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Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Tips to Survive Memorial Day Sober

Memorial Day is the kick-off to summer – and it’s also a prelude to the upcoming season of BBQs, bonfires, beach parties, outdoor concerts and festivals, and most often, alcohol. It’s easy to get nostalgic for those party days, or to feel like you’ll need to lock yourself inside to stay sober. But you don’t. You can still have fun and be sober – it just may take a little planning! Start with these tips. 

1. Identify your triggers ahead of time. It goes without saying that you need to be aware of your personal triggers – and to have a plan in place to avoid relapse. Especially if you’re brand-new to sobriety, your best bet may be to skip alcohol-filled BBQs or concerts this Memorial Day. Or, bring a sober friend along and make sure your sponsor is just a call or text away. 

2. Keep your glass filled—with water. Whether plain or sparkling or with a wedge of lemon or lime for flavor, good old H2O can help you beat the heat and keep cravings at bay. Plus, having a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand can help prevent any awkward questions about why you’re not drinking. 

3. Keep active. Start the long weekend with a good sweat session. It will help you feeling stronger and increase your confidence in staying clean and sober. Plus, exercise can give you a natural high to replace the artificial ones you may be craving.

4. Have an exit strategy. For example, you may ask a trusted friend to call you at a specific time to see how things are going, or tell the host ahead of time that you may have plans later. Knowing what you’re going to say ahead of time will help minimize the stress if you feel the need to flea the scene.

5. Create a brief gratitude list – and put it in your pocket. This can serve as a simple reminder about all you’ve achieved in your recovery and how grateful you are to be sober and alive! 

Making Better Choices Year-Round
Learning to make better choices is a key element of the young adult recovery program at Hope Academy. Our clients, ages 18-26, receive clinical treatment as well as one on one coaching in healthy nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and coping skills. Armed with this knowledge, they are able to recognize and manage their addiction triggers and cravings, and make healthier life choices. To find out more, call today: 866-930-4673.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Do You Know the Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking?

Beyond leading to dependence, drinking too much alcohol can have serious consequences for your health. Alcohol abuse can damage organs, weaken the immune system, and contribute to cancers, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). In fact, researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases.

Alcohol Abuse and Your Body
Chronic heavy drinking can lead to a variety of health conditions, including:
  • Anemia: Heavy drinking lowers your red blood cells. 
  • Cancer: Mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer have all been linked to alcohol use – and these risks are even higher among smokers.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Binge drinking causes platelets to clump into blood clots – and this can lead to stroke or heart attack. 
  • Cirrhosis: Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, and can severely scar the liver, making it unable to function.
  • Dementia: Heavy drinking speeds up the shrinkage of key regions in the brain responsible for memory.
  • Depression: While it’s still unknown whether drinking or depression comes first, the conditions are undisputedly linked. Depressed people often self-medicate with alcohol and heavy drinking has been study-proven to lead to depression.
  • Gout: Family history is a major risk factor but alcohol and poor nutrition play a big role, too. 
  • High blood pressure: Binge drinking can cause blood pressure to rise. 
  • Infectious disease: Heavy drinking suppresses your immune system and this can lead to a host of infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Nerve damage: Alcohol abuse can cause alcoholic neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that can result in symptoms including the feeling of painful pins and needles or numbness in the extremities, muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Pancreatitis: Up to 60% of cases of chronic pancreatitis stem from alcohol consumption; heavy drinking inflames the pancreas and causes stomach irritation.
  • Seizures: Heavy drinking can cause epilepsy and can even trigger seizures in people without the neurological disorder.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
According to the NIAAA, the young adult subgroup makes up 31.5% 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.

Friday, May 13, 2016

7 Steps to Better Stress Management

We don’t have to tell you that stress is a normal part of life — family conflicts, financial woes, job worries, and health concerns are just a few of the many stressors you’ll likely encounter during your recovery journey. But stress is also the leading cause of relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid it, but you can find healthier ways to lower tension so it’s no longer a tipping point into using again. 

How to Manage Stress
Start with these tips to tame daily stressors:
  • Take a walk. Sounds simple enough, right? Exercise can increase those feel-good endorphins, leaving you in a calmer, more positive state of mind.
  • Streamline your day. Taking on too much too soon can quickly lead to stress, especially during the first 90 days of recovery, when you’re most likely to relapse. Try to hone in on the recovery essentials, like 12-step meetings or counseling, and strive to complete one or two tasks per day. It’s also important to go easy on yourself on those inevitable days when nothing goes as planned.
  • Get some shut-eye. A good night’s sleep — aim for seven to eight hours — can improve your mood and ability to cope with stress. That’s because solid slumber helps to restore your body and mind.
  • Write it out. Journaling is a great way to identify the cause of your stress — and then release it by writing down your thoughts and feelings.
  • Hang with others who “get” you. Surrounding yourself with people who are also battling addiction can be a powerful stress reliever. Start by finding a support group in which you feel comfortable talking through your tensions.
  • Find your mantra. A mantra can be nothing more complicated than a saying or expression that gets you through. For example, “I am in control of my life,” or “I am making progress,” or whatever phrase helps you stay calm and focused on your recovery.
  • Escape with entertainment. When you feel tension creeping, take a time-out from daily life and push your stressors aside. Let it all go, and lose yourself and your worries by reading a good book, playing music, baking, or watching TV.
Finding Support at Hope Academy
Stressors inevitably arise as you begin working toward your academic and career goals.  The professionals at Hope Academy sobriety college can teach you to manage these pressures without resorting to substance abuse. In addition to providing a therapeutic environment for recovery, college attendance, and career planning, Hope Academy offers one-on-one coaching opportunities for residents. Call 866-930-4673 now to learn more.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Get Your Hands Dirty: It’s Good for You!

gardening addiction treatmentWhen a long, cold winter gives way to spring, there’s a universal joy in the air due to warmer temperatures, longer days, and sprouts of greenery. Now, scientists have identified another reason for a brighter outlook in springtime. The fresh soil that is sprouting green grass, tulips, and seedlings is filled with tiny microbes that have powerful antidepressant properties for humans.

Friendly Bacteria with No Side Effects
While some bacteria cause infection and disease, the bacterial microbes that are found in soil, Mycobacterium Vaccae, appear to be a “friendly” form that blocks depression. In fact, the antidepressant effect of these microbes is much like the drug Prozac, but without the side effects that can accompany the misuse of prescription antidepressants. In fact, researchers have found evidence that these microbes offer additional beneficial results like strengthening the human immune system and fighting off allergies.

Microbes Stimulate Serotonin Production
Scientists do not know exactly how these soil microbes exert their antidepressant effect on humans, but they suspect that this may be the process:

• Mycobacterium Vaccae strengthens and stimulates the immune system.
• Immune cells release chemicals called cytokines.
• The cytokines stimulate nerves, which in turn activate neurons in the brain.
• These neurons release serotonin, a hormone that produces an overall sense of well-being.

No Surprise to Gardeners
Avid gardeners have always known that digging in the dirt leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. Maybe it’s because of the fresh air, exercise, and healthy diet provided by the garden. Or, maybe it’s the soil microbes. For an all-around rewarding experience and natural high, try getting outdoors and joining a community garden this spring.

Recovery Is about Making Better Choices 
Learning to make better choices is a key element of the young adult recovery program at Hope Academy. Our clients, ages 18-26, receive clinical treatment as well as one on one coaching in healthy nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and coping skills. Armed with this knowledge, they are able to recognize and manage their addiction triggers and cravings, and make healthier life choices.

When a young adult loved one turns to self-medication instead of seeking help, they abandon their schooling, their relationships, and their dreams. Hope Academy can help them restore their futures with opportunities for college attendance, job preparation, and sober living. Let our experienced addiction counselors help your loved one get back on track. Dial 866.930.4673 to begin the rehab admissions process today.

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