When in recovery, many clients turn to a hobby to help fill their time and improve their mental well-being.
One of the most common lifestyle choices is to take up exercising, which is great for making your recovery experience a positive and rewarding one.
If you think about it, exercising may very well be the polar opposite of drug or alcohol abuse.
While drug and alcohol abuse can cause long-term physiological and mental concerns, exercise not only drastically increases physical and mental health, but it can also help safeguard a recovering addict from relapse.
Of course, if you’re a recovering addict, it can be difficult to revert so suddenly from one behaviour to another.
Committing to and sustaining a workout regimen can be challenging in the best of times, so if you’re battling an addiction, it may very well be the furthest thing from your mind.
However, research has proven time and time again that exercising can be a huge help to those in recovery, and it can also provide several mental and physical health benefits.
The science of exercise and your brain
From a scientific standpoint, the benefits of exercise are widespread and numerous. Aside from the obvious physical benefits such as weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, and a decreased risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, exercise is also remarkably effective at protecting your brain.
Research indicates that exercise can increase the amount of new nerve connections in your brain, which helps heal from any damage your addictions may have caused. Long-term alcohol usage is especially notorious for wreaking havoc on white matter in the brain, which links brain cells to one another.
Moreover, certain drugs – in high enough doses – can cause nerve cells in your brain to lose their dopamine transporters, which inhibits your capacity to feel motivation and reward. Exercise is known to have the opposite effect. It is able to release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – all chemicals that are known to cause relaxation and cheerfulness.
To put it simply: exercise has the power to literally create happiness within your brain.
The benefits of exercise while in recovery
Exercising isn’t only important to the recovery process – it’s beneficial to your general well-being. Here are some further benefits to maintaining a fitness or exercise regimen while in recovery:
It helps structure your days
Whether you have a set workout plan or you’re simply finding yoga videos on YouTube, exercising helps take up time that might otherwise be spent fixated on your past addictions.
It gives you a sense of control
A life of addiction generally contains very little structure.
A regular fitness regimen can help organize an otherwise structureless lifestyle and give you a better sense of physical and mental autonomy.
It reduces stress
Exercise, by its very nature, helps with stress reduction in a way that’s healthy both mentally and physically.
It gives you confidence
When you take care of your body and mind, you’ll feel better than when you don’t. Better yet, your increased self-esteem will stick around as long as you stick to your newfound workout habits.
It reduces drug-seeking behaviour
Exercise is proven to reduce the drive toward drug-seeking behaviour and cravings, providing alternative behaviours and inciting positive change.
It rebuilds and rewires your brain
Extended drug and alcohol abuse can damage the connections between brain cells.
But, regular exercise (especially aerobic workouts like jogging or cycling) can help rebuild those connections, which in turn helps rebuild dopamine and endorphin transporters, making your recovery experience happier and more positive.
How do I start finding happiness through exercise?
For many people, the very idea of exercising can be daunting. Those who struggle to start might find one (or several) of these phrases running through their heads:
‘I’ve never exercised before – why start now?’
‘I don’t know how.’
‘I won’t be good at it.’
‘I don’t have time.’
‘I’m too out of shape.’
Do any of these sound like you?
When you’re in recovery, it’s important to be open-minded and remind yourself that you, as a person, are stronger than your addiction.
So, if you find you’re struggling to get started, remember that exercise doesn’t have to be complicated.
Workouts can take many forms – yoga, powerlifting, running, cycling, pushups, sports – and most often, the simplest solution is the one that’s likely to bring you the most joy. Research even indicates that something as easy as walking for 30 minutes a day can have huge health benefits.
The best thing to do is to just get out there and start. Whether it’s a new sport, or via an app on your phone, experiment a little and find something that you love to do, and stick with it. The structure and ease will soon follow.
For recovering addicts, a healthy relationship with fitness helps mend your mind in a way that few other hobbies can.
This is where so-called treatment centers fail to meet professional standards, offer inadequate services, and at the worst of times, are intent on keeping patients in their programs for as long as possible.
These facilities can range from being misleadingly advertised to outright fraudulent, and their scams are often bolstered by fake or paid-for reviews claiming that the facility is excellent and produces amazing results.
To avoid falling for a scam and ensuring you have the best chance of finding a reliable program, here are five key things to look for when determining if a rehab clinic is trustworthy and a good fit for you.
1. Credentials and certifications
One of the first things you should check for when looking at treatment centers is if the facility is properly licensed and has all the appropriate accreditations on a local, state, and national level.
We’re proud to be certified and recognised by many authorities, including LegitScript.
While licenses vary across the country, the agencies that administer them will be able to provide you excellent information on the quality and reputation of rehab facilities.
As well, you should also be sure to check the credentials and licenses of the staff working at a treatment center.
In entrusting your path to sobriety to others, it is critical to determine whether the treatment specialists are professional, experienced in their fields, and certified by relevant boards or training programs.
2. A high-quality photo gallery
While it may seem superficial at first, the photos and videos a treatment center uses on their website and in their marketing can be a clear indicator of their overall quality.
The effort rehab centers put into showcasing their appearance is often a strong indicator of the effort they have put into creating a welcoming and nurturing place for those seeking treatment.
If a clinic’s website is made up of generic stock photos, it’s often a sign that their facilities aren’t something they’re proud of sharing.
A high-quality photo gallery or video can give you peace of mind about how a treatment center looks and operates, and whether you feel their facilities would be a positive environment for you as you progress through recovery.
3. Media coverage and press releases
Media attention and accolades for clinical staff, or for a facility itself, is a great indicator that a treatment center is reputable and can produce positive results.
Unlike reviews or testimonials on a rehab center’s website or social media, positive press coverage from independent sources is very difficult to fake and speaks to a facility’s reliability.
While it is not necessary for a treatment center to have received media attention for it to be considered trustworthy or reputable, it can help to identify excellence in quality and services that will help bring positive change for you.
4. An up-to-date online presence
If a rehab facility fails to keep a strong or consistent online presence, it might be a sign that they’re not licensed or falsely advertised.
A lack of photos, no social media, little to no reviews, and incomplete information on the staff are all indicators that a treatment center may be unprofessional, or even a scam.
Generic websites without meaningful details on treatment options and programs are best avoided.
Instead, look for rehab facilities with professional websites that are updated regularly, include plenty of information on their services and staff, and give you a good sense of the care they provide.
5. Research the staff specifically
It’s important to spend time researching the staff that work at a facility beyond their credentials and education.
A trustworthy rehab center will openly display its treatment specialists, and should list some of their licences, schooling, and credentials, but should also provide some detail on each staff member to help you get a sense of the people who will be helping you.
If a facility offers a wide range of programs and solutions, it should also have a robust staff who are specialized in the various disciplines and services offered.
Addiction treatment and therapy are complicated processes, and you should not jeopardize your path to recovery by seeking help from unskilled or unqualified personnel.
Do your homework
While reading reviews of treatment programs and rehab clinics is a good starting point, it’s important to do so carefully and with a critical eye.
Even though rehab scams do exist, that does not mean that all drug rehabilitation is untrustworthy – it just requires some in-depth research to figure out what kind of program and facility will work best for you.
If you’re thinking about starting on your road to recovery and want to learn more, call Tikvah Lake to speak to our staff members and get more information on how we can help.
For many of today’s executives, the pressure to perform is always on.
But taking on heavy workloads and trying to keep up with unrealistic expectations over prolonged periods can often lead to a breakdown.
After years of commitment and doing whatever it takes to excel, even the best of us can face burnout.
What is burnout?
Officially recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), executive burnout is a medical syndrome specifically tied to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
Stress in the workplace is not uncommon but when left untreated it can lead to burnout, this, in turn, can lead to more serious health issues.
Individuals suffering from burnout can experience a total loss of motivation and energy, they can become negative, cynical and less effective at work.
In the process of climbing to the top, the constant demands and long working hours find many executives fighting a losing battle with fatigue, stress and anxiety.
Not wanting to admit defeat, the drive to achieve perfection and the fear of not being in control can trigger a downward spiral in job performance.
Working around the clock is bad for health. The number of hours we are required to work has an influence on our mental and physical well-being.
Excessive working hours can also have a detrimental effect on the quality of sleep – a contributing factor to fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, and reduced performance.
Avoid burnout before you’re burned out
Burnout in the workplace can be identified by three components: feelings of depletion or exhaustion; feeling negative or disengaged from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.
Burnout syndrome is a gradual process, which can creep up on you, so it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms as early on as possible. By being mindful and actively reducing your stress, you can prevent eventual burnout.
The first step to preventing burnout is knowledge. It’s important to recognise some of the warning signs and know what to do about them.
Physical and emotional symptoms can include:
loss of appetite
shortness of breath
lack of focus, dizziness
low immune system
early stages of anxiety and/or depression
Behavioural symptoms can include:
family or relationship problems
More serious side-effects can be seen in addictive behaviours, such as increased consumption of drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, and a change in appetite: binge eating or not eating enough.
Burnout is not to be ignored.
If you can self-identify with these symptoms its essential to create a self-care commitment.
How Should You Self-Care?
Learn to sleep again. Poor sleep, or a lack of it, is extremely bad for your health. Most adults require six to nine hours of sleep every night so it’s important to have a regular bedtime routine.
If you’re an over-thinker – clear your head by writing down all your to-do’s in a diary.
Make your bedroom a relaxing environment. Don’t take your phone or tablet to bed with you. Electronics and TVs in the bedroom strongly impact your quality of sleep.
Ditch ready-made meals and fast food, and practice the art of home cooking to anchor you into the present. Focus on foods that nourish your body – especially during times of stress and burnout. Boost your mood, fight fatigue and improve your sleep by introducing more Omega-3´s, fibre and dark leafy greens into your diet.
Make more time to enjoy your friends and family. Pick up the phone and call a loved one, just to chat and catch up – texting or messaging doesn’t count!
Set clear boundaries between work and home. Setting boundaries between the two can increase efficiency at work as well as reduce stress and improve your personal life. The reward is more relaxation and less burnout.
Learn to say no to taking on more responsibilities and things that will only add to your stress level. Delegate! Make time each day to create a plan of action. Effective delegating can free up more time and prevent stress and burnout.
Take regular breaks during your workday and don’t work straight through lunch.
Listen to your body, spend time in silence, meditate, do yoga, stay hydrated and stay away from alcohol.
Have some fun – find joy in life, take walks in natural surroundings, take time out, learn to breathe, book a holiday, and LOVE YOURSELF.
By practising self-care your physical, mental, and emotional health will benefit – in return, you will reach your optimal performance. So stop those long hours, put yourself first, and make time for rest and renewal.
Something momentous happened this month 85 years ago. It marks the birth of what is considered by many to be the world’s most successful form of therapy.
Certainly, it’s a therapy that has helped millions around the world with addictions and other mental health problems to be able to turn their life around. It is one we practice at Tikvah Lake Recovery with excellent results.
This therapy’s beginnings are one of remarkable synchronicity. We are talking here about the Twelve Steps recovery program, and it’s almost as if it had to happen…
How did the Twelve Steps begin?
Bill Wilson was born in Vermont, where he was abandoned by both his parents. By his teens, he was a rebellious young man who suffered from bouts of depression. His depression worsened, soon combined with panic attacks.
By his early 20s, he was drinking to pass out. After military service, he failed to graduate from law school because he was too drunk to pick up his diploma.
His drinking likewise adversely affected his working life in his chosen career as a stockbroker.
In the next few years, he ended up in hospital due to heavy drinking. He was told by doctors that he would either die from his drinking or have to be locked up permanently due to getting a “wet brain” that would likely cause loss of muscle coordination, extreme confusion and dementia.
Even with that warning, Wilson could not stop drinking excessively. He ended up in the hospital again.
At that time, alcoholics were considered hopeless cases, and many were destined to die too young, frequently after suffering physically and mentally for many years. Of course, family and friends would be badly affected as well.
Looking for a solution, Wilson started going to an American religious organization called the Oxford Group. He became especially taken by their spiritual ideals of Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness and Absolute Love.
After a while, though he stopped going to start on a mission to save others suffering from alcohol addiction. He did this by visiting local hospitals to find anyone he could help.
Not one person he tried to help stayed sober. But he realized that by trying to help others he was staying sober.
Then on a business trip in Ohio, he was tempted to throw away his sobriety. He stood in a hotel foyer, craving a drink. With increasing anxiety, he contemplated his choices: talk to another alcoholic in an attempt to stay sober or get it over with by getting drunk in the hotel bar.
He found himself standing by a phone booth there, and he made a series of phone calls that put him in touch with a physician and surgeon called Dr Bob Smith. This doctor invited him to his home – but only for 15 minutes, not a second more.
This was despite the fact that Dr Smith’s work and family life were increasingly in trouble. For 17 years his daily routine had been to force himself not to drink until the afternoon, and then to get drunk, pass out until he woke up to take sedatives that calmed his morning jitters.
However, Wilson’s understanding of alcoholism and his ability to share from his own experience meant the allotted 15 minutes stretched to six hours. Soon, Wilson moved into Smith’s home, and from there, both men made plans to take their message of recovery on the road.
But a month later Smith drank again while attending a work convention in Atlantic City. Returning to his home in Akron on June 9, he was given a few drinks by Wilson to avoid delirium tremens.
Smith drank a beer the next morning to settle his nerves so he could perform an operation. That was the last alcoholic drink he ever had. That date, June 10 in 1935, is celebrated as the anniversary of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
After a few years, three groups of recovering alcoholics – about 100 people in total – had emerged in Akron, New York and Cleveland. By this time in 1939, the burgeoning association set down its guidelines and experiences in the book called Alcoholics Anonymous, nicknamed the Big Book,that was mostly written by Wilson.
It outlined in writing for the first time the now world-renowned Twelve Steps recovery program. Yet it took almost two years to sell the initial 4,650 copies of the book’s first printing. It has now sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into 67 languages.
Who can the Twelve Steps help?
The Twelve Steps can be adapted to help virtually everyone as they are basically a suggested program of personal recovery. They are guiding principles for a course of action for recovery from addiction or other mental health problems.
Alcoholics Anonymous is the largest Twelve Steps group, with approximately two million members in 180 countries. But since AA was formed there has been the birth of dozens of other Twelve Steps groups, such as Al-Anon that helps families and friends of alcoholics, formed in 1951.
That was followed by (some of the other largest Twelve Steps groups):
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in 1953.
Gamblers Anonymous (1957).
Overeaters Anonymous (1960).
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (1976).
Workaholics Anonymous (1983).
Co-Dependents Anonymous/CoDA (1986).
Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous (2009).
How does Tikvah Lake Recovery include the Twelve Steps?
As part of our 10-30-90 Day Personalized Treatment Programs we incorporate the Twelve Steps. The first phase provides a lengthy overview of healthy living requirements, a look at the consequences of drink and/or drug use, dependence and abuse.
We also address co-occurring issues relating to the mental health of our guests. We work through Step One of the Twelve Steps.
This program’s ultimate phase is to get our guests ready for an alternative living facility to assist with moving back into society. We make great efforts to have family involvement to help achieve those aims. We also complete Step Three of the Twelve Steps.
Our main goal is to ensure our guests have the belief and understanding that they can live lives free from drugs or alcohol. Everyone will learn how to have and maintain a lifestyle that is physically and emotionally healthy in every way.
For more information on how Tikvah Lake Recovery can help guide you through the process of overcoming addiction, contact our admissions team today.