Christine has been with Olalla Recovery Centers since 2000. Prior to her work in chemical dependency, Christine worked in the law enforcement and legal field for over ten years. She has a degree in psychology, business administration and human resource management. Christine oversees the organization as directed by the Board of Directors. She has a degree in Psychology, with minors in Business Administration and Human Resource Management.
The first few months after treatment for substance use disorder may be the most challenging phase of your recovery journey. You are experiencing physiological and psychological effects of withdrawal while also adjusting to a new life. At the same time, you are no longer in the structured environment that in-patient treatment provided, and you’re still learning how to apply the new recovery strategies you have learned.
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. — Abraham Lincoln
One thing you’ll hear often as you enter recovery is that you need to let go of the past. You do need to take responsibility for your old actions, but that doesn’t mean dwelling on the past — that will only impede your progress by taking focus away from here and now.
Living in the past is not just about reminiscing. While letting go of old habits or bad influences is important, there’s also real danger from being so paralyzed by your shame and guilt that you can’t move beyond your mistakes. You may be feeling anger and pain over some of the things that happened to you. You may also feel fear about the unknown since the past, however destructive, is at least a familiar road.
Individuals who start substance-abuse recovery often go in thinking that once they complete a treatment program, all they have left to do is maintain physical health. Getting healthy, of course, is the end goal — but there are many dimensions to the recovery journey. Each has its own challenges, and each has to be managed.
In addition to physical, emotional and mental strength, you’ll need to build spiritual and financial health. The financial side of the recovery journey may be especially overlooked, yet it’s an integral part of the process.
Addiction recovery is a major feat, and you need to celebrate your achievements, whether big or small. Creating a healthy-rewards system for yourself can help keep you motivated.
As we know, the human brain is wired to respond to rewards. That, in fact, is one of the reasons behind drug and alcohol addiction. Because the brain is wired to pursue pleasurable activities, it has a sophisticated “reward circuit” — and substances create a huge surge of neurotransmitters that signal the brain to repeat the activity.
Substance addiction is often called a “family disease,” and for good reason. When an individual is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the entire family feels stressed and overwhelmed.
As much as it is difficult for adults to cope with a family member’s addiction, for kids, it’s much worse. Unlike adults, children don’t always know where to find a safe space and whom to talk to about their concerns. Yet a highly stressful family environment puts them at risk for physical and mental health issues.
At Olalla Recovery Centers, it’s very common for our counselors to see recovering individuals who have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives. Many times, these individuals don’t realize the long-lasting effects of that trauma or how it affects their addiction recovery. Yes those experiences, however old, can jeopardize the treatment outcome if they’re left unresolved.
No matter how hard you work at your recovery, you may experience a relapse. While addiction treatments are designed to help prevent it, a relapse is not uncommon.
Individuals with various chronic diseases experience relapse, and addiction is no different. In fact, past research has found that the relapse rates for addiction are similar to those of asthma and other chronic illnesses.
It’s important to not see relapse as a personal failure, and to not blame yourself and others for it. While the human brain’s ability to recover from substance abuse is remarkable, relapse is a normal part of the process. If you continue to seek support from your medical and recovery team, and keep up your treatments, you’ll be able to rebound and get back on track.
One of the least-expected experiences for individuals starting recovery is the emotional roller-coaster, the extreme states of new feelings. Anger can be especially a struggle, not to mention very self-destructive.
As with other aspects of your life, you may be challenged to return to the basics. You may need to learn or relearn the tools of emotional control.
When you were addicted to drugs or alcohol, you likely never properly learned how to manage finances, take care of yourself and build healthy relationships. It’s the same way with emotions — addiction may have caused you to become numb for a long time, and you may no longer know how to respond to your emotional states.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. — Confucius
Living a simple life. Sounds boring, on the surface, but is it? And why should you even think about simplifying your life?
Over the last few decades of industrial and technological growth, we’ve been conditioned to want more, accumulate more, do more. In the whirlwind of this nonstop quest, it’s hard to find a moment to quiet the mind.
Every moment is a fresh beginning. — T.S. Eliot
As you begin your journey to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, one of the biggest challenges is to break your old habits. As an addict, you had certain routines and behaviors — and sobriety leaves a void that you’ll need to fill with new habits.
Don’t expect this to be easy or fast. Think about how long it took you to form your old habits — months? Years? While a popular concept is that it takes 28 to 30 days to form a new habit, some studies have shown that it takes much longer than that. You’re in this for the long haul.