How to Balance Work, Life and Recovery

Balancing Work, life, and recovery

Schedules, appointments, tasks, groups and sobriety — how do you manage it all? Whether you’re currently in recovery or just beginning to overcome addiction, it can be difficult to find the right balance between work, life and recovery. For the approximately 10% of American adults currently in recovery, juggling responsibilities while trying to remain positive and sober proves to be challenging. Learn what you can do to effectively manage your life while in recovery.

4 Factors that Contribute to Successful Recovery

According to SAMHSA, there are four dimensions that contribute to a healthy, well-balanced life in recovery: community, purpose, home and health. Focusing on these four areas during recovery can promote success, improve your health and benefit others. Explore some practical ways to work on each of these dimensions.

Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Needs

When you’re in recovery and trying to find a good balance in life, it’s impossible to achieve your goals if neglecting your physical and emotional needs. Some ways you can support your emotional and physical health include:

  • Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleep contributes to irritability, poor concentration and an inability to function throughout the day. Additionally, poor sleep can have a negative impact on recovery. Getting plenty of rest is essential to maintaining the energy you need to balance work, recovery and life.
  • Recovery Tips - Healthy DietEat a balanced diet. A busy schedule can be the enemy of a balanced diet. It’s easy to rely on fast food, microwavable dinners and foods that contain high amounts of fat, salt or sugar to get you through the day. However, doing so can deplete your energy levels and affect your ability to concentrate. Try keeping fruit or vegetables with you throughout the day to satisfy your snacking needs and focus on lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and healthy starches for larger meals.
  • Exercise regularly. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or equipment to keep your body in shape. Carve out 15 or 30 minutes a day to walk, swim, lift weights (or gallons of water) or ride a bike to keep your body’s metabolism regulated and improve focus. If you have physical limitations that prevent exercise, talk to your doctor to explore your options. There is always something you can do to keep your body healthy.
  • See your doctor. Whether you have existing health issues or not, it’s a good idea to maintain regular contact with your doctor to ensure your physical health is appropriately managed. For example, issues like uncontrolled high blood pressure, chronic pain or diabetes can have a negative effect on your quality of life and progress in recovery.
  • Participate in counseling. Going through the process of recovery and finding the right balance in life is easier when you have personal support. Engage in individual counseling to focus on your personal emotional needs and gain positive feedback about your progress. Staying proactive when it comes to your emotional well-being is a proven way to support a balanced lifestyle.

Spend Time on You

It’s easy to neglect yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, but taking time out to do something you enjoy alleviates stress and increases life satisfaction. Consider adding one or more of the following activities to your weekly routine:

  • Yoga or meditation. For thousands of years, yoga and meditation have been thought to improve mood and enhance overall health. Yoga ranges from beginner to advanced levels, which is exciting if you’re someone who likes to improve upon a skill. Alternatively, meditation can be done anywhere for varying lengths of time and requires little skill.
  • Creative hobbies. Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, scrapbooking, photography – the list goes on and on. Spending an hour or more a week engaging in a creative activity helps calm your mind, keep you busy and, over time, sharpen your skills in that area.
  • Team Sports - Recovery TipsTeam sports. Whether playing sports with friends or a community group, engaging in physical activity is a good way to have fun while staying in shape. Indoor facilities, like those at the YMCA, make it possible to get involved in a sport regardless of the weather outside.
  • Journaling. An easy and nearly cost-free way to spend time on yourself is to journal. Whether you do it daily, weekly or whenever you feel like it, journaling helps release both positive and negative thoughts, provides an outlet to express yourself and serves as a road map of your progress. In addition to writing out your thoughts, journaling can be used with the purpose of setting and tracking goals.

Invest in Others

Sometimes the best way to improve balance in your own life is by becoming a blessing to someone else’s. If you and your treatment team agree that you’re ready for this step, create space in your schedule to offer support to others or volunteer your time. A few options to invest time in others include:

  • Be a resource for someone else. If you’re at a point in recovery where you can be a resource to others just starting their journey to sobriety, being a resource for them is a great way to provide practical support, empathy and advice.
  • Volunteer for your favorite cause. Are you passionate about animals, underserved populations or a particular organization? Reach out to the organization and schedule an hour every one or two weeks (or more, if you have time) to assist with the charity’s immediate needs.
  • Participate in a charitable event. Life can get busy, so you may not have time to dedicate to regular volunteer work. Special charitable events, like cause-related walks or donation drives, provide a great opportunity to support your community without making an ongoing commitment.
  • Spend time with a loved one in need. Investing in others doesn’t always require a formal organization or charity. Sometimes, simply spending time to help a family member or friend in need can make all the difference in the world.

Control Your Environment

As anyone in recovery will attest, the type of environment you’re in at any point in time can either support or hinder your recovery goals. Part of achieving balance between work, life and recovery is controlling the environments in which you find yourself. Do your best to:

  • Avoid stressful situations. Stress can be a trigger for anyone and if you’re in recovery, avoiding triggers that might lead to a relapse should be a priority. Additionally, experiencing stress can have a physical effect on your body and exacerbate mental health issues.
  • Engage in positive social relationships. Choose to be around people who offer support, provide encouragement and respect your goal of maintaining sobriety. Positive social relationships help remind you that life is not simply about work and responsibilities; it is also meant to be enjoyed.
  • Create a peaceful, safe home environment. The size of your home doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether you feel safe and serene within it. Since you will spend the majority of your downtime at home, make it somewhere you actually want to be. This means something different for everyone, but you can add a personal touch to your home by decorating, using soft lighting or adding comfortable pillows to your seating area — anything that makes you more comfortable and turns your home into a safe haven.

Get Support Today

Balancing work, life and recovery can be overwhelming, but there’s help available for you now. Contact Outpatient Services at (844) 211-7944 if you or someone you love needs assistance. Our trained substance abuse professionals are available 24/7 to provide complimentary, confidential consultations.

How to Find a Meeting Near You

It’s not always easy to make the choice to reach out to others. For many people struggling with addiction, there is a natural desire to withdraw from family, friends, and the general public. Unfortunately, staying withdrawn only keeps you trapped in the cycle of addiction.

Connecting with others in the safe, comfortable environment provided in a group setting can help you build alliances, lean on one another, and start on the path to recovery. Learn about the types of meetings available to you, what to expect from meetings, and how to find them.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction in the U.S.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 10% of individuals ages 12 and older needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. While the type of treatment can vary from inpatient rehabilitation programs to outpatient services, many choose to either start or continue their journey to recovery by attending supportive groups. Meetings can help you gain support, bond with peers, and develop a strategy for sobriety.

How Meetings Can Help You

Stats of Finding MeetingsFeelings of hopelessness can go hand in hand with addiction, but there are many positive reasons to attend meetings when your goal is recovery.

Acknowledge Your Addiction

Many people struggling with addiction have a problem admitting it. Excuses for addiction can include anything from boredom to loneliness, and everything in between. Attending a meeting is beneficial because it sheds light on your addiction while helping you connect with others experiencing similar roadblocks to recovery.

Identify Your Triggers

Triggers are psychological, physical, or environmental stimuli that lead to drinking or drug use. Over time, triggers help create a pattern of use that becomes addiction. In other words, you’re unable to experience a trigger without using substances to cope. Discussing patterns of behavior and addiction within a group setting helps uncover your individual triggers and learn to recognize your urge to use prior to using.

Cope with Negative Thoughts

Both a common trigger and a result of substance use, negative thoughts about yourself or others has a damaging impact on your well-being. Negativity can contribute to the destruction of relationships, hinder the formation of new friendships, and affect productivity. Meetings provide a safe space in which you can identify negative thoughts and create positive coping skills to effectively manage them.

Find a Sponsor

Attendees at meetings come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. All are welcome regardless of income, marital status, race, or personal history. Furthermore, meetings are comprised of both individuals who are just starting their journey to recovery and those who have been on the path to wellness for years. Stable, sober individuals often provide support to those in the early stages of recovery through sponsorship. A sponsor can provide additional support outside of a group setting when you need help coping with life and are trying to remain sober.

Create a Plan

Although recovery planning should occur with a trained professional, you can start to draft a plan of what may help you stay sober by learning what has worked for others. Because meetings are confidential, participants are free to discuss issues that resulted in relapse and the steps taken to get back on the journey to recovery safely.

Meetings are confidential

Types of Addiction Support Meetings

Once you’ve determined you’d like to try a meeting, it can be overwhelming to review your options. Keep it simple by reviewing the three basic types of meetings available in most communities:

  • Traditional 12-Step Meetings. The first thought most people have when thinking about meetings are 12-step programs. These include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Marijuana Anonymous (MA) and Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). Though there are other 12-step programs available, these four are the most popular and widely known. At the core of these programs is the idea that one must have a desire to stop using and begin working the 12 steps to achieve and maintain sobriety. Meetings can be co-ed, male only, or female only to ensure attendees feel comfortable to discuss their personal lives.
  • Faith Based Meetings. Faith is a strong motivator to stay on the narrow path of recovery, which is why many people choose Christian meetings instead of traditional 12-step programs. Biblically based meetings typically have at least one Christian counselor or pastor who ensures that steps to recovery are Christ-centered and provides support while fostering group fellowship.
  • Peer Support Groups. Available in both secular and faith based versions, peer support groups differ somewhat from traditional 12-step programs. Often there is a core group of members who perform activities together, complete projects, and conduct outreach. Many times, members of a peer support group were introduced during an inpatient or outpatient program and participation in the group is part of their recovery plan.

It’s okay if you don’t know which meeting would be best for you immediately, but you will never discover your preference until you attend one.

How to Find a Meeting Near You

The truth is, choosing to attend a meeting is the hard part; finding one is easy. There are many resources available in print, in person, and online, including:

  • 12-Step Websites. Each website dedicated to AANAMA, and GA has a meeting location function on the first page. Simply enter your zip code and find meetings near you.
  • Local Newspaper. Typically located in the classified section, local meetings can be found in your area’s newspaper along with the time, date, and location of the group.
  • Local Church. Churches and faith based organizations are great community resources and often host meetings on-site. At the very least, members of leadership can provide contact information or a referral. Discuss your interest in a substance abuse meeting with a pastor and they will likely be able to lead you in the right direction.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers. A great resource for everything from group meetings to targeted treatment options, local substance abuse treatment centers can offer a wealth of information about the services available in your area. Specializing in drug and alcohol abuse, treatment providers have the latest, most up-to-date information about support groups and can help you choose the best option for your individual needs.
  • Friends and Family. Reach out to friends or family members you trust who may have, or know someone who has, a struggle with substance abuse. They may know where meetings are held and might attend meetings themselves. Going to your first few meetings with someone you know and trust will enhance your experience and encourage participation.

Find a Meeting Today

Addiction can have many components, and you may benefit from a variety of treatment and supportive groups depending on your needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact Outpatient Services for a confidential consultation at (844) 211-7944. We can help you find a meeting that is right for you and also discuss other treatment options. You don’t need to face addiction alone; support is waiting just a phone call away.

7 Ways to Prevent Relapse

For those in the recovery process, sobriety is of the utmost importance. After all, a desire to quit using and stay clean is often the motivator behind enrollment in a rehabilitation program.

However, remaining sober is often easier said than done. In fact, relapse rates for drug and alcohol abusers hover around 40% to 60%, similar to those of other chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Without constant vigilance and focus, falling back into old habits can happen quickly, erasing months or even years of work in one fell swoop.

Avoiding relapse is a mission that often takes just as much commitment as maintaining a healthy weight and other important lifestyle decisions, and a half-hearted effort is not enough. If you want to do your best to avoid relapse and stay safe and sober, these tips can help you adhere to a life of abstinence.

Start a New Hobby

When you’re living as an addicted individual, it’s common to have drugs or alcohol involved in all areas of life. The places you go, people you know, and activities you enjoy often center around drug use, leaving you with no one to talk to and nowhere to go upon committing to sober living. Many recovering addicts find this shift extremely distressing, leading to a high chance of relapse within the days and weeks following successful rehab.

Instead of allowing the temptation to return to old ways overpower your resolve, find new ways to stay busy, happy, and healthy. While it’s normal to mourn the loss of your old life, exploring new hobbies and activities can help you refocus energies on a healthier outlet. It may take some time to find opportunities that rival the rush of your former lifestyle, but with a little time and self-discovery, you’ll soon feel less tempted to return to old habits.

Make New Friends

While your family members and older friends may not be absorbed in drug use, it’s highly likely that the people you were closest to prior to rehabilitation were heavily involved in your substance of choice. As addiction sets in, many abusers distance themselves from former loved ones, choosing instead to spend time with dealers and other users.

As much as the substance abusers in your life promise they won’t use around you, pressure you to use, or even discuss using in your presence, it’s unlikely these accommodations can be maintained for long. In order to stay strong and eliminate the possibility of letting addicted acquaintances drag you back into the depths of addiction, a new group of friends is the best path forward. Many recovering addicts find success in seeking friendships in sober-centered activities, like 12-step programs, aftercare activities, religious groups, recreational sports leagues, and more.

Learn to Live in the Moment

Dwelling on the past can be an extremely powerful lure for many addicts, especially those who still mourn aspects of their old lives. Even those truly committed to staying sober can find these urges to be increasingly hard to ignore, allowing thoughts and feelings from prior days to contaminate current progress.

In order to minimize the risk of relapse, recovering substance abusers should work to focus on life in the present, eschewing the problems of days past. Learning this kind of mindfulness may take time – it isn’t easy to change default thinking patterns – but those who work with their therapists in individual and group counseling to refine these practices can learn to put active, open, intentional attention on the events of today: not yesterday or tomorrow.

Make Positive Changes

After completing a rehabilitation program, it’s not uncommon for participants to feel lost, confused, and alone. With new friend circles, new hobbies, and even new jobs to adjust to, many recovering addicts feel as if they aren’t themselves anymore. So many changes in such a short period of time can lead to a loss of identity, anxiety, or depression, increasing the likelihood of relapse.

Life doesn’t have to be stale and stagnant after rehab, however. In order to keep your life on an upward trajectory, it’s extremely important to focus on making changes that will further your happiness. For example, instead of staying in a job you dislike, take steps to seek a promotion or switch careers. If you’re unhappy or feel pressured in your relationships, consider moving on and seeking a better fit for your new lifestyle. A continued emphasis on setting and achieving goals can help you find fulfillment, reducing the temptation to use.

Practice Healthy Habits

Sobriety is a wonderful first step on the journey to bettering your life, but it’s only one of many. The better you feel, the less likely you are to feel a temptation to use, so making time for health should find a spot on your priority list.

A healthy lifestyle has strong correlations to success in recovery, so simply quitting drugs or alcohol isn’t enough. Instead, a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and protein, as well as regular exercise, can show significant benefits to your ability to avoid cravings. This doesn’t mean giving up favorite snack foods or turning into a gym rat; it simply means that the decisions you make in life should take your overall health into account. While changing a long-standing diet or starting an exercise routine from scratch may not be easy, a few weeks of concerted effort is all it takes to transform healthy choices into a comfortable habit.

Stay Involved in Aftercare

Many recovering addicts believe that rehabilitation is the first and last step toward sobriety, but this is far from the truth. While completing a rehabilitation program sets a solid foundation for a commitment to sobriety, it’s certainly not the only measure required to address drug or alcohol abuse.

After completion of your rehabilitation program, aftercare must become a consistent part of your life on an ongoing basis. With options including follow-up care like 12-Step meetings, group therapy, and individual therapy that continues in an outpatient setting, this kind of additional assistance from professionals can ensure you stay on the right track in the time following initial care. Attending meetings and speaking to addiction therapists can be immensely helpful when the urge to use becomes too much to bear.

Outpatient Services offers extensive opportunities for those who have successfully completed a residential detox and treatment program, helping recently sober individuals to stay involved in the recovery community. With customizable services and a full suite of available tools, we can help you stay focused on your goals and avoid the cravings that may arise in your daily life. From Baby Boomer-specific options to faith-based programs, our dedicated team can ensure you get the support you deserve throughout recovery.

Get Help Today!

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, help is here. Outpatient Services is happy to offer the assistance you need, working to bridge the gap between inpatient treatment and life in the real world. With a full range of recovery resources to help you stay sober, no one can provide stability and support like we can.

Contact us today at (844) 211-7944 to learn more about what our facility has to offer. All consultations are confidential.

Can I Treat Addiction at Home?

For the 23 million individuals facing addiction in the United States, admitting a need for help is one of the hardest steps. It’s easy to live in denial for months or even years, operating under the assumption that it’s possible to quit if only one so chooses. In reality, this is rarely the case; without professional assistance and intervention, it’s extremely difficult to break free from the bonds of addiction. Without finally acknowledging a problem, it’s likely that sobriety will remain out of reach.

When you’re ready to search for help for your challenges, however, you’ll likely find yourself with a myriad of options and no clear way forward. Should you go to the hospital, or should you contact a residential treatment program? Can you try to break the habit alone or with the help of friends, or should you seek professional help?

The option to seek treatment at home or near home can be controversial, but many struggling to overcome urges and addictive behaviors feel safest when surrounded by friends and loved ones in a comfortable environment. For those who wish to detox and pursue treatment without leaving work, making childcare arrangements, and boarding pets, at-home care may be a positive possibility that won’t stand in the way of a full recovery.

The Pros and Cons of Treating Addiction at Home

As with many things in life, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to addressing addiction. What works for you may not work for others, and it’s up to you and your healthcare team to make a decision that suits your needs.

Home-based treatment can operate in two distinct ways: with the assistance of professionals, like an outpatient center or a therapy team that visits patients in their homes, or as an independent process. While the former can provide beneficial results and help patients to see long-term success, the latter is statistically more likely to lead to relapse, putting users in danger during detox and back into the depths of addiction sooner rather than later.

Benefits of Home-Based Treatment

As with all treatment options, there are benefits for those who consider addiction treatment at home. From creating a comfortable environment to working around school or work, home-based treatments can help unsure patients to find a path to abstinence.

Comfortable Environment

Most individuals feel safest and happiest at home. Home is a refuge, providing a comfortable place to relax, unwind, and spend time with loved ones outside the demands of daily life. For this reason, many addicts find the option to stay at home to be extremely compelling. Rather than moving into a strange facility, sleeping in a small, isolated room, and eating a pre-determined diet, at-home treatment courses allow users to reside where they are most likely to feel secure and committed.

Strong Support System

A strong support system is a critical part of recovery. For most people, a reliance on a support system comes after time in rehabilitation, but others may benefit from close proximity to family and friends in the detox stage as well. While many inpatient rehabilitation programs bar access to guests until the later stages of a program, a patient living at home can work closely with dependable, trustworthy, and supportive loved ones, potentially making it easier to seek sobriety.

Minimal Life Interruptions

One of the biggest deterrents that hold many substance abusers back relates to life obligations. The time, money, and commitment an inpatient program can require may be daunting, especially to those who have a pet, a home, a family, or a job. Walking away from life for a few weeks or months isn’t always a possibility. A rehabilitation program that involves living at home can alleviate these burdens, ensuring job loss, childcare costs, missed classes, or other challenges don’t stand in the way of seeking help.

Reduced Expenses

The cost of care is often a primary concern for those considering treatment, especially when insurance coverage is limited. At-home care is often much more affordable than weeks spent in an inpatient facility, helping those with financial concerns to still seek help from therapists and addiction medicine professionals at a more affordable rate. While an investment is required to ensure successful treatment, assistance at home can help you provide for your family while working toward sobriety.

Disadvantages of Treatment at Home

Treatment at home isn’t the right choice for everyone. For those who feel as though their addiction is out of control or that higher levels of care are required, an inpatient program may be the best option.

Lack of Oversight

An at-home program offers many benefits, but around-the-clock care isn’t one of them. While seeking care at home should still include plenty of time with therapists and doctors, there’s no option for 24/7 monitoring. Without the oversight and rules imposed by a facility, those lacking a true commitment to sobriety may be unable to stay strong. Instead of doors that lock and security at the front desk, users are free to leave home and seek drugs as they choose.

Proximity to Drug Culture

For many addicts, drug culture provides a strong connection to continued abuse. Even those who want to get clean are drawn back in by their friends, dealers, parties, and events that involve drug use, ruining progress toward sobriety in one fell swoop. Inpatient rehabilitation gives users a chance to break these habits and start over fresh, but when drug dealers and drug-using companions are nearby, it can be much harder for substance abusers to take up new hobbies and break away for good.

Reduced Access to Medical Support

Detox can be a challenging process, especially for drugs like alcohol and opiates that pose acute health risks without proper medical care. With the threat of seizures, coma, organ failure, or death, breaking the physical bonds of addiction for some drugs should not be accomplished without immediate access to assistance. In a medical facility, doctors and nurses are only a call away, but at home, it may be harder to get medical care if an emergency arises.

Pursuing Outpatient Treatment

If you are interested in a private approach to recovery that does not involve inpatient treatment, an outpatient rehabilitation program may be the best step for you. Operated by medical professionals, addiction experts, and professional counselors, outpatient treatment can bridge the gap between an inpatient facility and flying solo.

While outpatient programs can be used as a primary form of care, many individuals enter into outpatient therapy following inpatient treatment, using the resources available to ease the transition back into normal life. From group therapy meetings to individual sessions, those in need can continue the journey to sobriety while proceeding with work, school, and family obligations. Outpatient programs can be intensive, demanding hours of time a day for multiple days a week, or more laid back, requiring a few meetings in the evenings and on weekends to ensure a continued focus on recovery.

Treatment for addiction at home isn’t right for everyone, but Outpatient Services is here to help. With our assistance, patients can live at home while starting or continuing treatment to find the best possible path to recovery. If you or someone you love is considering rehabilitation for a substance abuse problem, please contact us at (844) 211-7944 to learn more about what we have to offer. All consultations are confidential.

Staying Emotionally Healthy for your Sobriety

There’s no way around it: sobriety is never easy. The process of breaking free from an addiction to drugs, from fighting against physical cravings to changing habits and hobbies to avoid drug culture, is a huge undertaking, effectively demanding a completely new and different way of life.

For most individuals struggling to recover from addiction, the physical bonds are of the utmost importance. Resisting the urge to use, working through the painful components of withdrawal, and continuing to relearn a new way to live is often priority number one, putting emotional health squarely on the back burner. However, this can be a mistake, especially for those who ultimately want to lower their risk of relapse as much as possible.

Emotional sobriety can be just as important as physical sobriety, helping those in recovery to regulate emotion and mood in order to control urges and focus on continued abstinence. No matter the perceived strength in your convictions, the art of emotional sobriety can be your ticket to holding strong during the early stages of recovery.

What is Emotional Sobriety?

Emotional sobriety refers to the complex transformation that must occur for recovering individuals to properly cope with feelings that arise during day to day life as well as feelings related to drug and alcohol use.

Humans have an inherent drive to minimize and eliminate painful realities, instead choosing to focus on more uplifting sensations. However, in recovery, this isn’t always possible. Feelings that were previously masked with drugs and alcohol must now be confronted in the cold light of day, leading to an internal weakness that can drive the urge to use again. Truly overcoming the pain of addiction, the drivers behind addictive behavior, and the important changes sobriety demands isn’t something that can be brushed under the mat; instead, substance abusers must come to terms with what they are feeling and why they feel the way they do.

In order to truly break the cycle and avoid relapse, it’s critical for patients to get in touch with their emotions, both positive and negative. Rather than letting feelings define actions, positive emotional health involves managing feelings to avoid rash, unpredictable, or self-harming behavior.

The Importance of Emotional Sobriety

The months and years immediately following rehabilitation is often a fragile period of time. A recovering addict’s ties to sobriety are often tenuous and easily broken, and a few wrong steps can be all it takes to erase a developing pattern of good behavior.

Many addicts unaware of the importance of emotional health pull the metaphorical car over when detox is done, assuming they are finished with the process of overcoming addiction and subsequently have nowhere left to go. Those striving for emotional sobriety, however, keep pressing forward, continuing on the road to a better future, even when conditions get tough.

Emotional sobriety is a big part of continued success in the time following professional rehabilitation, helping to tame destructive behavior and guiding patients toward productive, healthy decisions. Learning how to interpret, utilize, and cope with the fluctuating and extreme sensations that govern addiction is often a long, slow process, but without effectively doing so, relapse becomes significantly more likely.

Achieving Emotional Sobriety

Like many elements in recovery, emotional sobriety is an individual journey. What works for one person may not work for another, creating an truly personal process that requires time, attention, and focus.

For many, taming emotions rather than giving in to them is very uncomfortable. After years of feeding negative feelings with drugs or alcohol, recovering addicts must learn how to stop problematic trains of thought, redirect dark patterns, and actively work to minimize the physiological effects that can come with stress and anxiety.

Tactics for managing emotional stability include:


A practice that uses long, slow, deep breaths to center the mind, promote relaxation, and focus on the present, meditation has many health benefits, from managing stress to relieving anxiety and depression. When problematic emotions begin to arise, defaulting to meditation can help struggling patients to clear the mind, release tension, and calm bodily responses to stress. This can keep emotions under control, giving patients tools to prevent against bad decisions.

Use of a Support Network

A support network is a valuable part of recovery, offering an outlet through which recovering substance users can receive unwavering assistance throughout a quest for sobriety. When negative feelings begin to dominate, speaking with loved ones and other members of the recovery process can help to set these emotions aside. Instead of giving in to the urge to use, for example, a member of your support system can remind you how hard you’re working and how proud you should be of your successes.


Mindfulness refers to the ability to be fully present and aware in life. Instead of allowing thoughts and ideas to become jumbled and disorganized, mindfulness advocates setting aside obsessive, anxious, or erratic feelings in favor of embracing the here and now. When thoughts drift to past mistakes, future stressors, or unimportant actions, mindfulness reminds us to focus on only what can be controlled in a given moment, releasing anxiety in favor of controlled feelings.

Emotional Grounding

Emotional grounding uses positive feelings to counteract negative ones. When, for example, unhealthy thoughts begin to interfere, individuals are encouraged to instead fixate on the good things in life, like a steady job, happy relationships, or a comfortable home. In time, focusing on accomplishments and positive aspects of sobriety will overtake the challenges in remaining sober, helping users to shift feelings in a healthy way.


While not all addicts are religious, those who are can benefit from incorporating spiritual practices into the recovery process. A key tenet in the 12 Steps, spirituality can help recovering addicts to accept “the things you cannot change” while pulling strength from a higher power. Bible study, church services, and worship groups can assist with this process, helping substance abusers to put energy and focus into a force of good.

Emotional Support in Rehabilitation

In many comprehensive rehabilitation programs, emotional health is prioritized just as strongly as physical health. In addition to a detox process that utilizes medical resources to treat withdrawal, highly trained counselors are available to help patients target the key issues that drive addiction, identify healthy coping methods, and teach strategies for self-love and self-confidence that can further emotional sobriety. This process is wholly unique from one patient to another, offering support in a way that speaks to personal life events, addictive habits, lifestyle, and drug of choice. At the completion of a treatment program, patients are armed with the resources necessary to continue to move forward with a focus on emotional health and well-being.

The Treatment Center’s Outpatient Services team employs numerous forms of counseling in both group and individual formats, encouraging patients to grow together while continuing to foster independent progress. Our options include:

Our goal is to provide a holistic approach to recovery, offering a full suite of customizable services that can ensure those in need receive personalized guidance.

Get Help Your for Addiction

Recovery from addiction is a long, challenging road. When you are seeking assistance to help you focus on both physical and emotional health, Outpatient Services is here. Please contact us at (844)211-7944 for a confidential consultation.

How to Deal With Cravings

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a lifelong process, and cravings can pop up years after you’ve stopped using. Cravings are a normal part of recovery, and almost everyone who quits drugs or alcohol experiences them. Fortunately, it’s possible to get through them without experiencing a relapse, and cravings do subside over time. No matter where you are in your recovery journey, understanding cravings and knowing how to deal with them can help ensure your long-term success.

Cues and Triggers that Start Cravings

In some cases, a craving can come out of the blue. More often, though, a craving begins when you encounter a trigger or cue that causes your brain to think about the drug. This could include participation in activities that used to lead to drug use, hanging out with friends who did drugs with you or going to places where you remember doing drug. One of the first steps to dealing with cravings is figuring out how to avoid them in the first place. Changing your daily habits or finding new activities to take up your time can keep you from encountering things that lead to a craving.

Coping With Cravings

Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to avoid everything that could set off a craving. Certain smells or a song on the radio might make you think of the time before your recovery, and before you know it, a craving has begun. Having a plan to cope with unexpected cravings can make them easier to get through. Some evidence-based strategies for dealing with cravings at the moment they occur include:

Finding a Distraction

When you feel a craving coming on, distracting yourself with another activity can help. Distractions should take up mental energy to be effective, so passive activities such as watching TV might not work as well as playing a board game with a friend or walking your dog around the block. Putting yourself into a situation where it’s difficult to use drugs is another way to get through a craving. Going to a movie or going out to brunch with a friend keeps you in a safe place for a few hours during the height of the craving. Make a list of distracting activities before your next craving so you have some alternatives already in place.

Engaging in Physical Activity

Physical activity serves as a distraction, but it also has other benefits that help reduce cravings. The natural endorphins released during exercise change your brain physically to make cravings less intense. Everything from shooting hoops to digging in your garden can help increase endorphins and help you get through the craving.

Finding Support & Accountability

Talking to supportive friends or family members can help you get through a craving. You might find that describing what you’re experiencing reduces the intensity of the craving. It’s a good idea to ask someone in advance to be your support person if you plan to talk through a craving. A trusted friend or support group sponsor may agree to help you with this process. Make sure the person you plan to speak with understands that talking about your cravings is a way to get you past them, not a sign that you’re planning to use drugs or alcohol.

Focusing on the Negatives of Drug Use

Cravings often remind you of all the positive aspects of drug use while causing you to overlook the negative things. Write down a list of negative effects of drug use on a small index card and keep it on you to refer to when a craving starts. Reading through the negative effects when a craving starts helps you resist the craving.

Talking to Yourself

Use your inner voice, the one that often voices self-doubt or self-criticism, to tell yourself positive messages instead. When a craving thoughts, voice positive thoughts out loud to convince your brain to move in a positive direction. Tell yourself that the craving may be strong but you can get through it, or remind yourself that no matter how it feels, you won’t actually die of a craving.

Paying Mindful Attention

Mindfulness is a strategy of paying close attention to how you feel, what you’re thinking and how your body is responding. Sitting down during a craving and focusing on your breath moving in and out of your lungs can cause a relaxation response that calms both your brain and body. Meditation, praying or journaling can all be healthy responses to a craving.

Riding the Craving

For some recovering addicts, riding the craving from start to finish is an effective coping technique. One way to do this is to imagine the craving as a difficult task you have to complete, such as climbing a mountain or rowing a boat to a faraway island. Imagining the hard path with a definitive ending can help you power through the experience until the craving has faded away. Another option for going with the craving is to sit quietly and focus on the changes in your body throughout the process. Note where your body physically expresses symptoms during your craving and watch how those symptoms change as you move through the craving. With each craving that you experience, your self-knowledge about the process grows. Eventually, you can start anticipating the strength and length of each physical and emotional reaction to a craving and feel confident that you’re moving through the steps toward the end of the craving.

Different people respond to different techniques, so you might have to try a few different ways of dealing with cravings to find the best options for you. You might use a variety of different techniques at different times, or you might find that doing multiple things at once works best. However you plan to deal with cravings, you should practice the techniques you plan to use beforehand so you’re prepared when one hits. You may also want to reward yourself after making it through the craving by treating yourself to an ice cream or massage. Knowing that there’s a reward waiting at the end of the craving can also help you power through it.

It’s important to remember that most techniques to deal with cravings don’t eliminate them completely. You can reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings, but you might not be able to completely eliminate them.

Get the Skills for Recovery Success

Dealing with cravings is just one component of a successful recovery. Outpatient Services in Lake Worth, South Florida can help you build the skills you need to withstand cravings, prevent relapses and resist drugs and alcohol in the future. Give us a call at (844) 211-7944 today to speak with an intake counselor about starting your journey toward recovery.

Related Articles:
Tips to Avoid Relapse
Negative Thoughts in Early Recovery and How to Avoid Them
How to Avoid Addiction Triggers

Tips to Avoid Relapse

For many former substance abusers who have achieved sobriety, the world feels a little bit lighter. Maintaining relationships is easier, keeping a job requires less effort, and home life is calm and comfortable.

Unfortunately, even in the best of times, addiction is always lurking, threatening to interrupt personal, familial, and professional successes. The desire to use doesn’t go away easily, and going to treatment doesn’t mean the crisis of addiction is over for good.

Addiction is a disease without a cure, a lifelong struggle that doesn’t end with rehabilitation. While professional intervention is certainly a benefit in learning healthy habits and coping methods, it’s no surprise that relapse rates hover around 40% to 60% for recovering drug and alcohol abusers.

For many in recovery, the risks of relapse are highly worrisome. One moment of weakness can be all it takes to unravel years of progress, putting everything you have accomplished in jeopardy. While there’s no true way to completely eliminate all risk of relapse, taking these steps can help you reduce temptation, today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

Create a Game Plan

Even if you’re comfortable now, the desire to use will return sooner or later and you may struggle to stay strong when that time comes. If you’d like to stack the deck in your favor, however, a game plan made early can assist you in seeking help before it’s too late.

Take time now to map out how you will act when the urge strikes. For example:

  • Who will you call to help talk you off the edge? Many organizations, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, utilize sponsors to help guide those in recovery. If you have one, your sponsor could be this point person. If not, you could choose a family member or close friend.
  • Where will you go if the cravings become too strong? If you are alone or can’t tap into your network, you may need to remove yourself from a situation that is causing a desire to use. For some, this can mean going to a relative’s home to calm down, while others need to visit a rehab clinic or attend an outpatient meeting.
  • What action will you take in the moment to distract your mind from the compelling power of drugs? Overcoming a strong craving can be handled in many ways, from long walks to a favorite movie. Be prepared with an activity or occupier you can use to distract yourself while waiting for feelings to pass.

When you have a plan in place, the pull to use becomes much easier to manage.

Continue With Aftercare

Rehabilitation isn’t a one and done kind of activity. When you’re recovering from an addiction, you’ll continue to do so for the remainder of your life.

Recovery is much easier when you’re consistently engaged, so the more active you are in the sober community, the less likely you are to let drugs take over once again. Instead of leaving rehabilitation and assuming your task is complete, make time for support group meetings, 12-Step groups, or even recreational activities with others in recovery. Many people also find volunteer work to be a healthy way to spend time, especially for those who required the help of others to get back on track while in the midst of addiction.

No matter how you choose to proceed, do your best to make time to dedicate to recovery. When you are engaged in furthering your goals, you are far more likely to see long-term success.

Stay Healthy

Your body’s health is a big part of leading a long and happy life. In fact, many studies have identified links between overall health and quality of life, demonstrating the importance of always making positive life choices.

Drugs and alcohol can take a nasty toll on the body, from damaging skin and teeth to causing serious organ failure. The longer use perpetuates, the more likely it is that you cannot fully return to your old self. However, this is no reason to put healthy habits aside. One study indicated that even those with health challenges were happier overall when symptoms subsided, and making responsible health decisions can do a great deal in minimizing pain and discomfort. Furthermore, the happier you are, the less likely it is that you will feel the need to return to drugs to cope with life.

In recovery, do your best to eat a healthy diet, get frequent exercise, and see medical professionals regularly for both preventative care as well as to address any more urgent complaints. When your body feels better, you feel better, decreasing your overall chances of relapse.

Build a Support System

In recovery, few things are quite as important as the loved ones you have by your side. These are the people you will turn to when times get tough, who will help you find your inner strength when you need it most, and who will help you get back on your feet again. Without a strong network, you’ll find it much harder to move forward.

If you find yourself struggling after rehab, you’re not alone. It’s normal for relationships to deteriorate when your drug use interferes with the lives of others, but that doesn’t mean these ties are lost for good. When you are ready, begin making amends to the people in your life who may have been harmed by addiction. Over time, you can rebuild trust and strengthen bonds once again, helping you to find a connection to your pre-addiction days.

Your support system can include as many people from as many different places in life as you would like. This can mean longtime friends, family members, and even friends from rehabilitation, 12-Step groups, or sober activities you have started since returning from rehab. Remember: the more allies you have on your side, the more likely you are to win the war.

Change Social Habits

When in the midst of addiction, it’s not uncommon for most things in life to revolve around drugs. The people you spend time with, the places you go, and the things you do are usually centered on obtaining, using, or recovering from illicit substances. After rehabilitation, it’s natural to want to fall back into old habits, even if you plan to commit to sobriety. You may have missed your friends and fellow users while in treatment, or you might be nostalgic for the fun times you used to have.

Once sober, however, it’s important to avoid the people and things that were once connected to drug use as the temptations are often too intense to bear. This means saying goodbye to friends that you used drugs with, skipping drug-heavy events, or avoiding places that have ties to drug culture, as hard it as it may be. As a newly sober individual, drugs have no place in your life, and that means actively avoiding the kinds of individuals and situations that can trigger a relapse.

Strive for Growth

No one is perfect, especially in recovery. It is okay to stumble or even fall, as long as you are willing to get back up and keep fighting. Throughout your sobriety, do not push yourself to achieve perfection and let failures drag you back into your addiction. Instead, focus on the positives in your life, and strive for growth each and every day, even if the going gets tough sometimes.

If you or someone you love is facing drug addiction, professional help can make all the difference. Please contact Outpatient Services today at (844) 211-7944 to see what we can do for you.

Negative Thoughts in Early Recovery and How to Avoid Them

Avoiding negative thoughts in recovery

There’s no way around it: recovery from addiction is hard. From handling the physical side effects of withdrawal to working through psychological challenges with a counselor, there is nothing easy about breaking the cycle of addiction. As such, it’s not uncommon for recovering substance abusers to fall into a pattern of negative thinking as they struggle to come to terms with a new kind of reality.

Many individuals believe that negativity is a personality trait, but this is not true. While some people may be more negative than others, these kinds of thoughts are often learned behaviors, not innate characteristics. Positive thoughts can be a choice, too, and learning to highlight good rather than bad is quite advantageous. After all, negative thinking during recovery can actively damage chances of success, as every imperfect moment will further erode self-esteem and focus.

Instead of letting your own personal shortcomings stand in the way of sobriety, you can learn to move beyond negativity. These steps can help you interpret negative thoughts, develop a heightened awareness, and actively choose positive ideas in order to see success on your journey to recovery.

The Reality of Negative Thoughts

No one is happy all of the time and life isn’t a magical world where only good things happen. However, in many situations, your mindset is a choice, not an unavoidable reality. It may take some mental gymnastics, but with a conscious effort to focus on the good, not the bad, you will be able to gradually change the ways in which you react to the world.

A big part of accomplishing this involves identifying common negative thought patterns and striving to move past them. Mental health experts divide these kinds of sentiments into four categories: all-or-nothing, positive elimination, self-labeling, and catastrophizing.

  • All-or-nothing thinking: in this approach to life, nothing but perfection is accepted. If, for example, you finish all but a few minor tasks on your to-do list, an all-or-nothing thinker will not but pleased with accomplishments but will instead fixate on the failure to finish, thus seeing the whole day as a waste.
  • Eliminating the positives: in this kind of thinking, individuals disqualify accomplishments if a primary goal is not met. For example, receiving strong feedback during an internal job interview isn’t worth anything if an appropriate promotion isn’t awarded.
  • Self-labeling: the world is often seen in shades of gray. Negative self-labelers, however, view the world and their role in with finality, equating little mistakes with a final consequential ruling. While most people, for example, can shake off a missed deadline at work, a self-labeler will believe that this kind of error makes them the worst employee ever who is not worthy of maintaining a job.
  • Catastrophizing: in life, few things are all good or all bad. However, those with catastrophizing thoughts will fixate only on the negative and actively expect problematic results. For example, a recovering addict won’t focus on personal successes, choosing instead to assume that relapse is inevitable and rehabilitation is a waste of time.

Implementing Positive Thought Patterns

Once you are aware of the negative thoughts you experience on a day to day basis, it’s time to change. These simple steps can assist you in overcoming negativity, helping you to avoid damaging sentiments as you progress through recovery.

Make a Conscious Effort to Stay Positive

If you’re not naturally a positive person, now’s the time to learn. It may sound next to impossible, especially for those suffering from mood disorders or other emotional struggles related to recovery, but a part of stamping out negative thoughts means identifying them and willfully redirecting them.

First, identify the negative thought patterns you experience most often. Do you expect the worst out of life and catastrophize normal events, or do you always label yourself with the worst possible extremes? Perhaps you fail to see the positives when your primary goal isn’t accomplished. No matter your negative tendencies, knowing where you’re going wrong is the key to seeing changes.

Take the example above for thinkers who eliminate the positives: receiving positive feedback but not ultimately securing a promotion. A negative thinker’s first instinct will be to focus on the bad – I must be terrible if my bosses don’t want to promote me. Maybe I should quit my job and give up on this field – while a positive thinker will see good in the experience – I didn’t get the position, but my bosses had very nice things to say about my progress. If I keep working hard and continue to improve my performance, I bet I’ll get there next time. When you can identify these patterns and see the problems with your thinking, it’s easier to redirect your sentiments in a beneficial way.

Avoid Negative People

Negativity begets negativity, and this is especially true in recovery. Those who do not see themselves sticking to sobriety are likely to inspire a self-fulfilling prophecy: I thought I would fail, so I did.

Personal support is very important in the months and years following drug abuse, but the right kind of support is arguably even more so. Recovering addicts who spend time with negative people are likely to sink even further into a spiral of damaging thoughts, while those who spend time with positive people are likely to begin imitating these thought processes.

When you need a boost in recovery, negative peers are likely to drag you down and make you feel worse about your struggles. Positive people, on the other hand, can support you and cheer for you, reminding you of the good in your situation while motivating you to keep trying. When you want to succeed in sobriety and learn how to think positively about your future, you need to surround yourself with others on the same page. Otherwise, your current bad habits are likely to continue to stand in your way.

Set Attainable Goals

Using goals as milestones is a big part of recovery, especially for those who are in the early stages of rehabilitation. Guided by counselors, newly recovering addicts may be encouraged to set goals regarding sobriety, relationships, or job successes to provide a driver for positive momentum. With well-defined objectives and a clear-cut path, those in recovery are in the best possible position to see true, measurable results.

However, utilizing goal posts to move forward only works when aims are actually achievable. It’s human nature to dream big, but pushing too hard, too fast can be a big mistake. That’s why only 8% of people actually stick to New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, continually coming up short can be a big detriment, perpetuating negative thoughts and encouraging inappropriate behavior (ex: I can’t meet this goal anyway, so why try?).

In order to create a positive trajectory, set goals that make sense for you. Instead of shooting for a year of sobriety right out of the gate, focus instead on making it to one month, and then two, and then three. Rather than striving for a big promotion within a year of starting at a new job, set your sights on a good performance review in your first year and a promotion by year three. When you stay realistic with your goals, you are more likely to meet them – and find the strength to keep forging ahead with confidence.

Find Help for Addiction

Many factors affect the outcome of addiction, and positive thinking is certainly one of them. When you are able to identify the problems with your thought patterns and make a true effort to change, it’s possible to see progress you never thought possible.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Outpatient Services is here to help. With a focus on providing holistic guidance for all stages of the recovery process, we can offer the support you deserve. Call today at (844) 211-7944 to learn more.

President Trump Officially Declares an Opioid Crisis

The current prevalence of opioid abuse is not a secret, especially with overdose deaths on the rise nationwide. With increasingly problematic occurrences happening in states across the country, including Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, the rapid explosion of opioid use shows no signs of stopping.

To say politicians and lawmakers are taking notice is an understatement; mayors, governors, and Congress members are calling for increased support and additional funds. As a key element in the ongoing healthcare debate – in many states, cuts to Medicaid mean cuts to health care coverage for those facing opioid addiction – the ever-increasing reality of heroin and prescription opioid use is significant indeed. For some time during the healthcare repeal effort a package of billions of dollars was on the table for opioid addiction assistance, but no funds ended up emerging.

While many states have referred to these trends as a state of emergency, President Drumpf took this alarm up a notch when he declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Although this announcement came with no plans for the assistance to come, this declaration may be the start of additional programming needed to fight back against opioid abuse from coast to coast.

The State of Opioid Use in America

From an abuse of prescription drugs to the rise in tainted heroin making its way across the U.S. border, the current state of opioid use is extremely troubling. According to the CDC, 12.5 million people misused prescription opiates in 2015, while 2 million suffered from a prescription opioid use disorder and 33,091 people died due to opioid overdose. Whether legally or illegally, nearly one in three Americans used pain killers in some way. Furthermore, approximately 828,000 people used heroin – 135,000 for the first time – with 12,989 overdose deaths attributable to heroin use. In total, these patterns of use led to $78.5 billion in economic costs related to healthcare, addiction treatment, lost productivity, and criminal justice services, creating a costly problem threatening the lives of thousands of individuals in every state.

As of June 2017, approximately 90 Americans die each day from overdosing on opioids. Additionally, rates of Hepatitis C and neonatal abstinence syndrome are on the rise, putting additional demands on an already-strained healthcare system.

What Caused the Opioid Epidemic?

The causes driving the opioid epidemic in the United States are both diverse and complex. With problems arising from both illegal heroin and legal prescription pain killers, officials are left with a two-pronged battle to fight. A key contributing factor involves the higher rate of pain killer use that began in the 1990s. Due to ease of use and effectiveness alike, doctors nationwide increased prescription rates, offering new and powerful pain killers to thousands upon thousands of patients. Despite the assurances from pharmaceutical companies that new and powerful opioid analgesics would not lead to addiction issues, the opposite proved to be true, setting the foundation for the challenges seen today.

Today, approximately 20% to 30% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and 8% to 12% develop an opioid use disorder. Of these individuals, roughly 4% to 6% make the switch to heroin, largely due to the lower cost and increased availability. In fact, 80% of those who abuse heroin first misused opiates.

A State of Emergency

On Thursday, August 10th, in a press conference given from the Drumpf National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, President Drumpf confronted the reality of the U.S. opioid epidemic by declaring it a national state of emergency. This announcement came just two days after his first mention of the opioid crisis, in which he acknowledged its severity but failed to declare it an emergency of national proportions.

“You know when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs,” he stated, explaining his views on the current state of affairs. “There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem.”

Despite this strong stand on drug abuse, the President was not the first politician to declare a state of emergency. Six states strongly affected states have already done the same, requesting federal aid to stop the growth of this alarming pattern. Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick was the first, declaring opioid abuse as a public health emergency in 2014. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan made the call in March after a record 550 overdose deaths occurred in the first quarter of 2017. In response, the state has cracked down on prescription policies and granted a waiver allowing Medicaid to pay for inpatient rehabilitation. Governor Rick Scott of Florida called for aid in May, subsequently allocating $27 million for use in drug treatment and use prevention. In June, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey followed suit, as did officials from Alaska and Virginia.

What This Means

So, now that President Drumpf has determined that the opioid epidemic is an emergency of national proportions, what exactly does this mean?

The answer, unfortunately, is still unclear.

Despite his statement, President Drumpf did not outline exactly how he plans to address the opioid crisis and what he will do to aid states in need. Before moving forward, the White House must appropriately classify the declaration, likely through the Stafford Act or the Public Health Services Act. While the outcome will be similar regardless of the avenue selected, the declaration method utilized dictates how funding is applied and where it comes from.

A Presidential commission on opioid use stated in its interim report that outlining this crisis as a national emergency will allow the administration to move forward swiftly while sending a message to Congress regarding the urgent need for more funding. However, no actual plan concerning opioid treatment has been put into place and the availability of funding has thus far not been discussed by the White House, the House of Representatives, or the Senate.

Fighting Back Against Opioids

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the National Institute of Health have taken minor steps forward in the war against opioid abuse. According to government reports, their five major priorities are as such:

  • Improved access to treatment and recovery services
  • Promotion of the use of overdose-reversing drugs like naloxone
  • Raising awareness of the dangers involved in current use
  • Providing support for increased research on pain medication addiction
  • Advancing pain management practices to reduce dependency on pain medication in treatment

Despite these statements, the progress made and the plans behind these intentions are largely unknown. With no method currently used to quantify success, these measures are, at best, a long-term strategy to implement change rather than a short-term response to the newly-declared state of emergency.

While the declaration of a state of emergency is ultimately a positive step forward, a simple announcement isn’t enough to get the ball rolling. Without future action behind the President’s words, the situation is unlikely to see any immediate improvement. Nevertheless, addiction professionals hope to see clear direction from the President over the coming months and years, including an increase in available federal funds and the development of recovery programs designed to target those in need.

Addiction is always a serious issue, no matter the substance in question. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, help is available. Give Outpatient Services a call today at (844) 211-7944 to learn more about what our team of addiction professionals has to offer.

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How to Avoid Addiction Triggers

How to Avoid Addiction Triggers

You’ve done the hard work and now you’re navigating life as a sober person. In this vulnerable time, it’s important to be educated about potential triggers that could turn you back to your old ways. So, what is a trigger? A trigger is “a person, place, thing or event that reminds you of the pleasures you used to get from your old habits or lifestyle.” Triggers not only make you think about doing drugs, they can actually bring back drug seeking behavior.

There are two types of triggers, emotional (internal) and environmental (external) triggers. For instance, you might hear a song playing (external) that reminds you of your old habit, and reminds you of a feeling you use to enjoy, thus makes you have the urge to use. Or, you may experience a stressful situation like an argument with a loved one that leaves you feeling anxious and upset (internal). The way you used to handle those uncomfortable feelings was to abuse a substance, seeking relief. Identifying your triggers and/or working through them with an experienced counselor is key to avoiding those triggers and staying on your new, sober path.

Types of Triggers


  • Anxiety/Stress – Anxiety is a state of inner turmoil brought on by difficult or stressful circumstances. Every day life can be stressful, not to mention dealing with finances, interpersonal relationships and navigating life newly sober. Anxiety can bring on the urge to use, as using is a coping mechanism. It’s important you be able to identify stressful situations and have other coping mechanisms in place to handle the anxiety, like meditation.
  • Depression – Depression makes you feel negative, sad and unable to cope with life. It can affect how you think and act. Withdrawal itself may cause depression, which in turn may make you feel like you want to use as a coping mechanism.
  • Thoughts – Thoughts are powerful. You may think about your using past and believe they were the “good times,” forgetting the bad parts. You may fantasize about using at first, but it may gradually get to the point where you are actively thinking about using. You may believe you can get away with it, just once. This is a dangerous trigger, and it’s important you have support (calling a sponsor or friend) and coping mechanisms in place to avoid moving from just thoughts to action.
  • Physical – You may experience actual internal physical pain, like fatigue and other uncomfortable issues such as chronic body pain, which are a powerful trigger.


  • People – Friends who used with you are a dangerous trigger. It may be that you have to disconnect from them entirely to create a healthy boundary. People or family members who are toxic or bring drama into your life may also need to be disconnected from while you are in recovery. These people may bring up painful, difficult emotions which are certainly a powerful trigger.
  • Places – A bar where you used to drink, or a friend’s home where you used can bring up strong emotions and even the physical need to use.
  • Events/Situations – Concerts, parties, and social environments that remind you of your past, or make you feel like the only way you can enjoy yourself would be to use, are a trigger. It may be difficult at first to avoid events that are fun and represent the enjoyment of life, but you and your sobriety are worth it.
  • Things – A bottle of alcohol, pills in a medicine cabinet, a friend’s smoking paraphernalia; these are all items you may come across any day.

How To Avoid Addiction Triggers

Know Your Triggers – Everyone has different triggers. It could be seeing someone take a drink or a difficult and upsetting confrontation with a loved one. What are YOUR triggers? Write them down and carry the list with you. Read it often throughout the day. When you feel upset or have an urge to use, read the list. Remember, “yes, this is one of my triggers.” Ask yourself, “how can I cope with this in a healthier way?”

Have a Plan – Have a plan in place when you are triggered. Call your sponsor. Call a trusted, sober friend. Write down what your plan will be and go over the steps one by one. Distract yourself and wait 30 minutes before taking any kind of action you will regret later.

Avoid situations where you will be exposed to your triggers – Avoid situations you know will cause you to be triggered if you can. Whether that is a party, social environment, bars, or groups of friends who you used or drank with.

Take care of yourself – H.A.L.T. – An excellent way to remember to take care of yourself is with the acronym H.A.L.T.

  • H. – Hungry – Are you really hungry, or just bored? Is it a hunger craving, or a craving to use? Keeping nutritious and healthy food available is an important way to stave off your need to use.
  • A. – Angry – Anger creates toxicity and stress in the body. Learn to identify WHY you are angry and HOW to work through the anger to rid yourself of it’s toxic aftermath, instead of using to cope. Exercise and meditation are excellent coping mechanisms.
  • L. – Lonely – It’s hard to feel lonely, particularly in recovery. But loneliness is a natural part of being human. Find healthy ways to connect with others, whether through a 12-step program, classes at the gym, or meeting friends in a coffee shop.
  • T. – Tired – Being tired is a dangerous trigger, for you may have used drugs and alcohol to cope with sleep issues. Again, getting healthy coping mechanisms in place is key to avoiding old habits. Exercise and meditation are ways to help your natural sleep rhythm restore itself.

Build Your Life After Residential Treatment

The Treatment Center Outpatient Services relapse prevention program in Lake Worth, South Florida offers counseling to build life skills for maintaining sobriety after residential detox and inpatient treatment. Our compassionate counselors are standing by 24 hours a day to help. Call us at (844) 211-7944 or contact us today. We look forward to helping you stay on your new path.