Gateway Tip: Mindfulness Solutions to Boost New Year’s Resolution Success

mindfulness-new years resolutions gateway alcohol and drug treatment

To increase resolution success rates in 2015, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment recommends mindfulness to help ease the burden of change.

According to a 2014 study analyzing the custom of making New Year’s resolutions, approximately 45 percent of Americans declare annual intentions, however only 8 percent achieve them. To increase resolution success rates in 2015, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment recommends mindfulness  to help ease the burden of change.

Regardless of the goal—from losing weight to getting organized to saving money—an effective way to break bad habits is to form good habits incompatible with the behaviors people want to change, and stick with it.  The reward may not be apparent at first as it can take several months on average to form a new habit through repetition.

“When a person is mindful and makes a concerted effort to ‘stick with it’ eventually new connections to the brain’s reward center will form.  When this happens, the new behavior becomes easier and easier, and as a result the person has a healthier habit to replace a less desirable one,” explains Dr. John Larson, Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

How can mindfulness improve resolution success? Mindfulness is a  mind-body technique involving awareness of breath, which induces the relaxation response–a physiological response in which blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and stress hormone levels decrease. With a little guidance and practice, mindfulness can help de-program conditioned responses, which can undermine self-awareness and personal growth.

To keep New Year’s resolutions in 2015 and beyond, try these simple tips that promote mindfulness:
  • Sit on it, then commit. People tend to stick to goals that are in line with their core values. So take time to reflect and prioritize before penning resolutions on paper.
  • Celebrate progress. From the start, create a game plan for each goal and determine milestones. Prominently display a calendar to tracks all events and activities related to resolutions, including milestones and rewards to encourage the “stick with it” factor.
  • Roost with birds of a feather. To benefit from positive influences of others, seek out people or frequent places with others likely to share similar goals. Join a running club or meet ups, explore yoga studios (many offer free community classes), volunteer for local charity groups, join a professional networking group, take class at park district, etc.
  • Visual affirmation. Visual prompts keep help what matters most front and center. Post pictures and inspiring notes in car, office and throughout home.

For people who need help in attaining resolutions related to drinking alcohol or drug use, Gateway can help get life back on track. Visit to learn about a free, confidential consultation.

Gateway Tip: Calculate Alcohol Content to Avoid Party-Related Peril

mixed drinks, dui, alcohol content, blood alcohol content, bacSince mixed drinks contain varying degrees of alcohol, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers urges holiday party goers to “do the math” to avoid unnecessary embarrassment or adversity. Even the best-intentioned can commit the dreaded party foul with factors like, super-sized glasses, unpredictable pours, and cocktails containing different types of alcohol. However, handy online alcohol calculators and cell phone apps can help establish responsible drinking limits to ensure the comfort, joy and safety of all.


A “drink” is defined as: 12 ounces of beer with a 5 percent alcohol content, 5 ounces of wine with a 12 percent alcohol content and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, which are 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Take wine for example, nowadays many wines served in restaurants and bars contain 15 percent alcohol. While a 4-ounce glass is a more appropriate serving size, the average size of wine glasses at restaurants and bars is slightly over 6 ounces, which is the equivalent of one and a half servings of alcohol in this instance.

Beer drinkers may find themselves in the same boat. A 12-ounce bottle of Bud Light has 4.2 percent alcohol, but the same-size bottle of Bud Light Platinum has 6 percent alcohol by volume, a nearly 50 percent increase.

Mixed drinks often contain more alcohol than one standard drink. Consider a Gin and Tonic: at 94.6 percent alcohol, 2 ounces of gin combined with 5 ounces of tonic water equates to 1.6 servings of alcohol.

“If a woman thinks, ‘I can enjoy two gin and tonics and still be safe to drive,’ she actually consumed over 3 servings of alcohol, and may be above the legal alcohol limit and eligible for a DUI,” says Dr. John Larson, Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Don’t let a night out on the town ruin the holiday spirit. Search the app store found on most mobile phones for blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator and determine personal alcohol limit today. To figure out the true alcohol content of favorite mixed drinks, like mojitos, margaritas and cosmos, click for NIAA’s alcohol calculator.

For people who may have developed a serious drinking problem, Gateway can help get life back on track. Visit to learn about a free, confidential consultation.

Insight from Gateway Expert: How to Break a Habit

John Larson Gateway Treatment Centers

Dr. John Larson
Corporate Medical Director
Gateway Treatment Centers

A large portion of our waking lives is filled with habits of behaving that seem almost automatic. For instance, we may walk into the bathroom first thing in the morning and immediately reach for a toothbrush and toothpaste. The fresh taste and sweetness of the toothpaste triggers a small response in the reward center of the brain, and the behavior is reinforced.

In fact, habitual behaviors like brushing one’s teeth create pathways in the brain that actually change its chemical activity in a way that is similar to the change produced by addictive substances. The stronger and faster the behavior affects that reward center, the quicker a habit is formed.

So, what’s the best way to break a bad habit?

Form a good habit that is incompatible with the behavior we are trying to change, and “stick with it!” The reward of that new behavior may not be apparent at first. Research suggests it takes an average of several months to form a new habit through repetition so we have to be mindful and make a concerted effort to “stick with it” until new connections to the brain’s reward center are formed. When that happens, the new behavior becomes easier and easier, and as a result we have a new healthier habit to replace a less desirable one. If we “stick with it,” together we can reap the benefits of enhanced wellness in 2015 and beyond!


What are Designer Drugs or “Street Drugs?”

designer drugsDesigner drugs, also referred to as synthetic drugs or street drugs, are produced by altering the chemistry of existing illegal substances. Made by street chemists, designer drugs can vary greatly in terms of strength and purity. Often times, these drugs may contain agents that are highly poisonous such as liquid laundry bleach.

Because of the great variation of ingredients, the street names can vary from batch to batch. Due to unlicensed and untrained amateurs creating these drugs, they can be extremely dangerous. In many cases, these altered drugs are far more dangerous and powerful than the original illegal substance.


These drugs are “designed” to sidestep laws against controlled substances. Before designer drugs came along, drug laws were specific. Drugs like Heroin, amphetamines, Valium and other drugs were put on a list in The Controlled Substances Act, created by the Federal Government. Substances on this list were explicitly banned by law.

Street chemists who originated designer drugs knew that, by switching base ingredients or otherwise tinkering with the chemical structure of drugs in the lab, they could create entirely new chemicals – or drugs, different enough from controlled substances that they wouldn’t violate the law, yet close enough to produce many of the same effects as the original drug.

Common physical symptoms among users of designer drugs include:

 – Increased heart rate  – Total paralysis
 – Clenched teeth – Chills and sweating
 – Blurred vision – Dehydration and heat exhaustion
 – Uncontrolled tremors  – Seizures
 – Anorexia  – Nausea and vomiting
 – Respiratory depression – Death
 – Permanent brain damage

To learn more about synthetic drugs, visit

If you or a loved one is struggling with designer drug use, Gateway can help. Visit to learn more.

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