How Are Religion and Spirituality in Recovery Different?

man in recovery attending church service

How Are Religion and Spirituality in Recovery Different?

man in recovery attending church serviceIf you’re in recovery and moving into self-help and recovery groups then you quickly start to encounter spirituality as a major part of recovery. For many, that sounds synonymous with “religion” but it’s very much not. In fact, many rehab programs and self-help groups incorporate religion and spirituality separately and as two distinct but important parts of treatment.

That’s important, especially if you’re don’t share the religious faith of your treatment program, aren’t sure about your religious faith, or don’t have one. You can still engage in spirituality and spiritual practices without religion. And, if you’re religious, you can use spirituality as a separate tool from your religion.

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is the process of relating to the world around you in a meaningful way. It’s about getting in touch with your physical self and the physical world around you and being able to experience the world with wonder, curiosity, gratitude, humility, and love. It’s often also about the search for or acceptance of a lack of meaning in that life and finding answers or acceptance for the things that happen to you.

Spirituality can mean exploring:

  • Do things happen for a reason?
  • How can I live life in a fulfilling way?
  • Am I connected to the world around me and how?
  • What is happiness?
  • Who am I? What defines me?
  • Am I a good person? What is a good person?
  • Is there a higher power?
  • If there is a higher power, how does it affect my life?

man looking up the skySpirituality is about connecting to the world around you including people and places. It’s about living in a careful way, designed to reach the goals you want. And, its about learning to interpret the world around you in your own way.

That can be found in simply practicing some religions. It can also be found in thought, self-exploration, connecting with others, and learning to interpret the world and your own emotions.

What is Religion?

Religion is, in most cases, a communal set of beliefs, sometimes formalized into a formal religion, shared by a group of people. This means that a larger group of people share rituals, moral beliefs, and beliefs about the world.

There are also many, many different religions in the world. In the United States, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. And, each of those divides into many further categories, like Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, etc.

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woman looking up the sky

Religion is a formal system shared by a group of people and may include:

  • Moral practices and guidelines regarding behavior and personal conduct
  • Beliefs about the world and how it was created
  • Beliefs about right and wrong
  • Moral guidelines dictating responsibilities to the self and others

Those beliefs can create a significant amount of structure to your life depending on the religion. In other cases, it may provide very little day-to-day structure. For example, Islam religions typically dictate prayer five times per day, most Christian religions only dictate church attendance once per week.

Religion also often incorporates a significant amount of spirituality including connecting to the self, acknowledging a higher power than the self, and a search for meaning. For many people, the spirituality aspects of religion are the most important parts of it – which is often where the confusion between the two terms arises.

For example, Christianity helps to answer many of the defining questions of spirituality by defining what it means to be a good person, by laying down moral guidelines, and by defining a higher power and what he expects from you as an individual. That’s still spirituality, because you still have to interpret it and use it as a guideline for your life. So, in many ways, religion is a set of guidelines or a framework for practicing spirituality.

How Are They Different in Recovery?

Spirituality and religion have definite overlaps. However, they are used in very different ways in recovery.

Religion – Used as a formal and defined or structured activity where you meet up, pray, work together, and study. Religion can be thought of as learning to follow rules, to engage with others, and to learn or be accepted into ideas and concepts. If you’re in a religious program, you might be asked to join prayers, to talk to a higher power, and to take part in rituals with your group. Those rituals can be as simple as daily prayers or as complex as fasting or abstaining from eating red meat on certain days of the week. It can also help you with recovery by making you feel accepted, by giving you boundaries and rules, and by giving you a framework in which you know what you have to achieve to be a good person.

spirituality conceptSpirituality – Spirituality in recovery is normally used as an informal framework in which you can explore yourself and the world around you. Sometimes that will mean exploring yourself and your interactions with others. It may also involve finding a higher power (including the universe), learning to explore yourself, and learning to connect with the world around you in a meaningful way. That can be a powerful part of your recovery because self-discovery and finding out what is important to you is an important part of setting goals, figuring out where you want to be, and deciding what is good for you.

Spirituality and religion are both very different. However, religion does include a lot of spirituality, although with a framework. Therefore, many treatment programs actually include both and separately. In addition, while you can often choose treatment programs that aren’t based on religion, you’ll almost never find one that doesn’t use spirituality. However, there are benefits to both and it may be a good idea for you to explore your options and decide what you want. Often, if you’re not practicing a religion, you won’t likely want to attend a treatment program based around that religion. However, you can attend a spirituality program with no concerns because it will not likely conflict with your religion.

Eventually, spirituality and religion are different tools. However, religions always include spirituality.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

Dealing with Anxiety at Social Events in Early Recovery

social anxiety

Dealing with Anxiety at Social Events in Early Recovery

social anxietyMoving into recovery is a big step and one that can be extremely important for your long-term health. However, it means dealing with life and people without social lubricant, without drugs and alcohol to reduce stress, and without a barrier between you and the world. In many ways, that’s a great thing because you get to have genuine and meaningful connections, to meet new people, and to feel supported, connected, and part of the group. You’ll never get that while high on drugs or alcohol. At the same time, you’ll face anxiety, worry, and possibly even panic. You might have trouble getting into new groups. You might worry what people will think and how they think about you.

The good news is that people are never as judgmental or as bad as our worries make them out to be. But, you’ll have to take steps to deal with social anxiety and stress at those social events so you can get over the hill of that early recovery anxiety. The following include some ways you can start doing that.

Journal Your Anxiety

If you’re anxious about a social event, it’s important to understand why. Taking time to write down your worries can give you insight into what those worries are about and what steps you can take to feel better.

This is a very proactive approach and depending on how bad your anxiety is, you might want or need support to do it. However, if you write reasons down, you can then write out what steps you can take to fix the issue. For example:

  • I am anxious that I won’t know anyone and won’t have anyone to talk to = take steps to talk to a stranger and hit off conversation
  • I am anxious that I will see alcohol and will want to drink = talk to your host about helping you stay away from alcohol
  • I am anxious about people judging me = take steps to acknowledge that you’re mostly judging yourself and that if you work through guilt associated with yourself, you’ll probably feel better

Of course, most of those aren’t simple one-step solutions.

social anxietyOther forms of anxiety are more general and are harder to name or to do anything about.

  • Being around large groups of people makes me feel anxiety even though I know nothing is wrong = build up positive experiences around larger groups so that you can feel less anxious
  • I am afraid I will do something wrong and people will laugh at me = work on understanding that most people don’t care what you are doing at any given point
  • I simply feel anxiety = work on stress management techniques

None of these steps will cure anxiety. However, they can help you to reduce it.

Understand Your Triggers

If you know what your triggers for using are, you can take steps to make life easier for yourself. For example, if you know that being alone in a crowded room makes you feel bad, you can take steps to have a friend or colleague with you. If you know that being around alcohol is a trigger, you can try to avoid events with alcohol for a bit longer. Triggers can be how people react, past events, and any situation of stress, so they can vary quite a bit from person to person.

Working to understand what causes anxiety or triggers you to want to drink can help you to better compensate for those situations.

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Learn Stress Management Techniques

Good stress management techniques can do a lot for reducing anxiety in the moment. Unfortunately, many of them take some time to learn. For example, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Therapy is extremely popular, but typically takes several months. However, it will help you to ground yourself and focus on recovery.

a man and woman doing breathing exercises

Some good stress management techniques include:

  • Take 5-10 minutes and do a breathing exercise
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Give yourself a hand massage
  • Take 10 minutes to play a difficult game on your phone that requires attention
  • Ask for a hug
  • Focus your attention
  • Actively work to get rid of the stress factor in question

In most cases, you’ll want to focus on learning stress management techniques with your counselor or therapist, so they can help you to create positive experiences specific to what you’re going through right then.

Practice Preventive Self-Care

Ensuring that you’re in as good of a mental and physical state as possible will help you to reduce anxiety during a social event. However, that takes time and the fact that you’re in recovery may be against you there. For example, many people experience significant issues with nutritional deficiencies when leaving addiction. That’s because drugs and alcohol actively harm the gastrointestinal tract, preventing you from getting the nutrition you need. That can make stress and anxiety worse.

In addition, you’ll want to:

  • Exercise 30-60 minutes per day, 4-5 days per week
  • Eat healthy food about 80% of the time
  • Get enough sleep and take steps to ensure it’s high-quality sleep by avoiding phones and keeping a sleep routine
  • Engage in social events and spend time around people who make you feel good
  • Keep your home and space clean so you experience less stress leaving
  • Take steps to avoid stress when going places, such as by ensuring you won’t be late, making plenty of time, and planning well.

Preventive self-care is about improving your health, giving yourself the space and mindset to approach things without anxiety, and actively working to reduce stress in your daily life. That will reduce the amount of anxiety you feel at social events, while helping your recovery, and giving you a better threshold to deal with anxiety at social events.

Eventually if you stress at social events, chances are, you may just have to learn to deal with it. That may involve going to therapy, it may mean getting counseling, and it may mean working to build as many positive experiences as you can to reduce the overall impact of that anxiety. However, taking care of yourself around social events, ensuring that you can reduce stress as much as possible, and learning good short-term coping mechanisms will help. It may also be important to have a sponsor or support person on call so you can talk to them if you need to.

Navigating life in early recovery is harder than at most other points in your life. However, you should be able to take steps to improve that, which will impact your recovery and the rest of your life around it.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

How Do I Stay Clean and Sober Through Surgery?

a female patient during surgery

How Do I Stay Clean and Sober Through Surgery?

a female patient during surgeryIf you’re in recovery, staying off of drugs and alcohol can seem critical for staying in recovery. But, if you’re heading for a major surgery, it might be impossible to avoid pain pills. For any recovering addict, those pills are a massive risk because they’re mostly opioids. That can trigger a relapse, or a major addiction to pain pills – and that’s the last thing you want.

Unfortunately, you can’t always skip pain medication when you go through surgery. Managing pain allows you to recover by keeping stress, inflammation, and shock to a minimum. In addition, pills aren’t the only risks for relapse during surgery. You’ll have to plan around several factors like your habits, coping mechanisms, and quality of life.

Talk To Your Doctor

If you have a history of substance abuse, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Even the nurse at your clinic can help you to make choices that are best for you. Here, you can share concerns, share your history, and ask for advice and help.

For example, you might be offered an alternative pain management schedule. This introduces more risk management to your pain medication schedule, meaning you get more checkups, more tests, and more questions to ensure you get on and off the drugs as quickly as possible. Having someone around to constantly monitor what you’re taking and why can also help you to avoid abusing opioids. In addition, your nurse or doctor will be able to better understand when you can switch to prescription-strength Tylenol after the surgery. Depending on your reaction, that could be anywhere from 2-14 days after surgery – which means that having consistent monitoring could mean getting off opioids much sooner.

Depending on how high your risk is, your doctor could actually opt to keep you in the hospital until you can switch to Tylenol. That means you’ll never take opioids home, minimizing your total risk.

Maintain Good Habits

Your lifestyle has a large impact on how you’re able to cope with emotions, cravings, and to avoid drugs. Most of us are aware that moderate exercise, healthy eating, and doing social things with friends and family boosts our mood, so we don’t feel the need for drugs and alcohol as much. However, surgery can get in the way. For example, if you’re in debilitating pain, you can’t exercise. And, if you have stitches, you shouldn’t. But it is important to maintain your social life, to stay engaged, and to get outside where you can. You’ll also want to know when you can start exercising again. For example, many people need to go into physical therapy after surgery, if that’s the case, when can you start going and how much you do? The faster you get back into it, the faster things will improve.

You’ll also want to pay attention to food and drink. If you eat well and avoid sugary drinks, you’re less likely to crash than if you do the opposite. So, managing your diet will improve your ability to stay clean and sober.

In addition, the sooner you start physical therapy and light exercise, the less pain you’ll be in. That means you’ll probably need less medication, meaning you can go back to full sobriety more quickly.

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Go to Therapy

people during group therapyMost people don’t think of therapy as a pain management technique, but it can be. In addition, therapy can help you to improve mental health and maintain emotional regulation and mood during surgery recovery. Recovering from surgery can be traumatizing. You might find that you’re basically helpless, you’re in pain, and you’ll experience significant mood swings and depression. This is a normal part of major surgery and pain. Yet, if you’re in recovery from addiction, you’re especially at risk for relapse. This means getting therapy and counseling over the period may be essential to staying in recovery.

You can do that for pain, for your mood, or for both. But, you should ask for and plan for it before your surgery starts.

Therapy can also help you with stress management so that you don’t need as much of an outlet. For example, if you’re stressed because you can’t do as much, you might find that having therapy reduces your drive to lean on alcohol or painkillers to relive that stress. Of course, therapy won’t cure stress, but it can help and it can give you validation and more effective tools to do something with it.

What to Do If You’re Struggling

The ideal is that you discuss risks upfront with your medical care provider, that you have measures put in place ahead of time, and that you get support as an ongoing thing. However, if you’ve been through surgery and are now using pain pills and are struggling, it’s important that you take steps as quickly as possible. The first is to talk to your doctor.

  • Explain your medical history and your history of substance abuse
  • Discuss any cravings, abuse, or overuse of the drugs you have that you’ve been experiencing
  • Ask for extra checkups – in most areas this will be easy to arrange, although your insurance may not oblige
  • Practice care with your pain pills. For example, waiting until you’re in pain to take pills. You’ll also want to talk to your doctor about switching to prescription strength Tylenol as quickly as possible. Depending on the surgery, they might be able to offer you NSAIDs immediately instead of opioids.
  • Ask for a hotline to reach out to for help. If you’re living alone, don’t have support, or don’t have home motivation to stay on track with your recovery, having someone you can call and talk to can help.

The most important part of staying clean and sober through surgery is to talk to your doctor upfront. You’ll also want to ensure that you have social support and friends and family over to visit and give you support and help while you’re recovering. And, you’ll want to take steps to minimize the amount of stuff you’ll struggle with. For example if you know you’ll be in a wheelchair for several weeks, you’ll want to ensure your home is wheelchair accessible to reduce frustration. Taking steps to care for yourself after surgery will reduce the amount that you feel down.

However, you’ll also need emotional, mental, and physical support. Going to therapy, going to physical therapy, and talking to your doctor will help. No surgery is without risk for someone who’s in recovery, however, you can reduce risks and help yourself to stay clean and sober.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

7 Things to Tell Yourself When You Want to Drink

a man thinking about drinking alcohol

7 Things to Tell Yourself When You Want to Drink

a man thinking about drinking alcoholIf you’re in early recovery, you’re likely battling with significant cravings. Unfortunately, those cravings won’t likely easily go away. You’ll probably face them for months or even years to come – and they may never fully go away. Instead, your tactic should be to develop coping mechanisms and strategies to help you move past cravings – to get around the want to drink, and to remind yourself why you’re sober.

That can be difficult to believe, especially if you’re in the middle of dealing with cravings – which can feel overwhelming. However, the fact they are overwhelming means it’s also important to ensure you have a support network. Talk to friends and family, go to Alcoholics Anonymous, and make sure you have people to call and talk to if things get too bad.

However, these 7 things to tell yourself when you want to drink will get you started.

1.  “This will go away, and I’ll be glad I didn’t drink”

Cravings can overwhelm you when they hit. It can seem like getting a drink is the most important thing in the world. That’s unfortunate, because on average, those cravings last just 15 minutes and then start to subside. But, if you take action and go to start buying alcohol – you’ve already made up your mind and it’s unlikely that you’ll change your mind.

Cravings will go away. If you can hold out, you will feel better about yourself. You will have reason to be proud of yourself. And you will be moving yourself closer towards your goal of staying sober.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Fighting cravings is difficult. But, therapists recommend looking for distraction, doing things with your hands, talking to people, or engaging yourself in an activity that takes your mind off of alcohol. For example, cleaning up, working on a Rubik’s cube, playing a game on your phone, starting a discussion with someone, or even setting a timer and spending that amount of time working out.

A time-out won’t make cravings disappear. However, they will lessen the severity of the craving and will give you time to get yourself together and to figure out what you want to do instead.

2.  “I want to be sober”

No one quits drinking for no reason at all. You stopped drinking and likely went to rehab for specific reasons – and you know what those are. Along the way, you probably found other motivations to stay sober. Remind yourself of what those reasons are when you start to feel cravings for alcohol.

For example:

  • “I want to be sober because I like myself better as a person when I’m sober”
  • “I want to be sober because it gives me freedom to be there for my family”
  • “I want to be sober because I want to achieve my goals and alcohol gets in the way”
  • “I want to be sober because I deserve to be in control of my life and alcohol prevents that”

You know why you got clean or sober. You can write those reasons down, along with anything else you think of along the way, and repeat it to yourself when you start to feel cravings.

3.  “People care about me staying sober”

Whether you have friends and family, caretakers, counselors, or even just therapists in your life, people actively care about you staying sober. Going to Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12 Step Group can be a great way to remind yourself of that – because you’ll have more freedom to discuss sobriety, cravings, and relapse with people who understand them. Having that social accountability can help you to stay sober as well. However, it can also be a good warning that you’re starting to slip. For example, if you find yourself withdrawing from your support networks or hiding things from then, it may be a sign that you need more support than ever.

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two friends supporting each other to be healthy4. “I am relying on myself not drinking”

It’s good that you have other people who want and need you to stay sober. But you also have yourself. And, chances are, you’ve made promises to yourself and are relying on yourself to stay sober. That could be to enable you to be a better parent. It might be to allow yourself to graduate. It might be for your career, your health, your mental health, or even for your self-esteem. But, you are relying on yourself and you alone are responsible for taking care of yourself. Reminding yourself of that and of the fact that you are worthy of being taken care of is important.

5. “I am responsible for myself but I have people to help”

It’s important to take responsibility for yourself and for your sobriety. But, it’s also important that you don’t feel you have to do everything alone. Reminding yourself that you have people who can help can be an important way to avoid drinking when you want to. For example, you can make a list of people you can call. You can also state specific things to yourself.

  • “If I don’t think I can not drink, I can call X and have them pick me up”
  • “I can text my sponsor to ask for advice right now”
  • “I can ask my sibling for help”

If you know that you have support and specifically what you can ask for, you can remind yourself of that when it is relevant. Then, you’ll have an alternative to drinking.

6. “I’ve come this far”

Sobering up is a long experience and for many of us, it’s dangerous. Rehab is even longer and may involve weeks or even months of your life. You’ve put a significant amount of work and effort into getting sober.

Reminding yourself of that work and of how far you’ve come can be a great tactic. In addition, you can think about how proud you are of that journey, how much you’ve changed since you started, and what you’ve achieved for yourself.

However, even if you’re at the very beginning of your recovery journey, you should remind yourself that you’re taking steps to achieve your goals to be sober. That’s something to be proud of. It’s something you put work into. And, it’s probably not something you want to lose.

7. “I’m not ready to give up yet”

Most of the time if you want to drink, the thing that you want is feeling happy, relaxed, carefree, or not having to think and be stressed. The thing is, if you drink, you have to face more of those negative feelings when you sober up – effectively making life harder for yourself in the future. Life will always have its ups and downs. But, if you drink, you are, in that moment, giving up. And, while you can always get back up, return to sobriety, and continue your recovery, you will regret the lapse. You don’t want to give up and you know that. Reminding yourself of it can be important in helping you to stay sober.

An alcohol addiction is a serious behavioral disorder. It’s important that you reach out to others, get help, go to an alcohol rehab, and ensure you have the support you need to navigate recovery. That should mean learning tools to deal with cravings, learning new coping mechanisms, and figuring out your triggers and how they affect you. Asking for help can be difficult, but especially in recovery, it’s an important part of moving forward. And, when you have help, figuring out what to say to yourself when you want to drink will be that much easier.

If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

The Benefits of Pets in Addiction Recovery

a young man with his pet during his breakfast at an addiction treatment center in the riverside california

The Benefits of Pets in Addiction Recovery

a young man with his dog during his addiction recoveryIf you or a loved one is recovering from a substance use disorder or an addiction, it’s a long journey. For many of us, addiction recovery is a process that takes years. But, whether you’re just getting out of rehab or have been in recovery for some time, you’ve likely heard that pets can be a great call.

This is very true. Research consistently supports that there are many benefits to having pets as part of medical interventions including addiction recovery. Having a pet can boost your mood, improve your habits, and change how you respond to yourself and others. However, it’s also important to go into something like pet ownership when you’re ready and not immediately when you get out of rehab.


Different kinds of pets offer different levels of companionship. However, your pet does give you a companion. That’s true whether you pick a rat, a snake, a bird, or a cat or dog. You’ll have someone to talk to, someone to share your space with, and something to be there. While that can be tangential and you won’t likely feel like you have very much of a companion if you opt into pet fish, it can make a big difference in how you feel. Studies show that pets actively provide companionship, although it’s important to note that pets also have negative emotional and practical burdens as well.

Building Habits

Pets require a sometimes-significant amount of care. If you choose something like a cat, you’ll have to clean up after it every single day. If you choose a dog, you’ll have to walk it every day, sometimes for several hours a day – depending on the breed you choose. That responsibility can be significant. In addition, pets typically require regular food and water, regular care, and attention in order to be healthy. That can force you to invest in building habits like getting up at X time to walk the dog, going for walks every day, building discipline to care for something else, etc.

Importantly, if you’re not ready, those responsibilities can be stressful and may have a negative impact. If you don’t have room to add on more things that you have to do, it’s not yet time for you to get a pet.

Good Responsibilities

Getting a pet means taking on financial and emotional responsibility. For many people, that can seem insignificant upfront. However, it means you’ll have to work, take care of yourself, and take care of your responsibilities to your pet simply because that pet depends on you. Again, depending on where you are in your recovery journey, that can feel like stress and can feel extremely negative. If you’re ready, it can give you the push you need to improve how you take care of yourself. It may also boost your self-esteem – giving you the opportunity to feel good about yourself, to actively build on your self-image as someone who takes care of the things you love, and to get started with social responsibilities in a relatively low-stress environment.

Improved Emotional Health

a young man with his pet during his breakfast at an addiction treatment center in the riverside californiaPets have been linked to improved outcomes, decreased loneliness, and increase in motivation in several studies. While that will sometimes depend on what kind of pet you have, it is often the case that pets give you an outlet, someone to share with, and will offer positive mood input. In one study, pet owners showed reductions in loneliness, improvements in ability to interact with others, and to focus on the now rather than living in your head or being stressed.

Here, most studies track the effects of dogs and other animals that actively engage with people and as parts of their lives. For example, dogs naturally increase social interaction by forcing you to go out and to be at the same dog parks as other dog owners. However, they may also provide a positive influence to mood by being positive and by showing affection for you. There are fewer studies showing the same results around guinea pigs, snakes, or cats – and those animals will not provide the incentive to go walking, which means you may want to choose a dog if you’re hoping to be more social.

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Decreased Stress

a young man playing with his in addiction treatment center in the riverside californiaCompanion animals have been shown to reduce stress in several ways. Here, the most consistent way is that sitting down and petting an animal showing you affection does decrease stress and improve mood. For many people, once you establish a bond with a pet, simply sharing contact and petting the animal can improve your mood. However, in other cases, pets can act to reduce stress in other ways. For example, giving you something to take care of can reduce stress by giving you a short-term sense of purpose.

That’s especially true if you’re still in the early stages of recovery and have to build up to moving back into the workplace and everyday responsibilities. Dogs can also help you to exercise more, which will decrease stress because exercise reduces stress. More importantly, they increase the amount of light exercise you do, which offers benefits like improved blood circulation and energy increases without increasing exhaustion and muscle soreness, which can help you to feel a lot better than spending several hours at the gym. Of course, you can get those benefits without a dog, but dogs can help you to build the discipline to do that walking which you might not be able to do on your own.

Don’t Start with a Pet

It’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t get a pet until you’re ready to get a pet. Even small pets are a significant amount of emotional and financial responsibility. Forgetting to feed your caged pet will mean that they get sick or die. If you’re still in an area where you’re in a high danger of relapse, you probably don’t want a pet yet. Many rehab experts suggest that people leaving recovery start out with something small and simple, like a potted plant. Once you learn to care for and keep a plant alive, you can move on to something that requires more time, more daily investment, and offers more reward for that investment.

Pets can be a great choice as part of your recovery. They can help you to feel better, to reduce stress, and to boost your mood. They can also be significantly stressful if you’re not up for the responsibilities – e.g., are you ready for the dog to chew up the carpet, a cat to spread litter everywhere, or a snake to escape and force you to find it? – but they can also provide significant benefits in terms of companionship, responsibility, and comfort.

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription Medications?

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription Medications

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription Medications?

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription MedicationsMore than 1/3rd of Americans, or 66% of all adults, or 131 million people, take at least one prescription medication. Americans spend some $73 billion on prescription drugs annually, and that’s often with the expectation that those drugs will improve our health, reduce symptoms, and improve our quality of life. Unfortunately for many, prescription drugs don’t work the same for everyone and many can be habit forming and addictive. In fact, while awareness of the addictive potential of pain pills and opioids is on the rise, prescription opioid usage is still one of the leading causes of moving on to street drugs like heroin.

If you or a loved one is being prescribed a medication, you don’t have to worry. Talk to your doctor, request a Risk Evaluation and Management Strategy (REMS), and go in for your checkups. As long as you use the prescription medication as directed, you shouldn’t have problems with the drug. However, it’s important to have those discussions, to understand your risks, and to understand how prescription drugs can impact your health and your mental health.

Many drugs can be habit forming or dependence inducing, meaning they are “addictive”. However, the following are the most addictive prescription medications.


Opioids are the most well-known class of prescription painkillers. These drugs all work in similar ways, by binding to the opiate receptors in the brain. In small doses, they can reduce your perception of pain and create a calming or sedative effect. In high doses, they can create euphoria and intense highs that can be extremely addictive.

OpioidsFor many people, opioids are the most addictive drug. In fact, fentanyl, an extremely strong opioid, is one of the most addictive in the world, and also takes part in some 70% of all opioid overdoses.

Common opioids include:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine (Demerol)

Each of these drugs has different properties and strengths. However, all of them work in the same way. All of them also cause euphoria when taking large doses. And, people abusing these drugs normally start to show long-term cold and flu symptoms, stomach problems, lethargy or drops in energy, and increased “seeking behavior”. Here, individuals think about, use, or spend time acquiring drugs for a significant portion of their day, their behavior changes, and they may prioritize drugs over anything else.

Once someone is physically dependent on an opioid medication, getting off of it will require a withdrawal phase. That can mean up to 2 weeks of severe cold and flu symptoms, anxiety, and depression, which can interfere with normal life and responsibilities. For this reason, many people using pain pills end up continuing to use them to avoid withdrawal symptoms, despite no longer needing them for pain management.

However, if you receive an opioid medication, you’ll likely only have it for a few weeks. Doctors are increasingly aware of the dangers of opioid addiction and will therefore normally take large steps to ensure you are safe while you receive your prescription.

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Benzodiazepines are a class of central nervous system suppressants used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and the symptoms of PTSD. Previously, they were also used for sleep issues. Today, some 30.5 million people have a prescription or use benzos illicitly. However, 17.1% of all people with a benzodiazepine prescription misuse them and a further 2% qualify as having a drug use disorder.

Benzodiazepines include:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Midazolam (Versed)

Today, most doctors won’t prescribe these drugs without a co-occurring therapy requirement. It’s also unlikely that you’ll receive a prescription for longer than 5 weeks. However, many people have had benzodiazepine prescriptions for years.

Unfortunately, these drugs are highly addictive and can cause significant psychological reliance, where users might work themselves into panic attacks because they don’t have the drug in case something goes wrong.

In addition, many people experience significant withdrawal symptoms while trying to quit benzos. Often, the only safe way to get off of them is to slowly taper usage over the course of a few weeks or months. If you go cold turkey on a benzodiazepine, chances of severe symptoms like seizures are high. For this reason, it’s not recommended to quit benzodiazepines without medical supervision,


Sedatives or prescription sleeping pills include several classes of drugs but most of them have similar effects and a similar addiction profile. Often, these drugs are prescribed for the short term, alongside a REMS, and alongside therapy that is intended to resolve the root of the problem rather than symptoms. However, some people have been on sleeping pill prescriptions for decades. Today, we know that these drugs are addictive and dependence inducing. But, if you’ve been on one for some time, chances of dependence and possible addiction are high.

Common sleeping pills include:

  • Zolpidem (Ambien, Zolpimist, Edluar)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Doxepin (Silenor)

All of these drugs are dependence inducing. In addition, like benzos, you should not stop most of these drugs cold turkey. Instead, they should be tapered off to avoid causing major symptoms such as seizures and major paranoia. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before quitting a sleeping medication or sedative.


Amphetamines are most-famous for street drugs like methamphetamine. However, they also make up a large selection of prescription medications including ADD and ADHD treatments like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall.

However, these amphetamines are rarely severely habit forming. Instead, most people will never have problems. At the same time, heavy abuse, especially in combination with other drugs or alcohol, can cause significant.

Getting Help

a beautiful woman during her individual therapyIf you or a loved one is struggling with a prescription medicine, there is help. The first step should normally be to go to your doctor, who can offer insight into your prescription use, where it went wrong, and what the next steps should be. Depending on your specific case, you may benefit from therapy, tapering off the drug, or rehab and drug abuse treatment. However, in most cases, if you’re compulsively using a drug, you’ll need therapy and treatment to help you resolve the underlying causes – or your risk of relapse or changing to a different drug will remain high.

Prescription medications can be dangerous. However, they can also be lifesaving. Following the prescription, avoiding mixing drugs, and stopping drug usage when you no longer need it can all help you to stay safe when using prescription medication. However, you should always discuss your plans and their safety with your doctor before changing how you use or take a prescription medication.

If you or your loved-one struggles from substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.