How to Celebrate New Years Eve Sober. Tips for Recovering Addicts.
The holiday season for most recovering addicts can be the hardest time of the year, especially on New Year's Eve. Holidays in the United States are quite often characterized for their excess. Excessive partying, binge drinking, even excessive spending and worrying about debts and other responsibilities can cause a great amount of stress during this time of year.
As the year comes to a close, Christmas decorations are coming down and many people in recovery may be experiencing stress about the biggest party night of the year: New Year’s Eve. For many it is a conundrum of questions: avoid parties altogether? Or risk experiencing loneliness, guilt and shame by staying home alone? While there is no clear cut answer for these questions that would be suitable for everyone in recovery, there are positive and negative aspects to both of those strategies. Each one can release a unique set of triggers, so the best thing you can do is be prepared for either scenario.
Have a Plan to Stay Sober:
If friends are asking you to go to parties for New Years Eve, you may be fearful that the champagne toast at midnight may be too much temptation for you to resist. Maybe you’ll run into an old friend who you used to get wasted with. Or you could see a past lover for the first time since your newfound sobriety. Either way parties can set you up for temptations and triggers that many in recovery programs are not ready to overcome yet.
If you have plans to stay home alone for the big night, this could be a potentially stress-inducing situation as well. Leaving yourself alone and isolated when everyone else is being social and celebrating can cause negative thoughts and emotions, which can be triggers in and of themselves. The loneliness can lead toward guilt and shame, which is no fun to experience alone. Many tend to either romanticize their past substance abuse, only remembering the good times or beat themselves up over their past mistakes, suffering alone in grief while everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves.
Again, preparation is essential so you are not caught off guard, without a plan. While many people experience major FOMO (fear of missing out) on New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of alternatives to celebrating with alcohol and drugs. Think about how good you'll feel on the first day of the new year, if you aren't in bed all day, nursing a nasty hangover. While that sounds like a positive plan, you should be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses in your recovery. It is a good idea to keep yourself away from potentially dangerous situations, so let’s explore some alternatives to celebrating the new year without alcohol or drugs.
Enjoy a night on the town.
Plan a night out with a close friend or relative that positively affects your mental stability and health. Go out to dinner, or a movie and enjoy time away from the house. These are good options because in these scenarios, drinking alcohol isn’t the primary focus of either of these activities. You could also go to an amusement park, grab a cup of coffee, or go to a fun kid’s attraction like miniature golf or a video game arcade. Many of these places don’t serve alcohol, but even if they did, you wouldn’t notice because the activities there are so much fun. Hanging out with people who understand your struggle and your desire to remain sober is key.
Enjoy a night at home.
You don’t want to isolate yourself alone on New Year’s Eve, so take the chance and invite people over to your house to play games, watch movies or even eat some really good food. Staying in with friends or family will definitely help you keep your mind off of partying on the biggest party night of the year. Just make sure you have good company to keep your night a positive one. If you do not have anyone to come over, make a plan to have someone to talk to if you need it. This could be a sponsor, friend or relative who cares about you.
Volunteer for a local charity.
If you don’t have anyone to come over or spend your evening with, this would be a great opportunity to help your community. You might even meet other like-minded people in the process. Volunteering your time can have a very positive impact not only on your community but on your mind and soul as well. There’s nothing as rewarding as helping someone who is less fortunate. If you love animals, many animal shelters accept help with people coming to walk dogs and pet cats. These activities help the animals maintain social skills while they await adoption. Spending time with pets is also going to make you feel good as well.
If you do find yourself going out with friends to a party, or any place where alcohol is served, there are some things you can do to help you get through the night sober. Bring your own drinks to the party and always have a non-alcoholic beverage in your hands. This will greatly help reduce the temptations that may come up at a social gathering. Being prepared with an exit plan is another good strategy to help keep you sober during the new year’s celebration. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your own sobriety. If triggers surface at the party or a bar, do not be afraid to simply leave.
Being honest with yourself and your needs throughout your recovery journey is essential to continue working the program. Having a plan is an essential component of any successful sobriety. Be mindful of relapse and have a relapse prevention plan in mind. Let your friends and family know when you need help. Devise a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy and do not be overcome with temptation.
Looking at your recovery during times of celebration can help you maintain your sobriety and keep you away from drugs and alcohol. If you need help throughout any step of the process, do not hesitate to call us. We are here for you 24/7.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Addiction
Mental health issues and substance abuse are often deeply connected in the human brain. According to the NationalInstitute of Mental Health (NIMH), people who experience depression disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder are more likely to have a drug or alcohol abuse problem. As the days are shorter and the sunlight escapes our daily experience, the body can react with feelings of depression or sadness. To be clinically diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder or SAD, one must meet the full criteria of depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least 2years. Furthermore, seasonal depression must be more frequent than any non-seasonal depressions.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Desperation, lack of motivation to care for oneself, irritability, weight gain and a general feeling of hopelessness are all common symptoms of SAD. The causes of this debilitating disorder are varied and can be different for different types of people. Generally, the lack of sunlight can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms and also reduce the amount of serotonin produced by the brain. Melatonin imbalances can also occur which can affect sleeping patterns and your overall mood.
For someone struggling with addiction, or even those currently going through recovery, SAD can be more common than an average person might experience. Many people who suffer from seasonal depression often self medicate, using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, sadness and grief. When this persists for a period of time, an addiction is likely to physically develop in the patient. This makes it much more difficult to treat from a medical perspective, though it is not impossible.
The co-occurrence of substance abuse and a mental health disorder is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis. This approach treats both the substance abuse disorder and the mental health issue simultaneously, which evidence suggests is the most successful treatment for curing both disorders. Unfortunately, many who experience these problems do not seek any help from trained professionals.
For those who get help through a substance abuse treatment program, SAD can pose unique challenges for recovering addicts.
The more time spent indoors, lack of sunlight and vitamin D, and other biological factors can negatively influence anyone who experiences depression. A recovering addict is more likely to experience a relapse during these times, so one should be conscious of psychological and physical changes that may come with the changing seasons.
Holidays can be particularly stressful time of the year for many people. This is especially true for addicts and those who are going through recovery from alcoholism or another substance abuse disorder. It is important to be mindful of your feelings and physiology during this time of year and get help from trained professionals if you need it.
Some helpful tips to combat the effects of SAD:
Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Take a vitamin D supplement in combination with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein.
Avoid processed foods containing high amounts of salt, saturated fats and sugars.
Exercise regularly and maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
You can also simply try to get yourself out of the house. Go outside during the limited time the sun is out. Participate in activities and events that are enjoyable and fun. If you feel your symptoms worsening, do not be afraid or ashamed to ask someone for help.
The professionals at More Than Rehab are trained to treat a myriad of symptoms related to substance abuse and mental health issues. Wether its seasonal affective disorder, or even post-traumatic-stress-disorder, help for you or a loved one is just one phone call away. Be open and honest with yourself about your feelings, obstacles and goals in recovery from this potentially deadly disease.Sometimes when people do not seek help the problem only gets worse. Let us help you right away.
Regular exercise helps in addiction treatment and relapse prevention.
Cardiovascular exercise can help in addiction treatment and relapse prevention strategies.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions have identified how cardiovascular exercise can support rehab treatment for those struggling with addiction. In a study carried out on animals, researchers discovered that regular exercise targets areas of the brain that control dopamine. Cardio exercise has long been known to reduce anxiety, stress and depression, which are common triggers for alcohol and drug addiction. In addition to these benefits, regular exercise can alter the dopamine pathways in the brain. These findings lead researchers to believe that being active can help replace substance addiction with something much more healthy.
Currently, the researchers are looking to see if physical exercise can permanently alter dopamine receptors in the human brain. These findings are shedding light on the brain's ability to receive pleasure. Long term drug or alcohol abuse can dramatically alter the chemical makeup of our central nervous system. Researchers are hoping to prove that even after a history of long term substance abuse, working out can help reshape the brain chemistry away from addictive behaviors.
For cocaine addiction, exercise can help fight withdrawal symptoms and decrease stress-induced cocaine seeking behaviors.
A severe cocaine addiction can physically alter the brain’s neural and behavioral responses to stress. This alteration can lead to frequent relapses throughout the long recovery process. Using regular exercise to help fight cravings can help alter the mesolimbic dopamine pathways, which is the area most affected by frequent cocaine abuse. Exercise can help reward and reinforce this center of the brain, offering rewards similar to cocaine and other drug abuse.
Abuse to stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine are often more difficult to treat. Adding a workout routine to a recovery program for these types of drugs have shown to be effective tools.
Recovery from substance abuse is all about making your body and mind healthy again. Feeling better helps you resist urges to do things that are bad for you.
Exercise is a natural reward for the brain, much like food or sex, exercise helps the brain release endorphins which can make the individual feel good. Substance use can destroy these natural pathways in the brain and replace them with a need to use more of a substance for the user to feel good again. Building up a sweat increases self-confidence and motivation, which are commonly lower in drug addicts and alcoholics. This increase of motivation can help an addict resist cravings and urges to use and replaces it with something good for both the body and mind.
Start with an exercise regimen that works for you. As many addicts become out of shape, you shouldn’t push your own limits too far.
Continued, sustained sessions of regular physical activity seem to work the best. An intense workout can give the body a "natural high" which can last up to 48 hours, so it is good to exercise at least 3-5 times a week to help reduce the potential for a relapse. This consistent routine has been shown to sustain resistance to substance cravings for everything from alcohol, nicotine, opioids, marijuana and stimulants.
If you are seeking treatment for a serious addiction, exercise is just one component of a successful treatment regimen. Many addicts will require a full medical detox as the withdrawal symptoms themselves can require professional medical supervision. Our treatment center offers help throughout every step of the recovery process, from initial detox, inpatient rehabilitation to continued outpatient therapy and relapse prevention.
If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, please call us. We are open 24/7 and are always here to help.