Planning a Fun Vacation without Derailing Your Recovery

Summer is here and for many, that means vacation. Whether you’re going away for a week or a long weekend, it can be a time to rest, relax, and take in the sights. However, this can be a bit challenging – and perhaps a little daunting – if you are in recovery. Vacations can mean a lot of unknowns, unfamiliar places, and potential temptations. With a little planning and preparation, though, you can feel more confident about going on vacation without as much fear of relapse.

Tips for Planning Your Vacation

One option is to talk to others in recovery and see what they recommend. They may be able to steer you toward fun getaways that won’t threaten your sobriety. There are also organizations that plan sober vacations geared toward those in recovery. It can be worthwhile to check out.

  • Stay away from typical hotspots. Head off the beaten path and avoid places where you know parties and drinking are prevalent. Instead of hitting the most popular beaches, go for somewhere more low-key and secluded. You can still enjoy the sun and sand without as much temptation.
  • Find local meetings. Do a little research and look for local AA or NA meetings to attend. They’re hosted around the world, so chances are you can find one nearby wherever you may be headed. Keep attending meetings to build your confidence and accountability. Plus, you’ll get to hear from new people and gain new perspectives.
  • Pick family-friendly activities. Events geared toward the whole family typically aren’t centered around alcohol. They offer plenty of activities to keep you entertained and occupied. Explore new things you’ve never done before.
  • Stay active. Keep yourself busy so downtime doesn’t lead to boredom and poor choices. Keep exercising to boost your mood, stay energized, and keep yourself feeling good.

Above It All can equip you with the strategies and skills you need to keep moving forward in recovery with more confidence and reduce your risk of relapse.

[cta] Leave a comment and let us know some of your favorite sober vacation ideas! [/cta]

Keeping a Positive Attitude in Recovery

Recovery from addiction is an active process. It is not a time when you can just sit idly by and hope for the best. It is something that you have to work on every day. This can be stressful. You may be stressed out that things are not moving as quickly as you would like them to, or think they should. It can be hard to break old routines and move on from negative friendships. This is all the more reason why keeping a positive attitude in recovery is so important.

Life is full of ups and downs, and how you deal with them can make a big difference in your recovery. If you let every little thing bother you, it may be more difficult to keep moving forward. Instead, try to turn your attitude and perspective around.

Keep a gratitude journal. Write down things that you are thankful for and things that make you happy. Maybe it is seeing a rainbow after the storm or the smile on your child’s face when you pick them up from school. Go back and read through your journal when you are having a rough day for a little pick-me-up.

Look for the silver lining. There are (at least) two sides to every situation. Choose to look for the positives. Instead of focusing on the things that went wrong, consider everything that went well.

Decrease your stress. Activities like yoga, exercise, and meditation can all decrease your stress and boost your mood. Find things that make you happy and help you to relax.  Taking time for yourself and not getting too overwhelmed can enhance your positive attitude.

Take life one day at a time. You cannot change the past or predict the future, so focus on the here and now. Make today the best day it can be and take challenges in stride.

All of these things and more can support you in long-term recovery and warding off relapse. Above It All can equip you with the strategies and resources you need to feel more confident in your addiction recovery and create a healthier lifestyle.

[cta] Let us know what strategies you use to boost your mood and see the bright side in recovery. [/cta]

Relapse: Getting Back Up After Falling In Recovery

There are many challenges to face when you are on the road to recovery. One of the biggest obstacles is the chance of relapse, which can have a devastating effect on the process. Falling during recovery may lower your morale and make you feel like you’ve failed, but you need to have the courage to push forward. Relapse is another obstacle to overcome, and with the right support and methods, you can get back on the road to recovery. Here are a few tips for helping you get back on your feet after relapse.

  • Let it all out. If you’ve relapsed, it’s okay to come to terms with what has happened and to let it out with a good cry. Bottling up your emotions inside can be harmful, both physically and psychologically. Take a few minutes to simply let your feelings come out, whether it’s done in private or with a close friend or family member.
  • Speak with someone. Few things are as difficult as trying to overcome addiction or relapse alone. Find someone to confide in who will boost your morale and who will offer support on the road to recovery. It’s also a good idea to get professional help from client advocates with extensive experience and knowledge within the field. You will need that assistance to keep you from falling once again.
  • Don’t view relapse as failure. You shouldn’t consider your relapse as a failure, but rather as a bump in the road. According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction relapse follows the same trends as any other chronic disease, such as Hypertension and Type 1 Diabetes. Relapse doesn’t mean failure; it means that treatment needs to be modified and adjusted.
  • Learn from your mistakes. What exactly caused you to stumble? Did you expose yourself to certain factors that triggered the relapse? As with any mistake in your life, it’s crucial that you take relapse as a learning experience. Find out who or what caused you to fall, and work on not letting it happen again in the future.

People who fall in recovery must remember that relapse is not an end-all scenario. It may take some time, but with the proper support and treatment, it’s very possible to get back on the right track and to work towards complete recovery.

[cta] What are some methods for motivating you to get back on the road to recovery after relapse? [/cta]

St. Patty’s Day Grill Recipes

If you are ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day sans a trip to the bar, what better way to enjoy the day than grilling out with family and friends? Spring is just around the corner, so get your grill warmed up. You could ask others to bring Irish-inspired side dishes such as potato salad, colcannon (a combination of potatoes, bacon, onion, and cabbage), or Irish soda bread.

In the meantime, start prepping the corned beef and cabbage. You may be used to putting corned beef in the oven or crockpot, but it can be grilled as well. You want to make sure you let it soak for a few hours to get some of the salt out, then season it to your liking with black pepper, coriander, onion and garlic power, cayenne pepper, paprika, and thyme. You will want to grill it low and slow. At 250 degrees Fahrenheit, an average sized corned beef will take around an hour or two. You do not want to grill it too long or at too high of a temperature or it will dry out.

To go along with your corned beef, you could throw some cabbage on the grill as well, or foil packets with red potatoes, carrots and onions to add as a side.

Not feeling the corned beef? How about grilling Irish flank steak instead? It is another meaty, simple dish to throw on the grill. You could also grill up some bratwursts as well. There are plenty of possibilities for your meat course. Once the corned beef has finished cooking, you can use leftovers to make paninis on the grill to get that seared crust.

Finally, to quench everyone’s thirst, bypass the green beer and whip up some non-alcoholic drinks such as minty Shamrock shakes, green punch or St. Patrick-tinis! You could also get creative with fruit juices, soda water, sparkling cider and food coloring to make your own delicious creation.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday traditionally known for drinking, but you can start your own sober traditions and make it a fun-filled day you are sure to remember.

[cta]Share with us some of your favorite recipes for grilling or non-alcoholic drinks for St. Patrick’s Day.[/cta]

10 Things to Do With Your Extra Day for Your Recovery

Leap years only come around every four years, and 2016 is one of them. That means you have a full 24 hours more than you had last year and more than you’ll have next year. Instead of wasting this time away, put it to use supporting your recovery from addiction. Here are some great ways you can use this extra day for your benefit:

  1. Attend a support group meeting. Whether you’re providing support to others or getting support for yourself, you’ll be in good company and can stay motivated to keep moving forward.
  2. Volunteer. Give yourself a greater sense of purpose by giving back and helping others. Whether you participate in a one day project or sign up for something ongoing, you can feel good knowing you’re making a difference.
  3. Treat yourself. Get a manicure or pedicure, play a round of golf, or have that cupcake for dessert. Do something that makes you happy and boosts your mood!
  4. Reflect. Think about how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. Remind yourself of your goals and keep working toward them.
  5. Connect with nature. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Take a walk, work in the yard, or do something else outside to de-stress and clear your mind.
  6. Re-evaluate your relapse prevention plan. Review what you’ve been doing and take stock of what’s working well and what isn’t. Make small changes and add to your list of strategies and resources for supporting your recovery.
  7. Spend time with new friends. Make time for friends who support your recovery and are a positive influence in your life. Continue building these relationships.
  8. Go for a run. Burn off excess energy or stress, clear your head, and boost your mood. Regular exercise is a great way to stay in shape and promote better health in recovery.
  9. Get a massage. Relax your mind and body while treating yourself to a soothing massage. You deserve it.
  10. Try something new. Is there a class or activity you’ve been wanting to try? Somewhere you’ve been planning to check out? Use leap day to do it! What are you waiting for?

These are just a few ideas for how to make the most of leap day and keep your recovery from addiction moving in the right direction.

[cta]Join the conversation on Facebook and tell us how you’ll use the extra time to support your recovery.[/cta]

How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?

February is American Heart Month and great time to brush up on how alcohol can negatively affect your heart and overall health. Over the years there have been contradictory studies regarding the pros and cons of certain alcohols such as red wine on the heart. Results seem to suggest that this really varies by person, and potential benefits may be in the components of red wine, which are available through other sources as well. And it may also have to do with other factors such as exercise and lifestyle, not just drinking.

But the facts are clear that drinking can take a toll on your heart health. Excessive or prolonged drinking can lead to high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease or a stroke. High blood pressure puts greater stress on your heart to pump efficiently and circulate blood through your body. Too much stress and drinking can actually weaken your heart muscle which also puts it under more strain. This can increase your risk of suffering from a stroke, heart attack or heart failure. Alcohol can also contribute to an irregular heartbeat which can add to your risk of having a heart attack.

When your heart muscles, arteries, or vessels become damaged, this keeps your heart from working as effectively as possible. It is not able to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs and cells or properly remove toxins and carbon dioxide from the blood as well.

It is not a good idea to start drinking because you think it will protect your heart. The best way to promote better heart health is to abstain from drinking and adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, moderate exercise, low stress, and a healthy blood pressure. If your drinking has become problematic, it is a good idea to seek treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab facility so that you can better protect your heart, health, and overall well-being.

[cta]Share with us some changes you’ve made to protect your heart health.[/cta]

5 Sober Valentine’s Day Dates That Won’t Derail Your Recovery

Valentine’s Day is about more than champagne, roses, and boxes of chocolate, especially if you’re focused on maintaining your sobriety and building relationships. If you’re new to the dating scene, you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself, whereas if you’ve been together for a while, you want to make it something meaningful. It can be a fine balance and will really depend on your individual situation and what you feel comfortable with.

Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day can’t be fun and enjoyable. Here are a few sober date ideas to get you started:

  • Go out for dinner and a movie. It may seem old-school, but there’s something comforting about sitting in the dark watching the big screen and sharing conversation over a nice meal.
  • Create a scavenger hunt that leads your date to places that have been memorable throughout your relationship. Maybe the location of your first date, first kiss, or the store where you accidentally knocked over that display while you were shopping together. The end might be your apartment for a home-cooked meal.
  • Take a day trip and explore the sights around you. Finally go to that museum you’ve been thinking about, or on a zip-lining adventure over the treetops. Or maybe you’re content just walking through a quaint town, talking and enjoying the scenery.
  • Pack your own picnic dinner and go for a hike or to the beach. Find a cozy spot to cuddle up and get lost in conversation. If the weather’s not cooperating, set up your own picnic inside and have a movie marathon of your favorite flicks.
  • Check out events in your community. See if there is live music happening, a poetry slam, a festival, or a comedian. Choose something you’d both enjoy where alcohol is not the focus.

Make Valentine’s Day special while not losing sight of all of the progress you’ve made in addiction recovery. It’s not worth it to risk your sobriety for one day when there are plenty of sober date ideas to put your own romantic twist on.

[cta]Share with us your sober date ideas for Valentine’s Day this year on Facebook.[/cta]

How to Host a Sober Tailgate for the Big Game

Football season is almost over, and that means the big game is coming up. Whether your favorite team is playing or not, it’s still fun to host a get-together and cheer along as the teams battle it out. While a sober tailgate may seem contradictory to the usual hoopla that surrounds the big game, it can become a great tradition and be an enjoyable experience for all.

Sober Tailgate Party Tips

Before the big day arrives, it’s important to plan ahead. Think through potential situations that may arise and how you’ll handle them. Put plans in place to reduce temptation and create a safe, fun environment. You may want to attend a support group meeting beforehand just to give yourself some extra motivation and encouragement in your recovery.

  • Ask friends to bring food, but leave the alcohol at home. You can whip up some mocktails or have an assortment of other non-alcoholic beverages available. You could even hold a contest to see who can come up with the best alcohol-free drink concoction.
  • Have games available to keep people entertained and take their mind off of drinking. Corn hole and card games are always fun and young and old alike can play.
  • Invite sober friends, or those who support your recovery. It’s okay to be selective about who you choose to spend your time with, so think carefully before creating the guest list. If you know Joe has a tendency to get drunk at every game, he’ll probably have more fun at a different party anyway.
  • Hold friendly competitions such as a cook-off to see who makes the best chili or burgers.

Don’t get yourself too worked up over what others will think about a sober tailgate. Focus on having fun with friends and getting hyped up for the big game and it will be here before you know it. Prove to everyone that alcohol isn’t a requirement to have good time.

[cta]Leave a comment on Facebook letting us know what you’ll be doing at your sober tailgate party.[/cta]

Five Ideas for an Alcohol Free New Year’s Eve Party

If you’re in recovery, you may be wondering how to have fun on New Year’s Eve without alcohol. It’s possible. And it’s a whole lot safer. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that more than half the traffic fatalities in our nation are alcohol-related during the New Year’s Eve holiday.

So whether you’re in recovery, have a loved one in recovery,  or just want you and your friends to be safe during the holidays, you might consider throwing an alcohol-free New Year’ s Eve party. In fact, you don’t have to do it alone. Team up with like-minded partiers to throw an event to remember. And when the party’s over, send your guests sane and sober into the New Year!

A few tips:

  • State your alcohol-free intention up front. Put it on the invitation; remind people when they RSVP that there won’t be alcoholic beverages. When you talk about your party, refer to its alcohol-free nature. You might also ask people not to bring their own.
  • Have fun with the beverages. Just because it doesn’t have alcohol doesn’t mean it can’t be festive. Serve virgin “mocktails,” have plenty of sparkling water to mix with exotic juices, and include warm drinks like cider, hot chocolate and eggnog. Or think about featuring a full-on coffee bar with all the fixings!
  • Start with a mingle. Get everyone involved in conversation and laughter right from the start. Plan an opening game like “People Bingo.”
  • Keep raising the energy. Plan a series of activities and games that will keep your guests engaged throughout the night. Or consider planning the evening around a high-energy game like Pictionary or charades.
  • The midnight toast. Pour sparkling cider into champagne glasses just before the count-down to midnight. You might even want to take a moment of silent reflection before the countdown starts.

[cta]Continue the discussion on Facebook and learn more ways to strengthen the road to recovery.[/cta]

Long Term Impacts of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people. It has long term impacts on both individuals and their families. Even those who have recovered from alcoholism (and their families) will live a changed life long after sobriety.

A Life of Complete Abstinence

AA and similar programs promote lifelong sobriety. Those who are able to overcome alcoholism may always struggle with the temptation to drink. Complete abstinence allows the person to maintain sobriety and not be pressured to over drink. Someone in recovery from alcoholism will often learn to limit themselves socially and avoid situations like parties and events where they would be expected to drink. If they slip up and have just one drink, they face relapsing back into the disease.

Families of Alcoholics

Children and spouses of alcoholics often face a changed life as well. These individuals are more likely to suffer from mental illness, low self esteem, and trouble in relationships or with a career. Because of the impact of living with an alcoholic, family members of alcoholics are more likely to also abuse drugs or alcohol themselves.

For other family members, seeing the consequences of alcoholism makes them more determined to not become addicted to alcohol. Many children of alcoholics have taken it upon themselves to never drink, because they do not want to put their children or families through what they experienced growing up. They are afraid that if they take one drink, they won’t be able to stop, and will suffer the same fate as their parent.

Alcoholism changes people, and it changes families. Even after recovery, families may suffer long term effects. Those who make the commitment to remain sober and get the help they need will find that they can rebuild a life for themselves. The journey may be difficult, but families will be much happier and healthier without alcoholism.

[cta]Continue the discussion on Facebook and learn more ways to strengthen the road to recovery.[/cta]