Supportive Environments: Growth Occurs in a Fertile Garden

A rose grows best in a healthy garden. Provided with adequate, yet not overbearing, amounts of sunlight and water and fertile soil, a rose can blossom to its full potential. In a similar manner, when we are in recovery, we grow to our full potential within a supportive environment.

We can become our best selves when we are nurtured with a sense of community and belonging. We thrive within stable and predictable structures. Much like a healthy garden, our environment can determine our potential for growth and change in recovery.

Some of us may not have the proper resources for recovery in our current or past home environments. You may have attended short-term recovery programs for only a week or two, then returned prematurely to an unstable home life. The instability, lack of support and structure, and overall feeling of chaos may have led you right back to engaging in your past addictive behaviors.

The Revolving Doors of Treatment

Short-term recovery programs sometimes operate as if they have “revolving doors.” People go into treatment, live a sober life for a few days, feel confident in their recovery, go home, and then find themselves seeking help again only a few weeks later. What happens? Often, we do not have the resources at home to maintain our recovery.

We might live with loved ones, who care for us but enable our behaviors. We could live in an area where access to our means of addiction—such as living near a local bar—is readily available. Living in unhealthy environments can lead to us feeling triggered and we can relapse. Then, the cycle of the revolving door treatment begins.

While short-term treatment programs have the best intentions, they may not always provide the adequate length of time necessary for us to change our behaviors. Humans are considered by many people to be “creatures of habit.” We thrive on routines and tend to resist change. Change, for many people, may seem scary.

Even change for the better can open the door for more challenges that we may not be ready for. Short-term care may help us find some coping skills or tools to help us manage our addictions. However, if we are returning to an environment that triggers our unhealthy habits before we have had time to develop a truly healthy mindset, we may be doomed to fail and find ourselves going back into the revolving door treatment.

Healthy Environments for Recovery: The 5 Pillars of Recovery

What constitutes a healthy environment for recovery? Mainly, a safe and comfortable home that encompasses these five pillars of recovery:

  1. Accountability
    We need to be held accountable for our actions in order to change for the better. Sometimes, in our homes, we are not held accountable by our loved ones. Though they care for us, they may unintentionally enable our unhealthy habits.
  2. Support
    A healthy environment is made of both the place and the people. Finding support among peers, who are struggling with similar issues, will help you recover. They will understand what you are going through in a way that other individuals in your life may not.
  3. Structure
    Some of us may live in chaotic environments with a lack of routine or structure. We may not have the skills to build a routine and find ourselves lost throughout the day. Healthy environments are structured and predictable. We may struggle at first with healthy routines. However, as time passes, we can adjust and learn how to put more structure into our lives.
  4. Community
    A sense of having a connection with others who are striving toward common goals can help us feel a sense of belonging. Healthy environments help us feel like we are accepted for who we are. Having common goals with those in our immediate environment can help us find support in achieving our goals.
  5. Purpose
    Being in an environment that encourages us to find or to live out our purpose in life can set us on the right track to recovery. When we are surrounded by positive and encouraging people for adequate lengths of time, we can find a new way of looking at life.

Time For Change

Learning new behaviors takes time. A healthy environment for recovery treatment will allow for longer exposure to a supportive and structured space. Often, short-term recovery programs do not provide us with enough time to learn new skills or build resilience.

Without building resilience and taking the necessary time to change our mindset, we may be unprepared to face our unhealthy environments and become tempted to utilize our negative coping skills.

By spending time at a long-term treatment program or a sober living home, we will likely have an adequate amount of time to acclimate to our newly found sense of hope in recovery.

Have you been struggling with relapse due to “revolving door” treatment programs? Is your home environment enabling your unhealthy habits and behaviors? Have you learned healthy ways of living during a week-long recovery program only to find yourself falling back to your unhealthy habits? You may not have had enough time to learn new habits and skills. Learning how to recover from addictions and how to live a healthy lifestyle takes time. You are unlikely to master the skills necessary to maintain sobriety for a lifetime in a short-term treatment program. Camelback Recovery believes that recovery habits need to be fostered in a safe and supportive environment over a long period of time. We use the five pillars of recovery to teach you how to cope with life outside of treatment. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information on how we can you or a loved one recover from addictions.

 

Overcoming Shame and Recovering From Sexual Addictions

Many of those seeking to recover from addictions of all kinds struggle in dealing with shame. Sometimes, you experience shame due to feeling weak, admitting that you need help, or having guilt over past actions. For those with sexual addictions, shame is a common barrier to treatment and many people may never find a way to recover.

Sexual behavior is a private and personal matter for most people. When sexual behavior is used to cope with other stressors in life, a person might become addicted to the feelings of excitement and release, much like an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

While anyone in recovery from sexual addiction or any other addiction has likely hurt others in their past, the key to recovery is separating your addictive behavior from your true self. During recovery, you have to accept responsibility for your actions and make amends.

However, you do not need to burden yourself with holding onto shame for your past. Hope is possible and you can change for the better.

Similarities Between Substance and Sexual Addiction

One way to overcome the shame of sexual addiction is realizing that the motivations for sexual addiction are similar to those of substance or alcohol addictions. When experiencing shame, you may feel that others in society will judge you harshly. You may feel like a criminal or that your actions are beyond redemption.

Society has come to terms with viewing addictions to drugs or alcohol as a problem that people can recover from. While in the past, many of those addicted might have denied their issues or hidden them from others, brave individuals have come forward to pave the path for others to heal from their addictions.

While sexual addiction might be a somewhat taboo topic today, those who come forward now to face their addiction head-on will help to clear the pathway for others in the future. Sexual behavior can have similar effects as other substances, which is why some people are vulnerable to addiction.

Sexual behavior, like drugs or alcohol, can make a person feel a “high” that they continue to chase. Some people might use sexual behavior to cope with stress or anxiety, just like others may use alcohol or other substances to achieve the same ends.

A sign of addiction is when chasing this “high” comes ahead of all other things. When prioritizing sexual behavior above everything else in life, the person might have an addiction. You might also be addicted if sexual behavior is the only way that you cope with any stressors in your life.

Many people are susceptible to addictive behaviors and are not alone in recovery. Although sexual addiction may be different from others, the motivations and emotions involved are similar and often the same.

Shame: A Barrier to Healing

Shame can get in the way of healing from all forms of addictive behaviors. For those addicted to sexual behaviors, feelings of shame may be the result of having victimized others or treating a romantic partner poorly. While you need to accept responsibility for your past and your behaviors, the cycle of shame only serves to prevent you from real change.

Shame can be a negative coping skill for you; shame enables you to avoid dealing with your addiction. When experiencing shame, you may feel like punishing yourself or feel like your guilt justifies any pain you may have inflicted on others. Shame becomes a layer that separates you from dealing with your emotional pain. Feelings of guilt and shame only block you from dealing with the underlying causes of your addictive behaviors.

Being vulnerable to share your experiences with others in recovery can help you begin the process of healing and growth. You will find that you are not alone in your experiences. Your addictive behaviors are different than who you truly are. Many people with sexual addictions think that they are flawed on the inside and are incapable of change.

They may be unable to recognize that their behaviors were the result of poorly coping with stress or other underlying issues. To recover from sexual addiction, you must realize that your past behaviors do not define who you are today. You have other qualities and values that define you.

While you cannot change your past or things that you might have done, you can change for the better. Recovery from sexual addictions—like all other addictive behaviors—is possible and there is hope for all those who are struggling. Let go of your shame and guilt; allow yourself to enjoy the gift of recovery.

You are not alone in your addiction, whether you are addicted to substances—like drugs or alcohol—or addicted to behaviors, like sex or gambling. Other people are in recovery from their addictions and are learning new ways to cope with life. They have separated themselves from their addictive behaviors and have broken down the barrier of shame, which impedes many from true growth and change. You may feel guilt for your past behaviors, or you may feel that all hope is lost. However, you can recover from sexual addictions as others have in the past. At Camelback Recovery, we open our doors to those suffering from all kinds of addictive behaviors. Our home environment is a safe place for everyone to share their stories and experiences.
Call us at (602) 466-9880 to begin your recovery today.

 

What Is the Benefit of Paying Ahead for a Long-Term Recovery Program?

Some long-term recovery treatment programs and sober living homes may ask you to pay upfront for a few months of the program. Paying ahead for your treatment may seem like a hardship. However, this may help you stay committed to completing your treatment program.

Paying ahead is a way of investing in your recovery and yourself. You might be more inclined to stick to your program to “get your money’s worth.” During your program, you may face challenges and painful emotions. You may feel tempted to give up and leave the program prematurely.

You may also be accustomed to short-term programs and assume that you will be fine to leave the program after only a few weeks. Paying ahead will help you stay grounded and continue the program. After all, you have already paid for it; why not continue?

The Science of Paying For Therapeutic Treatment

Therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, life coaches, and other professionals specializing in therapeutic interventions usually charge a fee for their services. While these fees help to pay for business expenses, salaries, office spaces, and schooling, paying for services is symbolic of investing in yourself.

Recovery programs are a means to self-improvement and building a better life for yourself. While you might be feeling motivated to recover and improve your life, you may find it difficult to hold yourself accountable to treatment requirements without some form of personal sacrifice.

Preventing Revolving Door Treatment Habits

Committing to your program requirements might be challenging. You may experience some difficult emotions. Completing anything worthwhile will come with challenges, but the challenges will be worth it. Some recovery programs and facilitators have noticed a trend of “revolving door treatment.”

People come in and out continually. They come and go, in a cycle of relapse and recovery. Each time they come to a new program, they feel excited to recover and enter with enthusiasm. However, sometimes, their enthusiasm wears out quickly, and they have no reason to stick around.

To prevent this cycle, many recovery programs and sober living homes have adopted the policy of paying ahead for long-term treatment. When your enthusiasm runs out and you begin to work on forming new habits in recovery, knowing that you might take a financial loss by quitting early can help you to stay in treatment.

Long-Term Treatment

At first glance, a three-month commitment may feel over-bearing. You may not be accustomed to programs with such long-term requirements. As humans, we can often be resistant to change, even when those changes can improve our lives. We feel great discomfort in changing our habits and feel our minds pushing back.

We might hear a voice telling us that life would be easier by falling back on our old habits and addictive behaviors. You need time to change your inner voice. You need time to invest in yourself and your recovery. Changing your addictive behaviors is complex and requires time to make lifelong improvements.

Why is changing our addictive behaviors so complicated? Why are we prone to do things that are bad for us? You may be asking questions like this. You might think that by realizing your behaviors are destructive, you can fix your addictions easily and quickly. Human behavior is incredibly complex and can be difficult to change.

Wanting to make a change is not enough to change; you need to invest time and work into the challenge. Ultimately, our addictions have become a part of our lives because they have worked to fulfill some sort of need. You may have begun to drink alcohol to cope with underlying depression or anxiety.

While the alcohol may help in the short-term for a quick fix, it does not help to solve the underlying issue and creates even more problems. While in recovery, you not only need to understand the underlying motivation of your behavior, you need to replace your unhealthy habits with healthy ones.

Discovering the reasons behind your addictions takes time. You may need time to build a level of comfort with your peers, coaches, and therapists to reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings. Next, you will learn replacement coping skills. Learning these new coping skills will take much longer than a week or two.

By paying ahead for recovery treatment, you will feel more obligated to take the time needed to get your money’s worth for your recovery. The time, hard work, and money that you put into improving yourself will be worth the investment.

Have you been in recovery for years only to find yourself in and out of treatment? Do you feel like you are stuck in a revolving door cycle between recovery and relapse? You may need to invest in a longer-term recovery program. Many recovery programs and sober treatment homes require participants to pay ahead for their treatment. Investing ahead will help you stay on track of your recovery and give you the time you need to build healthy habits and coping skills. Recovery takes time and you are unlikely to build lifestyle changes within only one or two weeks. Camelback Recovery understands the importance of investing in recovery. We ask that our participants pay in advance for at least three months in our program. We believe that this time gives you enough time to build skills that can last a lifetime. Call our staff today to begin your recovery treatment and invest in yourself at (602) 466-9880.

 

Replacing Unhealthy Behaviors with Healthy Ones

Recovery can be defined as a process of building a healthy lifestyle and making lifelong changes to better our lives. If you are in recovery, you have most likely had some unhealthy habits and behaviors that have held you back from growth and change.

When you engage in the recovery process, you may have to give up a lot of your unhealthy habits. While these unhealthy habits or behaviors were not conducive to building a meaningful life, they were likely motivated by fulfilling some need or want.

To find suitable replacement behaviors, you have to consider the underlying motivations of your unhealthy behaviors. When you know why you engaged in your addictive behaviors, you can start to explore healthier options to meet the same needs, wants, or desires.

Behavior: A Form of Communication

Most of our behaviors serve as a way of communicating something to ourselves or others. Generally, behaviors are ways of communicating about what we want by taking action to obtain those things. What purpose did your unhealthy behaviors serve? What were you trying to communicate by engaging in them? Here are six common reasons people give for their unhealthy behaviors:

  1. The need to belong. Peer pressure is a common reason that people engage in risky behaviors. Peer pressure is motivated by the need to be accepted and liked. The need to belong and having a sense of community is a strong motivator for behaviors, both healthy and unhealthy.
  2. Boredom. Sometimes, we are simply bored and are unsure of healthy ways to quell our boredom. We may have grown up with parents who also engaged in unhealthy recreational activities, such as drinking excessively or using drugs. We may not have a good example to follow for how to occupy our time appropriately.
  3. Co-occurring disorders. Some of us have underlying co-occurring mental health issues that drive our unhealthy behaviors. Some people use alcohol to cope with social anxiety. Others may become addicted to drugs to cope with depression. If our primary motivation is that we are seeking relief from mental anguish, then we can seek healthy treatment options for our mental wellness.
  4. Pain management. We may be suffering from chronic pain and use unhealthy methods of numbing the pain by using alcohol or other substances. We also might find ourselves addicted to substances following dependence on pain management medications. Underlying emotional and physical issues might need to be addressed for recovery.
  5. Trauma. People may behave in unhealthy ways to deal with trauma or to numb themselves from past experiences. Risky or unhealthy habits might serve as a distraction from thinking about our traumatic past.
  6. Stress. We may not have learned healthy ways to manage stress or other emotions. Unhealthy behaviors might be our way of coping with stress. However, they usually lead to a lower quality of life and can cause more problems than the issues we sought to solve. Stress management techniques, like mindfulness and deep breathing, can enhance our quality of life and help us in our recovery.

Did any of these stick out to you as a motivation for some of your unhealthy habits? If so, now you can begin to find healthy methods of obtaining the same needs. When you engage in healthy behaviors, you set yourself up for growth and positive changes.

Healthy Replacement Behaviors

Healthy replacement behaviors are ways of meeting our needs with ways that do not cause more problems in our lives. For those of us in recovery, we may need to explore some of our hobbies and interests to find new activities to fill our time.

We might want to try physical fitness or other exercise programs to release natural endorphins that make us feel good. We may need to learn to express our emotions to heal from them, rather than numbing them to escape our pain. We might need to make some life changes to manage our stress levels.

We also may need to learn how to say “no” and set boundaries with others, who pressure us to do things we do not want to do. Once you understand your motivations, you can begin to find healthy coping mechanisms. Recovery is the process of replacing your unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones.

Healthy behaviors enhance our lives and help us change for the better. On your recovery path, you will learn new ways of living that may not have been apparent to you before. Be open-minded and try new things to live the best life on your journey of recovery.

One of the hardest parts of recovery is changing our habits. Most of us are so accustomed to our routines that we have a difficult time making any changes, even changes for the better. Sometimes we know we want to make a change, yet we are unsure of where to start. By understanding our underlying motivations, we can begin to find healthy replacements for our unhealthy and unfulfilling habits. Once we understand why we behave a certain way, we can begin to find alternatives to achieve similar ends. We might need some time in a positive and supportive environment to create new habits. Change is hard, but you do not have to do it alone. At Camelback Recovery, we teach replacement behaviors to help others learn new ways of replacing bad habits. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information to help you or a loved one!

 

Discovering Purpose: Why Are We Here?

An important aspect of being successful in your recovery experience is discovering your purpose. Your purpose drives you toward your life goals and can help to push you through challenging times. When we live a life of purpose, we feel connected to something beyond ourselves.

“Purpose” is one of the pillars of recovery in many treatment programs. Without having a purpose in life, we may feel lost or we may easily stray from our recovery pathway. Having a purpose can give us a reason to wake each morning and face the challenges of the day.

Some of us in recovery may have never thought about our life purpose in life. We may not know what we are looking for in life, as we may have been living day by day while dealing with our addictions. Working on discovering your purpose can take some time, as you need to think deeply about your life and what you truly value.

6 Tips for Discovering Your Purpose

If finding a purpose is new to you, here are some tips to help you discover your purpose in life:

  1. Help Others: Volunteering can help you find your purpose in life. You may have a unique skill that can benefit others. You can even help your peers in recovery. Volunteering regularly can help you build relationships and connections with others. You may then discover a purpose as people come to value your help and your contributions.
  2. Spend Time with Uplifting and Positive People: Start spending more time with people who inspire you or who make you feel good. If you find yourself spending a lot of time with negative people, who often weigh you down with their troubles or tell you that you cannot achieve your goals, you may want to spend less time with them. Uplifting and positive people can help you maintain the positive mindset needed to discover your passions and your purpose.
  3. Explore Your Interests: How do you spend your free time? Do you watch specific types of television shows that might indicate an interest of yours? What things do you like to learn about? Start to explore the things that interest you. These could be new hobbies or new places to travel. Maybe you want to learn an instrument or take up yoga. Try something new to expose yourself to new experiences.
  4. Thinking Back to Our Childhood: When we were children, most of us had an idea of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Your childhood dreams might still be attainable. Try to think back on those times and see if those things still excite you.
  5. List Your Heroes: Who do you admire? These could be fictional characters or real people. They could be people you know or they could be people you have only heard about in the media. Think about who you admire and why you admire them. We often admire people who have characteristics we would like to have ourselves. Knowing these characteristics might help you understand what you value and can direct you toward your purpose.
  6. Social Causes: Is there a social cause that you are passionate about? Maybe you love animals or recycle each week? You might find purpose in exploring opportunities to aid social causes that you believe in. These passions can direct you to specific volunteering opportunities or career paths.

Making Sense of Your Purpose

Sometimes, we get caught up in specific details when we look for purpose in life. We may have the idea that only one or two specific things will make us happy and fulfilled. You may find it helpful to simplify your life’s purpose into one or two sentences. To simplify your purpose, you need to look at the underlying motivation for your actions.

For example, if you wanted to be a fireman when you grew up, you might consider connecting with a local fire company to volunteer. If your community may not have any opportunities available, you can consider your fundamental motivations. Why did you want to be a fireman?

Did you want to help people? Did you like the sense of adventure? Figuring out why you are passionate about something can help guide you to your life’s purpose. Understanding what you truly love about a hobby or an interest can point you in the direction of more things that you may find fulfilling.

Knowing what you care about—or who you care about—can also help you focus on being the best version of yourself. Keep in mind that finding purpose is a process. Be flexible and open to the multitude of avenues presented to you as you discover your purpose. Overall, having a purpose will help you in recovery because you will contribute to something greater than yourself.

Discovering your life’s purpose can be a rewarding exercise unto itself. Open yourself up to the process of understanding your passions and the things you care about. Engage in this process as you work on your recovery. Once you know your purpose, you will have something to strive toward to make the world a better place. You will be able to focus on your recovery, as you will best serve others when you have first helped yourself. At Camelback Recovery, we believe that having purpose is one of the pillars of recovery. We teach our clients about our five pillars of recovery: accountability, support, structure, community, and purpose. We believe these pillars are fundamental to the recovery process. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to begin your recovery journey!

 

Differentiating between a Substance Addiction and Process Addiction

Because the chemical processes that occur during the activities of a process addiction are similar to the chemical processes that occur during substance abuse, it is challenging to differentiate between the two. Although there are similarities, there are also clearly defined differences. Substance addiction occurs from the abuse of alcohol, drugs, or any mind altering substance. Process addiction occurs from engaging in activities or behaviors and is not dependent upon substances.

What is a Process Addiction?

A process addiction is a condition in which a person is dependent upon an activity or behavior, such as sexual activity, overeating, gambling, or shopping. The reward or relief a person gets from engaging in one of the activities listed above is what he compulsively pursues, despite negative consequences. Process addiction does not involve any addictive chemicals or substances. However, there are chemical processes which occur during the activity which are similar to chemical changes that take place during substance abuse. (Smith, 2012). Process addictions are often overlooked or overshadowed by substance addictions as not being “real” addictions. This is unfortunate as the negative consequences of process addictions are no less than the consequences of substance addictions. Negative consequences include everything from loss of significant other, home, or family to loss of self-esteem, confidence, job, or money.

What is Substance Addiction?

Substance addiction is the repetitive use of mind-altering substances, despite negative consequences, which can produce a feeling of pleasure, relaxation, or relieve negative feelings. Mind-altering substances include alcohol, drugs, and any other substances that alter a person’s state of mind. As use and abuse continues to progress, the effects of using substances diminishes and more drugs or alcohol are needed to achieve the same feeling of pleasure, reward, or relief. Vulnerability to substance addiction depends upon the individual and his genes, the environment, and social factors. The more risk factors present is a person’s life, the more likely that substance use will result in addiction. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, genetic factors account for up to 60% of an individual’s susceptibility to addiction. (SUBSTANCE USE, ABUSE AND ADDICTION: PART 1 OF 2, 2012). According to Alcoholics Anonymous, substance addiction is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease.

Etiology of Addiction – Genetic Theory Model

The Genetic Model of addiction is a biological model. It is a medical approach which supports the fact that people are predisposed to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although it has never been proven that genetics are the cause of alcoholism or drug addiction, there is a strong positive correlation between the two. For instance, it has been found that adopted children more closely resemble their biological parents than their adoptive parents when it comes to alcohol consumption and use. If a parent is an alcoholic, their child is seven times more likely to have an addictive personality than the child of a non-alcoholic parent. Studies of twins, adopted children, kids of alcoholic fathers, and animals all supported the idea that addiction is a genetically based disorder leading to a susceptibility to developing the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction. (Margolis, 2011)

The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) was started in 1989 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The COGA has changed their focus from attempting to determine whether or not genetics plays a part in addictive behavior to figuring out which specific genes are responsible. In other words, according to COGA genetics do play a part in addictive behavior. (Margolis, 2011)

Margolis, R. D., & Zweben, J. E. (2011). Models and theories of addiction. In , Treating patients with alcohol and other drug problems: An integrated approach (2nd ed.) (pp. 27-58). American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/12312-002