Addiction Recovery and Stress Management

Stress is a factor for everyone, but for people in addiction recovery, managing stress can mean the difference between success and failure. While in addiction recovery, stress management is one of the most essential elements to maintaining sobriety. Not being prepared to effectively cope with life’s inevitable struggles can lead a recovering addict down a path to relapse. While in the grips of their addiction, an addict would respond to stressful situations with his or her addictive drug of choice, and during the recovery process they may find it difficult to handle their stresses without returning to their old habits. Indentifying stressors and triggers is the key to success in helping people in addiction recovery, and knowing how to manage this stress in a healthy way is fundamental.

Studies show that positive coping skills aid in relapse prevention and addiction recovery in both adolescent and adult drug users. In states of heightened stress, a recovering drug user may find him or herself resorting back to maladaptive coping measures such as drug use. Stressful and negative states are known to increase impulsivity as well as decrease self-control. A successful stress management system can lower chances of relapse and provide the recovering drug user with tools for life.

For a more in depth look at the science behind stress and addiction recovery, please take a look at this study.

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How to Get Help for an Addict

If you suspect your child, spouse, or friend is becoming dependent on alcohol or drugs you must do something to help them. Many parents develop a feeling of guilt and begin to wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” One of the easiest routes in handling your relationship with a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction is to become an enabler, allowing your loved one to continue with their addiction with the support of money, food, or a place to live. It is not easy, but it is crucial that you break this habit and find help for them immediately.

Helping them can save their lives
Getting an addict help can reduce, or potentially eliminate, health problems or injuries associated with the addiction. Therapy and rehab can help ease conflicts you are likely facing with the addict and help them build healthy meaningful relationships. Offering help can also reduce the chance of running into any legal problems, like receiving a DUI or getting caught with illegal drugs.

Know your resources

To start- you must know you are not alone, and there is a vast network of resources for you to use while helping an addict. You can speak with your doctor, a local clinic, or counselors about how to approach the problem. Hotlines and forums are available for anonymous questions and are just a few of the great resources to help those struggling with addiction.

Deal with denial

Even if a loved one claims to not have an addiction, if they show signs of dependence you need to offer them help. They may say that drinking or drug use has not gotten them in legal trouble or trouble at work – but long term use of these substances will almost always negatively affect their health. It is important that you see through these statements and get them help right away.

Be prepared for anything

An addict may say anything to avoid getting help and you need to be ready to deal with that. Educate yourself on the effects of addiction so you do not fall into their excuses or lies about the substances they use. Sincerely express your concerns for their health and well being. Be ready to present consequences if the addict is unwilling to get help (i.e. they cannot continue to live in your house, you will cut all financial ties with them, etc.). Here, you must follow through or your words will have no validity and your loved one may continue to use you to fuel their addiction. If they are ready to accept help you must have something lined up for them immediately. Allowing them too much time to think about rehab or therapy may give them the chance to change their mind, so be ready to get them into treatment as soon as they say “yes.” 

Help yourself

Last but not least, get help for yourself.  Dealing with an addict is not easy and you may have thoughts or feelings you need to express. You may grow resentful of the addict and their previous behaviors if you keep your feelings pent up inside. If you were an enabler, you must learn how dangerous this can be and acquire the skills to avoid falling back into that habit once your loved one becomes sober. Learning how to be emotionally supportive is an important tool to help your child or spouse or friend continue on the road to health and sobriety.




Dopamine Provides Hope for Addicts

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, gives people a feeling of happiness, pleasure, and a sense of calm. Recently, dopamine has been linked with all sorts of addictions, ranging from food and drugs to technology and sex. People who have naturally low levels of dopamine often search for ways to increase dopamine levels, which can be achieved through drugs. To make matters worse, repeated drug use decreases the brain’s natural ability to produce chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and nor-epinephrine, causing users to become dependent on addictive substances. Researchers are finding that when addicts are given supplements of these hormones, their cravings tend to decrease, and the addictive habit can be broken.

For those feeling like they have an addictive personality or want to help a loved one avoid the urge to use drugs in order to feel good, there are natural ways to increase dopamine levels. Dopamine can be depleted by stress, poor nutrition, and poor sleep habits. Avoiding stressful activities may be tough if your job is the cause of stress, but you can try to keep your home life stress-free. Staying organized at home and exploring a fun hobby will help create a stress-free environment away from work.Continue Reading


How to Choose a Young Adult Transition Program

After undergoing treatment at a rehab facility or wilderness program, those in recovery should choose a Transition Program to take part in. Such a program should honor the work the young adult did in primary treatment and build on it in order to strengthen their commitment to change. When looking at transition program options, here are some key factors to consider:

Does the program provide enough initial structure to support transition from a structured primary or wilderness program back into the “real world?” Keep in mind that young adults seeking transition placement usually have not demonstrated the skills to remain sober with minimal structure.

Skills Taught
Can the program teach recovery and life coping skills soon enough for the student to begin integrating these into the daily challenges that freedom presents?

Increased Freedom
Will the program give the student an opportunity for more freedom once the student demonstrates sound decision-making skills?

Parent Coaching
Does the program coach the parents in setting appropriate boundaries and expectations for the student?

Academic Encouragement
Can the program help the student gradually develop confidence to succeed academically and advocate for himself or hersef as an adult learner? This requires the program to have adequate academic staffing to address a variety of learning issues and levels of academic diversity.

If you have any questions or need help finding the right Transition Program, please contact our staff at 800.571.3135 or


Substance Abuse Treatments—Halfway Houses

People decide to live in halfway houses, also known as sober houses or recovery houses, as a positive social living arrangement.  Halfway houses act as a steppingstone after rehab, treatment facility, juvenile detention center, jail or prison.  Staying in one eases the transition back into normal living arrangements. 

Halfway houses vary greatly.  They differ in the amount of freedom, structure, rules, supervision and other guidelines and principles.  In recovery houses, a counselor will often monitor and guide the daily responsibilities of those seeking substance abuse treatments.  This person is often in recovery him or herself, but works to organize group meetings, keep track of inhabitants' programs of recovery, and even provide drug testing services.

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Substance Abuse Treatments—The Twelve Step Program

The Twelve Step Program is considered to be spiritual in nature. That is, it is designed to transfer a dependence on substances to a dependence on a higher power, and ultimately oneself. The most common Twelve Step Program for those in recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism is Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Twelve Step Programs are often the first place people go to learn about recovery from substance abuse.  During treatment, most centers offer exposure to a Twelve Step Program and it is the most popular means of support for recovering addicts once leaving treatment. 

During a Twelve Step Program, members share experiences, strengths, and hopes. They support one another and it is this fellowship component that guides participants through each of the Steps during their individual programs.  It can take anyone from a couple months to a couple years to go through the Steps for the first time.

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Substance Abuse Treatments—Outpatient Rehab

At the primary level, outpatient rehab programs are often a flexible alternative to inpatient programs, as they may allow participants to fulfill obligations such as working or attending school. Although outpatient schedules, cost, therapeutic strategies, and expectations vary a great deal, they generally require individual and/or group therapy session participation a few days a week.

Outpatient rehabilitation participants undergo a process of developing the skills and tools necessary to experience positive growth mentally and in their interpersonal affairs. The structure of outpatient programs is an action-reflection cycle given the typical calendar and daily schedule.

After learning tools in counseling sessions, participants are meant to go out and apply those tools to situations and challenges, return to outpatient rehab to reflect on their actions, and revise their mental and behavioral processes.

Read about other substance abuse treatment centers and referral network information.


Substance Abuse Treatments—Inpatient Rehab, Daily Life, and What to Expect

At inpatient rehab centers, the most common timeframe is a twenty-eight day program. In this length of time, therapeutic goals and progress are structured based on a four week regiment, meaning daily structure may change week to week.

Patients' daily lives are generally shaped by a rigid schedule. Depending on the program and philosophy, recovery is advanced through multiple avenues. Substance abuse treatments challenge behaviors and maladaptive thought processes under a variety of circumstances, such as one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, 12 step program meetings, and family weekend meetings to rebuild interpersonal relationships worn thin through one’s addiction or alcoholism.

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