Category Archives: Healthy Living

Study Finds Acupuncture is a Safe Alternative for Treating Pain

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a type of alternative treatment. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points of the body to balance energy. When energy is restored, illnesses can be cured and pain can be more effectively managed.

Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of health conditions such as headaches, back pain, high blood pressure and addiction. Though acupuncture is sometimes controversial among doctors, research shows that it is successful at treating pain and other conditions.

Study Shows Acupuncture is Comparable to Pain Meds

According to a 2017 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, acupuncture may be more effective than previously realized. The study was conducted over a period of two years. The 1,964 participants were chosen at random from four different emergency rooms in Australia. The purpose of the study was to determine if acupuncture was comparable to painkillers.

Patients came into the E.R. for various reasons, such as migraines, sprained ankles and lower back pain. Pain levels were between four and 10 on a 10-point scale. Patients were treated with acupuncture, pain medication or both. The study found that acupuncture treatment was just as effective at treating pain as pain pills. Of those who received acupuncture-only treatment, 83 percent said they would choose this therapy again.

Though more research is still needed, this study shows that alternative methods of pain relief can be just as effective as pharmacotherapy. In the midst of an opioid crisis, it’s necessary that we consider other ways to treat acute and chronic pain. The fewer people that are introduced to prescription opioids, the better.

Going Beyond Pain Management

Acupuncture is accepted in the addiction treatment community. Rehabilitation centers like The River Source are determined to find alternative, drug-free ways to treat pain and discomfort. Below we share some of the ways that we use acupuncture to treat patients.

  • Reduce drug and alcohol cravings

  • Treat uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms

  • Decrease stress and anxiety

  • Regulate sleep patterns

  • Ease physical pain

  • Increase patient retention

  • Encourage emotional stability

Alternative therapies are crucial to the holistic care that we deliver to patients. If you would like to learn more about acupuncture and how it fits into our overall recovery process, call The River Source today. Also ask about additional therapies such as meditation, chiropractic care, biofeedback, IV therapy and dry sauna therapy.

6 Lifestyle Changes that Help with Recovery

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Cooking food

Addiction does not have a cure. It can be successfully treated and managed, but complacency can put you at risk for relapse. Knowing that you must always work at your recovery, it’s important to make adjustments that are conducive to sobriety.

Below are six lifestyle changes that will align with your goals of leading a vibrant, sober life!

1. Stay Active

It’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) each week. That breaks down to about 20 minutes a day. It’s certainly doable. Being active holds even more weight for recovering addicts. It releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that are essential for keeping a positive attitude in recovery.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

It takes time to adopt a healthy diet. Most addicts don’t eat a consistent, balanced diet. Some tips for incorporating better eating habits include:

  • Focus on high-protein foods like poultry and lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain cereals and breads.

  • Establish a consistent routine to avoid feeling hungry (which can be confused for drug cravings).

  • Avoid high-sugar, high-fat foods. They can cause a surge and drop in dopamine levels, leading to feelings of depression.

3. Get Adequate Rest

Getting enough sleep is important. Your body needs this time to restore itself. Falling asleep and staying asleep can be a challenge for newly recovering addicts, but there are ways to help. Start by adopting a consistent sleep routine that gives you 7-9 hours of rest. Other suggestions include:

  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment.

  • Lower the temperature in the room.

  • Avoid napping during the day. Be active.

  • Turn off all electronics.

  • Write in a journal, use aromatherapy or meditate before sleep.

  • Limit caffeine. Try herbal tea instead.

4. Be Spiritual

Spirituality is not about being religious. It’s about being one with the universe and finding your greater purpose in life. By being spiritual, you can fill loneliness and emptiness, and tune in to the environment. Feeling connected allows you to discover where you fit in. And, if you are comfortable, you can connect with a higher power and discover even more greatness in life.

5. Discover New Interests

Hobbies are excellent ways to pass the time, increase confidence levels and re-discover your passions. You can also develop new friendships in the process. One of the most rewarding activities is volunteering. Helping others allows you to feel good about yourself and your purpose in the world. This positivity encourages you to be more successful in your recovery.

6. Find Ways to Relax

Stressful situations can trigger a relapse. In fact, they’re often some of the first reasons why people start using drugs. Find effective ways to manage stress and anxiety, such as breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, journaling or exercise. It’s also important to build a protective life. Don’t overcommit yourself or pile too much on your plate.

Lifestyle changes are essential for reaching long-term sobriety. By adopting these changes early on, you can enjoy a more rewarding and successful recovery process.

Drug-Free Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

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meditate

If you are recovering from a drug addiction, you know how important it is to stay away from things that can put you at risk for relapse. Unfortunately, some recovering addicts must learn how to manage chronic pain without taking opioid prescriptions or over-the-counter meds. It can seem difficult at first, but there are many drug-free options available.

Below are the most effective ways to naturally manage chronic pain and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

Sleep is important for a recovering body. It’s also important when managing chronic pain. Sleep deprivation can make pain worse and lower your tolerance. If you had a sleep schedule that worked for you in early recovery, return to it. It’s recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Here are some tips to promote a healthy bedtime.

  • Sleep on your side rather than your back

  • Change your pillow

  • Sleep on a quality mattress

  • Wear comfortable clothing

  • Turn off electronic devices

  • Play calming music

  • Take a warm shower or bath

  • Put on low lighting

Practice Meditation

Meditation can help ease pain because it requires you to “tune” in to what you’re feeling. It may sound counterintuitive, but it can help to be more in touch with your pain. During meditation, focus on the type of pain you are experiencing such as burning, tightness or tingling. These exercises make it easier to identify the pain and deal with the symptoms. You can also try acupuncture, as studies suggest it is effective at treating certain types of pain

Focus on Your Breathing

Deep breathing exercises calm the mind, reduce stress hormones and relax the muscles, all of which can ease pain and discomfort. The benefit to deep breathing is that you can use it anytime, anywhere. No special equipment is needed. There are many relaxation breathing techniques you can do, so experiment with a few. Here is an article that covers various breathing exercises such as foursquare breathing, belly breathing and focusing on each breath.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Some foods have been shown to fight pain naturally. For example, ginger and turmeric contain compounds that fight inflammation. They can easily be added to certain dishes or taken as a supplement. Other great options include salmon (the omega-3s fight pain) and red grapes (the flavonoids decrease inflammation). Also, talk to your doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement if you are low on the sunshine vitamin.

Living with chronic pain is not mentally, physically or emotionally easy. However, do not feel that pain medication is your only option. There are natural, drug-free ways to manage your pain. Talk to your doctor and an addiction specialist or counselor. The key is finding the right treatment combination for you.

Choosing Your Friends Wisely

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Friends having a picnic

Friends are an important part of your recovery. Shortly after treatment, it’s helpful to build a strong support network that includes friends and family. Plus, friends help you avoid boredom and isolation, two things that can sabotage a healthy recovery. But, it’s important to know that not all friends are the same. You must be careful about the people you choose to surround yourself with, as some will be good influences on your recovery and some may not.

As you identify the best friends to add to your support network, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Make some places off limits. Let your friends know what places are off limits right from the start. Bars, nightclubs and wine tastings are obvious no-nos but there may be other places that you aren’t comfortable going to yet, such as sports games and restaurants.

  • No drinking. A friend in support of your recovery should not drink in front of you, let alone get intoxicated. Make it clear that this type of activity cannot be tolerated right now. Sometimes, non-addicts don’t realize the intensity of these actions.

  • Your sobriety comes first. Again, a friend who supports you knows that your sobriety comes first. This means that if you want to hang out, it needs to be done around your AA groups and counseling sessions. True friends will accommodate your new schedule so that you’re not left out.

Where to Find Friends

You may be lucky enough to have some great friends that have stood by your recovery. You may still be looking for some. To make friends in early sobriety, attend sober events that are hosted by your local park district or library. Or, choose events where you know alcohol won’t be served such as a ceramics class or book club.

You can also connect with the people in your AA group. Some may have sober events they’d be happy to include you on. The more you connect with others, the more opportunities you will have to meet other people. Just be sure to choose your friends wisely. As you become more comfortable in your recovery, you can extend yourself further. But for now, you need the best influences in your life.

Create a Healthy Schedule to Combat Anxiety

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calendar

One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to create a schedule and stick to it. You can be flexible and accommodating to change, but it helps to know what is coming next. Plus, when you recognize the types of things that make you nervous, you can build a schedule that is both constructive and protective.

Having a consistent routine is especially important over the holiday season when things are more stressful and unpredictable. Below are some tips to help you fight back from the anxiety you may be feeling.

Get Enough Sleep

People don’t put enough importance on sleep, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your health and stress levels. It’s recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Without adequate rest, you can experience greater levels of stress and anxiety. To encourage a restful night, there are a few things you can do.

  • Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom

  • Put away digital devices at least one hour before bed

  • Take a relaxing shower or bath

  • Try meditation, yoga or visualizing positive images

  • Read a good book or write in a journal

  • Use soothing lighting and scents, such as lavender

Improve Your Diet

Your diet is linked to your recovery. By eating the right foods, you help heal your body and replenish it with vitamins and minerals. This will give you energy to get through your days and also fight off food cravings, which can be mistaken for drug cravings.

A diet that is high in protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables is best. Here are a few foods that are known for reducing stress: green leafy veggies, green tea, chamomile tea, berries, cashews and dark chocolate. Keep them on hand!

Make Time for Exercise

There is something for everyone to enjoy in the exercise category. The key is finding it! If you don’t like traditional exercises (running, biking, weight lifting), try something different. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins in the brain and can improve sleep. Some of our favorite exercises include dancing, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, pilates and swimming. Even a walk around the neighborhood pushes you to be outdoors, meeting other people and boosting self-confidence.

Clean Up Clutter

If you’re in a messy place, it’s hard to feel calm. Take some time to get your space in order. You can do this for 15 minutes each day. This way, your home can be a relaxing place for you to retreat to. Some tips for getting started are:

  • Get rid of the things you don’t use/need (always start with non-sentimental items).

  • Make a list of the areas in the home you want de-cluttered and cross them off when you’re done. This creates a sense of accomplishment.

  • Create bins that are marked with save, throw away and donate. You can easily drop items into their respective bins.

  • Donate items to a non-profit organization. Finding your purpose is important, and it all starts by helping others.

  • Designate spots to place items that easily build up, such as incoming papers and bills.  

Schedules are helpful for everyone, especially those in recovery. You’ll feel more at ease knowing what comes next in your day and how to prepare. For more information on how to build a healthy routine, visit Recovery.org.

Drink Up! How Water Can Boost Your Recovery

Water

Recovery is more than stopping the use of drugs and alcohol. This is a time for the body to repair itself. To accomplish this, recovering addicts must focus on eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet that consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. However, many people forget the importance of hydration. 

Keeping the body hydrated is crucial, as it can boost recovery and speed up healing times. Let’s learn more about the role that water plays in the recovery process.

Why Dehydration is a Major Health Problem

Water is essential for the body to function. The human body is made up of 65 percent water, which is needed for various processes and reactions such as circulation, metabolism, body temperature and waste removal. If the body doesn’t have enough water, these physiological processes can be impaired. 

Unfortunately, many people spend their days dehydrated. According to a recent study, more than half of American children are dehydrated and one-quarter do not drink water on a regular basis. Adults are no better. A 2013 report from CBS found that up to 75 percent of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration

Once the body has lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content, it sends a signal to make you feel thirsty. By the time thirst kicks in, the body is already dehydrated. Here are some of the signals that the body needs water.

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle cramps

  • Poor concentration

  • Mood swings

  • Bad breath

  • Infrequent urination

  • Chills

  • Joint pain

  • Constipation

  • Headache

Water’s Role in Recovery

Being dehydrated can lead to hunger cravings, in particular, sugar cravings. Managing these cravings is imperative during early recovery, as they can be mistaken for drug cravings. Keeping the body hydrated gives the body an extra layer of protection against relapse.

Water also plays an important role during detoxification. Proper hydration helps the body be efficient during detox and withdrawal, as it flushes toxins out the digestive and urinary systems. With the removal of harmful toxins, cravings are reduced. Also, proper water intake helps the body’s cells revert to their normal state.

Summing it Up

Eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your body in early recovery, but don’t overlook the importance of staying hydrated. Water is best, but fruit juices, flavored water and tea are good choices as well. You can also get water by filling out your diet with broths and soups and drinking water with each meal.