The 4 Most Common Summer Triggers

The 4 Most Common Summer Triggers

Seasonal changes can bring about new and different triggers, including some that you may not have realized were triggers for you in the first place. Summer is well-known for being the happiest of seasons, usually packed with activities and things to do. As fun as summer is, it can also bring about some unexpected feelings and triggers — especially this year with the dangers of Coronavirus constantly lurking. Keep reading to find out more about the 4 most common summer triggers and how to overcome them so that you can have an enjoyable, sober summer.

#1 of 4 Common Summer Triggers: Traveling

One of the most common summer triggers is traveling. Even though the Coronavirus has botched most people’s travel plans, you might be one of the many people who feel comfortable going on a staycation to get a change of scenery. No matter what your travel plans may or may not be this year, getting out of your normal environment and into a relaxing, carefree one can be triggering, especially when traveling with a group of people.

Ways to overcome this trigger include:

Make sure you’re not the only sober one on the trip and that you have sober support to lean on
Preplan and find activities to do while you’re gone so that drinking and using substances doesn’t become the group’s only plans. Find local hiking trails, boat rentals, or daytime excursions
Keep busy during the trip, such as being the house’s chef or itinerary planner
If you feel it might be too much for you, sit this trip out

#2 Common Summer Trigger: The Water

The water can be a common summer trigger for many people. This includes the pool, the beach, the lake, the river, or any other kind of body of water. The water has an amazing ability to relax us, make us forget our problems, and bring about happiness. However, for many people in recovery, the water can also equate to a cold beer or the like. This can make it difficult to relax around the water without having cravings.

Ways to overcome this trigger include:

Bring your own cooler with your own drinks. This way, you don’t have to rely on others to provide nonalcoholic drinks, and not using someone else’s cooler means yours won’t be mixed in next to triggering drinks.
Find activities to do at the water that bring you joy, such as jet skiing or swimming with the kids, so that your cravings are given less power every time you go.

#3 Common Summer Trigger: More Time Off

For many individuals, the summer means having more free time. This time of year is typically when people cash in their vacation time or are on summer vacation. Especially now with the social health measures related to Coronavirus, many people are still working from home and are able to sneak out of the house to enjoy the weather. This extra time off can quickly lead to boredom, which is one of the first signs a relapse can be looming.

Ways to avoid this trigger include:

Make plans to keep yourself busy, even if it’s as simple as cleaning around your house
Spend time with others, even if it is virtually or over the phone

#4 Common Summer Trigger: COVID Frustration

One of the newest summer triggers, which is quickly becoming one of the most common summer triggers this year, is dealing with COVID frustration. It’s now been about 4 months since the start of the pandemic in our country, and people are becoming restless especially now that it is summer. Canceled vacations, weddings and other milestone events you can no longer attend, music festivals that are off, not being able to visit theme parks, and the inability to travel can cause a lot of frustration which could potentially lead to a relapse.

Ways to avoid this trigger include:

Talk to someone. Make sure you are keeping up with your regular meetings and therapy sessions so that somebody knows how you feel.
Make some plans this summer whether it is a staycation at a local AirBnB, attending virtual events, or just taking a long drive once a week to get out of your normal surroundings

About New Hope

New Hope Ranch is a residential treatment center focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment, and reintegration for people suffering from substance abuse. Services are provided on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.

New Hope Ranch’s mission has two basic purposes: to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth. The organization has a culture of innovation that thrives on the creation of new services that meet the community’s needs while maintaining effectiveness, excellence, and professionalism. New Hope Ranch values an integrated system of high-quality care focused on best practices, easy access to services, and providing a full range of services in an efficient manner.

Our Treatment Philosophy consists of providing the highest quality services while ensuring that each patient has a personalized treatment plan. New Hope Ranch met the rigorous standards and regulations the Joint Commission requires for a behavioral health provider to achieve accreditation and we strive every day to represent our gold standard joint commission accreditation proudly.

Contact us today for more information on our treatment program.

Alcohol Withdrawal Explained

Alcohol Withdrawal Explained

Realizing that your drinking habits have spiraled out of control and that you need help can be a terrifying thought. A million questions swirl through your head: What will alcohol treatment be like? What will my family think? How painful will detox be? Keep reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawal, what happens in the days after you quit drinking, what ongoing symptoms may persist, and why medicated-assisted treatment is the best, and safest, course of action for quitting alcohol.

Alcohol Withdrawl Explained: After the First Drink

Alcohol withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours after the last drink. These symptoms are mostly mild, however, people with a long history of heavy drinking can suffer from more dangerous symptoms, such as seizures.

Common symptoms within the first few hours of the last drink include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

What Determines The Severity of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is different for everybody. There is a wide range of factors that determine how severe, or not severe, your symptoms may be. These include:

The severity of the addiction. An individual who drank all day every day in large volumes may have worse alcohol withdrawal symptoms than someone who didn’t drink as much or as frequently.
The length of the addiction. The body becomes dependent on substances the longer the individual uses it. As such, someone who has been addicted to alcohol for ten years will have more severe symptoms than someone who has been addicted for one year.
Underlying mental health conditions. Alcohol use can exacerbate underlying mental health conditions, which can make it more difficult for individuals suffering from them to overcome. These can include things such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD – all of which are treatable conditions through a treatment plan called dual diagnosis at facilities like ours.

The First 72 Hours

The first 72 hours of alcohol withdrawal are when symptoms peak. It is also the most dangerous period of time because this is when relapse is most common, due to the symptoms peaking.

Common symptoms experienced in the first 72 hours include:

  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium tremens

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm Delirium Tremens can be severe enough to cause hospitalization and even death. This makes it extremely important for individuals who wish to detox from alcohol to do so under the supervision of medical professionals, and never to attempt it alone.

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens include:

  • Delirium, which is sudden severe confusion
  • Body tremors
  • Changes in mental function
  • Agitation, irritability
  • Deep sleep that lasts for a day or longer
  • Excitement or fear
  • Hallucinations (seeing or feeling things that are not really there)
  • Bursts of energy
  • Quick mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, touch
  • Stupor, sleepiness, fatigue
  • Seizures

Ongoing Symptoms

Getting through the first few days of alcohol withdrawal is crucial because that is when symptoms and cravings are at their peaks. However, symptoms may remain ongoing for a week or more. While they are less severe than initial symptoms, they can still be life-threatening.

Acute ongoing alcohol symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Low energy
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea
  • Irritability

Medicated-Assisted Detox

The only safe way to detox from alcohol is under the supervision of medical professionals by way of medicated-assisted detox. By minimizing withdrawal symptoms and having around-the-clock medical care, individuals can rest assured that they will experience a more comfortable detox with minimal complications if any.

Some of the medications involved with medicated-assisted detox include:

  • Sleeping aids to ease insomnia symptoms
  • Nutritional support and exercise to give the body the proper fuel to get through detox safely
  • Medications for physical symptoms, such as nausea or fever
  • Anxiety medication to ease anxiety, depression, and mood swings

Another one of the many benefits of medicated-assisted detox is that the individual will be able to think more clearly more quickly. This allows clients to get more out of their treatment experience by beginning counseling and therapy sessions quicker and avoid relapse.

If you or a loved one are ready to finally quit alcohol for good, medicated-assisted detox is the best way to get through alcohol withdrawal. By getting through this initial stage of sobriety as comfortably as possible, you are setting yourself up for the best possible chances of long-term recovery.

About New Hope

New Hope Ranch is a residential treatment center focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment, and reintegration for people suffering from substance abuse. Services are provided on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.

New Hope Ranch’s mission has two basic purposes: to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth. The organization has a culture of innovation that thrives on the creation of new services that meet the community’s needs while maintaining effectiveness, excellence, and professionalism. New Hope Ranch values an integrated system of high-quality care focused on best practices, easy access to services, and providing a full range of services in an efficient manner.

Our Treatment Philosophy consists of providing the highest quality services while ensuring that each patient has a personalized treatment plan. New Hope Ranch met the rigorous standards and regulations the Joint Commission requires for a behavioral health provider to achieve accreditation and we strive every day to represent our gold standard joint commission accreditation proudly.

For more information on New Hope Ranch, visit newhoperanch.com

How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery

How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery

How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery

While there are many LGBTQ+ holidays and events throughout the year, the month of June has been designated as Gay Pride Month. Whether it is your first time experiencing Pride Month sober or your tenth, the party atmosphere of Pride Month can be triggering. Keep reading for ways you can safely participate in and celebrate Pride Month while in recovery and stay sober.

How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery: Lean On Your Support System

Even though this year’s Pride Month is a unique one due to COVID-19 Safe At Home restrictions, there are still many instances where you may need to lean on your support system. Addiction can have many different underlying issues – such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety – all of which are treatable, and having a strong support system is essential while in recovery.

Whether it is attending a virtual event, going to a small get-together, or if bars and restaurants are open in your area, it is always a good idea to take the following precautions with your support system:

Designate a sober buddy. Make sure you have a fellow sober companion with you throughout Pride Month and for any events you may be attending. You can work together to make sure the other is doing okay, to talk through triggers, or to simply have a great time with.
Keep attending your meetings. Make sure your regular meetings aren’t falling by the wayside just because it is Pride Month. In fact, you should think about going to a few extra ones just to make sure you’re staying on track.
Check-in with your loved ones. It is important to make sure you check in regularly with your loved ones so that they know you’re doing okay, and so that you can have people to speak with, should the festivities of Pride Month become too overwhelming for you.

Plan Ahead

If you do end up attending a social distance-friendly Pride Month event this year, it is important that you plan ahead. Some tips for doing this include:

Have an exit strategy ready. Make sure you have a way to excuse yourself from any situation you’re in, such as saying you have another function to attend or that you have an early morning the next day.
Don’t be a designated driver. It might feel safer for your friends to be in a loved one’s car rather than an Uber or taxi due to COVID-19, however, just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you need to be the designated driver. Doing this will force you to stay at the function the entire time and can set you up for a possible relapse.
Bring your own food and drinks. Don’t rely on the host to have sober-friendly food and drinks at the party. If need be, bring a water bottle or a jug of your favorite lemonade.

Host Something You Can Control

If you’re worried about attending events and feeling overwhelmed, host your own! This way, you can be in control of what happens, and you can still participate in all the fun that Pride Month has to offer.

Some ways you can host your own Pride Month event include:

A virtual watch party. There are so many virtual events going on during this year’s Pride Month due to COVID-19. Gather your friends and host a virtual watch party!
Brush up on your cooking skills. Whether it is virtual or a small social distance-friendly in-person gathering, host a cooking party with your friends and make rainbow-inspired treats!
Get your game on. Everyone loves a good game night! Head to the HouseParty app to host an LGBTQ+ inspired virtual game night, or put on your rainbow best and have a Safe At Home-friendly gathering.

Volunteer Instead

LGBTQ+ issues run very deep in the community — they affect many aspects of human life, all the way down to abuse, race, poverty, substance abuse disorder, homicide, suicide, and many more. If you are particularly passionate about any of the issues and are looking for a way to give back, volunteering for Pride Month is the best way to do it.

You can check out some local organizations to volunteer for in Texas by clicking here. https://greatnonprofits.org/state/Texas/category:LGBTQ/sort:review_count/direction:desc

About New Hope

New Hope Ranch is a residential treatment center focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment, and reintegration for people suffering from substance abuse. Services are provided on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.

New Hope Ranch’s mission has two basic purposes: to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth. The organization has a culture of innovation that thrives on the creation of new services that meet the community’s needs while maintaining effectiveness, excellence, and professionalism. New Hope Ranch values an integrated system of high-quality care focused on best practices, easy access to services, and providing a full range of services in an efficient manner.

Our Treatment Philosophy consists of providing the highest quality services while ensuring that each patient has a personalized treatment plan. New Hope Ranch met the rigorous standards and regulations the Joint Commission requires for a behavioral health provider to achieve accreditation and we strive every day to represent our gold standard joint commission accreditation proudly.

For more information on New Hope Ranch, visit newhoperanch.com

Going From General Concern To Full-Blown Panic

Going From General Concern To Full-Blown Panic

COVID-19 has many people concerned and even panicking over what they believe is an uncertain future. We feel insecure about our place in the world and fearful for the lives of our loved ones. Concern is a natural response to the unknown. Panicking, on the other hand, is more extreme and can demand specialized attention. Our perspectives have shifted and our reaction to our new world can cause intense anxiety. Intense anxiety leads to panic attacks that can immobilize our lives. A shift in perspective is essential to move forward. 

It is completely normal to feel anxious about the coronavirus. This isn’t the worst pandemic we’ve experienced, by far, but with the twenty-four-hour news cycle focusing on the worst cases, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed. Those of us who already suffer from anxiety and depression can start to spiral and get lost. We must have a plan to get through that time. 

How Can You Tell If You Are Moving From Concern Into Panic-Mode?

The Washington Post describes the response to the coronavirus as a “line dividing a cautious and responsible reaction from a panicked, entirely self-protective and competitive response can be thin and not entirely rational”. Concern involves careful handwashing, social distancing, and sneezing into your elbow. Someone who is panicking may be hoarding, having anxiety attacks, and isolating themselves even from the telephone. 

If you, or someone you know, are teetering towards the more severe side of the line, help may be warranted. Panic behaviors are symptoms of an underlying anxiety disorder and you, or your loved one, deserve relief from some of the most immobilizing indicators of the disease: 

  • restlessness and inability to relax
  • excessive worry
  • irritability
  • feelings of impending doom
  • irrational fears
  • avoidance of triggering situations
  • panic attacks

Every single person is experiencing this virus in their way, through their own eyes, experiences, and expectations. When we hear that stopping the spread of this disease is up to us and “flattening the curve,” our worries become all-consuming. Our paranoia increases as our routines fluctuate unexpectedly and our depression rises. We find ourselves restless with all of this extra time that we would usually spend doing other things. Concern yourself with what you can control and not what you can’t.

The Circle Of Concern And Of Influence

A circle of concern and influence is a diagram the looks a little like a bullseye. A smaller circle lays inside a larger circle. The smaller circle is called the circle of influence and the larger circle is called the circle of concern. The larger circle includes issues that you may be concerned about but that you cannot control, such as the actions of other people, what’s on the news, and the coronavirus. The smaller circle of influence contains issues that you do have control over, such as your attitude, your actions, and your reactions to the issues in the circle of concern. 

The entire premise is that you shouldn’t panic about what you don’t have control over. Save your worries for the things that you can control. The circles can shrink or get bigger based on where our attentions are. If we are too focused on the existential properties of the virus then we don’t have time to think about our behaviors. Some parts of our lives can then be neglected. The goal is to increase the size of the inner circle, the sphere of what we can control, to make our lives and the lives of our loved ones more positive. In turn, we feel more positive and in control of our lives and our futures. 

How Can I Stay Calm During A Crisis?

Remember what you can control and what you can’t. There are many ways to alleviate your stress, anxiety, and feelings of panic during the pandemic. Schools are closing, businesses are shut down, and more and more people are being sent home to work. It is hard to deal with the stress that this virus has given us and we need to take measures to lessen the tension. Applied relaxation, meditation, and yoga can all be done at home and there are many videos online that can lead you through the exercises.  

  • limit your intake of the news and even reevaluate your media sources if you need
  • take all necessary precautions but don’t overdo it and don’t make up your own 
  • try to maintain a steady routine and do your best to stick with it
  • don’t isolate yourself completely
  • limit your time on computers, cell phones, and social media
  • always tell someone when you are feeling anxious and scared

You should be getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining your perspective. Talking to someone helps but becomes more complex while social distancing. Calling someone every day, just to chat and check in with them can make a world of difference. There are professionals ready to help you as well, and they can do so over the phone, from your own home. 

 

The Gift of Desperation

The Gift of Desperation

I woke alone in a dimly lit bathroom surprised to be alive. As I stood and gazed into the mirror I saw a shadow of myself. Who was this stranger looking back? A criminal. An addict. An addiction. A Junkie. I had even failed to kill myself the night before in this very room – I couldn’t do anything right.

In many ways I do not fit the stereotype of a heroin addict – maybe few do in the beginning. Maybe we become the stereotype as we follow that dark, dead end path. Afterall, I was raised in a upper middle class family. My father is a successful lawyer and my mother a school teacher. My home was not broken, and my parents have been married for over 35 years. I went to the best private schools. I had been a great student with many friends. My childhood was in a lot of ways a fairytale compared to others.

Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.

My parents sent me to rehab each time hoping that this time it would stick and I would stay clean. That I would be “fixed.” But I wasn’t ready. I did not yet truly want to be sober. I could not fathom a fulfilled and sober life. Afterall, I was young and partying was not only expected, but a rite of passage. Maybe it went too far a time or two, but I wasn’t that person. I wasn’t the junkie you see on TV. I was still a good person –  I still had friends. I was even a college graduate.

Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.

I still had a roof over my head. I had a job. My parents bailed me out when I really needed them to. Sometimes with some money to keep me afloat. Sometimes they literally bailed me out of jail. I may have continued to occupy this gray mist somewhere between life and death if not having been forced into a reckoning with my life and my choices. Mine took the form of a really bad car accident. I injured an innocent family while driving high on heroin. The pain my actions caused that day went from being an emotional toll to a physical one. I hurt people. Except:

Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.

I was using again the next day. And now I was confronted with the reality that I could not stop even given the dire consequences of my addiction. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that, but I knew that I needed the heroin and that I could not face the day without it. My family decided they had had enough. They were instructed by a counselor to severe ties, and with the help of their support group mustered up the courage to cut me out of their lives and no longer be my enablers. Gone was the financial help. Gone was the roof over my head. If I wanted to be a part of the family – my family – I had to seek out help on my own, and I had to stay clean on my own. However:

Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.

I was angry. I felt abandoned. Through some tortured mental gymnastics I decided that I was the victim. Who were they to abandon their son? So I told them I didn’t need them. I told them to get lost – and in the process convinced myself that this was my decision, not theirs. But as time went on and the gravity and despair of the loneliness of the life I had chosen for myself came into stark focus, I decided that I did not want to use any more. Unfortunately:

Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.

My family was important to me –  it was how I was raised. But despite that, I could not stop. I felt like discarded trash and I believed that’s what I was. At some point, little by little, balloon by balloon, day by day, I had compromised and discarded everything about myself until I became that stereotype. I didn’t want this. I tried to quit. I went to rehab and tried to stay sober. Sadly:

Addiction just doesn’t care.

I couldn’t manage it. I couldn’t control this thing that I had unleashed. I couldn’t control my life or my actions, and in the process I no longer was able to recognize myself. More than anything a desire to end this cycle I had fallen into began to take hold. I was committed to ending my life as an addict. I was committed to ending my life.

I decided to intentionally overdose and so  I loaded up a giant shot, a grand finale. The final act in a tragic and pathetic play. And so then I stepped off the ledge and into oblivion. Suprisingly:

The next day I woke up.

Back now to that dimly lit bathroom. There I found myself alive against all odds. As I stood there staring into my reflection I hoped to find there some spark of a soul – maybe even just a flicker. I could hardly stand to look at myself. I felt confused that I was not dead. I should have been dead. I felt disappointment, I felt relief. I thought about making another attempt and within that thought something else occurred to me, I thought to myself:

Do I really want to die?

I found the answer in that mirror. I knew that I wanted to live. I dimly understood that the attempt at suicide was evidence that I cared enough not allow myself to become any more of the thing that I had become. Suicide was the only path I believed I had enough control left within myself to carry through. Only somehow I didn’t die. It was an act of desperation but it was not a solution to my problem. I wanted to live, not only to exist in limbo. I wanted my family back. I wanted to be a complete person again. I wanted to be successful. And in that moment of failure, shame and helplessness – I surrendered any illusion that I was in control of anything. I was not in control of my life and not even in control of my death. In that low, dark, sad place I finally hit my rock bottom.

I asked my family for help, and this time with no motive beyond my own recovery. I made the decision I was going to do whatever was  asked of me, whatever my family asked, whatever the counselors asked. For now, the decision that I wanted to be somebody was the only one that was important and so I let that be my compass.

Addiction:

There is no stereotype for addiction. Addiction doesn’t care about stereotypes. Death is an equal opportunity destroyer. Despair knows no social class and is blind to wealth and privilege. Whether you come from a good family and had advantages others did not, or whether you come from nothing, and nothing is all you’ve ever known: In that moment at the bottom we are all equal and there is no such thing as advantage. In that moment at the bottom when we choose life we are all broken and alone. Helpless and hopeless.

The way out:

I had believed back then that my family had given me the gift of desperation. Desperation saved my life. It allowed me to make that decision to help myself. However, the desperation was inside me all along. In the end it was I who made the choice. All I had to do was reach out and ask for help. I was ready. I was willing then to do anything, and no matter how difficult the path it couldn’t possibly be more difficult than the one I was on.

The acceptance of our utter lack of control over our addiction is the first real step forward we all take as an addict.

Take back your life:

The next step is to ask for help. We will be that help.

(512) 534 – 9440

Please reach out. It’s never too late, it’s never too hard.

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