Be Thankful in Recovery
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, as well as throughout recovery, it is important to be mindful of gratitude in one’s recovery journey. Being aware of emotions, thoughts, and feelings of gratitude can be important for staying sober during the Holiday season. The holidays can bring back bad memories of holidays past, as well as being triggers of temptations in the present and can de-rail recovery. But finding thankfulness during the season and focusing on the positive aspects of recovery can really help individuals stay on target.
Gratitude is simply being thankful and appreciating people, things, and emotions …everything in your life. Sometimes gratitude means appreciating the lessons learned from the hard things people have endured as well. Webster’s defines being grateful as, “feeling or showing thanks or feeling or showing thanks to someone for some helpful act.” It is also important to recognize and be grateful for the support of those in your recovery journey. Many in recovery recognize the strength they feel in the groups they’ve been a part of in their recovery process.
Recognizing gratitude towards the opportunity to become sober and clean in recovery is important to be aware of. Research shows that having gratitude decreases one’s feelings of anxiety and depression, enhances relationships, increases resiliency, increases kindness towards others, improves one’s sleeping patterns, and encourages forgiveness. Thus, an individual in recovery who is thankful for their involvement in treatment and is feeling grateful for other aspects of their life, will most likely progress farther in their journey of recovery.
Signs of Stress in Kids
A very informative website, fosteringresilience.com, has published an article regarding signs that kids may be in trouble and when to seek help for them. When kids reach their limitations of dealing with the stresses of life, they note that it is important to recognize that these human limitations are not a sign of poor parenting nor are they a sign of weakness on our children’s part.
Just as adults do, children experience stress physically as well. They have physical symptoms such as: stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and even chest pain when they are truly experiencing the stresses of life. Sometimes we as parents feel that they are trying to get out of school or their responsibilities. However, they may just simply be overdoing it and experiencing high levels of stress. A common sign of stress is also dropping grades. Anytime grades drop significantly, a red flag warning should occur to the parent. Other signs include a sudden change in friends, or style of dress. Further, if you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs or smoking cigarettes, it is imperative that it be discussed and addressed.
Fosteringresilience.com also lists other critical signs of trouble and stress in kids including:
- Sleep problems
- Returning to less mature behaviors (thumb sucking/tantrums)
- Renewed separation anxiety
- New bedwetting
- Irritability, outbursts, or tantrums
- Change in eating habits
- Loss of friends
- Missing school because of frequent physical symptoms
If you just see one of these signs in your kid’s behavior there is most likely no need to be concerned. But, if several of these signs are sounding familiar, it may be time to check in with your child and ensure that things are ok and that your child is not overdoing anything or experiencing unnecessary stress.
Half of Adolescents Misuse Prescriptions
Recently, Quest Diagnostics conducted a study where they found that one in two adolescent patients between the ages of 10 and 17 are misusing their prescription medication. Misuse of prescription medication can be defined as a patient either combining prescribed medications with non-prescribed medication or skipping doses of prescription medication.
The current study tested over 2.5 million people of all ages across the United States. Remarkably, the study showed that the percent of adolescent misuse and the percent of adult misuse of prescription drugs are now very similar at 53 percent. The most commonly abused drugs were oxycodone, opiates and marijuana.
However, the good news is that although adolescent patients are still misusing prescription medication, over the last 4 years, adolescent prescription misuse has gone down when measured. For instance, in 2011 studies showed that 70 percent of adolescents could be labeled as misusing medication. The more recent studies suggest that only 52% are now misusing their medications.
Alcohol & Pregnancy: “Don’t Do IT”
CNN reported today that a new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has put a very clear message out about drinking during pregnancy: “Don’t do it. Ever. At all. Not even a tiny bit. No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy.”
The AAP cites several effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, mainly birth defects and cognitive problems later in life. Further, according to CNN.com, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advise pregnant women to stay away from alcohol. In fact, an epidemiologist at the CDC, Dr. Cheryl Tan, advises, “There is no safe amount, no safe time, and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. It’s just not worth the risk.”
Sadly, a different study recently conducted by Tan showed that during 2011-2013, one in 10 pregnant women reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days and one in 33 reported binge drinking. Also, women who drank in their first trimester were 12 times more likely to have a child with these issues, compared to women who didn’t drink at all. First- and second-trimester drinking increased the risk 61 times, and women who drank during all trimesters increased the risk by a factor of 65.
Although previous studies have indicated that when women drink during pregnancy their babies show no problems with behavioral or intellectual development or balance tasks, this recent study emphasizes that the smartest choice is “to just abstain from alcohol completely.”
Beware: Ecstasy Disguised as Halloween Candy
If you happen to see colorful superman logo shaped, Facebook “likes” shapes, or domino shaped unwrapped candy in your child’s Halloween treat bag this year, beware. These candy-like pills are NOT candy—they are drugs and, in fact, can be extremely dangerous to children. If you see something like these fun, candy-like pills in your child’s Halloween basket this year, be warned—not only are they not candy, they are drugs disguised as candy and are dangerous.
One Jacksonville, Florida police department wrote on Facebook, “If your kids get these for Halloween candy, they ARE NOT CANDY! They are the new shapes of “Ecstasy” and can kill kids through overdoses!!! So, check your kid’s candy and ‘When in doubt, Throw it out!!!”
Also, the police department noted that the warning is not specific to Jacksonville and should be spread to parents nationwide. They recommend that parents carefully check their children’s candy and get rid of anything that resembles homemade treats.
However, it is important to note that verified cases of Halloween candy tampering and poisoning are rare. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to throw anything unusual away that you find in your child’s candy haul.
Stop the Drug Abuse Before it Starts
Certain individuals are much more susceptible to addictions than others, but there are some key things one can do to prevent drug abuse before it ever begins. On psychcentral.com, four critical factors are listed as important things to do to prevent drug abuse from ever starting.
First, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with stress. Research shows that most drug abusers started using when they were under a lot of stress or experiencing high amounts of tension. It’s important to remember that drugs are only a temporary fix or escape. If there is something difficult, challenging, or stressful in your life, it’s best to find support or help to tackle the problem and eliminate as much of the stress as you can. Drugs will not provide a solution. In fact, once the effects of drug wear off, the stress and anxiety may increase.
Second, attend therapy or counseling. Find a highly recommended counselor that can lend support. Talking through hard issues and struggles with others or even just discussing openly the desire to use drugs will lessen the desire to turn to drugs.
Third, it is vital to live a lifestyle that makes you feel happy. Depression is a trigger for drug abuse. When people are down, despairing, overwhelmed, and unhappy, drugs become more appealing. Finding ways to feel happy without abusing drugs is very important. It might mean that you seek out a new hobby, change your group of friends, find a place to volunteer, etc. Also, forming and maintaining strong relationships is key to stopping drug abuse before it starts. If you care deeply enough about the people and activities in your life, you are less likely to jeopardize them by experimenting with drugs.
Fourth, be aware of your family’s history with drug and alcohol abuse. The truth is, some individuals are more susceptible to addiction than others. Being aware if one of your ancestors had a problem with a drug or alcohol addiction can help to be more aware of your own weaknesses. If you find a genetic connection take extra caution to avoid drugs and alcohol. Also, if you were exposed to unhealthy behaviors with drugs and or alcohol as a child, reach out to a counselor to resolve any underlying issues you may have due to that. However, regardless of one’s background, anyone can slip into a pattern of drug abuse if they are not careful.
In order to stop drug abuse before it ever starts, self-awareness is key. Knowing how happy you feel about yourself and the life around you, knowing your genetic history and being aware of your stress levels and how to lessen them can strengthen your resolve to stay drug-free.
Faith, Hope, and Love during Recovery
Recovery from any addiction can be hard, long, frustrating, and hopeless at times. However, having faith, hope and love during the recovery process can strengthen you as a recovering addict and can lift those around you as well.
Faith: Faith is essential in recovery. Believing that you can and will overcome addiction is vital. Having faith allows individuals to press forward and continue on through temptations, set backs, relapses and opposition. When you have faith and believe in yourself, not only will you empower yourself in recovery, but that positive belief will strengthen others around you. Having the support of other positive people in your life can help your recovery as well.
Hope: Having hope is also essential in recovery. Hope can translate into the desire to overcome addiction. It can fuel recovery when your resolve is waning. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Staying focused on that light-no matter how small or dim it becomes-can help propel recovery in a positive forward direction.
Love: Love is crucial to overcoming addiction. Learning to love and accept oneself for who you are can allow for recovery to happen. Acceptance requires love- love for oneself and others. Many addicts want to blame their addiction on others and learning to love and accept others for who they are ignites forgives and dissolves blame. Love truly can heal and healing is a necessary part of recovery.
Nature Benefits Recovery
Time spent in the great outdoors can be both healing and restorative. Many studies show that there are powerful mental, emotional and physical health benefits to spending time outside and being immersed in nature.
Recovery is a time of healing and restoring life to a new normal. Spending time in nature can provide experiences and opportunities to reflect, ponder and grow. Whether it’s camping, hiking, going to a park, or sitting outside on the porch swing, taking a break from the fast-paced technology laden life that most live in can strengthen sobriety.
Generally, spending time in nature and outdoors tends to increase physical activity as well. Studies show that physical activity strengthens confidence and helps prevent relapses. Walking and hiking have been linked to depression prevention as well as lessening depression symptoms. Being outside in nature can also reduce feelings of stress, anger and anxiety and it drops blood pressure and helps improve mental functions such as memory and concentration.
Simple ways to get out and experience nature while in recovery may include: going for walks, starting a backyard garden, just sitting outside, or taking your family to the park to play. Just replacing a TV show or two that you’d normally watch with a neighborhood walk will greatly improve your mental clarity and overall peacefulness in recovery. Too many of us spend too much time indoors focused on computers, TVs, and/or smartphones. Redirecting time to nature and outdoor activities will strengthen and enhance recovery.
10 Percent of Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol
Pregnant women between 18 and 44 years of age were surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ten percent reported drinking alcohol while pregnant. Using the CDC’s Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, an even more alarming statistic was uncovered: 3.1 percent of pregnant women are participating in binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four alcohol beverages in a two hour time frame. Further, the pregnant women who binge drank during pregnancy reported that they did so around four to five times per month. This is a shocking fact because most non-pregnant woman who binge drink usually do so around just three times per month.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is dangerous for the mother and the baby. It can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which sadly affects between two and five percent of children. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can manifest behaviorally, physically or mentally in children. Drinking alcohol can also lead to bird defects, miscarriage and premature birth.
Ongoing research is examining why pregnant women are more prone to binge drinking and what can be done to put a stop to it.