Seven Ways to Support a Loved One with Addiction

Suppose you have a friend or relative who is struggling with a substance use disorder. Whether it is alcohol, recreational drugs, or illicit drugs, it can be one of the most challenging situations to witness. Addiction can be crumbling, and when you are sitting in the backseat, watching it unfold with your loved one, it is a normal reaction to want to help. But how can you help? Many individuals are afraid to help, may not know how to help, or may cause more harm than good when trying to help. While each situation is unique, and everyone is fighting their own battle, below are some general tips on how to support a loved one who is struggling with an addiction.

Establish trust

The relationship between you and your loved one can be severed if trust is not at the foundation. Therefore it is essential to take action to build and strengthen trust in the relationship. Trust requires honesty, compassion, empathy, boundaries, and being able to communicate regardless of having different opinions or perspectives. Avoid negative interactions such as nagging, name-calling, criticizing, and judging, and instead, focus on the positive ways to help your loved one seek treatment.

Do not enable

An enabler is defined as “an individual who encourages negative or self-destructive behaviors.” 

Unfortunately, many family members and friends act as enablers to their loved ones who struggle with a substance use disorder. We often are scared or upset for our loved ones and want to support them, but instead of being honest with them, we try to rescue them from their addictive behaviors. We often will lend them money, bail them out of jail, make excuses, and hold their hand when they are in trouble. Even if we are doing these things out of compassion and empathy, this is more hurtful than helpful and can lead to worsening behaviors. Instead of enabling our loved ones, we should hold them accountable, allow them to experience the consequences associated with their addiction, and try our best to help them seek professional help.

Educate yourself

Mental health and substance use disorders are not simple. They are complicated disorders with painful consequences that can potentially wreak havoc. However, with the right education and treatment, there is hope for a full recovery and a successful future. As a family member or friend, it is essential to educate yourself about the addiction process so you can better understand your loved one’s disorder and journey to recovery.

Practice compassion and empathy

Addiction is difficult. The path to recovery is challenging, and sometimes relapse can be devastating. Nobody is to blame, but we often find ourselves pointing fingers, arguing, and destroying relationships because of the underlying addiction. During these times, it is crucial to take a step back, be kind, offer help, listen, and practice compassion and empathy towards your loved one.

Encourage treatment

Every substance use and mental health disorder will require professional treatment, at some point in the course of the disease. Seeking treatment earlier rather than later can reduce harmful consequences and can potentially lead to faster recovery. It is essential to encourage your loved one to seek treatment and find a treatment center that best fits their needs and personality. The relationship between the treatment team and your loved one is one of the most critical factors associated with recovery.

Set boundaries

In the chaos of addiction, boundaries are essential for your well-being. When individuals are deep in the perils of their addiction, they often portray harmful behaviors. They can cross boundaries that can potentially affect your own mental well-being and personal life. Whether it is prohibiting unethical behaviors such as lying, stealing, and cheating or not allowing them to use alcohol or drugs in your home, setting boundaries is beneficial to both you and your loved one.

Practice self-care

Helping and supporting your loved one during this time can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You may find yourself feeling sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed. As a result, this can affect both your personal and professional life. It is essential to take time for yourself to re-focus and re-center. Remember to spend quality time with your family, practice healthy sleep and dietary habits, and engage in activities that bring you joy. If you want to be a reliable support system for your loved one, you must first take care of yourself.

Someone once told me, ‘I heard you finally got rid of your addiction.’ I smiled and said, ‘No, addiction doesn’t work like that. Once you have it, you will always have it. I just choose not to feed it.”

– Anonymous

Seeking help 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 addiction and mental health disorders to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”. 

PTSD and the Lifelong Road to Recovery

This blog is written by John D. Ivanisin III, a Quest 2 Recovery alumni. On May 17th, 2020 he celebrated one year of sobriety.

Introduction

I grew up in a small town outside of Hartford, Connecticut. My parents raised me, my brother, and sister together until they separated in 1995 when I was 11 years old. From what I can remember, I had a fairly happy childhood. There was no abuse going on in my home, my parents were both sober and in recovery for alcohol and prescription drugs. Things seemed to be normal until they sat us children down and told us they would be separating. Their separation lasted around five years. Within that time frame, I moved homes about 10 times; in the same town, to and from my father’s house. It was also during this time that I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I started smoking marijuana, which eventually led to trying other harder drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine. My drinking always seemed to bother me because my father was a recovering alcoholic and I did not want to go down the same path. I eventually stopped using all drugs and alcohol on my own, so I could get my life together and join the US Marine Corps.

My Life in the Marine Corps

On December 19, 2003 I enlisted into the delayed entry program of the United States Marine Corps. On February 9th the following year, I went to boot camp. After boot camp, I completed combat training, and parachute rigger school. Then, I was sent to my first duty station in Okinawa, Japan. I had just turned 20 years old when I got there. Because we were in a foreign country, there was a curfew for all junior Marines. This left a lot of idle time, which led to boredom, and eventually to starting drinking underage in the military, which is illegal. Luckily, I never got caught drinking before finally turning 21. When I turned of age, it was on. I would drink as much as I could just about everyday for several months, until my lack of attendance at work started to raise some concerns, and my command mandated that I attend classes for alcohol abuse. I had been in the military less than a year at this point. I spent the next nine years of my life in the military deploying twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. After these deployments, which lasted 7 months a piece, my drinking continued to go through cycles of good times and really bad times, though I never really felt like I couldn’t control my drinking. I was a Marine and there was nothing I couldn’t control. I was invincible and the roughest, toughest guy out there. I didn’t need AA or rehab, I just needed everyone to stay out of my business so I could handle my problems the way I knew best, which of course, was to drink. Nobody knew what was best for me except for me. In October of 2012, I was arrested for driving under the influence. I blew a .159 BAC. I got lucky and was never charged by the military, and due to my moving to Florida, the Honolulu Superior court decided not to prosecute, and dropped all charges in 2018.

Life After the Military

In 2013, I was honorably discharged from active duty. My mother and stepfather bought a house in Florida, so I decided to move there with them and start my new life as a civilian. I met my wife in 2014, and in 2015 we moved to California, where we currently reside with our two children. In my early days in California, my drinking started to increase because I was working as a DJ at some of the local bars. As I drank more, I started snorting cocaine to be able to keep drinking. For about a year, I was spending around $1,700 a month on cocaine. All the money I earned from DJing went to drugs and more drugs. I had other sources of income, so nobody really knew how much I was spending, except for me and my dealer. In December of 2017, after being out of the military for four years, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder, depression disorder and substance abuse disorder.

Quest 2 Recovery

My last night using drugs and alcohol was May 16th,  2019. I blacked out from drinking and taking Xanax, and drove myself to a bar where I was ultimately carried out of an hour after arriving. I remember waking up soaked in my own urine at about 4 am and immediately started making phone calls to find more cocaine. I left to go get it and did not return home until about 5pm later that day, despite my wifes and friends’ efforts to get me to come home. When I arrived at my house, my wife said that she was going to be moving back to Florida if I did not stop drinking, so I agreed to go to rehab. I just wanted to die at that time and end all the pain, but I got online and started googling rehab facilities near me. Quest 2 Recovery was the closest place to where I lived, so I figured I would call them first. I spoke to Armen Melikyan, the co-founder of Quest, and he gave me some information on the program, and also asked a few questions. He then told me someone would be in contact within the next 15 minutes. Sure enough, the Clinical Director and Therapist for Quest, Amber Carra, called me and talked to me for a while discussing treatment options and whether or not I was serious about getting sober; I was. I arrived at the facility at about 9 pm that same night. The facility was nothing like what I had pictured in my head. I was expecting a big white hospital, with white padded rooms, and security guards in white scrubs, walking around with billy clubs like I’d seen in some movies. I had never been to rehab, so I was shocked when I pulled up to a normal house. The facility was beautiful, the staff were friendly and very supportive. Quest is dedicated to their military and first-responder clients, and they made that very clear at the start. I was treated well upon arrival and made to feel like I mattered to someone.

What Quest Did for Me

During my time at Quest, I was able to focus on myself and getting healthy again. There were no outside distractions that kept me from getting better. The staff and fellow clients at Quest helped  show me that I can have a good life without alcohol or drugs. Through therapy, I was able to address some of the issues that I had been dealing with for a long time. I was able to really take the time to find out who I am, and what I want out of life. I could not have quit drinking and using drugs on my own. I needed a place to feel safe and comfortable in order to get better, and Quest was the miracle that saved me. Some of the important things I gained from my time at Quest are finding my higher power, feeling the sense of relief when I figured out that I am not alone, and that there were many people just like me going through the same things that I struggle with. I also learned that a positive outlook, even in bad situations, can really make all the difference. Having a clear head to make decisions has changed my life entirely for the better.

A Message to Veterans

The hardest thing I had to do in my recovery was make that first phone call to Quest 2 Recovery, and decide that it was time to end the insanity that I called my life. Recovery is not something that you just get, it requires as much effort as getting through boot camp, if not more. But there is peace, serenity, and happiness that can be attained if you are willing to put in the effort. I did not believe it until I began to experience it for myself. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous were truly a cornerstone of my recovery after Quest. I know how difficult it can be to reach out for help, but asking for help essentially saved my life and my marriage. If you are a veteran or a first responder, Quest is the place to go to get better. It was nothing like I imagined, in fact it was the complete opposite. My 30 day stay at Quest was honestly some of the most beautiful days of my life, and it has only gotten better since then. Getting the help you need can mean the difference in life and death. I did not want to live, I didn’t think there was anything worth living for, but I am typing this letter to you now being sober for over one year. It has not been the easiest thing I have ever done, but it has been worth every effort that I put in. If I can make one recommendation to anyone out there struggling with addiction and PTSD, it is to never give up. There is a path to happiness, you just have to walk down that path. Take advantage of all the resources that Quest has to offer and be open minded. If you can make the choice to get clean and sober, Quest will do everything they can to get you there and help keep you sober. All you have to do is pick up that phone and call

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.

How You Can Enjoy Life More after Becoming Sober

Addiction can be a truly crippling disease.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.3 million deaths per year result from alcohol abuse. Somewhere around 31 million people all over the world also struggle with disorders related to drug use.

Becoming addicted to substances that can cause such irreparable damage to your body may seem so illogical, but when you are in the throes of your downward spiral, all that really matters is satisfying your dependency. Your wellbeing probably won’t rank high on your list of priorities at that point.

Still, many are afraid to let go of their dependency. They fear that sobriety will rob them of their joy and make it impossible for them to have fun in any meaningful way.

That is far from being the case of course. There is indeed fun in sobriety and by following the tips included below, people in recovery and those who have already become sober will be able to understand that there’s life after overcoming the challenges of addiction.

1. Start to Develop More Meaningful Relationships

One of the things that tend to happen when you become addicted to any harmful substance is that you start to alienate the people around you. When your mindset 24/7 is just about how you can satisfy your urge, you don’t often spare a second thought for the people around you.

It takes a lot of courage to admit you’re wrong to the people who care about you and ask for their forgiveness, but those are all parts of the healing process. By doing those things, you can begin to better understand what you were missing as you throw yourself fully into the arms of toxic substances.

Connecting with people, hanging out with them, and sharing a few laughs are all fun activities you won’t be able to enjoy fully as long as you’re addicted.

Being sober will also help you create new relationships with new people. You can expand your network and welcome more people into your life now that you are no longer dependent on a substance.

2. Become More Active

Being dependent on certain substances can really take a toll on your body. Even if you were a relatively healthy and fit individual before, your dependences may have changed that.

Now that you are sober, you can begin to reclaim what you lost.

Take up a team sport such as basketball to get in better shape and to get a better sense of what it’s like to be part of a group. If you’re not up for that just yet, you can also try out other physical activities such as hiking or camping. You won’t need any mind-altering substances when you have the wonders of nature stimulating your senses.

On top of all that, becoming more active can also reduce post-acute withdrawal symptoms, according to VeryWell Mind.

3. Indulge Your Creative Side

It’s not just your strength and the vitality that’s drained from you when you become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol. Your mind also loses its edge as well.

Some say that they use those substances in the first place because they want to alter their state of mind, but there is simply no need for them if your goal is to simply experience something truly special.

Devote your energy into coming up with a story that deserves to be told or if you’re more skilled with a sketch pad, draw whatever it is that is running through your mind. The mind can become so muddled when it is dependent on foreign substances, but now that it is returning to normal, it can come up with such wondrous works again.

4. Beautify Your Home

So, what’s the best way to leverage all those inspired ideas that are floating around inside your head? Well, one thing you can try is to start changing things around your home.

In the past, your home may have seemed like a sanctuary for your substance abuse, so changing it up quite a bit is not a bad move at all. Feel free to go all out with the changes you want to make as well. You’re fortunate to have a fresh start and your home deserves one too.

If you do have a knack for drawing or painting, you can even put your works up to around your home as reminders of what you can accomplish now that you’re sober.

5. Relax

You’re always running after something when you’re addicted. Perhaps you’re running after that substance that can provide that artificial high or something else that can eventually help you capture that elusive sensation.

There’s no need to constantly run anymore. You can now relax.

Take the time to breathe, meditate, and reflect on how far you’ve come since those days when your addiction overwhelmed you. Sobriety itself is the greatest reward, but even just being able to relax again is something you’ll be able to appreciate greatly.

Conclusion

The notion that becoming sober means no longer having fun is just flat out wrong. Using harmful substances is not a prerequisite for enjoying your life. Now that you’ve broken free from the clutches of those substances, you can start to see what living life truly is about.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it is not too late to get help. At Quest 2 Recovery, it is our goal to help you get off drugs and live a better life. Contact us today!

Why You Should Build A Support Group In Early Sobriety

Whether we realize it or not we all have support groups of many kinds. We surround ourselves with people that validate us, and who help us in various ways.

When you get on the road to sobriety, one of the first things you are told to do is to cut ties with those people who are a bad influence. These are people that enable your addiction, validate your behavior, and encourage you to make bad decisions.

Once you begin treatment for addiction, you may rid yourself of bad influences, but then you will find a hole, or something missing. That something missing is a support group that can help you on the road to recovery.

Why You Need A Support Group

It is true that the journey to sobriety, and staying sober, is an individual journey you must take for yourself. Even so, that does not diminish the importance of having a support group. We need other people no matter what we are doing.

We all need a support group. Many of these are formed unconcsiously as we select a group of friends to associate with. This group will influence you for the good or bad. When on the road to sobriety, you can choose the support group you need intentionally. Choosing new friends is just one part of the road to recovery.

A support group gives us a sense of community. It is a social network where you can get support, friendship and hope that you will indeed overcome. Seeing other people struggle and overcome can inspire us to keep trying when the road gets rough. We can also be helped as we help others with their struggles. It is easier to fight against an enemy when you feel like you have allies in the struggle. Being alone, or feeling alone, is one of the things that makes addiction hard to beat, and makes sobriety hard to achieve.

The Benefits

People

One of the main benefits of a support group is sharing with each other. As you listen to other people’s stories, and as they listen to yours, you can become inspired to keep going. Part of the problem of addiction is seeing yourself as alone, which makes the addiction worse. Having that group around you helps you realize you are not alone. You may also learn something from the stories of other people, which also helps with recovery.

When you were under the control of addiction, you had friends that shared a similar interest and maybe even the same addiction. You may not have been aware of it, but they were influencing you to make bad choices. With a positive support group, you can have other kinds of friends, the ones that support you and encourage you to make good choices.

The friends are there every day, and you need that support. There are also times when the going gets rough and you need more than a casual friend. In those times you can get the encouragement you need through your support group or network. They are there to help you when you are struggling most. Another benefit is mutual support which gives motivation. You can help motivate others in your support group, and they can help you. By talking about issues you help and encourage each other.

Accountability

Accountability is another aspect of having a support group. Encouragement and validation that friends provide is great, but there is another side. You need to have someone in your life who will question you when you start slipping into old ways that could lead you back to addiction. The group supports you and encourages you, and it also holds you accountable and points it out when you do not do well. You will be doing the same for other members of the group. There is then, both a benefit and a responsibility in a support group.

Being part of a group gives you a chance to be around individuals who are struggling just like you are. it also gives you a chance to be around people who are recovering and they will be a great inspiration. It is easier to relate to people who are either in or have been in, the same situation you are in. It is easier to relate to each other on many levels.

Connection

The group also gives you someone to talk to who can understand your struggles. it is very discouraging to try to talk to someone about your struggles if they are judging you or giving you simplistic answers, which is what you do not need. The more you talk about your addiction, the better you will be able to control the addiction. Secrecy is part of what makes it so strong, so talking about it defeats that before it has a chance to grow.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to reach out. At Quest 2 Recovery, we want to be there to help you on the right path of sobriety. Contact us today.