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Sex, Drugs, And Rock N’ Roll: The Healing Powers Of Music From Addiction With Tim Ringgold

 

How do you deal with or reduce stress and be sober? Most of the time, everyone looks for something when stressed, and for Tim Ringgold, he found recovery in music. In this episode, Tim Westbrook interviews Tim—a certified music therapist, author, and host of Reduce Your Stress—about his journey of recovery from his addictions to a sober life through music. He discovered how music affects the brain and how to get back into the rhythm by listening and playing music or even making music. Join them today as they discuss Tim’s journey through sex addiction to recovery and the healing powers of music. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are in that order for a reason!

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Sex, Drugs, And Rock N’ Roll: The Healing Powers Of Music From Addiction With Tim Ringgold

For many years my team and I have helped thousands of people find their path to long-term recovery. We started the show because there’s so much inaccurate information out there and bad content about the world of recovery and addiction treatment. This is a platform for us to share the truth. There is so much more to getting clean and sober than going to treatment for 30 days then working a twelve-step program. There’s so much more. Those are integral parts of the process. The twelve-step program saved my life and it saved lots of lives out there but there’s a lot more to it, things like food and nutrition, self-care, exercise, fitness, music, developing new healthy lifestyle habits to replace the old lifestyle habits that got us in trouble. These are some of the things that I talked about on this show.

It’s an honor to have my friend Tim Ringgold here. Tim is a board-certified music therapist, columnist, author, and host of the podcast Reduce Your Stress. He’s provided music therapy to thousands of teens and adults to help them lower anxiety and reduce pain. Tim is also an award-winning international speaker having shared the stage with some of the top minds on music, the brain, and personal development, including Tony Robbins. Tim was the first person to give a TEDx Talk on music therapy back in 2012. He is also a former regional president of the American Music Therapy Association. Tim, welcome to the show. It’s good to have you.

Tim, it’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me.

We’ve been working on this for a while. It’s good to have you here. I have your book, Sonic Recovery: Harness The Power Of Music To Stay Sober. Tim, give me a little backstory about you, music, and addiction.

It’s great to be here. It’s always great to hear other people’s stories because you hear yourself in it. I’m happy to share mine a little bit. I’m a kid who grew up on the East Coast who found himself on stage when he was four. I remember, it was like, “This is why I’m here on the planet. It’s music, it always has been.” I was a lucky kid. I had a great upbringing. What didn’t appear like any acute trauma, later on in life, I went back and realize there was a specific relational, spiritual trauma that I would love to touch on because it would be enlightening to the readers. I had a good life until I was 22. On April 18th, 1995 while I was at a live show listening to some music, my five best friends were murdered. I ended up going to five funerals in four days. I’d get up, bury a friend, get as hammered as possible, pass out, and then wake up the next day and do the whole thing over again.

Five of your friends were murdered?

Yep.

How did that happen?

It was an escalating tenant-landlord dispute that went way beyond. For those of you who remember, it was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building. They were murdered the night before. When I turned on the news, there’s the Federal Building, blown in half on the national channels. On the local channel, it was my best friend’s house burned to the ground and they’re pulling body bags out of the ashes. I thought it was the end of the world. It was the end of my world because my band rehearsed in that house every Wednesday night and this was Tuesday night. If it had been the next day, I would have been one of those five because only three friends lived there and two are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Kryptonite is the thing that affects us that doesn't affect others. Click To Tweet

Burying five friends in four days is not something I recommend for anybody’s journey. I played music at all of their funerals and their memorials. It was my way of saying goodbye. I was the musician in the group. My community embraced me even though it tore me up. The night of the last funeral, I went back and went to some live music. For the first two hours since I had gotten the news, I found peace. No amount of drugs, alcohol, porn, food, or cable TV, and I used them all that whole week, had numb that pain but the music did. It was a pivotal moment in my life. From that moment, I was like, “That’s it. I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be the instrument pun intended that provides peace for others in their toughest times.” That’s what my journey has been like ever since.

That was when you were 22 years old.

Yep.

You were still drinking.

I was drinking, smoking, drugging, sexing, and porning.

You’re doing everything and anything to numb the pain. When did you realize that you had a problem with drugs and alcohol? What was your drug of choice?

It turns out sex was my kryptonite. I was a guy who was in the music business and they say sex, drugs, and rock and roll in that order for a reason. I loved that lifestyle. When I left the music industry, I was able to walk away from drugs and alcohol. It didn’t bother me at all. Women and porn were kryptonite for me. I was powerless around it. That’s why I use the word kryptonite. For those of us who are walking a recovery journey, there are things that affect others that don’t affect us. There are things that affect us that don’t affect others. Kryptonite is my term. I didn’t put two and two together. It took a long time to realize that I had this problem. It was probably not until 2003 that I fully understood that I was powerless over women and that my life had become unmanageable. I walked my ass into a twelve-step meeting on February 17th, 2003. I was scared out of my mind. I’m like, “A freak show.” The meeting was in a circle in a church.

SAA meeting or SLAA?

It was SAA. By the time they got to me, I was like, “I’m Tim. Apparently, I’m a sex addict because you told my story and you talked about thoughts and feelings that I’ve never shared with anybody but I have that exact thing going on inside of me.” It was such an eye-opening experience because what I found in my recovery journey and my clinical journey is that there are a lot of characteristics of thinking in the addictive mind where the person thinks they’re the only one that’s either victimized, suffering, or thinking about whatever it is.

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of Music

Sonic Recovery: Harness The Power Of Music To Stay Sober

When you go to a meeting, suddenly you realize you’re not the only one but it’s a symptom. It’s like a cough. Your thoughts can be a symptom and you thought you were the only one and you thought you were special. That was wonderfully eye-opening for me because I realized I’m not alone and other people have gotten sober. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I don’t have to try anything new. I can follow in other people’s footsteps and take the next right step.

When I called the 800 number for that meeting, a guy named Klaus answered the phone and he said, “I got good news for you. I called the same 800 number ten years ago when my wife served me divorce papers and we’ve been together ever since.” I thought, “If you’ve gotten that darn down the road with divorce papers and then walked it back from that edge, there’s hope.” Klaus gave me hope. The first gift of recovery was hope. The second gift was this feeling of I’m not alone.

When did you realize you were a sex addict? At what point?

I didn’t know I was a sex addict. I didn’t know until I was sitting in the room. I knew I might have a problem.

When did you start thinking you might have a problem?

I didn’t even think I had a problem until I filled out on SAA-Recovery.org. There’s a questionnaire. It’s like, “You might need to go to a meeting if.” It’s ten questions. They’re very specific. I took the questionnaire. I answered yes to eight of them. The criteria were if you answer yes to two of these, you might want to go to a meeting. When I scored 8 out of 10, I was like, “Fuck, there’s something is going on.” I was in a total delusion when I finally went to write out an inventory of all the people I had been unfaithful with my girlfriend with. If you had asked me how many were on the list, I would have told you four and I would have believed it.

My brain had compartmentalized my behavior so well I wasn’t consciously aware of the wreckage until I did an inventory. Do you know those old school lined paper, there are 26 lines? I filled every line and I was mortified, shocked, and surprised because the names kept coming. I had to turn the piece of paper over and I was like, “What?” I went to bed and then I woke up the next day and more names came back to me. My subconscious had buried all that behavior because of all the shame and the cognitive dissonance. I didn’t want to know myself as a player, as someone who was sleeping around, as someone unfaithful. I would have passed a lie detector test that I didn’t have a problem.

How old were you when you went to your first SA meeting?

I’m 31.

The first gift of recovery is hope. The second gift is the feeling that you’re not alone. Click To Tweet

Nine years after the major incident where five of your friends were murdered.

That story is the origin story of when I realized the power that music has over my suffering, my pain, and my experience of the world. I didn’t connect the two dots along that journey. I was still going along, wrecking ball, out of control, and not thinking I have a problem. When I got into recovery, I went back to school a year later for music therapy. At the time, I wanted to go work in hospice. As I was in my music therapy career in school, I remember doing my first rotation in an inpatient mental health facility. I was working with guys who are struggling with a number of different things, one of them being addiction.

When I went to do my internship, I worked in a 28-day residential program and I saw myself sitting in all my groups and I was like, “Wait a minute.” I’m in this position where this one leg of me, a brother in recovery, is here. This other leg of me is this clinician who knows something about music that others don’t. I can help people in recovery lean on music the right way to support them in their recovery and prevent them from relapsing due to their own music. I was happy because my two worlds came together.

That’s awesome. When you were at the treatment center, where was that in your journey?

I was about five years into my recovery journey at that point.

When you got into recovery for your sex addiction, were you drinking? Were you doing drugs at the time as well?

Weed was my drug of choice if you want to use a substance that isn’t alcohol. I was a recreational stoner and drinker. I wasn’t drinking regularly or smoking regularly. I also wasn’t abstinent. It wasn’t on my radar. I might have a beer or two when I go out on the weekends but I might not. I might go months without smoking and then I might see some friends, stoner buddies, and we might get stoned once every six months or a year. It wasn’t part of the constellation of what was hitting for me.

What is your sobriety date?

In sex addiction, sobriety is a little bit different around using the three circles. My circles have changed throughout the years. There are things that at one point where in my middle circle went to my inner circle and now they’re back.

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of Music

Healing Powers Of Music: Not everybody is as coordinated as the others, but everybody has rhythm. If you can tap, snap, clap, hum, rap, sing, strum, or scratch, you can be musical.

 

Give us a quick breakdown of the three circles.

In sex addiction and SAA, we define behavior in three different circles, your inner circle, middle circle, and your outer circle. Your inner circle behaviors would be behaviors that lead to what we call the pitiful demoralization, the bottom-line behaviors, the ones for you that wreck you that leave you feeling more disconnected afterward, that heaped the shame on. They’re behaviors, they’re subjective. Working with your sponsor, you’re the only person who determines what’s in your inner circle. You work with your sponsor to either, over time, add things to that and take things out. It’s a process.

Your middle circle is behaviors. You could look at them in two ways. One, they might be a slippery slope towards your inner circle. Two, they might be a safety net where they’re the least worst option. If you’re feeling squirrely and out of control and you engage in a middle circle, it’s not great. It’s better than your inner circle. That’s like a yellow light if you will, that’s your middle circle. Your outer circle is all the behaviors that lead to you feeling more connected and what we might use the term healthy behaviors, recovery behaviors. The idea is that you could put everything you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep in one of those three circles. “My sponsor,” his definition of sobriety is that it’s a process of working with another person to determine what’s good and bad for you. It’s a little bit of a different way of looking at sobriety. It’s dynamic.

It’s not, “I had a beer or I didn’t have a beer. I did a lot of coke or I didn’t do a lot of coke. I smoked some crack or I didn’t smoke some crack.” That’s black and white. You either did or you didn’t. You have these red, yellow, green behaviors, that’s what they also call them. The red behaviors are your bottom-line behaviors, those are the things that lead to guilt, shame, demoralization, and you feeling horrible about yourself. You’ve got the yellow behaviors, which are somewhere in between. You’ve got the green behaviors, which lead to a healthy lifestyle. Those are healthy lifestyle habits. Those are for you playing the guitar. Those are for you running, exercising, eating healthy, having good healthy conversations with people, and with women that don’t lead to objectifying them, whatever would lead to you not feeling good about yourself.

In my journey, sleeping with other women, middle-inner circle behavior. It has always been an inner circle behavior since my first day of recovery. I’ve been abstinent from sleeping with women since the first day of my recovery. I’m grateful for that. Pornography, a whole different candle wax for me. For some people in recovery, it’s a middle circle behavior. For some people, it’s an inner circle behavior. For a long time, it was in my inner circle and I struggled with getting any time more than two years. I could get a year. I could get two years and then I’d have a slip. I’d look at it and then the clock might start over if you will but the frequency went from daily to monthly. It went from monthly to semi-annually. It went from semi-annually to annually. It went to bi-annually and then it might slip back to maybe quarterly.

There’s an important thing when it comes to behavior, which is frequency, intensity, and duration. If you’re changing any behavior, there’s on-off with drinking or with smoking where it’s like, “I never did it again.” Someone who’s working on a recovery journey, the challenge of the sobriety date idea forever thing is I find a lot of people get sober incrementally. What I mean by that is they put down until they don’t and that’s a short period of time. As they practice their recovery, those periods of time get longer and longer and they’re progressing. In certain circles, they feel a lot of shame around the story because it’s a chronic relapse. They’re putting together longer and longer periods of sobriety each and every time. They’re getting better at the game. It’s almost like they’re taking ten steps before they fall over as a kid and then they’re taking twenty steps before they trip. Now they’re taking 100 steps.

For me, my journey has been this incremental way out here. I would love to come on here and be honest and go, “I haven’t looked at porn in twenty years.” I wouldn’t be honest. I couldn’t tell you that. That was the one that’s been the hardest for me to quit. It’s been probably months since I viewed any. I’m feeling rather safe. I still have a sponsor I work with. We talk on the phone probably five days a week, that’s the strongest part of my twelve-step journey. At first, I kept looking at it through this shame lens and then I looked back and I was like, “Your relationship with it is different than it was when you were out of control.” Let’s try to stop beating ourselves up so much. Let’s be a little gentle and yet not take our hands off the wheel and be like, “I’m fine. I got no problems at all,” but to ride that fader between the two.

One of the problems with AA is that if someone slips, if they relapse, it’s like, “I started over. I’ve got less than 30 days.” It’s like, “You have less than 30 days.” However, your recovery journey doesn’t start over. You’re not starting from the ground. You had a slip. You’ve already done some things. You’re already on the journey to recovery. It’s part of the journey for some people. It’s not for everybody. For most people, relapse is part of the journey.

Any behavior change in your life is going to probably require more than one go. My first sponsor walked into his first meeting and never struggled again. His nickname was Gandalf the Wizard because he was this aged guy, white beard, and he never fucked up afterward. I was like, “I can’t be like you. I must be broken because this program works for you. It doesn’t work for me. I can’t put it together any time.” I used to think that the whole thing about less than 30 days, it’s less than 30 days continuous in this run. As if you’re the same person as a newbie who walked in. Let’s all agree it’s an imperfect program and most of us who have been in it are grateful and know that we’d either be dead or in jail without it. We hold both in our hands.

Sobriety is a process of working with another person to determine what's good and bad for you. Click To Tweet

You were still smoking weed and drinking. Are you still smoking weed and drinking a little bit? Are you completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol as well?

I gave up drinking in January 2019. I noticed that every time I had gotten close to sleeping with someone, alcohol was involved. For me, it was like the kerosene that was lighting the fire. I’m also a speaker. Prior to COVID, I’d be on the road 2, 3, 4 times a month speaking at conferences or retreats. I would get into trouble on the road. I would drink on the road, two beers, and then suddenly I’m flirting. I was waiting on someone else’s integrity to keep me safe. Sometimes, I’d meet people who didn’t have that problem. I got close to the edge several times and I realized alcohol was involved every time.

First, I quit drinking on the road. My wife wanted to quit. I saw the ads for One Year No Beer on Facebook. It was December and I remembered I cringed. I was like, “What’s that about? Why did I pull back when I considered One Year No Beer?” Instantly, I was like, “I better sign up.” I signed up with my wife, not on Facebook but in my head. I’m like, “I’m going to do a year with no alcohol.” 2020 came around and I was like, “I don’t feel like going back to alcohol.” I’m glad I didn’t because there would have been lots of opportunities to drink in 2020.

Tim, once I made the decision that I don’t drink, I don’t have to make any decisions anymore. I don’t have to decide whether or not I’m going to drink today or whether or not I’m going to drink tonight or whether I’m going to drink tomorrow or whether or not I’m going to drink because of blank. There are no more decisions involved. It’s off the table. That has been freeing. People ask me, they’re like, “Do you miss it?” I was like, “About 5% of the time.” That’s about it.

Alcohol leads to other behaviors. When I hear you say you’re clean from your bottom line behaviors, instead of resorting to your bottom line behaviors, you resort to something else. You resort to alcohol, drugs, smoking weed, video games, work. If you resort to alcohol because you still drink, next thing you know, your judgment is not great. Alcohol leads to the behaviors. You hear people that say, “I’m a heroin addict. I’m a crack cocaine addict. I’m a meth addict. I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I can still drink.” I’ve seen this happen many times. They have a few drinks and they might be able to do it a few times. The next thing you know, they’re back to meth, heroin, cocaine.

They don’t even know how they got there.

You decided that this was going to be in your life, music, therapy, and you were going to help people. Tell me what transpired next.

The reason I was a musician and wanting to inspire people was because of my friends’ journey. I wanted to give people that peace. In the music business, that culture is unhealthy. I found myself being easily socially influenced than environmentally influenced by all kinds of bad behavior in that world. I discovered there was this career called music therapy. It’s like being a physical therapist working in the same places that a physical therapist works except using music instead of exercise to treat people.

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of Music

Healing Powers Of Music: Music is the most complex stimulus in nature for the human brain to process. It requires every sub-region of the brain to activate, to take in, take apart music, and put it back together.

 

I am one part athlete, one part musician. At one point, I wanted to become a physical therapist but it only felt it was skin deep, it was tissue, it didn’t touch the soul and it didn’t touch the mind. I got bored with it. When I discovered that there was a career called music therapy, it was like putting the two in a blender. At the moment I discovered the field, I filled out my college application to go back to school and my financial aid in that same computer Google search. I never looked back. I realized I can help others through the toughest times of their life and I can do it during the day from home, in a clinic, in a school, in a hospital, or in a professional setting.

That social-environmental cue and influence will be healthy for me compared to being in clubs, in venues, on the road, at festivals, where I might be wanting to use music to help others but that social and environmental cue was sex, drugs. A much safer way for me to express this desire to help people is as a music therapist than as a musician. Plus, I don’t have to be on the road. I don’t have to miss my kids’ childhood and that was important to me.

I went back to school, five years, full-time, in my 30s, and became board certified as a music therapist in 2008. My joke is I haven’t worked since because my experience is that I get paid to play and pray. You don’t work music. You play music. People are like, “You’re lucky.” I’m like, “I have a student loan and five years of my 30s that I don’t get back.” Aside from that, I knew that for the next 30 to 40 years, I would be doing what I love in a safe environment, helping people and not missing my kids’ childhood.

What instruments do you play?

My main instrument is my voice, that’s what I’m trained in since childhood. My second instrument and my accompanying instrument is the guitar. Additionally, I play the Native American flute. I play tons of percussion. I can pick my way around a keyboard. I know the theory.

You’re going to be playing music for the rest of your life.

It’s how I express myself. For me, going into the quick spiritual, I’m this one tiny fraction of the whole that came into form to experience itself. What do I want to be doing while I’m in form? I want to express myself athletically and artistically. When I say artistically, it’s musically specifically. The ultimate joy for me in life is when I experience myself playing. That’s the verb playing because I play sports and I play music. I’m here to play. How do I do that in a way that shines light everywhere around me and increases and improves those around me, those little fractions of me? How can I hook me up, the other me? Which one do I want to do? I want to do that through this medium of music. This is thrilling because I experience the same joy you do differently when you’re the listener and I’m the creator like I experience the joy of music when I’m the listener and you’re the creator. It’s a win-win.

What are some of the myths that we have around making music in our culture?

The main ones are that it requires talent. There’s this thing, the music gene, and there’s no such thing. There’s no music gene. Genes are far more complex than the gene. It doesn’t work that way. We like to try to make simple answers out of complex things. Every human body runs in rhythm. It’s the organizing principle of your body. Everything we do, we do in rhythm. Our cells, organs and body runs on rhythm, which is the foundation of music. Everybody has the ability to be musical. We don’t think that way in our culture. We think some people have it and most don’t.

There is a rhythm to the breathing in and breathing out of the entire universe. Click To Tweet

I’ve never thought about it like that. You’re right, everybody has rhythm.

Not everybody is as coordinated as the others, but everybody has rhythm. If you can tap, snap, clap, hum, rap, sing, strum, or scratch, you can be musical. Tim, everybody scratch is an itch in perfect rhythm. What we do is we take an egg shaker and we pretend we’re scratching. We’re perfectly rhythmic people. Some of us have been handy around the house. If I can hammer and nail, I play a frame drum. If I can bounce a ball, I can play a hand drum. It’s much simpler than we make it out to in our culture. The big myth is that most of us don’t have it and some of us do. We all got it.

How did music originate?

That’s a whole course. There are two lenses to think through, one is evolutionary. Music is what’s called a proto-language. It’s a pre-language. We sang before we spoke as a species to communicate. In addition to evolutionarily, developmentally.

We sang before we spoke.

Yes. We had sound before we had language. We would use sound to communicate and connect. We developed language later on. There’s a mirror of this, which is developmentally with kids. Kids sing before they speak. They vocalize and they sing before they have language. In all cultures, all moms sing to their babies. All moms sing in the same stepwise motion across the globe, regardless of language, because the kids don’t have language yet. They’re not paying attention to the words. They’re paying attention to the melody and the sound of mom’s voice and the tempo, meaning the speed of it. Developmentally and evolutionarily, music comes before language. It’s our stepping stone.

I’m thinking about a dog barking. Dogs barking in rhythm too. Birds chirp in rhythm. Crickets chirp in rhythm. Everything is in rhythm. Nothing is out of whack. It’s always in perfect rhythm, the same sequence, the same frequency, the same sound.

It is the fundamental organizing principle of the universe. There is a rhythm to the breathing in and breathing out of the entire universe.

How was music discovered? Where was this discovered that music was the first thing that was developed before talking and communicating through language?

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of Music

This Is Your Brain on Music

My honest answer is that when I’m spouting out these brainiac little quotes about evolutionary, they are from a guy named Dr. Ani Patel who’s a neuroscientist who studies music in the brain, and this guy named Dr. David Wolfe from the Ohio State University who is also a researcher on music in the brain. I got to attend a real high-level conference and I was a speaker with these guys at this one particular conference. They started to talk about the origin of music and where it started in our journey as a species. Both of those men, their lectures were the ones who taught me that piece of it.

There’s a great book called This Is Your Brain on Music by Dr. Daniel Levitin. He’s also a neuroscientist. He was a recording engineer with the Alan Parsons Project. He went back to school to become a neuroscientist. In his book, This Is Your Brain on Music, he gives you a great journey through music without losing you along the way. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it to anybody. You’ll come away with such a deeper appreciation for the power of music in your life.

What happens in the brain? How does music interact with the brain? How is it relevant to addiction treatment?

What’s the point? Music is the most complex stimulus in nature for the human brain to process. It requires every sub-region of the brain to activate, to take in, take apart music, and put it back together. When we do that and we have the experience that we’re either making the music ourselves or we’re listening to music we enjoy, our reward system gets activated. The reward system is what gets hijacked during drug addiction. That same reward system gets activated when we either make music or we listen to the music we enjoy. It is pleasure-inducing.

That’s relevant to people in recovery who are going through this journey of anhedonia where they’re not feeling anything in early recovery or early treatment because their reward system is been shot to hell and their brain is recalibrating. They don’t feel anything. Introducing pleasure causing behaviors back into their life is important so that they don’t feel they’re dead inside or that there’s no fun left. Whenever we make music or listen to the music we enjoy, dopamine is released in the brain and that’s that feel-good chemical.

When we make music together or we listen to music together, oxytocin gets produced which is the social glue, the hug drug if you will, in our brain. That feeling that we’re connected to someone else is released when we’re making music in a group or we’re listening to it. If we listen to relaxing music, our brain releases prolactin. Prolactin is a chemical that allows us to feel the afterglow, this chill, “That’s nice.” That feeling that we have when we’re satisfied is prolactin and slow tempo music will trigger the release of that.

Everybody knows music is good for their mood and their spirit. When I learned what music did specifically to the brain and the body, I got curious. The last piece that’s important for a person in recovery is that it turns off the stress response. Our nervous system runs in these three speeds or three gears. Rest and digest, which is your normal default nervous system. You’re in connection mode and creativity mode. We have the fight-flight response. People are familiar with that. That’s the sympathetic nervous system activation. That’s when we go into protection mode and reaction mode. That’s when we don’t consider the behaviors we’re doing at the moment. We may not be fully aware of what that’s going to do in the future. We’re right at the moment dealing with whatever’s going on.

Music resets that nervous system faster than any oral medication. Most people have experienced this for themselves when they were in an emotional state and a song came on. I hear this story all the time. I was here. The song came on. Before the song was even over, I was in a different state. It shifted me. It pulled me out. When I listen to recovery specific songs on YouTube, in the comments, I will read over and over, “This song saved my life. This song is the thing that got me into recovery. This song is the one that helped me through my toughest time.” As a musician, I’ve heard that personally as well.

We know that music turns off that stress response. When we have the stress response, that’s when the brain triggers cravings because it’s the brains’ way of trying to self soothe. What we want is we want tools that work fast to turn that stress response over before our brain can issue a whopper-sized craving. The brain is not designed to withstand cravings. It’s designed to do the behavior. That’s the system’s design, it’s trying to self soothe. We can use music in those moments to reset.

Music resets that nervous system faster than any oral medication. Click To Tweet

The brain is designed to do the behavior and not to resist, which is why willpower doesn’t work.

That’s why people feel terrible about themselves because they don’t understand that craving isn’t designed to be withstood. It’s designed to be listened to and followed. Gabor Mat at Wanderlust in 2016, I will never forget the moment he said, “A craving is your brain’s way of trying to love itself.” It’s trying to self soothe.

It was looking for the solution, the behavior that’s going to soothe.

Whatever is going to soothe. That part of the brain doesn’t care if it’s healthy, legal, socially acceptable. It doesn’t care if it caused a bunch of problems. The last 27 times he did, it doesn’t care about the future ramifications. It’s the number one answer. It knows, at the moment, that will scratch the itch.

Gabor Mat also says, “Addiction is a solution to the pain.” The question is not why the addiction. The question is why the pain. That’s why in addiction treatment, we have to look at the root of the trauma because the pain is the cause of the addiction and the bad behaviors. Is there a type of music that’s better to turn off the stress response than another type of music? There are lots of kinds of music. Is any music therapy? Can I turn on Eazy-E? Is my stress response going to be turned off?

Here’s what the research shows, it depends on whether or not you like Eazy-E and it depends whether or not you already have any neuro associations to using while listening to Eazy-E.

What happens is we have party playlists. We all got hammered to music. There’s a neuro association between the music we’re listening to, the emotions we’re feeling, and the behaviors we were doing. I remember early in my recovery, at the time, if I put on EDM dance music, within four beats I was thinking about women. It was coursing through my veins. I was like, “I can’t even come near this.” I could listen to any other music but that music triggered me because that was always the soundtrack. 

The good news is that neuro association tapers, prunes, and atrophies over time. In long-term recovery, you can go back and you can check-in and listen to music from that time and you’ll observe the music. You might even have a memory but you won’t have that emotional charge to it. It’s similar to the grief journey. Early in grief, there is an emotional charge with the memory. Over time, you’re left with the memory and the emotional charge fades. Music operates very similarly. It’s important for people in recovery to understand to avoid your party playlists for as long as until you check in with them. Notice that they don’t start to trigger that emotional charge.

The second thing people ask is, “What’s the right type to listen to?” The right type of music to listen to is the music that you enjoy, that you associate with safety, connection, inspiration, and comfort. If you love Celine Dion, all the power to you. Go at it. Listen to Celine. If somebody likes Michael Bolton, good for you. That’s why God invented headphones so that I don’t have to hear Michael Bolton. It’s like a flavor. It’s subjective. You don’t have to try anything new. You don’t have to buy anything new. Stick with the genres you already are comfortable with that already have that inspirational neuro association. Beware of the party playlist.

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of Music

Healing Powers Of Music: People feel terrible about themselves because they don’t understand that craving isn’t designed to be withstood. It’s designed to be listened to and followed.

 

There is dark music. You have Death Metal. You have Punk rock. What would your response be to that? Let’s say I love death metal. If I love Death Metal and I’m trying to get clean and sober, it’s not triggering, is that going to lift me up?

It depends on your relationship with Death Metal. It may very much so. What we noticed in the research is that music doesn’t cause emotion. Emotion causes the choice of music. It’s like the chicken or the egg. A lot of parents are concerned about the music their kids listen to that it’s going to cause them to be depressed or suicidal. They reach for that music because they’re already vibrating at that point and the music resonates with something inside of them. That’s why when you’re sad, you listen to sad music because it’s matching the experience you’re already having.

Here’s what they noticed, particularly with adolescence and this can be extended to adults. 1 of 3 things happens when you’re in that negative mood and you turn on what some people would call dark music. One, the music acts as this resonant catharsis where you feel heard and understood and you express and get out that emotion and you feel better afterwards. Two, it doesn’t do anything. You’re listening to the music but your mood preceded the music and your mood is still there after the music. Sometimes, the music will exacerbate those feelings. You’ll get in a spiral. It could be an anger spiral, particularly with metal, with fast tempo music. It could be a downward spiral. What they find is that sometimes, even the same music, kids will use it to experience all three depending on where they are in the moment.

It’s interesting that it’s not like, “Stay up. This is okay. This isn’t okay.” It’s subjective. What’s important is to have a connection with someone else to be able to talk about those experiences without any judgment. The problem parents have is they can’t talk with their kids about their music without judgment. They suck at it. They have total amnesia. They forget that when they were a teen their music drove their parent’s crazy. That’s why kids will spend more time in their bedroom listening to music and feel more connected alone in their room than down in the living room because the music doesn’t judge them, it doesn’t lecture them and it doesn’t scold them.

What about the lyrics? I’m a person that doesn’t listen to the lyrics. I’m more into the beat. I’m more into the way that it makes me feel. I might know all the words to a song. However, I have no clue what is being said. I can remember, I would get in trouble because I would listen to things and my mom is like, “Do you know what that is saying?” It’s like, “Not really. I’m not into it. I like the beat.” What do you have to say about the lyrics?

The jury is out on lyrics. When I pull kids to ask them why they listen to the music they listen to, l what you said, I get, “I don’t know. I like the beat. It’s bumping.” I’ve also had guys in groups say, “I used because Lil Wayne sang about it.” I have to be honest. There are three types of influence, personal influence, my own thoughts and beliefs, social influence, which is the influence of others on me, and then environmental influence, the influence of the environment on me. Social influence is real. We have to say that. What’s important is having a connection so we feel connected. We can check-in if you’re listening to something that’s got crazy lyrics. You start thinking, “That’ll be a good idea.” It’s more complex than I wish it was.

Music is therapy and music turns off the stress response. Listening to music versus playing music, which is going to do a better job?

The gold standard is making music. Making music doesn’t mean learning an instrument. It means involving your body in music. You could be listening to the music you enjoy and then try to stay with the beat whatever the beat is. Try to drum the beat. Try to sing along with the beat or hum it or rap along. If you engage your body with the music, it pulls you into the present moment because music is time-based. You have to be present to make music. It allows you to stay present whereas music listening, you can go all over the place. Music making is the gold standard and you don’t have to learn an instrument to make music.

Dancing is number two and listening is number three.

Making music doesn't mean learning an instrument. It means involving your body in music. Click To Tweet

Any way you engage your body, that’s aces.

Tim, how can people reach you?

I have a gift for anybody who’s reading. One of the gifts I give away to everybody is the gift of relaxation. We all need tools to help us reset our stress. If you go to SonicRecovery.com, I’ll give you a fifteen-minute relaxation vacation and that’s the place that’ll put you on my list. I’m also at TimRinggold.com. My podcast is Reduce Your Stress with Tim Ringgold, find that where you find podcasts. I release relaxation music and interviews on that every week. Upcoming is the Stress Elimination Summit Recovery Edition where we have 28 speakers talking specifically about how to reduce your stress in the context of a recovery journey and why that’s important. You can go to StressEliminationSummit.com to register for free.

Is there anything else you want to share?

Stick with it. Find the good and focus on it.

Tim, thank you so much.

Thanks, Tim.

Important Links:

About Tim Ringgold

ILBS 16 | Healing Powers Of MusicTim Ringgold is a board-certified music therapist, columnist, author, and host of the podcast, Reduce Your Stress. He has provided music therapy to thousands of teens and adults to help them lower anxiety and reduce pain.

Tim is also an award-winning international speaker, having shared the stage with some of the top minds on music, the brain, and personal development, including Tony Robbins.

Tim was the first person to give a TEDx talk on music therapy in 2012. Tim is also a former Regional President of the American Music Therapy Association.

What Are Sober Transport and Sober Companion Services?

Sober transport and sober companions can help those in need of assistance during vulnerable points of their recovery. While beginning in sobriety, you may feel alone and lacking support. You may have had to distance yourself from past friends who have triggered or enabled your behaviors. You may also have had to stay in a hospital due to medical issues from your addictive behaviors. Now you need to get somewhere safe upon discharge from the hospital. Staying sober and secure without any support can be difficult. You may feel triggered if you are all alone, or getting to a treatment facility is difficult for you. Sober transport and sober companion services can help you stay safe while transitioning between different stages in your recovery.

Sober Transport Services

You may have relapsed while far away from home. You might have been triggered while on vacation and are now stuck in a different place with no immediate support. You may also be at a wedding or social gathering and need help out of the situation. You might also need someone to help you maintain sobriety during triggering social events. Sober transport services at Camelback Recovery can help you get from an unhealthy or triggering environment to a treatment facility. This service is available to anyone under the influence, yet safe enough to travel and in no need of immediate medical attention. Sober transport services can help you anywhere in the world get to a safe place to begin recovery treatment. Sober transport can also help those traveling who feel vulnerable while in airports or riding in a plane.

Sober transport services can also assist those traveling from one facility to another. If you were placed in a hospital due to harming yourself under the influence, sober transport services could safely get you from the hospital to a treatment facility. Sober transport also helps those involved in the criminal justice system by taking people from jail to treatment. This service can also get you to court for essential hearings when you are struggling to maintain appointments. While in a treatment facility, you may need assistance to get to and from work. If you are currently out of treatment and triggered by “happy hour” after work, sober transport services can help you get safely to and from work as you transition back to everyday life.

Sober Companions

Sober companions are similar to sober transports in how they can help you with your recovery. Where sober transports can drive you from one place to the next, sober companions are for those who need social support without the transportation piece. You may feel lonely during the beginning of sobriety, especially following discharge and completion of a residential treatment program. The initial stages of recovery can leave you feeling vulnerable, as you are now applying the new skills you have learned in treatment to your daily life. You may have had to end past friendships or have damaged other relationships in your life while addicted. Sober companions can help you transition back to normal life following treatment.

Sober companions can accompany you to social gatherings with friends, attend group meetings in the community, go to business meetings when you return to work, or follow-up appointments after completing a treatment program. Your sober companion will remind you to make healthy choices while you re-engage with life and adapt to your sobriety. Sober companions can also encourage and support you in repairing past relationships or making new friends. Sober companions can accompany you on vacations and may even live with you for a brief time.

Recovery and sobriety can be difficult, but living clean and sober is worth it! You might feel alone or uncomfortable using the skills learned during treatment as you transition back to everyday life. Any change, even change for the better, can be difficult without the proper guidance and support. Learning new ways of navigating friendships and relationships can be overwhelming at first. Treatment facilities provide you with structure, support, and accountability. You may find it difficult to quickly leave all those supports behind when you get back to living your life outside of treatment. You might also feel lost or lonely in your former surroundings, having been away in treatment for so long. Sober transport and sober companion services can help ease your transition back to your normal life following treatment by encouraging you in your recovery! Make sure to take advantage of each and every tool out there. In recovery, it never pays to be hasty or take shortcuts, after all. 

 

Sober transport and sober companion services can significantly enhance a person’s success in going back to their lives following time in a treatment facility. Sober living homes and other facilities may require long-term stays, and the return home afterward can be overwhelming. You might feel lonely, lost, or anxious. You might be worried that you will come in contact with people or situations from the past that may have triggered your addictions. Sober transports can help you get to treatment successfully. Sober companions can offer the social support you may need while transitioning back to life. Returning to our lives with a new set of healthy skills and habits is one of the goals of Camelback Recovery; however, we understand that it may be challenging to do this alone. Call us today at (602) 466-9880 to ask about our sober transport and sober companion services!

Am I Too Old for Recovery and Sober Living?

Older adults may feel that recovery and sober living have passed them by. They may think that the opportunity to change their behaviors has been missed. They may feel that at an advanced age, change is pointless and burdensome. No matter what age a person is, they still have a lot of life left to live! Recovery is possible at any age, from 18 to 85 or older! Camelback Recovery in Arizona believes that everyone deserves the gifts of recovery. Anyone at any age can benefit from making better choices to improve their overall quality of life. When considering sober living for older adults, we here at Camelback believe we have the right elements to create a successful experience for all ages!

Strong and Stable Community in Sober Living

When considering sober living for an older adult, a stable community is one of the most essential elements for success. Sober living homes with shorter time commitments tend to have residents in-and-out. These homes are often referred to as “revolving door” homes and have new faces coming in and out of the home weekly or even daily. Short-term stays may work for some depending upon their needs in recovery. Older adults, however, may have been engaging in their addictions for decades! Changing behaviors after such a long time requires an environment with higher expectations of commitment.

Stable sober living communities can be built by having expectations of at least three to six months per stay. Some individuals stay longer depending upon their needs. Changing behaviors and habits can take a lot of time, especially if they have been in someone’s life for a long time. Ideas about sobriety and addiction have also changed tremendously over the years. Older adults may need more time to process the changes in societal attitudes towards drinking or drug use, as some of these behaviors may have accepted or simply not discussed years ago. The best chance for anyone to be successful in recovery is to engage in a long-term program with peers doing the same. After all, building a community and forging camaraderie does not happen overnight! 

Healthy communities are also built by instilling a feeling of togetherness among the staff and peers in recovery. Older adults tend to appreciate family-style community meals during their treatment. Meals have often been a means of bringing individuals together. Families may share breakfast to get started with their day or enjoy dinner together at the end of the day to catch up with each other’s lives. Work colleagues share each other’s company during meal breaks while on shift. Camelback Recovery believes in the practice of sharing healthy meals with our staff and residents to bring people together. Sharing meals can forge a sense of camaraderie among everyone within the sober living home.

Higher Levels of Accountability

Older adults may also require a high level of accountability. By doing drug testing regularly, everyone in sober living can benefit from being held accountable for their sobriety. Older adults, who may have been engaging in their addictions for decades, may have learned many ways of hiding their addictions. To be successful in sobriety, drug testing can help a person stop covering up or hiding their behavior. High levels of accountability are essential for older adults desiring recovery and sober living.

Support and Structure

Camelback Recovery provides high-levels of hands-on support for those in recovery. Support extends not only to our residents but our staff as well. Our house managers are supervised and guided by other administrators to ensure the highest quality of service for all our residents. We want to teach our house managers and staff to be the best supports they can be for our residents. We encourage growth and professionalism and hold our house managers to high standards. We provide them with the means for success. The success of our program leaders is passed on to people in early recovery, strengthening and reinforcing new, healthy behaviors.

Other Considerations

Some other considerations for older adults may be programs that offer weekly payment options. Due to older adults potentially having limited or fixed incomes, Camelback Recovery can accept weekly payments if needed. We encourage you or your loved ones to take a tour of our homes or read the testimonies of others. We also believe in discussing sober living with experts in the field to find the best fit for you. We have had a lot of success in introducing recovery and sobriety to older adults and believe that it is never too late to make a positive change in your life!

Camelback Recovery welcomes adults of all ages to enjoy the benefits and quality of life provided by sober living. We believe that everyone deserves the gift of recovery and that it is never too late to change! Older adults may face unique challenges in facing sobriety. They may have been engaging in their behaviors for many years and have a difficult time adjusting. They may have developed ways of covering up their actions that can be challenging to change. All adults, regardless of age, can benefit from programs with stable communities, high levels of personal accountability, and house manager oversight. Take some time to review our testimonials or call us at (602) 466-9880 to discuss our sober living homes. Our staff will be more than happy to discuss our quality program with you or schedule a tour of our homes!

Can I Develop Healthy Relationships In Early Sobriety?

As we all know, our mental health conditions can have a significant impact on our romantic relationships. It can happen before your condition is diagnosed, during your recovery, and even after you have gone through treatment. Nearly half of all adults will experience some kind of mental illness in their lives.

It doesn’t matter what kind of disease it is, it can still cause an impact in your life that you didn’t really anticipate at first. In many ways, no relationship is affected more by a mental condition than the romantic relationships in our lives. Of course, it is possible to have a healthy and proper relationship even when living with a mental illness.

If you or your partner are struggling with the illness, it is not impossible to have an excellent romantic relationship. There are many ways that you can help improve your relationship and ensure that it stays as a constant source of support for you in your life during recovery. Look out for the kinds of issues that can pop up and cause you to have trouble within your relationship.

Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to the Stigmas

The presence of shame, guilt, or resentment can be a source of conflict for both people in the relationship. When a person is living with a mental health condition, they can be held down by the stigmas that exist around mental illness. Because of these stigmas, a struggling person is likely to feel embarrassed or ashamed.

They may try to hide their symptoms and signs, failing to get the help they need. This causes their situation to worsen, meaning that their symptoms and signs get even harder to manage, and their emotions get out of hand. Their partners may feel frustrated with their inability to help their ailing loved one.

They may have to work hard to ensure that everything is going the way it needs to go in their lives. A person who is suffering may find it difficult to follow through with household tasks, maintain employment, and earn an income. This means the partner has more stress on them to figure these things out.

These factors increase the strain on the relationship, and both partners can suffer. These strains can then create issues with intimacy in the relationship. Not only can the problems they have put a barrier between the two, but mental illness can cause a person to lose interest in sex.

It could be a result of their condition or the effect of their treatment. They could have performance anxiety and worry about not performing well enough for their partner. In turn, intimacy becomes more scarce and harder to come by.

The Dangers of Over-Dependence

Codependency can also form in these kinds of relationships. A person whose partner is struggling can begin to define themselves by their ability to support and help them. This can enable the other partner to indulge in more unhealthy habits and behaviors.

In the most extreme cases, codependency can increase the risk of abusive behaviors, including manipulation, mocking, and other unhealthy dynamics. Breeding these kinds of dynamics within a relationship can lead to incredibly harmful ways of living.

To help with these kinds of issues, it is always important to educate yourself. Each side of the relationship deserves to be understood, and educating ourselves is essential. Practice and maintain your communication skills so that both parties can express their concerns when they come up.

Always take care of yourself. Keeping up with your physical, mental, and emotional conditions can help us support our partners. It helps improve your mood processes, meaning you can be the best partner possible. If things get worse, seek professional help when you need it.

There is nothing wrong with going to a professional to help you when you feel like you can’t figure it out yourselves. Couple or individual counseling could be beneficial to both people.

No Cookie-Cutter Approach

It is important to remember that not all relationships are the same and that each one deserves different kinds of help. People deserve to feel like they can get help when they need it, and both people need to know that mental illness is not a character flaw or a sign of moral weakness.

Allow ourselves the proper room to be able to improve and change in the ways we need to. Everyone deserves understanding and context to be given to their struggles. We don’t have to let our relationships suffer because of our experiences with mental illness and recovery.

One of the most painful elements of substance abuse is the way it disconnects us from our loved ones. If you’re struggling in relationships and are wondering how you can mend the bridges you’ve burned, there is a solution. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober doesn’t mean you need to turn your back on the people in your life. Instead, this is a period where you can grow closer to these people than ever before.

What Is Recovery Coaching?

A recovery coach helps recovering addicts make decisions and set goals that are personalized for their own journey to sobriety. They can work with those who are still in the midst of addiction or those who have already started their path to recovery.

Recovery coaches are non-clinical, meaning they cannot diagnose medical conditions or offer medical treatment for addiction. Recovery coaches are more action-oriented, helping their clients by consulting with them and motivating them through long-term goals to maintain sobriety.

How Do Recovery Coaches Help?

There are many ways that recovery coaches can help a person in recovery:

  • Providing emotional support
  • Offering companionship
  • Sharing information
  • Strengthening communication
  • Offering lifestyle support
  • Being consistently non-judgmental and flexible
  • Encouraging healthy family relationships
  • Discussing crucial life areas (i.e. family, education, employment, relationships, spirituality)
  • Using peer-based strategies and approaches

A strong support system is absolutely crucial to one’s recovery from addiction. Recovery coaches offer support that is personalized to the individual for the present moment of their recovery as well as for the long-term. Setting goals helps to hold their clients accountable for completing them, moving them forward in a life of sobriety.

Comprehensive Recovery Development Plans

There are various coaching methods that a recovery coach may use to help their clients. The method used will depend on the coach themselves and the needs of the client.

G.R.O.W. Model

This acronym stands for Goals, Reality of the Situation, Options Available, and Write a Recovery Plan. By taking these steps one at a time, it makes the process seem less overwhelming. It can also be tailored to a person’s exact needs.

SMART Model

This model focuses on goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Putting goals into perspective makes them more realistic and easier for the client to see themselves accomplishing them.

Strengths-Based Approach

Recovery coaches can use this model to analyze the strengths of their clients. Rather than focusing on the pathology that brought them to their addiction, the coach can take their known strengths and come up with a recovery plan that is based on those strengths.

Do I Need a Recovery Coach If I Already Have a Sponsor/Therapist/Addiction Specialist?

These three roles in recovery set boundaries to prevent them from getting too close to the recovering addict, and it is strictly a professional relationship:

  • Sponsors have ONE purpose in aiding sobriety. This purpose is to direct a newly-recovering addict or alcoholic through the 12-Step program offered by Al-Anon, Narc-Anon, or another organization. Sponsors are not meant to be advocators, motivators, or lifestyle consultants.
  • Therapists focus more on the client’s past to see how certain events and actions led to a life of addiction.
  • Addiction specialists focus more on biopsychosocial stabilization within a 30 to 90-day plan for recovery.

Recovery coaches, on the other hand, take the skills of these roles and use them to fill in the gaps by being more of an advocate, friend, and ally. They do this by working with the individual to set more personalized goals that can be achieved in the long-term.

Meeting with a Recovery Coach

Depending on your situation, you may meet with your recovery coach once or twice a week for check-ins or have them available 24/7 at a sober living house or other treatment centers. If you only have a couple of check-ins each week, this can be done in person or remotely via video chat or telephone.

These meetings start by learning the person’s history with addiction and seeing how they view their situation. Once this information has been established, the recovery coach can then work with the client to set goals. Over time, the two will figure out what is working and what is not. This way, they can monitor how the individual is progressing in their recovery. The recovery coach can eventually help the recovering individual transition to life without the need for their sessions.

Finding a Recovery Coach

More clinics across the United States are beginning to offer recovery coaching. To find a recovery coach, you can try Telehealth or see what treatment centers in your area offer this service.

Sober living homes may offer a recovery coach to aid in conjunction with the other structures in place for recovery. Homes like Camelback Recovery offer recovery coaching for free when you first begin your stay to see if it would be beneficial to you. Once the trial period has ended, you can decide to continue the recovery coaching with payments.

The cost of a recovery coach varies depending on where you are seeing them. For example, the cost of the service may be factored into your overall bill if you are staying at a sober living home or another treatment facility. The average cost of seeing a recovery coach can range anywhere from $300 per month to $1000 per day depending on your location, needs, and frequency of meetings.

Recovery coaching is a valuable asset to anyone’s journey to sobriety. Knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses and creating a plan based on that information can help you realistically achieve your goals in a timely manner.

You can find recovery coaches at clinics across the United States or at treatment facilities such as sober living homes. Here at Camelback Recovery, we offer a free trial period of recovery coaching to see if it might work for you. To learn more about how you can benefit from a recovery coach, call us today at (602) 466-9880.

What Does Self-Care Look Like During Recovery?

Most addicts cope with negative emotions by using drugs or alcohol. These negative emotions — such as stress, anxiety, sadness, or boredom — can become triggers once a person enters recovery, because their brain is still programmed to associate them with wanting to use.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), proper self-care is one of the most important aspects of recovery. Self-care encompasses positive emotions, better physical health, and an overall sense of well-being. By practicing self-care, you can drastically improve your quality of life and maintain a lifetime of sobriety.

Always remember that one act of self-care can lead to others — and the more you engage in these activities, the more your life and your moods will improve. Fortunately, there are many good self-care activities that you can do during recovery.

H.A.L.T.

This acronym is often used by treatment programs to remind recovering addicts of feelings that trigger cravings. By remembering to fulfill these areas in life, you are less likely to relapse.

The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Addressing each of these feelings can keep you feeling more fulfilled in life. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet, using calming techniques when you are angry, reaching out for support, and getting enough rest to fuel your body for recovery.

Healthy Diet

Eating healthy foods is crucial in recovery, and it’s also a form of self-care. Eating healthy helps maintain your blood sugar, which can stabilize your moods, your ability to concentrate, and your energy.

Focus on eating lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. You will begin to notice an improvement in your mental and physical health, making you less likely to relapse.

Exercise

Physical activity increases your overall health. It also improves your mood by activating the release of serotonin in the brain and keeps you motivated in your recovery as you stay committed to a healthy routine. Stress is also reduced, helping you to better regulate your emotions and remain calm if any triggers come

Taking Time For Yourself

Remember to partake in things you enjoy. Whether it’s your favorite hobby, pampering yourself at the spa, or reading your favorite book, make sure that you always carve out some time for yourself during the day. It’s important to find things that make you feel happy and relaxed that don’t include using drugs or alcohol. Sober activities help to replace your old habits, leaving you feeling better in your recovery and more refreshed in life.

Sleep

Who knew self-care could be as easy as falling asleep? But sleep is vital to a successful recovery. This is because a lack of sleep can cause stress, less motivation, a bad mood, no energy, and other negative side effects. When you get enough sleep, you are able to stay focused, energized, motivated, and are more prone to a positive attitude. Your body is also able to charge itself for the day ahead while you are sleeping.

Mindfulness

You can practice mindfulness by becoming aware of your body and surroundings. Try to focus on your breathing, how your body feels, your mental state, and what you hear in your physical environment. This makes it easier to learn what makes you happy, sad, angry, etc. This way, you know what causes you stress. You can try to stay away from those triggers and focus on being around more things that make you happy.

Mindfulness is learning about yourself. Being secure within oneself is a great way to practice self-care as you get to know yourself more.

Self-Care Is NOT Selfish

Society today often says that taking time for yourself and doing things that make you feel good is selfish, but this is a misconception. This view makes it difficult for people to take care of themselves without feelings of guilt or shame. However, self-care is vital to your recovery and overall well-being. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, especially while you are healing.

You should always make sure that you are happy and fulfilled by the life you are living. If you aren’t, make the necessary changes so you can look after your wants and needs in a healthy manner.

Self-Care Is for Your Sobriety

When you’re in recovery, sobriety is your number-one goal. Make sure you commit to it fully by changing your actions to maintain your sobriety long-term. The skills and coping methods you learned while in treatment should be applied to your entire life, even years after the program.

Take care of yourself by avoiding the places and people that remind you of your past addiction, as they will only set you up for failure. Your sobriety should be somewhat selfish. Do not apologize for saying no to people who are not supporting you, but instead pushing you towards past temptations.

Set boundaries for yourself as a powerful form of self-care, declaring that you are doing this for you and your health. Remember that if someone is really your friend and cares about your well-being, they will encourage and understand your recovery rather than trying to make you fall back into old, damaging habits.

Addiction only serves itself, putting the needs of the person who is using aside in order to feed itself. Learning self-care strategies can be difficult if you’re not used to them — but the time has finally come to take care of you.

Camelback Recovery can provide many self-care resources to get you started. If you feel you need more help, we invite you to check out our transitional living homes near Phoenix, Tucson, and Scottdale. To learn more, call us today at (602) 466-9880.

When Should You Consider a Sober Living House for Yourself or a Loved One?

For those working toward a life of sobriety, having an unstable home environment that is full of alcohol, drugs, and other possible triggers can push them into a relapse quickly. Sober living homes provide a safe, clean place to transition between addiction treatment and everyday life for people in recovery.

The Purpose of a Sober Living Home

A sober living home helps provide a balance between structured and independent living for those who are just out of treatment programs for substance abuse and other addictions, mental health disorders, jail, or other circumstances.

The structure provided by the homes comes in the form of rules and regulations that the residents must follow to maintain their place in the house. The rules vary from house to house, but they generally follow the same guidelines:

  • Go through detox and/or rehab, then plan on going to therapy or 12-Step meetings once a week (for potential residents)
  • No drugs or alcohol are allowed (exceptions for specific prescriptions, such as antidepressants, can be made)
  • Be willing to consent to random drug and alcohol testing to ensure sobriety
  • Participate in house activities (weekly meetings, chores, self-care tasks, etc.)
  • Sleep at the house at least five nights a week (occasional exceptions can be made for traveling)
  • Be accountable for your whereabouts at all times, and be back by curfew if applicable

Good Candidates for Sober Living Homes

Those looking to move into a sober living house must take into account the phase of life they are stepping into. Certain qualities and determination are needed to be successful. Individuals who need time to process what they learned in rehab, learn how to use their coping skills, and learn how to be independent are great candidates.

Other candidates who fit these criteria are also typically a good fit for sober living homes:

  • Those who have already been treated, such as in rehab or detox
  • Those who have had time in sobriety before moving in (to ensure they will comply with house rules)
  • Those who need a place to transition from treatment back to their normal life
  • Those with the desire for long-term sobriety
  • Those with high motivation to maintain their abstinence from substance abuse
  • Those who are aware of the challenges to come
  • Those with a proven ability to find a job
  • Those with the ability to budget and manage their own money
  • Those who are familiar with the local recovery community
  • Those with a strong desire to be independent and learn to support themselves
  • Those with the ability to cultivate relationships with others who are also sober, sharing a common goal of sobriety

Candidates Who May Not Benefit From Sober Living Homes

Just as there are those who may benefit from sober living houses, there are individuals who may not find the treatment they are looking for in these environments. This is not to say that something is wrong with them, but rather a sober living home is wrong for their recovery journey. Finding the right programs and resources can make a difference in your recovery progressing.

Those who may not benefit from a sober living home include:

  • Those with no prior job experience
  • Those who are bad at managing money
  • Those with social anxiety (although this can be addressed in therapy)
  • Those who tend to isolate
  • Those who are moving from far away and are not familiar with the local recovery community
  • Those who are looking to a sober living house as an alternative to a professional recommendation for a higher level of care

Sober Living Homes & Recovery

Sober living homes are good options for those in recovery because they provide a safe and secure environment without triggers like drugs and alcohol. These residences help hold you accountable on your road to sobriety by providing community support to stay abstinent.

The recommended stay at a sober living house is ninety days, but many patients stay longer. Studies show that the longer one stays in a sober living house, the more likely they are to fully recover. It is best to stay longer than you think than to leave before you are ready.

Many treatment centers have patients leave after ninety days, meaning they have to deal with everyday life on their own without acclimating to life outside of treatment. This often results in relapse. Sober living houses combat this issue by providing a safe place to continue progressing one’s recovery.

How to Find the Best Sober Living House for You or a Loved One

There are steps you can take to find the best option for the person in need. The best sober living home will depend on the addict’s needs and preferences in their sobriety. Here are some things you can do to find the perfect home for you or your loved one:

  • Do your research
  • Contact the homes
  • Visit the homes if possible
  • Understand the independence involved
  • Seek out support and community

One of the most important tasks is to make sure the residence is legitimate. Pay attention to red flags such as:

  • “Free“ programs
  • No admissions requirements
  • Building not up to code
  • No records on the premises
  • Doesn’t require abstinence
  • No safety or privacy rules
  • No clear house rules
  • Lack of obvious ethical and moral standards
  • Untrained/uncertified employees
  • No regulatory inspections

Sober living homes are a great option for those who are looking to become independent after going through treatment for substance abuse and other personal concerns. There are multiple sober living options for men and women to choose from. Remember to take the responsibilities of a sober living home into account when deciding if it is the best option for you or your loved one.

Camelback Recovery is a transitional living home in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson, Arizona. We provide a structured and supportive environment that promotes long-term transformational changes. Find out if a sober living home is right for you. Call us today at (602) 466-9880.

Sobriety Doesn’t End When Treatment Does: Moving Out of a Sober Living House

Moving out of a sober living house can be terrifying for those who have undergone multiple programs for addiction recovery. Making the decision to stay in the area of the sober living home, moving back home, or moving to a different city entirely can be difficult as well. There are many factors to weigh in that depend on each person’s situation.

Are You Ready to Leave?

First and foremost, before deciding to leave your sober living home, make absolutely sure that you are 100% ready to leave and live on your own. Leaving too early from treatment can be disastrous to your overall recovery. It’s better to stay longer than you need than to leave before you are ready.

Have a Strategy for Moving

Do not move out of a sober living home without having some sort of plan in place. You can talk with your therapists or addiction specialists at the home to come up with a post-treatment plan. In this plan, ensure that you will be addressing the same issues that were discussed in treatment. You should also have coping skills for new situations that may arise after you move out.

You should also consider employment opportunities for when you move, as not having enough money to live can lead to stress — and stress can lead to relapse. Moving to an area with plenty of available jobs can help with your recovery. To see what areas are good for finding employment, try using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as a resource.

Once you do move out, be sure to find an aftercare program. This can help you adjust to your new life as you become even more independent. Also, look for support groups to find fellowship and community with other like-minded individuals who can keep you motivated to stay sober.

Moving Back Home

Moving home can be a positive option, as it means going back to a supportive group of family and friends. For some, moving away from this support network of family and friends could hold them back in their recovery. Support from people you love is crucial to a successful recovery.

However, this is not the case for all recovered addicts. Moving back home is not always recommended for various reasons:

  • Triggers are everywhere in your hometown
  • Old friends who use or drink could still live nearby
  • Places where you used to buy the substances that fed your addiction will be there

Triggers can lead to cravings and relapse. This is why it’s commonly recommended to stay in the area of your sober living home or treatment facility or find a new city entirely to call home. Moving back to the place where you were using is risky. A fresh start can leave you with a new mindset since you won’t be constantly reminded of the past or surrounded by triggers.

Remember That Moving Doesn’t Erase Your Problems

Recovery is a commitment that must be made every single day. Just because you move away from the place where you were using doesn’t mean that your triggers or anxiety about recovery will go away. Do not blame your old neighborhood for your addiction — this is not accepting responsibility for the past. Make a commitment to recovery in your new location.

To help in life after recovery, sober living homes teach you how to be independent with the use of coping skills, recovery coaching, therapy, health and fitness, and more. Challenges will occur after treatment is over, so you must learn to use these skills to survive on your own.

Remember that people from your past may try to guilt you into coming back. Do not let them guilt you into thinking that you abandoned them. You did not abandon them — you abandoned your past bad habits and now are focusing on your own recovery. True friends will support you in this decision.

You can fall back into bad habits anywhere. Saying no to past temptations and staying committed to your recovery will keep you on the right track to sobriety.

Relapsing After Treatment

Relapse is most common in the months following treatment. This is especially true in the first few weeks after treatment when the person is moving and transitioning into their new living environment. The important thing to remember is that relapse is always a possibility for past addicts. The risk of relapsing does decrease over time, but it never goes away completely.

Do not lose hope if you end up relapsing after leaving a sober living home. Pick yourself back up. This can be difficult but it is not impossible. Try to understand the causes of your relapse and work to fight against those triggers and stressors.

Move Somewhere You Feel Happy

Most importantly, move somewhere that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Your environment can impact your overall mood and mental state in a variety of ways. The place where you choose to start your sober life after treatment should be calm and bring you joy.

Sobriety is all about taking care of your needs and desires in a healthy manner. Live in the setting you love, whether it be the country, near a body of water, in the mountains, or in the city. Remember that adjusting to a new place will take some time. You will eventually make new friends. Get involved with the local sober community to aid in your recovery, and always remember to be a good friend to yourself.

Camelback Recovery offers sober living homes for men and women across the state of Arizona. The specialists at these homes will prepare you for life after treatment, giving you the necessary tools for a successful life of sobriety. Camelback Recovery can change your life, teaching you how to be independent and healthy after a life of addiction. To speak with an experienced specialist and start the road to recovery, call us today at (602) 466-9880.

The Importance of Being Honest in Recovery

Honesty is a virtue that humans are taught from the time they learn to speak. For those in recovery, the importance of honesty is immeasurable. Addicts need to be honest with themselves and others to begin any semblance of healing. It is often suggested that people who are not honest in their relationships with their friends, family, and support community are more at risk of relapse. Dishonesty can be a trigger because when people lie, they become worried about what will happen once the truth comes out.

The reasoning behind the lying is often so the individual can hide from the consequences of their own actions. This, in turn, brings on feelings of shame and guilt, causing the person to isolate themselves. Isolation can lead to depression and anxiety, which when mixed with feelings of guilt and shame can cause a relapse. It’s a vicious cycle that can be prevented by being honest from the start.

Stuck in Addiction

Recovery can feel impossible if one is not willing to be open and honest with themselves and the people around them. This is because those that lie are often living in denial, hiding away from the difficult challenges that lie ahead. Recovery cannot progress this way, as you cannot take the appropriate steps to fix your problems if you refuse to be honest with yourself or the people around you about your addiction.

Lying is often used to justify someone’s continued addiction. Being unable to manage your life without the aid of drugs or alcohol makes recovery impossible as you fall back into old habits. You must face difficulties as they come to you, practicing honesty every single day to make it second nature. To help this process, try keeping a journal to monitor your behavior, recording any instances of dishonesty in your life so you are aware and can change this behavior.

The Mind of an Addict

Lying to others is often a natural coping mechanism developed by addicts in the midst of their addiction. Lies are told so the person can keep living in a state of denial and avoid admitting that they have an addiction. They lie to family members, friends, and anyone else to obtain what they are wanting in the moment they crave it.

Without dishonesty, addicts would have to come face-to-face with the anger, hurt, and pain they have caused because of their substance abuse. Lying helps them camouflage their bad habits so they can try to maintain a clean image around those close to them and still continue using.

Honesty & Shame

Most people who are suffering or have suffered from substance abuse are often hiding trauma inside their subconscious. Feelings of remorse, regret, and guilt stagnate in their minds since they are likely to be embarrassed about what has happened.

Being honest means actively acknowledging and recognizing the truths you would probably not like to think about. It also means being vulnerable and opening up to others to discuss your weakness without restraint. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable process, especially when you must admit to things you have buried deep inside of you.

Being able to trust that honesty will set you free from trauma, shame, and guilt is the first step to progress. After this, you will be able to practice telling the truth and see the effect it has on your life.

Honesty & Recovery

It is known that you cannot heal if you are hiding from the reality that you are in. Ignoring its effects on you, your loved ones, and your life as a whole is catastrophic. In recovery, being honest with yourself means facing the underlying causes of your addiction. Learning to be completely honest does not happen overnight. You must practice it until it becomes second nature, even when it may be easier to lie.

It’s also important to note that humans are never honest 100% of the time, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you do slip and catch yourself lying. Humans make mistakes, but the power of realizing them and taking responsibility will help you grow. Rather than being hard on yourself, use the situation as motivation to progress in your recovery and maintain positive thoughts.

Falling Back into Old Habits

Falling back into old habits and behaviors can seem rewarding in the moment. However, relapsing will cause you to feel the same guilt and shame as you did before recovery. This is because hiding behind lies causes damage to your personal relationships, yourself, and your overall recovery.

Lying causes your loved ones to once again walk on eggshells around you. They no longer trust you because of the lies you have told. Rebuilding relationships becomes harder, especially if you are not showing initiative to stay honest with those you love and care for.

Without honesty, there is no recovery. Being dishonest again causes recovery to slow because the person is unable to confront themselves about the harmful situation they are in and why. You cannot begin to heal without admitting there’s a problem in the first place.

Treatment centers for addiction such as sober living homes can help you learn to be trusting and vulnerable, which makes it easier to be honest with people as you progress in your recovery. Here at Camelback Recovery, we can help you begin your path to honesty and recovery. To learn more, call us today at (602) 466-9880.