Six Easy Ways to Eat Healthier for Addiction Recovery
Healthy eating is one of the key lifestyle changes that will support a strong recovery from addiction. There are many reasons healthier eating is important. One is that addiction and poor nutrition often go together, typically from neglect but also because alcohol impairs your digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients. This malnutrition can have many negative health effects and should be corrected as soon as possible.
Second, prolonged substance use increases your risk for a variety of medical problems, including heart disease, stroke, liver disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancers. Although you may not be able to fix these problems with a healthy diet, you can certainly reduce your risk. Finally, many studies have found that healthy eating reduces your risk of depression, which is a major driver of addictive behavior and affects about 20% of people with substance use disorders.
Adopting a healthy diet can help you feel better, be healthier, and have a stronger recovery, but it’s also challenging to change long-standing eating habits. The following are some relatively easy ways you can improve your diet quickly.
1. Write Down What You Eat
First, it’s crucial to actually know what you’re eating. Our memories tend to be very selective about what we eat so spend a week or two recording everything you eat as you eat it. Either write it all down in a notebook or use an app like MyFitnessPal. The latter has the advantage of being more accurate and recording nutritional information automatically, and it’s free. You may be surprised to see what your eating habits are really like.
2. Make One Change at a Time
One mistake people often make is trying to completely overhaul their diet right away--maybe going totally whole-food plant-based or totally keto or something else. That’s a lot of work up front, you encounter a lot of friction from friends and family, and you’ll be lucky to make it a week using that strategy.
Instead, focus on one small change at a time. There are two ways to approach this: You can either start by making an easy change and gradually make more challenging changes, which helps boost your confidence, or you can start with a change that will make the biggest difference in your health and mood. Say, for example, that after writing down everything you eat and drink, you realize you’re drinking more than two liters of Coke every day.
That’s nearly 800 empty calories and more than 42 grams of sugar, while the American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar a day for an adult male. Therefore, tackling that one habit is going to have huge benefits in terms of a better mood, less inflammation, and maintaining a healthy weight.
3. Make Healthy Substitutions
A common mistake people make when trying to quit any bad habit is to just try to stop doing it. This leaves a sort of void and it’s very easy to slip back into the old habit. A better approach is to replace the bad habit with a good or neutral habit. Changing food habits is no different. Leaving something off your plate is hard; replacing it with a healthier option is much easier. In the example above, maybe you habitually pour yourself a glass of Coke every time you sit down to eat.
There are many easy substitutions that are much healthier. Water or unsweetened iced tea would be ideal, but you could also go for flavored sparkling water, or even a soft drink with less sugar would be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, fruit juice is often just as bad as soda in terms of sugar but a lot of people believe they’re choosing the healthier option.
You can make many different kinds of easy substitutions in order to eat healthier. You can eat baked or grilled chicken instead of fried, get the vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch, and get the baked potato instead of fries. Substitutions--especially those that favor whole foods--are an easy way to eat healthier without feeling deprived.
Add One Vegetable
Another tactic that you can use by itself or in combination with substitution is to just add one vegetable to every meal. That way you’re increasing your fiber and nutrition while only adding a few calories to your meal. It works with anything. For example, which is healthier: a burger and fries or a burger and fries and a carrot? Obviously, it’s better to have meals composed entirely of healthy whole foods, but it’s also important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good and an easy way to do that is just to add a serving of vegetables to every meal.
Learn to Cook One Easy Meal
There’s a lot of research showing that people who cook more meals at home are healthier and closer to their ideal weight. There are a number of reasons for this but perhaps the biggest is that commercial foods tend to have more sugar and fat than the equivalent foods you make at home. Unfortunately, most people don’t have a big culinary repertoire and they don’t have time to cook every meal.
Start by learning to cook one easy thing that you don’t mind eating frequently. For example, rice and beans are super easy and you can make one batch and eat it all week. Even a sandwich is fine if the ingredients are fresh and healthy. You can buy frozen vegetables and pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and they taste fine. Figure out a few easy go-to recipes. The more meals you make at home, the healthier you’ll be.
Follow the 80% Rule
Finally, observe the 80% rule, which is that you should stop eating when you’re 80% full. It takes a few minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full because the hormonal signal has to diffuse through your body. As a result, by the time we feel full, we’re often overstuffed. You can eat only healthy foods and still make yourself unhealthy by eating too much of it. It’s easier to observe the 80% rule if you pause occasionally while you’re eating to let your food settle. This gives the “full” signal a chance to reach your brain.
At The Foundry, we know that healthy lifestyle changes make everything else in addiction recovery easier. That’s why we emphasize a healthy diet, as well as exercise, mindfulness, and social connection as part of our holistic approach to treatment. There are no shortcuts to living a healthy lifestyle, but we can get you off to the best possible start. To learn more, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Beating Insomnia in Addiction Recovery
Getting plenty of quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. This is especially important if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder. Many studies have linked sleep deprivation with both short-term and long-term problems. Short-term problems include increased anxiety, poor concentration, poor working memory, and less self-control.
Long-term problems include increased risk of anxiety disorders and depression. One meta-analysis of more than 170,000 participants found that insomnia significantly increases your risk for depression. If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, there’s a high probability that you already have issues with depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.
Therefore, it’s especially important to look after your mental health by getting enough sleep.Unfortunately, getting enough sleep is not always so easy. Insomnia is often a symptom of mental health issues as well as a cause. What’s more, insomnia is a typical withdrawal symptom and it may persist for weeks or months into recovery. If you’ve been having trouble getting enough sleep, here are some tips that might help.
Talk to Your Doctor
First, if you can’t sleep or if you feel like you’re getting at least eight hours of sleep every night but you somehow still feel tired all the time, talk to your doctor. If you’re experiencing insomnia or sleep apnea, there may be medical causes and medical solutions.
You will want to eliminate physiological causes first. When you talk to your doctor, be sure to share your addiction history. Many sleep aids are basically just benzodiazepines and you don’t want your doctor to prescribe something that will just cause you more problems.
Talk to Your Therapist
If there is no medical cause of your sleep problems, talk to your therapist about it. There are primarily two reasons for this. First, your sleep problems may be a symptom of a mental health issue that isn’t being adequately addressed. For example, most people think of sleeping too much as a symptom of depression, which it is, but insomnia or disturbed sleep are also extremely common, especially for men with depression.
Insomnia may also be a symptom of ADHD, anxiety disorders, or bipolar disorder. The bottom line is that it could be an important psychological symptom and co-occurring mental health issues must be addressed for your sobriety to last.The second reason to discuss sleep problems with your therapist is that there is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, called CBT-I, specifically tailored to deal with sleep problems.
It includes some of the things mentioned here, such as sleeping on a regular schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene. Your therapist may also help you identify and challenge unhelpful beliefs about sleep. For example, when you can’t sleep, you may think something like, “Oh no, not this again, I’m going to be exhausted all day tomorrow,” and so on. A more helpful way to think is something like, “Hmm, can’t sleep.
That’s ok, I’ll just rest. I’ll probably fall asleep before I even realize.” In other words, many of the cognitive distortions that can disturb us during the day can also disturb us when we’re trying to sleep. Your therapist can help you sort these out.
Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule
As noted above, one of the most important things is to sleep on a regular schedule, even on the weekends. Sleep is a complicated process, involving changes in neurotransmitters, hormones, and body temperature. These are much more efficient when they happen on a regular schedule. This is why people who do shift work tend to have a lot more sleep problems.
Try to be in bed by a certain time no matter what. Block off plenty of time to sleep--most people need at least eight hours--and be sure to include a few extra minutes for the time it will take you to drift off and wake up. Then, get up at the same time every morning. It may also help to work with your body’s natural rhythms by waking up with the sun.
One study found that spending a weekend camping significantly improved participants’ circadian rhythms, helping them sleep and wake more easily. So, if you’re having trouble getting on a regular sleep schedule, a few days of camping might be just what you need, even if you only camp in the back yard.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
In addition to keeping a regular sleep schedule, practice good sleep hygiene. This starts during the day by not taking naps--at least for a while. At some point, you can take naps again, but not after 2 p.m. and not longer than 20 minutes. At night, have a bedtime routine to signal it’s almost time to sleep. Don’t use the bed for anything except sleep and sex. You want a strong association between getting into bed and falling asleep.
Don’t watch TV or look at your phone in bed. Try to keep your bedroom cool, between 68 and 70 degrees. Also, keep your room as dark and quiet as possible. If that’s an issue, get a sleep mask and ear plugs. Even if light and sounds don’t wake you up at night, they can still disturb the quality of your sleep.
Cut Down on Caffeine
For most people, moderate caffeine intake is not a problem and some studies suggest coffee and tea have some mild health benefits. However, it’s important to realize that caffeine has a half-life of between four and six hours.
That means if you have a cup of coffee at noon, about a quarter of that caffeine will still be in your system at bedtime. You may feel tired but still be unable to sleep or you may sleep but not as deeply. If you’ve been having trouble with insomnia, try cutting down on caffeine.
Finally, try to get regular exercise during the day. Research shows that even moderate exercise, such as a 30-minute walk, can help you sleep better the very same night. We don’t quite know why this works but it’s likely that exercise reduces stress and anxiety, which helps you sleep better. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime. Getting your heart rate up within two hours of bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.Getting enough quality sleep is a crucial aspect of wellness.
Not only does it make you mentally sharper, improve your self-control, and reduce your risk of anxiety and depression, but it also improves your physical health, reducing your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In short, it’s an important part of your recovery to get right.
At The Foundry, we recognize that wellness is a key component to sobriety and it is integrated into our programs at every level. To learn more about our treatment options, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Reflections on 2019 and Looking Ahead with Dr. Michael Barnes
Season’s greetings from the Foundry clinical team! In a recent conversation with a friend, he asked me to pick my favorite holiday. I quickly responded, “New Year’s Day!” My answer comes from my annual practice of taking time to reflect on the past twelve months. Within that process, I stop to take stock of our program's wins, losses, and lessons learned.
What jumps out at me is how much our program has evolved and grown since the start of the year. Every aspect of our program has been assessed and updated:
- We have clarified our developmental model that more consistently allows clients to focus on addiction recovery, while simultaneously addressing issues of safety, autonomic nervous system dysregulation, and resolution of active trauma symptoms. Within this process, clients focus on connecting to others, trust, and attunement to needs that enhance their likelihood of embracing the fellowship of 12 step and other social support networks.
- We have expanded our trauma awareness and clinical focus to include work across the trauma continuum. This expansion allows us to help clients who are struggling with PTSD, Developmental/Complex Trauma, and the Primary and Secondary trauma that is experienced by family members.
- We have expanded our use of EMDR to include the DeTUR model for reducing the impact of addiction triggers and cravings. We have also introduced Brainspotting, somatic psychotherapy, and John Bruna’s Mindfulness in Recovery program.
- We made improvements to our Partial-Hospital (PHP), which has grown to include an 8 bed, community-based sober living unit, where participants live in a townhouse in Steamboat Springs and receive clinical services at the Ranch. Each participant is able to maintain their relationship with their primary therapist and continue to work on developmentally appropriate treatment plan objectives.
- We also improved the Equine Therapy Program so that it is now fully on-sight and provided to all participants in our Residential and PHP levels of care.
2020 will be another year of growth and development for the Foundry clinical program. We are currently developing a 90-day trauma integrated addiction program and a new multidisciplinary family program. The 90 days program will provide participants with increased integration as they move through various levels of care and into increased community participation. The family program will incorporate onsite service, in conjunction with remote educational and clinical activities that will be provided via computer. This integrated family program will allow us to promote family healing for the families of all of our clients, whether they are in Steamboat Springs, the Front Range, or across the country!
We want to thank all of our friends and referral resources for their support and the confidence that you have shown in our staff and clinical program throughout 2019! We hope that 2020 is a great year for you and for everyone who gives so much to the clients and families that we serve!
Navigating and Resolving Resentments
We all get resentments toward people around us, and when we do, it can be hard to sit down and have those uncomfortable talks. Looking another person in the eyes and telling them what they are doing is bothering you or admitting that you haven't been acting in a way you are proud of can be hard to do if we don't have a plan to do it reasonably, and mutually. As uncomfortable as these talks are, they are worth it if they can save a relationship with a friend or family member.
We can do things to make these talks easier for the other person and us. So, here are some tips for handling these awkward talks productively and positively.
Before We Even Have the Conversation
These talks can be anxiety-inducing and overall just icky feeling, but it helps to take time and make sure our intentions are clear, and we know what the goal of the conversation is. Often we assume we know why the other person did what they did. Try and clear what you think from your mind so that when they tell you their side of the story and you can be ready to hear that instead of just assuming you know best and walking away without anything changing.
It can be helpful to set aside a time and place to have this problematic talk. When thinking of a location, it's useful if the area is not in public. You don't want to be distracted by people around you or be worried that others are listening in on you while you are vulnerable. When you invite the person, you want to make sure that you are clear that you want to have this talk. Otherwise, the other person may feel ambushed. You could tell them, "hey, ___ I've noticed a tension between us about ___, would you be able to meet at my house around 8 to clear the air?". Warning the other person gives them the opportunity to think about there perspective on the situation so that they can be ready to talk about what is bothering them. Often if you spring a hard conversation on someone with no warning, they will become defensive, and they may throw excuses out, so it's better if you give the other party time to process things.
Time to Have a Hard Talk
Bringing up the topic can be scary. We frequently fear how the other person will react and if they will still like us after we bring this up. Remember, we are looking for a solution to save the relationship. If you don't have this talk, the feelings you are having won't go away. They will only get worse. So the first thing you need to do is state what upset you. Try and use specific examples and make it clear how you felt in those examples. Avoid using extremes such as "you always" or "you never." Have the mindset that you are going to fix this together.
You need to know the difference between what the other person's intentions were vs. how it impacted you. Likely, their plans were not to hurt. That doesn't change the fact that what they did DID hurt you. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt can go along way in helping to resolve the conflict. It is still essential that you let them know that their actions did hurt you, but it's equally important to let them know that you are aware that they likely not their intention. A simple way of phrasing this is "when you did ___ it made me feel like ____, I don't think this was what you meant to do, but I need you to know how it made me feel so we can clear the air."
Listen to what they are saying.
After you explain the way you felt, you should ask for their version of the events. Listen to what they are saying, and after they've finished, acknowledge what they've said. "What I heard you say way ___."
Own your part. If the other party has said that you did something that made them feel bad, take ownership of that, acknowledge what was said, and apologize for your role in that conflict. Owning your part could be as simple as saying, "when you did ___, I was hurt, so I was defensive for a few days, and I see how that could add strain to our relationship. I should have been up-front with you that I was hurt at that moment." Even if they don't mention anything you did, it's not a bad idea to let them know that there are ways you could have handled the situation better. Identify a few examples of your part in this before you have the conversation.
Come to a Solution
Ask them for ideas and listen to what they say and don't interrupt them. When you tell them your ideas for a solution, make sure to use we/us rather than me/you. Promise to try harder in the future and move on.
These conversations don't always go the way we want them to go. If it starts to feel like an argument, don't be afraid to tell them that you don't feel comfortable talking to them when emotions are running this hot. You can reschedule and come back to it later.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body, allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.
Five Common Misconceptions About Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery
In recent decades, meditation — especially mindfulness meditation — has gone from a sort of fringe practice to the mainstream. Workers practice mindfulness to boost their productivity and reduce stress, and mental health professionals regularly incorporate it into their treatment methodologies. Mindfulness is an integral part of dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, a method of therapy used to treat tough conditions like borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and suicidal depression. Mindfulness can help people cope with physical pain and emotional distress.
It can give them insight into their thinking and behavior. While mindfulness is frequently in the media, there are many persistent misconceptions about it. This is partly due to conflicting information and partly due to people conflating mindfulness with other forms of meditation. Here are some popular misconceptions about mindfulness.
“Mindfulness means having no thoughts.”
Perhaps the biggest misconception about mindfulness and meditation in general is that the goal is to empty your mind entirely. This may even sound pretty appealing. If you struggle with any mental health issue, you may feel like your thoughts are constantly attacking you and you would welcome even a temporary break from your own mental chatter. Unfortunately, mindfulness doesn’t work that way. For one thing, stopping your thoughts is nearly impossible. Thinking is what your brain does.
For another thing, flipping the “off” switch is not necessarily the best way to deal with painful thoughts and emotions. On the contrary, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. This way, you can better distinguish between challenging emotions and you have more insight into how thoughts and emotions are connected. Our most challenging emotions are often caused by irrational thoughts. Seeing your mental life more clearly is a big asset in therapy.
Finally, while mindfulness meditation doesn’t stop your thoughts, it does change your relationship to your thoughts. We tend to take our own thoughts far too seriously. In reality, thoughts are sort of like guesses about the world. Instead of reacting to them as if they are all true, we should ask whether they are true. Mindfulness helps you take a more realistic view of your own thoughts.
“Mindfulness means blissing out.”
While there are forms of meditation that are intended to help you cultivate certain states of mind — including bliss — mindfulness is not one of them. The problem with blissing out is that at some point, you have to come back. In that way, you would be substituting the escapism of drugs and alcohol with the escapism of mediation.
Mindfulness is rather about cultivating awareness and acceptance. Research shows that people who are more accepting of their negative emotions are less likely to suffer difficulties like depression as a result of emotional stress.
“Mindfulness makes you passive.”
One criticism of mindfulness you often hear is that it makes you passive. Since the whole point is to let go of attachments, be less judgmental of yourself and others, and be more accepting of situations beyond your control, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that you might become inert or willing to accept bad things that you might be able to change.
However, that’s not quite how mindfulness works. There’s a difference, for example, between being judgmental and having judgment. The former is a sort of ego-reinforcing exercise and the latter is a form of discernment. Often, our behavior and emotional reactions result from years of habit and conditioning and we aren’t even aware of it.
This is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in addiction. Mindfulness allows you to distinguish between what you really want for yourself and others instead of allowing yourself to keep going on autopilot, which is really far more passive.
“Mindfulness is just a way to relax.”
If you look at a group of people practicing mindfulness meditation, it probably seems very peaceful. They’re all sitting there quietly, relaxed, perhaps with their eyes closed. Indeed, mindfulness meditation can be quite relaxing and practice even begins with some deliberate relaxation. Even if mindfulness meditation were just a way of relaxing for 30 minutes a day, you would probably still get a lot of benefit from it.
However, there is far more to it than that. As discussed above, mindfulness is more about becoming aware and accepting whatever is going on in your mind. This is quite often the opposite of relaxing and can be quite intense. When your defenses are relaxed, troubling thoughts, emotions, and memories might come up, in which case, the last thing you are thinking about is relaxing.
This is a space where you can experience these things and learn not to be afraid of them. This is also why it’s typically a good idea to learn mindfulness meditation under the guidance of a trained instructor or therapist, who can help you out when troubling emotions and memories arise.
Mindfulness is just something to do when you feel like it.
Finally, a lot of people seem to have the idea that mindfulness meditation is something you do intermittently as needed, the way you might take the occasional mental health day off work or bathe your dog. To get the most out of mindfulness meditation, you need to practice every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Our brains are highly adaptable, but they only change through persistent effort.
Occasional meditation might be a nice thing to do on a hike or after a stressful week, but it won’t change your relation to your thoughts. The real value of mindfulness is being more aware and less reactive, and that takes consistent effort, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.
Mindfulness is everywhere these days, but it is often mischaracterized and therefore generally misunderstood by the public. Mindfulness isn’t thoughtless, blissing out, or passivity. Nor is it a panacea for everything wrong in your life. It can help you become more aware of what’s going on around you and inside your own head, making it great for addiction recovery because it can improve your relationships and make you more aware of the connections between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. At The Foundry, mindfulness is one of several modalities we use to help our clients break their dependence on drugs and alcohol. To learn more about our program, call us today at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.
Why Is Prescription Pill Addiction Hitting Suburban Areas Hardest?
Opioids and prescriptions are taking over the streets and suburbs. Prescription pill dependency is at an all-time high everywhere, with suburban areas being hit hardest in recent years. Opioid overdoses are also increasing, with a high rate of deaths amongst young adults and women. These demographics were less prevalent in the past years, concerning overdoses.
Still, these populations are hit harder than ever with increased rates of prescription medications flooding the marketplace (and homes). Understanding why prescription pill dependency hits the suburbs hardest and how to support a loved one who may be struggling with a substance use disorder can save a life.
Poverty and Substance Use
There has always been a consensus, historically, that poverty drives substance use. People in poverty are more likely to become addicted, for various reasons. Prescription pill use does not discriminate. Across all demographics, people have struggled with opioid substance use.
There are areas and pockets of poverty that struggle more than people in suburban areas, but it is also better hidden. People in financially robust regions and in more affluent neighborhoods are more likely to be functionally addicted. Poverty does not have as much to do with how many people become addicted as it does any other aspect of someone’s life like career or hobbies.
People from all walks of life are getting addicted to substances and need help. Effective substance use programs are the best at supporting people as they walk through treatment and seek help for a substance use disorder. To better understand the geography of growing substance use and overdoses, it is essential to look at all factors and assess the best ways to address the crisis.
Suburban Versus Rural Crisis
One of the reasons substance abuse has hit suburbia so hard is that it remained hidden for a long time. Suburban counties in the metro area have seen a rise in people addicted to prescriptions. Economically struggling places are still being ravaged by the opioid crisis, but there is a reason the conversation has highlighted economic distress and instability as a factor driving “deaths of despair.”
Among high-poverty counties, there has been an increased rate of people dying from overdoses. Counties that are poor, or remain poor, are seeing higher than average overdose deaths in their areas. Counties that have lower poverty rates are also seeing an uptick in people dying from overdoses. Not everyone is going to die from a substance overdose. In fact, many people remain addicted to prescriptions for a long time and never experience an overdose.
The vast majority of counties have no registered substance use nonprofits, including areas where poverty is higher. Rural areas are going to be less resourced in general as people have been moving to cities and suburbs for many years. The suburbs have not been immune to the ravages of the substance crisis.
Putting it All Together
Widespread substance use in these communities has led to more discussion about how the intersection of substance use disorders and suburban life has unfolded. The impact it has on community structure, individuals, and families is shocking. The need to find services to address this issue is widely noted and is appearing in the news more frequently.
In suburban areas, mothers, wives, daughters, husbands, and sons are all struggling under the weight of prescription addiction. There is nobody immune to the effects. Those struggling with substance use disorders feel they have nowhere to go. Often, high-functioning substance use disorders are harder to give up because people struggle to admit they need help.
They are afraid of what it might look like to give up the substance use disorder. Substance use service providers working in rural and suburban areas rely on different services and things to help them connect to recovery programs. The key is to find supportive networks that will help them navigate resources so they can stay healthy and clean for a long time to come.
Combating Substance Use
The best way to combat substance use in suburban areas is to ask for help. Families of loved ones need to be educated on what is available, what to ask for, and how to ask for help. Unless families and loved ones step out in faith to ask for help, it will continue to be an issue that hides in plain sight. Medical doctors are wary now of over-prescribing prescriptions, so they are creating a space for people to use other medications where needed.
National efforts help stem the flow of substances that are taking lives across the United States. Networks of families and friends affected are meeting to connect over their grief, loss, pain, and struggle while offering hope to others. The best way to move forward from this substance use disorder crisis is to seek supportive services in the area. Ask for help from loved ones and find the right treatment center, which includes treatment, detox, and recovery services long after treatment ends.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
I'm Taking a Walk
I'm Taking a Walk
"I'm taking a walk. I'm going outside.” John Prine
I learned the value of taking a walk at a young age. As a teenager, when I was having a hard time, I would climb the small hill behind our house and sit on a rock. The view from up there shifted my perspective. Everything looked different, smaller — the houses, the cars, the animals, the people, and most of all, my problems. Impossible situations that weighed heavy on my mind just a few moments earlier seemed to shrink in comparison to a much bigger picture. The further I walked, the more distant the chatter of my mind became, and like the music playing on the stereo of a passing car, the noise faded further and further away.
"A walk in nature walks the soul back home." Mary Davis
It's still the same. Today, when I go for a walk, the fog in my head clears, and I began to notice other things, like the sound of my feet crunching the ice crystals as I walk on the frozen ground. I hear myself exhale as I breathe deeper and release the tension I didn't realize I was holding. I feel my heart as it beats against my chest and pumps blood throughout my body, bringing a new awareness to some of the everyday miracles that I take for granted. What starts as a simple walk suddenly transforms into a treasure hunt filled with tiny details — an experience that awakens all of the senses.
Taking a walk is not a matter of exercise, although that is a side benefit. For me, taking a walk is about being kind to my body and my mind. It's giving myself a gift loaded with meaning — something different, something fun, something better. I walk to discover, and the world outside never disappoints. The rewards are bountiful — an inward sense of peace, a fresh perspective, an idea, or a sign assuring me that I am not alone. I always come back feeling better about life. After all, Mother Earth is the essence of abundance.
Most days, when I return, my partner asks, "What did you find?" Once, I came home with a story about the stump from a fallen tree. It looked just like a water bowl. My Great Pyrenees, Snow, thought so too. She lapped up the clear water as if it had been left there just for her. Another time, I found two giant Lion's Mane mushrooms, which still amazes me. I took them home and made delicious faux crab cakes. Sometimes I find a feather, or a rock, or the bones of an animal. Recently, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the brief glimpse of an owl flying between trees. Owls have specialized feathers that enable near-silent flight. Today I saw a buzzard. It was just what I needed to see, a timely message to let me know everything is okay. A buzzard is a type of vulture. It cleans things up. As old habits and beliefs come to the surface in my life, I realize it's time to get rid of the things that no longer serve me, the old decaying stuff. Sometimes I stand for a few minutes and soak in the warmth of the sun or listen to the sound of rain gently falling through the trees. Taking a walk infuses my life with meaning in more ways than I can count.
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks." John Muir
The ever-changing world of nature is a teacher that reminds me to be amazed and to notice — the earth I walk on, the expansiveness of the sky where the stars, the moon, and the sun exist, where the birds and airplanes fly, and the trees reach. It also reminds me that we are all connected, and every living thing plays an integral part, including me.
"When we reconnect with Nature there are measurable positive impacts on our physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Cultivating reverence for Nature and our place in it can profoundly change our lives." Dr. Peter Borton
Perspective is everything. Taking a walk offers a different view, like stepping out from behind the curtain and realizing there is an even bigger show going on outside. These days, I have an agreement with myself to watch the sunrise and sunset every day. Unless I climb to the top of the hill, the trees around my house are too tall for a clear view of the sunrise, so instead, I look west and watch as the sun softly illuminates the land. I also try to pause a moment and look up whenever I walk out the door or get out of the car (I don't want to miss something extraordinary because I was too busy looking down at my phone.) Stop, look, and listen. Those words I learned as a child before crossing the street are still relevant today.
"I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean."
from I Hope You Dance written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers
Most of all, when I take a walk, I feel smaller, like a tiny pebble in the stream. I have a renewed sense of gratitude, knowing that I don't have to do this thing called life alone. I am supported, nourished, and nurtured by a world that is alive. Nature also grants me a sense of wholeness and belonging — knowing I am a part of something much bigger and infinite. Some days, I want to stay in that sacred space forever, but I know that I can't, I have things to do. However, if there is one thing I am sure of, taking a walk does wonders for my mental health. It makes me feel better, and life doesn't seem to be as hard.
Trisha Leone Sandora
Six Common Misconceptions About Addiction Treatment
In recent years, the media has paid a lot more attention to issues related to addiction and treatment because of the opioid crisis. Despite this increase in attention, many myths and misconceptions about addiction, treatment, and recovery persist. These misconceptions can stand in the way of people getting the help they need. The following are some of the more common misconceptions around addiction treatment.
“You have to hit rock bottom before treatment will work.”
One of the most persistent myths about treatment and recovery is that you have to hit rock bottom before you can recover from a substance use disorder. The biggest problem with this myth is that there’s no guarantee someone will hit bottom before they die of an accident or overdose. In 2018, more than 67,000 people died from drug overdoses, and each year, about 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes.
While a rock-bottom moment may help convince someone to get treatment, it’s not the only thing that can. For example, about 120,000 people go through drug courts each year and those who do are far less likely to reoffend than people who just go to jail; indicating that treatment can be effective even if you don’t really want to go. What’s more, interventions are typically successful at getting people into treatment if they’re led by experienced interventionists. The truth is that most people who enter treatment are ambivalent about getting sober and they typically feel more motivated as treatment progresses.
“Treatment is for rich people.”
With so many news stories about celebrities going to rehab, it’s easy to associate addiction treatment — especially residential treatment — with the rich and famous. In reality, even inpatient treatment is more affordable than most people realize. In fact, the less luxurious treatment centers often offer better value, since more of your money goes to treatment rather than amenities.
Beyond that, there is a spectrum of care for addiction, starting with counseling or other outpatient services on one end and inpatient treatment on the other. Most people can afford some level of treatment, especially now that there are more ways than ever to pay for treatment. Most insurance companies will pay for at least a portion of treatment, and the recent SUPPORT Act has made more federal money available for treatment. Before you assume treatment is out of reach, call a few programs and see if they can help you pay for it.
“All you really need is detox.”
Since detox is the first really big barrier many people see standing between them and sobriety, they assume that if they could just get past that, then the rest of recovery will be easy. However, that’s typically not the case. Most people’s addictive behavior is driven by something else, such as a mental health issue or trauma. Until these are resolved or brought under control, any attempt at recovery is likely to be difficult and short.
A strong recovery typically entails addressing any mental health issues, creating healthy lifestyle changes, and connecting with a strong sober network. A good treatment program can help you get a good start on these tasks in a short time.
“If treatment didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second — or third — time.”
Addiction is a chronic condition, and it often takes years of trying before recovery finally sticks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people who get treatment for a substance use disorder relapse within the first year. However, just because treatment didn’t stick in the past doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.
While it may feel like you have to start over after a relapse, you’re actually starting from a better position than you did the first time. You are already familiar with the recovery process, you probably have some kind of sober network, and you have some new mistakes to learn from.
What’s more, not all treatment programs are the same. If you didn’t succeed with treatment in the past, it could be the program wasn’t great or it wasn’t well suited to your needs. You might do better in a different program. Or, if you liked the program, you might benefit from spending more time there. You have not failed until you give up.
“You can’t get treatment when you have a job or family to worry about.”
A lot of people feel like they can’t get addiction treatment because they have family or work obligations and they can’t just drop everything. While you do have to put life on hold to some extent to enter inpatient treatment, it is worth it for some people. If that’s just not possible, there are treatment options that allow you to live at home and work while still getting treatment — there are mutual-aid programs like AA and NA, you can talk to a therapist, you can get outpatient services, or you can enter an intensive outpatient program. Most treatment options don’t actually require you to go live in the facility for 30 to 90 days. Find a treatment option that works for you.
“After treatment, your addiction is cured.”
Too often, people assume that once they go through treatment, they’re set for life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. As noted above, addiction is a chronic condition that most people will have to manage for life. Treatment is a great way to get away from an unhealthy situation, learn some crucial recovery skills, start treating any mental health issues, begin creating some healthy lifestyle habits, and forming social connections.
The first challenge comes after you leave, since many people have trouble making the transition back to regular life. This is why follow-up care, stepping down in treatment intensity, finding a local 12-Step meeting, and possibly even arranging a sober-living situation are often helpful for making the progress you made during treatment carry over into regular life.
There are many misconceptions about addiction treatment; those mentioned above are among the most common. Overcoming addiction is complicated and personal. There is no one-size-fits-all, and it often takes years of persistent effort for recovery to last. At The Foundry, we know that a lot goes into a strong recovery. We use multiple modalities to provide individualized care. For more information about our treatment options, call us today at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.
Five Common Misconceptions About Trauma
Trauma is one of the most common drivers of addictive behavior. Although identifying trauma can be complicated--as we’ll see--research suggests it plays a major role in developing substance use disorders. For example, one study found that 66% of women with an opioid use disorder also reported sexual abuse and various studies have found that between 20% and 50% of people seeking help for a substance use disorder also have symptoms of PTSD.
That’s why identifying and treating trauma is crucial for a strong recovery from a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about trauma that contribute to the stigma and prevent people from getting the help they need. The following are some common misconceptions about trauma.
1. “Trauma Is Life-Threatening”
We tend to think of trauma as something that might kill us--combat, a serious car accident, an armed robbery, and so on. However, trauma is fairly subjective. Consider two potentially traumatic events: a serious car accident and a divorce. The car accident is typically more life-threatening but a divorce can deprive you of your family, your sense of belonging, a lot of your money and security, and even your sense of self-worth. All of this might have more profound long-term consequences for your life and sense of well-being. Therefore, it’s not necessarily true that just because you haven’t been shot at, beaten, or otherwise physically threatened, that you haven’t experienced trauma.
2. “People Who Experience Trauma Usually Get PTSD”
Awareness of PTSD has gradually spread following the Vietnam War. The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that about 30% of Vietnam War veterans developed PTSD at some point in their lives--a really astronomical number, considering the number is estimated to be less than 20% even for Iraq War veterans. However, conditions for Vietnam veterans were especially bad.
Draftees were disproportionately drawn from disadvantaged backgrounds, sometimes choosing military service to avoid prison time, they were often ordered to harm civilians or were required to harm civilians in self-defense, and they received little support upon their return home. All of these factors have been shown to increase the risk of developing PTSD.
Among the general public, the odds that trauma will develop into PTSD are much lower. Although about 60% of men and 50% of women will experience trauma at some point in their lives, fewer than eight percent of Americans will ever develop PTSD. The severity of the trauma, a history of abuse or mental health issues, and lack of social support all increase your risk of developing PTSD following a traumatic event.
3. “Trauma Only Affects the Weak”
Given that trauma develops into PTSD only rarely, one might draw the conclusion that trauma only affects the weak. While some people are more vulnerable to trauma than others, “weakness” is not the right word for that vulnerability. As noted above, the severity of the trauma, history of mental health issues, and social support are all important factors, none of which you have much control over. A severe enough trauma will affect pretty much anyone and you have no control over a history of mental health issues.
Research suggests that high trait neuroticism might also increase your risk of developing PTSD, as well as other mental health issues. You might even say it takes more strength for someone with high neuroticism to weather adversity and seek help than it does for someone who just isn’t too bothered by anything. Besides, the history books are full of people who did heroic things and later suffered from PTSD. Audie Murphy, for example, won literally every US military award for heroism during WWII but struggled with PTSD and alcohol use for the rest of his life.
Furthermore, the fact that social support is a strong mitigating factor shows that we all need help sometimes, whether it’s from a therapist or from supportive friends, family, and colleagues. Your environment makes a big difference and what separates a “strong” and a “weak” person might be nothing more than the social support they enjoy.
4. “Trauma Is Inherently Bad”
We tend to think of trauma as a bad thing. No one wants to be threatened, raped, beaten, shot at, divorced, or nearly killed in an accident. We avoid these things whenever possible. The immediate effects of these kinds of incidents are almost always bad--pain, shame, anxiety, depression, and so on. However, in the long term, it is possible to bounce back from trauma better than before.
While post-traumatic stress disorder gets most of the attention, there is also such a thing as post-traumatic growth. Just surviving a traumatic experience can be a source of strength because you feel like if you can survive that, you can survive anything. For example, many Civil Rights leaders survived assassination attempts, which only strengthened their determination.
It’s easy to imagine giving up in the face of credible death threats, but in these cases, the result was the opposite. That kind of growth is available to anyone who has experienced trauma. If you are able to learn from it, to gain a sense of purpose, to strengthen your connection to the people who are most important to you, and so on, trauma can be put to good use.
5. “You Will Suffer from Trauma for the Rest of Your Life”
The usual model of trauma is that we imagine being damaged physically or psychologically and carrying that damage the rest of our lives. It’s true that some kinds of trauma will change your life permanently, that some events leave scars. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to live less of a life. Even people who experienced childhood trauma or severe trauma can overcome it and even grow when they get the right help. There has been a lot of progress treating trauma in recent decades, which means trauma isn’t typically something that you have to suffer with for the rest of your life.
At The Foundry, we understand that trauma plays a major role in substance use disorders. That’s why we use many different approaches to help our clients heal from trauma as part of our comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. Our methods include cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, Alpha-Stim, family therapy, and others. To learn more, call us at (844) 955-1066.
“Why Do I Have to Go to Group Therapy?”
Group therapy is a central component of nearly every addiction treatment program. In fact, the original AA format is similar to a group therapy session in that people share their struggles and triumphs in a supportive and confidential setting. Unfortunately, many people are wary of participating in group therapy.
This is perhaps understandable. After all, you have to discuss difficult personal topics with people you hardly know. Although it can seem intimidating at first, most people end up getting a lot out of group therapy sessions and even enjoying it. The following are ways in which group therapy is especially effective for overcoming addiction.
You see you’re not alone.
Addiction can be a terribly alienating experience. One reason is that it tends to lead to physical and social isolation. People with substance use issues often go to great lengths to hide the fact, which may lead to secretive or deceptive behavior. People often isolate themselves to protect their drinking or drug use time, blowing off plans with friends and family.
Addiction is alienating in a psychological way too. Many people who struggle with addiction feel like they’re uniquely burdened. They don’t see other people having the same problems they’re having. What’s even worse, many people who develop substance use disorders have also experienced challenges such as trauma, sexual abuse or assault, and childhood abuse or neglect. They often have a deep sense of shame as a result of these experiences and that shame drives their addictive behavior.
Part of the power of group therapy is that when you get a group of people who have had similar experiences together, they start sharing and they discover they’re not alone after all. Many people have suffered the same abuse and reacted in similar ways. Many people have done things they aren’t proud of as a result of their substance use. Discovering you’re not alone is liberating and it’s when shame starts to heal.
Groups provide social support.
There are mainly two reasons social support from the group can aid therapy. First, it helps keep you engaged. People tend to be a little more motivated to show up on time and participate when they know others in the group are depending on them. Greater engagement leads to greater outcomes.
Second, the group can provide moral and emotional support. A lot of what you have to do in recovery is hard to do on your own. For example, you may have trouble maintaining boundaries with family members or friends who still drink or use drugs.
Your group can support you and assure you that you’re on the right track. You also feel a sense of connection and belonging in the group that you might not get elsewhere. For many people, this sense of support helps them heal and find a greater sense of purpose.
You get different perspectives.
One of the great things about group therapy is that you get a lot of different perspectives on your problems. A drawback of individual therapy is that your therapist can only offer one different perspective. Sometimes you end up feeling like, “Well, that’s just your opinion.” In group, you can get a range of perspectives, including that of your therapist.
You are more likely to believe something about yourself when several people tell you the same thing, especially if it’s something you don’t really want to hear. However, diverse perspectives aren’t just about your behavior. They can open you up to different ways people see things in general.
For example, if you hate conflict, it might shock you to discover that some people in your group just see it as a normal and inevitable part of life and not something to be feared and avoided. That kind of insight can change your view of life outside of therapy.
Group is a better approximation of life.
When you’re in individual therapy, you are able to control the narrative about your life. You get to characterize other people’s words and actions and your therapist is left to speculate about how honest you’re being. In group, it’s much harder to control the narrative because your therapist can see how you interact with other people in real life.
For example, if you are overly defensive or critical, that will soon become apparent in the way you interact with the group. Since many of our social habits are fairly general, it doesn’t matter so much that the other people in the group aren’t actually family, friends, or coworkers.
You improve your social skills.
Related to the point above, group therapy is also a chance to practice new behaviors and social skills in a safe environment. Some therapeutic methods, like dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, incorporate group therapy for this specific reason. DBT was developed to help people with borderline personality disorder but is now used for all kinds of difficult conditions, including addiction. People with borderline personality disorder tend to have a lot of relationship problems because of how they interpret other people’s behavior.
Group therapy is an opportunity to put new social skills into use before you have to use them out in the world. It’s an especially good way of learning to hear constructive feedback without getting angry or defensive and give feedback without being mean or critical. Improving your social skills is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationships and reduce the amount of stress in your life.
It’s more cost-effective.
No one likes to hear that their therapy is cost-effective because it sounds like another way of saying “cheap.” However, according to the American Psychological Association, group therapy has been found by more than 50 clinical trials to be as effective as individual therapy for treating a range of conditions, including substance use disorders and common co-occurring mental health issues.
If you are in an intensive addiction treatment program, you are likely getting both individual and group therapy and group therapy increases the number of hours you can spend in therapy each week without a commensurate rise in cost.
Group therapy can help you see that you’re not alone, it can provide support, show you different perspectives, and help you increase your social skills, all for a lower cost than individual therapy. Although it’s normal to be hesitant at first, you will probably derive a lot of benefits from group therapy and feel good about the experience. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
What Fills Your Cup
What fills your cup?!
I recently read an article about getting rid of toxic things in your life. It made me think about what ACTUALLY fills my cup. And, on the flip side, what drains it. A few things that have filled my cup recently: sunshine, tea date with Aloha, trying a new Pilates class, ice cream with Theo, the gang back together, my sister’s smile, watching Kara get her first muscle-up, a side country hike with the boys, an extra workout with Jaime. And the list goes on…
People ask me ALL the time why I do CrossFit. There are more than one hundred reasons why but the single unparalleled authentic reason, is the family, the community, the squad. This is what keeps everyone coming back for more. Sure, you look fantastic, you feel amazing, you can pull cars off of small children, you can do hundreds of push-ups and pull-ups, you accomplish new things every day, youPR, you try new things, you become better at the things you do outside the gym, and you have one hell of family that would do just about anything for you.
So, my challenge to YOU this month is to search high and low for what fills YOUR cup, big or small. It could be a morning meditation or an afternoon dog walk. It could be a random act of kindness or a phone call to your mother. I suggest surrounding yourself with like-minded people and get rid of the ones that drain you. Replace the negative with positive. And, by filling your cup first, you can be abetter person, friend, spouse, co-worker, parent to those around you.
Here are a few tips to help you fill your cup, and in turn, fill someone else’s:
1. Take care of yourself-Eat well, sweat daily, get good sleep, and have a glass of water every once in a while. Find the things that make YOU feel healthy and do them! This will allow to show up better in your every day.
2. Say no-Stop saying yes will when you REALLY mean no. Go with your gut instinct and stick to your decision.
3. Try something new-You will be amazed at how great you feel by the challenge, the accomplishment, and the “good” hurt. Plus, change is good, right?!
4. Meet up with a friend and have a genuine face-to-face conversation-I can’t begin to tell you how simple this seems and how hard it is to schedule. Just do it. Make the time. It is WAY worth it.
5. Get outside-It is a funky time of year no doubt but make yourself get at least a few moments of fresh airEVERYDAY. It is like a breath of fresh air…. HA! You will feel instantly full.
Stop and smell the roses. Don’t worry be happy. Stay present. Say thank you. Look around you, find the simple joys in life, and remember that if it doesn’t fill your cup, dump it. Happy Spring.
Alpha-Stim: Powerful Addiction Treatment Technology
Alpha-Stim is a powerful treatment tool to help individuals achieve recovery and relieve pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia - all without the use of medication.
These challenging symptoms, which present additional obstacles to those entering recovery, are controlled by the the billions of different cells that comprise the body’s central nervous system. With every sensation, these cells communicate by conducting electrochemical signals between the your body and brain.
A clinically proven medical device, Alpha-Stim treats the body at the electron level by changing the electrical and chemical activity of certain nerve cells in the brainstem. By transmitting a unique electrical waveform to modulate the cells’ signals, cells are returned to baseline, normal functioning. No pain or discomfort is experienced while using Alpha-Stim.
In essence, the Alpha-Stim focuses on achieving equilibrium in the “alpha” state of your brain, which can be measured and monitored on an electroencephalogram recording.
In a healthy alpha state, stress-effects are reduced, as well as agitation. A patient’s mood is more stabilized, and the ability to regulation sensation and perception of particular types of pain are improved.
When treating anxiety, insomnia, and depression, a current is applied with easy-to-use clips attached to the ear lobes for at least 20 minutes several times per week, or on an as-needed basis. Anxiety is reduced immediately while insomnia and depression may require up to three weeks to see a significant change.
When treating pain with the Alpha-Stim, two wands or attachable electrodes are placed directly at the site of the pain. A microcurrent waveform signals the cells to immediately and significantly reduce the sensation of pain. Results can be felt instantaneously.
Whether you are treating anxiety, depression, insomnia or pain, a pleasant and relaxed feeling of well-being will be experienced. I have seen Alpha-Stim help countless people reduce the discomfort and pain that is common in the first stages of recovery. This treatment is available to all participants during a residential treatment stay.
Rudy Spector is a Registered Nurse at The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center in Colorado. She takes pride in helping those achieve recovery and is a firm believer in the healthy benefits of outdoor activities. She has been a resident of Steamboat Springs since 2000 and enjoys spending time with her husband and 4-year-old daughter.
How Getting Outdoors Heals Body and Mind
Addiction recovery isn’t just about abstaining from drugs and alcohol; it’s much bigger than that. Recovery is about living a healthier, more fulfilling life. It’s about creating a general sense of well-being so you don’t want to use drugs or alcohol. That’s why healthy lifestyle changes are such a crucial part of treatment and recovery. The body and mind are one unit and what’s good for one is good for the other.
Among many positive lifestyle changes you will make in recovery, one of the best may be spending more time in nature. Our modern lifestyles keep us safe and comfortable indoors but we’ve lost a lot in the bargain. Nature can be a source of calm, joy, and wonder. Spending more time outdoors can benefit your recovery in the following ways.
Nature Is Good for Your Mental Health
Mental health is part of the equation for most people recovering from a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, at least half of people with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health issue, such as major depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and others. While these issues require professional therapy, spending time outdoors can help tip the odds in your favor.
Many studies have found that spending time in nature benefits your mental health, but one large Danish study is especially noteworthy. Because the Danish health system tracks the health of all of its residents from birth, this particular study was able to gather a huge sample of mental health data--in fact, they gathered mental health data from every citizen born between 1985 and 2003. The researchers then compared this data to satellite images that showed which citizens lived in greener areas.
The results were striking. The team looked at 16 different mental health issues and found that people who grew up in greener areas had a lower risk of 14 of the 16 conditions. Children who grew up in more urban settings had between 15 and 55 percent higher risk of developing mental health issues, depending on the specific issue.
Nature Promotes Exercise
One positive aspect of spending more time in nature is that it promotes exercise. Exercise is another crucial aspect of living a healthier lifestyle. Its many benefits include reduced stress, better mood, improved memory, better concentration, better cardiovascular health, healthier body weight, and better overall health. There is even relatively new research suggesting that exercise helps reduce relapse rates among people with substance use issues.
Unfortunately, not everyone loves exercise, especially in its modern form. Too often, we think of exercise as grinding away useless miles on a treadmill or stationary bike or pumping out reps on some sweaty weight machine. It’s no wonder the prospect of making exercise part of your day is less than thrilling.
However, exercising in nature is different; it was what we evolved to do. For example, hiking across varied terrain through changing scenery is both healthier and more enjoyable than mechanical forms of exercise. What’s more, there are so many ways to be active in nature--hiking, rowing, rock climbing, biking, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Whether you just want a calming walk or something more adventurous, there is an outdoor activity to suit your taste.
Nature Reduces Stress
One mechanism researchers frequently cite to explain nature’s positive effects on physical and mental health is its tendency to reduce stress. Chronic stress has many corrosive effects, including cardiovascular damage, digestive issues, poor immune function, anxiety, and depression and anything you do to relax between bouts of stress gives your body a chance to repair itself.
As discussed above, spending time in nature promotes physical activity--since you’re probably walking or biking, rather than driving--and that certainly helps reduce stress, but studies suggest that exercising in nature has an even greater stress-reducing effect. In a study conducted by Stanford researchers, participants were divided into two groups.
One group walked for 90 minutes in a park with trees, shrubs, and grass, while the other group walked for 90 minutes along a busy street. Both groups were given a series of tests including physical tests, brain scans, and questionnaires before and after the walk.
As it turned out, the group that had walked in the park had less activity in a part of the brain associated with rumination, the habit of obsessing over problems. Rumination has been linked to a greater risk of anxiety and depression. For some reason, walking in nature quiets the part of the brain that likes to stir up emotional trouble.
Nature Promotes Prosocial Behavior
Perhaps the most surprising effect of nature is that it can promote prosocial behavior. That may seem obvious if you’re camping with friends or doing other activities that require teamwork but spending time alone in nature can also make you more altruistic. This is because nature provides opportunities to experience awe--the sense of feeling overwhelmed by being in the presence of something greater than yourself.
A number of studies have found that experiences of awe, such as looking down from a mountain top or hiking through a redwood forest, can make us more sociable, less aggressive, more likely to help others, more likely to donate money, and more likely to behave ethically. These kinds of behaviors make you happier in general and they also help you find a sense of social connection, which is a crucial element of a strong recovery.
Spending time in nature can do us a lot of good. In addition to the benefits proven by scientific research, there is also something that is both soothing and restoring about the outdoors. At The Foundry, we understand the healing power of nature and we integrate many outdoor activities into our holistic treatment programs. To learn more about our treatment options, call us at (844) 955-1066.
How to Quit Enabling Substance Use Disorders
Someone who is dearly loved can fall deep into harmful substance use behaviors. Enabling their behavior only makes it worse. It is hard to identify the signs of enabling behavior because it seems closely related to “helping” them figure things out or alleviating discomfort. Spending lots of time and energy on a loved one like this is only going to end in heartache. Eventually, it ends up with the person resenting the entire process and feeling stuck in the cycle with the loved suffering from a substance abuse disorder. Find some tips on how to identify what is going on and how to quit enabling behaviors for good.
Defining Enabling Behavior
Enabling is complicated. Most people don’t even realize they are engaging in enabling behavior. The line is an essential one to draw, and it is vital people understand the ways enabling behavior can keep everyone locked inside a substance use disorder. Enabling occurs when a behavior keeps someone from experiencing consequences or the truth of their behavior, and they may not ever experience the pain of their reality. Some common ways people enable loved ones with substance use disorders include:
- Secretive behavior, sneaking substances to them or “covering” for them.
- Making ultimatums but not following-through with any consequences.
- Providing care-taking for a person with a substance use disorder when their ability to provide self-care is impaired.
- Ignoring or dismissing undesirable or dangerous behavior.
- Prioritizing their needs above those of others in the family possibly creating conflict.
- Bailing that person out of jail, financial trouble, or any bind that they could correct themselves.
The enabling behavior continues because they love them so much, but love is not enough to fix the challenges. Those with substance use disorders who struggle must be accountable for their choices if they want to change. It may be a hard lesson to learn for both the enabler and the person dealing with addiction, but responsibility for self shouldn’t be compromised.
Enabling From Fear
One of the key ways people continue to enable is from fear. They worry if they don’t care for their loved ones, something bad will happen. A caring mother may offer a home to the child because it seems safer than living on the streets. Fear is not a good motivator for loved ones of those with a substance use disorder. Many loved ones want to shield the person from pain rather than let them face harsh consequences. They don’t realize it also encourages them to continue doing what they’re doing. It proves to the person with substance use disorder that this way of living is acceptable and encourages them to manipulate others to get what they want.
The more a person learns about substance use disorders, the better they become at dealing with it. The more objective the person can be in support of a loved one, the better off they will be. There are many myths surrounding substance use disorders, including that helping them is healing. They are not going to help if they are enabled to keep using substances or drinking. Education means learning the true nature of substances and alcohol and how it affects everyone. Recovery is beneficial when family and loved ones are all involved in the process. Every person plays a role in reinforcing substance use behavior. Recovery is more beneficial when everyone knows how to play a part in doing better.
Don’t try to help the loved one alone. Peer support groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and others provide resources for loved ones struggling with substance use disorders. The meetings are helpful, and they provide support for those who need it most. Participation is not required all the time, but people can show up as they please and feel supported. Talking about the issues can help find solutions they may not have thought about and find healing for their issues, along with a loved one’s substance use disorder.
Create Space Financially
One way that families often enable loved ones is by taking care of them financially. They may pay their bills for them, give them credit cards to use, or offer bank account information. There is a good chance a loved one is taking advantage of this opportunity. Consider ways to stop the financial issues in their tracks. Set limits by refusing to bail them out of consequences, require rent payments, and limit the money you give your loved one. Don’t freely give if it is funding drugs or alcohol, because this keeps them in the cycle. Cutting them off helps them feel the consequences and forces them to try and seek other means of getting help.
Interventions, treatment programs, and family support groups are key to healing. An intervention most often is successful when set up by a professional. Every person needs to participate that is impacted by the substance use behavior to be effective. Be sure to be ready for whatever outcome arises. They will not quit until they are ready to quit, but the support of loved ones in a healthy way is essential to the journey of recovery.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.
Mixed Nut Granola
Well it is finally happening! Spring has sprung! The short days of winter are almost behind us, and the activity filled days of summer are right around the corner! The most exciting thing of all is that our greenhouse is actually green now!
I know! How exciting! Soon we will be actually putting these plants right into our meals. A big part of my food philosophy is sustainability, which is driven largely from the farm to table (or garden to table) cooking that we are able to do at the Ranch!
Oftentimes I am asked why cooking farm to table is actually more sustainable than globalized food sourcing. Well there are so many reasons, but I will only share one here. One big reason is that we know everything that we put into our garden/greenhouse at the ranch. Kim Brooks, our gardener, is so thoughtful about how all the plants in our garden can work together instead of forcing things to grow with fertilizers and pesticides. Since larger factory farms in America use human produced fertilizers and pesticides, the average acre of corn grown in America in 2006 needed about 50 gallons of oil to grow! This is mainly due to the amount of energy needed to make the fertilizers and then transport them.
The best meals are the meals in which you have a connection to every ingredient on the plate. Whether you planted, harvested, or foraged all of the ingredients, you can take pride in the thought that your meal is making a positive impact!
With all of the excitement of farm to table summer cooking on the horizon, I still make everything I can from scratch with seasonal ingredients. Last month I shared my famous homemade bread recipe, and this month I want to share another staple recipe! A classic granola recipe! This granola is perfect for a breakfast parfait or just plain granola and milk! It is also great for a midday snack!
Do you want more content from the Foundry kitchen? Or from Foundry altogether? Look us up on Instagram (@foundrysteamboat), Facebook (Foundry Steamboat), or Twitter (@foundryrehab)!
Mixed nut Granola!
(Makes about 1 gallons' worth)
- 5-6 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups unsalted mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, really whatever nuts you want!)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ cup sunflower, coconut or canola oil*
- ¼ cup honey
- ~1 cup of dried fruits (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a small saucepan over medium heat heat the honey until warm and runny, then take off the heat for later
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer combine the rolled oats, mixed nuts, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until combined Add in whatever oil you are using and stir until the oil coats all of the mixture
- Stir in the honey and make sure it is well mixed
- Dump granola mixture onto a large baking sheet, and press with a spatula until all the granola is leveled on the sheet
- Bake for 8 minutes in the oven, then take out of the oven and stir the granola on the pan. After stirring press the granola until level again and place back in the oven. After another 8 minutes take the granola out of the oven and stir/press granola one more time. Then place in the oven for the final 5-8 minutes until golden brown
- After taking the granola out of the oven press it with a spatula one more time, let the granola cool until it is cool to the touch.
- Once fully cooled, break up the granola with a spatula. The granola should be nice and crunchy!
Have a fun and clean month everyone!
- Chef Henry
*Big thank you to Andrew Olson (@_andrew_olson_) for taking some awesome food styling pictures with us!
*Also big thank you to Siena Atkins with @sienas_studio for providing us with great handmade plates to put our creations on!
How a Growth Mindset Can Help You Beat Addiction
Beneath everything else, recovery from addiction is not about abstaining from drugs and alcohol but rather about improving the way you relate to yourself and the world. There are many ways in which our own minds can cause us problems. We have intrusive thoughts, we worry too much, we have inaccurate beliefs about the world, and we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. One very common way we make ourselves miserable and limit our own progress is by having a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset.
Growth vs. Fixed Mindset
A fixed versus growth mindset is a concept developed and popularized by Carol Dweck. In her research, she noticed that some children were more tenacious in solving problems and she discovered that the main thing that differentiated these children from those who gave up easily was that they had what she termed a “growth mindset” while the children who gave up quickly had a “fixed mindset.”
The difference between these two mindsets is simple: If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you’re basically born with certain talents and capacities, such as intelligence or social skills or athletic skills and so on, and there’s not much you can do to improve your performance in any given area if you’re not especially talented in that area. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that with a bit of effort, you can improve your skills and grow as a person.
The reality is, of course, somewhere between these two. Talent is certainly a real thing. Few people will reach the heights of Lebron James or Elon Musk no matter how hard they work. On the other hand, many--perhaps most--of us have too little confidence in our ability to make meaningful changes in our lives. In other words, most of us would be much better off if we made an effort to adopt a growth mindset. That’s especially true for anyone recovering from addiction.
A Growth Mindset Reduces Resistance to Change
Resistance to treatment is a common problem. Many people have what AA people call “terminal uniqueness.” This is sort of the idea that “I’m not like everyone else here, so I don’t have to engage with treatment the way they do.” This typically stems from a need to protect your sense of identity. Everyone else is an “addict” while you are basically a decent person who hit a rough patch. To participate fully in treatment is like admitting that you got lost somehow and you can’t find your way back.
To a person with a fixed mindset, this is a serious threat. It implies that this edifice of self you have constructed has a faulty foundation. You want to reject any evidence to the contrary. However, to someone with a growth mindset, the idea that you might need help is much more palatable. You’re not broken on some fundamental level; you just have some weak points you need to strengthen and you know that you can get stronger with persistent effort.
A Growth Mindset Opens Up New Possibilities
When you’re first considering the possibility of treatment or just starting out in recovery, it can be very hard to imagine a better life. You are probably at a low point, or else you wouldn’t be considering a major life change. All of your future possibilities are colored by your present circumstances. This is especially true if you have a fixed mindset. That’s because when you try to imagine living a happier, more fulfilling life, you’re trying to imagine living that life as the person you currently are.
You may think, “How am I supposed to live a good life when I can barely get out of bed, when I can’t get through the day without drugs and alcohol, when I’m constantly tormented by anxiety, and so on?” It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask when you don’t believe in the possibility of growth.
If you have a growth mindset, it’s easier to imagine that a better life is possible, even if you aren’t yet sure how. You may still be aware of all the obstacles in your way but perhaps you can also remember overcoming other obstacles that once seemed insurmountable. You may not be able to imagine living a better life as the person you are now, but you can imagine living a better life as the person you can become.
A Growth Mindset Turns Challenges into Opportunities
Perhaps the greatest advantage of a growth mindset is that it turns challenges into opportunities. There is no shortage of challenges in addiction recovery. In fact, every stage of recovery--detox, treatment, therapy, transitioning home, continuing with your recovery plan, and so on--offers a different set of challenges.
If you have a fixed mindset, every challenge is just an opportunity to fail. You have your little set of skills and qualities and if those don’t equip you for the challenges you face, then you’re just out of luck. People will see that you, as a person, just don’t measure up.
However, if you have a growth mindset, your model of challenges is completely different. Instead of seeing them as the rocks that sink your ship, you see them as weights that make you stronger. A challenge is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. It’s a chance to learn new skills and expand your ability to persevere. Every new challenge recovery presents is an opportunity for growth and will prepare you to overcome even bigger challenges down the road.
Adopting a growth mindset is one of the best ways to become more robust to the challenges that you will face in addiction recovery. It makes you less afraid of change, it makes you better able to imagine a happier life without drugs and alcohol, and it makes every new challenge into a chance to grow.
At The Foundry, we know that getting sober and staying sober is probably the hardest thing you will ever have to do. We also believe that abstinence from drugs and alcohol is only one outcome of a process that will increase your overall quality of life, including your mental and physical health, and your relationships. For more information about our treatment program, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Overcoming Addiction Cravings With Nutrition
As the chef at The Foundry and someone who has overcome addiction to celebrate four years of sobriety, I have seen why nutrition is such an important topic for those in recovery. When in the throes of addiction, we usually don’t care about the negative effects our substance abuse has on the mind and body. My intention is to help educate, inform, and explore how we can improve our lives through nutrition in recovery.
The first topic to address is one everyone is familiar with: cravings. Whether it be for chocolate, nicotine, salty snacks or alcohol we all have experienced cravings in our lives. The difficulty about handling these cravings in sobriety is that we as addicts need instant gratification. Cravings are a signal from your body telling you that it needs something, and your brain recognizes these needs in the way you usually fulfill them. If you always eat candy bars, when you experience a sugar craving your brain will think of candy bars first. If you start satisfying that sugar craving a banana or green smoothie, your brain will begin craving these healthier options when your blood sugar drops. This is part of a lifestyle change. The goal is to live healthier and as your brain chemistry changes, your health will change as well.
Another option is to practice moderation and upgrade your favorite snacks to healthier options. Going back to our candy bar example, instead of eating processed refined sugars, corn syrup and chemicals, snack on a few bites of fair trade organic dark chocolate for a “healthier” treat. Chocolate is still chocolate, so if you can opt for fresh fruit instead, that would be even better. You don’t need to starve yourself of your favorite snacks, just try to find the most natural, whole food version of what you are craving and maintain portion control. This will help with satiation and give your body the nutrients it needs. If you can learn how to make the snacks you prefer, even better. Not only will you impress your friends, you’ll learn in the process.
If your cabinets are filled with cookies and chips, this can seem overwhelming. To help you, I have provided a food craving roadmap to help you understand what your body is actually asking for during a craving.
At The Foundry, we incorporate all of this information into our meal planning and nutrition education at our residential treatment center in Colorado. It’s important to us that we help you as much as possible on your recovery journey, and for some that can include cooking lessons and being introduced to new foods. As they say, if you teach a man to fish...
Hopefully this blog has helped to answer any questions you had in regards to what cravings mean and what healthy options are in terms of satisfying them. Remember to practice self-control, and moderation and you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
-Eric Powers, Chef of The Foundry
6 Tips for Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in Addiction Recovery
Learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries is an important part of addiction recovery. Maintaining healthy boundaries means that you respect other people’s values and autonomy and you expect them to do the same for you. Unhealthy boundaries are typical in dysfunctional relationships and these are often one of the factors driving addictive behavior.
For example, a physically abusive relationship is a situation where one person uses violence to control the other. This violates their right to personal safety and their right to make their own decisions. What’s more, physical abuse often leads to depression and substance use. If you are in an abusive relationship, the best thing to do is usually just to leave and get as far away from your abuser as possible. This is a very clear boundary, using physical distance. However, other relationships may be more complicated, and learning to maintain boundaries is a healthy behavior to learn in general. Here are some tips.
Know Your Values and Priorities
First of all, if you are going to set boundaries, it helps to know why. Start by identifying your core values, whether they’re family, integrity, honesty, learning, kindness, or whatever else. It might help to take some online tests to help you clarify your values or you may spend some time writing about it. Perhaps look back through the major decisions you’ve made in your life and see what your guiding principles have been.
For example, maybe you turned down a job that paid well because you felt you were being asked to do something dishonest. That indicates that you value honesty above money. That’s good to know and it indicates honesty is a value you are willing to protect. Knowing what’s really important to you can help you figure out where to draw the line and give you a boost in courage when you need it most.
Listen to Your Gut
Another way to identify your values and to recognize when someone might be violating your boundaries is to listen to your gut. We often react emotionally before we fully understand a situation rationally. That doesn’t mean your gut is always right, just that if you feel weird about something, pay attention to the feeling and don’t dismiss it without consideration.
For example, if you feel confused by what someone is telling you, it could be they are trying to manipulate you--a clear violation of your boundaries. Take a step back and don’t make any decisions until you are seeing things more clearly. Or perhaps you just have a bad feeling about a situation. That might indicate that you should move away from that situation. Our instincts have evolved to keep us safe so give them some credit.
No relationship is perfect and there will be plenty of times when you just disagree. Boundary issues don’t always imply sinister intent; often people just go along with things and the other person has no idea they don’t want to do them. This happens every day in big and small ways. It’s your responsibility to be clear about what you want and don’t want.
That means learning to communicate clearly. No matter how well the other person knows you, they aren’t psychic and they may not know what you want unless you tell them. The key is to do it politely. Not every disagreement has to lead to an argument. In fact, most disagreements can be worked out pretty easily if both parties are willing to listen.
Keep in mind that this goes both ways. It’s important to communicate clearly about what you want and it’s also important to listen to the other person and respect their values and autonomy.
Learn to Say No
In many situations, especially when you’re recovering from addiction, learning to say no is a skill in itself and it’s one of the first skills you should learn. When you leave treatment, people may offer you all sorts of things. Since drinking is so common in American culture, there’s virtually no chance you won’t be offered a drink from time to time, usually by people with good intentions. That’s why a polite but firm no is a crucial skill to master quickly.
Work With a Therapist
So far, we’ve discussed some important considerations in setting boundaries, but there may be deep-seated psychological reasons why setting boundaries is difficult for you. If you grew up in an abusive household, for example, or if you’re currently in a codependent relationship. Sometimes people lose touch with their own needs and desires entirely and sometimes they feel like setting boundaries is just impossible for them. If that’s how you feel, you need to talk to a therapist. They can help you figure out what you want and need and help you develop the skills to assert yourself.
Family therapy is also great for this since it focuses specifically on family dynamics, clear communication, and healthy boundaries. Getting the relevant people to work through their relationship issues can make a huge difference. However, not everyone has to participate in order for family therapy to be effective. Just changing the behavior of one or two family members can change the whole family dynamic.
Get Reassurance from Your Support System
Finally, it’s always harder to set and maintain boundaries when you feel isolated. This is especially true when you’re first trying out a new behavior that you’re not really sure about. It feels like a big risk. However, if you have a strong support system behind you, you don’t feel quite so alone, even if your support system doesn’t happen to be with you at the moment.
This is one reason going to 12-Step meetings is helpful, even after you’ve completed a professional treatment program. You may also want to consider attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings, for family members of people with substance use disorders, since you may fall into that category too. If you do have a family member or close friend with substance use issues, these meetings can give you a different perspective on setting boundaries with them.
Boundaries are crucial not only for recovery but for being your own person and directing your own life according to your core values. Setting and maintaining boundaries means knowing what your values are, listening to your gut, and learning to communicate clearly and respectfully. It’s also important to keep in mind that maintaining values requires practice. You’ll get better the longer you keep at it.
At The Foundry, we know that much of recovery from addiction is about learning practical skills to improve your relationships and manage your behavior. Great relationships are especially important for a strong recovery. We use a variety of evidence-based practices, including CBT, DBT, and family therapy to help you improve your communication and relationship skills. For more information, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Ten Signs Your Depression May Be Returning
Depression is one of the most commonly co-occurring issues with a substance use disorder and treating depression effectively is essential to long-term sobriety. One study found that among people with a mood disorder such as major depression or bipolar, a staggering 32% also had a substance use disorder. A relapse of depression may also lead to a relapse of drinking or drug use, so it’s important to try to prevent recurring episodes if possible.
Unfortunately, there’s a high probability that depression will recur. About half of people who have had one episode and about 80% of people who have had two episodes of depression will have another. The good news is that if you spot the signs early, you can reduce the severity of another episode or possibly avoid it entirely. Here are some tips.
- Seasonal Changes
First, it helps to know your patterns and some possible causes of depressive episodes. Seasonal changes are one such cause. Moving from fall into winter triggers an episode for many people, most likely because the shorter days disrupt the circadian rhythm, which has been linked to depression. This is known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD and is typically treated with lightbox therapy to recalibrate your internal rhythm.
Summer SAD can also trigger a depressive episode but the symptoms are typically slightly different. Whereas winter SAD usually causes increased appetite, excess sleep, and low energy, summer SAD more often causes decreased appetite, disturbed sleep, and agitation. Summer SAD may also trigger manic symptoms in people with bipolar disorder.
The anniversary effect is when some holiday or anniversary triggers a mood change. It’s especially common in connection with the death of someone close. For example, you may suddenly feel depressed as the person’s birthday approaches or when you have to celebrate a holiday without them. However, the same might happen for something related to any traumatic event, such as a breakup, an accident, or an assault. If you are aware of the anniversary effect and any upcoming anniversaries, you can prepare yourself and feel less ambushed by it.
It’s also important to be aware of any other triggers that might be specific to you. Stress is always a possible trigger of depression. It could be work stress, the death of a loved one, or a divorce, or it could even be something more positive, such as buying a new house or having a baby. While it’s always good to manage stress, you may want to seek out additional therapy or social support whenever you start to feel overwhelmed.
- Early Symptoms
It’s always good to know your patterns so you prepare for problems but if you’ve had a couple episodes of depression already, they may just recur more or less randomly. This often occurs at roughly 18-month intervals but that’s never exact. The following symptoms may indicate another episode is approaching. Obviously, any symptom of depression, though less severe, may be a warning sign of relapse.
Common symptoms include depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or death, feeling worthless or helpless, sleeping badly, appetite and weight changes, lethargy, lack of motivation, slow movements, poor concentration, and physical pains. However, the following signs are either lesser known or they are usually the first symptoms to appear.
- Low Mood
For most people, a bad mood is just a bad mood, but if you have a history of depression, a bad mood might spiral down into a depressive episode. If you do have a bad mood, it will usually pass but if it doesn’t, don’t stress about it. Instead, find a reliable way of interrupting the mood--a technique called behavioral activation. This has been shown to be an effective way to treat depression and it’s even more effective when you’re not yet in the grip of a full episode. Watch some funny videos, go out with friends, take a walk, or listen to some music--anything to lift your spirits, especially if you don’t feel like it.
When you’re in a full episode of depression, nothing is enjoyable. This is called anhedonia. Things you normally like just lose their appeal. In its milder form, anhedonia is more like boredom or restlessness. You do something you normally enjoy and you still feel flat so you try something else but that doesn’t work either. Sometimes this is a sign that you need to rethink your priorities or try something new but sometimes it’s an early sign of depression.
Isolation is a classic sign of depression. You don’t feel like going out or seeing anyone. Maybe you even skip 12-step meetings. You decline invitations, cancel plans, or just don’t show up. You don’t return texts or calls. The more you isolate yourself, the worse you feel, so it’s important to push against this tendency as soon as you notice it. Accept invitations and actually show up. Reach out to friends and family, even if it’s just a periodic text or call. Stay connected in any way you can manage.
Irritability is one of the most commonly ignored symptoms of depression. Most people with depression experience irritability but they often don’t connect the two. However, it may be one of the earliest symptoms. If everyone suddenly seems to be on your nerves or mundane tasks are suddenly incredibly frustrating, it may be an early sign of depression.
- Sleep Disturbances
People typically associate depression with sleeping too much or not being able to get out of bed. If you’re doing that, it’s certainly cause for concern. However, sleep disturbances are just as common and people less often connect them to depression. If you find yourself waking up at three or four in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep, it may be an early warning sign of a relapse of depression.
- Concentration Problems
Poor concentration can be terribly frustrating. You keep spacing off or if you do stay focused, it can feel really hard to make sense of whatever you’re doing. Sometimes this may just be situational. Perhaps it’s the end of a long day or you didn’t get enough sleep last night. However, if it seems to happen a lot, it could be a symptom of depression. It’s not just the body that slows down with depression, it’s your cognitive abilities too. If you’re having trouble with focus, working memory, or formulating a coherent plan, it may be an early symptom of depression.
Many of the items on this list are not enough on their own to indicate a relapse of depression but two or three together should be cause for concern. If you think you might be heading for a relapse of depression, make sure you’re still following your treatment plan, get in touch with your therapist, and try to stay socially connected. It’s much easier to avoid another episode than to climb out of the pit once you’ve fallen in.
At The Foundry, we know that addiction isn’t just a matter of drugs and alcohol--it’s about the whole system, including family, lifestyle, and mental health. We use proven methods to treat co-occurring conditions and teach our clients the emotional resilience skills they need for a long recovery. To learn more, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Six Ways to Boost Your Willpower for Addiction Recovery
Most people vastly overestimate the role of willpower in addiction recovery. They assume that staying sober is just a matter of gritting your teeth and pushing through. In reality, addiction is typically caused by a combination of factors including genes, childhood environment, trauma, and mental health issues. The root causes of addiction have to be addressed for recovery to succeed. Saying willpower is all you need to recover from addiction is like saying willpower is all you need to recover from diabetes.
However, willpower does play a role. You need a bit of willpower to use your cognitive therapy skills, go to meetings when you really don’t feel like it, and do the other things in your recovery plan. While treatment and a recovery plan are what really help you recover, willpower can help you stay engaged. The following are some tips to give you a bit of extra willpower when you need it.
Exercise your willpower muscle.
For a while, there was an idea going around that willpower is a finite resource that you have to conserve throughout your day. While this is true in the short term — just as you might be tired after climbing a few flights of stairs — in the long term, the more you use your willpower, the stronger it gets. Just like how taking the stairs will get you into better physical shape in the long run, working your willpower muscle will increase your self-control.
For example, one study asked smokers to engage in activities that required some degree of willpower — either refraining from eating sweets or squeezing a hand gripper — for two weeks, while a control group was assigned tasks that didn’t require willpower. It turned out that the group that had performed tasks requiring willpower were more successful at quitting smoking.
You can easily apply this principle to your own life by making it a point to do small, slightly irritating tasks. You might give up sweets, like in the smoking study. Alternatively, you might make it a point to improve your posture or brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. The point is to practice doing things that are slightly uncomfortable and that you would rather not do. Be sure to give yourself a bit of rest between tasks that require willpower, so you have time to recover.
Clean your house.
Cleaning your house is surprisingly good for boosting willpower. First, it’s an excellent way to strengthen your willpower muscle, since no one ever really feels like taking out the trash or washing the dishes. Keeping a clean house provides many small and useful ways to build your willpower.
However, a cleaner environment also appears to boost your willpower even if you weren’t the one to clean it. One study² put some participants in an orderly environment and others in a messy environment, then asked them to make various choices. The participants who were in a more orderly environment were more likely to choose healthy snacks and donate money. Having a clean house might give you the extra bit of willpower you need to exercise or eat a bit healthier.
Get in touch with your values.
Nietzsche famously said that whoever has a why can endure any how. One of the biggest challenges to our willpower is when we face a choice that appears not to have any stakes. For example, you know that one cookie won’t really make a difference in the scheme of things, and since it doesn’t matter, you might as well eat it. Skipping one 12-Step meeting is probably not going to sink your recovery.
However, these things add up. That’s why it’s important to identify your most important values and connect your daily activities to those values. So, for example, a lot of people decide to get sober for the sake of their families. If that has been part of your motivation, as well, keeping “family” in mind can help you overcome whatever resistance you’re feeling when you’re trying to decide whether or not to attend your 12-Step meeting today.
Use your willpower where it will do the most good.
In addition to strengthening your willpower through exercise and other things that can give it a boost, be sure you’re using your willpower to your best advantage. For example, it’s much easier to use your willpower to take a different route to work every day than it is to pass by the bar and not stop. It’s easier to go past the bar than it is to go in but not order a drink, and so on. Use some foresight and strategy so you can avoid the need for herculean displays of willpower.
Create healthy habits.
Often, what looks like willpower is just a matter of good habits. Most of our behavior is habitual to some degree, so use that to your advantage. When creating a new habit, it’s important to link it to an existing habit, start small, and only create one new habit at a time. So, for example, if you want to start exercising regularly, start by tying it to something you already do every day, like waking up or coming home from work.
Say you come home from work, change into your exercise clothes, and walk for five minutes. After a month or two, this will become automatic and you won’t have to use any willpower to get your daily exercise.
Spend time with the right people.
You can only expect to do so much on your own. Your motivation and willpower are always stronger at some times and weaker at others. Having the right people around you can get you through rough spots by keeping you focused on the right things and holding you accountable. In the context of recovery, for example, the camaraderie of your 12-Step group can help keep you engaged even when you have other things on your mind. It’s essentially a way of outsourcing your willpower to get you through tough times.
No one recovering from addiction should be relying entirely on willpower, but it certainly can help you stick to your recovery plan. Your beliefs about willpower matter too; if you believe your willpower will run out, then you won’t have as much. Otherwise, it’s important to build your willpower in small ways, remember why you’re exercising your willpower to begin with, create healthy habits, and find supportive people. At The Foundry, we know that addiction is complex and that overcoming it is about creating a healthier, more fulfilling life. To learn more about our treatment options, explore our website or call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Wellness and the New Year
Happy New Year everyone!
Don’t you just love this time of year? A time for new beginnings, a time to dream, to make goals, and turn words into action. A time to let go of the past and to look toward the future! The beginning of the year always feels so fresh and exciting to me, and this year is no exception. Fun things are on the horizon here at Foundry Steamboat, and I can’t wait to share with you what we have planned! To kick off the year, here is what the Wellness Program has been up to in January!
This month our Healthy Habits group focused on Sleep Hygiene. Sleep is so important for not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. Getting quality sleep every night can set the foundation for your day. A good night’s sleep can boost your mood, improve memory, strengthen your heart, bolster your immune system, increase your exercise performance, and improve your productivity and your overall quality of life.
We can all agree sleep is vital to our health, so then what the heck is Sleep Hygiene?! Sleep Hygiene is defined as various practices and habits necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. You might not have good sleep habits if you have frequent sleep disturbances, daytime sleepiness, or it takes you too long to fall asleep.
If you are struggling with Sleep Hygiene, here are a few things you can implement to help you get quality sleep:
∙ Limit daytime naps to 30 min (or avoid them altogether, if you can)
∙ Avoid stimulants such as nicotine or caffeine close to bedtime
➣ You may even need to limit caffeine to before noon in some cases
➣ As little as 10 min of aerobic exercise can improve nighttime sleep quality
∙ Avoid food that can cause indigestion right before sleep
∙ Get adequate exposure to natural light
➣ Exposure to sun during the day and darkness at night helps with a healthy sleep/wake cycle
∙ Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
➣ This helps the body recognize it is time for sleep
➣ Your routine can include warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches
∙ Avoid blue light from phone or TV right before bed (zero screen time 30 min before)
➣ Blue light can make it difficult to fall asleep because it suppresses melatonin production in the body, tricking your brain into thinking it is daytime
∙ Make your sleep space pleasant and relaxing!
➣ Comfy pillows and mattress
➣ Temp between 60-67 degrees for optimal sleep
➣ Can include a noise machine, fan, ear plugs, eye mask, or blackout curtains to create a pleasant sleeping space
∙ Only use bed for sleep and intimacy!
➣ Reading, watching tv, or working from your bed, can make your brain associate your bed with a place of wakefulness, instead of a place to sleep!
Try a few of these tips to see if they improve your quality of sleep. To track their effectiveness, make note of how many nights a week you utilize these tools to see which ones work best for you. Keep in mind, the more you practice them, the better they work! For more information about sleep hygiene visit www.sleepfoundation.org.Happy sleeping!
January Wellness Activity Highlight
This month we took advantage of the sunshine and got outside on our snowshoes around the ranch! At the time of the activity, we had recently had a snowstorm which made the perfect canvas for us to think outside the box and make some art with our snowshoes. The residents and staff got creative out in the hayfield and did a collaborative Snowshoe drawing. This activity was perfect for mindful movement and cardio! The end result was so cool, and we even got aerial photos and a video, thanks to one of our staff members with a drone! You can check out our aerial video by going to our YouTube channel or our social media platforms. We have big plans for our next snowstorm, we can’t wait!
In the fitness aspect of theWellness Program, we focus on functional movement; movements that mimic everyday life. Functional Fitness is a classification of training that prepares the body for real-life movements and activities. It trains your muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work, or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability. Movements such as squatting, reaching, pulling, and lifting will be made easier with functional fitness integrated into your exercise routine.
Some of the benefits of functional fitness include increasing ease of everyday movements; increases flexibility, coordination, balance and posture; helps reduce joint pain; reduces the risk of injury; can be tailored to any ability; and builds muscle. Here at Foundry Steamboat, we incorporate three functional fitness workouts a week.
Below is one of the full body workouts we did this month:
For 12 min, do as many rounds as possible of:
- 5 pull ups (modifications: assisted pull ups, ring rows, or bent over rows)
- 10 push-ups (modification: elevated push-ups)
- 15 air squats
- 20 sit ups (modification: crunches)
- 3 – 5 burpees
That’s a wrap on January for the Wellness Program! Stay tuned for what we have going on in February!
Cait Mowris, Wellness Director, Foundry Steamboat
Easter time! Easter is of course a big holiday and with it comes big expectations of being around family and friends. There’s also an expectation of eating great food and having a “feast”, but sometimes gathering in large groups becomes overwhelming especially if you are the one hosting! If you are anything like me, you love gathering with friends or family to enjoy some great food and have good conversations, but there is a lot of pressure to make all the food yourself AND provide the entertainment.
I think the best entertainment actually just is the cooking! So how do you get everyone involved in the cooking process? That is a great question, and one that I try to ask myself every time I have a cooking class or people over. I like to refer to a good group of people cooking together as “community cooking”!
Where to start with community cooking? Well I think about meals that get multiple people either; using a cutting board, rolling dough, or doing some sort of other prep.
Easter Sunday at the Ranch was a great community cooking day! All of the clients got in on the feast that we had at the ranch, and what says Easter more than a good Easter brunch with hot cross buns! Our “community meal” was a potato veggie hash with eggs and bacon. Enough veggies for everyone to be able to lend a helping hand! Plus we always have some great conversations when everyone is involved in the cooking process. Yes there was even time to make some great lemon raspberry cake!
So the next time you are hosting a group of people at your house, or just having a casual get together with friends, think of ways that they can cook with you! You never know what great things you will talk about!
Yes!! We are eating food from the greenhouse! Our farm to table cooking is back! We are now harvesting enough mixed greens just from our greenhouse that we don’t need to buy anymore greens from the store!! How exciting!
As always if you are looking for more Foundry content check out our website, or look for us on social media; instagram (@foundrysteamboat), Facebook (Foundry Steamboat), or Twitter (@foundryrehab)!
Hot Cross Buns
Makes about 15 buns
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Rising/down time: ~1.5 hours
- 2 ½ cups of warm water
- 2 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
- 1 cup of dried cranberries
- ½ of a stick of melted butter
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- About 3-4 cups of bread flour
For the icing
- ¼ cup of milk
- 2 cups of powdered sugar (or add powdered sugar to texture)
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer add the warm water and yeast. Let the yeast dissolve for about 1 minute.
- Add in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit until you see bubbles start to form or about 5 minutes.
- After the five minutes are up, add in the bread flour, melted butter, dried cranberries, and salt. Stir/mix to combine. If you are using a stand mixer, mix until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl (you may need to add a little bit more flour depending on what flour you are using).
- Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl; “knead” the dough until smooth and elastic. If using a stand mixer, the kneading process will only involve turning up the mixer to speed 3-4. If you are mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and push the palms of your hands into the dough and stretch it. Repeat this motion until the dough is smooth/elastic.
- Once kneaded, put your dough back in the mixing bowl and wrap it with plastic wrap or put a wet towel over it.
- Let your dough rise/ferment for about 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
- After the dough doubles in size, divide it into 4 ounce balls by weight (or about the size of two golf balls).
- Roll your “dough babies” into nice round balls then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lay a wet towel over your dough after shaping. After you have rolled all of your dough, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Let your dough sit again for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size again.
- When the dough has doubled, place it in the oven for about 15-18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- While the buns are baking, work on making the icing! Icing is super easy to make, just combine the milk and the powdered sugar. If your icing is too runny, add some more powdered sugar. If your icing is too thick, add some more milk.
- When the buns are done, take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. Eat them hot with the icing or allow them to cool completely and then make a “cross” with the icing on top!
Have a fun and clean month everyone!
- Chef Henry
How to Be Optimistic When Recovery Is Hard
Optimism is a good quality to have in addiction recovery and in life. Studies have shown that more optimistic people have better relationships, earn more money, and enjoy better health. If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, a bit of optimism in challenging times can make the difference between pushing through and throwing up your hands and pouring a drink.
Unfortunately, optimism doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially to anyone who is at a low point in life. There is even some evidence that optimism has a genetic element. Even if you’re not a naturally optimistic person, you can learn to be more optimistic. Try the following if you want a more positive outlook.
Imagine the Best Outcome
Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what we don’t want. We don’t want to be in pain, we don’t want to be poor, we don’t want to be unhappy, and so on. However, when we fixate on what we don’t want, our focus is essentially negative. Not only are we preoccupied with the fear of a certain outcome, we unconsciously move toward it. For example, you have probably had the experience while driving, riding a bike, or even walking of being distracted by something by the side of the road and then realized you veered in that direction without even noticing. The same can happen with more abstract things.
Instead, focus on what you do want. Don’t try to avoid getting dumped; focus on making your relationship good. This leads to better outcomes and makes you more optimistic. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to wake up in the morning and ask yourself, “What would this day look like if everything went perfectly?” That will make it much easier to get out of bed. A more in-depth exercise is to spend a few minutes once a week writing about what your ideal life would look like in five or 10 years.
Record the Positives
Whereas imagining the best outcome looks to the future, writing down the positives looks to the past. We are mostly hardwired to notice threats and other unpleasant things because that helps keep us alive. Unfortunately, it also makes us unnecessarily gloomy. One way to push back against that tendency is to write down good things that happened during the day or week.
There are two similar exercises that can help with this. The first is the “three good things” exercise. Each night, before you go to bed, write down three things that went well and why they went well. The other exercise is the gratitude journal. Write down some things you were grateful for that day, either grateful to someone in particular or just in general. They can be big or small. Doing this regularly will make you more attuned to the good things in your life and the people who support you.
Look for the Silver Lining
In a sense, all of optimism is about finding the good in any situation. This is often challenging, especially if you’re prone to depression or anxiety and especially if you are under stress. One trick you can use is to tell yourself, “This situation is completely terrible, but if I had to find something good in it, it would be this.”
For example, most of us are currently in lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Thousands of people have already died from it, many more have lost their jobs, and all of our lives have been disrupted. This situation is completely terrible, but if you had to find something good about it, you might say that it gives you time to work on some projects you’ve been putting off for a while, it gives you more time to spend with your family, it helps to clarify your priorities, it brings out the best in people trying to help, and so on. This is not an exercise in ignoring the bad; it’s acknowledging the good as well.
Notice Your Thinking Style
Much of our pessimism is caused by faulty thinking. For example, you may think you know for sure that something will have a bad outcome, when in fact, no one really knows what will happen. Or you might think that since you failed at something in the past, then you will fail at it in the future when, in reality, most of us get better with practice and increase our chances of succeeding in the future.
Research on optimism has discovered a common thinking pattern among more optimistic people: they tend to believe their failures are temporary and based on external circumstances while believing their successes are permanent and based on their intrinsic qualities. Pessimists tend to believe the opposite.
In reality, all of our successes and failures are partly down to our own talents and partly down to external circumstances but since we can never know for sure to what extent each of those contribute, it’s more useful to assume that your failures are circumstantial and your successes are because of you.
Make Friends with Positive People
Finally, make friends with positive people. We tend to pick up on the habits of the people we spend the most time with. If your friends are optimistic, you will likely become more optimistic. That’s not to say you should ostracize anyone who complains. We all have bad days. However, if you have a friend who always complains, plays the victim, and expects the worst possible outcome, this might be a good time to socially distance yourself from that person.
It’s important to remember that optimism isn’t the naive belief that everything is great; it’s the awareness that even when things are really bad, they are almost never comprehensively bad and it’s possible, and even likely, they will get better. A pessimist will give up right away but an optimist will try. Even if they don’t achieve a perfect outcome, they will often achieve a better outcome. At The Foundry, we believe that true recovery from addiction is about living a happier, more fulfilling life. We use evidence-based methods to give our clients the skills they need for a long recovery. To learn more, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Listen Like a Dog
A wise woman once told me that we only listen in order to respond, anxiously waiting our turn to speak. How, then, can we really ever understand, have compassion, or actually hear what a person is saying? Here are a few tips from a girl’s best friend, the ever loyal, ever compassionate, best floppy ears out there,Fido! I cannot take full credit for this novel idea and must give some credit to the book, How to Listen Like a Dog.
Here is how:
-Make eye contact: Ever notice when you talk to the dog, he can’t take his eyes of you. He hangs on every word hoping you drop a small piece of food or scratch behind his ears. Try this the next time someone tells you a story. Dedicate your focus to their face and really take in the whole story thru their eyes. Try to maintain this for the duration of the story without letting your eyes wonder to other things. You will be amazed at how much more you absorb!
-Listen without judgment: That sweet dog of yours never judges you or compares you to other people. What a great idea. The next time a friend needs an open ear and mind, try to listen without judgment. Take it all in without mentioning yourself, anyone else, or the better behaved dog next door.
-Don’t interrupt: This might be the most important one of all. Just listen. Don’t talk. Just listen. Then, listen a little more. Try not to interrupt until the conversation asks for it. Just try it! I mean, if the dog can do it, why can’t you?!
-Give positive reinforcement: We all need a little encouragement no matter what. Try positive feedback without talking. Nodding your head, wagging your tail, smiling. It can really enhance the listening experience and, even better, the speaker’s experience.
-Don’t multitask: This is a tough one. We pride ourselves on being able to do many things at once. I challenge you to try one thing at a time especially when listing. Just listen. Don’t text, don’t talk to someone else, just listen. See if it carries over into other aspects of your life. A dog really only has a once track mind. Eat, sleep, pee, repeat. Can it really be that simple?!
PS… Keep this little tidbit in mind, when the dog nudges you to go outside and play, maybe listen a little extra, and get out there and do something AWESOME with your furry friend!
“There is no doubt that the ability to listen—to really, authentically listen—is one of the most important qualities of an effective leader, good friend, and successful family member.”
Health and Wellness Director, The Foundry
PersonalTrainer, CrossFitter and Coach, SteamboatCrossFit
Food connoisseur, My kitchen and yours
Owner, A Weight LiftedFitness Camp
Managing Partner, InspiredLife Network
Through Our Lens
This week we would like to spend a little bit of time talking about self care. This has been a wild month and last week gave us a glimpse into what the new normal might look like for the foreseeable future. As we find ourselves with kids at home who should be at school, a stressful workplace, alarming news around every corner and restrictions around the ways we socialize a few posts about taking care of ourselves felt right.
Today we are addressing those of you who work in the treatment or therapeutic world, in helping professions. As we have wrestled with decisions this week one of the questions we keep coming back to is simply, are we doing what is best for those in treatment?
One of the lenses we try to view this question through is how safe our clients/patients feel. As Dr. Barnes often reminds us, without a save environment people can’t do the work they need to do in treatment.
With this in mind it is important to ask how WE are doing. If we, the staff, are bringing our stress and worries into work with us those we are treating will absolutely feel and react to that stress. Remember, they are in an unfamiliar place with new people trying to do one of the most difficult things they will ever do, get sober. In order to give them the most we can in our short time with them it is crucial that we fully show up for them.
This is a tall order and doesn’t happen on its own, we need to be in as healthy a place as possible and that requires work.
I’ve been talking to friends in this field all week to learn what they are doing to help their staff stay grounded and while I haven’t heard a silver bullet I have heard lots of good ideas. In addition to discussing this subject frequently and openly we have done a few things to help encourage our staff to stay mentally and spiritually healthy in this time of increased stress.
All of us find peace in different ways so what follows isn’t comprehensive, just a few suggestions to help you stay healthy in order to promote the healing of those we serve.
While going to the gym likely isn’t an option, exercise doesn’t have to be forgotten. No matter how small a space you are in there are ways to get your body moving that will help. From simple body weight exercises (pushups, sit-ups, planks, etc.) to online yoga and fitness classes you can still be active inside! You can also walk/run/bike outside, just keep some space from others.
Prayer and Meditation
Our lives are so busy in normal times that this practice is often one of the first to be forgotten, but now you likely have some free time! People often balk at taking this time because they think it has to be some huge commitment, they don’t want to spend 60 minutes listening to spa music and sitting still. If that’s you try not making it so hard, especially at first. Start with a minute or two of sitting quietly and see where it goes from there.
Just because we aren’t getting together to watch a game doesn’t mean we can’t still connect. I have had some awesome conversations with friends and family this past week on the phone and via FaceTime. All of those calls that we don’t get to because we’re running around are things that we can find time for. They are also often safe places for us to talk through how we are feeling and doing and to get advice.
Almost all of the therapists I know are still offering virtual or telephone sessions. If this is a part of your life let me encourage you to keep it so. If it isn’t, maybe now is a good time to start!
For those of you looking for ideas about how to help your staff, I'll share a few things that we’re doing. I also hope that you take a minute to share what you’re doing here, we could use more ideas!
We have opened up our fitness facilities for staff outside of normal programming hours so they can still access the gym.
We have figured out a way to hire a few more support staff to make it easier for people to take off or call in if they aren’t feeling well.
We created a specific place to post updates about changes we are making and for everyone to ask questions and offer feedback.
Our amazing admissions director, Becca Zimble, is doing a yoga class just for staff and has made sure that they all feel welcome to participate in the classes on campus.
We brought in an outside therapist to hold group sessions online, and individual if requested, with our staff to help them process everything that is going on out there in a safe place.
This is way too long for a social media post so I’ll close out with this; I think it’s our responsibility to be as healthy and present as we possibly can for our clients/patients and encourage you to do what it takes to get and stay that way.
From a safe distance,
Ben Cort CEO
Recipes for Recovery: Sweet Potato Pancakes
At The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a healthy lifestyle is an important part of complete recovery. The link between the body and the mind is powerful, and a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is an integral component of lasting recovery from Substance Use Disorder.
There is a common misconception that healthy food is bland and without flavor or excitement. Our goal is to shift how our clients define "healthy food", and shift their lifestyles towards sustainable nutrition. Serving bland, flavorless food would only set the stage for old eating habits and patterns to return down the line.
Below is the recipe for Sweet Potato Pancakes - One of the many healthy meals served to clients at the Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat.
- 1 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (the flesh from 3 medium-small cooked sweet potato)
- 6 eggs
- coconut oil (for cooking)
- 2 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- Whisk together the sweet potato and eggs until well-combined. Add seasonings, if desired, and stir. Heat oil over medium-low heat.
- Drop the sweet potato mixture by the tablespoon and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Flip each cake and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the outside and cooked through. Lower heat works better, and don’t try to flip them before totally cooked on one side.
- Optional topping ideas: yogurt, nut butter, fresh fruit, or maple syrup. They are also good plain! OR go savory and try avocado and sliced turkey. Enjoy
Scott Przymus is the Executive Chef at The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance use disorder treatment center located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Equine Therapy: How Connecting With Horses Supports Recovery
A slightly anxious, markedly skeptical Veronica stepped into the horse arena wondering how equine therapy could help in her fight for recovery. Within an hour of the first session, searing insights started emerging for her in spades.
A nursing journal article once defined healing as an incremental awakening to a deeper sense of self in ways that foster profound change. Equine-assisted psychotherapy is yet another forum for Foundry participants to explore their individual array of underpinnings that can drive addictive behavior.
So why horses?
They are prey animals that are hard-wired to instantly interpret and respond to the emotional states of those around them with moment-to-moment acuity. Horses tend to mirror human behavior, which makes them ideal for this kind of work. Therapy horses can help people work through their emotional struggles in real-time as they can serve as powerful metaphors for problematic perceptions, relationship patterns, and obstacles.
Veronica, her real name withheld to protect her privacy, said her experiences with the horses has led to her redefining her perspectives on confidence, vulnerability, and success.
“When we were first trying to get the horses to do these exercises, I would use bribes and other forms of manipulation. The horses didn’t respond to that at all. You can’t hide what you are on the inside from them. It’s like they can see right through you. The horses only respond to authenticity. Only when I absolutely believed I could get the horse to do what I wanted and demonstrated it with my actions, only then did he respond. The immediate feedback taught me to recognize what true confidence feels like on the inside. The horse taught me to connect with that confidence which is huge because one of the reasons I would drink is because I felt I wasn’t good enough.”
In one of the group exercises, Veronica was asked to stand blindfolded in front of the horse. “I felt like that was a forced vulnerability which was a bit scary for me. The horse picked up on my fear so he allowed me to pet him for support. In most all of my relationships, I’m the caretaker. I focus all of my time and energy on tending to the needs of others without giving any consideration to my own needs. For those moments with that horse, I felt like we were in a partnership. I surrendered my caretaking self and allowed for him to support me and that was really enriching. It showed me the value of a true partnership as opposed to just caretaking.”
At one point during a session, the horse Veronica was working with decided to lay down on the ground and not get up. “I was so frustrated with that because I knew the horse trainer could do something and the horse would get up for her instantly. I tried to get the horse to get up, but he wasn’t having it. That’s when the equine therapist and horse trainer explained the horse’s behavior and that made me look at it in a completely different light. The trainer explained there is no way the horse would have taken such a completely vulnerable posture if he didn't feel an unusual level of comfort and safety in the presence of the group. My agenda for the horse suddenly wasn’t so important anymore. With that new understanding came new perspective. Before this, I would look at success and failure as two distinct things. Now I understand that failure can lead to success and to not put so much pressure on myself to make it happen all of the time. My experiences with the horses was amazing.”
At The Foundry we offer an equine therapy program that includes sessions with horses and a certified equine therapist, all held over a three-day period. Participants are encouraged to explore the healing process by connecting, interacting and observing these kind, gentle animals. Equine therapy sessions are available to all residential Foundry participants.
Nicole Roberts, MA, LAC, LPC is a Clinical Residential Therapist at The Foundry, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center in Colorado. She has worked in substance abuse treatment for five years and supports an integrative and individualistic approach to recovery.
The Role of Trauma and Mental Health in Addiction
Gun violence, political unrest, climate change, the affordability of healthcare, the global COVID pandemic, and its repercussions, racism, terrorism, and the cost of living—Americans are deeply concerned about many things these days. And the onslaught of problematic issues seems to have impacted the nation's mental health.
"Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages," stated a White House fact sheet in March. "Two out of five adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression… Even before the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety were inching higher. But the grief, trauma, and physical isolation of the last two years have driven Americans to a breaking point."
The White House fact sheet notes that America's youth has been particularly impacted "as losses from COVID and disruptions in routines and relationships have led to increased social isolation, anxiety, and learning loss. More than half of parents express concern over their children's mental well-being." Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a similar warning in December.
Derek Thompson described it as "an extreme teenage mental-health crisis" in an April article in The Atlantic. Between 2009 and 2021, the share of high-school students who say they feel "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness" increased from 26 percent to 44 percent, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—it is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded in the United States.
Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness are primary symptoms of depression, but America's youth is also anxious. From 2013 to 2019, one in 11 children aged 3–17 was affected by anxiety, according to the CDC. Although there is some variation, "the big picture is the same across all categories: Almost every measure of mental health is getting worse, for every teenage demographic, and it's happening all across the country," Thompson reported.
Pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety at any age can result from traumatic experiences—with long-lasting consequences. "The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating," wrote psychologist Peter Levine in Healing Trauma. "It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision-making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms, and disease. It can lead to a range of self-destructive behaviors."
Trauma is an emotional response to an intense event that threatens or causes harm, such as being in an accident or witnessing a violent crime. It is often the result of overwhelming stress that exceeds one's ability to cope with or accept the emotions involved with that experience.
Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing such a shocking or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear is a part of the body's normal "fight-or-flight" response, which helps us avoid or respond to potential danger. People may experience a range of reactions after trauma, and most will recover from their symptoms over time. Those who continue to experience symptoms may be diagnosed with PTSD.
Trauma (and PTSD) may also result from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, witnessing violence in the home or community, or having a family member attempt or die by suicide. About 61 percent of adults surveyed across 25 states reported having experienced at least one type of ACE before age 18, and nearly 1 in 6 reported having experienced four or more ACEs.
Trauma is prevalent in the United States. "The CDC statistics on abuse and violence in the United States are sobering," wrote Monique Tello, MD, MPH, on the Harvard Health Blog in 2018. "They report that one in four children experiences some sort of maltreatment (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse). One in four women has experienced domestic violence. In addition, one in five women and one in 71 men have experienced rape at some point in their lives—12 percent of these women and 30 percent of these men were younger than 10 years old when they were raped. This means a very large number of people have experienced serious trauma at some point in their lives."
"Trauma is a pernicious, silent, and progressive mental health threat that dramatically increases the risks of depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, suicidality, and further violence if not treated," explained Michael Barnes, the chief clinical officer at the Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
"Unfortunately, it can take the devastating impacts of large-scale traumatic events like the Robb Elementary School shooting to bring America's mental health and traumatic experience epidemic into public view. However, for many reasons, including accidents and injury, domestic violence, loss and grief, adverse life events, intense stress, exposure to the side effects of substance use disorders, and other untreated mental health disorders, an estimated 89.7 percent of Americans are exposed to traumatic events, and 12 million adults—that's six percent of the population—suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at any given time. For every person experiencing PTSD, there are untold numbers of family members, friends, and colleagues whose lives are directly or indirectly affected by PTSD's side effects."
The human trauma response is complicated. In addition to the familiar negative effects of the classic "fight-or-flight" stress response, the polyvagal theory introduced by Stephen Porges in the 1990s added "a second defense system with features not of mobilization as manifest in fight/flight reactions, but of immobilization, behavioral shutdown, and dissociation."
Trauma-informed Addiction Treatment
Trauma, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are major drivers of addiction. "Trauma and addiction go hand-in-hand," wrote Tian Dayton in Trauma and Addiction. "What starts out as an attempt to manage pain evolves into a new source of it…. The cycle of trauma and addiction is endless."
Even before the highly stressful COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton suggested in a 2015 paper (and a subsequent 2021 book) that working-age white men and women without four-year college degrees were dying "deaths of despair" by suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related liver disease at unprecedented rates. The pandemic appears to have exacerbated that trend.
In May, the CDC reported that more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, setting another tragic record in the nation's continually escalating addiction epidemic. The provisional 2021 total translated to roughly one US overdose death every five minutes and marked a 15 percent increase from the previous year's record.
These numbers have now significantly contributed to a decline in life expectancy. A new study by the University of Colorado Boulder, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Urban Institute found that life expectancy in the United States plunged by nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating a troubling trend dating back more than a decade. The overall US decline was 8.5 times greater than the average decline among 16 other high-income countries during the same period.
Since trauma is frequently the driver behind a substance use disorder, any traumatic history of the patient and any resulting mental health issues need to be addressed in addiction treatment concurrent with the substance misuse.
"Giving words to trauma begins to heal it. Hiding it or pretending it isn't there creates a cauldron of pain that eventually boils over. That's where addiction comes in," wrote Tian Dayton.
Foundry Steamboat Chief Clinical Officer, Michael Barnes, is a Licensed Addiction Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Diplomate in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. During his forty-year career, Dr. Barnes has developed a new model for treating addictive and co-occurring mental health disorders that centers around the identification and understanding of trauma, the resolution of trauma, and learning to naturally self-regulate emotion. The Trauma-Integrated Care model practiced at Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat helps clients and family members learn about the role of trauma in individual and family system dysfunction, reduces the likelihood of re-triggering traumatic responses during treatment, and teaches skills to reduce the chances of repeating traumatizing behaviors after treatment. The program also helps clients learn how to promote recovery-supportive lifestyles.
Addiction is often described as a family disease. "The effects of a substance use disorder (SUD) are felt by the whole family," wrote Lander, Howsare, and Byrne in a 2013 study. "The family context holds information about how SUDs develop, are maintained, and what can positively or negatively influence the treatment of the disorder."
The Michael Barnes Family Institute, launched in 2021, makes Trauma-Integrated approaches available to any family with members experiencing behavioral health conditions — even if no family member is receiving treatment. The ability to engage families at any stage of their recovery journey can make it easier to enter treatment and can increase a family's ability to safely and effectively communicate to reduce the causes of stress, alienation, and traumatic stimuli that can perpetuate dysfunction.
Participating in family programming improves treatment outcomes and encourages lasting positive changes in the entire family system. The Michael Barnes Family Institute offers two levels of programming to Foundry clients or any family in need of care:
● 101 provides psychoeducation, coaching, and connection to treatment resources to help families begin to establish a safe and supportive home environment for loved ones in recovery and to acknowledge the ways in which living with active addiction and traumatic experiences has affected their own lives.
● 102 provides in-depth analysis of family dysfunction root causes, in-depth coaching, counseling, and connection to treatment and support resources to help families identify and address deeper issues to improve the well-being and mental health of all participating family members and to restore family system function.
Located in a beautiful mountain setting in Colorado, Foundry Steamboat takes a holistic approach to treating trauma and addiction. Our programs are designed to treat the entire person, meeting their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Learn more about the program at www.forgingnewlives.com.
Being In A State Of Flow
Flow can be a tricky state to conceptualize. For something that is different for everyone, it can be hard to say when someone has reached true “flow.” For the psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, he described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.
Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” For some, flow can come during sports, for others, during a hobby. Whatever you love to do, you can try to channel flow through that activity. Flow can be described as when runners feel like they have a “high” while running. They don’t feel tired, and it’s almost like they’re floating. Csíkszentmihályi says that there are 10 components to flow:
- Clear goals that, while challenging, are still attainable
- Strong concentration and focused attention
- The activity is intrinsically rewarding
- Feelings of serenity; a loss of feelings of self-consciousness
- Timelessness; a distorted sense of time; feeling so focused on the present that you lose track of time passing
- Immediate feedback
- Knowing that the task is doable; a balance between skill level and the challenge presented
- Feelings of personal control over the situation and the outcome
- Lack of awareness of physical needs
- Complete focus on the activity itself
Not all of these components must be present to experience flow, but the more you have, the more likely flow will be. There are also some ways you can try to achieve a sense of flow. These are things that can help produce flow:
Pick something that you enjoy doing, but that is slightly difficult. If you’re a marathon runner, you won’t reach the flow state with a jog around the block. Make sure you love what you’re doing, but also make sure that you’re pushing yourself a little bit.
- Develop your skills that relate to the challenge
Because your challenge is challenging, you’re going to need to develop the skills necessary to complete the task. Don’t let yourself get bored or let your mind wander — this is toxic for flow. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed either. That’s the opposite end of the spectrum.
- Set goals
Without goals, you won’t be achieving anything. You want to set clear, SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. If you want to reach the flow state while running, this might be your goal: run 3 miles every day for 3 weeks, then reassess where you’re at.
- Focus completely on what you’re doing
You can not expect yourself to reach the flow state if you are half paying attention to what you are doing. Don’t allow your mind to wander. Concentration is key for flow.
- Give yourself enough time
Flow takes time, too. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get into the flow state. Once you are in the flow state, don’t rush it or wish it away. Make the most of it.
- Monitor your emotional state
If you’re struggling with getting into the flow state but you’ve done the above steps, monitor your emotional state. You might need to help calm yourself down if you’re too anxious or pick yourself up if you’re lacking energy.
From Csíkszentmihályi: “Flow also happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges. If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.”
Flow is a process. It doesn’t just come to you when you least expect it. You have to practice your skills that will get you to that space of flow. You must push yourself to be the best version of yourself. Here are the states of flow:
- Struggle phase
During this phase, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone. The struggle doesn’t really feel good, and most people are not willing to push themselves and struggle to reach flow.
- Release phase
After a struggle and once you have accepted it, the release phase comes. You become to do the activity without realizing that you are struggling anymore.
- Flow state
The flow state is what some people call being “in the zone.” This is where you are productive and do things with the flow.
- Brain rewiring and memory consolidation phase
After the activity has ended, you have a space to evaluate what just happened. This evaluation helps to further your future flow states.
Flow is like when a baseball player hits the fastball on the sweet spot of the bat. Some have said that they don’t even feel the ball hitting the bat on home runs. This is flow. Give yourself the time and space to experience flow for whatever activity you’re doing. Flow can be extremely beneficial for your recovery.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
How to Live in the Present Moment
You’ve probably heard the AA aphorism, “One day at a time.” The idea is that thinking about staying sober for the rest of your life is too much to think about. It’s too overwhelming. You get caught up in thinking “What if this or that happens?” “How am I going to stay sober for the rest of my life?” and so on. “One day at a time” is a mantra that has helped many people through hard days.
Sometimes “One day at a time” becomes “one hour at a time” or even “one minute at a time.” That’s fine. In fact, the more you narrow that time horizon, the closer you come to that classic dictum of happiness, “Live in the present moment.” This is good advice for anyone, but especially anyone with a substance use issue. Ruminating about past mistakes or worrying about possible problems are typical features of major depression and anxiety disorders, respectively. Living in the present spares you from having to carry the weight of the past and future but it can be hard to do. The following tips can make living in the present easier.
Focus on the Process
For many people, the biggest obstacle to living in the present is that we feel the need to plan for possible problems. This is especially true of people who tend to be anxious. Prying your attention from your worries feels a bit like taking your eyes off the road when you’re driving.
To overcome this resistance, focus on the process rather than the end result. Living in the present doesn’t mean you give up on the idea of progress but rather understanding that progress can only happen if you act on the present. So, for example, you can be engaged in writing down some recovery goals and some steps to get there. You’re planning for the future, but you’re actively engaged in that particular activity.
Write Things Down
One reason we often don’t live in the present is that we have something we feel is important that we have to remember. Maybe you have a meeting after lunch or you’re supposed to call your mom, or you have a great idea for your friend’s birthday present, and so on. If you have to devote mental energy to remembering those things, they will take away your focus.
Instead, just write them down. If it’s an appointment, writing it down on a calendar or planner is always a good idea, but just writing a reminder on a sticky note is usually enough to get it off your mind.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation simply means setting aside a certain amount of time every day to deliberately practice being in the present moment. It could be as little as five minutes or it could be as long as you want. The exercise is about accepting whatever you experience in the moment without judgment and without your mind wandering off to the past or future.
Your mind will inevitably wander off, especially at first. When this happens, just notice that it happened. Just noticing brings you back to the present because you become aware of what your mind is doing.
Use a Grounding Technique
A grounding technique is when you deliberately notice sensations in order to ground yourself in the present. You can do this as part of mindfulness meditation or just any time during the day when you find yourself preoccupied with worries or otherwise unable to concentrate. A common grounding technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. You notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
This engages all of your senses and the mild complexity of the task keeps you cognitively engaged. However, you don’t have to go through this whole exercise to ground yourself. You can engage with any sensation. For example, you might notice the sensations in just your feet or you might notice the sensations of your breathing.
Forget About the Clock
Anyone who has ever had a job knows that the last 10 or 15 minutes of the workday are the longest. When you’re busy, you forget about time and focus on what you’re doing. When you start looking at the clock, you get restless. Time creeps by. You wish it were 20 minutes in the future and you were on your way home.
The same thing happens any time you’re too focused on the time. Part of your brain is always pulling you away from your task at hand to check the time. Try forgetting about the clock. If you have to do something at a certain time and you’re afraid you’ll get carried away and miss it, set an alarm.
Accept Your Emotions
Another major challenge to staying present is when the present feels pretty bad. Either you’re in physical pain or discomfort or you are experiencing challenging emotions. It’s normal to want to escape that situation, even if you’re just imagining how nice it would be if you didn’t feel so miserable.
Ironically, pushing away negative feelings only makes them stronger. The purpose of pain is to let you know that something is wrong. If you try to ignore it, it keeps tapping you on the shoulder. However, if you accept your discomfort and can be present with it without judgment, it typically becomes more tolerable.
This is especially important for anyone recovering from a substance use disorder because drugs and alcohol often serve as an avoidance mechanism. If you can look challenging emotions straight in the face and accept them for what they are, they have less control over you.
Living in the moment improves the quality of your recovery and your life in many ways. You’re more engaged in what you’re doing and you’re less bothered by rumination and worry when you live in the present. However, it does take practice. Focusing on the process rather than the outcome you want, practicing mindfulness, and periodically grounding yourself through your senses are great ways to spend more time living in the present.
At The Foundry, we know that recovery from addiction is about treating the whole person. That’s why we incorporate mindfulness meditation and trauma-informed yoga into our treatment program, along with evidence-based therapeutic methods and positive lifestyle changes. For more information, call us at 844-955-1066.
Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat Announces Partnership With Ben Cort
One of the country’s premier, trauma-integrated men’s treatment facilities, Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, announces a partnership with accomplished recovery professional Ben Cort of Cort Consulting. This long-term strategic partnership will allow Foundry to leverage Cort’s extensive experience in the field of treatment and recovery, ultimately providing a higher standard of patient care. In his new role, Cort will focus on back-end operations, helping Foundry’s administration team flourish.
“We’re thrilled to have Ben join the Foundry Steamboat team,” says Founder and CEO Scott Borden. “His industry experience and overall business acumen adds unquantifiable value to our organization. Perhaps most importantly, he shares the Foundry philosophy of providing the highest level of care. Ben joins the rest of our staff in making the greatest impact we can each day carrying a message of hope.”
Cort has consulted for various programs, sports leagues and organized labor. Most recently, he led the marketing, business development and admissions teams at the Center for Dependency, Addiction & Rehabilitation (CeDAR), a subdivision of the University of Colorado Hospital. He was also an original board member and the first full-time employee at Phoenix Multisport, where he built sober communities through sport and health-related programs and helped to design the organization from its inception.
Cort has become a thought leader in the treatment world, working to improve the standards and education in marketing and admissions. He has also spearheaded an effort to better understand today’s cannabis industry and its effects on substance use disorder. In addition, Cort has spent time working with professional and collegiate athletes, coaching staffs, leagues, players unions and administrations to increase awareness of substance use disorder and mental health; assisting them in crafting appropriate and effective treatment plans for athletes. As a program that emphasizes physical wellness in concert with the emotional and clinical growth of participants, Foundry will greatly benefit from Cort’s prior experience.
“I have had the chance to work inside some amazing organizations and had never considered putting roots down with one of them until I got to know Foundry,” says Cort. “The commitment they have to patient care by retaining such amazing talent speaks for itself. Having the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Dr. Michael Barnes, a former colleague, is a dream come true, not to mention that the former Medical Director from CeDAR, Dr. Laura Martin, is also part of the team. Foundry is treatment at its best and only getting better, I am exceedingly proud to be a part of this team.”
Cort sits on several boards and is most proud of his work with the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies and Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who work respectively to advance treatment for LGTBQ+ patients, and to push back on the move toward the commercialization of THC, a compound found in cannabis. His book, “Weed Inc.” can be found in major bookstores as well as on Amazon and his TED talk “What commercialization is doing to Cannabis” has been seen over 2 million times. Cort is a frequent speaker and industry expert advocating for recovery.
About Foundry Steamboat
Foundry Steamboat is a substance abuse treatment center based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, focused on providing complete addiction treatment to help male participants regain happy and productive lives. Guided by a team of professionals, participants experience a comprehensive program centered around medical treatments, clinical therapy, wellness, and family therapy. Fully accredited by the Joint Commission, Foundry Steamboat is committed to providing the highest quality addiction treatment across a long-term continuum of care. For more information, call 844.955.1066, visit ForgingNewLives.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.
Helping OR Enabling??
Is there really a difference between helping and enabling? What is enabling? What are the causes and effects of this behavior on both the “enabler” and the person being “helped”? Helping is doing something for someone else that they are unable to do for themselves. Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. So, why is there so much confusion between the two?
We have many opportunities in our lives to help someone else, whether it be amongst those of our own families, close friends or complete strangers. Perhaps someone you know has become ill, and you help them by arranging and bringing meals to them until they are well enough to do it for themselves again. A friend’s car may be in the shop getting fixed and you help them by driving them to and from work until their car is in good running order again. Maybe someone you know has run into a bit of bad luck and is in need of temporary financial help to tide them over for awhile until their situation improves. Did you notice the optimal word, “until”? Providing temporary help to someone in need exemplifies kindness and consideration towards the receiver of help, but it also makes us feel wonderful inside when we are able to do so. But it is still temporary. What then is enabling?
Enabling is entirely a different matter, but oftentimes gets confused as “help” by well-intentioned family members, friends and even neighbors. Remember, enabling is doing things for someone else that they CAN and SHOULD be doing for themselves. Many people think of enabling strictly in regards to alcoholics or drug addicts, whose family and friends make excuses for unacceptable behaviors, thus creating an atmosphere of comfort and ease for the situation to continue long-term.
Enabling vs. helping has a much broader meaning, encompassing many areas of life, including raising children to become independent adults rather than contributing to the increasing phenomenon of grown children returning home to live with their parents. When we enable addicts, children, friends or family, we are preventing them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. We are not only preventing them from realizing they have a problem, but we are also depriving them of fully reaching their own potential.
CO-dependent behavior early warning signs:
- Repeatedly bailing them out—of financial problems, extending deadlines, other “tight spots” they get themselves into
- Giving them “one more chance”–. . .then another. . .then another. . .then another
- Ignoring the problem—because they get defensive when you bring it up and you want to “keep the peace” or your hope that is will magically go away.
- Joining them in blaming others or in making excuses—it’s never their fault, they have problems, their life has been “rough”.
- Accepting their justifications, excuses and rationalizations “I’m depressed” “I have a rough life (childhood, work schedule. Etc., etc.)
- Avoiding Problems—Again to keep the peace, or to avoid “upsetting” them
- Doing for them what they should be able to do for themselves—Yes—even when it’s faster, easier, simpler to just do it for them.
- Softening or removing the natural consequences-After all they shouldn’t have to suffer
- Trying to “fix” their problem for them.
- Repeatedly coming to the “Rescue”
- Trying to control them or their problem—Getting angry, frustrated, or hurt when they don’t “take your advice” or accept your help.
If even one or two of the above apply to a relationship over a weeks, months, or beyond; this is a sign that the relationship has become a co-dependent, enabling type of relationship.
The Best Of Intentions Often Back-fire
Helping someone in need is truly admirable, until. Enabling someone is not so admirable, fraught with complications that can last indefinitely. Society often sends confusing messages about what it means to be a good family member or friend. However “unselfishness” must have limits – everyone needs to have limits in relationships.
Being an enabler has its own payoff, with a false sense of control over the lives of others. Well-intentioned parents, friends and even strangers can often find themselves feeling frustrated, resentful and used, but lack the will to stop the enabling. The “help” provided to those lacking the motivation and determination to stand on their own two feet has become a long-term expectation and outright demand by many. Are you an enabler?
Turning Enabling Behaviors Into Positive Potential-Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers etc must learn to redirect their “helping” efforts with Tough Love, allowing persons to recognize and accept the responsibilities and consequences of their own choices, rather than enabling the continuance of unacceptable behaviors to the detriment of everyone involved. Take responsibility for any enabling behaviors, which is considered by some experts to be akin to abuse, realizing that creating positive change in someone being “helped” will not only have a positive impact on them but on you as well. There really is a difference between helping and enabling, but it is up to you to choose whether to continue on this path or to put a stop to it now.
Foundry Treatment Center
Also, check out her blog!! You can find it here - http://spacelyss.wordpress.com/
Photo Credit: Stacy S. w/ Foundry Treatment Center
How to Make Exercise a Regular Part of Your Addiction Recovery
If you look at any quality addiction treatment program, you’ll notice several things many of them have in common and one of those things is exercise. It’s becoming much more common for regular exercise to be an integral part of addiction treatment. Experts also frequently recommend that your post-treatment recovery plan includes regular exercise.
However, this can be challenging for many people, especially those who are busy or don’t really think of themselves as athletic. The following is a look at why exercise is one of the most important lifestyle changes for recovery and how to more easily make exercise part of your daily life.
Why Exercise Is Important
First, if you want to motivate yourself to exercise more, it helps to understand why you’re doing it. Otherwise, it just feels like a chore. There is now quite a bit of research supporting the role of exercise in recovery, both in terms of physical and mental health.
Heavy substance use is hard on your body. Its exact effects depend largely on which substances you use the most, but overall, you may suffer from malnutrition, increased cardiovascular risks, and more frequent illnesses due to poor immune function. If you want to recover your health as quickly as possible, it’s important to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
Exercise--especially aerobic exercise like walking, running, swimming, and biking--improves your cardiovascular health pretty quickly. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of type two diabetes, as well as reducing your risk of infections and cancer. Exercise may not totally offset the physical damage of substance use, but it gets you going in the right direction.
Perhaps more importantly, exercise boosts your mental health. It improves your mood by increasing levels of endorphins, serotonin, and BDNF, a neurotransmitter that grows neurons. It also causes structural changes that help you react better to stress. It’s thought to be this change, along with improved sleep, that is most responsible, for the health benefits of exercise.
The improvements in mood reduce your risk of depression and anxiety symptoms, which in turn reduces your risk of relapse. Given that most people with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental health issues, it’s hard to overstate this particular benefit of exercise for anyone trying to stay sober.
How to Build an Exercise Habit
It’s one thing to know that exercise is good for you and it’s another thing entirely to actually do it. The following are some tips for going from “not an exercise person” to someone who exercises daily without really thinking about it.
Find Something You Like
First, find something you actually enjoy. According to research, the best exercise for mental health is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that lasts for at least 20 minutes, at least three times a week. However, that doesn’t matter at all if you aren’t willing to do it. It’s crucial not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You will get some benefit from staying active, even if it’s not the scientifically validated “best” exercise. Walking is great. So are gardening, boxing, yoga, dancing, and fencing.
There are two divergent strategies that work pretty well: Either pick something you don’t mind doing and can just participate in mechanically or perhaps even socially, like walking; or pick something that really fires your interest and is complex enough to keep you engaged, like high-skilled sports or martial arts.
Pick a Regular Time
The next thing is to pick a regular time and stick to it. Instead of picking a regular clock time, though, attach your exercise to an activity you already do every day or almost every day. So, for example, you get out of bed every day--ideally--so you can connect your exercise habit to that. The goal is to have one daily activity lead directly into the next so that you don’t have to exert any willpower to do it. Be patient though, it will probably take a month or two for the new behavior to become automatic.
One of the most common mistakes people make when they decide to start exercising is that they go hard right away like they’re in a training montage. You actually want to do the opposite. You want to start out easy so you don’t resist building the habit. In the beginning, building a habit is the most important thing. At first, you may just want to put on your exercise clothes and leave it at that.
Or you may walk for five minutes. You want to have the feeling that exercise is just something you have to cross off your list, not something you have to brace yourself for and grind your way through. You can build the intensity later.
When the habit is pretty well established, then you can begin to increase the volume or intensity. You may start to do this automatically just out of boredom. Five minutes may feel too easy so you start walking for 10 minutes. Building gradually accomplishes two things: You are less likely to get exhausted and burned out and quit after a few weeks or a month, the way 90 percent of people give up on new year’s resolutions.
Second, it keeps you from getting injured, which interrupts both your fitness progress and your habit formation. Also, being injured is painful. There’s no rush and, over the course of months and years, consistency beats intensity every time.
Finally, set up some kind of reward for doing your exercise, even if it's just patting yourself on the back. This is especially important to remember on bad days. So, for example, you intended to run a mile but you felt terrible and ended up walking most of it. That’s fine. We all have bad days. The important thing is to congratulate yourself for showing up and doing the work rather than chastising yourself for not doing it as well as you would have liked.
It may also help to schedule some rewarding activities after your exercise. For example, you might tell yourself, “Ok, after I exercise, I can have dinner, or watch TV, or go hang out with my friends.” This gives you something to look forward to and immediately associates something positive with exercise.
At The Foundry, we know that lifestyle changes like social support, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are the foundation of a long recovery and a healthy life. That’s why these are incorporated into our holistic treatment plan along with meditation, yoga, and outdoor activities. To learn more about our approach to addiction treatment, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Nine Common Mistakes to Avoid in Addiction Recovery
Recovery from addiction is complicated. You have to learn new coping skills, make new friends, make lifestyle changes, and other big changes in a relatively short period of time. There are plenty of chances to make mistakes, especially early on. The good news is that these mistakes don’t have to derail your recovery.
You can avoid many of them, if you know to watch out for them. If you do make mistakes, you can usually get back on track if you catch them early enough. The following are some of the more common mistakes people make in addiction recovery.
Thinking You Can Do It Alone
Perhaps the hardest step is admitting you have a problem, but it’s also hard to ask for help. Many people admit they have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but they want to deal with it on their own. This is usually a bad idea. The thinking that got you into addiction is unlikely to get you out. At the very least, you would benefit from social support like what you would find at 12-Step or other mutual-aid meetings. Additionally, many people need much more support and guidance, such as from a therapist or an addiction treatment program.
Not Treating Mental Health Issues
When most people decide to get help for a substance use issue, the first thing they think of is going to a 12-Step meeting. This is a great first step, and groups like AA and NA have helped millions of people get sober over the decades. However, it’s also important to be aware that most people with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental health issues such as major depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, PTSD, and others. If you try to get sober without addressing these issues, it’s going to be much, much harder.
Expecting Too Much Too Soon
Recovery from addiction is possible — and even likely, with the right help — and life will certainly get better when you’re sober, but it won’t happen all at once. It takes time to form new habits and get used to different ways of thinking. It also takes time for your brain chemistry and body to adapt to life without drugs and alcohol. The early months are typically challenging, and often uncomfortable.
If you expect life to turn around right away, you’ll likely be disappointed. You should probably expect to notice a difference by the end of the first year of sobriety, and then again at five years. In the meantime, you just have to commit to the process.
Comparing Your Progress to Others
It’s normal to want to know how your recovery is progressing, but comparing your progress to others is counterproductive. First and foremost, these comparisons are never accurate. Everyone in recovery is facing different challenges and you only know what others allow you to know. Also, recovery is a cooperative effort. Everyone benefits when they support each other, but making comparisons turns it into a competition. It’s hard to celebrate other people’s successes when you feel like they come at your expense.
There’s plenty of sobriety to go around. Finally, something about the act of comparison itself makes you less happy. It’s far better to judge your progress based on your own goals and values, as well as whether you did better today than yesterday.
Dating Too Soon
Most experts typically recommend that you have a solid year of recovery before you think about dating again. This can be challenging, since substance use issues typically first appear in early adulthood, when people are dating most actively. However, there are good reasons to hold off. First, it distracts from recovery.
Dating can be stressful and time consuming, and if you meet someone you like, you are likely to prioritize that person over recovery. That may be fine as long as things are going well, but it can be a huge liability if the relationship starts having problems. What’s more, people often fall back into unhealthy relationship patterns if they start dating again too soon. A year seems like a long time, but it’s really not.
Thinking You’re Cured
It’s easy to get complacent after a while if recovery seems to be going well. You might start to cut corners like skipping meetings or neglecting other parts of your recovery plan. You might even start to think it would be ok to have a drink every once in a while.
This is much like when people stop taking their medication for a mental health issue because they feel good. You feel good because you’re taking care of yourself, so it’s important to keep doing what you’re doing. Addiction is a chronic condition, and you’ve got to stick with your recovery plan.
If you’re recovering from alcohol use disorder, drinking is an obvious blunder, but many people in recovery don’t see alcohol as a serious problem. They may have issues with cocaine or opioids and see alcohol as more or less incidental. However, alcohol is often a powerful trigger, since most people combine drugs and alcohol. Not only that, alcohol impairs your judgment and self-control, making you more vulnerable to relapse. If you’re recovering from a drug use disorder, it’s important to stay away from alcohol, too.
Hanging Out With the Same People
We are all more vulnerable to peer pressure than we like to think. Even if your friends who drink and use drugs don’t pressure you to use, just being in that environment can trigger cravings and make it easier to relapse. People often struggle with loneliness early in recovery, which is why they hang out with old friends when they know they shouldn’t. The important thing is to create a sober network as soon as possible. Typically, attending regular 12-Step meetings is a good place to start.
Thinking Recovery Ends With Treatment
Finally, a lot of people assume that they can go into a treatment program, have their addiction problem fixed, and not have to worry about it too much after that. In reality, addiction is a chronic condition, and it takes about a year for your relapse risk to fall to 50 percent, on average. It’s especially important that you make a smooth transition from treatment back to normal life, perhaps by stepping down to an intensive outpatient program after you finish inpatient treatment, or by spending some time in a sober living environment. A strong recovery is really about changing your approach to life and not just about abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Recovery from addiction is hard and everyone makes mistakes. The good news is that mistakes, even serious mistakes and relapses, don’t have to be final. You can learn from your mistakes and try again. At The Foundry, we use a variety of modalities to help our clients address co-occurring issues and make lasting change. For more information about our treatment programs, call us today at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.
When earning my doctorate at Florida State University, my faculty mentor asked me and a group of my peers to assist in preparing the first book on Compassion Fatigue. Dr. Charles Figley’s Compassion Fatigue: Coping with Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder in Those Who Treat the Traumatized (1) was published in 1995. Since that time, compassion fatigue and helping helpers to maintain their health and job satisfaction has been a focus of my career. I have trained many groups of helping professionals to better understand the relationship between burnout and secondary trauma and to look inward at the emotional and physical cost of working with traumatized clients in stressful situations.
Since 1995, recognition of the significant incidence of trauma in clients and families who seek assistance has magnified the importance of working within a trauma-informed culture where employee and organizational health, compassion fatigue, self-care, and honest organizational assessment are necessary. Over the years, I have wondered if other professions are starting to adopt similar trauma-informed practice.
My son Patrick is an attorney. Since passing the Bar in 2012, he has specialized in Workers Compensation and Personal Injury law. We have had many conversations about the rewards and struggles of working with clients who have experienced significant workplace injuries or serious and life threatening accidents. We have talked about the difficulty of working with clients who often present as controlling, hypervigilant, and who frequently respond to the legal process with frustration, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation.
A little over a year ago, Patrick and his family moved to Florida. As he prepared to take the Florida Bar, he began to consider the impact of his work with traumatized clients. As he identified the emotional cost that he and many of his peers have incurred as a result of their work as lawyers, he began to identify ways that he could assist other attorneys who have also struggled in this regard. As we discussed his desire to assist others (2), we researched trauma as an issue within the practice of law. It quickly became evident that lawyers, bar associations, and law school faculty were beginning to investigate the concept of Trauma-Informed practice (3,4,5).
Based on our findings it is clear that working with traumatized clients can impact every area of legal specialization. Personal injury attorneys assist clients who have experienced life-altering automobile accidents or work-related injuries. Civil litigators assist victims of violent crimes. Family lawyers assist victims of domestic violence and abuse. Veterans attorneys assist service members with combat-related struggles. Judges and other officers of the court are exposed to cases where testimony and other evidence requires almost constant emersion in traumatic material. Legal professionals in each specialty spend hours interacting with traumatized clients, listen to emotional stories of traumatic events and reviewing graphic photos and medical records.
The potential impact of trauma on legal professionals is significant and multifaceted. First, traumatized clients often present symptoms that challenge the legal team and its efforts to successfully represent their concerns. Traumatized clients typically enter the legal process with a strong need to feel safe. As the legal process is unfamiliar and potentially threatening, traumatized clients often enter the relationship with a need to be hypervigilant, to feel heard and believed, and in control of the process. Failure to recognize this need can result in distrust, manipulation, and conflict between the client and the legal team.
Second, trauma memories are often fluid and can change over time. A client's inconsistent accounting of what happened during the event can make case conceptualization, completion of a thorough and accurate assessment, and preparation for deposition or trial difficult. As members of the legal team become frustrated, they may avoid interacting with clients, which creates even greater conflict and increased efforts on the part of the client to regain control of the situation.
As caseloads build with traumatized clients, team members become more vulnerable to stress, burnout, and secondary trauma from their daily work responsibilities and client interactions. As a result, professionals can experience reduced job satisfaction and increased emotional consequences. In all helping professions these struggles can result in increased turnover, the desire to leave the profession, and increased problems with mental health and addiction issues. Recent research on turnover rates in law firms found that 44% of new associates change firms within the first three years of practice. This turnover rate is estimated to cost firms over $9 billion annually (6). Large numbers of attorneys are also leaving the profession. A 2014 report (7) stated that 24% of attorneys who were licensed in 2000 were no longer practicing law in 2012.
Addiction and mental health struggles are also evident in the legal profession. A 2016 survey (8) of 12,825 attorneys found that 20.6% screened positive for "hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking." In this same survey, 28% of the respondents reported depression, 19% reported anxiety, and 23% reported significant levels of stress in the work environment. Issues associated with addiction and mental health struggles have implications that go beyond the attorney’s wellbeing. Attorney impairment is not a mitigating circumstance for failing to provide clients with appropriate representation (9).
All of these issues are not directly associated with working with traumatized clients, but the importance of these growing concerns should be carefully considered!
Recommendations for law firms and County, State and Federal courts: 1. Accept the reality that trauma and frequent interaction with traumatized clients can harm outcomes, reduce work performance and job satisfaction of employees, and create emotional and behavioral consequences for employees and the organization as a whole. 2. Work with a consultant to assess the impact of trauma, compassion fatigue, and organizational trauma on the overall health of the organization. 3. Develop trauma-informed policies and procedures for working with all clients. 4. Provide training for all employees on trauma, best practices for working with traumatized clients, and prevention of compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary trauma. 5. Provide resources for employees who are struggling with compassion fatigue, burnout, or secondary trauma, addiction and other mental health issues. These resources should include coaching, therapy, treatment and access to an Employee Assistance Program. It is also important to provide preventative opportunities for self-care, consistent utilization of PTO, etc.
Recommendations for Law Schools: 1. Provide training in trauma, best practices for working with traumatized clients, preventing and addressing compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary trauma for all students. 2. This training should be mandatory for all students regardless of the student's stated areas of interest.
Recommendations for addiction professionals and other mental health professionals: 1. It is critical to remember that working with attorneys and other legal professionals should include a thorough trauma assessment, assessment of compassion fatigue, and burnout. 2. It is important to remember that Trauma-Integrated Legal Practice is relatively new concept in most legal practices, courts, and governmental legal environments. Trauma education, including education on compassion fatigue (i.e., burnout and secondary trauma) is critical for attorneys to accept the serious impact of trauma in their work environment. 3. From this perspective, all addiction and mental health treatment should be trauma-informed and trauma-integrated. Working with attorneys and legal professionals should be seen from the same perspective of working with other helping professionals (i.e., medical professionals, first responders, therapists, etc.).
Special Thanks to Patrick Barnes, Esq. for providing input and feedback on this blog post. · For more information on Trauma-Informed Legal Practice, go to Wave of Change Coaching and Consulting, LLC (www.waveofchangecoaching.com).
Footnotes 1 Figley, C. R. (1995). Compassion Fatigue: Coping with Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder In Those Who Treat the Traumatized. Brunner/Mazel. New York: NY. 2 https://www.waveofchangecoach.com/ 3 https://www.lawcare.org.uk/news/lawyers-and-vicarious-trauma 4 https://www.lsc-sf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Article_Establishing-a-Trauma-Informed-Lawyer- Client-Relationship.pdf 5 https://www.aals.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Katz-Haldar.pdf 6 https://www.attorneyatwork.com/confronting-lawyer-turnover-in-law-firms/ 7 http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/after_the_jd_study_shows_many_leave_law_practice 8 Krill, P. R., Johnson, B. R., & Albert, L. (2016). The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys. Journal of Addiction Medicine. January/February 2016, 10(1), 46-52. 9 https://www.lawpracticetoday.org/article/evaluating-impaired-attorneys/
Dr. Mike Barnes is the Chief Clinical Officer at the Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance use disorder treatment center located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Why Don’t People Seek Help for Addiction?
If you have a loved one with a substance use issue, it can be hard to understand why they won’t get help. It may be obvious to everyone that their drinking and drug use is having a negative effect on their lives and the lives of everyone around them, but they still refuse to do anything about it. If you care about someone, it’s important to encourage them in a supportive, nonjudgmental way to get help for addiction. To that end, it helps to understand some of the most common reasons people give for not seeking help, as identified by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Most Don’t Believe They Have a Problem
Of all the people with substance use issues of various degrees, relatively few seek help and even fewer get the help they need. Of the people who never get help, more than 95 percent just don’t believe they have a problem. Why they believe that is a whole other issue. Many could be in denial. It’s hard to come to grips with the idea that you’ve lost control of your substance use and that it's a problem that you can’t solve on your own.
Rationalization is also a defense mechanism that protects addictive behavior. The remaining five percent of people know that drugs and alcohol have become a problem but they either haven’t sought help or they have sought help but were unable to get it for some reason. The remaining obstacles apply to both groups, although not necessarily in the same order.
Many Just Aren’t Ready to Quit
Of people who know they have a problem but don’t get help, the bigger group is the one comprising people who know they have a problem but haven't sought treatment. This can be incredibly frustrating for loved ones because it seems so obvious that if drugs and alcohol are a problem, you should seek help to quit. However, it’s crucial to understand your loved one’s ambivalence.
If they know their substance use is hurting them but they keep doing it anyway, there is probably a reason. Often, people with substance use issues are self-medicating for trauma or mental health issues. They feel like getting sober would deprive them of their only coping mechanism. Whatever their reasons, it’s important to listen and try to understand.
Cost Is Often an obstacle
We tend to think that addiction treatment is only for the rich and famous. We hear about celebrities doing long stints in rehab and assume it’s not for regular people. However, treatment is more affordable than most people realize. First, there is a continuum of care, ranging from outpatient services to extended inpatient treatment and most people can afford some level of professional care.
Even if it’s not the level of care you think you need, it’s important to know that any amount of work put towards recovery is worth it in the end. If you can only afford to go to 12-Step meetings, then do that and supplement with therapy if necessary. Many therapists work on a sliding scale for people who need it.
Second, there are more ways to pay for treatment than there have ever been. Most insurance will pay for at least some of treatment and quality treatment centers typically accept several forms of insurance. Recent changes in the law also allow federal money, such as from Medicare and Medicaid to be used for more addiction treatment options. Before you assume you can’t afford treatment, call some programs you like and see if they’ll work with you.
Many Are Afraid It Will Affect Their Jobs
There are several ways that treatment might affect your job. The most obvious is that people are afraid they’ll get fired for taking a month or more off of work to get treatment. According to the Family Medical Leave Act, your employer can’t fire you for taking up to 12 weeks off for addiction treatment. That doesn’t protect you from violations such as drinking or using drugs on the job, but it does guarantee time off for treatment.
Many people can’t afford to take time off work, even if they can afford treatment. In that case, it’s important to be aware that most treatment options don’t actually require you to miss work. An intensive outpatient program, for example, allows you to live at home and work while still receiving a high level of care.
The Stigma of Addiction Is Real
Many people are just afraid of being stigmatized as an “addict.” They don’t want their friends, neighbors, or coworkers to know they have a problem. Unfortunately, addiction is a progressive disease and at some point they will likely find out due to circumstances beyond your control. Declining work performance might lead you to lose your job, for example, or you might get a DUI.
It’s better to address the problem on your own terms. Keep in mind that addiction treatment programs have to follow the same strict privacy rules as hospitals and doctors offices, so there’s no reason anyone needs to know you’re getting treatment.
It’s Hard to Know Where to Get Treatment
These days, it feels like we’re constantly inundated with ads for addiction treatment. There are more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities in the US and it can be hard to choose. Many of these facilities are mediocre and some are really bad. If you want your loved one to get help, you’re probably going to have to do most of the research to find them a good program. Look for accreditation, qualified staff, and evidence-based treatment methods. Good programs will want a lot of information about potential clients to know whether they are a good fit.
Some Want to Handle It on Their Own
Finally, some people don’t seek help because they think they can handle the problem on their own. This is another form of denial, since addiction is typically characterized by trying to quit but being unable to. When someone insists on handling it on their own, they are either stalling or they are slightly delusional about the amount of control they have over their situation.
As they often say in AA, your best thinking is what got you here. If you want to get sober, you will have to tolerate some level of discomfort and loss of control in the short term.
There are many reasons people don’t seek help for addiction; these are just some of the more common ones. When encouraging a loved one to seek help, it’s important to listen without judgment and try to understand what substance use does for them, what’s stopping them from getting help, and what might motivate them to get sober. At The Foundry, we know that every client is different and that individualized care is essential to long-term success. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.
Addiction Lead to Recovery, and Recovery Lead to Being a Good Dad
“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people” - Roy T. Bennett
The human brain has the nightmarish propensity to dwell on the negative experiences of the past. Defeats, losses, shame and guilt construct an intellectual quagmire of negativity, often waded into hip-deep at 2am (usually when you have something important to do early the next morning). For many years, my life prior to recovery (and even in early recovery) was entrenched in this quagmire, chronologically stored and miscategorized beliefs under the banner of shame and guilt.
I am a better man because of my years of struggle. I am a much better father because of my years in recovery. Recovery has forced me to prioritize and redefine my life. To roll my sleeves up and mold the person I want to be. Picking and pressing together the values and traits I see around me; forging a template of the person I want to be. I see someone exhibiting altruistic kindness, I make a mental note and add that trait to the template. I see wisdom, and a hunger for understanding, I make a mental note and add that trait to the template. I started building my template 9 years ago, and it is still in a perpetual state of construction. With every day of sobriety comes additional clarity on the patterns of my addiction - AND the path of my recovery.
It turns out the template of the man I want to be doubles as the template of the father I want to be. Honesty, willingness, humility, love, responsibility, discipline, service - These are all foundational principals of recovery - And they are also values that I want to both demonstrate and instill into the young, moldable minds of my children.
Recovery has given me a lens unto which I can recognize, accept and work on my flaws. It has given me a roadmap for addressing these issues as I go, and the ability to accept that neither my failures nor my successes define me. I strive to model this process for my children. Gift them with the ability to see the middle ground in life; the place that lies between perfection and failure. I am human. I am able to exhibit an extensive amount of patience and love, while occasionally succumbing to moments of impatience and anger. The trick is owning those deficiencies when they pop up, especially when I inadvertently direct them towards my kids.
Every parent has their occasional moment. Moments where emotions and circumstances coalesce. Moments where I am not the father I want to be. The work truly lies in recognizing this when it happens, looking my kids in the eye, and not only explaining what happened, but going a step further and explaining the emotions behind the action. “I was scared when I saw you being rude to the server at the restaurant. Scared that I am not a good father - That fear turned into anger, and I yelled at you. That wasn’t right. It’s important to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. This applies to the way we treat someone serving us food, but it also applies to the way that I treat you. I’m sorry”.
The idea outlined above is straight from the pages of the AA Big Book, specifically Step 10:
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
The interwoven philosophies, ideals and guidelines of a solid personal recovery program have become ubiquitous with my personal parenting philosophy. In the early days of my recovery, shame and guilt bent my thoughts towards the hypothetical wish that I had never tried drugs or alcohol. I wished more than anything that I had never experienced the strife and pain of active addiction. I am now blessed with the gift of perspective. If the hypothetical wish of my early recovery had come true, I can all but guarantee my parenting would be significantly different, and significantly worse. I think about this often. I can say without hesitation that I am a better person, and a better parent because I went through active addiction.
At Foundry, we know that addiction is a problem that affects every area of your life and therefore requires holistic solutions. We don’t just teach skills to help you abstain from drugs and alcohol; we teach skills to help you live a happier, more purposeful, more connected life. To learn more, call us at (844) 935-1508.
Recipes in Recovery: Steak Chimichurri
At The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a healthy lifestyle is an important part of complete recovery. The link between the body and the mind is powerful, and a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is an integral component of lasting recovery from Substance Use Disorder.
There is a common misconception that healthy food is bland and without flavor or excitement. Our goal is to shift how our clients define "healthy food" and shift their lifestyles towards sustainable nutrition. Serving bland, flavorless food would only set the stage for old eating habits and patterns to return down the line.
Check out this fabulous recipe to add to your menu tonight.
Chimichurri Sauce:1 bunch parsley1 bunch cilantro1 tablespoon garlic, chopped1/2 cup olive oilSalt and pepper to taste2 lemons, juicedCombine all ingredients except for olive oil and lemon juice in a blender. Start to slowly add olive oil and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to your liking.Asparagus:
2 bunch asparagus
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine ingredients together and wrap with foil. Cook in oven with steak.
Brown rice and quinoa:
1/2 cup quinoa*
1/2 cup brown rice*
*Cook according to instructions on package
1 flank steak seasoned how you likeCook steak in oven at 375 until desired doneness. Place rice blend on plate, top with the asparagus. Slice steak and cover with the chimichurri sauce. ENJOY!
My Son is an Addict
My son is an addict. It's not the first thing you’ll hear me say if you ask me about my kids. Truthfully, I’ve never said it until now. I usually skirt around the subject, saying my oldest son has had some struggles with drugs and alcohol.Not because I am ashamed or embarrassed, but in my eyes, my oldest son is not one thing. He’s a million things — an amazing living, breathing, walking, talking human being with a "heart so big it could crush this town," to borrow a few words from Tom Petty. (For future reference, my mind is prone to bust out in a song lyric at any time.) Yes, I’m his mother and his biggest fan, but I’ve never liked the smallness a label dictates. I don’t even like to label myself as a writer, songwriter, musician, wife, or any other word that defines a role I play. Instead, when someone asks, I say I write stories and songs and do stuff. That pretty much sums it up.
I’ll be the first to admit that I like to look at the bright side. I see the good in others and especially my children. At times, I’ve been accused of being too damn optimistic. But I’m a believer. I know, that's a label, but it’s also what I do. I believe there is always a way, a solution, a miracle waiting around the corner, and that things will get better. This doesn't mean that behind these rose-colored glasses, life is always beautiful. I've spent many sleepless nights and cried rivers of tears. I've also had times when it felt like my heart was physically being ripped out of my chest. But most times, I try to “keep on the sunny side.” I did tell you about the song lyrics. Right?
Being the mother of a son who is an addict has taught me a lot of things. But first, what is an addict anyway? There is such a stigma attached to the word. When I used to hear the word addict, my mind conjured up the image of a guy lying in a dirty New York City back alley, fighting off rats, surrounded by syringes and needles - thank you,Al Pacino. But now, I know better. Addicts are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, nieces, friends, acquaintances, and ancestors. Many have very successful careers. Some give TED talks, climb mountains, play big stages, and shine bright…at least for a while. Recently, when my son lost a close friend to addiction, I wrote a song to try and bring some comfort into the raging sea of heartbreak.
Some stars shoot across the sky and light the world on fire as they go by
Some fade out of sight, while others still burn bright and keep on shining,
They just keep shining, I’ll shine on for you, and I’ll shine on for me
- lyric from Shine On
Addiction is painful on all sides. It's not something you can sweep under the rug and talk about later or chalk up to “sowing a few wild oats.” I wish I would have known that a long time ago.Addiction is real. It’s not some phase that people go through with a clear beginning and end. It’s a disease, a dragon that can bare its teeth at anytime. And it runs in my family, in my blood, a gene that can be “on or off.” I didn’t know any of this back then.
I just kept believing. I believed my son when he said he didn’t leave the pipe in my glovebox. I believed him when he said he was camping in a blue tent on the Colorado River. I even went to the place where he said he was with a care package of food and supplies and a guitar for him to play. There was no blue tent. The other people camping there said they hadn’t seen or heard of him — I believed them, maybe. For a year, I didn’t know where he was. I thought I saw him everywhere — the face of a homeless man in San Francisco, or hitchhiking on the side of the road. I believed I could help. What I didn’t know was that my love wasn’t enough to save him. He needed more than I could offer.
When he did surface again, I got a phone call from jail. Letters followed, and I began to understand. I’ll never forget the first time I went to visit him and saw him behind the glass, dressed in orange. I couldn’t stop crying. I wish I could have held back the tears and offered an encouraging word, but I wasn't that strong. I just bit my lip, tears streaming down my face. He apologized over and over. I didn’t need an apology. I just wanted him to be okay. I studied his letters and tried to read between the lines. When he decided to goto an addiction/behavior modification treatment center, at a cellmate's suggestion, I took him there. The 24 hours between the time he was released from jail and admitted to the treatment facility felt like an eternity. He was so fragile, fractured, and torn.
As his mother, I wanted to take the blame, and for a while, I did. I wasn't a perfect parent. I have a laundry list of things I could have done differently. I tried to mold my children into what I thought they should be. Ouch, that truth still hurts. To top it off, during a crucial time in his life, I walked out on my marriage of 18 years, shattering the illusion I had created of the perfect "Leave it to Beaver" family. I often wonder why children are given to the young, who don’t know what they’re doing. But as I get older, I realize age doesn't matter all that much. I still don’t have all the answers. I know more things, but for the most part, I’m making it up as I go. However, what I do know is that my children never suffered from a lack of love.
So what has all this taught me about addiction? Forgiveness is key. Always. Every day, all day — especially when it comes to forgiving myself. And to never stop believing. Ever.
Trisha Leona Sandora
Words & Music
At Foundry, we know that addiction is a problem that affects every area of your life and therefore requires holistic solutions. We don’t just teach skills to help you abstain from drugs and alcohol; we teach skills to help you live a happier, more purposeful, more connected life. To learn more, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Are Chronic Pain and Addiction Connected?
Chronic pain is one of the hardest to manage conditions for people with a substance use disorder. Coping with physical ailments and pain can be the reason some people start using substances. They may start using substances for another reason and end up spiraling in their use of substances and alcohol as a means to cope with chronic pain. Either way, the treatment for chronic pain and substance use disorders is called a dual diagnosis. When more than one other thing is coinciding with a substance use disorder, both should be treated concurrently to ensure the person gets the best chance for recovery. Find out how chronic pain and substance use disorders are connected and why it matters.
Defining Chronic Pain
Pain starts in the brain. The brain sends signals that something is wrong and tells the body damage has occurred or may be occurring. Pain may last a short while or become chronic (long-lasting). Chronic pain is pain lasting beyond the healing of an injury, which continues for several months or longer, even years. Diagnosis and treatment often are required by healthcare professionals who can look at how the pain started, why it continues, and any pathways involved in sustaining the pain. The type of pain and its origin are determining factors in how to best treat the pain going forward. Narcotics are almost always a last resort because of how toxic they are to the body and the risk of developing an addiction.
Types of Pain
When it comes to types of pain, it is essential to know what kind of pain can develop and how it emerges. This knowledge can determine how a person decides to manage it on their own, typically with the use of substances or alcohol.
- Somatic pain: injury to muscles, bones, joints, or tissues can occur. Somatic pain is dull, aching, and localized in one area. It can be caused by inflammation, but it does not disappear after a reasonable period.
- Visceral pain comes from an ongoing injury to an organ or tissues supporting the organ.
- Neuropathic pain: believed to be caused by changes in the central nervous system that sustain pain after an injury. May be associated with physical or emotional trauma or any number of different diseases.
- Psychogenic pain: chronic pain linked to emotional upheaval. Depression or anxiety can create stressful situations. Emotional distress may be a consequence of pain or contribute to pain itself.
Addictive medications like opiates should be a last resort because they can cause lots of problems for people over time. Harmful substance use over time can have severe medical, legal, and social consequences for a person’s life. The only course of action to discontinue medications is to detox safely with a treatment center focused on helping people become healthy and whole after a substance use disorder.
Opioid and opiate medications are readily prescribed to treat chronic pain and physical injuries for different reasons. No matter how a person came to use the drug, they likely need it to help mask the pain symptoms and function normally in their everyday life. Substance use disorders are a pattern of compulsive behavior characterized by cravings for opiates and opioids. Cravings can become overwhelming and can result in loss of control or compulsive substance use, despite consequences, and obsessive behaviors regarding the use of a substance. Life may become pretty unmanageable by the time they are desperate enough to seek help. Even then, they may not be able to admit the need for help. A person with chronic pain has likely suffered from mental health disorders that are untreated because chronic pain is the primary symptom being treated. Many people fear the only solution to relieve chronic illness lies in taking opiates or medication indefinitely. Pain symptoms may become aggravated when they cannot sleep, are not eating well, or taking care of themselves because of substance use behaviors.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Treatment centers can provide counseling and support services for individuals with chronic pain and substance use disorders. These services help people in recovery control chronic pain using other techniques and coping tools without potent substances. It might mean a holistic approach to constant pain control that includes exercise, meditation, and breathwork. Substance dependence can develop, and discontinuation of opiates is not recommended alone due to withdrawal symptoms. Treatment of chronic pain and substance use disorders also includes support for mental health issues. A team of medical specialists and clinicians is needed to treat the person with care, dignity, and respect. In this way, they can find treatment for chronic pain but also support for substance use behaviors. Healing from all of it will take some time, even if chronic pain never completely heals. The goal is to find hope that things will get better, gradually, and that life is better when substance use disorders are finally in the past.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.
COVID-19: From Our CEO
As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to gain momentum and impact others across the globe, proactively communicating the safety precautions that we have taken to ensure the safety of our participants and staff is necessary. The evolution of this pandemic has been, and will be, something that we closely monitor and thoroughly heed the instructions given by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, we felt that our two-tier detox continuum needs to be Highlighted. Two years ago, we partnered with Steamboat Emergency Room (SBER) which has become our first line of defense for situations just like the one our country is currently experiencing. Every participant’s journey with Foundry STARTS here, where they are promptly taken to a private room and immediately seen by medical professionals. During this first phase of our detox and assessment process, they are given a comprehensive physical and thoroughly screened for symptoms of COVID-19 following the strict protocol enforced by the CDC. Once cleared for residential treatment, they are transported to our facility (15 minutes outside of town on a secluded 48-acre Ranch) for the second phase of our detox process, and continued monitoring from members of our medical team for at least 24 hours. Once in our care, the following steps are being strictly enforced by every member of our team at Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat.
1) The clients will have limited "off campus" activities. This means they will not be attending 12 step meetings off campus. They will either take part in an in-house or online meeting, structured by our lead residential managers. Wellness activities will either be on campus or involve limited exposure to those in the community.
2) All staff are expected to immediately wash their hands upon arrival on the Foundry campus with soap and water for at least 20; or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
3) Throughout their shift, staff are required to frequently maintain CDC standards of hand washing hygiene.
4) Did we mention we are encouraging staff and clients to WASH THEIR HANDS with soap and water?
5) Staff will wipe down the facility at shift exchange with soap and water or wipes. This means the office will be wiped down a minimum 3x per day.
6) During morning opener, clients will be asked if they are experiencing a fever, lower respiratory symptoms, coughing, shortness of breath. If a client endorses any of these symptoms they are to be removed from the milieu and stationed in their room until medical can meet with them to determine next steps. When staff enters a room in which a client may be ill, they will wear a mask and gloves, disposing of the mask and gloves and immediately washing hands once removed.
7) Staff will contact their superior immediately and stay home if they feel ill (fever, respiratory difficulty, cough or just not feeling well) to protect co-workers, clients and the program as a whole.
8) Staff and clients are asked to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash their hands immediately after.
The SAFETY of our Participants has been and will always be our #1 Priority and will continue to follow the instructions given by the professionals on the front lines of this pandemic.
What is a Relapse Prevention Plan and How Does it Work?
Sobriety is no easy feat. Voluntary work is needed to get there and a focus on doing the work, one step at a time. One of the biggest fears of going into substance use treatment is facing life sober. These fears are not without warrant. Relapse statistics are alarming. However, it is possible to learn to live without substance use and experience joy and success. With a combination of supportive services, backed up by a strong prevention plan, there is hope and promise for people to recover.
Prevention Is Key
The difficult work of recovery does not start and end when the person decides to attend the program. It begins when the person finishes detox and starts to process the experience of a substance use disorder. Through therapeutic work, there are ways to look at the experience, uncover the issues, and identify triggers to avoid in the future.
The goal is to complete treatment with the right tools and confidence necessary to make healthier life choices. The proper aftercare and staying focused on goals helps ensure success.
Hitting Relapse Prevention Goals
Leaving a residential program may feel like going out into the world without support and it can cause some anxiety. It is important to connect with a network of people and continue with needed therapies to provide adequate support. Recovery is one day at a time, assisted by friends and supportive people who understand the journey and are available in times of need.
Defining and following a concrete plan that helps achieve set goals and instills self-confidence will only make success easier. Recognizing when these goals are met is added support on the journey. A relapse prevention plan is worked on in a group setting, sharing experiences, and receiving feedback.
It is a formal, written plan, but it may be hard to follow at first. Committing to the prevention of relapse takes intention. The person has to want to stay sober. Some common goals outlined in a relapse prevention plan include:
- Changing thought patterns and behaviors.
- Identifying and avoiding triggers.
- Knowing how to handle cravings.
- Managing life’s pressures.
- Facing life’s ups and downs efficiently.
Counseling helps people reflect on the mindset that builds dependence. It helps to formulate a plan in which major targets are identified with a clear plan for reaching them. The family can be part of the process, along with learning specific tools developed through cognitive behavioral therapy, role-playing, and other practices.
Three Stages of Relapse
Relapse does not happen overnight. It evolves slowly, beginning with emotions and ending in action. With the three stages of emotional, mental, and physical relapse, it helps to understand how each stage sets the foundation of relapse prevention.
Emotions are a huge part of recovery. There is no escaping emotions; sometimes, they bubble up out of nowhere. Those relapse triggers are red flags. The emotional relapse plan can include how to deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms, along with breathing exercises, meditation, and finding support during times of sliding into old patterns. It makes a big difference for someone to find healing in recovery if they can manage their emotional states better.
The intention is key with a mental focus on relapse prevention. Minimizing life’s ups and downs will not help. Focusing on mental preparation and trying to avoid a situation that may present surprise triggers requires planning.
Actions often follow thoughts when there is no redirection and support. Going back to the old days where the beast is, will result in a person finding themselves on the doorstep of addiction again. The last thing people need is to focus on the past. Keep focused on the present and future to find hope again in recovery.
During the mental collapse, the thought process jumps to “one drink won’t hurt,” and “I've done the work to drink like others.” Without a plan, it is just a short hop towards using drugs again. One slip can lead to feeling guilt, shame, fear, and failure. Physically the body is going through a lot. Give it time, rest, eat well, and get enough sleep to help in the healing process.
If a person finds themselves isolated, skipping meetings, and dropping out of their recovery lifestyle, they may be at risk of relapse. Finding the best place to get help means strategizing who to call when the flags are flying, and the warning signs are there. Ask friends to be aware of any issues and to help pull the person out of the pit they’ve found themselves in, which will help them get support when they need it the most.
The following keys will help practice as much as possible mindfulness, healthy habits of living, and being around positive people who support recovery. Without this, it will be difficult to stay clean and sober. With the right help, the person in recovery can find hope. Completion of a program is a start, but plugging into the community, finding a mentor, and seeking support are key to encourage the journey forward.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their own values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Recipes in Recovery: Ginger-Garlic Chicken Salad
At The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a healthy lifestyle is an important part of complete recovery. The link between the body and the mind is powerful, and a healthy diet combined with regular exercise is an integral component of lasting recovery from Substance Use Disorder.
There is a common misconception that healthy food is bland and without flavor or excitement. Our goal is to shift how our clients define "healthy food", and shift their lifestyles towards sustainable nutrition. Serving bland, flavorless food would only set the stage for old eating habits and patterns to return down the line.
Below is the recipe for Ginger-Garlic Chicken Salad
- One of the many healthy meals served to clients at the Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat.
½ cup sesame oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger paste
1 clove garlic
1 TBSP coconut aminos
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1/3 cup onion-diced
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
*Mix all ingredients and mix in a blender or in a bowl with a whisk
1 cup kale shredded
1 cup cabbage shredded
½ cup carrots shredded
½ tbsp toasted peanuts
1 cooked chicken breast
1) season and cook chicken
2) mix greens, carrots and dressing
3) top with nuts
4) slice chicken and place on salad
Scott Przymus is the Executive Chef at The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance use disorder treatment center located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Does Your Brain Fully Recover from Substance Use?
We’ve all heard someone say something like, “He’s fried his brain,” referring to someone whose drug or alcohol use has gotten out of control. If you have struggled with substance use, or someone you love has, you’ve no doubt seen changes in personality and cognition and wondered “Is this permanent?” It’s a distressing thought.
So much of who we are – our thoughts, memories, skills, and personalities – is encoded in the roughly three pounds of neurons in our skulls. Drugs and alcohol obviously have some effect on our brains, which is why people use them in the first place, and too much can have a pretty bad effect.
The belief that alcohol kills brain cells is widespread, but it doesn’t appear to be true. However, some drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA do appear to kill brain cells. While losing a few neurons among billions is not a big deal, it does add up over time. Heavy substance use can cause cognitive impairment, personality change, and behavioral change. If you’re worried that you or someone you love might suffer permanent effects from substance use, here are some things to consider.
Some effects fade quickly.
Most of the psychoactive effects of drugs and alcohol are temporary but if you’re using them all the time, you may not notice. In order to know what effects are temporary and which are longer-lasting, you actually have to go through withdrawal and get completely sober. This may sound obvious but a lot of people forget what their baseline even is after a period of continued substance use.
For example, alcohol is a depressant. If you are a heavy drinker, you may have depressive symptoms that are mainly caused by your drinking. These may include depressed mood, poor concentration, and poor memory. It’s possible that your depressive symptoms will abate once the alcohol is out of your system.
However, you may also have an underlying mental health issue to deal with too. The main point is that substance use interferes with the normal functioning of the brain and the first step in assessing your degree of impairment is to get the drugs and alcohol out of your system.
Some effects may last a year or more.
Unfortunately, the direct effects of drugs and alcohol on your brain are only part of the picture. Another part consists of the adaptations your brain makes to counter the effects of drugs and alcohol over time – in other words, you build a tolerance.
In the case of alcohol, for example, your brain gradually makes less of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and more of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. This is why you may feel like you need alcohol to relax and why you may experience irritability, shakiness, and even seizures when you quit drinking.
The worst of these symptoms – acute withdrawal symptoms – typically only lasts a week or two but other symptoms may last weeks or months. These are sometimes referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. These symptoms may include emotional numbness, inability to concentrate, lack of interest in pretty much everything, and depressed mood.
This is thought to be the result of your neurotransmitters slowly returning to pre-addiction levels. Another factor likely has to do with changes in the limbic system. After months or years of using drugs and alcohol, your brain has gotten used to artificially elevated levels of dopamine so getting excited about having a nice dinner or going to the beach is pretty hard. It may take more than a year for that baseline to reset.
Some structural changes may never fully go back to normal.
As noted above, drugs and alcohol mainly mess with the brain’s limbic system, which is involved in pleasure, reward, and goal-seeking behavior. There appear to be three main brain structures involved with addiction: the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.
Areas of the basal ganglia are involved with motivation, reward, and creating habits. The extended amygdala regulates the brain’s reaction to stress and negative emotions like anxiety and irritability. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for “executive” functions like planning, prioritizing, and organizing – or “go” functions – as well as self-control and emotional regulation – or “stop” functions.
When we say addiction “hijacks” the brain, what we mean is that the massively disproportionate reward of substances causes the basal ganglia to tell the prefrontal cortex to organize its efforts in a way that prioritizes getting drugs and alcohol. At the same time, it undermines the “stop” functions of the prefrontal cortex, which get weaker from disuse.
This is the main area of debate when it comes to whether the brain ever fully recovers from addiction. On one hand, you have this miscalibrated basal ganglia that only goes back to normal very slowly and on the other hand, you have this impaired “stop” function in the prefrontal cortex.
The latter is much more malleable, which is why treatment strategies tend to focus on tools to regulate emotions and control behavior. There is also good news in that the urge to use drugs and alcohol typically declines the longer you stay sober. Most people say their cravings get noticeably weaker after one year and five years sober.
The brain is much more adaptable than we used to think.
If you’re concerned about whether your brain can ever fully recover from addiction, there is plenty of room for optimism. It has only been in the past decade or so that neuroscientists have come to believe that the brain keeps making new neurons in adulthood. We’ve also known for a long time that the brain has significant powers of adaptation.
Even people who have had strokes or experienced traumatic head injuries are often able to regain most or all of their cognitive functions. New technologies like transcranial magnetic stimulation may help heal brains even faster. The key is that your brain will adapt to whatever you consistently ask it to do. Your concentration, willpower, and memory will get stronger the more you use them, even after years of substance use.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body, allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Why is Group Therapy So Commonly Used to Treat Addiction?
One aspect of addiction treatment most people are familiar with is group therapy. Every film or TV show about addiction and recovery will have a scene where a character either goes to a 12-Step meeting and shares or participates in a group therapy session in rehab. For many people considering treatment, this might seem a bit intimidating. It’s a bit too much like public speaking and on top of that, the subject of conversation may include your worst thoughts, memories, and emotions. It’s no wonder that people are often hesitant to participate. However, group therapy is a staple of addiction treatment for good reasons. What’s more, once people get started, they usually find group therapy helpful, rewarding, and even enjoyable. Here are some reasons why group therapy is so common in addiction treatment programs.
You’ll See You’re Not Alone
Shame, stigma, alienation, and isolation are among the biggest barriers to recovery for people with substance use disorders. Trauma is perhaps the single element that people with substance use issues have most in common. This could be in the form of childhood abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, sexual assault, or some traumatic event. By some estimates, half of people with substance use disorders also have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Addiction is commonly the result of trying to cope with shame. Most people’s instinctive reaction to shame is to try to hide it, bury it, or push it away, but that only makes shame more powerful. The best way to deal with shame is to open up about it in a safe environment, such as individual or group therapy. What makes group therapy especially good for healing shame is that group members quickly learn that they are not alone. Whatever they experienced in childhood, whatever they did during active addiction, there are almost certainly other members of the group who have had similar experiences. Being able to open up about these experiences and know you’re not alone is liberating.
Group Dynamics Give the Therapist Insight into Your Behavior
One of the limitations of individual therapy is that, for the most part, you control what information your therapist has. Even if you aren’t deliberately distorting events that you relate in therapy, you necessarily see things through your own perspective. That limits the information your therapist has to work with. However, in group therapy, the therapist can see how you interact with others. Maybe you have a tendency to be defensive or critical without realizing it. Maybe you are friendly to women but not to men. Maybe you believe you’re hopelessly awkward but in fact are charming. These are things that are far more obvious in real interactions than in the privacy of an individual session.
You Enjoy Social Support
Feeling socially connected is one of the most important parts of a strong addiction recovery. For many people, drugs and alcohol are a way to try to fill a void, which is often caused by a lack of belonging or purpose. There are many different reasons people feel this way and you are likely to find in the group some people who understand.
There are also more concrete reasons social support matters. For one, it creates a greater sense of accountability. People are more likely to show up to sessions, and show up on time, and be engaged if they know other group members are depending on them. In other words, it matters that group therapy is about helping as well as receiving help. Having a connection with the group also makes people a little more reluctant to slip up because they know they will have to tell the group.
Social support has benefits outside of the group as well. One challenge a lot of people face early in recovery, especially as they transition back to regular life, is that they have to distance themselves from friends who drink or use drugs. Sometimes there is stress within the family and they have to work on maintaining boundaries. These kinds of behaviors are easier when you feel like you have people supporting you, even if they aren’t physically with you at the moment.
You Get Many Different Perspectives
Another particular advantage of group therapy over individual therapy is that group therapy gives you many different perspectives. As an expert, your therapist’s perspective may be well informed but your therapist is still just one person. The group will have had many different experiences and will have many different ways of thinking about things. These will sometimes be surprising and illuminating. Problems that seem intractable to you might seem easy to someone else and being open to other perspectives can expand your repertoire of solutions.
You can also get different perspectives on your own behavior. Part of the challenge of resolving interpersonal conflicts is that it can be hard to tell whether we are acting reasonably. Getting feedback from the group is one way to orient yourself and better understand if your attitude is fair. It can also help you understand someone else’s perspective. For example, if you’ve been arguing with your spouse, it’s possible that your spouse can’t explain themselves well and perhaps someone in the group could be a better advocate with less emotional investment.
You Can Practice Vital New Skills
Recovering from addiction is, at its core, about learning a lot of new skills for managing emotions, thinking, and behavior. It’s one thing to know, rationally, how to do these things and another thing entirely to be able to use these skills when they matter. For example, if you tend to explode when you are criticized, that will lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and conflict but it’s also hard to practice responding better in real time. The group is the perfect time to practice these kinds of skills in a safe, moderated environment. If someone gives you feedback you don’t like, for example, it’s a perfect time to practice, perhaps with the help of the therapist, using your strategies for responding more constructively. This is why modalities like dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, specifically include group therapy rather than relying solely on individual therapy.
Group therapy can be intimidating at first but most people end up finding it helpful and they even enjoy it. The sense of connection you can find in group therapy is one reason so many people say they’ve met their best friends during addiction treatment. Group therapy heals shame and isolation, it gives your therapist extra insight, it provides social support, and gives you a valuable opportunity to practice new skills. At The Foundry, we use a variety of evidence-based methods, including group therapy and DBT, to provide clients with individualized, holistic treatment. To learn more about our programs, call today at 1-844-955-1066.
4 Ways Writing Can Help You Stay Sober
Daily writing is one common element of addiction recovery plans. To some people, the reasons for this will be obvious. Others may be skeptical, especially if they don’t think of themselves as writers or they are skeptical of self-expression in general. However, daily writing can be a potent and versatile element of your recovery plan. Here are some different writing exercises and how they can help you stay sober.
The writing exercise most people are familiar with is keeping a simple journal or diary. This is just sitting down for a few minutes every day and writing whatever you feel like. You might just write down what you did that day or what happened that was notable. Or you might go into depth about something you’re thinking about or challenging emotions. This simple practice can help you in several ways.
Most notably, it helps you relieve stress. Instead of stewing over a problem, you get it down on paper where you can think it through. You will probably find that after you write about something that’s been bothering you, you will feel better about it, even if you didn’t come up with a specific solution. Just writing about your day, your thoughts, your emotions, your challenges, and so on will help you spot patterns in your life. And, of course, you can also incorporate any of the following exercises into your daily journaling session.
ABC stands for activating events, beliefs, and consequences. It’s a framework developed by psychologist Albert Ellis, one of the pioneers of cognitive therapy. The central idea is that events only bother us because we have certain beliefs or assumptions about those events. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, there’s no reason to be angry about it for the rest of the day.
That only happens if you have an irrational belief about it. You may think that guy shouldn’t have done that or that it was a deliberate insult to you. In reality, it was probably just a mistake; it happens all the time.
The ABC exercise is a way to practice identifying the beliefs that disturb us. Whenever you feel angry, anxious, depressed, and so on, write down exactly what you’re feeling. This is C, the consequence. Next, identify the activating event, A--the guy cutting you off in traffic or the remark by a coworker, or whatever. Finally, identify the belief, “He shouldn’t do that,” “Everyone at work is against me,” and so on.
This is the trickiest part since we are often unaware of our own assumptions. You may need a therapist to help you identify your irrational beliefs at first. In fact, his exercise is often given as a homework exercise in therapy. You can use it that way or you can try it on your own. Either way, it’s a good way to get in the habit of identifying and challenging irrational thoughts.
In recent years, research in positive psychology has identified a range of benefits of gratitude. It improves relationships, lowers stress, improves sleep, makes people feel more optimistic, increases your sense of wellbeing, and it might even help you live longer. The problem is that when you’re starting out in recovery, you might not feel very grateful. Your life is likely at a low point and you have a lot of work ahead of you. The good news is that there are two easy writing exercises that studies have shown, can boost your gratitude.
The first one is to keep a gratitude journal. This is simple and only takes a couple of minutes. Just write down about three things you were grateful for that day. It’s fine if they’re small--you slept unusually well, the weather was nice, you got a text from a friend you hadn’t talked to in a while. Not life-changing stuff but they make your day a little better.
Since we’re hardwired to notice pain and threats, training yourself to notice more of the good things makes you happier and more optimistic. You might want to do this exercise daily for about two weeks, then switch to doing it weekly so you don’t get overly accustomed to it.
The second exercise is to write a gratitude letter. This one takes a bit longer but research shows the effects last longer too. Think of something someone did for you that you never really thanked them for. Again, it doesn’t have to be huge, just something you truly appreciated. Describe in a letter what they did and what it meant to you. You can deliver the letter or not. Research suggests you get a happiness boost either way.
Writing is an excellent way to relieve anxiety. It takes those amorphous fears that are haunting your mind and gives them some definite form on the page. This is true whether your anxiety is caused by a past or future event. A number of studies have found benefits from expressive writing. This is where you choose a stressful event, one that’s at least six months in the past, and write about it on four consecutive days.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and write the whole time without censoring yourself or worrying about spelling or grammar. No one will read it but you. This exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and even improve physical health over the following months.
What’s more, an abbreviated version of this exercise can help relieve anxiety about an upcoming challenge. Research has shown that having students spend a few minutes writing about their worries just before a test reduced test anxiety and improved test scores. A similar strategy can help with other tasks, such as going to your first 12-Step meeting or going to a job interview.
Writing alone won’t replace therapy and solve all your problems but it can be a helpful tool to manage your mood, analyze your patterns, and generally understand yourself better. A regular writing practice can be a powerful element in your recovery plan.
At The Foundry, we believe that a strong recovery is built on mental health and self-knowledge. We use a variety of evidence-based methods, including CBT, DBT, family therapy, mindfulness meditation, and others to help our clients understand themselves better, regulate their emotions, and manage their behavior. For more information about our approach to treatment, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Addressing Your Own Fears and Anxiety While Your Family Member is in Treatment
Family members address and navigate through seemingly endless stormy waters once their family member enters treatment. Having a family member in treatment is demanding of our time and resources and most of all, it’s emotionally exhausting.
Our worry and anxiety fluctuate throughout the process and we often find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight.” This helps to keep us prepared to take action when dealing with a crisis or a threat. It is a constant state that keeps us striving to take “control” of the fear or worry. The challenge of taking “control” of a situation this way is that it really only works if we are in physical danger. When dealing with anxiety, perceived or real, our version of taking “control” becomes more of a problem…an emotionally exhausting problem.
There is no doubt that our fear is real, especially when our family member’s needs must be met through more intensive interventions. However, our tendency to allow our thoughts to create and exacerbate anxiety keeps us in this state of automatic response, constantly reacting to our perceived fears using ineffective tools to take “control.”
Below are 10 useful ways to manage your anxiety more effectively as you engage in this journey with your family:
10 Ways to have Long-Term Success with Managing your Anxiety:
- Find control within ourselves to decrease the need to control “the situation”
- Change negative beliefs
- Cultivate new approaches to thinking
- Increase awareness of thoughts and storylines that we follow, especially those that always increase anxiety
- Learn how to stop replaying the past and rehearsing a dissatisfying future
- Decrease self–judgment and blame
- Distinguish between urgency and importance when it comes to situations that need addressed
- Increase self-awareness and identify patterns that are impacting our success as a parent
- Change language to change behavior to increase self-awareness
- Learn how to decrease expectations and truly allow for acceptance
- While it can seem challenging to change how we think and cope with difficult situations, we must also remember that a loved one is trying to learn an entirely new life without addiction. In our Family Program we can work with you and your loved one to create a new path together.
Jen Murphy, M.Ed., LPC is the Family Director at The Foundry, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center in Colorado, providing services specifically for Foundry family members to provide support and guidance throughout their family member’s treatment process. In our work with families we continually honor the family’s therapeutic process and creatively support the unique needs of each individual family. Jen Murphy can be contacted at email@example.com
6 Common Reasons People Are Afraid to Get Treatment for Addiction
If you have a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder, you may feel incredibly frustrated that they won’t get help. Can they not see what drugs and alcohol are doing to them? Don’t they want to be happy? What’s important to understand is that your loved one may be miserable but they’re also afraid.
That may not be obvious since many people cope with their fear by becoming aggressive or disengaged but the fear is there. If you understand their fear, it can help you be more patient and supportive and you may ultimately have more success getting them into treatment. Here are some of the reasons people are afraid to enter addiction treatment.
They’re Afraid to Admit Having a Problem
It may be obvious to you and everyone else that your loved one has a problem with drugs and alcohol and you may believe it’s obvious to them, but denial can be powerful. Keep in mind that there’s no clear line when addiction begins. It’s a gradual process with a lot of gray area. That is to say, it looks very different from their perspective.
There is still a lot of stigma attached to addiction and when you admit to having a problem, you feel like you’re accepting membership in a rather dubious club. When you admit to having a problem, you also have to confront the possibility that you might need help, which leads to a bunch of new anxieties.
They’re Afraid to Give Up Control
One of those anxieties is giving up control. Often, people with substance use issues will accept that they have a problem but then insist on dealing with it on their own. They insist they are still in control, even though the most common symptoms of addiction include trying to quit but being unable to and not being able to drink or use drugs in moderation.
When you insist on doing it your own way, that’s usually an attempt to avoid the hard but inevitable aspects of recovery. They want things to change but they don’t want to be uncomfortable, which is really true of everyone. And in addiction recovery, there are plenty of opportunities to be uncomfortable.
They’re Afraid to Be Alone
When people imagine entering an addiction treatment program, they often picture some remote facility, not unlike a prison, where they’ll have to spend 30 to 90 days among strangers. In other words, they feel like they’re going to have to endure this ordeal alone.
While it’s typically true that people entering treatment don’t know anyone there, the loneliness will only last a few days at the most. The staff wants you to feel welcome and you may have a roommate.
Most importantly, good treatment programs know how important it is for clients to feel connected and supported and they facilitate that connection through group activities and group therapy. People often say they met their best friends in addiction treatment because it is a place where most of the people have experienced similar struggles.
They’re Afraid to Open up
Most people know that if they enter addiction treatment, they’ll have to talk to a therapist and participate in group therapy. This can be a frightening prospect. Men appear to be especially reluctant to seek help for mental health issues and talk about their feelings, but it can be hard for anyone.
Not only does it entail revisiting painful memories and emotions, but many of these experiences have been buried deep down for years or decades. Feelings of shame or a general reluctance to open up and be vulnerable can make someone want to avoid therapy entirely.
However, a good therapist won’t push a client to talk about anything before they’re ready. That often ends up being counterproductive. Eventually, most people discover that keeping things bottled up is more trouble than it’s worth. It’s often a tremendous relief for people to discover that their deepest, darkest secrets are not that uncommon and they no longer have to feel ashamed.
They’re Afraid of Living Without a Coping Mechanism
One of the most important things to understand about substance use disorders is that people typically start using drugs and alcohol for a reason and they continue to use them because they get something out of it. For example, at least half of people with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health issue, although they may not know it. Childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect are very common among people with substance use issues.
Although drugs and alcohol are a bad way to cope with emotional pain, they are the only coping mechanism many people have. When you say to someone, “You need to get sober,” they may be hearing you say that you want to deprive them of the one thing that makes life tolerable, even if it does cause other problems.
to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy--and more effective--ones. One reason therapy is such a central component of treatment is that it helps resolve many of the issues that drive substance use and teaches clients skills to cope with challenging emotions.
They’re Afraid to Disappoint You
Finally, many people resist entering treatment for addiction because they’re afraid of failure. Recovery can seem like an overwhelming challenge. They may have failed at it before, perhaps even several times. Failure is bad enough in itself but it’s even worse when other people are depending on us. What’s more, a lot of time, money, and effort goes into quality addiction treatment.
That adds up to a lot of pressure to succeed at a time when most people don’t feel equal to even the most mundane challenges. It’s important for them to know that sobriety is worth the risk of failure--even repeated failure, if necessary. Recovery never goes perfectly for anyone. There are always challenges and setbacks but you don’t fail until you quit trying.
There is plenty to fear when embarking on addiction recovery, but there’s even more to fear from not trying at all. People lose their money, their jobs, their families, and their lives to addiction, but they don’t have to. Some fears--such as the fear of being uncomfortable--are valid, but also an inevitable part of the process. The key to overcoming those is to realize the payoff is worth the price. Other fears, like being alone or having to live without a reliable coping mechanism are largely illusory. At The Foundry, we understand that getting help for addiction is a hard decision but we also know that quality addiction treatment changes lives. To learn more about our programs, call us at (844) 955-1066.
The Value of Compassion in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Different people think of different attributes when it comes to addiction recovery. Some people may think of discipline or self-control. Others may think of social connection or spirituality.
One attribute that is critical for everyone involved--treatment professionals, family and friends, and people with substance use disorders--is compassion. Compassion plays a vital role at every stage of recovery for the following reasons.
Addiction Is Fueled by Pain
The most important thing to understand about addiction is that most of the time, it’s fueled by pain. Most people who struggle with substance use have some kind of trauma in their past, whether it was childhood abuse, neglect, domestic abuse, sexual assault, or some other traumatic event. The pain of trauma can last years, perhaps even your whole life. Many people use drugs and alcohol as a way to escape the pain in their own heads.
Typically, addiction treatment professionals are well aware of this, often from firsthand experience. Their compassion for people feeling that pain is what inspired them to work in this field. However, it’s also critical for family and friends to understand this. Seeing the pain behind addiction can be hard at times, especially since addictive behavior negatively affects family and friends.
For example, it can be hard to have compassion for someone when you feel like that person is manipulating, deceiving, or otherwise taking advantage of you. Addictive behavior can seem like the height of self-involvement, especially when the pain is buried beneath aggressive or secretive behavior. As challenging as it might be at times, family and friends have to remember their loved one is acting that way because they are hurting. Compassion, not criticism or judgment, is typically what helps the most in the end.
Compassion for Yourself Is Critical
It’s also crucial for anyone with a substance use disorder to develop compassion for themselves. People with substance use issues can often be extremely compassionate towards others and extremely harsh on themselves. This is especially true for people with co-occurring conditions like major depression and anxiety disorders. If you struggle with addiction, you are probably no stranger to self-critical thoughts.
You may think things like, “Why am I like this? Why can’t I stop? What’s wrong with me?” Often, the self-criticism goes much deeper than that and precedes substance use by years. You may feel a deep sense of shame or worthlessness. If you pay attention, you’ll probably notice that you say all kinds of nasty things to yourself, probably things other people have said to you and you accepted as true.
Perhaps worst of all, you may feel like flagellating yourself in this way will inspire you to be better. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It’s almost impossible to make positive changes from a place of shame and hopelessness. A much better approach is to work on being more compassionate and supportive toward yourself. Try talking to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend. Accept that we all make mistakes and know that even your really bad blunders don’t make you a failure or a horrible person; they just make you human.
Compassion Brings People Together
Finding a sense of social connection is an important part of addiction recovery. It gives you a sense of purpose and accountability, whereas loneliness, isolation, and alienation typically lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Connection makes you feel better about life and keeps you focused on recovery. Few attributes are as good for fostering social connection as compassion.
People like to know that you care if they are hurting and want to help. When you have compassion, you listen and try to understand rather than make judgments or just wait for your turn to talk. When you are part of a group that values compassion, you know you can talk to each other and rely on each other.
Compassion for others makes you happier.
One thing people are often surprised to discover about compassion is that it makes you happier. Too often, we get caught up chasing our own happiness and, as a result, end up feeling dissatisfied and miserable.
We may think of caring for others as an obligation or a burden, but in fact, it’s one of the best ways to boost your own happiness. There are even a number of scientific studies showing that participants who work on increasing their feeling of compassion through metta, or loving-kindness, meditation, report a long-term increase in positive emotions.
How to Develop Compassion
Nearly all of us have some baseline of compassion already. We wince when we see someone get hurt, we want to protect small animals, and we feel bad when we hurt people we care about. The main thing is to build on the compassion you already feel. Remind yourself periodically that you want the people close to you to be happy and safe and help when you can.
However, the real challenge is feeling compassion for people we don’t get along with or particularly dislike. Inevitably, there will be some of these people in your family, at work, in your therapy group, or at your 12-Step meeting. The key here is to recognize what you have in common. You both want to be happy and feel like you matter.
You both have suffered pain and disappointments. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that behavior that seems obnoxious to you is usually caused by some kind of pain or insecurity. Being able to understand that pain and wanting to relieve it is what compassion is all about.
Compassion is critical at every phase of addiction recovery. No one recovers alone; everyone needs love and support. Compassion for yourself is always the place to start and sometimes this is the hardest to nurture. Compassion for others builds strong social connections.
At The Foundry, compassion is one of our guiding principles. We know that recovery from addiction is first and foremost a process of healing and our caring staff uses a variety of evidence based treatments to help our clients heal. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
January Recipe: “Broccoli Quinoa fritters with White Bean Puree Arugula Salad"
Broccoli Quinoa Fritters with White Bean Puree Arugula Salad
Prep time; 20 minutes
Cook time; 50 minutes
Total time; 1hr 10 minutes
Serves; 5-6 people
Special equipment needed; food processor, immersion blender, or regular blender
For white bean puree
- 2 16 oz can of cannellini white beans
- One 16 oz can of butter beans
- 2 cloves garlic
- About 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- One Tablespoon lemon juice
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
For the fritters
- 2 heads of broccoli destemmed and broken into bite sized pieces
- ¾ cup of dry quinoa
- 1 ½ cups of water for boiling quinoa
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 cup of bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black cracked pepper
- Olive oil as needed
- One small container of arugula salad greens for serving
For the white bean puree
- Open all of your cans of beans (the cannellini and butter beans)
- Pour the beans with the liquid into a medium saucepan and set on the stove over medium heat
- Mince your two cloves of garlic and add to the beans.
- Let cook on the stove until the beans are very soft and tender, this should only take about 10-15 minutes.
- Once beans are soft, transfer them to a food processor (or blender or immersion blend them in the pan) and add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
- Blend the bean mixture until it has turned into a liquid sauce. (more olive oil may be needed to get the sauce to be the right consistency)
- Move the sauce back into the saucepan and leave on the stove covered over very low heat while you work on the fritters
For the Fritters
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Start boiling the 1 ½ cups of water and pour the quinoa into the water. Let the quinoa sit on the stove and reduce to a simmer when it starts to boil. The quinoa will take around 25-30 minutes to fully cook.
- Now prepare some of the ingredients; break/cut your broccoli into bite size pieces and peel/mince the 3 cloves of garlic
- Spread the broccoli onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix to coat all the broccoli pieces
- Place the broccoli in the preheated oven and bake until slightly charred. (about 10-12 minutes)
- Take your broccoli out of the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cut your broccoli pieces into small pieces (around ¼ inch cubes).
- Check on your quinoa. Once the quinoa has fully absorbed all of the water, transfer it into a big mixing bowl. Add the broccoli, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, shredded cheddar, bread crumbs, and cracked pepper. Stir to combine.
- Now crack the 5 eggs into the mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Now you should be able to form the “broccoli/quinoa” mixture into patties. If your mixture is too dry and crumbly, crack a few more eggs into it. If your mixture is too wet, add some more bread crumbs.
- Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat with enough canola oil (or any other high heat oil) to coat the bottom.
- When the skillet is hot, start forming the broccoli/quinoa mixture into patties and place them on the skillet. Continue to cook until the underside has browned, then flip and cook until that side has browned.
Platting and eating
- Spoon a decent amount of the white bean puree onto your plate.
- Now grab a handful of arugula salad and place over the puree. Drizzle your arugula with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Lay your crispy broccoli and quinoa fritters over the arugula greens and enjoy!
- If you are looking for a sauce or dressing to put on the fritters, a simple mayo based aioli is great! (mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper)
How to Adopt a Growth Mindset for Addiction Recovery
Having a growth mindset is one of the best ways to enhance your recovery from addiction. As discussed in a previous post, a growth mindset can help you feel less resistant to change, make you feel more confident about the good possibilities for your life, and help you transform the many challenges you will face in recovery into opportunities to grow as a person.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Our ideas about our abilities and potential are largely molded by our childhood experiences. If we’re frequently told by our parents or teachers that we’re stupid, lazy or whatever else, we often accept those assessments as limits to our possibilities.
Psychologist Carol Dweck, who developed and popularized the idea of fixed and growth mindsets, found that even well-meaning parents who praise their children as smart or talented may be doing them a disservice by reinforcing the idea that we’re all hardwired with certain abilities. Breaking out of this conditioning can be hard but it is possible. Here’s how.
What Are Fixed and Growth Mindsets?
First, a brief description may help clarify what we’re trying to accomplish by moving from a fixed to a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is believing that whatever you are now is basically how you’ll be the rest of your life. If you’re good at playing the violin, for example, then you’ll probably get a little better but if you’re not good at it, then you’re just “not musical” and you shouldn’t bother.
The same is true of anything, whether it’s math, sports, socializing, thinking creatively, or anything else. The fixed mindset tells you to stay in your lane, do things you’re already good at, and don’t embarrass yourself by trying something new.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, operates on the fairly common-sense assumption that we get better at things we practice. We may not be very good at sports or the violin--or getting through a day without a drink--right now, but with consistent effort, we can certainly get better. That’s not to say you’ll ever be the best at something--few people ever attain that status--but you can certainly improve on the things that matter most to you and your quality of life.
Notice Your Thinking
Whenever we have a challenging emotion, there is typically a thought behind it, even if we don’t notice. Fear is often a result of fixed-mindset thinking. For example, a loved one suggests you talk to a therapist or consider getting treatment for your substance use and you feel a sense of panic, perhaps followed by anger. What was the thought behind that? Was it, “I can’t live without drugs or alcohol”? “I can’t go off to treatment alone”? There are many possible thoughts for which the subtext is “I can’t handle this.”
However, treatment is not a test; it’s an opportunity to get help. You can’t fail at treatment or therapy; you can only fail to engage. The belief that you can fail or be exposed as somehow inadequate is only in your head. The first step is to become aware of these assumptions and challenge them. You may catch yourself saying something like “I can’t speak in front of groups,” perhaps because you believe you’re shy or inarticulate or whatever else.
However, in reality, plenty of people with varying personalities and skills are able to become effective at speaking in front of groups. Notice any thoughts or words that imply your abilities are fixed and make a conscious effort to challenge them.
Reframe Failure and Frustration
Too often, we take frustration or initial failure as a sign that we have no talent for something. In reality, every new thing is difficult and frustrating and you will have some failures. The challenge is to push through that initial frustration until you can acquire the minimum skills to start making real progress. One way to do this is to reframe failure and frustration.
You may have heard the expression, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Failure is just a part of the learning process. The important thing is to learn what you can from it and try again. This is an especially important lesson in addiction recovery since relapse is fairly common.
Similarly, don’t take frustration as an indication that you lack aptitude. Frustration is merely a sign that you’re having to push beyond your current limitations. What’s frustrating today will be easy later.
Remember Past Growth
When we’re born, we basically can’t do anything. We can’t talk, walk, read, stand, spell, feed ourselves, or do arithmetic. We can’t even focus our eyes. Pretty much everything we do all day that we don’t even have to think about took years of daily effort to master. Yet many people don’t even make it through a month of 12-Step meetings because they say it’s too hard or “not my thing.”
As adults, we take for granted the difficulty of most of our routine skills and so we doubt our ability to master comparatively easy new skills. Keep in mind that everything is hard at first but it becomes easier with practice.
Adjust Your Expectations
Related to the point above, we often underestimate the time and effort it will take to get good at something, often by orders of magnitude. For example, many people have had the experience of having had two years of Spanish in high school but then they take a trip to Mexico and they can’t even order lunch. So they throw up their hands and say, “Well, I guess I have no talent for languages.”
However, consider what it took to learn your own language. For the first four years of your life, your brain is optimized for learning language. Everyone around you only speaks in your native language and tries to help you learn it. You desperately want to learn to speak in order to meet your basic needs and desires. And yet, how many four-year-olds speak their own native language with much fluency?
From that perspective, it’s not surprising that your two years of high school Spanish didn’t make you fluent. Often, we have to accept that reaching our goals is going to take a lot more work than we had originally estimated. It doesn’t mean you lack talent or ability; it just means you’ll have to do more work than you expected.
View Challenges as Opportunities
Finally, practice viewing challenges as opportunities. Challenges are threatening to people with a fixed mindset because they are opportunities to fail. If you feel threatened by something, it could be that you fear it will expose you as weak, stupid, or somehow inadequate. People with a growth mindset view challenges much differently: They see opportunities to get stronger.
When you feel threatened by a challenge, pause and think, “Whether I succeed this time or not, it will certainly be an opportunity to learn and grow.” If you take this attitude toward challenges and even seek out new challenges, you will grow much faster.
It’s hard to change your mindset, especially since it was probably formed in childhood. However, the first step is knowing that change is possible. Everything we think or do changes our brains in some small way. If you make consistent efforts to change your brain in ways that encourage a growth mindset, you will start to notice all the possibilities that come with it.
At The Foundry, we want to help you recover from addiction, but we don’t stop there. We want you to have a more joyful, healthier, and more fulfilling life overall. We use a variety of evidence-based methods to help our clients grow and become the best versions of themselves. To learn more, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
6 Common Thinking Errors that Worsen Anxiety
Anxiety is a common problem for anyone struggling with or recovering from addiction. The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions surveyed more than 43,000 people and found that among people who had experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year, about 15 percent had at least one substance use disorder--about twice the rate of addiction as in the general population. And that didn’t include post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is an even greater risk factor for substance use than generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.
At the moment, most of us in the US and elsewhere are under lockdown to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. If you are already struggling with anxiety, this only adds to the challenge, compounding uncertainty with boredom and isolation. Unfortunately, our own thinking is typically the biggest source of anxiety. The following errors in thinking may be making you more anxious than you need to be.
Trying to Eliminate Anxiety
The first thing to realize is that anxiety is a normal and useful emotion. You can’t eliminate it entirely, nor would you want to. Anxiety alerts us to danger and spurs us to prepare for upcoming challenges. People who never felt anxious left the gene pool a long time ago, which is why everyone feels anxious occasionally and as many as 30 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Trying to eliminate or avoid anxiety, ironically, just ends up making you more anxious. What does make sense is to think about anxiety--and things that make you anxious--rationally. When you do feel anxious, recognize that it’s just the ancient parts of your brain trying to protect you. Accept your anxiety for what it is--a feeling, a sort of warning signal. Then, try to figure out if the thing you are anxious about is really a threat or if you’re making it worse with faulty thinking.
Jumping to Conclusions or Predicting the Future
Worrying about the future is always an issue for people with anxiety issues because the core thinking of anxiety is always something along the lines of “Something awful is going to happen and I won’t be able to do anything about it.” At the moment, that kind of worry is both more concrete and widespread than normal. Right now, a lot of people have the same few worries--will they be able to keep working?
How long can they go without income? How long will we be quarantined? Will I or someone I care about catch the virus? And so on. It’s likely that most of us will face a challenge on one or more of these fronts but attempting to predict the future only makes you worry unnecessarily. No one knows what’s going to happen but when you think about it, the same has been true every day of your life.
When you have trouble with anxiety, you tend to imagine the worst possible outcome and assume that it is inevitable. In reality, the future is fundamentally unpredictable. All we can do is make sensible preparations right now and trust that we will find ways to meet challenges in the future.
Should thoughts come from a belief that you, other people, or the world should be different somehow and that it’s awful that they aren’t. When you apply should thoughts to yourself, the result is often depression, whereas applying should thoughts to other people and the world tends to increase stress, anger, and anxiety.
So, at the moment, a lot of people are thinking this quarantine is unfair, that they should be able to go to work, go out with friends, play sports, and so on. However, should is just a wall for you to beat your head against. It would be lovely if the world and other people conformed to our wishes but most of the time they don’t. Insisting they should, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, only makes you more miserable.
Black-and-white thinking, sometimes called all-or-nothing thinking, is the idea that if an outcome isn’t exactly what you want, you shouldn’t bother. This is also sometimes called letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
There are many ways black-and-white thinking can lead to anxiety. In our current situation, if you’re trying to figure out how to cope with being under quarantine, you may not bother with measures that can make you feel better if they aren’t perfect solutions. For example, many people have started doing therapy sessions and 12-Step meetings over Zoom and other online platforms. These are clearly not as good as in-person meetings, but they are considerably better than nothing.
Mental filtering is the habit of only seeing the bad things that happen. It’s a special case of the larger phenomenon of confirmation bias, which is when you only look for evidence that supports your current beliefs. When you do mental filtering, you’re only seeing evidence that supports your belief that something bad is going to happen or is already happening.
In times of crisis, it’s far too easy to focus on the negative, especially now, since all we see on the news is the rising death toll and the shortage of medical supplies to treat new patients. However, if you look for them, there are positive things too. As Mr. Rogers said, look for the helpers.
In addition to medical workers and people supplying critical goods and services, there are a lot of communities coming together to help each other and find ways to adapt. If you’re stuck at home, it might be a great opportunity to read, make art, or learn new skills.
Emotional reasoning is the belief that something is true because it feels true. It’s easy to fall into this trap when thinking about the future because ultimately, we don’t have much evidence to rely on. The central belief of anxiety--“Something bad is going to happen and I can’t do anything about it”--relies entirely on emotional reasoning. In reality, no one knows what’s going to happen; everything is a guess.
However, you may be able to refute the second part to some extent. Most of us have survived trying experiences. One thing you can do is to look back on those times and think, “If I made it through that, I can make it through this other thing I’m worried about--if it even happens.”
Anxiety is a common challenge for people recovering from addiction and right now is an especially trying time. Anxiety is normal and healthy, but our thinking often makes anxiety far worse than it needs to be. Learning to identify and change this faulty thinking is one of the main priorities of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, and dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. It can be very hard to recognize your distorted thinking on your own and a good therapist will speed up the process. At The Foundry, we use CBT, DBT, and several other evidence-based methods to help our clients recover from substance use and co-occurring mental health issues. To learn more, call us at (844) 955-1066.
Scott Kindel Shares His Recovery Journey on Heavyweight Podcast
Check out the Heavyweight podcast featuring our very own Chief Operations Officer, Scott Kindel, as he shares his remarkable journey from addiction to recovery—including a valuable missing piece of his family's history. About the podcast: Heavyweight is a Gimlet Media production that explores a moment from a person's past that they wish they could change.
Release date: October 23, 2019
Why Recovery is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
On April 18, I finished my 20th marathon. My time—4 hours and 16 minutes—was the slowest I’d ever run. But that didn’t matter—because this was the Boston Marathon, a dream of mine ever since I started running marathons in 1981. Now at 63 years old, I can check this off my bucket list. But why this is so special to me is not that it is my high point as a runner, instead it is the gift this has been for me as a recovering alcoholic.
Ten years ago, running a marathon, let alone running the Boston Marathon, was incomprehensible. My life was in shambles. I was awaiting transport to a regional prison in Glendive, Mont., where I would spend the next six months in a very intense alcohol and drug rehab program. Physically, my six-year binge had taken its toll on my legs; peripheral neuropathy was affecting my ability to walk. Somewhere in the middle of that prison stretch, I had a turning point. I thought about the classic line from the movie Shawshank Redemption when Andy DeFrain says to Red “It comes down to a choice really, get busy living, or get busy dying.”
My best thinking had gotten me into prison so maybe it was time to make a choice to live and go all in for the recovery program this place was offering. Once committed, I found the hope I so desperately needed, on page 152 of the AA Big Book: “The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead.”
There is another line in the AA Big Book that is also true. “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.” I never liked that line because it reminded me of how difficult the process is after a person gets sober. Recovery is not about stopping drinking; it is about staying stopped and even more, about learning to live in sobriety. Recovery is truly a marathon. But I have discovered in the 10 years of working my recovery program that this can be the best marathon a person ever runs.
The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead! You can get all of your life back and more, much more than you ever imagined. And I am not alone. My wife went with me to Boston to cheer me on, as did a friend in recovery from my home group. Boston is where she grew up, and it was a chance to both see her daughter and celebrate how life can become so good in recovery. She camped out at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill, just before I had to start that climb at mile 20.5. She’d made a sign—in Bronco Orange of course, and had the others in my AA group sign it to cheer me on. That encouragement was what I needed to make that climb and finish strong.
I don’t know if I’ll ever run Boston again, or even another full marathon, but I do know that the marathon of recovery I am in now is worth every step. And the full life I’m experiencing now… I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
If you find yourself facing alcohol addiction rehab with trepidation and dread, I hope my message can offer some hope and inspiration. And if you join The Foundry, I hope I am able to talk with you about the vibrancy of life that comes with recovery.
-R.J. Koerper, Life Recovery Therapist Consultant with The Foundry
Recipes for Recovery: Chef Scott's Black Bean Cake Eggs Benedict with Avocado Hollandaise
There is a common misconception that healthy food is bland, and without flavor or excitement. Our goal is to shift how clients define "healthy food", and shift their lifestyles towards sustainable nutrition. Serving bland, flavorless food would only set the stage for old eating habits and patterns to return.
Below is the recipe for Chef Scott's Black Bean Cake Eggs Benedict with Avocado Hollandaise - One of the many healthy meals served to clients at the Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat.
CORN CAKES1 box of Kodiak Cakes whole grain pancake/waffle mix
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cups cooked sweet corn kernels
1 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 slices bacon, fried
6 eggs, poached
a pinch of red pepper flakes
fresh herbs for garnish
1. In a large bowl make pancake batter and fold in the drained corn and black beans.2. Cook cakes on a griddle until warm to the touch and golden brown.
1. Add the avocado, lemon juice and hot water into a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if needed. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil slowly. Continue to blend until pureed and smooth.
2. Poach the eggs and assemble the corn cakes. Break a piece of bacon and set it on top of the corn cakes and cover with a poached egg. Pour the avocado hollandaise overtop and sprinkle on some crushed red pepper. Top it off with some fresh herbs if desired.
Scott Przymus is the Executive Chef at The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The Science Behind Gardening & Happiness
Ask any gardener why he or she enjoys working in the soil, and you will get a multitude of answers: it’s satisfying to see plants grow under your care, it feels good to be outside, it’s exercise, the fruits taste better when they are home grown, it’s a money saver at the market, it has a calming and meditative effect, and so on. But medical researchers in the past decade have indicated that gardening actually has scientific benefits to making us feel good!
It seems that skin contact with a certain, specific bacterial microbe found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, may release serotonin. Serotonin relaxes us, helps ward off depression and makes us feel happy. Gardeners, as they toil in the soil, can inhale this microbe, ingest it on the food they harvest, and have it enter their bodies through little cuts or scratches.
Natural serotonin boosts can be especially helpful for those who have experienced substance abuse or addiction, where happiness was previously sought through addictive habits.
For anyone who finds a passion in gardening, the pleasure and gratification opportunities are endless. Getting out early season to plan the garden, turning the soil and planting seeds, going to the local nurseries and perusing the aisles for this year’s treasures, bringing them home and squeezing them in next to the newly emerged seedlings, savoring fresh produce picked today, and of course the joys of admiring the lovely colors and shapes of flowers.
At the Foundry, we have been working hard to turn the ranch into a farm. We have planted dozens of fruit trees, along with berry bushes, asparagus, and medicinal herbs, and are slowly turning compacted old hayfield soil into rich garden soil. We have six low tunnels we are planting out with annual crops of peas, beans, carrots, beets, salad greens, potatoes, garlic, and squash. Our participants claim to really enjoy it, and we certainly appreciate the help while working alongside them.
We plan to construct a greenhouse this fall, which will provide us with a place to start seeds next year. This space will also be used as a gathering place for participants and staff, be it for therapy sessions, yoga, or gardening workshops. In cold, dark January, it will definitely be a popular place on sunny days!
Gardening truly offers something for everyone, and for new gardeners, it’s best to pick a favorite or two and start small. If you need a more solid theory to put gardening into practice, knowing that the Colorado climate can be tough for gardening, the promise of a serotonin release will hopefully inspire. We are happy to show you the gardening ropes while you enter recovery. And we promise that if you just give it a try, you’ll like it!
If you’d like to read more about how gardening can make you feel better and strengthen the mind and body, take a look at the articles below:
The Economist: Bad is Good
Medical News Today: Getting Dirty May Lift Your Mood
BBC News: Dirt exposure ‘boosts happiness’
USA Today: Farm living could arm kids against asthma
Kim Brooks is the Horticultural Facilitator at The Foundry, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center in Colorado, and oversees the garden care and plant harvest, which is used in The Foundry’s culinary creations as well as donated to the local community. Kim Brooks has been gardening in the Steamboat area since 2000. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for growing food with the Foundry participants.
9 Easy Tips for Sleeping Better in Recovery
Getting plenty of restful sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery. A night of good sleep can mean the difference between meeting the day with energy and focus and just dragging yourself through. Even a minor sleep deficit can have a significant effect on your physical and mental health, and therefore your recovery.
Sleep deprivation and running a chronic sleep deficit have been shown to cause cognitive impairments such as poor concentration, poor working memory, poor long-term memory, and worse decision-making. In the long run, inadequate sleep can significantly increase your risk of anxiety disorders and major depression. Since these commonly occur along with addiction, it’s crucial to do what you can to get enough sleep.
Unfortunately, insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom and it may persist for weeks or months into recovery, making the process harder. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, these tips might help.
First, See Your Doctor
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to rule out medical causes for your insomnia. Talk to your doctor about your insomnia and be sure to share your addiction history. Many sleep medications are just benzodiazepines and you should definitely avoid those if you have a history of substance use issues.
Next, See Your Therapist
There are two main reasons to talk to your therapist about your sleep problems. The first is that insomnia is a common symptom of several mental health issues, including major depression and anxiety. It could point to an issue that hasn’t been treated or hasn’t been treated adequately. If such an issue does exist, your sleep should improve as you get it under control.
Second, your therapist can help you sleep better. There is a specific cognitive behavioral therapy protocol for insomnia called CBT-I. It includes many of the tips mentioned here but also entails examining your assumptions about sleep and what you say to yourself while lying in bed awake.
Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule
The best tip for sleeping better is one no one wants to hear: sleep at a regular time, even on the weekends. There are a lot of reasons we hate this advice--we have too much to do, we don’t like being constrained by a regular bedtime, we need to catch up on weekends, and so on. However, your circadian rhythm is complex and it doesn’t know what a weekend is.
If you keep your body guessing about what time you’re going to go to bed, you just won’t be able to fall asleep as fast or sleep as deeply. Start by setting a regular wake-up time and you will find it easier to fall asleep at night.
Turn Your Bed into a Sleep Trigger
You want a clear connection in your mind between getting into bed and falling asleep. That means your bed should only be used for sleep and sex. Don’t watch TV in bed, don’t look at your phone, don’t read or eat or do anything else in bed.
If you lie down to sleep but you don’t fall asleep for 20 minutes, get up and do something low-key until you feel tired. Otherwise, your anxiety starts going up, you think, “Here we go again,” and you start to think of your bed as a sort of torture device, where you lie exhausted but unable to sleep.
Cut out the Naps
Naps can be tempting, especially if you can’t ever seem to get a good night’s sleep but they can also throw off your rhythm. Naps are especially disruptive if you sleep for more than twenty minutes or nap later than 2 p.m. When you’re trying to conquer insomnia, it’s best to cut out naps completely. Think of it as storing up your tiredness for bedtime.
Cut down on caffeine.
For most people, a bit of caffeine is fine and moderate coffee and tea consumption appears to have some health benefits. However, caffeine also has a half-life of between four and six hours. If you drink a cup of coffee at noon, as much as a quarter of that caffeine--plus whatever is leftover from the morning--might still be in your system at midnight, depending on how fast you metabolize caffeine. Even if it doesn’t keep you awake, it can disturb the quality of your sleep. If you can’t sleep, try cutting down on caffeine or setting a strict cutoff time.
Keep Your Room Dark and Quiet
This is an obvious bit of advice that almost everyone ignores. We evolved to sleep in dark, quiet environments but most of us now live in places where it’s hardly ever dark or quiet. There are street lights, traffic, noisy neighbors, 4 a.m. garbage trucks, barking dogs, and so on. Even low levels of light and sound can disturb your sleep even if they don’t completely wake you up. If you can’t keep your room dark and quiet, consider investing in some ear plugs and a sleep mask.
Turn Down the Thermostat.
Just as we evolved to sleep in dark and quiet, we evolved to sleep in slightly cooler temperatures. However, most of us now live in temperature-controlled buildings that are theoretically the same around the clock. One important sleep adaptation is that our body temperature drops. If you can, turn down the thermostat to between 68 and 70 degrees before bed, you should sleep a bit more deeply.
Have a Good Bedtime Routine
Finally, have a good bedtime routine. A regular sequence signals your body that it’s nearly time to sleep. A good routine can also help you wind down and relax before you get into bed. Try not to work or deal with other stressful things up to the time you go to bed.
Keep in mind that watching intense movies or TV shows right before bed can have a similar effect to real-life stress. Instead, do something relaxing. Listen to some music, pray or meditate, or take a warm--but not hot--shower or bath. You’ll sleep better if you lie down while in a good mood.
Getting plenty of sleep is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, especially if you are recovering from addiction. Unfortunately, insomnia is one of the most common problems people face when dealing with substance use and mental health issues. There are no guarantees that you’ll get a good night’s sleep on any given night, but if you create the right conditions, you can tip the odds in your favor. At The Foundry, we believe that wellness is one of the most important parts of a strong recovery from addiction. That’s why we emphasize overall health, including restful sleep, in our treatment programs. To learn more, call us today at (844) 955-1066.
Have You Suffered Emotional Abuse?
Abuse is a major risk factor for developing mental health issues such as major depression and anxiety and for developing substance use issues. This can happen to both children and adults and while childhood abuse and neglect have a greater effect on people over the lifespan, abuse is a major concern for adults too.
When we think of abuse, physical and sexual abuse are typically the first things to come to mind. However, emotional abuse can be just as damaging and more insidious. While people are typically aware they are being physically or sexually abused, emotional abuse is often more subtle. Part of the power of emotional abuse is its deniability and emotional abusers are often adept at making you doubt your own judgment.
As with physical abuse, the goal of emotional abuse is to control you. However, while physical abuse mainly works through intimidation, emotional abuse gets inside your head and undermines your confidence and judgment. People who are emotionally abused often feel like they are incapable or unworthy of leaving an abusive situation. Although they may know they are unhappy, they may not be aware that what they’re experiencing is emotional abuse. The following are some common signs of emotional abuse and what to do about it.
What It’s Not
First, it’s important to clarify that someone is not being emotionally abusive just because they do something we don’t like or something that makes us feel bad. Arguing, for example, is common in almost every close relationship because it’s normal for people to sometimes have conflicting needs and desires. Even yelling is typically not a sign of emotional abuse. Breaking up with someone or otherwise protecting your own boundaries is not emotional abuse, nor is honest communication. Emotional abuse is done with the intent to make someone feel bad, inadequate, stupid, guilty, or weak and usually for the purposes of control.
Perhaps the most obvious sign of emotional abuse is disparaging behavior. This is an overt assault on your sense of self-worth. Disparaging behavior may include name-calling, such as outright calling you stupid, weak, ugly, hysterical, fat, and so on. A slightly subtler way is to use “pet” names that are played off as playful or affectionate but are really belittling. If you’re the object of such a pet name, you can easily spot it by how it makes you feel. Other ways of disparaging include making sarcastic remarks, making jokes at your expense, or making light of your interests or accomplishments. This is all intended to make you feel worse about yourself so you feel like you need the abuser’s approval and so you don’t think you could do better elsewhere.
Isolating or Controlling Behavior
As noted above, emotional abuse is primarily a means of control and therefore any controlling behavior – overt or covert – is also a form of emotional abuse. Controlling behavior can take many forms. One way that has become disturbingly common is checking your partner’s phone for incriminating texts. This implies your partner is untrustworthy and it makes unfair demands on their privacy. If you believe your partner is cheating on you, you should ask. If you feel like you can’t trust your partner, then break up.
Another common and subtle way to control is withholding affection unless the other person does what you want. This tactic can be used by romantic partners or by parents and it can be especially harmful to children. However, it’s not the same as not being affectionate because you’re arguing or angry about something specific.
Isolating is another common control tactic. The idea is to keep the person dependent. The abuser might try to keep you from interacting with friends and family, for example. They don’t want you to have options they don’t approve of and they don’t want other people filling your head with ideas they don’t like.
Gaslighting is a way of undermining your sense of reality. This is typically done by contradicting things they know to be true. For example, they might spring plans on you at the last minute and when you say you didn’t know anything about it, they might insist you talked about it last week. Over time, you start to doubt your own memory and start to rely on your partner, who seems to remember everything. Often, a gaslighter will lie about things that aren’t important at all just to undermine your confidence.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Other tactic emotional abusers use to undermine your confidence is to have unreasonably high expectations. These might pertain to them specifically, such as expecting you to spend all your time with them or make unreasonable sacrifices on their behalf. It might also be more general, such as never being satisfied with anything you do, never complimenting you, always finding fault, and generally making you feel like you always fall short. If you set the bar high enough for someone you can always be sure they will fail, or at least feel like they’ve failed. This is especially damaging because it develops a sense of learned helplessness – nothing you do is good enough, so why try? It also keeps you seeking the abuser’s approval.
What to Do
Emotional abuse is hard to escape because much of the time, you’re not even sure it’s happening. Awareness is the first step. Pay attention to the patterns. Your parents, teachers, boss, spouse, or romantic partners aren’t supposed to make you feel bad about yourself. If you’re always walking on eggshells around them, something is wrong. Look out for the behaviors described above.
Next, know it’s not your fault. Emotional abusers often make a good show of being kind and supportive and it’s easy to fall for. If you experienced emotional abuse as a child, you probably just thought that it was normal. The sooner you realize it’s not, the better.
Get away from the abusive situation as soon as possible. If you can’t for some reason, work on setting boundaries. This can be incredibly hard and you may need the help of a therapist and possibly a support structure, which an emotional abuser certainly won’t like. What’s more, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can fix an emotional abuser. They’re good at making apologies and promises, but they also have their own problems and they aren’t likely to change their behavior for good.
If you’ve been the victim of emotional abuse, it has probably caused you some problems, which might include depression, anxiety, or substance use issues. Of the 10 adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, linked to increased addiction risk, emotional abuse accounts for two, each of which at least doubles your risk of addiction. Awareness is the first step.
At Foundry Treatment Center, we share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.
Six Persistent Myths About Addiction
Despite increased media attention in recent years, there are still myths and misconceptions about addiction that won’t go away. These myths can have real effects on people’s lives, since they affect public opinion and public policy, not to mention they can make individuals reluctant to seek help. The following are some of the more common misconceptions about addiction.
“Addiction is a choice.”
Since substance use is typically a choice, many people assume addiction is a choice, as well. However, no one chooses to become addicted. What’s more, many people with substance use disorders want to stop but can’t. In fact, trying to quit but being unable to is one of the defining features of addiction. It’s important to remember that more than 86 percent of Americans have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives, but less than six percent develop an alcohol use disorder.
Even people who use highly addictive drugs like heroin don’t become addicted as often as you probably think. That means there are factors at work beyond choosing to use drugs or alcohol. It’s not possible to predict who will develop a substance use disorder and who won’t; and anyone who has seen addiction close-up would never believe someone would choose it.
“Addiction is caused by a lack of willpower.”
A lot of people think addiction is down to willpower — that if you resolve to quit drugs or alcohol, you can do it. A 2018 poll¹ by AP-NORC found that while a slim majority of Americans now see addiction as a disease that requires treatment, a large minority (about 44 percent) believe that opioid addiction indicates a lack of willpower or discipline.
While willpower and discipline can play a supporting role in recovery, they are not in themselves enough to keep you sober. The major risk factors for addiction include trauma, childhood environment, genetic factors, and mental health issues. Recovering from addiction requires addressing these issues, as well as creating a support system and making healthy lifestyle changes. Anyone who tries to stay sober using willpower alone is likely to have a hard time and a short recovery.
“Only a certain type of person gets addicted.”
A lot of people believe, perhaps on a subconscious level, that there’s a certain kind of person who develops a substance use disorder. They may think it depends on race, socioeconomic status, or personality type. In reality, addiction cuts across all of these. Ever since the beginning of the opioid crisis, this fact has become even more evident, due to the fact that millions of people who might never have otherwise been exposed to opioids were prescribed addictive painkillers by their doctors in large enough quantities to cause physical dependence. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
“Once an addict, always an addict.”
This particular myth is doubly harmful. For one thing, it’s terribly stigmatizing. If someone has issues with drugs or alcohol, they get branded for life with the “addict” label, which isn’t fair.
More to the point, it just isn’t true. Research shows that the general public tends to vastly underestimate how many people successfully recover from substance use disorders. As noted above, addiction is often driven by other factors, including untreated mental health issues. Once you get these under control and learn some recovery skills, there’s a good chance you will be able to manage your addictive behavior.
Moreover, addiction often appears during early adulthood, between the ages of 18 and 25, when the brain — particularly the areas involved in judgment and self-control — isn’t fully formed yet. Substance use issues often get easier to manage after age 25. As we age, we also typically get less neurotic and more conscientious; a personality pattern that makes you less prone to harmful substance use. In other words, most people with substance use issues will recover with time and treatment.
“People with substance use disorders are typically unemployed and often homeless.”
A common stereotype of someone with a substance use disorder is that they are unemployed or even homeless. The corollary is that if you have a job, a family, and a place to live, that proves you don’t have a serious substance use issue. While it’s true that substance use issues are more common among unemployed and homeless people, it doesn’t follow that most people with substance use issues are unemployed or homeless.
Addiction is a largely invisible problem and many outwardly successful people struggle with substance use in private. In fact, most people with substance use issues are able to keep their lives together for at least a while. Professionals in particular will go to great lengths to keep their substance use from affecting their work. In the long run, though, most people can’t keep this up. Either they get help, or their substance use will affect their jobs and families.
“You have to hit rock bottom before you can recover from addiction.”
This is a particularly destructive myth because it probably keeps people from getting help in time more than any other myth. In reality, most people who get help for addiction aren't quite sure they’re ready to get sober. Sometimes they don’t even believe they have a problem and they just want to placate their families. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t recover.
For example, each year, more than 120,000 Americans opt for treatment in drug courts and they have significantly better outcomes than people who go to jail. Additionally, interventions are often successful in getting people to accept treatment. Once in treatment, most people become more motivated to stay sober and they often do well. If you wait to hit rock bottom, it may be too late.
Myths about addiction persist mostly because we tend to believe whatever fits in our worldview, not necessarily what the evidence tells us. There are mountains of evidence telling us that addiction is not a choice, that it is caused by factors such as mental health issues, genetic factors, and trauma, and that treatment — not punishment — helps people recover. At The Foundry, we know that treating addiction is a complex and individualized process and we use many evidence-based modalities to help our clients create a strong recovery. For more information, call us today at (844) 955-1066 or explore our website.
Caring for Your Mental Health During Quarantine
At the moment, Americans and people around the world are currently advised to stay home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, or the coronavirus. While this is a sensible precaution to protect public health, it may seriously test many people’s mental health, especially anyone with a history of anxiety or depression. No one knows how long the quarantine might last but the current estimate is at least eight weeks. On top of that, people aren’t sure how this virus might affect their jobs or the economy overall.
Then, of course, there is the possibility that you or someone you care about might get sick. Compounding all this uncertainty, we are denied major sources of comfort such as spending time with family and friends, religious and spiritual gatherings, and 12-Step meetings. If the quarantine has got you on edge, here are some suggestions for managing your mental health.
Don’t Obsess Over the News
It’s tempting to spend your day refreshing Twitter or watching cable news, trying to keep up on new developments with the virus. That’s especially true since this is--we hope--a once-in-a-lifetime event. We want to know if we should be doing anything, if there have been new cases or cures, how many cases there are in our area, what the government is doing, and when this whole thing might be over.
However, obsessing over the news, now more than ever, is only going to make you feel worse. While a lot of the media coverage has been uncharacteristically measured, it can still give you the feeling that we’re all living in a disaster movie. Try to limit your news consumption to once a day. Check the CDC website for information and updates, and otherwise keep calm and carry on.
Stay In Touch With Your Therapist
If you’ve had issues with anxiety, depression, or substance use, you may have a regular therapist. You may or may not be able to keep your regular appointments, depending on where you live. Be sure to contact your therapist and make some kind of backup plan. A lot of therapists are now offering HIPAA-compliant video sessions, so that may be an option.
Other people have been doing phone sessions or Skype sessions. If you don’t have a regular therapist or if you can’t get in touch with your therapist and you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed, sad, depressed, anxious, or possibly a danger to yourself or others, call 911 or call SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
Since the quarantine feels like something between a sick day and a holiday, you might feel tempted to splurge on junk food. However, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, this might go on for a while and you don’t want your cheat day eating to become a habit. Second, what you eat has a pretty direct effect on your mental health. This effect appears to be especially strong for depression.
Try to eat meals that are mainly composed of whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, and lean meats, especially fish. As much as possible, avoid processed foods, especially processed meats, which are highly inflammatory, sugar, and fried food. If you’re recovering from addiction, it should go without saying that you should avoid alcohol as well.
Try to Get Some Exercise
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood and lower stress. It releases mood-boosting endorphins and serotonin as well as BDNF, which grows neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps consolidate memories. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions such as planning, emotional regulation, foresight, and self-control--all of which are great to have in a crisis.
At the moment, it’s still considered safe to walk, run, or bike outside, since the risk of transmission is low in outdoor environments. There are also plenty of workouts and yoga routines you can do in a small space at home. Check out YouTube for some options that appeal to you.
Reframe How You Think About the Quarantine
The funny thing about the quarantine is that up until a few weeks ago, there seemed to be no end of complaints about how Americans never properly socialize anymore. We all just stay home and play video games and watch Netflix.
When we do go out, we spend all our time looking at our phones. Now that we have to stay home, it seems like a huge burden. Instead of feeling constrained, choose to focus on all the stuff you can do at home. Catch up on reading, cleaning, TV shows, or other projects that you seem to always put off.
Stick to Your Regular Routine as Much as Possible
Part of the stress of being quarantined is that it feels like the whole world has suddenly changed. Change is always a bit stressful, especially changes you can’t control. Part of the solution in this case is to take control of the things you can control and stick to your normal routine as much as you can while still complying with public health recommendations.
Keep getting up at your regular time and taking a shower, even if you don’t have to be anywhere. Eat your regular meals, do the things you normally do, and go to bed at your regular time. If you are recovering from addiction or a mental health issue, there are probably things you normally do at home as part of your recovery plan and there’s no reason why you can’t keep up with those.
Stay in Communication With Friends and Family
We have more ways to communicate than any people in history. Don’t get so much into your reading or binge watching that you don’t keep in touch with friends and family.
Remember, We’re All in the Same Boat
If you’re sitting home alone during the quarantine, it’s easy to feel like you are alone in the world. However, there are millions, perhaps hundreds of millions who are having very similar experiences at the moment. So first, consider that whatever discomfort you’re feeling as a result of the quarantine is a small sacrifice that you’re making willingly to help protect the most vulnerable people in our society.
Second, consider the welfare of other people under quarantine. Approaching the situation with compassion helps you feel less alone and you may think of some small way to help your neighbors too.
You never know what kinds of challenges you may face when recovering from a mental health issue or a substance use disorder. While we typically prepare ourselves to cope with more mundane sorts of stress, the same principles basically apply for outlier events like a pandemic. At The Foundry, we know that recovery from addiction is really about giving you the skills to lead a happier, more fulfilling life. To learn more about our treatment programs, explore our website or call us today at (844) 955-1066.
What Is the Difference Between Casual Drinking and Addiction?
Enjoyment of a casual drink is no big deal for some people. They can go out with family and friends, have a few drinks, and enjoy time with loved ones. Some people go out every weekend, go to the club, or go see a band. We pop Champagne or buy rounds of drinks to celebrate. Alcohol is socially acceptable and available everywhere, making it hard for people who suffer from substance use disorders.
The casual social drinker will not give it a second thought, but to the person struggling, every store, restaurant, bar, alcohol commercial or TV show with a bar in it can be a trigger. When someone cannot control how much they drink or doesn’t know how or when to stop, it can be a sign of alcoholism. One of the most significant differences between those who casually drink what they want and those who cannot stop is control. When drinking becomes excessive, frequent, and out of control, it often leads to traumatic consequences, including death.
Signs of Alcoholism
People who go out with their friends and loved ones to enjoy a drink are not usually addicted to alcohol. Casual drinking behavior is having a few drinks with friends one or two nights a week socially but returning home to normal activities, as planned. Problem drinking behavior means not being able to stop drinking, feeling an urge to drink, and more. The lack of good judgment that accompanies drinking in excess can have many undesirable consequences. There are warning signs to pay attention to, including:
-Giving up hobbies, friends, and special interests just to drink.
-Developing a high tolerance to alcohol that requires a person to drink more to feel the effects.
-Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tremors, and other issues when a person tries to stop drinking.
-Drinking before work or doing normal daily activities.
People can often gauge for themselves how much they are drinking or if they are experiencing problems with alcohol. Problem drinkers don’t need to go to rehab to stop drinking, but many do because they cannot stop on their own. If some of the following statements are true, there may be a problem with drinking:
- Drinking alone is a habit.
- Drinking too much happens more often than not.
- Every day there is a drink or the thought of drinking.
- Turning to alcohol to cure boredom.
- Using alcohol to anesthetize pain, trauma, or other issues.
- Requiring a drink to deal with regular everyday occurrences.
- Keeping a hidden supply of alcohol.
People who have issues with alcohol may be able to stop on their own, but they may not want to stop drinking. Some people may require some form of therapy or support to learn how to control drinking and stay away from its dangerous effects.
When someone cannot control their drinking, that is usually a sign of alcoholism. They may appear to be high-functioning or normal functioning, but they are experiencing problems with drinking. Their behavior may get them in legal trouble, jeopardize their professional license, or have other dangerous effects. If others think drinking is a problem, school or work suffers, and if there have been failed attempts to quit, then it may be time to consider outside support services.
Finding Help for a Substance Use Disorder
It is difficult to quit drinking by oneself without the support of loved ones. Still, the decision belongs to the person experiencing substance use disorder symptoms. When a loved one struggles with alcoholism, recovery can take a long time, and they need to feel they will have that support. It means physical, mental, and spiritual work to free themselves from the confines of substance use behavior.
Whether a person needs structured inpatient treatment or monitoring from professional staff, there is a program that will support people’s individual needs in recovery. It is not useful or necessary to suffer alone. To create a personalized plan means seeking out all the help that is needed. Most methods include mental health support, physical health support, detox, long-term treatment, aftercare, and much more.
For people who struggle with alcoholism, finding the right support and acting with intention are positive first steps to a successful recovery. The right program may come along, but outside supportive services are necessary to help a person healthily navigate their healing. Recovery is difficult, but a person who feels free and can heal will usually do so much better with loved ones standing alongside them.
Alcoholism can often push people away because it puts them in bad situations. The loved ones may be frustrated and tired of dealing with their behavior, so they are not able to deal with the issues. Putting effort into navigating the journey with those who will stand alongside the person as they go to treatment might mean asking friends, rather than family, for support. Regardless of individual needs, the resources and information are available to those seeking assistance.
Exercise and Recovery: Understanding Exercise Addiction
So you are new to recovery from some form of substance abuse. You learned and experienced in treatment that exercise is of great benefit to you. It has aided you in reducing your stress, decreasing your anxiety and improving your mood. You feel better about yourself and your body as a result. It taught you that you can overcome adverse conditions thus cultivating your self-confidence.
Some of your friends and family have begun to verbalize concern about your exercising. They have even mentioned that you are becoming addicted to exercise. You find yourself firing back at them when the topic comes up that exercise is good for you and it is better than using heroin. However, part of you secretly wonders if it is true. Are you replacing one addiction with another?
Is there such a thing as exercise addiction? According to Psychology Today, it is a “legitimate problem whose prevalence is thought to be highest amongst triathletes, runners, and individuals who suffer from eating disorders.”
A published review from 2012 estimated that about 2.5 to 3.5 percent of the general exercising public may be affected by exercise addiction. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has published a number of studies attempting to understand and define exercise addiction. However, the American Psychiatric Association has not recognized it as a primary disorder.
Despite the conflicting data as to whether exercise addiction exists, there are some agreed upon symptoms identified by various researchers regarding exercise addiction: tolerance, withdrawal, inability to limit amount of time engaged in exercise, reduction in other activities to engage in exercise, and continuing to engage in the exercise despite the negative effects it is having.
To put these symptoms into actions that are recognizable, those addicted to exercise may feel driven to work out daily, for long periods of time, and do so even through illness and injury. The person may miss so much work (due to exercising, recovering from, or preparing to exercise) that they can no longer successfully pay their bills, and /or is spending more than they can afford on equipment. The person may express increased stress levels when not exercising, and may display irritability, frustration and the inability to concentrate when not engaging in exercise.
Do some of these sound familiar? These are some of the same criteria for substance abuse disorder. The symptoms of exercise addiction seem to parallel substance abuse, but what about the effects? Individuals who engage in exercise addiction may find themselves suffering from injuries due to repetitive motion, fractures due to overuse, and muscle damage due to overtraining. They may also begin to experience irregular heartbeats and enlargement of the heart.
Exercise addiction may also take a significant toll on a person’s family, work, and social life as more and more time is dedicated to exercising since it has become the main priority. Family and friends may accept the heavy training schedule, because a specific performance is the goal, a marathon or triathlon for example, with the expectation that a more normal lifestyle will resume after the event. However, the event comes and goes and the behavior remains the same. Again, the toll seems to be equivalent to that of substance abuse.
You find yourself asking since exercise addiction is a possibility, and recall you were taught in treatment that once a person has been addicted to one substance they can more easily cross over to another addiction, should you exercise at all?
Yet, you recognize that exercise has been good for you. It has improved your mood by decreasing your depression and anxiety, as well as improving how you respond to stress. You also know it has been shown to reduce cravings for substances, for those who abuse alcohol, illegal drugs and/or some prescribed drugs, and believe it has assisted you with cravings and filled your time. In addition, you have made some new friends and begun to develop a positive support network as a result of working out through The Phoenix or fitness center.
So the question remains: should you stop exercising?
The answer lies in whether you can exercise in moderation and have a balanced lifestyle. Do the symptoms above describe you? Has exercise become a compulsion? Look inside and you will know the answer.
Here at The Foundry, we know how important physical fitness can be to recovery, and have created an entire Wellness Program centered on yoga, hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, gym fitness as well as countless other activities related to well-being. In the beautiful state of Colorado, receiving drug and alcohol treatment at a recovery center in a beautiful setting can show you how beneficial exercise and the outdoors can be for the body, mind and spirit. We can help cultivate your interested in fitness and help you understand how to keep this new (or reignited) passion healthy.
Jasmine Aranda, LPC, LAC, is the Chief Quality & Compliance Officer at The Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat, a rehab and substance abuse treatment center in Colorado, providing clinical therapy services for Foundry participants to help envision a life after recovery. The Foundry provides nearly double the therapy time of a traditional treatment program to provide the guidance and support needed for lasting recovery.
Wellness During the Holidays
Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you enjoyed your December as much as we did here at Foundry Treatment Center Steamboat Springs! While ourWellness Activities looked slightly different this year due to COVID restrictions, that didn’t stop us from getting a little CREATIVE here on campus.
This month during Healthy Habits group, we put a special emphasis on Self-Care. Do you know what self-care is? Self-Care is defined as deliberately taking care of yourself through restorative activities. Some examples of self-care are writing in a journal, meditating, volunteering for a cause that is meaningful to you, working in the garden, playing a game, reading a book, exercising, being out in nature, getting creative and connecting with friends.What do you like to do for self-care?
The Holiday season can be especially stressful, so we make extra effort to help our participants cultivate their own individual self-care plan as well as develop coping skills through self-care to help them navigate their triggers. For our participants who are about to transition to a sober living or aftercare program, we help them work through their emergency self-care plan, which lists specific activities they will use as daily self-care, while also identifying their top three positive coping strategies. In addition, they will write out their top five emergency self-care practices. This could include the name and number of their sponsor, meditation, being out in nature, box breathing or other coping skills. We also ask them to list 5 practices, people or places toAVOID in times of crisis or stress to use as a helpful reminder to keep them on track. When they have completed this emergency self-care plan, we encourage them to keep it either on their person, or in a place where they can see it every day, to get in the practice of utilizing their tools and skills!
Do you have your own Self-Care plan?
December Wellness Activities
With the lack of snow here in the Yampa Valley for most ofDecember, in addition to the COVID restrictions in Routt County, we had to get a bit creative for our wellness activities this year, which just made them all the more fun!
We got into the holiday spirit by decorating a Christmas tree and doing our own version of the Great British Bake Off! Participants were split in to two different teams and were given intentionally vague recipes to make either Grandma’s Chocolate Bread or Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake and were only given 2 hours to complete their desserts. Participants had to use problem solving and team work to figure out how to successfully make their recipe.Let’s just say the results were interesting…. but undeniably delicious! During the Christmas week we had an in-house Gingerbread House building contest! Which one is your favorite?
A new opportunity we were able take advantage of this month was having our own private rock-climbing film festival premier, complete with popcorn machine and concession stand! Our gym is the perfect place to inflate our GIANT inflatable movie screen for special occasions like this! One of the positive things to come out of COVID is how much more accessible things have become virtually. In a ‘normal’ year, a ski film or a rock-climbing premier would be in a theater and is typically not a sober event, but, due to COVID and films moving virtually, we were able to provide a safe and sober space for our residents to enjoy these films!
Fitness and Yoga!
Speaking of virtual, we were able to maintain a normal yoga and fitness schedule for our participants with the help of Zoom! During the restrictions we had a hybrid model where our yoga instructors would Zoom in to teach yoga, and in person fitness instruction was provided. Our goal for fitness and yoga is to educate and lay the foundation of exercise and yoga for participants to carry into their recovery!
Below is one of the workouts we did the week of Christmas.To do this work out, you do it like the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”You start at one, then you do 2, then 1. Then 3, then 2, then 1 and so on until you have done all 12 days of Christmas!
12 days of Christmas Workout:
1 plank for 20 sec
3 Push ups
4 Bicycle Crunches
6 Tricep Dips
7 Boxing Punches
8 Mountain Climbers
9 Jumping Jacks
10 Alternating Lunges
12 High knees
That was our Wellness for December in a nutshell! We hope you have a safe and happy holiday, and we can’t wait to share all of the funWellness things we have in store for January 2021!
Cait Mowris, Wellness Director, Foundry Steamboat
Call today to get started on your journey or if you have any questions.(844) 955 1066