Tips to Enjoy Halloween During Recovery
Cooler weather is here and Halloween is around the corner. Though this year may be very different from Halloween’s past, it can still be a tough one to get through for those who struggle with drug and/or alcohol addiction or those in recovery, it can be a difficult time. Temptations can be overwhelming, especially if they attend a gathering where drugs or alcohol are present. There can also be situations that can trigger the need to use. It’s important to have a safety plan in place.
Possible Holiday Triggers
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests there are several triggers associated with trauma, such as certain songs, scents and rituals.. Holidays, in general, can be stressful with an increased pressure of family obligations or the opposite and a person doesn’t have family and/or friends to spend time with during this time of year. There are triggers everywhere, big and small, and avoiding them can be difficult. Take time to reflect and figure out what your triggers may be. Knowing what they are is a big step to staying sober on Halloween.
Tips and Tricks to Staying Sober During Halloween
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), creating a plan can help keep you and/or your loved one safe, maintain sobriety, and still have some Halloween fun.
Attend a local drug and/or alcohol support group. These groups are likely to have an increase in meetings during the holiday season. Attending regular meetings, in-person or virtually, is important for you or your loved one’s recovery and can be especially helpful before and after attending a party.
Be accountable to yourself as well. Schedule or make plans for the day after a Halloween get-together. It can act as a reminder that you have something to do the next day and avoid staying out all night. It is also a way out if anyone asks you to go to another party or stay out later than you planned.
Avoid Past “Haunts”
You might feel the pressure to visit old friends. These friends may still be deep into their addictions. Steer clear. You should avoid family members who may have parties full of alcohol and places that can induce stress or make you feel more comfortable to join in. Try something new and fun rather than revisiting your past.
Take a Friend and/or a Family Member
Know you are headed to a party or that you may end up at a party? Take a close friend and/or family member, someone who knows the struggle of your sobriety. If you don’t have anyone, invite your sponsor or someone from your group. Find someone there to support you and celebrate your recovery.
Plan an Escape
No matter how good your plan is, things can always go wrong. Have an escape plan in place, should things get out of line. Take your own car. Be mindful of how you are feeling. Are you finding yourself wanting to give in to the temptation? If you are feeling unable to fight the need to use or feel yourself heading out of control, leave immediately.
Supply Your Own Drink
Providing your own drink at get-togethers can help you avoid unwanted temptation. Keep it in your hand as much as you can. It can deter someone else from offering you a drink. This also prevents something unwanted ending up in your drink.
Practice Your Refusal
How are you going to say no when someone offers you a drink? Have a game plan. You could write out a script and tell it to yourself in the mirror. Practice with a friend and most importantly, know your lines.
Take Care of Others
Maybe this year, you could try something different. Instead of hitting that party, you could dress up and leave wrapped candy in front of neighbors’ doors—a reverse trick-or-treat. Think of something that would make you feel good about yourself and do it.
Halloween is a special time of the year but more often than not, alcohol or other substances tend to show up at certain functions. Being able to navigate those situations is important to staying substance-free. However, if you or a loved one is struggling during this time of year or you have had a relapse, New Hope Ranch is here to help. Contact us today at (737) 600-8565. You don’t have to face this time of year alone.
Making Healthier Nutrition Choices during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Americans struggling. First there were toilet paper shortages and a lack of perishable foods on the grocery store shelves. Then came a loss of work for many or a total upheaval to everyday life. The stress has impacted many, either physically or emotionally—sometimes both at once. As the economy has opened back up and food has become more readily available, it is still difficult to get the things we need, when we need them. Added stress can lead to less-than-healthy food options or even the thought of shopping for comfort items, including alcohol. Learn more about how you can make healthier choices—and stay the course of sobriety—during the pandemic.
The Physical and Emotional Impact of COVID-19
A study based out of Poland published in PubMed.gov discusses the effect quarantine can have on people. They have shown mandatory quarantine to produce high levels of psychological distress. This can show up as frequent emotional highs and lows, exhaustion, trouble sleeping and/or staying asleep, anger, post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms.
They noted the extended length of being quarantined to our homes—coupled with constantly watching negative headlines in the media—added to the stress and are likely to increase the desire for comfort foods and snacking. There can also be an increase in drug and alcohol use.
Living Well and Eating Healthy in the Middle of a Pandemic
Nutrition is more than food, according to the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry. There are two important goals when talking about our health. The primary needs relate to our relationships, career, how active we are, our spirituality and getting creative. The second health goal is the food we eat, how much of it we eat, and how it affects our bodies. Focusing on slight changes in the primary and secondary goals can make a major impact in our overall health and wellbeing.
Make Breakfast a Priority
For some, preparing a healthy breakfast doesn’t happen because of hectic mornings. However, if we take a little extra time to make a nutritional breakfast it could have a positive impact on the rest of the day.
- Eggs – a great source of protein and can help reduce hunger
- Oatmeal – filling and a good source of fiber
- Cereal – offers some vitamins and minerals
- Fresh vegetables – add to eggs for an omelet
- Fresh fruit – increases the nutritional value to oatmeal or as a side to eggs
- Muffin – can be store-bought or homemade with fresh vegetables or fruit
Tips to Curb Cravings & Feed Your Body Well
Check your mood – If you find yourself stressed and/or overwhelmed before heading for a snack, try something calming instead of eating. Read a book or listen to music.
Drink water – Water is important to avoid dehydration. It can also signal to your brain that you are hungry when you need a drink of water instead.
Boost your food intake – If you aren’t eating enough, it can lead to low blood sugar. This can cause mood swings leading to poor choices.
Note the change in season – With the change of seasons, the body can crave different foods. During the winter months you may crave foods heavy in fats and oils; these are heat producing foods. You may also find fruits more appealing during the summer.
Enjoy the comfort food – Foods we enjoyed in childhood can become foods we crave for comfort as adults. Make your favorite comfort foods but in different forms, such as adding a bunch of vegetables to macaroni and cheese.
COVID-19 has brought significant changes into our lives. If you have found that you or a loved one is abusing drugs and/or alcohol to cope during these trying times, please call us (737) 600-8565. New Hope Ranch provides thorough assessments and access to individual treatment plans tailored to meet your needs.
Strategies to Reduce Triggers If You Have SAD
Fall has arrived. Temperatures have dropped, school has started and the holidays are around the corner. The days are getting shorter as the sun sets earlier each day and the leaves are changing from green to a vibrant purple, yellow, orange or red.
It is also a time when the pressures of life increase. Schedules are full and finances are tight. For some, work has slowed and they need to get a second job. Shorter days bring less sunlight. The thought of the holidays are more stressful than joyous. These changes can be triggers for someone who is in recovery.
SAD and Recovery
Many people can struggle as we enter the fall season, especially if you’re trying to stay sober. The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as a type of depression that happens with the changing of seasons. Symptoms can be different depending on the seasonal change, such as:
- Feeling depressed for part of the day, almost everyday
- Not enjoying the activities you have in the past
- Lacking energy
- Trouble sleeping
- Appetite changes
- Feeling sluggish and/or irritated
- Loss of concentration
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and/or guilty
- Having regular thoughts of death and/or suicide
It is a normal, human response to have days where you feel sad. Bad days and sometimes bad weeks happen. However, if you are overwhelmed with these feelings regularly and you can’t get yourself motivated to face your everyday tasks, call your medical and/or mental health provider.
MedlinePlus mentions that there is not a direct cause for SAD. However, research supports that a person with SAD can have an imbalance of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that affects mood. It notes correlation with an increase in the sleep hormone, melatonin, which controls sleep. Low vitamin D can also be a cause.
Treatment for SAD
The American Psychiatric Association says that symptoms of SAD can generally improve with the passing of the season. However, symptoms can improve with treatment. There are several types of treatments available, including light therapy, talk therapy, antidepressant medication and/or a combination of the three. It is important for you or a loved one in a substance abuse program to receive treatment for SAD while continuing treatment.
1. Light Therapy
Light therapy comprises sitting in front of a light box. This box filters out harmful UV rays and gives off a bright light. It is a replacement for natural light during the winter months. It takes 20 minutes or more a day, and most people can feel better within two weeks. For some, increasing their time outside, in the sunlight, or through an open window can reduce symptoms. It is important to continue the use of light therapy until the fall and winter seasons have passed.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that’s considered the most effective for SAD. According to NIMH, CBT:
“Relies on basic techniques of CBT such as identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive thoughts along with a technique called behavioral activation. Behavioral activation seeks to help the person identify activities that are engaging and pleasurable, whether indoors or outdoors, to improve coping with winter.”
It is, also, an effective type of therapy used to help manage substance abuse. The focus is on reframing negative thinking and to change how you respond to life stressors.
NIMH states that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the go-to antidepressant medications used to treat SAD. The FDA has also approved bupropion, a different type of antidepressant, for treatment. There are, however, risks to taking medications and should be thoroughly discussed with your treatment provider.
Finding the best treatment for SAD can take time, but it is worth the effort to find a way to enjoy the cool days of fall and remain sober.
New Hope Ranch is well-versed in treating co-occurring disorders such as SAD and substance use. Our top priority is getting you access to the care you need. We are here to help get you to enjoy the changing seasons again, clean and sober. Call (737) 600-8565 today to get the care you or your loved one needs.
How Treating Depression Can Help Recovery
October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. Understanding mental health and knowing when it’s time to seek treatment when you don’t feel right is important. Typically, the reason why people turn to alcohol or drugs is because they are depressed and find it numbs the pain. If you are trying to recovery from an addiction, you may benefit from getting a mental health screening. Learn more about this important exam, what depression is and how it usually relates to substance use disorder.
Mental Health Screenings
A mental health screening is an exam that actually involves the body, too. The screening helps clinicians diagnose mental health disorders. The purpose of the exam, according to MedlinePlus, is to make sure there are no physical conditions causing mental health symptoms and to see if you will need to see a mental health provider. These screenings can be done by your primary care provider. If you already have a mental health provider, screenings are an additional mechanism to help guide your treatment.
What Is Depression
It is normal to feel sad sometimes. Life is hard. The pressure to pay bills, take care of family and take care of ourselves can be overwhelming. We can often overwork ourselves, feel burnt out and tired. It becomes concerning when these feelings persist every day, for most of the day, and for over two weeks. This can be a sign of a more serious problem.
NIHM defines depression as “a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” It has been suggested, scientifically, that depression is caused by a combination of biological, genetic, environmental and psychological circumstances. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Psychguides.com has estimated that 16.1 million American adults over age 18 have experienced at least one major depressive episode. If you can relate, then you are not alone.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent feelings of sadness and/or emptiness
- Feeling of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
- No longer take pleasure in hobbies or regular activities
- Lack of energy or feeling unmotivated to complete daily tasks
- Difficulty making decisions, concentrating or remember things
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Lack of appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicidal attempts and/or self-harm
- Feeling restless and/or irritable
- Physical symptoms such as aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems with no cause and doesn’t clear up with treatment
It is important to note that depression looks different for each person. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to talk to your doctor.
Depression as it Relates to Substance Abuse
According to a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, depression and substance abuse can often co-exist, also known as a co-occurring disorder. It can start with depression. A person who is depressed can find themselves seeking alcohol and/or drugs to cope with symptoms. It is also possible for a person using alcohol and/or drugs to develop depression from substance abuse. Around 7.9 million people have a co-occurring disorder, according to Psychguides.com.
Ways to Treat Depression
Treatment for depression involves psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. Psychotherapy provides help by teaching new ways to think, behave, and cope with life’s situations and stressors that can be causing depression. Medication can also be used to treat depression. Antidepressants are the most common medication used and it can take two to four weeks for the medication to have full effect. Side effects of taking antidepressants are possible, it is important to speak with your health care team if you are experiencing anything unusual when taking a medication. For some people with depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a method that works if medication and other means could not help. Finding the right treatment can take time, but it is worth it to get you or your loved one the right treatment to enjoy life again.
At New Hope Ranch, we are equipped to help people experiencing a co-occurring disorder. Our 49-acre ranch is an ideal place to help manage symptoms of depression and lead you to a lifetime of recovery. You are not alone. We are here to assist you and/or your loved one get the help you deserve. Call us today at (737) 600-8565.