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Friday, March 27, 2020

Coping with Anxiety in Recovery while COVID-19 Cases Increase

At Hope By The Sea, we understand that everyone in the recovery community faces enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This public health crisis has put everyone on high alert, which can be detrimental to those with a history of addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses. Still, we believe that it's possible to get through this by working together to safeguard everyone's health and programs of recovery.

You may have heard that the United States now has more cases of coronavirus than anywhere else in the world, including China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated. Even Italy, with the highest death toll (9,134), has fewer confirmed cases than America.

Public health officials are fearful that the U.S. will see the most significant number of coronavirus-related fatalities than any other country. The pace at which the virus is spreading is increasing rapidly, with exponentially more new cases each day. Every state is taking steps to combat this most severe crisis.

As of today, 97,226 Americans have the coronavirus, and 1,478 people have died across the country. In California, the governor's team of experts project that more than half the state could contract coronavirus in the next eight weeks. In the letter to The White House, Governor Gavin Newsom relayed the projections:

"We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period."

Hopefully, the above does not come to fruition, and everyone does their part to prevent the spread of the disease. Please adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines in protecting your health and safety.

Coping with Mental Illness During a Pandemic

anxiety in recovery
How does one avoid symptoms of anxiety and depression when millions of people are at risk? For those with pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, it will not be easy. Many people in addiction recovery also struggle with anxiety, and significant life changes can amplify their symptoms and potentially trigger a relapse.

Naturally, a pandemic presents significant challenges to people who battle symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, not being able to access one's normal channels of support compounds the issue. As we mentioned last week, many 12 Step groups are no longer meeting in person. One week later, that is an even bigger reality.

The internet and the use of video conferencing have proven instrumental in keeping men and women in recovery afloat during these trying times. If you need information on accessing digital meetings, then please click here.

It's essential to let your peers and sponsor know the emotions that you are dealing with, so you can get support. You are not alone in this; we are all dealing with this crisis together.

Dr. Bruce Schwartz, president of the American Psychiatric Association, has some advice for those dealing with heightened symptoms of anxiety, the Associated Press reports. He suggests limiting the amount of time spent watching the news.

Dr. Schwartz also recommends keeping busy while you are in self-quarantine. Engage in projects, even if it's as basic as cleaning closets. He says to get outdoors and walk—all sound advice for people dealing with both addiction and anxiety even during regular times. Staying occupied will help you keep your mind from entertaining negative thoughts.

Addiction Recovery in Southern California

Despite the pandemic, Hope By The Sea continues to help people begin programs of recovery. Our evidence-based treatment center is following the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure the safety of every client. If you need assistance with addiction or co-occurring mental illness, then please contact us today.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Don't Let COVID-19 Interfere With Your Recovery

Last week, we wrote about a team of researchers who sought to determine the most effective method for achieving long-term recovery. The study authors found that Alcoholics Anonymous leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other therapies.

Moreover, the researchers found that treatment centers that facilitate A.A. involvement (Twelve‐Step Facilitation (T.S.F.) interventions) like Hope By The Sea achieve the best patient outcomes.

While the recent research is welcome news on so many levels, millions of people are finding it challenging to attend meetings of late. You can probably discern the reason why: COVID-19.

In California, there are 675 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and 16 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The agency reports that an estimated 16,900 tests had been conducted in California (as of 6 p.m. Tuesday); at least 6,300 results have been received, and more than 10,000 are pending.

In the nation’s most populated state, there is a high likelihood that Californians will suffer significantly before this crisis is over. It’s paramount that you do all that you can do protect your health and your recovery.

At this time, you might be wondering how you are supposed to maintain your sobriety without the aid of 12 Step meetings. It’s an excellent question, and we hope to answer it in this post and provide you with essential information to help you keep your recovery intact despite current limitations.

Addiction Recovery in the Digital World

While meeting face to face with others is one of the pillars of 12 Step recovery, a pandemic makes accomplishing that untenable. That’s not to say some groups are not still meeting, but that may not be the case in the near future.

You must take steps now to ensure you can maintain your program in relative isolation. Fortunately, smartphones and the internet are a lifeline that most individuals can rely on for connecting with their support group and sponsor.

According to the General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous – a repository of shared group experience and functions as a resource center for A.A. members and groups – many groups are meeting online. 12 Step groups across the country are already utilizing digital platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. The G.S.O. shared in a statement what the groups who are still meeting in person are doing to prevent disease transmission. The resource center reports that members of the community are avoiding physical contact and have suspended food hospitality.

Each local chapter and A.A. Intergroup has the right to handle the public health crisis as they choose. However, the G.S.O. reminds each individual that they are responsible for their own health decisions. If you decide to forgo meetings, then it’s critical that you make arrangements for keeping in close contact with your support network. Physical isolation doesn’t mean refraining from communication.

Please call your sponsor every day and reach out to your peers as much as possible. Look into how you can conduct 12 Step meetings online; it could be a while before it’s safe to gather in large groups again. The G.S.O. points out that local A.A. entities are adding information to their websites about how to change a meeting format from “in-person” to online.

“Those who may have questions regarding A.A. Anonymity Traditions on digital platforms can review: the Conference-approved pamphlet, Understanding Anonymity and the G.S.O. Service Material Anonymity Online and Digital Media and the A.A. Guidelines on the Internet.” 

Southern California Addiction Recovery Center

If you are in need of addiction treatment, please know that Hope by the Sea is following the C.D.C. guidelines regarding COVID-19. We offer several evidence-based programs and utilize the 12 Step recovery method. Please contact us today to begin your life-changing journey of recovery.

Friday, March 13, 2020

AA: An Effective Method for Acheiving Addiction Recovery

At Hope By The Sea, our clients receive evidence-based therapies to help them adopt and sustain a program of addiction recovery. Moreover, we also rely on the 12 Step model for recovery for continual support such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

We offer 12 Step meetings on our premises as well, and our clients also attend outside meetings. Our program integrates an excellent balance of individual and group therapy sessions along with 12-step meetings.

After completing one of our addiction treatment tracks, clients are encouraged to continue attending 12 Step meetings. Some may choose to participate in a variety of 12 Step meetings, as many people meet the criteria for both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

Those who continue attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and then paying it forward by helping newcomers stand the best chance of achieving lasting addiction recovery. Sustaining one's abstinence requires working together with others; sustaining addiction recovery is not a solo journey.

AA meetings are the most well-known variety of 12 Step recovery. The program was founded 85 years ago in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. From humble beginnings, AA meetings can now be found in more than 100 countries across the globe.

The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions of men and women find long-term recovery and lead fulfilling lives free from drugs and alcohol. While AA is not the only program for achieving lasting sobriety, it is perhaps the most effective.

Of course, proving the above assertion about AA's efficacy would be a challenging task for even the most diligent researchers. However, that is what a group of scientists set out to do, and their findings are worth acknowledgment.

AA is the Most Effective Pathway to Addiction Recovery

addiction recoveryA team of researchers sought to determine the most effective method for achieving long-term recovery. The study authors include John F Kelly (a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital), Keith Humphreys (a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University's School of Medicine), and Marica Ferri (of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction). The researchers' findings appear in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review.

The group of addiction experts reached their conclusions after combing through 27 studies involving 10,565 participants, The New York Times reports. Lead author Dr. Kelly found that AA leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other therapies. The authors also found that treatment centers that facilitate AA involvement (Twelve‐Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions) achieve the best patient outcomes.

"These results demonstrate AA's effectiveness in helping people not only initiate but sustain abstinence and remission over the long term," said Kelly. "The fact that AA is free and so widely available is also good news. It's the closest thing in public health we have to a free lunch."

AUD is a severe behavioral health disorder; heavy alcohol use and dependence cause 3.3 million deaths per year worldwide, according to the article. For perspective, that number is ten times more than deaths from all illicit drugs combined.

Addiction Treatment in Southern California

As we pointed out above, Hope By The Sea incorporates AA involvement along with the use of evidence-based addiction treatment modalities. We found through years of experience that our approach is the most effective path to achieving lasting addiction recovery long before the systematic review was published.

If you or a loved one is in the grips of AUD or SUD, we can give you hope for a better life. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and to begin a remarkable journey of addiction recovery. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Active Participation in Your Recovery is a Must

Progress in recovery requires your participation. Do you share when you attend your support groups like AA and NA meetings? Do you get to meetings early and leave late so that you can volunteer or meet newcomers? Do you have a sponsor and work the Steps?

Hopefully, you answered “yes” to all the questions above. If you answered “no” to one or more of them, then this post should be informative. You have probably heard people say in meetings that their disease [addiction] is doing push-ups in the parking lot. It’s waiting for one to neglect their program and let down their guard; the disease wants to be strong if that time comes around.

While the above utterance is merely a metaphor, there is a kernel of truth to it that you should acknowledge. Long-term recovery is only possible through continued mental, physical, and spiritual maintenance. Having a stable program of recovery hinges on your level of participation. You will only get out of the program as much as you put in; half-measures never suffice when contending with mental illness.

If you give recovery your all, then you will achieve milestones beyond what you ever thought possible. If that sounds appealing, then why not give your program your best effort?

Surely, you can remember where you were and how you felt when you got to treatment and the rooms of recovery. You probably never want to be in the depths of despair again, right? So, please stay actively involved in your recovery to avoid relapse and not to allow addiction to reassert control over your life.

Letting Down Your Guard in Recovery

In most cases, relapse is the result of becoming less vigilant about your program. Many people robustly follow the formula for success in the first months and year of recovery. Such individuals get a sponsor and work the steps; they attend meetings every day and offer to be of service. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they stop putting recovery first.

There are many reasons why one might become complacent about their active involvement with their recovery support groups. Some convince themselves that they have what it takes to maintain their sobriety with less effort. Others think that the Twelfth Step is a finish line; the race is over, so there is no need to keep doing the work.

Whatever the reason is for one deciding they can reduce their program participation is not the salient point. What matters is that those who give their recovery less than before are essentially letting down their guard. When this happens, it opens the door for the disease who was outside doing push-ups.

Most people who experience a relapse and return to active addiction, while managing to make it back to the rooms, would agree that this time was worse than before. Addiction is a progressive disease, and when a person relapses, they tend to experience a more intense version of their condition than the first time they sought help.

The result of returning to active addiction is often losing the trust of friends and loved ones all over again. Some people forget about tolerance and overdose, while others might find themselves behind bars. Nothing positive ever comes from letting addiction back in your life.

At Hope By The Sea, we strongly encourage you to re-engage with the recovery community if you have been neglecting your program. Lasting recovery and all the good that comes to you along the way is only possible through continued action.

Southern California Addiction Rehab

If you relapsed recently and returned to active use, then you can benefit from seeking professional assistance. Getting back into recovery can be a significant challenge due to the shame and guilt that accompanies a relapse. However, we ask you to keep in mind that a relapse does not need to be the end of recovery for you. Many people with years of sustained sobriety have a relapse in their stories.

Please contact Hope By The Sea if you are ready to get back on the path of recovery. We can help determine where and why you went astray, prepare you for what comes next, and help you avoid a future relapse. We are standing by to answer any questions you have about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs.

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