Female Musicians Who Beat Addiction

musician recording a song

musician recording a song

 

The entertainment industry and especially music are associated with drugs, alcohol, and partying. While this might be the common association most of us have, several musicians beat addiction successfully in the industry. 

Focusing on their challenges and ultimate success in beating addiction to drugs or alcohol can help others who might be currently struggling.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that there could ever be an out when you’re in an active addiction. Success stories serve as a motivation and reminder that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, although it might be challenging to get there. 

Once you find that motivation, you might begin a treatment program, participate in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or get mental health treatment from a counselor. 

Below, we talk about musicians who beat addiction with the hope it can provide you with some motivation, perhaps when you need it most.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the most influential musicians, pop stars, and overall icons of our time. She has also spoken openly about her struggles with drugs. 

For example, in one interview, she talked about the pain of a hip injury that left her in a wheelchair. 

Saying she was self-medicating the physical pain and anxiety, Lady Gaga was emotionally numbing herself entirely.

In an interview, the singer said she was very depressed and in a lot of pain all the time, but she wasn’t sure why.

The singer says that she felt her addictions to different drugs have grown worse over time, as she dealt with the pressures of fame.

At the same time, Lady Gaga says she was working on getting herself into a space where she doesn’t have to use drugs to be creative. 

She wants to know that she can be talented and successful without being under the influence of anything.

Lana Del Rey

The talented singer Lana Del Rey has struggled since her teens with substance use. 

In 2011, Del Rey became widely known for the hit Video Games. Then she debuted her first full-length album in 2012.

The same year, Del Rey spoke out in an interview with British GQ, saying she hadn’t had alcohol in nine years. Del Rey said even though she was very young, she found that she was drinking daily and typically while alone. 

Most of the songs on her first album she says she wrote while she was alone with alcohol. She describes it as the first love of her life.

Del Rey says her parents sent her to a strict boarding school when she was 15 to try and help her end her drinking habit.

Now the celebrity singer is sober and embraces her life in recovery.

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato allowed viewers to see inside their experience with addiction, overdose, and recovery in a documentary for YouTube. 

Entitled Dancing with the Devil, Lovato’s friends, family members, and the doctors who helped them after their overdose spoke about every raw, ugly detail of what happened and their ongoing substance abuse issues. 

Since 2010, Lovato struggled with substance abuse, frequently going in and out of rehab programs and relapsing along the way.

The pop star celebrated six years of sobriety in March 2018. Tragically in July 2018, she suffered an overdose that made headlines around the world.

Lovato spoke about their relapse in the documentary series, saying they picked up a red wine bottle and then called someone who had drugs just half an hour later. 

At that point, Lovato used new drugs that they hadn’t tried before, including methamphetamine. Lovato explains in the documentary they also used marijuana, Molly, Cocaine, and OxyContin.

During the period of relapse, Lovato did crack cocaine and heroin, becoming physically dependent on heroin.

The night of the overdose, Lovato told friends they were going to bed but went to call their dealer. Lovato used what they thought to be heroin, which now they know was likely fentanyl.

The overdose led to three strokes and a heart attack, resulting in brain and vision damage.

Since the overdose, Lovato says they’re working on their mental and physical recovery. In the documentary series, Lovato talks about the time spent during quarantine, working through past traumas as part of their recovery.

Fergie

Fergie is a massive pop star, having headed up the Black-Eyed Peas. She now has a successful solo career, but it hasn’t been an easy road for her. Fergie dealt with severe addiction issues, including meth.

Fergie says there was a period in her life where she was hallucinating daily. She says it took a year after stopping meth for the chemicals in her brain to stabilize, so she was no longer hallucinating. Fergie spoke to Time magazine, saying meth was the hardest boyfriend she ever had to break up with.

Some of her addiction problems Fergie believed resulted from difficulties she faced growing up as a child actor.

Now a Grammy-winning recording artist, Fergie has a son and has been in recovery from crystal meth for many years.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is known as one of the most enchanting singers and performers of our time, but drugs almost destroyed her. The lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.

She began using recreational drugs at the height of her career, but it quickly spiraled into something a lot more troubling. Her addiction went from casual cocaine use to an extreme addiction and dependence.

Nicks said that she became so dependent on cocaine because she dealt with significant stage fright, and the drug would give her the boost she felt she needed to perform. Nicks was also facing a rigorous touring schedule and felt lonely on the road.

Ultimately, Nicks says she completely lost all control of her behavior for a while. Snorting cocaine burned a hole in the side of her nose.

The band took a break in 1982, but Nicks continued her drug use and hard living. Nicks toured on her own and also saw the breakdown of meaningful relationships during that time.

Fleetwood Mac went to the studio to create their album Tango in the Night, and Nicks continually blacked out. A doctor told her she was nearing a brain hemorrhage.

In 1986, Nicks checked herself into a Betty Ford Clinic, but unfortunately, she developed a Valium addiction.

Ultimately Nicks was able to get sober altogether, but she still speaks out about what her addiction did to her life and how it still affects her to this day.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Of course, not every story about celebrity drug addiction or alcohol addiction ends positively. These stories can also end in tragedy, as was the case of Amy Winehouse and many others. 

If you are dealing with drug abuse or a problem with any addictive substance, getting help sooner rather than later is the best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you. 

If you’d like to learn how to overcome addiction in your own life or help someone you love in beating addiction, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 today. We work with women from all walks of life who have one shared goal—recovery.

 

 

 

What is a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery?

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery

what is a spiritual awakening in recovery

 

What is a spiritual awakening in recovery? Spirituality is one of the more misunderstood elements of addiction treatment and recovery, but often one of the most important. We encourage everyone to explore spirituality in a way that works for them, both during treatment and throughout their life. 

Your spiritual journey and spiritual practice are likely to become something you rely on throughout your life, well after you go to addiction treatment. Active addiction affects your spirit in so many ways, and you might not even see those effects right away. You’re never truly present or in the moment because you always feel the influence of drugs or alcohol. You might feel like you have no worth because of your addiction and like your only purpose is using drugs or alcohol.

You get lost in your addiction without the chance to experience your emotions. The process of recovery often goes hand-in-hand with the spiritual awakening process. Learning how to start your spiritual awakening can be so challenging because it looks different for everyone.

We’ll explore below what we mean when we talk about a spiritual awakening in recovery and how that can happen for different people regardless of differences in their belief systems. 

 

What is a Spiritual Awakening?

A spiritual awakening isn’t something you experience exclusive to addiction recovery. Awakening can happen at any time in your life, regardless of your circumstances.

You often experience something profound or on a deeper level that leads to a breakdown of your ego. You may feel a tug or call toward deeper mental awareness. The result tends to be a personal transformation along with a shift in how you see yourself and the world around you. For many of us, a spiritual awakening comes after a catalyst in our life.

If you’re going to addiction treatment or struggling with a substance use disorder, the realization that you’ve hit rock bottom or are not in control of your drug use can be that triggering event. It’s usually that initial realization about the true depths of your substance abuse that many people say is the hardest part of recovery. You have to see for yourself the impacts of your addiction on every area of your life before you reach any kind of deeper spiritual awareness. Awakening doesn’t always stem from addiction.

For some people, it’s a traumatic experience such as surviving an assault or abuse, or maybe the loss of a loved one. When you go through something traumatic, it affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You may go through an extended period of healing but emerge on the other side of that in a more vital place spiritually. If you have depression or a mental health disorder, it can lead you to what we call an existential crisis. You start to look more at the purpose of your life, and you may want a shift due to that assessment.

You can engage in practices through your daily life that might also activate an awareness or awakening. For example, mindfulness and meditation can be a way to transform yourself on a spiritual level, even without a major life event happening. According to Deepak Chopra, when you experience an awakening, you’re not in a dream world anymore. 

Instead, based on Chopra’s framework, you are aware of yourself but only in a way that puts you within the context and connection of everything else. This period is also sometimes called enlightenment or nirvana.

 

 

How to Start Your Spiritual Awakening

The process of how to start your spiritual awakening is deeply personal, so below are only suggestions, but you may find a path that’s entirely your own.

  • Start to observe and notice. Many of us go through our lives on autopilot. We don’t think about what we truly want, who we are at our core, or why we’re at a particular point in our lives. When you become aware and observant, you’re better able to make changes then. For example, this might be when you question your drinking or drug use and start to delve more into why you’re doing it.
  • Develop a sense of connection. Specifically, as it relates to addiction and recovery, that sense of connection can come from participation in a support group, like a 12-step program.
  • Let go of attachments. We all have extensions that aren’t relevant to our true selves. You can begin to eliminate whatever those are through your awakening.
  • Find inner peace. When you cultivate inner peace, things still go wrong in your life, but it doesn’t lead you down dark paths. Instead, you learn how to cope with things as they go wrong effectively. When you’re experiencing things that aren’t pleasant, you recognize them as a fleeting moment in time.
  • Feel more compassion and empathy. When you’re participating in an addiction treatment program, you’ll start to learn more about how your substance abuse affected the people around you. This is an excellent starting point as you begin to become more empathetic and compassionate in all areas of your life.
  • More authenticity. You’ll start to grow into someone who feels your self-worth on a deep level. That will allow you to be more authentic in who you are.

The final step in an awakening of your spirit is that you’ll be happier and healthier. You’ll be able to thrive in your life rather than just surviving in your recovery process. 

 

Spirituality in Recovery 

In many ways, having a successful long-term recovery from addiction relies on spiritual growth taking place. You have to change your perspective to be in recovery. As part of treatment for substance abuse, you can begin to identify and reconnect with the aspects of your life that are most important to you.

Spiritual power can become your most incredible tool for healing, personal growth, and having a thriving life. You can develop a sense of purpose, and at the same time, learn that you’re not alone.

 

Spirituality Is Not Religion

We often hear from people who worry spirituality is about God or religion. However, it’s important to note that you do not need religion or a belief in God to have a spiritual experience, although you certainly can get your spiritual power from God. A true awakening in the spiritual sense is about having your own beliefs and developing your sense of self that connects you to everything else in the world in your everyday life. You can give credit to whatever force or power you choose.

Are you ready to begin learning how to start your spiritual journey? We encourage you to reach out and learn more about our addiction treatment programs. We prioritize spirituality in whatever terms work for you. Your spiritual life is very personal, which is how Anchored Tides Recovery develops our addiction treatment programs as well, call 866-600-7709 to learn more. 

Support starts here. 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also known as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). FASDs include conditions occurring when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy leading to prenatal alcohol exposure. Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can include physical problems and issues with learning and behavior. While it’s devastating for your child to receive a diagnosis of FAS, it is preventable.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk about fetal alcohol syndrome, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. 

 

An Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby through the umbilical cord, potentially leading to alcohol-related birth defects and fetal alcohol brain damage. There’s not a known, safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should also stop drinking.

If you’re pregnant and drink, the fetus can’t process alcohol through the liver or other organs. The alcohol exposure is the same as the amount in your bloodstream, but exposure lasts longer for the baby. Prenatal alcohol exposure in human populations affects fetal development, especially in the brain and central nervous system.

Some of the ways prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to alcohol-related birth defects include:

  • If you drink alcohol, including hard liquor, beer, and wine, it can kill cells in the fetus that lead to problems with physical development and secondary effects. 
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the development of nerve cells, including how they travel to different parts of the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy constricts blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the placenta. The result of restricted placental blood flow can be a shortage of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
  • While your body processes alcohol, it produces toxic byproducts. These toxins can accumulate and cause structural brain abnormalities and other types of brain damage. 

Even before you know you’re pregnant, your alcohol intake could affect your developing baby or lead to secondary disabilities like alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. 

 

How Prevalent are FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?

Getting an overview of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment relies on understanding the prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. We use varying approaches to estimate how many people in our population might be living with the condition.

  • Using medical records primarily, studies from the CDC show a rate of 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 births in the United States. 
  • Recently, an epidemiological study by the CDC found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children between 7 and 9.
  • According to studies from the National Institutes of Health using physical exams, the actual range of FASDs in the United States and some countries in Western Europe could be as high as 1 to 5 per 100 children—around 1% to 5% of the population.
  • A study from 2020 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found patterns of maternal alcohol exposure and binge drinking in pregnant women between 18 and 44 in the U.S. went up from 2011 to 2018.
  • Having at least one alcoholic beverage among pregnant women in the past 30 days went up from 9.2% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2018.
  • Binge drinking (four or more drinks in a sitting) increased from 2.5% to 4% in that same period.

 

Symptoms of FASDs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a collection of diagnoses. These represent a range of things that can occur when a mother drinks during her pregnancy. The symptoms affect everyone differently. FASDs symptoms can also range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of fetal alcohol effects can include:

  • Poor coordination and motor skills 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems in school or with social skills 
  • Increased likelihood of defiant disorder or other mental health problems 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Low IQ
  • Intellectual disability
  • Sucking and sleep problem as a baby
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, bones, or heart
  • Being shorter than average in height
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities including a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, known as the philtrum

 

Diagnosing FAS

It can be difficult to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol exposure because there aren’t specific medical tests available or set guidelines for diagnosis. There’s also the issue of a differential diagnosis since many symptoms of FASDs overlap with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To  make a diagnosis, a doctor might consider:

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lower-than-average height, weight, or perhaps both
  • Abnormalities in facial features
  • Central nervous system problems like poor coordination and hyperactivity

 

 

Can FAS Be Treated?

The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong, but early intervention can help a child’s development. Treatments include medications and medical care for symptoms, behavioral and educational therapy, and parental training. Researchers also identified protective factors. These reduce the adverse effects of FAS on children and include a diagnosis before the age of six, a loving environment during school years, and an absence of violence in a child’s life. Using special education and social services is also a protective factor.

If you believe your child has symptoms of FAS, but you aren’t sure, talk to your health care provider, who can then refer you to a specialist for intervention services. Specialists include developmental pediatricians and mental health professionals like child psychologists. There are clinics throughout the country with staff specially trained in FASDs and can create individualized treatment plans. 

 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment for Adults

Unfortunately, as we talk about above, there is no treatment for adults or children. FAS is lifelong. Many times, adults with FAS will have mental disorders and legal problems. Adults with FAS are more likely to be in jail or a mental health facility, facing unemployment. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult for an adult with FAS to live independently.

The earliest intervention possible in childhood is the best treatment for FAS that we have available now, although it’s not a cure.

 

Preventing FAS

Since there isn’t a cure for FAS, prevention of maternal drinking is the only available option. When you use alcohol during pregnancy, it’s the top cause of preventable congenital disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The only way to prevent your child from being born with FAS is to avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy altogether.

If you’re sexually active and not using birth control, you should also avoid alcohol. If you’re pregnant, it can take four to six weeks for you to know that, and during that time, if you’re drinking, you could be exposing your baby to alcohol.

It’s not too late to stop drinking if you’ve already had alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain growth and development continue throughout your pregnancy, so stopping as soon as possible is crucial. You should avoid alcohol during breastfeeding also because it can cause development, sleep, and learning problems, although there’s no direct link to FAS.  

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming pregnant, or you could already be, and you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. Again, we want to emphasize it’s never too late to stop drinking; Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Please reach out today at 866-600-7709.

Quitting Nicotine: The Next Step to a Healthy Life

how long does nicotine withdrawal last

how long does nicotine withdrawal last

 

Many people will tell you that quitting nicotine is the hardest thing they ever do. Despite the immense challenges, it is possible to stop smoking and using nicotine products in general. We’ll discuss more addiction and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. We’ll also mention some of the things you can do to deal with physical symptoms and psychological symptoms of an addiction to nicotine. Options include nicotine patches and other nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, and working with a professional counselor. 

There’s a lot to look forward to in a nicotine-free life; when you decide to quit using tobacco for good, the health benefits include: 

  • Reduced risk of heart disease 
  • Lower risk of a heart attack
  • Less exposure to secondhand smoke for the people around you
  • Improved your overall lung health 

 

How Does Nicotine Work?

Understanding why quitting nicotine is so challenging relies on understanding just how this potent drug works. If you use something with nicotine, your brain and body are being exposed to a stimulant. A stimulant speeds up processes in your body and central nervous system. A chemical containing nitrogen, nicotine is made by plants like the tobacco plant. There’s also synthetic production.

On its own, nicotine doesn’t increase the risk of lung cancer or have significant adverse health effects. The issue comes from the fact that since it is so addictive, you can become dependent on tobacco products that are cancer-causing and dangerous. Snorting or chewing tobacco will release more nicotine into your body than smoking, but smoking is America’s most common preventable cause of death.

Interestingly, nicotine is both a stimulant and also a sedative. When you first expose your body to nicotine, you’ll experience a kick. This kick occurs because nicotine stimulates your adrenal glands; adrenal stimulation causes an adrenaline release. Adrenaline stimulates the rest of your body, causing a glucose release. 

Other short-term effects include an increase in blood pressure, breathing and heart rate. Your pancreas produces less insulin in response so that you might have an increase in your blood sugar.

 

Nicotine Addiction and Dependence

Nicotine addiction is physical and behavioral. Physical dependence means that you crave the chemical. Behavioral addiction refers to situations where you might be used to using tobacco in particular situations, and you want to keep doing that. For example, you might always find yourself smoking when you feel stress, which can be a sign of behavioral addiction.

As we talked about above, when you use nicotine, it creates pleasant feelings and sensations in your mind and body. Your brain releases neurotransmitters, including dopamine, creating feelings of pleasure and happiness. These pleasant effects are one way you can develop an addiction to nicotine. Signs of addiction include:

  • You’re not able to stop using tobacco
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use nicotine
  • You have a desire to continue using tobacco even though it’s causing adverse outcomes, such as health risks
  • Someone with an addiction to nicotine will keep using tobacco despite harmful effects on their life

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and common side effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in mood
  • Irritability
  • Problems concentrating
  • Nicotine cravings
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Aches and pains
  • Eating more
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness

According to the American Heart Association, it’s one of the hardest things to quit when you use tobacco. Quitting nicotine can be as hard as stopping heroin, mainly heavy smokers in stopping or long-term tobacco users. In many cases, the more cigarettes you have per day, the more difficult it might be to go through the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. 

So, how long does withdrawal last?

For most current smokers, quitting nicotine and nicotine withdrawal symptoms will start anywhere from one to three hours after your last tobacco use. Symptoms in a nicotine addict can last a few days up to a few weeks. Some people experience tobacco cravings for months or even years. 

 

Can Your Lungs Heal After Smoking?

As we mentioned above, it’s not necessarily nicotine itself that’s harmful to your health. Instead, the products containing nicotine are dangerous and can cause conditions like lung cancer and lung damage. Your lungs can clean and repair themselves over time, luckily, but maybe only to an extent.

After you stop smoking and end your toxic chemical exposure, your lungs can begin to not only heal but also regenerate. How quickly your lungs can heal depends on how long you used tobacco and the extent of the damage. Two types of permanent and potentially irreversible damage can occur, which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Even so, quitting nicotine and tobacco products can help you avoid worse damage, and you may see improvements in your lung health and your quality of life. 

 

Tips for Quitting Nicotine

If you’re interested in quitting nicotine, some methods may be helpful for you. First, as is the case with other types of addiction, you’ll need to prepare yourself to change your routines and behaviors. Specific treatment options to reduce tobacco cravings include:

 

Cessation Medications and Nicotine Replacement Products

Medications can help you stop using tobacco and reduce cravings. One of the more popular options is nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy includes:

  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Nasal sprays
  • Lozenges
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches. 

Some people might use electronic cigarettes to help them with intense cravings, but you have to be mindful that these can also put you at risk for lung disease and other harmful chemicals. When you take a nicotine replacement medication, it provides you with nicotine, but not the other chemicals in tobacco. Another option that a professional might prescribe to you is an antidepressant. Antidepressants can improve your mood by increasing your dopamine production. More dopamine production may help you stop using tobacco.

 

Therapy and Support Groups

You can work with a professional therapist or counselor as you go through the common withdrawal symptoms. You might also choose an in-person or virtual support group. Support groups help tackle all types of addiction, and you can learn better coping skills and be with people who are going through something similar to your situation.

 

Lifestyle Changes

When you’re quitting nicotine, you’ll want to make sure that you’re identifying new ways to cope with stress and cravings.

There are a lot of lifestyle changes that might work for you.

  • You might focus on getting regular physical activity. 
  • Keep your hands and mouth busy with healthy snacks or gum.
  • Remove temptations from your home, and try to avoid situations that could trigger you, such as hanging around with smokers.
  • When you’re quitting nicotine, you should also set manageable and achievable goals and treat yourself when you meet those goals.
  • Some people find that alternative remedies help with their addiction, like acupuncture, the use of certain herbs, essential oils, and hypnosis.

It’s never easy to beat any addiction, and many people say overcoming nicotine dependence is one of the hardest things they ever do. 

If you’d like to learn more about professional support and create healthy coping skills for addictions to nicotine or any other substance, we encourage you to contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709. With professional help, you can improve your chances to kick the addiction. 

Exercise and Addiction: The Good and the Bad

Exercise addiction

Exercise addiction

 

When you’re struggling with a mental health disorder or in addiction recovery, exercise therapy can be one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal to achieve a good quality of life, good physical health, and overall well-being. With that being said, there is a genuine risk of exercise addiction that you need to consider.

Below, we go into what you should know about the role of exercise in mental health and recovery from addiction, but also to spot potential warning signs that you could be moving toward an exercise addiction or compulsive behavior. 

 

General Benefits of Being Physically Active

The importance of being physically active is so critical for all of us. Regardless of your situation, being active will help you feel more energized, reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, and make it easier for you to function in your daily life.

We know that there are gradual, long-term benefits that come from exercise and nearly immediate benefits. For example, right after you engage in activity that’s at least moderate, you may notice improvements in thinking and cognition and reduced feelings of anxiety. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can have a massive impact on your life. When you’re active, it can help keep your memory and learning skills sharp. Physical activity reduces your risk of depression and increases your sleep quality.

 

Exercise and Mental Health

Research tells us that exercising can be an effective treatment for adverse effects of conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Key things to know about the effects of exercise therapy on mental health include:

  • Exercise helps reduce the symptoms of depression like tension, fatigue, and anger
  • If you have a panic disorder or PTSD, exercise can help reduce fear, worry, and tension.
  • When you exercise, if you suffer from panic attacks, it can reduce the frequency and intensity.
  • Aerobic exercise decreases your body’s sensitivity in how it reacts to anxiety.
  • Having a high enough activity level or participating in a regular program can help with co-occurring symptoms associated with mental health disorders, such as IBS and gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • When you exercise, it helps promote neuron growth in your brain. Researchers believe this can help reduce psychiatric symptoms.

Exercise can also improve your general well-being, outside of improving specific mental disorders. For example:

  • Getting adequate amounts of even moderate exercise can reduce stress hormones such as cortisol. Exercising increases endorphins, which boost your mood and improve mental health symptoms. 
  • Being physically active reduces your focus on negative emotions and thoughts, basically redirecting your mental energy to more positive things.
  • You may notice that you feel more confident when you exercise.
  • There’s a sense of social support from group exercise situations or recreational exercise, like playing on an organized team.
  • You can improve your immune system when you exercise, which means you spend less time feeling sick or being impacted by minor illnesses, enhancing your quality of life.

 

The Role of Exercise In Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Exercise therapy is often part of addiction treatment and recovery programs because of all the above benefits. Some of the proven benefits of exercise in recovery from substance addiction specifically can include:

  • Reduced stress: Stress is a significant contributing factor to an increased risk of relapse. When you find healthy ways to cope with stress, it’s going to increase your chances of long-term recovery.
  • Better sleep: One of the things that almost everyone in the early stages of treatment and recovery struggles with is rest. You may sleep too much or not enough. Exercising helps stabilize your sleep patterns, and you can get more high-quality sleep.
  • Improved mood: It’s difficult when you’re going through treatment and beginning recovery, which can make you feel down, discouraged, or have a low mood overall. Exercise naturally boosts brain chemicals that make you feel good and happy, like endorphins.
  • Reduced relapse risk: Beyond the specific benefits of exercise that can help lower the risk of relapse, studies have generally found that the abstinence rate associated with regular exercise is around 95%.

 

 

What About Exercise Addiction?

While exercise is one of the most fundamental things you can do to take care of yourself during your addiction treatment and throughout your recovery, too much of a good thing can occur. Addiction or developing an unhealthy obsession is a risk, albeit a low one.

One of the ways to distinguish healthy exercise from compulsive exercise or excessive exercise is whether or not your exercise routine is causing negative consequences in your life. For example, if you’re over-exercising, it can lead to injuries, negatively affect your health, and it can mean that you aren’t focusing as much as you should be on other areas of your life. If you exercise too much, you aren’t giving your body the chance to recover. You need rest just as much as you need physical activity.

Someone with an exercise addiction might engage in physical activity for hours every day, and if they aren’t able to do that, they could become emotionally uncomfortable, frustrated, or anxious. As is true with other behavioral addictions like gambling, being addicted to exercise sessions is somewhat controversial. For example, some experts believe that addiction has to involve a psychoactive substance. Others argue that substance addictions share many similarities to behavioral addictions and should be characterized as such.

When you exercise, your brain’s reward system is part of the equation. That’s the case with substance addictions too. For example, too much exercise can affect the parts of your brain that involve dopamine.

 

Symptoms of Exercise Addiction

Potential signs of an obsession with exercise include:

  • Obsessing over exercise
  • Engaging in continued exercise even though it’s causing you physical harm like stress fractures
  • You keep doing the harmful behavior even if you want to stop
  • Trying to keep the exercise a secret
  • Feeling a high after you exercise
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms if you have to go extended periods without doing it
  • Reducing your other activities to exercise
  • Doing increasingly intense exercise to fulfill your growing exercise dependence

Some people who are most at risk of developing this type of addictive behavior include those who have another addiction, whether it’s behavioral or to a substance. For example, researchers at the University of Southern California found that 15% of exercise addicts are addicted to illicit drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Around 25% may have other behavioral addictions, such as sex addiction.

If you previously struggled with drugs or alcohol, you could be at risk of exercise obsession. Also, people with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or a body image disorder are more at risk of engaging in excessive exercise patterns.

 

Such Thing as TOO Healthy

You shouldn’t let a fear of addiction to exercise get in your way of adding a healthy habit to your life. Having routines that are good for your physical and mental health is great if you’re struggling with addiction or you’re in recovery.

At the same time, it’s just good to be mindful of any potentially harmful patterns you notice when exercising to alleviate a problem before it grows into something more. Behavioral therapy is an excellent way to tackle symptoms of compulsive exercise you might see in yourself. 

If you’re noticing any compulsions in yourself or someone you care about, Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Call 866-600-7709 today to learn more about our program. 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does To Your Brain

what never leaving your hometown does to your brain

what never leaving your hometown does to your brain

 

Have you ever felt stuck in any way? If so, does it at least partially stem from where you live? So many people who stay in their hometowns throughout their lives do feel that it negatively affects them. This can be especially true if you’re struggling with a substance use disorder. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life can be striking and negative.

Does that mean that leaving your hometown is going to automatically cure your substance use disorder or fix problems in your life? Of course not, but a change of scenery can have pretty significant benefits, even for a short time.

 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain In General

Before we go specifically into how staying in your hometown can affect you when dealing with addiction, what about in general.

Things never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life include:

  • You may be less independent. When you’re geographically close to your family, you may be less likely to do things like buying a home or starting a career. You have a safety net close by, and while that can be a good thing, it can also hold you back. When you handle something stressful like moving away and being on your own, it can help you learn how to manage other difficult situations in your life and build confidence.
  • It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck being the person you were known as in your hometown, even if that’s not who you indeed are. If you live in the same town where you grew up, it’s very easy to feel like you’re stuck in a particular identity. That can limit your future growth. Leaving your town gives you the chance to recreate your identity based on who you want to be, rather than who other people think you are. If you’re overwhelmed by your past mistakes, moving can help you get “unstuck.”
  • When you never leave your town, you may not expand your social circle. Having lifelong relationships can be valuable, but not always, especially if you don’t feel like the people you know are a good influence on you.
  • It’s tough to learn new skills when you’re in a stagnant environment, and not ever learning new things will have an impact on your brain. When you move away, you may learn new skills because you’re forced to or because you choose to.
  • Not leaving where you grew up is going to limit your perspective of the world and other people. If you come from a small town primarily, you might not interact with people from different backgrounds or people with unique opinions.
  • Your career options could be somewhat limited if you stay in your hometown, and that can limit overall opportunities in your life.
  • When you force yourself outside of your comfort zone, you can then be more welcoming of change in general.
  • If you never leave your comfort zone, then fear can become part of who you are. Your goal should always be to view fear as an emotion but not part of your identity.
  • When you’re not with them every day, it can be easier to strengthen your relationship with your loved ones. You’re likely to be more present when you’re talking with them or visiting them because it’s something you don’t get to do all the time.

 

 

What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain When You Have an Addiction

Above, we’re just talking generally about what never leaving your hometown does to your brain and your life, but what about when you have a substance use disorder? These effects can be even more significant.

When you have an addiction, triggers are people, places, and things. When you stay in your hometown, you’re probably spending time with people who are also trapped in the same cycles. It becomes more challenging to break out of the cycle of addiction or find the motivation to go to treatment because you’re always in your old patterns. That’s why a lot of people opt to travel for rehab.

When you travel for rehab, you take yourself outside of those triggers and old ways of doing things. You’re no longer trapped in a cycle of your environment. That change in scenery and perspective can go a long way in helping your treatment and addiction recovery.  Specific benefits of leaving your hometown for treatment include:

  • It can deepen your commitment to your addiction recovery. You are packing up and leaving home, and that’s symbolic in a lot of ways. You’re not going to be in your comfort zone, which shows other people but also yourself that you are serious about treatment and recovery. Taking a big first step helps strengthen your resolve.
  • When you’re outside of your environment, you can focus only on yourself. It’s not selfish when you’re in those challenging early days of treatment and recovery. You don’t have to think about anything but your recovery, which is valuable.
  • Traveling away from your home for treatment or during addiction recovery allows you to reflect and take on a new perspective that you might not otherwise have.
  •  If you leave your town for treatment, it’s not as easy for you to leave treatment early. You’re putting physical distance between treatment and your home, and that can help you stay dedicated when you want to go.
  • You have more privacy in an out-of-town treatment center. If you’re going to treatment in your small town, you may feel like everyone will know, and you might feel ashamed or embarrassed. That’s the last thing you should think about when you’re in treatment.

Overall, when you leave for rehab or to start over in your sobriety, you’re getting the benefit of leaving the place that you associate with your addiction. This includes your self-identity during that time, the people you spent time with, and the situations and locations where you might have used drugs or alcohol.

If you’re planning to relocate following treatment and early in your addiction recovery, you do want to be aware that it can be stressful. Before you move, line up resources that will help you manage your stress in healthy ways. For example, find a 12-step program or support group in the new city or town where you’ll be living. If you go to treatment somewhere else and then plan to return home, your treatment center should provide you with an aftercare plan and connect you with resources in your hometown.

 

Final Thoughts

We don’t always associate our location with addiction, but there are strong ties in many cases. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain can affect your efforts to get sober, which is why going to rehab in another city or even state might be beneficial.

We encourage you to call 866-600-7709 and contact Anchored Tides Recovery’s team of addiction treatment specialists if you’d like to learn more about the treatment options available to you. Our team can go over different program options and help you take the steps to begin a new life in recovery for yourself or your loved one.

Careers that Go Well with Being In-Recovery

addiction recovery

addiction recovery

 

The most significant transition for adults who have recovered from addiction lies in one of those four words: “after” addiction. So many people relapse or never fully recover because they return to the same environment that caused their addiction in the first place. 

People just out of a treatment program are often left to fend for themselves. Many former addicts get trapped in the cycle of poverty and compromise their sobriety when they do not have the support and resources they need to find employment. One of the best ways to regain stability after completing your drug addiction treatment program is finding and keeping a job. 

Down the road, you might feel like you’re at a crossroads. You know who you are and what you want, but how will you handle the challenges along the way? It’s essential to always keep in mind that no matter where life takes you or what curveballs it throws your way, you’ll be stronger because of all your past experiences. That’s why starting with a simple job search is so important.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or where you are now; what matters is that you never give up and continue to learn, grow, and develop new skills. If you’re willing to approach your job search strategically, you can take your career wherever you want to go. If you’re hoping to recover and find a new job after your addiction, there are things you can do to make it easier. Find out how to have a successful career after addiction recovery.

 

Decide What You Want to Do

After completing rehab, many people are confused about what career they want to pursue and how they will get there. Are you wondering what you should do? Do your research ahead of time and determine your options.

Once you have completed your recovery program, it is time to determine where you want to go. Do you want to stay in the same line of work? Do you want a new career path? There is never just one correct answer to these questions either way – only the answer that feels best for you, given your circumstances. You may be feeling anxious about your future or confused about what steps to take next, and we can help you move forward and feel good about moving on.

 

Update Your Resume

Your resume is the first form of contact for potential employers, so it is vital that it stands out and tells your story. Suppose you are applying for a position you previously held or closely resembles the one you have held. In that case, you can also save time and effort by updating your resume after recovery. Since the basics of your career are still the same, not much needs to be added or altered from how it was before your addiction.

 

Explore Job Options for Recovering Addicts

People in recovery can find job opportunities in a wide variety of fields, from retail to technology. Some career paths may require some extra work to take, but those willing to work hard will reap the rewards. You can also do an online job search on sites such as Indeed, Monster, Career Builder, or ZipRecruiter, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook job pages.

Additionally, most states offer assistance (and sometimes priority) for people who are recovering and looking for work. You can find resources online, like this service for people in California.

 

 

Where Can I Work While in Addiction Recovery?

After getting sober, recovery can be frustrating. Worrying about where to find a job and how to keep it after finishing treatment are a few of the most common concerns among people who have just completed or are about to begin addiction recovery. Many fear that the lack of employment on their résumé will prevent them from finding work, but working for several years while in active addiction is not uncommon.

If you’re recovering from an addiction, don’t panic about where you’ll be working. Some companies offer special assistance to employees undergoing treatment, and others may provide support if you’re looking for work. 

If you are a recovering addict, your experience and first-hand knowledge of addiction can be an asset in helping others overcome their struggles with addiction. As an Addictions Specialist, you will provide coaching, consulting, and therapy to individuals with substance use disorders and their families. Your work could help them reach recovery and live full, meaningful lives.

 

Social Worker

Addiction social work is a growing profession that provides treatment and support to people with addiction problems. It also looks to recognize the need for family members of people with an addiction to receive support. These workers are employed by several different organizations, including residential facilities, outpatient clinics, community services programs, hospitals, and government agencies.

 

Substance Abuse Counselor

A substance abuse counselor is a professional who works to help those who are abusing substances or alcohol. This person counsels, educates and treats those within an organization or community struggling with addiction and substance abuse problems to reduce alcoholism or other substance abuse symptoms. Substance abuse counselors work in hospitals, treatment centers, neighborhoods, schools, and many different settings.

 

Addiction Rehabilitation Assistant

An addiction rehabilitation assistant is a job that provides client support to a substance abuse rehabilitation facility. This includes various responsibilities such as maintaining the facility, coordinating client activities and clinical needs, and working with the clinical staff members. 

To become an addiction rehabilitation assistant, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be 18 years old, and complete an inpatient drug treatment program. If you are interested in becoming an addiction rehabilitation assistant, talk to the administration office of the rehabilitation facility regarding requirements for employment.

 

Find your Dream Job Online

It’s hard to stay sober when you’re losing your home, family, and friends. While in recovery, the internet can be a powerful tool to help you get back on track. Sites like Craigslist and eBay offer opportunities to find gainful employment and even employment related to your addiction, for example, webmaster. Hundreds of sites out there can help you regain control of your life via the internet while recovering. You can also opt for a part-time job while focusing on long-term sobriety at a treatment facility.

Find jobs online, fulfill your life while getting clean with a position in a real company, find your new purpose, and learn what recovery is all about while making money and building new meaningful relationships. Suppose the whole process of admitting your drug and alcohol addiction problem and finding a job seems overwhelming. In that case, you can contact Anchored Tides Recovery and have a care coordinator guide you through the process. Give us a call today at 866-600-7709.

Creating an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

alternative identity to being an addict

alternative identity to being an addict

 

When you struggle with drug abuse, it can feel like you lose your identity, and the world just views you as “an addict;” you may even view yourself this way. However, you are more than the mistakes you have made; that’s why when you’re in recovery, building an alternative identity to being an addict is so essential.

You are more than your addiction, and when you’re in recovery, you can start to find who you are once again. You might have lost your sense of self along the way, but it’s exciting to get to know who you are without the stigma of addiction.

 

What is Your Identity?

We all have questions about who we are. For example, you may question what you are presently and who you’d like to see yourself as in the future. Our identity is incredibly complex.

Our identity includes our relationships, who we were as a child, as a parent, and who we are as a partner. It can also involve those characteristics we can’t control, such as our appearance. For many people, identity encompasses religious beliefs, moral attitudes, and political beliefs as well.

 

How Drugs Affects Your Identity

Our identity is already complicated; adding a drug habit to that makes it even more so. There are several key ways addiction can affect your identity. 

  • First are the short-term effects drugs or alcohol have on your feelings, actions, memories, and behavior. 
  • Over time with drug and alcohol use, you may also start to experience declines in your self-worth because you’re not moving forward or progressing in your life the way you’d like to or the way you expected to. 
  • When you have a substance use disorder, you may start to internalize your symptoms. Those become who you are, in your mind. Rather than identifying yourself as a complex person, you might only see yourself as a drug abuser. 
  • Self-identifying only or primarily as a drug user is going to make you fall deeper into your addiction. You may not believe you’re worth anything more because you believe that is just who you are, and that can serve as an excuse for you to keep using substances even with increasing negative consequences.

Your addiction may be part of your self-identification for years because everything in your life eventually revolves around the substance or substances in which you’re addicted. As you work to get treatment and overcome your disorder, what can actually happen is that you feel like you’ve lost part of yourself because of how many substances were your identity.

Some of the beliefs that could come along with your disorder include:

  • The idea that sober people are boring
  • The priority is getting high or drunk
  • You’re more creative when you use substances
  • Some types of music may be associated with the use of substances
  • You don’t trust health care or mental health professionals
  • You celebrate with substance use
  • People often hold an “us against them” mentality with substance use disorders
  • Not comforting to society or even criminal behavior are something to be admired in this mindset

 

 

Why You Need an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you may go through what’s sometimes described as a grieving process. That’s because you feel as if you’ve lost part of yourself, which was the drugs.

A big part of your recovery depends on rebuilding a new identity and letting go of that identity. You may have a hard time finding who you are again. It can make you feel vulnerable, especially when the people around you seem to have a clear sense of identity. It’s okay to acknowledge that you feel confusion or even embarrassment or shame. That’s a good starting point that you can use to start rebuilding who you are. When you’re honest with yourself about what you’re feeling, it gives you the chance to start making decisions about what you want to become. It’s also okay to feel like there’s a void in your life when you’re in recovery, at least initially.

 

How to Create an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

While everyone’s journey is going to be unique, some of the things that you might keep in mind as you leave behind your “addict” identity and explore who you truly are, including:

  • Consider who you surround yourself with. You might meet new people who are also sober when you’re in treatment or through a support group. The people that we surround ourselves with make a significant impact on our lives and who we are. Our self-identity, in some ways, comes from the people we’re around. This is why when you’re in recovery, you may have to find a completely new social circle. You want to spend time with people who will be a healthy influence on you and begin defining your identity. 
  • Along with social relationships, particularly with sober people, maybe you want to think about how you can rebuild relationships with your partner, your children, or your family. For example, you might begin to focus your identity on being a caretaker to your children. 
  • What is your career field? Is it time to think about making a change? When you come out of a treatment program, you might work with career counselors who can help you get on a path toward a career that’s more fulfilling for you and that can very much become part of your identity. 
  • It’s likely that after you go to treatment and you begin your life of recovery, you find you have a lot of time on your hands. That’s that that was probably before focused on using substances and recovering from their effects. Now, you can start to redefine how you use that time. You can begin to explore hobbies, interests, and passions. The things we’re interested in are part of what makes us unique individuals. 
  • Volunteering is a great way to define your identity and move toward a more positive path in your life. When you volunteer, you’re not just helping other people. You’re helping yourself, and you’re giving yourself a sense of purpose. 
  • Try to practice self-love and self-care every day. Substance abuse creates such a sense of shame, and you have to re-learn how to love yourself and care for yourself.

What’s the biggest takeaway we hope you get from this? No matter where you are in your journey, you are more than your addiction. You’ll have to learn more about yourself and who you are without the influence of substances, but that’s such an enriching part of the addiction recovery process. While at first, you may mourn what you feel like you’ve lost, you’ll eventually start to celebrate what you gain as you become the person you envision, rather than someone trapped in a specific identity by an addiction.

 

 

Shedding the Stigma of “Being an Addict”

Getting back to living a normal life when you are in recovery is a process. There are aspects like feeling judged or not being able to live down your past that can make sobriety even harder. Anchored Tides Recovery believes you are not your mistakes; you are who you are, and for any woman looking for help shedding the identity of “being an addict,” we encourage you to reach out to us for help at  866-600-7709.

Does Being In Recovery Have to Be a Life Sentence?

being in recovery

being in recovery

 

There are many debates about what “being in recovery” means on a personal and definitive level. Most addiction treatment programs subscribe to the modality that addiction is a disease you carry with you for your entire life, even if you are not actively using drugs, you may again one day. 

The “forever” mentality is controversial amongst people who don’t want to be labeled “an addict” for their whole lives or believe that they can overcome their shortcomings. Others believe that this type of thinking is a crutch that some people with addiction use to justify when they slip up. 

Even though most treatment centers teach addiction is forever, this article delves deeper into the conversation, looks at the facts, and will try to answer the question “Do you have to spend your entire life in recovery?” 

 

What Does Being In Recovery Mean?

An is challenging because everyone’s journey is unique. In its simplest terms, being “in recovery” is a stage of the addiction cycle that comes after you’ve completed addiction treatment. Experts have made a distinction between recovery and sobriety, which mostly correlates to your desire to use drugs. Sobriety is when you abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol.

So what does it mean to be in recovery from addiction?

  • You take care of your physical and emotional health and make informed decisions about your care.
  • You have a stable home environment that’s also safe.
  • You’ve found a sense of purpose in your life that gives you meaning and income, as well as participation in society.
  • You have a network of people around you who provide you with love and support.

The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a list of principles that they believe fulfill the criteria. These include:

  • Having hope to stay sober
  • It can occur in different pathways
  • It’s holistic
  • Support from peers and allies
  • Culture influence
  • Traumas are addressed
  • A sense of individual responsibility
  • A basis of respect
  • Following the rules to reduce the risk of relapse

SAMHSA goes on to describe signs that characterize being active in recovery. For example, you address problems as they occur, but they don’t lead you to feel overly stressed or to relapse. You have someone in your life that you can be entirely honest. You know what your issues are versus which are other people’s. You have personal boundaries, and you take time to care for your physical and emotional needs.

 

Rules to Reduce the Risk of Relapse

  • You have created a new life that focuses on health and wellness, having fun without drugs or alcohol, strong relationships, and dealing with stress in productive ways.
  • Complete honesty is essential. When you were in active addiction, you may have lied often to others and yourself. Now is a time when you can be honest and learn how to trust yourself and other people.
  • You ask for help.
  • You engage in self-care.

 

 

The Stages of Recovery

Just as there are phases of addiction, there are also phases of recovery. Everyone may define these a little differently, but they could look similar to the following steps:

  • For many, the first stage is acknowledging that addiction exists and that you need help. The first stage is one of the most pivotal stages because you no longer deny you have a problem, and you start working toward fixing it.
  • In the next stage, you become more aware of how your addiction has affected your life and hurt others.
  • The third stage requires you to seek help if you can’t stop using drugs or alcohol entirely independently.
  • Some will say relapse is part of the process, although this isn’t something everyone agrees on. If relapse does occur, it’s important to realize it’s not a failure but instead that You may need more treatment or different treatment.
  • The final stage is known as termination. During this phase, you are confident in your ability to live your life without a relapse. You are less afraid of the possibility of relapse, and you’re moving forward.

Once you go through the steps above, then you may be able to feel like you’re active in recovery, and instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.

 

Addiction As a Chronic Disease

There is no cure for chronic diseases. instead, you just work to manage the symptoms, at which point you’re in remission. Addiction is viewed as a chronic illness because of the impacts of substances on the brain. There are also predisposing factors such as environment and genetics that can lead to an increased risk of addiction, which is the case with other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

Since science views addiction as a chronic disease, relapse will occasionally happen. There are high relapse rates across the board with chronic illnesses. Interestingly, getting treatment for a substance use disorder is often compared to criminal rehabilitation.

 

Treatment vs. Criminal Rehabilitation

Some states have criminal rehabilitation efforts that seek to treat a person’s mental health disorders and other root causes of their criminal behaviors. Treatment is holistic, and the outcome of criminal rehabilitation can be better overall. Someone who has participated in a criminal rehabilitation program might be more able to contribute to society in a productive, meaningful way.

 

Final Thoughts

So, does being in recovery have to be a life sentence? 

That is something that you can decide for yourself. What works for one person might not work for another, so rather than thinking being in recovery means you have to fit in a box, just consider your own needs and your journey. Some people make it to a point where they no longer consider using drugs or alcohol, but for others, it helps to feel like it’s something they will never stop working on. Doing what is best for you is always the right decision. 

Being a woman in recovery is easier with aftercare, which can help you avoid a relapse. Aftercare can include group therapy, individual therapy, or participation in a self-help group, or even direct work with a social worker. Anchored Tides Recovery offers all of these aftercare services, plus the comfort of a woman-only environment. Addiction in women requires a different approach, and having a support system of other women who can share in your experience helps a lot. Call us today to learn more about our program and find your recovery.

Can Having an Emotional Support Animal Help with Recovery?

emotional support animal

emotional support animal

 

There are so many different things that can help you stay grounded and on track in your recovery, but perhaps none is better than a pet. Pets can be considered emotional support animals when they help someone in recovery, and they can also be part of recovery and treatment itself.

 

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a pet that is recommended by a therapist to help with emotional issues. This differs from a Service Animal, as service animals are professionally trained to help with specific issues. 

An ESA isn’t trained to do anything in particular, however, having pets or the company of animals is scientifically proven to help with many mental and physical symptoms; such as anxiety, blood pressure, depression, and more.

 

What is Animal-Assisted Therapy in Treatment?

When you go to an addiction treatment program, whether inpatient or outpatient, it’s typical for many different types of therapy to be used; for example, you may do cognitive-behavioral therapy or a different kind of talk therapy (one-on-one with a counselor or in a group.) You might also do yoga, art therapy, music therapy, or other holistic therapies.

Animal-assisted therapy can fall into the larger category of holistic therapy during addiction treatment.

Medical professionals don’t just use emotional support animals for substance abuse treatment. Animal-assisted therapy benefits people with other mental health disorders/illnesses, like Alzheimer’s, and even incarcerated people. Animal-assisted therapy is also being looked at for its potentially valuable role in helping children with an autism spectrum disorder.

Animal-assisted therapy has been shown in research to help reduce depression and anxiety as well as aggression. It can help participants feel calmer and overall better. There’s even research that has found dog visits can reduce physical pain and related symptoms.

Specifically, research has found benefits of animal-assisted therapy that include the following:

  • When humans interact with animals, it can promote hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin. Those hormones play a role in improving mood, and they can create a relaxation response. 
  • Animal interaction can help improve mental stimulation. 
  • Using animals as part of therapy can reduce anxiety, increase relaxation, and provide comfort and reduce loneliness. 
  • There’s some evidence that animal therapy can help reduce initial resistance to treatment, including substance abuse treatment. 
  • Researchers have found that animals as part of therapy can lower blood pressure and improve heart health. 
  • In substance abuse treatment, animal therapy helps people with trauma hesitate to talk about their situation. 
  • Another specific benefit of animal therapy and the use of an emotional support dog in addiction treatment is that animals can distract from triggers or cravings.

Generally, in an addiction treatment program, there is either canine-assisted therapy or equine therapy. Canine assistance therapy using an emotional support dog can help open up lines of communication. Specifically, studies have found that when a dog is in a rehab facility, the clinicians can gain more insight into their patients, which can help them provide better treatment.

With equine therapy, not only do you do horseback riding, but you may also provide care for the horse, such as feeding, cleaning, and grooming. That gives a sense of responsibility to patients who are recovering from addiction.

Equine therapy can also be beneficial because horses are so powerful and gradually develop trust with the humans around them; this creates a bonding opportunity for people in recovery.

Equine therapy can also help with recovery as addicts learn how to control their emotions because being overly emotional or having an outburst around a horse will diminish the sense of trust.

 

 

How Can an Emotional Support Animal Help Your Recovery After Treatment?

While it’s increasingly common for animals to be part of rehab programs, having a pet when you leave treatment can be beneficial too. For example, many people find that having a dog is a tremendous part of helping them stay sober.

  • If you’re ready for the commitment and have the resources and stability for a pet, it can help you keep negative emotions such as depression or anxiety under control. 
  • Since pets do trigger positive emotions, this is an excellent way to avoid relapse triggers. 
  • When you’re around a dog, for example, it lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Stress and anxiety are big triggers for relapse, so anything you can do to combat those feelings is suitable for your recovery. 
  • Having a pet creates a sense of unconditional support and love which is key to maintaining sobriety. When you leave treatment, you may still be working on rebuilding your relationships with humans, but a pet offers a non-judgmental relationship. There’s comfort in the relationship with pets. 
  • Even beyond creating positive feelings and reducing stress and loneliness, something beneficial about pet ownership in recovery forces you to have a routine and be responsible for something aside from yourself. You have to schedule times to feed and walk your pet, take him to the vet, plan ahead if you’re going out of town, and more. These are life skills that are rewarding for you to learn. 
  • Having a pet can help you get out and about more, so you aren’t sitting inside all the time. You have to walk your dog, so you’re going to get off the couch and get fresh air, even when you don’t want to. 
  • Getting an ESA is a good shift for your perspective if you’re feeling a bit stuck, and you’ll also be active. When you’re engaged, it helps you stay sober and promotes better mental and physical health.

Finally, when you have a pet, especially a dog, it may encourage you to socialize. Dog owners often bond with one another at the dog park or around the neighborhood. You can meet new people who will be a positive force in your life thanks to your dog.

 

Are You Ready for a Pet in Recovery?

If you’re considering an emotional support animal, you need to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility.

You’ll have to learn more about pet ownership first to make sure you understand the full responsibility. A few other things to consider before you get a pet in recovery include:

  • Are you financially ready? A pet will have costs, even if you’re adopting. Think about how things like food, vet visits, and other supplies will impact your budget.
  • Do you have enough space? If you live in a smaller home or apartment, you may still be able to get a pet, but you will have to limit your options based on the space you have available.
  • Do you have the time to dedicate to a pet? If you’re going to get a dog, you will have to commit to going on daily walks and spending time caring for your pet.

Many people find that having an emotional support animal in treatment or as a pet after treatment is one of the most important and rewarding parts of their recovery. There are genuine, studied benefits of pets in recovery, and they can help you make progress in so many areas of your life, as long as you’re ready for the responsibility. 

Having an emotional support animal is an option that goes well with other treatment options for addiction recovery. Anchored Tides Recovery ​can help assist you and your furry friend with your long-term goals of recovery. Contact one of our care coordinators today for a free consultation.