Author: Christine Lynch

Staying Sober Strategies This Holiday Season

The leaves outside glow and radiate colors of gold, orange, and red. The crisp air greets me as I start my day. And the fog softens the noise and enhances the beauty of nature all around me. These can only mean one thing; Fall is finally here.

Celebrations, spending time with friends and family – is what this season is all about. And wanting to make up for lost time and celebrate being together again can allow temptations to creep back in. At Olalla Recovery Center, we are here to help you succeed in your sobriety journey. So we have curated eight key strategies that will support you in your recovery, all while still enjoying the season.

1. Make a plan

Bring a sober friend with you to the party. Build your community by helping each other out and sharing experiences. If someone offers you a drink or asks about your abstinence, have a friendly response ready.

2. Know Your Triggers 

Know what sets you off and avoid it. It is better to make a polite excuse than to lose all the ground you have worked so hard to gain. 


3. Make Wiser Choices 

Focus on the gatherings that are the most important to you. You do not need to avoid all celebrations, but you can decide which ones work best for you and your recovery. 


4. Just Say No

Sometimes it is best to avoid temptation entirely. You always have a choice. And it is okay to decline an invitation to reduce the risk of relapse. 

5. Drive Yourself  

If you need to get away from a situation that challenges your sobriety, bring your own transportation. And if you do not have means of transportation, make sure to have a backup plan. Call in an Uber or a Lift.


Help to avoid temptations by bringing your own drink to the party. Feeling at ease and having a good time, all while staying sober, is the goal. Remember, you are in control of the controllable. You’ve got this!


7. Host A Party

Bring the party to you! Invite your clean and sober friends over for a potluck, game night, or a fun theme of your choice. If you don’t have the space, ask friends or family if they would like to co-host a party at their place with you. This offers a fun and collaborative option to host a party together.

8. Stay Connected 

After so many months of isolation, we all want to be together again. Plan activities with your family and close non-drinking friends. Create new and healthy habits to replace your old ones. Take a cooking class or join an exercise or art group. Make it fun and stay connected to those who mean a lot to you.

Celebrate your sobriety, the end of COVID isolation, your supportive family and friends, and reaffirm your commitment to being clean and sober. By staying positive and focused on your goals, you can foster a healthy environment, all while staying true to your recovery.

Get Help Now
Remember that this is your life journey. You can do this. And if you ever need help, Olalla Recovery Center is here for you.

CALL ANYTIME: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone 24/7

FIND A MEETINGGo here to search for an AA meeting near you or a virtual one.

Enjoy the season, and we hope these tips find you well.

Take our self-assessment quiz yourself or give it to a friend you’re concerned about.

The list of questions can help you decide whether you are addicted to alcohol or drugs or have the potential for addiction. If you find yourself silently answering yes to more than two questions, you may be addicted or well on your way to addiction. Call for HELP Now: 1-800-882-6201  We are ready to help you.


Alcohol / Drug Inventory

Take this quiz yourself or give this to a friend if you’re concerned about. This list of questions can help you decide whether you are addicted to alcohol or drugs or have the potential for addiction. There are no right answers only honest answer

  • Has spending money on alcohol and/or drugs kept you from buying necessities, such as food or clothing, or from paying the rent or mortgage?
  • Have you ever borrowed money to buy alcohol/drugs?
  • Have you ever missed a day of work because of drinking/using?
  • Have you ever used alcohol/drugs to help get through the day while at work?
  • Have you ever driven a car while under the influence of alcohol/drugs?
  • Do you lie about your alcohol/drug use, even to your close friends?
  • Do you use alcohol/drugs to feel good, self-confident, overcome shyness, or to forget your problems?
  • Have you ever tried to cut down your drinking or drug use?
  • Do you ever feel guilty about drinking/using; has anyone ever asked you to stop?
  • Do you have trouble waking up or feel as if you have a hangover the morning after you drink/use?
  • Do you suspect that your use of alcohol/drugs has increased over the past few months?
  • Have you ever had thoughts about suicide since you began drinking/using?
  • Have you ever not remembered something that happened from a time of drinking/using?

If you find yourself silently answering yes to more than two questions, you may be addicted or on your way to addiction.

Call for HELP Now: 1-800-882-6201, staff are ready to help you with your addiction.

CALL ANYTIME: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone 24/7
SCHEDULE AN ASSESSMENT: Call our outpatient office 253-851-2552 directly.
FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA meeting near you or a virtual one.

Due to changing guidelines, we are unable to proceed with the Olalla Recovery Summer Picnic this year. This is a much anticipated event every summer and we’re devastated to cancel two years running. We all hope next year will bring an end to Covid-19 restrictions and we can have a great big picnic to make up for lost years. Have a great summer and we will see you at the 2022 picnic!

Since 1969 we’ve been on the front lines offering Hope & Healing to families and communities affected by addiction

Since 1969, we have been committed to effectively treating all aspects of drug and alcohol addictions, including the needs of special populations.  Through skilled inpatient and outpatient care and services, we provide the means to achieve and maintain total abstinence.  Patients are respected, their confidentiality is observed, and understanding extended to them during this difficult time.  Olalla Recovery Centers has been helping individuals begin a path of rehabilitation and recovery from drug and alcohol addictions at our two alcohol and drug rehabilitation, recovery treatment centers.  We offer a residential drug and alcohol treatment program in Olalla and an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program in Gig Harbor.  A primary focus is to treat each patient with respect and dignity.  We recognize each person as a unique individual with unique circumstances.

If you are ready to make a positive change and begin your journey to recovery. We’re here for you.


CALL ANYTIME: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone 24/7
SCHEDULE AN ASSESSMENT: Call our outpatient office 253-851-2552 directly.
FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA meeting near you or a virtual one.

Our Native American program is designed to allow patients to move past their addiction and grow spiritually, rebuilding the bonds they have with their culture. Read more


CALL ANYTIME: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone 24/7
SCHEDULE AN ASSESSMENT: Call our outpatient office 253-851-2552 directly.
FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA meeting near you or a virtual one.

Maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free workplace is a choice that requires careful planning for employers. Creating policies and expectations is only the first step. You also need to educate your employees about them.

“Reasonable suspicion” testing — also known as “for cause” — is one mechanism employers may use to enforce substance-free policies. It’s important to not only train supervisors in the proper procedures to follow, but also to understand how you will support a referral to an agency for assessment in the event the test results confirm use.

You’re stronger than you think. Use the power of your resilience.

In recovery, you know the importance of building resilience. It’s what helps you adapt to and overcome major sources of stress, such as adversity, tragedy and trauma. Through this process, your body, mind and spirit become stronger, helping you to bounce back.

COVID-19 has tested our resilience in ways many of us never expected. There’s still likely a long road ahead to more normal times, but in the meantime, you can use this experience to build your resilience further.

What you’ve been witnessing over the last few months wasn’t just an incredible moment in history. You’ve also witnessed your own growth and resolve.

Resilience is like a muscle, and building resilience is a lifelong process. No matter how well you learn to cope and overcome adversity, you’re constantly adjusting your approach and fine-tuning your tools.

Use the pandemic to learn from it — how you coped, what worked well, what you need to work on. And keep exercising the resilience muscle. That’s the only way forward.

Asking for help shows strength, not weakness.

Walking the recovery journey alone is tough in the best of times. And when the world is upside down, you need your loved ones’ support more than ever.

Everyone is stressed, for sure. But don’t think of yourself as another burden in the middle of an already strained situation. This is not the time for you to minimize your recovery needs and isolate yourself emotionally.

Recovery takes courage, and courage means asking for help when you need it. Acknowledge that many people are having a hard time right now — but don’t let that stop you from reaching out.

Your family and friends don’t help you because it’s convenient for them. They do it because they care. The pandemic hasn’t changed that — even if they, too, are struggling now more than before.

Be honest. Be humble. Put aside your pride. Asking and accepting help only shows that you want to stay on track and succeed.

Set yourself up for a fresh start — and a happier, healthier 2021.

Did 2020 leave you unhinged or did you find renewed purpose? As this historic year moves into the rear-view mirror, are you setting yourself up for a fresh start?

It’s hard to focus on the good when you’re filled with anxiety and uncertainty. But even bad times can be a gift — it’s a matter of perspective.

Being forced out of your routines and having your life changed without your permission is a rare occurrence. Why not take the new view on life that this past year gave you, and make it work to your advantage?

This is an opportune moment to:

  • Reexamine your priorities and your goals.
  • Feel good about the resiliency you’ve built during an incredibly tough year.
  • Set yourself up for a happier, healthier, more productive 2021.

You don’t have any control over when the pandemic ends and normalcy returns. But you can choose how you reemerge — calm, strong and on track to achieve your recovery goals.


Celebrate the holidays with love, resolve.

Christmas and other winter holidays will look different this year. The loneliness and stress many people experience during a regular holiday season will likely be magnified.

To get through the holidays, go back to basics. Think about the true meaning of the season — and don’t worry about the rest.

Our culture inspires a race toward more during this time of the year — more gifts, more gatherings, more consumerism. Instead, refocus your energy on expressing love for your family and friends in other meaningful ways.

Why not start new traditions this year? Some ideas to get you inspired:

The best way to get through the holidays is to make it as uncomplicated as possible. There’s plenty to be overwhelmed about already — don’t add the holiday season to that list.

  • Gather virtually and share a meal while you chat on video. This means loved ones across the country and even across the world can be part of the festivities. Buy matching PJs, share photo collages, make an ornament together, swap pie recipes — the possibilities are endless.
  • Bake together while apart. High school home-ec teachers are instructing students via Zoom and watching each student cook or bake at home— why not adapt their idea? Plan the recipe ahead of time so you have the ingredients on hand, schedule a videoconference, bring your phone or another mobile device into the kitchen, and you’ve got a socially distanced baking party. Don’t forget the tasting at the end.
  • Fill a gratitude jar every day until your family virtual gathering, and then share your writings with each other.

Wishing you joy and love!


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

“Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon.” — Misuta Masahide (17 century Japanese poet)

Did 2020 challenge your beliefs, priorities, habits, strengths — and more? Recovery from the COVID-19 impacts may still be a long way away, but what you can do now is start 2021 with fresh hope and determination. That’s part of being resilient.

Building resilience is a crucial part of the recovery journey. By becoming more resilient, you empower yourself to bounce back next time life throws the unexpected at you. (more…)

Give yourself the gift of inner peace.

Whatever culture or tradition you come from, universal wisdom says that inner peace and joy come only from looking inward.

These are comforting words when the world around you is in chaos. But finding—and keeping—peace within yourself is not always easy.

The simplest way to start is through meditation. It’s nothing more than creating mental silence and bringing yourself into the present moment. The type of meditation you do doesn’t matter—even a simple mantra is effective.

One you quiet the noise in your mind, you can:

  • “See” in between your thoughts and “open your eyes” inside your mind.
  • Start understanding why you feel stressed, unhappy, anxious.
  • Declutter your thoughts and let go of superficial worries and pain.

Inner peace is about reaching contentment and happiness by reconnecting with yourself. And that’s what will keep you grounded when the world is spinning.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
SUBSCRIBE: to our weekly Recovery Lifehacks – COVID-19 delivered to your inbox.
FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Olalla Recovery Centers is currently fully open both for inpatient and outpatient services. The additional COVID-19 requirements that Washington State instituted on Nov. 16 did not add any new restrictions for behavioral health, medical and dental services.

Olalla Guest Lodge is accepting new admissions for our inpatient program; the Family Program and individual family sessions are done virtually, however, the weekend Family Program and outside visitations continue to be suspended. Please note you must make an appointment before coming to the site.

Gig Harbor Counseling is also accepting new patients and still offers virtual appointments as well as some in-person appointments in our outpatient program in Gig Harbor.

We monitor the situation continuously and will post updates as changes occur. The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff remains our top priority.

Take a respite from the worries of the world.

Natural disasters. Political uncertainty. A global pandemic. There’s a lot going on in the world. The constant barrage of negative and emotional news does nothing but create more anxiety, even panic.

Make a conscientious effort to disconnect from the outside world every day.

Try this:

  • Set aside several windows of time throughout the day away from distractions. Spend that time meditating, exercising, writing in your journal or simply relaxing.
  • Take a day off from the news and social media. Focus on your own world. Decline to engage in conversations with others about current events.
  • Use that time to do something you enjoy. Read a book, talk to a friend, take a longer walk, cook an elaborate meal.

Staying constantly plugged in and connected doesn’t leave much space for quieting your mind and recentering. In the morning, energize your mind before facing the day. In the evening, find calm before going to bed.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Simple, fast — and free — way to reduce tension

Calming your mind during a crisis can help you find peace and balance. But how do you get there when your emotions are in a whirlwind?

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors used mediation to get deeper understanding of life’s mystical, sacred sources. These days, you can follow their techniques to relax and bring order to your mind — and your life.

Yoga, qi gong and tai chi include a mediation component but you don’t need to make it that complicated. All you need is a quiet setting (at least at first), an open attitude, basic instructions and a few uninterrupted minutes. You can meditate while sitting, walking, lying down or even washing dishes.

Try guided mediation using free online sources or a meditation app. Or try simple ways of practicing on your own through deep breathing, repeating a mantra or engaging in prayer.

Tranquility can be scarce these days. Set a few minutes aside to focus on the moment and clear your mind.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Recovery takes a village — don’t take your journey alone

Choosing to stay healthy and strong in recovery is a daily decision that requires a strong support network. Staying connected is tough — but tremendously important.

If you’re struggling to stay in touch with those who are instrumental to your recovery journey, make a plan. Write down in your schedule when you’ll check in with a friend, peer recovery coach, support group and so on — and make sure you follow through.

  • Call a family member or close friend every day to check in. Using FaceTime, Zoom or another video app is even better — eye contact makes you feel more connected.
  • Are you comfortable gathering in a small group? Find out if your 12-step support group or group counseling program has resumed meetings.
  • Not ready for in-person meetings? Take advantage of online resources to find a virtual meeting. Or organize your own by inviting a few peers you’re comfortable with.

Struggling to stay focused or feeling like you’re losing ground? Talk to a professional. Staying on track is hard even in the best of times. Don’t do it alone.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
SUBSCRIBE: to our weekly Recovery Lifehacks – COVID-19 delivered to your inbox.
FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Social isolation. Economic losses. Fears of the unknown. Health worries. Pressure to balance work and family. Any one of these factors is enough to lead to mental health issues like stress, anxiety or depression.

The pandemic, of course, is causing all of these challenges. And many people are experiencing not one but several at the same time.

In times like these, more individuals turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. If you’re experiencing new emotions or cravings, it’s important for you to understand why — and what you can do to stay on track with your recovery. (more…)

Uplift each other — and the world — through prayer.

When bad things happen, maintaining faith is not easy. But the Creator is listening — don’t give up on your prayers.

Prayer can help us stay connected not only with our higher power but also with others, strangers and loved ones alike. We may not be able to hold each other physically or offer prayers and encouragement in person, but we can still be united in the presence of our Creator.

Praying in private can be just as meaningful as doing so with your faith community. Or extend an invitation to a friend or two to pray together, on a phone or video call.

Pray for yourself, for those you love, for essential workers on the frontlines who are helping you when you get sick or need groceries. For those who are struggling with fear and uncertainty or are feeling disconnected. For the whole of humanity.

Lift up others in prayers — and soon you’ll feel embraced and connected with others and the Creator by love.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Uplift (yourself and others) with random acts of kindness.

Even in the worst of times, finding the bright spots can help restore your faith in yourself and the world around you. Compassion and kindness are the best healers.

Doing something good for others is uplifting both for the giver and the recipient. But the best part? Even something that seems small and insignificant for you can make someone else’s day.

Try these simple things to bring a little ray of sunshine, whether to a stranger or someone you know:

  • Tip extra generously next time you’re dining out, ordering delivery, getting a haircut or taking a ride-share trip.
  • Have groceries delivered to an elderly neighbor or offer to pick up necessities when you’re shopping.
  • Start a fundraiser for your local food bank or another nonprofit you support.
  • At the coffeeshop, pay for the next person’s order.
  • Send a greeting card to someone in an assisted living home.
  • Offer to babysit for a couple you know so they can have a date.

Being kind is easy. And the results may surprise you.


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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
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The world is unsteady. You don’t have to be.

It’s hard to escape bad news these days. How can you maintain a steady course in your personal life when everything around you seems to fall apart?

Use restorative and comforting, healthy activities to balance out the negativity happening in the world. Whether that’s taking a bubble bath, stepping outside for fresh air or calling a friend, find ways to immerse yourself in experiences that help you refocus your thoughts.

Things you can do:

  • Find an inspirational book. Your spiritual Holy Bible, the biography of your role model or just an uplifting novel — fill your mind, heart and soul with positive reading.
  • Listen to inspirational music. Everyone needs anthems — whether that’s rock, country or blues. Create a list of songs that make you feel good (and dance your heart out to feel even better).
  • Practice good self-care: Take a walk to clear your mind. Nourish your body with healthy food. Physical wellness is another pillar to your mental balance.

Find ways to rejuvenate daily. And don’t be afraid to try new ideas.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
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Check in with how you’re feeling, tune into your emotions. Whether you’re anxious, sleepless, hopeful, angry, or anything in between, take a minute for yourself, allow yourself to find your quiet place and just enjoy the jellyfish..


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
GO HERE: to see them all.

Finding pleasure in simple things

Joy in life doesn’t always come from big moments. The simplest things can bring the greatest pleasures.

Focusing on the big picture right now may feel daunting — savor the delights of the simple experiences instead.

Here’s some inspiration:

  • Express yourself creatively: Write a poem. Start a scrapbook. Learn to fold origami.
  • Grow something: Green thumbs are nurtured, not born. Small-container herbs. A beautiful orchid. An easy-care cactus. Care for a plant and watch it thrive.
  • Capture the moment: Document your memories of these historic times in a journal. Or simply catch a fleeting moment on your smartphone camera.
  • Upcycle: Turn a cardboard box into a basket or obsolete CDs into wall art. You’ll unleash your creativity and do something good for Mother Earth at the same time.

Even a good book, a fresh cup of tea savored in the morning, or a thank-you note can be uplifting. Just know where to look.


CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
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Keeping your faith during social isolation

Physical and emotional healing during the pandemic are important, but don’t ignore your spiritual wellbeing. Lean on your faith and look for ways to nourish your positive emotions.

Some things you can do to stay spiritually strong:

  • If you’re not able to get together with your faith community in person, look for live-streamed worship services online.
  • Keep a gratitude journal by your nightstand. At the end of the day, write down three things you’re grateful for.
  • Continue praying for yourself and others. Your Higher Power hasn’t stopped listening.
  • Take time for contemplation — watch the sun set or enjoy a quiet moment outside.
  • Share love and compassion with others. Reach out to a family member with an encouraging word or a neighbor in need.

Maintaining faith is not just about attending a group event once a week. Feed your soul by embracing your fears. Focus on positive thoughts. And remember all the good things in your life.

CALL: 1-800-882-6201 to talk to someone.
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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
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Maintain Wellness To Maintain Your Recovery Goals – Creative Ideas To Sustain Your Physical, Spiritual And Mental Wellness While Distancing

After months of home quarantine and limited access to activities, no doubt you’re feeling the collective cabin fever. Maintaining wholistic wellness in these times takes a lot of creative thinking, but don’t give up on the idea of staying in shape physically, mentally and spiritually—maintaining wholistic wellness is important to maintaining your recovery goals.

Finding your calm is more important now – than ever. We invite you turn your sound up and just take a moment, be still – breathe and listen to the calm of the waves…

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3 simple tips for physical fitness at home

Maintaining a fitness routine during the pandemic is a struggle if you’re used to running to the gym or the yoga studio. But like everything else in quarantine, all it takes is a little creative thinking to keep the momentum going.

Simple things you can do when you can’t hit the gym:

  • Hit the trails instead. Brisk walking or running are excellent for your fitness and if you have a park nearby, being in nature and fresh air is a bonus.
  • No weights or equipment? No problem. Use common household items — like laundry or milk jugs — to add weight and resistance.
  • Get “Zooming.” Many gyms and workout studios are offering classes via video conference, including free sessions. And of course, there’s always YouTube for following along.

And if you run out of ideas, think of simple ways to get the heart pumping, like deep cleaning and weeding. Then you can check some chores off your list too.

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FIND A MEETING: Go here to search for an AA or AN meeting near you.
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Clearing your mind by keeping your hands busy

The whirlwind of strong emotions induced by the pandemic can knock anyone off balance. But how can you quiet your mind, at least for a little while? One simple way to clear the mind clutter is by keeping your hands busy with rhythmic, repetitive or creative activities.

Tactile activities like painting and knitting can feel therapeutic and even meditative. That’s because, neuroscientists say, “busy hands” alter brain chemistry the same way some medication does.

Even cleaning can help you relax and create a mental “space”. Not to mention it gives you back a sense of control and a tidier living space — plus, reduced clutter itself boosts mental health.

Cleaning or knitting not your thing? Tinker with a DIY project. Color in an adult coloring book. Put together a puzzle. The results don’t matter. Just enjoy the moment.

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Grieving for a changed world is perfectly normal

Anger. Frustration. Anxiety. Fear. Sadness. You’ve likely gone through these emotions — indeed, through an emotional rollercoaster — at some point during recovery. But this time is undeniably different. We are collectively grieving, and this grief threatens to derail even the most-resilient among us.

All these emotions are normal. Accept them rather than fighting. Allow yourself to grieve for a changed world. You don’t have any power over over what’s happening on the outside but you can choose how to respond. Find a balance between exploring your feelings and calming yourself by coming back into the present moment.

Let go of what you can’t control. Remember that even this new normal is temporary — and  this, too, you can overcome.


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The importance of maintaining a routine and structure

You’ve worked hard to develop a healthy routine in your journey to recovery. Then the pandemic turned your life on its head, disrupting everything from your shopping patterns and recovery meetings to various productive activities.

Even simple routines are tough to maintain when each day blends into the next. But you can’t afford to lose momentum and threaten your progress. Whether or not you have to leave your house for work, appointments and social activities, don’t break your daily rituals. If you do, getting back to a structured schedule will be that much harder.

Continue your morning routine — even if you’ll been spending the entire day at home. Do something that feels productive. And reward yourself by doing something you enjoy and breaking the monotony of isolation.

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The pandemic has upended everyone’s lives, but coping may be especially difficult for youth. Many have been physically isolated from their friends and peers for months and have been left without their typical coping mechanisms like sports and social activities.

Many school districts are launching the school year with online instruction, and adolescents will once again find themselves with a lot of idle time on their hands. Just like adults, they are grieving for their loss of normalcy — and just like adults, they may be turning to unhealthy behaviors in response.


Addiction thrives in isolation, but recovery relies on social connections. Social distancing has forced us into physical seclusion — and that means finding creative ways to remain connected emotionally.

Eye contact is important to a human connection. Use technology — apps like FaceTime, Skype and Zoom — to check in with your friends and family. Accountability doesn’t stop during a pandemic; in fact, it’s more important than ever.

Connect with the recovery community through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Ask your 12-step program or group counseling about video meetings or the relaunch of in-person ones. Organize an outdoor picnic with a small group of your peers (while observing social distancing).

Even a simple phone call to a loved one helps you stay in touch. Lean into your support circle — and don’t be afraid to reach out.

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Most people likely know they can take first-aid and CPR training to help someone in a medical emergency — but did you know you can also learn mental health first aid? It’s an invaluable set of skills that can help anyone identify signs and symptoms of a developing mental health problem and respond in a crisis.

In these times of social isolation, mental wellness is even more important than ever, but many individuals find it difficult to cope. Mental health first aid training can not only give you the skills to help a distressed individual but also break down any stigmas and negative attitudes associated with mental health.


The violence sweeping our nation underscores the systemic racism and discrimination against people of color. We are saddened by George Floyd’s tragic death and the pain and anger that the black community is going through. We stand in unity and solidarity with all individuals of color, and we support the tough conversations that need to take place about social injustice in America.

Despite the recent federal ban on the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21, media reports show that hasn’t stopped teens from vaping. And while the FDA has also banned many flavored electronic cigarettes, youth are finding ways to exploit a loophole that still allows flavored disposable products.

E-cigarettes are a growing trend that is not only contributing to nicotine addiction among teens but is also causing lung injuries and other health concerns. Parents need to understand the facts — and learn how they can help their kids.


Due to the Coronavirus concerns, Olalla Recovery Centers is temporarily suspending all open self-help meetings (AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon) at Olalla Guest Lodge. We are also suspending our Family Program on Saturday & Sunday and suspending all outside visitation. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. We are operating under the guidance from health care authorities and are striving to protect the health of our employees and patients during this outbreak. Gig Harbor Counseling will continue to deliver Telehealth services and will be easing into offering onsite services. Call 253-851-2552 for more information.

New research published early this year showed that alcohol abuse has reached an epidemic level in the United States. Nearly 1 million Americans age 16 and up have died in less than a decade due to alcohol — surpassing drug overdoses by almost 300,000.

This trend is concerning by itself, by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more so. Alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system, making individuals more vulnerable to this novel coronavirus. And according to market research and media reports, sales of alcohol have climbed in March — indicating the potential of alcohol abuse.


Outpatient services have been moved to telehealth format. Patients can still seek services through us – just call our outpatient office to set up the appointment (253-851-2552).  The services will be done either through telephone communication or via online communication.

This page lists some of the family resources our Family Program facilitator provides during the traditional family program. Since we are not offering this to families right now, I thought it would be helpful to publish the resources for families so they can seek support for themselves while their loved one is in services with us.Christine Lynch

The Coronavirus, COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, and we want to share what Olalla Recovery Centers (ORC) is doing now and will continue to do to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

We are committed to serving our patients throughout this time; however, we are taking an abundance of caution to protect our patients and staff. ORC has implemented screening protocols for all residential and outpatient patients, staff and contractors. We are following the guidelines for screening and infection prevention as listed on the following websites:


We are screening for fevers, cough, respiratory symptoms, travel to affected areas, and/or exposure to COVID-19. These screening measures allow us to continue delivering care to our patients, while safeguarding the health of our patients and staff.

Staff continue to use our internal housekeeping protocols. In addition, staff are doing extra sanitation activities to help keep our facilities clean and disinfected, especially high touch point areas. Everyone is reminded via signage as well as verbal reminders to wash their hands often and thoroughly and to refrain from touching their face. Everyone is reminded to report any health symptoms immediately, such as fever, cold/flu-like symptoms, cough, body aches, etc.

Although there are no reports of the novel Coronavirus at any of our facilities, our staff is prepared to address any potential cases. We are monitoring the directives and guidelines put forth by the Washington State Health Authority, Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and our local health officials. In the unlikely event someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, staff are aware of the protocols to get the individual proper care.

In addition to the screening and sanitation measures, we are suspending outside visitation at our facilities. Our clinical team has protocols to help residential patients remain connected to family and loved ones while staying engaged in their recovery work.

We thank you for your patience as we all navigate uncharted waters as it relates to this virus. Information is changing by the hour, but rest assured that ORC leadership is monitoring the situation closely and implementing suggested protocols in an effort to keep us all safe.

Updated March 18, 2020

Due to the Coronavirus concerns, Olalla Recovery Centers is temporarily suspending all open self-help meetings (AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon) at Olalla Guest Lodge. We are also suspending our Family Program on Saturday & Sunday and suspending all outside visitation. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. We are operating under the guidance from health care authorities and are striving to protect the health of our employees and patients during this outbreak. As more information becomes available, we will certainly communicate changes in protocols.

Substance Misuse vs. Addiction — What’s the Difference?

Substance misuse is not the same as addiction, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t cause concern. While an individual who misuses drugs or alcohol doesn’t require — or qualify for — the same level of treatment as an individual diagnosed with substance use disorder, addressing the early-warning signs may help avert a crisis later.


One of the most difficult steps for individuals struggling with addiction is to recognize that their substance use disorder is adversely impacting their life — and that they need help fighting this disease. This is where loved ones can play a role. An intervention helps friends, family and even colleagues to rally around their loved one and help the individual recognize that it’s time to address the problem.

You’ve probably heard of interventions but if your knowledge is based on Hollywood portrayals, let’s bust some myths first. Unlike the “made for TV” version, a real-life intervention takes time, resources and commitment. Prepare to be patient.


Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” — Brian Tracy

A growing body of research has found that gratitude has a positive impact on our wellbeing. Being grateful doesn’t just make us happier, but also reduces stress, makes us more resilient and improves our health.


While relapse is not uncommon in recovery, it happens gradually, in stages. Relapse often takes weeks or months to build up, and it’s more likely during early recovery.

Learning to recognize the early signs can help prevent relapse from happening. One model that helps is called HALT, which stands for hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness. These four feelings are also potentially high-risk situations that can lead to substance cravings.


Alcohol and drug addiction can happen to anyone.

You may see a stereotypical “junkie” or alcoholic portrayed in the media as a homeless person or someone who does nothing all day but get high or wasted. The truth is, many people struggle in secret without showing it on the surface. Your friend, family member or co-worker may harbor an addiction without you noticing.

People of all walks of life, regardless of their background, can experience substance use problems that escalate out of control. But how do you know when alcohol or drug abuse becomes an addiction?


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 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.


And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul…” —John Muir

The sun-kissed summer season is a special time in the Pacific Northwest. While we’re blessed with warm weather for much of the year, summer is when we can finally count on clear skies. The whirl of activity on the local beaches, at the campgrounds and on the waters of Puget Sound reminds us what a natural jewel this area is.

Do you remember the last time you hiked in the woods, relaxed by a waterfall or lake, or took a walk on a beach while waves splashed at your feet?


A variety of factors contribute to the likelihood of teens and youth turning to negative behaviors such as substance abuse, but research has found that the more protective factors are in place, the more risk can be reduced. Protective factors are internal characteristics that an individual has, as well as external conditions such as family, school and community, that can help a person cope with challenges in life.


When we previously discussed building resiliency in the journey to recovery, we talked about how by strengthening your mind, body and spirit, you can better cope with challenges such as stressors leading to substance abuse or relapse. However, for youth and young adults, the message of building resiliency doesn’t resonate in the same way.

Resiliency — the ability to bounce back after a setback and make positive choices — is built on the idea of long-term preparedness to withstand challenges.


Most of us look forward to summer’s arrival. The longer days, the nice weather, the get-togethers, the outdoor activities, the extra time off — all these make summer one of the best times of the year.

But summer is not easy for those in recovery. The outdoor parties and celebrations like weddings and graduations often entail alcohol. Not to mention they can make you feel nostalgic about all the “fun” you had at those kinds of parties when you were addicted.


Addiction is a complex issue and as such, it doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” solution. At Olalla Recovery Centers, we take a holistic approach that’s personalized to the individual. Our clinicians use strategies based on what may be most successful for each patient.

One of the key components of effective treatment is behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy helps individuals understand why they turn to drugs and alcohol and reinforces positive behaviors.

“Do not judge me by my success; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” — Nelson Mandela


In recovery, we teach about being mindful and living in the moment. You know that it’s important to let go of the past and focus on the present. But there’s also something to be said about preparedness — you must be ready to bounce back when the tough times come.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we know all about being prepared. We have to be ready when “the big one” hits, right? So we stock up on nonperishable foods and emergency supplies. At the very least, this gives us peace of mind that in a major disaster, we can be self-sufficient for a few days.


As a chronic disease, addiction must be managed like any other chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. In the past, treatment focused on clinical modalities, but a new understanding is emerging about the importance of social support for long-term recovery.

This cultural shift is based on new research showing that as part of a chronic care model, social supports improve recovery outcomes.


Did you feel overwhelmed, perhaps even blue, during the “season of love” we recently had? You can’t escape thinking about love and relationships in February, as Valentine’s Day merchandise and messaging is in your face every time you go to the grocery store.

Many recovering addicts feel they’re not worthy of love, ashamed of some of things they’ve done to their loved ones. But be honest — do you even love yourself? If you don’t, how can others?


Learning through experimentation is a rite of passage for the developing adolescent and young adult. Unfortunately, when that experimentation includes risky behavior, this young demographic doesn’t have the advantage of an adult’s executive-decision-making process.

Parents of teenagers will certainty relate to the scenario of trying to appeal to their child’s senses. Doesn’t it feel like an uphill battle most of the time? Long-term thinking and weighing consequences is simply not on the young people’s agenda.


“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” —Alexander Graham Bell

In recovery, all doors are open to you and there are opportunities waiting everywhere. Some of those opportunities will take you down the wrong path. When the wrong opportunity knocks on your door, will you answer? Or are you ready to stay strong and make the right choice?

One of the biggest challenges for the recovering addict is letting go of the past. When that happens, decisions are colored by guilt and regret.



Medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction can be a controversial topic in the recovery community, as some believe that treatment and recovery should be based on abstinence.

At Olalla Recovery Centers, we embrace medication-assisted treatment (MAT) because we want our patients to focus on building the skill set they need for lifelong recovery. For some individuals, MAT can be highly effective in treating addiction — and we want to be part of that dialogue.


“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
— Tony Robbins

Can you believe that another year is coming to a close? I’m a “glass half-full” kind of person, so instead of thinking of all the things left undone, I’m looking at the incoming new year as a new opportunity to accomplish all those things and then some.

How about you? Are you taking time to reflect on your achievements for 2017?

Don’t worry about the goals you didn’t meet. This is a time to think about all the right decisions you made and how they helped you get closer to your goals. It’s those accomplishments that can inspire your actions in 2018.

You may think that setting goals for the new year sounds just like making New Year’s resolutions. There’s one major difference.


Gratitude, blessings, appreciation — these are words we hear often this time of year. For the recovering addict, expressing those feelings is not easy. Especially if you’re just starting on the path to a new life.

Did you have a family dinner this Thanksgiving? Did you have a chance to give thanks to the people and things important in your life? Or did you feel ashamed, hurt, resentful even?

Those are normal feelings. If you’re like many others in recovery, you’ve no doubt made many mistakes and ruined many relationships on your way to hitting rock bottom. It’s not an easy place to come back from.


“I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the Earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.” — Henry David Thoreau


Are you starting to notice all the red, green and sparkle at the store? We haven’t even finished Thanksgiving plans yet but retailers are already reminding us that the most stressful time of the year is upon us. I suppose the shops are being helpful so we’re not waiting until the last minute (and getting more stressed!) but still…

It’s not a secret that November and December can be tough for those in addiction recovery.


If you are looking for a substance-abuse treatment program for yourself or a loved one, know that not all treatments are the same. While they have their same end goal — helping a person recover from drug or alcohol addiction — there are different approaches to treatment and the modalities will vary.

Some methodologies are less effective and may not be successful in the long term. Before you commit to a program, it’s important to understand the differences and how they can affect the outcome.


“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.” — Ronald Reagan

Practice makes perfect. How often have you heard those words from someone trying to encourage you to get better at something?

Those are good words of wisdom to live by, generally speaking. But in recovery, you need to take a completely new approach. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being humble, tenacious — and consistent.

The goal you’re after is progress, which means practicing good habits and taking the right steps every day, however little.


Whether you’ve been in recovery for a short or a long time, you know that it’s important to avoid triggers — they’re the easiest way to a relapse. Unfortunately, a major trigger for many people is stress. And there’s plenty to stress to go around as you’re working on your sobriety.

Stress is a biological process, and it’s hard to avoid even for those with the most balanced lifestyles. But you can minimize it by practicing mindfulness. It’s a way to help your body and mind get in tune with each other.


The opioids epidemic has been in the news a lot lately, as the concern about its impact has expanded into the political arena. With the dramatic increase in the number of deaths from opioid overdoses in recent years, fentanyl especially rose as a major concern because of how extremely dangerous this synthetic drug is.

If you know someone who is addicted to opioids or fentanyl specifically, you need to understand the urgency to get help for your loved one. Here are some facts you need to know:


“Just for today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.” — Al-Anon meditation

The beginning of recovery is an exciting time, as you set new goals and dream of new opportunities for your life. But things can quickly become overwhelming as you learn new habits and navigate unknown situations.

The important thing to remember is that you have a long journey ahead of you. As the cliché goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. To be successful, you need to set achievable goals — and that means small, simple steps.


If you’ve never been to our alumni picnic, you’re truly missing out. This annual family event is a highlight of summer for the Olalla Recovery Centers community. We celebrate recovery together and get a chance to reconnect with those we haven’t heard from in a while.

For those struggling with their recovery journey, there’s no better place to be. Some of our alumni are celebrating 20 or 30 years of recovery — and hearing their stories is a moment of pride for our staff and a beacon of encouragement for other alums.


“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” — Hippocrates

Recovery from any disease requires a holistic approach, and substance-addiction recovery is no different. You need to work on the whole you, not just your body — without a healthy and strong mind and soul, physical healing will be challenging.

Olalla Recovery Centers’ in-patient rehabilitation program helps you get on the right path by offering holistic programs such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture. But recovery is a lifelong process and you need to continue taking care of your whole health after discharge.


After record-breaking rains, I’m happy that summer is finally here. We are blessed to be surrounded by such beautiful scenery in our neck of the woods — and all the fantastic recreational activities that come with that.

For many, school is out and this is the best time to enjoy activities with the family and spend time outside. But if you’re in recovery, this may be a challenging time because the longer days may remind you of that phase in your life when having a good time was synonymous with drinking or using drugs.


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau

As we celebrate mothers, fathers and new graduates this time of year, we are also celebrating the importance of families. We may not always see eye to eye with our family members, but we know we can count on them during the pivotal points in our lives.

Are you ready to do something new and different? Whatever dreams and aspirations you have in life, they’re easier to conquer with the encouragement and support from your family.


“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Spring is the time when many of us yearn to declutter our homes, organize and start fresh. After the doldrums of winter, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, a little spring-cleaning seems good for the body and the soul.

For the recovering addict, this is a perfect time to renew your energy and spend a little time decluttering your life. Just like spring-cleaning your house, this process can help you prioritize, get rid of what you don’t need in your life — and focus on what matters.


Many of us living in the Puget Sound area get a little restless this time of year. The rain becomes tiresome, especially if spring is late.

For those struggling with addiction, this can be an especially tough season. The dark, cold, rainy days can trigger a form of depression called seasonally affective disorder, or SAD — and turning to your substance of choice may seem like an easy fix.


“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.


Spring is a special season, as things that have been dormant and hidden for months are rising from their slumber. It’s a time of new growth and renewal.

Just like nature, we, humans, go through our own cycles. Sometimes we feel stuck while other times we’re full of despair. It feels impossible to see beyond the gloom and the darkness when we’re facing challenges.


Electronic cigarettes are the newest trend among young people. The industry claims that they’re not addictive, like traditional nicotine products are, yet the numbers suggest otherwise.

Rates among teens using e-cigarettes have been growing at an alarming pace — a 900 percent increase among high school students between 2011 and 2015.

E-cigarettes are being promoted by the industry as a much safer nicotine product. Advocates claim e-cigarettes are not addictive and can even help people quit smoking.

It’s true that the nicotine amount is much smaller in e-cigarettes. But they’re far from being harmless, especially for youth and young adults.


“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

As a fictional starship captain once said, “Fear exists for one purpose: to be conquered.”

That statement couldn’t be more powerful today, as you walk the journey to sobriety. On this path, you’ll falter — probably more than once. You may even feel that you don’t have what it takes to conquer all the obstacles that lie ahead.

These doubts rise from fear. Fear of the unknown.


Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, access to substance abuse treatment was extended to countless individuals who could not previously afford it. But the new political climate has created uncertainty about the future of healthcare benefits.

If you’ve been thinking about getting clean and sober, we urge you to act now. Acknowledging that you have a problem — and wanting to do something about it — is a major first step.


“We rise by lifting others.” —Robert Ingersoll


If you’re traveling the journey to recovery, you don’t need to wait for the New Year to make the most important resolution: maintain sobriety. But since we can’t help but love traditions, this is a good time to take stock. What do you want to achieve in 2017?

One of the best ways to stay on track is by sharing your story with others. How far have you come? What struggles have you overcome? How has that helped you grow?

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” — Neal A. Maxwell

count your blessings

When we meet a challenge, we’re much more likely to see the glass half-empty than half-full. We tend to focus on what we don’t have. The missed opportunities. The things that don’t go according to plan.

This is certainly true for those in recovery. As you face your daily struggles, it’s easy to forget that every day is part of a lifelong journey. And not every day on this journey will go smoothly.

Beating addiction is never easy. But gratitude — especially for the things and people you may be taking for granted — will give you the strength you need.


“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

This time of year, it’s far too easy to become caught up in the quest for more.

More gifts to be purchased for a never-ending list of relatives. More cleaning, cooking and baking to impress the guests. New obligations seem to be piling up each year — more visiting, more entertaining, more volunteering — yet there’s never more time for getting it all done.

In the midst of this chaos, there’s also no time left for what’s most important. Recharging. Reflecting on the true meaning of the season. Enjoying — truly enjoying, not hurriedly trying to make time for — the people who are most important in your life.

Even without the complications of the holiday season, life can become too complex if we don’t take the time to prioritize and simplify. Before we realize it, we can become so overwhelmed that even easy tasks become a burden.