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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

3 Stop-Smoking Excuses (And 3 Simple Solutions)

Lots of people in recovery still smoke cigarettes and, at one point, it was even encouraged as a way to prevent relapse. Today, however, we know better – and it may just be the opposite. One study showed that kicking your nicotine habit can make it easier (not harder) to recover from a substance use disorder as well as from depression or anxiety disorder.

Okay – so easier said than done. To help, we’ve identified three common obstacles among smokers and some simple solutions to keep you on track.  

1: Oral fixation: The hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking is a tough habit to break, and you may even find yourself fidgeting with your hands, biting our fingernails, or snacking more often. 

It may help to hit the grocery store and load up on healthful snacks – carrots, celery, brown rice cakes, grapes, sugar-free lollipops, sugarless chewing gum, etc. Bonus: Studies show that gum chewing can boost memory, which may help ease the mental fogginess commonly associated with addiction withdrawal symptoms.

2. Weight gain: Packing on the pounds is unfortunately pretty common for those in recovery – and quitting smoking won’t help. Nicotine has been shown to suppress appetite and may even boost metabolism. But the threat of a few extra pounds shouldn’t derail your stop-smoking plans. 

Instead, perhaps it can serve as extra motivation to incorporate some strength training into your addiction recovery exercise routine. Three months of pumping iron curbed cigarette cravings, minimized withdrawal symptoms, and decreased weight gain risk, according to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute.  

3. Stress: How can you possibly cope with the stress of recovery without at least having a cigarette now and again? Well, you can, and in fact quitting may even help tame that tension, according to a study in the journal Addiction.

Even so, the road to quitting will undoubtedly be filled with stressors. Make sure to spend time with loved ones who tickle your funny bone or cue up your favorite sitcom on NetFlix. Laughter increases the feel-good endorphins released by the brain and cools the body’s stress response. Exercise is also a great stress buster, so find a walking buddy and lace up those sneakers.

More Ways to Stop Stress
We know that stress inhibits progress in your addiction recovery journey. To combat this, The Haven at Pismo Beach offers a variety of alternative therapies that relieve tension and complement your customized treatment plan. To learn more, call today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Do You Know Your Personal Triggers?

Triggers are a very real part of addiction — and, unfortunately, they are seemingly everywhere. Whether external (people, places, things, situations) or internal (memories, thoughts, feelings), triggers hijack your brain and make you want to use again.

You can’t avoid them, but you can learn to identify your own unique triggers. This is a crucial step in relapse prevention.

For instance, does seeing an old drinking, drugging, or gambling buddy do it? Or, will stress from an argument with your partner or parent set you off? Maybe it’s the time of day when you used to drug, drink, masturbate, or do another compulsive behavior? The acronym “H.A.L.T.” — which stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired — is often used to describe some of the more common situations that spark temptation.

13 Common Relapse Triggers 
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) cites the following as the most common triggers:

  1. Anniversary dates of losses or trauma
  2. Break-ups
  3. Loneliness 
  4. Being judged, criticized, teased, or put down 
  5. Financial or job worries 
  6. Frightening news events
  7. Feeling overwhelmed
  8. Family friction
  9. Exposure to things that make you feel uncomfortable
  10. Smells, tastes, or noises that remind you of using
  11. Physical illness
  12. Sexual harassment
  13. Being yelled at or being around someone who has treated you poorly 
Do any of these addiction triggers strike a chord with you? As part of your relapse prevention plan, it’s essential to jot them down and then identify the steps you’ll take to fight back. And don’t be afraid to talk to others about what has (and hasn’t) worked for them. Together, you can take action against any triggers that threaten your hard-won sobriety.

Aftercare for Lifetime Sobriety
Aftercare plans are invaluable additions to your recovery toolbox. At The Haven at Pismo, our team of addiction specialists will help you to develop relapse strategies to help you maintain sobriety once returning home. Call today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5 Ways Exercise Can Help Addiction Recovery

Physical exercise is an essential part of your recovery toolbox — and it also lays the foundation for your new sober lifestyle. Even if you hate to exercise, it’s hard to dispute the many post-workout benefits, including more energy, less stress, better mood, and clearer thinking.

Perhaps, most importantly, making exercise part of your treatment plan can increase your chances of staying clean and sober, according a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity. Researchers found that exercise helped patients being treated for substance abuse gain greater confidence in their ability to recover. 

Still not convinced? Here are some more reasons to make fitness part of your short- and long-term recovery plan.

  1. You’ll reduce cravings. Physical activity activates the brain’s “pleasure circuit,” reducing substance cravings and elevating the production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
  2. You’ll keep boredom at bay. You’ve likely heard the adage, idle hands do the devil's work. Well, this can ring true in recovery, which is why filling your day with healthy and supportive activities is crucial.
  3. You’ll sleep better. Sleepless nights may be all-too familiar if you’re in recovery. This is because addiction messes with your circadian rhythms. Regular exercise can help restore your normal sleep cycle, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
  4. You’ll work out your anger, frustrations, and stress. Part of your post-addiction lifestyle will include finding a healthy way to manage your emotions — and a good sweat session may be just what you need.  
  5. You’ll get stronger and more confident. When you exercise, you’ll have more energy and feel more fit and trim – and, in turn, you’ll improve your self-perception. And the new-and-improved you will be ready to meet the many challenges you’ll face in recovery!
Finding Fitness That’s Right for You
The Haven at Pismo helps you develop a fitness program tailored to your health needs, lifestyle preferences, and addiction history. In an idyllic, beach-town setting, Haven clients have the opportunity to participate in indoor and outdoor activities that repair the physical and psychological damage caused by substance abuse. For more information, call 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

6 Tips for a Healthy Recovery Diet

6 tips healthy recovery dietDuring recovery your body can use all of the nutritional support it can get. That’s because addiction –- especially in the form of a steady diet of alcohol and drugs –- can deplete your body of vital vitamins and nutrients. In fact, alcoholism is one of the major causes of nutritional deficiency in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

You may not be able to reverse all the damage done by your addiction. But proper nutrition can help speed the healing process, giving your body energy to repair damage to tissues, organs, and the brain’s reward centers. A solid recovery diet can help improve sleep and mental focus, too. The result: You’ll be better equipped to fight cravings, make smart decisions, and handle the hard work of recovery!

This doesn’t mean that you have to overhaul you're entire diet overnight; you just have to start being a bit more conscious about what and when you eat.

Healthy Eating During Recovery 
Get started by following these tips for a smart recovery diet:

• Don’t skip breakfast. A morning meal, especially one that includes a mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, can control blood sugar levels and keep you full and energized throughout the day.

• Stick to regular mealtimes. Years of addiction can cause you to mistake hunger cues for cravings – and that’s just a recipe for relapse. To prevent this and to train your body to tell the difference, do your best to maintain a consistent eating schedule. You may want to start with six small meals instead of two or three large ones.

• Choose the right fats. Not all fat is equal and, in fact, the so-called “good” fats (avocados, nuts, olives, flaxseed) can help with cellular pair and your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. A deficiency of essential fatty acids can also lead to a host of health issues, including depression.

• Load up on fiber. Alcohol and drug abuse can wreak havoc on your digestive system, leading to constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Slowly adding fiber-rich foods – like brown rice, black beans, artichokes, peas, pears – back into your diet can help minimize these effects as your body heals.

• Skip the sugar. Cakes, pastries, ice cream, and candy were once staples in the recovery community. But these so-called “hyperpalatables” — sugary, fatty, salty food combinations – have been shown to trigger a similar rush as drugs or alcohol. The result: a new form of dependence. And, when you skip the sweets, you’ll have more room in your budget for fresh produce and quality proteins.

• Cut back on the coffee. Whether coffee, tea, or soda, caffeine-filled beverages can increase the anxiety and insomnia you may already be suffering from in early sobriety. Again, you’ll likely have a hard time ditching that diet soda cold turkey, so start slowly and try swapping one of your caffeinated beverages for a refreshing glass of water. You might also switch to decaf, which does have a little caffeine.

• Consider supplements. Talk to your healthcare professional about whether vitamin and mineral supplements will be helpful during recovery. This may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C.

Start the Healing Process

With our in-house chef, the Haven at Pismo helps you create dietary patterns that support your sobriety and correct nutritional deficiencies. Residents learn how to replace sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods with healthy fiber, quality proteins, and antioxidant-rich vegetables. Call today to speak confidentially with an intake specialist: 805.202.3440.