The Gift of Community

community family friends

The holidays are approaching, and regardless of whether we are making the decision to enter into recovery, or are well on our journey, it can seem depressing in comparison to the ways that other people might be celebrating the holidays. But if we step back and look, we have just given ourselves the greatest gift we could ever receive. Recovery is not the only gift, either. Along with recovery comes the gift of community.

What is a Community?

There are two popular definitions of the word community. The first is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is how perhaps people from the outside might view people who come to a treatment facility. It is definitely true, on the surface, everyone is living there and they are there for the common purpose of beginning recovery from various types of mental health challenges and addiction.

However, at The Bougainvilla House, there is so much more to treatment than just people getting together in a shared space with a common characteristic. The sense of community is maybe not something that is visible on the surface. Rather, it is something that truly binds people together. When we choose recovery, we become more like the second definition, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

More than Commonalities

It would be easy to come together with all that we have in common and just form groups of people in recovery. But recovery isn’t like having a barbecue or other social event. Recovery is where we dig into the depths of our souls. We find the very best and the very worst in ourselves, and everything in between. We suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we make life-changing transformations, too.

At The Bougainvilla House, we are never asked to do all of that alone. Amongst the people with which we have both differences and commonalities, we also find fellowship. We are all on this path together, even many of the employees, and so when one of us is suffering, we all suffer. When one of us has a breakthrough, we all rejoice. We cry together, laugh together, and help each other stand when maybe alone we didn’t feel like we could.

Although each of us has our own journey in recovery, it is impossible to do it all on our own. So we reach out to those around us who support us, and we support them. They are people with commonalities and differences, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who have good days and bad. They are just like us and yet different from us, but ultimately, we all share the same goal: to be well. It becomes a fellowship of freedom from our addictions and a family of warriors for life.

Building Relationships in Recovery

Friendships made in recovery are made stronger because of the incredible things we go through during the treatment and recovery process. Also because we are learning to be present, sometimes for the first time, we are able to learn about healthy relationships. We can ask for help, learn to trust, and we can reciprocate help, too. Despite the fact that we are all pretty raw, we can build a support system of friends that we can lean on and they can lean on us.

These friendships are different from some we may have had before because we are all healing together. We all share the same guidelines, we are learning together how to set healthy boundaries. We know better than to be distracted by romantic relationships because we are carefully rebuilding our lives and our hearts. Instead, the relationships we build while starting out in recovery are the kinds of friendships that will fortify us and help us to find our feet again. The kind of friends that we know we could call at any time, and we know they will be there for us.

The Community of Family

Within recovery, those who believe in us, stand by us, and lend us a hand when we think we can’t go on become closer than typical friends, they become like a family. They understand what we have been through, because they have been there, too. They understand where we are at, because they are right here with us, too. And we know they will be a part of our future because together, we are stronger. Not only do they reach out for us to lift us, but we can reach out and help them, too. 

The friends and family we have had prior to recovery may or may not understand us, it may not even be healthy to keep them in our lives. But the family that we make while in recovery will not let us get away with anything, will call us out when we need it, and love us for who we are, no matter what. And we can do the same for them. It is truly a gift in our lives to join this fellowship of wellness.

Do we feel alone and helpless?

At this time of the year, wouldn’t it be nice to become part of something bigger than ourselves? This is the perfect time to recover our lives and give ourselves a new kind of family,  the gift of community.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges and/or addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse

holiday sobriety

One of the most difficult parts of recovery is the reality of relapse. Typically, between 40-60 percent of people will relapse within their first year of recovery. While those numbers decrease the more years we are in recovery, it is possible for anyone to relapse at any time. It is what we work to protect ourselves against every single day.

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the average American drinks as much alcohol as they do the whole rest of the year. That is a 100 percent increase. Which means that the likelihood of relapse is probably at least double for us as well. 

With all of that alcohol flowing, all of the parties and social engagements we are invited to, especially family gatherings, how do we maintain integrity in our recovery? How do we manage what are often stressful family events, the pressures of time, money and more at this time of the year without turning to drugs or alcohol for help? 

Be Gentle with Ourselves

The holidays are hard for everyone. Exponentially hard for us. So let’s be kind to ourselves. We can double-down on our spiritual habits, especially prayer and meditation. The holidays are a great time to evaluate the past year, so we can make a list of all our accomplishments, highlighting our progress in recovery. It is a time to be grateful, and along with acknowledging ourselves, we can acknowledge those people in our lives who have helped us reach this point.

Remember it is okay to feel, it is okay to cry. It is also okay to feel joy and to laugh. If we are alone, we don’t need to be lonely. Think about what we would like to hear from someone, in that moment, if we start to feel lonely and then reach out and tell someone else that. Loneliness disappears when we reach beyond ourselves and create joy for others.

Keep our Wellness Schedule

The old adage is “Eat, drink and be merry.” Perhaps around the holidays, we should use “Eat, exercise, and be wary.” It is twice as important to keep our wellness habits around the holidays. Imagine if we were diabetic and we failed to eat or ate poorly. Addiction is a disease just like diabetes, and we are more susceptible to substance cravings and therefore relapse if we are careless about our wellness.

Exercise needs to be a regular habit for us and is another way to fortify us mentally and physically. Additionally, it helps us to stay on our schedule and keeps us meaningfully occupied. Even if the holidays are very busy, our wellness habits need to be the first priority. Not only to keep us healthy but also to show ourselves and others in our lives that our health matters. We matter.

Find Alternative Events

If there is an event or situation that we know will be a trigger for us, we can politely decline it. Yes, even work or family events. Our health and recovery are far more important than anything else. If we feel we must go, we should make a plan. We can bring something that we like to drink, or practice declining offers of substances. It is also a great idea to set an alarm for ourselves and leave an event earlier rather than later.

The safer bet is to just to find something else to do where we won’t be tempted to drink or use. There are so many things going on at the holidays, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a community event where substances are not even served. Or we can plan our own event – find some recovery friends and have them over, go out to dinner, or even just see a movie or have a game night together. We can make our own new holiday traditions and not risk throwing away all of our hard work by relapsing.

Reach for Support

We know when we get to that point. We may be down, lonely, or just flat out too emotionally exhausted to resist the cravings. Whatever the case, we can always ask for help. We can call our sponsor, a friend, family member or someone who loves us. It might also be helpful to organize a holiday support group, in addition to our normal meetings. Get some friends from recovery to help organize a group from November through January, and meet more than once a week, if needed. Being fiercely vigilant with ourselves and our recovery will bless our lives as well as the lives of others.


People tend to be a little selfish at the holidays. Or they drop some change in a can and feel like they have done a good deed. But we can roll up ourselves and truly get involved in our community and give our time and our hearts. This is rewarding for us and for others and is like a protective shield for us to keep us well.

The holidays can be a magical time,
or they can be the catalyst for relapse.

We can prepare ourselves and strengthen our bodies and minds, taking each day as it comes. With the help of The Bougainvilla House, you will get you the individual help you need along with group and family therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

One is the Loneliest Number: Why Group Therapy Works

When we are suffering, it’s easy to feel isolated which can make our negative thoughts appear far worse. It almost seems like no one else in the world can relate to us. We begin to shut down and believe this is the way life has to be. But this narrative isn’t real; this is how mental illness manifests. It tries to trick us into thinking we are alone, and no one will ever be able to understand us and help us.

Group therapy can change all of that and help us realize that even if we are struggling with vastly different issues than others in our lives, the underlying feelings of pain, depression, anxiety, and fear are all the same. We may not have the same story as the person sitting next to us, but when we are battling addiction of any kind, we are all battling the same feelings.

What is Group Therapy?

You may have seen the stereotypical group therapy scene in a movie where someone stands up and says, “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” While it may feel weird to hear, this is a typical part of most group therapy archetypes. Why? Because it’s important to get it all out on the table so you can work together as a group to create a safe space that will foster healing. Before you can make any changes in your life, you have to acknowledge the problem. Saying it out loud is the first step in shifting perspective and changing your life.

In group settings, there is usually one leader who helps moderate dialogue and gives the group something to focus on for that session. Sometimes they are check-in sessions where everyone will talk about their day or week. Other times, they can look like learning groups where participants read articles, write in a journal, and share out ideas about boundaries, triggers, and so much more. This is a key part of group work. Hearing others talk about their struggles can help you connect and open your mind. 

 There are many facilities and organizations that offer group work. Groups like YPAA (Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous), NACoA, (National Association for Children of Addiction) and Nar-Anon (Narcotics Anonymous) offer programs across the US and Canada with sister groups forming around the world. There are also programs offered at out out-patient treatment facilities, hospitals, and private practices. It’s clear there is a need to help kids break addiction and foster support, and if it’s working for adults, why wouldn’t that model shift to kids?

  So, what is group therapy? It’s a safe space where a group of people battling mental illness, addiction, and trauma comes together to create coping mechanisms and support systems in order to get back into a healthy routine and happy life.

What Will I Get Out of Attending Group Therapy?

It can definitely feel scary to face your demons, let alone facing them in front of other people, but working with others can offer a few things that working alone cannot.

·Community: Sharing your stories and hearing the stories of others can help you realize you are not alone. You may be going through something very personal and individualized, but there are others who have shared some of the same experiences and definitely shared the same feelings of isolation, pain, anxiety, and sadness. Knowing you aren’t the only one can help you heal. Hearing stories of any kind can open our minds to endless possibilities.

·Perspective: There are two ways in which a group can shift perspective. First, hearing the stories of others can help you realize things about yourself and about your own narrative. It can make you see negative behaviors/patterns in yourself that can put you on the right track to healing. Secondly, telling your story can not only help you find the words to overcome your addiction/feelings, but it can also help others just like you. Sometimes knowing we are making a difference in someone’s life can give us the strength to make good choices on our own.

·Support: It’s one thing to know you aren’t alone, but when you are in the depths of addiction and working your way out of mental illness, knowing you have a safe space to share and heal is imperative. Group can be something to look forward to and keep you accountable while you break negative habits and work through trauma. When you are a part of the group, no one gets left behind.

When in Doubt, Try it Out

You may have some reservations when it comes to group therapy, but if you are someone that is struggling with addiction of any kind and nothing else seems to be working, it may be time to try something new. Talking about your problems in front of others may feel scary at first but remember this: everyone else is sitting in that room with the same fears as you. You are not alone which is what group therapy is all about. Get the fears, the anxieties, and the pain out of our body so you can make room for healing, health, and new beginnings.

         They say it takes a village, and when it comes to addiction, The Bougainvilla House has created a village to fight for you and with you. Operating as an out-patient family therapy space, The Bougainvilla House will get you the individual help you need along with group therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone. Call now: 954-764-7337

Vaping-Related Illness Claim Its First Victims

When kids hit their teen years, they want to be in control. They want to choose everything from their food options, their friends, and of course, their bedtime. They are ready to be adults who are free from their parents’ reign. But when it comes to vaping, there is a touch of irony that seems to be lost on the masses. Kids want to be free yet can’t seem to realize that their rebellious choice to vape is actually another governing body telling them what to do and when. Why? Because vaping is an addictive behavior that aims to control a person’s life.

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably seen the latest stories about vaping-related deaths. While the CDC is still investigating the incidents, we know the victims were, in fact, using vaping pens/e-cigarettes. Because vapes are so new, there is limited data surrounding their effects and now, death-related experiences.

What Do We Know?

  • Case 1: An adult male from Illinois died from what the CDC is calling “a vaping-related condition.” They know he suffered from a respiratory issue and passed shortly after.
  • Case 2: A middle-aged person from Oregon died from an e-cigarette illness. The THC oil and pen were both purchased legally from a dispensary. This is the first death related to items purchased from a licensed pot shop.

While these cases were fatal, they are merely a piece to a larger puzzle.  At the beginning of September, the CDC reported “215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes” by 25 states. There have also been over 200 cases of vape users who have been suffering from unexplained respiratory issues and other side effects. The CDC has a lot of questions and is launching a full investigation. Are the issues stemming from the THC/nicotine cartridges? Are people mixing other substances? Were these cartridges and devices legally sold, or were they from a second-hand dealer? Without this information, we are sitting in the dark, once again, in a smoking-related conflict.

Bottom Line: Is Vaping Harmful?

If you think back to cigarette marketing in years past, doctors and celebrities willingly advertised the deadly sticks. Cigarettes were popular, but we can’t forget why. They were, and are, marketable and addictive. At the time when cigarettes were starting to take off, researchers didn’t know the full extent to what a cigarette would do long-term, but if we use some rational thinking, there are a few conclusions we can make about vapes and e-cigarettes without the help of a Ph.D. and a lab.

  • Nicotine is addictive-the chemicals in THC/nicotine cartridges are addictive. They create a physical need in the body and an emotional need in the mind. Spin it any way you want, but the product many people want to defend is addiction’s voice telling you to keep smoking.
  • Smoking can cause cancer and other health issues– we know what smoking does to the body. It causes respiratory issues, mouth and teeth issues, and can ultimately lead to cancer. These are hard facts about smoking, and they haven’t been ruled out when it comes to this new form of smoking.
  • Sucking on a battery cannot be good for you– whether you want to argue that THC isn’t harmful like the chemicals in cigarettes, one thing holds true. We do not have enough information to prove sucking on a battery won’t cause harm. The same discussion happens regarding other technologies such as cell phones and microwaves. There is a correlation waiting to unfold in the years to come.

The CDC’s Brian King commented about this very issue. He stated while people perceive vaping to be far less dangerous than regular cigarettes, there are still chemicals in the product that are known to cause illness and cancer, such as heavy metals and diacetyl which gives the vape it’s “buttery flavor.” They are still working on correlations, but one thing he can say for certain is that “the e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless.” We may not know the end result, but because of all the research connected to smoking, we know this behavior will have a consequence.

How Can I Stop?

When it comes to vaping, the first thing we must acknowledge is an addiction. If we need to vape, we are caught in addiction’s web. There are no ifs, ands or buts around the issue. Vaping is a behavior that directly connects to chemicals altering our body and our minds. Like any addiction, to break the habit, it’s going to take some will power and some coping mechanisms.

Many have been using vapes to stop smoking. However, this is like saying I’ll stop drinking vodka and switch to beer, or I’ll stop doing opioids and take Suboxone instead. Yes, you might be trying to use the step-down method in good faith, but the truth of the matter is you’re switching out one addiction for another and rationalizing it with weak argumentation.

To fully break an addiction, it means figuring out why you need the substance, acknowledging your triggers, and setting up an accountability plan. There are myriad programs out there to help you quit smoking. There are online resources, group therapy, and even individual therapy to help you get to the root of your triggers. Most importantly, if you’ve experienced any of these side effects—breathing issues, coughing, pain in your chest or throat, or fatigue—reach out to a healthcare professional immediately.

Quitting anything isn’t easy. Whether it’s a negative relationship to an illegal substance or what we perceive to be a harmless task of using an e-cigarette, addiction is going to do its best to beat our willpower down. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling to overcome an addiction, reach out to The Bougainvilla House family therapy center today. We pride ourselves in helping our youth break negative patterns and thrive with their families. Call 954-764-7337 today to learn about our treatment options and group programs: