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Lifestyle:  Addiction Recovery - Healthy Living Tips

Good Habits – Bad habits took time to develop; so do good ones. Take it a day at a time and focus on replacing the bad ones with good ones. Jot your progress down in a private journal. Reward your good days and good times with stickers, colored marker smiles, silly color-pencil sketches, etc. And stick with it! Remember “slow and steady wins the race,” not racing through things like the tortoise!

Be Your Best Friend - Forgive yourself and be a friend to yourself. No one is perfect. Be aware of your inner feelings and take care to find healthy outlets for yourself. For example, find healthy ways to express anger (yes, it’s OK to be angry sometimes!) and healthy outlets for fun (around healthy people and places). Parent yourself by adopting better grooming habits, eating healthier and getting plenty of rest. And have your support network and healthcare professionals on your team help you learn how to handle stress and anything that triggers old addictive behaviors and ways to pop up. Jot down notes for reference, if necessary, but bring them out as soon as you can and face them so that you can overcome them with healthier alternatives. Messed up in the meantime? Forgive yourself and move on. Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, embrace the positive and your new network, support team and resources.

Stop and Smell the Roses – Life does have a lot to offer. And much is forgotten during stages of addiction. Keep an ongoing list or fun, neat things you’d like to do and USE it. For some ideas refer to the five senses; sight, taste, touch, smell, sound. For example your list can include a walk in the park, collecting leaves, a swim at a local hotel or YMCA, sitting on a porch swing with a friend, singing your favorite songs, whistling your favorite tunes, enjoying a warm bubble bath, buying some fresh flowers, lighting a scented candle, eating your favorite healthy foods, preparing a fun snack and sharing it with a friend, playing a board game and walking the dog. When you’re bored, anxious, or just need a break, grab your list and choose an item to do or plan.

Self-Improvement – Often addiction problems get started and continue because of lack of self-esteem. So reach out and continue your education, either formally or informally. Read motivational materials, listen to self-help tapes, watch inspiring movies, videos and DVDs. Learn goal setting, money handling, business skills, time management skills and more through library books, local workshops and online opportunities. Take charge of your life and be responsible. With learning opportunities available from free to all variety of budget ranges, the time for excuses is over!

Time-Out – This does not refer to the “time out” punishment, like sending a child to stand in the corner at a daycare facility. This is a time-out for yourself and allowing “bad” stress to take its course. In reality not everything is perfect. And that’s OK. There is no need to get high, drunk or escape in any other unhealthy way every time things aren’t perfect. Acceptance is OK. In other words, it’s OK to feel angry, sad, unhappy or other not so positive feelings sometimes. That’s natural and part of life.

However, instead of turning to negative addictive behaviors, get with your support team ahead of time and plan pro-active strategies for handling these sometimes-difficult issues. For example with anger, punch a pillow. Shed some tears when you’re sad. Take a time-out break and rest during heavier issues. Relax with some herbal tea. Tell yourself everything will be OK. And enjoy some relaxing music.

Then before you know it, the sun will come back up, and everything will be OK again. As they say, there is a season for everything. Life is a process and each of us has to take the good with the bad and make that proverbial lemonade out of lemons. “Bad” times may get you down for a while, but turn them around as quickly as you can and reach out for healthier “good” behaviors.

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Overcoming Addiction: Rewards & Resources

There is an interesting relationship between addictive behavior and reward systems. Many people focus on addictions as a way to escape reality, rewarding themselves with false happiness like highs or drunken binges and gambling sprees that pull them way down over time.

However when these unhealthy rewards are replaced with healthier ones during recovery and healing, things can turn around. For example, saving a little money for a special trip can be rewarding. No need to gamble or get high; just enjoy swimming, shopping, skiing, and other fun activities instead. But problems arise, like learning how much to save and where to go, how to get there, etc. And thus planning can be overwhelming and stressful.

To help addicts and those with tendencies toward addictive behaviors learn how to make and put a positive reward system into place, the first step is grabbing hold of reality and figuring out what WOULD be rewarding. Reward yourself - with healthy rewards - along the way to success. That’s the goal!

  1. Begin by keeping a notebook or journal listing rewards you would like to have. Start with something you think is totally unobtainable if you like. But start somewhere. And write down your thoughts so that you’ll be accountable and take responsibility for yourself and your actions and behaviors. No one has to see this rewards notebook or journal but you. So feel free to use misspellings, bad grammar, doodles, magic markers, highlighters, clipped magazine pictures of what you want, etc. Be creative; make it colorful. It’s for YOU.
    For example, your notebook could contain a list with some items like these that you think might be great: traveling, having lots of friends, being a part of a group, wearing designer clothes, having a new car, running your own business. Maybe you’d like to work part time, yet earn full time pay. Maybe you’d like to adopt children, join the Peace Corps, build your own boat or house. Dare to dream and live, jotting down ideas.
  2. Then as time allows, research your ideas and find out what it would take to put them into action and make them reality. Do you need more money? More education? A scheduled time for a trip? A sewing machine to design clothes? Whatever it is that you’ll need, write it down. Don’t know what you’ll need? Can’t figure out quite how to plan it all or get where you want? Use resources.
  3. Seek help – ask trusted friends, write your congressman, check with your neighbor, move on to your net item and skip an unknown for now. Ask others at our 12-step meeting, research current trends in magazines and newspapers, ask the librarian for help and check via your favorite search engines. The goal is to reach out with your resources. No need to go it alone!
  4. Then make it so, as they say on the television show Star Trek. Reach for the stars, your stars. Make time and plan your rewards one at a time. Have fun and enjoy life while you’re living it in a healthier, real way, with real friends and real vacations. Show off your one new suit of clothes that you worked for and saved for while paying all your other regular bills in the meantime.
  5. Give back and help others plan their own rewards, too. That’s a reward in itself! Encourage your support team, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors and your healthcare team. Helping each other in life can be very rewarding. Don’t miss out on non-monetary rewards!

Rewards and Resources
Here are some places to turn to for overcoming addiction with rewards and resources. Enjoy fellowship with others whoa re also looking for rewards to help motivate them through the recovery and healing process. Be a friend; make a friend.

Addiction Treatment Forum www.atforum.com - this offers more than a forum for communicating with others. There is a FAQs section for learning more about addiction issues, news with updates section and archives, a resource section with pdf reports on a variety of addiction-related topics, a calendar of industry events and a guide to other online resource links.

National Mental Health Association www.nmha.org - This is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit organizations that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness, issues surrounding addictive disorders. They have over 340 affiliates nationwide and focus on improving mental health via education, advocacy, service and research.

For additional help, contact them at 2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22311. Phone (703) 684-7722, fax (703) 684-5968. Mental Health Resource Center (800)969-NMHA. TTY Line (800)433-5959. In summary, since Addictive Disorders are such an important part of everyday life, and with a variety of solutions and services available to help with treatment and coping, hopefully you can learn more about Overcoming Addictions and share this with others. Knowledge is a key to success.



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