musicInRecoveryThe Power of Music in Recovery

Often, during recovery, patients are taught to take up a new hobby to fill their time and keep them focused on a path of success. Recovering addicts may need to fill their previous habits with new ones, and hobbies can do that. Some begin to write in their journals, some exercise more, some people paint or draw, and others find numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors. Another such hobby, that is proving to be successful among many in recovery, is playing or listening to music. Some people in recovery also compose music or write words to music. Learning to play a new instrument, listening to new music, or writing songs, can be great hobbies for recovering addicts.

Individuals in recovery can be tense and are often dealing with a variety of emotions, and music can calm these people. Music can be very beneficial because it can lower stress levels and induce relaxation. Music can create a very peaceful state for the listener and can even help to focus and concentrate.

Music is remarkably beneficial in recovery because it can reduce boredom. Surprisingly, boredom is one of the top reasons for relapse. When a person in recovery is bored, they may listen to a good album or a few relaxing songs until the urge to use or drink passes. Loneliness is also common in recovery, and music can help the recovering addict feel less lonely by giving them lyrics from songs to connect with.

A word of caution, however, to those who use music in recovery. Uplifting, relaxing music is very helpful. But, music that glamorizes doing drugs or drinking alcohol should be avoided. Unfortunately, the topics of many songs in today’s culture include drinking and drugs, but these types of music can be avoided.




lovingspousethroughrecoveryLoving your Spouse through Recovery

One of the lowest points in a marriage may come when a spouse is battling an addiction of any kind. Challenges arise throughout the process of addiction recovery, from the feelings of hopelessness of a spouse while their partner is actively involved in their addiction, to the optimism (as well as anger) that can arise when a spouse begins recovery. With the persistent threat of relapse lingering, the emotional roller coaster in marriage during recovery can continue for many years.

Recovery is never easy for an addict or their spouse but getting support and giving love and support are two ways to overcome difficulties and keep your marriage intact.

An important key to loving your spouse through recovery is to first take care of yourself. Self-care, or meeting your own needs and wants, is key to being supportive to your spouse. Your spouse’s addiction most likely has had a devastating impact on you personally. Through self-care as well as educational workshops, family therapy sessions and family visits, spouses learn new skills right alongside their loved one and can practice those skills to strengthen themselves and the marriage. Recovery programs often recommend resources in the local community as well, including therapy and Al-Anon, S-Anon, or other meetings.

When you’re living with a spouse who is addicted to something harmful, you’ve likely grown accustomed to dysfunction in your marriage. You may have alternated between being the spouse who tries to fix all of the addict’s mistakes to the disengaged spouse who just wants some peace. Without intending to, you may have assumed some unhealthy roles, such as an enabler or codependency. Through therapy and counseling, you can identify unhealthy patterns and learn more positive ways to get your needs met that will ultimately help your spouse as well.

Loving and supporting your spouse during the first months – during early recovery – can prove to be the most challenging and difficult. Many significant life changes happen in the first year of sobriety. During that time, addicts in recovery need to be somewhat “selfish,” focusing on themselves in order to maintain sobriety and rebuild their lives. This can leave some spouses feeling neglected and resentful.

What a recovering spouse needs more than anything is the support and love from their partner.

You can be there for your spouse – and help preserve your marriage – by doing the following: educating yourself, taking care of yourself, keeping communication lines between you open, being patient, avoiding blame, working toward forgiveness, and preparing for setbacks. It’s also important to understand that your relationship may change; in fact, it may end all together. Your spouse’s progress may be slow, or it may be surprisingly quick. They may meet new friends, excel at work and perhaps even outshine you. Allowing your spouse some freedom to explore who they are without their addiction, can bring a positive shift in responsibilities and dynamics to your home.

For most couples with a spouse in addiction recovery, life won’t miraculously fall into place without a lot of hard work by both partners. Recovery can deepen and strengthen the bonds of marriage, but taking care of yourself and each other is key. Loving your spouse through recovery is difficult and draining, but the rewards and benefits are often worth the effort.




ToughLoveandRecoveryTough Love and Recovery

Usually when people love each other it means that they show affection and are really nice to each other – but there are times when this is not the case. Sometimes loving someone can mean treating that person in a harsh or stern manner to help that person change in a positive way. This version of love is often referred to as “tough love.”

When it comes to recovery from drug or alcohol addictions, tough love may be necessary to help those loved ones out of cycles of abuse and addiction. This tough love may be might be perceived as somewhat cruel – especially initially — but people may actually feel the need to act this way toward an addicted loved one in order to be kind.

Tough love is simply love or affection that is shown in a stern or unsentimental manner. Usually, motivation to engage in tough love comes to promote favorable behavior in another. For instance, parents use tough love when they enforce rules or withhold things from their children in order to teach them life lessons. When it comes to tough love, one individual is treating the other harshly because they love the individual enough to help them change. They are not acting out of anger or hatred toward the other individual.

With tough love and addiction, there are definite times when tough love needs to be employed. When one feels helpless to stop the downfall of their loved one through addiction, they may turn to measures of tough love to help their loved one see clearly how much love is truly felt for them. After watching a loved one destroy their life with addiction, most will have tried to be patient and reasonable. But, the time may come when the addict continues to be in denial about the scope of their problem and people realize that kindly and gently helping the addict is actually enabling addictive behaviors. In this case, and many others, tough love can be very useful. Many addicts learn to be manipulative in order to get their way and so once they learn they can no longer manipulate and that tough love will be enforced, they may begin the steps back to sobriety through recovery.

Tough love in recovery can include: withdrawing or withholding money from individuals, telling them to move out of one’s home, strictly enforced curfews, and other things that occur when addicts violate trust or go back on their word as far as their recovery plan. Tough love is tough. Especially when one is dealing with those they love dearly. However, it is often through tough love, that addicts turn around and begin anew on the road to recovery.

RecoveryHow the Brain Changes During Addiction Recovery

Research has shown that drugs can alter the brain. These changes often mean that individuals become more addicted to drugs or other harmful substances. This dependency upon drugs inside the brain comes from the plasticity that the brain is capable of. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to stimuli like drugs. This ability to change is what is responsible for addiction, but it can also be used to recover from addiction as well.   The plasticity of the brain, or the ability of the brain to adapt to environmental changes, is most often a good thing. It can allow individuals to learn useful behaviors, to cope with undesirable emotions, and to form essential memories. Adapting and changing at the cellular and chemical level in the brain is what allows individuals to evolve in their intelligence.

The ability of the brain to change has many downsides, mostly addiction. Taking drugs produces a rush of pleasure from the chemical release of dopamine causing the brain to react and change. Using drugs more often can allow those changes to become more permanent – resulting in addiction. Addiction occurs because the levels of dopamine rise when using drugs. The brain gets used to high levels of dopamine and struggles to counteract it over time. The result for the drug user is that over time, producing enough dopamine to feel pleasure becomes extremely difficult. Generally, this leads individuals to use drugs more often, or in larger quantities, and leads to addiction.

Another change in the brain during recovery is the weakening and strengthening of connections and receptors as well as a decrease in the production of new brain cells. These changes lead to learned behaviors which can be difficult for the drug user to break or change. Ongoing research is helping to understand more in this area of changing connections in the brain due to drug use.

However, on the other hand, the plasticity of the brain also allows for positive change when individuals begin to stop the cycle of addiction and begin recovery. Research shows that, unlike previously believed, addiction can be reversed and new cells and connections can be formed.

When an individual is actively recovering from addiction, they are encouraged to participate in behaviors that are healthy and promote well-being. These may include socializing with positive friends, serving others, exercising, eating nutritiously, practicing religion, or engaging in a hobby. Participating in these positive behaviors can help create new pathways that support these new healthy habits. In an addict, drug abuse has created pathways of destructive behaviors and addictions. But, as is being seen, in recovery from addiction, healthy habits can be engaged in and addictions can be left behind

The brain is a remarkable organ that changes and adapts to whatever it is asked to engage in. Most often, this plasticity is a positive thing, but during addiction it can have negative consequences. However, these adverse results can be changed back to positive outcomes through healthy habit building and reinforcing new pathways in the brain during addiction recovery.

RecoveryDuringThanksgivingRecovery during Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for those in addiction recovery. Family and friends-who insist that everyone has a drink- are in abundance. Most of them simply don’t understand addiction. They think that because they can stop after one drink, everyone must be able to stop after one drink.

Even when friends and family don’t insist that everyone has a drink at thanksgiving time, many feel like the odd one out. Some, in a desperate attempt to fit in under pressure, take that drink, and by doing so, begin the addiction cycle over again.

Research shows that after just one drink, those in recovery, especially early recovery, will relapse on their drug of choice.

Perhaps self-encouraging words during this thanksgiving time can help fight the pulls of addiction. Maybe considering how blessed one is to be in recovery and be grateful for everything they have gained through abstinence will help fight the urge to have “just one drink” around the table. Possibly being thankful for a sponsor and keeping in contact with that person throughout the thanksgiving holiday weekend can give individuals the resolve and conviction they need to fight back in the battle of addiction.

The best time to make a plan for recovery during the Thanksgiving holiday is now, before the festivities begin. If there is a possibility that alcohol will be served at a Thanksgiving dinner that someone in recovery is attending, they should have enough respect for themselves and their recovery to not attend there. Having a sandwich at home with a trusted friend will provide better results that will produce more gratitude and thanksgiving in the end.

 Support in RecoverySupport in Recovery

Recovery from addiction takes time and a lot of personal effort. Having support from any source is helpful for individuals in recovery. Support can be found in group therapy settings, a sponsor, an addiction counselor, family or friends. Someone who is supporting another in recovery is simply someone who can help when an individual is struggling and the impulse to turn back to the addiction is strong. For many individuals, support in recovery begins with a drug rehab treatment program as a foundation.

Recovery is general a long and difficult process.  Having support through the days, weeks, and months can be critical. Most individuals leave rehab with a support system intact and are encouraged to continue to reach out further for more support if necessary. Support following addiction recovery can provide the structure for staying clean day after day. Although having support wont guarantee full long term recovery, it can minimize many of the burdens that come from addiction and withdrawal. Many difficulties faced in recovery and in life in general can be eased with a helping hand and feeling understood and supported by others.


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