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Finding trust in your relationships

The road to recovery is only one step toward a more positive, fulfilling future ahead. But it is a great leap forward, so you should be proud of yourself for that achievement alone. After recovery, it is important for you to have a solid group of people surrounding you. You may find that many of the people you once called your loved ones have drifted away from you because of your addictive behaviour. This is common and caused by the lack of trust that happens during your addiction. It is not uncommon for your family and friends to look at you with resentment, even after you have done all the work to better yourself and come out successful in your recovery.

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Knowing you’re ready to say goodbye to your addiction

Recognizing your addictive behaviours is one thing, moving forward in an attempt to overcome them is another. For some, it is a possibility that they will never recognize these behaviours. That does not mean that you are not desiring a healthier, satisfying lifestyle where addiction is out of the equation; It might just require more dedication to solving the issue.

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Let Nature help you be present

Addiction will always be an ongoing battle that comes with stress and anxieties. It is a courageous process to stay on track and self-love must be nurtured in order to fulfill the process. One amazing, simple way to reconnect with your inner peace, no matter how lost it may be, is to immerse yourself in nature.

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Are you suffering from depression?

Most of us feel down on occasion — it’s a normal part of life when we are faced with problems and feel overwhelmed. When it becomes more of an infrequent situation and you begin to feel hopeless and full of despair, what you are feeling may have become depression. If the amount of time you are experiencing these emotions lengthens and it begins to impact your ability to function on a daily basis, it’s time to consider getting some help.

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Long term recovery

Long term recovery from addiction can often be a difficult and hard battle to fight, taking strength and perseverance on the part of the addict. It takes courage first to admit to being an addict, and then to continue the daily struggle against the addiction and the accompanying toxic behaviours.

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Avoiding Difficult Situations in Recovery

There’s more to recovery than abstinence. Challenging situations will pop up throughout your journey. In early recovery, many people work hard to avoid going places or seeing people that may trigger them. But that’s not often a workable long-term plan. 

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Why a recovery program is better than going it alone?

It’s likely, if you’ve decided you have a problem with addiction, that you’ve felt alone for a long time. One of the symptoms of addiction is a tendency to isolate. If you have made a decision to do something about your addiction issues, continuing to isolate yourself from others can make recovery difficult, if not impossible.

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Find the Courage

It takes courage to change, to deal with your demons and to look deep within yourself to take the steps to live a different life. For most who are experiencing addiction or other problems, this is how life has unfolded for many years — chaos, unhealthy and damaged relationships, little success at work and unfulfilled dreams. Toxic behaviours, addiction and mental health issues have left their mark.

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Self Care in 2019

With the beginning of 2019 behind us and the resolutions many make likely beginning to fall off as they often do, it’s an opportune time to look at what is realistic and manageable, and most of all beneficial, for ongoing self care.

What can you do on a regular basis that will provide the most benefits to you in recovery? Let’s start with caring for yourself emotionally — which typically translates to feeling better physically.

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Best Wishes for a sober 2019 from all of us at the House of Courage!

Each new year brings thoughts of new beginnings, hope for change and an opportunity to fulfil more dreams. Many of us make resolutions at this time of year — most of which are focused on better health, stopping bad habits and replacing them with newer more positive ones.

For some, the new year is another opportunity to get sober. As anyone who has made a lot of resolutions or commitments, New Year’s or otherwise, will know keep those resolutions without an action plan will more than likely lead to failure. It’s not enough to say you want to get sober.

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It’s not only the addict who needs support at this time of year

Ultimately recovery from addiction is up to the addict, but during the holiday season, it’s even more critical to support and provide a network for your loved one who is recovering.

But it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you have a family member who has struggled with alcoholism or drug abuse or other addictive behaviours, you likely also need support. You will be going through your own recovery process from the experience and all the emotions loving an addict can create.

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Being prepared for social and holiday events

We’re deep into the time of year when there’s a lot of social and holiday events involving business colleagues, friends and family. Our time is committed and spread thin, there’s a lot of expectations we put on ourselves and externally, from others who depend on us.

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4 Steps for ending people pleasing, codependent behaviour

If you’ve ever been called a people pleaser or been accused of being needy, you may be engaging in a form of codependent behaviour created by an underlying pattern of dysfunctional thinking.

In a co-dependent relationship, a person restricts his or her behaviour for the purpose of controlling the behaviour or emotional reaction of another person.

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Could you be addicted to gambling?

stop-gambling-addictionFor someone who has a gambling addiction, it’s not as simple and easy as ‘just walking away’. How do you know if you may be addicted to gambling? Here are some signs:

  • To achieve the same feeling of excitement and adrenaline, you have started to gamble with increasing amounts of moneyWhen trying to cut down or stop gambling, you become irritated and restless
  • Despite several attempts to stop, control or cut back on your gambling, you’ve been unsuccessful
  • Obsessive thoughts about gambling — thinking of the next gambling adventure, reliving past experiences, thinking about how to get more money to gamble
  • When stressed or upset, you turn to gambling
  • Even after losing money — sometimes signifiant amounts of money — you return to ‘chase’ your losses
  • To cancel your gambling activities, you’ve begun to lie
  • Relationships, jobs and other opportunities have been lost or jeopardized because of gambling
  • Turning to others to help with money issues causes by gambling
  • Inability to stop, despite the impact gambling is having on your life

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The relationship between codependency and addiction

codependencyFirst of all, what is codependency?

Psychology Today defines it as ‘when two people with dysfunctional personality traits become worse together. Enmeshment happens when clear boundaries about where you start and where your partner ends are not clearly defined.’ Psychology Today

In codependent relationships, often one partner, or in many cases always, puts the other’s needs before their own.

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8 traits that may mean you engage in toxic behavior

toxicAre you struggling with your relationships at work and at home? If so, there may means you are behaving in a toxic manner that is affecting those around you. If people are withdrawing from you and you’re having trouble maintaining relationships, see if you can see yourself in any of these behaviors:

  • Toxic people are manipulative. Their standard operating behavior is to get others to do what they want them to do. It’s all about them. They use other people to get what they want out of life.  Forget what others want; this is not about equality in a relationship.

  • Toxic people are judgmental. They are often critical — it’s about what others have done and what they didn’t do. They never take responsibility and will lie if necessary.

  • They take no accountability for their own feelings. Their feelings are projected onto others. If someone tries to point this out to them, they will strongly defend their position, and take no responsibility. 

  • They never apologize. They don’t see any reason to, because they are never at fault.  They try to gain sympathy and attention by claiming they are actually the ‘victim’ in this case.

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What causes anxiety?

anxietyIt’s important to remember we are not all the same and we react to life differently. But for most individuals, an anxiety condition typically isn't developed or caused by a single factor but a combination of things. 

A number of factors play a role in developing an anxiety disorder:

Family history of mental health conditions

Some people may have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety and these conditions can sometimes run in families. However, having a parent or close relative  who has anxiety or other mental health conditions doesn't automatically mean you’ll develop anxiety. 

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Signs you may have an addiction

addictionThere are many signs and symptoms of addiction and you may have some or all of them:

  • You cannot stop - once you take some of the substance, you are unable to stop. You may have made one serious attempt to give up, but were unsuccessful.

  • Withdrawal symptoms - when your body levels of that substance go below a certain point, you start to experience physical and mood-related symptoms — cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, inability to focus, depression, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment.

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Identifying Addiction Relapse Warning Signs

Identifying-Relapse-Warning-SignsAddiction recovery isn’t a one-time accomplishment that’s done and done after you quit. It’s a lifelong process and ongoing journey that will present speedbumps and potholes along the way. But don’t be deterred by rocky road conditions as these challenges can be sights to view along your solid path to recovery. In fact, standing strong when faced with adversity is the essence of successful sobriety. You are reclaiming your health, your life and your control!

Having the foresight to identify when relapse warning signs arise can arm you with the knowledge to respond accordingly. By recognizing warning signs early, you can take the necessary steps and actions to prevent relapse and remain sober.  More often than not, triggers occur that prompt a desire to use. These triggers can be an event, an interaction, a relationship, or some other influence that is emotional or environmental.

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Why Practice Mindful Meditation in Recovery

Mindfulness-in-Recovery-2018The practice of mindfulness is an amazing tool for anyone looking for greater mental clarity and self-awareness. Particularly for those in early recovery, a mindfulness practice can help you navigate through the emotional highs and lows that are bound to come. In the initial stages of recovery, mental fuzziness is not uncommon – both your body and mind are healing and learning how to adjust.

Mindfulness is a conscious awareness of the here and now - a checking in with the self whereas, active addiction is the very opposite - it’s abusing drugs or alcohol to escape reality. By developing a practice of mindfulness, the practitioner learns how to gain control over their emotions rather than being ruled by them. This means, having the tools to deal with the stresses of life in a healthy way.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness involves purposely paying attention to the present moment. It requires being aware of thoughts, feelings and emotions as they occur and simply acknowledging them without judgement. By intentionally observing one’s own feelings in the present moment and remaining neutral, we come to see that emotions and thoughts are transitory in nature. They pass.

Mindfulness isn’t about not thinking or stopping thoughts altogether. Rather it’s about learning how to sit with our thoughts, feelings and emotions and realize we do not have to act on them. That we can simply acknowledge them, let them be and let them pass.  

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Providing Support to Someone You Care for in Early Recovery

Supporting-Someone-in-RecoveryWhen an addict gives up their substance of choice, this is just the beginning of a lifelong recovery journey. Recovery truly is a process that requires learning how to deal with life minus the use of drugs, alcohol or other toxic behaviours. It involves establishing healthy habits of self-care, being accountable and responsible for one’s actions, and maintaining relationships that help to foster ongoing growth and trust in one’s new sober life.

If someone you love or care for is in early recovery, it is only natural to want to be supportive but sometimes knowing how to help can seem confusing or overwhelming. Below are a few options to consider that can help you to support someone in your life going through recovery. All recovery journeys will be different but all require the support of friends and loved ones to be successful.  

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Forget Resolutions: Create a 2018 Addiction Recovery Action Plan

Sober-in-2018-Action-PlanHappy New Year from the House of Courage team! We are grateful for the year that passed and excited for the year ahead. The New Year ushers in new hopes, new dreams and a new beginning.  By marking the passing of time, the new year also brings about resolutions like getting healthier, exercising more, saving money and for some, getting sober.

If getting sober or maintaining your recovery is on your resolution list, let’s talk about creating an action plan. The truth is, sobriety is more than a resolution, it’s committing to a new, healthier way of life.

Creating an Action Plan

The biggest cause of failure when it comes to New Year resolutions is that people set their expectations too high. Instead of thinking in terms of broad level resolutions, creating an action plan that breaks down the steps to achieve your goals sets you up for success. By setting specific and realistic goals you can work towards, achieve, and most importantly sustain, you build the momentum to maintain your sobriety and your recovery.

An action plan breaks down your goal into achievable steps that are much easier to accomplish. The age-old recovery wisdom of taking things one day at a time is supremely relevant. Start with a goal for the day or the week, rather than thinking about a goal for the entire year. Looking at an entire year of goal setting can be daunting and can feel overwhelming. Whereas by breaking things down, you can accomplish steps that will amount to your long-term success.

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Sobriety Tips for the Holiday Season

Sobriety-Tips-For-Holiday-Season1The holiday season can often be challenging and difficult for those in recovery. Despite the lyrics that now is “…the most wonderful time of the year…”, it can also be a time where all the heightened pressure, expectations, and stress that accompany the season can feel overwhelming. 

Coping in healthy ways is the key to keeping your recovery intact and maintaining your sobriety throughout the holiday season. Here are some high-level tips to help get you through the holidays:

Remember the Gift of Recovery You’ve Given to Yourself

Regardless if you have years of sobriety under your belt or are new to recovery, remember the gift that is recovery itself. Treasure that gift and invest further in your recovery throughout this season by taking the time to practice self-care and participate in those activities that are integral to maintaining your recovery.

Whether that’s going to meetings or spending more time with people who are supportive of your recovery, making the time to do these things which have gotten you thus far is important. Don’t let hectic schedules or demands derail what is important to you and helps you stay sane in your sobriety. Put yourself and your recovery on the top of your gift-giving list. It’s the best gift there is.

Be Selective with Your Time

Invitations can abound during this time of year and carefully selecting which events you want to attend is important. The wonderful thing about recovery is it allows you to be in charge of your life again, drugs or alcohol are not running the show. This means you get to make decisions that you know are healthy for you. Who you choose to keep company with is part of this.

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The Unexpected Benefits of Addiction Recovery

Unexpected-Benefits-of-Addiction-RecoveryWith addiction recovery, whether it’s freeing oneself from alcohol or drug abuse, there are obvious benefits like improving one’s health and saving one’s life. Not only do you keep yourself from getting into dangerous situations but, in successful sobriety there are also a number of fringe benefits that come as your reward.

Addiction recovery is hard work that requires dedication and willpower to succeed, it’s good to remember the light at the end of the tunnel. When the going gets tough, knowing what lies ahead can be the very thing that keeps you from relapsing and helps to pull you through the anxieties, doubts or fears you may have along the way.

Though recovery may be challenging work, the benefits and rewards are plentiful. Here are just a few of the many benefits you stand to reap with successful sobriety:

More Money

Addiction is expensive. The markup on alcohol at restaurants and bars is ridiculous. Add to this the cost of a cab, late night food purchases, picking up drugs, “black-out” ATM withdrawls and you can quickly see how addiction can add up. Now multiply that by however many times you’d do this in a month and you can see how much money goes to a habit that just leaves you feeling like crap the next day. 

Once sober, saving money is a lot easier. Regardless of your income, you won’t be blowing it on overpriced cocktails, cocaine or craft beer. Instead, you’ll have more money to do other healthy, things like treating yourself and a friend to a nice dinner, going on a trip, getting a gym membership, or updating your wardrobe. Making ends meet is a lot easier when you’re sober.

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Why Addition Recovery Takes Courage

Couage-in-Addiction-RecoveryWe call ourselves the House of Courage precisely because recovering from addiction requires an enormous amount of courage. Mustering up the willingness to make a change is the first step and it takes a ton of bravery to admit that you have a problem that you cannot fix by yourself.  

Oftentimes making a change is difficult, even when it is for the better. Those suffering from addiction, can lose everything they hold dear and yet still remain tied to their toxic behavior because the familiarity of their habits appears more comforting than making a change. But this fear of change is exactly why courage needs to be cultivated to successfully recover from one’s addiction.

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather resistance to it, resiliency in the face of fear. It’s the quality of mind that enables someone in recovery to face head on the difficulties and pain that they are experiencing. And the willingness to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way and persevere through it.

Addiction as Escapism

Addicts will often look to drugs, alcohol, food, spending or whatever their unhealthy behavior of choice to escape from the realities of life and fulfill the ‘void’. But this temporary reprieve that is enjoyed is only temporary and often results in more problems and more reasons to return to using - to again escape the miseries of life. The void in one’s life cannot be realized when you fail to give yourself the time and mind to clearly see what is going on. In order to escape this cycle, courage must be summoned and acted upon to enter into and remain in active, successful recovery.

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How Technology Can Help You Stay Sober

Technology-Sobriety-RecoveryWith the rise of online communities, social networks, live streaming services and more – it’s no wonder that those in recovery are turning to technology to aid their sobriety. Between online meetings, recovery apps and the ability to instantly contact a friend or sponsor, utilizing technology is extremely beneficial for those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions or other unhealthy toxic behaviors.

Whether you need to reach out for help to refrain from relapsing or require inspirational content to remain motivated, here are a few ways in which technology can instantly come to your aid to help you remain sober:

Instant Communication

Friends, sponsors, and supportive family members are a quick text or phone call away if ever you should find yourself in a sticky situation you don’t want to get stuck in. No matter where you are, those who love and support you are available at the touch of a button to talk you through a tough time or encourage you not to give up your sobriety on a whim or due to pressure. The ability to communicate instantly with someone who is cheering for your recovery is invaluable and goes a long way in reminding you of why you chose recovery to begin with.

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Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

supporting-loved-one-in-addiction-recoverySeeing someone you love suffer through the painful cycle of addiction is heart-wrenching. It’s hard to see a loved one’s health and life unravel before your eyes because they’re consumed by toxic behaviours. However, your care and support are essential when your loved one is ready to tackle their addiction and make a move towards recovery. It is your care and support that may also lead them to choose a life of sobriety.

While addiction recovery is ultimately in the hands of the person in a recovery program or receiving treatment, there are ways that friends and family members can offer support to make long-term sobriety a reality for their loved one.

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong journey of growth and development. Detox and treatment are only the first steps. As an ongoing process, those in recovery require a strong network of supporters throughout their journey with which to share their trials and triumphs. Here are ways you can effectively support a loved one in recovery:

Learn about addiction and recovery

Helping to fight an enemy you don’t understand isn’t effective. By learning about addiction and recovery, you are better equipped to help your loved one through their process. When you understand how addiction affects the brain, it is easier to offer compassionate support through your loved one’s transition from active addiction to recovery. Learning about the signs of addiction, treatments available, relapse triggers and recovery in general, arms you with the tools and knowledge to effectively handle the challenges that your loved one will meet.

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5 Ways Exercise Can Help Addiction Recovery

Exercise-and-addiction-recoveryRecovering from addiction isn`t easy, it`s a hard-fought battle that requires determination and strength. These two qualities are also necessary when establishing an exercise routine. Working out or participating in physical activity can play an integral part in one`s efforts to stay sober, helping to heal the body and mind, while also filling up one`s time with a healthy outlet.

According to a study of patients being treated for substance abuse published in Mental Health & Physical Activity, “Exercise can lead to a sense of accomplishment; feeling stronger; improved health; and increased confidence in staying clean and sober.”

Exercise gives you a natural high that is far more beneficial for your body than drugs or alcohol. After a vigorous sweat session, endorphins are released throughout the body and produce increased energy, reduced stress, a better mood and clearer thinking – all of which arm you with the tools necessary to maintain your sobriety.

Whether your personality gravitates towards strength training, swimming, cycling, yoga, running, joining a sports team or walking, getting your body moving has multiple benefits for aiding your road to recovery.

Here are a few other reasons why exercise can help with addiction recovery:

Relieve and Reduce Stress

Exercise alleviates both physical and psychological stress. We build tension in our bodies by sitting at desks all day without moving or planting ourselves in front of the television for long periods of time. Not to mention, the strain we put on our necks when we are constantly looking down at our phones, texting or perusing the web or tilting our heads forward to read screens.

While these examples are mainly physical strains we put on our body, tension also arises from stressful situations where we literally ‘tense’ up in reaction to an unpleasant event or thought. They say we carry our ‘issues in our tissues’.

By moving our bodies, this tension can be alleviated and allows us the opportunity to direct our attention away from negative emotions. By focusing on what we’re doing when we exercise, we expend pent us physical and emotional energy that otherwise may lead to unhealthy means of escaping.  

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7 Steps for Self-Care in Addiction Recovery

Self-Care-Addiction-RecoverySelf-care and addiction recovery go hand in hand. Progressing through your recovery is all about taking responsibility for yourself and showing yourself the love and respect you deserve physically, emotionally and socially.

Think of what flight attendants tell you about oxygen masks and safety measures prior to taking off: “Secure your own mask first before assisting others”. We can’t take care of others if we can’t take care of ourselves.

Associating self-care with selfishness is a mistake. By not taking care of ourselves our health, happiness, and relationships suffer. Someone ends up having to take care of us, which is clearly more selfish than just practicing self-care to begin with.  

So how do you practice self-care? Well here are 7 practical tips that’ll help you create a self-care practice that addresses your physical, emotional and social needs:

Physical Self-Care

Exercise

You don’t need to sign up for a marathon and start training to get some exercise. Going for a walk, a bike ride or joining a recreational sports league, will all get your endorphins running and help to relieve stress. Endorphins are the body’s “feel-good” chemicals that are activated by physical exercise and help to diminish pain while also triggering positive feelings. So, get up, get moving and get the good vibes rolling within.

Get Enough Sleep

A good night’s rest is essential for not only your physical health but also your mental health. While asleep, our bodies are at work healing and repairing our heart and blood vessels to support healthy brain function and maintain our physical well-being.  Whether or not we get enough sleep affects how well we think, react, work, learn and get along with others. Keeping a regular sleep pattern is beneficial both physically and emotionally.

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Sober & Social: Staying Sober in Social Situations

Sober-and-SocializingThere’s a huge misconception that if you are sober you must decline invitations to bars, concerts, clubs or any other social gatherings where your friends are getting together and alcohol may be served. This is just plain wrong. You can still party with the rest of them and protect your sobriety. In fact, social interaction is essential for maintaining one’s physical and mental health – both of which must be in good order to maintain a successful recovery.

Often those in early recovery avoid social gatherings and events because they’re worried their sobriety will be compromised which is completely understandable. However, there does come a time when the hermit life gets old and you want to stop missing out on social celebrations. It’s important to remember that you can still have fun while being sober. You just need to equip yourself with the proper tools and info to preserve your sobriety.  

So, spread your social butterfly wings and hang with friends safely by keeping these tips in mind for staying sober when in social settings:

Know What You’re Getting Into

Prior to attending an event, find out the circumstances you’ll be in. What type of party is it going to be? Who will be attending? Will there be other sober folks there? Will non-alcoholic beverages be served? Knowing what kind of party you are going to attend is essential for preparing mentally and practically. Another important thing to consider is asking yourself, would the event still occur if alcohol wasn’t involved? The answer to this should clearly indicate whether or not you need to be there.

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The Benefits of Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Meditation-Benefits-for-Addiction-RecoveryMeditation and addiction are opposites when viewed in the light of meditation being an opportunity to check in with one’s self in the here and now, whereas addiction causes one to check out from the here and now. For those in addiction recovery, incorporating meditation and mindfulness in one’s everyday life is extremely beneficial in aiding one’s return to self and successful sobriety.

Recovery from addiction or health-harming behaviours is a process. To remain healthy, those in recovery need to examine their past, acknowledge mistakes that have been made, view who they are non-judgementally and lead a new life free from toxic habits. While these changes are for the better, they can also be overwhelming. Particularly for those in early recovery, feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression often accompany one’s thoughts early in the journey to sobriety.

Fortunately, meditation or the practice of mindfulness can help alleviate these negative feelings and help those in recovery maintain a degree of emotional balance. Being mindful through meditation allows us the opportunity to develop the capacity to see clearly the negative emotions and feelings of inadequacy we have about ourselves for what they are so that we can let go and release ourselves from this unnecessary and self-inflicted suffering.

Mindfulness is about experiencing the present moment, the now.

Being mindful is concentrating on the immediate without the interference of past memories or anticipation of the future getting in the way. As a non-judgemental form of observation, meditation brings about self-awareness and cultivates the habit of being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions, but not allowing them to carry us off into a vortex of thought. Instead, we simply view them as they are and come back to concentrating on the present.

By practicing meditation regularly, we come to recognize that emotions and thoughts are transitory in nature, they come and go – that’s the purpose of our beautiful minds – to think. But sometimes, we get lost in thoughts that are detrimental to our health and well-being, and meditation allows us to remember that though we have thoughts, we do not have to act on them. We can let them just be. They too will pass.   

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How Being in Nature Aids Addiction Recovery

How-Nature-Aids-Addiction-RecoveryThere’s a reason our recovery centre is located on 20 acres of land and is surrounded by sweeping views of the rolling foothills. Our guests are encouraged to get outside and spend time in this serene setting to re-centre and reconnect with the peace that surrounds our house of courage.

It requires bravery to admit one’s faults and courage to overcome one’s toxic behaviors and nature is a powerful tool that can help to heal both the body and mind when undergoing an addiction recovery program.

Numerous studies have shown that being in nature and spending time in the great outdoors is restorative and healing. In this chaotic world of screens and noise, commitments and obligations, we can get caught up in the rat race to keep up and forget to take care of ourselves. Especially for someone in recovery, self-care is of the utmost importance to avoid relapse and maintain successful sobriety. Fortunately, one way to take care of ourselves is to just get outside.

Being in Nature

By spending time in nature and being outside our attention is drawn back to the here and now and a present-centering effect occurs in the mind and body. This in turn, activates our body’s relaxation response which causes us to breathe deeper and slower and stop the endless chatter that goes on in our minds. Rather than focusing on the to-dos, the past, or the pending future, we only need to focus on the now and be present and mindful of our beautiful surroundings.

The Japanese even have a term for the calming and health enhancing benefits of nature that is called Shinrin-yoku. Shinrin-yoku translates into “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Though it may sound like some mystical, alternative type medicine – its benefits are scientifically proven. Research conducted in Japan confirms that time spent amidst forest environments reduces stress by lowering concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, by being in nature our pulse rate is lowered, blood pressure is reduced, our immune system is boosted, and our mood improves.

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How to Approach a Friend or Loved One About Their Addiction

Friend-Loved-One-With-AddictionSeeing someone you love spiral deeper down the rabbit hole of substance abuse is at once heartbreaking and terrifying. Naturally, you want to help. When a friend or family member is suffering due to an alcohol or drug addiction, you can begin to feel helpless not knowing what to do. However, remember that there is support for both and for the person who you are concerned for. 

What is of the utmost importance is that you remember that you cannot help a loved one if you are not well yourself.

Find Support For You

Know that there are support groups out there composed of individuals who understand what you’re going through. These groups provide compassionate understanding and arm their participants with the tools to deal with their loved ones who are addicted to substances in a way that is healthy for all.

Anger, frustration, disappointment, doubt, denial, codependency and dishonesty are all emotional hallmarks of addiction and affect not only the addict but those around them as well. Learning how to effectively tackle these emotions, take care of one’s self, and separate the addict from the addiction are essential for your own well-being and health. 

Al-Anon, Alateen and Nar-Anon are all support groups that offer strength and hope for friends and families of addicts. Meetings are available in most cities and those looking to find a meeting, can do so online from the groups respective websites. 

Providing Support to an Addict

Experts say that friends and family are among the greatest resources addicts have to help them recover. Providing support to an addict begins with expressing your concern in a non-accusatory way. Contrary to what is portrayed on shows like “Intervention” or in the movies, the conversation does not need to be confrontational and will be more effective if you express your concern from a place of love rather than anger.

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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude in Recovery

Attitude-of-Gratitude-in-RecoveryThe New Year is here. Happy 2017! Like most people, this time of year has got us thinking about setting intentions for the year ahead, forming goals and resolutions to better ourselves to make 2017 our best year yet.

Save more money, spend more time with friends and family, be more vulnerable, eat healthier and the plethora of other targets to set our sights on – are all worthy goals. However, by thinking about the things we want and getting lost in the race to achieve them, we often forget the importance of taking stock of what we have and being thankful for it.

Enter gratitude. Gratitude by definition means “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful” or “the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Living with an attitude of gratitude is essential for happiness, a healthy emotional view of the self and others, and a successful recovery from addiction.

Those in active addiction, oftentimes display negative attitudes that are self-centred, depressed and mired in resentment. They blame others because they feel their life is unsatisfying or not enough. What is absent in this way of thinking is gratitude and this lack of thankfulness only adds to the unhappiness they feel.  

To change one’s toxic behaviours once and for all, a shift of the mind and one’s perspective is necessary. Really, anyone who incorporates a practice of gratitude benefits from the healing powers of positive thinking.  

While negativity fuels the disease of addiction, gratitude nurtures recovery by nudging us in the direction of hope and positivity. We all experience fleeting moments of gratitude but we can also make a conscious effort to cherish those moments and help multiply them by practicing an attitude of gratitude.  And yes, gratitude can be learned.

Living a life of thanks may be the one resolution you make this year which can alter everything else for the better. Here’s why you should cultivate an attitude of gratitude:

Gratitude reminds you of the positive things in your life

Rather than dwelling on what you don’t have, an attitude of gratitude channels your energy into recognizing what you do have. The people in your life, the roof over your head, the shoes on your feet, the sight that enables you to read this – all of these simple blessings – are just that, blessings.

Gratitude turns bad things into good things

Are you stressed out work? Be grateful that you have a job, that life isn’t boring and life is bringing you challenges that you can learn from. Be thankful that overcoming these challenges and tackling them head on makes you a stronger, more adept person.

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Helpful Tips for Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Holiday-Sobriety-TipsThe holidays are a joyous time that can also be extremely stressful. Between numerous commitments, high expectations, travelling and busy schedules, it can feel like you’re navigating through a minefield. Especially for those early in recovery, it can be a difficult season to get through because of the heightened emotions, stress and new terrain. Staying sober and avoiding relapse amidst this celebratory yet high-risk season simply requires preparation.

Remember that the greatest gift you can give yourself, your family and your friends is your sobriety. Celebrate it with those you love and fear not. Here are some helpful tips to help you remain sober through the holidays:

Plan Fun Activities Other Than Just Sitting Around

For many families, holiday gatherings amount to just sitting around and drinking. Break from tradition in a wonderful way and start a new customary holiday activity by investigating fun family options. Get outside - go skating or sledding or snowshoeing if it’s available. Go out and see a movie, it’s pre-Oscar season and it’s the time when movie-maker’s premier some pretty great flicks. If the weather has you shut inside, think about activities that will keep everyone busy and focused like board games, watching a classic or baking and decorating some yummy holiday treats.

Bring a Friend

The holidays include party invites to events where alcohol will be served. You don’t need to become a hermit because you’re newly sober. If you feel vulnerable about attending an event, bring a friend who is supportive of your recovery. Whether it’s your sponsor or someone also in recovery or a trusted companion. Having a plus-one is a great way to feel and be encouraged throughout the evening. Also, don’t forget to plan ahead so that when you want to leave, you can and are not dependant on someone else. Drive yourself to the gathering or agree with your buddy what time you’re going to leave and commit to it.

Serve Yourself at Parties

When you are at social gatherings, be proactive and grab your own beverage. Having a refreshment in hand will prevent people from constantly offering you a drink. In addition, by taking charge of serving yourself and keeping an eye on what is being poured in your cup, you won’t mistakenly consume a beverage with liquor in it. Throughout the evening, be sure you’re aware of your cup and its contents. If you have to put a drink down while you run to the bathroom, just a get new drink when you return. Don’t take the chance of someone accidentally switching your drink for theirs, good naturedly topping off yours or worse case, slipping alcohol or drugs into it.

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The Benefits of an Addiction Recovery Program

addiction-recovery-program-benefitsAddiction can feel like a tornado tearing through your life and affecting all those that come close to it. Seeing your life spiral out of control is exhausting and wanting to make a change to better yourself and escape the vortex of addiction is the first step towards recovery.

Fortunately, there are a number of addiction recovery programs and treatment centres available that can provide the tools and resources necessary for you to successfully recover. While acknowledging the problem is the first step, this is still only a small portion of the entire recovery process. To fully achieve a successful recovery, several areas in your life need to be addressed.  

Recovery is a process of change that focuses not just getting on sober or discarding toxic behaviors but, also on helping you reach your fullest potential. Thus, a successful recovery program focuses on an array of areas including:

  • Health and wellness
  • Establishing a stable life at home
  • Finding your purpose
  • Taking care of both your physical and psychological needs
  • Building a strong support network

Addiction Recovery Programs Lower the Risk of Relapse

Solid addiction recovery programs teach you the skills and techniques to prevent a relapse before it happens. Rather than doing it on your own and relying strictly on will power, a treatment program is personalized to your needs and addresses your unique triggers, providing you with a support network and the tools you need to maintain an addiction-free life.

By identifying what causes you to use, drink or do things that are detrimental to your well-being, you come to learn more about yourself and your addiction. Thus, making it easier for you to avoid that which causes you to participate in toxic behaviors and at the same time, giving you the tools to deal with these situations as they arise. Your personalized treatment plan is designed specifically for you to help facilitate your recovery and avoid relapsing. 

Addiction Recovery Programs Are Affordable

Contrary to popular belief, there are affordable recovery programs out there. Though the price of treatment centres do vary, the cost of not seeking help is often far greater than the amount spent on treatment.

Many insurance companies will cover the cost of addiction recovery programs, alleviating financial stress and making it a more affordable option. Simply contact your insurance provider and ask.

Also, there is no harm in asking the addiction recovery centre if they are flexible or have alternative options. Some provide financing, others can work within your budget and create a customized program. In fact, all recovery programs should be customized as per your treatment needs.

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Identifying When You’re Ready to Overcome Addiction

Ready-to-Overcome-AddictionKnowing when you’ve had enough of your addictive behaviours and are ready to overcome your addiction can be both exhilarating and terrifying. Change is exciting and yet it also requires us to become vulnerable and be honest with ourselves to do the work necessary to say goodbye to our bad habits once and for all.

Some individuals experience a kind of breakthrough, an epiphany that manifests as a moment of clarity where addictive behaviours are recognized as problematic and need to be changed. Others may never experience that moment of clarity but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to quit and start a new life that is healthier, more fulfilling and sober.

Though the answers may not come through crystal clear for all of us, there are some signs that can help you identify that you’re ready to stop your addiction in its tracks and achieve successful sobriety so you can experience true freedom.

You Want to Change Your for Yourself

Very few individuals suffering from addictive behaviors welcome recovery with open arms and embrace their treatment programs with joy. Recovery is hard work that can be painful given that it forces you to come to terms with emotional and psychological truths. But, it is this kind of frank honesty with yourself that unmasks addiction for what it is and in turn, doesn’t give it a place to hide any longer. 

If you want to change your addictive behaviours for yourself because you want a new life, then you are far more likely to succeed as opposed to if you joined treatment because a loved one, family member or friend urged you to go. Regardless of how much you love someone, this still isn’t strong enough motivation to complete an addiction recovery program and succeed. The desire for change has to come from you. It has to be deep rooted within your being for you to truly commit to changing your life to finally break the chains of your addiction.

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Tackling Triggers During Addiction Recovery

Overcoming-Triggers-During-Addiction-RecoveryRecovering from addiction isn’t a matter of just doing away with your toxin of choice. It’s about creating a new life for yourself. To do so means participating in acts of self-care and avoiding situations that may trigger old behaviours. It's about leaving old habits behind and establishing new ones. 

Of course you can’t become a hermit in an effort to avoid all the potential triggers and situations that may arise. But by being aware of them, you won’t be caught off guard when they do arise and you can prevent a mini craving from turning into a major urge and then a full on relapse.

To effectively tackle triggers during your addiction recovery, here are a few tips and tricks to help you along the way:

People, Places and Things

Think of high risk situations as the people, places and things that you associate with using. Places where you’ve used. People who you used to use with or who were related to your substance abuse. People who piss you off or make you sad and thus, make you want to use. People who associate celebrating with you, with using. People who encourage you to use. Or items or places that trigger wanting to use.

Avoid your drinking buddies, don’t walk by your local watering hole just because, don’t keep booze in the house. Avoid people you did lines with, going past your dealer’s house or keeping your particular vice anywhere in your vicinity. The point is to make a bunch of little adjustments to make it much easier for you to create your new life.

By identifying your own personal triggers, you can avoid these situations. Addiction is sneaky and sometimes you won’t see your high risk situations until you’re smack dab in the middle of one. But, by doing away with the people, places and things that you knowingly associate with your addiction, you’re actively making the small changes that add up to saving your life.

The Acronym HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

How you feel has a massive impact on what you do and want to do. High risk situations include feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These four things are said to cause more lapses and relapses. Cravings arise when a need is unmet and because addiction is so sneaky, it can be masked behind these aforementioned guises.

This is why taking care of yourself is of the utmost importance. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough rest, joining a 12 step or support group so you don’t feel isolated means minimizing the occurrence of being hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Again, its about making changes that inhibit these scenarios in the first place. By altering your habits, you are creating your beautiful life free of toxic behaviours.

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Recovering Trust in Your Relationships After Recovery

Rebuilding-Trust-After-Addiction-RecoveryRecovering from addiction and reclaiming your life is an amazing achievement. But, the work doesn’t end when you graduate from rehab or a 12-step program. Part of maintaining recovery is rebuilding relationships and developing new connections to foster an environment for continued growth and endless gratitude.

During active addiction relationships can suffer severe damage. Addicts will often lie to protect their addiction, failing to follow through on promises, forgetting their commitments and deceiving those they love most. The anger and resentment that forms from family, friends or co-workers, during addiction can seem impossible to overcome once recovery is accomplished. But again, recovery may have also seemed impossible. It wasn’t. You did it.

You can rebuild trust in your relationships. With time and effort, you can reconnect with your loved ones and heal the wounds that formed prior to your recovery. Below are some guidelines to remember including actionable tips to help you strengthen your relationships and rebuild trust with those that you love.

It Will Take Patience and Time

Especially in early recovery, when sobriety is the primary focus your friends, family and/or significant other may feel neglected. This cannot be farther from the truth. The self-involvement necessary for successful recovery is actually an act of love for all those in your life and more importantly for yourself.

Involving those you hold dearest in your recovery by being honest with your feelings and where you’re at helps them feel like a part of the process. By being patient with yourself and with those in your life, you are acknowledging the hurt that has been caused and giving all those involved the necessary time to forgive and move on. It takes time to rebuild trust and it takes time for others to forgive past indiscretions. Know this and respect this.

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