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Monday, January 15, 2018

Are You Self-Medicating?

Stressful day at school? Light up a joint. Big blowout fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Crack open a beer. If every time you feel angry, stressed, depressed or just bored you turn to drugs or alcohol, you are coping with your emotions in an unhealthy way. This type of self-medicating can be a slippery slope into substance abuse, and in time, addiction. 

Are you self-medicating? Watch for these signs in yourself or someone you love: 

You experience cravings when faced with uncomfortable emotions. If “drowning your troubles” becomes a regular habit, you are likely self-medicating. Take note of how you feel the next time you face a stressful situations. Do you crave a drink or drug? Are you irritable or restless if you are unable to drink, smoke, snort, or shoot away your negative emotions?

Your emotional health is worsening. Many people mistakenly turn to alcohol or drugs to temporarily dull mental health issues like anxiety or depression. But this type of self-medicating can worsen symptoms and you may find that the moods and emotions you were trying to suppress become stronger, more frequent, or longer in duration since you began drinking or getting high.

You begin to suffer in other areas of life. Dealing with a substance use disorder will cause much more difficult problems to manage than a tough test or argument. Here are just a few of the health, social, financial and other problems that you may experience:  
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Trouble with school or work 
  • Sleep problems
  • Dietary changes
  • Lower immune system
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Physical and mental health issues
  • Financial struggles
  • Legal issues
  • Decreased interest in hobbies
Getting Help for Substance Abuse
For information about Hope Academy's young adult substance abuse treatment program, or to begin the admissions process for a loved one, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Perfectionism Growing Among College Students

College students have a significantly higher drive for perfection than earlier generations – and it may be taking a big toll on their mental health, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 college students and measured perfectionism, or “an irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others." 

Specifically, they measured three types of perfectionism: 
  • Self-oriented, or an irrational desire to be perfect
  • Socially prescribed, or perceiving excessive expectations from others
  • Other-oriented, or placing unrealistic standards on others
Between 1989 and 2016, the self-oriented perfectionism score increased by 10 percent; socially prescribed increased by 33 percent and other-oriented increased by 16 percent. 

Study authors cite numerous factors for this rise in perfectionism among millennials, including: 
  • Social media pressures 
  • A drive to earn money
  • Pressure to get a good education and meet lofty career goals
  • A drive to perfect grade point averages
"Today's young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected and of worth," said lead author Thomas Curran, PhD, of the University of Bath, in a statement. 

The result: higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than a decade ago.

Perfectionism and Addiction Recovery
Indeed, perfectionism can put your mental health and recovery at risk. Here’s how: 
  • You expect more of yourself, thinking that you don’t need help like others battling substance abuse. 
  • You expect to get sober the first time, making it harder to be patient with the process or bounce back from slip-ups.
  • You expect perfectionism, so you tend to dwell on small mistakes and even mistrust small successes.
  • You place unrealistic expectation on yourself and others, leading to isolation and loneliness.
  • You believe that your addiction and past mistakes make your unlovable or unworthy. 
Sobriety College at Hope Academy
If you are or someone you love is a college student struggling with a mental illness and a substance use disorder, Hope Academy may be the ideal rehab program for you. Our peer-based program provides the safety and support you need to succeed in school and at sobriety. To learn more about our sobriety college, call today: 866-930-4673.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Planning for a Safe End of the Year

Attending a New Year’s party is a surefire way to challenge your sobriety. Especially if you’re new to recovery, your best bet is to skip the festivities and find a sober alternative. If you do decide to attend, however, you’ll need to prepare ahead, practice self-care and line up support. 

Here are a few tips to have a safe and sober end of the year:
  • Bring a sober buddy. It’s much easier to stay sober and avoid temptation with a loved one or friend by your side. You’ll feel less alone and you’ll also have someone to hold you accountable throughout the evening.
  • Remind yourself that you’re not missing out. Getting drunk may look fun but you know all too well that it’s not worth the consequences. Write down a few reasons why you chose to become sober or find a photograph of your addicted self and bring it with you to combat feelings of missing out. 
  • Plan ahead. If you attend a party where there will be alcohol, be prepared. This means rehearsing a script of why you’re not drinking and/or having an escape plan if you become overwhelmed. It’s also smart to recruit a trusted friend to bail you out if you begin to struggle.  
  • Practice self-care. The goal is to approach the evening with a healthy, stress-free mindset. This will enable you to make smart decisions. Make sure to prioritize sleeping, eating and exercising in the upcoming days and do your best to avoid HALT, the widely used recovery acronym for hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness. 
  • Attend a support group. Many support groups hold New Year’s Eve meetings – so consider leaving any party early and ringing in the New Year with others in the recovery community. It's a great way to combat the stress, loneliness and temptations of the night.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
According to the NIAAA, the young adult subgroup makes up 31.5 percent of alcoholics. At Hope Academy, we provide a safe environment in which teens and young adults feel comfortable sharing their concerns and setting sobriety goals. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

Monday, December 18, 2017

How to Handle Holiday Relapse Triggers

Relapse triggers are seemingly everywhere this season – and, of course, what’s high risk for you might be low risk for someone else, depending on your stage of recovery. There are a few known holiday triggers, however, that you’ll likely want to prepare for. 

Take a look at our list below and then add your own personal triggers to ensure that you can enjoy the festivities and stay sober. 
  • Hunger: Low blood sugar can make anyone feel anxious or irritable – and, in turn, this can lower your ability to fend off cravings or temptations.
  • What to do: Try to eat six small nutritious meals per day, or snack every three hours. A combo that includes healthy carbs and low-fat protein will keep you satisfied longer. Some examples: Red and green bell pepper strips with hummus, grapes with low-fat string cheese, or a celery stalk with a dollop of peanut butter. 
  • Stress: Unrealistic expectations, mounting to-do lists, lack of sleep, family overload and overpacked schedules this holiday can all lead to stress.
  • What to do: Make relaxation a daily priority, whether you simply take a few minutes to meditate, enjoy a favorite pastime or meet up with a friend each day for a morning walk. 
  • Family: If you’re able to go home for the holidays, you’ll likely encounter some unexpected questions and/or comments from a relative or two. 
  • What to do: Do your best to prepare by creating a script for yourself. Consider talking to your addiction counselor or recovery peers for some ideas. 
  • Loneliness: Whether you’re unable to go home or are missing old friends who are no longer in your life, the holidays can bring upon loneliness for many individuals in recovery.  
  • What to do: Don’t isolate yourself. Find out what holiday events are taking place in rehab, attend a few extra meetings or support groups to stay on track, or line up a few close friends and families to celebrate with you this year.
  • Lack of sleep: A good night’s sleep is essential for coping with stress – and, yet, stress can make shut-eye nearly impossible. 
  • What to do: To keep your mind from racing before bed, relax with a book or calming bedtime ritual (meditation or yoga, for instance). Jotting down a to-do list before you head to bead is also a great way to clear your mind so you have an easier time falling (and staying) asleep. 

Addiction Aftercare & Support for Young Adults
Upon returning home, it is all-too-easy for clients to gravitate to former patterns, dangerous environmental triggers, and toxic relationships. At Hope Academy, we create a supportive transition between treatment completion and the return home, so clients have the best chance at sustained sobriety. To learn more, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brain Changes in Smartphone Addicted Teens

Smartphone addiction is on the rise – 50 percent of teens feel they are addicted, according to – and it’s taking a toll on their minds. 

A new, small study suggests that being hooked on the internet and smartphones may harm the brain chemistry of teens, according to research presented at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.

Researchers found an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of "internet-addicted" teenagers, similar to whats found in people with anxiety disorder and depression. Compared with 19 teenagers who were not addicted, the brains of the addicted boys had significantly higher levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the cortex that inhibits neurons.

"GABA slows down the neurons," Caglar Yildirim, an assistant professor of human computer interaction, told "That results in poorer attention and control, which you don't want to have, because you want to stay focused. So that means you are more vulnerable to distractions."

The good news: Researchers found that several weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy works to reverse the imbalance. 

More About Smartphone Addiction
The overuse of smartphones has been linked to several health effects, including: 
  • Text neck - cramping, stabbing pain that comes after looking down at your phone too long
  • Poor posture
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low self-esteem
What’s more, about 1.2 million car crashes in 2013 involved drivers talking on phones, according to the National Safety Council, and at least 341,000 involved text messaging.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Young Adults
At Hope Academy, we conduct a series of tests upon admission to determine if mental illness is complicating substance abuse. Once we gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s individual health challenges, our addiction treatment team develops a customized program. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How Hope Helps Your Recovery

Hope is a pretty powerful ally in addiction recovery. Some experts even say it’s the foundation of recovery. Without hope, after all, you won’t be able to devote your mind and heart to your lifelong journey toward sobriety.

Hope helps us heal. Hope provides us with an optimistic mindset. Hope gives us the courage to set and reach small and large goals. Hope allows us to imagine a better, brighter, sober future. And while having hope is not always easy, it can always be found. 

Tips for Finding Hope
Here are a few tips to help you or someone you love find hope today:  
  • Read or listen to stories of recovery. Whether you join a Facebook page or go to an in-person meeting, recovery stories can help give you the inspiration, insight and hope you need to endure the difficult journey toward sobriety. 
  • Allow yourself to get inspired. Inspiration can certainly lead to hope. Make a point to let inspiration into your life, whether you make an effort to write down inspirational quotes, read an uplifting book or play some music. 
  • Surround yourself with optimism. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to build a solid network of positive friends, family members and peers who can help show you the bright side of life -- in recovery and beyond. There will likely be a lot of dark days during recovery and a little sunshine can help you power through and remain optimistic.
  • Set short- and long-term goals. Learning to develop meaningful and purposeful life goals is a crucial recovery activity and one that will help you look toward a positive, hopeful future. By finding your direction in life, you’ll find hope. Avoid setting unrealistic goals, however, as you don’t want to set yourself up for feelings of frustration or failure. 
Hope for a Sober, Successful Future
At Hope Academy, we help young adults recover from addiction by providing residential treatment and educational support that help them discover their passion and aspire to more in life. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gift Ideas for a Loved One in Recovery

The holiday season is upon us and you may be trying to figure out a meaningful present to give to your loved one in recovery. Picking out a gift for someone you love, a gift that shows you support his or her recovery process is challenging

Luckily, there are plenty of items that can provide encouragement and sober fun. Some experts recommended thinking in three categories: for the self, for recovery, for his or her surroundings. 

Here are a few gifts that will keep on giving this season: 
  • A gratitude journal or diary
  • Sobriety calendar
  • Sparkling water maker
  • Gift certificate to movies 
  • Gift certificate for a massage or spa day
  • Trial yoga or meditation class
  • Trial indoor rock climbing membership
  • Guided meditation CD/MP3
  • Stress ball
  • Scented candles
  • Healthy cookbook
  • Inspirational book(s) about recovery 
  • Assortment of herbal and decaf teas
  • Personalized coffee cups, hats, T-shirts, bags
  • Adult coloring book and art supplies (crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints)
  • Sobriety jewelry or tokens
  • An engraved compact mirror
  • A picture frame or picture collage 
  • Bath soaps and bubbles
  • A donation to a favorite charity or recovery program
  • An indoor plant or gardening supplies
The best way to show someone you’ve got their back during recovery won’t cost a dime. Make up some coupons for an extra hug, listening session or walk in the park. The gift of support, after all, is the best gift of all. 

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Young Adults
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, Hope Academy can help. We offer a variety of drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs for young adults, including our unique sobriety college program. Our CA rehab programs for adults age 18 to 26 include residential treatment and outpatient programs, and our team is available to help with insurance authorizations, and interventions. For more information, call: 866-930-4673.

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