Emotional Triggers

Recovery Can Be a Roller Coaster: How to Deal with Emotional Triggers

Relapse is a common part of the recovery process. In fact, 40-60 percent of individuals who struggle with substance abuse or addiction will relapse at some point.

Often, when people relapse, it is because they were faced with a trigger (or series of triggers) that they could not handle.

The more you know about your triggers and what kinds of coping mechanisms help you to deal with them, the less likely you’ll be to deal with relapse yourself.

Read on to learn more about common emotional triggers and the steps you can take to handle them in a healthy way and reduce your risk of relapse.

What Are Emotional Triggers?

An emotional trigger is anything that causes you to feel uncomfortable or experience any other kind of emotional reaction.

An example of an emotional trigger might be feeling angry or defensive when someone makes a comment about your past behaviors or feeling jealous when you see someone posting about an experience they had on social media.

Virtually anything can be an emotional trigger to someone.

Learning to identify emotional triggers is an essential part of the addiction recovery process.

Often, people turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with difficult emotions like jealousy and anger. In order to attain and maintain your sobriety, you need to find other, healthier ways to handle these feelings.

Common Emotional Triggers

A variety of different feelings can act as emotional triggers for folks who are in recovery. It’s important to note, too, that not all of these feelings are negative, although they certainly can be.

The following are some common emotions that can be triggering to people struggling with addiction:

Negative Feelings

When most people think of feelings that trigger a desire to use drugs or alcohol, they think of these kinds of negative feelings:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Irritation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Hate
  • Overconfidence
  • Jealousy
  • Sadness
  • Neglect
  • Overwhelm

A person might also become emotionally triggered when they feel that they’re being criticized or that they’re being viewed as inadequate.

Neutral Feelings

Neutral feelings can be emotional triggers, too.

For example, if someone is feeling bored, they might feel an urge to turn to alcohol or drugs just to give themselves something to do. They might turn to alcohol or drugs when they’re feeling relaxed, too, or if they want to feel more relaxed.

Positive Feelings

Positive emotions can even be triggering to some people. This is where things get really tricky.

For some people, celebrations might trigger a desire for alcohol or drugs as a way to let their hair down and enjoy some good news. Excitement, happiness, and passion can also be emotional triggers.

Tips for Recognizing with Triggers

Emotional triggers are often more difficult to deal with than other types of triggers. You might be able to avoid certain situations and people when you’re in recovery, but you can’t avoid all emotions.

Instead of trying to stay away from emotions when you’re recovering from addiction, it’s important to learn healthy ways to deal with all the different emotions you might experience.

Before you can deal with emotions and emotional triggers, though, you first need to figure out what your emotional triggers are.

Here are some tips that can help you start to identify your emotional triggers:

Notice Physical Reactions

Does your heart start beating rapidly when you get angry? Do you clench your fists when you’re stressed?

When you experience reactions like this, work backward to figure out what kind of emotion you’re feeling. Then, work backward some more to figure out what’s causing that emotion.

Notice Your Thoughts

Pay attention to the thoughts that run through your head, too. Have you suddenly started thinking irrationally or in extremes? What happened that brought on those thoughts?

What Happened Earlier?

You might not always experience emotional triggers when someone says or does something. You might be more prone to them, though, after a long day or after something else went wrong.

When you start experiencing physical reactions or negative thoughts, think about the context of the day and what kinds of situations might have contributed to them.

Tips for Dealing with Triggers

Once you’ve identified your emotional triggers, the next step is to learn to deal with them. Everyone handles their triggers differently, so you’ll have to do some experimentation to figure out which approaches work best for you.

The following are some ideas to help you get started:

Focus on Your Breath

When you start feeling physical reactions or negative thoughts in response to an emotional trigger, it helps to focus on your breath. This can calm your body down and get you out of a “fight or flight” state.

Try to Find Humor

It can be helpful to try and find humor in the situation, too. Often, we make issues more serious than they need to be. If possible, take a step back and try to find a way to lighten the moment.

Write Things Down

Many people also find that they can cope with triggers better if they write down how they’re feeling and nail down exactly what caused the feeling. Writing also gives you an opportunity to reflect and pause instead of reacting in an unhealthy way.

Take a Break

Sometimes, you just need to separate yourself from the situation altogether.

Whether you take a break to go write in a journal or engage in a hobby, taking a break before you respond can help you avoid losing your temper or saying or doing something you’ll regret later.

Get Help with Recovery Today

It’s not always easy to identify and cope with emotional triggers. The more you learn about yourself and the more you practice, though, the better your coping skills will become.

Remember, too, that you do not have to go through the recovery process alone.

If you need support from addiction recovery professionals or others who are also in recovery, we can help at Addiction Treatment Services.

Contact us today to learn more about different recovery programs in your area.

We have compassionate, caring admissions specialists available 24 hours a day to answer all of your questions and point you in the right direction.

References

Mojá, C. A., & Spielberger, C. D. (n.d.). Anger and Drug Addiction – Carmelo A. De Mojá, Charles D. Spielberger, 1997. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pr0.1997.81.1.152

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

How to Deal with Difficult People

How to Deal with Difficult People When Recovering from Addiction

Are you in the process of recovery?

Whether you’re recovering from drugs or alcohol, you know firsthand just how challenging the entire process can be. On top of the common challenges that accompany recovery, it can be easy to isolate yourself and feel alone in your struggles.

However, studies have found that more Americans than you might initially think have experienced recovery. In fact, 1 in 10 American adults has been in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction at one point in their lives.

Of these adults, the large majority have struggled with how to deal with difficult people during their recovery. If you find yourself nodding your head, you’re going to want to read this.

We’re uncovering seven proven methods for dealing with the difficult people that may present themselves during your recovery. Not only are these positive tips for life in general, but they’re also bound to help your overall recovery.

1. Modify Your Behavior

In dealing with difficult people, it’s important to remember that you cannot always modify someone else’s behavior.

Even if you feel strongly that their behavior is generally wrong, this doesn’t always translate to them understanding this notion. As a result, it’s likely that their patterns of bad behavior will continue and are unlikely to change.

Rather than focusing on how you can alter their behavior, try shifting your focus to how you can respond to their behavior. This is going to help give you control of the situation and minimize the negative effect that their behavior has on you.

2. Attempt to Understand Their Actions

When this person is showcasing their utmost difficulty, remember that you may be unaware of the current demons they’re facing. These struggles and hardships more than likely have a significant influence on their actions and presence.

It may also be helpful to remind yourself that you, too, may have been difficult at one point throughout your addiction. Before overcoming an addiction, it’s only natural for an addict to experience a range of emotions that lead to difficulty.

Do your best to understand why they may be acting out and appearing difficult. When you put yourself into their shoes, you’ll more than likely gain an appreciation for why they’re projecting themselves in such a poor manner.

3. Have Honest Conversations

When all else fails, why not be upfront and open with this person about how you’re feeling?

Allowing yourself to be honest with this person will provide them with valuable insight as to your thoughts and feelings. From their perspective, it may be surprising to them that you’re struggling with their actions. With this, it’s always possible that they may alter their behavior for the better.

Remember, difficult people, are not always aware as to how their actions impact others. While they may be experiencing struggle on the inside, they’re not always aware that this is being reflected on the outside.

4. Create Boundaries

It may be time to create a physical boundary between yourself and the difficult people in your life.

While this may be a difficult choice, it’s important to remember that boundaries can be very healthy for both parties. If you truly feel that the person nor their actions cannot be corrected, it may be time to slowly distance yourself from that person.

Remember, boundaries don’t have to be lifelong and can instead be temporary. So, this doesn’t mean that your relationship has to come to an official end. Rather, this means that you are taking a break from having this person in your life during the recovery process.

5. Remove Yourself from Toxic Relationships

Of course, not all relationships with difficult people are salvageable or worth saving. Before making any rash decisions, it’s essential to differentiate which relationships are too negative and unhealthy to continue.

If you truly feel that the difficult people in your life are toxic, it might be time to officially cut your ties to this person. While relationships in life are arguably one of the most rewarding and important facets of life, this isn’t the case for each and every relationship.

6. Reach out for Support

There comes a time and place where not all relationships can be saved nor abandoned. For many addicts in recovery, this will come in terms of dealing with a difficult family member such as a parent or a sibling.

While this relationship may feel toxic, it may also feel impossible to remove yourself from such a relationship. This is where it becomes crucial to enlist the help of others in dealing with this person.

This may come in terms of speaking to mutual connections as well as speaking with a therapist or your sponsor. Having honest conversations and allowing for the perspective of others can provide you with the tools necessary for tolerating this person.

7. Give Second Chances

Last but not least, it’s important to remind yourself that some people deserve to be given a second chance.

Remember that the majority of addicts are given a second chance at both life and in their relationships during recovery. Think back to the forgiveness that friends and family paid to you when you were suffering from your addiction.

When you extend your forgiveness to a difficult person in your life, it can help to foster an entirely new relationship. This new relationship can be a second chance at developing a more healthy and positive relationship with that person.

How to Deal with Difficult People During Recovery

Today, nearly 21 million American adults suffer from some form of substance addiction. In an attempt to lead a sober lifestyle, many of these adults will find themselves facing the bumpy road of recovery at some point.

While you may control your own actions in recovery, you may not always control the actions of those around you. When this takes place, you may find yourself wondering how to deal with difficult people that are present throughout your recovery.

Fortunately, these tips will help to provide guidance on how to overcome these difficulties and focus on your recovery. This may be anything from modifying your own behavior and attempting to understand the behavior of others to removing yourself from toxic relationships and establishing boundaries.

If you feel that yourself or a loved one may be facing addiction issues, be sure to contact us today. With a simple phone call, we can discuss the many options that are available to help today.

References

Chan, A. L. (2012, March 07). The Shocking Number Of Americans Who’ve Recovered From Substance Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/07/addiction-recovery-america-drugs-alcohol_n_1327344.html

Hafner, J. (2016, November 17). Surgeon general: 1 in 7 in USA will face substance addiction. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/11/17/surgeon-general-1-7-us-face-substance-addiction/93993474/

Boredom in Recovery

How to Combat Boredom in Recovery

Right now, 22 million Americans are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. Dealing with boredom in recovery is one of the biggest causes of relapse.

Boredom is a dangerous state of mind that can open up the floodgates to behaviors that are harmful and addicting. Especially when a person is in the delicate state of new sobriety.

But there is hope! Read on for the best ways you can deal with boredom in recovery in productive ways.

Unplug

So many people try coping with boredom by turning to electronic devices. They surf the net or social media sites or binge watch entire seasons on Netflix.

But though staring at a screen may seem like a good way to preoccupy yourself, the truth is you may be experiencing sensory overload. This reduces your ability to focus on anything for any length of time.

Plus, when you are staring at a screen, you aren’t living your life, you are just passively taking in information.

Take a look at your screen habits and set some boundaries. Start by powering off for an hour at the same time every day.

You could also set rules about how much time you will spend scrolling Facebook. A timer is a great way to stick to your goals.

As you unplug, your ability to focus and think clearly will improve. And you’ll find that when you are bored, you’ll be better able to find productive activities to turn to.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps you focus on the current moment without worrying about the future or ruminating on the past.

Boredom and addiction go hand-in-hand because boredom opens up a window for self-doubt and negative self-talk.

Mindfulness is one of the best tips for dealing with boredom in recovery. Meditation is a wonderful way that you can begin to become more mindful.

It may sound easy, but takes a lot of practice to successfully do for any length of time.

Best of all, as you start to pay attention to what you see, smell, hear and feel, the world becomes a richer and more fascinating place.

Hit the Gym

Exercise is the cure for so many of life’s ailments.

Trouble sleeping? Aches and pains? Low sex drive?

Exercise helps with all of these. When you are dealing with boredom in recovery, you are likely feeling pessimistic.

Exercise sends a rush of endorphins to your brain. Then, you experience a natural euphoric state that helps you feel good about yourself and your life.

So hit the gym and leave it all on the floor. You’ll get rid of some nervous energy and improve how your mind and body feel as well.

Try a New Hobby

You have heard that removing an addiction is not enough. You also need to replace that with new habits and interests.

One of the best ways of dealing with boredom in recovery is to find a new hobby or interest.

There must be something you’ve always found interesting but never done. Maybe you can take up rowing or woodworking.

Perhaps you’d love to learn how to quilt. Or you might want to finally learn Portuguese or cake decorating.

It really doesn’t matter what hobby you choose. A new interest will improve your mental health and focus.

Not to mention that it’s a great way to start new friendships. Look for local groups or classes and get involved.

Create a Daily Schedule

One of the best ways that you can learn how to deal with boredom is to create a schedule for yourself.

A large part of being bored is having no clear idea of what you should do next. Having a schedule keeps you on track and engaged with your activities.

Include meal prep and cooking healthy enjoyable meals. Make sure you schedule in a daily walk or spending time outdoors gardening or reading.

Set aside time to write in your journal and connect with your support group. And add in time for volunteering and learning new skills.

Set a Goal and Work Towards it

People who are goal-oriented have a purpose for their lives. And it doesn’t have to be a huge life-changing goal, either.

It can be a fitness goal like train for and run a marathon. Or it can be something like take a cooking class and learn how to cook Italian food.

The best thing is if you can make your goal measurable and give yourself a deadline. Six months to a year is often a good timeframe. Longer and you may get discouraged, too short and you may not have enough time to reach your goal.

Having a goal is an excellent way of coping with boredom during recovery.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

When you force yourself to get outside of your comfort zone, you stretch your limits and grow as a person. If you’re shy to talk to new people, start up a conversation in the grocery checkout line.

If you’re afraid of public speaking, join an improv club or a debate team. The result is that you will become a more courageous and adventurous person. And that will serve you well in your new life of sobriety.

Final Thoughts on Boredom in Recovery

Thanks for reading. As you can see boredom in recovery is manageable. There are so many proactive approaches you can take when dealing with boredom.

Do you have questions about addiction, treatment or scheduling an intervention? Contact us today and get the help you deserve.

References

Ashford, R. D., & Canode, B. (2018, August 29). It’s time to measure addiction recovery rates, not just addiction rates. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2018/08/30/measure-addiction-recovery-rates/

Bennett, C. (2011, December 01). The 4 Most Common Causes Of Addiction Relapse. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dispositions-of-relapse_n_988137

Addiction Cravings

Tips for Coping with Addiction Cravings

Have you ever woken up with an intense craving for drugs or alcohol? Do you consider yourself an addict, even if you won’t admit it to anyone else?

From 2000 to 2010, Americans spent more than $1 trillion on illegal drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription opioids. That’s about $100 billion per year. Since then, illegal drug purchases have ballooned to a whopping $400 billion per year.

Answering those addiction cravings can lead to lost wages, hospitalization, and loss of property including cars and homes. So how can you resist the urge to use drugs and continue on the path to sobriety?

If you need to know how to stay sober, this article’s for you. We’ll introduce you to a few coping mechanisms and help you find long-term relapse prevention options.

Acknowledge the Urge

You may have heard people say, “What you resist, persists.” This is doubly true when you’re dealing with an addiction. If you fight the urge to use, it will grow stronger.

If you need to know how to deal with cravings, the first step is learning to put a space in between wanting to use and using. Being able to take a few minutes and think rationally will cut down on the likelihood that you’ll relapse.

When a craving comes up, make a mental note of where you are. Are there certain triggers that are making you want to use?

Do you want to use when you see certain people? Acknowledging that you have a craving is the first step toward dealing with it.

Leave the Situation

One of the best coping skills for addiction is to imagine yourself with wheels on your feet. When you feel caught in a situation that makes you want to use, just roll on out of there.

Leaving situations that give you unpleasant memories or addiction cravings is a vital skill for staying sober. Once you accept your cravings, you also have to accept that there are certain “people, places, and things” that make you want to relapse.

Nobody wants to have to leave their friends behind, but you need to focus on your own recovery.

Accept Your Addiction

The next step in how to fight drug cravings is to accept your addiction. We already said that accepting your cravings is key, but accepting your addiction is a little bit different.

If you accept your addiction, you might want to get treated in an outpatient or inpatient rehab facility. You might share the truth about your addiction with some close friends or family.

Don’t be surprised if your friends say they didn’t realize how bad your addiction had become. Alcohol and drug addiction tend to be isolating conditions, pursued in secret.

If your family has organized an intervention, it might be the perfect time to get started with rehab. They care for you and have noticed that your addiction has gotten way out of control.

Most insurance plans pay for rehab, and there are a wide variety of treatment options.

Attack Your Cravings

The great thing about rehab is that it can teach you how to deal with alcohol cravings. You may need to take some medication to get past your withdrawal symptoms, but that’s something you can talk to your doctor about.

Another way to attack your cravings is to attend local support groups. They offer a non-judgmental place to share your pain of addiction and your hope of a better life.

If your town doesn’t have any drug and alcohol support groups, you can access them online.

You have to be able to tell yourself that your cravings are irrational. You have to take the energy you used to spend on getting high and apply that to your recovery.

Attack your cravings by examining your thought process and orienting yourself toward weekly and monthly sobriety goals.

Find a Fulfilling Activity

When you’re in the midst of a craving, your entire mind is focused on using drugs or alcohol. Wouldn’t it be great if you could replace your cravings with a fun hobby or outdoor activity?

Giving yourself something to do besides drugs and alcohol allows you to dive right into a sober lifestyle. Is there an instrument you’ve always wanted to play?

Would you like to take a trip somewhere? After you give up spending on alcohol and drugs, you may be surprised at how much money you have left over.

If you drink seven beers five days per week and pay $5 for each one, you’re spending $700 per month or $8,400 per year.

Check out this online calculator to get the precise amount you’re spending on alcohol every month.

When you’re contemplating a relapse, think about what you’d like to do with your money.

Prevent a Relapse

Recovery can seem like a long and lonely road, but there are ways to avoid relapsing.

First, you may have to find other ways to deal with physical pain. You could try going to physical therapy, meditating, or taking non-opioid pain medication.

Next, you may need to change your diet. Long-term alcohol or drug abuse can make it more difficult to tell when you’re hungry.

Switching to a diet that is high in fiber and protein can help you put on some muscle and give you the energy to attack each day.

Finally, you might want to participate in ongoing outpatient programs at your local rehab facility. They can treat your depression or other mental health conditions.

Can Rehab Help with Addiction Cravings?

Rehab facilities are specially designed to help you with your addiction cravings. They have a team of highly-trained professionals who are ready to get you past the withdrawal phase and into long-term recovery.

We treat people with a range of addictions, including alcohol, opiates, stimulants, and sleeping pills. Our four locations offer inpatient and outpatient options, mental health treatment, and medication-assisted detox. If our locations are not convenient for you, we can make referrals for rehab facilities in other states.

If you’ve ever considered getting treatment for an addiction, talk to us and let’s hold your hand as you being this journey.

References

addiction in the media

Study Finds Media Skews Depiction of Drug Problem

addiction in the mediaPeople in the addiction treatment and recovery community have long been fighting an uphill battle regarding the stigma surrounding addiction. Although it appears that progress is being made in educating more people about addiction, there is still a tendency to err on the side of criminalizing the behavior rather than supporting treatment and successful recovery programs.

One of the biggest offenders of this has been traditional mainstream media, and a recent study examined how prescription painkiller abuse was depicted by some of the largest media outlets over more than a decade.

According to the study, the number of stories having to do with prescription opioid abuse increased significantly since 1998. Of the sample of media outlets examined, the number of stories jumped from 13 that year up to 63 by 2012, which was an increase of 484%. Two-thirds of these stories depicted opioid abuse along with criminal activity, while only 3% of them offered readers or viewers treatment solutions.

“Results of a recent experimental study suggest that portrayals of successful treatment of opioid analgesic abuse can improve public attitudes toward and reduce willingness to discriminate against individuals experiencing the condition, but only slightly over one-third of news stories depicted an individual engaging in treatment,” explained the researchers.

While most treatment professionals would agree that more coverage of the substance abuse problem is needed to increase overall awareness, having a more balanced and responsible approach to the subject would be a much better service to the general public. The truth is that addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone. It is also true that prevention, intervention, and treatment are effective and that long-term recovery is made possible every day.

Using Technology in Recovery: Does it Work?

technologyAs we continue to rely more on technology for other areas in our life, several groups of researchers have sought to find out how it can be used in the substance abuse treatment, recovery, prevention and treatment fields. Can websites, apps and text messages really help people cut back or stop their drug and alcohol use? What they have found thus far is that yes, technology can be used to reduce substance abuse.

Although in-person intervention and prevention techniques are generally more effective, having direct access to people via phone, email and the computer can still have a very positive impact. Both earlier studies, as well as more current ones, show that the benefits of personal interaction, even if it is through a device, is a helpful tool in the full scope of recovery-related support.

Most recently these tools have targeted college binge drinking. The goal here was more to reduce the amount of time spent drinking as well as the volume consumed and the frequency of consumption. A marked decrease did occur and results were better than campus-wide awareness programs since they targeted people on a more individual level.

Other areas of use have included help for returning vets to reduce their drinking via online interventions, and treatment center aftercare programs to aid in sobriety. There are also a handful of AA- and NA-related apps available to assist people in their personal recovery.

CDC Gives Overview of Heroin Problem in America

In the latest VitalSigns report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the focus is heroin addiction. Heroin use has more than doubled in the last decade among people between the ages of 18 and 25, and thousands of lives are being lost to the drug each year.

The CDC listed out several points that need to be considered in each state to help reduce the drug’s impact. These include:

  • Use all available tools to reduce the prescription painkiller use and availability, as they represent the biggest risk factor for developing a heroin addiction
  • Increase access to substance abuse treatment services for those abusing or addicted to the drug
  • Expand access to and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths
  • Increase efforts for reducing harm through a variety of prevention and intervention tactics
  • Share best practices with other communities and help them get implemented around the nation

In addition to the above information, additional facts were shared to help increase awareness. One of them was the fact that nearly every heroin user also uses other drugs or alcohol, and poly-substance abuse also increases the chances of drug interaction and compounding negative effects.

While many government agencies continue to push medication-assisted treatment such as using methadone or buprenorphine as long-term maintenance drugs, we try to help people explore the option of finding treatment centers that use other methods for rehabilitation first. Dependency on another form of opioid should be a last resort for the course of treatment in our book. We very routinely get calls from people looking for Suboxone clinics, and we are often able to help them find other alternatives to consider.

If you know of someone who needs help to recover from a heroin problem, call us today for more information and resources for recovering from substance abuse.

heroinpolydruguse

What is the Parity Law?

transfmhsvcsFor many years, addiction treatment and recovery advocates lobbied for equal coverage for insurance plans regarding mental health and substance abuse. They called it parity, and it recently became a reality with the passing of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). The whole premise is that substance abuse and mental health benefits should be equal to other health insurance benefits in terms of overall coverage, including annual and lifetime maximums.

Last month the Departments of Health and Human Services, as well as the Labor and Treasury, issued the final rules for the Act, which includes additional protection for consumers. While policies that don’t have behavioral health benefits aren’t required to include them, those that do are now held to the same level of other health coverage. Additional areas addressed include co-pays, out-of-network providers, care management tools, number of inpatient days and visits.

Prior to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the Parity Laws applied mostly to group plans such as governments and employers of 50 or more people. However, this will now be extended to smaller employers and individual plans after the first of the year. The only exceptions to the new laws are plans created before March of 2010.

If you have insurance coverage and would like to know what mental health and substance abuse treatment benefits might be able to you, contact us today for a free estimate, and we can help you locate quality rehabilitation facilities that will work with your policy.