making amends

Making Amends: How to Rebuild Relationships after Battling Addiction

If you’ve struggled with addiction, you’re not alone. Millions of people are fighting that battle alongside you, and you’re the last person who needs to be told what a hard battle it is. The good news is that addiction is a treatable condition. With proper care, attention, determination, and resilience, you can overcome addiction. If you’ve managed to do this, congratulations are in order.

Unfortunately, there’s also a harsh truth awaiting on the other side of that journey. It’s entirely possible that some people were hurt by your struggle with addiction. As important as your recovery is, it’s not enough to mend those wounds all on its own.

At the Discovery Institute, we want you to know everything about addiction. Below, we will be talking about making amends. First, we will cover the importance of making amends and setting boundaries, then we will talk about the steps this process will normally take.

For that, you’re going to have to make an active effort, but that’s easier said than done. In order to help guide you in the process, we’ve put together this guide on how to make amends and rebuild your relationships.

The Importance of Making Amends

If you struggle with addiction and are seeking to make amends with family members or friends, sometimes it seems like a crazy thing to do. You may be asking why you would want to see these people again; it is not only hurtful for them, it is also a difficult place for you. In the following piece, we will be looking at the whole process of making amends, how to do it, and what to do afterward. However, it is important before this to understand why making amends is so important.

One of the hardest aspects of addiction is that, since it is a disease, your brain is literally rewired to chase the high. Substances change a person’s memory, motivation, and pleasure centers, so that they may no longer feel normal without the substance. Amends come in here. It can be difficult because although you “were not yourself” when you did the harmful things throughout your addiction, it’s important to accept that your actions affected others in a negative way.

An important aspect of the recovery journey is engaging the paradox that you were suffering from a disease and, at the same time, you played a part in the issues that came as a bi-product of an addictive lifestyle. Acknowledging your agency in this while accepting that you cannot control these actions because of the substances, is the first step in many programs for recovery.

The Benefits of Making Amends After Addiction

Beyond this, there are many benefits when it comes to making amends. Making amends is somewhat of a threshold; it shows that you are trying to leave behind the life you used to live and move into a new way of life. It is easy to say that you are moving on. However, if you have not helped people to heal from what happened during your struggle with addiction, then that part of you still exists to that person.

Feelings of guilt, depression, stress, or past memories of trauma are all triggers for addiction. This is why making amends is so important in the recovery process. It allows you to feel a sense of relief. But, it also allows you to help others feel a sense of relief. This will help you to build a community and establish healthy relationships with those around you. Having people by your side who have forgiven you will also give a great sense of accountability. They will be there to remind you that you are not the same person. Doing this provides a great break with your past self, helps to facilitate a sense of relief, and can give you a great group to rally around.

Lastly, making amends leads to understanding. There is a ton of stigma around addiction. This is due to a misunderstanding. When you make amends, when you apologize, it usually will lead to understanding. The person may ask why you hurt them, which will lead to an educating discussion on addiction. Making amends is part of ending the stigma.

The Importance of Boundaries

A huge part of making amends is setting boundaries. It is important to ask the question “will this bring hurt to the person or to me?” Sometimes, it is just too painful for the other person to have you back in their life. Even if you have the best intentions, it may be too hard to see you. Having you back in their lives, at least for right now, may be too painful for their well-being. On the other hand, you may not be able to handle seeing this person. These memories could be traumatic, or they could be a toxic person in your life. In these situations, you need to set boundaries. Make amends with the person in your own way, but keep your needs and theirs in mind.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) use the twelve steps formula. They have been proven to be extremely successful and helpful for alcoholics and narcotic addicts. They center around the idea that what is discussed in the meetings stays in the meetings. It may not surprise you to know that an integral part of the twelve steps involves making amends. Steps 8 and 9 focus on making amends.

Step 8 states: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”. Step  9 says: “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

These steps are incredible ways to recover, and their integration of making amends should reveal the importance. Consider seeking out a meeting. They are very open and welcoming places. A crucial part of AA and NA is being a judgment-free area. Do not worry about feeling judged there, because everyone is united around recovery.

Confronting Reality

Now that you’ve beaten your addiction, it’s understandable that you’d want to move forward and never look back. The problem with that is that it’s impossible to correct your mistakes if you don’t confront them.

Usually, your family and friends are the first to suffer when addiction reaches its full force. While you may have moved on, it’s very possible the echoes of that pain are still affecting them. So, as difficult as it is, you need to have a firm understanding of how your addiction affected the people around you. This doesn’t mean you need to dwell on the past and feel guilty. But it does mean that you’re going to have to look your wrongdoings head-on. By facing the reality of your past, you better equip yourself to deal with your present and future. 

Lead With an Apology

If you’ve ever received a heartfelt apology, you know there are few things more healing than that. This is why it should be the very first step you take when you reach out to your loved ones.

Even if you feel like a totally different person than you were while suffering from addiction, people need proof that you’ve changed. What better way to start than by letting them know you have genuine remorse for your actions?

With all that in mind, you should prepare yourself for the very real possibility that they’re not ready to hear your apology yet. Sometimes, you’ll be met with resentment and anger even upon saying sorry. Other times, they won’t be ready to talk with you at all. The only thing you can do is honor and respect those wishes. It can be hard to hear, but it’s likely that they’re working through some very complex emotions, just like you are. Give them the time they need to process everything.

It’s also important that you take the lead on this. Don’t wait to be called out for your past behaviors before apologizing for them. Complete honesty is crucial during every step of this process.

Furthermore, be detailed in your apology. Explain exactly what it is you’re apologizing for. The purpose of this step is to make sure you understand what you’ve done wrong.

Step two is confronting those things out loud. An apology won’t mean much if it’s vague and general. By being specific, you show the person that you have a clear understanding of how you hurt them. Sometimes, the apology comes with a more material aspect. If you’ve stolen money or goods from someone, it’s only right that you pay them back. This shows that your apology is more than empty words.

Demonstrate Your Change through Actions

Remember that time thing we talked about? Well, it also applies here. One of the biggest aspects of rebuilding your relationships is establishing trust through your actions, and that is going to take some time. The simple fact is that your loved ones may not trust you due to the effects of addiction on your life. Your duty now is to show them that your change is genuine and lasting. 

Staying sober isn’t easy for everyone. Post-recovery life comes with its share of hurdles and bumps in the road. But don’t let them throw you off course. Your family and friends need to be shown that this new you is here to stay. 

This ties back into making tangible reparations for your mistakes wherever applicable. Your actions need to be well-intentioned and consistent in order to be meaningful. Again, this process is going to take time. Rebuilding trust isn’t easy but by staying strong and unwavering, you’ll strengthen those bonds again.

Communication is Key

Addiction aside, the truth is that almost everyone could do learn to communicate better. For you, it’s going to be doubly important. As much as this process is about your loved ones, it’s also about you. Healing is a two-way street. That’s why you have to keep the channels of communication open at all times.

Explain what you’re going through. That doesn’t mean you should make it all about you, but strive to be honest about how you’re feeling. Suppressing your feelings does no one any favors. Learning to communicate healthily about those feelings will go a long way to righting old wrongs. This also means that you need to check in on others. Make sure to stay involved and interested in what they’re experiencing. None of this works without communication. Keep the conversation going.

Recovery is a Continual Journey

The main thing to remember here is that recovery is an ongoing process that you’re going to be pursuing for the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be this hard. It just means that the work on yourself and maintaining your relationships shouldn’t cease. Keep striving for more and never stop trying to better yourself.

If you haven’t made it to this stage yet but are still ready to beat your addiction, you deserve a fresh start. Don’t hesitate to look into this excellent rehab program to provide that extra assistance you need.

Allow Us to Help

It is not too late. Whether you are ready to make amends, or you are thinking about taking your first steps toward recovery, getting professionally treated is the most important part of your journey. We want you to know that you have options. At the Discovery Institute, we are always ready to hear from you. Whether you have questions, need help immediately, or just want to talk about something going on, consider reaching out today. We are always here for you. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and the recovery community. Get help today by contacting us here at Discovery! 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

Court-Ordered Drug Assessment

A Guide to Getting Your Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Evaluation

A substance abuse evaluation helps to measure the level of addiction in an individual. It also assists professionals in creating an effective treatment plan that can meet the specific needs of each person. This helps to ensure that these individuals have the best chance at a successful recovery.

Battling a substance abuse problem or addiction can have severe, even fatal, consequences. It can cause damage to the mind, body, mind, and relationships. When an addict suffers from uncontrollable substance use, they often get into dangerous situations and put their health at risk. When someone reaches this point and needs help, they will usually go through a substance abuse evaluation. This may be either by choice or court-ordered.

Once a person is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), they will most likely be court-ordered by their state to complete a substance abuse evaluation. Some states require this evaluation as a prerequisite to participating in programs, such as diversion or deferred sentencing, that allow the offender to avoid a DUI conviction.

Usually, a certified state agency administers substance abuse evaluations. The overall purpose, process, and types of assessments and treatments tend to be uniform. But each state has its own requirements. 

Here are some other examples of circumstances or convictions in which a court-ordered substance abuse evaluation may be required:

  • Minor in Possession (MIP)
  • Arrested for possession of drugs or alcohol
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Using a false ID

Purpose

The substance abuse evaluation identifies the possible presence and the extent of the offender’s drug or alcohol problem. It also allows for the development of a treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific problem and circumstances.

Some essential points of the purpose of a substance abuse evaluation are:

  • To determine if the individual has a drug or alcohol addiction
  • To assess the level of severity of the substance use or addiction
  • Discover if there are any co-occurring conditions, including physical or mental health concerns, or other drug use
  • To measure the extent to which the individual’s substance use affects their life
  • To provide an overview of the person and their particular circumstances so that the treatment can best suit their needs for recovery

After a person is arrested for a DUI, the court might require the individual to go through a substance abuse evaluation during the criminal proceedings. Criminal proceedings will differ by state. Some require the completion of a theft evaluation before sentencing. In these cases, the substance abuse evaluation will impact how a judge sentences an offender. It can often result in a reduction, elimination, or increase of penalties that would otherwise be imposed. On the other hand, other states require the evaluation to take place within a specified period post-sentencing as a condition of probation, or part of a diversion, deferred sentencing, or similar program.

Process

Generally speaking, the process of substance abuse evaluations includes two separate sections. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the parts of this process are screening and assessment.

A court-ordered substance abuse evaluation will generally consist of a detailed interview with a treatment provider. The provider will then review the offender’s history, regarding the substance, criminal history, driving record, and arrest report. The offender may also need to provide a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening.

Screening

A screening tool is not the same as an assessment. Screening for substance use is one of several tools that can help to identify if further evaluation is necessary. Only a qualified professional should analyze the results of all screenings and assessments.

Before intake, treatment providers will perform a detailed screening to determine the presence, scope, and severity of a person’s substance abuse issues. Several trained professionals administer the screenings. (This may include social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals.) The screening process will often consist of direct, yes-or-no questions. In some cases, patients will start this process online. The purpose of the screening process is to look for:

  • The specific type of substance
  • The existence or threat of substance use disorder (SUD)
  • If preliminary interventions would be helpful to prevent the onset of addiction
  • The length of time the prospective patient has used drugs or alcohol

Screening Methods

Some commonly used resources in the substance abuse screening process include the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI), Substance Abuse Subtle Screening (SASSI), CAGE questionnaire, Brief Screener for Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs (BSTAD), and Tobacco, Alcohol, and other Drugs (TAPS).

AUI – This is a screening tool intended for supposed alcohol abuse only. The questions take feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyle into consideration. Despite the questioning in this method, AUI’s potentially fatal flaw is the need for transparency.

SASSI – This is a self-reporting tool that is easy to take, administer, and score. This type of screening looks deeper into the psychological side of substance use. It assesses the responses as well as how the answers are given. It screens for openness, defensiveness, and aggressiveness. This helps to determine if an individual has a substance abuse problem. It has scientific evidence to show that it has 93 percent accuracy when diagnosing substance dependence.

CAGE –  This tests for alcohol misuse using four simple questions. It is brief and non-invasive. For accuracy, it is vital for the person answering the questions to be truthful.

BSTAD – This screening method is for teens and adolescents. It is a self-assessment that individuals can take online with or without a clinician present. A professional should interpret the results from this assessment.

TAPS – This a versatile screening tool that provides a more in-depth screen.  It can be taken online or done face-to-face. It explores recent and past substance abuse habits.  A professional reviews the results.

Assessment

The assessment part of the substance abuse evaluation process is more detailed and is mainly based on the screening results. Individuals will answer questions to identify the exact nature of their substance use what specific factors caused its development and continuation of usage. 

The assessment is complete once a substance use disorder has been identified, and any other co-occurring associated mental health conditions, lifestyle factors, and medical issues. An experienced professional should conduct the assessment. This is because professionals have the skill to be more in-depth and can make direct, informed decisions about treatment.

Some of the common resources used in modern substance abuse evaluations include the Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV) and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). In some circumstances, substance abuse assessments can use input from family or loved ones for accurate results.

DIS-IV –  This type of interview administers a structured set of questions developed by knowledge acquired from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

ASI – This is a semi-structured interview that showcases recent and lifetime use habits. Itis extensive and used as a standardized tool to test individuals entering rehabilitation. During this interview process, the administrator will consider medical history, substance use, any time in custody. The administrator will also consider the person’s employment status, their relationship and familial statuses, and mental health.

Recommendation for Treatment

Depending on the interview, supporting documentation, and screening results, after a patient has completed their court-ordered evaluation, the treatment provider will usually recommend a customized care plan. The plan they recommend will address the individual’s specific needs. This includes things such as whether a patient will benefit from inpatient or outpatient care. They can also determine if they need or are eligible to receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and more.

A range of people trained in addiction may process the components of this procedure. A social worker, counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor or nurse, will evaluate the tests and interviews. The medical professional will ask questions about the person’s health history, any past and present drug and/or alcohol use, the manner and behaviors in which substance use affected their life, and any history of past treatments for these concerns. A physical may be necessary if a physician administers the evaluation.

Typically, the individual has to pay for the costs of the evaluation and the treatment program. The evaluation fees will vary by each state, but the price is usually around $100 to $150. Individuals make this payment directly to the agency that did the evaluation.

You should not be afraid to find out if you or someone close to you needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction. If a substance abuse disorder has affected your life, consider taking a substance abuse evaluation as soon as possible. This action can determine the right treatment for you. Identifying substance use disorder is a crucial first step in overcoming the disorder and having success in long-term recovery.


If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery from substance abuse, please contact us here at Discovery Institute. We will work to help you leave addiction in your past and move forward in your life.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relapse prevention therapy is treatment designed to identify the reasons, behaviors, and outcomes of relapse in a person during the aftercare stage of addiction treatment. Being able to understand and prepare for relapse is imperative to addiction recovery. Relapse prevention therapy armors newly sober individuals with the self-confidence and knowledge they need to live out their normal lives without fear of relapse.

We at the Discovery Institute want you to know that it is not too late. We are always here for you, and want you to be as educated as possible. Below, we will be discussing relapse prevention therapy. This kind of treatment is especially important because recovery is never a “one and done” ordeal. Recovery is a lifelong journey that we want to be a part of with you.

The Dangers of Relapse

Many people who are in recovery and some professionals in the industry look at relapse as an unavoidable part of addiction recovery. The rate of relapse is high, so being prepared and informed about relapse is of growing importance. Many overdose deaths happen right after relapse.

Tolerance is when an addict can use a high dose of a drug or alcohol because their body has grown accustomed to it. After detoxification and elimination of the drug circulation throughout the body, tolerance decreases. When a relapsing addict takes the amount of drug or alcohol they were used to before sobriety, their bodies no longer are able to handle it. High overdose rates occurring post-relapse give an addict a responsibility to know what to do in relapse situations.

Identifying Commonalities in Relapse

Since relapse rates are so high, there have been studies on the process of relapse. Behaviors seen before relapse are usually similar. Because of these similarities, they are also avoidable through relapse prevention therapy. Three situations most commonly seen directly before relapse are social pressure, self-conflict, and a decreased emotional state.

Effective coping responses and behaviors are a necessary defense against these high-risk relapse situations. Relapse prevention therapy gives individuals the tools they need in order to cope with these high-risk situations. We will now discuss the four stages of relapse. It is important to know if a relapse is coming so that you can identify it and consciously avoid it.

Stage 1: Emotional Relapse

The first stage of relapse is the emotional stage. Some refer to this as the internal stage of relapse. Characterized in this stage are events, whether external or internal, that will affect the person’s life. One aspect of this is change. When a person’s life has a drastic change (break-up, loss of a loved one, getting fired, etc.,) they may feel internal pressure and stress. Stress is another large part of the internal stage.

Also, what begins to happen internally is the individual will realize they crave the substance. Relapse prevention therapy must take into account the idea of denial. Denial is a common defense mechanism for addicts. Usually, when an individual begins recovery, they must learn to accept that they have lost control of their lives. Denial can often be a large inhibitor in place of acceptance. However, when stage 1 of relapse occurs, denial often reactivates.

Lastly, one of the most detrimental aspects of stage 1 is P.A.W, or Post-Acute Withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal is when the individual begins to feel withdrawal effects even when they have not taken the substance in a long time.

Stage 2: Mental Relapse

In the second step of relapse, an individual’s behavior will change. A social breakdown may occur and the person will experience a loss of structure in his or her life. This is where the internal problems from step 1 begin to manifest outwardly. 

During the mental stage of relapse, individuals tend to begin thinking about their previous substance abuse. They may start to dwell on the times when they used to drink or use drugs. Individuals may begin to consider or even follow through with spending time with people who used to abuse substances with them. 

While thinking about their past lives, individuals in mental relapse may not consider the negative effects of their substance use. Instead, they may romanticize and fantasize about alcohol or drug abuse. They might simply think about the “positive” effects of substance use (i.e. euphoria, etc.) But, the unhealthy and harmful results of substance abuse may not come up in their minds.

First, a change in behavior is characteristic of stage 2. A normally calm and reserved person will appear more stressed. Another common sign is a studious individual will begin to skip classes, or a good worker will begin to miss many days on the job. Then, there is a social breakdown, in which the person may isolate themselves from their group of friends, or their behavior change becomes so detrimental that they are no longer able to participate in group activities. 

Next, there is a loss of structure. The normal routine that kept a person safe will begin to break down. This leads into step 3.

Stage 3: Loss of Control

When a person is in this stage, they lose control of their life through a loss of judgment. They experience a behavioral loss of control. A loss of judgment is when the individual begins to consider actions that are clearly detrimental to themselves or others. A behavioral loss of control is doing those things that were thought of in loss of judgment: acting irrationally without considering the consequences.

Finally, individuals in this stage of relapse may think there are no options for them. Maybe they begin to feel that their only social outlets are through parties with alcohol or drugs. This leads the individual to feel as though they have nowhere to go but relapse.

Stage 4: Physical Relapse

At the final stage is when the physical use of drugs or alcohol actually occurs. Individuals commonly think fo this stage as the definition of relapse. But, as we have discussed, relapse occurs in stages. This final stage is the only one that involves the physical use of alcohol or drugs. But, relapse prevention therapy works to help people identify the signs and stages leading to this phase. 

If you are experiencing any of these stages or you are worried you may be on track: stop and reach out to us. Below we will be discussing a few practical ways to engage in relapse prevention therapy.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

There are a number of different approaches to relapse prevention therapy. The three most commonly utilized are:

  • Coping Skills- sessions that identify high-risk situations and how to cope with them without relapse.
  • Clinical Therapy- sessions that focus on understanding the process and consequences of relapse.
  • Lifestyle Change- sessions that encourage treatment prior to relapse and a moderated lifestyle.

Coping Skills

A huge part of relapse prevention therapy is coping skills. In these times of relapse prevention therapy, it is helpful to identify your triggers. These are the thoughts, feelings, places, people, or memories that all play a part in triggering a relapse.

Part of relapse prevention therapy is identifying these triggers and asking the individual how to cope. The practice of managing triggers is an integral part of relapse prevention therapy. This is because when we are triggered, we are not ourselves. Oftentimes we cognitively know we should not relapse, but our mind is working against us. This is why it is so important to identify these scenarios and put up safeguards to prevent them.

Clinical Therapy

Therapy is one of the best ways to improve relapse prevention. It is also an incredible way to encourage growth as a person. Even if you do not struggle with addiction, consider seeing a licensed professional. Therapy is all about exposing the underlying motivations for our actions. Sometimes, events that occurred in the past affect an individual’s present-day behaviors. Part of relapse prevention therapy is identifying those emotions or thought processes that inhibit our growth. Good clinical practice helps us to identify what we need out of life to grow.

Lifestyle Change

Finally, lifestyle change involves changing one’s habits, work environments, or other surroundings so that you can prevent relapse. This could involve changing your hobbies from things that lead us to boredom or isolation, to healthy beneficial activities. For some people, lifestyle change may include relocation. It might be necessary to move to a new neighborhood, city, or even state in order to continue recovery from addiction.

For others, the biggest lifestyle change might be a change in friends. Perhaps, individuals in recovery may need to develop a new friend group full of individuals who support them and hold them accountable. It may be hard to get rid of toxic people because they were at one point your friends. However, regardless of how they are toxic, you need the influence of people who build you up, as opposed to tearing you down.

Seeking Relapse Prevention Therapy

At the Discovery Institute of New Jersey, we offer relapse prevention programs for all of our clients. We understand the need for knowledge and preparation of relapse. Whether you are seeking a detox program for the first time or you have relapsed, we can help! Our relapse prevention therapy programs can aid in your recovery journey. If you have any questions about our relapse prevention therapy or any of our other programs, our team is here to help. Just call us today for more information about our services and resources.

References:

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-2/151-160.pdf

http://dhhr.wv.gov/bhhf/Documents/MAT%202017/M114%20Relapse%20Prevention%20Plan.pdf 

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Alcohol Relapse Prevention and the Three Stages of Relapse

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

A common misconception about relapse is that relapse captured in a single moment of weakness. However, this isn’t true at all. Relapse isn’t an event you can pinpoint; it’s a process, and you have to fully understand it to understand relapse prevention. Specific alcohol relapse prevention techniques have been developed over time to combat each of the three stages of relapse: emotional, mental and physical. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you navigate the three stages of relapse.

The Three Stages of Relapse

Below we will be discussing the three stages of relapse. However, before we begin there are a few important things we need to understand regarding addiction before we go into detail on the topic of addiction. Many people associate guilt, moral failure, and shame with relapse. This only serves to increase relapse and decrease the chances of recovery. Hopefully, the following discussion will educate you and help you understand addiction better.

The Disease Model of Addiction

Before we can properly understand relapse, we need to better understand how addiction works. The thing about addiction is that many assume it is a choice. “Just stop,” or “you can quit anytime you want to,” are common phrases. This leads to the assumption that recovery is a sheer amount of willpower. This, unfortunately, is uneducated and harmful for individuals who are struggling with addiction. It also prevents individuals from developing a proper understanding of how relapse works and how to avoid it.

Our brains are wired by evolution to crave things that make us happy. The sweetest fruit was probably also the healthiest for our ancestors. Now, with the rise of chemical modifications, that is not always the case. Yet, our brains still think that whatever produces the best sensation is best. Thus, when we indulge in these substances they produce so much chemicals our brains can hardly keep up, and then we crash. This leads the user to become dependent. Their brains are literally rewired and recircuited so that our memory, pleasure, and motivation centers do not function the same as they did before. 

The dependent person no longer feels normal without the substance, be it alcohol or narcotics. This is why many (like the surgeon general) have been led to believe addiction is not a choice but a disorder. Furthermore, since recovery is a lifelong process; addiction is a chronic disorder. This deeply changes the way we view relapse. 

Just because addiction is a chronic disease does not change our solution for it. If a person has cancer, you suggest they go to the hospital. If someone has diabetes, they should probably modify their diet. In the same way, one should not feel ashamed of their disease. Instead, they should get treatment.  Viewing addiction as a moral failure only puts another block in the way of treatment (since only 10% of addicts receive the treatment they need). It is also more effective to use this language to avoid triggers. Triggers are something that are inherently linked with the three stages of relapse, and will be discussed further in the following segment.

What are Triggers, and What Do They Have to Do With Relapse?

Triggers are the moods, emotions, thoughts, people, and situations that potentially cause us to relapse. As previously stated, they come in many forms. Different triggers fall into the different stages of relapse. However, continuing with our discussion of the disease model, it is important to understand triggers in this way. Seen through the mindset of the choice model of addiction; triggers are simply tests of willpower. While there is some truth in this, we must recognize that there is an inherent difference in the way the disease model sees triggers. The idea that addiction is a choice would assert that triggers should be overcome like the rest of addiction, just by pushing through. However, if we acknowledge that addiction is a chronic illness, then we have a more defined view of triggers. 

The three stages of relapse are usually started with our triggers. These triggers remind our brains of our dependency, thus triggering our illness to flare up. This is a radically different concept than simply pushing through. It also helps us to give a more dynamic understanding of how to manage our triggers. This will be discussed more after we talk about the three stages of relapse. 

Emotional Relapse

During an emotional relapse, you’re not necessarily considering drinking again. However, the thoughts and feelings you experience in this stage of relapse may escalate into risky behaviors that jeopardize your progress in alcohol abuse recovery. Emotional relapse can be characterized by:

  • anxiety
  • anger
  • depression
  • frustration
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • defensiveness
  • short-temperance
  • feelings of isolation
  • loneliness
  • fatigue
  • sleeplessness
  • changes in appetite

What to Do During an Emotional Relapse

Alcohol relapse prevention at the first stage requires acknowledging that your mood and behavior is changing. The best thing you can do is to take better care of yourself. By doing this, you can go on to practice successful methods of relapse prevention that might include:

  • eating a balanced, high-protein, low-sugar diet
  • getting regular exercise
  • getting a sufficient amount of sleep
  • attending support group meetings
  • surrounding yourself with supportive friends

This is a brief list, but it is possible to change our emotions using our thoughts. Since our thoughts precede our emotions, we need to rationally think the following: “I am being triggered by emotional stimulus, and I need to change my thoughts.” Perhaps you are recalling the good memories associated with addiction. It is also necessary at this part of the stages of relapse to remember the bad parts. In addition, if we are being triggered due to negative feelings of shame, depression, or anxiety; perhaps we should speak to a profession or loved one who can calm us down or comfort us in our time of need. This can be as simple as a friend from recovery, a spouse, or a family member you can trust. Failing to adjust your behavior in the event of emotional relapse will trigger the next stage: mental relapse.

Mental Relapse

A mental relapse, like an emotional relapse, does not mean that you’ve actually abandoned your sobriety. Rather, you’re thinking about it. Your mind is at war with itself at this stage. One part of you wants to pick up the bottle again, but the other part of you reminds you not to. Common indications of mental relapse include:

  • actively spending time with friends who still drink
  • constantly thinking about the people you drank with
  • constantly thinking about the places where you used to drink
  • fantasizing about drinking
  • romanticizing your past alcohol abuse
  • considering a purposeful relapse

What to Do During a Mental Relapse

If you’re putting serious thought into drinking again, you might be thinking, “just one drink won’t hurt.” But one drink usually leads to two, or three, or more.

If you find yourself having a mental relapse, tell someone about it. You can call a parent, a sibling, a friend, or someone from your support group or support system. Additionally, you can:

  • practice ways to quiet the mind, like meditation
  • pick up a new hobby, like writing, painting or music
  • find healthy ways to distract yourself, like reading a book
  • attend alcohol relapse prevention counseling sessions for advice
  • consult with your doctor to manage any potential disorders that may be influencing your recovery

One recommendation we have at the Discovery Institute for this stage of relapse is to engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The mental relapse is the stage of relapse mostly governed by thoughts; which is exactly what CBT specializes in. Alongside this, practices like Holistic Care are designed to give your mind peace, alongside your body. In this stage your mind is usually racing, and the thoughts are not your own. It is important to find a practice that centers you. You, the person, know that returning to alcohol will only cause problems. However, your brain is tricking you. That is why finding a practice that brings you back to your center of being will help you at this stage. Once you start considering drinking again, you could easily transition into a physical relapse if you don’t take any steps to address your urges.

Physical Relapse

The third and final stage of relapse is what most people think of; the conscious decision and act of drinking. Physical relapse is triggered when the early stages, emotional and mental relapse, go untreated. However, slipping up once or twice does not in any way invalidate your hard work to get sober. You can still get back on track in your personal alcohol relapse prevention plan.

What to Do After a Brief Physical Relapse

Pick up where you left off. Continue your plan and your self-care one day at a time. To avoid any future physical relapses, you should:

  • get regular exercise
  • find alternative or holistic means of managing stress, like yoga
  • cut ties with people who pressure you to drink
  • avoid places where you used to drink
  • never be afraid to ask for help

It is also important at this stage to reach out to a loved one. This person should be someone you trust who can support you in a way that helps, and does not hurt. If you have this person, they most likely are educated in how to handle an addiction. However, if you are a loved one, you may be at this page wondering what to do for someone who just relapsed. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you. We have an intervention guide that will equip you with what you need to get your loved one back on track.

How To Manage Your Triggers

Holistic Care

Holistic care focuses on treating the whole person, not only part of the illness. In regard to triggers, Holistic care can help with each of the stages of relapse. That is because (just like the stages) it focuses on the mind, the emotions, and the body. It uses alternative treatments like reiki and acupuncture and it suggests practices like meditation and yoga. Consider utilizing Holistic care in your stages of relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT focuses on our thoughts. It identifies our thought patterns and has a specialist work through the ways our life, emotions, and thought patterns may lead us to poor coping mechanisms. This can be extremely beneficial as a therapy that deals with the stages of relapse. In recovery, you will have to unlearn harmful coping mechanisms and relearn a lot of ideas regarding what to do in times of need. This is because we who struggle with addiction often use alcohol or other substances to cope. CBT wants to fix that.

Finding a Community

Recovery was never a road that was meant to be walked alone. If you are struggling with addiction, you need a community that knows you and can rally around you in times of need. This can be group therapy, AA, or any of the other programs we offer groups at the Discovery Institute. It is especially helpful to go on outings with these groups. If you are struggling with the stages of relapse, consider finding a community. 

Advice from Discovery Institute

Contrary to popular belief, relapsing is actually a normal part of addiction recovery and should not be considered a failure. It is merely a block on the road to recovery— not a dead end. Relapse should be read as an indication that your treatment needs to be adjusted. Again, the stages of relapse are simply part of dealing with a chronic disease. When an illness flares up, you do not beat yourself up; you see a doctor. It is very important that instead of wallowing you seek help immediately.

Contact Us

 It is never too late to start treatment. Whether this is your first relapse or your 100th, the road to recovery is waiting for you. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you with everything going on in your stages of relapse. We have specialists available all around the clock. If you or someone you know is currently struggling through the early stages of relapse, call Discovery Institute at (844) 433-1101.

References:

https://www.healthyhkec.org/SCE14/presentations/seminar-2-talk-3.pdf 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441185/ 

resources for the elderly

You’re Never Too Old to Get Sober: Resources for the Elderly Addict

Nearly half of Americans say someone close to them is addicted to drugs.

When most think of a drug addict, they picture a drug addict as a rebellious young person or someone who’s homeless. But would you picture your senior relatives as drug addicts?

Senior drug and alcohol abuse is under-diagnosed. Unlike younger people, seniors don’t indulge in drugs and alcohol recreationally. They use substances as a coping mechanism.

Without proper help, your loved one will never recover from their addiction. Fortunately, there are help options to ensure your loved one can live their golden years drug-free.

Want to help your loved one get sober? Here are addiction resources for the elderly.

About Senior Drug and Alcohol Addiction

There are increases in senior drug and alcohol use.

There’s a variety of reasons for that. Seniors go through a lot of uncertainty during the aging process.

They’re weaker, their health is failing, they may feel loss and grief over their youth, and are nervous about losing their independence and the thought of dying.

In addition, seniors are often socially isolated, may struggle financially, and may even be the target of family politics.

All of these factors give them an excuse to drink or do drugs.

Another reason why many seniors fall into drug abuse is their myriad of prescriptions. It’s not uncommon for seniors to start abusing their prescription drugs, even combining them with alcohol and street drugs.

Seniors also receive less help than younger addicts. That’s because they don’t want the help and their loved ones can’t recognize that they have a problem.

How to Identify a Senior Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Do you suspect a loved one needs help with their addiction? First, you have to be sure they have a problem. Look for these common signs of addiction.

  • Have bouts of low and high energy
  • Suffer from sleeping issues
  • Constantly falling
  • Suffering from delirium and memory loss
  • Crave their prescription medication
  • Exhibit compulsive behavior

You should also make it a point to catch warning signs before an addiction. Here are warning signs that your loved one may develop an addiction.

  • They’re isolated
  • Complain about loneliness
  • Complain about discomfort
  • Are in constant emotional distress
  • Show symptoms of depression
  • Attempted or contemplated suicide

Unfortunately, these symptoms are very vague. Many of these signs, such as isolation and memory loss, and are “common signs of aging.”

This is why you should also look for clues such as alcohol or drugs in their home and your loved one taking ample amounts of medicine.

What Is Rehab?

Your loved one shouldn’t suffer from drug and alcohol abuse during these years. That’s why you should look into a rehab facility. Rehab is an intensive therapy center that helps the patient physically and mentally end their addiction.

Rehabs help with various duties such as detox and therapy. This helps prevent withdrawal symptoms and also helps pinpoint any mental issues that caused them to develop an addiction.

What Is Senior Rehab?

Seniors experience rehab differently than younger people. Traditional drug and alcohol detoxing processes can affect their health.

In addition, some seniors need the prescription medications they’re abusing.

What We Do Know About Addiction Treatment for Seniors

Just because senior drug and alcohol addiction are under-diagnosed doesn’t mean you can’t help a loved one suffering from an addiction. There’s plenty we know to help your loved one.

Like younger addicts, they will have to detox from the substances.

This is to ensure they don’t suffer from withdrawal symptoms. It’s essential your loved one is monitored by professionals during this detox — failing to detox or detoxing DIY can result in severe consequences to their health.

While seniors recover from detox differently than younger people, a professional can identify your loved one’s health condition and possible ailments to develop a detox plan that works for them.

In addition to physical healing, they will also participate in therapy. Different therapy programs include one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy, family therapy, and specific programs such as the 12-step plan.

Rehab Options: Resources for the Elderly

If you think your loved one needs to attend rehab, they have many options. Here are some of the most common rehab options.

Inpatient

Inpatient rehab is one of the most common and successful types of rehab.

Your loved one will live at the rehab facility for a temporary amount of time. At the facility, your loved one will participate in addiction treatment such as detox and therapy.

In addition, many inpatient rehabs offer a chance for your loved one to socialize with other guests and staff, pursue their hobbies, and even exercise.

This type of rehab has some of the most successful results.

Outpatient

Outpatient rehab patients receive the same care as inpatient rehab patients, such as detox and therapy.

However, the patient doesn’t live at the facility. They live in a separate place, such as a loved one’s house, but they still spend hours at the treatment facility every day.

This option is mainly recommended to those who have a minor addiction issue, but seniors may experience additional benefits from outpatient rehab. This will give them the opportunity to stay and reconnect with family members.

Some senior patients may have to choose outpatient rehab if they currently live in a nursing home. If this is the case, you must speak to the home about their policies and possible travel accommodations.

Luxury Rehab

Luxury or executive rehab is a favorite choice for those in high-ranking positions.

These rehab facilities are more expensive but offer a resort-like experience.

They offer all of the same rehab procedures, and in addition offer upscale accommodations including better activities, five-star meals, and even phone and internet access (patients in traditional rehab don’t receive either phone or internet access).

Does Your Loved One Need Rehab?

There are many addiction resources for the elderly. If your senior loved one is an addict and is based in New Jersey, we specialize in senior addiction treatment.

alcoholic recovery stages

A Timeline of Alcoholic Recovery Stages

According to the CDC, 6 people die every day from alcohol poisoning. Hundreds of thousands of others die every year as a direct result of alcohol, such as in drunk driving-related accidents, falls, suicides, and homicides.

Whether you are coping with an addiction or suspect that a close friend or family member is, facing the process of rehab and recovery can be intimidating. 

Keep reading to learn more about the timeline of alcoholic recovery stages and what you can expect every step of the way.

What Happens Before Rehab Starts

Before an addict can get started on the road to recovery, there are a few things that need to happen. 

The first thing that has to happen is the addict needs to come to the realization that he or she has a problem. This can come in many forms. Perhaps the physical side effects of addiction, like nausea, insomnia, or restlessness causes the realization. Or the individual loses their job, their family, or their home as a result of their addiction.

An intervention can sometimes be used by friends and family to help a person come to terms with their addiction. But only after that realization happens will a person be ready to enter rehab and start the recovery process. 

Dealing with Detox

The very first stage in the alcohol recovery timeline is the detox process.

Before an alcoholic can begin the process of recovery and start learning new, healthy habits and rebuilding their lives, they need to end the addiction itself. 

As a body begins to wean itself off of an addiction to alcohol, a number of side effects are likely. Depression in recovering addicts is very common, especially in the first few days or weak of sobriety.

In fact, alcohol abuse can make a person more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. That’s because over time alcohol reduces the number of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Luckily the brain can recover over time, making an individual less prone to depression.

During this stage in the process of recovery from alcohol, it’s important that an addict remains in a supportive, sober environment. In most cases, they will need professional support to deal with side effects and avoiding slipping right back into their old habits.

A stay in a rehab clinic can help to keep the addict on track so that they can make it to the other stages of the recovery process.

Therapy and Learning New Behaviors

Once a person has successfully weaned themselves off of their addiction, the stages of sobriety begin.

In the first few months of recovery, the focus is on learning new behaviors and habits to replace unhealthy ones that led to addiction in the first place.

During this stage, therapy can help an individual work through the behaviors and thought processes that led them to addiction in the first place. A therapist can help guide them by talking about how they felt before and what factors might have contributed to their addiction.

Therapy can be conducted in either group sessions or one-on-one with a professional therapist.

Both options offer their own unique advantages.

One-on-one therapy offers more individualized support and treatment. Group therapy can help a recovering addict see that they are not alone in their struggle. Group sessions are also a great way for recovering addicts to form new friendships with others who understand what they are going through.

Rebuilding a Life

An important part of the detox and recovery process is re-learning how to function in normal, healthy ways.

Depending on the length of the addiction, an individual may have long neglected their health, their job, their family, and other responsibilities. Before they are able to go out on their own again, they need to learn how to function away from rehab.

The last thing you want is for rehab to become a crux. When this occurs, once an indvidual leaves rehab, they’ll likely lack the skills they need to be successful in the real world. This may quickly lead to a relapse.

Rebuilding a life after addiction means learning healthy behaviors and developing new hobbies through holistic treatments. This might include meeting with a nutritionist to learn how to eat a healthy diet, making an exercise plan, or even learning new skills to start a new job after rehab is over.

Outpatient Alternatives

While the path from an intervention or an individual realizing that they have a problem to inpatient treatment is the norm, some patients do opt for a different path.

One option is intensive outpatient treatment.

Because the individual is not in a residential setting, the treatment needs to be more intense to help counteract a negative environment or temptations outside of treatment.

The benefit of this type of treatment is that it allows an individual to continue on with their lives. If they already have a job, a family to take care of, or are attending school, residential treatment might not be an option.

This alternative offers individuals the chance to continue with these responsibilities while seeking treatment. They may choose to live at home, or at a sober living facility where there may be fewer temptations to fall off the bandwagon.

A sober living facility can also be used after a residential treatment program to help an individual readjust to life outside of rehab.

Facing the Alcoholic Recovery Stages

Ending an addiction to alcohol and starting the process of rebuilding a life and healthy habits is a different experience for every individual. Treatments that worked well for one person might not be the answer for the next.

But sticking with the alcoholic recovery stages and following a treatment plan through until the end is the best way to finally beat addiction and regain control of your life.

If you or a loved one is ready to break free of an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

relapse prevention plan

Building a Relapse Prevention Plan on Your Road to Recovery

Did you know illicit drug use costs the US around $181 billion every year?

Are you struggling with addiction and want to make a relapse prevention plan? Not to worry! In this guide, we’ll go over some signs of relapse and how to work through them.

Want to learn more? Keep reading to find out!

Making a Relapse Prevention Plan: A Guide

Having a relapse prevention plan will help you recognize the early stages of relapse. You’ll learn about support meetings and seek cognitive therapy. These will help you develop healthy coping skills.

Preventing Relapse at the Beginning

In this stage, if you notice you’re anxious, try to practice relaxation techniques. If you’re isolating yourself, you’ll need to ask for help.

If your eating and sleep habits are slipping, try to refocus. If you don’t change your behavior in this early stage, you could get mentally exhausted. When you’re exhausted, you’ll desire an escape.

To prevent relapse in this stage, make sure you focus on self-care. If you don’t take care of yourself, some of your fears and resentments will build to an uncomfortable peak. You might start to think about using again.

Confront those feelings head on and discourage them from growing. This will help you prevent relapse.

Watch Your Thought Life

When you have a war going on in your mind, you’re struggling with a mental relapse. In the early phase, you might think about using from time to time. It becomes problematic if you’re glamorizing your past use of drugs.

Other warning signs are when you start to lie or hang out with old friends you used with. If you’re fantasizing about using again or thinking about relapsing, go seek help.

You want to make sure you can redirect your thought life or have the supports around if you’re weak. Talk to someone and tell them you have urges to use again.

When you share what you’re thinking, your urges will start to disappear. You’ll feel less alone and not as overwhelmed.

Go to a meeting, go for a walk, or call a friend. If you let yourself ruminate, you’re giving more room for these problematic thoughts.

Most urges last up to thirty minutes. Keep yourself busy during this time and redirect your attention to something positive.

Avoid Temptation

Try and steer clear of any environments or situations that place you in the way of temptation. Don’t go to a party where various substances are out in the open. 

Avoid places that you visited while using or places that bring up memories of the past. Stay away from situations or people that are emotional triggers.

Develop a Network

Surround yourself with people who don’t use drugs or drink alcohol. Find friends who are supportive of your substance-free lifestyle. Have healthy people around you who can support you when you’re weak.

Sever ties to unhealthy relationships. You might need to change your telephone number. You could block old friends on social networking sites. Focus on building a healthy support network you can depend on.

Recognize Triggers

You’re going to want to learn how to notice triggers. Triggers cause you to think about, crave, and use substances. This could include being around people who use.

There are other specific triggers like people or locations. Emotions can also cause you to crave again.

If you’re used to using to cope with uncomfortable feelings, learn how to redirect yourself. Therapy can help you identify what your triggers are. A therapist will help you learn new ways to cope with your emotions.

Build a Schedule

Before leaving treatment, consider creating a schedule for your week. You can include times for meetings, treatments, and social activities. You’ll also want to pencil in your free time. This will help you build a healthier routine.

During treatment, patients tend to follow a strict schedule. You’ll get to continue this lifestyle if you plan for when you leave treatment.

For your free time intervals, try and add in constructive activities to fill that time. Don’t set aside blocks of free time where you could get bored and tempted.

Complacency Is Dangerous

Most people feel motivated after completing rehab treatment. They are ready to continue with 12-step meetings or an aftercare program.

They might also build their support network. Yet, motivation does lessen over time. As progress continues, one might think all the recovery efforts aren’t as necessary.

Try and maintain what works for you. Stick with your routine, whether it’s attending meetings or meeting with a mentor once a week.

Recovery Is a Journey

If you do relapse, don’t view it as an ultimate failure. Addiction is a chronic condition. If you relapse, you’ll need to speak with a professional about your treatment plan. If you were able to get sober in the past, you can do it again.

Remember to reach out to others for help. Attend a treatment center again. Process the emotions and events that led to relapse.

When you process these situations, you can learn from your mistakes and gain insight. This will help you on your journey. Check out our guide on how to know if you’re addicted.

Contact Us Today

We hope you found this article on building a relapse prevention plan helpful. Make sure you form a healthy social network and seek help when needed.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

dating a recovering addict

5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating a Recovering Addict

Are you falling for a recovering addict? If so, it’s okay to feel hesitant about committing at first. Addiction has many negative stereotypes that our culture pushes on us at every turn.

But it’s important to educate yourself about the truth behind addiction and what it really means to be with a recovering addict. Although dating someone in recovery comes with its own set of challenges, there’s no reason that you can’t have a successful and beneficial relationship if you do things the right way.

Are you curious to know more? Keep reading to learn the truth about addiction and what questions to ask before you start dating a recovering addict.

Let’s dive in!

Life as a Recovering Addict

When you date someone who has had a different experience in life, it’s important to understand where they’re coming from. If you’re interested in dating a recovering addict, take the time to put yourself in their shoes.

Here’s some insight into what life is like in active addiction and recovery.

What Is Addiction Like?

Addiction is a disease. Suffering from it doesn’t mean that a person is weak or selfish. Most of the time, the will to get better is not enough for a person to enter into a state of recovery.

Addiction is lonely. Addicts may lose the support of family and friends. They may even lose faith in themselves.

What Is Recovery Like?

Once an addict successfully finishes a professional recovery program, that doesn’t mean their addiction is “cured.” Recovery is a lifelong process with tons of ups and downs.

For a recovering addict, some days will be harder than others. It’s important that they continue to attend meetings and surround themselves with supportive people.

The Truth About Dating a Recovering Addict

If you fall for an addict who’s in recovery, you’ll need to make some adjustments to promote their ongoing success. Although these changes may feel like a challenge at first, remember that dating anyone may call for changes in your lifestyle.

If you enjoy consuming alcohol or other drugs, dating a recovered addict may call for a huge change in that part of your life. Although some addicts are comfortable being around substances without using them, others may feel triggered by this experience.

Remember, everyone has different needs in relationships. Whether your partner is an addict or not, you’ll always have to make changes and compromises when you start dating someone. Don’t let the challenges of dating an addict deter you from following your heart.

Now that we understand a little more about those who suffer from addiction, let’s find out which questions you should ask before you start dating someone in recovery.

1. What’s Your Dating History?

Addicts can have many different substances of choice, and they’re not always just drugs or alcohol. People can also suffer from an addiction to love or sex.

To understand if your potential partner’s addiction has affected their past relationships in any way, it’s important to ask them about their dating history. But remember, if they’re in active recovery, you shouldn’t judge them based on their past. 

2. How Long Have You Been Sober?

Someone who has been in recovery for two months will have very different needs than someone who has been in recovery for 20 years.

If you’re considering entering into a relationship with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, it’s important to know where they are in their journey. 

3. Are You Enrolled in a Recovery Program?

As we know, professional recovery programs are the best way for addicts to heal and remain successful in recovery without relapsing. If your loved one isn’t actively enrolled in a program, they should be attending meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to continue their recovery journey.

Dating someone in AA can be a hugely beneficial experience for both parties. AA dating means that the addict will have the support of an understanding group of peers and that their partner will feel confident in their recovery process. Two addicts in a relationship can even visit meetings together.

4. What Will You Need from Me to Support Your Recovery?

Every addict has different triggers as well as different physical, emotional, and mental needs.

Some people in recovery may want their partner to have an active role in their recovery efforts, while others may want to keep that part of their life more private at first. Some people may share more about their past and others may take longer to open up.

Ask the addict in your life what they’ll need from you in a romantic relationship. Make sure you get a clear answer before you commit.

Ask yourself if you’re comfortable giving them what they need. If you doubt your ability to fully support them, be honest. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, it will only end up hurting both of you.

5. Are You Ready for a Committed Relationship?

Falling in love feels good. It gives the brain a rush of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

It’s easy to ignore our personal issues that may get in the way of a relationship in favor of these good feelings. That’s why this question is the most important one to ask not only to your potential partner but yourself as well.

If they need to focus on their recovery, they may not be ready to fully commit. And if you aren’t prepared to support them, you may not be ready either.

Before you decide to make things official, take a day or two to do some soul-searching. Once you’ve both had time to think things over, you can talk about your potential commitment.

Are You Ready?

We all have to make changes and compromises in relationships. But if you truly love someone, these adjustments should feel natural.

If you’re interested in dating a recovering addict, make sure that you’re ready to support them before you make a commitment. And ask them the five questions above to learn more about them and to make sure they’re ready, too.

Do you have questions about addiction or recovery? Or do you think your loved one may need help?

If so, contact us anytime. We’re here for you.

dating in recovery

Dating in Recovery: Myths, Facts, and How It Works

Adjusting to a life in sobriety can be more difficult than many of us expect. There are new problems and hidden temptations around every corner, and it can be difficult to adjust to these new changes. 

Ten percent of Americans are working through recovery from substance abuse. One of the most difficult new situations for this group can be dating. We take for granted how much the assistance of substances can help us feel comfortable in a dating environment. 

The pressure of a dating scenario, where one is trying to make a good impression, can also lead us to make some potentially dangerous choices. There’s a lot to know about sober dating before you get started. 

If you’re going through recovery and ready to get back out there, read on. We’ll walk you through everything you want to know about dating in recovery. 

Challenges To Dating In Recovery 

Dating, in general, is already difficult. And the difficulties and struggles of the process are made no easier by the transition to sober living. 

Social anxiety is already a big factor when it comes to the dating world. It’s natural to want a new person, especially someone you hope to get to know well, to like you. It’s natural to feel awkward or uncertain. 

But it’s these same feelings that help urge us towards drinks or drugs in the first place. It’s much more frightening to have to meet someone sober than it is when wasted. The anxiety can help induce cravings to drink or do drugs

The traditional cultural norms of dating can also make the situation more difficult. It’s very common to ask another person out for a drink, which may make you bring up your sobriety earlier than you’d prefer.

You might feel strange or awkward having to pitch different date ideas. Or you might feel uncomfortable having to reveal such information about yourself right off the bat. 

Even if you do mention your sobriety, a dating environment will likely lead you to be around more triggering situations. Even if you plan on not drinking, there will likely be alcohol around. You’ll have to adjust to this reality and be on solid footing to maintain your sobriety. 

Dating, in general, can be a challenge to the routine you’ve set up for yourself. A steady routine can be the key to maintaining sobriety in the early stages of your recovery. And yet, dating essentially forces you to be flexible and welcome new changes into your life.

This is just one of many reasons that medical professionals recommend waiting for a year of recovery before starting to date. 

Ways To Make Recovery Dating Easier 

Understanding the challenges to sober dating can be important before you launch yourself into the process. Failure to do so can result in big problems for your love life and your recovery process.

Once you’re familiar with the challenges, you can take steps to make the process easier and more enjoyable.

Attending therapy in an individual or group setting can make the process of recovery easier. A therapist will be able to walk you through the relationship process and ensure you’re approaching these new changes in a healthy manner.

Attending group meetings will help you remain on track in your recovery. Discussing dating with others who have gone through the same process can help you feel better about your own struggles. A sense of community can be incredibly valuable as you continue to move forward. 

Many of your group will likely be able to offer advice or insight to your situation that you may not have thought of. 

Approaching the dating world with honesty and openness will also increase the odds of your enjoyment. There’s no shame in being sober, and being open and upfront about your situation is likely to make your date more enjoyable.

If your date is anything but supportive of your sobriety, they probably aren’t the right partner for you regardless. 

At the same time, if the person you are seeing still drinks or uses drugs, you have to understand that you can’t force them to change. Attempting to force your sobriety onto potential romantic interests is not the right foot to start a new relationship on. 

Sober Dating Ideas

If you’re inching back into the dating world during recovery, it can be very helpful to do so in a setting that is far removed from alcohol. Dinners and bars are popular first date spots, but they aren’t the only options out there.

You could bring your date to a pleasant brunch, for example. A trip to the movies, to the opera, or to a local theater show is also likely to be substance free. 

Simple dates, like a walk through town or to a museum or art gallery, can both be enjoyable and temptation free. You could even volunteer together at a soup kitchen or by picking up trash at the beach. 

The more time you’ll spend with your new love interest, the more you’ll discover commonalities and shared interests. This will make future dates easier to plan and even easier to enjoy. 

It can be a big adjustment if your previous dating and sex life involved frequent inebriation. But with a little work and creativity, sober dating can be very rewarding as well. 

How Dating In Recovery Works

Many people don’t know how dating in recovery will play out for them. If you’re used to being under the influence while dating, it can be hard to adjust to a new kind of dating.

If you take the time to understand the challenges and plan ahead, you can still have a rewarding romantic life ahead of you. 

Need more help with your recovery? Reach out to us with any questions you might have. 

family addiction counseling

The Role of Family Addiction Counseling in the Recovery Process

In 2017, 19.7 million Americans age 12 and older battled some type of substance addiction. 

Although addiction is a disorder that plagues individuals, it also affects many American families. 

When a family member is finally ready to seek treatment, the involvement of the entire family is essential in this process. Family addiction counseling can help families start the healing process. 

Read on to learn the importance of family in the addiction recovery process.

What is Family Counseling?

Before you understand the role of the family in addiction counseling, you should learn what family therapy involves. It’s also important to define what constitutes a family.

While some people think of family, they associate those related by blood. Other people simply think of close friends as family. 

Family therapy refers to sessions that involve the person in recovery and family members and close friends. Other times, the family participates in a session without the person in recovery. 

No matter how a counselor carries out the sessions, the goal is to help the person in recovery. 

Therapy Can Educate the Whole Family

Although people might think they know and understand addiction, going to therapy can open their eyes to how to handle the recovery process. Many people in the family might not understand all of the implications of substance abuse their loved one might be facing. 

Most of the time, the entire family has the best intentions to help the person suffering from addiction. However, it doesn’t mean they handle the situation in a way that benefits the person. 

Family counseling sessions can help families learn ways to approach their loved ones who are struggling with addiction. If previous efforts have failed in the past, going through therapy can show the whole family how to support a person going through treatment. 

Counseling can teach all individuals how to handle tough situations and what to do if they suspect a relapse. In family therapy, it’s believed the more educated a family is about addiction, the more it will benefit the individual.

Addiction Involved the Whole Family

Although it seems like addiction only affects the individual, in reality, affects the whole family. The person might be going through all of the effects of addiction, but each member of the family become spectators. 

The family has to worry about the well-being of the individual and in the process they over-extend themselves. Families often live in fear and forget to take care of themselves in the process.

Depending on how severe the addiction is, members of the family might fear to get a phone call from the police. They also fear for the person’s life worrying about accidental drug overdoses. 

If the person suffering from addiction has financial troubles, the financial burden will also fall on the family. 

With the emotional roller coaster of addiction, the family often has trouble going forward. 

The Family Needs Treatment Too

As we mentioned earlier when a member of the family suffers from addiction, the whole family suffers from addiction. Once the individual decides to get help, the rest of the family also needs treatment. 

Attending therapy as a family also shows the person recovering from addiction that they’re doing everything in their power to help them out. 

The wounds of addiction take time to heal. Going to therapy as a family will help everyone heal their wounds and give them tools to help the individual going forward. 

For example, if a member of the family took the role of the enabler, therapy might help them address the behavior. Therapy can also give them ways to cope with stress and anxiety associated with the consequences of the individual.

Since therapy provides a safe space, it gives them an opportunity to talk about any bottled up feelings. 

Family Involvement is Essential 

Although maybe only one person suffers from addiction, there may be other problems within the family that lie beneath the surface. 

When in therapy, all of those concerns will get addressed. With the help of a counselor, many of the unhealthy behaviors should surface and addressed.

Helps Strengthens and Rebuilds Relationships

After many months or years of going through addiction with a loved one, family bonds and relationships will most likely be estranged. 

Attending family counseling to recover from addiction is beneficial to the whole family. During therapy, issues specific to each family will be put on the table and addressed openly. 

For example, if an individual says their drug addiction began as a way to cope with issues in the family, those issues will get addressed in therapy. As a family, they can come up with the best solution to work on the things that damaged the relationship.

Without a therapist to guide family sessions, it might not be as easy to see their other person’s point of view. The role of a counselor in these sessions is to allow everyone to address their feelings in a safe space.

With a counselor present, even those family members who were more hesitant to therapy might pitch in the conversation. 

Although family therapy is difficult and emotional, it’s the first step for the family to address unresolved issues and start rebuilding family bonds.

The family is Essential Post-Treatment Support 

Family therapy sessions help the individual the most during their treatment. However, it’s important to continue with these sessions post-treatment.

Continuing with therapy will not only bring the family closer together, but it will also help the individual stay on track with their recovery and prevent a relapse. 

Maintains a Strong Support System

After individuals step back into the world and attempt to rebuild their lives, they need a strong support system.

Counseling sessions are a place where the individual can feel free to address any fears. This way the family will know how to support the person and prevent a relapse.

Importance of Family Addiction Counseling: The Bottom Line

Family addiction counseling can have a major impact on a person’s recovery. Family counseling can help rebuild family ties, not to mention every family member affected also needs to heal. 

Do you or someone you love suffer from addiction? You’re not alone. 

Discovery Institute is here for you. Contact us for admissions information.

Monmouth County Heroin Addicted

How Do I Know I’m Addicted?

Heroin use and heroin addiction in Monmouth County are two very different things. Someone who is using on an infrequent basis, like when they’ve first been introduced to the substance, is more likely to be able to stop using since they may not physically depend on the substance yet. 

However, these individuals will often start to develop an addiction to the heroin as they continue using. An individual will cross the line to addiction when the person using the heroin is no longer able to live their everyday life without it just to function normally. 

This is when rehab will become a necessary tool in order to stop the addict from using any further.  

What is Heroin? 

Heroin is a type of opioid drug that is made out of a substance called morphine. It is usually sold as a white powder-like substance that can be mixed with other drugs or other white substances such as sugar or cornstarch in order to stretch the dealer’s stash as far as it will go. 

Heroin is consumed in three different ways: intravenously, smoking, or snorting. While smoking or snorting the substance is very common, the most popular way users take heroin is intravenously, by injecting a needle into veins in their arms and legs. The reason for this is because it provides the quickest and most intense high from the drug. 

How Does Someone Become Addicted? 

Addiction is an illness and a long-lasting brain disorder that occurs when someone is physically and mentally dependent upon a particular substance. When it comes to heroin use, addiction can occur after using on a one-time whim, or it can develop after a series of uses, depending on the person. 

Once heroin addiction in Monmouth County starts, it is very likely for the addict to get wrapped up in a never-ending cycle of usage.  

Because heroin produces such a rushing, euphoric high that allows the body and mind to relax, this causes it to be an extremely addictive substance. As a result, the user’s brain slowly starts to become rewired to crave the heroin on a daily basis. 

Like many other opioids, heroin also reduces the ability to perceive the feeling of pain. This effect makes it easy for the person using the heroin to avoid any physical or emotional pain they may be going through, which in turn makes them want to continue using the substance for as long as they can despite the consequences. 

Signs, Symptoms, and Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction 

Heroin addiction in Monmouth County isn’t always the easiest to spot in its early stages. Things to look out for when considering if someone you know is experiencing heroin addiction in Monmouth County can include: 

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Disorientation 
  • Constricted pupils 
  • Loss of consciousness, in more serious cases 

Finding spoons, gum wrappers, or straws with burn marks, or even needles and syringes, is also a telltale sign of heroin use. 

Behavioral signs are also a large part of indicating heroin addiction. Users often have trouble forming sentences or words, may start to develop deceptive behavior, and may wear long sleeved garments and pants even in warm weather to hide needle marks from injections. 

Long-term effects of heroin addiction in Monmouth County are vast, and the brain is highly affected by the continual use of heroin. 

Opiates are already present in the brain naturally and are used to regulate bodily sensations such as mood stabilization and relieving pain. When heroin, a type of opioid, is present in the body for a long period of time, the opiates it releases overwhelm the brain and take these sensations to an extremely high level. Because of this, an addict becomes unable to live without the opiate release provided by heroin. 

Heroin not only heavily affects your brain, but also the rest of your body. Blood clots are likely to form from long-term usage, causing veins and tissues to collapse. Infection of the lining of the heart can occur, which can lead to many other heart problems. 

The entire body can suffer in general because its regular level of functioning is replaced by a constant “rush” or flood of opiates into the body. 

Factors That Influence Your Chances of Addiction 

There are several factors that influence your chances of becoming addicted to heroin and needing to receive help from Monmouth County heroin addiction. These factors include: 

  1. Genetics and biology. This is the way your body reacts to the substance used. Your genes determine how likely you are to become addicted. A good indication of this is if you have relatives who have a history of substance addiction. 
  2. Drug use at a young age. If you start using drugs at a younger age, your brain and body may not develop correctly and may crave these substances in order to function normally. 
  3. History of mental health problems. People with mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders are more likely to become addicted to substances when taken to “self-medicate”. 
  4. Environmental factors. You can easily become addicted to a substance based on what is going on around you. Addiction is a good “escape” if you feel as if the current situation you are being faced with is too much to handle, or if you are surrounded by others who are using substances. 
  5. Past and present trauma. Traumatic events like neglect as a child, sexual, and physical abuse, and even being a part of a traumatic natural disaster can affect how easily you become addicted to the substance you’re using to cope with these events. 
  6. Peer pressure. The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on the choices that you make. If they are using drugs and alcohol, you are more likely to become addicted like they are to those substances. 

Treatment for Heroin Addiction 

Some treatment options for those who are ready to overcome their heroin addiction in Monmouth County include our opiate detox to get the process started, as well as family counseling, group therapies, holistic therapies, and other forms of treatment.  

Our programs are all monitored by licensed professionals and have medical supervision as well. They are designed to help the addict overcome their addiction as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

If you or a loved one need more information on starting your road to regaining control of your Monmouth County heroin addiction, please contact us today at (844) 478-6563. Our compassionate team of counselors are standing by 24/7 to take your call. 

Comradery In Recovery

Many people who end up in substance use disorder treatment centers find themselves essentially alone. If they had relationships, their addictive behavior has severed them maybe even beyond repair. If they do have friends, it’s a high probability those friends are more like acquaintances that help find more substance to use. Sometimes, even family members will become estranged because the behaviors of an addict will more often than not break bonds of trust that typically hold a family together.

When a person enters substance use disorder treatment for their addiction, one strong aspect of a holistic approach to the recovery process involves group and family therapy. A person struggling with addiction often withdraws into themselves as a protective measure, reinforced by society’s ever-present view of drug abuse being a complete moral failure on the individual’s part. It certainly becomes more difficult to bond with other people, especially if they aren’t dealing with the same internal struggle and that struggle isn’t seen universally as an illness.

By participating in group therapy sessions, a person is in the company with others who at some level have experienced the similar feelings of isolation that comes with substance abuse, it can be very reaffirming to have understanding reflected from another person. This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone that a person might meet in group sessions will immediately become best friends for life, but it helps with being more honest about the condition. Going through the practice, so to speak, can be therapeutic itself, being honest with other people about the experiences of substance use disorder.

Even though it is not guaranteed you will make friends, a comradery of survival can develop between group members. It’s also encouraged, sometimes required, that a patient take on a sponsor, a person which will always be there for support who stays available long after the initial treatment period. In addition, sometimes the comradery that forms in a group through shared experiences can develop in a support network that exists long after the last day of treatment proper. The sponsor and other group members become one of many tools and methods for resisting relapse.

Discovery InstituteWhen participating in a group therapy session, it’s not always required to share and the amount of detail and personal experiences shared should be as comfortable as possible, but it’s definitely encouraged. The comfort of sharing can be non-existent in the beginning, but sharing and talking about feelings and experiences are often considered therapeutic, even if they’re with what might be complete strangers. Sometimes, just saying things out loud allows putting events into perspective; hearing events from a real life voice, even your own, is different from hearing that in your mind. And hearing people acknowledge that those things have happened in turn can help process these events which kicks off the real healing process.

Finding alcohol rehab and drug rehab in NJ can begin with calling the top rated drug rehab center, Discovery Institute, at 844-478-6563.