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Managing Impulses in Recovery

Managing Impulses in Recovery

Impulse is often talked about in addiction recovery because it can be hard for individuals to exert self-control with certain stimulations, such as those who’ve battled with substance abuse.  Addiction affects the prefrontal cortex, which influences the way a person makes decisions, speaks, learns, judges and more. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for helping us make rational decisions, but addiction can mix things up as it alters the way a person thinks and makes choices. When this happens, a person is no longer using substances for pleasure – rather, they are seeking out substances because their mind and body feel compelled towards it.

Previous research has explained that addiction causes a person to make choices based on immediate reward, rather than long-term benefits. For years, researchers have tried to explore more the ways that impulsivity occurs when addiction is involved, as this plays a major role in both addiction and recovery. There are three general “types” of impulsivity that people tend to experience in regards to addiction:

·       Impulsive Choice – choosing immediate rewards over longer-term ones

·       Impulsive Action – having trouble with holding off on reacting to something that could bring immediate rewards

·       Impulsive Personality Traits – having a personality trait that coincides with impulsivity

Impulsivity, attention and working memory deficits are common occurrences for people who’ve battled with addiction, and much of this is tied to impulsivity and the way the brain stores memories as a person is going through addiction. Even those who’ve been working hard towards sobriety in addiction recovery may experience issues with impulsiveness, and it’s something to work on every day.

In the past, much research has been done on impulsivity and how it’s experienced with various addictions. A clear example of this is shown with meth addiction, where people often experience much more difficulty with attention and working memory, planning, and organization and mental flexibility compared to people who’ve never struggled with substance abuse.

The effects of addiction, including impulsivity, can weigh heavily on a person’s recovery at times – but it’s truly a process of recovery that involves learning and relearning in order to get back on track.

Those in recovery can benefit from trying out different approaches to combat impulsivitity – and while it may seem uncomfortable at first, it just takes time to develop skills necessary. As time continues and a person keeps working hard towards healing, the brain learns to ask questions, problem solve, weigh out decisions and more, which are tools towards combating relapse and living more mindfully.

Of course, impulsiveness can still rear its head, even for someone who has been working diligently towards their recovery for quite some time. In some moments of vulnerability, we may find that we’re more susceptible to acting on our emotions – and that is when we have to remind ourselves that recovery is a process and that it truly takes some time.

When it comes to relapse prevention, it’s a gradual process. Different stages take place and along with that come with different milestones as it relates to personal, professional and recovery goals. One of the main tools of recovery is cognitive behavioral therapy, where certain skills are focused on for a person to be able to navigate tough situations regarding impulsiveness. A clear example of this includes being confronted by a slew of thoughts of wanting to revert to old habits – cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) then gives the person choices with which to choose from. In this type of instance, a person can think about what they need to do to address the thoughts and feelings that they’re experiencing in the present moment, and then determine what action should be taken that would be most beneficial to them.

Recovery can be challenging, but it’s absolutely worth it if you’re able to gain back some of what you lost when addiction was active. It is never too late.

The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337

Self-Love: The Foundation of Recovery

Self-Love: The Foundation of Recovery

As we’re exploring more of ourselves in sobriety, we’ll uncover many more aspects of ourselves that we didn’t know before. One of the most challenging aspects of healing is learning of what we said or did while drunk or high; oftentimes, this coincides with feelings of shame, resentment, and more. Nobody likes to hear that they’ve hurt the ones they love, but when we’re in the throes of addiction, it’s bound to happen. Self-love is an incredibly important part of recovery because that’s when we become stronger in who we really are.

There are several different aspects of self-love, and we may already exhibit a few of these or we may not:

  1. Staying true to ourselves even when it’s not made others happy
  2. Expressing how we really feel and being honest
  3. Eating and exercising as appropriate
  4. Dressing in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves
  5. Building a life we love
  6. Accepting all parts of ourselves
  7. Making time to do things that bring us joy
  8. Choosing not to mull over past mistakes
  9. Trusting that everything will be okay
  10. Learning to set boundaries

It’s so much easier for us to fall back into those negative coping mechanisms – to point fingers at those around us, to wallow in self-pity over what we can’t have, and more. When it all boils down to it, however, how far do we get? How far should we let ourselves go down this rabbit hole of self-defeat? 

Even the most experienced of life coaches and mental health professionals admit that self-love is often what brings us out of the depths of negativity and despair.

Unfortunately, the path towards self-love is often missed as we find ourselves turning down roads filled with self-hatred, depression, anger, and resentment. It’s possible that even if we’re surrounded by others, we may feel completed neglected; it’s oftentimes this dark place of self-hatred that lingers on and gives us a feeling that we’re not good enough, that we’re not lovable, and that we don’t deserve good things.

It’s part of our biological instincts – to focus more on the negative than the good, as a way of self-preservation. The problem with this is that in modern life, we’ve adapted to focus more on the negatives as a whole – no longer just for the needs of survival. When we give more weight to our flaws and shortcomings, we’re holding ourselves back from receiving the love, joy, and fulfillment that we truly deserve. Yes, addiction can seem to take away parts of us over time – but that doesn’t mean that we have to continue letting those past behaviors take over us even well into treatment.

Self-criticism is often one of the most life-sucking aspects of life if we let it occur; when we neglect self-love, we’re more likely to:

  • Begin thinking in ways that make us more prone to relapse
  • Become more withdrawn in social situations
  • Avoid attending recovery-related activities
  • Have more self-doubt in our abilities to succeed in recovery
  • Give in to temptations easier, especially if we feel we’re deserving to fail
  • Experience more aggression and tension in daily life
  • And more

Neglect can tear us apart from our own sense of wellbeing, and this can further damage our progress in recovery along with our progress in forming meaningful, supportive networks to move forward in our lives.

If you’re ready to apply more self-love to your recovery, you must note that you’ll not always feel like practicing self-love  – but you must do it anyway. Positive affirmations are a great way of working through all of the negativity that can squander self-esteem. There are several things you can say to yourself to help with this, such as the fact that you’re doing the best that you can, that you have people who believe in you and who support you, and that you’re an incredibly strong person in recovery right now.

Work with your family, your therapist and/or your sponsor to help remind you to replace those negative thoughts with more positive, productive ones. Over time, self-love will become more natural – and you’ll find that your mind, body, and spirit thrive off of it as well. 

The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337

Why Isolating is Counterproductive

         When you’re feeling down, anxious, miserable or depressed, it can feel natural to want to hide in your room, in your bed, away from the world. Isolating can feel safe and comforting, especially if an event took place to trigger dark or traumatic emotions. But when we continuously remove ourselves from the company of others and the supports in our lives, we fall deeper into a mental health warzone that will keep us from healing.

Mental health issues stemming from depression and anxiety feed off isolation. Think of them like a stray cat. The cat comes to your door, you feed the cat once, and it keeps coming back for more. The cat doesn’t understand buying it food costs time and money. All it’s looking for is the fix—the food.

Mental health issues can act in the same way. Depression and anxiety want to make you think being alone is the best thing for you, not because it will make you feel better, but because it will benefit the mental illness. It wants to stay alive just like the cat. But the mental and physical energy we expend to keep feeding that cat is what deteriorates our self-worth even more. Now, that’s not to say that spending time alone is bad or wrong. It’s important to spend time alone to recharge. But if being alone is all we want to do, we need to start asking why.

The Paradox of Isolation

Being alone can feel good because we don’t have to try. We don’t have to put on a happy face, we don’t have to pretend, and we don’t have to worry about what others will think about our thoughts and behaviors. We can truly be ourselves in all moments without judgment. We can sit in the pit, we can stare at a wall, and we can cry. We simply don’t have to engage with anyone or anything when we are alone. But this is where the paradox comes in. It may feel good and safe being alone, but when we are alone, our internal narrative that craves peace can quickly shift to judgment.

Remember the cat. It wants to be fed; therefore, it doesn’t want you to change this behavior which in this case is isolating. It’s going to start telling you lies that, without another person to bounce things off, you start to believe. It might start by reinforcing isolation. Then it might tell you why it’s a great idea. But here’s where we find the shift. It tells you to stay isolated because no one likes you. Because you don’t really have any friends. Because sports aren’t fun anyway. And you’re not good at painting.

Do you see how quickly isolation reinforces itself? You begin to rationalize being alone, and the reasons become dark and negative. And the more times you tell yourself these narratives, the more you start to believe them.

Why It’s Important to Reach Out for Help

Depression and anxiety are tricksters. They make us think and feel things that aren’t real, but to the one suffering, the reality they are experiencing is a world of hurt that feels never-ending. People suffering from depression and anxiety can feel like they have no friends, no one likes them, and or no one cares, but just like the cat, these are the lies that are keeping it well-fed.

This is where outside support is vital to rewriting the internal narratives and finding joy. Talking to a friend, having dinner with family members, and going to therapy can quickly shift those negative words and reinforce the fact that people care about you. The more you isolate, the more junk you’re keeping in your head and heart. If you start talking about these feelings and narratives to others, they can help you see where the mental illness is looking for food and reinforce the love and support that is awaiting you.

 It can feel like an impossible feat to reach out for help when you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, but the truth is, you don’t have to live in that space. However, you do have to admit you’re suffering. Healthy living means yes, encountering some lows and some bad days, but healthy living means enjoying life more often than not and finding beauty in daily activities. If you’re struggling to find joy, it may be time for help.

It’s okay to feel sad or anxious. These feelings are simply human. But if these feelings are causing you to isolate and endure negative self-talk, it’s time to reach out for help. The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337

The Importance of Coping Mechanisms

         You’ve probably heard the term coping mechanism, especially if you’ve ever been to therapy or a treatment program. Coping mechanisms are behaviors or strategies used to help us deal with a difficult moment or emotion. They are an integral part of health and wellness by helping you focus on what to do instead of enacting a negative behavior or following through with an addictive pattern.

Coping mechanisms can take the place of using, drinking, self-harm, and negative self-talk. They can keep us safe from harm, and they can help us work through an emotional trigger while it’s happening. They are the lifeline to grounding ourselves in reality in a safe and healthy way when facing trauma, dark thoughts, and difficult feelings. Overall, coping mechanisms help us slow down and work through tough moments while they are occurring.

A Coping Mechanism Starter-Pack

Coping mechanisms can be any type of strategy that keeps us from following addictive patterns or negative self-talk, so that means there isn’t one right way to cope. Here are a few proven ways to help you stay safe. You can use the list below as a guide to start your own list and add to it when you learn what works for you.

  •  Breathing: It may sound silly but breathing through a difficult moment can transform your life. It can ground you and slow down your anxiety so you can hear your inner voice. A great technique is called the 4-5-7 method. Breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for five seconds, and release the breath for a duration of seven seconds. Repeat this sequence ten times and watch your body begin to slow down and regroup.
  • Releasing Tension: In a moment of duress, it’s easy to feed into the anxiety and panic that is building because of nerves or anger. In the moment, stop and do a scan of your body. Where are you holding the tension? Some common areas include clenching your teeth/jaw, shrugging your shoulders up into your ears, and clenching your fists or your legs. When you’re facing a tough moment, assess your body. Make space between your top and bottom jaw and run your tongue along the front of your teeth. Roll your shoulders up and back to release tension and breathe into the space that you feel yourself clenching. Release it all with your exhaling breath.
  •  Movement: Sometimes when our bodies get so worked up, no amount of breathing seems to help. In this case, physically work it out. Head to the gym, go for a run or long walk, dance, or stretch. Sometimes all the body needs is a physical way to release the energy and tension you are currently holding.
  • Get Creative:  Grab a pencil and some paper, pull out an old coloring book, or grab some paint and a brush. Art therapy is a proven way to relax your body and slow your mind while lighting up other areas of the brain that can be healing and therapeutic. Some people may feel they don’t have a creative bone in their body, but the word creative simply means leaning into your own version of art. Cut out magazine clippings and make a collage, create a paper mâché structure, or learn calligraphy. When it comes to mental health, this isn’t about the end result. It’s about exploring new emotions and releasing that which no longer serves us.
  •  Phone a “Friend”: Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and we get stuck in a mental loop that feels impossible to break free from. Talking to someone can help us acknowledge negative self-talk, recognize harmful patterns, and ultimately calm us down. You could call a close friend, talk to a family member, reach out to a sponsor, set up a time to meet with your therapist, or check in at a group meeting. There are many supports out there available to help, but you have to take the first step to make the call or send the text.

Healing Beyond the Strategies

Coping mechanisms are an important part of the recovery process, but they shouldn’t be the end all be all. It can be difficult to tell when a coping mechanism should be used, especially if we are just starting out on our journey to recovery because, at times, they can be used as a crutch instead of a healing tool. Coping mechanisms help us in the moment, but there is also a lot of work to be done outside of those moments. We need to continuously acknowledge our triggers, work through past traumas in therapy or group, and make healthy choices in our daily lives at school and work. Coping is a way to heal in the moment, but the deeper healing work can’t be forgotten. Cope in the moment but be sure you’re taking time every day to practice self-work and self-care.

Dealing with anxiety, depression, and addiction can be tiring, especially in the beginning stages. It can feel frustrating and isolating, and rightly so. But this work doesn’t need to be done in a vacuum. The Bougainvilla House was created with the intention of helping kids and adolescents work through these feelings and break addictive patterns with the help of family and community. If you or someone you know is struggling to make healthy choices or needs help with the self-work, reach out today at (954) 764-7337 or use our convenient Contact form. Let us help you cope and heal.

How Is Social Media Effecting American Teenagers?

For many teenagers, social media is a fun and easy way to stay connected with friends. However, there are dangerous risks in every new profile created. And Child Psychologists are starting to take notice! While there is still much to be learned about the implications of social media, here are the facts…

  • Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media. 
  • Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis. 
  • Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users” 

Social Media Is Addicting 

According to scientists, American teenagers are becoming addicted to social media. Why? It’s all about the likes! A study at UCLA observed that likes, especially on personal images, send a positive signal to the reward region of the brain. The brain’s reward region is significantly more sensitive during adolescence, leaving teens vulnerable to the gravitating effects of social media and the risk it poses on their mental health. 

Behavioral Health Risks

At The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center, we work closely with our clients to identify and resolve sources of teen anxiety and depression. The 21st Century is a fast-paced and interesting time to grow up in! Phones now serve as mini-computers, social apps connect users with major influencers across the globe, and risky behavior is propagandized throughout every media outlet. 

Now, more than ever, teenagers are pressured to conform their bodies, minds, and habitats to follow mainstream status quo. Furthermore, expecting to capture every moment perfectly, creating virtually appealing posts and avoiding scrutiny from cyber-bullies. Bullying has long threatened the likelihood of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem amongst teens. And social media creates a new platform for bullies to lurk victims and attack users without confrontation. It’s difficult for anyone to handle! 

Working Together 

Social Media is affecting American teenagers in ways we haven’t even begun to measure. While we can’t do much to stop negative user activity, we can teach teenagers how to manage the anxiety they are feeling about their social media. The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center helps families to establish healthy routines together and dissolve risks of social media on adolescent behavioral health. 

If your teen is showing signs of socially induced anxiety or depression, please reach out to us. We’re always here to answer your questions. Fill out our online form or call now to schedule an appointment.

⦁ Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media.
⦁ Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis.
⦁ Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users”

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