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5 Ways to Make Friends Other Than Going to Meetings

5 Ways to Make Friends Other Than Going to Meetings

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The early stages of recovery can be a tumultuous time. After all, you are entering a new way of living.  One challenge those in recovery face is making new friends. Sometimes the only friends a person has are the friends they used drugs with. Those friends are certainly not ideal.

The first advice most people offer is to find friends in 12-step meetings.  While fellowships like A.A. and N.A are great places to meet people, one should not be limited to meetings to make new friends.

There are hosts of places where sober people can socialize and meet well-rounded people.  Making friends as an adult is challenging, and sobriety intensifies that challenge. However, there is hope.

Other than 12-step meetings, there are a plethora of resources available to make new friends. You do not have to go bar hopping to meet friends like you used to.

Here are five ways to make new friends in sobriety other than meetings: 

  1. Check Out Local Meetups.

    Meetup.com is a great way to track people who are interested in similar things as you. You can find people to play ultimate Frisbee on a weekly basis, or you can find an art group. There are so many sober activities on Meetup. Nowadays, there is an increasing trend of individuals trying to find activities to do that do not include drinking. Take advantage of this.
    Meetups are run by independent organizers, and they range tremendously. Everyone can find something they are interested in on Meetup. If you do not find something that interests you, then create your own Meetup! You’ll be surprised by who could possibly show up, and it’s a great way to develop your leadership skills.

  2. Go to the Gym.

    It can be difficult to work out, especially in early recovery, but going to the gym is a great way to make new friends. Fitness classes and exercise groups are great ways to make friends with people who care about their health. Even if they are not sober, people who workout are usually more conscious of what they put in their bodies.  Plus, working out is good for you, so it is a win-win.

  3. Reconnect with existing friends.

    Another way to make friends is to connect to people you already know. For example, if you are in a new area, ask around and see if there are friends-of-friends around that you can connect with. Contact your existing friends and see if they know anyone that they can introduce you to. Maybe one of your friends knows someone in your area who loves art or writing as much as you do. Network and build your circle using these types of strategies.

  4. Tap into your Facebook Network.

    Facebook has nearly 2 billion active users, and it has the tools to help you connect with tons of potential friends. There are a variety of groups you can join on Facebook to meet people with similar interests. For example, there are travel groups with hundreds of thousands of members in them.  People connect through groups like this all of the time. Join Facebook groups based on your interests and track people in your area to connect with. Like any scenario, be safe and always meet in a public place.

  5. Socialize More.

    If you are an introvert, it can be difficult to open yourself up while doing day to day activities. However, this is an excellent way to meet new people. Whether you are running errands or going to work, everyday ventures are an opportunity to connect with people. The more you talk to people, the more people you will meet. I hate small talk as much as the next guy, but I have to admit, those who do more of it reap the benefits of having more connections with people.
    You can meet people while shopping for a new blouse or getting your hair washed. Put yourself out there and open yourself to new friendships. You’ll be surprised at the results!

Overall, recovery is a great time of reinvention and with the reinvention comes the opportunity to build your social network. Creating a solid group of friends is an excellent way to maintain your sobriety. You will begin to learn a variety of ways to have fun without the use of drugs and alcohol.  You do not have to meet friends only in meetings. The world is your oyster.  If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, call now. Do not wait.

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Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The list of talented people who have struggled with addiction is incredibly long. It would take way too much time to list them all. Do creativity and addiction correlate with one another? Are creative individuals more likely to be addicts? That controversial question has been debated for decades.

For the most part, researchers have concluded that people whose abuse substances are not more creative or more successful as a result. Neuroscientist, David Linden of Johns Hopkins University, declared in an interview that there was not a connection between creativity and addiction. He stated that suggesting otherwise confuses coincidence with cause.

Addiction is a disease, not a shortcut to success. When looking at famous writers who were alcoholics, like Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, it is easy to assume that alcohol helped fuel their creative process. However, this is just a perception. Creativity does not stem from substance abuse, nor should substances be the source of your creativity.

Substance Abuse = Source of Creativity?

Dependence on drugs and alcohol should not be the source of your creativity. We should not glorify substance abuse as a means to creativity. In the book, “The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ,”  author, David Shenk states extraordinary talent and achievement come from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn.” Essentially, your creativity and intelligence come from your inner will to succeed along with the role models and guidance you have in your life. Behind every successful talent is a teacher, coach or motivator pushing them along.

The problem is highly creative people find their minds are overwhelmed with data streaming in and out of their consciousness. The average person has a cognitive filter that filters this information as a means to survival.  The creative person, however, does not have this filter.  Highly creative people let more of this data in their mind. Therefore, they need to process and organize the increased information flow in untypical ways.

Unfortunately, because creative people think outside of the box and look at the world differently, they look at rules differently.  The term for this trait is cognitive disinhibition which an article describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

The “rules are meant to be broken” mentality both produces creativity and creates destructiveness.  Creativity can result in risky behavior. It is risky because creative people justify their creative behavior when they create while using substances.

“Mind Expanding” Substances

Famous artists were thought to be more brilliant because of their liberal use of “mind expanding substances.”  However, time and time again, it has been proven that creative people are able to maintain their creativity without substances. Those in recovery find that their mind is clearer, making them more able to follow through on their natural creative impulses.

On the contrary, long-term substance abuse can permanently damage creativity. Extended drug use can affect the brain damaging it in ways that may not even be recoverable even after years of sobriety. Scary, isn’t it?
The first time a creative person abuses drugs or alcohol, they may find they can express themselves better. This may cause them to believe they “need” these substances to be creative. However, reactions like this are temporary. Also, creative people may be using substances to self-medicate mental health issues they have not addressed professionally.

Why Are Creativity and Addiction So Prevalent?

Now that we know there is not a direct link between substance abuse and creativity, why do so many creative geniuses deal with addiction? Most of this has to do with the genetics and traits that make someone predisposed to addiction. Those same traits are a prerequisite for creativity.

Studies reveal that 40 percent of addiction is genetically predetermined. While family history is no guarantee that someone will have a problem, there is a strong connection between the two. There are several genes involved in addiction risk. Experts have not identified them all, however, the ones we are currently aware of affect the release of the happy chemical dopamine.

Dopamine Depletion?

Addicts tend to feel pleasure weaker than the average person. Because of this, addicts abuse substances in an attempt to achieve the same level of happiness that others feel natural. There may not be a direct link between drug addiction or mental illness and creativity, but science hints at a connection between substance abuse and traits that are a prerequisite for creativity. A low-functioning dopamine system can make a person more likely to misuse substance and engage in risk-taking, novelty-seeking compulsions.

This same low-functioning dopamine system relates to creativity. Individuals who have struggled with releasing happy chemicals  their whole life may latch on to creative outlets like music, art, and writing to help re-generate that dopamine and process information better.

Overall, your risk for addiction is up to you. You have a choice to use healthier outlets to compensate for genetic factors that may put you at risk for substance abuse. Creativity should not have to be fueled by addiction. You have the ability to be a creative person without the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Antidepressants

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Depression is a serious medical condition, and the decision to take antidepressants is a personal choice. The stigma behind mental illness often prevents those struggling with mental illness to seek help for their condition. Many people feel they can tackle their depression on their own, without the use of medication. While this may be true for some, for others, medication is a very real option.

If you are unsure whether or not you need medication for your depression, it may be a good idea for you to ask yourself a few questions before going on them. Also, you may want to explore options that do not require medication like seeing a therapist, changing sleeping and exercising habits, socializing and joining groups. All of these options should be a part of your long-term plan to fight depression.

Still, for some people, even after doing all of these things, their depression symptoms seem to linger. It is important to consider and understand what you need to feel better. Here are eight questions you should ask yourself before going on medication:

  1. Could my depression be the result of a medical condition?
    It is important to consult with your doctor so you rule out the possibility that your depression could be due to pre-existing medical conditions. Many health conditions can contribute to feelings of depression. Thyroid conditions and heart disease are some examples of conditions that result in depressive symptoms. Also, get a blood test done to monitor your vitamin levels. Deficiencies in iron, magnesium and B vitamins can make you feel sluggish and down.
  2. Could my depression be a side effect of another medication?
    Depression can be the side effect of prescription medications. If you recently added a new prescription around the time you felt depressed, make sure to talk to a doctor to see if there is a possibility you are affected by your medications.
  3. Have you suffered a recent loss?
    It is normal to feel intense emotions following a death, divorce, relocation, or retirement. Therefore, if you have become depressed following events like this, it is only natural. Learning coping methods through cognitive behavior therapy should be the first step when dealing with situational depression.
    “It’s important to remember that antidepressants treat symptoms and not root causes,” says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and author of You Are WHY You Eat.
    Ask yourself how long you have been depressed. Depression lasting less than six months may not require medication if treated with therapy and other methods.
  4. Am I exercising enough?
    Exercise boosts serotonin levels in our body which improves our overall mood and energy level. As hard as it is sometimes, it is important to move around. Aerobic exercise can be effective in preventing and treating depression. Aerobic exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins. Lack of exercise can worsen depression. Try changing your exercise routine to see if you notice a decrease in your symptoms.
  5. Are you eating a healthy, well-balanced diet?
    A sugar-heavy diet can severely affect blood sugar levels which lead to feelings of low energy and depression. Also, issues in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to mood problems, including depression. Complex carbs have been found to boost levels of serotonin in your Try boosting levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin B12. Increasing your intake of nutritionally balanced meals can be the right step to reducing your symptoms.
  6. Am I socializing on a regular basis?
    As tempting as it may be to isolate yourself, being alone does not help with dealing with depression. Try to connect with friends and family. Join a local group in your community. Try joining a support group for depression like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They have support groups throughout the country to help those in need.
  7. Have you tried changing your behaviors?
    The best way to treat depression is to fight against it. When you feel like staying in bed all day, those are the times you need to get busy. When you feel the least social, that is a crucial time to call a friend. Some other positive ways to combat depression is to engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga. Talk to a therapist to come up with a plan to change your behavior. Take baby steps and try not to do too much at once.
  8. Are you drinking too much?
    Abuse of alcohol has been proven to make depression symptoms worse in various clinical studies. Alcohol can interfere with sleep, and further worsen problems of anxiety and depression. Alcohol also makes people prone to anger, aggression and violence. The occasional drink may be okay for some, but for others drinking is not worth the risk.

If you find you have addressed all of these issues and still struggle with depression, you may want to consider seriously talking to a professional about taking medication. This is especially true if you find depression inhibiting your daily functions.

Taking antidepressants is a very personal decision. It is up to you to decide, and you should not feel shame if you decide to go that route. Many people take medication, and it has helped them tremendously. If you are struggling to handle it all, give us a call. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

7 Fearless Ways Successful People Think

7 Fearless Ways Successful People Think

Author: Shernide Delva

Ever wonder what makes a successful person successful? It can be challenging to make goals for your future, especially after overcoming an addiction. However, in recovery, you finally have the opportunity to live successfully without fear being in the way. Furthermore, a recently published list defined the seven fearless ways successful people think. Perhaps you can implement one or more of these personality traits and get one step closer to achieving your version of success.

Successful people:

  1. Move On From the Past
    Successful people are not afraid to move on with life. They do not “waste time feeling sorry for themselves.” Perhaps you have had a traumatic childhood or a very difficult past dealing with drug addiction. Either way, it is up to you to move on from your past because your past is not productive to your future. When people stop dwelling on the past, they bounce back from mistakes faster. They are able to be more successful in life because they do not waste time dwelling on things they cannot change. Instead, they use that extra time to focus on conquering new goals.
  2. Keep Their Power
    Strong people do not give others the power to make them feel inferior. Rather than allowing others to give their opinion, successful people are aware that everyone has a different opinion and that not all opinions matters. Therefore, they know that the only opinion that ultimately matters is the opinion they have of themselves. Even when insults or criticism seems personal, successful people know how to look ahead and ignore the outside forces tearing them down.
  3. Accept Change
    Change is challenging for everyone. However, change is a necessary component of life. Successful people do well with change. An old expression states the only certainty in life Is death and change. Therefore, mentally strong, fearless, successful people think in a way that allows them to make and accept change. Change also is incredibly important in improving your future. If you are stuck on old habits and old mindsets, you will never be able to build up the courage to change who you are for the better. Successful people take on the challenge of change.
  4. Applaud Other People’s Success
    Successful people are encouraged, not negative, when others in their life experience success. Jealously and resentment can prohibit you from reaching your optimum level of success. It takes strength to feel genuine joy and excitement for others. Successful people are able to differentiate their success from the success of others.
  5. Take Calculated Risks
    Successful people know that risks are a part of life. They are not careless with risks but “weigh the risks and benefits” thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action,” the article notes. Risks are what make life interesting and not taking risks can keep you in a stale stagnant place. Successful people are able to take risks when it makes sense to them.
  6. Remain Resilient
    Successful people are able to remain resilient when they fail. Let’s face it: Successful people fail to. The only difference is that they get up and never stop fighting for their success. Successful people are able to fail and fail again as long as each failure provides a learning experience and can help bring them closer to reaching their ultimate goal. Sometimes failure teaches you more than success. Learning how to grow from failure is an excellent tool for achieving your goals.
  7. Earn Their Wins
    Successful people earn their success. They do not expect it. They do not feel like the world owes them anything. Successful people know that it requires effort to achieve success. They do not expect to be handed their wants and needs. Successful people know that through hard work, eventually they will earn everything they want in life. The world may not owe them anything, however they know the only way to achieve anything is through working hard for it.

Everyone has a different definition of success. Whether it is a career, family or personal goals, the only way to achieve those goals is by living and breathing them. Hard work will eventually pay off. Overcoming your addiction could be one hurdle you need to overcome most to get on the path to success. Therefore, if you are struggling, you need to admit your weaknesses and get on the right path today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Could Personality Decide How Well You Fight Disease?

Could Personality Decide How Well You Fight Disease?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model.)

By Cheryl Steinberg

In recent years, research increasingly has been looking at how our personality types can impact our lives – and not just in the obvious ways, such as our social lives – but in other ways, like how our personalities can determine our health and wellbeing. For example, the differences between the morning person and the night owl in respect to their personality have long been talked about. But, when it comes to a scientific understanding of someone’s disposition, what exactly do we mean by our “personality?”

Personality can be defined as a collection of distinct psychological traits which remain fairly constant over time and therefore influence how we react to the world around us. These personality traits include whether we’re an extrovert or introvert – how sociable we are; our neuroticism – tendency towards negativity; and conscientiousness – how cautious we are and how carefully we plan.

Anyone with the slightest bit of self-awareness will know where they rank on each of these scales as well as how it impacts their relationships, the way they perform their jobs and even how they cope with adversity. But can these variables actually affect the state of our health?

Could Personality Decide How Well You Fight Disease?

A recently conducted study by Kavita Vadhara and colleagues was undertaken to see how different personality traits correlated with biological immune responses. In other words, how prepared – or unprepared – our bodies are to deal with threats to our immune system.

The results of their research led to some interesting insights into how personality type may affect our immune system.

For the study, the team had 121 healthy students complete personality questionnaires in order to assess extroversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness, among other traits. They also took blood samples and from the participants to investigate the activity of 19 different genes involved in inflammatory immune response, as well as genes involved in defense against viruses.

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to fight off infection as well as to speed up recovery from injury. The two most significant effects that Vedhara’s team noticed was that extroversion was associated with increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes, whereas conscientiousness had the opposite effect (decreased pro-inflammatory gene expression). These results suggest that extroverts have a greater ability to deal with infection and injury but there are downsides to increased levels of inflammation, including a higher probability of developing auto-immune diseases.

Keep in mind that, if you are an extrovert, your outgoingness doesn’t necessarily mean you may be better at fighting off illness; it’s important to note that these results are just an observation of a small population of people and are in no way solid proof of how well or how poorly an individual will deal with illness.

Whatever the cause of these interesting observations, the Nottingham study is an exciting milestone in the ongoing investigation into the link between personality and health, and the part that our immune system might play. The fact that personality traits could affect our inflammatory response, or vice versa, could have significant impacts in how we treat disease in the future.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions. We are available around the clock to take your call.

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