5 Replacements for Your Old Smoking Habit

The decision to quit smoking is not an easy one – but it is one that will help you live longer. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes, including nicotine and carbon monoxide, are not only responsible for causing high blood pressure and heart disease but they’re also the number one cause for lung cancer, as well as cancer of the larynx, oral cavity, and esophagus. Not to mention, secondhand smoke puts your loved ones at risk for developing cancer and other diseases.

“But everyone needs a vice. What will I do if I quit smoking?” you might be asking. Well, what if instead of smoking, you formed some new habits; ones that were good for you?

Here are 5 great replacements for your old smoking habit.

1. Exercise

Instead of taking a 15-minute smoke break at work, spend 15 minutes walking around the block. It’ll be much better for your lungs, and the money you’ll save from not buying cigarettes can go toward something that’s actually good for your health, like a new gym membership.

2. Meditate

Meditation is an easy and enjoyable way to center yourself and recharge your batteries. And you can do it in only a few minutes. There are many different ways to meditate so do some research and pick a technique that gels with your personality. You may want to try using a meditation app since there are quite a few good ones now.

3. Get Organized

Take those five or ten minutes you’d use to smoke a cigarette and work on your to-do list. Staying organized will help you accomplish more in your day and feel great about yourself.

4. Listen to Music

Listening to calming music has been shown to lower a person’s blood pressure. While classical music tends to be the best for putting a person into a calm state, any soothing music will do.

5. Think Positively

Why not take a think break instead of a smoke break? Spend a few minutes thinking about all the things in your life that make you happy and that you are grateful for. If you do this multiple times throughout the day, you should notice your overall perspective of things begins to change.

 

Quitting cigarettes won’t be easy, but it is truly the best thing you can do for yourself. And your loved ones will be so thankful.

If you’d like to explore cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to finally kick the habit, please reach out. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://psychcentral.com/lib/help-for-quit-smoking-now/

https://www.nicotinell.co.uk/how-to-quit-smoking/succeeding-at-quitting-smoking/smoking-at-lunch.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/things-to-do-instead-of-smoking-2824746

Creating a Safe Home Environment After Rehab

If you or a loved one have gone through a program in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, you know that much of the time spent in rehab focuses on preparing you for your move back home. This can be a dangerous and scary transition if you’re unprepared. Although throughout your stay in rehab you’ve accomplished many things and overcome serious and difficult hurdles, the toughest challenges lie ahead.

Returning home will make you want to settle into familiar routines, which would be a perilous mistake. When you consider that most relapses take place only weeks after leaving rehab, you can value the importance of making immediate changes to accommodate your new, healthier lifestyle.

Clean Up

If possible, have a friend or loved one remove all drugs, alcohol and paraphernalia from your home before you return. If this isn’t possible, recruit a sober friend or your sponsor to help you clean up as soon as you get home. There may also be other reminders or triggers of your former lifestyle in your home. Throw or give these away. Take the time to clean your home and make it comfortable and cozy. Rearrange furniture or change décor to refresh your place as much as possible.

Locate a Support Group

There are lots of sources for continued support for your life after rehab. Seek out an individual therapist you can meet with on a regular basis, find support groups with like-minded individuals, or start attending a local 12-step meeting.

Find New Friends

Immediately delete contacts of friends from your former way of life. It’s vital for those in recovery to make new, sober friends. The temptations and cues to use will drop if you’re surrounded by other sober people. To maintain your sobriety, it’s also important to identify and cut out negative or toxic people from your life. Recovery means creating a more positive and healthy life for yourself, and that includes choosing the people you surround yourself with.

 

Recovering from addiction will probably be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face. This is a lifelong process and commitment and one that’s not without bumps along the road. But by taking it one day at a time, you’ll acquire strength from every passing moment of sobriety.

If you need help staying on a sober path after rehab, a licensed professional can help. Give my office a call today so we can schedule a time to talk.

3 Busted Myths About Recovering Addicts

Addiction is complex. And because of this complexity, there tend to be a lot of opinions, and yes, even myths surrounding it.

In my practice, I have spoken to many addicts and loved ones of addicts, and I have found the same questions come up over and over again. Unfortunately, I am also aware that these myths and questions stand in the way of many people seeking treatment.

I would like to put some of these common myths about addiction recovery to bed once and for all.

Myth #1: I Can’t Afford Treatment

It is an absolute shame that so many people believe they can’t afford to seek help for their addictions. True, recovery can be expensive, but there are always low-cost options.

Cost of treatment typically depends on the program, and each program will have varying payment options. If you have insurance, you can always call facilities in your area to see if they accept your plan.

If you don’t have insurance, or your particular plan is not accepted, you have several recovery options:

Stabilization programs – These are low cost programs that run from between two to six weeks in an inpatient recovery facility following detox.
Self-help 12-Step programs – These are free programs that follow a 12-step holistic approach to recovery, focusing on surrender and making amends with loved ones.
Health Insurance Marketplace – State government low-cost insurance plans where coverage varies by state.

If you have any questions about recovery costs, you may contact Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to learn more.

Myth #2: I’ll Be Fired If I Go to Rehab

This is one of the most common myths. The reality is, if you have a substance abuse problem, it has more than likely become apparent to your boss and coworkers. By not getting treatment you may very well lose your job.

In my experience, management is generally supportive of an individual’s efforts to get better. Many employers even offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) for those struggling with substance abuse. Check with your boss or HR to see if this program may be available to you.

Another options is to check into the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act provides 12 workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave in a 12-month period for “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.” Qualifications for this coverage are determined by employers who will take into consideration how long you’ve worked for the company.

And finally, if you do not have access to EAPs or FMLA or discretion is very important to you, you may want to consider using vacation time for your recovery process.

Myth #3: Recovery Will be Quick

Let’s get one thing straight – there is no quick fix to substance abuse. Recovery is a process that continues even after you complete a program. Getting clean takes commitment from both you and your loved ones. In many cases, this will be the hardest thing you ever do, but doing it will be rewarding for your life and health, and the life and health of your family.

It’s important that you have some sort of aftercare in place before you leave your treatment facility. Aftercare can mean group therapy, individual therapy, a 12-step program, a sober house, or therapeutic community. Individuals who engage in aftercare programs have significantly better outcomes.

If you or a loved one is considering a treatment program and would like to explore therapy options for your aftercare, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help you and your family recover.

“Am I An Addict?” 5 Signs You Should Seek Help

When we speak about addiction, we tend to think of drugs and alcohol. But there are many seemingly benign activities that can become an addiction for some people. For some, watching porn is an activity done once in a while for fun, while others watch for hours every day alone. Some people shop only when they need something, others spend more than they can afford chasing a certain feeling that shopping gives them.

Whether it’s chemical substances, social media, sex, video games, food, or anything that forms dependence, all can become a negative influence in our lives if a line is crossed. If you are concerned you may have developed an addiction, here are 5 signs you should seek help.

1. The Activity Has Become a Priority

Family, work, and social activities with friends – these are the things we give priority to in our lives. But when other activities or pursuits become such a priority that we push aside our time at work or with family and friends, it’s a sign there could be a problem. A dangerous priority can be recognized not only by how much you’re doing something, but also by how much you’re not doing other things.

2. Reward Response
We all take pleasure in doing certain activities. Gardening, dancing, or watching our favorite movie can make us happy, and that’s natural. There is a problem when you start to feel good or happy only when involved in your addiction. You may even begin to notice you feel particularly bad when not doing the activity.

3. Compulsion
Do you start out thinking, I’ll just eat a little, or smoke a little, or do whatever for just a little bit, but then find yourself doing the activity for longer periods of time than you planned? Do you become angry when something or someone tears you away from the activity? Do you feel you have to hide the amount of time or money you spend on this activity? If so, this is a sign you may have a problem.

4. Anxiety
One of the clearest indicators of an addiction is the anxiety felt when not doing the activity, or when even thinking about having to give up the activity. The higher the level of panic you feel about giving up this activity, even for just one day, the stronger the addiction is.

5. Isolation
Isolation is perhaps the biggest behavioral change associated with an addiction. To an addict, it becomes necessary to withdraw and hide their behavior from loved ones. Akin to isolation is a loss of interest in healthy hobbies or activities you once enjoyed. If you used to enjoy hiking with friends on the weekend, but now all you do is sit around the house getting into bidding wars online, it’s time you speak to somebody.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

Recovering from Addiction: How & Where to Reach Out for Help

When it comes to addiction, there’s one thing that all addicts have in common: at some point, they realize that their life is headed down a path they don’t want to go down.

Addiction can begin innocently enough; someone might start taking drugs or drinking out of curiosity, peer pressure, as a coping mechanism to help them feel better, or even as a type of performance enhancer. But as time goes on, they need more and more of the substance to feel the same effects. As the addiction grows stronger, it will become increasingly difficult to manage; eventually, everything will begin to fall apart.

If addiction has begun to wreak havoc in your life, and you’re ready to turn things around, you may not know where to begin. You may have already tried to quit or cut down, but have been unsuccessful. So what can you do? How can you reach out for help?

Recognize Your Courage

You may feel shame, sadness, or anger at your choices and how they’ve negatively impacted others, but you should be proud that you’ve decided to reach out. It takes a great amount of courage to admit when you need help. It takes even greater strength to begin taking those first steps needed to get help with an addiction. Be proud of yourself for recognizing that, even in the throes of addiction, you’ve realized that your addiction has taken over your life and you need to make a change.

Be Honest with Yourself

Many addicts are all too familiar with lies and manipulation; it’s a daily habit for most as they struggle to manage the unmanageable. It will be difficult, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and others so you can start your recovery on a solid foundation. Resist soothing your ego or diminishing the pain your addiction has caused others; admit that you don’t have all the answers, you can’t do this alone and you need help.

Find Resources

Search online for help with your addiction. In addition to finding books and articles, you can also locate groups near you for support. You can also find chat rooms, hotlines to call for help, and treatment centers.

Talk to Someone You Trust

You hopefully have someone in your life you trust who you can talk to about your addiction. They may not understand what you’re going through, but it will help you to talk about it and to have someone who will listen and support you. You can also talk to a doctor or therapist who can assess your situation and help you take the next steps.

 

If you’re suffering with an addiction and would like to talk with an experienced, licensed professional, please call my office today and let’s set up an appointment.

Signs Your Partner Is Addicted to Pornography

All addictions negatively impact a relationship, and pornography addiction is certainly no exception. The adult entertainment industry generates billions of dollars annually, and with an estimated 40 million Americans visiting porn sites regularly, pornography addiction is a problem for many families.

With an estimated 28% of women viewing online pornography versus 72% of men, pornography addiction isn’t a problem specific to men; women can also become addicted. If you’re concerned that your partner has developed an addiction to pornography, here are some signs to look out for.

They spend a lot of time on the internet

The porn addict will spend hours, and sometimes even days, online viewing pornography. If your spouse spends an increasing amount of time alone, either with a phone, laptop or tablet, he or she may be developing an obsession with pornography.

They’re critical of you

Porn stars are typically young and attractive, often times surgically enhanced. The more your partner watches pornography, the more negatively you may be compared to the models he or she is watching. Porn addicts tend to objectify their partner, and as your spouse spends increasing amounts of time watching porn, they may start to become critical of your body.

Unusual spending activity

Checking your bank or credit card statements, you may find unexpected or unexplained charges. Adult entertainment websites will often mask the charges to benefit the confidentiality of their customers, so you may have to do a Google search or make some phone calls to uncover the source of the charges.

Your sex life has changed

When someone is addicted to pornography, they may no longer have the drive or desire to maintain a sex life with their partner. Conversely, some addicts become more demanding. They may want to engage in acts you’re not comfortable with. As a person becomes more and more addicted to pornography, they will have to watch increasingly unusual material. This may result in your partner becoming more rough or aggressive.

So what can you do if you suspect your partner is addicted to porn? First, know that his or her addiction is not your fault. People become addicted as a way of coping with unwanted feelings and emotions, or as a way to avoid real life stress or difficulties. Second, seek support from trusted loved ones and find a therapist who can help you both on the road to recovery.

Is your relationship suffering because of pornography addiction? A trained, licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.

The Signs of Opiate Addiction

Watching your local news or checking your social media feed, you’ve probably heard about the opioid epidemic, the nation’s current public health crisis. As death tolls from the crisis continue to rise dramatically every year, this is not an issue to be taken lightly or ignored.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 42,000 people died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016. Nationwide, 45 states have seen a 30% increase in opioid overdose from July 2016 to September 2017.

What Are Opiates?

Commonly prescribed to alleviate severe pain, opiates include prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, dilaudid, codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, among others. The illegal street drug heroin is also classified as an opiate. Opiates are highly addictive, and it’s possible to become addicted to them unintentionally.

Signs of Opiate Addiction

As someone begins to abuse their opioid prescription, they will develop a tolerance to the drug. They will need increasingly larger doses to experience the same benefits. As their tolerance grows, they will become physically dependent on the drug; they will experience the unpleasant feeling of withdrawal when they aren’t taking it. If the opiate abuse continues, they will develop a psychological dependence that will cause cravings for the opiates, at which point they are in the throes of opiate addiction. Below are some signs to look out for if you suspect a loved one may be abusing their prescription.

Drowsiness: Nodding off at inappropriate times, or appearing drowsy or sedated is a sign of physical addiction to opiates
Change in sleep habits: As a person abuses opiates, they may sleep for longer periods of time. If they’re experiencing withdrawal, they may be unable to sleep.
Weight loss: Opioid addicts tend to lose weight due to metabolic changes brought on by the drug abuse.
Mood swings: Irritability, dramatic shifts in mood, or emotional outbursts.
Social withdrawal: An addict may isolate or socially withdraw. They might also start spending less time with family, and more time with people you don’t know.
Flu-like symptoms: Opiate withdrawal can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.
Doctor shopping: An opiate addict will go to several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions. Multiple prescriptions will result in extra pill bottles; an addict may attempt to hide them in the trash.

Finding Help

If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing their prescription, speaking to an addiction specialist or health care professional is an important next step. They can provide you with the referrals and direction necessary to ensure that your friend or family member receives the appropriate help as quickly as possible.

Are you or a loved one struggling with opiate addiction and need help? Call me today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

Overcoming Addiction: How Loved Ones Can Help

For decades, individuals suffering from addiction have traveled the same route toward recovery with some measure of success. That route entailed combining a recovery program, such as AA, with therapy.

The problem with this traditional route is that therapists and program leaders had only marginal potential for influencing patients outside the office or treatment center. Once outside these walls, patients are free to walk away from any plan or situation they feel restrictive and uncomfortable.

For this reason, it has increasingly become the norm to include family and friends into the treatment plan. This invaluable network of loved ones can work together and spur the patient into action. Brought to act in concert, loved ones can serve as a sort of therapeutic device.

Here are some ways that a supportive network of loved ones can help in the treatment of addiction.

Social Cohesiveness

Social cohesiveness is the glue that keeps a group of people together. Whether that group is a society, a sports team or a business organization, the psychological and emotional well-being of all members of that group is directly proportional to the feelings of cohesiveness shared by all.

When the relationship between cohesiveness and emotional being is harnessed within a social network of loved ones and the patient forms a bond and closeness with this network, the group can encourage the patient to meet their expectations through abstinence.

An Inability Toward Denial

Addicts are known for self-destructive behavior. The only way they can live day-to-day in such a destructive manner is to develop patterns of denial. For instance, their job is on the line NOT because of their addiction, but because their boss has always had it out for them.

Obviously, these denial patterns are in direct contrast to the realistic, common sense views held by members of the support network. In order to feel accepted into this group, the addict must resolve this conflict and adopt the viewpoint of loved ones. Of course, this doesn’t happen easily or overnight. Usually an addict will become defensive and even withdrawn. But through the continued support of loved ones, over time the addict can change their own perceptions.

Coercion

Coercion typically carries a negative connotation, but in this instance, coercion can help an addict change their behavior. Any group or society has the power to “force” reluctant members to comply with its norms of behavior. This is done through social pressures.

Within a group of loved ones, actions such as the withdrawal of affection, the expression of group disapproval or the disruption of social interactions desirable to the addict can be very coercive. Interestingly enough, the steps do not even have to be taken. Just the threat of them is often more than enough to encourage the addict’s compliance.

When acted in concert and guided by a trained mental health professional, loved ones can play a crucial role in the recovery of an addict.

If you are a loved of an addict and are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help your family.

To Age Well, You’re Gonna Need Friends

How many times do we hear about senior citizens who move cross-country to be closer to children and grandchildren? Maybe this person will see their family on a daily or weekly basis. But then again, maybe it won’t be that often, and now they’ve given up their social life and are far away from friends.

As an older person, what’s healthier, being around family or being around friends?

There was a time when most people would have quickly answered, “Being around family, of course.” While no two people are alike, there is evidence that meaningful connection with friends has more of an impact on the aging process.

According to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, friendship is more important to the health and well-being of senior citizens than familial connections.

The study found that not only do these relationships influence your happiness and habits (whether you’ll smoke or drink, work out, stay thin or become obese) but that the importance of friendship increases with age.

But there is a caveat, and it’s an important one.

The impact of friendship works positively and negatively. Meaning, just as good friendships offer health benefits, friendships that are not so great or even toxic are tied to chronic health problems. The key is to keep friendships in good order, which means you may need to repair or replace friendships as you age.

Another study, this one designed by Michigan State University psychology professor William J. Chopik, looked at two sets of data—one drawn from people around the world at different ages, and another from older Americans.

More than 270,000 volunteers between the ages of 15 to 99 and from roughly 100 different countries answered questions about how highly they valued different kinds of relationships and how happy they were. Instead of tracking the same people over time, the study tracked “representative” groups of different ages at intervals over the years.

The results?

Those people 65 and older valued friendship more than they did when they were younger!

In another analysis, researchers examined data from close to 7,500 American volunteers in their sixties and seventies. The results found that those people who experienced a “strain” within their friendships were more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and psychiatric problems. This was true regardless of whether they had support from family members or not. Strain with family, surprisingly, wasn’t tied to more illness.

The moral of the story is, many of us take our friendships for granted. We think these relationships should be easy, and that our familial relationships are where we should focus our time and energy. But the older we get, the more important it becomes to have strong friendships. When our friendships are happy and healthy, we’re happy and healthy.

Is there a relationship in your life that is bringing you down instead of up? Are you unsure how to communicate with your loved one? Maybe it’s time to end a relationship but you don’t know the best way to do it.

Often, speaking with a therapist can give you clarity over a situation. A therapist can lend an impartial ear and offer advice based not on emotion, but on knowledge of human behavior.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

5 Ways to Recognize Addiction Before it Takes Over

Drug and alcohol use in this country is on the rise, with over 23 million Americans addicted. To put that into clearer perspective, that’s one in every ten people in the United States over the age of 12 that are currently struggling with substance abuse.

But what is addiction exactly, and how can we recognize the symptoms?

Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, is the psychological and physiological need to continue using a substance, in spite of the fact that it is negatively impacting your relationships and life. 

While each individual is unique and may not display all of these symptoms, the following are ways you can recognize addiction in loved ones before it takes over.

1. Physical Dependence

Over time, individuals build up a tolerance to the drug and must do more of it to feel the same effects. Changes in physiology (withdrawal) can make them feel bad and, when it comes to functioning “normally,” it can be almost impossible without the drug in their system.

2. Neglecting Responsibilities

Choosing drugs or alcohol over meeting personal obligations and responsibilities is one of the biggest signs of addiction. Being late in picking up a child from school because an individual is buying drugs, or calling in sick to work to stay home and get high all day are classic signs the addiction is taking precedence over adult obligations.

3. Developing Unhealthy Friendships

The phrase “like attracts like” is applicable when it comes to addiction. When individuals begin experimenting with new substances, they often find themselves spending time with others who have similar habits. Soon, that person is spending all of their time with people who may encourage these unhealthy habits.

4. Isolation

There are some individuals who, alternatively, choose to withdraw and isolate themselves in an attempt to hide their drug use from friends and family. Isolation is also a result of depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

5. Poor Judgement

Addiction causes people to partake in risky behavior. Addicts may begin lying, stealing, engaging in unsafe sex, and even selling drugs themselves. These behaviors are unsafe for their physical and mental wellbeing, and may even land them in jail.

Many addicts may not recognize they are exhibiting these telltale signs. In these instances, friends and family may need to encourage them in getting the help they desperately need. If you feel that you or a loved one is currently addicted to drugs or alcohol and interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.