Tag Archive: drug addiction

  1. Writing and Staying Creative During Recovery

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    Drug addiction and alcoholism take an emotional toll on their sufferers. Recovering from a substance abuse problem requires an addict to confront and to open up about his emotions and feelings he experienced while he was addicted. However, many recovering addicts, and especially teens and adolescents who are recovering from substance abuse problems, have difficulties in articulating their emotions in conversations with therapists and recovery groups. Recovering addicts and alcoholics who are unable to talk about their feelings often find that writing and other creative endeavors are a more effective method for dealing with the emotions that accompany addiction.

    Recovering addicts and alcoholics who have not done a lot of writing can easily get started with a daily journal. Like most creative writing, journaling has no rules and journal entries do not need to be profound or in-depth. A person can simply write few sentences at the end of each day to describe how his day went, or to record a specific event that stood out during the course of that day. Over time and with regular entries, a person’s journal will become more detailed and he will include more information about his feelings and reactions to events, often without even realizing that his entries are becoming more involved. He can then look back over those entries to better understand the external forces and his emotional responses to those forces that led him into drug or alcohol use.

    Writing and journaling are only one of the many creative activities that can help a recovering addict to better connect with his inner feelings and emotions. Some addicts might have greater talents in painting or drawing, and their creative output can become a non-verbal visual expression of their innermost thoughts. Other recovering addicts might pursue gardening, clothing design, cooking or baking, music performances, or creative physical movement. With each of these endeavors, the creative thought processes that go into the activity become an expression of a recovering addict’s emotions that the addict is not able to easily verbalize in individual or group therapy sessions.

    These activities have an added benefit in that they engage a recovering addict in the present moment of creation, which helps him to avoid the boredom and distractions that might tempt him back to substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol take precedence over an addict’s thoughts and activities and continue to exert a sense of dominance when an addict is in recovery. Writing and other creative activities will alleviate a recovering addict’s boredom and push aside the lingering pressure that drugs and alcohol exert on his thought processes.

    Like all tools and techniques that addiction recovery counselors might use, writing and creative activities, by themselves, will not accomplish the recovery and long-term sobriety that a former substance abuser is striving for. They are one of several tools that a recovering addict can use to help him on that journey. Further, no two addicts respond to recovery tools and techniques in the same way. A creative outlet that works well for one recovering addict may be of no benefit for another. Counselors and addiction recovery specialists can best help their clients by developing a recovery program that is specific to their specific addiction problems and their personalities.

    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California helps adolescents and young adults to discover their own best creative outlets to help them defeat their drug addiction and alcohol problems. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.

  2. Relapse Prevention for Teens in Recovery

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    Teens who are struggling to overcome substance abuse problems often have a much more difficult road ahead of them than adults who are fighting drug addiction and alcoholism. The combination of a teen’s still-developing brain that leads to poor impulse control, his limited perspective and life experiences, and his social networks and peer pressure often create the perfect storm to undermine every rehab effort and to push him toward one or more relapses Awareness of the problem is a good first step toward preventing relapses for teens who are recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism. Other specific steps can further reduce that risk.

    “Teen’s Relapse Triggers”
    Relapses are frequently a function of triggers that entice a recovering substance abuser back to drug or alcohol use. A teen’s relapse triggers might include exposure to drug or alcohol use among his peers, visiting physical locations where he previously used different substances, as well as more common teen emotional traits such as mood swings, stress responses, boredom, and self-pity. Parents and counselors who are working to keep a recovering teen away from a relapse should try to identify as many potential triggers as they can and then help him structure his schedule and daily routines to prevent any encounters with those triggers.

    “Identifying Triggers”
    Identifying triggers can help keep a teen away from them, but avoiding all relapse triggers at all times will not be possible. Teens also need tools and techniques to help them fend off the pressure they feel when they are faced with a relapse trigger. Those tools and techniques can include a heightened sense of awareness or “mindfulness” of the relapse risks, or connecting the teen with one or more recovery sponsors whom the teen can contact any time of day or night for support in staying away from drugs. Like adults who are struggling to overcome addiction, teens can also avoid relapse temptations by staying busy with exercise, creative endeavors like art and writing, and connecting with nature. Teens who find themselves bored or who begin to feel too good about their recoveries may find that relapse temptations are increasing. Learning to avoid relapse triggers and developing techniques to confront them are not one-time events, but both need to be ongoing processes that a recovering teen practices and relearns throughout his recovery.

    “Unnecessary Relapse”
    Teens and adults alike further should understand that contrary to some popular culture opinions, relapses do not need to be a normal or necessary part of addiction recovery. The incidents of relapses among recovering teen addict and alcoholics may be high, but relapse is not inevitable. A teen who expects to relapse will have a harder time dealing with relapse triggers than one who approaches recovery as a continuing activity with no inevitable milestones or backward steps.
    A teen who does relapse should not conclude that his recovery is a failure. Rather, he can immediately reconnect with a sponsor and support group to get his recovery back on track and to continue his recovery and rehab process. His sponsors and counselors can help him examine what caused the relapse and his recovery can be restructured to help him avoid a relapse in a similar situation. Sometimes, this can be as simple as simple as eating well and getting enough sleep so that the teen has a better general sense of how much better he acts and feels when he is sober. He may be experiencing symptoms of other psychosocial problems, including mild depression or anxiety that need to be treated separately. When a relapse is viewed from this perspective and caregivers provide the right response, a teen can come away from a relapse stronger and with even greater resolve to stay with his recovery.

    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California helps adolescents and young adults to stay on track with the rehab and recovery programs and to avoid relapses that drive them back to substance abuse. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.

  3. Caffeine Addiction is a Telling Glimpse into the Pattern of Relapse

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    caffeine addictionMany people have experienced a “need” for a cup of coffee when they wake up in the morning and before they face any of the issues of their day. When they do not get their coffee, they might experience headaches or an inability to concentrate. They can become irritable and angry. Overall, the physical symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are the same as those experienced by individuals who are addicted to more dangerous substances. Even after those symptoms subside, a caffeine addict might still find himself craving the warmth, taste, and aroma of a hot cup of coffee. Those cravings mirror the type of cravings that drug addict experience, and that can result in a relapse after all physical withdrawal symptoms have ended.

    Caffeine is a Drug

    Caffeine is, in every sense, an addictive drug. Its addictive qualities are not perceived to be as nefarious as the addictive qualities of substances like heroin or methylamphetamines, but it is addictive nonetheless. Caffeine increases energy levels and promotes wakefulness, but it can also lead to headaches, nausea, dehydration, and restlessness. As a person consumes more and more caffeine, his body and nervous system develop a tolerance to it and he requires greater amounts of caffeine to achieve the same stimulating effects. Like other addictive drugs, caffeine stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. When neurotransmitter levels begin to drop, as happens when a person stops consuming caffeine, that person’s brain sends signals out the increase cravings for the caffeine.

    Treating Caffeine Addiction

    Caffeine addictions can typically be interrupted within one or two weeks, but the psychological draw of caffeine can remain long after a physical connection has been broken. Again, as with other addictive substances, these cravings are analogous to the cravings that cause relapses in drug addicts. Because so many people consume caffeine and develop caffeine addictions through consumption of coffee, colas, energy drinks, and other beverages, the craving patterns they feel when they stop drinking caffeinated beverages can give them strong insights and a better understanding of the much stronger cravings that a drug addict might experience.

    Some research has suggested that caffeine addiction and the mechanisms which create that addiction can be a gateway to drug or alcohol abuse. A person who is a casual or regular user of drugs or alcohol might be tempted to alleviate the discomfort associated with caffeine withdrawal by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Caffeine also prevents the absorption of certain vitamins that a person needs to support healthy metabolism. Low levels of those nutrients can make a person feel lethargic or cranky, which can further increase cravings for some substance that can give that person a quick pick-me-up. Addiction counselors will often try to limit their patients’ caffeine intake to prevent these overlapping cravings.

    For the time being and likely well into the future, public health officials have no intention of banning caffeine or listing it as a controlled substance. Rather, they are working to create a greater awareness of how caffeine cravings might have a crossover effect with relapses in drug and alcohol addiction.

    If you have questions about your own caffeine intake or on how your reliance on caffeine might increase your risks of drug or alcohol abuse, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. We will not take your morning coffee away from you, but we can help you to gain a better understanding of how your brain and body are reacting to that coffee.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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