Building Self-Awareness During Quarantine

Right now, most of us are stuck at home for the foreseeable future. It’s easy to focus on what we’re missing out on: the graduations, the trips, the dinners and laughter with friends. Thinking about all of those things can make you overlook the fact that quarantine is a good opportunity to spend time with yourself, building your self-awareness and learning how to engage in self-care that works for you.

“Healthy people rely on themselves for direction. Those vulnerable to addiction, however, rely on the external world to keep them amused,” says Geoff Thompson, program director at Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a rehab in British Columbia, Canada.

And yet, you can’t always rely on the outside world. It’s important to be comfortable being alone with yourself. This can help build your awareness of who you really are, when the external world is stripped away.

Expect to be uncomfortable

If you’re used to constantly being surrounded by other people and obligations, being still and alone can be uncomfortable. Thompson sees this at Sunshine Coast Health Centre, where clients often complain that there’s not enough programming on the weekends.

“It’s a common saying among those in addiction that ‘Sundays are boring,’ with the curious implication that Sundays should get their act together and be more interesting,” Thompson says.

Really, though, people don’t need more activities or programming, they need to adjust to having downtime and quiet space. That will take some time, so don’t give up if it feels awkward to start.

Study yourself

Who are you? Most of us answer these question with external references: We’re a teacher, an athlete, a dancer. But who are you when you can’t do any of those things? Knowing that can help strengthen your resiliency to deal with challenging times, like the ones we’re in right now.

“By far, the best protection against any form of adversity—a diagnosis of cancer, loss of family in an accident, and so on—is self-awareness: having an authentic awareness of personal values, beliefs, strengths, limitations, desires and wants,” Thompson says. “Those vulnerable to addiction have very weak self-awareness.”

Take this time to build your self-awareness. Thompson suggests keeping a journal. Spend two weeks asking yourself multiple times per day: ‘What is it like to be me right now?’ and briefly writing about the answer.

Or, reflect on the movies and art that you love. What about them draws you in? What engages you?

“Each of these exercises is simply about paying attention to yourself,” Thompson says.

Recognize the value of self-care

Once you start to delve into who you are, you’ll have a better idea of what makes you feel cared for and loved. Then, you can do these things to keep connected to your true self, even when life eventually returns to normal.

It sounds simple, but many people with a history of substance use disorder don’t have healthy habits when it comes to looking after their physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

“Those vulnerable to addiction have little experience practicing self-care,” Thompson says. “A colleague of mine stated that the most common defense mechanism for those who suffer from substance use disorders is the ‘F-it attitude,’ which really means ‘F-me.’”

When you put in effort and strive for something, you make yourself vulnerable because it’s possible you’ll fail. So, it’s tempting to say “f-it” and just not try. But really, that only hurts you, and keeps you from fulfilling your full potential.

Instead of pushing away opportunities for self-care, open yourself up to giving them a try. This can be indulgent and frivolous things, like a long, warm bath or a freshly-baked cookie. But self-care also means doing the hard work to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. Now, more than ever, that’s important.

Few people would choose to be in quarantine, but it’s our reality for now. Since we’re in this situation, we might as well make the best of it. If you can emerge from isolation with a more robust understanding of who you are and a better ability to take care of yourself, you’ll be able to meet the challenges of your new life in recovery.

Sunshine Coast Health Centre is a non 12-step drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Learn more here.

By: The Fix staff
Title: Building Self-Awareness During Quarantine
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/building-self-awareness-during-quarantine
Published Date: Mon, 18 May 2020 07:14:44 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

Capitalizing on Smoking Cessation Could Curb Coronavirus Deaths

Politicians have been hyper-focused on the drug hydroxychloroquine lately, hoping it will be a silver bullet for curbing deaths from coronavirus. Physicians, on the other hand, are less convinced it will be helpful. But we’ve already got a medical intervention that could dramatically alter the course of the pandemic: smoking cessation. Fighting the smoking pandemic could curb coronavirus deaths now and save lives in the years to come. 

Many people smoke and vape to stay calm. So with rising rates of coronavirus anxiety, it’s no surprise that cigarette and vaping sales are booming. But emerging evidence shows smokers are at a higher risk of serious coronavirus infection. If there were ever a time to quit, it’s now. 

The data we have so far show that smokers are over-represented in COVID19 cases requiring ICU treatment and in fatalities from the disease. One study from China estimated that smoking is associated with a 14-fold increased odds of COVID-19 infection progressing to serious illness. This might be because smoking increases the density of the lung’s ACE2 receptors, which the coronavirus exploits to infiltrate the body. On top of this, smoking weakens the immune system’s ability to fight the virus, as well as heart and lung tissue. All of this damage increases one’s risk of severe coronavirus infection and death. 

While less is known about vaping’s relationship to coronavirus, research suggests that it impairs the ability of immune cells in the lung to fight off infection. This appears to be related to solvents used in vaping products and occurs independent of their nicotine content. Vaping also shares another risk factor for coronavirus with smoking—it involves putting something you touch with your hands into your mouth over and over. Unless you’re washing your hands and cleaning your vape religiously, you’re putting yourself at risk. On top of this, we know that many people—especially those who are younger—like to share their vapes, which really increases the chances of catching the virus. 

Most smokers want to quit and find that their stress levels drop dramatically when they do. Many vapers want to stop too. Quitting alone can be nearly impossible though. Luckily, support is available. Primary care physicians are still working via telehealth, and they have a wide range of effective treatments for what doctors call “tobacco use disorder.” If you can’t reach your doctor, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has created a national hotline for support and free counselling: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Psychotherapy is one approach to quitting. However, medications such as bupropion and varenicline are also effective and can be obtained with a phone call to your doctor. Nicotine replacement products like gum, lozenges, patches, and inhalers also greatly increase the odds of success and are available over the counter. Few people are aware that you can purchase these with your health savings and flexible spending accounts. 

34 million people in the US smoke, and there have already been nearly 700,000 documented domestic cases of coronavirus. Given the number of deaths we could face from people smoking during this pandemic, lawmakers should be doing everything they can to make it easier for people to quit. When patients have better insurance coverage for smoking cessation treatments, they’re much more likely to use them and quit smoking. 

Federal law requires insurers to cover cessation treatments, but they get around this by restricting access through the use of co-pays and limits on the amounts covered, while also forcing physicians to spend hours on the phone getting them to authorize coverage of medication. With people dying by the tens of thousands, Washington needs to close these loopholes now.

Amid the widespread panic around coronavirus, it’s important that we stay clear-headed and not overlook easy fixes that could save lives. We know that smoking cessation interventions could prevent deaths, so let’s make sure we’re taking advantage of them.

By: Brian Barnett MD
Title: Capitalizing on Smoking Cessation Could Curb Coronavirus Deaths
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/capitalizing-smoking-cessation-could-curb-coronavirus-deaths
Published Date: Wed, 13 May 2020 06:28:27 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

8 Ways Your Environment Can Support Recovery

What’s your environment like? When you were living with addiction your environment might have been filled with people coming and going, so-called friends that you couldn’t actually trust. It might have been loud or unpredictable.

Just like a negative environment can contribute to the chaos of addiction, a healthy environment can help you thrive in recovery. While you’re in addiction treatment, you start learning about the benefits of a positive and healthy environment, but once rehab is over you might need to create one of your own.

Here are 8 steps toward creating an environment that will make staying sober just a little bit easier.

  1. Find a safe and stable place to live. Knowing that you have a safe, warm and stable place to live removes a ton of stress. Think about where you will live when you leave rehab. Do you have a place to go home to? Would you benefit from the accountability of a sober living house? Do you have a friend or sober family member who would welcome you for a few months?
  2. Cut ties with the people who enable your addiction. Now that you’re creating a healthy environment, you need to protect it from people who encourage you to use drugs or alcohol. Old friends from your addiction days might undermine your sobriety, intentionally or unintentionally. Changing your phone number or purging your social media is a great way to start distancing yourself from people who are unhealthy.
  3. Establish your boundaries. On that note, there will be people in your life who might trigger you, but who you still choose to have an ongoing relationship with. Think about what boundaries you want to have with these people. For example, you might ask a family member to not contact you, but promise you will call them once a month. Or, you might be willing to meet someone in public, but ask that they not come to your house. Once you’ve decided what your boundaries are, tell the person. Then, be prepared to stand firm if that person doesn’t respect your boundaries.
  4. Keep things tidy. Having an environment that is clean and tidy can help you feel that you deserve order and stability in your life. Take a day to organize your space — whether that is a bunk in a sober living or a whole house. Then, each night before bed take 5-15 minutes to tidy everything and reset it for the next day. This simple habit will make your mornings much more streamlined.
  5. Focus on calm. Once you have a clean space, you can fill it with tools to help you calm yourself. You might want to buy some noise-canceling headphones, for when you need a moment way from the world. A candle, scented spritzer, or soft blanket can all engage your senses and help you feel at peace when you have a tough day.
  6. Evaluate your digital environment. These days, social media is everywhere. While scrolling can be a great way to zone out, spending too much time online can take a toll on your mental health. If you find that reading the news is contributing to your anxiety, or that looking at Facebook makes you feel bad about yourself, limit your time online. Instead of checking in constantly, limit your media use to ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon.
  7. Find a recovery community. When it comes to sobriety, there’s safety in numbers. Having sober friends who you can hang out with or who you can call when you’re having a tough day will help you navigate recovery. Check out a meeting, keep in touch with your treatment program’s alumni network, or join sober social media groups to find like-minded people in your area.
  8. Establish a routine. In early recovery, you’re trying to do a lot: going to meetings, rebuilding your relationships and career, starting healthy habits. A routine is very useful for making sure you accomplish all you’re trying to do. You don’t have to adhere to a strict schedule, but having a loose routine will provide your days with structure and predictability.

At first, creating your sober environment can be daunting. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. Over time, you can create a sober environment that makes you feel calm, safe and centered in order to meet the challenges of recovery.

Sober Partners provides residential treatment in Newport Beach, California. Get more information at their website, by calling 855-982-3247, or on Facebook.

By: The Fix staff
Title: 8 Ways Your Environment Can Support Recovery
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/8-ways-your-environment-can-support-recovery
Published Date: Tue, 12 May 2020 08:00:31 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

A Lesson from Sobriety: You Are Allowed to Feel Hopeful

Imagine waking up one day and everything has changed. Overnight you’ve lost the ability to go to work. All the places you eat, drink, and socialize are closed. You walk down the street and people cross over to avoid your path. You are living the definition of empty. Void. Vast nothingness. You have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but if it’s more of the same, you might not want to have another tomorrow.

Welcome to the reality of COVID-19. Many of us are currently living under stay at home orders where the situation feels similar to what I’ve described. Overnight, jobs lost or sent to work from home, daycares and schools closed, the few restaurants remaining open offer take out only, and, for some reason, toilet paper has become the national currency. I’ve noticed life during a pandemic has some clear parallels to life when contemplating going from substance abuser to sober.

Fortunately, most of us can survive this pandemic if we practice some safety guidelines and weather a storm that has an uncertain end date. Again, the same can be said for sobriety. When I first contemplated sobriety, the uncertainty of what the future would look like kept me from moving forward. Eventually, I had to embrace this. I looked at what my life had become versus what I wanted it to be and I knew even uncertainty was better than the present.

I made the decision to become sober six years ago. For me, sobriety meant losing a routine I’d become comfortably habituated to. A destructive routine that involved daily consumption of alcohol, often until I couldn’t drink any more on any given night. Right now, we are being told our normal routine could lead to a worsening of the pandemic, the potential to spread the disease and expose those most vulnerable to its fatal effects. We’ve been asked to willingly adjust our routines with the absence of an end date.

In sobriety, I had to define a new normal. This happened both purposely and organically. Part of what I did was attend counseling and AA sessions. That was on purpose. I also started writing more and performing better at work. That was more organic. I didn’t order alcoholic beverages while out with clients and colleagues. That was on purpose. I fell in love with ice cold seltzer water. That was organic.

We don’t know what our new normal will look like after this first round of COVID-19. There are some behaviors many of us have adopted that will probably persist: wearing masks, avoiding handshakes, increased hand washing. We will adopt other behaviors or adapt in ways we can’t foresee in the coming months. Many of these will bring us joy, or at least decrease potential future situations like our present condition.

The Present and the Presence of Hope

Everyone–sober, drunk, or indifferent–is facing some unexpected hardships right now. We’ve been told by experts we are experiencing loss and should feel permission to grieve. This is true. But we have permission to feel hopeful as well. Hope is what led me to embrace and eventually thrive in sobriety. Hope will get us through this pandemic.

I could have never imagined the wonderful things waiting for me on the other side of sobriety. A marriage (later a divorce, but hey), a child, Saturday mornings, physical health, mental clarity, reduced anxiety, and vomit-free carpets are only some of the things I wouldn’t have accomplished if I were still drinking.

Having hope during a terrible situation isn’t the same as false hope. Hope is a fundamental ingredient of human resilience, a mechanism that sets our brains apart from other species. Hope has kept individuals and societies moving forward to better ourselves since the time our external gills disappeared, and our tails fell off. Or we were fashioned from dust. Whatever you choose.

Hope is what countered the fear and uncertainty I felt initially entering sobriety. Excitement for a future without the shackles of alcohol. We are in the same situation now; there’s no other motivation to go through this if we have no hope the future will bring something better than the present.

We have some time before this will pass. Spend some of it dwelling on hope. Make a list of things that might be better post-pandemic. Plan your dream vacation (we will travel again). Do something you’ve always wanted to do for yourself. Along with anxiety, fear, or grief, you are allowed to feel hope and excitement in our current situation. Something different is waiting for you. Potentially something better than you can imagine.

By: Victor Yocco
Title: A Lesson from Sobriety: You Are Allowed to Feel Hopeful
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/lesson-sobriety-you-are-allowed-feel-hopeful
Published Date: Mon, 11 May 2020 07:02:37 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974

A Life Concussed

The following is an excerpt from a longer work. 

Every now and then, I wake up with the small, warm bodies of my pets sniffing my face, wrapped up in a clean and cozy blanket, and I marvel at the simplicity of a healed mind and a life in bloom on the other side of it. In person, I do, at times, like to stretch a tale, usually for comedic value. But for the purposes of this writing, I have checked and re-checked, and made an appraisal to share with the reader some basic facts, plain and simple; along with some remedies I found that have become a foundation of sorts, a path to wellness. As I mentioned before, other parts of that path have been omitted altogether, things that have proved to be a great panacea which are best kept personal.

It has been my living experience to discount myself, often writing things off altogether, as if I had no value and was not worth the time of day. I mentioned earlier, after my second concussion, in the middle of the most tragic emergency of my life up to that point, the only thing I could think of was to apologize for bleeding on that clean, white carpet, as if nothing else mattered at all. In my soul, that set up a pattern; somewhere, deep down in the well, I always felt as if me just existing required an apology, to whom, I was never sure. Through a process of deep self- examination, I have been able to hold some things, such as that, up to the light. I know, now, why, after being rear-ended in my car,

I told the other driver, “Just give me twenty bucks, man. It’s cool.” My life played out from that basis, a ‘Walking Apology’ maybe washing dishes for a meager wage or riding a bus. And needing to apologize for all of it: for living, for breathing, for being alive.

I began my teenage years with a dark secret that I kept well concealed, well below the surface. A quiet, little truth between me and myself, never to be held up for public examination. My thinking, as it were, had changed, drastically so, an unexpected jaunt down into a dark well, where uglier things breathed, lurked, wrapping themselves up in my thoughts, painting grotesque visions in my mind’s eye, things I did not want to think about or ruminate on, yet, there they were. Though, eventually, I adapted, there was a suddenness to the beginning of all that that alarmed me. It is quite a thing for the sunshine of childhood to go into eclipse, another for the sun never to return. I have a friend, David, in Los Angeles that once made mention that on some level, we are like cats: our eyes simply adjust to the darkness after a time.

But the secret that I am referring to was became a malevolent and growing violence inside me. I think, on some level, I have the soul of a pacifist; I abhor cruelty and violence; it makes the hairs on my neck stand up, and I squirm in the presence of it. There were some years where I fancied myself a ‘street tough,’ but that never exactly measured up to who I have ever truly been. This, of course, created great difficulty when, at an earlier season in my life, having been knocked in the head severely, more than once, my thought-life became overflowing with dark and scary content — the bells of a lower level of hell ringing clear through my thoughts. A door opened, and I never knew how to shut it. I only knew — or thought I knew — if I were to talk about my dark secret, it would not be well received. And, in truth, it most likely would not have been. The science of thought patterns and the prognosis of that is but in its infancy. If you talk about hurting things — even if you had not nor even wanted to — well, that is still a bad thing. I knew that as fact, even as a young boy. If I could change anything about that very early time, the suffering consequence from having a brain injury, I think I wish I would have found some type of working faith much earlier — be it real or imagined — a higher shelf onto which to place my troubles and cling to for the sake of being okay. But that was never to be.

My homeostasis, as it were, went over a cliff before it had even fully developed. I dreamed of and thought of typhoons of razor blades tearing me to pieces, or dead factories full of squirming things with doors that would not open. I questioned my sanity early on, as young as fourteen, and many times later to close friends in my twenties.

As mentioned, I discounted all of that. Whatever changed inside me was not important enough to mention, even when the shroud of secrecy faded, because, beneath it, I thought I did not matter.

**********************

I was driving one day asking the Power that I believe in to give me a means and an idea to correct my own thinking somehow, one that lay outside the realms of pharmaceutical intervention and heavy medical imaging of injecting dyes and scanning for patterns and results. It was perhaps a day later when a simple but comforting image came to me: the image was my head surrounded by a group of small hummingbirds in flight. Iridescent yet without form, I could hear the flicker of their tiny wings beating madly about as they would circle my head. I could feel — literally feel — a gentle poke from their narrow beaks as they would re-harness and sew together damaged or lost connections, pecking away at old neural pathways that lay long-dead, tying together the strands of nervous tissue regarded for mental health. Every morning, for weeks and months, the same visual would come to me. I would sit, quietly sipping coffee as a track with chimes and bells would draw me into a relaxed state, while the simple and effective imagery of my head surrounded with birds would unfold. They would peck away, correcting and sewing, like small creatures making a neat and tidy nest fit for bearing new life. After fifteen or twenty minutes, I would let the image fall away finishing my coffee and go about my work for the day. It was this — I can say with some finality — that silenced decades of old ruptures in my psyche, where the darkest parts of my soul used to live.

Excerpted from A Life Concussed: A Memoriam of Brain Injury, Addiction & Homelessness, available at Amazon.
 

By: Jeff Gould
Title: A Life Concussed
Sourced From: www.thefix.com/life-concussed
Published Date: Fri, 08 May 2020 06:59:25 +0000

At New Horizon Drug Rehab, we understand addiction. If you or a family member are afflicted with addiction or substance abuse we can help. We work with the top centers throughout the US to provide the best detox and addiction treatments available.

Call Now: (877) 747-9974