Category Archives: Mental Health

How Aromatherapy Helps with Addiction Recovery

Essential oils

Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy that can reduce the symptoms and discomforts associated with certain conditions. All over the world, people have used plant materials and aromatic ingredients to boost their mental, physical and spiritual health. Amazingly, just one essential oil can contain hundreds of therapeutic compounds.

For those recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, aromatherapy can be an effective holistic treatment. Let’s learn more about this centuries-old therapy and the best oils to use for recovery.

How Aromatherapy Can Benefit Your Recovery

There are two ways for the oils to enter your body. (There is a third – ingestion – but we do not recommend this for the general public.)

  • Apply to skin. Essential oils can be applied to the skin for various purposes. The compounds in the oils are absorbed into the body to improve flexibility, increase circulation and loosen stiff joints. In recovery, this can help your body relax. Evidence suggests that oils may help move toxins out of the body as well.

  • Inhaled. Another way for essential oils to enter the body is through inhalation. By breathing in the oils, the olfactory system and limbic systems are interacted with. This connection with the “emotional brain” is why smells often trigger emotions. In recovery, aromatherapy can impact your mood in a positive way.

Even though essential oils are natural does not automatically make them safe. There are still precautions to take. For example, when applying to skin, it’s recommended to use a carrier oil. This prevents irritation. Always follow the recommendations on the label, and talk to your doctor for approval.

Best Essential Oils for Addiction Recovery

  • Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils. It promotes calmness and relaxation and is often used at bedtime.

  • Ylang ylang is another essential oil that contributes to feelings of peace and relaxation.

  • Lemon oil is refreshing and can boost your mood. Diffusing lemon in the mornings can jumpstart your day.

  • Rosemary comes in handy when you need a mental boost. It’s also believed to help with feelings of depression.

  • Peppermint oil is helpful for people with migraines, nausea and other mild discomforts. These symptoms are common in withdrawal.

  • Clary sage promotes sleep and reduces anxiety.

Do you think that aromatherapy could complement your addiction recovery plan? Talk to your doctor about the safest and most effective ways to implement essential oils into your life.

Best Hobbies for Mental Health

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Hobbies are important for everyone. They are especially important for teens and adults going through addiction recovery. Unfortunately, many newly recovering addicts aren’t sure what types of activities they enjoy. Addiction tends to strip people of who they are, and it can take time to find the things that were once loved.

Let’s explore the importance of having a pastime as you enter your first months of recovery, as well as the best ones for boosting mental health.

Why Hobbies are Important

Having enjoyable activities built into your schedule is important for several reasons. First, it gives you something to focus your energy on. Whether you’re having a good or bad day, you can invest your emotions into something that brings you happiness. Boredom puts you at a higher risk for relapse, so burying yourself in the things you love can prevent this.

Second, activities keep you motivated. Rather than dreading what’s ahead of you, a hobby gets you up and out of bed in the mornings. Plus, you can get more done in your day and feel productive as a result. If you know you have to volunteer at the homeless shelter in the morning or help take care of your neighbor’s dog in the afternoon, it makes you more accountable.

Lastly, a pastime exercises the brain. It gets things moving and flowing so that you can think healthier and approach stress in a better way. Negative thinking is a big part of addiction, and it’s something to work on during your recovery. However, the only way to be successful is by attending your counseling sessions and actively working at how you approach various situations.

Best Hobbies for Boosting Mental Health

  • Meditation. Meditation doesn’t take long to show its effects. By practicing meditation daily, you can create happiness, learn about yourself and decrease stress.

  • Gardening. There’s a reason why gardening is a great activity. Not only is it something to do, but it gets you outdoors and taking care of living things. It’s wonderful to watch the fruits of your labor grow!

  • Dance. If you don’t feel comfortable joining a dance class, dance at home. Turn on your favorite music and start moving – it’s bound to improve your mood!

  • Mind-body exercises. Routines like tai chi, yoga and qigong exercise the mind and body. They are relaxing, spiritual and connect the body as a whole.

  • Walking/hiking/running. One of the best parts about walking or running is that you can take a scenic route. As you partake in this hobby, be sure to take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful world.

  • Liberal arts. Activities like art, photography and writing exercise your creative side. In fact, these hobbies have proven so successful, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy and others have soared in popularity.

As you or a loved one completes treatment, it’s a great idea to choose a few activities to participate in. These hobbies offer more benefits than most people realize. They can also connect recovering addicts to like-minded individuals, which can be the start of a beautiful friendship!

At The River Source, we help our patients develop their own interests during their time with us. To start your recovery, call us today.

2018 New Year’s Resolutions for Better Mental Health

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2018 New Year

With New Year’s around the corner, it’s a great time to commit yourself to change. Most people use this time of the year to focus on their physical health or careers but we suggest giving attention toward your mental health. By making your emotional health a top priority, you increase your chances for long-term sobriety.

As you ring in the New Year, here are some goals to keep in mind for better mental health in 2018.

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

Drugs and alcohol numb your emotions. As you start to feel again, your natural reaction may be to ignore these feelings. Don’t do this, as this will only worsen the situation. Whether you’re feeling anxious, sad or depressed, confront these emotions. This is how you feel, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you can’t control the situation, you can control how you respond to it.

Stop Replaying Past Mistakes

Recovering addicts sometimes replay past mistakes in their head over and over again. If you have a tendency to do this, put this negative thinking in the past. Yes, it’s harder said than done, but what you’re doing is kicking yourself when you’re down. The 12 steps will help you work through these emotions, as you’ll learn to forgive yourself and others. Until you work through them, remember that you are human and humans make mistakes.

Put Yourself First

You may want to prove to others that you’ve changed, but this will come in time. Instead, use your energy on your health and wellness. Make it a priority to eat healthy meals, get adequate rest each night and participate in some of your favorite activities. By treating yourself right, you will boost your recovery and learn to listen to and respect your body.

Spend Time Outdoors

Fresh air is rejuvenating to the soul. Unfortunately, it’s winter and many people spend the bulk of their time indoors. If you live in a cold-winter state, still make time to go outdoors for fresh air and Vitamin D. Walk around the block. Get the mail and tidy up your yard. Go birdwatching. Have a cup of warm tea on the porch. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from new scenery.

Live in the Moment

A great New Year’s resolution for 2018 is to live in the moment. The past is the past. It’s done and we can’t change it. The future is ahead of us, and no one knows what it will bring. What you should do is focus on the here and now. Enjoy your time with loved ones. Start up a new hobby that brings you joy. Take in the small details such as the sun shining down on your face. There’s so much to appreciate in everyday life.

Most importantly, remember that each sober day moves you further away from your addiction. There IS a huge benefit to time in recovery. The longer you remain sober, the lower your risk for relapse and the easier it is to fight temptation. Keep your head up and look forward to another year free from drugs and alcohol. You are doing a great job so far!

How to Be More Present in Your Everyday Life


As you begin your recovery, you will learn different strategies for managing stressful situations. One of them is mindfulness. The goal of mindfulness is to help you become more present in your everyday life. It’s harder than it sounds! Fortunately, the more you practice being mindful, the easier it becomes.

Tips for Being More Present

Always remember, being mindful takes practice. Here are some tips to help you embrace a more present lifestyle as you return from an inpatient drug rehab in Arizona.

Do One Thing at a Time

Multi-tasking is a skill we often perceive as positive. Right now, however, you need to take things slow. Avoid multi-tasking and instead focus your attention on one thing at a time. If you’re sitting down for lunch, eat your food and that’s it. Don’t try to squeeze in anything else.

Avoid Rushing Through Tasks

People are always in a hurry! But, do you think they are getting any satisfaction when they’re rushing from one place to the next? No. As you go through your tasks, take your time. Focus on what you are doing and make your actions intentional. This is an effective way to decrease impulsive actions.

Don’t Overbook Your Schedule

Boredom is something to avoid in early recovery, but it’s equally important that you don’t overfill your schedule. Otherwise, you might find yourself rushing from one thing to the next. As you build a schedule, leave time for yourself to relax. Also put “spacers” in between tasks in case one thing takes longer than expected. This way, you don’t have to feel rushed.

Stop Stressing About the Future

As a recovering addict, you’re taught to live in the here and now. This is a great approach for all of us. No one knows what the future holds or the circumstances we will be living with. If you find your mind wandering to the future, bring it back to the present. Focus on what you’re doing at the moment and the happiness it brings you.

Listen to Others

How many times do we hear people but don’t really listen? This is a hard skill to master, but it’s one that will make your life sweeter. When someone talks to you, really listen to what they are saying. You can practice this in your 12-step groups. Listening and being present are two great ways to build healthy relationships.

Turn Everyday Tasks into Meditation

A lot of us don’t like things like cooking and cleaning, but you can turn them into opportunities for meditation. If you have to cook dinner, use the time to practice mindfulness. Focus on cooking the meal – don’t try to talk on the phone or watch TV too. Not only will you have time for yourself, but also a delicious meal to serve your family!

Being present is something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. And, it costs nothing! To discover more about our holistic approach to treating substance abuse, call The River Source.

What are the Six Stages of Change in Addiction?

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In the book, Changing for Good, personal change is discussed. The book was written by researchers James O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente who studied more than 1,000 people who changed their lives. Though the six stages were initially described for any type of positive change, they are most widely used and accepted in the field of addiction treatment.

Let’s explore what the six stages of change are and how they relate to addicts.

Stage 1: Precontemplation

People in this stage are aware that there are repercussions to their actions, but they justify them to avoid facing reality. Looking at the person from the outside, you won’t see much desire to change, if any. To the individual, using drugs and alcohol is more appealing than not.

Stage 2: Contemplation

People in this stage are not ready to commit to treatment, though they are learning that their choices have consequences. Unfortunately, the slight desire to change is usually put on the back burner. Addicts in this stage are known for saying things like, “When I turn 18, I’ll stop using pot.”

Stage 3: Preparation

In stage three, addicts begin to see that they have choices that can change their lives for the better. Only they can make the decision, but they do not have to go through it alone. If you were to plan an intervention or encourage participation in 12 step groups at this time, your loved one may actually respond positively.

Step 4: Action

This is one of the most important steps because it means that the person has moved on from just thinking about change. Now they are ready to commit. Actual steps are taken such as by seeking treatment, attending 12-step meetings, sticking to a diet and exercise plan, etc. This is also the stage where recovering addicts are capable of letting go of old friends and pursuing healthier relationships.

Step 5: Maintenance

People in this stage have been successful at staying clean and sober. The longer they maintain their sobriety, the more natural it becomes. Recovering addicts are more successful because they are aware of the temptations that can lead to relapse and have a deeper understanding of their addiction.

Step 6: Termination

In the last stage, people can look in the mirror and confidently say that they are a different and improved person. What makes this stage so important is that recovering addicts are happy with where they are and don’t want to return to their old lifestyle. Even though they may have lost or given up things to be clean, they know their current life is better.

It’s possible to go through all of these stages and then start back at the top. If you relapse, for example, you will have to go through the stages again. Many people experience the cycle of change multiple times before they are able to permanently stick to it. What do you think of these six stages? Do you or a loved one fit into any of them?

10 Strategies for Coping with Clinical Depression


Clinical depression is one of the most common mental health conditions that people seek treatment for. It’s also closely linked to substance abuse. Research scientists believe that both genetics and the environment play a role in the onset of depression and addiction. To successfully recover from both disorders, each one needs to be addressed and treated.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with addiction and depression, it’s important to manage your symptoms for both conditions. Let’s focus on the strategies that help individuals with clinical depression.

1. Get Educated

Learn about clinical depression and its symptoms. There is a lot of information online or in books, but be careful to choose those from reputable sources. Your doctor is also a good source for information. He or she may request that you take the Burns Depression Checklist or the Depression Anxiety Quiz to better understand your status.

2. Incorporate Medication

Medication is not right for everyone, but it can be helpful for those with severe depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common medications prescribed. Unfortunately, these drugs can also cause dependency. If you’re already at risk for addiction, talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

3. Attend Talk Therapy

Talk therapy is one of the most effective non-medicine treatments for clinical depression. The goal of psychotherapy is to help you be more in control of your emotions. You will also learn how to respond to negative situations in a more positive manner.

4. Discover Stress-Relieving Activities

Stress is a major contributor to depression. By managing your stress levels, you can reduce symptoms of depression. Stress-busting activities come in many forms: yoga, deep breathing, running, reading, writing or bubble baths.

5. Maintain a Social Network

As you go through periods of depression, it’s normal to push people away. Unfortunately, this only brings you down further. Spending time with others prevents you from isolating yourself. Even if you don’t feel like being with others, their presence can offer comfort.

6. Ask for Support

When you have a healthy social circle, you have people to lean on. Let your loved ones know that you need them, even though this may be difficult. Friends and family will remind you that you are not alone.

7. Exercise Daily

Daily activity is good for your mental and physical health. In fact, some research shows that exercise can be just as effective for relieving symptoms as medicine. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that contribute to being happy. This helps with confidence and stress reduction.

8. Eat Healthy Foods

Nutritious foods release serotonin in the brain. A good diet also regulates sleep patterns and stabilizes the mood. Choose healthy foods that will provide you with essential nutrients and stay away from trans fats, high preservative foods, alcohol and caffeine.

9. Get Rest

Getting adequate sleep each night allows your mind and body to recover. It also improves your mood and energy so that you can deal with stress the next day. Stick to a routine each night so that you give yourself time to unwind and clear your mind before bed.

10. Boost Self-Esteem

Having high self-esteem boosts your serotonin levels. When you’re feeling down, self-esteem is a great way to lift yourself back up. The best ways to increase self-esteem is by practicing things you are good at each day, helping others and showing gratitude.

Are you ready to start your journey to sobriety? Call The River Source and have both depression and substance abuse treated with our successful integrative rehabilitation options.