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11 Tips for Staying Motivated in Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

Motivation is a crucial component to recovery because it defines the reasons why we act or behave in a particular way. Often in early recovery, motivation levels are high and there are plans and ideas in place to remain sober. However, as time passes, our motivation to remain sober can begin to decrease for various reasons. Perhaps life has become stressful, work is overwhelming, and life doesn’t seem as fun sober. When recovery fatigue strikes, relapse becomes a concern. So what are some ways to ensure you’re staying motivated in recovery? These tips can help:

Connect with the recovery community

In today’s world there are more and more opportunities to connect and interact with recovery communities. Of course, there are the traditional AA/ NA and Celebrate Recovery meetings, but there are also several other options. Many online social media communities allow you to connect and interact with other recovering addicts from all over the world. Additionally, there are online meetings and interactive chat sessions one can participate in to stay connected. And staying connected is a sure-fire way of staying motivated as you set out on a lifelong recovery journey.

staying motivated, addiction treatment, addiction recovery, relapse prevention, recovery goals, addiction treatment goals

Set achievable goals

A great way to stay motivated is to set both short-term and long-term goals. Setting goals and having “checkpoints” can keep you on track and give you rewarding feelings of accomplishment and progress toward a goal. Make sure goals are measurable (How do you know how close you are to achieving it?) and specific (Can you clearly define when your goal will be met?).

Create a gratitude list

Recovery is not a smooth journey—there will be both good times and difficult times. Being able to find something to be grateful for, in both the good and the difficult times, can keep you on the path to recovery. Get in the habit of making daily lists, and remember—there is always something to be grateful for in recovery!

Keep a recovery journal, blog, or videos

As time passes, it can be easy to forget our beginning struggles and the reasons we had for wanting to get sober. We might become complacent if we feel we haven’t made progress. By keeping a journal, blog, or video-blog, you can more easily see the progress and growth of your journey, making staying motivated an easier task. You might even have a desire to share your writings or videos with others who are struggling (—which would be service work!).

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Create structure

Chaos can be overwhelming. By having a structured schedule of healthy and positive activities from day to day,  you can create a sense of order in your life. This is also a great way to improve your goal-setting and goal-reaching work.

Work a 12-step program

Working the 12 steps with a sponsor can help guide you and keep you motivated to continue the progress in your journey of recovery. These programs provide a reliable resource for accountability, fellowship, and spirituality.

Service Work

A well-known quote in Alcoholics Anonymous is, “To keep it, you must give it away.” Helping others who are struggling can give people hope and strength to continue with their own recovery. It allows people to recognize where they are and how far they have come in their journey. Service work can look different for everyone. It could be as little as offering a ride to a meeting or setting up chairs and making coffee, or it could be as much as becoming a sponsor or acting as a guest speaker at a local event.

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Practice self-care

Make sure you try to take at least 20 to 30 minutes a day doing something you enjoy for yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the busy routines of life: work, relationships, meetings, obligations—the list goes on. If we don’t balance our lives and do things we enjoy, we might become overwhelmed and stressed. Take the time to read, journal, meditate, pray, exercise, practice a hobby, or listen to music.

Connect spiritually to a higher power

One can find meaning in spirituality through organized religions, AA/ NA groups, nature, music, groups of people, or an understanding of a higher power. Spirituality can change, evolve, and grow over time. Feeling connected to something bigger than yourself can help keep you motivated and accountable to continue your recovery journey.

Maintain healthy sleep, eating, and exercise habits

Addiction can wreak havoc on our bodies. Sticking to healthy habits can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety and decrease bad moods. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and water and fueling our bodies with healthy foods can help us feel good both physically and mentally.

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Seek help if you are struggling

Recovery is a journey, and that means there will be bumps along the way. It’s about progress, not perfection. Everyone struggles during their journey, and being honest about our struggles allows us to reach out to those who are supportive and willing to help. Build a support system, and use it, too! The people you reach out to might be able to help re-spark your motivation, but they’ll never be able to help if you don’t speak up when you’re in need.

— Ashley M. Stuck, MSSW, CSW

5 Reasons to Practice Hobbies in Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

How important is it to practice hobbies in recovery from addiction? You might be surprised to learn that this is a crucial part of many addiction treatment programs. People who have made the positive life decision to break from habitual drug or alcohol use look forward to a big change in lifestyle. But what will that lifestyle look like? That’s a question that can make some people feel nervous about living in recovery. Thinking about practicing old hobbies or developing new ones is a great way to remove some of the uncertainty and fear about living a sober lifestyle. In fact, there are quite a few reasons why having hobbies in recovery can make anyone’s lifelong commitment to sobriety more successful and enriching. Let’s consider five of those reasons in this post:

hobbies in recovery, addiction recovery activities, stepworks recovery centers

Hobbies in recovery help prevent boredom

Who doesn’t like having free time? The truth is, too much free time in recovery from addiction can lead to a common relapse trigger: boredom! During active drug or alcohol addiction, substance use might have been one’s normal reaction to feelings of boredom or unrest. On top of that, those who have completed a program of residential addiction treatment are exiting from a highly structured lifestyle of planned groups and activities. Transitioning back into a lifestyle in which you have to create your own routines and activities can be tough, and having too much undirected free time is a recipe for falling back into old habits. Taking up new hobbies is a healthy, proactive way to have a solution to boredom that doesn’t involve thinking about drug or alcohol use.

Hobbies in recovery help with addictive thinking

Feelings of boredom go hand in hand with many kinds of addictive thinking that can lead to relapse. Being aware of the kinds of thoughts we have is crucial to relapse prevention. Thinking about and working on hobbies helps in this area in two ways: it helps keep our thoughts directed towards definite objects and goals, and it minimizes the amount of time that our minds are left to wander. If left to yourself, without anything to work on, it’s easy to fall into the traps of negative thinking, obsessing over things you can’t change, feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction, and other kinds of addictive thoughts. Learning a new skill, making arts or crafts, or participating in group activities are all useful tools for learning to keep your thoughts positive and productive.

hobbies in recovery, relapse prevention, substance use treatment, addiction recovery techniques

Hobbies in recovery keep your brain’s reward system healthy

Another important aspect of recovering from a substance use disorder is promoting a healthy reward system. (Looking for info about addiction and the brain’s reward system? See our previous post.) In early recovery, the brain’s reward system is usually still damaged from the effects of addiction. That means it’s difficult to find a feeling of satisfaction in things that aren’t related to addiction. However, the reward system can heal. Actively practicing hobbies while in recovery helps people to reach the goal of rediscovering what it feels like to have a healthy, functioning reward system. It’s also important to understand that you might not see immediate results. Being proactive about practicing a craft or sport, for example, can go a long way toward helping your brain begin to provide that feel-good dopamine release that is supposed to accompany fun and productive activities.

Hobbies in recovery help you make new connections

Relapse prevention is largely about avoiding personal triggers for substance use. Triggers are the people, places, or things that are closely connected with one’s old habits of using drugs or alcohol. They’re called triggers because they “trigger” memories, feelings, and thoughts about using an addictive substance. Naturally, people who seek education and treatment for addiction learn that they need to be able to recognize and avoid their personal triggers. But it’s easier said than done, and people triggers can be the hardest to change.

That’s where the importance of hobbies in recovery comes in again. There are a lot of hobbies out there that help people connect to new social groups—think community sports leagues, book clubs, volunteering opportunities, or mutual interest groups. Connecting with new people gets us out of our heads and our old friend groups—reducing the chances of isolating behavior or falling back into old patterns of addictive behavior.

hobbies in recovery, stepworks recovery centers, relapse prevention, lifelong recovery, staying sober

Hobbies in recovery help rebuild self-worth

It’s extremely common for one’s sense of self-worth to have hit a low point during an active addiction or in the early stages of seeking help. Addiction is often a continuing series of negative consequences that can have a debilitating effect on our self-esteem and general mental health. Recovering from addiction means not only acknowledging a brain disorder and mistakes made—it also means relearning how to have a sense of self-worth.

Practicing hobbies is a really effective way to rebuild this vital aspect of one’s life. Whether you’re finishing reading a book, putting the finishing touches on a craft project, or participating in a team sport, any of these kinds of activities can provide a feeling of accomplishment that makes life in recovery internally satisfying and full.

Opportunities to feel accomplished are like landmarks in a lifelong journey of recovery from addiction. It might be a challenging road, but practicing hobbies and pursuing new activities helps you to not feel lost.

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week!

By Stepworks Connect

Today kicks off National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created this health observance back in 2010 to help educate teens about about addiction. It aims to counteract the various rumors or myths about substance use that young people may have been exposed to in their lives. As you might expect, Stepworks fully supports this endeavor! We also believe that during this week of education, we should be sharing helpful info with adults, too. In an opioid epidemic that doesn’t discriminate between young and old, we want everyone to have access to the best information available to make the best choices possible. It’s certainly important to get this information to kids and teens; however, an alarming number of adult men and women still fall prey to misinformation about drug use as well. Stepworks is proud to be able to help fight back against addiction stigma and myths!

This week (January 23-29), students nationwide will be treated to various addiction education events in their communities, where they can meet and speak with scientists from  NIDA and other professionals in the field. One of these events is National Drug & Alcohol Facts Chat Day. Those interested will be able to log into a live online chat with NIDA!

Parents, community leaders, and teachers might be looking to incorporate a teaching event or activity to coincide with National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.

For those brainstorming addiction learning opportunities, here are a few ideas!

Create your own National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week activity!

  • Invite experts from healthcare, addiction treatment, and law enforcement fields to share what they know
  • Involve students in creating anti-drug art projects
  • Develop games such as bingo or a scavenger hunt with facts about drugs and alcohol prevention/ awareness
  • Have a town hall meeting to address addiction in the community
  • Have students research the facts and report what they find out
  • Partner with other local organizations to sponsor a race against drug and alcohol abuse
  • Have a local fair where businesses and people associated with addiction treatment can provide information about drug and alcohol abuse
  • Just have a conversation with your children/ family. (For help, read our article on how to talk your children about addiction)

There are endless avenues to help bring awareness about drug use and addiction to your family or community. Sometimes, just bringing up the subject of addiction can be the first step to motivating someone to find help or treatment.

For more information, resources, and materials about this initiative and how to create events around this week, visit their website.

Our blog is full of useful expert content intended to help any- and everyone! One good place to start is our post explaining how addiction is a brain disease. Please take the time to go through our articles and share any that you feel could help even just one person!

To join in on National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, we’ll be posting a fact a day on our social media platforms. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Like the slogan says, let’s “Shatter the Myths” about addiction!

If you’d like to stay up to date with more articles like those referenced in this post: Sign up for our Newsletter!

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Images courtesy of drugfactsweek.gov

First Steps to Good Nutrition in Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

Nutrition plays an important role in recovery from substance abuse. The food and beverages one chooses to eat and drink has an impact on overall health. When someone enters into recovery, they are often malnourished and broken, due to the inadequacy of the food they might have been eating—and often the lack of money to buy good food. The depth of this problem can be overlooked because the deficiencies are not always easily visible and recognized by others. Most individuals are lacking in micro- and macronutrients. The complexity of these concerns varies between individuals depending on the substances the person has used.

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12 Tips For Helping Kids Understand the Drug Epidemic

By Stepworks Connect

This blog post was co-written with Ashley M. Stuck, MSSW, CSW.

With a national drug epidemic affecting more and more families, parents may be increasingly concerned about keeping their kids safe. But helping kids understand addiction can seem like a challenge! Parents and their kids often feel awkward about talking frankly about substance use. While you might feel like you have a responsibility to have that discussion with your kids, not everyone knows how or where to start.

(In case you missed it, read our previous blog post about why you should be talking to your kids about addiction, and how the holidays might be a good time to do it.)

For parents who need some help clearing away the obstacles to discussing drug use and addiction with their kids, we’ve compiled a list of 12 helpful tips. Read on for a short, practical guide to helping kids understand addiction.

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3 Reasons To Discuss Addiction with Your Kids Over the Holidays

By Stepworks Connect

The winter holidays are upon us, and for many people, that means more time to spend with family. That goes especially for parents with school-age children on winter break or older ones returning from college. It’s true that this can be a hectic time of the year, but many parents will want to carve out some quality time to connect with their kids. Although it might seem daunting to discuss addiction with your kids, the extra time over the holidays provides an opportunity to do just that.

Why use the holidays to discuss addiction?

So why bring up a subject that might make your kids uncomfortable, however briefly? For starters, your kids have probably already heard some things about the ongoing national addiction epidemic. The crisis of opioid and heroin use and drug overdose regularly makes headlines, and social-media-savvy teens and young adults are probably aware of the national discussion on the problem of addiction.

This is an opportunity to begin to discuss addiction with your kids. Having the subject so extensively covered in media makes it a little easier to have an unforced discussion about the risks of drug use. You might broach the topic simply by asking your adolescent children what they think about all the stories in the media about an addiction epidemic or the increases in prescription opioid and heroin use.

Even if it still isn’t easy, it is urgent and important. While many communities are trying to expand prevention and treatment resources, we’re still very much in the middle of a crisis of addiction. In the last decade the number of young adults (18-25) using heroin has doubled. Addiction does not discriminate by age, and people are encountering deadly drugs at ever younger ages.

And the risks are far worse than many people know. Drug overdose rates are still rising and becoming more fatal with extremely potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl on the streets. Those who use injection drugs often don’t realize the other kinds of health risks they’re exposing themselves to, like hepatitis or bacterial infections targeting vital organs. It’s dangerous stuff that can dramatically alter a young person’s life. So why not use an opportunity like the Christmas break to talk to your kids about drug use?

While any starter conversation opening up the topic of drugs and the addiction epidemic would be beneficial, let’s look at three specific reasons that some people might find it even more urgent to have this discussion.

If your family has a history of addiction

If there is a history of drug abuse or addiction in your family, there’s every reason to make sure your kids know the risks of addiction. That’s because they might have a predisposition toward addiction. Addiction is a brain disease, and inherited genetic factors can make a person more likely to get addicted if they use drugs. Having a family history of addiction makes it vital to know a little bit about the science of addiction. If you’re new to the subject, take a look at our post about why addiction is a brain disease—and don’t forget to share what you learned with your kids. Addiction education is one of the most important aspects of both prevention and treatment.

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If you’ve seen some signs of potential addiction

The conversation we’re talking about is an urgent one if you’ve already seen some signs of a potential drug problem in your teen or young adult. This might be a reason not only to talk about addiction, but also to start thinking about treatment options. But let’s back up a bit. Are you confident that you would know if your kid was starting to abuse drugs or alcohol? Here are a couple of signs that something might be up:

  • Behavioral changes: Any drastic changes in your kid’s behavior could be an indication of a developing drug problem. Some examples include changing friend groups, spending more time outside the home (and being vague about the details), falling school grades, or an inability to meet other responsibilities. Remember that these don’t necessarily equal a drug problem; rather, they can be signs of a potential problem.
  • Personality or mood changes: Because addiction causes changes in the brain, you could expect to see changes in how your teen feels or expresses themselves under an addiction. Young people with a drug problem might seem more moody, angry, agitated, anxious, or depressed.

If your kid has had a past problem with drug use or addiction, it’s also a good idea to be aware of signs of increased risk of drug overdose. You can read about those signs in the previous Stepworks post, “Drug Overdose: 4 Signs Your Loved One Could Be at Risk.”

If your kid is entering a new environment

Transitions like entering high school or college, living on one’s own for the first time, moving to a new city, or starting a new job can expose your kids to new risks. There are a few reasons why, and they’re probably pretty obvious. New social environments might mean more exposure to recreational drug use. That’s a common anxiety that parents have when sending their kids off to college. But it’s increasingly a concern even for those entering high school or middle school.

In addition, the stress that can accompany major life changes can also make your kids more susceptible to drug use. Young people struggling to adapt to new living, educational, or work settings might turn to drug or alcohol use in an attempt to escape the stress. Take advantage of the holidays to check in with your kids to see how they’re coping with the changes in their lives. Make sure they’re aware of the resources available to them to help with stress, too. For example, college students can usually go to their campus student health center for physical or emotional health needs.

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Have a conversation about addiction. Any conversation.

The kind of conversation to have with your kids over the holidays depends on what they’re experiencing. The three scenarios we’ve talked about in this post can provide some direction. However, the really important takeaway is to have some kind of conversation about drug use and addiction. Stigma still makes it difficult for some people to discuss addiction, so think of the holidays as an opening to check in on this important subject with your kids. When you know what’s going on in your kids’ lives, it’s a lot easier to spot a problem with addiction as it’s developing. Helping your kids avoid falling victim to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is a gift you can’t put a price on.

“Not in my backyard” views hinder efforts to curb addiction epidemic

By Stepworks Connect

Only days before this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, a Kentucky county approved a controversial ordinance placing strict limits on where many new addiction treatment facilities can operate. The law, which confines new facilities to shopping centers, raises important issues about the legality and prudence of such decisions that target addicted populations or organizations that serve them.

Breathitt County arrived at the new legislation after a previous version was struck down by a circuit court judge, who found the original ordinance to be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. That ordinance from 2015 had brazenly barred any new drug treatment centers from opening in the county. The revised ordinance backs away from out-and-out banning of new treatment centers. Instead, it requires facilities that provide medications like methadone or Suboxone to be situated in shopping centers. Although it’s easy to see this as an improvement on the wholesale outlawing of addiction treatment, is it really more defensible? At best, the ordinance is a counterproductive measure that will likely have negative consequences for all involved.

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Thanksgiving Tips: Practicing Gratitude in Recovery

By Stepworks Connect

Thanksgiving Day gives us a timely opportunity to think about practicing gratitude in recovery. Many people use the holiday to think about what they’re thankful for in their lives. Of course, sometimes that goal is lost in the bustle of family get-togethers. People settle back into the familiar rhythms of their family relationships or end up stressing out about the Thanksgiving dinner spread.

For those in recovery, the holiday can be a little difficult. Visiting with extended family or attending parties can present triggers or high levels of stress for the recovering drinker or drug user. That’s why using the holiday as an opportunity for reflection and self-care is vital! Gratitude—one of the reasons for this particular season—can be a tool for strengthening your recovery from drugs or alcohol. Let’s talk about why.

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Drug Overdose: 4 Signs Your Loved One Could Be at Risk

By Stepworks Connect

If you have a family member or friend who is struggling with addiction, you’ve probably worried that they might experience a drug overdose. Maybe your loved one has already overdosed before, and you’re concerned it will happen again. Anyone who has seen recent headlines about the epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States knows that drug overdoses are becoming more common and more deadly.

You should know that there are warning signs that can indicate far in advance that someone you know is at risk for overdose. Let’s talk about four major risk factors for drug overdose. These four signs could mean that trouble is on the way and your loved one might require intervention to prevent the worst-case scenario of overdose.

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3 Reasons Why Addiction is a Brain Disease

By Stepworks Connect

What is addiction and why does it happen? At first glance that could seem like a simple question, but in reality, a lot of people struggle to find an answer that makes sense. Some mistakenly get the idea that addiction is a sign of a person’s bad character or some moral failing. That’s not true, although individual choices and responsibility do come into play. Others believe that addiction is an inherited condition that can’t be changed. That’s also mistaken. People who think this might have heard that addiction is a brain disease. Now we’re getting closer to the facts! Recognizing that addiction is a brain disease is just the first step. Understanding why it’s a disease helps us to get a clear picture of how addiction works and what we can do about it. Let’s look at three essential keys to this understanding.

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