have a severe substance use disorder have an intense uncontrollable focus on using their drug of choice to the point that it takes over their lives. Thus, many people question if a 30-day rehab program is enough to make the necessary changes required to sustain recovery. For years the consensus among doctors and insurance providers has been that in most cases the 28-30 day treatment, when includes the comprehensive addiction and mental health treatment is enough to get most struggling with addiction sober and ready for the road to recovery. Of course, there are cases that 90-day treatment is recommended, especially for those who have already been to rehab and have experienced a relapse. In those longer-term treatments the patient generally pays for the additional term out of pocket as insurance providers, with some exceptions,  generally limit the inpatient treatment to 30 days. With that in mind, considering the number of addiction treatment programs available nowadays, locating an effective rehab program that offers comprehensive addiction and mental health treatment is vital in providing someone struggling with addiction the best chance for a successful recovery.

Comprehensive and effective 30-day rehab programs often provide the foundation for individuals to develop healthier habits to deal with their issues and learn how to lead a balanced life while maintaining a connection to their responsibilities. Although a standard 30-day rehab program with a continuum outpatient care may provide the necessary first steps for some individuals, those struggling to maintain their recovery despite previous attempts should seek Specialized Chronic Relapse Program. Such a program, not only provides structured treatment plan models of relapse prevention therapy, but it also offers a treatment exclusively focused on identifying related co-occurring mental health issues and resolution of feelings and emotions.

At Florida Center for Recovery (FCR) we offer Chronic Relapse Program and Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) within our all-inclusive residential detox program. Together these two rehabilitative interventions have supported many in their successful recoveries. By providing RRT for individuals struggling with substance addiction who also suffer from trauma, FCR’s Chronic Relapse program addresses both the addiction and the related psychological issues with a multidisciplinary approach. Offered in a 30-day treatment format, our specialized Chronic Relapse Program, as well as all of our other addiction treatment programs can be extended to longer lengths of stay when needed, which allows each client to anchor recovery behaviors needed for lasting change.

Additionally, included within FCR’s s Chronic Relapse Program is the Intensive Family Program. Family members and significant others are valued within our programs and their views and experiences of their loved ones are respected. Where therapeutically relevant and with the client’s permission, we are able to invite family members or their significant others to take part in the treatment during our intensive family weekend program.

If you or someone you love is using drugs or alcohol as an escape from life’s troubles, specialized professional treatment is available, and RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE.

For more information regarding treatment for individuals struggling with addiction and related mental health conditions, contact us at (800) 851-3291. You may also visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.

What is “The Big Book”?

Published in 1939 the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, which is often referred to as the “Big Book”, contains chapters detailing personal stories of individuals who struggled with alcoholism as wells as chapters directed to employers and topics devoted to specific audiences such as the agnostics. Containing well over 400 pages the book got its nickname because its first edition had rather thick pages, making the book even thicker than its content suggested. Written primarily by Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of AA, the text found in Alcoholics Anonymous explains A.A.’s philosophy and methods, the core of which is the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery. Bill’s own problems with alcoholism are also detailed in his book along with the struggles of his friend and AA co-founder Dr. Bob Smith. The twelve steps are explained using examples and anecdotes and its reasoning is that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. The book contends that:

  • It is impossible for an alcoholic to quit drinking alone
  • New attitude or set of values is not enough
  • Whosoever is an alcoholic must admit that they cannot help themselves alone
  • Only a “higher power” and the community can help

The main goal of the “Big Book” is to make it possible for readers to find a higher power to help them solve the problem they are facing. It is worth noting that whereas initially, the higher power concept was represented by God of Christianity, over the years, the notion of a higher power became more generalized, and it has changed into a spiritual attitude to allow individuals from all different backgrounds to benefit from the program. For individuals who have never read the “Big Book” and are interested in knowing the contents of the book, a partial table of contents for the fourth edition is presented below:

Preface Foreword to First Edition

Foreword to Second Edition

Foreword to Third Edition

Foreword to Fourth Edition

The Doctor’s Opinion


Bill’s Story

There Is a Solution

More about Alcoholism

We Agnostics

How It Works

Into Action

Working with Others

To Wives

The Family Afterward

To Employers

A Vision for You


How Forty-Two Alcoholics Recovered from Their Malady

PART I – Pioneers of AA

PART II – They Stopped in Time

PART III – They Lost Nearly All


The AA Tradition

Spiritual Experience

The Medical View on AA

The Lasker Award

The Religious View on AA

How to Get in Touch with AA

12 Concepts (Short Form)

Readers interested in reading any one of these chapters to learn more about the Big Book and AA can find an online PDF version of any of these chapters here.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction and would like to explore treatment options, feel free to give us a call at (800) 851-3291 or visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our treatment facility.

You can also visit our reviews page.

Fast Facts About Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are the basis of all modern 12 step programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, was founded by two men who struggled with alcoholism and they firmly believed that finding a higher power and helping other alcoholics would keep them sober.

Below are a few facts about Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship with the stated purpose of enabling its members to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.” AA was established in 1935 by recovered alcoholics, stockbroker William Wilson and proctologist Dr. Robert Smith.
  • AA is entirely supported and organized by its members. AA receives no outside funding from any source, public or private. It also is not affiliated with any religious or political groups.
  • AA states that “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety.”
  • Anonymity is at the heart of AA – all members remain anonymous. The anonymity removes the social stigma of public recognition and thus provides its members with a more comfortable experience in recovery.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is open to all persons regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or any other personal characteristic.
  • AA states “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
  • There are two types of AA meetings, open and closed. Closed meetings are for those who have a desire to stop drinking only, while open meetings may be attended by anyone, even someone who is uncertain as to whether they have a problem with drinking or not.
  • The Three Legacies of AA are: recovery, unity and service. The suggestions for recovery are the Twelve Steps; The suggestions for achieving unity are the Twelve Traditions; The suggestions for service are described in Twelve Concepts for World Service, The AA Service Manual and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age.


Related Reading: 

Can the 12 Steps Work for Non-Religious Individuals?

The Serenity Prayer

Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) and Addiction

Childhood trauma and neglect can affect children in a multitude of ways resulting in negative life experiences later in life. Labeled as Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs), trauma and neglect can significantly contribute to the development of mental health issues resulting in life-altering consequences, including alcohol and drug abuse. The more ACEs experienced, the greater the risk for children becoming adults with undesirable health, social and legal outcomes. Some events attributed to ACEs include:

  • Neglect
  • Divorce
  • Parental separation
  • Parental death
  • Violence in the community
  • Witnessing abuse, neglect, or substance abuse in the home
  • Sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
  • Caregivers or parents who are mentally ill (may also include siblings)
  • Poverty

Although there are many who overcome and even thrive as adults after experiencing ACEs, there are many who will face ACEs negative effects. Addiction is one major concern in adults who suffered trauma at a young age, as historically those adults have been at a greater risk for developing an addiction. Those who turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with their childhood trauma and neglect generally find themselves in more severe problems than the ones they originally tried to resolve by alcohol and drugs. Many struggling individuals who choose to turn their life around and choose sobriety seek treatment in a rehab facility. Those who are admitted to a drug rehab facility can expect an integrated, multidisciplinary therapeutic treatment plan that can help them in their recovery. Included in this comprehensive treatment plan is learning how to cope with stress, anxiety and healing trauma which allows individuals struggling with addiction and mental health conditions to start their recovery process and come to a place of health and peace.

At Florida Center for Recovery (FCR), it is through our specialized therapeutic programs, such as Rapid Resolution Therapy that our clients find the help they need to overcome the negative effects of ACEs by eliminating the ongoing psychological suffering that stems from the disturbing and painful past experiences.

To learn more about our specialized addiction treatment program and how we can help you navigate addiction recovery, please contact us toll-free at (800) 851-3291. You may also browse through our website to learn more about our facility and our various programs. Since opening our doors in 2002, we have worked to provide the most effective treatment in a nurturing environment, helping those suffering from addiction and mental health disorders to recover with respect and dignity. Admissions can be arranged within 24 hours depending on the client’s particular circumstances.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. Visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.

What is Al-Anon?

Most people have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but not many know about Al-Anon. A worldwide fellowship, Al-Anon was established to help family members and friends of those suffering from alcoholism to heal and move on. While individuals struggling with alcohol use disorders can find treatment and support from addiction treatment centers, therapeutic rehabilitation clinics, AA and non AA programs, family and loved ones can get the support they need to cope with the effects of their loved ones drinking at Al-Anon.

There are many types of Al-Anon meetings, with different themes and different purposes. If you are affected by a loved one’s addiction and interested to learn more, you should attend a beginners meeting to get started. Although it can be intimidating to try something new, especially when it comes to sharing your feelings with total strangers, Al-Anon is known as a safe place where you can learn to trust, share your problems and receive support from others in similar circumstances. Al-Anon meetings are for you, not your loved one. Participation is voluntary and you can choose to share your experiences or just listen to others’. If you aren’t comfortable sharing, simply tell the group you’d like to pass or that you’d rather just listen.

Finding ways to help you respond to the challenges you are facing is a large part of Al-Anon and you should expect to be given educational materials such as books, pamphlets, or be asked to do some research. Al‑Anon simplifies complex problems by suggesting a “One Day at a Time” approach, which takes things one step at a time. Although Al-Anon is a support group and its meetings are often different from each other, the group asks prospective members to attend at least 6 meetings, before deciding, if Al-Anon is the right place for them to start their healing process. Attendance is voluntary and attendees are completely anonymous, meaning that the attendees and group leaders must maintain everyone’s confidentiality.

Below is a list of the different types of Al-Anon meetings that are intended to allow members and visitors to choose the meetings most relevant to them.

  • Beginners – Topics Focus on Welcoming Newcomers
  • Regular – Speaker Topic Meeting
  • Open – Both Members and Visitors are Welcome
  • Closed – Only Members and Applicants
  • Alateen – Teenage or Younger Al-Anon Members
  • Al-Anon Adult & Children – Adults with Younger Children. Topics Focus on Family Issues
  • LGBT – Topics focus on LGTB Members
  • Problem Solving – Topics Focus on Finding Solutions
  • Topic – Focused on a Chosen Al-Anon Topic
  • Tradition – Focus is on an Al-Anon Tradition
  • Literature – Topics focus on Al-Anon Literature
  • Slogans – Topics Focus on Al-Anon Slogans
  • Meditation – The Meeting Includes a Meditation Break
  • Step – Focused on Al-Anon 12 Steps
  • Men’s – For Men (All Welcome)
  • Women’s – For Women (All Welcome)
  • Parent’s – For Parents (All Welcome)

Al-Anon meetings occur across the nation. To find one in your area, check your local listings or search the Al-Anon website at:

If you are concerned about a loved one who may need treatment for alcoholism, please contact Florida Center for Recovery to discuss detox and therapeutic rehabilitation options. Our intake advisors can assist you at (800) 851-3291

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. Visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.

Self-Compassion in Recovery

Unquestionably the disease of addiction has many underlying causes. However, despite the circumstances and causes, self-compassion is what will aid someone struggling with addiction to seek treatment and continue through the recovery process even when faced with adversities.

Many cultures encourage having self-confidence over self-compassion, but new studies show that while self-confidence makes us feel good about ourselves, self-compassion allows for acknowledgment and understanding of our flaws and limitations. Drawn from Buddhist psychology, self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the same compassion we would treat someone we love when they make a mistake or are at fault. It means not beating ourselves up over our failed attempts or dwelling over our wrongdoings. Self-compassion sets us free as it allows us to accept our imperfections. Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher on self-compassion, reports on her research that self-compassion is beneficial to our psychological well-being because it is associated with “ greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.”

By practicing self-compassion a person can recognize the difference between making a bad choice and being a bad person. That person will recognize the value and worth of feeling unconditional love. She also says that a positive connection between self-compassion and overall well-being cannot be understated. Self-compassion provides a sense of self-worth. Having less anxiety, depression, and fear of failing are also all good reasons to practice self-compassion. The rewards of self-compassion are extensive, and practicing it brings many benefits that are associated with happiness and optimism.

Below is an overview of Dr. Neff’s elements of self-compassion:

  • Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.
  • Common humanity vs. Isolation. Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” was the only person suffering or making that mistake. All humans suffer. The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
  • Mindfulness vs. Over-identification. Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. At the same time, mindfulness requires us not to be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so we are not filled with or swept away by negative reactivity.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, “compassionate mind states may be learned and may alleviate shame, as well as other distressing outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, self-attacks, feelings of inferiority, and submissive behavior.”

At Florida Center for Recovery we introduce our clients to a variety of therapeutic recovery tools, which includes the development of self-compassion skills by following these five rules:

  • Acknowledging mistakes, then letting them go
  • Remembering you are exactly where you need to be right now, don’t rush through life
  • Choosing to focus on self-growth rather than self-improvement
  • Speaking to and treating yourself as you would a dear friend
  • Cutting yourself some slack, giving yourself permission to move on to better things

When used as an addiction recovery tool, self-compassion has shown to help individuals in recovery overcome cravings, deal with the stresses of early recovery, and better manage their emotions. By being mindful, recovering individuals feel more comfortable in their own skin – a quality that is essential for lasting sobriety.

“Our successes and failures come and go—they neither define us nor do they determine our worthiness.” ~ Kristin Neff

Pets and Recovery

Pets can be a great recovery help, and as best friends are known to help people cheer up and make those bad days in recovery more tolerable. Many coping or dealing with health problems have found that pets can provide them with the emotional and spiritual support they need by being around and offering an unconditional love that only pets can.

As pets are playing a larger role in our lives, it is becoming popular for hospitals, recovery rooms, retirement homes and addiction treatment facilities to include animal-assisted activities as alternative therapies within their programs. Many register their pets as a service animal as they provide companionship and services for their owners.

Anyone who loves animals knows that there is nothing like coming home to the love of a pet. Dog owners know that very well. That wagging tail greeting you at the door after a long day’s work is an immediate mood booster. By providing genuine and unconditional love, pets do make a positive impact in a recovering individual’s life by not only offering companionship but also by reducing that person’s stress. Below are some of the benefits that owning a pet in addiction recovery can provide:

  • Building confidence and self-worth: caring for pets increases confidence in doing a good job. Pets give gratitude for small gestures of love and care which can inspire more selfless loving acts from the person in recovery
  • Help reduce stress: studies have also found that spending time with pets releases oxytocin, sometimes called the love hormone, which reduces stress. The better your relationship with your pet, the stronger the bond and the more oxytocin is released.
  • Learning emotional intelligence: pets respond to emotions, and being around animals can help people in recovery learn to control how they respond and adjust to the pet’s emotional needs more than their own
  • Teaching responsibility: pets need care and support. When providing for and taking care of something other than one’s self, it helps us to think about something other than our own struggles

No matter what animal you choose, one of the greatest qualities about pets is that they are non-judgmental. They don’t know about your past or your fight for sobriety. To the animal you choose to care for, you have one major role: savior. So in a way you become each other’s saviors. The moment the pet realizes he is yours and you are his, you become instant partners. Dogs are especially known to be by your side whenever you need them because all they care about is you. Dogs will be your loyal best friend with everlasting support for anything you do.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, animals can support a recovery alongside professionals, therapists, and psychiatrists. There is a lot of work that needs to happen in recovery and animals can provide the comfort and care humans often times cannot provide during the tough emotional, physical, and spiritual addiction treatment process.