How to Support your Loved One’s Recovery at Holiday Parties

Holiday SeasonThe holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but maybe especially hard for someone in recovery from a substance use disorder. With triggers typically present at holiday parties – normalized over-indulgence, staying out late, and the other various and bold rituals of celebration – it can be a challenge for those fresh in recovery and even those in long-term recovery, to maintain their sobriety. If your loved one in recovery takes on the challenge to attend a holiday party this season, please consider the following:

Worry about your own cup. Do not pressure others to drink with you. If you notice that someone does not have a drink in-hand or has something clearly non-alcoholic, let them be. The questions “What are you drinking?” and “Where’s your drink?” etc. are anxiety points for people in recovery, so much that they may disguise their non-alcoholic beverage in a tumbler or wine glass to avoid those encounters.

Do not question someone arriving late and leaving early. Not giving in to temptation requires a certain motivation that can be emotionally taxing. Respect your loved one’s limits and do not “guilt-trip” for them coming late and leaving early. It is also helpful to welcome their sponsor or sober guest for support.

Have non-alcoholic options ready. If you are hosting a holiday party, accommodate those that wish to not consume alcohol by having soft drinks, teas, lemonades, etc. on hand. It is also special to prepare non-alcoholic specialty drinks, or “mocktails”, so all can enjoy a drink that is festive.  It is also a good rule of thumb to not set the dining table with wine glasses. Offer the wine separately so it does not appear as an obligation to guests.

Try not to be offended if your loved one chooses to skip the holiday party overall. As a family member or friend, you may think that adverse pressures only come from your notion of bad influences; however, they can originate from something as simple as a holiday social. Have patience this holiday season and stay thoughtful of those in recovery.

If you or your loved one needs help during the holidays, or any time of year, Gateway’s treatment programs are always here to help.

The Relationship of Substance Use Disorder and Mental Illness

suicide and substance abuse, gateway treatment centersAt Gateway, we recognize that mental illness and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) often coincide. In fact, the presence of a co-occurring diagnosis is more the “rule” than the exception. The terms “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring” refer to an individual that is affected by two or more disorders or illnesses.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that 37% of individuals with alcohol use disorder and 53% of those with a drug use disorder also have at least one serious mental illness.

It is difficult to diagnose which came first – the SUD or the mental health disorder. Drug use can cause one to experience symptoms of mental illness. However, mental illness can also lead to drug use as a form of self-medication to manage symptoms. There are many overlapping factors that can make it difficult to detect the initial issue.

“There is no question that no matter which came first; both issues need to be addressed in treatment,” said Katie Stout, Executive Director at Gateway. According to reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the most common reason for relapse is an untreated mental health problem.

“The best chance of recovery is through an integrated treatment program that includes treatment of the SUD and the mental health illness,” said Katie Stout.

Evidence-based treatment for co-occurring disorders includes: motivational interviewing, mindfulness based therapy, trauma informed therapy and 12 step facilitation.

Gateway is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance use disorder treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental illness. To learn more about our treatment programs visit us at RecoverGateway.org.

Stress on the Road to Recovery

April is Natiroadonal Stress Awareness Month. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), medical specialists believe that stress is the leading cause of relapse back into drug use. Research shows that the brain of those with substance use disorder is more hypersensitive to stress, which may provoke them to relieve their stress by returning to drugs.

 

 

For those in recovery, many stressors arise such as family/relationship conflicts, work, money and health concerns. It is important to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you to recognize stress.

  • Headaches
  • Neck or back pain
  • Stomach upset
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Stress is often unavoidable. However, you can take a proactive role in acknowledging and calming the stress to avoid relapse. There are many healthy and practical ways to reduce stress and increase your chance of staying sober. Among these are: Exercise, talking it out (or write about it), breathing with purpose (yoga/meditation), and of course good old laughter.

Most important is to recognize when you are experiencing stress and find your most healthy way to cope with it.

What Is the Difference Between Alcoholics Anonymous and an Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Program?

In Honor of Alcohol Awareness Month in April, Gateway highlights the differences between 12-Step Meetings (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and an Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Program.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous or 12-Step?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-Step group for those struggling with alcohol use disorder. Led by peers, this group allows participants to follow a set of recovery steps to achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol.

The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. AA works through members telling their stories of recovery from alcohol use disorder. AA is nonprofessional – it doesn’t have clinics, doctors, counselors or psychologists. All members are themselves recovering from alcoholism. There is no central authority controlling how AA groups operate. It is up to the members of each group to decide what they do. However, the AA program of recovery has proven to be very successful and almost every group follows it in very similar ways.

How is an Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Program Different from AA?

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment believes 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other kinds of recovery support groups play a valuable role in substance abuse treatment, but they only comprise part of the picture.

Gateway believes that a substance use disorder treatment program should include the use of evidence-based practices – drug and alcohol disorder treatments that integrate professional research and clinical expertise to achieve the best outcome for an individual.  The clinical professionals at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers employ evidenced-based practices to create meaningful, individualized treatment programs. We believe there is more than one pathway to recovery so we expose clients to a wide array of treatment methodologies. The greatest benefit can be derived from experiencing 12-step programs in conjunction with evidenced-based treatment.

Gateway engages both adults and teens through a variety of highly effective clinical approaches and therapies to help them get life back on track. On average, Gateway’s drug rehab programs have a 10% higher successful treatment completion rate when compared to other Treatment Providers.

12-Step as Part of Gateway’s Integrated Treatment Programs

“It’s a Personal Choice – Some individuals come to Gateway convinced that a 12-step program is the only thing that will work for them, while others have equally strong reservations about them. We make it a priority to accommodate the needs of clients who are of either mindset and implement the 12-steps accordingly,” said Gilbert Lichstein, LCPC, MS Clinical Psychology, Program Manager at Gateway Chicago.

Gradual Exposure- Our experienced staff utilizes a targeted approach that provides clients with an in-depth understanding of 12-step principles. Our curriculum is designed to break down barriers to participation and “kick start” the process of attending meetings and finding a sponsor.

12-step meetings can not only be challenging for some, they also vary from group to group and meeting to meeting. In order to give clients a good idea of what to expect out of support groups like these after leaving treatment, Gateway provides exposure to 12-steps in multiple settings. To offer our full support, we accompany individuals in our treatment programs to both on-site and off-site 12-step meetings.

For those who prefer not to use 12-step techniques, many Gateway treatment locations offer on-site SMART recovery groups and linkage to other peer support options such as Dual Recovery Anonymous.

To learn more about Gateway’s alcohol and drug treatment programs, visit RecoverGateway.org

The Role of Nutrition in Recovery

Substance Use Dnutrients and substance abuse recoveryisorder (SUD) and poor nutrition often go hand-in-hand. Nutrient imbalances can intensify the cravings for alcohol and drugs. Poor nutrition can also have an effect on co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety. According to an article in Today’s Dietitian SUD is known to lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that threaten physical and mental health, damage vital organs and the nervous system, and decrease immunity.

“A well balanced diet rich in nutrients is needed for cognitive repair, processing and critical thinking; which are all compounding factors to a healthful and lasting recovery,” said Jayne Chatzidakis, Gateway’s dietitian consultant with Cynthia Chow & Associates.

The recovery process at Gateway Foundation includes encouragement for proper nutrition through collaboration with the dietitians from Cynthia Chow & Associates. The dietitians provide the highest standard of dietary consultation for the specialized needs of Gateway clients.

Proper nutrition aids in ridding the body of toxins and restores the nutrients that have been lost as a result of substance use. What does proper nutrition look like? “Eat more nutrient rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish,” encourages Jayne Chatzidakis. “Stay away from overly prep
ared, frozen, processed, or prepackaged foods. Also, drinking plenty of water throughout the day is vital to hydrate the body and assist in the detoxification process.”

“Overall, it’s about achieving a healthy lifestyle that is drug free, nutritious and active,” said Jayne Chatzidakis.

Tips for Avoiding Temptation at Holiday Parties

Golden streamers with sparkling glitterThe holiday season is filled with social activities, from family dinners to parties with friends and coworkers. These celebrations often center around over-indulgence, be it in food or alcohol. In fact, in a 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study conducted by Gateway Treatment Centers, it was found that 51% of adults drink alcohol due to “celebrations, special events, and holidays.” For someone in recovery, this over-indulgent atmosphere can make holiday parties difficult to navigate.

There can be anxiety over the temptation of easily accessible alcohol, as well as over the perceived judgment of others if you don’t partake in drinking. Depending on your support system and where you are in your recovery, it may be easier to skip the parties. But if you want to attend a party, there are a few things you can do to help you avoid temptation and lessen your nerves.

Bring a sober friend. It can be easier to avoid alcohol if you are not the only one abstaining at the party. Bring someone else with you who will stay by your side and ensure you have a good time without using drugs or alcohol.

Prepare your response for turning down offered drinks. Do not fear that attending a holiday party means that you will be offered drink after drink. But if the fear of that happening is keeping you from attending, prepare your response ahead of time. If you are comfortable mentioning that you are in recovery, you can use that to turn down offered alcoholic drinks. But if you are not, don’t stress. There can be many reasons someone may turn down a drink, such as not liking the taste or having to drive, and you can use any of these excuses. Having your excuse in mind before you go can help relieve any anxiety and prepare you to remain alcohol free throughout the party.

Only stay as long as you are comfortable. Often we are invited to holiday parties that we may feel obligated to go to. But just because you show up doesn’t mean you need to stay very long. If the party is too overwhelming, leave early.

Remember that everyone is preoccupied with themselves, not you. You may feel like you are the only one not drinking, and therefore that everyone is watching and judging you. But know that most people are so busy with their own drinking that they aren’t keeping track of what you are, or are not, consuming.

Serve yourself. If you are worried about others asking you to consume alcohol, an easy way around it is to serve yourself a nonalcoholic drink. When you get to the party, grab water or pop, or bring your own, and keep it in your hand. It will curb drink offers from other people since you already have something to drink. Also, you don’t have to worry about someone adding alcohol to your drink if you get it yourself.

Remember that if temptation becomes too much, you can always rely on your support network or aftercare program. By making plans before a party or following some of the above tips, you can mitigate anxiety and navigate holiday parties without using drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for information about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Tips for Staying Drug Free

In honor of the upcoming Red Ribbon Week (October 23–31, 2016), Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers want to encourage those just entering recovery from a substance use disorder to find the support they need to continue living a life free of drugs and alcohol. Recovery consists of several stages. Completing treatment and returning to everyday life can be one of the most challenging for those who have struggled with substance use—changing routines and confronting triggers can be overwhelming. As well as attending outpatient aftercare and/or support groups, there are things that can be done in your personal life to help stay focused and feel supported. The following are a few tips to help remain drug free during this difficult but transformative time in recovery.

Stay busy by setting short-term goals. Occupying your time combats the boredom that can cause relapse. Before bed, make a to-do list for the next day. Perhaps you’d like to submit a job application, mow the lawn, and call a friend. Making habits to stay busy during the day will gradually disrupt the association to drugs and alcohol, and will also boost productivity and confidence.

young fitness woman tying shoelaces on trailSweat it out. Try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of physical exercise. According to a study at the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps reduce stress, improves mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improves sleep, and boosts mood. If you’re new to working out, don’t be intimidated. The study suggests that a simple brisk walk is enough to reap these benefits.

Cut out toxic relationships. Don’t “test” yourself with unhealthy friendships or romances. Take responsibility for your recovery by being honest with unhealthy influences. Ask for their respect in your new lifestyle and need for space. Ending it doesn’t mean the other person is “bad.” You’re not assigning blame—only maintaining your own well-being.

Meeting Of Support Group

Utilize your support system. Support networks may include family, friends, colleagues, recovery meeting participants, sponsors, or therapists. You may find that verbalizing your feelings, even when you don’t want to, will help you conceptualize and take responsibility for the next steps necessary. Also remember that your support system isn’t only there to help you through the bad—together, you can celebrate the good!

Self-care and awareness are the focus of these tips. When times get tough, remind yourself that you’ll want to remember this time of adjustment. Valuable lessons and insights are being gained for your use down the road.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, learn more at RecoverGateway.org, or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Pekin Community Unite to ‘Fight the Fight’ Against Addiction with TWO Events

Please join members of the Pekin Community on Sunday, August 7th in the first annual ‘Fight the Fight’ Addiction Awareness Walk at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin, IL. The walk is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and does not require registration. All community members are invited.

iStock_000022659105SmallThis short, scenic walk will be accompanied by speakers on the to pics of recovery, the
disease of addiction, Narcan and harm reduction, a coroner’s report  and more. Speakers include those who have lost their loved ones to addiction, individuals in recovery, Gateway Treatment Centers, Tazewell County Coroner, Pekin Police Department and more. A short “fight song” will  be performed while balloons are released to honor and remember those who lost their battle with addiction.

Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers and JM Industrial Supply are the Gold Level sponsors of this walk.

Following the walk, Gateway invites all community members to visit the Pekin treatment center and enjoy light snacks and refreshments from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Gateway’s substance abuse treatment experts will be available to answer questions about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options available. Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to extend a special thank you to our local Hyvee and Panera Bread for their generous donations towards the open house event immediately following the awareness walk.

The Fight the Fight group was formed in 2016 by a local family who lost their son to a heroin overdose. In an effort to help others struggling with addiction, the family aims to bring awareness to addiction and treatment options.

To learn more about heroin abuse and treatment options visit RecoverGateway.org

Recovery Story: Treatment Enables Victory over Drug Abuse

recovery-drug-abuse“Partying” was getting the best of Everett G., who had been abusing alcohol and crack cocaine for about 20 years. Over those years, he repeatedly let down his father, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews and damaged his relationships with his children and their mother. By the time his second child was born, the toll his abuse was taking became obvious to him.

Everett compares his experiences with cocaine and alcohol to being in a boxing ring, fighting a 12-foot monster. “I’m in the ring and I’m not even swinging any more – just taking punches. And I’m wondering why nobody threw in the towel, why nobody’s helping me. I turn around and look in my corner and I notice there’s nobody there, nobody at the fight with me. On December 10, 2013, I had the bright idea to get out of the ring.”

A staff member at Jackson Park Hospital recommended Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers to Everett and then his union steward and EAP representative at work helped him get into a program. Over the course of his alcohol and crack cocaine abuse, Everett had been in and out of six different treatment facilities.

“Participating in treatment at Gateway was one of the best experiences of my life. I knew I needed help again and I’m glad I went to Gateway,” Everett said.

As consequence of abusing drugs, Everett had closed himself off emotionally and spiritually, losing his connection with principles and his spiritual side. He believed he could lead a sober life if he could reconnect to his spiritual life. He explained, “I know the enemy is the disease and once it isolates me, it’s got me. Once I connect through the love and the people, it’s hard to go outside the lines and drink and use drugs again.” He said at Gateway, he felt a level of love he had never experienced before, but also points out that he was ready to receive that love.

Everett said that Paul, the director of the men’s unit at Gateway Chicago West, was especially influential and that he paid attention to every individual in the program. “His heart was in it and he helped me everywhere he could. I could go to him for anything,” Everett said, adding “Everyone was so approachable and I could go to anyone with a problem. The level of caring is just over the top.”

Everett said the coping skills he learned at Gateway prepared him for the “boxing match” he was going to have for the rest of his life. During his treatment, Everett discovered the best way to prepare for the fight was to stay out of the ring, or “stay away from people, places and things” that can bring you down. He pointed out that sometimes the fight comes to you, and compared his newly acquired coping skills to learning how to uppercut, jab and dodge to win the match.

Everett’s initial inpatient treatment program extended to 60 days and he’s grateful for Gateway’s help in working with his health insurance company to obtain the additional time in treatment he needed. Following his program, he went to a halfway house where he met people who were instrumental to his success on the second portion of his recovery journey. He chose to participate in both intensive outpatient (IOP) and basic outpatient (BOP) programs at Gateway. “The aftercare programs set Gateway Chicago West apart from anywhere else I went. The programs are there for you when you need the support” Everett said.

Everett sees staying connected as essential to his continued sobriety, participating in the Alumni Program and chairing its Leadership Program, through which he reaches out to people who are fresh from treatment to see how they’re doing and give them a sense of hope. He believes maintaining the friendships he made during treatment and making new connections is a great addition to his life. “My new friends understand what I’m going through in a way that people who are not in recovery cannot.” he explained.

Everett offers his interpretation of the significance of Gateway’s name. “They’re saying, ‘walk through this door and change your life.’  They provide the gateway, a process to live by.”

If someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, don’t wait. Call 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org to learn about insurance coverage, treatment options, and our free, confidential consultation. 

 

In Honor of National Recovery Month, Gateway Alumnus Shares the Story of his Road to Recovery

In Honor of National Recovery Month in September, John Fields, Gateway Alumnus Shares His Recovery Story:

National Recovery Month, Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment CentersBy the time John Fields turned to Gateway, he was having a drink as soon as he woke up in the morning. He had become aware his drinking was out of control and that he needed help. “I knew I couldn’t quit on my own. I needed a safe place where I didn’t have access to drugs or alcohol,” John said.

John wanted to get his mind clear so he could begin to think rationally again. He also wanted to learn how to live on the outside without using alcohol

“Gateway gave me what I needed most, a safe place and the tools and knowledge I needed to live a sober life outside of treatment,” John explained.

John had been sent to drug treatment centers in the past by family members or managers at a job but he’d never gone to treatment for himself. Each time, he’d end up returning to his same routines. He never followed up with meetings or became involved in an alumni program, and he thought he could resume his old lifestyle with friends.

This time around, he was highly motivated and he also did his homework. John said, “Gateway is a much nicer facility than the others I looked at and the staff is great. These people know what they’re doing.”

Read John’s full story at RecoverGateway.org/AlumniSuccess>

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