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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Myself, and many others, have discussed the scientific benefits of practicing or incorporating gratitude into daily life. A quick recap: it improves well-being, linked with higher achievement, makes you a better friend. improves sleep, benefits the physical heart & immune system, and it does wonders for our mental health. Are there any other reasons needed to start practicing gratitude right away?! It helps keep away anxiety and depression and can improve self-image and efficacy. These are important aspects of healthy daily living for everyone, but for someone in recovery they can be life changing.

Why Gratitude: The Difference Maker?

Discover how the practice of gratitude, as simple as five minutes each day, can improve recovery. Not only can it reduce the amount of cravings to use drugs and alcohol, but it is also make our lives more enjoyable and reduce feelings of depression. Why is gratitude so much more important for recovering addicts & alcoholics than the average person? Because active addiction drains us of our ability to empathize and tends to keep us focused on the negative aspects of ourselves and others. Our families and friends often get in the way of our addiction, which irritates and causes negative feelings.


Perhaps the most common mental problems that people trying to quit drinking and drugging is depression, anxiety, and poor physical health. The dark prison of addiction makes its captives pessimist, aggressors, suicidal, manipulators, etc. It is estimated that almost 58% of people entering treatment qualify for ‘situational’ depression or anxiety. Years of addiction has literally caused the symptoms of chronic and genetic depression to occur. The good news? In recovery, as we get sober, most of these things go away with effort. Gratitude is one of the easiest and dramatic ways to start reversing the damage that addiction can cause to our outlook on life.

5 Unique Benefits of Gratitude for People in Recovery
  1. Gratitude As a Reminder: When we practice gratitude, such as making a list, it can help remind us of our dark past we care from when we did not have much. There was one point in my life where I had no car, drivers license, bank account, or friends (mainly due to my addiction). When I recognize my gratitude today for my friends and my car it helps me feel blessed to be sober.
  2. Gratitude Breeds Relationships: In addiction, we often isolate or use drugs/alcohol to socialize and form relationships. In sobriety its important to find out how to do these things without chemicals. Well, a 2014 Emotion study found that saying “thank you” or even smiling at a stranger for holding open a door can lead to more relationships in the future. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
  3. Gratitude Makes Us a Nicer Person: Believe it or not, people who practice gratitude frequently score higher in test of likability and empathy. A 2012 study from University of Kentucky found that grateful people  were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They also experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and decreased desires to seek revenge.
  4. Gratitude Improves Self-Image: A recovering alcoholic or addict with a high self-image? Sounds dangerous right? This benefit of gratitude is based on the idea that gratitude reduces how often we compare ourselves to others. When we are grateful we don’t covet our neighbors things or become prideful and feel superior to them either. So improving our self-image, with gratitude, can actually reduce our ego!
  5. High Gratitude Correlates With Lower Stress: In early recovery stress can be the thing that sets someone off on a relapse. Thousands of addicts and alcoholics have run to their old coping mechanisms, alcohol or drugs, when stressed. Unfortunately, stress is a part of life. Some people are able to stay away from stress, but life happens. Illness, accidents, financial problems, breakups, and more can lead to high levels of stress. People who practice gratitude are much less likely to grab for a bottle or pill when stress comes knocking.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

While rehab may seem like vacations of sorts, it doesn’t count as a “vacation”. Leaving your town, city, state, and country can be intimidating and worrying. Depending on the circumstances, even a nice trip or vacation can be something to stress over in early sobriety. Why do we worry? Well, we are leaving our homegroup, where we have hopefully made some friends and are connected with. We are going awhile without our sponsor, which we hopefully have, and getting out of our normal routine. It can be easy to forget to pray and meditate on trips, or how good our recovery is back at home.


Too New in Recovery to Travel?

How do we deal with this? Is it easy to take a vacation or trip in early recovery and stay sober and clean? I believe that , YES, is not only possible to  stay sober on vacations to enjoy them like never before. By following a few tips, we can be the life of the party without a sip of alcohol or other drugs. Discover how to take your new sobriety to distant lands and faraway places, bringing it back intact

  • Pack Up and Bring Along Your Spiritual Toolkit – “We had no alternative but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet” (Big Book pg. 25). Whether you know it or not, you have your own person spiritual took kit, that grows and improves with time and growth. For example reading, prayer, exercise, journaling, literature to read, and whatever we have learned so far in our  recovery.
  • Pick Who You Travel With Carefully – If you are travelling with family, you may be powerless over who is coming along for the trip. If you are planning a trip, make sure you feel comfortable around everyone. If there is one or more people also in sobriety on your vacation then even better! Sometimes AA or NA groups do cruise ships or road trips together to conferences, service, or just some relaxation, and they tend to be unforgettable!.
  • Use Your Phone – Its the 21st century people, you can communicate quickly and effortless to dozens of recovery friends , family, or you sponsor. Your phone also has the ability to access literally thousands of speaker tapes, recovery talks, and meditations. Start out your day with a nice meditation. When agitated or on an airplane, listen to a speaker tape. The ideas are limitless. The phone can help you connect when you are in a strange place. There are even meeting apps for finding support while  traveling.
  • Reach Out, Don’t be Afraid! – In most meetings, the chairperson asks if there are any visitors. This is meant to allow the person visiting a chance to say hello and often signals they may need some extra attention after the meeting. In my meetings, if someone is visiting I usually ask them about where they are from and their homegroup. It is interesting the differences between recovery and sobriety in different locations. I’ve heard people in meetings share “I was so nervous that I wouldn’t find a place to come during my vacation, I am so glad to have found you guys!” Other times they are less appreciative and brag about how they do it back home. Usually people are extra nice to visitors, and can recommend other meetings, places to check out, and of course coffee shops
  • Have an Escape Plan – No matter what kind of vacation you are taking, cruise, road-trip, or hotel, have an escape plan of sorts if things get hairy. Make sure you have a safe place to fall back to or your own room in the hotel, so you can get some alone time if your buddies get a little wild. If you bring along your spiritual tools or travel with sober pals then you most likely won’t have to use your escape plan at all!

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

As a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, Halloween was often like the “Superbowl” for my addiction. What better excuse to dress up like a fool, crash college parties, and slurp down orange jello shots all night? Halloween, on a college campus, is a well-known night for wild partying and is even expected in some places. While for a non-alcoholic, this may be acceptable for a young adult, my love for Halloween went beyond candy, costumes, and alcohol; crossing the line from wild fun into a desperate attempt to escape my own dark reality.

My “First” Halloween Drunk

I had a difficult time, as an introverted only child, making friends and socializing at parties. This became a real issue in middle school, where cliques begin to form and the “pecking order” of popularity emerges. I was unsuccessful in any social endeavors, until of course I discovered the wonders of alcohol. My first “real drunk” came on my first big invitation to a party. A party at the house of a Senior, and I was only a sophomore. My newfound friends quickly introduced me to the effectiveness of alcohol in reducing anxiety and as a social lubricant. I immediately felt close to those around me, I started talking to the pretty girls, I won my first game of ‘beer pong’. However that night, like most of my drinking episodes, ended up with me puking on the hood of someones car, passing out in some bushes, and waking up with ant bites covering my body and a throbbing headache. The insanity started immediately in my head, “Man what a blast! When is the next party? Alcohol is the solution to all my problems!”

The Allure of Halloween to the Alcoholic

In the following years of my growing alcoholism I enjoyed any excuse to drink like a madman; St. Paddy’s Day, Independence Day, my Birthday, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Ever, etc. However Halloween remained my favorite, and in college if Halloween fell on a Sunday or Monday the parties and costumes started happening Thursday. So what made this holiday so much more different from all the rest? For me, it was the thrill of escaping my reality, if only, for a weekend. I LOVED wearing mask or heavy makeup and transfiguring myself into an anonymous party goer. I could blackout and punch holes in peoples drywall and get away with it! The next day people would be whispering, “Did you see the guy dressed as Darth Vader walking around knocking over pictures and puking in the punch bowl?”, but I didn’t have to worry about getting found out. Halloween was my excuse to be on my worst behavior, without fear of what others thought of me.

Girls get to dress in their most “revealing” outfits in the name of good Halloween cheer without being called out for promiscuity or bad taste. Skinny guys can dress up as Superman or a Spartan  Warrior and play the masculine hero for a few nights. With the general atmosphere of mischief and mystery embedded in the roots of Halloween, mixed with large amounts of alcohol, it is clear why it was my favorite time of the year to get fall-down-drunk.


Escapism and Alcoholism

My experiences may seem unique, but the feelings and emotions described are quite common among alcoholics. Fear, shame, and guilt are some of the biggest challenges alcoholics face when getting sober. They are embarrassed of all the drunken antics they caused, or the reputation they bruised and dented while drinking. Many people describe it as the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” effect; when we are sober are morals are average and self-control normal, but when drinking we become completely different, with our most vitriolic defects often coming out.


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Are people on Suboxone sober? With the opioid epidemic raging, the battle against heroin and opiate addiction continues to increase. The number of people entering treatment for opioid dependency continues to rise. The way the addiction industry, doctors, psychiatrists, and detoxes treat opioid addiction has shifted in the last decade.

The trend is leaning towards Medication-Assisted Treatment, specifically replacement therapy. Methadone, which has been around for decades, has been controversial in its effectiveness. Studies and results focusing on the long-term results of Methadone on abstinence from other opioids have varied. Arguments exists as well about whether Methadone can be abused or used to “get high”.

Two Sides to the Issue

This posts deals specifically about Buprenorphine, commonly prescribed as Suboxone or Subutex, and the questions it raises about medication and sobriety. As with most ‘controversial’ topics, there are two sides to the issue. First I will explain the stringent or sobriety purists view on people taking Suboxone. There are indeed people and members of 12 step groups who will claim that people on medication-assisted treatment, such as Buprenorphine are not sober. This has caused tension between addiction specialists, chronic pain patients, and recovery programs. Here is why some may believe that people taking Suboxone or Subutex are not actually sober.

Not Sober?

(Caution: These are not my own, nor NewBridge Recovery’s, personal opinions, and the views presented here are gathered from various outside sources) In the strictest sense of the word, sobriety is the continued absence of any psychoactive drug usage. Now Buprenorphine or Suboxone is a narcotic drug, as recognized by the medical and health community. It is a controlled substance and has a “high risk for addiction and dependence”. To be more specific, it is a partial opioid agonist, which means it affects the brain in many of the same ways that other narcotic opioids like hydrocodone and heroin do.

Human figure made out of pills running in fear from a monster made of pills. The monster is symbolic of the epidemic of overmedication, addiction to pain medications and the stronghold of pharmaceutical companies. Commentary on doctors’ willingness to prescribe drugs even when not necessary. Could show breaking free from the addiction.

Medications Can Lead to Mental and Physical Dependency


Posted by on in Alcoholism

When the word relapse is mentioned, it can automatically bring about negative connotations. Words like failure, loser, and defeat arise. Relapse is certainly not a desirable event, but it can and does happen to people daily. Twelve-Step programs have taught us that a relapse does not have to be the end-of-the-world nor does it mean that we are doomed failures. After a relapse there are multiple things that can be learned to help build recovery in the future.

Does Relapse Equal Failure?

People relapse for hundreds of different reasons, however it all comes down to the person believing they can control their drug/alcohol usage or giving up on their sobriety. Sometimes after a relapse there is a turning point or much needed “wake up call” for somebodies recovery. Relapse does not have to be a part of your recovery, however it can occur (Click to View Common Relapse Warning Signs). Here are some positive things to consider after a relapse:


5 Things You Can Learn After a Relapse
  • Reaffirm Your Powerlessness Over Addiction: Many times when people go back to drinking or using drugs it is because they think that they can control it ‘this time’. Perhaps they feel that a few months of sobriety, a new job, or a change of location will allow them to regain some control over their addiction. When a relapse occurs, it often smashes the idea of being able to enjoy recreational alcohol/drug use and strengthens the addicted persons need for recovery.
  • Identify Weaknesses in Your Recovery: Although a relapse may seem like a sudden slip or instantaneous mistake, it generally is a process of little things that lead up to the actual relapse. The most important thing is being able to trace back the thought patterns that lead to relapse. Did you let up on your recovery meetings? Did you stop talking to your therapist, sponsor, or friends? Have you been unwilling to take some of the more difficult actions required to stay sober?
  • Find New Ways to Strengthen Your Recovery: Just like identifying weaknesses, a relapse gives you an opportunity to learn more about strengthening your recovery. After a relapse it may be helpful to start attending more 12 step meetings than before, get more involved with local recovery, engage in service commitments or service, work more with other people in addiction, etc. Sometimes a relapse can show us just what was lacking in our recovery program.
  • Increase Your Dedication to Recovery: A bad relapse can be a huge motivator for rededicating yourself to your sobriety. An awful hangover, bad withdrawals, and the other grim realities of addiction can redouble our effort to stay clean and sober. Again, relapse is not a requirement but if it does occur, it can be a platform to rebuild your sobriety upon.
  • Preventing a Relapse in the Future: If a relapse occurs, it can be helpful to review the mental, emotional, and spiritual causes or shortcomings that lead back to alcohol and drug usage. What mental thoughts preceded the relapse? What moods were occurring when the relapse happened? Finding the answers to these questions can be helpful in preventing future relapses.


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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Regardless of what addiction treatment center you look into, there is bound to be some aspect of group therapy involved. In fact, I haven’t heard of a rehab facility that doesn’t include group therapy in one form or another. It can be casual, such as doing morning “check-ins” with the group and sharing about life events. Or it can be more detailed and involved such as group feedback therapy or interpersonal process therapy. The term “Group Therapy” is really a vague label, and the large amount of different levels and types of group therapy may surprise you. But does group therapy work with treating addiction? If it is such an integral part of virtually all professional treatment centers then it must be helpful, right?

Is Group Therapy for Me?


Many people can be resistant to group therapy. It is difficult enough to seek help and open up to family or a therapist, but a group of strangers? There are worries about identifying, with different demographics such as gender, age, religion, and more. It is common in addiction for people to become anti-social and to isolate from other people. Oftentimes we hide our feelings or are reluctant to talk to others about our addiction problems. Once the initial reluctance to participate in group therapy passes the person often experiences unexpected benefits from participation. Group therapy has been a core aspect of drug and alcohol addiction recovery for several decades, and it has proven to be very effective. Here are some reasons why anyone seeking treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction should consider participating in group therapy.

Benefits of Group Therapy


  • Building a Support Network: Being in a group therapy setting means having several other people cheer you on and help you set and achieve goals toward your drug or alcohol addiction recovery. Each person in the group should be able to relate to each others experiences and this removes any feeling of judgement or stigma for past behaviors or lifestyles. Instead of being judgmental or criticizing, most group therapy is filled with support and understanding.
  • Learn to Communicate Complex Feelings and Stress: In our active addiction we often internalize or “sweep our problems under the rug”. Rather than face unpleasant realities or confront someone with an issue, we just bury or ignore it. Group Therapy can be the most effective tool in getting people to improve their communication skills and break down the interpersonal barriers to connection with others.
  • Group Therapy Can Promote Social Skills: Groups not only help to ease that sense of isolation, but also give the opportunity to practice re-engaging with people,” Johnson says. By participating in a group, you see that you can get along with others, which can be a large part of a person’s start in recovery.
  • Group Therapy During Addiction Recovery Provides Accountability: One of the things a person quickly learns when attending group therapy sessions is that they are stronger together with their peers than they are aloneThis mutual responsibility is invaluable, because when one of the group members is in trouble and about to relapse they know that they can call on any of their peers to help them through a difficult moment.


Posted by on in Alcoholism


 Most recovery programs and 12 Step fellowships promote and encourage different forms of altruism. Alcoholics Anonymous, for instance, creates service positions within home-groups, with things as simple as making coffee, being a door greeter, or getting to meetings early to set up. These practical forms of service are just one aspect of altruism in recovery. Altruism occurs in more informal ways throughout recovery fellowships, including driving newcomers to meetings, sponsoring other alcoholics, and donating literature to prisons and treatment centers to help spread the message of recovery. Why do 12 Step programs place such an emphasis on altruism and service? What are the benefits of incorporating altruism into our daily lives and helping others without any obvious ‘payoff’?

Defining Altruism

Simply defined, altruism is “feelings or behaviors that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness”. Unlike donating money to a charity with the hopes of a tax deduction or recognition, altruistic acts are motivated entirely by an internal motivation to be helpful with no external reward. Another definition that captures this says that altruism is a “behaviors that are not beneficial to the individual but that benefits others”.


Altruism is found all over, from religious groups, in-between families, and among non-profit groups with no financial goals. However this article focuses on recovery programs and their ‘obsession’ with altruism. The primary purpose of the Alcoholics Anonymous is to “carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers”. In the past, sober alcoholics would visit insane asylum, detoxes, and jails to carry the message of recovery to others for no benefit to themselves. Often they would give these ‘wet drunks’ a place to live, a job, and more. These are extreme cases and today such instances are not as common. However buying newcomers coffee, picking them up to go to meetings, and devoting free time towards helping others is part of the core of recovery.

Why Practice Altruism?

The roots of helping others without expecting anything in return dates back hundreds of civilizations. Since the person practicing altruism is receiving nothing in return, at least not physically or tangibly, their motivations must come from somewhere else. This is where we examine the benefits of altruism; why people do self-less and charitable things without recognition or reward. The benefits of altruism, charity, and service have been well documented  throughout history.


Posted by on in Drug Addiction


The opioid epidemic of the last couple years has resulted in record-breaking drug fatalities and overdoses. As mentioned in previous posts, heroin use has skyrocketed over the last decade. Any more alarming is that fact that more drug dealers are mixing Fentanyl with heroin and selling in without the buyers knowledge. Fentanyl, reportedly 10 times stronger than heroin, has already been attributed to a massive spike in overdose victims with Fentanyl showing up in the toxicology report. Just two "salt-sized" doses of Fentanyl can kill a heavy opioid user.

States across the nation are battling not just increased heroin usage, but also dope cut with the cheaper and more potent fentanyl. Sounds like addiction professionals and law enforcement's worse nightmare right? A new synthetic drug, Carfentanil, is flooding the streets more deadly and dangerous than any of the aforementioned drugs. The ramifications of this lethal drug is making news across the north east and spreading fast.

"Officials in the Cincinnati area and in southern Indiana say that a synthetic drug, Carfentanil — 10,000 times as potent as morphine — could be tied to at least 189 overdoses across both states in the past week, resulting in at least four deaths in the states" - Katie Rogers NYT



Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Originally Posted @ 

Has treatment failed for you in the past? Having trouble staying sober? This information could make a huge difference… The Four Pillars of Addiction Treatment  are as follows:

  1. A Structured Treatment Program
  2. Medication-Assisted Treatment
  3. Family Involvement &Integration
  4. Recovery Network & 12 Step Support

Observation and experience has proven that these principles are paramount in successful long-term addiction treatment. Each pillar is important by itself, but for the recovering addict or alcoholic a firm recovery needs to incorporate all four pillars. What exactly are these pillars consisted of? More importantly, how do quality treatment centers like NewBridge Recovery provide clients with these tools?

The First Pillar: Structured Treatment Program

Early recovery can be a chaotic, emotional, and delicate situation. A healthy treatment regiment and a stable environment are conducive to recovery. By establishing an effective routine with planned out activities and groups, the treatment provider creates a comfortable and trusting place for recovery to occur. At NewBridge we structure our program to accommodate the individual. As recovery progresses, the treatment structure may change or adapt to meet the individual needs of each person.

The Second Pillar: Medication-Assisted Treatment

As I have written about recently, Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT has really become an integral part of addiction treatment. Termed the new “Gold Standard” for treating opioid addiction, MAT can help people addicted to various substances. Medicines that reduce cravings and block narcotic effects can help aid in alcohol and opioid addiction. Other medications, non-addictive, can help with anxiety and insomnia. As more medications are developed to assist in addiction recovery, MAT is only going to become more wide-spread.


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Originally Posted @

The disease of addiction is a cunning and powerful force. It can hide in the shadows of other issues and problems, avoiding being singled out. It places the blame on situations or other people and refuses to be held accountable for its destruction. Often times someone struggling with addiction won’t realize what everyone around them sees; that addiction is ruining their life. Breaking free from the bondage of addiction requires a person to see through the disillusion of denial. If someone remains in denial, it is likely they will not grasp the reality of the situation until it is too late. Read about why denial is so common in the addicted person, and more importantly about how recovery starts when denial is overcome.

Roots of Denial

Since addiction is a relatively slow-progressing disease, problems and consequences of drinking or drugging may not appear until decades after it began. Most addicted people experienced some positive experiences using and drinking. Addiction can creep in slowly, like an assassin in the night, taking hold of a person’s life little by little. Often the person is not even aware of the dramatic changes taking place in their minds and bodies. Their families, friends, and co-workers sometimes notice the changes in their behavior and appearance.  So if other people noticed the presence of a problem, why can’t the addicted person?

In the mind of an alcoholic or addict, they correlate positive emotions, feelings, and memories with their drinking/using. To them, alcohol/drugs are a ‘cure-all’ for the stresses or daily stresses of life. It’s a means to relax, to celebrate, to numb out, to escape, to be social, to manage pain, etc. All the negative aspects of their addiction, they minimize or attribute to ‘bad luck’ or someone else. Subconsciously, their addicted mind defends their actions by denying the reality of the situation. Slowly the morals, goals, and aspirations of the person are lowered until the addicted life feels like the only normal one. When someone tells them that they have a problem, they can get angry, aggressive, prone to avoidance, withdrawn, etc.



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