Fun Things to Keep Busy & Off Drugs for the Holidays
For a lot of people, winter marks a great time of the year. They look forward to fun things like spending time with family, eating great food and celebrating the holidays. What some people don't know though, is how difficult this time of year can be for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. For someone who is in recovery from a substance abuse problem, the holiday season can be especially troubling. Most of the time before getting sober, holidays used to be about getting drunk or high and using their drug of choice. Holidays were often an excuse to abuse drugs or alcohol, even if that meant hiding it from their friends and family.
When someone is newly sober, or sometimes even long into recovery, celebrating holidays can often become a relapse trigger and make them want to abuse drugs or alcohol again. Not to mention the limited outdoor activity, reduced sunlight, and less social contact that often comes with winter and colder temperatures. This can dramatically increase the risk of relapse for many addicts, especially those who also struggle with their mental health. If you or a loved one struggle with maintaining sobriety during the holidays, then you can probably relate.
Here are a few fun things you can try to help keep you busy & off drugs this holiday season:
Though initially exercise may not sound like fun for everyone, it never hurts to try. Many who exercise regularly report feeling happier and less stressed when compared to those who don’t. Try signing up for a free membership at your local gym or start small by doing workout videos at home and cranking up the music. You can even download a video game like Just Dance to help get your heart rate going. If you can make it a regular habit, exercise is proven to increase things like self-confidence and reduce stress.
Another great way to help keep you busy during the holidays is to volunteer your time to a great cause! You can start by working at your local soup kitchen or reach out to a local organization whose efforts you would like to support such as the Humane society. Research has consistently proven that those who give back to others, often feel better than those who only take care of themselves. Simply giving even just one hour of your time each week can make a world of difference for more than just yourself.
Fix Up Your Space
Is there a new design idea you have always been wanting to try? Or perhaps a cool new chair for your man cave? Try sprucing up a room in your house, one bit a time and on a budget that you can afford. Paint the walls a new color. Do whatever creatively comes to mind. This is a great way to expel some of your pent up mental energy. You can also spend time cleaning out places like the garage or the attic. All of these are great examples of things that will keep you busy and help you feel better at the same time.
Get A Plant
Getting a plant can actually be very rewarding. If you have ever had the chance to speak with a gardener, they will likely tell you how mentally and spiritually fulfilling it can be. The same thing goes with getting a house plant. Attending to the needs of something as simple as a plant can help you stay busy and feel better about yourself. It can also help give you something to look forward to, which helps you further avoid a relapse, as getting drunk or high would likely mean its end. Getting a plant is also a great way of fixing up your space on a tight budget. Try visiting your local plant store and speaking with someone to help figure out the right type of plant for you.
Go Ice Skating or Play Hockey
Even though you may not be able to go outside as easily as you can in the summer, there are still plenty of activities that you can do during the colder months. There are many places to go ice skating, usually both indoors and out. You can also try to find a local hockey league in your city if you want to get a little physical on the ice. Perhaps even try getting together a group of sober friends or people from your local AA or NA support groups so that you can all lace up together and hit the puck around the ice. This is a great way to combine physical activity with your social support network while doing some fun things.
With reduced sunlight and the related chemical changes that can happen in the brain with shorter days, it may be no surprise that you are tired halfway through the day more often than you used to be. Don't be afraid to take a nap every once in a while, maybe even once every day. Taking a nap is a great way to pass the day and has many proven benefits, such as improved cognitive abilities and heightened mood. Just as long as you don't start sleeping too much, as that can have its own set of problems.
Puzzles are a great way to get the creative juices flowing in the brain and release some mental tension. They also take up quite a bit of time to finish, which is great for the wintertime and holidays. Plus, once they are done it's a very celebratory and rewarding moment. Go to your local supermarket and take a peek at their puzzle section, you are sure to find one that you would like to complete. The great thing about puzzles is that you can do them alone, or with loved ones or friends.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on how to have fun and avoid any potential drug cravings during the holidays. We wish you the best during this time of year but if you do find that you need some additional support with your sobriety, then we are always here to help. Reach out to us at More Than Rehab any time of day!
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:
Not getting enough sleep
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:
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Lethargy and increased fatigue
Problems sleeping, getting too much or too little sleep
Changes in appetite, or significant changes in weight
Suicidal thoughts, tendencies, or actions
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.
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:
Make sure the lightbox has enough lumens and lux, anything above 10,000 should be enough. If you can't find one with enough lumens or lux, then you may have to use the lamp for longer periods of time to get the full effect.
The lightbox should give the full spectrum of bright white light but cancel out any UV rays as they are damaging to the body
Try to position the lightbox at or above eye level as this should mimic the effects of the sun more accurately
Make sure the box is at least two feet away from your eyes, if you have a weaker box you may need to sit closer to it
Avoid letting the light hit directly in your eyes, instead position the box at a 45 degree angle on either side
It is best to use the box in the morning for 20-60 minutes depending on your individual need. Start with 20-30 minutes every morning to see if you feel a difference, then increasingly add time until you feel the effects. Remember, you can always multitask while using your lightbox, you can drink your coffee, read the news, check your email, or hang out with family.
Consistency is important, so use the box daily
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.
I’m sure the year of 2020 hasn’t turned out quite the way any of us had envisioned it would have in the beginning of the year. Since the arrival of COVID-19 in our country, we have all faced many challenging obstacles. Temporary closures of businesses deemed non-essential, self-isolation, quarantine, and other dramatic changes of how we live on a daily basis have all led to some seriously negative consequences that experts suggest we will be dealing with for years. While many of the effects of this global pandemic have remained relatively unmeasured, there are still several issues that have substance abuse treatment specialists rightfully worried throughout the United States.
Alcoholism is on the rise during COVID-19 across the US.
Along with increased rates of overdose and relapse, alcoholism has also been on a steep rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent data shows that the purchase of alcohol and the rates of alcohol abuse have rapidly been growing since the beginning of the year.
For example, alcohol sales increased by 54% for the week ending March 21 of this year, right around the same time that the quarantine and major government shut-down began; online sales have also reportedly increased by over 260% since 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also released several statements regarding this issue. Not only are they concerned with riskier behavior that is associated with the consumption of alcohol, but alcohol also increases the likelihood of contracting the virus and can make the symptoms of the coronavirus much more severe.
Social isolation in quarantine can contribute to increased drug and alcohol consumption.
Many are having to adapt to conditions such as working from home with distractions that they aren't ordinarily used to putting up with, managing personal relationships with their partner or spouse while living and working in the same proximity, or having to juggle helping their kids stay at home and learn in the virtual classroom. All of this makes it very easy to understand the desire to pour a glass of wine or grab yourself a beer after a long stressful day to help take the edge off, especially when one considers the amount of changes we are all going through on a daily basis.
According to a recent self-reporting survey, more than 55% of adults reported an increase in their drinking since the beginning of the pandemic, with nearly 20% reporting a significant increase. An issue that may be more of a concern for certain members of the population, as another self-reporting study showed that excessive drinking has increased by over 41% for women. Though a large number of the population admittedly seem to be enjoying a drink more often because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still such a thing as “too much” - and one may begin to wonder, what exactly is that limit?
How much alcohol consumption is “too much”?
Though the amount of alcohol recommended for daily consumption varies slightly depending on the source, all major health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agree that drinking in moderation is the safest way to consume alcohol in order to most effectively avoid any negative health effects associated with drinking. Moderate drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as up to 4 alcoholic drinks per day for men and 3 alcohol drinks per day for women. Though, this can differ depending on many things such as weight, height, and family history.
One concern of drinking above moderation is that it can lead to changes in tolerance and dependence. Not only that, but researchers are concerned that less people will seek medical attention due to the pandemic for fear of overburdening the system or catching the virus. This can lead to those in help not seeking the medical treatment that they need.
So, if you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an alcohol addiction or other substance abuse disorder, then More Than Rehab is still here to help! Do not worry, we are also taking extra precautions during this time to ensure that our clients are safe while on their road to recovery.
Signs that you, or a loved one may be struggling with alcoholism:
If you are still unsure if you or loved one have gone from recreational drinking to what may be an alcohol abuse disorder, then here are some common signs or symptoms that there might be a bigger problem:
Drinking so much that you experience temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
Making excessive excuses to drink such as stress, to relax, because of anxiety, or to feel normal
Drinking by yourself, especially in secret
Feeling sick or hungover because you haven’t started drinking yet
Showing signs of irritability, extreme agitation, or unexplained mood-swings
Choosing drinking or alcohol over other activities or responsibilities
Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink or use alcohol
Using alcohol in conditions where it is not safe, such as driving
Spending a lot time drinking or recovering from drinking
Continuing to drink even though you know it is causing problems in your daily life
Spend time worrying about when or how you will be able to get your next drink
There are other many alcohol related symptoms that one may want to look out for if you are concerned that there may be a problem. Alcohol is an easy substance to become addicted to and is the leading reason people seek substance abuse treatment in the United States.
The first step to getting help for alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem.
We know that daily life has become especially difficult for people living in our world today. If you are a loved one have developed a problem, or have been struggling with an addiction for a long time and need help recovering again, we can help to get your life back on track. At More Than Rehab, we also help teach you healthy coping skills, so that you no longer need to rely on alcohol to help relieve the stress of today’s world. Many of us here at More Than Rehab have been where you are before, so we know what it takes to lead a healthy life without drugs or alcohol. Please let our family help yours today!
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.