Being “Whole”: Holistic Help for Fighting Addiction

HopeXchange is proud to welcome back Constance Ray with another distinguished guest post! Constance co-created RecoveryWell to provide a safe place for people to share their addiction stories so that others can learn from them and benefit in their own lives. In this article, you’ll find excellent advice on conquering addiction in non-traditional ways. Great information for anyone looking to overcome unhealthy habits.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Kristopher Allison

Congratulations on your decision to invest in your self care and your future by getting clean. This is an exciting and important decision, even if it feels scary, confusing or overwhelming at first. In fact, today is literally the first day of the rest of your life. Coming clean from drugs and/or alcohol won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 If you don’t have a sponsor or aren’t in recovery yet, you may not be certain where to begin. You’ll probably experience a broad range of emotions, from anger to depression to fear. Know that all of this is normal, and that you don’t have to go through it alone. This article will discuss holistic treatment options that are a perfect complement to (rather than substitute for) more traditional addiction recovery methods.

 There are some alternative or “holistic” healing practices that have been shown to help aid the addiction recovery process. Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, tapping and many more holistic methodologies are helpful at reducing the body’s stress response, which can of course help reduce the urge to drink or use drugs during stressful situations.

 Science is just starting to understand why and how ancient, holistic and alternative healing methods are able to assist with addiction recovery. However, early indications are that it has to do with our stress hormones. When we are stressed, our brains release cortisol and adrenaline, which have been linked to a wide variety of conditions ranging from PTSD to depression to anxiety to – you guessed it – substance abuse.

 A recent study showed the effects of yoga for changing the brain. This specific study, which was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2007 (and not to mention, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) showed promising results. According to the study, yoga actually changes levels of neurotransmitters in the brain which are associated with anxiety and depression. Because anxiety, depression and stress drive a lot of people to abuse drugs and alcohol (or relapse during recovery), these results are promising for those seeking treatment for their addictions. Yoga has been so powerful in helping people recover from addiction that a documentary has even been made about it. Indeed, many of the world’s leading “celebrity” yoga teachers are themselves former addicts who found recovery thanks to their daily yoga practice.

 Like yoga, which is a deeply spiritual practice for many people, there are also several alternative programs out there that focus on spirituality and connection with God or a Higher Power as a key to addiction recovery. Indeed, even the twelve step programs themselves focus on the importance of surrendering to recovery by “letting go and letting God.” However, some people prefer a spiritual approach to addiction recovery without having to go through an actual twelve-step program. If you’ve tried a traditional twelve-step program but haven’t had much luck, you may want to consider reaching out to groups like Celebrate Recovery or LifeRing Secular Recovery for additional help.

 While the field of addiction recovery is still relatively new, and there is still much research to be done, recent studies have had very promising results. Those in recovery are currently more empowered than ever to take their lives into their own hands. With so many complementary tools to choose from, you can create a custom-tailored addiction recovery plan that is suited to your individual needs. Good luck on your journey. You’ve already taken the first step!

Staying Sober: Handling the Stress of the Holidays

HopeXchange is proud to welcome another distinguished guest post! Constance Ray co-created RecoveryWell to provide a safe place for people to share their addiction stories so that others can learn from them and benefit in their own lives. In this article, amidst the holiday festivities, while a relapse is attempting to steal one’s joy here are some ways to conquer it. Wishing everyone a joyful time this holiday season.

Photo via Pixabay by Geralt.

Photo via Pixabay by Geralt.

Big family celebrations, colorfully-lit trees, and exchanging gifts are some of the things that make the holiday season special for many people.  Recovering addicts may view the holiday a little differently, with stress and trepidation.

Chaotic parties and family events, coupled with a feeling of loneliness, can all be triggers for a temptation to relapse. Making a plan to neutralize these situations can help you make it through the holidays without having a meltdown or risking your sobriety.

Starting with a Plan of Action

Start every single day with a plan of action.  Look in your mirror and tell yourself how good it feels to be sober and in charge of your life.  Keep notes and positive sayings on your mirror for reinforcement of your daily goals.

Set a routine for yourself as much as possible during the holiday season.  Maintaining recovery depends on getting good rest, eating healthy foods, and getting exercise in your schedule whenever possible.  Placing your health as a top priority will aid in recovery by keeping blood sugar levels in check, curbing irritability, and keeping cravings low.

Knowing your triggers and assessing possible stressors can help you make a plan for the day’s events.  Don’t be afraid to decline certain parties or get-togethers that may present too many issues for you.  Try bringing a close friend or family member with you to events you do attend to support your sobriety.

Being sober will not always guarantee life will go as planned.  The holidays are not the same for everyone, so be realistic with your expectations.  Your joy can come from different places and moments if you look for it.

Dealing with Holiday Parties

Take control of how you navigate holiday parties and events. Driving yourself to holiday events is one way to have an easy way to leave whenever you feel necessary.  Knowing some people or situations might set off your triggers might be a good reason to arrive early and have the option to leave earlier.  When people do not respect your boundaries, feel free to leave the area or the party.

If you’re a recovering alcoholic, being handed drinks or desserts with alcohol in them could trigger relapse.  Plan some drinks and snacks to bring along to parties, or serve yourself before the host does to avoid the possibility of being handed things you might have to politely decline.

Board games, movies, or playing outside in the snow might be better options to suggest to family members instead of sitting around talking and pouring drinks.  Staying active will curb cravings and alleviate stressful conversations or situations.

Ways to Handle Stress and Temptations

When things are getting too stressful, take some time to walk away and breathe.  Clear your mind of thoughts of substance abuse and focus on all the steps you’ve made toward sobriety so far.  Think about things you can be grateful for in your life, instead the possibility of relapse.

Call on your support system, whenever necessary.  A trusted friend, family member, or sponsor that can be available when you need to talk is invaluable.  Get through the holiday season by attending some extra AA or NA meetings.  You can find meetings to attend in almost any city while traveling to bolster your sobriety resolve during the holidays.

Ask What You Can Do

Sometimes we get so focused on our own problems that we forget there are others dealing with the same problems or worse.  Finding ways to help support other recovering addicts at events, volunteering at homeless shelters, or asking an older neighbor if they need help with errands during the holidays, can bring joy into your life as much as it will bring into theirs.  Actively engaging in a positive, meaningful lifestyle, will make you stronger and more confident in your sobriety, and get you through the holidays stress free.