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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.