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Emily Fox

STUCK: Tips for Coping With COVID-19 Isolation

By Stepworks Connect

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with your new normal these days? Are the cancelled events, long days at home, and the stress and panic of COVID-19 starting to weigh on your mind? 

We realize that the current situation of our world is likely impacting your mental health. We asked Stepworks CEO and founder Dr. Tom Ingram to share why taking care of your body and your brain is so vital during a time like this.

“It is important to practice good self-care as this crisis continues. No, I am not talking about sanitizers and quarantines. Humans are naturally social beings. Too much alone time and too much isolation takes a toll on our mental health. For those battling loneliness and depression already, the next few weeks are likely to worsen the problem.”

Tom Ingram, M.D.

We don’t want you to feel alone in the quest to protect your health and well-being. We asked Dr. Ingram to share 10 tips with us on how we can counteract isolation and strive to make a positive impact on our mental health during this stressful time.

1. Reach out to each other over the phone.

Not texting, Facebook, or email. Having a conversation with real live human beings can help you to feel connected to others in a way that messaging can’t. 

2. Exercise, exercise, exercise! 

Our bodies have wonderful “pick-me-up” chemicals called endorphins. Exercise has been proven to be an awesome tool in treating depression and anxiety.

3. Go outside. 

Social distancing does not prohibit going outside. The advantage of being in Kentucky is that we have lots of wide open spaces. Now is the time to take advantage of that. 

4. Go to the light!

It is important to expose yourself to as much light as possible. If it is sunny, go outside or sit in front of a window. Turn on all the lights in your house. Light is important in regulating our moods. Low sunlight is a cause of a type of depression (seasonal affective disorder).

5. Take long drives in the country. 

Gas is cheap. Get out of the house and get a change of scenery. 

6. Make use of Facebook’s built-in video conference capability or another similar technology. 

“We used it to talk to our grandkids while we were at sea near New Zealand. Try it out with your friends and family,” said Dr. Ingram.

7. Turn off the TV and listen to music.

Get away from the news and constant stream of information. Choose music that uplifts you (bonus points if you move your body while you listen to the music).

8. Step away from your computer and do something active.

Many of you may be working from home during this time. Be sure to set timers for yourself so you remember to move throughout the day.

9. Stick to a routine.

Do not treat this time as a chance to slack off on your routines and normal structure. Do not sleep, eat, drink or nap too much. A routine helps with consistency and gives a sense of normalcy in chaotic times. 

Last, but certainly not least,  

10. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or lonely, do something about it. 

Own it. Ask for help. Reach out. If you are in recovery, reach out to your sponsor, or connect with us on our Recovering(me) app. We are here to help you. 

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Happiness is a choice.” Now is the time to think positively. Research has shown that if you act happy your body will become happy. Practice smiling. Practice laughing. Practice being happy…And we want to help you do that.

For the next few weeks, Stepworks will be sharing Dr. Ingram’s tips and insights from our Stepworks therapy team on our social media platforms. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for reminders on how to maintain good mental health during this difficult time. 

treatment team

How “Treatment Team” Helps Patients Succeed

By Stepworks Connect

One key element to the culture at Stepworks is the fostering of a sense of belonging like being on a team. Some even call it a tribe of sorts—a group of people who work their hardest to see patients triumph over the disease of addiction. That’s why each week key staff gather around the table with patients individually and take time to focus on their personal goals and their unique path to recovery. We call this “treatment team.” But it may feel more like an incredible support team cheering on each of Stepworks’ patients.

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good nutrition

Famished: Including Good Nutrition in Your Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

Substance use disorders can have long-lasting emotional, mental, and physical side effects. Many of these side effects are very well known, but the lesser-known lack of good nutrition is one we tackle daily in our treatment programs at Stepworks. Regular consumption of alcohol or other drugs deprives the body of essential nutrients, while many other drugs suppress or increase appetite, wreaking havoc on the overall digestive health of people suffering from addiction. Meth users may go days without eating. Marijuana smokers are notorious for binge-eating junk foods.

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A Look Inside Stepworks’ Innovative and Individualized PICC Line Care

By Stepworks Connect

Across our state and beyond, hospital patients are being treated for life-threatening infections related to injection drug use—but receiving zero treatment for their substance use disorders. Our Stepworks team knew something had to change. We saw the effects of this endless cycle, and it was devastating.
Due to factors like the high likelihood of relapse, continued injection drug use, and generally low compliance of drug-addicted patients, patients have historically been required to receive their entire course of antibiotics while hospitalized. The cost of keeping these patients in the hospital for 30 days and longer is extremely expensive. Meanwhile the disease of addiction, which caused their hospitalization in the first place, remains untreated. Our successful PICC line care program is one of the first of its kind in the country to address this issue.

“This is medical treatment that makes recovery a priority,” says Stepworks Nurse Nicole Smith.

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Fighting for My Life: Shauna’s Story of Recovery from Alcohol

By Stepworks Connect

Shauna O’Nan looked around one day and realized her life was gone—everything she had known and loved, robbed from her by the disease of alcohol addiction.

“I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was so far gone, I didn’t know how to be human.”

Shauna is a mom, a daughter, a friend, who made decisions that left her spiraling out of control. She recounts how her alcohol addiction began at an early age. With each new traumatic turn in life, Shauna’s addiction gained a stronger foothold. Before long she was “doping and drugging,” as Shauna says, on a daily basis. Her once fruitful career and vibrant motherhood were replaced by dark trailers without electricity and consecutive days without food.

“My parents hadn’t seen me in years, my sons didn’t know if I was alive or dead, and no one trusted me. Even when I called for help and my parents made plans to pick me up, they were fearful I was setting them up.”

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Now What? Reaching for Success After Treatment

By Stepworks Connect

So you’ve spent 30 days in residential treatment and you’re starting to experience the benefits of health and wholeness. It probably feels really good! At the same time, you’re well aware that the journey is just beginning. Remaining committed and intentional in your next steps is going to be key to your recovery success.

What does that mean in practical terms? We asked Rebecca McCracken, a therapist at Stepworks of Nicholasville, to share a few of her recommended next steps for people fresh out of recovery. Here’s what she had to say.

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Home for the Holidays: The Gift of Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

“What does it mean to be sober this Christmas?” I asked her. She cocked her head to one side and offered up a gentle smile.
“This dark weary cloud isn’t hanging over my family…I’m not absent.”
Alex Middleton has spent years fighting a disease that separated her from her family and nearly took her life. But this year is different. Nearly two years sober, Alex is proud to say that her mom won’t have to wonder about the daughter that didn’t show up to family dinner.

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A Stone’s Throw From Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

“I asked her, ‘Don’t you want to see your rock out there? Don’t you want to join this group of solidarity?'” Big ones, small ones, a collection of brightly colored reminders inscribed with messages of hope—this is the Stepworks rock garden. As clients inch toward the finish line at Stepworks’ Crowne Pointe Drive facility, they get to take part in a unique experience. Each graduating client is invited to paint a rock of their own to leave behind in the facility’s special rock garden. While some choose to simply write their names, others leave inspirational quotes or positive reminders to those who are entering or still in the program.

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veterans substance use

The Cost of Defending: Veterans at Risk for Addiction

By Stepworks Connect

Life after military service is a life that begins with extreme readjustment. As veterans return to their “normal” lives, they reintegrate into life with family, friends, and their community, while still processing all the trauma they have experienced in their time of service. This crossroads, the moment that the past life so well known to a soldier converges with “when I was in the service,” can leave service men and women with unique mental health challenges.

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Comfort Animals Lend a Paw for Support to Stepworks Clients

By Stepworks Connect

When you think of residential addiction treatment, dogs probably aren’t the first thing to come to mind. At Stepworks, we are always looking at new ways to help our clients have the best possible treatment experience, setting them up for success once they leave our program. In the last few years we have seen the value of an unexpected element of our programming—man’s best friend. Friendly dogs are residential treatment comfort animals at some of our facilities. Why have comfort animals? Well, dogs are often attentive, comforting, and accepting animals. This can be a tremendous benefit to a client who has experienced trauma or is struggling with self-esteem from substance abuse issues.

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