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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Benefits of Keeping a Recovery Journal

When you were younger, you may have had a diary in which you recorded your innermost thoughts. Perhaps the pages of your diary were the first place where you confided the name of your secret crush, or wrote down your frustrations with a classmate. As you got older, though, your daily habit of writing diary entries might have gradually faded away as you found alternative ways to express your emotions.

However, journaling is incredibly beneficial for your mental health, especially once you begin pursuing addiction recovery. If you aren’t already keeping a recovery journal, here are some reasons to consider starting one.

1. Journaling Provides You With Perspective

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of what’s truly important in life. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, either on paper or in digital form, you can gain a greater sense of perspective. For example, perhaps you go through a day or two where you are struggling with strong cravings and urges to return to drug or alcohol use. If you use your journal to write down how you feel and rate it on a one-to-10 scale, it can help you take stock and assess your emotional state.

2. Your Journal Can Show You How Much Progress You’ve Made

Inevitably, there will come a time when you feel stuck in a rut with your recovery. Perhaps you feel your motivation flagging as you come to terms with the fact that there are no shortcuts in sobriety. During these challenging periods, reviewing past journal entries can provide the spark you need to discover a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Having that window into your past thoughts can be beneficial because it can help you prove to yourself that you have come further than you might have thought.

3. Journaling Boosts the Results of Therapy

In therapy, you will learn how to work through the complicated emotions that may have formed the foundation of your addictive behavior. Journaling can serve as a complementary practice to what you learn and discuss in your sessions with your therapist. By writing down what’s bothering you – stress of family responsibilities, or tensions with a co-worker – you can help yourself come to terms with any inner turmoil and decide on constructive, healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Your Journal Becomes Your Safe Space

When you write freely, without worrying that anyone is watching or judging you, it can be enormously liberating. Even when you talk with a close confidant, you might still hold back part of what you’re feeling because you’re worried about how they could react. In a journal, your private thoughts will always remain that way unless you choose to share them with someone else. In your journal, you can let all your thoughts flow without insecurities or anxiety.

5. Journaling Promotes Mindfulness

No matter what type of journaling you choose, you’ll see that writing daily entries also helps you filter out mental chaos and bring your attention to the present moment. Writing in a journal is a solid first step to becoming more mindful, and you’ll see that the more you practice it, the less time you will spend dwelling in the past or fretting about the future.

Reach for New Heights

Don’t allow addiction to interrupt your life or come between you and your goals anymore. At Hope Academy, our mission is to help young adults learn the life skills they need to recover from a drug or alcohol misuse disorder and lead productive lives in sobriety. Learn more about how we can change your life today.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Most Commonly Misused Drugs for College Students

College creates a mix of freedom and stress that is unique to the campus environment. Being on their own for the first time can feel liberating for your child, but the pressures of studying and meeting new people might feel overwhelming. Students carrying a full course load could be tempted to drink or use drugs, especially on campuses that have a party culture. What are the most typical drugs for college students to use, and what should you, as a parent, know about them?

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is readily available on many college campuses, even for people who are under 21. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed some eye-opening statistics about drinking on college campuses.
  • 54.9% of full-time college students between ages 18 and 22 drank alcohol within the past month
  • 36.9% had experiences with binge drinking
  • 9.6% described themselves as heavy alcohol users, defined as people who binge drank five times or more within a month
The risks of underage drinking are numerous, especially in young people whose brains are still not fully developed. Remind your child that you’re there as a resource for them if they get invited to a party where alcohol and other drugs will be available and they want to avoid peer pressure.

2. Marijuana

Another illicit drug that is, unfortunately, easy to come by on many college campuses is marijuana. Students may be curious about smoking or vaping pot because its depiction in countless movies and TV shows makes it look fun. They may have also heard marijuana can help them relax, which can seem appealing to people who are stressing out about exams, group projects and looming due dates.

In addition to remaining illegal in about half of U.S. states, marijuana use can cause memory loss, as well as impaired motor skills and decision-making ability. It can also lead to a sharp decline in academic performance.

3. Stimulants

Prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin can help people with ADHD concentrate, but that temporary clarity appeals to many college students who believe these drugs can give them a competitive edge. Thanks to the frequency with which doctors prescribe stimulants, these medications are prevalent among college students, and your son or daughter may be able to obtain these so-called “study drugs” from a friend who has a legitimate prescription.

Although not everyone who uses Adderall is in danger of developing an addiction, you should know that prescription stimulants can be highly addictive, because they affect the reward center of the brain the same way methamphetamines do. People who take these drugs at higher doses outside a doctor’s supervision will gradually build a tolerance until they no longer feel as if they can function normally without the medication.

What You Can Do to Combat College Drug Use

As a parent, you can help convince your college-aged child not to experiment with drugs and alcohol while they’re away at school. Talk to your daughter or son about the consequences of drug use, including failing their classes, the possible legal ramifications and the hazards to their health.

You can also educate yourself about the college’s drug and alcohol policy and how they enforce it. Meanwhile, before sending your child away to school, make sure they know how to recognize and respond to an overdose.

If you believe your child has developed a problem with alcohol, marijuana, stimulants or any other drug, reach out to us at Hope Academy. We can get your college-aged son or daughter the help they need to recover and discover the bright future that awaits them without drugs and alcohol.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

5 Ideas for Setting Unbreakable New Year’s Resolutions

There are only a few days left in 2019, and the dawn of a brand-new year will soon be upon us. Like most people, you may be adopting a “new year, new you” mindset. However, humans are fallible, and some estimates suggest 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, as people find their enthusiasm waning by February. This coming year, strive to be one of the rare few who successfully keeps your resolutions with these tips.

1. Write a Plan

One of the most significant pitfalls facing people around this time of year is failure to plan. Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for disaster if you’re hoping to make a major behavioral overhaul. Begin by writing down what you hope to achieve, along with a list of things you might do to achieve it and any roadblocks you might encounter along the way. By outlining exactly what you want to get done and the obstacles that could stand in your path, you’ll be well on your way to stick to your resolution and stay motivated for the long haul.

2. Only Make One Resolution

You may have a laundry list of things you want to improve about yourself. However, another mistake people tend to make when setting their resolutions is that they try to take on too much at a time. Expecting to be able to change multiple aspects of your lifestyle in one fell swoop is unrealistic because forming new habits takes longer than you might think. Focusing your energy on only one major objective makes it more likely that you will succeed in accomplishing what you set out to do.

3. Don’t Be Too Vague

When setting goals, too many of us resolve to do ambiguous things like “getting in shape” or “saving more money” without outlining what that looks like and what steps you can take to get there. For example, instead of telling yourself you want to get in shape, resolve instead to train for a 5K, 10K or half-marathon a few months from now. If your goal is to pad your savings account, specify the exact dollar amount you will put aside each month.

4. Get Support

Another way to stay accountable to your goals is to share them with trusted friends and family members, and ask for their help when you feel your motivation flagging. They can help you stay on track and remind you of why it’s worth it to continue to work toward your aims.

5. Don’t Repeat Yourself

You may have heard the adage, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Our final tip for keeping yourself out of a resolution rut is to stop making the same goal year after year, hoping one of these years will finally be the time it sticks. However, if you’ve already tried and failed, it’s likely your confidence level will be lower. Shake things up and go a different direction instead.

Make 2020 Your Year to Succeed

Are you ready for the year ahead to be your best yet? If one of your goals has been to free yourself from the chains of substance abuse and equip yourself with the tools to manage your addiction and live a healthy, sober life, contact us at Hope Academy to learn more about our California addiction treatment center for young adults.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Life After Treatment: Managing Addiction as a Chronic Illness

There’s a common fallacy in addiction medicine that going through rehab is a “cure” for substance misuse disorder. However, the day you get discharged from inpatient treatment is when the genuine work of recovery begins.

Like other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma or Crohn’s disease, addiction is a lifelong disease. A significant part of your success in recovery is learning to manage your symptoms and maintain your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

A Critical Transition

Before you exit your treatment facility, you will need to work with your family and team of clinicians to create an aftercare plan that addresses your short- and long-term needs and helps you avoid relapsing. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all aftercare plan. Some people return home, while others choose to enter a sober living house or an inpatient treatment program to continue working on their recovery goals in a structured environment.

Factors to consider when deciding how you will manage your illness immediately after getting discharged from treatment include:
  • Your history of drug and alcohol use
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Your decision-making ability and impulse control
  • Your family’s ability to provide support
  • Your unique sobriety goals
  • Your willingness to participate in individual and group therapy

What Is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan?

A wellness recovery action plan, or WRAP, for short, can be a tremendously helpful tool for people in early addiction recovery. Creating a WRAP is a largely self-directed process and can take whatever shape is most helpful to you. Since the WRAP concept initially emerged in 1997, researchers have identified its effectiveness, and it has been listed on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

Though everyone’s WRAP will be different, here are some elements to include in yours.
  • A sober support network: Loneliness can be one of the most dangerous relapse triggers. Before leaving treatment, plan to continue seeing a therapist and participating in regular group meetings. Have friends and family members who understand what you have been through and why it is essential for you to protect your sobriety above all else.
  • A medical treatment plan: Before leaving treatment, have your health care plan lined up, including a general practitioner as well as a psychologist or other specialists, as appropriate. Make sure all your health care providers are aware of your unique needs and that you are managing addiction as a chronic illness.
  • A list of known triggers: In recovery, you will need to avoid specific people, places and things that remind you of when you were in active addiction. Doing so will reduce the likelihood that you will backslide into your old habits.
  • Relapse prevention planning: While you can take steps to control some of your triggers, others might pop up without warning. For example, perhaps you’re watching a movie, and one of the scenes takes place in a bar. Having a contingency plan in place can help you turn to healthy habits to cope with sudden cravings or powerful memories that might arise. You can also establish what you will do if a relapse occurs.

Moving Forward With Your Life

Admitting you have a chronic illness and that you need help to manage it is part of getting better, but you also need a robust short- and long-term set of strategies to support a lifetime of wellness and recovery.

At Hope Academy, we can help you learn to manage your addiction and establish new, healthy habits and coping skills. To learn more about our programming for young adults, contact us today.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tips for Enjoying a Sober Winter Break

Every year, students from coast to coast look forward to their holiday break from school. Whether you are anticipating having more time to visit with friends, or enjoying the opportunity to put last semester behind you and not have to stress about your studies for a little bit, winter break is your chance to do so.

If you are in the early stages of recovery from substance misuse, you may be unsure what this holiday will hold for you. However, your sober winter break may be one of the most enjoyable holidays you’ve ever had.

Shift Your Perspective

Often, newly sober people find one of the most challenging parts of the holiday season is feeling left out of the activities they once enjoyed. You might know people who are going to a different party every night this winter break, while you are trying to avoid exposure to common addiction triggers. Unfortunately, this mindset might leave you feeling angry or resentful, which isn’t conducive to your successful recovery. You’ll need to change your outlook on a couple of things.

Firstly, it’s crucial to realize that not everyone you know is out partying and drinking during winter break. Some students may do that, but others might be taking the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones or stay home indulging in the hobbies they don’t get a chance to do when school is in session.

Also, “fun” is not synonymous with getting drunk or high. As you will discover, there are many other ways to enjoy life once you get sober. By being open to alternative ideas for spending your free time, you can find new ways to feel happy and fulfilled on your winter break.

Plan a Sober Getaway

Just because you are working on your recovery, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and make the most of your winter break. Substance use is common at many winter break destinations like ski resorts, but there are also many ways to refrain from drugs and alcohol on a trip. Imagine traveling without having to worry about losing control of yourself, or waking up with hardly any memories of anything you did the night before. Sobriety allows you to enjoy your vacation to its fullest.

If you feel ready to take a new step in your recovery, plan a sober vacation this winter break. Invite family members and friends who support your recovery, or ask someone you met while you were in treatment to join the fun. Here are some ideas to get you started.
  • Spiritual retreats
  • Sober tours
  • Volunteer tourism: Is there a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, like working with endangered animals or saving coral reefs? Eco-tourism can help you see the world while you donate your time to a worthy reason.

‘Tis the Season to Recover

Winter break is an excellent time of year to focus on your sobriety because it gives you more opportunities for stress-relieving self-care activities as well. Be good to yourself this holiday, and welcome the chance to reset your recovery routine. You will be glad you did.

If you’re looking for addiction treatment tailored to the unique needs of younger people, Hope Academy is your starting point. We provide services for young adults aged 18 through 26 to give them the resources they need to recover. Contact us today to learn more about our structured programming.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lessons Parents of Young Adult Addicts Should Learn

Living with someone who has a substance misuse disorder can be incredibly challenging – even more so if you are watching your child struggle with the various issues related to substance misuse. Not only do you constantly worry about their well-being, but you may also find yourself in completely unfamiliar territory when it comes to how to help your son or daughter deal with their problems.

As a parent, you probably have an array of questions:
  • What are they using, and how much?
  • Is this a passing phase of experimentation, or a genuine addiction?
  • Am I being overprotective, or am I right to be concerned?
  • If I put my foot down and set ultimatums around my child’s drinking or drug use, will it push them even further away from me?
  • Is this problem somehow my fault?
  • Is my child’s future at risk?
  • Should I be looking into qualified treatment facilities?
Here are the top four lessons you should learn about young adult addiction.

1. Parents Can Enable an Addiction

As a parent, you would do almost anything to keep your child from experiencing pain. You want their journey in life to be free of as many obstacles as possible. Unfortunately, those same impulses can cause you to develop the habit of enabling a child’s addiction.

You raised your child in the best way you knew how. It can be a bitter pill to swallow when you realize you can only do so much to support them, and at some point, they are responsible for the decisions they make. As much as you may want to smooth out the bumpy road to addiction recovery, your child must experience the natural consequences of their actions and do the hard work of getting better on their own.

2. You Can’t Help Someone Who Isn’t Willing to Accept Help

As well as you think you know your child, unless you have battled addiction issues yourself, it can be challenging for you to understand what they’re going through. Because of the denial that often accompanies addiction, addicted people may refuse to admit when they need help. When addiction takes hold of someone’s life, they often can’t walk away. However, coming to terms with this is a gradual process.

You can play a role in helping your child work through addiction by being there to support them, researching a treatment center and learning more about their substance of misuse and how it affects them, but your son or daughter won’t heal from an addiction until they are willing to accept they have a problem they can’t solve by themselves.

3. Be Patient

It takes time to heal from a drug or alcohol addiction. There are no shortcuts or quick-fix solutions, no matter how much you might wish there were. There will be easy days and hard ones. The best thing you can do is to be there to support your child and provide unconditional love when they are struggling.

4. Addiction Doesn’t Define Your Child

One of the most challenging lessons learned in addiction recovery is for the addicted person to rediscover who they are without the influence of drugs and alcohol on their life. Along the way, they will also need to accept that it’s fruitless to dwell on mistakes made in the past. You can help your child learn to live in the moment by encouraging them to try supplementing their therapy with approaches such as meditation.

Start Healing Your Family Today

At Hope Academy, we know how devastating addiction can be for families. Learn more about our young adult addiction services for ages 18 through 26, and get your child the necessary help to recover. Contact us today to learn more about our application process.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Steps to Take Before You Welcome Your Child Home From Addiction Treatment

You’ve been counting down the days until you could welcome your child home from their treatment program. Now that the big day is almost here, you may be feeling like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s normal for any parent in your position to feel happy, anxious, stressed and excited, sometimes all at once.

While your child will have made a lot of progress in addiction treatment, it’s essential for you to remember that they are only at the beginning of a lifelong process of recovery. It will involve sacrifice for you and your family, and it’s smart to plan for how you will deal with it. Although your daughter or son is ultimately responsible for their success, you can learn how to support them along the way.

1. Remove All Temptations

The first step you should take is to clear all intoxicating substances out of your house. Go through your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of expired or unused prescriptions. Keep any current prescriptions under lock and key. Likewise, remove all alcohol from your home, or take steps to secure it. Take special care to search your child’s room for drugs, alcohol or any paraphernalia.

2. Get Naloxone and Learn How to Use It

If your child’s substance misuse issues stemmed from opioids, having naloxone on hand can be lifesaving. Naloxone, marketed under the brand name Narcan®, is a non-addictive drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a naloxone kit from your drugstore without a prescription. Make sure the naloxone kit is in an easy-to-access place, and that everyone in your family knows how to administer it.

3. Familiarize Yourself With the Aftercare Plan

Whatever your treatment facility recommends for your child’s next steps, make sure you understand the plan and have familiarized yourself with what you need to do to support your son or daughter. For example, you may need to attend counseling as a family, or drive your child to appointments with a therapist. Be willing to take time off from work, if necessary, to fulfill your obligations. Your continued involvement makes a difference, whether your child is willing to acknowledge it or not.

4. Set Reasonable Boundaries

If your child drank or used drugs for a long time, it likely took a heavy toll on your family. The secrecy, denial, manipulation and self-destructive behavior associated with addiction disorders can erode relationships, and it will take time and concerted effort to rebuild. Once your child returns home, setting healthy boundaries can ensure you are developing a foundation of mutual trust. Some families find it helpful to draw up a recovery contract that defines their expectations and outlines consequences for breaking the rules.

5. Be Patient

The earliest days of recovery will probably be the most challenging for everyone involved. Your child will most likely go through periods of emotional upheaval. There will be days where they feel angry, frustrated or distant. Other times, your child may be like the person you remember from before addiction took hold. Be sure to savor the good moments, and be ready to listen on days where the struggle may seem overwhelming. There are no shortcuts in recovery.

Never Give Up

As crushing as it can feel to see your son or daughter wrestling with the burdens of substance misuse, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At Hope Academy, our team of addiction specialists can help your child turn things around before addiction becomes a way of life. If you are ready to make a fresh start for your family, contact us today.
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