Recovering from an addiction is difficult for anyone. There are many people who try to recover on their own and fail. When you stop using drugs, your body goes through a lot of changes as you detox. A Better Recovery Today Services are available to make the process safer and easier. The following guide walks you through a few ways their services can benefit you before, during and after your recovery.
Reduce the Withdrawal Symptoms as You Detox
When you stop using drugs, your body will detox and begin to go through withdrawal symptoms almost immediately. The symptoms can be quite intense. They can include insomnia, nausea, shaking, headaches and more. A Better Recover Today Services can provide medically supervised treatment.
When you go to the treatment center for help, the medical staff can give you medication. These medications decrease the withdrawal symptoms that you experience during detox. Some of the symptoms can be quite painful, but medication can minimize them. When you don’t have to experience the physical withdrawal symptoms, it becomes easier to stick to your recovery.
People who try to recover on their own often cave during detox and relapse. It’s common for people to overdose when they relapse. Their body isn’t used to the drugs that they’re taking. Medical professionals carefully dose your medications for maximum efficiency during detox.
Ensure Your Health is Always Maintained
Recovering from drug addiction can be dangerous. Doctors need to monitor your vital signs throughout recovery. This is vital to ensure that you remain as safe as possible at all times. The medical staff is on-site 24 hours a day. This means that someone is always available if any surprises arise during your recovery process.
Doctors can also ensure that you’re able to stay hydrated and are provided with proper nutrition. You need to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water during your recovery.
During your recovery, it’s important to have your vital signs monitored constantly. There’s often a risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, which could lead to a heart attack. Another risk includes shallow breathing. This condition must be addressed immediately. The doctors and nurses are there to not only help you overcome your addiction, but also keep you safe throughout recovery.
Get Help with the Mental Side of Addiction
People who are in the thralls of addiction often think that they will be able to regain control of their life immediately after their physical addiction is gone. This isn’t the case, though. Physical addiction to drugs is much easier to overcome than a mental addiction after you detox.
At A Better Recovery Today Services, you get to experience counseling in many different ways. First, you get to meet with counselors for private counseling sessions. Within these sessions, you get to discover the root of your addiction. You learn what steps you can take to resist the urge to use again in the future.
You also have access to group counseling sessions. Group counseling provides you with the opportunity to meet with others going through similar issues to you. This allows you to feel more comfortable and speak openly. It can also offer hope and encouragement because you can see how far along other people have come.
Increase Your Chances at Long-Term Sobriety
Even if you were able to recover from your addiction on your own, there is still a risk of relapse. This is because you haven’t built the foundation for your sobriety or learned the keys to making sobriety work for you. At A Better Recovery Today Services, there is an aftercare program that makes it easier to stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol.
You build a support system that you can rely on and turn to when temptation strikes. You learn how to identify what your triggers are so that you can avoid them. There are also outpatient treatment options to ensure that you get the care that you need for as long as you need it. You also learn how to set goals for yourself. Additionally, you’ll gain the strength to set personal boundaries to prevent exposure to things or places that may tempt you to use.
Recovery is never easy for anyone in addiction. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get clean. But once you’re sober, you’ll quickly realize everything that life has to offer. Contact A Better Recovery Today Services to discuss the options that are available to you.
A recovery plan is established for each person on an individual basis. Your plan may include medically supervised treatment and inpatient care, or it may be determined that outpatient treatment is best for you. Getting sober once and for all is a decision that you have to make. Once you do, A Better Recovery Today Services is here to help.
Change is hard, period. If recovery were easy we would have done it a long time ago. We all know that recovery is hard, however, some people have harder experiences than others.
Addiction affects the mind, body and spirit. This all-encompassing disease gets us off track mentally and in life. How to function normally and healthfully has to be relearned and this is no easy task. It takes time, energy and patience, not to mention some guidance and support.
Combating addiction starts with treatment; either inpatient, outpatient or 12-step program. Treatment must address the whole person, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). This means that during any formal treatment program and after, you consider all aspects of your mental and physical health as well as spirituality. Mental health issues such as depression and PTSD need to be addressed in addition to the addiction problem in order for you to get on the right track.
Heal your Mind and Body
Addiction hijacks your brain, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). This means that not only do you need to get the drugs out of your system and recover your health, but also need to relearn healthy ways of thinking and acting.
Healing from addiction can take a long time. Even when you have gotten through the toughest parts, you still may not be back to normal. Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) can last for weeks, months, even a year.
Remember that you are a valuable human being and take what you need to recover in a healthy manner. Pushing or shaming yourself may backfire and lead to a relapse.
Meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and plenty of sleep are in order. Your needs are different than anyone else’s; maybe you need more exercise and sleep, while the next person needs to meditation and focus on regaining much needed nutrients. Whatever the case, listen to your body and do what it needs.
Patience – Rome wasn’t Built in a Day
You quit drugs and alcohol so why isn’t your life full of the promises of recovery yet? Well, it takes time. Be patient with yourself and your recovery. This may mean that you make plenty of mistakes in sobriety, however, as long as you stay sober you will continue to make progress.
The only thing that will set you back now is to go back out using your drug of choice. Even the mistakes you make are building blocks to the stronger foundation and better you that you’ve been working for.
You can’t expect yourself to spend years in addiction and then turn it around in recovery in a day. Be patient and trust the process. All with long-term sobriety know how difficult it is to endure early sobriety.
From people not trusting you, 100 roommates, PAWS, and feeling like you work hard all day every day and have nothing to show for it. You are not alone. Many in early sobriety remember watching the clock feeling as though time had stopped and all that existed was a constant sense of panic and negativity.
Breathe and realize that you are doing the work you need to become the better you. If you stick with sobriety, your life will become better than you can imagine.
In active addiction, sometimes, there is a sense of constant panic and anxiety over supply of drugs/alcohol and relationship meltdowns. By contrast, sobriety can seem down-right boring at times.
Change takes time, patience and hard work. No one likes change, but in times like this it is absolutely necessary. When you look back after obtaining some time sober, you will like where you are compared to where you have been.
One of the bigger contributors to relapse is boredom. Early sobriety requires that you learn ways of entertaining yourself, otherwise, you may reach a point where the monotony of everyday life becomes unbearable.
Find activities that you enjoy and throw yourself in them. Even great pastimes may pale in comparison to the extreme highs of drug and alcohol abuse, however, those roller coaster emotional and mental swings are not sustainable for long periods of time.
Practice, not Perfection
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. This age-old idiom is especially true when it comes to addiction. No matter how much time you have, perseverance is the name of the game. No one comes into life with an instruction manual. We learn as we go and pick ourselves off when we fall. There is no mistake so great that warrants you to give up trying to do better. Nothing.
One of the 12-step sayings “Practice, not perfection” is how you should view your life. You will probably not do everything right the first time, but keep coming back and you will get there. Life is not about being perfect, but doing the best we can with the tools and the time we have while we are here.
Some days you will be a difficult human being to be around. You may even destroy some friendships. Though this seems alarming, as long as you do what you think is right and taking advice from others, then you are doing your best.
When in doubt reach out to those in the sober community and ask for help. The first times you lean on another person, the situation is difficult. We are not accustomed to trusting others, let alone relying on them in active addiction. However, people who have been in the program a little while have been where you are and understand. Find a sponsor and cling to this person if you have less than a year in recovery. You may think you know what your sponsor will say before you call, but you don’t.
Telling yourself you can do it alone or you don’t need to bother your sponsor is simply not true. This is your disease saying that you don’t need the strong bonds and trust in another person when, in fact, you do.
Take the leap of faith and immerse yourself in the sober community and 12-step program around you. You will recover and your future will be beyond imagining if you remain open-minded and willing.
Congratulations on completing your treatment! Reaching the finish line in your rehab program is an immensely important part of your recovery. But what is most important and the hardest to get through, is incorporating the coping mechanisms and skills that you learned in rehab into your daily life. Dealing with the ins and outs of real life is a never-ending struggle filled with highs and lows. But there are healthy habits you can implement into your daily life in order to make sure that you have the best chance at success after your treatment. Below, are five tips that you need to practice in order to live a sober lifestyle after completing treatment.
Have a Plan
Many people who have gone through treatment have experienced bumps in the road throughout their recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that anywhere from 40-60% of people who suffer from substance use disorders relapse. In order to combat those statistics, make an aftercare plan to ensure that you stay on task during your recovery. Whether you start creating your plan while you are still in treatment or once you have made it out, it can be a truly essential part of your journey. In this plan, you can include phone numbers of therapists and physicians that you can call if you are feeling down, coping methods that you are planning to try, and sober activities that you are interested in utilizing. Transitioning from a treatment center in the real world can be very difficult and jarring at times. Having an aftercare plan gives you a foundation of information to go back to as you move through your sober journey.
Find a New Support System
Dealing with addiction is one of the hardest things that you can face. But, one of the most important things that you have to understand is that you can’t do it alone, even after completing treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls a drug addiction a “complex disease” that takes a lot “more than good intentions or a strong will.” Having a great support system is key.
As you look back on your past, you may realize that the only people that you associated with were people who directly correlated with your addiction. For example, it could be people that you bought the substance from, did the substance with, or talked about the substance with. In order to break those bad habits, you must get rid of those old relationships. Make the effort to look for new relationships with people who are going to support you as you live your sober lifestyle.
Finding a new support system can come in a variety of different ways around your local community. Research any support groups in your area to find individuals who are going through the same experiences that you are. You may want to enlist the help of your previous treatment center, or physician, to help you find local groups that they recommend will provide the support that you need. Also, consider one-on-one counseling as well. Going through counseling after treatment allows you to explore the new feelings and emotions that you are going through during this brand-new journey, as well as gaining some much-needed advice and support. If your family and friends are supportive of your new journey, reach out to them as well.
Try New Hobbies
Now that you are living a sober lifestyle, you probably have a lot more free time than you did before. It is important to replace your old habits with new ones and get rid of any boredom that you may be feeling. One of the best ways to do that is to try out some new hobbies. Living a sober life does not have to be boring! What hobbies you choose to try, completely depend on your interests. Some hobbies that you may want to try out include arts and crafts, reading, writing, volunteering in your community, exercising, playing sports, and learning a new instrument. If you are looking to learn a new skill, look into community centers or libraries in your area. These opportunities often have free or low-cost classes that you can take on to learn new things. You might even meet a new friend in the process.
Set Some Goals
As you go through your journey to recovery, it is important to constantly remember why you’re choosing to be sober. Be sure to write these goals down on a piece of paper and put them up where you can see it constantly throughout the day. Also, along with reasons why you’re choosing to be sober, write down any life goals that you have as well. This could be anything from buying a house to going back to school. If you are going through a hard time, you can look at these goals and remember that you are making the right decision about your life.
Deal with Past Mistakes
As you move into a brand-new lifestyle, you may find yourself wanting to push those old emotions, feelings, and events away. But the truth is that the shame and guilt from these events may eat you up inside and get in the way of your recovery. The only way to get over these emotions is to go through them. Take on these emotions head on and apologize to the people in your life that you have negatively affected through your addiction. Also, another way to deal with these emotions is to explore them in counseling. As you work through your emotions, you will have a clearer mind and have a better chance of succeeding in your recovery.
The transition after rehab can be difficult. But sober living is just within your grasp if you are willing to avoid triggers as much as possible and adopt new activities into your everyday life. With your new support system, you can get the advice that you need to thrive and have a new perspective on life. Now is the best time to start your sober journey and become the best “you” that you can be.
Domestic violence refers to any behaviors that are used to control, manipulate and gain power over an intimate partner. The different types of abuse include physical, emotional, verbal, mental and financial. Each poses its own danger and are often combined by an abuser to sustain power and control over an intimate partner.
Domestic violence, like addiction, has no prejudice; it affects people from all walks of life. Both men and women are abusers and it’s just as common in homosexual couples as heterosexual couples. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 85 percent of domestic violence victims are female, and women have a five to eight times greater chance of being victimized than men.
Recognizing Domestic Abuse in Relationships
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services defines physical abuse as the “non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain or impairment. This includes, but is not limited to, being slapped, burned, cut, bruised or improperly physically restrained.” On average, 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which comes out to a total of 10 million men and women per year.
Verbal, emotional and mental abuse are interconnected through a series of behaviors that an abuser uses to create confusion, undermine the victim’s self-confidence which allows the abuser to control the victim. Signs of this abusive dynamic are isolation, intimidation and manipulation.
An abuser may use the following tactics to control their victim: screening or monitoring texts, calls and social media, recording the odometer mileage on the car after use, as well as driving by workplaces or known locations, not allowing or becoming increasingly displeased by certain makeup, hairstyles, and clothing choices.
Emotional abuse is the result of verbal and psychological abuse that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth. Verbal abuse is making direct or indirect threats, yelling, screaming, and insulting. Psychological or mental abuse is using statements that distort reality or invalidate the victim’s emotions, thoughts or feelings.
Financial abuse is the withholding or controlling of all the income, not allowing the victim to access funds or putting the victim on a strict allowance. An abuser can also prevent or sabotage the victim’s attempts to secure employment by refusing transportation, making them late, or calling/harassing them at work frequently.
Sexual Abuse is using coercion, force, guilt, manipulation or not considering the victim’s desire to have sex. Exploiting a victim who is unable to make an informed decision either because they are asleep, intoxicated or otherwise drugged, or targeting a victim who is too young, too old or dependent upon or afraid of the abuser is also sexual abuse.
For victims in an abusive relationship, daily life is centered around reading your partner’s moods, walking on eggshells, saying or doing anything to keep the peace for fear they may become violent. Eventually the manipulation and fear can become so great that a victim will often feel they deserve to be abused.
The Link Between Substance Abuse and Domestic Abuse
Substance abuse tends to bring out the worst in people; it’s no surprise that statistics are finding a direct connection between substance abuse and abusive relationships. While under the influence of drugs or alcohol a person’s ability to make clear decisions and control their impulses is severely diminished.
Alcohol is often used as a social tool to feel comfortable and release anxiety, but just like all addictive substances, it carries a darker side. Alcohol abuse is one of the leading risk factors for partner violence—a study from 1994 of domestic abuse cases that resulted in death found that more than 50 percent of the accused had been drinking at the time of the murder.
Between 40 and 60 percent of domestic violence incidents involve substance abuse and abusers will sometimes encourage their victim to use drugs as a method of control and to create dependence. Often, when a victim is under the influence of drugs they may not be able to accurately assess the level of danger they’re in. In fact, they may be afraid to report any abuse out of fear they will be arrested for using illegal drugs.
While it’s possible for both men and women to be the abuser, it’s statistically more likely that a woman will be the victim. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a woman to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with an abusive spouse. The fear for herself and her children, if they were to leave the abusive relationship, can be so crippling that she may feel that staying is the only option.
Effects of an Abusive Relationship
Life after an abusive relationship is a complex puzzle of putting yourself back together. Mental and emotional abuse can leave a person doubting their own sense of self, second-guessing every decision and living with deep shame. Victims are usually left with a general mistrust of others; it may lead to a complete aversion to dating or building relationships without a genuine connection. It’s common for many to be diagnosed with substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and PTSD.
How to Escape an Abusive Relationship
Making the decision to leave an abusive relationship is difficult—a victim may believe that their partner will change and that things will get better, but the reality is that many abusers have complex emotional and psychological problems.
When faced with the consequences of their behaviors, abusers will make promises to stop the behavior and profess intense guilt and shame, literally begging for forgiveness. They may mean what they say at the moment but when the threat of their partner leaving has subsided, they’ll return to their abusive behavior.
Worrying about what will happen if they leave, where they will go, what people might say, has led many victims to stay in abusive relationships. There are simple steps one can follow to help them disengage from their abuser and get out safely.
Create an exit plan; doing so means that you are less likely to return to your abuser for any reason. When creating an exit plan, reach out to a friend, family member or local resource for help. Establish a safe word that they’ll recognize if you’re in danger and call the police.
Set aside any money you can and keep a bag packed and hidden should you need to leave at a moment’s notice. When you’re ready to leave, take what is necessary and recognize that you can always replace clothing, jewelry or other items. Your safety is not worth risking over material goods.
Have a person that will keep you accountable for your decision. Change your phone number and seek out a restraining order. Be kind and loving to yourself; this is a time of intense emotion, so it’s okay to be scared.
Find the courage within yourself to separate from an abusive partner, reach out to support groups and family, and remember: you are not alone.
What is Service?
Service, simply put, is helping out in a group. In addiction we become so focused on ourselves that we lose the habit of considering what others need. In early sobriety, getting involved in helping others can be critical and is beneficial to anyone despite how long he or she has been sober.
Service can mean many different things; it can be a big commitment or a minor activity. Opportunities with meetings include chairing the meeting, serving as treasurer, GSR or helping with things that get the meeting running on time and smoothly. Maybe you decide to show up early for a meeting and prepare the meeting room. Or you could make the coffee.
Often, people who have consistently shown up to a meeting at their home group begin to take on bigger commitments. Treasurer, chair, co-chair and GSR are all positions that further your understanding of the way 12-Step groups work, what is required to keep a meeting going and provide you with much needed service.
Chair and co-chair run the meeting, sometimes for a month, several months, or just about any other duration. Some meetings have people chair certain days of the week, whereas meetings that meet less often may have someone in charge of the meeting for blocks of time of various lengths. The chair or co-chair is typically responsible for finding speakers, volunteers for the meeting readings and handing out chips.
The General Service Representative is another service position. The GSR represents his or her home group to district committees and area assemblies. He or she may have to travel to a local assembly and report back to his or her home group, then returns to the area assembly or district committee and votes as instructed by his or her group members.
Volunteering in the community is another form of service that may be done separately from 12-step and other recovery groups. Animal shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations are always in desperate need of volunteers.
The Self-Service in Service
The key to service is finding a position that you find rewarding and will maintain consistently. When you show up on time, every week, day or month, you are helping yourself and others. Though serving helps others, it helps you most of all; it helps you stay sober in various ways.
Having a service commitment helps keep your mind focused on the present. Too much time on your hands, especially in early recovery, can allow a person to get stuck in his or her own head. Self-pity, problems you’re dealing with and ruminating on the past can cause people to veer off the recovery path and into a downward spiral. Service helps you get away from the negativity and focus on helping others.
Having a service position provides you with responsibility and builds self-esteem. While suffering from addiction, we were directed by our using and needing more. In recovery, we learn to keep a healthy schedule and show up when we say we will. Over time, the consistency and fulfillment of responsibility gives us great cause to feel good about ourselves and see how far we have come.
Benefits of Service
While we were out drinking and using, all our time and energy went towards our addiction. We were completely focused on self; our entire world revolved around alcohol and drugs.
Now, in recovery, a new pastime must be found. Service positions within 12-step groups, as well as volunteering and charity work help you and others. Getting out and pitching in to help builds relationships and a new social network of people you can rely on.
By helping others, you may find new passions and discover things about yourself you didn’t know before. You challenge yourself to do better and be better, every time you show up and help out.
Continuing to sign up for opportunities to serve gives you an invaluable chance to remove yourself from who you used to be. You can prove to others, but most importantly to yourself, that you are not your addiction.
New morals and values develop as the improved version of yourself surfaces. You develop a new sense of self-worth and freedom.
The Importance of Service in Recovery
When we first arrive in the rooms of a 12-step fellowship, most of us simply take. Others make the coffee, chair the meetings, and show us the ropes.
As a more established member, it’s now your turn to help the newcomer. Service allows you to give back to the sober community that helped you. You can help others stay sober, while also helping yourself. You may wind up helping someone who otherwise would not have gotten the help he or she needs.
Many people hesitate to get a service commitment due to scheduling and time restrictions, but the vast majority of people have the time, if it were made a priority. Take the leap and sign up for one. You’ll discover the endless benefits of having a service commitment.
By being a strong sober community member, you also show others that recovery is possible and that the 12-steps work. You prove that it’s possible to change your life for the better.
Someone was there for you; be there for someone else.
If you are new in recovery, you may be looking for events and activities to fill up your weekends. You may even wonder if you’ll ever find something that’s fun to do without having alcohol or drugs involved. If you already go to 12-step fellowship meetings, you may or may not know that there are plenty of events besides meetings that people can attend for fun and fellowship. One of the vital components to 12-step programs is that they operate under the premise that addicts and alcoholics should never do recovery alone.
If you’re already a part of the program, or even if not, (there are no requirements for membership other than you must have the desire to stop using or to continue to not use drugs and alcohol), you should try spending a weekend at a 12-step convention. The importance of being social and stepping out of your comfort zone to be a part of the recovery community is essential to your recovery and the benefits cannot be underestimated.
12-step conventions are a place to soak-in everything recovery related, connect with new people in the recovery community, and hear the experience, strength, and hope of addicts and alcoholics that can encourage, motivate, and inspire you to keep going.
What are 12-Step Conventions?
Many 12-step fellowship programs host annual conventions. Conventions are a place where you can attend marathon meetings, workshops, dances, and more – all related to the specific 12-step fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, and more. Almost every type of 12-step fellowship has an annual convention.
Most of the time the conventions are held in venues such as hotels that will usually have a pool and local restaurants nearby. Each convention has a giant speaker meeting where everyone does a sober/clean time countdown – you will be able to stand up when you hear your clean/sober time called with the rest of those who share similar recovery lengths and celebrate your success. This meeting will have at least one speaker who will often be from another part of the world to share their experience, strength and hope with everyone at the convention.
Often times there are other events too, such as stand-up comedy hours. During the convention, you can enter in raffles to win prizes, or you can go to one of the several booths that sell 12-step literature that can help you in your recovery or memorabilia, like a convention t-shirt. Conventions are a fun affair for everyone involved and a great way to recharge your recovery batteries.
Why should I go to a convention?
There are many reasons why those in recovery see conventions as important parts of their recovery. For many, going to a 12-step convention is a way for them to recharge their batteries and get back in touch with the spiritual program that saved their lives. For others, it’s a way to reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a long time in the recovery community, people they may not see on a regular basis. It’s also a great chance to meet new people and make connections.
It’s important to know that you can choose the types of meetings and workshops that you would like to attend during the convention to ensure that you are hearing messages that are suitable for where you are in your own personal recovery. For example, if you have been in recovery for 10 years, you may not want to go to a newcomer meeting but you can take advantage of others that are more suited to you.
You can also take the convention as an opportunity to be of service to others; there are always tons of volunteer positions that need to be filled for these events which can attract hundreds, potentially thousands of people depending on which fellowship the convention is for.
How do I find Conventions? How Do I prepare?
You can find out what conventions are coming to your town, or in any surrounding areas, by visiting the specific 12-step fellowship websites or by simply asking someone at the regular fellowship meetings which you attend. Often, there are bulletin boards that you can find in fellowship halls and meeting spaces that have information about all of the upcoming conventions in your area.
Once you have chosen a convention that you would like to attend, you can usually go to the convention’s website (which you can find on the flyer) and pre-register. If you want to make an entire weekend out of the convention and stay from Friday-Sunday, you should look into hotel room reservations where the convention will be held. Usually, there are discounts especially available for those attending the convention, and you can always check the website or call the hotel for more details.
Another possibility is to bring along a friend for the weekend to spend time together and recharge your recovery batteries- you could even share a hotel room to make it more economical by splitting the costs. 12-step Fellowship conventions are always a great way to be reminded of the miracle that is recovery and the importance of sharing your recovery with others.
What is Animal Therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, is connected to health benefits such as pain reduction, anxiety, and depression. Individuals who find healing and happiness with therapeutic animals include people suffering from substance use disorders, veterans with PTSD, and even chemotherapy patients.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as animals trained to do or perform certain tasks for an individual with a disability such as the loss of a limb, deafness, blindness, diabetes, and epilepsy.
However, service animals are not limited to helping those with physical disabilities. Emotional and mental illness is something that affects millions of people every day. Animals that assist with emotional and psychological challenges are known as emotional support animals and they are beneficial to those suffering from addiction and PTSD or other mental health issues.
Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy
Dog ownership and animal therapy have numerous benefits in both the psychological and physiological realm. Animals help people in drug and alcohol addiction recovery find substitute methods for stimulating the brain.
Animal-assisted therapy, service dogs, and emotional support animals help those who are recovering from addiction rewire their addicted brain in a healthy way. On top of that, therapeutic or pet animals assist in the establishment of healthy bonds, support, loyalty, and daily routines.
Whether for a service, emotional support, or friendship alone, animals have a significant impact on the happiness of mankind. Interestingly enough, researchers have come to discover that spending time with a dog or another furry friend can speed up the healing process for a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
Comfort Dogs for Crisis Response-How Our Fur Friends Help Through Crisis
There are many ups and down throughout one’s journey in recovery. Whether living with a dual-diagnosis or drug and alcohol addiction alone, we all need to feel a sense of safety. Often, feeling safe and secure comes in the form of trust and companionship. Animals offer a comfort and a sense of peace, especially in moments of extreme stress.
At times, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as other mental illnesses, can become overwhelming and unbearable, making you more susceptible to the stresses of life. Dogs and other furry companions are great for diverting one’s attention from psychological pain and pressure to pleasure and friendship.
In fact, there are comfort dogs who are trained specifically for handling a crisis response. Comfort dogs help individuals in a personal crisis who feel hopeless, fearful and have extreme anxiety.
During a crisis, such as an anxiety attack, dogs replace the experience of the crisis with feelings of compassion, hope, safety, and love.
All in all, dogs and other animals are an excellent tool for self-care and psychological first aid in recovery.
How they Help Overcome Triggers and Stressors
Staying clean and sober in recovery can be challenging and feel nearly impossible. However, having a dog or access to canine-therapy can help you hold onto the hope for a brighter future all while maintaining a sense of peace.
Activists of animal therapy claim that when a person bonds and forms a relationship with a dog or other animal, he or she develops a stronger sense of self-esteem and trust. Moreover, animal therapy helps people with improving communication skills, emotional regulation, self-stabilization, and social skills.
Unconditional Love When You Need It
Animals make us feel safe and a love that’s more or less unconditional. Additionally, dogs not only make us happier and more satisfied with life, they also help us feel more socially connected. Ultimately dog therapy allows us to open up and be honest with ourselves and with other people.
Leaving a life of isolation involves putting yourself “out there,” but in a social setting, it’s normal for most humans to feel uneasy; a fear of rejection often stops many of us from experiencing new things in recovery.
Fortunately, scientists have proven that dogs do help to diminish the unhealthy need for social isolation, allowing us to feel calmer to open up to others.
Dogs for PTSD Treatment-PTSD and Animal Therapy: Getting you Through it All
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is common among people with substance use disorders, although other mental health disorders are common. Having two or more disorders that co-occur is often referred to as dual-diagnosis.
PTSD alone can cause a person to be debilitated by overwhelming anxiety, horrific flashbacks, and unwanted memories. The most common causes of the disorder are childhood abuse/trauma, violent or sexual assault, military combat, and natural disasters.
Generally, those with PTSD cope with the mental and emotional pain by abusing drugs and alcohol. In fact, it’s so common that treatment centers have now dedicated an entire specialty to those wanting to recover while also suffering from PTSD or other co-occurring disorders.
Having a PTSD service dog or engaging in animal therapy is known to be highly beneficial to those who deal with addiction alongside a mental health disorder like PTSD.
Having a dual-diagnosis and getting into recovery from addiction is challenging, but there is still hope. Service dogs have an incredible impact on healing from addiction and PTSD. Among many other characteristics, a dog’s unconditional regard, nonjudgmental stance, and their protective nature can help individuals overcome the difficulties of living with PTSD and recovering from a substance use disorder.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.”
Recovery is the ground that you build yourself up from after you’ve torn yourself down. It goes far beyond getting clean and sober—it’s a rebirth, the letting go of patterns and behaviors that no longer serve you and finding new tools to help you cope with the many ups and downs of life.
So, what happens when your partner isn’t willing to take the leap into recovery with you? Is it possible to sustain a healthy relationship with someone who is using drugs or alcohol? If they have the intention to join you but continue to relapse, how much time do you allow them before cutting ties?
You are here because these questions have been circling through your mind. Perhaps you’ve been keeping your partners use a secret and living in fear of the judgment you may receive from friends and family. Maybe you came here on your own in search of another way.
Identify Why You’re Staying
The first step, and really the keystone to this journey is identifying why you’re staying. Start by asking yourself, “Why am I choosing to stay in this relationship?” and then write down at least 3 responses.
Love is more than likely a top contender. They’re a good person that has lost their way is another common reason. They couldn’t survive without you or you have concerns for their wellbeing if you left. Maybe you have children with your partner and are not ready to throw in the towel. These are all good and valid reasons to stay, but more often than not these are surface reasons and something more dysfunctional is hidden underneath. When addiction is present, co-dependency is not far behind and it’s important to consider the influence it may have on your relationship.
People with co-dependency form and maintain relationships that are emotionally destructive and/or abusive, they choose partners that will never truly meet their needs and often fall in love with a person’s potential in hopes that true love will inspire them to live up to your expectations.
It’s common for one partner in a co-dependent relationship to be more dominant and demanding and the other to be submissive and always seeking to please their partner to avoid conflict. Generally, the submissive partner will have a tendency to feel like they’re not enough and can never live up to the needs of their demanding partner.
In many people’s experiences, becoming aware of the co-dependent cycle of the Drama Triangle is a real game changer. It’s the concept of changing roles throughout conflict to perpetuate a negative self-image and thus keep the cycle of mental and emotional abuse going.
The Drama Triangle
The drama triangle is a dynamic model of social interaction and conflict developed by Dr. Karpman when he was a student of Eric Berne, M.D., father of transactional analysis. Karpman and other clinicians point out that “victim, rescuer, and persecutor” refer to roles people unconsciously play or try to manipulate other people to play, not the actual circumstances in someone’s life. The three roles of the drama triangle are archetypal and easily recognizable in their extreme versions.
Victims utilize the classic “woe-is-me” attitude, taking no responsibility for their choices and feeling hopeless, dejected, and ashamed. A person in the victim role seeks out someone who will rescue them; a savior to all their problems and someone they can resent if their chosen rescuer fails or refuses to relieve them of whatever circumstance they feel oppressed by. Victims also have difficulty making decisions and understanding their self-perpetuating behaviors.
Rescuers like to be helpful—they consider their self-worth to be directly related to how valuable they make themselves to others through saving. The rescuer often casts their own needs to the side and devotes all of their time and energy to the person who needs their help. They need victims to help and often use guilt to keep their victim’s dependent on them. Rescuers are frequently overworked, and deeply resentful at times.
Persecutors point fingers, often using sayings such as, “Look what you made me do!” or “It’s all your fault!” They are bullies and often use a person’s shortcomings as ammunition to assert their status above the victim. They are rarely vulnerable and are deeply afraid of being victimized themselves; they rarely offer a solution and use blame and resentment to manipulate others.
Here is an example: Sally is dating Brad and they’ve been going steady for a few years now. Sally is new to recovery and has put down the drugs, but still clings on to hope that Brad will get clean. Sally starts finding empty drug bags in Brad’s pockets while washing clothes.
She confronts Brad and persecutes him for lying to her. Brad plays the victim and admits he has been struggling. He blames his traumatic childhood and stressful living situation. Sally then feels an intense desire to save Brad, and so she invites him to go to a support meeting later that night. Brad agrees to go and never shows up.
Sally then goes looking for Brad and finds him at his friend’s house. She is upset and makes a scene in front of everyone. Brad becomes upset because she crossed the line and then blames her for his behavior. He cites her traumatic childhood and victimizes Sally, implying that she is damaged and says she’s lucky he is willing to put up with her, implying that he is her savior.
In this example, both Sally and Brad transitioned into all 3 roles to manipulate each other and furthered the co-dependent cycle they’re both engaged in.
Accepting that You Can’t Save Your Partner
Following the previous example, Sally responds with strong emotions because Brad lied to her; he gave her hope that he was changing and then he made the choice to visit with his friends rather than make a change toward getting clean. At this point, Brad has made his choice clear, and there is nothing Sally can say or do to change his mind.
Sally may still try and convince him, and may still believe that she can save him or that her love for him will be enough to bring him out of the depths of his addiction. The hardest part of being in this situation is coming to realize that there is nothing more you can do. If your loved one wanted treatment, they would be taking opportunities to do so.
With addiction, you must look at a person’s pattern of behavior instead of the words that come out of their mouths. If they promise to do something and then follow through with it, they are telling you, with their actions, they are ready to change. However, if they continue to let you down, such as making commitments to change and then being unreliable and are stringing you along with the hope of better days, then it’s time to consider leaving.
Protecting Yourself Against Relapse
For your own safety, please consider the following tips to prevent relapse.
• Regularly attend a support group of your choosing
• Have a safe support figure, someone you can be completely honest with
• Identify your relapse triggers and be aware of them
• Take positive action when you are triggered
• Seek out professional counseling services
• Have an exit plan should you decide to leave the relationship
Setting clear boundaries in your relationship will be the difference between your partner making a positive change and enabling their addiction. Enabling is when you feel the negative consequences of their addiction. The more you do for them the longer they will use.
Remove any and all ways that you support their addiction—don’t lie for them or otherwise cover up their behavior and don’t allow them in your home if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
An addicted individual will seek out help when they have reached their bottom. By offering financial bailouts, rides, and allowing them to get away with using keeps your partner from reaching a point where they are ready to change.
Where to Turn to for Help
Hope for your partner is found by seeking out a reputable addiction treatment center and traveling outside of your partners home state if possible. Look into a center that can address any underlying causes and conditions to using like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and remember: hope for the best for them, but be prepared to cut them out if they are damaging to your recovery.
At A Better Today, we understand the importance of being a substance abuse treatment center that continuously strives to grow and offers the best care possible. A Better Today has worked hard to become accredited by the Joint Commission who have offered accreditation in health and human services since 1969. Out of the 13,339 addiction treatment centers that responded to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, less than 20% of substance abuse treatment facilities were accredited by the Joint Commission. A Better Today is proud to be a part of that percentage of Joint Commission accredited treatment centers.
Accreditation by the Joint Commission assures that treatment centers stay ahead of the curve. The behavioral healthcare standards are put forth by the Joint Commission and come from a close analysis of the quickly changing behavioral healthcare field.
The Joint Commission focuses on requiring standards, such as state-of-the-art technologies and comprehensive proven guidelines that each substance abuse treatment center should strive to meet. Studies show that accreditation programs improve care and raise the amount of positive clinical outcomes within substance abuse treatment center organizations. Joint Commission accreditation signifies that the organization meets the general consensus for quality care in the behavioral health and substance abuse field.
Being accredited means that a treatment center cares about the supervision, qualifications, and overall leadership of their clinical staff and team. The Joint Commission requires physician oversight for certain services and staff must be certified to fulfill many of the positions within a treatment center. A Better Today meets these rigorous requirements and strives to continue to meet the standards set forth by the Joint Commission. Their requirements signify what has been proven as the best practice in substance abuse and behavioral health and is backed by extensive research and study from real data.
Being accredited is proof that A Better Today cares about the individual patient experience. Our accreditation gives assurances that our facility uses person-focused standards and understands the importance of individualized treatment versus a one-size-fits-all treatment model.
As an accredited treatment center, ABT proves that we have modeled our treatment the way that leading medical experts and professionals recommend and use only evidence-based treatment in our programs. ABT has worked diligently to ensure that our clinicians, staff, available treatments, and curriculum represent the highest standard of care possible. Accreditation shows that ABT will do whatever it takes to see long-lasting positive outcomes in our patients.
Our Top Priority
A Better Today wants to achieve the highest-level of care that is possible to achieve within a substance abuse treatment center facility. Being accredited by the Joint Commission shows that ABT has made a commitment and priority to be an accountable and transparent substance abuse treatment center to the medical community, and to continue to look for new ways to improve our substance abuse treatment program. We strive to continue to meet the requirements of the Joint Commission for many years to come as we know that our accreditation means that we are striving to always be better and lead as an example.