The Thanksgiving holiday is usually a difficult time for someone who has just completed rehabilitation for drug and/or alcohol addiction. For many families, holiday celebrations and festivities center around alcohol. For this reason, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts often face increased incidences of depression and stress between November and January. So how can you turn this time of year into a time of victory rather than one which tempts you to reach for your Drug of Choice (DOC)? We have a few ideas.
Even in the midst of recovery, holidays such as Thanksgiving can be turned into fun occasions and cause for celebration. But the desire to stave off a relapse may require a change of plans and a hefty dose of willpower. We know you can do it, since both are possible with hard work and a little creativity – which you obviously have, since and you have already come so far!
Did you know that November is National Gratitude Month? As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us realize that thankfulness should color the way we look at the world. But gratitude shouldn’t be relegated to November. In fact, psychologists believe that reaping the many benefits afforded by an attitude of gratitude requires embracing the emotion every day of the year. What’s more, gratitude does not exclusively relate to religion. No matter your theology, a thankful heart offers a wide range of perks. In fact, among the many physical, psychological, and social benefits of gratitude is optimism – which helps manage the challenges and stress which so often precede addiction.
If you’re actively battling addiction, you may already be familiar with strategies treatment centers use to help people in their care. At MFI, we rely on scientifically proven methods to help support clients at all 10 of our Riverside-area treatment facilities. And one, which is admittedly a mouthful, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). But what is it and why does it work?
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
PsychCentral.com defines it like this: A short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.
October is well-known for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere you go, pink ribbons abound. But a lesser known yet equally important observance, also held each October, is National Antidepressant Death Awareness Month. Created to call attention to people who have suffered injury or death as a result of antidepressant use, the annual campaign is significant because anti-depressants are so widely prescribed. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), antidepressants are one of the three most commonly used therapeutic drug classes in the United States. The New York Times reports that nearly 25 million Americans have been taking antidepressants for at least two years.
Halloween is a call to party for many American adults. But how do you put the fun back into the special occasion if you’re on the road to recovery? The main contributing factor to your feeling like this is that the “reward circuit” of your brain. Since normal brain function was disrupted, socializing around substances likely played a major role. But be of good cheer. There is no need to feel depressed or isolated at Halloween (or any other time of the year).
Imagine having fun without the usual side effects of parties? Can it be done? The answer: Yes –with patience and dedication.
Whether you are a recovering addict or someone who cares about one, you need to know that if you require pain relief during the treatment or when in remission, there are safe approaches available which do not entail reaching for a pill. Even for people without addictions, medication offers chronic pain sufferers temporary pain relief that doesn’t address the root cause.
According Harvard Health, researchers and doctors studying pain have identified what they call the “gate control” theory. They determined that the dorsal horn is a part of the spinal cord which is vital in helping to alleviate pain. When the body produces a pain signal, the dorsal horn opens like a gate, sending a pain signal to the brain. But if it receives sensory signals simultaneously (from another part of the body), it closes so the brain doesn’t register the signal.
Staying sober for the entire month of October may sound like a difficult challenge. But if you struggle with addiction, doing so offers a wonderful opportunity to sober up before the holidays. You can also take the opportunity to join the Macmillan’s Go Sober for October Campaign and help raise money for cancer support.
As you try to make it through 31 days of addictive habits, remember that when you emerge, you will be a stronger, maybe even ready to take sobriety a step further abstaining for life?
Health Benefits of Sober October