What Are Liver Pain Symptoms?

What are Liver Pain

How to Deal with Liver Pain Symptoms  

The first thing you’ll want to know is what liver pain symptoms feel like? How do you know it’s not something else? Most people don’t know the exact location of the organs in their body. It’s not always easy to identify these symptoms if you’ve never experienced them before. People who had them before describe liver pain symptoms as a throbbing ache in the upper right side of their abdomen (your mid-section). Sometimes it can come with an intense, sharp, stabbing sensation. If something is wrong enough with your liver to cause liver discomfort, then there is likely swelling going on. That swelling can put pressure on other organs and parts of your body. This may feel like a pain in the right side of your back or shoulder, in addition to the pain we described above.

 

What is the Liver? What Does it Do?

Since we’re discussing liver pain symptoms, it makes sense to talk about what the liver is and what it does. The liver is a brown, rubbery-feeling organ that rests on the right side of your belly, just on top of your gallbladder and pancreas. Your liver’s main job is keeping your blood clean. Blood comes from your digestive organs, like your stomach, into the liver. It cleans out toxins and processes any drugs you might take. Knowing all that, it’s not hard to see why the liver is such an important organ.

Some of what your liver does includes:

  • Detoxifying your blood.
  • Activates enzymes.
  • Assisting in metabolizing fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Regulates levels of chemicals in the blood.
  • Excretes bile to carry waste out of the liver.

Please Remember…

Before you read further, we want to remind you that nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. You should never try to diagnose yourself by reading things off the Internet and act on that self-diagnosis. Unless that action is to contact your doctor or go to the hospital. You should never try to guess what might be wrong and treat your own symptoms. This is especially true when it comes to things involving your internal organs. This article is intended only to provide some food for thought. We want you to be aware of what these symptoms are like and what they could mean. The last thing we want if for you to become a hypochondriac or worry needlessly. Don’t speculate and worry, but if you have the symptoms described above, Ask for help. Seek medical attention. Sensibly and calmly.

 

Why Do I Have Liver Pain Symptoms?  

There are any number of reasons why you might have liver pain symptoms. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, again, you should not try to diagnose yourself. You should definitely not try to diagnose and treat yourself. If you have symptoms, the best thing to do is seek medical advice from a professional. If they seem at all serious, call 911. Now, there are several conditions which can cause liver discomfort. But it’s also possible to have liver disease without liver discomfort. The best way to keep your liver healthy is to avoid alcohol, drugs and fatty foods.

Some of the diseases of the liver which could cause liver discomfort include:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver Cancer
  • Gallstones
  • Hepatitis
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Conclusion

Anything that’s known to be a toxin you should avoid, since your liver is the organ that will have to deal with it. There is evidence that some natural remedies, such as milk thistle may be helpful to liver health. Finally, you should have blood work done annually with your doctor. One of the things they can check in a blood panel is liver enzymes. This information along with other info can help your doctor assess your liver health. Put simply, taking care of your body will help your liver stay healthier. If you have any questions, especially about liver pain symptoms or liver pain treatment, you should always ask your doctor. Finally, remember that if you or someone you love is living with a mental health or substance use disorder, Harmony Treatment and Wellness can help. Give us a call at (772) 247-6180 or connect to us through our contact page here.

7 Benefits of Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab can be a viable option.

Advantages to Outpatient Rehabilitation

If you’re thinking about using outpatient drug and alcohol rehab, it’s important to know what to expect. Because outpatient isn’t as intensive as inpatient, it can be easier to fit it into most people’s lives. It also can be cheaper if you haven’t got health insurance. To help you decide if this a possible option for you, we’ve created a list of 7 benefits that outpatient drug and alcohol rehab can provide. These are:

  • Works with inpatient care.
  • Fits with almost any schedule and lifestyle.
  • You can select a level of treatment.
  • Increased Flexibility.
  • Gives you real-world experience.
  • Provides a smoother transition to long-term recovery.
  • Less Cost.

What is Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

In short, outpatient drug and alcohol rehab is a treatment program for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) that allows you to stay at your own residence. You then go to a treatment facility during the day. However, there’s several different types of outpatient care. But, some operate by letting you live where you wish. There are generally three types of outpatient care:

Our Florida addiction and recovery center provides all of these and more.

Works with Inpatient Care

The first benefit to outpatient treatment is it works with inpatient care. If you have already been through a residential treatment program, outpatient treatment is ideal. This is because it is intended to be used after an inpatient program. You don’t need to choose one or the other. In fact, using both gives you the best chance of success. Outpatient treatment is most useful and effective as a follow-up to a more intensive program, rather than a substitute for one.

Fits with Most Schedules

The biggest advantage to outpatient rehabilitation is it works with most lifestyles. If you need to continue to work or attend school, you can do so. Because outpatient rehab only operates for a few hours a day, multiple times a week, it’s easy to fit it into your schedule. You’re also able to sleep in your own bed, which is usually the most attractive part.

Different Levels of Treatment

There is a range of options under the general outpatient treatment umbrella. Intensive Outpatient treatment, for example offers similar benefits to a residential program and you can enjoy the security and structure of a sober living environment. IOP treatment is often followed by Outpatient Treatment, which usually consists of only one or two days a week of care at most, which can fit into most schedules.

Increased Flexibility

Along with being able to choose your level of treatment, you can also change your care level as time goes on. If you relapse, you’re able to choose something more complete. When you become more stable and confident in your sobriety, you can reduce the amount of outpatient treatment you receive.

Provides Real-World Experience

Staying sober during inpatient treatment is fairly easy. It’s supposed to be. However, when you get back out into the world, you’re faced with real world problems. When this happens, your sobriety is going to be challenged. These challenges can easily lead to relapse. On the other hand, using outpatient treatment, you’re exposed to the stress of normal life. But, you’re given a lot of help and support to cope with that stress. Thus, you’ll learn ways to handle problems as they happen. This can help stop you from being overwhelmed.

Smooth Transition to Long-Term Recovery

The goal of outpatient rehab is to move you gently into long-term recovery. Once you’ve learned all the skills and tools to live sober, then you can exit the outpatient care. If you go to an inpatient facility but don’t attend outpatient care, you’re likely to experience problems. Worse, if you merely try to get sober on your own, you’ll probably experience a lot of failure. This is because you aren’t given the tools and support necessary to live sober. Outpatient treatment helps slide you into a life of sobriety. Rather than throwing you in the deep end of the pool.

Less Cost

Inpatient care can be expensive without health insurance. Even the cheapest ones tend to be costly. Worse, cheap care is usually inferior. This means it won’t help you as much. The advantage to outpatient care is the cost is minimal, but the care is still good. Some outpatient facilities are covered by Medicaid, Medicare or insurance. Plus, you can sometimes work while you attend outpatient rehab. Which makes the cost even easier to bear.

Getting Outpatient Care

If you’re ready to get help, or merely want to learn more about outpatient rehab, please get in touch with us. Our Florida recovery center is equipped to handle all of your recovery needs. Our staff is excited about helping others achieve sobriety and will be happy to answer any questions you have. We tailor all of our outpatient care to fit you as an individual. This means you’ll have total control over how much care you receive. There’s a program that’s right for you. All you need to do is call us today and we can get started building a path to your new sober life!

Prescription Pill Detox: What To Expect

prescription-pill-detox-what-to-expect

Prescription pill detox can be every bit as difficult as detoxing from street drugs. It also comes with many unique challenges. These include the mental and physical changes that go into any detoxification. Even if you weren’t a heavy user of prescription pills, your body and brain will still experience some discomfort. This can range from mild pains to serious suffering. Before you begin prescription pill detox, it’s important to know what to expect. When you know what is coming, you are able to prepare. This can make the process of quitting pills far easier and safer.

What is Prescription Pill Detox?

Detox, also known as detoxification, is the process by which toxins are removed from the body. This is the first step for anyone trying to quit using substances of any kind. Before someone can live without drugs, they must get their body back to a more natural state. This is necessary to end the cycle of dependency. The longer someone has used drugs, or the more they have used, the more difficult this process is. Detox is split into two types. These are:

Medical detox – Medical detox – AKA medically assisted detox or medically supervised detox – takes place in a clinical environment. This can be a hospital or other facility. During medical detox, medical professionals monitor the person. These people are able to help manage the symptoms of detox. Often, doctors will use medications to help make the detoxification process less uncomfortable. Anyone undergoing prescription pill detox should be in a medical facility in order to minimize the dangers that go along with pill use.

Social detox – Social detox takes many forms. If a person is quitting on their own, they are undertaking a “social” detox. Sometimes social detox takes place in a facility where the person is monitored. In this case, they are not given medical care unless an emergency arises. This can include a jail or state detox facility.

During detox, a person will go through withdrawal. Because withdrawal can have unpredictable symptoms, it is always safer to have medical care.

What is Withdrawal?

When a person uses a substance on a regular basis, their body becomes dependent on the substance. If the substance is removed, their body enters withdrawal. In withdrawal, the body and brain are craving the substance. This is because the person doesn’t feel “normal” without it. Anyone going through prescription pill detox is going to experience some level of withdrawal. Even if the person only used the pills as prescribed, they will still feel side-effects from quitting. Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Shakiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Insomnia.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Tiredness.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Death.

These can last for a few days to several weeks. Prescription pills tend to flush out of the system faster than other drugs. This is because they are manufactured legally and regulated by the FDA. Narcotics made in illegal facilities have no regulation or oversight.

Those who have used painkillers, especially opioids, will usually feel the effects of withdrawal for a week or two. People who have used Benzodiazepines – such as Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, or Valium – can feel the effects for several months. Withdrawal from other pills have an equally wide range.

How intense the withdrawal symptoms are, and how long they last depends on how much a person used. If you take pills in higher dosages, or have been taking them on a daily basis for months or years will have more symptoms. These will also be more severe.

Prescription pill detox can be fatal. This is especially true with Benzodiazepines and opioids. Anyone quitting these needs to consult with a doctor before stopping. If you are seeking detox centers in Florida, reach out to us for help. We provide full medical detox. We are also able to make withdrawal easier.

How to Prepare for Prescription Pill Detox

There are a few steps that are important for anyone trying to quit pills. The better you prepare to detox, the easier it will be to recover. Many people relapse during the detox period because the drug cravings are so intense. Often, they will self-medicate with other substances during the detox period. This can lead to a new addiction. To avoid these issues, here’s some steps to make your prescription pill detox easier:

  • Consult with a doctor before you quit.
  • Undergo an evaluation in order to determine the best detox program for you.
  • Take time for yourself to fully detox. This means taking a vacation from work, and maybe getting some space from your family.
  • Seek out a comfortable detox facility. Medically assisted detox is always the safest way to go.
  • Tell friends and family what you are trying to do. Their support will help.
  • Give yourself ample time to rest. You’re going to feel sick.
  • Provide yourself with healthy comfort foods. Nourishing your body during detox gives it the tools it needs to heal.
  • Be kind to yourself. This process is painful.

One of the major things to remember during detox is your body is going to feel unnatural. You’re probably going to feel like you’re crawling out of your skin. On a physical level, you are changing the chemistry that you’re used to. This means your emotions are also going to be in upheaval. Be ready for feelings to come up. These are likely to be negative and hurtful. That’s okay. By surrounding yourself with positive support, you can make this process easier.

Get Help for Your Detox

It cannot be restated enough that prescription pill detox is hard. Doing it alone only makes it worse. It also makes it far more dangerous. By finding a comfortable detox facility with proper medical care, you increase your chances for success. When you have the right tools, the job is far simpler. No matter where you are, it helps to find a detox facility nearby.

If you’re looking for a Florida detox, call us and let us set you on the best path. Our staff is trained to manage the problems with prescription pill detox. They are here to get you through this and start you in your recovery. Quitting doesn’t need to be agony, and it certainly isn’t worth losing your life. To ensure your safety, let us help you quit. We offer personalized care and can build a treatment program to fit anyone.

Avoiding The Traps Of Early Sobriety

avoiding-the-traps-of-early-sobriety

Avoiding the Traps of Early Sobriety Is A Lifestyle

Early sobriety is the toughest time for anyone with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). This is because it is full of painful problems. Often, the person in early sobriety has legal, financial, and health issues. They must learn to navigate these. Emotions which have been repressed for years are coming up. These people are learning an entirely new way of life. While it is difficult, avoiding the traps of early sobriety is an attainable goal. If the person merely uses these 10 simple strategies, they can save themselves a lot of suffering.

Early Sobriety Survival Guide

There’s no way to know every problem that a person will have when they first get sober. Since no one knows the future, no one can predict what will happen. Therefore, it’s important to have a way to deal with anything that might come up. By using these 10 tricks, it is possible to get through early – and middle, and late – sobriety:

  • Seek support.
  • Learn to listen.
  • Have a plan.
  • Write everything down.
  • Get a hobby.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Be honest.
  • Exercise.
  • Change as little as possible.
  • Be kind to yourself.

Seek Support

The first thing to do in early sobriety is find support. Without help, you’re more likely to fail. In order to find support, all someone needs to do is look. Here are the best places to get support:

  • Support groups.
  • Therapy.
  • Friends and family.
  • Online chat groups and message boards.
  • Work or volunteering with a sober group.

Support is the key to surviving early sobriety. This is because other people will have answers that a single person doesn’t. Sober support groups are usually the best for this. Since the people in these groups have survived early sobriety, they are able to help with any traps that come along. In addition, a therapist has the training to assist with the many emotions that are hidden by substance use. Meanwhile, friends and family can provide love and compassion that will make sobriety easier and more rewarding. Adding in meaningful and fulfilling work with a sober group of people will help fill the time that was previously devoted to using.

Learn to Listen

Having a support system is good. But a support system is only useful if you learn to listen to the people in it. When you learn to absorb their wisdom and experience, you make yourself able to hear solutions. By practicing this skill, you’ll find new answers to questions and won’t make as many mistakes.

Be Honest

It’s very important you’re honest with yourself in early sobriety. It also helps to be honest with the people around you. If you aren’t honest about the problems you’re having, you’re unlikely to find honest solutions. If you can’t tell the people who support you what is really going on, they can’t help you. By being honest at all times, you’re more realistic. When you’re realistic, you’re able to handle issues in a practical way.

Have a Plan

There’s a common saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” When you develop a plan, you increase your chance of success. By creating a plan for everything, you create structure. That structure provides a way of coping with problems. Once you have a plan in place, change it and revise it as much as you need to. Then, create another plan for any situation that might arise. By doing this, you get in the habit of planning. This gives you the confidence to tackle any problem that comes along.

Write Everything Down

When we write things down we clarify our thinking. By seeing everything we’re thinking or feeling in black and white, it becomes easier to manage. You can never write too much in early sobriety. Begin by writing down everything that worries you. Then, come up with ways to deal with each of these problems. For example, if you’re afraid that stress from your job might cause you to use, figure out exactly how you’re going to cope with that. Should you be afraid that you won’t be able to socialize without alcohol, write down ways to handle that problem.

It’s also helpful to write down every success you have. If you were sober today, that’s a victory! Write it down and give yourself a pat on the back!

Get a Hobby

One of the biggest traps of early sobriety is boredom. When we’re drinking or using, a lot of our time was spent on those addictions. When we stop, we have a lot of free time. Since we’re not sure what to do with this, we need a way to fill those hours. By finding something we enjoy doing, we reduce the risk that we’ll want to use.

Write down what hobbies you have, or what hobbies you would like to start. Then, write down a schedule for when you’ll be doing these things. If you can find someone in your sober support system who enjoys these things as well, even better! In this way all the strategies mix together.

Do One Thing at a Time

It is impossible to solve all your problems at once. Research has shown that the best way to accomplish

anything is by doing a single thing. When you solve a single problem, you build confidence to take on others. People with SUD tend to catastrophize. We make mountains out of molehills. When we have to climb an actual mountain, it’s even worse. Early sobriety is a mountain, and that mountain is full of cliffs that we can fall off of.

Write down all your problems. Then write out a plan for coping with each one. Start by fixing the small ones. Pick the easiest problem you can and figure out how you’re going to deal with it. Once that’s off the list, you can move on to the next one. Keep doing this, and you’ll eventually get to the top of the peak.

Exercise

Studies have found that our mental health is tied to our physical health. When our bodies are healthy, so is our brain. But, you don’t need to start a hardcore Crossfit routine to be healthy. Unless you were an avid gym rat before you got sober, there’s no need to try to be one now. Start small and simple. Schedule a time to walk around the block. You can always do more later. The important thing is to start. Make it a healthy habit. In doing this, you give your body and mind the chemicals they need to make early sobriety easier.

Change as Little as Possible

It might seem like a contradiction to say you shouldn’t change much in early sobriety. When you’re first getting sober, it feels like you’re changing everything. You are. What this means is you shouldn’t change any more than you absolutely have to. Here’s a few things you should try to keep the same, so long as they are healthy:

  • Your job.
  • Place of residence.
  • Your geographic location.
  • Your romantic relationship.
  • Other relationships with sober people who wish to support you.

The more you can keep the same, the more safe structure you have. So long as you have healthy things in your life, hang on to them. Naturally, if anything risks your sobriety, it needs to be examined. If you decide it isn’t healthy, it should probably be removed.

One of the worst traps of early sobriety is getting into a new relationship. This is because relationships are hard, even when sober. When you’re just learning how to live without substances, they’re nearly impossible. They also frequently lead to relapse.

Be Kind to Yourself

You will make mistakes in early sobriety. If you’re like most of us, you’re going to make all the mistakes. That’s okay. Forgive yourself. Celebrate the wins and forget the losses. Learn from every mistake, write it down, talk it out with your support system and then come up with a plan to avoid that mistake in the future. You won’t do it perfectly. No one does. But, if you let yourself stumble and grow – while you treat yourself with kindness – you’ll get through it.

Start Now

Hopefully these steps will help you in avoiding the traps of early sobriety. The sooner you begin the tough walk towards recovery, the sooner it will get easier. If you aren’t sure how to start, reach out to us and let us help you. Our staff is trained to give you the tools to make early sobriety easier. We can help you find support. We can teach you the ways of dealing with the woes of new sobriety. Let our experience guide you. All it takes is a simple phone call to begin your new life. You can do this!

What is the Abstinence Model?

In recovery circles, you might hear the term “abstinence model.” The abstinence model implies that a person stops using any and all substances. Some treatment centers might require abstinence. Even prior to getting treatment. Some people might be able to swing that. But what about the rest of us?

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to define the abstinence model
  • Advantages of the abstinence model
  • Disadvantages of the abstinence model
  • Alternatives to the abstinence model
  • How to determine if the abstinence model is right for you

How To Define The Abstinence Model

Merriam-Webster defines abstinence as, “the practice of abstaining from something: the practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable.” To abstain means, ”to choose not to do or have something: to refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice.”

You decide to quit. You quit. You pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Dig your way out. You make a plan. You stick to the plan. You succeed. All you need is some willpower. Seems easy, right?

For some people, the abstinence model might work. Let’s explore a few advantages of the abstinence model.

Advantages Of The Abstinence Model

Perhaps you can muster the strength. Perhaps abstinence lies within your grasp. If you can abstain alone.

Let us explore a few advantages of the abstinence model. Advantages include:

  • Unrestricted personal autonomy
  • Maintenance of personal rhythms
  • Faster recovery journey

Unrestricted Personal Autonomy

Let’s face it. Most forms of treatment demand a lot. You have to surrender. Your time. Your schedule. Maybe even your money. Who wants to give all that?

The abstinence model has no restrictions. Or rather, it only places those restrictions which you set for yourself. You’ve decided that it’s time to quit. And so, you quit. You’re an adult. As such, you make your own choices about your life.

Maintenance Of Personal Rhythms 

Your life has a rhythm to it. Likely several rhythms. You have patterns and routines in place. And you’ve set them exactly as you want them. Treatment plans interrupt those rhythms. Providers ask you to put new rhythms in place. Rhythms that you must agree to in order to participate in recovery.

But adhering to the abstinence model lets you have the final say-so. You elect where and when your life’s obligations are.

Faster Recovery Journey

You don’t have weeks and months to spend trying to recover. You know best. If you can wake up tomorrow and quit, do it. Today was the last day. This time was the last. Tomorrow, you’re done. It’ll be a new day. Your recovery will see completion.

Disadvantages Of The Abstinence Model 

Like any recovery tool, the abstinence model has advantages. But it also comes with some distinct disadvantages. Disadvantages include:

  • High likelihood of relapse
  • The abstinence violation effect (AVE)
  • Not addressing root causes or underlying problems

High Likelihood Of Relapse

Success will vary from person to person. For some people, quitting cold turkey has potential. But relapse remains common. Even among those who seek treatment. In an abstinence-only model, you bear all responsibility. You provide all the resources. But perhaps we shouldn’t trust in willpower alone. Recent research suggests that willpower might not be all we thought. How willpower works seems to vary on our motivations for using it. Abstinence might make for a noble endgame goal. But the journey to abstinence involves more than one single decision.

The Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE)

Most recovery journeys don’t turn on a dime. Treatment providers expect those enrolled to struggle. If everyone could simply choose to quit, why would we need treatment centers? The abstinence violation effect occurs when a person attributes their relapse to a personal moral failure. Typically, shame and guilt result. In binge-eaters, AVE remained the most stable predictor of future relapse. In other words, people who felt the most responsible felt the worst. As a result, they tended to relapse faster.

Not Addressing Root Causes Or Underlying Problems

Substance use disorder (SUD) doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Granted, not everyone who uses drugs develops SUD. But often, SUD develops alongside a mental illness. Researchers refer to this as comorbidity. If you stop consuming a substance, you’ve done well. But abstinence isn’t the goal. In recovery, wholeness is the goal. Abstinence doesn’t make you whole. It doesn’t heal you by itself.

Alternatives To The Abstinence Model 

For most people, the strengths of the abstinence model also comprise inherent weaknesses. Treatment models demand a lot of you. They set their standards quite high. But you’ll find that abstinence sets impossibly high standards. Therefore, familiarize yourself with alternatives to the abstinence model. Alternatives include:

  • 12-step programs
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Harm reduction treatment

12-Step Programs 

If you choose abstinence, at least don’t abstain alone. Seek the support of 12-step programs. 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have been helping people for a long time. In these settings, you’ll at least have the company of others on a similar journey. Though AA and NA advocate for abstinence, they don’t require it.

Outpatient Therapy

Seek out a therapist or counselor. Make scheduled visits. If for nothing else, just to check-in. Even quarterly visits will help you continue your abstinence.

Harm Reduction Treatment

For many people, complete and total abstinence presents an impossibility. Harm reduction treatment works in degrees. Let’s say that last month, you consumed once a day. Every day. For thirty days. You enroll in harm reduction treatment. Thirty days after you begin treatment, you’ve only consumed twenty-five times. We call that progress. That’s how harm reduction treatment works.

How To Determine If The Abstinence Model Is Right For You 

Abstinence may indeed work for some people. The severity of dependence seems a strong predictor of future relapse. Harmony Treatment And Wellness supports evidence-based treatment models. We’re here to help you recover. We offer treatment plans customized to fit your unique situation. No single treatment model works the same for everyone. But recovery is possible and hope is real.

Call Harmony today at 772-247-6180 for more information!

How to Achieve Long Term Sobriety

happy man walking through the city

If you’ve achieved sobriety for even one day, take a moment. Moments can lead to long-term sobriety. Exercise gratitude. Feel thankful for your sobriety. For some, dealing with sobriety presents a completely new way of life.

Sobriety challenges us. It means setting boundaries. Telling ourselves “no.” Developing new habits and untangling old ones. It means taking time to evaluate the past. To learn what led us to our current place.

In this article, you’ll learn the following methods for how to achieve long-term sobriety:

● Finding a why
● Understanding the consequences of substance use
● Setting appropriate boundaries for yourself
● Investing in positive relationships
● Caring for the whole you

Finding A Why

In Twilight Of The Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “If a man knows the wherefore of his existence, then the manner of it can take care of itself.” Or, to paraphrase Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, we don’t ask life for meaning. Rather, life asks us to provide the meaning. Life presents us with circumstances – good, bad, and all points in between. In these circumstances lie opportunities. Opportunities for us to define what matters most.

Finding a why helps you understand what’s at stake in your recovery journey. Sobriety gives you clarity. Clarity to think and plan. To discern where you’ve come from. And to aim at where you’re going. Defining this meaning forms the bedrock of your long-term sobriety.

From that bedrock, you can cultivate concrete actions that will improve your life. A person doesn’t become sober simply because they like being sober. You need a reason. Sobriety is the means. Your reason is the end.

Understanding The Consequences Of Substance Use

Having established the why for your sobriety, you’ll have something to strive for. Something to protect. Something worth fighting for. Your reason for sobriety represents something you’re ready to stand in front of. To defend. One research study indicated that 46% of participants viewed escalating consequences of substance use as their main motivation for long-term sobriety.

Physical Consequences

Effects of long-term substance use manifest in the body. Even prescription medications can harm the body. As an example, consider benzodiazepines. Diazepam (Valium) works best in increments no longer than 4 weeks. Anything longer could result in dependence and/or benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.

Long-term substance use can result in heart and lung problems. Opioids, when used for too long, can compromise your immune system. Prolonged use of cocaine puts consumers at higher risk for strokes and seizures. These kinds of physical consequences present a threat to your why. And as a result, they present a threat to your long-term sobriety.

Mental And Psychological Consequences

Drug use physically changes the structure of the brain. These changes occur as a result of neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to alter and adapt. Historically, this trait helped our ancestors survive in hostile environments. But long-term drug use does not equate with long-term survival.

Long-term drug use interferes with neurons in the brain. Over time, the brain begins to work much differently. Severe effects of some drugs, like opioids and benzodiazepines, include psychosis and hallucinations. Furthermore, mental illnesses also occur comorbidly with drug use. So, while drug use may not cause mental illness, it can certainly aggravate a pre-existing mental illness. And make it much worse.

Interpersonal Consequences

Long-term sobriety makes you more employable. Using drugs at work, or coming to work after using, can get you terminated. Furthermore, even those who have undergone treatment may face difficulties finding gainful employment.

Relationships with friends and family can suffer as well. Excessive alcohol consumption has adverse effects on marriage and parenting. Research demonstrates a very strong link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Look at long-term sobriety as a way to repair interpersonal relationships. Or even to form new ones.

Setting Appropriate Boundaries For Yourself

Sticking with long-term sobriety means setting boundaries. It means saying “no” to some things, and saying “yes” to others. As earlier established, you’ve found a why. So you’ll need to keep potential threats at bay.

In practice, this might mean that you recognize cues. Cues, or triggers, act as signals that cause you to crave something. Long-term sobriety gives to the space to become aware of these cues. Your cues might be specific places, people, or circumstances. Once you’re aware of them, you can put strategies in place for eliminating them from your life.

Investing In Positive Relationships

In recovery, you found social support among others. You entrenched yourself in relationships that encouraged your long-term sobriety. You weren’t dealing with sobriety alone. For long-term sobriety to last, you must form relationships that contribute to your new lifestyle.

Research indicates that positive relationships predict long-term sober living. Relationships require investments of time and emotional capital. As part of your recovery journey, you may need to rectify relationships with those closest to you. You can strengthen relationships you already have. You also have the power and agency to form new ones.

Caring For The Whole You

You have a body and a mind. You have a self. Some might call it a spirit or psyche. You must view yourself as someone who deserves care. And that care must encompass the whole you. Your long-term sobriety must involve measures that address all of you.

When taking care of your body, find a sustainable healthy diet. Recent research suggests that ketogenic diets help alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But ketogenic diets might not be sustainable for everyone. Try different ways of eating and find one that works for your lifestyle. Apply the same metric to physical training. An exercise program like yoga helps reduce stress and depression.

Your mind needs care as well. One of the best ways to care for your mind is to give it rest. Protect your sleep. Set up safeguards so that you get adequate sleep nightly. Your long-term sobriety will thank you. Meditation has positive mental effects for sobriety as well.

Still, Have Questions About How To Achieve Long-Term Sobriety?

Don’t hesitate another second! If you’d like to know more about how to achieve long-term sobriety, call Harmony Treatment & Wellness now at 772-247-6180.

5 Reasons to Go to Rehab

woman sitting outside with a coffee thinking about going to rehab

Why Should I go to Rehab?

You’re fine, right? You’re doing just dandy. The world is your peach. You can quit anytime you want. You just don’t want to. Only alcoholics go to meetings. You only smoke, drink, snort, inject, whatever, to keep yourself calm. It’s the world that needs to sit itself down. Mellow itself out.

Have you got a lush, rich lifestyle? You’re rolling in more money than Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street? No doubt. Your business is at an all-time high. Your relationships thrive. Healthwise, you’ve never felt better. Other people are the problem. They need to leave well enough alone. Just get out of your way and let you do you.

Quick question, though.

How’s all that working out for you?

Thrown Into The World

You didn’t ask to be born when you were. Where you lived in the world. Who your family members were. Your genetics. As far back as you can remember, life’s just sort of…been this way. You just woke up here. And then it was all up to you. To figure life out all on your own. To describe these feelings, German philosopher Martin Heidegger coined the term “thrownness.” Here’s your life, with its predetermined set of circumstances over which you had no control. How do you orient yourself on this rock that meanders through space around a giant ball of fire? What are you here for? How do you decide what is important and what isn’t?

Contemplate? Or Self-Medicate?

It’s not like there are easy answers to these questions. How are you supposed to figure it out? Just thinking about it provokes a headache. To think about such things unsettles us. Dread, anxiety, anger. We don’t want to contemplate why we’re here. We don’t know our purpose. We cannot find meaning. So we wander through life, drifting about like ships without rudders. We feel nothing. We want nothing. We love nothing. No wonder we turn to substances for relief! At least they make these feelings go away for a little while!

What’s Rehab For?

Don’t repeat the refrain of the late Amy Winehouse. Consider rehab. You know your life has problems. You just don’t want to say it out loud. Because that will make it true. And you know what? It’s ok that you don’t want to say it out loud. Nobody wants to. But those who do say it out loud reap benefits. They can learn how to assemble their lives around a purpose. They can form deep interpersonal relationships. They can find a meaning and direction that offset the dread of “thrownness.” Still not convinced? No problem. Here are five reasons to consider rehab.

Rehab Is Cheaper Than Addiction

There’s no two ways about this. Addiction is expensive. Whether it’s cash, or some illicit form of bartering, the cost of addiction far outweighs the cost of rehab. To afford your substance of choice requires a job. Well now, that’s complicated. You need a job to make money. You need money to buy your substance. But if you consume your substance at work (or come to work after consuming it), then you get fired. Bit of a catch 22, isn’t it? On the other hand, most addiction recovery centers offer treatment options for people who don’t have jobs or insurance. And, at least in the beginning, rehab centers expect that you’ll show up after consuming your favorite substance! That’s kind of what you’re there for. They might be a little more willing to accommodate you than, say, your employer might.

Rehab Is Cleaner Than Addiction

Substance abuse treatment centers are medical facilities. As such, they value hygiene. The floors, the walls, the carpets, the furniture. Their staff clean and sanitize everything. Particularly since the COVID-19 epidemic, treatment centers have tightened up their tidying. But when you’re nurturing an addiction, you don’t know what you’re consuming. You don’t know what else is in your substance of choice. What it’s been mixed with. What tools or instruments were used in manufacturing it. Does the provider of your specific supplement wash his/her/their hands regularly? Do they sanitize their equipment? Has your product passed through industry standards?

Rehab Provides Order And Structure

Let’s face it. When you’re struggling with addiction, you don’t exactly keep regular hours. You might sleep thirty minutes a night. Or, you might sleep for two entire days. Maintaining that 9-to-5 likely isn’t in the program for you in this season. Same with food. You might eat three pounds of food at one meal. And then not eat again the rest of the week. You probably aren’t hydrating that well either. What about exercise? Substance use disorder doesn’t leave a ton of room for zumba or weight training. In treatment, you’ll learn how to regulate your biology. You’ll form habits around sleeping and waking. You’ll learn about nutrition. And you’ll be able to move and test your body in ways that preserve your health.

Rehab Is Less Fatal Than Addiction

From May 2019 until May 2020, the CDC recorded their highest number of drug overdose deaths. Over 81,000. That’s the highest number of deaths in a 12-month period. Ever. The CDC also estimates that about 95,000 people each year die as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. Do you know how many people die because they go to rehab? Zero. True, not everyone who goes to rehab stays sober forever. Not everyone who goes to rehab survives their addiction. But the decision to continue a pattern of addiction always comes with the risk of death.

Rehab Can Help You Find Meaning

Remember that sensation of “thrownness?” That gnawing, aching, anxious feeling in your gut that just won’t go away? Feelings like that lie beneath addictions. Addictions don’t just happen. There are problems under the addiction that you must deal with. Broken relationships. Wounds to your psyche and emotions. Adverse childhood experiences. Mental illnesses. Enrolling in treatment assists you with probing deep into these problems. Not to help you become sober. But to help you heal. To become whole. Because wholeness is really what rehab is all about.

What is a Sponsor in Recovery?

sponsor sponsee talking outside

Sponsorship is an integral part of any 12-step recovery program. Most people begin by simply attending meetings and for some, that may be all they ever do. It is important to understand however that going to meetings alone does not constitute “working a program”. In terms of the 12-step recovery programs, the work is in the steps themselves. And to work the steps, you need a sponsor.

What is a Sponsor?

Simply put, the role of a sponsor here is to take you through the 12 steps. A sponsor will provide guidance and may ask you to read certain sections of text or to do some writing or journaling along the way. The purpose is to help you gain a greater understanding of the meaning of each step as you take it. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to help you understand the steps and to encourage you to think, ask questions and engage the material. Doing step work is intended to introduce new ways of thinking and generate insights. A large part of it is about understanding your own behavior and thinking and learning how to change for the better. You should feel comfortable being honest with your sponsor, and you should feel you can trust them implicitly. Trust and honesty are essential for the sponsor-sponsee relationship to work.

What a Sponsor Isn’t

A sponsor is not a therapist or a marriage counselor. A sponsor is non-professional. They may give you advice, but their primary role should always be focused on the literature of the program you are in. Ideally, there should be a clear separation between what is simply their opinion and what is actually in the literature. An effective sponsor will more often try to lead you to find your own answers in the literature and program. An effective sponsor will ask you just as many questions as you ask them. Their role is as a guide through the material and in working your steps. They may share wisdom and insight they have picked up along the way, but a sponsor is not a guru or a saint. They are not infallible. A sponsor isn’t your “higher power”. You should not choose a friend or a buddy as a sponsor. You should not choose an employee of a treatment facility you attended. You should not choose your employer or superior at work. The primary relationship should be sponsee (you) and sponsor (them). Any other relationship dynamic can potentially complicate matters. Steer clear of people who do not exhibit humility and do not put the program, literature and higher power first. Avoid narcissists and blowhards.

How to Choose a Sponsor

In most cases, you will find your sponsor through the meetings and fellowship. A great place to start is simply by listening. Listen to people who speak at the meetings. Look for people who demonstrate the qualities you aspire to in yourself. That means spiritual and character qualities. Honesty. Integrity. Virtue. Humility. Not the guy or girl who drives the nicest car or has the most impressive career. A sponsor should have worked all 12 steps and should have a sponsor of their own. Time in recovery is relevant, but not as relevant as character and knowledge of the program. You are likely better off with a sponsor with 3 years who applies the principles of the program in their life and knows the material than a sponsor who has been going to meetings for 20 years but does not work a serious program. Take care in choosing a sponsor, but do not spend months without one trying to find the “perfect fit”. You have the right to choose another sponsor if the first one does not work out. Just keep your focus on the primary purpose of a sponsor. It is to introduce you to the program, take you through the 12 steps and inspire thought and insight. Choose a person who you believe is of good character and will do a good job of those things for you.

In Conclusion

The relationship between sponsor and sponsee is a sacred one. You must be able to tell your sponsor things in complete confidence. Your sponsor should be someone you respect and trust. Remember that your primary goal in a 12-step program should be to work all 12-steps to the best of your ability. Meetings are about fellowship and support. They are an important part of the program, but they are not the program itself. Get a sponsor. Work all 12-steps. That is what 12-step recovery is at its core.

7 Don’ts for Discussing Someone’s Addiction With Them

How to not to Talk about Addiction with a loved one

All loved ones of addicts reach the point where they need to discuss the problem with the person directly. In doing so, you have a chance to convince them to get them the help they need. But you also run the risk of pushing them away and further isolating them in their addiction. Learning to talk to your loved one about their addiction in a way that feels safe is the best way to get them the help they need. 

Avoiding saying or doing these important “Don’ts” will help you create a safe space and help get the best possible result for your loved one. 

 

 

1. Don’t Berate, Belittle or Blame

 

Accusatory tactics like these will likely result in your loved one feeling defensive, angry, and even storming out. Addicts are in a fragile state and are quick to emotionally spiral, which typically drives them to use in order to soothe their pain. Avoid these three B’s to maintain a safe and constructive environment. 

 

 

2. Don’t Make It All About You

 

Your experience of their addiction is part of this, of course, but right now the goal is to get your loved one the help they need. Try to make sure you’re focusing on them. Have you noticed they seem unhappy? Do they look different than they used to? Is their health declining? Rather than focusing on how you’ve been treated, focus on them. Your relationship to their addiction can be discussed later, once they are safely in treatment.  

 

 

3. Don’t Attempt to Know What They are Feeling or Experiencing

 

It is best not to talk to your loved one as if you know what it is like to have an addiction (unless of course you actually do). Every addict’s struggle is unique. Instead of trying to assume what they are going through, ask them. Opening the dialogue creates a space for honesty, transparency, vulnerability and ultimately, change. 

 

 

4. Don’t Pass Judgement

 

In creating a safe and open space, you may learn things you didn’t expect. If they are telling you things that make you  feel inclined to judge their behavior. Don’t. Whatever you do, do not judge them. Support them, listen to them, offer to help. Know that addiction is a disease that takes people away from their true selves. Their addict behaviors are not indicative of them as a person. 

 

 

5. Don’t Raise Your Voice

 

This is a surefire way to create a heated argument, which is very unlikely to end in a positive outcome. Sometimes a person in active addiction will feel accused by any discussion of their substance abuse. Keep your voice level, even if your loved one does not. Do not engage with any outbursts, stay calm, and maintain the safe space. 

 

 

6. Don’t use this as an opportunity to air all your grievances 

 

You might be angry or hurt over things that have happened during their active addiction. It’s understandable and ok to feel these things, but now is not the time to raise them. For now, do not criticize, express anger, or bring up the past in a negative way. The only things you should be talking about are your concerns for their safety and wellbeing. Again: safe space. 

 

 

7. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal

 

Keep reminding yourself of the purpose of this conversation: To get your loved one into treatment. Before speaking ask yourself, will what I’m about to say bring us closer to this goal? If the answer is uncertain, don’t say it. 

 

We hope this helped you learn how not to talk to a loved one about their addiction. However, if you feel you need more help or would like guidance on how best to get your loved one in to treatment, our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group can help. Call us today. We’re here to support you.

Staying Sober During the Holiday: Six Tips

Staying Sober During the Holiday | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, and for people new to recovery, they can be particularly daunting. Expectations are often high, and sometimes people who don’t have a lot of sober time under their belt struggle with the idea of spending time with friends and family, especially those who drink or use drugs.

But, much of the time, it’s not just the mere fact of being around others to use substances—it’s about family dysfunction, past trauma, and other emotional factors that can trigger a relapse. The following are six tips for remaining motivated and maintaining a stable recovery throughout the holiday.

Six Tips for Staying Sober During the Holiday

1. Remember, you can opt out if you have to.

In theory, a person who has developed good coping mechanisms and the ability to avoid succumbing to temptation should be able to navigate all this. However, those who haven’t been sober for very long may not have honed these skills to use in real life, and for this reason, it may be necessary to take a rain check on this year and not place yourself in a situation that may be stressful and scary.

That said, you shouldn’t have to be home alone and miserable and lonely, either. You still need support. You can attend one or more AA meetings, volunteer, or just hang out with another sober person. Many restaurants are open on Chrismas day, as well, and thinking outside the box may be the key to enjoying the holiday without the stress related to family gatherings.

And don’t forget, this is just one year. Next year you would likely be in a much better position to function well within a holiday family environment. Let the people you love know why you have to decline the invitation this year, and hopefully, it will be the last. They should understand.

2. Remember that you are not alone.

You should never have to be left alone with your thoughts and feelings. When a person gets sober, it’s easy for him or her to erroneously believe that they are somewhat “cured” and that now we just need to keep our emotions in balance and not inconvenience others with our problems. But the truth is that no one is ever really cured of this disease, and addiction can have lifelong effects.

Moreover, just because a person gets sober doesn’t mean he or she automatically knows how to keep they emotions stable and make the right decision under any circumstance. Even people who are sober are not perfect.

For the above reasons, it’s vital to share your feelings with loved ones and trusted others and to refuse to suffer in silence. Even if it simply means calling an AA sponsor, talking your feelings out and voicing your concerns and soliciting advice can help immensely and might be the move you need to make to effectively steer clear of relapse before it starts.

Staying Sober During the Holiday | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

3. Remember that the holidays aren’t much different from every other day.

The holidays can be an enjoyable time, but they shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal. People can experience depressing or anxiety-laden problems on these days, even those who are not new to recovery. And yes, they are often different in the sense that people travel, cook large meals, and exchange gifts. But, ultimately, it’s just a day that frankly not everyone even chooses to celebrate.

On any given day, be it a random Wednesday or Christmas Day, we get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, etc. Those in recovery still have to engage in their own rituals, be it exercise, meditation, or whatever therapeutic method they use to cope with life in recovery. It’s important to accept that this day is not an excuse to neglect in self-care, and in 24 hours or less, the day will be over, and people will be back to their normal business.

4. Leave the past behind.

As mentioned, the holidays can take people back to times that you were engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, and may not be the happiest of memories. It’s not uncommon for people, even those without addictions, to drink heavily around Christmas or on New Year’s Eve. Also, most people in recovery can remember at least one time in the past when they got so intoxicated that they were later ashamed or embarrassed.

However, dwelling on the past serves little purpose except to remind ourselves of past mistakes. And this is okay, but avoiding others because of such things isn’t a great way to cope. It’s much better to move forward and show your loved ones and the rest of the world that you’ve got this.

Moreover, although we can utilize past experiences and memories to point out precisely why we got sober, it doesn’t do us any good to relive the pain of our past continually. Recovery is a perfect time to make new memories and to continue to correct your behavior and improve coping skills. It’s also a time to go easy on ourselves and realize we are not our past actions—indeed, we are not even our past selves. If you choose to participate, you should be open to enjoying this year’s holidays as new, sober experiences.

5. Set limitations if you need to.

Staying Sober During the Holiday | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Somewhere between being fully engaged in the holidays and opting out is to place limitations on the time you spend at certain events. You can let the important people at gathering know why you can’t stay as long as you’d like, and quietly excuse yourself. For example, you can plan on staying for dinner only, and then skip out and go to an AA meeting. Doing this can be a great way to structure your day, and feel like it’s less daunting overall and that you have more control.

6. Sobriety is still a priority.

All of these tips should be reemphasizing the critical fact that your sobriety still needs to be a priority and centered in your life. This attitude may sound selfish, but the truth is, your sobriety needs to come before everything that is not a major emergency. If you fail to do this, you lose the sense of accountability and cannot be the best version of yourself. For many, the holidays pose a unique threat to sobriety, and not taking this very seriously can be detrimental to it.

The holidays are rapidly approaching, but there is no reason to be anxious or fearful. You just have to keep sobriety at the top of your checklist and remember that you can get through each day—like you do every other day—just fine.

Getting Help

If you are struggling in recovery or feel you need help with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, effective treatment is available. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers personalized, comprehensive programs that feature evidence-based therapies, activities, and services that are highly beneficial for the process of recovery.

Addiction is a chronic disease that can last a lifetime, but you don’t have to battle it alone. Contact us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help!