How To Be Grateful Even When Times Are Tough

Gratitude is an essential tool for those in the recovery process. It is known to significantly reduce relapse rates, especially during the holidays.

If you feel grateful to be on the road to recovery, the chances are that you won’t relapse. A thankful attitude allows you to face any challenges that come your way and focus on your recovery goal.

Grateful people generally have a positive outlook on life. This outlook influences their behavior and promotes a sustainable recovery-oriented life.

Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to be self-centered, caring only about themselves. If you are in recovery, expressing gratitude makes you less selfish and more aware of the needs of others. Additionally, you will be more in control of your life, more optimistic, and less stressed.

Practicing gratitude influences the behaviors and thoughts of those recovering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. It also helps them appreciate the present and improve interactions with other people.

This article will discuss how to be grateful, even when things are tough. Additionally, we will talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), its symptoms, and how to fight it.

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Gratitude

Here are a few tips on being grateful during the holidays to avert experiencing a relapse.

1.     Have a gratitude journal.

Have a journal where you list at least three things you are grateful for every day. Journaling daily will change your mindset and make you a grateful person overall.

2.    Focus on the essential things.

It would be best to focus on important things, including your relationships with your friends and family, instead of worrying about the unknown. You will realize just how lucky you are to have the people you have in your life at the moment. Interact with your friends and family often. Remember, isolation can lead to addiction.

3.    Change your perspective.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with things you are grateful for, take a moment to think about other people whose misfortunes are more than yours. Changing your perspective will make you realize just how much you should be grateful for.

4.    Savor the good experiences/moments.

During your day-to-day, pay attention to the moments you genuinely feel happy and savor them. Pay attention to how your body feels, and try to relive the moments when you don’t feel grateful.

5.    Appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

Most people tend to overlook what they do for themselves, mainly when they cultivate healthy habits during their recovery journey. Remember to always appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that arises due to change in seasons. It is a co-occurring disorder that starts during fall, worsens during winter, and ends during spring. On rare occasions, people get a rare SAD type called summer depression.

SAD is a severe condition that harms your day-to-day life, including how you think and feel. It may cause major depression.

The mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly referred to as the winter blues. Unlike SAD, winter blues simply make you feel down since you are mostly stuck indoors.

Who is likely to get SAD?

SAD tends to affect women  and young people more. Additionally, people with mood disorders, e.g., bipolar disorder and mental health conditions, are more likely to get SAD. People who live further north of the equator in high latitudes or cloudy regions are also more likely to get SAD.

People suffering from SAD may suffer from other mental health conditions, including but not limited to eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders.

Symptoms of SAD

Here are a few symptoms of SAD patients are likely to experience:

Those who suffer from summer SAD are likely to experience:

How to fight SAD

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Here are a few tips on fighting seasonal depression.

  1. Work out.

Most times, people’s physical activity decreases during the colder months. Working out is a great way to combat seasonal depression since you fight your body’s urge to be sluggish.

2.    Consider light therapy.

Research has shown that light therapy is a first-line treatment for SAD since it keeps the patient’s circadian rhythm on track.

3.    Participate in social activities.

Most people tend to avoid participating in social activities during the colder months. As discussed above, isolating yourself is a risk factor for SAD. Try as much as possible to participate in social activities and interact with your family and friends.

4.    Have a schedule and stick to it. 

People with SAD often either sleep a lot or have trouble sleeping. Try maintaining a regular schedule to improve your sleeping patterns. This will help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression.

5.    Ensure you get enough vitamin D.

The  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that insufficient vitamin D may cause depressive symptoms, including SAD.

It is unclear whether taking vitamin D supplements may relieve SAD symptoms, but experts say getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and your diet could go a long way in preventing SAD.

6.   Go on vacation.

If you get SAD during the colder months, you can take a winter vacation to countries with warm climates at the time. Being in a warm place can relieve SAD symptoms.

7.    Be grateful.

As discussed above, gratitude is an essential part of recovery. Purpose to stay grateful and appreciate what and who is in your life.

Conclusion

Being grateful goes a long way in promoting sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most addicts relapse when they can no longer deal with the pressure of their day-to-day lives.

Most addicts can avert a relapse on drugs by cultivating gratitude during recovery, especially during the fall and winter months, when SAD tends to kick in.

Check out our blog for more information on relapse prevention and drug rehabilitation. At More Than Rehab, we offer quality service to everyone struggling with addiction. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

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Things You Can Do When You Beat Addiction & Get Sober

When you beat addiction and get sober, you may wonder what’s next? In sobriety, you have lots of time and what seems like a long journey ahead.

Most people assume that when you get sober, your social life, or life in general is ruined and that you would never have fun again. However, this is not the case. Your life will not be one big adrenaline rush, but you can still have fun and be productive when sober.

If you are at a loss on what to do when you beat addiction and get sober, this article is for you. Here are a few things you should consider doing after you get sober. 

Travel

Traveling when sober can keep you busy and entertained. However, you need to ensure that you stay sober throughout your travel. To do this, you first have to set your intentions for your journey. Research the place you are traveling to and note down all the fun things you intend to do during the trip. Then, focus on the fun activities instead of worrying about how you will stay sober. It would help if you had a list of fun activities and commit to doing them even before you travel. Then, use your vacation to relax, recharge, and spoil yourself.

Note that when traveling, you might have triggering experiences. This ranges from the mini nips of alcohol on the plane to party invitations you’ll get at the resort you will stay at. Therefore, it is important that you be over-prepared to deal with these potential relapse triggers

It would be best if you also stayed in touch with your support system, the people who ensure you stay on track.

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Go back to school

If you had to drop out of school to beat addiction, you might want to go back to school when you get sober.

The first thing you need to do is overcome the fear of going back to school. As a recovering addict, you need to realize that this is a fresh start, and nothing has to be the way it was when you were an addict. You can talk to people in your support network who have gone back to school after getting sober and learn from their achievements and mistakes. This way, you can easily avoid temptation and develop healthy study habits.

Once you overcome the fear and go back to school, take things slowly. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially when it comes to how long you will take to finish school. Instead, be involved in school activities and keep yourself busy.

Find new friends

In sobriety, most people tend to focus on themselves and their recovery rather than those around them. Friends are important, but finding new like-minded friends can prove difficult, especially when following a strict routine. 

If you’re looking for new friends, consider attending non-alcoholic events, joining a networking group, volunteering at organizations, joining a book club, going to sober bars, or even joining social media groups of sober people that can relate to your lifestyle. You can also make new friends when you start a new hobby to pass the time, e.g., painting or hiking.

Find love

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Finding love in recovery is something you may want to consider, especially if you took a sabbatical to deal with your addiction. However, you first need to feel confident in your relationship with yourself before venturing into the dating world to find love.

You can try online dating, but consider using dating sites that are tailor-made for sober people. Note that most people on regular dating sites take alcohol regularly and would even suggest meeting up for drinks on your first date.

If you meet someone you like, choose a neutral venue for your first date. A park, coffee shop, or restaurant would be ideal.

Be self-sufficient

Once you get sober, you need to practice self-care. It may be scary at first, but you will eventually get used to it. Loving and taking care of yourself plays a significant role in ensuring you stay sober.

Setting healthy boundaries with people who previously encouraged your addiction also requires you to be self-sufficient. For example, you may have to buy a new car to get around easily on your own. If you lived with a roommate who encouraged your addiction, you also have to move out to have a fresh start.

Go to church

If you are a Christian in addiction recovery, you should consider going to church. When you go to church, you can find strength in your faith and connect with God. In addition, most churches have a community of support. People from different backgrounds and walks of life are united by their faith in God. Recovery tends to be difficult for most addicts, so you will need all the support you need.

Other than church, you can keep yourself busy by getting involved in church activities. The various sober activities will help you overcome your drug cravings.

Research has shown that going to church regularly improves one’s mental health. Since drug addiction tends to affect your mental health, going to church during recovery may improve your mental health.

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Become a drug counselor

If you want to help others struggling with drug addiction, you should consider studying to become a drug counselor. Helping others will motivate you to stay sober and make you more accountable to yourself and others. It can also help you feel accomplished.

As a drug counselor, you will be the support system for those recovering from drug addiction. Additionally, you can help them manage their recovery.

Find a new career

To stay sober, you may decide to transition to living in a sober community for a new start. One requirement that you have to meet is finding a job. Although most people prefer going back to their old careers, this may be your chance to find a new career altogether. Choose a career that will not put your sobriety at risk. Additionally, you should do something you love so that your new job does not stress you out. Maybe even try to start a hobby that makes money!

TV Shows About Drug Addiction (And What They Show Us)

Society views addiction as a choice or weakness. So, when someone gets caught up in an addiction, they tend to see themselves as falling short of the standard. They feel guilty of their perceived shortcomings and end up with a negative mindset. The public stigma around the “failings” of those with addiction doesn’t encourage anyone to seek addiction treatment. It also makes it hard for those struggling with addiction to speak about their habits and get immediate help. Luckily, some TV shows about drug addiction are helping to fight the negative stigma.

And since addiction is a chronic disease, it can be challenging for individuals to pull themselves out of it without help. Some try but slip back as soon as the withdrawal symptoms set in. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person’s ability to not indulge in addictive behavior becomes compromised. Unless they get quick access to medically reviewed treatment, addictions, whether to substance use disorder or behavior, can lead to death.

All these may seem like “usual” words until you experience the struggles of addicts and the damage that addiction does. With that in mind, here are some TV shows about drug addiction to give you a glimpse into how it works and its effects.

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Intervention on A&E

Intervention is an American series that profiles one or two people who struggle with addiction. The addicts in this Emmy-winning series believe they’re being filmed for a documentary until their family and friends stage a dramatic intervention. Launched in 2005 on A&E, Intervention is among the first series that highlights the lifestyle of those who suffer from substance or behavioral addictions. It also captures what these addictions can do to families and teaches the various reasons behind the addiction.

Tackling everything from the opioid crisis to alcoholism to eating disorders, Intervention follows addicts whose loved ones have submitted a request for help in getting them into treatment. The series has some disturbing images that depict the realism of addiction that may make you afraid, but that’s the point. Intervention partners with different addiction treatment centers in the US and provides resources for each individual profiled in the show.

As its name suggests, the series sheds light on addiction and its ugly effects on addicts and their loved ones and takes action to improve the situation. According to Screenrant, 70-75% of addicts who appeared on the show are still sober.

Mom on CBS

Set in Napa, California, Mom follows a dysfunctional mother-daughter duo. The two - Bonnie and Christy Plunkett - had been estranged for years due to addiction. Christy, a single mother of two, Violet and Roscoe, encounters a series of challenges.

Her young daughter, Violet, gets pregnant and decides to put her baby up for adoption. She later gets engaged to an older guy and moves out. Roscoe opts to stay with his dad, even though he’s a drug dealer and deadbeat. Despite all that, Christy strives to maintain her newfound sobriety. She moves to Napa, and works as a waitress, and also attends Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.

But her wayward mother, Bonnie, reenters the picture and criticizes her life. Bonnie is also a recovering alcohol and drug addict attending AA meetings. The CBS series has been applauded for addressing themes of real-life issues like substance abuse disorders, gambling, teen pregnancy, cancer, domestic violence, homelessness, rape, palsy, overdose, stroke, ADHD, etc. It has been praised for striking a perfect balance between the humorous and dark aspects of these issues.

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This Is Us on NBC

This Is Us is an emotional and heartwarming story about a unique set of triplets, struggles, and caring parents. While not the central theme, this NBC series shines a light on different types of addiction, including addiction to food, alcohol, and pain pills. Kevin, the first-born Pearson, got hooked on alcohol and painkillers. He struggles with depression and finds it hard to understand that Jack, his dad, had an addiction. Rebecca, his mother, never mentioned it because of shame and fear of stigma.

Sophie, Kevin’s sister, is a nurse but can’t connect his erratic behavior to addiction. That’s to be expected since loved ones usually have no reason to suspect substance abuse disorder. Earlier on, Jack confesses to Rebecca that he didn’t quit drinking when he said he had. But after another attempt to quit, he was successful.

He attends AA meetings and leads a clean life. Kate, Kevin’s sister, also can’t get over binge eating. She attends an eating support group where she meets Madison, who struggles with not eating enough. 

This Is Us shows us that genetics is one of the risk factors for addiction and that sometimes, loved ones won’t realize there’s a problem. It also uncovers the aspect of shame about addiction and that skinny people struggle with eating problems too. Lastly, it shows us that relapse can be a part of recovery.

Addicted on TLC

Addicted is another one of the American reality TV shows about drug addiction that follows the lives of addicts through intervention, detox, and rehab and behavioral therapies. Kristina Wandzilak, a recovered alcoholic, prostitute, and drug user turned family interventionist, guides the addicts and their loved ones through the process as a sponsor and advocate. It’s incredibly raw and shows those struggling with addiction getting drunk and high in close-up detail. Due to its graphic nature, warnings pop up at every commercial break to prepare you for what is coming.

In the show, you see people consuming large amounts of alcohol, injecting drugs into arms, and getting high. You also see the tricks they use to acquire substances. Kristina intervenes and gets them to rehab; some refuse, some get themselves kicked out of rehab, and some successfully go through it. The show also depicts the pain that addiction inflicts on family. You’ll see the anger, anxiety, and other emotions that families experience dealing with a loved one who struggles with addiction.

Celerity Rehab on VH1

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Celerity Rehab revolves around a group of famous individuals as they undergo substance abuse treatment with Dr. Drew Pinsky and his team at the Pasadena Recovery Center in California. The reality TV show premiered in 2008 on the cable network VH1 and was later renamed Rehab with Dr. Drew, which focused on non-celebrities.

It shines a spotlight on celebrity and their substance abuse or behavioral addiction problems and their journey through rehab. Pinsky, a board-certified physician and addiction expert, adds an air of credibility and makes the show more educational.

If you’d like to see more on celebrity addiction, you can stream Too Young to Die on Pluto TV or Prime Video. It bases its stories on celebrities whose lives were cut short due to addiction and overdose. The episodes of Too Young to Die cover American stars like John Belushi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kurt Cobain, who died from drug abuse. The documentary series shows how serious the drug addiction problem is and how it can be too late to help someone.

Reference to a diagnostic and statistical manual can produce more insight into this problem. As well, various treatment approaches exist to help those struggling with short- and long-term addiction. So, if someone close to you is struggling with any form of addiction, it can be a good idea to help them get treatment immediately.

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Why Do I Keep Using Meth? Ways to Stay Clean

You’ve gone through recovery, and things are starting to fall back into place. But for one reason or the other, you slip and end up using meth. So, you start over again, only to find yourself in what feels like square one – using meth, yet again.

So, now, you can’t help but wonder why this is happening. Why you keep using meth despite your desire and effort to quit. Well, if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.

Many people who struggle with meth addiction end up relapsing even after rehabilitation. According to the National Institute of Drug Use, 40 to 60% of people in recovery end up relapsing.

After a relapse, you may experience feelings of regret or shame. You may also feel like throwing in the towel and giving into your addiction instead of fighting the desire to use. Depending on how long you’ve been using, you may suffer from meth mouth and this can also worsen your feelings of shame.

While it’s devastating, you should know that relapse doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean the rehab you underwent was unsuccessful or negate your previous efforts to stay clean. But it also doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the situation and continue using.

Why does relapse happen?

Your relapse has to do with neural pathways. A pathway forms when you do something right. A pathway also forms when you do something wrong, like use crystal meth.

Human beings build habits this way, both good and bad. So, the reason you keep using meth is that you’re likely going to slip back into existing neural pathways. Let’s break this down further.

Causes of relapse

Studies show that the initial target of highly addictive drugs like meth is the brain’s reward circuit. The reward circuit registers essential experiences and events and their adaptive value. Then it provides incentives for actions.

This reward process triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a feel-good hormone that tells the brain to do it again. When used habitually, meth depletes the supply of dopamine and interferes with the feedback between different brain parts that coordinate desires with expectations and priorities.

But these changes are not necessarily the problem. Quitting meth use temporarily can be easy. You can go for days, weeks, months, or even years without meth. What makes permanent recovery challenging is a drug-induced change that creates lasting memories.

Your brain already knows the rewarding experience that comes from drug use. After a period of use, your environment becomes marked with cues or reminders of the reward. This learning is referred to as behavioral conditioning. And since methamphetamine addiction weakens your self-control and ability to make the right decision, you’re likely to keep using even when you know that a reward isn’t coming.

As you’ve learned from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous, it’s the first drink that gets you drunk. So, a small dose of crystal meth serves as an effective cue. But places, things, and people, too, can be cues associated with meth.

An animal struggling with substance abuse will slip back to using when it goes back to the cage where it first developed the addiction. For people, triggers could be environment, the sight of paraphernalia, mental health issues, peers and so on.

Withdrawal symptoms are also a common reason many methamphetamine users relapse. Symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, sleepiness, depression, psychosis, meth cravings, etc., may linger on for weeks or months, causing relapse.

Getting back on the road to recovery

Irrespective of how committed you are to lifelong sobriety or how diligently you pursue recovery, there’s a chance of relapse. The National Institutes of Health study notes that about 40-60% relapse within a month or more of treatment. Another 70 -90% will relapse at least once.

But the good news is that the risk diminishes with time. Extended abstinence does predict long-term recovery, according to an eight-year study on nearly 1200 addicts. In fact, if you can make it to five years of sobriety, then your chance of relapse is less than 15%.

Ways to stay clean

Get help from a reputable addiction treatment center

Recovery for meth addiction needs a holistic meth treatment plan that consists of detox, therapy, and counseling. Depending on the circumstances recovery may also include medical advice. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome. But treatment facilities in central Texas exist to help people like you regain control over their lives.

Such facilities will also address underlying issues that cause the relapse. For instance, they may offer family therapy that helps your family members to understand that relapse is not a sign of weakness or lack of morals. They will also offer mental health services to address psychological issues that may cause relapse.

Know the triggers of relapse and avoid them

Understanding the triggers of relapse and having a plan for those triggers are the first steps toward prevention. Triggers include things like:

 

Create new habits

Old habits will most certainly lead you back to addiction. So, you want to come up with new ones that will help you grow into the person you want to become. You can try out a new hobby, take up a new class, exercise, etc. Trying a new activity gives you something to look forward to. It also reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that may lead to relapse.

Like other chronic diseases such as asthma and heart disease, treatment for drug addiction isn’t a cure. It only allows you to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavior and regain control of your life. But with these tips, you should be able to manage your addiction and relapse problems successfully.

How Can Relapse Be a Part of Drug Recovery?

There’s a lot to feel good about when your loved one goes through an arduous recovery journey and then comes out clean and sober. Sadly, even after rehab though, your loved one may relapse at some point. Relapse doesn’t happen to everyone in recovery, but it does happen to many people. That’s why newer schools of thought on addiction feel that the painful occurrence of relapse is actually a very important part of the sobriety journey. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of those recovering from substance use disorders will relapse during their path to recovery. This should help put the struggle of your loved one doing illegal drugs into perspective, that they aren’t alone.

Addiction is a chronic disease or mental illness whose nature is a barrier to sobriety. Your loved one, like other patients, faces a consistently high risk of relapse because addiction alters the brain’s function and structure. Alcohol and drug use trigger dopamine production in the brain’s reward pathway. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers and emotional responses. These changes influence the way the brain prioritizes what’s important.

The brain of a patient who has developed an addiction recognizes substance use as important – even more than survival. That’s partly why those struggling with addiction take risks to continue abusing substances. Addiction also affects the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that identifies issues and plans solutions. So when a person relapses, it’s not because they are weak or lack morals, but because of something that’s way beyond their control. And even after treatment, some of these changes might persist.

What is relapse? 

Relapse is when someone goes back to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. The person may “slip up” and have a drink (or use a drug) and then stop again. Slips are hardly seen as relapses, but they can trigger stronger cravings for harder drug use or more alcohol. On the other hand, full relapse is when the person in recovery intentionally seeks drugs or alcohol and no longer cares for their treatment.

Is addiction an incurable disease?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States indicates that people in addiction recovery have a 40 to 60% chance of relapse. This puts addiction relapse at the same level as other chronic conditions like hypertension and asthma, which have a 50 to 70% relapse rate.

According to NIDA, addiction has no cure. But it can be managed successfully. Like other chronic illnesses, there’s medication to address the problem. However, the patient may need to go through lifestyle changes, routine maintenance, and checkups to prevent relapse. They also have to learn new ways of thinking. All in all, relapse is not failure. It only shows that it’s time to reinstate, adjust or try out a new treatment.

Relapse as part of the recovery process

Addiction is a chronic brain disease with biological, behavioral, emotional, physical, and social aspects. It is characterized by an inability to control drug or alcohol use. The chronic nature of addiction makes relapse part of the healing process as opposed to failure. As mentioned earlier, drug addiction disrupts brain circuitry and causes dependency. At this point, one is bound to experience side effects like drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Unless they use their substance of choice, they may not feel “normal.” Relapse may seem like an excellent way to get back to “normalcy,” combat intense cravings, and relieve withdrawal symptoms. That’s why relapse can be a form of self-medication.

Drug relapse is a common part of the recovery process. When it happens and is handled correctly, it can strengthen one’s commitment to long-term sobriety. Recovery is the journey of maintaining long-term sobriety, reaching new goals, and facing life with new, healthier strategies. A hitch on the road doesn’t mean that all is lost. Yes, it might feel overwhelming – but with the right help, your loved one can get back on the right track.

Strategies to avoid relapse or mitigate its effects

More than half of the people in recovery relapse. But the fact that it is common doesn’t mean that you should not try to prevent it. An addiction relapse not only undoes the hard work, but it’s also potentially life-threatening. Relapsing can result in binging that can even lead to overdose. Here are some strategies to help prevent relapse or mitigate its effects.

Reaching out for help

People in recovery often feel humiliated and devastated when they slip or relapse. So, the last thing you want to do is reprimand them or come out as judgmental. You also don’t want to leave them to their own fate. Instead, try to encourage them to go back to their support network or treatment. It doesn’t matter how many times one relapses. In fact, experts agree that one is likely to have a successful long-term addiction recovery when there is more repetition of positive reinforcing habits.

Attending long-term treatment programs

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is not a quick fix. A single medication or a month of therapy may not guarantee a clean life. Often, one may need to engage in intensive long-term treatment, accompanied by continual support for a better outcome. A study with 1000+ addiction patients discovered that relapse rates reduced for every nine weeks a person spent in treatment. Sustained recovery also increased in the study for participants who had ongoing treatment with aftercare.

Identifying and managing triggers

Treatment programs integrate therapies that teach patients how to cope with internal and external stressors that may trigger a relapse. Mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, and mood changes tend to co-occur with substance abuse. When someone in recovery gets anxious or stressed, they may crave, think about, and eventually use substances. Triggers can be specific – like certain places or people, or very general – like hanging around people who are using. Evidence-based therapies help those in recovery recognize their personal relapse triggers and even train them to cope.

Lifestyle changes

Managing triggers is a great relapse prevention strategy. But you also want to encourage your loved one to make positive changes over the long term to build a healthier life. They can learn and use healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions: recognize and manage mental issues: and develop positive activities like meditation, exercise, or art.

More Than Rehab is here to help. We have decades of experience in treating addiction, from the root-causes, to the after effects people experience once they become sober. If you, or a loved one needs help with their addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us! We are available 24/7.

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How Alcoholism Can Make Your Blood Pressure Worse

Scientists are still learning how alcoholism affects heart health and blood pressure. According to a few John Hopkins University studies, moderate alcohol drinking may lead to a lower risk of dying from heart disease. Also, modest amounts of alcohol might help to slightly raise the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol as per some studies. Does that mean, however, that alcohol consumption is a great habit and has no repercussions on your health? Not at all. Let us look at the ways alcoholism can make your blood pressure worse.

The association between moderate alcohol drinking and heart health is still debatable, with both supporters and naysayers offering evidence; the focus keyword, however, remains “moderate”. Excessive alcohol drinking, on the other hand, has no positive side to it.

Too Much of a Good Thing

While short-term repetitive drinking can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, long-term alcohol abuse and alcoholism may lead to chronic hypertension/high blood pressure and even cause heart disease. Addiction to alcohol is a very serious problem.

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How Alcohol Affects My Blood Pressure?

Although the impact of alcohol consumption on the body depends a lot on age and risk factors, excessive drinking is never recommended for anyone. This is because alcohol abuse can lead to a myriad of direct and indirect impacts on the body and mind, which are detrimental not just to the individual but also to those who surround them.

Direct effects

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can have pronounced direct effects in the short- and long-term, chief among them being a temporary increase in blood pressure, which may turn into long-term excess due to repetitiveness.

Indirect effects

There are several ways in which alcohol is known to affect blood pressure indirectly. Alcohol is known to affect the nervous system, which controls blood pressure. Also, it causes changes in pressure receptors that sense blood pressure levels, making blood pressure higher. Alcohol consumption increases cortisol levels – the stress hormone that increases blood pressure – and the level of calcium that lines arteries, making them more constricted, elevating blood pressure.

Scientists have also found that alcoholism affects the number of other vasoconstrictor hormones (artery-constricting hormones), impacts the retention of fluids filtered in the kidneys and leads to weight gain in the long-term, all of which contribute to increases blood pressure numbers.

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How Much Is Too Much with Alcohol?

The American Heart Association has outlined the definitions of excessive drinking, which one can revise to keep their consumption in check:

According to AHA, one drink is equivalent to 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof alcohol and 1 oz of 100-proof alcohol. At the end of the day, however, it does not matter what is the beverage you pick – what matters is the amount.

Why is High Blood Pressure Bad for You?

There are two kinds of blood pressure numbers we are familiar with. The higher number denotes high blood pressure, which occurs when the heart is contracting and forcing blood into the arteries. The lower number stands for low blood pressure which occurs when the heart is in the relaxed phase.

Consistent and abnormally high blood pressure or hypertension is detrimental to our body because it damages the lining of arteries, causing them to harden (arteriosclerosis), ultimately leading to arterial blocking. The blockage of arteries subsequently leads to a blocked flow of blood to the heart (causing heart attack), brain (causing stroke) as well as other essential organs, leading to multiple-organ failure.

On the other hand, low blood pressure is not a long-term condition, though it also leads to poor health outcomes such as dizziness and pale skin. However, low blood pressure is easier to reverse and quicker to recover from.

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Alcoholism and Serious Diseases

Heavy drinking is directly associated with several poor bodily outcomes, including heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy which affects the heart’s muscles. Excessive alcoholism may even lead to heart failure and stroke, apart from the most common complication - heart attack. The long list of problems associated with alcohol abuse also includes liver diseases, obesity and poor mental health.

Compared with people who did not binge drink, people who drank alcohol at twice the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds were 70 times more likely to have an alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visit, and those who consumed alcohol at 3 times the gender-specific binge thresholds were 93 times more likely to have an alcohol-related ED visit, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Alcohol intake can also specifically affect those who are on blood pressure medications. These medications usually come with side effects associated with low pressure – dizziness, loss of balance control and so on. Excessive alcoholism also impairs our sense of balance, which is why this combination can prove detrimental. Alpha- and Beta-blockers as well as Nitrates can interact dangerously with alcohol and should be avoided.

Reversing the Ill-Effects of Alcohol on Heart Health and Blood Pressure

The good news is that the ill-effects of alcohol abuse can be reversed if you take action at the right time. Studies show heavy drinkers who reduce their consumption to moderate can lower the upper blood pressure readings or systolic blood pressure by about 5.5 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and their lower readings or diastolic blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg.

That being said, one rule does not fit everyone when it comes to getting rid of alcoholism. Recovering from alcohol is as much a personal process as it is a medical one. It can lead to withdrawal symptoms, impact your mental health and cause visible changes to your body. However, with the combination of the right approach and evidence-based treatments from specialists, one can stop drinking and de-addict themselves effectively and holistically.

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How Does More Than Rehab Help?

At More Than Rehab, we aim to provide quality care to those in need of all-inclusive and therapeutic modalities, helping individuals identify what is best for their recovery. Our team of a skilled and compassionate team of counsellors, psychiatric specialists and physicians who coordinate a comprehensive and individualistic plan for the recovery of individuals in need. Coupling our approach with cognitive behavioral therapy, More Than Rehab caters to the full spectrum of a person’s addiction.

Alcoholism is one of the leading mental and physical issues affecting the United States today. However, it can be gotten rid of, and its impacts treated or reversed. It is upon you to make the best out of the opportunity to, for you might get only a chance at it. You can start your life afresh – we are just a click away.

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Does Counseling Work for Drug Addiction?

Millions of Americans struggle every day with an alcohol or drug addiction. Unfortunately, many of them never end up getting the help they so desperately need in order to get clean and sober. Battling a substance use disorder, or  addiction is extremely difficult, and many individuals require outside help in order to stop using drugs or alcohol. Professionals consider drug or alcohol addiction to be a disease of the brain. It is something that takes rigorous, and often constant, maintenance in order to manage and keep under control. Many times, it is difficult to see the warning signs. Much like how someone needs to take insulin every day for their diabetes. For drug or alcohol addiction, however, treatment comes often in the form of counseling combined with complete abstinence from the use of drugs or drinking alcohol. But, does counseling work for drug addiction?

Getting clean and sober is a huge achievement, but few will deny that the road to success is a difficult path to take and often requires help. There are many reasons why people begin using drugs or alcohol in the first place, but a large share of addicts have likely suffered many different forms of trauma in their life. This trauma and environmental factors can lead to people trying drugs or alcohol for the first time. Also, the abuse of drugs or alcohol can serve as a coping mechanism for the trauma experienced by the individual. Either way, there are many reasons why counseling and therapy are a much-needed service to treat the underlying contributors to the disease. Here are several reasons how counseling can help an individual to recover from alcohol abuse or drug addiction.

How Does Counseling Work For Drug Addiction Treatment?

Helps Develop Coping Strategies

Drugs or alcohol eventually become a coping mechanism after people begin abusing either of these substances. Struggling to cope with the hassles of their day-to-day life, an individual will often return to the drug of their choice. This builds tolerance and makes abuse more prevalent. When a person gets clean and sober, that urge to use drugs or alcohol doesn’t simply go away. The person feels an intense need to use in order to cope, sometimes even for the most common struggles in life. Counseling can teach the individual new and healthy coping strategies. This makes counseling very effective on their path to recovery. Drug and alcohol addiction counselors teach addicts how to deal with stress in a healthier way, which proves much more effective in the long term.

Creates A Strong Support System

Having a strong support system is extremely important to someone who is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. A lot of times, people in need of drug and alcohol treatment feel as though they have no one to talk to when times get tough--even if they are lucky enough to have a meaningful relationship left in their life. Having a drug and alcohol addiction counselor allows the individual to feel like there is someone in their life who cares about them, especially someone that isn’t going to judge them or overreact to something they might say.

Be Aware of Co-Occurring Disorders

There can be underlying reasons why someone turns to drugs or alcohol. Self-medication for dissociative disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and other forms of mental health issues are extremely common. Drug abuse from illicit drugs can sometimes be a coping mechanism, which can prevent common forms of addiction treatment from working.

Gaining A New Perspective

Drug and alcohol addiction counseling is perfect for helping someone gain a new perspective on life. This shift in focus can be crucial to a person’s recovery from mental health disorders. Many addicts will often avoid admitting certain key facts – even to themselves. Something as simple as the fact that they are unable to stop using drugs on there is often avoided. Going to drug and alcohol counseling can help people identify behaviors that are self-destructive. Identifying behaviors that have led them to abusing drugs and alcohol in the first place ultimately teaches healthier and happier behaviors that won't be destructive in their future.

Building A Relapse Prevention Plan

Anyone who has ever gotten clean and sober after an addiction to drugs or alcohol knows that relapse is often part of the process. Many people who are new to recovery will end up using drugs or alcohol again. That’s just a fact. So, if you do relapse, just know that you are not alone. Understand that it is even more important during a relapse to reach out for help as there is always hope for recovery. If you have a drug and alcohol counselor, they will work with you in building a relapse prevention plan. This means helping to identify triggers, creating a plan to help you deal with them, and then providing the support necessary to help you get through those relapse triggers if needed.

Access to Additional Resources

Drug and alcohol addiction counselors are a great tool for helping someone to access additional resources. Aside from the emotional support, helping to learn new and effective coping strategies, and teaching how to manage triggers, a lot of people may not be aware of some of the additional resources available. Creating access to their local community services or even nationwide resources is part of the job descriptions for drug and alcohol addiction counselors. Not to mention, drug and alcohol addiction counselors often have access to resources that aren’t available to the general public.

Helping Repair Relationships

A major consequence for someone actively struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction is the major damage inflicted to many of their close, personal relationships. Sometimes even total loss of these relationships. When people fall prey to drug and alcohol addiction, they regularly alienate themselves from their loved ones and they often lie, steal, and cheat in order to continue abusing drugs or alcohol. These actions can cause a lot of damage to relationships in that person's life. Another benefit of working with a drug and alcohol addiction counselor is that they can offer advice on how to repair and maintain these relationships during recovery. And a counselor can offer advice and guidance on how to create new and healthy relationships as well!

These are just a few reasons why counseling for alcohol and drug addiction works. However, sometimes counseling alone is simply not enough. Thankfully, there are many different levels of treatment available in order to help manage drug and alcohol addiction. That is why it is important to reach out to an addiction specialist as soon as possible to get a proper assessment.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder, please reach out to our highly trained staff at More Than Rehab. We have a wide range of treatment levels and can provide the most specific and tailored treatment necessary, depending on the individual’s specific needs. The majority of our treatment programs offer drug and alcohol counseling so you can be sure to get the best treatment possible.

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5 Ways to Conquer Drug Cravings

When you have a substance use disorder or an addiction, one of the hardest things to do in life is quit using drugs and alcohol. One of the main reasons for this is that you will begin craving the drugs or alcohol, almost immediately after you decide to quit. So, what are some good ways to conquer drug cravings, while you’re in recovery from your addiction? To start, understanding your addiction and the reasons why people begin using drugs and alcohol is a great start.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that more than 21 million people in our country suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem every year. To make matters even worse, out of those 21 million people, only about 10 percent of them will ever receive any help or treatment for their disorder. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 8 adults in the United States is considered an alcoholic.

Additionally, drug and alcohol addiction may be of even more concern today than it has been in the past  because of the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has not only caused issues like the forced shutdown of many major businesses, closures of public school, and mask mandates, but also an increase in things like alcohol sales, recreational drug use and even relapse rates. This was particularly an issue when the pandemic first hit because those in addiction recovery were left without a lot of their support system when AA meetings and NA meetings stopped, and counseling services shut down, along with being laid off or sent home from work.

Hopefully though, now that we are all a bit more used to what daily life looks like while living during a pandemic, we are able to better adjust. Today, there are things like online virtual counseling sessions and social distancing that allow us to still get access to the fundamental building blocks of a support system. All of these things are extremely crucial to a successful recovery from addiction. Even without the Coronavirus, relapse among those with a drug or alcohol problem is very common, with around a 40-60% relapse rate. This is in part due to the drug cravings, relapse triggers and withdrawal symptoms that are often experienced while recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

To help with this, we have put together this list of 5 ways to help conquer your drug cravings, so that you are at a lower risk of relapse.

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1. Understand What Cravings Are

First, it is important to understand that your cravings are an entirely normal experience. Just about everyone in drug and alcohol recovery will get them at least one time or another throughout their sobriety. Cravings are classified as an intense urge to use drugs or alcohol. While they are a completely normal experience, (especially in the early stages of recovery), it does not mean they will last forever. Not only will they eventually go away with enough time in sobriety, but the typical craving will likely only last around 10-15 minutes. In the event that you have delayed the craving for some time and you’re still feeling it, then it is likely you are still around the stimulus that triggered the craving. Relapse triggers are identified as the stimulus (person, place, thing, feeling, etc) that triggered the craving in the first place. Cravings and triggers are a result of altered brain functioning and chemistry that occurred because of the drug or alcohol addiction. Over time, your brain will learn to stop associating these triggers with drugs or alcohol making your recovery and sobriety much easier.

2. Identify What Your Triggers Are

As mentioned earlier, a trigger is a stimulus that causes a craving for drugs or alcohol. So, being able to identify exactly what it is in the first place that made you crave drugs or alcohol will be extremely helpful. While a trigger can be anything for anyone, they usually fall into a few different categories. Pattern triggers are places or things that you associate with past drug or alcohol abuse, such as your favorite bar or even something seemingly innocent, like seeing a spoon. Social triggers are people or even groups of people that bring back memories of past substance abuse issues. There are also emotional triggers, such as a cause for celebration or the pain of losing a loved one. Withdrawal can even be considered a type of trigger, as this process usually results in the body feeling like it needs these substances in order to survive.

3. Avoid Relapse Triggers, or Find Ways to Deal With Them

Once you have identified your triggers, it is best to come up with a plan to try and avoid them. If you feel triggered every time you drive by the street your old hangout used to be, then simply try taking a different route instead. Stop hanging out with friends that you used to do drugs or drink with, especially if they aren’t supportive of your recovery. Of course, not all triggers can be avoided, like spoons. When it comes to triggers that you have no way of avoiding, come up with an action plan that you can easily use to help fight off the craving, remember they only last around 10-15 minutes once you have gotten away from the stimulus.

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4. Take a Walk or Exercise

If you do feel that you are about to get a craving, try going out for a breath of fresh air and taking a light walk. Almost any form of exercise will help you fight the craving, but many agree that walking takes the cake when it comes to beating drug cravings. Getting out in the fresh air and taking in the world without a real sense of where you are going can be a huge relief for people experiencing drug cravings. Just remember to try and avoid any places that might trigger you even further. If you are unable to exercise or walk, just getting out in the sun and breathing some fresh air can definitely help.

5. Reach Out To Others

Part of a successful recovery is having a strong support system. Trying attending an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) support group and reach out to some peers who know a lot about how you are feeling. Chances are they know exactly what you are going through and will offer advice that can help. If you have a sponsor or a counselor from a treatment group, then reach out to them. There is almost nothing worse than trying to go through life on your own, especially when you are learning to do it without the use of drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one are struggling with relapse, drug cravings, or need help getting sober, please reach out to our family of highly trained addiction specialists at More Than Rehab. You are certainly not alone, and we are here to help 24/7.

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7 Healthy Foods To Eat While Detoxing From Drugs

Getting sober can be difficult for people who have even what seems to be a mild substance abuse problem. Part of what makes recovery so difficult, is going through the initial drug detox and sometimes painful withdrawals when they first stop using their drug of choice. While many people experience some sort of drug detox or drug withdrawal symptoms, some substances are said to be more severe, such as with alcohol or opioid addictions. What many may not consider when thinking about or going through drug detox is that a healthy diet can help ease this process. The food you eat plays a crucial role in helping to support your body through the process by replacing any sort of lost nutrients. Maintaining a healthy diet during detox can also help deter people from relapsing. So, if you are worried about going through a drug detox, or you are currently undergoing detox, then here are 7 healthy foods to eat while detoxing from drugs and alcohol.

1. Water

Water is extremely crucial for your health, and many people do not get enough of it a day. This is regardless of whether or not they are going through a drug detox.  Staying hydrated while detoxing will help ensure that you are replacing the fluids your body needs in order to function. If water just isn’t really your thing, then that's okay, the most important thing is to stay hydrated during the detox period. You can also drink other fluids, like electrolyte-packed Gatorade or even coconut water. The latter is good, especially when your withdrawal symptoms have been causing you to throw up a lot.

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2. Proteins

Proteins are essential for the normal functioning of our bodies. The protein obtained from consuming animals or plants gets broken down into amino acids which the body uses to repair cells. It is not a secret that drug abuse and addiction wreak havoc on the overall health of our bodies, so proteins are essential when going through a detox. For carnivores, high-protien foods like tuna and chicken are great, because they are also very high in vitamins like B6. For the vegitarians and vegans out there, you can also get plant-based protein from foods like lentils and black beans.

3. Complex Carbs

A lot of time many people do not get sufficient enough nutrition while they are abusing drugs or alcohol, so when they go through detox their body does not have the proper resources it needs to fully recover. By eating tons of complex carbohydrates, you are helping give back to your body what it needs. Not only are carbs a great source of energy for our cells but they also contain a lot of fiber which is extremely helpful to maintain a healthy digestive system. This is especially important to your health while the body is going through a drug detox.

4. Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables

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As a general rule of thumb, the darker the better when it comes to green vegetables, at least in terms of nutrition. Vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and other salad greens are high in antioxidants and vitamins like B6, folic acid, and beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. In fact, collard greens are said to contain more calcium than milk! Vegetables also contain high amounts of fiber, which helps aid in digestive health. A healthy digestive tract is something that can be very beneficial during a drug detox.

5. Healthy Fats

Not only are healthy fats another crucial component in an overall healthy detox diet, but foods high in omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce drug cravings and fight depression. Foods high in healthy fats include things like nuts, fish, seeds, avocados, and certain oils, like olive oil. Foods high in healthy fat will also leave you feeling fuller and more satiated. The importance of ensuring you have enough healthy fats in your diet, especially during detox, cannot be overstated.

6. Bright Fruits and Veggies

Not only is having a colorful and diverse plate important to keeping our senses engaged while eating, but bright fruits and veggies are known to provide more protective health benefits. Bright, deeply colored fruits and veggies are not only packed with nutrients but they also contain phytochemicals. Phytochemicals help fight free radicals that can cause damage to body tissue, cells and even our DNA. Not only that, but foods like papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, and pineapple are all extremely high in vitamin C.

7. Seaweed

During detox, seaweed may be your best friend. It is recommended that you eat at least two to three ounces a day while detoxing. A key, active ingredient in seaweed is known as sodium alginate. This substance binds to any remnants of the drug still left inside of the body and keeps it from being absorbed. Being a dark green vegetable itself, seaweed is also extremely high in things like, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and iron. Seaweed is also a cheap, tasty, low calorie snack.

These are just a few foods you will want to include in your diet if you are going to detox from drugs or alcohol. You also do not, and most likely should not, have to go through this alone. For many people, medical detox is necessary to help ensure patient health and safety. If you are looking for help with this difficult process, then please reach out to us More Than Rehab for help. Our entire staff, even down to the chefs, know just how painful detoxing can be. So let us help ease you through the process.

Suffering from a substance abuse problem, such as drug or alcohol addiction, happens to be very common in our country. So if you or a loved one are going through the same thing, then just know that you are not alone. More importantly, there is no shame in admitting that you need help with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The first step to getting sober is admitting that you have a problem. For many people, just admitting the problem exists is a huge step, as it requires a lot of courage. Ultimately, a life of sobriety is worth having and many people who embark on the journey end up living healthy and fulfilling lives. We understand how this is possible and we can help you start the process of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Please give us a call today. We are here for you and your family, 24/7.

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Why High Lumen Lights Help Fight Relapse During Winter

Being in recovery from a substance abuse disorder can often be hard enough, especially in the first year of sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse rates for those who are new to recovery can sometimes be as high as 85%. Recent statistics taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate 19.7 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder of some kind in our country. Further research shows that just in 2019, 9.2 million people aged 18-25 were diagnosed with at least one other co-occurring mental health disorder alongside having a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, at least 50 percent of people with mental health disorders will also suffer from an addiction as well. With the winter season in full swing, we thought we would talk about the use of high lumen lights during the winter to help reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

Co-occurring mental health disorders and dual diagnosis

There has long been a strong link between mental health and rates of addiction. Suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder or dual diagnosis, while also trying to lead a new, healthy life of sobriety can sometimes present its own set of challenges. With each seasonal change, different weather patterns affect our bodies and mind. The most difficult seasonal change seems to occur during the winter months where long, cold days affect over half of America. The colder temperatures and less exposure to sunlight have a massive, direct impact on the serotonin and melatonin production in our brains and our bodies.

Melatonin and Serotonin are both neurotransmitters that play a role in many aspects of our lives. For example, melatonin helps you get to sleep while serotonin helps you get up and feel awake the next day. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, some common symptoms people may experience during cold, winter days are:

While many people will experience some symptoms during cold weather, for others, the seasonal changes affect them more dramatically.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and addiction

It is estimated that roughly 10% of the population in our country will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, while at least 20% of people who suffer from SAD also have a substance abuse disorder. SAD is a form of major depression that affects people during seasonal changes, affecting some people nearly half the year, but most commonly it occurs during the winter months. Many people who struggle with this often do not seek treatment, attempting to self-medicate instead. Some common signs that someone may be struggling with SAD, or major depression with seasonal pattern, include:

These are just a few of the symptoms someone may experience with major depression or SAD. Oftentimes, the symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD are overlooked because people do not understand what the person is going through. Seasonal depression and other mental health issues need to be taken seriously as they can severely impact the state of someone's sobriety and recovery from an addiction.

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As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may relapse during the winter months. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve the symptoms associated with the biochemical changes that occur to our brains and bodies during the changing of seasons. Even with the joys of the holiday season, this most commonly occurs due to less sunlight, colder temperatures, and shorter days.

Therapeutic benefits of high lumen lights

One of the best ways to help combat these symptoms is by using high lumen light therapy, and seeking treatment from a medical health professional if needed of course!

Lumens are a measure of how bright a light is, so it would make sense that lamps with high lumen are some of the best for light therapy for treating symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD, helping to fight relapse among those in recovery. High lumen lights used for the treatment of SAD are specialized lights that are very bright and they essentially mimic the effects of the sun. This makes high lumen light therapy a great natural option that helps restore the biochemical balance of our brain and bodies which in turn helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with not getting enough sunlight. In a way, it helps to trick our bodies into thinking the days are longer again.

Before trying high lumen lights as a form of therapy, patients are recommended to get a checkup from your eye doctor before trying treatment. One of the best things about light therapy is that it can practically be done from anywhere, as long as you have enough time set aside to reap the full benefits. Here are some tips to get the most out of light therapy:

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These are just a few tips that can help increase the impact of light therapy. Keep in mind it may take around 30 days to notice any effects from using the lightbox. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of SAD then please reach out to a medical health professional right away. The staff and family at More Than Rehab are more than happy to help those who are struggling with a co-occurring disorder and feel as though they are at risk of relapse because of the symptoms of SAD or the winter time blues. Please give us a call today.

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