Posts in Recover

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Looking For Help As A Parent With Addiction

April 11th, 2020 Posted by Alcohol, Blog, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “Looking For Help As A Parent With Addiction”

Alcoholism is a much more complicated problem than many people realize. The phrase “kicking the habit” makes it sound like stopping biting your nails or giving up dairy. But the truth is, this is an addiction that affects more people than just the alcoholic themselves. And those complications are compounded when you add parenthood into the mix. So, how do you reach out for help as a parent with addiction issues of their own?

Join us today, as we bring you three of our top tips for this awkward but necessary process.

Reach Out To Someone

One of the most difficult parts of dealing with alcoholism in the family is dealing with feelings of isolation. Start by reaching out and talking to someone. Therapists and authorized counselors are required, by law, to never disclose information they acquire during patient sessions unless absolutely necessary. So you should feel safe knowing you can speak to them about your struggles as a parent with addiction.

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The impact of therapy on your ability to live your life shouldn’t be understated, either. You’ll gain insights that make your own life easier, but which also give you the tools you need to be a better supporting player in your loved one’s battle with alcohol addiction, as well.

Protect The Children

In the social services industry, any mental health professional, pastor, or teacher, or really any professional with access to children is what’s known as a “mandated reporter.” These people are required, by law, to disclose any and all information that would keep a child safe. This same regulation applies to the elderly, adult dependents and anybody else potentially at risk, as well.

Make no mistake: alcoholism affects the children in a family often and without rhyme or reason. Even when alcoholic parents are not outright aggressive or abusive, they can easily put their children at risk. Driving under the influence. Negligent behavior with regards to their safety around the house. These aren’t always necessarily true, but is statistically more likely in a home where someone is consistently heavily under the influence.

If you know your child may be in danger due to alcoholism, talk to your care providers. You may be worried your child will be removed from their home, but it’s actually rare for children to be permanently removed when the parent is the one bringing the issue to the authorities. Work with your caregivers and you can keep your child safe until your alcoholism is no longer a safety issue.

Be Aware Of Your Situation

Denial is one of the biggest killers among people struggling with alcoholism. And, while it’s to be expected with someone struggling with a disease like this, it’s important to be self-aware enough to know that at least your habit is affecting your children.

In situations like this, it’s important to act on your instincts. You might rationalize your addiction in many different ways but, when there’s the risk of danger to your child, “better safe than sorry” is always the best advice.

Reach out to friends, family, and anybody you have a good working relationship with. If you’ve lost contact and feel isolated, then make the leap and contact someone you haven’t spoken to in years. We live in a digital age and communication is easier than ever.

Parent With Addiction

What’s important, here, is to frame your situation through the potential for harm to your children. And remember, you can always reach out to a professional organization with experience in rehabilitation, like Serenity Springs. Serenity Springs Recovery Center looks forward to speaking to you, soon. For immediate assistance, call 828-551-0507, or send us a message to find out more about our services.

How Practicing Meditation Helps Restore Gray Matter in the Brain

February 24th, 2020 Posted by Recover 0 comments on “How Practicing Meditation Helps Restore Gray Matter in the Brain”

Time and time again, research has touted the benefits of practicing meditation. In fact, a prestigious study emerged from Harvard University in recent years, with results that shocked scientists. Meditation can actually restore the brain’s gray matter in a matter of eight weeks.

Read on for more information on the Harvard study and what it found regarding meditation and gray matter. You may be surprised by just how much meditation and mindfulness alter brain structures in a positive way.

Overview of gray matter in the brain

At its basic definition, gray matter is a key part of the body’s central nervous system. Gray matter refers to neuronal cell bodies and exists in the brain, brain stem, spinal cord and more.

This is important to the overall function and reliability of the brain, and reductions in gray matter can cause negative effects, particularly in cases of addictions.

Practicing Meditation

The study went on for eight weeks

In 2014, test subjects participated in an eight-week study that included consistent mindful meditation. A Harvard-associated team of researchers set up at Massachusetts General Hospital to examine the physical effects of meditation. MRI scans were implemented to track, for the first time, the way meditation caused physical modifications inside the brain’s gray matter.

Meditation resulted in changes to brain structure

Sara Lazar, a senior study author, reported that the peacefulness associated with meditation led to the idea that it may have physical benefits. Lazar, who works with the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and is a Harvard Medical School psychology instructor, said the study demonstrated change in brain structure.

Participants spent less than 30 minutes a day meditating

Over the course of the study, subjects spent 27 minutes per day, on average, practicing meditation exercises. The simple activity of mindfulness caused a stimulation and significant increase in gray matter density. The density increased specifically in the hippocampus, which is associated with compassion, self-awareness, and reflection.

Meditation and mindfulness resulted in much less stress

Sue McGreevey, also with Massachusetts General Hospital, reported that subjects experienced less stress. It was also noted that, in comparison to those with no history of meditation, participants had differing brain structure. The study also found a thickening of the cerebral cortex areas associated with attention and emotional areas, resulting from meditation.

The study concluded that meditation improves the brain and a person’s well-being

Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University, emphasized the importance of the study findings. “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” she said. If you’re interested in learning more on the study, visit

Research is ongoing to this day

Despite these groundbreaking findings, neuroscientists continue to monitor and study the effects of meditation on the brain. The human brain is extraordinarily complex, and mindfulness is a practice that many turn to to restore a sense of calmness. But, more and more, science is acknowledging how mindful meditation actually does change the brain and not only the mind.

Meditation is also important in addiction recovery

Meditation can also be a key component of addiction healing and recovery. If you’re considering a recovery program to help with your addiction, you’re already on the right path. Acknowledging and accepting that you may be suffering from addiction is the first step in recovering. Once you’re ready to take the next step, contact us at Serenity Springs Recovery Center.

Why Celebrating Sobriety Is Worth It

February 20th, 2020 Posted by Recover 0 comments on “Why Celebrating Sobriety Is Worth It”

Being sober is a major accomplishment for someone who has struggled with addiction and recovery. Individuals in recovery face constant struggles, physical and mental blocks, and a long road of hard work. Every part of the recovery process requires effort and serious change, which is why you should celebrate the moment you made that first step.

If you’ve got a milestone coming up, read on for why celebrating sobriety is important on special days and every day.

The First Step Is One Of The Most Important

Whether it’s the day you got sober or the first day of your recovery program, it’s important to recognize these moments. The first step is one of the most important, because it shows that you’ve acknowledged a problem and want to work to recover.

While you work toward a future of healing, it’s important to highlight and celebrate that first step you made in the past.

sobriety short

Sobriety is a huge milestone

Whether you’re months or two decades sober, that day you made the decision to be clean is a milestone. Just like a birthday or anniversary, your sobriety is a key moment that is worthy of celebration. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate taking that first step toward your new life.

It’s a new birthday and a new life

As mentioned, the first day of your recovery is a milestone to ring in. Sound a bit like a birthday? That’s because it is. This is the moment you decided to work toward a brand new life, and that’s the sort of rebirth a person really should recognize, isn’t it?

Sobriety means having strength and humility

Another big reason to celebrate being sober is that it’s such a humbling experience. In these reflections, you’ll remember how much strength it takes to recover, and the humility that goes along with that.

When you recognize your recovery, you remember the people who helped get you there and how much you’ve risen since. This gives you perspective on your own journey and how worthwhile your change has truly been.

Take time to reflect on your sobriety

Celebrating your sobriety and recovery is also a great opportunity to reflect on all the strides you’ve made. In continuing your healing, recollecting on your progress and hardships you’ve overcome is crucial.

There’s power in taking a quiet moment to look back on your journey and see how far you’ve come. It gives you the context you need in order to justify the coming progress you’ll have to make.

Celebrating sobriety gives you an opportunity to be grateful

In addition to reflecting on your personal growth and healing, acknowledging this milestone gives you the chance to be grateful. In celebrating, you can thank your peers, mentors, sponsors, friends, and family.

Acknowledging your sobriety can inspire others

You may not realize it, but by recognizing your sobriety and celebrating your milestone, you can inspire others. There may be other individuals who struggle with addiction who are watching your journey and feel hope. They can see the progress you’ve made and it can encourage them and let them know that recovery is possible.

Ways you can celebrate your sobriety

In order to celebrate your sobriety, go out to a nice dinner or indulge in your favorite dessert. Invite your loved ones and support system to do a fun activity, or treat yourself to a shopping trip. Whatever you do to celebrate, make sure it’s rooted in something you enjoy and makes you feel happy.

How to celebrate others recognizing their sobriety

If you have a friend or family member in recovery, it’s a meaningful gesture to offer them your congratulations. If you want to offer a gift, you can send flowers, bake them a cake, or even write them an encouraging note.

Whatever it is, your loved one will appreciate the acknowledgement. Let them know you’re proud of them and that they’re doing amazing work.

If you’re struggling with addiction, seek treatment

If you’re struggling with addiction and considering a 12-step program, you’ve already made significant strides. Acknowledging and accepting that you may be suffering from addiction is the first step in recovering.

Once you’re ready to take the next step, contact us at Serenity Springs Recovery Center to find out more about our drug rehab and alcohol programs.

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3 Ways to Support a Loved One in Recovery

May 2nd, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover 0 comments on “3 Ways to Support a Loved One in Recovery”

Addiction is a complex disease. The disease of addiction affects both the addicted, and those that are close to the addicted. The stigma of addiction can make it very difficult to ask for help. One who is battling addiction can feel ashamed, guilty, alone, and worthless. Supporting and encouraging your loved one’s sobriety will help in his or her recovery.

3 Ways to Help Loved Ones in Recovery

Below are three quick tips for helping a loved one’s recovery as much as possible without enabling him towards a relapse. It is always good to practice what is referred to as “tough love.” Chances are if you are helping someone, you love that person. Just be advised that feelings and emotions can get in the way of distinguishing the fine line between helping and enabling an addict. Read our three ways and try to determine where that line is for you and your loved one.

1. Learn more about addiction.

     Listen to people in group meetings share their personal experiences with addiction.

2. Attend a support group with your loved one.

     This will show your loved one that you care and you can talk with others in similar situations and learn how to cope.

3. Connect with others in the group.

     New, sober friendships can develop through group meetings. Build a network of people who understand addiction.

Always remember to praise your loved one’s sobriety, while encouraging them to stay sober. Recovery is a life-long process and your loved one will be faced with challenges. Supporting a loved one in recovery requires a lot of love, reinforcement, and motivation. If you or a loved one is battling addiction, do not wait. Addiction is a deadly and baffling disease. If you feel that a loved one is using, it is time that you seek professional help. Addiction is very much treatable and recovery is definitely possible!

supporting someone in recovery infographic by Serenity Springs Recovery Center
How to Support Someone in Addiction Recovery

Understanding the Complexity of Addiction

According to an article by Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for the Hamilton Spectator, “Indicators of success include the person: attending an aftercare program, offering sincere apologies for the impact of the addiction, creating better boundaries regarding friends who may similarly indulge, and being involved in alternate and appropriate activity such as work or recreational pursuits.”

It can be hard for family and friends to understand the complexity of addiction and the intense challenges their loved one faces every day. Addiction hijacks the brain and alters brain chemistry. It interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters and makes the brain release an increased level of dopamine, which causes euphoric feelings. The brain becomes dependent on the drugs or alcohol to function. A person can experience unpleasant and painful withdrawal symptoms until the drug or alcohol is used again. That is why quitting drugs or alcohol is so difficult.

The Importance of a Good Support System

A positive support system in recovery is crucial and can be very helpful in many ways. Treatment is not “one-size-fits-all” or packaged the same for everyone. It is tailored to the individual’s unique needs. As addicts and alcoholics in recovery, you are surrounded by other addicts and alcoholics on a regular basis. Most of them are those that you network with at meetings or through a treatment program. These are likely to be new relationships because those that you formerly associated with are likely still doing the same things that you are getting away from. This being said, meetings and other social activities can be somewhat or even very uncomfortable or awkward at first.

So it is important to make an addict or alcoholic that is new to the recovery world feel like they have friends and/or loved ones outside of the programs and rooms of recovery. A good family and support system can make all the difference in the world in aiding towards a full recovery from addiction or alcoholism. Sometimes it is nice for an addict to feel a part of something, when they are feeling lost or down. This gives an addict a sense of normalcy and comfort. However, this comfortable feeling will not last long if the addict or alcoholic is not working a program. So, for those of you dealing with addiction, it good to show “tough love” every once in a while. However, it is ultimately on you to figure out the best way to help your loved one.

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Good Nutrition for a Healthy Recovery

March 15th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Good Nutrition for a Healthy Recovery”

Addiction hinders your ability to take care of yourself and eat the right foods. When your body is not fed with good nutrition, it becomes physically and emotionally sick. Taking care of your body is vital in addiction recovery. Good nutrition plays an important role for your physical health and wellness in sobriety.

In treatment, you learn how to care for your body physically and emotionally by maintaining good nutrition, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and participating in outdoor activities in an oxygen-rich environment.

Holistic addiction therapy encompasses treatment for the mind, body, and spirit. A clear mind will help you discover yourself and become mindful of others. With a clear mind, you can learn about your special interests and healthy activities. Mindfulness allows you to concentrate on keeping your body healthy and nutritionally well.

Addiction makes you neglect self-care. Some drugs make your physical appearance deteriorate, including tooth decay, hair loss, and drastic weight loss due to a lack of good nutrition. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and group fitness motivates clients while providing the opportunity to establish new relationships. Mindfulness and awareness help to produce healthy habits that contribute to your success in recovery.

Nutritional counseling and dietician-designed meals provide guidance in making healthy food choices. Toxins are filtered out through healthy eating and your body is rejuvenated. Eating healthy food reduces disruptive sleep patterns and strengthens self-esteem, confidence, and productivity.

When you take care of your body, you will feel energized, well rested, and restored. A clear mind and good nutrition motivate you to maintain sobriety in a healthy, new lifestyle. The body can heal quicker with good nutrition.

Maintaining good nutrition is essential for a fulfilling, healthy life in recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, get help now. Addiction affects the entire body and feeding your body the right foods will increase self-esteem, confidence, and overall mental and physical health. Do not wait. Take the first step toward sobriety and get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

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The Power of Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery

March 5th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Recover 0 comments on “The Power of Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery”

Addiction affects a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Drugs and alcohol take the brain hostage and interfere with reasoning, movement, feelings, and self-care. Holistic addiction treatment encompasses the mind, body, and soul. The focus on the mind helps clients engage in treatment and stay in the right mindset. Mindfulness is being present, aware, and participating consciously in your experiences as they happen.

A person cannot practice mindfulness until he or she goes through detox. Withdrawal symptoms occur when drug or alcohol use stops. In detox, a medical professional monitors withdrawal symptoms and can offer medication-assisted detox. Addiction clouds the mind with substances that control the brain’s function physically and mentally. The routine of addiction affects the way a person thinks, acts, and feels.

Every day, we are faced with people and things that make us feel. We cannot control how we feel, but we can control how we respond to our feelings. When you enter treatment, you need to be fully engaged and be in the right mindset for success in recovery. Developing an open mind will allow you to accept treatment and alter the central focus of addiction. An open mind will help establish a central focus on wellness, physical and mental health, sustainable relationships, and responsibility.

Depression, sadness, loneliness, or boredom tends to trigger craving and then substance use. Mindfulness teaches you to be aware of your emotions and respond differently. Mindfulness helps you to listen to your body. A clear mind allows you to focus on staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. Mindfulness helps you relieve stress. Keeping a clear, open mind helps incorporate appropriate treatment to heal effectively without drugs or alcohol. A clear mind will help you to understand your feelings and reveal why you turned to drugs or alcohol in the first place. Mindfulness helps to identify any underlying mental health conditions, which are treatable.

An open mind allows you to form new, healthy ways to cope with anxiety, depression, and stress. Open-mindedness will help you embrace the efficacy of holistic treatments. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and recovery is possible. Do not suffer alone. Get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

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How a Healthy Lifestyle Makes it Easier to Stay Sober

March 4th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Recover 0 comments on “How a Healthy Lifestyle Makes it Easier to Stay Sober”

Addiction is a complicated disease of the brain and causes self-destructive behavior, despite harmful consequences. The brain changes chemically and physiologically when a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol. A person becomes physically dependent on the drugs or alcohol and experiences painful withdrawals when he or she stops using them. Adopting a healthy lifestyle in recovery makes it easier to stay sober.

Since the brain changes with addiction, it takes time for the brain to learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Everything associated with a person’s drug or alcohol use must change, including anything or anyone who is related to his or her substance use. Friends associated with drug or alcohol use can unintentionally influence or trigger a relapse. New, sober relationships can develop by attending group meetings. If you feel the urge to use drugs or take a drink, you can call on a sober friend who can talk you through those feelings.

Focusing on healthy activities in recovery will help with your sobriety. Substance abuse and addiction affect mental and physical health. According to an article by Bob Gaydos on addiction recovery for Times-Herald Record, “Recovering physically is a critical hedge against relapse. It is a vital part of the recovery process and establishing new, healthy lifestyle habits can lay the groundwork for years of healthy sobriety.”

When a person is active, he or she will have less time to think about using drugs or alcohol. Staying active lessens the risk of boredom and promotes mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Another way to cope with lifestyle changes involves keeping a journal. It allows you to reflect on your progress and see how you managed emotions and challenges in early recovery. Developing new routines will replace old habits and helps you to avoid triggers. New, sober, sustainable friendships will make it easier to enjoy healthy interests and activities while living substance free.

Recovery is a lifelong process. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Take the first step to a healthy, new sober lifestyle and start your journey to recovery today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

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My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me

February 8th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me”

This is a story of a different experience of addiction, his addiction that became our addiction. Fortunately, I am not an addict or an alcoholic. I am considered by most to be a “good girl,” raised with values and morals in my very close family in the Philippines. I was the baby of four sisters and when I finally made it to America at age fifteen. It was here in the States that I met the love of my life, Joey, who suffers from the powerful disease of addiction.


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Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?

December 29th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?”

Not everyone who drinks or uses drugs is an addict. So why am I an addict? They say that the first step in addressing any problem is admitting that you have a problem, but admitting I was an addict was the last thing I wanted to do. It seemed to me that admitting that I was a drug addict was admitting that I was a flawed human being, that my willpower was worthless, and I was forever inferior to others. Through talking to other addicts and a lot of research, I learned that just like diabetes, addiction was a disease and, though I didn’t necessarily choose it, I could learn to live with it as soon as I identified as someone who has the disease.

Progression of Addiction

Since the 1950’s, addiction has been known by the AMA (American Medical Association), as a mental disease. A disease is understood as something that is progressive, chronic and fatal, and when I was honest about my condition, it was clear to see that the way I used drugs and alcohol fit into this model.

I remember being 17 and going to parties with friends. It seemed as though everyone around me was interested in socializing with others and listening to the music. Though I was good at pretending, all that I could focus on was the alcohol and pills I saw going around the party. Other people’s observance of me was just an obstacle I had to dart around as I consumed as much as I could. The older I got, the more I became a daily user and adopted new drugs into my regiment, going from alcohol and pills to street drugs like meth and heroin.

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Substances like alcohol and drugs affect the dopamine neurotransmitters, which creates pleasure in the brain. Basically, they make the brain think it is experiencing something great that feels really good, better than the basic pleasures like food and sex. Because of the extreme pleasure, the brain’s natural state, or hedonic set-point is increased. Therefore, basic “feel goods” like food and sex don’t feel as good anymore in comparison.

After repetition of this pattern of consuming drugs and alcohol, the brain stops producing as much dopamine, or “pleasure chemicals,” because it is getting it from an external source. This means that someone who uses substances like these is making it difficult to feel good normally, thus creating a habit or physical dependence on the drugs to feel good. Some people’s brains are more susceptible to a dependence or addiction than others, though anyone has the potential to become addicted.

When did I cross the line of addiction?

I don’t know where I crossed the line from heavy use to addiction, but at about 18 or 19 I was a full blown daily user of opiates and benzos. If I stopped using these drugs everyday, I would get very sick so now I was not just mentally dependent, I was physically dependent. My life started going down hill as I began to flunk classes in college, get in trouble with my family and visited the county jail. I was beginning to think I had a problem.

There are some buzzwords that are commonly connected as a part of addiction and two of these are tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is described as needing more of the substance one is using to achieve the same affect. This happens after repeated frequent use of the substance. So for an opiate addict, this looks like taking two Vicodin and getting high, to having to take ten Vicodin to get high a few weeks later.

Withdrawal happens when a person becomes physically dependent. Once someone begins to develop a tolerance to a drug, they will probably have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. With opiates, the symptoms may feel like body aches, nausea, restlessness and anxiety. Drug or alcohol withdrawal typically needs to be monitored by medical staff because the symptoms are so uncomfortable that if the person wants to stop, they may feel it is impossible without medical help because the symptoms are so uncomfortable.


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Identifying My Problem

After a few visits to treatment centers many AA meetings, and seeing where I could relate to people in recovery instead of looking at the differences in my story, I too identified “my problem,” as the disease of addiction. I recognized that on my own, I could not stop the patterns of behaviors I was participating in my life. I couldn’t fully commit to staying away from the drugs that my body and mind seemed to crave, even if I got a few months free from them.

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In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, they call this place, “the jumping off point.” I did not yet know how to stay sober and find peace, but I knew I had to change something because I was miserable with the way things were going. Even when I put my best effort into stopping the types of behaviors I was acting upon, I alone was not able to stop. Though it was a scary place to be in, at least in that moment I had some relief in admitting that I too was an addict. At that moment, I could decide to do something different and ask for help.

Changing Behaviors and Recovering from Addiction

Though for some addiction is a fatal disease, many do find recovery. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. For me, recovery has been more of a process of letting go of old beliefs systems that were causing me more harm than good and adopting new ones which become more real through changing my behaviors.

It has been internal growth through intensive therapeutic work and 12-step practices which then is manifested as external successes in my life. Recovery has taken place in my life through both treatment and a continual practice of the 12-step program. Today my recovery is my most precious gift which intertwines into all areas of my life.

Where can someone get treatment?

Serenity Springs Recovery Center and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) offer help to those stuck in their addiction. With medical detoxification and the inpatient treatment, individuals can begin their path to full recovery.

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Relapse Prevention Guide

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Relapse Prevention Guide”

relapse preventionMaintaining sobriety and meeting treatment goals after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can be the most difficult part of recovery. However, many people with a substance use disorder do recover from addiction and enjoy a lasting and satisfying sober lifestyle.

A number of those in recovery could relapse after treatment. Preventing or reducing the incidence of relapse by following a comprehensive relapse planning guide has helped many to enjoy drug and alcohol free lives in spite of potential relapses.

Planning and mastering the art of relapse prevention begins while you’re still in treatment. Relapse is not an out-of-the-blue event. Rather, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. As such, it can be monitored. If necessary, adjustments can be made to your relapse prevention planning to help you avoid relapse in the future.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 21.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a substance use disorder is “a chronic brain disease, with behavioral, biological, social, emotional and physical aspects, that is characterized by an inability to control substance abuse.”

What Is Relapse?

A substance use disorder relapse occurs when someone resumes using substances after a period of abstinence. A return to active substance use can vary in duration and intensity from one person to another.

According to the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal, relapse is “a setback that occurs during the behavior change process, such that progress toward the initiation or maintenance of a behavior change goal (e.g., abstinence from drug use) is interrupted by a reversion to the target behavior.”

Relapse Is Not Failure

Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. For many with a substance use disorder, relapse is considered a stepping stone instead of an end point. When relapse happens, it simply indicates that treatment goals must be revisited and revised in some way.

Relapse prevention can include increased attendance at support group meetings. It can mean trying new types of therapy. It might involve that improvements in diet and nutrition or additional inpatient or outpatient treatment is necessary.

Relapse Can Be Part of the Recovery Process

With chronic addiction, relapse can be considered part of the disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent. Those percentage rates are similar to those seen in other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Common Relapse Triggers

Although everyone in recovery is unique, there are some common situations, also called triggers, that seem to be especially difficult for those recovering from a substance use disorder:

  • Negative emotional states
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and weakness
  • Emotional withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, boredom, depression, frustration and irritability
  • Time spent with friends who use
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Visitation of places where you’ve used
  • Relationships that become stressful if something goes wrong
  • Isolating behavior
  • Complacency and letting down your guard
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Peer pressure to use
  • Positive and celebratory emotional states
  • Commercials and advertisements
  • The use of will power or trying to recover by yourself
  • Behavior that tries to control your using

Negative emotional states correlate with the highest relapse rates according to a study by Marlatt and Gordon in 1985. Interpersonal conflict and negative emotional states taken together triggered half of all relapses. Being in social situations where people were using accounted for 20 percent of relapses.

Concurrent Mental Health Conditions

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 7.9 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a concurrent mental health condition.

Untreated mental health conditions can trigger relapse. Treating the substance use disorder as well as the mental health condition can increase the probability of maintaining abstinence. Although substances like drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief from the symptoms of a mental health condition, they actually increase the unpleasant symptoms that those conditions generate.

Phases of Relapse

When you view relapse as a process rather than an event, it has three distinct stages. These stages are emotional, mental and physical relapse.

Emotional Relapse

You might not be thinking of using. However, if you’re harboring negative emotions and participating in high-risk behaviors, you’re creating the groundwork for relapse in the future. The emotional stage of relapse is the easiest to overcome. The later stages get progressively harder to resist.

The trick is to recognize that you’re currently in a state of emotional relapse and change your thoughts and behaviors accordingly. If you remain for too long in a state of emotional relapse, you’ll progress to a state of exhaustion. This exhausted state is called mental relapse, and it will make you want to escape.

Mental Relapse

Once you reach a state of exhaustion, you’re likely to stop taking care of yourself. You could develop poor eating and sleeping habits. You might start to feel resentful and anxious or uncomfortable in your own skin.

In a state of mental relapse, you’re likely to isolate and not ask for help. Your mind is fighting with itself about whether or not to use. You might be thinking about using even though you haven’t picked up. In the mental relapse stage, it’s common to romanticize your using days and to wonder whether you have a substance use disorder after all.

You might think that you can now control your using. You could start hanging out with friends from your using days and fantasize about picking up. You might think you can get away with using because no one will know. The longer you continue to think along those lines, the greater the likelihood that you will pick up.

Coping With the Desire to Use

When you feel like using, here are some tips to reduce the possibility of relapse:

  • Tell someone that you’re thinking of picking up.
  • Do something to turn your thoughts in another direction.
  • Go to a support group meeting and tell the group what you’re feeling.
  • Hold off on using for 30 minutes. Most urges to use will pass after half an hour.
  • Don’t use until tomorrow. By tomorrow, you probably won’t want to.
  • Stay in the now. Don’t tell yourself that you can never use again. Just don’t use today.
  • Do something that you enjoy to help you relax and unwind.
  • Go out for dinner with friends. Putting food in your stomach can take the edge off cravings.

Physical Relapse

If you don’t take preventative action while in the mental relapse mode, you’re headed for physical relapse. At that point, you’ll feel so uncomfortable that you’ll have very little defense against picking up. Relapse can still be prevented, but when you already feel an intense level of mental and emotional distress that could be eliminated by picking up, it’s very difficult to shift your train of thought and change your course of action.

What If You Relapse?

If you resume using, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, seek help as soon as possible. The important thing now is to keep the relapse from progressing. If you act quickly, you can lessen the duration and severity of the experience.

Substance Use Disorder and Brain Chemistry

Substances like heroin, alcohol, cocaine and prescription painkillers all disrupt the neural pathways in the brain. These pathways affect things like impulse control, decision-making, feelings of well-being and how you experience pleasure and pain.

With regular use, you’ll need more and more of a substance to feel okay. When your brain no longer functions properly without substances, you’ll have what’s called a physical dependence.

With physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms and cravings will develop if you try to stop using. You’ll no longer feel normal if the drug is not present in your brain in sufficiently high concentrations.

When you reach this level of discomfort, it’s very easy to convince yourself that using would be a good idea. It would eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that you can get back on track. With this mindset, it’s easy to view using as a reasonable form of self-medication instead of a relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Thinking Positive in Recovery

Physical detox clears substances out of your body, but that alone won’t keep you sober. After physical dependence has been addressed, treatment focuses on how to maintain a sober lifestyle while living substance-free. Sober living requires attention to the mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of a substance use disorder.

A form of behavioral therapy called CBT is often used to treat those recovering from addiction. According to the journal of the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “abstinence rates may be increased with the use of CBT methods.”

Your habitual thoughts affect your health, your mental state, your emotional well-being and your behavior. CBT is used to explore the various ways that your thoughts affect your recovery. CBT can help you to replace the old, negative thought patterns so common in active addiction with positive thought patterns that support a healthy and satisfying sober lifestyle.

CBT and Learning Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Everyday stress is one of the most common causes of relapse. CBT can teach you new coping skills that will help you deal with stress in a healthy and effective manner.

CBT can also help you cope with the anxiety, depression, anger and emotional mood swings that make recovery so difficult. Studies published in the Psychiatric Times journal suggest that “CBT may actually help to improve a person’s neurobiological circuits in the brain.”

Length of Time in Treatment

It you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder, you can reduce the potential for relapse by completing your full course of treatment. The longer you remain in treatment, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn and establish new coping mechanisms before resuming a normal life in the real world. According to Psych Central, the length of time spent in treatment correlates with how long a recovering person is able to maintain abstinence.

The Role of Medication

Medication can help to regulate moods and reduce cravings. In many programs, medication is an essential element of a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment approach that combines pharmacological therapy with behavioral therapy.

Activities That Support the Recovery Process

Here are some examples of basic holistic activities that can help you to avoid relapse by improving your overall feelings of well-being:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eight hours of sleep
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Good nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindful meditation
  • Massage therapy

Effects of the Environment on Recovery From a Substance Use Disorder

Some environments are more supportive of long-term recovery than others. Relationships with family members can help or hinder the recovery process. Family counseling and therapy for those who have loved ones in treatment can be helpful for family members as well as for the recovering person.

Counseling sessions can help family members to develop good communication skills. Clear communication makes it easier to support the treatment goals of the family member with a substance use disorder.

During counseling, loved ones are educated about how the disease of addiction works. When family members understand what the recovering person is going through, they are better equipped to help that person cope with stress more effectively. They can also help the recovering person to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

The Importance of a Strong Support System

Studies show that those in recovery who have received treatment and participate in twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are more likely to stay sober and remain abstinent.

Recovering people who surround themselves with others who are also in recovery receive regular healthy peer pressure and experience a sense of connection and fellowship with others. That ongoing support helps them to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle. Being part of a recovering community also helps those with a substance use disorder to avoid relapse.

Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction - cover image for Serenity Springs Recovery Blog

Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction

December 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction”

The holiday season, many believe, is a time to spend together and to appreciate one another. But for someone experiencing a substance abuse issue or in recovery, this time might become incredibly stressful. (more…)

Top down view of human brain depicting left side right side differences. The right side shows creative, music and art while the left side shows calculation, numbers and mathematics. Serenity Springs Amino Acid Therapy Blog

New Holistic Treatment: Amino Acid Therapy for Addiction

August 23rd, 2017 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, News, Recover, Treatment 1 comment on “New Holistic Treatment: Amino Acid Therapy for Addiction”

As many addicts will tell you, addiction is less about what they are addicted to and more about why they are addicted to it. As more and more research emerges around addiction and treatments for addiction, it is clear that the brain and its functions play a huge role. Without physically changing the way the brain is working, addictions are nearly impossible to overcome. Even if one habit is dropped, another will be picked up just as quickly. This is why many addicts are known to jump from substance to substance, habit to habit.

According to Psychology Today, many addictions are indeed psychologically based, which means that the actions of an addict are more psychological than they are physical. Of course, whether or not an addiction is truly a disease or a mental illness is still up for debate and remains to be a highly controversial subject. However, debating what causes addiction or why people become addicts isn’t immediately helpful for individuals dealing with its effects right now. In order to help individuals with addictions function in daily life, and to perhaps even save their life in some cases, effective treatments need to be discovered and made available.


One such treatment has of late been incredibly promising. A completely holistic treatment that is showing positive results in the lives of addicts, Amino Acid Therapy directly impacts the brain, repairing areas that have been negatively impacted by years of addiction. Contact Serenity Springs Recovery Center about the Amino Acid Therapy they offer to anyone looking to restore damages from substance abuse.

Why do Amino Acid Treatments work?

By nature of the addiction, most alcohol, drug, and other substance addicts are very nutrient depleted. Their years of misuse take a toll on the body and leave their brain, among other things, in disrepair. In order to help the body and brain recover, addicts need to replenish the nutrients that they have drained.

colorful brain with math formulas around it - amino acid therapy blog - Serenity SpringsAmong these nutrients, amino acids are the most important for recovery because they directly impact the neurotransmitters of the brain. The brain’s neurotransmitters are designed to react to their environment, which is why they can be damaged and altered by substance abuse. When these neurotransmitters no longer function as they should, the brain suffers, confusing how it perceives and understands pleasure. Neurotransmitters also have the ability to alter mood, proving substance addiction can produce such a dangerous tailspin.

By bolstering the brain’s neurotransmitters with an influx of amino acids, these centers can be rebuilt and restored. When they are, people with addictions are freed from the cycle. Initial amino acid therapy sessions allow other key elements of recovery to take hold. Without first treating the brain, other treatments will be less effective and the results will be short-lived.

What does an Amino Acid Therapy session involve?

At most recovery clinics, amino acid therapy is given to addicts intravenously. A highly-concentrated solution, these amino acids are dripped intravenously for up to eight hours each day. While this may seem like a long time, these sessions are effective because of prolonged exposure. In order for the amino acids to have an opportunity to actually repair the neurotransmitters in the brain, they need to be given ample time to do their work.

Dr. Humiston performing our Amino Acid Therapy for Addiction Recovery of the damaged brain. (300x200)As amino acids enter the body, the brain receives the tools its need to repair the damage that has been done over the years. For many addicts, they will undergo this day-long treatment for about a week in order to receive lasting benefits. For some addicts who have been using substances recently, the treatment needs to last much longer, sometimes up to fifteen days. Read more about Serenity Springs’ Amino Acid Therapy and Neurorecover from one of our clinical staff, Dr. John Humiston

Will the results of Amino Acid Therapy last?

When you start to rebuild the structures of the brain, you get lasting results. Incredibly, most addicts that undergo amino acid treatment say that are freed from cravings and depression. An article featured on Integrative Psychiatry reveals that not only does this type of therapy have lasting effects for addiction treatment, but it has incredible lasting results for individuals suffering from depression.

“Using amino acids (neurotransmitter precursors) in certain combinations, and with appropriate administration timing allows us to manufacture more of the specific mood elevating neurotransmitters in the brain.”

As a major underlying cause of many addictions, the capacity to treat depression as well as the addiction itself is just one reason why this type of therapy really works. Unlike pharmaceutical solutions that play with neurotransmitters in the brain, amino acid therapy actually rebuilds them. Without amino acid therapy, many individuals become reliant on prescription drugs, needing them in order to keep their brain functioning. Amino acid therapy has the benefit of not needing these types of drugs, as the brain is actually healed and rebuilt during treatment. This treatment is offered at Serenity Springs Recovery Center as part of our Health and Wellness program.

Where do you find Amino Acid Treatments for addicts?

Many clinics and treatment centers today offer amino acid therapy as an effective holistic treatment for addiction. Although the treatment is becoming more common, it’s always important to make sure it is done properly in order to get lasting results. Some professionals recommend having tests done that show which amino acids your body needs the most in order to receive those that will specifically help you during recovery. Replacing amino acids that the body is deficient in during treatment sessions is a powerful form of lasting therapy.

While you can find clinics that offer one-day treatment sessions, that is not enough for an addict or alcoholic. Sporadic treatments, although not harmful, will not have the same results as ones that are done consistently for several days, or weeks, at a time. If you deal with chronic addiction and need help, amino acid therapy treatments are effective. However, you will need to commit to back-to-back therapy. You should also choose a place where you are supported through the recovery and treatment process.

Find an addiction treatment center you can trust, one that can see you through from start to finish. You can use amino acid treatments to finally beat your addiction. Serenity Springs has helped so many do just that. Cutting-edge treatment options are available to all and are another component of our formula for success!

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Learn more about amino acid therapy:

 CALL (386) 423-4540

The Solution is Simple - Serenity Springs Addiction Recovery Blog - logo at the end of path through trees

The Solution is Simple

August 16th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Featured Alums, Recover, Spiritual Experience 1 comment on “The Solution is Simple”
The Cycle of Addiction (below) illustrates the different phases of the addiction disease which will continue over and over again until the addict or alcoholic finds a Higher Power and digs into the real problem, which is SELF. A real addict cannot get out of this cycle on will power. They will continue to replace the spiritual malady (feeling restless, irritable, discontent with an obsession to use) until this power is found. (more…)

Entrance to the Serenity Springs intensive outpatient facility with wood floors white couches and bright lighting

Intensive Outpatient Program

May 12th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Recover, Treatment 1 comment on “Intensive Outpatient Program”
Serenity Springs believes in a life-long recovery, through treating the mind, body, and spirit.  Our Intensive Outpatient Program offers a number of different services for both men and women that are tailored to fit each individual’s needs, and combine the latest clinical techniques with the twelve-step program. (more…)

Kyle Fleming standing in front of the pond at serenity springs recovery center

Featured Serenity Springs Alumni: Kyle Fleming

February 2nd, 2017 Posted by Blog, Featured Alums, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Featured Serenity Springs Alumni: Kyle Fleming”
Kyle Fleming is an alumnus of Serenity Springs Recovery Center and has about two-and-a-half years of sobriety. A native of New Jersey, consequences weren’t enough to keep Kyle sober, but they were instrumental in getting him the help he needed. (more…)

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