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The holidays are a time for coming together with family, friends, loved ones. And festivities will abound — work parties, social gatherings, and then there’s New Year’s Eve! Sounds like a lot of fun for most, but for those in recovery holidays can be very difficult and challenging. This is especially true for people in their first year of recovery and their first Christmas or New Year’s eve sober can be incredibly wonderful or incredibly hard! So here is a top 10 list of advice for people either new to recovery, or even us old-timers. We too sometimes need to be reminded.
1. Choose Not To Be Alone
This is a time of year where being in a recovery group, like AA or NA is a gift. We no longer have to be alone, for anything or any time of year! Offer to be of extra service. Ofter to host a Christmas or New Years party. If you have no family to be with -- especially if you are overseas -- then choose to be with friends, especially friends in recovery, or friends from church or school. Tell people you have no family. Ask for help without feeling sorry for yourself but knowing that by asking for help you are acutally helping other people. This is a time of year when others enjoy helping others, even others not in recovery.
If you feel like you have no friends then go down to a soup kitchen and serve food to the homeless over the holidays. There, you will find kindness, compassion and human connection. You will be in the solution of addiction.
2. Start with a meeting and set the tone for your week
Get to meetings, even every day. And if you are going home or traveling anywhere, find out where meetings are before you travel. Contact people in the town you are going to and tell them when you arrive, and ask them to pick you up if you are without a car. And get to a meeting first as soon as you arrive. Do this first before you get pulled into the energies of family or whomever you are with.
3. Recognize and Confront the Saboteur
Be aware of the mind’s or ego’s tendency to sabotage your efforts. Your mind may be
working overtime to get you to break your recovery and sobriety. During the holidays this is especially true. So simply bringing awareness to this tendency returns you to presence. Nothing more is needed. Once aware of it, it will lose its power as long as you remain conscious. There are also saboteurs in the forms of friends and family. People you may have in the past, or past holidays “used” with. Recognize them and if possible get away from them. Fast. You don’t have to stay at a party that may be dangerous to your sobriety. You can leave. Remember it is your life you are saving.
4. Loneliness and Sadness Come and Go
This time of year brings us face to face with powerful emotions as we may remember past holidays we have spent with loved ones we have lost, or friends we used to “party” with, or relationships that may have ended due to our addictions or other reasons. It is good to remember how much people actually mean to us and that the relationships we have had, have been important and lessons to us that help us grow.
And in sobriety we have the opportunity to share our feelings and by sharing, we can shift the loneliness and sadness. If we share our feelings with other loved ones, with other people in recovery, with our sponsor, we find that the feelings dissipate. If we connect with our local 12-Step meeting, church group, synagogue, yoga community or meditation group, we can find the connection we need.
5. Take Breaks
If things get uncomfortable for you, go to a meeting or yoga class, take a walk or a run or call up a friend in recovery, other trusted friend or sponsor. You do not have to sit in an uncomfortable situation. You can always just take a break. And you can always leave.
6. No Need to Fit in or Say Yes when you mean No!
Resist the temptation to fall back into old patterns with family or friends that no
longer serve the “you” that you have become. At the same time, we must resist the temptation of trying to seek approval for who we’ve grown into. Often, people will resent this or not see you in the same light you see yourself. This can bring up big-time resentment and leave your holidays feeling like an ordeal to get through. When offered drinks, even "just a little bit" to ring in the New Year, a firm No with a kind smile is your way of saying, I am protecting my sobriety for me and my future!
7. Be in the Attitude of Service
Show up this holiday season knowing your cup is full enough to be of service to
others. Service can take many forms. You can feed the homeless, of course. And you
can also show up with a good attitude to be with your family. Help them cook, clean
up. Be present as much as you can. Ask them how they are doing and practice being
a great listener. You will soon find that you have contentment – the freedom from
wanting or needing anything. For your 12-step group, bake cookies and take them to a meeting. Offer to open a meeting for someone going out of town or going for the holidays.
8. Avoid the pity pot.
I recall my first few years were spent feeling sorry for myself for not being with my family. I saw everyone else with their families, going out of town or being with their kids. And instead I was all alone. AND I threw my first party and helped other newer members of my 12-step group. Concentrating on helping them took the focus off of me and put me back on my track of serenity.
9. A time of self-reflection
Spending alone time can be a good thing too. We don’t have to think of it as isolating if in fact we are doing some meditation and contemplation. Or some simple time of catching up with that stuff we want to do but are usually to busy to do, such as clean out a closet (and donate the old clothes to charity, or sell it at a market!). Read that book you keep falling asleep with because your work schedule is so busy. Work on your 4th Step (finally!). Or read some 12-step literature, such as Living Sober.
10. Count your blessings
A great time to start the counting your blessings -- and yes, I do mean, putting them down on paper -- is the start of the New Year! Buy yourself a beautiful diary or journal and wake up each morning and make that list! It will help to bring your awareness back to the present of all the good things in your life, and shift your Holiday Blues to Jingle Bells Rock!
And lastly, if you are finding yourself in a crisis, know that you are not alone and do not hesitate to call us at La Promessa to speak to a Counselor or Therapist right away.
Wishing you peace and joy in this holidays season.
"There was a time when the predominant school of thought about an addict and when he would most likely seek help meant waiting for the individual to hit “rock bottom.” When that person’s life was adversely affected enough by addiction and destructive behaviors, he would enter rehab or find some other way of pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Over the past few years, that thought process has changed. As the medical community has come to realize that addiction is a disease and not a “lifestyle,” more attention has been paid on helping those afflicted with addiction, rather than punishing them."
La Promessa Outpatient Treatment Center in Rome is the first English-speaking treatment center in all of Italy to offer Intervention services in English and Italian by the only Professionally Trained and Certified Interventionist in all of Italy.
If your loved one, friend or colleague is showing signs of a substance abuse -- such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana -- or a behavioral use disorder, such as eating, gambling or internet, La Promessa's Trained Interventionist will help motivate them to enter a treatment program that works for them and for their particular situation. After the individual is in a safe treatment program, the Interventionist continues to provide education and coaching on the nature of addictions, what to expect when their loved on returns home and many other important aspects of helping to create a healthy and happy environment in which to thrive and aspire to wellness.
Sobriety is not just about putting the bottle or drug down, it is about emotional sobriety and wellbeing. It is about learning to live life on life's terms. It is about finding balance and happiness despite the ups and downs of life.
Sound like too much to hope for? Let us help you and your loved one on a path to much more than just sobriety. We've been there. We know what its like and we are specialists at finding and living in the solution.
For more information on how to organize a Professional Intervention, in either English or Italian, call our office 0639739106 or 0639739146, or English-speaking specialist at +39.342.812.7620 or email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
In the past few years, after giving up a job that had provided me with an abundant income, a stable seat in an office, the promise of a good retirement package (AND headaches, body aches, stress, unhappiness and guilt for not loving it and being satisfied), I have dedicated myself 100% to helping others with addictions, bringing addiction knowledge and professional standards to Italy and providing education and prevention programs to the English speaking community in Rome. And even with a lower income and bigger responsibilities, I do not regret having left that cushy job.
But this new work has been no cake walk and the one thing I have learned above all is to keep on learning! I spend over 3 hours every day -- sometimes more (like the past two days) -- rarely less learning and studying.
Working in the field of Addiction Treatment means keeping up to date on the latest drugs being used, the latest treatment modalities, the latest acceptable and respectable language being used throughout the world, the latest treatment centers that are adhering to the highest ethical standards, and so on and so on. The importance of continuing education, attending conferences, workshops, training seminars whether online or in person can not be underrated. The relevance of reading the latest journals, DSM, articles, studies and meeting with colleagues to discuss or debate is crucial to being in the know about how to best serve the public I work with. And lastly, improving improving and more improving of my Italian language skills so that I able to best communicate with clients, families, professionals and educators -- this is the fun part. Actually, for me, it is all fun!
They say the one thing that keeps a person young is to constantly be learning something new. If this is the case, I for sure, am going to stay young the rest of my life.
-- with love, peace and serenity.
HEY ROMANS: Let's Talk About Addiction - Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Gambling, Internet, Marijuana, Food
Why does it seem like Addictions - alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling and the like, are such subjects folks don't want to talk about here in Italy?
I know personally from working in this field for a while that there are a lot of people suffering from addictions and behavioral disorders. I know them personally, their families, friends, loved ones. BUT why does it seem no one wants to talk about it? Addiction is not contagious. There are a lot of factors that contribute to someone becoming an "addict" but getting addicted by touching someone with an addictions isn't one of them. Let's work together to help remove the stigma of addiction. Start talking about addiction.
One program that has been developed in the U.S. and is making wonderful progress is called Drugs Over Dinner.
Together we can help open the dialogue to start talking, and start saving lives. If you, your school or place of work, or even your family and friends, would like to have a open frank talk about Drugs and other addictions, La Promessa and their team is at your service.
Check out the programme online - its pretty wonderful. http://drugsoverdinner.org/#intro
Please don't be afraid to talk about drugs or alcohol or anorexia or bulimia or other addictions - the only thing to fear is what happens IF YOU DON'T START TALKING NOW.
The International Conference on Addiction and Associated Disorders (iCAAD), headed by Samantha Quinlan and Christophe Sauerwein will hold its 2nd Annual iCAAD Conference in Rome on 13 April 2018 at the beautiful Gregorian University's, Roma Eventi Conference Center in Piazza della Pilotta near the Trevi Fountain.
The Conference this year will build on the theme from last year, Unity: The Next Generation of Solving Problems Collaboratively and further explore this idea with "FORWARD... Connecting practice with theory in the treatment of addiction; working towards our global goals in Behavioural, Mental and Emotional health Care.”
Last year, La Promessa Treatment Center's President Dr. Fabrizio Fanella presented on Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation explaining the benefit of utilizing rTMS in the treatment of Addictions and Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).
This year we hope to encourage other colleagues -- psychiatrists, medical doctors, therapists and university counsellors to participate once again in an effort to bring awareness, education, prevention and more information to the community of Rome and Italy about the latest in the treatments for addiction.
For more information on iCAAD and for tickets, please go to https://www.icaadevents.com
Many addicts in recovery that are nearing a relapse episode exhibit predictable and identifiable habits and behaviors before the actual relapse occurs. Recognition of these habits is critical in order for people in recovery and their loved ones to take decisive and immediate action to prevent the relapse. This is especially important considering the potential consequences of each new relapse episode: prison, violence, bankruptcy, death. Relapse prevention isn't just about stopping someone from using again; it's about saving a life.
The following are 7 behaviors that many addicts exhibit prior to and/or during the early stages of a relapse:
A person in recovery who is on the verge of relapse will likely become withdrawn and purposefully isolate other people around them. This is particularly true of people that will not support or condone a return to drug use or drinking. This could be evidenced by spending less time with family members, staying out later at night than normal or not coming home, and by seeming withdrawn and quiet when others are present.
2.) Decline in Hygiene/Productivity
There is often a lack of care and concern when a relapse is imminent. Meaning, less attention is paid to personal hygiene details, exerciseprograms are abandoned, employment or educational inefficiencies or neglect occurs, and regular household upkeep suffers. These are all common signs of an addict who is beginning to care less and less about trying to maintain a legitimate lifestyle.
3.) Glorification of Substance Abuse
An addict that is unhappy with or neglectful of their recovery will often yearn for the days when they used drugs or drank. They may talk about using and relive their past drug use in the form of stories, anecdotes and comments that make it clear that they miss those times, despite the severe consequences they suffered as a result. (Levels of Relapse Warning Signs, T. Gorski)
An early warning of relapse is when a person in recovery begins to reconnect with friends or acquaintances they used drugs or drank with. This refers mainly to individuals who are potentially still using drugs or those who do not support recovery/sobriety. These reconnections are especially troubling when the person in question has withdrawn from people that DO support their recovery.
5.) Engaging in Risky Behavior
An addict in recovery that is about to relapse will often exhibit abnormally risky behavior. This could include extreme sports or other athletic activities, promiscuity, excessive speeding and other dangerous activities. Engaging in behaviors such as these fills a certain need for excitement and euphoria, but for most addicts in recovery the only euphoria that will satiate them is a return to their drug of choice.
As people in recovery get closer to relapse, they sometimes become secretive; carefully guarding their phone or computer, remaining tight-lipped concerning where they go, who they're with, etc. Often at this stage the relapse has already begun and secrecy is required in order to conceal it.
7.) Abandoning Treatment
Addicts in recovery usually engage in some type of ongoing treatment as part of a relapse prevention program. This can take many forms, but when people in recovery are nearing a relapse episode, they often abandon these types of treatment with little explanation. When combined with any or all of the behaviors outlined above, it's likely that for these people, relapse is imminent. (Carole Bennett, M.A. 6 Common Relapse Triggers PsychologyToday.com)
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or someone you love who is in recovery, don't wait another moment. Gently address the issue directly with the individual, and try to involve the person's support network, their sponsor, partner, treatment specialists or clergy, and if needed, an interventionist.
We are here to help.
New research has found that alcohol use disorder (AUD) is an often untreated epidemic in the United States. Do you have an alcohol use disorder? This blog post highlights the 11 symptoms of alcohol use disorder based on new criteria for assessing both alcohol abuseand dependence.
The Eleven Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
From one of the best Treatment Centers in Europe, Castle Craig, here is a wonderful description of what recovery coaches do. Our Recovery Coaches offer assistance for individuals who have never been to rehab as well as for those who have.
Even the Pope here in Rome has something to say about addiction. He is passionate and hopeful that addiction can be alleviated with love and education and greater job opportunities. To say “no” to drugs, Pope Francis pointed out, one has to say “yes” to life, love, others, education and greater job opportunities. “If we say ‘yes’ to all these things,” he said, “there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.”
Read more and listen to the Pope speak at the International Drug Enforcement Conference.
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