Recovery is a lifestyle you must adhere to year-round. Different times of year bring different experiences, and you must get through them to stay sober! The winter months may feel difficult or emotional for the first few years you're sober. Today, with the complication of the coronavirus pandemic, life can sometimes feel like a struggle.

Why Is Winter Hard For People in Recovery

Few people feel like winter is their favorite season. If you're like many people, you may find yourself in the doldrums or suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression brought on by the changing seasons. With less sunlight and colder weather, humans naturally turn into homebodies. In recovery, however, isolation can quickly turn into loneliness or depression.

There are also other reasons that people feel like winter is hard in recovery. Many people also associate the winter months with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years' holidays. Of course, holidays can be challenging times for people in recovery. Sometimes you'll feel quite emotional about the past or even feel triggered by it.

For many reasons, winter can be a challenging time for people in recovery. This winter may even seem a little more difficult due to the ongoing emotional and economic strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking care of yourself and focusing on your recovery is an integral part of the game plan. Here are some ideas to help you lift your spirit every day.

Spirit-Lifting Activities For Winter

If you live in a warm climate, you won't have to deal with the cold. Yet there are still some effects that you have to cope with during the winter months. Holidays, shorter days in general, and less activity are all things that seasons have in common coast-to-coast.

  1. Get enough Vitamin D. Most people aren't getting enough in the winter months because it mostly comes from the sun. Try to do something outdoors for at least fifteen minutes a day.
  2. Get exercise, even if it's incremental. For example, take the stairs more often. Do a lap around the block later on. Walk to the bodega.
  3. Explore vegetables and fruits. Smoothies have a plethora of ingredients to help boost your body and mind. Try a recipe or two to add more nutrition to your day.
  4. Spend five minutes being mindful each morning before anything else.
  5. Do something kind for somebody else. Whether this means checking up on a loved one or cleaning up the kitchen in your group house, just try it. Helping other people feels good.
  6. Find ways to be more creative in life. Create your own winter-themed masks or make up your own dinner recipes.
  7. Find ways to reach out to others online. Create an online group focused on a hobby you enjoy.
  8. Write cards to older people or children who are hospitalized. Focus on spreading happiness to the person you're writing to.
  9. Help out a housemate with something they're stressed about. Getting outside of yourself is crucial, and you might have a skill you can share, such as helping with a resume or building a website.
  10. Take 30 minutes doing something you genuinely enjoy. Take a long bath, read Stephen King, or watch tutorials for surfing. As long as it's something you like, and it hurts no one, enjoy yourself.

Consider Sober Living

Have you thought about living in a sober home? Living among other people in recovery can help you have a sense of stability. Learn more about what options are available and how we can help by calling us at 760-216-2077.

 

Acceptance is one of the most essential principles of 12-step recovery. When you first get sober, you do so as you accept that you have a problem. Once you admit you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, you must also accept that you need help.

Throughout early recovery, you’ll learn there are many things you need to learn to accept. Acceptance isn’t an action – it’s a process. As you grow and change in recovery, you’ll discover that it can be a daily struggle. There are many things out of our control that we must accept, and it can be challenging! This is why you’ll continue to work the 12-steps even after you’ve been sober a few years.

Questions About Acceptance

You may think that you’ve already mastered acceptance. Acceptance, however, isn’t something you can master. It’s something that will crop up throughout your life as a human being.

If you’re in early recovery, you might still be grappling with the idea of acceptance. That’s a normal part of the process of getting sober. The good news is that you can take things a day at a time.

Here are some questions you can use to explore the idea of acceptance. You can write the answers to these questions in a journal, meditate about them, or simply ask yourself the questions and answer as you read.

  1. What is the dictionary definition of acceptance?
  2. What flaws do you have? Do you accept them? Do you think you can accept something and work to change it at the same time?
  3. Who was the first person outside of your family to accept you for who you are?
  4. Do you find it easy or hard to accept other peoples’ flaws?
  5. Have you ever tried to make somebody change when they weren’t willing?
  6. What places are triggers for you using? Have you accepted you are powerless over these places?
  7. When you are in a relationship, do you accept the person’s flaws? Have you ever tried to change somebody else?
  8. When you were a teenager, did you accept your looks? Or did you think that changing them would make you happier?
  9. Have you ever had a relative or friend that seemed to accept you and love you no matter what?
  10. What does it mean to you to accept that you are powerless over your addiction?
  11. Which people in your “old life” are you powerless over?
  12. Was admitting you are powerless over others scary?
  13. What is the hardest thing to accept in your life today?
  14. Have you learned to turn things over, or are you at a point where you still have to work on acceptance?
  15. What things do you accept today that you didn’t accept six months ago? What did it take to start accepting them?

Recovery Housing Can Help

During the era of COVID-19, many people are feeling isolated. It’s easy to understand why. If you or a loved one is looking for stability and continuity after treatment, consider sober housing. We offer a family-like atmosphere that allows for growth and stability. We are still taking clients while we use COVID-19 safety procedures. Please get in touch at 760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.

For many people with opioid use disorder, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) such as Suboxone or Vivitrol is a lifeline to long-term sobriety. While MAT is not the best option for everyone, thousands of people across America have used it in one form or another to help put distance between themselves and their last use of illicit drugs.

Becoming Familiar With MAT

MAT is considered an important tool for people with opioid use disorder. The recovery community has not necessarily embraced it as the go-to tool for addiction recovery, mainly due to worries about its safety. Many people who got sober without the aid of MAT may have reservations about its use. However, the FDA has recently recommended the use of agonist or partial agonist medications (methadone, buprenorphine) to support abstinence. Through this endorsement, more treatment centers have decided to add MAT as a tool for people new to recovery.

Like all treatment tools, MAT is an option, but it’s not the only way people can get and stay sober. We’re fighting a deepening opioid crisis, and treatment providers, as well as their clients, deserve to have as many tools at their disposal as possible. MAT definitely can provide a life-saving function for people who suffer from opioid dependence and addiction.

It is the role of the treatment providers and medical professionals to learn the facts about how medications work and find ways to support long-term recovery for individuals using these medications. This education on MAT includes those who run sober homes and housing programs for people in recovery.

According to data from 2018 gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 128 people in the United States die from opioid overdoses every day. Medication-Assisted Treatment has helped thousands of people beat those odds by reducing cravings and assisting individuals to put more time between themselves and their drug of choice.

Guidance For Treatment Providers, Sober Housing, And Others

New guidance has been released by NIDA to help addiction treatment providers understand the ins and outs of prescribing and helping people use MAT as a part of their overall treatment plan.

While all treatment providers and sober housing professionals have their own programs that help them build a safe community, this information is vital to assisting professionals to make the right choice for their clients to begin their journey in recovery.

The guidelines brief attached can help sober living homes and other providers understand where MAT fits into an overall treatment plan. While MAT is still new to the sober housing community, it has been safely used in treatment facilities for a number of years. Understanding what role it can play will help housing communities draft their own policies based on science and information on treatment outcomes.

Download the guide here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR):

NARR's mission, according to their website, is "to support persons in recovery from addiction by improving their access to quality recovery residences through standards, support services, placement, education, research, and advocacy."

 

About By the Sea Sober Living

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have people in your life who support your recovery. Sober living situations are a great way to rebuild your life and adjust to working on your new goals. Learn more about how our sober home can help you in your recovery. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn about housing options.

If you've been in recovery for months or even a few years, you may come to the point that you think you've got this recovery thing down, and there are no dangers left to avoid in terms of recovery. You've begun to work on repairing your relationships. Maybe you've got a great new job or mended ties with family and friends. You may even start to feel a bit of that serenity that people talk about in 12-step meetings. All of this can be a good thing, but it doesn't mean you're cured of your addiction.

Addiction is a disease. While you're taking care of life on life's terms, everything will change in an instant if you choose to pick up a drink or drug.

Dangers: Thinking and Behavior in Recovery

With more power over the decisions in your life comes more responsibility. There will come a time soon that your recovery is tested. Long-term recovery is an exciting accomplishment, but no one is immune to dangerous thinking or behavior. Backsliding can easily lead to a full-scale relapse if you're not paying attention to your sobriety program. Here are three dangers to watch out for:

  1. Forgetting you are powerless. You gain confidence and begin to feel pride in your life. You may have a job or a relationship that makes you feel good about yourself, and choose to spend more time on that than your actual recovery. It's easy to get lost in things and people that make you feel good. But recovery isn't about "feeling good" - it's about doing good and continuing to work on yourself, your defects, and taking the time to make the twelve steps and integral part of your life.
  2. Spending most or all of your time in a romantic relationship. Codependency is a common issue in recovery, and it can be quite painful. People in recovery are taught that they shouldn't enter into any new relationships in their first year of recovery. That's because early recovery is a time to concentrate on yourself and your behaviors. It's easy to "lose yourself" in a relationship to the point that the other person, and the feelings you have for them, is an addiction. Love can be intoxicating, and your self-esteem may start to depend on the other person. And just because you're told that you should wait "one year" to look for romance doesn't mean that you'll be ready for a relationship at one year sober. Many people aren't prepared to handle the emotions a relationship can bring, even after a year clean. 
  3. Taking risks for the thrill of it. People with addictive personalities are often thrill-seekers at heart. They get a "little kick" out of breaking the rules and "getting away with it." You may start speeding when there are no police around. Or maybe you start stealing office supplies to take home. You might be married but love to flirt with the woman at the coffee shop every day. Or maybe you decide to skip 12-step meetings because you're tired of the commitment. All of these behaviors are dangerous because they're based on a feeling of entitlement. You don't think the rules apply to you, so you're going to bend them a bit. When you "get away" with the behavior for long enough, it can snowball. You may get in trouble with the police or your workplace. Relationships might suffer. Or maybe you'll feel too ashamed to show your face at a meeting because of the damage your behavior has caused. 

Humbling Yourself and Re-Engaging

Life is about choices. Mistakes happen when we make the wrong ones, but it's not the end of the world.  If you were perfect, you certainly wouldn't be in recovery in the first place. It can be humbling to admit you're struggling because of your own behavior, but sharing with others will help lessen the burden.

If you're feeling guilty, scared, or having trouble because of your behavior, the first thing to do is "own it." Tell your sponsor, share at a meeting, and listen to the feedback of others. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's time to hold on to your recovery as hard as possible. "Keep coming back", even when you feel bad. Recovery can bring you progress, but there's no perfection. 

Asking for help when you've fallen into a trap in recovery will help you save yourself. There's nothing you can face in recovery that somebody else hasn't lived through. So if you find yourself engaging in destructive behavior, it's okay to feel bad about it. It's okay to say you don't know the way out. Just remember that you're worth saving, and this too shall pass. You don't have to face anything alone.

Sober Living Options

Are you looking for sober living in the San Diego, California, area? We have a place for you to call home! Living with others in recovery offers fellowship and a way to be accountable to others. Our programs are an excellent launchpad for people new to recovery who need time to transition to daily life. We offer options for housing and aftercare. Call to hear more about how we can help you by calling 760-216-2077.

Everyone needs a friend, and as you spend more time in recovery, you’ll find you have a lot of people you call when you need support. Supporting others is an important and productive way to give in recovery.

The 12-step world can be a big second family as you start to find your way without the use of substances. The experience, stories, and support that other people share with you is essential to making your way in life. You'll end up becoming part of a support network for others, too.

As time goes on and you begin to feel more confident with your new life in recovery, you’ll want to be able to give back to others. Supporting others is a great way to do that. But how can you make sure you’re doing it in a healthy way.

You’ll want to be cautious as well as supportive if the person you’re trying to help as been sober less time than you.

Keeping Healthy Boundaries

Make sure you set healthy boundaries in your friendships. If you become friends with somebody who does risky things, be wary. A friend who is in relapse mode may end up trying to take somebody with them. Offer to be a shoulder or a ride to a meeting, but never put yourself in a situation where you’ll be around drugs or drug users.

Let people call you, but if you can’t take calls at work, don’t. Turn off your phone if you’re sleeping or at work. Let new friends know which hours are best, and it’s okay to send a text message to you.

If you become friends with the opposite sex, be aware that there may be complications. 12-step programs often warn newcomers from getting into any romantic (or potentially romantic) relationships within the first year of recovery. Relationships can be thorny and complicated. When you care for somebody romantic, you won’t be able to focus on your own recovery. Take some time to get to know yourself.

You may want to limit your outings to groups of people, or “guy’s night” outings rather than spend time alone with the opposite sex. Most of all, try to make friends with people who have been clean and sober longer than you. Don’t surround yourself with newcomers. You need other people with more experience for support, too.

Consider Sober Housing

If you’re looking for an excellent place to take your time transitioning to “regular life,” sober living may be the right choice for you. In sober housing, you’ll learn to stand on your own two feet while living among others working on their personal goals in recovery. You’ll have space, structure, and support to help you continue the journey. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.

Accepting powerlessness isn’t limited to being powerless over your addiction to alcohol and drugs. In recovery, you’ll learn that you are also powerless over other people, places, and things. Right now, in the age of the coronavirus, this is more important to learn than ever.

You can’t always predict what is going to happen in life. Nobody seemed to suspect that something like the COVID-19 pandemic would happen.

If you’re having trouble accepting you're powerless, you’re not alone. There is a lot of pain in the world because of the virus. Many people right now are coping with job loss. Some people are sick or know somebody who has been ill. People have been laid off in massive amounts, too. Job loss can cause money problems, anxiety, and even affect a person’s self-worth. You may feel worried, angry, or afraid of what’s happening in the world.

Acknowledging Your Fears

Many people who have lived with addiction have trouble admitting they’re afraid. When you were using, you probably used your drug of choice to quell your feelings of anxiety or fear.

Suppressing your fears can cause problems. You may act out in anger or find yourself feeling depressed or isolated.

You have fears, but you are powerless over what is going to happen in the world around you tomorrow. Learning to recognize your emotions and name them is essential. You may be afraid of getting sick or losing somebody. If you don't talk about it, the anxiety can stop you in your tracks.

You’ll find that other people have had the same fears and have continued to stay sober despite it all. Ask other people what kind of concerns they have, too. Write down your fears in a journal every morning and try to leave them in the book once you've started the rest of your day.

Taking Life A Day At A Time

You're powerless over what is happening in the world right now. The good news is that what the world is going through won't last forever. With the coronavirus, the medical community and the government seem to make strides on a day-to-day basis. That’s a good direction for everyone else to keep in mind, too. One day at a time can help you keep things in perspective. There's no way to plan for things you can't control.

The economic problems won’t last forever, either. Jobs may change, but they will come back. Nobody knows precisely what the future will bring, but for now, it seems that there are many public officials and private companies that are trying to shape that future.

Focus on what you're doing today for yourself and your recovery. Focus on helping the people you love or are checking in with.

What You DO Have Power Over

Right now, your recovery is more important than ever. Staying sober will help you make better decisions. Choose to connect with people in recovery often. Text, call on the phone, or video chat. If you’re in a city or state with a stay-at-home order, don’t risk your health by breaking the rules. Go to online 12-step meetings, either hosted by your area or the Online AA Intergroup.

Take care of your physical health and mental health. If you take medications, make sure you get refills and take them as you're supposed to. Eat three meals and try to get up on time every day.

If you have lost your job, it may be a while before there are more jobs available. Many people in the service, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing industries have been furloughed. Do what you can to take care of yourself financially. If you are unemployed there are options for you. Check online for unemployment and stimulant packages that you can apply for online. Take some time to look at your options. Everyone needs help sometimes. If you have bills you need to pay, but cannot, call the companies and ask them about your options.

Make sure you have a plan of who to call and where to go if you get sick, and keep in touch with people you care about or are worried about. Take precautions such as wearing a face mask when you're going out. Stay home as much as possible.

If you’re overwhelmed, reach out for help. Call your sponsor or a friend in recovery. Times are tough, and connecting with other people in recovery can help you feel supported. You can help support them, too.

Sober Living Can Help

Sober living situations are an important part of the journey for many people in recovery. People who choose it often say it is an essential bridge between treatment and life out in the world alone. Sober housing has structure and support built into it, and there are fellowship and camaraderie. You’ll be a part of a true community that puts your recovery before everything else. Learn more about your options by calling us 760-216-2077.

Are you defeating yourself with negative self-talk? Self-talk is the conversation you have within your head. Everyone has an “inner voice” that provides a narrative in daily life. For people in recovery, this voice can be detrimental. After all, when you arrive at drug and alcohol treatment or go through detox, you go through a lot of pain. Many people in recovery feel hopeless, sad, or fearful. The good news is that these feelings are just that, feelings. They’re not facts about what’s going on right now.

Changing your self-talk will help you live on a day-to-day basis rather than feeling bad and beating yourself up. (And will help prevent your mood from going from bad to worse.) Positive self-talk can also provide you with some great benefits.

Recognizing Negative Self-Talk

Self-talk reveals a lot of information about how a person may feel about themselves. You may suffer from low self-esteem or guilt. Or maybe you’ve let yourself and others down in the past. Maybe you simply think you’re no good at anything because that’s what somebody told you in the past. Here are a few examples of negative self-talk:

Negative self-talk is how you reinforce negative beliefs about yourself. It’s not useful, and it’s really not an accurate reflection of who you are. After all, you are changing all the time in recovery.

Combating Negative Thoughts

Many people in recovery find new ways to change their self-talk as time goes on. The first step is that you need to recognize when it’s happening. Try wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you start thinking negative thoughts. Write down what you were thinking in a journal every time you’re feeling negative.

Once you know the negative thought you’re thinking, it’s time to think about examples of when you felt good about yourself. If you believe you are stupid, then how did you get an A in College Algebra? If nobody wants to hear what you have to say, then why were you invited to speak in the first place?

Trying writing down ideas that counter your negative thoughts onto note cards. Write them in affirmation-style.

If you need help writing affirmations, ask a therapist or your sponsor for more ideas. Affirmations can help you work on focusing on your strengths and believing in yourself. Try using them at least once a day, and pulling them out when you’re thinking negative thoughts.

Sober Living is An Option

Are you looking for sober living in the San Diego, California, area? Our programs are a great launchpad for people new to recovery who need time to transition to daily life. We offer options for housing and aftercare. Call to hear more about how we can help you by calling 760-216-2077.

When you were using substances, how often did you do something that was dangerous? Did you get a little thrill out of breaking the laws, such as speeding or committing petty theft? Danger can give you a little rush, but it's usually behavior that will also stunt your growth. For many people who get clean and sober, leaving these aspects of their old life is almost as difficult as quitting using drugs and alcohol. This activity, called thrill-seeking, often signals that a person may be addicted to dangers as well as substances. Does this sound like you?

Warning Signs of Thrill-Seeking Behavior

Are there certain behaviors you’re not ready to give up, even now that you’re sober? Living a life in recovery means that you’re going to have to give up negative behavior as well as alcohol or drug use.

Many people in recovery get clean and sober but keep “dirty” behaviors. They may flout the laws and drive aggressively. Or they may cheat on their taxes or even pocket your change if you ask them to get you a sandwich. Anything that gives you a little "rush" and could put you or somebody else in harm's way can be considered dangerous -- even surfing in dangerous conditions.

How Can Dangerous Behavior Be Addictive?

Thrill-seeking, dangerous behavior can be addictive for the same reasons that drugs and alcohol can. When you’re doing something dangerous, the reward center of your brain will go off as your body initiates fight-or-flight mode. This mode activates adrenaline, pumping your body with hormones and giving you a feeling of electricity, even if it’s just for a few moments.

Thrill-seeking behavior is considered a trigger for relapse. For one thing, “getting over” on somebody or committing minor crimes is still illegal. Eventually, you’ll get caught or do something that causes you to feel guilt or shame.

Here are some examples of thrill-seeking behaviors:

Changing Your Ways

It may seem difficult to give up your thrill-seeking ways, but it’s an important part of recovery. You don’t do drugs anymore, and you know right from wrong. A little thrill here and there can add up to a lot of bad feelings or even harm your relationships in recovery.

Just like giving up drugs or alcohol, you will need to work your recovery program to help you establish new patterns.

If you’re not sure how to go about changing your behavior, speak to somebody in your recovery network, your sponsor or your therapist. The first step to recovery is admitting you can’t do it by yourself.

You’ll feel better in the long run if you are able to quit doing things that harm yourself or others.

Sober Living Can Help

In sober living, you’re accountable to others in the same household, who hold the same value that you’re trying to live. Live in a safe, positive environment while you get your feet on the ground in recovery. Contact us at 760-216-2077 to learn more about how we can help.

Once you're in recovery, it’s time to start keeping some healthy habits. The top one will be doing your best to stay substance-free one day at a time. Practices like going to your 12 step meetings or therapy appointments are some of the more obvious ways to help you stay sober. There are other ones, too, to help you along the way.

Life can sometimes be challenging, but it’s worth it. You deserve to enjoy your time, but don’t forget the basics. If you’re ever feeling tempted to use drugs or alcohol, reach out to your sponsor or a sober friend. If that doesn’t work, try to get to a 12-step meeting. Staying sober is always the top priority

Considering Sober Living?

Sober living is a great way to live in a peaceful, structured environment with others who have similar goals and challenges. If you’re looking for a sober living situation, or want to find out more about our programs, please call us at 760-216-2077.

Everyone in recovery has heard about the importance of willingness. When you first get clean and sober, you have to trust others and be willing to do whatever it takes. At first, it’s usually difficult to follow the suggestions of others, but as you stayed sober, you probably noticed that your recovery program was stronger.

Being willing to go to 12-step meetings, trust other people in recovery, and take suggestions are the bread and butter of your recovery program. Staying sober only happens one day at a time. Once the fog clears, however, living a life of willingness may become more difficult.

Becoming More Willing

There are probably things you’re told you should do, but you don’t want to do them. In life, everyone pretty much has to go to the DMV. We all have bills to pay and jobs that we do. There are things that we perceive as downright unpleasant, such as having surgery or facing a fear. Being willing doesn’t always mean “doing things joyfully.” It means that you’re ready to do what you have to do.

The first thing you do in recovery is to to stop using and start listening to others. Just staying sober shows that you’re capable of working toward willingness. When a person first begins their recovery journey, they’re told to stay away from old friends and old situations. It can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. When you think you can’t become willing to do something, try to remember all of the other changes you’ve made to get to where you are today.

You may not be willing today, but keep acting as if you are. Take the steps you need to take. The feeling of willingness might follow, or you may have to trudge every step of the way. Either way, you'll get stronger and willingness will come more naturally to you.

If you have a higher power, many people find that praying for willingness makes them feel more willing on a day to day business.

One Day at a Time

Growth only happens one day at a time. No one is perfect. Few people enter into a recovery program eager to delve into their emotions, the things they’ve done wrong, and the problems that they face. But thousands of people stick around anyway, knowing that they want to change and need help doing it.

If you’re going through something and struggling with willingness, remember to take it a day at a time. Do what you need to do. The feelings will follow, and you’ll have a stronger recovery program by sticking it out.

Interested in Sober Living or Aftercare?

Many people decide that after treatment, they want to continue to live with additional supports in place. Whether you’re interested in living in a structured, supportive setting or attending aftercare as you adjust to everyday life, we’re here to help. Call us at 760-216-2077 for more information on our programs.

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