Tag Archive: emotional recovery

  1. Healthy Dating In Recovery

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    Healthy Dating In RecoveryDating is a topic that comes up often in 12 step meetings, and the response is usually this:

    Don’t date — at least not for a while.

    Could it really be that cut and dry, though? Recovery never truly “ends,” yet most people can’t just stay single forever. Exactly how long should you wait to start dating again? 

    Generally, it’s recommended that you wait at least three to four months after treatment to attempt a romantic relationship, but it really comes down to the individual and their progress. Some people need longer to become emotionally stable again; only then might they be ready. Knowing when that time has come is trickier than it sounds, because a big part of recovery, along with all the difficulties, is experiencing dramatic boosts in confidence – sometimes too dramatic — toward the end. That cockiness is what leads so many people back to the bars, the casino, or the dating scene–and then back into the addiction cycle.


    Relationships and Relapse

    Relationships cause emotional turmoil even for regular people; even the good emotions can be too much for someone trying to stay calm and collected, though the biggest threat is, of course, the fighting. For recovering addicts trying to avoid relapse, relationships are like minefields. No matter how safe they seem–explosions happen. Before an addict jumps into a relationship, they should run the idea by their sponsor, their therapist, or someone else involved in their treatment aftercare. Hear them out, no matter how much it hurts. An outside voice is important to have.  A failed relationship or broken heart could be a major relapse trigger.


    Relationships and Compromise

    The addict may not be an active user anymore, but they’ll always be in recovery, which means the condition isn’t just some dark event from the past that needn’t be mentioned; it’s ongoing. If a recovering addict decides to go ahead and date–whether they’re ready or not–it’s essential that the partner understands the territory, and that both partners share the same top priority: sobriety.

    That could be a big sacrifice for the non-addict, and it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes painful decisions must be made. If the partner won’t stop drinking or smoking, or there’s too much bickering going on–the relationship must end.


    Relationships and Healing

    If an addict relapses while in a relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean he should break up with his partner or that it was the relationship’s fault. A relapse doesn’t necessarily mean someone wasn’t ready for normal life (jobs, children, relationships, etc). Recovery is a bumpy road; slips happen. Many addicts swerve into full-blown relapse and land themselves back at square one; others, however, manage to regain control. If someone vows to stay sober despite these setbacks, and the partner wants to stick around and continue to help, there’s no need to object. In fact, the emotional support can serve as a useful tool. Remember, though, that just because you’re clean and sober and happy doesn’t mean your partner has a responsibility to date you forever. Never hold your condition against someone. At the end of the day, you want someone whom you make happy, not a co-dependent partner whose perception of happiness revolves around yours.


    Ready to get your life back by seeking recovery from addiction?

    Contact Sustain Recovery today to learn about your treatment and aftercare options.

  2. Letting Go of Anger and Releasing the Past

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    Letting Go of Anger and Releasing the PastPutting aside the struggles, anger, shame, and guilt associated with trauma, abandonment, abuse and neglect is difficult for anybody who has experienced such travesties. Nonetheless, letting go of negative emotions, like anger, is a critical part of healing. In order to move forward and live a fulfilling, spiritually centered life, we have to come to terms with our painful pasts. This is no more true than for an adolescent in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

    Letting go is a perplexing process. Emotions cannot be seen or touched- they are intangible. How is it then, that we hold onto, and have to let go of, something we can’t even see? We have to first find these emotions. Though they won’t materialize, they will manifest. Once we work with counselors and therapists to identify them, we can bring them to life and release them. The fourth step of AA’s 12 steps especially helps in this process by taking stock of all harms done to us.

    The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that resentments are fatal to an alcoholic trying to recover. In the infamous list of 12 step promises it is shown that by doing “the work” of recovery, “we will not regret the past nor choose to shut the door on it.” Overcoming the difficulties of what has happened to us, by our own means or by the hands of others, is necessary. Challenging, overwhelming, and painful- but necessary. More importantly, it is possible. All too often, young adults in recovery leave out pieces of their story. Unwilling to face them head on, the pain lingers, anger grows, resentment festers. Until these experiences are processed honestly, there will be an ongoing compulsion to drink and use drugs to escape the pain, guilt, and shame.

    True recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism involves much more than just putting an end to drinking and drug use. An adolescent recovering from addiction needs to adopt a whole new outlook and way of living. Sustain Recovery Services in southern California helps young adult recovering addicts and alcoholics to regain their lives through long-term sobriety. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information.

  3. Gaining Emotional Stability in Early Recovery

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    Gaining Emotional Stability in Early RecoveryDrug addiction and alcoholism create an intense physical connection to the abused substances. That physical connection can be broken through a difficult detox process and ongoing treatment. Breaking a physical connection to drugs and alcohol will not break the deeper psychological connections. Cravings stem from the chemically dependent brain that has been rewired to need drugs or alcohol for normal functioning. Those cravings lead to intense mood swings and emotional instability. Gaining a renewed sense of emotional stability is a remarkable accomplishment and landmark in the long term recovery process.

    Emotional stability is often equated with maturity. We see young children who throw tantrums as being emotionally immature because they are unable to control their emotional responses to disappointing situations. Emotionally stable and mature adults are better able to regulate their responses and their moods. Drugs and alcohol erode an emotionally mature adult’s ability to have a regulated response. In young adults and adolescents, harmful substances halt critical developmental processes in the brain. Often it is said that the age where substance abuse began is the age where emotional development stopped.

    Meditation and other relaxation techniques can instill an even-handed response to a difficult situation by calming a recovering addict’s nerves and allowing him to handle stress with something other than drugs or alcohol. Research has shown that meditation helps to shrink an individual’s amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for “fight or flight”. A person with a more active amygdala will be prone to more rash responses, including drug and alcohol use, when confronted with a stressful situation. A smaller amygdala also allows growth in an individual’s frontal cortex, which helps a person to concentrate and have a more measured response to stress.

    Emotional stability will rarely be recovered quickly or instantaneously. Small steps can be taken at first to keep his emotions in check. Over time, a mature and measured emotional response will become second nature. Because emotions can be fragile, a recovering addict should continue to practice meditation and other techniques that are designed to maintain and expand his emotional stability as his recovery takes him into genuine sobriety.


    Emotional sobriety is part of sustaining long term sobriety from drugs and alcohol. The extended care services program at  Sustain Recovery Services in southern California teaches adolescents and young people the life skills they need for achieving long term sobriety. Please call 949-407-9052 for more information on how our unique aftercare program can help you build a life of recovery.

  4. Science Confirms that Laughter is Good For You

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    Science Confirms that Laughter is Good For YouProfessional comedians have long relied on the release that accompanies laughter when they set up tension in a joke, only to have that tension relieved by the punch line. Almost everyone can relate to the soul-cleansing catharsis of a good belly laugh. Laughter relaxes us, makes us feel happy, and erases bad and negative thoughts from our minds. The positive healthful effects of laughter have now been affirmed by scientific research.

    Laughter is Good for You

    By repeatedly forcing air out of our lungs, laughter is a form of physical exertion. All physical activity releases endorphins into our systems, and those neurotransmitters make us feel good. Scientific research has confirmed that laughter will accomplish this endorphin release. Laughter stretches our muscles and raises our blood pressure and pulse rate. We take in extra oxygen to recover from a good laugh, and that oxygen contributes to an overall sense of well-being. When we are with a group of people who all join together in laughing at something, the effects are even greater. Thus the social aspects of laughter are thought to enhance the physical and psychological benefits that we derive from it.

    It is unlikely that laughter will fully replace traditional therapies for depression and other psychological disorders, but as counselors look for alternative methods to help their patients who suffer from those disorders, laughter can be a valuable adjunct tool. Counselors can encourage patients to look for things that make them laugh and to incorporate those things into their daily routines.

    Laughter and Memory Issues

    Laughter also has potential to help older individuals who are experiencing memory problems. At least one study has suggested that elderly persons have improved memory recall after they watch a 20-minute laugh-inducing video. Those individuals also had noticeable lower levels of stress hormones in their systems. Other studies have examined potential links between laughter and reduced incidents of heart disease, and whether laughter is an effective means to alleviate or control pain.

    The benefits of laughter may well be the result of an improved quality of life. Individuals who exhibit a higher propensity to laugh will generally have stronger social networks and support structures around them. Laughter may well be an effect and not a cause of an improved quality of life. Even with this question, however, no therapist or counselor would recommend that a person reduce the amount of laughter in his life. When an individual is experiencing pain or discomfort, for example, any distraction can reduce his perception of that pain. In this context, laughter is only one of several potential distractions that might work.  As long as connections are seen between laughter and improved mental and physical health, laughter will remain as a recommendation in every therapist’s toolbox.

    If you have a chance to stop and laugh at something during your day, you should grab at that chance while you can. You might be surprised at how much better a good laugh will make you feel.

    For more suggestions on how to incorporate laughter into your life, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. We will be happy to enjoy a good laugh with you.

  5. Exercise and Depression

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    Exercise and DepressionMarathon runners and other distance athletes are familiar with the concept of a “runner’s high”. Yoga practitioners strive for a sense of “being in the moment”. Professional athletes achieve high levels of performance when they are “in the zone”. Regardless of how it is characterized, the sense of well-being that accompanies physical exercise is an effective counter-balance to depression. Counselors and therapists are increasingly using exercise programs to treat depression and other similar psychological disorders.

    Exercise and Depression

    The physical benefits of exercise are well-documented. Exercise improves heart health and energy levels. It can lower your blood pressure, reduce your body fat, and improve your muscle tone and bone density. Physical activity also reduces perceived stress, boosts self-esteem, and leads to better sleep. When you feel good, you can better handle the adverse effects of depression.

    Researchers are gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms that create these benefits. Physical activity causes a release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters into your metabolic system that make you feel good. It also bolsters your immune system and reduces immune system stressors that can contribute to bad feelings. Exercising in group settings or classes will put you in a social environment that can improve your sense of well-being. At its most basic level, strenuous exercise can distract you from focusing on any bad feelings that might be holding you back.

    Exercise in Recovery

    This does not suggest that exercise can or should be a total substitute for other treatments, particularly if depression is severe  or is the result of a deep-seated psychological trauma. In these more extreme situations, exercise is an effective adjunct treatment that complements more traditional therapies. Even the smallest amount of physical activity, such as walking outside for ten minutes or doing light housework, can help an individual who is mired in a depressive mindset.

    Starting small and simple is a key to integrating exercise effectively into a therapeutic program to treat an individual’s depression, particularly if that individual has never participated in any exercise programs. An easy ten- to fifteen minute daily walk can provide a good foundation to increase physical activity to 30 minutes or more per day. A therapist who recommends an exercise program will want to remain vigilant to confirm that a person’s failure to follow those recommendations does not contribute to a deeper sense of failure and depression. Exercise should be treated as a reward and not as a mandatory event. It should also be scheduled into a person’s daily routine, rather than being left as something to do if and when an individual has time to exercise after a long day of job and family responsibilities.


    The number of individuals who suffer from mild depression has grown as society has become more sedentary. Physical exercise may not reverse this greater trend, but it can help individuals to regain some sense of well-being that may have gotten lost with the trend toward inactivity.

    For more information and suggestions on how exercise can help alleviate your depression symptoms, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

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