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Sunday, November 18, 2018

How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse


The holiday season is a time when family and friends look forward to spending time together. For people in recovery, this time of year presents a double-edged sword that can put them at higher risk for a relapse. There are more events were alcohol may be served, and this time of year can be stressful for many people. Recognizing that you could be vulnerable means you can take steps to avoid a holiday relapse.

Tips to Help You Avoid Relapsing Over the Holidays


These suggestions focus on avoiding alcohol at parties and other holiday events.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Some Holiday Traditions

Now that you’re in recovery, you may realize that some of the holiday traditions that you have observed no longer serve you. If your out-of-town cousins traditionally get together for a pub crawl during the holidays, this is no longer something you’ll want to participate in if you want to keep your sobriety intact.

Instead of doing things out of a sense of obligation, suggest an alternative. If the goal is to spend time with people you don’t see often, go sledding and get some hot chocolate afterward. Play a favorite board game, with snacks and sodas, for an enjoyable yet alcohol-free time.

2. Have a Plan for Turning Down Alcohol in Advance

If you’re going to holiday parties where alcohol will be served, decide how you will deal with a host offering you a drink. Most people who are hosting parties will have at least some type of non-alcoholic option available. The easiest way to deal with the situation could be to say, “I’m not drinking, but I would like…. Thanks.”

Keep in mind that it’s up to you whether you want to talk about your sobriety or not. You aren’t obligated to reveal that you’re in recovery. There are many reasons why you may not be drinking. In fact, you may not be the only guest at a holiday party who is avoiding alcohol for one reason or another.

3. Bring Your Own Drink with You

You can always bring your own non-alcoholic drink (soda, cranberry juice, sparkling cider, etc.) to a party. Pour your own drink into a cocktail glass to avoid anyone commenting on whether you are drinking alcohol. If you are at a party where guests are drinking from cups, clearly mark yours so you don’t accidentally drink from someone else’s cup that contains alcohol.

4. Have Your Own Plan for Getting Home

It’s always gracious of someone to offer to drive to parties, but that also means you are stuck there until the person you came with is ready to leave. If you are at a party and you feel that you’ve had enough of being around people who are drinking, get a ride home with someone else, call a cab, or get another friend to pick you up.

Self-Care Suggestions for Avoiding a Holiday Relapse


While the holiday season can be a busy, stressful time of year, you can lower the likelihood of experiencing a relapse by keeping up with your self-care routine.

1. Continue Attending 12-Step Meetings

Don’t let yourself get so caught up in how busy the holidays can become that you stop going to meetings. You may need extra support to stay sober, since being around groups of family members can bring up issues that normally lay dormant. This can be stressful for anyone, much less someone in recovery. Lean on other members and your sponsor, as necessary, to get through this time of year.

2. Stick to Your Regular Schedule for Meals, Exercise, and Sleep
  
For someone in recovery, it’s important to stick to a regular schedule when you can. If you know you’ll be traveling and you won’t be able to eat a regular meal, pack a nutritious snack to take with you.

Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Go for a short walk (10-15 minutes) if you don’t have time to go to the gym. Spending time out of doors is refreshing and it’ll help you to manage stress to step away for a short time.
  
Do the best you can to go to bed at a reasonable time. If you’ve been up late one night, try not to do the same for several nights in a row. It’s easier to make poor decisions when overtired, which means avoiding exhaustion should be a priority.

3. Take Some Time for Yourself Over the Holidays

You don’t have to accept every invitation that you receive over the holidays—or any other time of year, for that matter. Schedule some time for activities to recharge your batteries. Read a book, try a new recipe, watch a movie, listen to music, meditate, do yoga, attend a religious service, or spend the afternoon doing whatever is meaningful to you.

Moving Forward After Relapse

A relapse can be frustrating, but it's not the end of the world. A holiday relapse doesn’t have to mean that you can’t look forward to a Happy New Year. English Mountain Recovery can help you get back on track with your sobriety.


By Jodee Redmond


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Benefits of Aftercare Post Addiction Treatment


Addiction treatment doesn’t stop when a client completes residential inpatient treatment. It would be unrealistic and unfair to send someone home without offering a plan for aftercare post addiction treatment and expect them to remain sober. The aftercare is an important part of the recovery plan, and this stage isn’t something that should be overlooked.

How Aftercare Treatment Benefits Someone in Recovery

There are a number of reasons why aftercare should be part of a client’s recovery plan. Some of the benefits are discussed below:

1.  Addiction is a chronic disease and treatment should be ongoing.
Research has shown that addiction is a chronic brain disease. Over time, using addictive substances changes brain chemistry, altering the affected person’s thinking and decision-making processes.

Recovery is an ongoing process, not a destination that a person reaches and then is declared “done”. Since addiction is a long-term illness, it makes sense that people living with it continue to receive help and support over a long term, too. Aftercare, in the form of seeing a counselor or attending support groups, can help people in recovery stay on track after they leave a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility.

2. Aftercare provides continued support after initial treatment.
When someone who has developed a substance abuse issue enters a residential treatment program, their entire focus is on getting well. The environment inside the treatment center is a closed one. Clients have the most contact with their counselors, nurses, and other staff at the treatment center.

The recovery program allows clients to participate in group and individual therapy sessions. Clients also can also get in touch with their spirituality, learn conflict management techniques, explore art therapy for healing, and enjoy recreational and leisure activities.

Once this part of treatment is completed, a client is going to continue to need ongoing support to maintain his sobriety. It’s more challenging to handle situations in the “real world” than the relatively controlled atmosphere of the treatment center.

3. Continuing support can reduce likelihood of relapse.
For people living with a chronic disease, the possibility of a relapse is always present. In the case of addiction, there are some things a client can do to lessen the likelihood of a relapse occurring. One of them is to seek long-term, residential treatment. English Mountain Recovery offers a 90-day inpatient treatment program.

When clients are able to take more time with the initial stage of their treatment, they are setting themselves up for success after they leave the program. The longer a client is able to spend in a treatment program, the more time her brain has to start to heal from the effects of exposure to addictive drugs.

The treatment program models a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious, balanced diet. A good diet is part of the equation that helps the brain and body heal from exposure to drugs and alcohol.

When a long-term treatment program is combined with continuing support, a client is increasing her chances of continuing sobriety. She will have gained more time to practice the skills required to deal with life stresses that formerly would have triggered her to use drugs or drink alcohol. 

During follow-up counseling or group therapy sessions, clients can discuss challenges they are facing as they transition to life after residential treatment, how they decided to cope with the challenges, and whether they felt that the coping strategy was successful or not.

4. A counselor or support group is a valuable source of insights into coping mechanisms.
Fellow support group members or a counselor can provide insights that new acquaintances can’t or won’t give to someone who is new to recovery. They understand the struggles of someone who has been in treatment for substance abuse and what it’s like to try to rebuild one’s life after taking time out to get help.

Aftercare is a stage of treatment that shouldn’t be skipped because a client thinks that inpatient drug and alcohol treatment should be “enough” to help someone who has struggled with addiction. English Mountain’s alumni program is an essential part of the treatment we offer.


By Jodee Redmond

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Experiential Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment requires an individualized approach if it’s going to be successful in helping a client achieve sobriety. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work for this type of chronic illness. 

Experiential therapy is one technique that may be part of an overall treatment plan. It may be used in conjunction with other therapies, such as individual counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, and attending 12-step recovery program meetings. 

What Is Experiential Therapy?

Experiential therapy has been used since the 1970s. As the name implies, it’s about the client’s “experience” as opposed to simply talking to a therapist to gain personal insight and solve problems. With this type of therapy, the client uses an activity, an expressive tool or a prop to re-experience strong emotional situations.

This technique is used to treat clients with a number of concerns. It has been used to treat clients with substance abuse issues, as well as people seeking help for behavioral addictions like gambling. Experiential therapy may also be used to treat eating disorders, trauma, grief and loss.

How Experiential Therapy Works

The basic premise of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is that if you change your thoughts, you will change your behavior. In experiential therapy, the premise is that your perception determines your behavior.

When clients re-experience (and are then able to release) the negative emotions they have been repressing, they are in a place where they can experience positive feelings. It becomes easier to feel comfortable with feeling calm, peaceful and loving in the present. From this place, clients can practice forgiveness of themselves and others.

Benefits of Experiential Therapy

There are a number of benefits for both the client and the therapist when including this type of therapy in the drug and alcohol treatment plan.

•   The therapist sees the client in a more “natural” setting.

Sitting across from a therapist in an individual counseling session can feel more than a little awkward for a client. Even though the purpose of examining past events and his emotion is to help him in his addiction recovery, he may feel as though he is under a microscope. During their conversation, the therapist is taking note of the words he is using, as well as his body language and other clues to gain an understanding of what he is trying to communicate.

During experiential therapy, the client is focused on completing the task that has been assigned, and is less concerned with his manner and how he is coming across. The therapist and the client can discuss his thoughts and feelings about different aspects of the task at the time or after the task has been completed.

•   Tasks give clients an opportunity to experience success.

Clients who check into an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center are likely having self-esteem issues. They probably haven’t felt as though they have been successful for some time. When given a task they can be successful at, they start to feel better about themselves.

For example, equine therapy lets clients experience the satisfaction that comes with hard work and developing a positive, trusting relationship with the horse.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that each task will be an easy one. Part of the therapy involves learning how to recognize obstacles, staying calm while dealing with them and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

•   The therapist gives the client specific feedback.

After the task has been completed, the therapist and the client meet to discuss the therapist’s impressions of the client’s behaviors. The client has a chance to respond and share whether any aspects of performing the task brought up strong feelings that she wants to address.

Experiential Therapy at English Mountain Recovery

English Mountain Recovery offers experiential therapy to its valued clients. This therapeutic approach includes several types of activities, such as adventure therapy, psychodrama, expressive arts therapy, recreation therapy and an equine interaction experience.  

By Jodee Redmond

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What to Look for When Choosing a Sponsor in Recovery


Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are based on the idea that support is a key component in healing from substance abuse. Sponsors are an important part of the program, since serving others is one of its foundations. You can work a 12-Step program without a sponsor, but many people find it helpful.

What Is a Sponsor?

A sponsor is someone who has been in a 12-Step program for one year or more. Sponsors answer questions about the program and help the members they work with stay accountable.

Your sponsor is someone you can discuss things with that you may not feel comfortable sharing with members at a meeting. If something comes up during a meeting you would like to expand on, your sponsor is a good person to continue the discussion with.

Keep in mind that the sponsor is a mentor, not a therapist. She may share information and insights with you, but her role is not to impose her personal views on you or to tell you what to do.

What to Look for When Choosing a Sponsor

•   Does the person you're considering attend 12-Step meetings regularly?

You want a sponsor who is serious about their own recovery and working their own 12-Step program. It’s a good idea to go to meetings for a while before you decide to approach a member about being your sponsor. Get to know some people casually and find out who you feel most comfortable around.

•  Do you want to work with someone with a similar background or a new perspective?

When choosing a sponsor, keep in mind that you aren’t looking for someone to become a close friend or a romantic partner. It may be easier for some people in recovery to relate to a sponsor who has a similar background, while others want a sponsor who can bring new insights to the table.

It’s generally not a good idea to choose someone to be your sponsor in whom there is even a slight possibility you could develop a romantic interest. Dating isn’t the purpose of the sponsor/sponsee relationship. It wouldn’t be appropriate for a sponsor to become involved with someone he or she was sponsoring.

•   Is the person someone you can trust and respect?

If you’re going to lean on this person as your sponsor, she has to be someone whom you can trust to keep what you share confidential. You don’t want to open up to a person who isn’t able to keep your information to herself.

You can tell whether you can respect someone else by watching how she shows respect to others. Keep this in mind when you are evaluating potential sponsors. Step back and really consider how she relates to people before you ask her to be your sponsor.

•   Does the person you’re considering have a sponsor of their own?

It’s important to find someone who not only “talks the talk” but “walks the walk” when it comes to having a sponsor. If the person you want to sponsor you doesn’t have their own sponsor, ask why not. If this type of mentoring relationship didn’t work for them, they may not be a good fit to fill that role for someone else in a 12-Step program.

•   Does the person have the time to commit to sponsoring someone?

It’s a considerable commitment to agree to sponsor someone in AA or NA. If you are looking for a sponsor and that person is already sponsoring other members, he may not have the time or energy to take on anyone else right now. If you approach someone about being your sponsor and they turn you down, more than likely it’s due to a lack of time and energy than anything personal.

A Note About Sponsors

Even if you decide early in your recovery that you don’t want a sponsor for your 12-Step program, you can change your mind at any time. It’s never too late to decide that you'd like to have a sponsor. Program members are very supportive and non-judgmental; each member of the group is prepared to help the others on their sobriety journey.

By Jodee Redmond