Category Archives: health

What to do When a Loved One comes home from rehab

Rehab is just the first stage of the journey an individual must travel to return to a normal life in recovery. When loved ones return from a treatment center, friends and family may be unsure about what kind of support to provide and when they should step back to allow individuals to manage the situation on their own.

Treatment has provided these individuals with a number of strategies and tools to manage their emotions and cravings, and they should be allowed to utilize these tools for their everyday needs. Addiction experts recommend a number of actions you can take to help your loved one navigate the post-treatment period after coming home.

Good Planning Can Support Successful Outcomes

The post-treatment period is a sensitive time not only for addicts but also for everyone around them. Friends and family may have experienced lying, theft and a variety of other negative behaviors that they must try to put aside in the interests of making a new start.

The recovering individual has a big job to do that includes learning to cope with everyday frustrations and failures without the crutch of the substance. You can help the individual develop a workable plan for daily life. This could include a list of daily responsibilities and a schedule for attending meetings or counseling sessions, but it should also include a period of free time for reflection and personal enjoyment. These activities should always be based on reasonable expectations for the individual at their current state of ability.

The structure of a daily schedule can provide stability and encourage positive use of time. Of course, individuals should be directly involved in creating a workable schedule for themselves. Adolescents who have completed treatment may require a bit more supervision in developing goals and understanding consequences.

Resolve to Avoid Nagging

Everyone knows that nagging can have a countereffect. Being constantly nagged can arouse feelings of resentment and resistance, which can have the opposite effect you would want in an individual trying to rebuild a productive life. Moms, in particular, often find themselves constantly reminding their adult children in recovery to do certain things and perform beneficial tasks. However, you should resist this impulse whenever possible.

The recovering addict is working on developing inner controls and positive habits. This effort can be undermined by the constant nagging of loved ones. Step back and allow the person to develop these skills gradually while you praise their positive actions.

Leave Old Issues in the Past

Friends and family can provide support for the recovering individual by avoiding any mention of issues that may have occurred during the period of addiction. There may be a number of problems that existed previous to the substance use and may have even contributed to it. However, stabilizing their behavior and actions in normal life should be the main task being handled by the individual in recovery.

After they have some mastery of coping strategies in the present, a look back into previous problems can begin. Loved ones can help prevent recovering addicts from falling into old patterns by encouraging them to implement their treatment strategies while moving toward the future with a more hopeful, positive outlook.

Avoid Mentioning How Addiction Has Hurt the Family and Others

The behaviors associated with substance use and addiction often cause severe damage to relationships and can lead to social embarrassment for family members and friends. If the addiction has gone on for a period of time, the number of these occasions may be significant and may even be in quite recent memory. However, it’s helpful to not mention how much family members or friends have been affected by these events.

Chances are that the recovering individual remembers these incidents very clearly and is dealing with the resulting shame and distress. If you avoid emphasizing this aspect of the past, you can help your loved one stabilize during the initial recovery period. If old resentments continue to affect the relationship, counseling as a group can be a good option. Studies show that family therapy can be a helpful measure for dealing with the lingering resentment and trust issues that have been caused by addiction.

Resist the Urge to Make Decisions for Him or Her

Family members often have to resist the urge to manage the recovering addict in the same way that they have had to do in the past. This is important because this type of behavior takes responsibility out of the hands of the individual who really needs the practical experience of making daily decisions and applying the techniques that will help maintain sobriety.

Family and friends can be available to act as a sounding board and support, but they should avoid imposing their own views on how the individual should progress. These decisions need to be done at the individual’s own pace and in a manner that is comfortable for him or her.

Don’t Clean Up the Consequences of Mistakes

Developing a successful strategy for maintaining sobriety can be an up-and-down process. Everyone’s life is different, and each person must learn to manage a variety of emotions and circumstances that arise daily. Mistakes will be made by the recovering addict. These mistakes may include not attending meetings, not taking medication, taking on a stressful job too quickly or fraternizing with people from the past.

Your task is to allow these mistakes to happen without running in to “fix” the situation in some way. Let recovering individuals experience the consequences of their actions and determine the remedy on their own terms. Of course, you can be on hand to listen and be the sounding board for ideas.

Don’t Take On Responsibility for Bad Decisions

When the inevitable mistakes occur, parents, siblings and close friends often want to rush in to help restore the situation for the person in recovery. Although this may make them feel better, it can be a mistake for the addicted person. Taking responsibility for one’s actions is one of the most essential concepts of addiction treatment.

If the person has crashed the car, lost a job or failed to maintain a relationship, those closest to him should get out of the way and allow the recovering individual the space to take responsibility for the problem. Although the situation may seem like a step backward, it presents an important opportunity for addicts to learn how to manage their lives effectively.

In some cases, the setback may be a relapse into substance use. Relapses are common during recovery and are not a sign that treatment has failed. In fact, it is often an impetus to learn more effective skills for recovery. In this case, you should support decisions that are made and encourage the person to do whatever is necessary to repair the situation.

Begin to Rebuild Trust

The process of rebuilding trust in a relationship can be a tenuous one. Particularly in cases when the addiction has gone on for years, there may have been many breaches of trust that leave resentment, disappointment and even fear about being hurt again. These feelings are normal and should be acknowledged and admitted.

All parties should be aware that the rebuilding of trust can only occur over a period of time. When needed, group or individual counseling can help manage these emotions. Providing an honest and encouraging environment helps re-establish these bonds, and it can be a particularly important part of the recovery process for the individual.

Look for Opportunities to Praise and Encourage

The period after treatment can be one that provokes tension and anxiety for all involved. Maintaining realistic expectations can help alleviate the stress so that everyone can feel more comfortable during the initial steps of rebuilding a normal life. If you make a point of looking for positive actions, you will have opportunities to give praise to the individual.

You can also take note of daily actions that advance their recovery strategy and use them to encourage the individual to continue these efforts. If you stay alert to anything positive in the person’s daily life, you can use these incidents to encourage and praise.

Don’t Follow Him or Her Around

Parents, siblings and close friends may feel compelled to stay close to the recovering addict to prevent them from spending time with bad companions and ensure that he or she does not fall into past bad habits. However, the freedom to make one’s own decisions and exercise one’s own inner controls is a fundamental learning task for those in recovery. The process may include testing limits and performing actions in certain ways that seem unusual to the non-addicted person.

Allow loved ones in recovery the space to test their new sobriety in non-threatening ways. This allows them to become more confident in their own actions and decisions. The development of this confidence is an important feature of a successful recovery.

Avoid Intrusions on Privacy

After the negative behaviors involved with addiction, suspicion can be strong in family members and friends. However, it’s important to avoid checking up on the addict by looking at their cellphone texts or listening in on conversations. Intrusions on privacy can only lead to misunderstandings and stress in the relationship. Trust must be re-established organically, and this means respecting the privacy of the individual as you would any other person.

Make Positive New Memories

Families and friends can often heal the emotional breaches that develop from addiction by creating new positive memories that help reinforce bonds with the individual who is recovering. Simple activities such as having a pizza-and-a-movie night, walking through the woods together or cooking a favorite meal can cement relationships and bring a feeling of normalcy that everyone can value. Even painting a room, doing a crossword puzzle or waxing the car together can be a moment of solidarity and stability.

When awkward moments occur, learn to laugh them off with a joke or just change the subject. Keeping the occasion positive and comfortable should be the main goal. The joy in life comes from small moments that are shared and appreciated, so creating them for your loved one in recovery can be both helpful and enjoyable for everyone involved.

By providing emotional support and encouragement during the many difficulties of rebuilding a normal life after addiction, family and friends can be a critical factor for success in the post-treatment period. However, it is essentially the task of the individual to do the daily work of maintaining sobriety using the skills they have learned in rehab to navigate the process. Providing a positive and honest environment in which the person can use these new skills can help them sustain a successful recovery over the long term.

How to Make 2019 Better for Your Mental Health

Each new year inspires us to make changes in our lives. As one chapter closes, a fresh new start looms on the horizon, and resolutions are one way to mark the end of one year and embrace another.

The impending arrival of a new year is a period where many of us will reflect on our lives. It’s important to look inward and consider what we’d like to do differently in the year to come. However, it’s equally important that we are mindful in our introspection instead of just focusing on our failures and tearing ourselves down. Rather than resolve to change who we are for the new year because we feel we aren’t good enough, we should look ahead to 2019 as an opportunity to grow and apply our earned wisdom to create a healthier, happier life.

Mental health was a major topic of discussion in 2018. With so many people coming forward about their own struggles, stigma has begun to shift, and we’re more accepting of conditions like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Once considered “made up” or “all in your head,” these psychological conditions are real disorders, often with biological components, that should be taken as seriously as any physical illness.

As the new year arrives, it’s time to focus more on your own well-being and consider how your mental health has impacted your life thus far. These tips will help you learn how to prioritize your mental health in 2019 and live one of your most transformative years yet.

Learn More About Mental Illness

Education is the gateway to recovery. So many people are unfamiliar with the statistics and nature of psychological disorders that they simply don’t know how to seek treatment. Many people may refuse treatment for conditions like substance use disorder because they don’t think anyone can break their addiction, or they may believe that a therapist is incapable of curing their depression because they view themselves as “broken” or “damaged.”

In a study published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a lead researcher at the Illinois Institute of Technology reported that about 40% of Americans refuse treatment for their mental health conditions because of stigma.

In order to recover, you have to understand the warning signs, symptoms and nature of mental illnesses. Whether it’s substance use disorder, depression, anxiety or something else entirely, learning about mental illness and how it impacts your life is the first step toward recovery.

You can start by checking out resources from major organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Psychological Association and mentalhealth.gov.

Learning about mental health and illnesses also makes us better equipped to help other people. If a friend or loved one is struggling with addiction, for example, it can be difficult trying to reach them or understand their behavior. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and experiences of people with substance use disorder can change our approach and make it easier for us to communicate with the people we care about.

With proper education, it becomes much easier to understand the importance of counseling and psychological intervention. You don’t go to a therapist because something is wrong with you; you go because you understand something isn’t working as it should, and you want to get better.

Studying mental illness removes shame and combats stigma. Once we understand that our brain is just as important as the rest of our body’s organs, getting treatment doesn’t feel like an admission of failure or guilt.

Seek Therapy or Help When You Need It

Our mental health encompasses many important facets of our being, including our decision-making ability, emotional expression, and relationships. Almost every social function we have in our lives is impacted by our mental health, and when you struggle with a disorder, it can negatively impact every facet of your life.

Many people who suffer from mental illness don’t realize how much a therapist can help. Those with substance use disorder might even be told by their own family and friends that their addiction is their fault and refuse treatment because they don’t believe anyone can ever help them.

As an addicted individual, it’s important to understand that your participation and commitment to getting sober is half the work. Without an open mind, no amount of therapy or rehab can make a difference; everything will just sound like advice meant for other people.

Mental illness in America is growing, and so is substance abuse. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over 21 million Americans over age 12 require some form of substance abuse treatment.

Every year, one in five U.S. adults experiences a mental disorder. That’s over 43 million people. No matter what you’re suffering from, you’re never alone. Seeking therapy or rehabilitation for your problems, even if you aren’t entirely sure what they are, can put you on the right path toward recovery.

Pursue New Interests

Stagnation is a major contributor to depression. If you feel like you’ve been stuck living the same day over and over again for ages, it’s time to regain control over your life by changing your routine. You may not be able to quit your job and travel the world, but you don’t have to completely overhaul your entire existence to experience change.

Start by looking at your passions. What makes you happy? You may not be able to think of something right now, and that’s OK. You have plenty to discover that will ignite a spark in you. Finding new interests and pursuing outside hobbies is great for building self-confidence, meeting new people and living a more active, healthy lifestyle.

If you like physical activities, why not look for a yoga or dance studio near you? You could also try something like kickboxing, martial arts or hiking. Physical exercise releases stress and anxiety and can even alleviate the symptoms of depression.

There are so many new things you can try out that will do wonders for your mental health. Apart from the distraction they’ll bring, new interests will also show you how much more there is to life than just what you see. Make a commitment to try at least one new thing a week whether it’s going to read a book at the coffee shop you always pass on your way to work or visiting the art museum.

It’s OK to drop activities that don’t interest you in pursuit of greater passions. What matters is that you’re adding diversity to your life and gaining new experiences in the process.

Practice Becoming More Mindful

Many people mistakenly believe that mindfulness and meditation are all about clearing your head of all thoughts. In reality, becoming mindful is about learning to live more in the present and being aware of yourself and current experience. Mindfulness teaches us to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings without identifying with them.

Dr. Patricia Rockman of The Centre for Mindfulness Studies says that mindfulness grants people “access to a different perspective, helps them open to other possibilities, and enhances resilience and their capacity to tolerate distress.”

Is mindfulness a cure-all for mental illness? Of course not, but being mindful is one way to reduce stress and resist falling prey to many of the negative emotions and thoughts that weigh us down throughout the day. Most therapists incorporate a variety of techniques in their treatment plans to address the complexities of mental illness, and mindfulness has been demonstrated to prevent depressive episodes and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. The widespread application of mindfulness is still being explored, but you can start learning how to be more mindful right now with sites like Tiny Buddha, Mind Body Green and Mindful.

Change Your Diet

We’ve all heard about how important it is to eat a balanced diet, but what does that mean? You should consider your nutrition like puzzle pieces. Different vitamins and minerals have to come together in order to complete a picture, which is your physical well-being. Did you know what you eat also plays a role in how you feel?

A well-balanced diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, and lean proteins. Eating too many fried foods, white bread and rice, trans fats and refined sugars can make us feel lethargic and depressed.

Processed snacks and fast food don’t provide the nutrients and vitamins we need to look and feel healthy, so they should be eaten only in moderation. Vitamin deficiencies can cause a variety of physical ailments as well as a low-mood, depressive symptoms and anxiety. Finding ways to incorporate plenty of vitamins D and B into your diet can help combat these side effects. Natural sources include salmon, tuna, spinach, and kale. A healthy salad can pack plenty of vitamins in each bite and deliver your daily dose of wellness.

In the new year, head to the grocery store to stock up on produce and wholesome foods so that you can start the year off by nourishing your body the best you can.

Embrace Self-Care

An addicted individual is someone who particularly struggles with self-care. Drugs and alcohol often start off as a way to self-medicate and reduce the feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and low self-esteem. However, over time, people find themselves caught in an endless cycle.

Many people fail to take time for themselves due to work obligations, family and other responsibilities. However, a lack of reprieve and adequate rest can cause our stress levels to rise and worsen the feelings of anxiety and depression. You don’t have to completely neglect your loved ones in order to practice self-care.

You may find that the little things go a long way when it comes to caring for yourself. Think of the small gestures others have done for you that made you feel loved and appreciated. Enjoying your coffee in solitude each morning, going for a jog to clear your thoughts or drawing up a hot bubble bath with essential oils are all easy, simple acts of self-care that can do wonders for your mental health.

Self-care is also important because it teaches us that we’re valuable, too. It’s natural for all of us to look outward and focus on everyone else’s thoughts and feelings, but we need to pay close attention to our own minds. Have you ever asked yourself, “How are you?” It may feel strange, but you could be shocked at how much you really have going on beneath the surface.

How Will You Move Forward?

Everyone needs to heal in some way or another, and 2019 is your chance to do just that. No matter what you struggle with, there is a way to get help and work toward recovery. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself and follow it up with a list of everything you’d like to change. You might find that they’re imbalanced, but that’s OK. As you move into the new year, it’s time to understand that you always have a choice. Seeking treatment and help from others is one way of taking control over your life.

The new year is a chance to confront everything that has held us back in the past and develop a more hopeful outlook on life. Make 2019 the year of recovery one day at a time.