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  • A Recipe for Success in Addiction Recovery

    Posted on November 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Recovery from Addiction: One Person’s Recipe for Success Arguably the most meaningful aspect of working in a helping profession is receiving updates of success.  With permission from the individual and after removing identifying information, this week’s article shares one person’s recipe for continued success in changing a problematic pattern of substance use.  The following paragraphs are elements of the individual’s success story verbatim, with some minor changes to protect the individual’s identity. I write to give you a recovery update.  I want you to know that I truly am following the after-care plan.  I have been maintaining balance since I left, an aspect my previous self underestimated but now am benefitting greatly from.  Before moving I would m...
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  • Linda Lewis: "I Swore it Would Not Happen to Me."

    Posted on September 2, 2016
    Linda Lewis shares her story. by Linda Lewis, Recovery Maintenance Counselor for Practical Recovery I’ve been preparing for my role as an addiction counselor all my life. From the time I was born, I was surrounded by people with addiction problems… life and death problems. Our family has a white sheep, one, my aunt Lois. She was the only stable person in my life for years. Not surprisingly, she is also the last of a large family who is alive and well. When I was 12, my step father , the good one, died drinking and driving. As for my biological parents, after sad chaotic lives, they both died in their forties because of their alcohol dependence. My father died of liver cirrhosis at 47. He spent years in and out of hospitals and mental institutions. Our relationship was strange and...
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  • On being a SEN Master, Part 1

    Posted on January 22, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?  “Make me one with everything.” This article is NOT about gaining enlightenment.  Rather, I focus on gaining greater lifestyle balance and greater overall physical and emotional health.  The term SEN Master, which I coined a few years ago, emphasizes the benefits of good Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition.  Of course, there are other valuable health habits (not abusing substances, washing your hands regularly–so as not to spread germs, taking care of your teeth, limiting sun exposure), and other habits that indirectly promote health (having a good social life, having meaningful activities).  The term SEN Master, however, suggests that good sleep, exercise and nutrition are the core health habits. Physicia...
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  • Defend Your Recovery and Mental Health During Seasonal Changes

    Posted on October 9, 2015
    With the end of summer comes shorter days, less sunlight, less time spent outdoors and, for some of us, a bit of a negative shift in our mood. Known as the winter blues or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (in more severe cases), this shift ranges from feeling a little down, sluggish, withdrawn, or even depressed, as the colder, darker days begin to replace the rejuvenating days of spring and summer. We all know that taking care of our mental health is a key component of our recovery, that’s why it’s critical we address any negative feelings which start to creep in – including those brought on by a change in the weather. While you can’t control the seasons, you can stave off some of those ill feelings. If your mood is beginning to fall with the leaves outside, try these tips for a ...
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  • Staying Positive After a Slip

    Posted on August 21, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Recovery from addiction is rarely a straight path; for most people, it involves some slips and mistakes along the way. Even though slips happen to most people in recovery, they can be very tough to deal with, eliciting feelings of shame, guilt, and even hopelessness. However, allowing those feelings to overwhelm you can actually lead to further slips and a full-blown relapse. While it can be challenging, it is often beneficial to stay positive after having a slip. Here are 4 tips for doing just that: 1. Challenge Your Negative Beliefs What are you telling yourself about your slip? Perhaps you are telling yourself that all of your progress has been lost, or that recovery is completely hopeless. Maybe you are labeling yourself a loser. Such negative though...
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  • The Recovery Maintenance Plan: Much Bigger Than Relapse Prevention

    Posted on June 26, 2015
    By Linda Lewis, CADCII A year or so ago Practical Recovery began using the term recovery maintenance in place of relapse prevention. Why? Because it fits our model so much better. The idea is simple: If you focus on maintaining your recovery, you can worry less about relapse. If you build a life that supports you in not using, it becomes a lot easier to resist bad choices. Recovery maintenance is more about having a well-rounded plan, so you can focus more on living well. Rather than focusing on avoiding relapse (which, of course we hope to do), a good recovery maintenance plan has a “what if I relapse” section to prepare for it. I’ve had clients in the past who refused to face the possibility of relapse and they did not do well. I’ve found that if someone does not plan for the po...
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  • Staying Friends with Using Buddies

    Posted on March 23, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser In early recovery, many people face a choice: whether to continue friendships with people who may still be using or to end those friendships in order to protect their own sobriety. This is not always an easy decision to make. Some using buddies may actually be long-term friends, and it can be hard to handle another important loss when you’re already dealing with so many changes in your life. Additionally, you may not have sober friends, which leaves you with the option of going back to old friendships or essentially starting over, which can feel overwhelming. If you do decide to maintain friendships with friends who are not sober, here are tips to help you manage the situation: 1. Evaluate the risk Some using buddies may be supportive of your new sobriety while ...
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  • The After Party: Building a New Life in Recovery, Part I

    Posted on February 6, 2015
    (This 3-part series on building good habits, finding balance and working toward good health is adapted from chapter 12 of “Sex, Drugs, Gambling and Chocolate,” by Tom Horvath, Ph.D, ABPP) The Six Pillars of Building Good Habits “You can build a new life that is even more satisfying than life with your addiction.” - Tom Horvath So you’ve gotten through the acute withdrawal phase of recovery, dealt with immediate craving issues and have decided to take your recovery to the next level. Now what? Well, it’s time to rebuild your life. Just leaving the addiction behind isn’t enough – it’s time to start looking at how you can fill the void – that empty space that was once filled by addiction. For some, this may be exciting; a new life by design. For others, this may feel a little overw...
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  • Advanced Strategies for Coping with Urges

    Posted on January 15, 2015
    Adapted from the SMART Recovery Handbook, 3rd edition, pages 36-37 In Changing Habits: Learning to Cope, we covered the 14 basic strategies recommended by SMART Recovery for coping with urges. Here, we cover 4 advanced strategies for overcoming urges to drink/use/act out. 1. Move Beyond Avoidance Being exposed to triggers can help you strengthen your coping skills to resist acting upon them. Intentional exposure under controlled conditions can help solidify your coping strategy and increase your confidence. Try the following strategy (it may help to bring along a trusted companion for support and guidance): Put yourself in a situation that may trigger an urge, such as the liquor aisle in a grocery store. Use any of the strategies discussed in Changing Habits: Learning to Cope...
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  • Higher Satisfactions

    Posted on October 31, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. While addictive substances and behaviors can be satisfying in the short term, they typically prevent us from engaging in activities that provide a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment. When you overcome an addiction, you will notice an increased enjoyment in daily activities and a greater overall sense of satisfaction with life (although it may take longer than you had hoped). Higher satisfactions come not from a quick fix, but from enduring relationships with others as well as productive activity. Relationships with other people are a crucial component of a happy, meaningful life. Take time to engage with family members and friends. Be open with your thoughts and feelings so that you can connect with others on a deep and intimate level. Reciprocate ...
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