Recovery is not only possible, but achievable. More than 25 million Americans with a previous substance use disorder (SUD) are in remission and living healthy, productive lives. Valley Hope introduces a new blog series, Your Road to Recovery, dedicated to paving the way for you, your loved ones, patients and employees in their recovery journey.
The first entry in our recovery series starts, inevitably, at the beginning. The decision to choose recovery over addiction can often be the most difficult. Taking that courageous first step forward into hope, health and happiness will be the most rewarding decision of your life.
Stepping out of addiction and into quality treatment is absolutely necessary to begin your recovery journey. Chronic diseases like SUD, diabetes and cancer do not just disappear without treatment. It is vital that you find quality, evidence-based 12 step treatment that meets your needs. Do your research. Reach out to your loved ones, medical professionals such as a primary care physician or therapist and, if available, your employer-provided, confidential Employee Assistance Program. Each can help you find the treatment that will work best for you.
Valley Hope offers a continuum of care that helps you through every step of your recovery: detox, residential and outpatient treatment services, family counseling and continuing care. Our approach is grounded in 12-step philosophy that encourages you to take responsibility for your recovery and treatment. The Valley Hope experience is unique in its genuine compassionate care style, a method that has helped tens of thousands of people find successful recovery over the last 50 years.
Once you complete your initial treatment, it is important to find a way to continue your treatment through a program like continuing care or through other activities related to the success of your recovery. Here are a few tips to help you stay strong with your treatment process and a few ways to help curb your cravings:
Five Ways to Stay Focused on the Road to Recovery
Staying focused on the road to recovery is not easy, but it is possible. In fact, millions of people live each day strong in their recovery. Here’s how they do it:
- Goals Set an annual goal you feel is logical for that time frame. Similar to the 12 Steps, break your goal down into 12 pieces and work each piece one by one, month by month. If you meet your goal early, challenge yourself to see how far you can go beyond your goal.
- Stay Healthy A healthy body and healthy mind are essential to staying on track with your recovery. For example, if lifting weights or running 10Ks aren’t your thing, try taking a brisk walk or go for a swim. In addition to staying physically active, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial. Keep up with your nutrition and your exercise and not only will you feel a difference, you may see one too.
- Stay Busy When is the last time you worked on that great idea you had? How about the garage or that closet you’ve been meaning to clean out and organize? Keeping busy with projects will help you focus your energy on something constructive rather than destructive. And, crossing things off your to-do list can be extremely rewarding.
- Support Network Having a solid support network is necessary to stay on track. Being held accountable yields dramatic results when you are having a tough time. Knowing that others who have been or are in your situation, can help you push through the tough time and get back on track. It never hurts to ask acquaintances, friends and loved ones in recovery if they have strategies for staying committed to their recovery.
- Find a Hobby Similar to staying busy, engaging in new healthy hobbies and habits can expand your mind and your network. Social hobbies like sports and personal hobbies like painting, writing, bird watching, metal/wood fabrication or learning a new language or instrument – they all have incredible benefits: they keep your mind busy and productive, plus expressing creativity and developing personal interests have long-term positive impact on your overall health. Also, you can expand your network of friends and importantly, stave off cravings.
Five Ways to Curb Cravings
Ever wonder why there’s a candy dish at most 12-step meetings? How about coffee and cookies? In some cases, those squishy stress balls even make an appearance. Some experts say that candy is a great way to help curb your cravings. Larry Black, Program Director at Valley Hope of Norton , has provided five additional ways to help you, Curb Your Cravings.
Don’t go it alone.
An addicted person alone is in bad company. When cravings kick in, they can easily become overwhelming and all consuming, crowding out anything and everything else, until the entire universe consists of that craving. It’s a state that is essentially impossible to escape alone. Interacting with other human beings provides a valuable tool to derail that compulsion. It doesn’t really matter what you talk about, the act of talking to someone else takes the focus off the craving and removes its power over you.
- Get moving. When cravings begin to grow, they consume an addict’s mind and hijack the ability reason, to think, to function. The natural tendency is often to slide into self-pity and give up, surrender to the cravings. Physical activity is one good method of diverting the onslaught. Rather than passively sitting back and obsessing, get up and move. Take a walk, go to the gym, hop on the treadmill swim some laps in the pool, ride a bike. Just get up and move. Getting into motion will help you refocus.
- Change the focus. When cravings begin to grow, they consume an addict’s mind and hijack her ability to reason, to think, to function. This becomes like an avalanche, destroying everything in its path on the way to a relapse on alcohol or drugs. Like an avalanche, the craving needs to be diverted, and diverted by extraordinary means. Short circuit the obsession by forcing your brain to focus elsewhere. A drop of Hot Sauce on your tongue and you won’t be thinking about using for the moment. Walk barefoot through a snow drift in the winter, or on hot concrete in the summer and your mind will refocus onto your feet rather than on your craving. Snap your wrist with a rubber band and your focus will turn to the source of the feeling, breaking the craving’s hold.
- Refocus on what is at stake. When cravings begin to overwhelm the addict’s mind, it can crowd out rational thought about the consequences of returning to substance use. Have reminders close at hand that you can use to change the dynamic of the craving. Personal reminders, poignant reminders, specific reminders of what you have to lose. For example, pictures of the car you were lucky to walk away from when driving drunk. Notes from a child who is glad to finally have daddy back. Photos of yourself in a hospital bed after an overdose, or of how you looked when your addiction had you in its grasp.
- Plan ahead. These ideas can help you curb your cravings and loosen the grip cravings have on your mind. However, a craving plan, developed while in the grip of a craving has little chance of success. Much of the power of a craving is in the way it bypasses all rational thought and forces the brain to obsess over the craving. Today, while your mind is clear and while you are not controlled by a craving is the time to develop your plan. Make a list of what you can do and have the necessary articles at hand while you are able to focus so that when cravings hit, you can swing into action and make changes necessary to curb those cravings.
Remember, SUD is a treatable chronic disease, not a moral failing. Start your new beginning today: Take an online assessment, call us anytime at 800.544.5101.