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Friday, May 17, 2019

Overcoming Addiction: When Willpower Alone Isn't Enough

You may see yourself as a strong-willed person who has accomplished a lot in life through your dedication and determination. However, even people who have successfully exerted their will to attain educational or career goals find themselves baffled when they can’t will themselves to quit using drugs or alcohol.

Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that people with a substance abuse disorder can walk away from drugs or alcohol if they just use enough willpower. If you’ve tried and failed to overcome your addiction using willpower alone, it’s not your fault.

When Willpower Isn’t the Answer

The most fundamental thing to realize about addiction is that it isn’t the result of a series of bad decisions or a lack of moral fiber. It’s a chronic and progressive disease. Think about it in these terms: Nobody expects people with diabetes or cancer to cure themselves through sheer willpower, so why would you feel like you are “less than” if you have tried and failed to quit drinking or abusing drugs?

Because of the way addiction changes the brain’s chemistry, all the conviction in the world is fruitless if you don’t follow a process for proper recovery. Indeed, surrendering and admitting you can’t go it alone can help give you the motivation you need to recover successfully.

5 Reasons Willpower Alone Will Not Help You Recover

1. Support is essential. If you believe you can get through this with willpower alone, you’re likely being too stubborn to admit when you need help. In addiction recovery, isolation can be a recipe for disaster. A successful recovery doesn’t take place in a vacuum. You cannot expect to regain your mental and physical health completely on your own, nor should you try to.

2. You’ll need daily reinforcement. You’ve likely heard someone say, “There are no days off in recovery” – and as you’ll discover, there’s a good reason for that. When you quit using drugs or alcohol, you’ll need tools and coping mechanisms you can use daily to defeat cravings and triggers and silence the tiny voice that keeps telling you things like, “This time, it’ll be different,” or “Just one drink won’t hurt me.” Permanent recovery is an ongoing process that requires re-committing every day to your physical, mental and spiritual healing, and maintaining the skills necessary to build a fulfilling, sober life. Certainly, willpower can be an asset on this journey – but it’s not the only answer.

3. Merely choosing to quit is not going to cut it. Have you ever decided you were going to stop using drugs or drinking and then found yourself unable to keep that promise? Resolve and commitment are not sufficient to make such a significant change and stick to it for the long term. Restoring physical and psychological balance takes time and professional therapy.

Find Your Solution at Canyon Crossing

Changing habits is not easy, and it can feel intimidating. Your strong will can help you know when it’s time to ask for help, and your determination can help you follow through with the actions that will lead you to discover a new way of life.

If you are tired of the way you are living and are ready to make a fresh start, call our admissions specialists today. We provide women’s-only addiction recovery and transitional living in Arizona that can help you regain your sense of purpose.

Friday, May 10, 2019

What Is Cross-Addiction?

Maintaining an addiction is time-consuming. When you are no longer spending hours of your day obtaining and using drugs or alcohol, it can feel as if you have too much time on your hands. In looking for a way to fill these empty hours, you may turn to an activity such as overeating, online gambling or experimenting with a different substance. When you allow that activity to evolve into a compulsive behavior, you have effectively replaced your original addiction with a new one – a phenomenon called cross-addiction.

Who Is at Risk for Cross-Addiction?

Cross-addiction can occur at the same time as you are actively using drugs or alcohol, or you can become vulnerable to this problem after you successfully complete a rehab program. Cross-addiction is a common issue among people in the early phases of their recovery, but even those who have been sober for many years can develop an addiction to another drug or later engage in a habitual behavior that triggers the same reward pathways within the brain. People who have already developed one addiction are more likely to fall into cross-addiction.

Imagine, for example, you have been successfully managing an addiction to opioids. You enjoy having a glass of wine with dinner every night to help you unwind. Over time, this drinking spirals, and every time you encounter a stressful situation, you turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. While you have remained opioid-free, you haven’t fully addressed your issues with substance misuse.

Cross-addiction doesn’t always involve substance abuse disorders. Some recovering drug or alcohol addicts develop behavioral problems such as a gambling, sex or eating addiction instead of turning to a different drug.

What Causes Cross-Addiction to Happen?

Cross-addiction occurs for a variety of reasons, but often it is accidental and can appear relatively harmless at first. For example, if you come down with bronchitis, your doctor may write you a prescription for an opioid cough medication like codeine. The calm, relaxed feeling this drug gives you makes you want to use it more, eventually leading to a higher tolerance and increased use until it becomes an addiction.

You can also develop a cross-addiction if you have lingering mental health issues, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis. If you have a history of trauma, depression or anxiety, you may start using alcohol and other drugs, or start practicing compulsive habits such as gaming that help ease your emotional discomfort.

A lack of understanding is another reason cross-addiction can occur. For instance, perhaps you already know you are addicted to alcohol, and then your doctor prescribes you benzodiazepines to help manage anxiety symptoms. If you are not aware of how addictive benzodiazepines can be, you may start using them without realizing they may cause you to develop a cross-addiction. To be on the safe side, if you have struggled with substance misuse in the past, you should always mention that to any doctor who treats you. There are many different alternatives to potentially addictive medications, and your physician should know what those are and how to prescribe them in such a way that you stay safe and sober.

Recommit to Your Life’s Purpose

At Canyon Crossing, our Arizona drug and alcohol treatment facility provides a structured environment and a sense of accountability for women who need help finding a path to sobriety. We offer a variety of holistic treatments that help address the root of addiction and related mental health disorders, allowing women to focus on reclaiming full, healthy lives without relying on harmful substances. Our staff are available to answer any questions you may have about beginning your recovery journey with us.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Addiction and the Cycle of Isolation

Addiction can be an incredibly lonely disease. Though you may have initially started drinking or using drugs in social situations, as the illness takes hold, the impulse to withdraw from the rest of the world gets stronger. Why do addicts isolate themselves, and how can you break the cycle?

What Makes Addiction So Isolating?

It’s common for people who have mental health disorders like anxiety and depression to have problems forming relationships with others. Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and drown out the inner voice telling you that you are worthless becomes a compulsion so strong, it eventually causes you to detach from anything that gets in the way of their drive to misuse substances and escape the real world.

The further your mental health deteriorates, and the more your disease progresses, the less you will desire to connect with other people. Addiction-related guilt can make you want to avoid facing others for fear they will tell you the uncomfortable truth about how much you are harming yourself. When you are alone, nobody can object to your behavior. Eventually, you build a wall around yourself that nobody else can pass through.

How to Overcome Isolation in Recovery

One of the first steps in the addiction recovery process is learning how to break down the barriers you have built around yourself so you can start to build the strong sober support network you need to succeed in drug and alcohol rehab.

For many people, the built-in peer group they meet by participating in 12-step programs is their first introduction to what this support network will look like, and how it will benefit them. In these groups, you will meet other people who are experiencing many of the same challenges as you are, and who will hold you accountable for achieving your goals and moving in a positive direction. To fully maximize your participation in these groups, you have to get past your mindset of isolation and learn how to ask for help when you feel frightened or hopeless.

Moving Through Isolation

Once you learn to recognize your desire to isolate yourself is a sign that you are regressing to your old habits, there is hope of turning things around. It’s OK to feel like you don’t belong at times. Just don’t let these negative thoughts take over. Not every recovery group will be exactly the right fit for you, so it may take some trial and error before you find a setting where you feel comfortable expressing yourself and sharing your feelings. Be patient and tell yourself it will come with time.

When you are at meetings, practice active listening skills and try to empathize with what others are saying. Look for ways in which their thoughts, feelings and behavioral patterns are similar to yours, and understand that they may feel just as disconnected as you do at times.

When you can look around and realize you have surrounded yourself with a network of compassionate people who have the desire to help you, it will give you the self-confidence you need to end your cycle of isolation. You truly are not alone on this journey, and there is every reason to feel hopeful about what the future has in store.

Drug and Alcohol Recovery for Women

When you are ready to accept that you need help for your drug or alcohol addiction, Canyon Crossing Recovery is here for you. At our accredited women’s-only treatment facility, we offer a 12-step approach to therapy, in addition to our well-rounded holistic care options. Contact us today to learn about beginning your recovery journey here.