Sober HolidaysThe holiday season can be stressful for all of us, whether we are in recovery or not.  Overindulging in everything from food to alcohol, over-spending seems to be in vogue, and then we are expected to “hit the reset button” come January 1st.  Living in excess is not particularly healthy for anyone, but for those of us in early recovery, trying to avoid it can be extremely daunting.

Here are 6 tips for helping you survive the holidays in recovery by celebrating with sobriety.
1.  Plan Ahead

Doing some planning around the holidays can help decrease the stress associated with having to get through them without losing one’s sobriety.  First, it is important to talk to close friends and family members who will be attending parties and gatherings with you and ensure that everyone understands what you want them to say to others who may ask why you are not drinking.  There is nothing worse than someone approaching family members asking why you are not partaking in the holiday cheer and your family not knowing what to say, or perhaps telling more information about your situation than you are comfortable sharing.  Having this conversation well ahead of time can spare everyone involved the worry and possible hurt feelings and anger that could occur if we decide to “wing it” with regards to how to handle questions.

2.  Be Accountable

Have someone hold you accountable before and after holiday events.  “Bookending” with a friend, a family member, a therapist or a sponsor can really help put you in the mind frame to hold your boundaries and stay true to your sobriety.  It can also help you feel that you are supported and that you do not have to do this alone!

3.  Bring a Buddy

If possible, bring a recovery friend or sober buddy along with you to parties.  Feeling as though you have an ally in the room can decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as social anxiety.

Also, have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at parties or gatherings to avoid having people offer you drinks and/or questioning why you are not drinking.

4.  Self Care

Practice self care.  Although others may be overindulging, there is no reason to feel deprived during the holiday season.  In addition to ensuring that you are getting proper sleep, nutrition and exercise, consider treating yourself to a massage, manicure, yoga class or spa afternoon.

5.  Start New Traditions

Create new holiday traditions that do not focus on alcohol or other excesses.  Consider starting a holiday get-together for your recovery friends that focuses on the importance of recovery and the gifts of sobriety.

6.  Prevent Cravings

Always remember the HALT acronym.  Do not let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.  Often cravings occur when we are experiencing these feelings, so recognizing them and working a bit harder to prevent them can make maintaining recovery much easier, especially during the holiday season, when we are all a bit more vulnerable to these emotions.

 Celebrate Sober!

There is no reason you can’t enjoy yourself during the Holidays, but do plan ahead and follow these 6 tips to help you stay sober and happy.

If you or someone you love would like more information or help with addiction or drug or alcohol abuse, contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or info@new-hope-recovery.com

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

Crystal Meth AwarenessDid you know that November 30-December 6, 2014 is National Meth Awareness Week?To learn more about Meth Awareness Week, visit The Meth Project on Facebook at facebook.com/methproject and Tumblr at tumblr.com/blog/methproject, and follow the conversation online at #MethAwarenessWeek.

Recent Meth Articles from New Hope Recovery Center

We thought this would be a good opportunity to share articles we have written about Crystal Meth. 

Crystal Meth's Toxic Ingredients

Why Is Meth So Addictive?

32 Warning Signs for Crystal Meth Addiction

Signs of Meth Use

Crystal Meth and the Gay Community 

Crystal Meth Resources

There are a number of resources for dealing with Crystal Meth, locally and nationally.  Here are a few resources we find helpful:

Crystal Meth Anonymous (Chicago) - New Hope Recovery Center hosts 4 Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings each week: 2pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Nationally visit Crystal Meth Anonymous.

Meth Project - In addition to the national group, there are a number of state organizations as well:  Colorado Meth Project, Georgia Meth Project, Hawaii Meth Project, Idaho Meth Project, Montana Meth Project, and Wyoming Meth Project 

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Illinois Meth-net - Informational resources provided by the State of Illinois. Many other states affected by Meth provide similar resources.

 

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Sober Thanksgiving“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”-Cicero

With the Holidays approaching, as well as throughout recovery, it is important to be mindful of the things we are grateful for, one of which could be your recovery. Being cognizant of feelings, emotions, and triggers that the Holidays bring is important for staying sober throughout the holiday season. Researchers have found that familial pressures are attached with celebrating the holidays, which could be an added stressor for individuals. The Holidays could also bring back using memories as these were times for some of heavy substance use.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is being thankful and appreciating various aspects of your life. Gratitude leads to happiness.  According to Robert Emmons, gratitude is “an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.” He further mentions that “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…We acknowledge that other people-or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset-gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

This is important for us to recognize, as we are able to identify the source of personal happiness and evaluate where changes need to be made. We can relate the above definition of gratitude to recovery in the sense of one’s higher power, and being thankful for that, which helps him/her through the challenges that recovery can bring.

How does gratitude affect an individual in recovery?

Recognizing our gratitude towards the opportunity we have been given to become sober is important for us to be aware of. Research has shown that having gratitude decreases one’s feelings of anxiety and depression, improves one’s sleeping patterns, enhances relationships, increases resiliency, increases acts of philanthropy and kindness towards others, and encourages one to seek forgiveness. With these in mind, an individual in recovery who is thankful for their involvement in treatment, as well as with other aspects of their life, can be awarded with the abovementioned outcomes of having gratitude.

If you or someone you love is affected by an addiction, please contact New Hope Recovery Center for assistance. (888) 707-4673.  info@new-hope-recovery.com

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

sober thanksgivingWe are entering the time of year when parties, family get-togethers and excessive eating, drinking and merriment can create difficult or at least tricky situations for those in recovery.  Thanksgiving in particular can be a challenging time.  Family interaction is often expected and it may be the first family get-together in a while.

6 Tips for Having a Happy and Sober Thanksgiving:

1. Review the Past.  If you are planning to be with family or friends during Thanksgiving, reflect on past Thanksgivings.  Were they stressful?  Was there a great deal of drinking and partying?  Did family members fight or bring up and/or re-inflict old wounds?  Did you feel comfortable and at ease?

By reviewing the past, you can look for things that may temp you to drink or use again.  When and where do you think your buttons will be pushed? What situations or encounters led you to feel stressed, angry, sad or hurt in the past? Just because you are sober doesn’t mean that things will be drastically different.  Hope for the best, plan for the worst and be ready for everything.  Being prepared is the best thing you can do.

2. Plan Your Entrance.  Now that you have reviewed where you could feel stressed, anxious, irritated/angry or triggered, plan how you will attend.  Is it better to go early and get comfortable?  Is it better to go later, to avoid certain encounters?  Is it better to go with a sober friend or family member?

Perhaps it is better to not attend at all?  If that is the case, is there a way you can communicate with your family to express your thankfulness for them, but yet keep yourself safe?  Look for sober friends you can celebrate with.  If you decide that it would not be healthy for you to be around family and old friends during Thanksgiving, plan something special with others. 

 3. Plan Your Exit.   Before you go, plan on how long you think you can comfortably stay.  If you know from past experience that staying for a full day, or a full holiday weekend will be too much or dangerous to your sobriety, then plan your visit accordingly.  Let your family know about your plans ahead of time.  This will help you set realistic expectations and allow others to understand your plans.  Be prepared to leave even earlier than you may have originally planned if you are triggered or feel unmanageable stress, anxiety or anger.  It is acceptable to explain that you feel you need to leave early.

 4. Have Support Ready.   Let your support group and sober friends know about your plans and any difficulties that may arise or did arise in the past.  Tell them your travel days and times.  Have a person available you can call if things get difficult.  Or perhaps ask someone to go with you.

If you decide that you cannot safely attend your family’s Thanksgiving, see what sober events are available near you.  Thanksgiving can be triggering even without family and old friends around.  It can also be lonely…most restaurants and stores (although fewer each year) are closed.  So plan ahead to share your Thanksgiving with others.  One great way to spend Thanksgiving is to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for the day.  It can be an incredibly moving experience that will fill you with gratitude.

 5. Be Honest and Realistic.  It's best to be open about your addiction and recovery with family and friends.  At a minimum be clear about your boundaries and rules.  At a minimum tell your family that you are not drinking or using during the visit.

You should feel wonderful about your sobriety, however, don’t expect that everything within your family will be drastically different immediately.  People change and evolve in small steps, so look for tiny increments of change.  Sure, you are different, but give your family time to actually see and experience the difference.  Seeing truly is believing for family and friends, especially those you may have hurt in the past.

 6. Be Grateful and Enjoy – Now that you have planned ahead, you can relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving.  Relaxing during a holiday isn’t always easy, so remember to breathe deeply.  Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to being grateful, so think of at least three things you are grateful for, and try not to stop with three.  Our entire world changes when we see the world through gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you or a loved one would like help with an addiction, you can contact New Hope Recovery Center for assistance.  888-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

888-707-4673

info@new-hope-recovery.com

suboxone treatment stop addictionSuboxone Treatment

When Suboxone was first approved for opiate treatment by the FDA in 2002, the goal was to find a medication that would help individuals stop abusing opiate drugs with minimal withdrawal symptoms, unlike methadone which had its own withdrawal problems.  It was the first narcotic drug available for the treatment of opiate dependence that could be prescribed in an office setting by a doctor.  Methadone treatment requires patients to go to specifically authorized clinics, which greatly restricts its availability for many people.

Suboxone Ingredients

Suboxone is a thin film to be dissolved under the tongue that contains two ingredients: Buprenorphine (buprenorphine hydrochloride) and Naloxone (naloxone hydrochloride).  The primary active ingredient in Suboxone is Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist which attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain.  As a partial opioid it provides less or none of the euphoric effect than full opioid agonists like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin and methadone provide.   The primary benefit of buprenorphine over methadone (other than greater availability) is this limiting or eliminating of the euphoric feeling. Also, because the opioid receptors in the brain are occupied by buprenorphine, cravings and withdrawal symptoms are suppressed or eliminated.

The other ingredient, Naloxone, is an opiate blocker.  It has been added to discourage people from snorting or injecting Suboxone.  If Suboxone is dissolved under the tongue as prescribed, the Naloxone does not really enter the blood stream.  However if Suboxone were snorted or injected, the naloxone would speed to the brain and occupy the opioid receptors.  This could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and no euphoric feelings.

How to Get Suboxone

Suboxone can only be prescribed by qualified doctors with the necessary DEA number.  You can find suboxone prescribing doctors by going here.  It is advised that someone seeking Suboxone find a doctor who understands addiction. Anyone interested in taking Suboxone needs to work closely with their doctor to develop a specific treatment plan that would be successful for the individual. 

Suboxone Treatment for Detox

Some clinics use Suboxone (or its Naloxone-missing counterpart, Subutex) only for detox. For an opiate addict, the most uncomfortable, painful part of their addiction is typically withdrawal. Subutex and Suboxone help a person wean down opiate use without feeling the worst of withdrawal symptoms.

Long Term Suboxone Treatment

Suboxone has increasingly been used as an adjunct to traditional evidence-based behavioral treatments and 12-step philosophy with success.  A recent study by Yale concludes that in treating prescription opiate addiction Suboxone maintenance is superior to detox.

Although the use of Suboxone has undoubtedly changed the way people get sober from opiate addictions, and has helped many individuals withdraw from their drug of choice and stay sober over an extended period of time, there are concerns over the use of the Suboxone. The top-most issue is the possibility for abuse.

Suboxone Abuse

Use of Suboxone has been somewhat controversial and one of the biggest reasons for this controversy is that the fact that Suboxone can and sometimes is abused by patients receiving it.  Patients may feel that it is impossible to abuse their Suboxone because of the fact that it is very difficult to feel "high" from it, however, when taken in doses 2-3 or more times what is prescribed, it is possible to feel drowsy, sedated and fuzzy.

Another way that Suboxone is often abused is by selling it or giving it away illegally to individuals without a prescription or who are not under a doctor's care.  These people may use it as a means of warding off the withdrawal symptoms of opiate dependence that make some feel violently ill.

As chemical addiction is associated with many compulsive behavioral and psychological symptoms, some patients may be tempted to abuse the drug by taking more of it or by attempting to dilute the films into a liquid that can be injected.   These behaviors are done less out of an attempt to get "high", but rather as a repetition of behaviors that are familiar from their active addiction.  Even when one embarks on a rigorous program of recovery that includes counseling and 12-step involvement, it can take long periods of time for some of these compulsive behaviors to fade.

Warning Signs of Suboxone Abuse

It can be difficult to determine whether or not someone is abusing suboxone. In general, people who take the medication properly shouldn’t seem sedated or slow as a result of their use. People who display slurred speech or slowed breathing after taking Suboxone might be abusing the drug.

Signs of Suboxone abuse include: going through the medication faster than normal, running out of it prior to the refill date, reports that patient has lost their Suboxone or had it stolen, random or unmarked packages arriving to the home or business, and excessive sleepiness (also known as nodding off) at random times during the day.

How to Avoid Suboxone Abuse

There are many factors that a Suboxone patient can keep in mind in order to avoid falling into an abuse pattern.  First off, it is very crucial for a patient interested in taking Suboxone take time to find a qualified physician who is highly knowledgeable and trained in addictions medicine.  There are many doctors who can and will prescribe the drug, but not all have gone above and beyond the bare minimum of training necessary to prescribe the drug, which is only 8 hours.

Secondly, it is important that a person taking Suboxone over a period of time engage in some form of counseling, therapy and/or group support with an addictions counselor who is knowledgeable about Suboxone maintenance therapy.  This should be done along with, not as a substitute for, seeing his/her physician on a regular basis while on Suboxone.

The solution to successfully avoiding any type of Suboxone abuse is to always take it as directed (even if one feels it is not working or isn't enough), to be honest and open with the prescribing physician, to take time to find the right doctor, to engage in ongoing counseling and other addiction recovery work, and to be willing to take regular lab and/or drug screens to check the levels of Suboxone in the body.

Deciding to Use Suboxone

The decision to take Suboxone is always an individual one and should be a decision made between the patient and his/her doctor, but knowing the risks involved and working hard to avoid them is the best way to have the most success with this medication.

 

New Hope Recovery Center has experience treating clients who are using Suboxone.  If you have any questions or would like more information, you can reach us at 888-707-4673(HOPE).

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center