Tag Archives: Holistic

Don’t Be a Hermit in Recovery: Getting Outdoors and Enjoying Yourself in Sobriety

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They don’t call the outdoors “great” for nothing. Receiving professional treatment inside of a facility or a hospital is all well and good, but sometimes, people in recovery just need to get outdoors.

Getting out in the sun is associated with numerous health benefits, and exploring nature tends to help people realize all of the good things in the world they missed out on while they were more concerned with cracking open their next bottle or chasing the next high.

The Benefits of Sunlight

The positive effects of sunlight are truly amazing. Granted, you can overdo it and get sunburnt, but even five to 15 minutes of natural light each day can work wonders.

First, exposure to sunlight is associated with increased levels of vitamin D and serotonin. The benefits are:

  • Vitamin D has a direct correlation with one’s mood: If the level is high, then the person’s mood should be positive.
  • Serotonin is also associated with mood, in addition to calm and focus.

Low vitamin D and serotonin levels can bring feelings of depression flooding in. If you’ve struggled with anxiety or depression in the past, taking in more sunlight is a natural way to reduce some of those symptoms.

Additionally, vitamin D plays a role in bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.

Helping with Skin, Digestive, Reproductive and Other Conditions

The World Health Organization  states that sun exposure might help with several skin conditions, such as:

  • Acne
  • Jaundice
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema

Although still being studied, sunlight is also showing some promising early results in treating other health conditions, such as:

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Thyroiditis

If a skin or other health condition isn’t bothering you as much because you’ve taken in enough sunlight, then your mood is going to be further elevated.

Remember to use sunblock if you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes, especially if you have fair skin. Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and consider a hat or shirt with sun protection, as well.

Recreational Activity Options

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of being out in the sun, let’s look at several of the activities you can do while you’re outdoors. Some of the more high-intensity activities that people in recovery tend to enjoy include:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming (in pools or lakes)
  • Running
  • Biking (or BMXing)
  • Skateboarding
  • Outdoor Basketball
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Mountain climbing
  • Outdoor yoga

And for the more leisurely pursuits that still give you an excuse to get outdoors, consider:

  • Walking
  • Golf
  • Painting or drawing
  • Playing instruments
  • Photography
  • Barbecuing with family and friends
  • Bonfires
  • Camping
  • Boating or Jet Skiing
  • Sightseeing
  • Watching soccer or baseball games
  • Relaxing poolside or on a beach

And those are mostly warm-weather activities. If you’re out in the snow, you still have plenty of options for recreation, from skiing or snowboarding to sledding or simply building a snowman.

The point is, the opportunities are almost limitless when you get outdoors, and you can pick what works for you. In many cases of addiction, the substances slowly robbed users of their creativity, dignity and sense of purpose. As you’re recovering from addiction, the outdoors will help rekindle your imagination and childlike wonder, giving your new purpose on your journey to sobriety.

Don’t Be a Hermit!

Another benefit of outdoor activities is that they usually have a social component. Even if you can’t talk some friends into joining you on a particular day, there’s a good chance you’re going to bump into and meet new people as you’re out swimming solo or on a hike by yourself.

Isolation is one of the most prominent triggers for relapse, but that’s rarely an issue when you’re committed to doing activities outdoors every day, or at least several times per week. When you’re cooped up inside and all alone, the thoughts and cravings of prior substance use might come roaring back. You can sidestep these temptations by developing an active and outdoor-oriented lifestyle.

What to Look For in a Rehab Program

We firmly believe that some of the best inpatient rehab centers in this country are located in rural or semi-rural areas. Or, at least, they are situated on a large enough property to allow clients to get outside and “stretch their legs.”

Rehab facilities that are landlocked and that offer an overly clinical or hospital-like environment tend to be at a disadvantage. They are missing a piece or two of the puzzle when it comes to holistically helping people recover from addiction.

When you start searching for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, you should factor in the facility’s location within a city and its immediate surroundings. You should then see if the facility offers treatment methods such as:

  • Wilderness therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Outdoor therapy
  • Outdoor behavioral health care
  • Experiential therapy

These are all essentially synonyms for the same concept: therapy that takes place outdoors. You might even see some facilities that call themselves an “outdoor rehab,” or that they offer an “outdoor rehab program.”

Granted, the amount of emphasis each facility places on wilderness/adventure/outdoor therapy and the types of activities it promotes will vary. But, the point is to at least check to see if a facility of interest offers this type of therapy before you start digging further and making your final selection.

Outdoor Therapy for Relapse Prevention

Encouraging you to take a greater interest in the outdoors isn’t just good advice for a healthier recovery lifestyle; it’s a full-fledged relapse prevention tool. Ideally, the treatment center you choose is going to introduce or reintroduce you to a handful of outdoor pursuits that you’re going to take a huge passion in. And by no means do these pursuits need to stop once you graduate the rehab program.

Addiction treatment programs spend considerable time on relapse-prevention education, giving clients concepts, strategies and tangible tools they can use to ward off substance use – in the immediate sense and down the road. Helping clients find their passion in the great outdoors is one of those tools – depending on the program you pick.

And, when you think about it, enjoyment of the outdoors is one of the most practical long-term tools one can have after graduating rehab. A therapist or a sponsor can’t be there to hold your hand every step of the way in the post-rehab phase, but there’s little stopping you from going on a run, hike, bike ride, etc. when your mood is low and you’re battling drug cravings. Getting outside just makes sense.

Your Turn at Bat

Now that you’ve brushed up on the benefits of natural sunlight and the types of outdoor activities you can pursue, we want to hear from you! In the comment section below, please answer one or both of the following questions:

If you’ve been through rehab before, which outdoor activities did you come to love through the program?

Which outdoor pursuits do you personally find the most beneficial for staying committed to sobriety?

If you haven’t been to rehab before but you’re thinking about searching for treatment, Fight Addiction Now can help you find treatment centers that offer outdoor therapy and then evaluate which one is right for you. Just click immediately below to get in touch with our team or call now: 1-844-313-4448.

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Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

From the beginning of time, humans have dealt with physical and mental ailments. It’s part of being human. The body, the mind and the spirit inevitably break down. But there are things we can do to take care of ourselves and minimize the damage. One impactful way we can take care of ourselves is through meditation.

If you think about it, for centuries humanity did not use synthetic medications. Humans and animals have not even always had access to plants and herbs for medicinal use. Meditation, on the other hand, has likely been around since the dawn of civilization.

Can we really fix things with medication?

Certainly, there are some conditions to make us grateful for the advances in modern medicine. But we are not talking about flushing your beta blockers down the toilet; we are talking about managing your life without potent meds when other options are available – options that may even lead to a better result.

Managing addiction recovery without having to resort to any type of drugs, including prescriptions, is a worthy cause. Who likes antidepressants and the side effects, anyway?

What Is Meditation and Mindfulness?

We know all ailments are not solved with drugs, and in recovery, we are trying to avoid taking any drugs again. We have found a better way of life without substances, and many of us seek to extend that better way of avoiding prescription medications that may or may not work.

In an effort to achieve a healthier body, mind, and spirit, people around the world have adopted the Eastern practice of meditation and mindfulness.

A relatively new concept for Westerners, meditation refers to looking inward to improve ourselves. It is about changing our world through changing ourselves.

Mindfulness is the embodiment of reflection and contemplation. Clearing the mind of ruminations and focusing on the five senses is grounding. It shows us what is real – the feel of the earth beneath our feet, the smell of the open air, the view of a tree, the taste of a sweet piece of candy, the sound of relaxing music, etc.

What is not real is living in our heads. Overthinking, letting our thoughts race, is not reality. It’s an imagined world inside, and most of the accompanying worries will never come to pass.

Mindfulness Treatment via Daily Meditations for Recovering Addicts

In the still, quiet moments does a man (or woman) come to know their own heart. It is about self-discovery and rediscovery. Continually knowing ourselves keeps us grounded in our core issues, which keeps us healthy in recovery.

Being mindful means letting unhelpful thoughts flow in and right out, allowing ourselves to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad…but as merely thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness as a form of therapy has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. Here are a few diagnoses that mindfulness improves:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Eating disorders
  • Other mental health conditions

Mindfulness for Mental Health

Besides the cost and side effects, many people don’t want to go on antidepressants. Psych patients are notoriously uncompliant with taking their meds for various reasons, chief among them being the side effects.

Meditation teaches us to feel, think and be OK with it. As ironic as surrendering to a higher power is empowering, permitting ourselves negative thoughts and feelings – without judgment – allows us to face and release them.

Meditation for ADHD

Research suggests mindful meditation can help ease the symptoms of ADHD. The ability to focus one’s attention and concentrate are two advantages that come from mindfulness training. A lack of focus and concentration are chief complaints in ADHD patients, so it follows that meditation can be beneficial to those with an ADHD diagnosis.

Self-regulation is a typical problem for people with ADHD. Mindfulness improves that too.

Meditation for Anxiety

Anxiety disorder culled is stress and worry. The natural response to anxious thoughts and feelings is avoidance. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel it. And ultimately, not feeling got us into a hot mess.

Researchers have evaluated the effects of mindfulness meditation for patients’ biological reactions to stress. Blood tests and studies show definitive results that mindfulness training reduces stress hormones, which effect anxiety.

Mindfulness for Spirituality

“A higher power of our own understanding” is a fluid and flexible concept that can be as definitive as the God of the Bible and as abstract as a force of nature. A higher power can be as simple as a 12-step group itself. God, spirituality, a higher power, religion or anti-religion, mindful meditation fits into each person’s lifestyle.

Some people who have traditional values are afraid this alternative philosophy will be at odds with their religious beliefs, but it’s simply not true. Meditation complements any concept of spirituality, not just Buddhism. Meditation opens your spirit to receive exactly what you need in that moment, regardless of what beliefs you may possess.

Meditation for Physical Ailments

Did you know that there are serious meditation gurus that have perfected the art of meditation so completely they are able to control autonomic nervous system functions like heartbeat and digestion?

We know that people living with high levels of stress are more apt to getting infections, colds and flu, and more illnesses in general. Reducing stress via meditation, therefore, improves general physical health. Add to that the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that deep-belly breathing produces, and it’s not hard to see how pain reduction can happen by meditating.

Inflammation

A 2013 study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health indicated that eight weeks of mindfulness training can reduce stress-induced inflammation better than a health program that includes physical activity, diet education, and music therapy! That’s quite the testament to the healing power of mindfulness.

Make note that inflammation is the culprit for many problems in the body:

  • Arthritis
  • Idiopathic pain
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Transplant rejection

Chronic Pain

Regular mindfulness practice decreases pain. It reduces stress hormones, inflammatory markers and the patient’s perception of pain more than narcotics.

Addiction Issues Treated Without Medication

It takes a great deal of strength to stare down addiction and live to tell the tale. Death follows so many that have struggled with addiction. Many of us who are in recovery have known people that did not – and those that have not yet – found the strength to slay the beast of addiction. Any help along the way is valuable, including mindfulness.

In addition to scientific evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness for clinical diagnoses, some other aspects of life that meditation improves include:

  • Spirituality
  • Focus and attention span
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Smoking cessation
  • Empathetic abilities
  • Quality of life
  • Stress reduction
  • Mood stability
  • Self-esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Inflammation

Summoning the power to live in recovery begs a new skill set, one that includes serenity, courage and wisdom. Developing and exercising this new skill set keeps us healthy and focused on recovery.

If we are to stay clean and avoid relapse, our recovery has to be – and stay – the No. 1 priority in our lives.

Otherwise, no other priorities will matter. Our lives will become ugly and unmanageable again.

Meditation for addiction helps us practice the tenets of the serenity prayer that we need to stay sober. While some people have a spiritual awakening within a particular religion or church, many are finding another way. Non-traditional forms of spirituality are appealing, as they can transcend a specific faith.

Meditation vs. Medication

Peace and understanding come from meditation. This beneficial habit is now evident in brain scans, advances in the understanding of neuroplasticity, blood work and physiological results. Science and spirituality have aligned at last.

Whether we need meditation for depression, addiction recovery or something else, it is a more favorable option than medication. Even if we decide to use medication too, mindful meditation done right is life changing.

Let’s give ourselves permission to just be. To live in the present moment. And to experience the profound healing power of meditation.

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What Are the Best Therapies for Treating Addiction?

What Are the Best Therapies for Treating Addiction - Fight Addiction Now

Scientifically Backed Methods for Successfully Treating Addiction

Searching for effective therapy for drug and alcohol addictions can be daunting. When you begin the search for yourself or a loved one, look for a program that features evidence-based addiction treatment practices. These types of behavioral therapies are based on scientific evidence and have the highest success rates for addiction recovery.

Behavioral Therapies for Addiction

Let’s take a look at the most common behavioral therapies that should be strongly considered for a successful recovery:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR has been shown in studies to combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a common disorder found in those facing addiction. Many people who have struggled with addictions also have a history of trauma and abuse, which can make EMDR an even more effective option.

EMDR treatment includes desensitization of past traumatic events and the changing of associations for current emotional triggers. The desensitizing process takes the form of talk therapy along with a series of therapist-led eye movements. After the completion of eight phases, patients typically report significant improvement in their thought processing and subsequent behaviors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Negative thought patterns are commonplace in those struggling with addiction, which is why CBT is a prime treatment option. This type of therapy is shown to be effective in treating addiction, eating disorders and depression.

CBT is conversationally based with a therapist or in a group setting. In conjunction with a therapist, the client will explore his or her thought processes, identify destructive behaviors and then gradually work to create healthier strategies for living. This requires therapy session work, but the patient must also commit to following new strategies in day-to-day life outside of the therapist’s office.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was created to combat suicidal thoughts. The method has since been found to effectively treat borderline personality disorder and other serious psychological disorders. Suicidal patients are notoriously difficult to treat due to their passive, often defensive, behaviors in therapy.

The DBT model includes group therapies, activities based on the above-mentioned CBT practices, but it also offers immediate phone consultations with therapists. Patients keep their therapist on speed dial, calling them as situations are unfolding in their lives. This is a useful tool for those struggling with addiction when a patient is tempted to fall back into old habits.

The therapy addresses issues in order of their impact on the client’s life, according to American Addiction Centers. Issues involving suicidal tendencies are first priority, followed by therapist-guided activities to reach personal goals.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

So far, this type of behavioral therapy has been successful in treating alcohol, marijuana and nicotine addictions. MET is based on CBT methodology, but typically moves at a faster pace.

Traditional CBT therapy is a slower, step-by-step process, whereas MET can incite internally motivated change within the first two sessions. With regular sessions, the therapist monitors change and helps the patient set incremental goals in his or her life.

Effective Therapies Used in Conjunction with Evidence-Based Practices

In addition to behavioral therapies, many patients credit supportive therapies as being helpful during and after rehab participation. When used in combination with behavioral therapies, these supportive therapies create well-rounded and enjoyable treatment plans.

Learn about various supplemental therapies by browsing through the items below:

Wilderness Adventure Therapy (WAT)

You don’t need a national park near you utilize this method! WAT can be experienced in rural or urban settings. The idea is just to get patients outside, moving and learning new skills. This is a very active form of therapy, intended to engage all of the senses.

Acupuncture Therapy for Addiction

Eastern medicine has found a way into all aspects of the West, including addiction treatment. Those who have undergone acupuncture therapy have reported physical and emotional pain relief, as well as help with withdrawal symptoms.

No one knows exactly how this method works, but thousands of years’ worth of success makes it a viable option. And don’t worry: Clients say it doesn’t hurt.

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is exactly what it sounds like. It allows patients to interact with horses on a regular basis, build trust with them and then be rewarded with a nonjudgmental equine friend. It is a wonderful learning experience with the potential to become a full-time hobby or possible career.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

This method is based on Gary Craig’s EFT Handbook (1993), employing alternative medicine practices that don’t require patients to leave their homes. The practice involves verbalizing a personal affirmation statement while tapping one’s finger in a specific pattern over the body.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease featured a 2016 study that showed significant decreases in anxiety after patients performed this ritual.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is a system that includes group meditation and breathing exercises led by a therapist trained in the technique. It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and also help with some physical conditions. In addition to meditative practices, the therapist guides patients through techniques to improve positive thinking.

Art Therapy for Addiction

This type of therapy is a wonderful option for both creative and noncreative people. Painting, drawing, sculpting and dancing are just some of the activities that qualify as art therapy.

The idea behind this method is not to create a masterpiece, but to express feelings. This is a group-based therapy, but the method offers a popular nonverbal opportunity to express emotions that may not come easily through the spoken word.

Biofeedback/Neurofeedback for Addiction

Science fiction always finds its way into real life. This method involves sensors placed on a patient’s body. The sensors then track bodily functions such as:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Muscle contractions

The therapist then sets the patient up to hear pulsing sounds, images or a series of light patterns that follow heart rate. Ultimately, the combination helps the patient visualize his or her stress level and create effective relaxation methods.

Psychodrama Therapy in Addiction Treatment

This is an opportunity for patients to become actors, but also express a lifetime of pent-up emotions. Psychodrama is simply acting out details or emotions about one’s past.

The therapist will set the scene and encourage patients to act out the emotions involved. Psychodrama can feature just the patient and therapist present, but it can also be effective in a group setting.

The Best Therapies for Treating Addiction Depend on the Person

All of these therapies have proved to be successful to varying degrees, but it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all model for therapy or addiction recovery. The best therapies for addiction treatment are the ones in which individual patients show the most noticeable progress.

It may take some shopping around to find the right type of therapy or combination of therapies that work best. Without a doubt, there is a program out there for every person struggling with addiction.

What experiences have you had with these therapy types? What other options are available that we may have missed? Comment below or in our forum, and then explore the different levels of care available in addiction treatment centers by clicking below.

Explore Levels of Care