Can I Have Fun in Recovery?

A large barrier towards individuals beginning to undertake the recovery journey is that they may feel as though they will never again have fun, or be able to experience a night “just like old times” again. Just as it’s true that recovery from addiction will require some drastic life changes, it is equally true that remaining in recovery requires vigilance in all areas of life, socializing notwithstanding. This, however, does not mean that you will never again be able to have a night out or nurture new social connections.  Social behavior is a natural part of life, and finding ways to remain connected with important others is vital to recovery. But can you trust yourself to go out like you used to and remain sober? Will you be able to meet up with old friends, or go back to the places where you were once a regular?  Depending on your recovery journey, the answers may differ, however, there is no sugar-coating the fact that the familiar people and places when you were entrenched in your old lifestyle carry with them the possibility of being detrimental to your current progress. Navigating these waters should be done with extreme caution and intention.

Prepare Yourself with a Plan

Before deciding that you want to risk a night out, it is best practice to prepare for every possibility of how the night may go. Start at the beginning of the night, and identify potential triggers: What if the waitress offers you a sample of wine or someone buys you a drink? What if you feel pressured by your friends, or you realize that you’ve never danced sober before? If you prepare yourself for every possible scenario, you will be more likely to stick to your plan and avoid quick in-the-moment decision making that has not been your friend in the past. Don’t underestimate the power of your triggers, especially the nostalgic ones.  An important part of this plan is making sure that you have a sober support system available to you at all times. Whether this means bringing a sober friend along with you, setting up a system of check-ins with a sponsor or supportive other, or seeking the wisdom of someone experienced in their recovery to go over the plan for the outing, this is vital to the plan. 

Start Small & Resist Peer Pressure

Making the choice to remain sober while the rest of your social circle continues to drink or abuse drugs can be the most difficult experience for those recovering from addictive tendencies. It may be difficult to even fathom walking away from friendships that have a great deal of history behind them, but how can you expect to pursue a recovery lifestyle when these individuals remain unsupportive? Not everyone will try to pressure you into “just having one drink”, but in friend groups where that is the case, consider whether these people are your true friends at all, or if they see their ability to wreck your recovery as justification to avoid trying themselves. Make sure you enlist a friend who has your best interests at heart to help keep you in line, and better yet, avoid all instances of social pressure, keeping your social circle small and supportive. 

A Night Out While Staying In Recovery

Before you were in recovery, you had a reliable and easy access to fun: whether nights out with friends, intoxicating adventures, and an external substance regulating your body’s consistent release of dopamine. Now your body needs to learn new ways to regulate itself, and so too do you need to learn new ways to access a fun time. Of course, things will be different.  Going out and having a social life is always going to be one of those things. It may be that thinking through the challenges involved in planning a night out may sway your decision making towards a night in instead. But this does not mean that you have to stop living. By taking the time to prepare yourself ahead of time, enlisting support, and starting with a small group of trusted friends, you can maintain an active social life without sacrificing your sobriety.  Give us a call today to learn more about the accountability and support we provide at Riviera Recovery!  

Does Drinking Affect My Child?

When parents drink, children learn

It’s well-known that parenting is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs. It is a 24-7, around-the-clock, life-changing responsibility that requires adjustments on all fronts. For those who have a complicated relationship with alcohol, the stakes are even greater. When that “complicated relationship” becomes a pattern of drinking and avoidance, the necessities of parenting can begin to take a backseat to that next drink, and missed opportunities for connection become engrained ways of relating with one another. Remember what it’s like to be a small child, to look up to the adults of the world, especially your parents, to learn from them, and to expect them to have all of the answers. Your child’s identity and sense of security is deeply entwined with yours: with the way that you live your life day-by-day, and how you carry yourself. However, getting drunk around them, spending the next day hungover, or glorifying that lifestyle passes along several important messages to your children throughout their formative years, like the lessons outlined below:

Lesson 1. They’re Second

It is a basic aspect of healthy development for children to learn that they can rely on their caregivers for all of their basic needs: food, water, shelter, touch. However the list does not stop there, children require constant engagement in their world, including the provision of experiences that create the foundation for healthy relationships and formulate a sound perspective.  If you’re not spending adequate time with your child, they will learn that they are not worthy of your care and attention and that they will always be second to the drink in your hand. Developing a healthy sense of confidence and self-worth won’t come quite as easily, as the most important person in their life did not treat them as a priority.

Lesson 2. Their Feelings Are A Burden

Childhood is a time fraught with many new experiences and difficult challenges, each an opportunity in learning how to self- regulate. From the time they begin sleep training, to when they need to learn that tantrums are not the way to get what they want, it is the role of the parent to teach them how to identify their feelings and work through them. They rely on you to learn emotional regulation, to be able to cope with the difficulties that life throws their way. If you’re drinking to excess, there is a good chance that you never learned these lessons yourself, and not to mention, your patience with them is likely to be thin.  Learning these skills is an important part of recovery from addiction, if not only for yourself but also for your children. 

Lesson 3. Alcohol is the Answer

As your children look up to you and learn from the world around them, it would be difficult to imagine them forgoing incorporating your favorite coping mechanism into their repertoire. They likely see your reaction to a stressful day, the “I need a drink”, and believe it quite literally is the answer to life’s difficulties.   Remember that your children are soaking up life lessons by watching you: when you are upset, happy, angry, or drunk, they learn that this is how adults move through the world. Make sure not to normalize the need of an external substance to regulate internal states, or this is exactly what the children will learn, and lend way to a lifetime of their own complicated relationship with alcohol. 

Lesson 4. They Can’t Count on Anyone

With little evidence to the contrary, children may generalize their experiences of turning to their parents for support, help or counsel and finding rejection to all others in their lives. They learn easily enough that people aren’t reliable, can’t be trusted, and will just let them down. 

Show them a different way.

The truth is quite simple, facing life’s difficulties with healthy coping strategies isn’t an option for children who aren’t being taught them. As adolescents, these lessons become paramount to how your child constructs their reality, cementing patterns that they may carry for the rest of their lives. Remember, if your child thinks that avoiding responsibility is easier than avoiding it, they will likely take that option.  Make the hard choice now, so your children can learn that they too can do the hard thing. Give us a call today to learn where to begin your recovery journey, and how we can help you to do what you need to do to be the best parent possible.

Smart and Sober Living

One’s discharge date from residential or inpatient treatment is likely a day that has been highly anticipated and fought for with blood, sweat, and tears. It represents the end of one key phase of treatment. However, for many individuals, that much sought-after date also represents one of fear and uncertainty related to what they may face once they return home, and how they will be able to put their learning into practice. Individuals may be concerned about their ability to stay sober once they’re back in their old environment, or once they face those old triggers. While facing them is inevitable, there are some smart ways to go about this transition and some key benefits to enlisting supportive housing to facilitate the process. 

Adjustment to Daily Life

Many individuals choose to seek supportive housing as the step in-between residential treatment and coming home, due to an awareness of the stark contrast between the level of support available to them at home and anticipation that they may require more than is currently available. This solution offers them the opportunity to slowly adjust to life outside of a residential center, to the unplanned and unstructured. In this adjustment, individuals can live in the middle ground, still actively working their recovery, while also experiencing aspects of the real world that they may have been sheltered from while in active treatment. 

Accountability in Daily Practices

Living in a sober house offers an opportunity to live in a community of individuals who are pursuing similar goals. Finding others at a similar stage in recovery once back home is absolutely still possible, however, takes commitment and follow-through in order to do so. For those transitioning home right away after treatment, this may not rank as high on the list once all of those real-world concerns come flooding back, despite its importance in sustaining recovery. Seeing others you respect successfully manage the transition to sober living in the real world can offer inspiration to work with equal vigor, to create a sense of structure for yourself, with daily routines and practices, and the accountability of others who believe in your ability to follow through. Once you learn that you can be successful in a less structured environment, you will likely be more inclined to believe in your abilities to do so once you return home. 

Opportunity for Daily Compliance

With those daily routines and practices, you have the opportunity to develop confidence and establish a greater sense of self-esteem regarding your own ability to handle your affairs and sustain recovery. Each day that you follow through with a self-directed routine or accomplish a goal (no matter how small) and you allow yourself to feel proud of your behavior, you are one step closer to being ready to face the triggers that will present themselves once you return home. Again, once you are able to feel confident in your ability to thrive in the less-structured but supportive environment of a sober living house, your likelihood of putting those very same skills into practice once you return home is much greater. 

Transitional Periods

Sober living is a perfect fit for transitional periods of all kinds, but especially when leaving inpatient or residential treatment. Namely, by offering an adjustment period back to reality, and a place for an individual to focus on creating community and establishing daily practices of their own, sober living is truly the smart way to ensure a lasting recovery. Tour our sober living home online now, and see for yourself why Riviera Recovery is right for you!

What is Contingency Management?

You may have heard the term, “contingency management” as it refers to aspects of a treatment center or program, or perhaps even as it relates to effective parenting. The term itself refers to a set of behavioral principles that are based upon the idea that behaviors that are rewarded are more likely to recur, or even increase in frequency, and seeks to capitalize on this truth to shape desired behaviors.  Think back to your understanding of how we learn and recall that there are four basic principles of shaping behavior: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on positive reinforcement, as this is well-known to be the most effective long-term motivator of behavior that carries with it less relational risks of increasing avoidance, escape or revenge-seeking behaviors.  To a child, this means receiving praise, a sticker, or a small token for a job well done: cleaning up after themselves, learning to use the toilet, or playing nicely with siblings. This strategy works to the extent that the child finds the prize rewarding, thus when applying the principles to adults in treatment for substance abuse, it tends to be monetary-based rewards that inspire behavioral change.  Research confirms the effectiveness of these techniques in the treatment and recovery community in providing incentives for sobriety and other desired behaviors. Most often the rewards given are vouchers that can be traded in for goods and services or the opportunity to win prizes. Such tangible reinforcements can be highly effective to reward positive behaviors such as negative drug screens, encouraging timely attendance and participation, and adherence to medications throughout the treatment program.  Studies in both methadone programs and psychosocial counseling treatment programs indicate the effectiveness of this model also in increasing treatment retention. This includes findings from one particular study, where the likelihood that individuals in psychosocial rehabilitation completed all 12 weeks of treatment was 14% greater when offered contingency management, and abstinence was obtained at a greater rate of 18.7% compared to 4.9% of the standard care group. Similar findings were found with individuals offered contingency management while engaged in methadone maintenance treatment.  There are two main methods of reinforcement that have been studied in these treatment environments that are known to show positive effects, voucher-based reinforcement, and prize incentives. 

Voucher-Based Reinforcement  

As described above, voucher-based reinforcement is built on the foundational agreement that positive, abstinence-reinforcing behaviors will be rewarded, and works well for individuals who are seeking treatment for the abuse of opioids, stimulants, or both. Those in treatment will receive a voucher for every negative drug screen that can be exchanged for food, items, movie passes or other goods, activities or freedoms that are representative of a lifestyle in pursuit of sobriety. The value associated with the vouchers begin with a nominal amount and gradually increase as the length of time with negative results accrue, and resets upon a positive result. 

Prize Incentives 

Similar to the provision of vouchers is the use of prize incentives of cash rather than vouchers. Under this model, negative drug screens earn participants the ability to draw from a pool for the chance to win a cash prize between $1 and $100. As with the vouchers, additional positive behaviors will be rewarded with a chance to draw, including community involvement, completing homework assignments, timely attendance, and significant contributions to the recovery community. Opportunities to draw increases with each consecutive negative drug screen, and as with the vouchers, is reset when the participant deviates from their recovery goals.  As contingency management is a strategy that we use at Riviera Recovery, we think it’s important to explain the theory and rationale for our clients, their families, and anyone considering a sober housing environment that is set upon helping you succeed. Give us a call today to learn more about how we support our residents!