Category Archives: Healthy Living

Putting Together a Meal Plan for Addiction Recovery

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Introducing healthy eating during an addiction treatment program is not an easy task. Recovering addicts are going through so many changes, they often aren’t open to starting a new diet plan. However, as we all know, addicts cannot continue eating the same foods they’ve been relying on. Their bodies are likely depleted, malnourished and possibly even damaged. Healthy eating should be a priority.

Why Nutrition is Important

Sometimes, families feel that it’s too much to ask their loved one to give up the foods they enjoy while getting sober. However, giving recovering addicts full access to chips, cookies and crackers can be dangerous. High fat, salty and sweet foods are easy to binge on. The brain doesn’t heal on these types of foods, putting a recovering addict at a higher risk for relapse.

We’re not suggesting that all “comfort foods” should be eliminated. We realize that it’s enjoyable to have a handful of chips or a couple of cookies after dinner. The key is to keep these foods in moderation and start introducing nutritious options such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Recovering addicts may also benefit from a multivitamin that can help them restore their body. However, please be aware that vitamins do not replace the need to eat healthy foods.

Sample Meal Plan

To help recovering addicts and their families, we like to put together sample meal plans. This makes it easier to visualize the types of meals that can be served in the home. It’s easier than you think – and your loved one will learn to enjoy these foods! In fact, this may be an opportunity for everyone in the family to get healthier!

Always focus on well-rounded meals that include plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and protein. Your loved one should get most of their antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from food.

  • Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with mixed berries, Greek yogurt, flaxseed and almond milk.

  • Morning snack: Whole grain slice of toast with almond butter and hard boiled egg.

  • Lunch: Plate of raw veggies topped with grilled chicken and a side of bean soup.

  • Afternoon snack: Piece of fresh fruit, string cheese or a handful of nuts.

  • Dinner: Quinoa, salmon, cooked vegetable and green salad.

  • Snack: Bowl of frozen sherbet topped with pine nuts.

The key is not to rush anything in early recovery. It will take time to adjust to all the changes, including eating healthy. Focus on what can be eaten, not the foods that can’t. Eating the right foods should never feel like a punishment. Instead, it should be a complementary part of a healthy and satisfying recovery process.

Early Recovery: Keeping Busy Over the Summer

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Some recovering addicts find that summer is the toughest season to stay sober. It could be the number of cookouts and drinking that goes on. Or the long, lazy weekends on the water. It could also be the surge in energy that so many of us feel during the summer months. If you are new to recovery, there are ways to stay sane and avoid the nostalgic feeling of past summers.

Stay Connected to People

One of the greatest things about summer is the connection to our friends. Many of us use this time to catch up with friends and family. Building a schedule around other people allows you to soak in what summer is all about.

The nice thing about recovering in today’s world is that you don’t have to rely on friends and family only. With access to online support groups, chat rooms, social media pages and other communities, you are never alone. Look for local groups in your area that you can join, or talk to members in your 12 step group about their interests.

Plan a Summer Getaway

Another part of summer is taking vacations. People love planning and talking about them, and there’s no reason why you have to feel left out. Nowhere did it ever say that recovering addicts are too fragile to take a getaway. As long as you’re smart about where you go and who you go with, a vacation may be just the thing to lift your spirits!

Sober cruises and retreats are among the vacations you can take. Or, plan something with your sober friends and family. Camping and outdoor activities let you connect with nature and learn more about yourself. Visiting a small town and learning about its history can provide you with a new perspective.

Volunteer Your Time

If you need more activities to keep you busy, check out the volunteer opportunities in your community. Food pantries, women’s shelters, humane societies and more all welcome help and support from those in the community. You can meet new people, better understand your place in society and feel good about your work toward helping others. Volunteering is one of the most constructive ways to fill your time.

Stay Active in Your Community

Many communities offer a wide range of activities that residents can enjoy for little to no cost. Check out your local library and park district. Many offer movie nights in the park, late night swims, free training sessions, 5K walks, literature camps and more. This way, you can explore a wide range of activities, learn more about your community and meet new people.

It’s normal to feel some apprehension toward the summer. It’s a long season that includes unique triggers. Don’t get discouraged. Follow your continuing care plan, stay active with activities and spend extra time with those close to you. Before you know it, you will have a wonderful, sober summer in the books!

Nutrition Tips for Newly Recovering Addicts

When our addiction specialists meet new patients for the first time, we aren’t just concerned with the drugs and alcohol they have been consuming. We also want to know what food they have been consuming.

A nutrition screening is important because it provides insight into the addict’s nutrition habits. Has their addiction impaired them to the point that they don’t cook food and feed themselves? Has the addict lost or gained weight in the last few months without trying?

Depending on what we find during the nutrition screening, we may recommend that the patient sees one of our nutritionists, a physician or both. In some cases, addicts who are in poor health may need to see a physician to have lab work done. This way, we can determine what vitamins and supplements are needed to restore nutrients in the body.

Nutrition Tips for Early Recovery

There’s no specific diet that is recommended for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. A healthy diet that consists of protein, vegetables and fruits and whole grain breads and cereals is sufficient for most individuals. Recovering addicts must take care of their health because it helps them maintain sobriety.

Here are a few nutrition tips for newly recovering addicts.

Establish a Routine

It’s important for recovering addicts to eat at regular times. This prevents the body from feeling hungry, which could lead to a craving for drugs or alcohol. Additionally, depression is a common issue in early recovery. Eating regular meals can prevent mood swings and protect sobriety.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar may look good and taste good, but it’s the complete opposite of healthy. Sugar can be just as addictive as other substances, and it can start a cycle of blood sugar levels spiking and dropping. This is not good for the body, and it may lead to mood swings and feelings of depression.

Limit Caffeine

Newly recovering addicts should limit their caffeine intake to one cup a day. Like sugar, caffeine is addictive and can cause spikes and drops in mood and energy levels. Protect lifelong sobriety by limiting caffeine and choosing other drinks like flavored water or tea.

Choose Digestible Foods

Stick to foods that your body can digest easily. The key is to go easy on the digestive system until it’s able to regain normal functioning. Good foods include oatmeal, rice and fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods have high fiber contents and can alleviate constipation, diarrhea and nausea.

Get Vitamins and Minerals

An addict’s body is usually severely malnourished, and newly recovering addicts are almost always deficient in Vitamin B and D. A physician can determine what vitamins and minerals are needed to rejuvenate the body. As effective as vitamin therapy can be, there is no replacement for a healthy diet.

Are you ready to start your recovery? Call The River Source today. We have a full staff of counselors, nutritionists and naturopathic doctors that can jumpstart a healthy recovery.

Love Baseball? Here’s a Sober Game Day Guide

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It’s baseball season, which means a full summer of attending games, eating hot dogs and relaxing under the hot sun. Going to baseball games – or any sporting event for that matter – also involves a lot of tailgating and drinking. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, this can make you apprehensive about accepting an invitation. However, if you love the sport and enjoy getting out of the house, there are ways to have a great time while being sober.

Check out our tips for staying sober during this summer’s baseball games. In fact, you may find that sporting events can be added to your sobriety toolbox!

Pre-Game

  • Bring at least one sober friend with you. They can intercept if you’re tempted to drink. Plus, it’s nice to have someone who’s not drinking to talk to.

  • Create an exit strategy, and share it with your sober friend. This way, if you need to leave, you have something in place.

  • Bring along your own drinks. You’ll have guaranteed non-alcoholic drinks for the game, and it stops people from asking if you want a drink.

During the Game

  • Take breaks to step outside (if you’re indoors at a friend’s house) or to walk around the ballpark. Baseball games are long, so it’s helpful to break up your time.

  • If you are at the ballpark, check out the different food vendors or learn about the history of the venue. This can get your mind off drinking.

  • If you are at a friend’s house, spend some time with their pet (if they have one) or ask if you can bring along yours. Pets can help you relax.

  • If the festivities start heating up and you need to distract yourself, call a trusted family member, friend or your sponsor. There are also many online tools, forums and apps that allow you to connect with support.

  • Find out if the venue you’re at offers free bottled water or soda. Some ballparks offer this perk to those who sign up to be sober throughout the entire game. 

Post-Game

  • Now that the game is over, you can offer to be someone’s designated driver.

  • Stick to the original plan to leave as soon as the game is over. You don’t want to be tempted into staying longer than you prepared for.

When you have reached the point in your recovery where you are ready to join others at baseball games and other social events, the above tips will help you make a smooth transition. Over time, it will become easier to attend outings without feeling the need to drink. In the meantime, however, take things slow and gradually ease into social situations.

Which Jobs Have the Highest Rates of Drug & Alcohol Use?

Substance abuse costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars in lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries each year. Thanks to government research that was conducted in 2014, we are now aware of the industries that are most at-risk for employee drug and alcohol abuse. Let’s take a closer look at what these industries are.

Illicit Drug Use

In terms of drug use, restaurant and hotel workers are the heaviest users by far. Nineteen percent used an illicit drug in the past month. Next up is arts and entertainment workers, with 14 percent and 12 percent for managers.

Educational professionals are not likely to be drug users, with just 5 percent using illicit drugs in the past month. The least likely group to use illicit drugs is public administrators, such as government employees.

Alcohol Use

According to the federal study, miners are the highest drinking group. It’s not surprising considering how dangerous and physically demanding mining is. Miners spend many hours a day deep under rock, isolated from the rest of the world. Eighteen percent consider themselves heavy drinkers.

The next at-risk group for heavy drinking is construction workers, who also have a physically demanding and risky job. Hotel and restaurant workers follow at 12 percent. Alcohol use is lowest among the same groups as illicit drug use: public administration, educational services and social services.  

Is it the Job or the Employee?

When looking at the numbers, it’s important to realize that it’s generally not the nature of the job that makes people more or less likely to drink or use drugs. Rather, it’s the type of people who work in these industries.

For example, men and young people are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than women and older people. Therefore, jobs that are heavily dominated by younger men tend to have higher rates of drinking and illicit drug use. We see this with miners, as most are young males.

Is it possible that some of the alcohol use comes from the nature of the work? It is. However, researchers did not find a difference in drug use rates across industries when controlling for age and gender.

What is clear from the study is that restaurant and hotel workers are the heaviest drinkers and drug users, regardless of age or gender. The study did not break down specific drugs, however, so a person who smoked marijuana can’t be separated from a person who injected heroin.

The study did look at people who admitted to having a substance abuse problem that interfered with their ability to work, caused legal problems or led to issues in relationships. Hotel and restaurant workers showed the highest rate of past-year substance abuse problems, followed by construction and arts and entertainment.

To read more about the study and the professions researched, visit SAMHSA.gov.

Feeling Stressed? 10 Healthy, Drug-Free Coping Strategies

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Once you or a loved one leaves treatment for a substance abuse disorder, you will need to replace harmful coping strategies with healthy ones. During treatment, you will identify some of these harmful behaviors (i.e., using drugs and alcohol, engaging in self-destructive behavior) but others may take a bit longer to discover.

The coping mechanisms that you use to relieve stress and anxiety will also come easier and more natural over time. But in the meantime, how do you deal with stress positively? After all, the body is programmed to go into fight-or-flight mode when you feel stressed.

Below are ten healthy, constructive ways to cope with stress in your life as you recover from your drug or alcohol addiction.

1. Practice a Relaxation Technique

As you know, your body has a physical reaction to stress in the environment. Relaxation exercises manage these symptoms. You can use them in two ways. Practice deep breathing or yoga for a few minutes each day to relieve negative energy. You may also use these exercises when you are feeling overwhelmed.

2. Exercise. Exercise is Another Great Way to Reduce Stress Levels

Like relaxation techniques, you can use exercise to prevent emotional outbursts and manage stress in the moment. Anything goes – a walk to your favorite thinking spot, a spinning class or lifting weights.

3. Alter Your Attitude

It is very helpful to change your attitude, though it takes time to be successful at this. Most people struggle with it! Nevertheless, altering your attitude can help you gain a new perspective, such as looking at an obstacle as an opportunity to grow.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a wonderful way to connect with yourself and the environment around you, especially when coping with stressful situations. When you’re mindful, you can look at a situation in an objective manner rather than taking it personally.

5. Be Spiritual

To be spiritual is to love yourself and love others. Grow in your spirituality so that you are not afraid of the things that are going on around you. By being spiritual, you can trust what the universe has planned for you and know that good decisions will lead you to good results.

6. Participate in a 12-step Group

The 12 steps work. They make it easier for people to stay sober, and they provide an incredible amount of support. When you’re feeling especially anxious, be more active in your groups. You can attend more meetings or speak with your mentor.

7. Talk to Your Counselor

Another great person to talk to is your therapist or counselor. They already know the issues you are dealing and might have a thoughtful approach. Your counselor can also help you work through your anxieties by suggesting additional activities.

8. Postpone Responding

If someone or something has upset you, wait to respond. In the moment, we are much more emotional and it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us. Take a few minutes – or hours or days – away from the situation and readdress it later on.

9. Find Something to Keep You Busy

Distraction is a great tool in early recovery. When you feel like you might be tempted to use drugs or alcohol, find something to do. Go to the movies with a friend. Visit the library. Exercise. Even talking to one person might be enough.

10. Make Sense of Your Feelings

Write in a journal about your thoughts and emotions so that you can make sense of them. Validate your feelings, but also reason with yourself. While it’s your right to feel a certain way about something, looking at it from an outsider’s view might give you a new perspective.

Are you ready to start your journey to sobriety? The River Source will help you look deeper into the emotional roots of your addiction and work with you to develop healthy coping strategies. Call us today – your call is confidential!