National Recovery Month: Forgiveness in Recovery

In light of National Recovery Month, we will focus on two important topics that are not commonly discussed in relation to recovery: forgiveness and the difference between sobriety and recovery.

National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. Now in its 31st year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those living in recovery”.

Our team at Quest2Recovery believes in celebrating recovery daily as addiction recovery is based on progress, not perfection. Each new day is one step forward in the right direction.

 

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

— Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is an important lesson to learn, not only in recovery but also during many stages of life. Forgiveness is an intentional and voluntary process characterized by letting go of any negative energy from our inner selves that was aimed at other individuals and/or aimed towards ourselves. People forgive each other for small and large mistakes all the time. We are taught from a young age to value forgiveness to be successful in our personal and professional relationships. Without forgiveness, we will harvest ill feelings such as resentment, anger, jealousy, and bitterness, negatively affecting our mental health. Letting go and forgiving another individual is not about that individual, but about us. We are letting go and freeing any negativity from our hearts and minds. Forgiveness in recovery can be a bit more complicated as often, we are not only offering forgiveness to others, but we forgive ourselves for our past actions, thoughts, and mistakes.

 

Dangers of harvesting resentment in recovery

Addiction can be fueled by past abuse, trauma, and hurtful actions by others. It can feel threatening to forgive those who have hurt us, and it can also feel scary to forgive ourselves for our bad decisions. However, harvesting resentment in recovery can be very unhealthy and often lead to relapse. Sobriety usually starts with forgiveness as harboring anger and resentment can lead to anxiety, increased stress levels, and a weakened immune system. When you were using drugs or alcohol, you may have been able to cover up any negative feelings with your addictive substance of choice; however, now that you are in recovery, you cannot use these unhealthy vices as a crutch. As a result, you are more prone to feeling every type of emotion during recovery, both positive and negative.

 

Resentment and addiction

Individuals struggling with a substance use disorder can often harbor feelings of resentment, guilt, and anger, which can worsen their already present addiction and even lead to a co-occurring mental health addiction such as depression or anxiety. Without forgiveness, there is resentment, blame, guilt, hurt, and grudges. The most common grievances associated with addiction include the following:

 

  • Unrealistic and high expectations of others while holding low expectations for themselves
  • Resentful towards other people who are trying to help, give advice, or offer encouragement
  • Anger associated with past trauma
  • Jealousy of others
  • Anger associated with being wrong by others in the past

 

Forgiveness: an opportunity to begin anew

Forgiving others is not only about letting go of negative feelings, but it also provides the opportunity for growth within new relationships. It can give you a fresh start, a do-over. Of course, you have the option of giving those you forgive second chances, but you also have space to allow for other people to enter your life. A strong support system is necessary for a successful recovery, and by forgiving others, you create space and compassion for new relationships.

 

The importance of self-forgiveness

Accepting your mistakes, acknowledging your emotions of guilt and shame, learning from your past experiences, sharing your lessons and feelings with others, and making up for your past mistakes through actions are all significant steps in self-forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for your addiction and the associated behaviors that go along with it can greatly impact your recovery. Self-forgiveness can boost your self-esteem, which can result in healthier lifestyle choices and self-care routines. Self-forgiveness can allow you new growth opportunities. Self-forgiveness can allow you space for healing and compassion. Self-forgiveness can allow you to hold new relationships. And most importantly, self-forgiveness can allow you to succeed in recovery.

 

Have you taken steps to forgive yourself and others? If not, what is holding you back?

 

Seeking help, forgiveness, and recovery at Quest 2 Recovery

Our philosophy at Quest 2 Recovery is simple: heal the mind, body, and spirit in a family-like environment. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, one that caters to each individual’s distinct needs. As a trauma-based treatment program, we believe in resolving the underlying issues that brought the onset of substance use. Our team of clinicians helps each client identify the faulty belief systems stemming from childhood, then psych-educate clients on the symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”.

LGBTQ Pride Month

Stigma, Addiction, and Mental Health within the LGBTQ Community

“Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against LGBTQ people is a deadly carcinogen. We are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other’s differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation.”

-Leslie Feinberg

Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are more at risk for substance use and mental health disorders compared to the heterosexual cis community. As we dive deep into LGBTQ Pride Month, it is important to honor this minority community and gain a deeper understanding of why these individuals are at a higher risk for addiction and mental health concerns. We want to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction and mental health in this special community, and we want to break down the barriers to entering treatment.

LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated every June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots took place in New York after the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. This raid sparked a six-day violent protest between the community and law enforcement and catalyzed gay rights across the globe. As with many minorities, the LGBTQ community is marginalized and stigmatized and often discriminated against, causing this community stress and anxiety. In recent years, we have made giant steps forward in terms of equal rights for the LGBTQ population, but there is still enormous progress to be made as we move forward and eliminate the stigma.

Taking a look at the statistics

  • Among all U.S. adults aged 18 and over, 96.6% identify as straight, 1.6% as gay or lesbian, 0.7% as bisexual, and the remaining 1.1% as “something else.”
  • 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation.
  • An estimated 20-30% of LGBT individuals abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. 25% of LGBT individuals abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
  • Approximately 8 percent of LGBT individuals and nearly 27 percent of transgender individuals report being denied needed health care outright.
  • More than 1 in 5 LGBT individuals reported withholding information about their sexual practices from their doctor or another health care professional.
  • LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm than straight youths.
  • LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • The LGBTQ community is at a higher risk for suicide because they lack peer support and face harassment, mental health conditions, and substance abuse.
  • Compared with heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder.
  • 25% of LGBT people abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10% of the general population.
  • An estimated 20-30% of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population.
  • The LGBT community is at a higher risk of bullying and has even been the center points for violent attacks.

Why are substance abuse and mental health disorders so much higher in the LGBTQ population?

  • Stress: The LGBTQ community and other minority communities are under constant stress and tension. Our society does not view them as equal, and as a result, they are continuously enduring social prejudice. Whether it is in public, in the workplace, in relationships, in their family, or within the political system, the LGBTQ community struggles with being seen and heard. Often, their family members and close friends will disown them because of their sexual orientation. This community is at risk of loneliness, stress, and discrimination, and as a result, they are more likely to use alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with their feelings. Drowning out rejection, sorrow, and depression with alcohol or heroin can be a temporary unhealthy Band-Aid to relieve their internal pain. With increasing use, this can turn into a habit, which can quickly snowball into an addiction.
  • Stigma: The stigma associated with identifying, as LGBTQ, is unfortunately still very real and powerful. This community is often brutalized, isolated, and harmed simply because of how they choose to identify with their sexuality. The stigma associated with addiction and mental illness is still prominent today. When a member of the LGBTQ community is struggling with depression or an opioid use disorder, the stigma rises exponentially, putting this community at risk of even more rejection, isolation, low self-esteem, and physical threats of violence.
  • Limited access to treatment: Unfortunately, many therapists and treatment centers are not aware of the specific issues that the LGBTQ community faces. Nor can they relate to this community for the following reasons: their cultural norms conflict with this community, they do not recognize this community is a high risk, and fail to look past the client’s gender and sexual orientation. As a result, members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to seek out treatment for their substance use and mental health disorders out of fear that they will experience discrimination, worsening stigma, and lack of being understood by their providers.

Resources for the LGBTQ community 

Breaking the mold

As treatment providers and mental health specialists, we can do better. We can educate ourselves about the LGBTQ community and try to understand their views, opinions, and internal struggles. We can learn the proper vocabulary and erase the hateful jargon that is often used to stigmatize this population. We can create LGBTQ, specialized treatment programs that are inclusive, empowering, and educational for this population.

If you are part of the LGBTQ community and are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, we want to help you. We at Quest2Recovery, want to treat you, the individual, and not just your disorder. We want to break the mold, set the standard, and be role models for the rest of the addiction treatment industry. We want to invite you to seek help in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.

Feelings of Hope During COVID-19

Feeling of Hope: What We Will Never Take For Granted Again

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted: 

A handshake with a stranger

 Full shelves at the store

 Conversations with the neighbors

 A crowded theatre

 Friday night out

 The taste of communion

 A routine checkup

 The school rush each morning

 Coffee with a friend

 The stadium roaring

 Each deep breath

 A boring Tuesday

 Life itself

 

When this ends: 

 May we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way, better for each other because of the worst.”

– Laura Kelly Fanucci

 

There is no telling when this global pandemic will come to an end. Millions of us are unemployed, thousands of us are sick, and many of us are fearful of the unknown. We are scared of the virus, terrified of the effects it will have on our economy and our mental health. Many of us are forced to work on the front lines while others have the luxury of staying home. There may never be a return to normal, a new normal is on the horizon, but what is a new normal? Will we always have to wear masks in public? Will we still be bumping elbows instead of shaking hands? Will we always be encouraged to practice social distancing? There are so many unknowns that have driven unwanted fear, hate, anxiety, stress, and sadness. But there is also so much hope that has brought into the world because of this global pandemic. 

 

We have adapted

We have learned to communicate virtually through social media and video conferencing. We have clapped for each other, sang with each other, and cheered for each other on our balconies to communicate, “we are still here.” We have become accustomed to masks in public and keeping our distance, six feet to be exact, as a courtesy to protect others. We have visited our doctors and therapists via computers and phone calls, and we have learned to take advantage of curbside pickup and delivery. Our lives and circumstances have changed drastically, but we have not given up. Instead, we have learned to adapt. 

 

We have come together in community

It is not uncommon to see groceries left on doorsteps, encouraging chalk art on the sidewalks, artwork hanging in windows, people volunteering to run errands for the sick and weak, people donating their time and money to help others. Celebrities have provided free virtual comedy shows, concerts, and entertainment to the public. The rich and famous have donated large sums of money to help develop a vaccine and medications to fight COVID-19. Politicians have fought hard to provide financial cushions, debt forgiveness, and forbearance to those who qualify. Regardless of our gender, social class, or race, we have all been affected either directly or indirectly from this virus. As a result, we have all learned to come together as a community to lend a helping hand and choose hope and happiness. 

 

We have slowed down

Travel has been postponed, vacations and sporting events canceled, our social calendars have been cleared, and we have been asked to stay home from work and play. We have learned to appreciate the comfort of our homes, the company of our immediate families, and the value of time. We spend more time nourishing our bodies with home-cooked meals and virtual living room workouts. We can now sip our morning coffee with ease, enjoy long conversations with loved ones, take time to read books, listen to music, and watch the seasons change with ease. We are no longer running the rat race, stuck in traffic on the freeway, and trying to “get ahead of the game”. We are slowing down, reflecting, and taking the time we need to rejuvenate our bodies and minds. 

 

We have practiced kindness

Whether its running errands for strangers, dropping off food for our loved one, supporting our front line workers, or donated to those in financial need, so many of us have gone above and beyond to practice kindness during this trying time. Generosity and kindness are beneficial to our happiness and mental health. Kindness is linked inextricably to joy and contentment, at both psychological and spiritual levels. 

 

We have become resilient 

Everyone has been affected by COVID in one-way or another. Whether we have succumbed to physical illness, mental turmoil, or have reaped the financial repercussions from job loss and the economy, COVID-19 has done a number on our society. However, we are still standing. This is not the first time our society has survived a global pandemic, and more than likely, it will not be the last. We have found ways to keep going, even when reality seems grim. We are strong and resilient, and we have shown that through these trying times. We are finding ways to occupy our time, to entertain each other, to connect, and to make ends meet. 

 

We have asked for help

Many of us are stubborn in the sense that we take pride in being independent and strong. Many of us view asking for help as a weakness when, in fact, asking for help is a sign of strength. Asking for help shows humility, reveals the value in teamwork, and shows that we are trying to learn and gain different perspectives. Asking for help, in the long run, makes us smarter, broadens our horizons, and can do wonders for our mental health. Many of us have asked for help during COVID in more ways that one. We have asked for help financially, we have asked strangers, neighbors, and friends for favors and errands, and we have asked for help from our government, family members, frontline workers, and professionals. Sometimes asking for help can be difficult, especially if we are natural leaders, self-sufficient, and strong-willed, but asking for help during COVID has shown the importance of teamwork, humility, and the willingness for change. 

 

During this trying time, our world has come together to support each other. We have adapted to change, strengthened our communities, offered our helping hands, portrayed kindness, learned to be still, and have become more resilient than ever. It is easy to see the hardships and adverse effects of COVID-19, but even through the darkness, we can still have feelings of hope. Hope for the future, hope for our health, and hope for the next generations to come.

Stressed And Sober: How To Keep Your Sobriety

Recovery from addiction brings many challenges on the journey to lasting sobriety. The ups and downs of daily life can accumulate, increasing your stress level and the risk of relapse. Active measures can help you to deal with stress, so you can stay sober, regardless of outside circumstances. At Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster, CA, we understand the problems and challenges of maintaining sobriety during stressful times.

Have A Plan in Place For Dealing With Stress

An effective substance abuse treatment program will anticipate managing stress as part of the recovery effort. You should have a plan for dealing with these common stresses before they occur, so you can reach for your plan to help you manage the emotions and impulses that are likely to result. Unfortunately, individuals may not always be aware of the buildup of stress in their lives. A number of measures can help them deal with upsets and disappointments before they occur.

Learn To Recognize Your Stress

Make a habit of doing an internal assessment when you are feeling out of sorts. Ask yourself a number of questions about your present condition and state of mind. Is fatigue making you feel less able to deal with a stressful situation? Have you been eating poorly, which can cause physical distress? Were your expectations out of proportion to the reality that is presented? Are you anxious, depressed or angry? Knowing yourself well can help you to deal with the ups and downs of normal life, without resorting to substance use to mute your emotions and reactions.

Remember To Breathe

Stress causes muscles of the chest to tighten, which cause individuals to breathe more shallowly, This reaction, in turn, inhibits the supply of oxygen to the brain and body. As a result, limited breathing can cause you to feel more stressed, unable to think clearly and out of control. When you feel under stress, stop and take a moment to focus on your breathing. Slow down your breathing, in and out, and you will find your thinking slows down along with it, and your body will become more comfortable.

Put Exercise Into Your Daily Regime

Exercise can help you to manage stress, by increasing blood circulation that brings oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body, including your brain. Whatever your exercise of choice, such as workouts, yoga, running or a formal sport, the activity will help to increase dopamine in your brain, which helps you to remain calmer and to think more clearly.

Learn To Meditate

Learning to meditate is a recognized way to deal with negative emotions and thought patterns. Take a meditation class or use a meditation app to help you to calm your mind and emotions, so you can manage everyday life more effectively.

Talk Yourself Out of Negativity

Self-talk can be an important method to change your thought patterns and dispel negative emotions. You may have to “get touch” to stop yourself from spiraling into relapse. Even self-talk that merely looks at the situation more rationally can help you to get to a mental condition that allows you to regain control over your emotions and reactions.

Talk To Someone

Whether you choose to take your problem to a meeting group, a close friend or a counselor, make the effort to talk about what you’re feeling and how much stress you are under. Often, the simple act of talking to “get it out of your head” can put the problem into perspective and input from others can have a calming effect that allows you to manage your emotions and actions more effectively. This is why having a support system is so critical to recovery after addiction. These systems help you to find different ways of viewing the situation and better solutions to manage them.

Take Time For Self Care

Make sure you put the time in your schedule for self-care. Each person determines what self-care entails. It may simply be time for reading, prayer, enjoying the outdoors or playing with your pet. You may have a hobby that gives you satisfaction and puts your mind into a better place. You may enjoy a sport or enjoying time with friends. Whatever puts you in a better frame of mind is your “self-care,” and you should make time for it whenever you are feeling under stress.

Choose Quest 2 Recovery For Help Maintaining A Sober Lifestyle

The addiction specialists at Quest 2 Recovery use their specialized training and experience to help individuals recover from substance abuse and learn methods to manage daily life. We offer detox, inpatient care, dual diagnosis care, and aftercare to help you maintain sobriety. Call Quest 2 Recovery today at 855-783-7888 to make an appointment with a counselor to overcome addiction and learn to sustain your recovery for a normal, productive life.