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!  

How to Quit Drinking

Do you ever think to yourself that perhaps it’s time to quit drinking? Maybe you’ve managed to skate by unnoticed at work, and for the most part, been able to keep up with appearances. Maybe your family member has expressed concerns about your patterns, but you never wanted to believe them.  But how can you stop drinking because, in essence, it is much easier to overindulge and grow addicted to alcohol than it is to quit drinking, right? Quitting would mean owning up to that thing you said, or that thing you did. It would mean making apologies, trying new things, and changing your way of life. You may hear all of the difficulty and the challenge written in those words, and it is true, that will come, but also contained within those words, within a life of pursuing sobriety, is hope.

Alcohol Use and Alcohol Dependence

Understanding the dangers as well as the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and its impact on overall life and society at large can help you make healthier choices and eventually quit drinking. Alcohol dependence affects people from all walks of life and has profound negative effects, especially on the brain, as well as the heart, pancreas, liver, and immune system.    Despite its negative impact, alcohol continues to be one of the causes of preventable death, followed closely by tobacco, a poor diet, and living a sedentary lifestyle.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder, and at least 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related deaths.    Do you suspect that you might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder?  Here are the warning signs to look out for:
  • Sub-par or worse performance at work or school
  • Engaging in risky behaviors: drunk driving, sexual promiscuity, and the resulting legal problems
  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or memory loss after drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite health issues like liver or heart disease including diabetes that is made worse by alcohol
  • Failed interventions from family members and friends who are worried about your drinking
  • Making excuses for drinking like to help deal with stress, to relax or feel normal
  • Choosing to drink instead of following through with responsibilities 
  • Distancing yourself from people which may result to drinking in secrecy
  If you exhibit any of the abovementioned warning signs that detect potential alcohol abuse, don’t stop alcohol use abruptly because depending on the severity you may put your life at risk. You may need to attend a detox facility or call in a professional to safely detox from the comfort of your own home   Alcohol abuse can begin to impact a person’s life negatively and tends to spiral out of control quickly if left unaddressed. Of course, signing up for a treatment program is an excellent place to start, as they can assist you with all of the following, but until then, here are a few tips to help you quit drinking:
  1.     Before you can successfully kick alcohol to the curb, you must first take the time to discover why you no longer need it in your life anymore
  2.     Accept that you have a problem and realize you have control over what enters your body. By so doing, you empower yourself, not your addiction
  3.     Recognize and admit your weaknesses when it comes to alcohol and enact change. For example, you may want to avoid going to bars, or being around any alcoholic beverage, and cleaning out your home of all temptations. Remember, you’re only weak if you give weakness a foothold.
  4.     When you catch yourself in the throes of “a happy drinking memory,” stop for a moment and play that memory all the way through and remember how it felt when you woke up the next day.  Use that feeling to fuel your determination to quit drinking
  5.     Reaffirm the benefits you will notice in your life from quitting drinking
  6.     Seek help from family and counseling support groups for a judgment-free, supportive environment
  7.     Contact us today to get started on your treatment journey!

What are practical ways to start loving myself?

In an earlier blog, we discussed how to begin to love and care for yourself (LINK) and the aim of this article is to pick up right where that one left off, to give our readers practical tips and ways to build self- love. Some may feel that it is inherently selfish to begin to take care of oneself, however, it truly is one of the most beneficial things we can do for one another, as when we feel good about ourselves, we are kinder, more generous and patient as we move through the world and interact with others. This makes for a world built on mutual understanding and respect. 

1. Seek out meaningful experiences

Spend time with others who bring happiness to your life, and seek to engage with them in a meaningful way, whether that means talking about shared interests, philosophies or ideas about the world, or engaging in vulnerability with trusted others. Allow others to see different sides of you, and pursue avenues where you are able to be known by them. But first, spend some alone time getting to know yourself, what you like, and how you want to exist in the world. 

2. Make a list of your accomplishments

Write a paper and pen copy, or save it as a file on your computer. Think about all the different realms of your life, be it academics, work or hobbies, your home life, athletics or the arts. Don’t forget to include all the intangible things accomplished as well, whether it was an important life lesson learned, a time of personal growth and self-improvement, something immaterial given to others including wisdom or assistance, or times you may have functioned in an important leadership role. When you get stuck, enlist the help of another who can help give you perspective and allow you to see outside of the story you have always told yourself. Throughout your day, draw attention to your successes, no matter how small and celebrate them. Cultivate in yourself gratitude for the path you have taken thus far, and do your best to focus on yourself, and not to play the comparison game

3. Envision your ideal you & ideal future

Make a vision board represent who you are now, and make a separate one for the life you want to live. Fill it with quotes, favorite sayings, images that bring you joy, or other things to remind you who you are right now and the life you are pursuing. Notice the differences between them as well as the ways that you are on the right track. Focus on one small difference and make that your goal for the week or month. 

4. Forgive yourself for your mistakes

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you are doing the best that you can with the resources available to you. Extend to yourself some self-compassion, whether that’s to the future, past or present you. Do the work to dig deeper and understand yourself and your motives, but remember that many times you’re doing the best you can. Stop being so hard on yourself, accept that it is a human quality to make mistakes sometimes or make a poor choice here or there. Owning up to your mistakes in the past actually helps to give you the power to help make a change in the future moving forward.  

5. Surprise yourself

Say “yes” to something that you would normally say “no” to, or would typically count out right away.  Follow through with something you normally may not have, start a new project and carry it to completion, or push yourself 10 extra minutes of exercising, journaling, reading or walking. Challenge yourself to try something new and to step outside of your comfort zone. Make sure to take joy in completing something that you were not always sure you could accomplish. And in that same vein, learn to say “no” also in order to protect your own boundaries. Surprise yourself by choosing “discomfort over resentment” in moments when you feel overextended, overworked, and allow your own needs to come first for a change.  

6. Work on self- trust

Begin to believe that you can accomplish the things in life that you seek. Have confidence in future you, and in your problem-solving skills, that no presenting issue will be too great to tackle.  
  • Avoid people who are unsupportive.
  Think about the people that you have in your life: Do they undermine your attempts at bettering yourself? Do they really deserve a place in your life?  
  •  Keep the promises you make to yourself.
  Just as our actions are constantly communicating messages to others about what they can expect from us, we are also constantly crafting our own identity based on what fits for us and what doesn’t. Be willing to challenge unhelpful ideas about who you are and what you’re capable of and be the type of person that you can count on.   
  • Speak kindly to yourself.
  Be willing to erase the tapes that have been playing in your mind long enough about your worth, and what you have to contribute to the world. Preach to yourself the beauty of your own humanity, and seek and practice understanding. 

7. Practice loving-kindness meditations

Spend some time in mindfulness meditations meant to increase your sense of self and ability to extend a sense of compassion and love inward.  Begin by picturing someone in your life who has loved you without hesitation, judgement or expectation. Imagine them in the room with you; picture that sense of love and compassion flowing freely from them and directed towards you, and imagine yourself receiving and basking in their love. Expound upon the love you have felt from them, and what it’s like to be accepted regardless of your flaws. Allow yourself to sit in this experience of compassion.  Move to allow this person to fade from conscious thought, and to instead become yourself both the source and object of the feelings, sending kindness, compassion and love inward. Observe how this feels, in your body and mind, and realize that you are worthy of acceptance and belonging even if you have flaws, have made mistakes, or have done things you are not proud of. Assume ownership over the task of giving unconditional positive regard just as was possible for the imagined person in first part of this exercise.   Allow all judgments to fade, especially regarding the difficulty of the practice. You may find that it is difficult to focus or latch onto more than just one moment of kindness and compassion.  Rest in the following intentions, and allow them to seep in and resonate within: May I be free from suffering.  May I know peace.  May I experience contentment

8. Take care of yourself

Strive to find balance in your life between work and play, and look to fill your life and your schedule with more positivity, including setting aside time for the care and keeping of you.  Give yourself breaks when you’re working hard, recognize your own importance, and seek to implement your own self-care plan, taking into account your physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual wellbeing needs. At Nsight Psychology and Addiction, we want to help you find your way back to yourself, and meeting with a counselor may be an important step in doing so, as is recognizing that you are worthy of love and compassion.

Choosing Sobriety Over Alcohol

It is so easy to tell yourself “I’ll be good”, or “I’ll only have one drink” just to later find yourself in a turn of events, where the room is spinning, and you can’t even muster up the strength to feel the regret you know will inevitably hit you first thing in the morning. Many of us have experimented with alcohol, some more than others.  We may have the hope that there is the possibility of managing to drink in moderation or limited amounts, but if you know that you are the type of person that doesn’t have an off switch, this lifestyle can become unrewarding and dissatisfying very quickly, to say the least. When it comes to individuals who use other primary drugs of choice, similar to those with a drinking problem, once the high is gone they reach out for the next thing to carry them on to the next high. This is how addiction is born, and why in most cases, especially for those who have engaged in addictive patterns in the past, the choice of abstinence and sobriety is the more practical route. In this case, you won’t have to worry about the temptations of falling into the trap of “accidentally” having more than the one drink you promised yourself and save yourself from the misery of the gut-wrenching hangover and all the consequences and missed opportunities that go along with it.

Self Esteem

When you choose sobriety, you choose a world of clarity and functionality. For starters, you begin by creating a goal: to refrain from partaking in alcohol or any other substances that alter your mind state. In doing this, you will feel better about yourself not only because of the physical changes you will notice, but you will also feel mentally better because you have proven to yourself that you have the willpower that it takes to stay abstinent. This is how self-esteem is born, when you prove to yourself that you can make changes that impact your life.

Healthy Body, Healthy Brain

Drugs and alcohol take such a physical and mental toll on us, especially once you have become addicted. Substance abuse can not only make a person look 10-20 years older than they actually are, but there are copious amounts of damage done to the inside of your body that cannot be seen. A lot of people use drugs and alcohol as a way to increase their dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters in your brain that comprise important aspects of your brain’s reward system, that make you happy. Over time, your body becomes dependent on these drugs for those “happy chemicals”, making it so that when you are not high or drunk, you inherently become depressed, yet rewarded when you seek out your substance of choice. However, when you choose sobriety, your brain’s chemicals remain healthy and balanced. It takes a while for a recovering addict’s natural levels of dopamine and serotonin, and their happiness will eventually return without the need for outside substances.

A Better Tomorrow

Choosing to be sober is also a great way to save money and allow yourself more time to do things that will enrich your life. If you could take the amount of money spent on alcohol alone over a lifetime, you would probably find yourself with a pretty decent savings account, a way to take that vacation you always dream of, or a way to cross something off of your bucket list. You can wake up each day feeling good about yourself, ready to start the day with a clear and grateful mind rather than feeling like you want to stay in bed until the next day comes. When we decide to abandon the things that hold us back from living the life we dream of, we become so much greater. Choosing sobriety is not an easy task, and you may need a team of people on your side to help you get on the right path and continue walking it. Request a callback today to learn about how we can become a part of your recovery journey.

Recovery, Your Pet, and YOU!

It’s no secret that there is a certain amount of comfort and joy that is brought to most humans when in the presence of an animal that they can give affection to and receive affection from. It is an indescribable feeling that at the end of every day,  you are coming home to an animal that expresses unconditional love towards you, no matter what. Often we attach ourselves to our pets, they become family. They need us as we need them. It has been proven that there are ways to benefit from the presence of an animal, be it emotional or physical support. Additionally, those who are in addiction recovery can find many benefits of having a pet as they make their way through the life transition of becoming sober.

Unconditional Acceptance

When faced with the fear of judgment or acceptance throughout this process, there is an undeniable source of the love you desire that comes from a pet. You can depend on your cat or dog to show you unquestionable love in times you may need it the most. This feeling of acceptance is healthy in the healing process as it allows you to become more relaxed and able to open up about your feelings.  A lot of pets are incredibly intuitive and can sense when you are unhappy and make for great snuggles and comfort in darker times. Because some animals are completely capable of expressing emotions like fear, anger, excitement, and a sense of being content, a recovering addict may benefit from this emotional honesty. After spending time becoming numbed by the substances they were addicted to, this interaction with emotion may encourage them to revisit those forgotten emotions.

Learning Responsibility

Because your pets need you, this can help keep you accountable in your recovery process. Committing to giving your pets the love and attention required can be rewarding and can provide a sense of goal achievement for taking great care of your animals. These small victories can easily build a driving force in you that can help your self-esteem and to acquire the ambition to take better care of yourself. Having a loved pet that gives you the feeling that you are wanted and needed is a huge step in building your confidence and in turn, giving you the strength and drive to keep moving forward.

Energy

When you think of a dog, you are most likely to imagine an outgoing, happy, and energetic personality. To be around a dog could benefit you by increasing these mannerisms in yourself, ultimately helping your social skills. Coming out of addiction can be a dark and lonely place if you let it, but with the help of a furry four-legged friend’s upbeat characteristics, you may find yourself less likely to be feeling alone and more likely to have the desire to engage yourself in activities with other people. Animals have so many different quirks and characteristics, and it is uncommon to find an animal that does not make someone smile with their cute and silly behavior. This is why we find the internet filled with videos and memes of cute animals. For someone struggling with an addiction, just the act of smiling because of an animal can be a step in the right direction. The process of recovery can be long and stressful. To have close friends and family is imperative in order to keep accountability and communication, however, there is something so unique to having a relationship with a pet during this time. After everyone leaves, there they are, sympathetic and caring. At Riviera Recovery, we understand the importance of this primal relationship, and the need to keep your dog by your side during this time, which is why we are a pet-friendly sober living facility.

How to Have Fun While Maintaining Your Sobriety

Detoxing alcohol and drugs from your body can be a difficult process. Once you have gone through the detox process and have begun your journey to recovery, you may want to start living your life again. One thing many addicts struggle with is enjoying their life and having fun, while also maintaining their sobriety. For many years, the fun has included the use of alcohol and drugs for many addicts, so many addicts are unsure how to find a new normal that does not include these things. Fortunately, there are many fun things you can do to entertain yourself and enjoy your life, while also maintaining your sobriety. Here are five ways to have fun while maintaining your sobriety.

Improve Your Health

One of the ways that you can fun while maintaining your sobriety is to work on improving your health. Many people focused on their sobriety turn to working out as a way to have fun, release tension and cope with the challenges of daily life while remaining sober. Every person has their own individual likes and dislikes when it comes to fitness, but the great thing is, there is a workout that is perfect for everyone. If you like more calming and relaxing workouts, yoga or pilates may be ideal for you. If you want to burn off some steam and enjoy listening to your music, running or brisk walking may be perfect. Team sports offer you the ability to interact with others while also improving your health. And lifting weights can help to strengthen your body and your resolution to remain sober.

Educate Yourself

Most people do not immediately think of school and learning as being fun. However, attending classes that interest you or can help you grow in your career can provide you with mental stimulation and a sense of accomplishment. For those working towards their sobriety, you want to do things that make you feel proud of yourself and give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Taking educational courses can provide you with this, and if you enjoy the courses you are taking, can also be fun.

Give Back to the Community

Giving back to the community can be more fun than most people realize. Not only can it be fun, but you are working to help others in need in your community. At one point in time, you were likely in need and your friends and family may have stepped in to assist you. What better way to pay it forward than to do something great for your community. There are many different ways you can give back to your community, including helping at a homeless shelter, serving meals at a soup kitchen, or walking dogs at an animal shelter. Find something that interests you and volunteer your time.

Find a Hobby

As you work toward maintaining your sobriety, it is important to take time for yourself and to find things that you enjoy. Many addicts lose themselves in being an addict. You may no longer know exactly who you are and what you enjoy. Take the time to rediscover yourself and what you like by finding a hobby. You may want to take up carpentry and woodworking, or you may wish to join a bowling league. Find a hobby allows you to spend your time doing something that you enjoy and something that provides you with pleasure.

Cultivate Healthy Relationships

Lastly, take the time to cultivate healthy relationships. Get to know people who live a healthy, sober lifestyle, and then spend time with those people. Go out to lunch, take in a movie, or just go for an evening walk with them. You may lose friendships when you get clean, as you are no longer wish to hang around those who are involved with alcohol and drugs. It can be lonely without those friends who have been in your life. Cultivating healthy friendships helps you to overcome loneliness and allows you to have fun with people who have a positive influence on your life. Are you struggling with addiction? Getting sober is not an easy process, and is not something you should attempt to do on your own. If you want to kick your addiction and work on your sobriety, Riviera Recovery can assist you. Riviera Recovery is a sober living home with locations in Malibu and in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. Contact us today to learn how we can help you on your path to sobriety.

Stay on Track in a Sober Living Community in Los Angeles

6 Ways Quality Sober Living Strengthens Recovery From Addiction

With your 30, 60, or 90-day stint in drug and alcohol rehab now under your belt, the next step in your recovery journey will be a stay in a sober living community.  Since the objective of addiction treatment is to achieve life-long sobriety, the decision to spend some restorative time in a sober residence is a wise one.  Re-entering normal life before your new sober and healthy habits have become routine will likely set you up for a relapse.  Therefore, sober living provides those new in recovery the opportunity for a safe transition back to regular life.   When considering where you want to spend a few months living in a sober environment why not make the best of it?  You know the saying, “Location, location, location,” right?  So why not enjoy the amazing benefits of a sober living community in Los Angeles—specifically, in the spectacular hills of Malibu, California?  Enjoy the beautiful vistas that rim the Pacific Ocean as part and parcel of your recovery journey. 6 Ways a Quality Sober Living Helps Keep Recovery on Track Yes, getting clean and sober is very hard.  Even more challenging, however, is staying clean and sober.  In early recovery, the brain hasn’t fully healed and old addiction reflexes and responses still threaten to undo all the hard work of getting sober.  This is where a quality sober living community can make a real difference in solidifying your recovery.  
  1. A drug and alcohol-free safety zone.  This is huge.  Although triggers come in all forms and variations, one universal trigger for potential relapse back into addiction is the very presence of drugs or alcohol.  Reduce the risk of this potential landmine and live in a drug and alcohol-free environment for a while.
  2. Replace bad habits with new, healthy ones.  Most addicts and alcoholics acquire increasingly destructive and unproductive habits along the way.  Intrinsic to a full recovery is the healing of the mind, body and spirit following a long period of self-abuse.  Taking up a new sport, daily exercise, and new hobbies enhances recovery by replacing poor former habits with invigorating new ones.
  3. Become part of a supportive community.  Many in recovery have left damaged relationships in their wakes and need to develop some new friendships.  Living in a quality sober living community provides a built-in support system, with both other recovering residents as well as the support staff offering encouragement and friendship.
  4. The benefits of a pet-friendly environment.  Much research confirms the many health benefits of pet ownership, and to the alcoholic or addict in recovery the benefits are many.  Having your dog present makes you feel less alone in an unfamiliar environment, as well as enhances feelings of self-worth, accountability, and reduced anxiety.  This can help prolong the stay in sober living, reinforcing recovery before re-entering the real world.
  5. Holistic therapies enhance recovery.  Without getting to the core issues beneath the addiction and learning new coping techniques, recovery will be short-lived.  Mindfulness training, yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, and ongoing psychological therapy all help with self-discovery, living in the moment, and assisting with stress reduction.
  6. Learning how to enjoy the sober lifestyle.  A common hurdle for the newly recovered is viewing life without their substance as empty and boring.  A sober community learns the joy and fulfillment of experiencing cultural events, sports events, and outdoor activities without drugs and alcohol.
Riviera Recovery a Quality Sober Living Community in Los Angeles Riviera Recovery is a high quality, pet-friendly sober living community in Malibu, California that provides an exceptional environment to foster healing and recovery.  By offering a wide array of life-enhancing activities and therapies, its residents are afforded a unique opportunity for embracing a new, healthy lifestyle.  Riviera Recovery provides top-notch amenities and services in addition to trips and local activities that allow this sober living community in Los Angeles to experience the renewed spirit that they deserve.  For more information about our program, please call us today at (866) 478-8799.