Finding ways to have a good time with people in recovery is difficult for many individuals. It is a particular challenge for some persons who are new to the program. Anyone in recovery will tell you that maintaining an addiction is a full-time job, acquiring one’s drug of choice used to take up a significant portion of their day. Once such people began living life in a new way, it became critical to find methods of filling their time that didn’t revolve around substance use.
To be sure, working a program takes up a good part of a person’s day. Attending meetings, working with a sponsor or mentor, reading approved literature, and practicing prayer and meditation consume a good number of the available hours in each day. However, there is another facet of recovery that is oft left unmentioned. That of fun! What’s more, the need for enjoying one’s self is an aspect of healing that the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous emphasize in the “Big Book.” A sentiment that even people working a different recovery program than A.A. can see the importance of; on page 132 of the Big Book it states:
“We absolutely insist on enjoying life …. So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
Enjoying Recovery to the Fullest
For most people in recovery, having fun often involves socializing with each other before and after meetings. Coffee houses across the country have long catered to individuals who no longer drink or drug. A good number of people plan recovery retreats, go for group hikes, lay around on the beach in an attempt to enjoy their sobriety. Some even go bowling, an activity that most addicts never could’ve imagined being a part of their lives just a short time ago.
In early recovery, it’s a wise practice to stay away from wet environments, places where alcohol is likely to be on tap. However, for people whose recovery is robust and the risk of relapse less likely, there exists a desire to have some kind of nightlife. That’s not to say that they want to be in a bar; instead they would like to confab with adults not sitting at a table across from students typing their thesis.
For Elissa Emery, the daughter of an addict, the desire to create just such a space was real. Along with Sarah Wehnau, Emery opened ‘Unbreakable Nutrition’ on August 1st, CBS6Albany reports. Instead of cocktails, they serve healthy beverages reminiscent of what you might find at a bar, sans alcohol of course. The idea for a sober bar came about when Emery’s friend started working a program of recovery and two could not find anywhere to hang out that was alcohol-free.
“Trying to find a space we could both go where we both felt like this is a great place where we can go and hang out, that wasn’t like a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Starbucks, there really wasn’t anywhere,” says Emery. “We hope we’re setting the new standard to include everybody, including those in recovery.”
Please keep in mind that while the above idea is novel and could be beneficial for some people in recovery, visiting such an establishment may present problems for people in early recovery. Even a “mocktail” can cause feelings to arise that could trigger a person. It is hard to know how you will respond to feeling like you are back in the bars again after being sober for a stint. Before attending alcohol-free bars and nightclubs, please talk it over with your support group.
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, Synergy Group Services can assist you to begin the journey of recovery. Please reach out to us today, to learn more about our holistic approach to addiction treatment.
Those who find addiction recovery have a fantastic opportunity to transform their lives literally. While active drug and alcohol dependence closes doors, seeking treatment and working a daily program gives people the ability to do just about anything with their existence. Naturally, to make one’s dreams come true, one has to maintain a program of recovery, day-in-and-day-out; one must strive for selflessness and always be on the lookout for ways they can give back and affect change in the lives of others.
In the rooms of recovery, people often say, “if you want to keep what you have you have to give it away.” The idea is relatively straightforward and is a concept that people set on long-term progress come to understand early on. After all, when someone enters treatment or begins working a program they find help from perfect strangers; men and women go out of their way to guide newcomers down a path toward healing. Why do such people offer their assistance? They are of service to others because they know it will help them stay clean and sober.
The above formula is primarily a means of paying forward that which one is freely given. Emerging from the spiritually void cave of addiction is one thing; however, if people want to remain in the sunlight of the spirit they must carry the message of recovery to those who still don’t know that there is a different way. For ultramarathon runner Charlie Engle, the need for encouraging others to seek help and embrace recovery is a significant priority. He runs himself ragged for addiction recovery.
Running Man for Recovery
Last Sunday, Charlie Engle ran continuously for 26 hours to raise awareness about addiction recovery, ABC 11 reports. Why 26 hours? Because running, Engle says was a lifesaver, the number 26 is how many years it’s been since he had a drink or drug. He hopes that his long journey will encourage others and, “show those people that are still out there struggling that there is another way.”
Engle ran one three-mile loop after another around Dix Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, not by accident; he chose the ultramarathon location due to its proximity to an addiction treatment center that Charlie supports, according to the article. Engle has two words of wisdom for people in the grips of addiction, “Get Moving!” What’s more, when it comes to raising awareness last weekend’s run may be a drop in the bucket; especially when you consider what he plans for his next event.
“I’m gonna go from the lowest place on the planet, which is the Dead Sea in Jordan, all the way to the top of Mount Everest! As a metaphor for addiction recovery, it literally is going from the lowest place to the highest! That’s my next big project.”
Addiction Treatment Works
At Synergy Group Services, we offer clients a holistic approach to addiction treatment. Unlike many rehabs around the country, our family and physician-owned residential addiction treatment center treats only five clients at a time. As a result, we can give each client the attention they require in our effort to make long-term sobriety a reality. Please contact us to learn more about Synergy’s therapeutic process.
June is an important month regarding mental illness; this is a time to play an essential role in the effort to encourage people to seek assistance for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At Synergy Group Services, we treat a significant number of people each year who meet the criteria for both addiction and PTSD. More than half of individuals living with an alcohol or substance use disorder also struggle with the symptoms of co-occurring mental illnesses; PTSD is one the more common “dual diagnosis” that people contend with each year.
The primary sponsor of PTSD Awareness Month is the National Center for PTSD, a division of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Makes sense, right? After all, the condition we speak of effects a good many service men and women. In fact, researchers estimate that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. More recently, about 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year; and, about 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year.
The division, which leads the nation in trauma and PTSD research, is right to point out that the disorder can affect anyone who has experienced trauma. About 6 of every ten men (or 60%) and 5 of every ten women (or 50%) experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.
PTSD: A Common Condition Requiring Treatment
Raising awareness about post-traumatic stress and available treatments is vital. Those unable or unwilling to seek help are at terrible risk of experiencing myriad problems. One of the reasons people with PTSD often struggle with addiction is due to the common practice of self-medication: the act of drinking alcohol or taking drugs (illicit or nonmedical pharmaceuticals) to cope with the symptoms of the disease. The Division recognizes four primary symptoms, including:
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable, i.e., hyperarousal.
If any of the above symptoms occur right after the trauma, it is normal. However, you should seek assistance if any of the above markers present for longer than three months, cause you great distress, or disrupt your work or home life. The following statistics focus on Veterans, but the trend holds true for citizens who struggle with PTSD; more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have SUD and almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. 1 in 10 OEF and OIF soldiers seen at the VA have alcohol or substance use problems.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
It doesn’t matter if addiction manifests before PTSD, or the other way around, simultaneous treatment is critical for lasting recovery. If you are struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and PTSD, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.
May is finally underway which means the horizon of summer nears closer and closer, thankfully. At Synergy Group Services, we hope that you were able to participate in National Addiction Treatment Week, even if it was a short little post on your social media account; sharing a fact or words of encouragement can generate enormous ripples. Those who have come through the other side of active addiction are living embodiments of the programs’ power. Your compassion towards those still suffering can be the spark that lights the torch of another’s recovery.
Treatment Week is over, but that doesn’t mean we stop working to end the stigma of mental illness that prevents millions around the globe from seeking treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stigma prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help. When you consider that 60 million people in the United States are living with any form of mental illness, stigma is standing in the way of millions of people’s recovery. But, it doesn’t need to be; together, those in recovery and not can change the narrative about mental health conditions and guide countless individuals toward recovery.
Perhaps you are already aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? If not, this is a perfect opportunity to help organizations like NAMI and Mental Health America raise awareness of mental health and support changing society’s perception of debilitating brain diseases. Throughout the course of the month events are going on across the country; hopefully, you will find time to take part. If not, you can utilize social media; when efficiently wielded, the internet is a powerful weapon for fighting stigma.
Mental Health and Curing Stigma
NAMI has set its sights on helping the general public better understand stigma and the impact it can have on those living with mental illness. Given how pervasive stigma is, it is not uncommon for individuals to know they are contributing to the problem. With that in mind, NAMI offers a short quiz that everyone can take to determine if stigma has infected them, please take a moment to take the test and be part of the cure. As an aside, some people in recovery may have views about mental illness that are not in line with the facts; stigma can be an internal feeling confusing “feeling bad” with “being bad.” The point is, addressing the virus of stigma is vital for all of us.
Effective ways to work the problem and be the solution:
- Examine your own behavior before judging others.
- Stigma may not directly affect you, but it prevents others from seeking help.
- Be an ally to people with mental health conditions.
- There’s no cure for mental health conditions, but we can cure stigma.
- Take the test, find out if you need to make some adjustments.
Please take a moment to watch a short video:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.
Alcohol and substance use disorder is a disease, a form of mental illness defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S). Addiction is not up for debate any longer, people who misuse drugs and alcohol are not morally weak; instead, such people are struggling with a severe mental health disorder that requires treatment.
Synergy Group Services is committed to doing our part to help end the stigma that, for too long, hovers over people with use disorders. Decreasing stigma is perhaps the most effective way to encourage individuals to seek help and lead productive lives in recovery. There are options for people battling drug and alcohol addiction, but if people are fearful of experiencing social repercussions for seeking assistance they are less inclined to reach out for help. It is up to all of to do whatever we can to educate others about the nature of mental illness.
Perhaps the best way to accomplish such a feat it to make sure the general public has a better understanding of the prevalence of addiction in America. Some of our readers may find themselves in awe of the staggering rates of addiction in the U.S., especially the statistics about how few people manage to access care. The figures below are also a clear indication of the fact that a mental health disorder can touch anyone and that practically every family includes a member struggling with addiction.
Over 20 million Americans suffer from addiction, yet only 1 in 10 receive treatment, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Of the 2.3 million Americans battling opioid use disorder in 2015, only 1.4 million people received any kind of treatment (i.e., MAT, detox, residential, or outpatient). Since alcohol is legal in the U.S., people often forget that many misuse it more than any other mind-altering substance. What’s more, alcohol is involved in significantly more premature deaths each year than opioids.
It’s likely that most of our readers have some knowledge about the dangers of prescription opioids and heroin. You have probably heard that 64,000 Americans fell victim to an overdose death in 2016 and that roughly 100 people die of an overdose each day in the U.S. Even though alcohol use and abuse is more pervasive than opioids, many people are not aware of the toll alcohol takes on society. For instance:
- About half of liver disease deaths in the U.S. involve alcohol misuse.
- An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually.
- Alcohol is the third leading cause of premature death in America.
- An estimated 15.1 million adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, yet only 1.3 million adults (or less than 10%) received treatment.
The above figures, complements of ASAM, paint a pretty stark picture of alcohol and substance use in the U.S. At this time, the organization is hosting events across the country and online in observance of National Addiction Treatment Week. ASAM hopes to raise awareness about addiction being a disease and spread the message that evidence-based treatments are available. If you would like more information on how to get involved in this most vital task, please click here.
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, Synergy Group Services can assist you in finding recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.