By Tiffany Dzioba, PsyD, LMFT, Executive Director at Promises Malibu & Malibu Vista
For many people, spirituality is a loaded term. It’s a word that is often closely tied to religion, dogma and doctrines. Some people find the word intimidating. However, when it comes to addiction recovery and mental health treatment, one of the most important aspects of healing is integrating a spiritual element or addressing spirituality in a way that allows people to connect to something bigger than them.
There’s much to learn from the experiences of people who have faced similar battles as you and emerged victorious. We spoke with a group of Promises alumni who have been where you are now and come out on the other side of addiction.
By Christian Castaneda, LCSW, Program Director at Promises Malibu
Addiction recovery is a vulnerable and healing time when people must learn new ways of creating healthy relationships with themselves and others. Singles must remove themselves from unhealthy sexual encounters and refrain from starting new romantic or sexual relationships for one year. But what if you are in a marriage or partnership?
By Christian Castaneda, LCSW, Program Director at Promises Malibu
Addiction recovery is about letting go of the substances and behaviors that got you into trouble and learning new ways of coping with life. It requires being in touch with true feelings and old trauma. You also have to find new ways to deal with sex and intimacy, which is why it is recommended that single people abstain from sexual relationships for their first year of recovery.
By Christian Castaneda, LCSW, Program Director, Promises
It’s human nature to feel a connection to holidays. People relate to familiar anniversaries and hold certain dates as significant or sacred. That’s why so many people plan to make healthy changes at the start of a new year.
When you are actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, part of your problem is that relying on substances became a habit. A habit is a behavior that is done regularly, usually without thinking much about it. Most habits are pretty hard to break. By abusing alcohol or drugs, you have been in the habit of running away from reality and avoiding feelings that are unpleasant. These are habits that need to be replaced with healthier choices.
Good habits are developed by reminding yourself to repeat a certain behavior until it becomes something you do daily without thinking about it. Most likely you have already developed some healthy habits such as brushing your teeth or participating in physical exercise or meditation. The actions that it takes to lead a sober life can also become something that you don’t have to think about.
When a loved one is in the grips of addiction, family and friends often find themselves stuck in a cycle of fear, panic, anger and despair. Desperate for the addict to change, loved ones may try a myriad of tactics, threats and emotional pulls to get them into treatment. However, one approach that doesn’t work is shame — and here’s why.
Surviving recovery from addiction and avoiding relapse is tough, but it becomes even more difficult if you experience symptoms of depression. Addiction or substance abuse commonly occurs with depression. In fact, up to 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also struggle with a mood disorder, which can include depression. Know the signs and symptoms of depression and learn to recognize when you’re not feeling right so that you can get the help you need.
Mindful walking was introduced to the Western world by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese writer and teacher who first brought his unique brand of Buddhism, known as mindfulness, to the U.S. in the early 1960s. Hanh defines mindfulness as “our ability to be aware of what is going on both inside us and around us. It is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions and thoughts.” The goal of mindful walking is to quiet the mind, to focus on the breath and fully appreciate the present moment in all of its beauty.
The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered the most sacred on the Jewish calendar. The autumnal holidays signal a time of personal reflection and reconciliation of attitudes and behaviors that occurred in the previous 12 months. Prayer, fasting, asking for and offering forgiveness, as well as time in synagogue await those whose heritage calls for such rituals.
Now that you’re in recovery from drug addiction, you have made it past some very big hurdles. You have made huge life changes and you should be proud of your accomplishments. However, recovery does not mean you can stop improving yourself and your life. Once you are out of rehab and back to so-called real life, it can be easy to slip back into old habits. Even if you avoid relapsing, you may not be living your best life if you go back to your old ways. Here are some of the best expert tips on making positive and lasting changes in your life.
Being an addict is all about getting a fix, so if you’re going to be sober, you need to find a new one. Relapse rates for addicts hover around 50 percent. One important way in which you can arm yourself against the near inevitability of relapse is to get a new fix. Replace your old, bad habit with a new, healthy one. Your new fix should make you feel good. It should have purpose and meaning. When you have a new fix, a new habit, you put yourself in a better position for maintaining sobriety.
When you are no longer able to turn to alcohol or drugs to alter your mood, at times you may feel like you are being swallowed up by bad feelings. In sobriety, negative feelings can quickly grow in intensity and feel like they are consuming you. A negative attitude can show up as road rage or self-pity or a sense of utter hopelessness. Whatever bad feelings you are having, it’s important to learn to get past negativity and become more comfortable.
Social support is a crucial element of both treatment and recovery for addicts. Almost all treatment approaches to addiction recovery include some type of social interaction to support sobriety: anonymous support group meetings, peer group therapy and family therapy, to name just a few. Because we humans are social animals, we need to rely on each other in tough times in order to succeed, and that includes recovery. If you have a support network of friends, family, peers and mentors, are they really supporting you or are they falling down on the job?
The mindfulness movement has its roots in Eastern philosophies and meditation techniques such as those found in Tibetan Buddhism, Indian yoga and Chinese Taoism. The common thread connecting these philosophies is the idea of slowing down, focusing on the breath, the present moment, and directing one’s attention to the immediate experience of life. The goal of a mindful approach to living is to free oneself from excessively ruminating about the past and unnecessarily fretting about the future.
Mindfulness practices attempt to teach us how to embrace the life we are given without judgment. In the words of the old Buddhist proverb, mindfulness leads us to “The joyful participation in the sorrows of existence.”