Monthly Archives: July 2016

learning to start over in sobriety

Letting Go: Learning to Start Over

A common trait shared by many alcoholics or addicts is a want to control. Whether that be their immediate surroundings or the people around them, the alcoholic or addict more so than other people has a seemingly innate draw towards attempting to manage every aspect of their lives. The interesting thing about this is that for many this is not a conscious thought, and this almost pathological need to control seems counterintuitive to how out of control many active addicts and alcoholics lives seem.

Many addicts and alcoholics were attempting to play God. The belief being that if they could only control everything around them everything would be okay. All of this was done in an effort to protect their addiction and allow them to continue drinking or drugging in the manner that they wanted to. Control was used as a sort of defense mechanism against anything that could possibly affect their disease. In time though, the fallacy of this thinking was exposed and the greater the attempt to control everything became, the less control was actually realized.

People and situations that may have been easily controlled in the beginning may become increasingly more difficult to manage. Tempering drinking or drugging may become all but impossible, and in time, wound so tight with a need to control, there is usually an explosion, or what some call hitting bottom. Once this happens the person usually attempts to get sober and with their attempt, they usually realize how tired they are from attempting to supervise the universe.

Imagine if you will for a minute what it is like to wake up in the morning and know on some level that you are going to have to manage other’s perceptions of you throughout the day. You are also going to have to attempt to control your usage, and all this while setting up situations so that you can get what you desire. This is not a particularly enjoyable way of life, but yet once they get sober many addicts and alcoholics find it difficult to change this pattern of behavior and learn what letting go of the need to control is truly about.

Letting Go and Starting Over

Being asked to let go can be one of the most frightening proposals asked of people who are newly sober. They are faced with the need to give up their long time solution of drugs and alcohol and now they are being asked to do things like surrender, or “Let go and let God.” What’s more is that when they get to the Third Step they are asked to perform the ultimate act of letting go, in turning their will and their lives over to the care of God, a God that they may not even necessarily believe in at that point. When many hear these things, their thoughts are usually something like, if I surrender, let go, and give up my will and my life then what will be left of me?

These questions are reasonable to ask, but the problem with them is that they are based on a misunderstanding of what letting go means. To let go in the way that programs like AA or NA ask you does not mean you give away your right to be a human being with choices. It does not mean that you will float through life with no control whatsoever, but it does mean that you will no longer need to control every aspect of your life. It means that you will get your dictates from a higher order and life will not seem as much of an uphill battle.

peaceful man in a field

So how exactly does one go about doing this? How do you go from attempting to manipulate and control everything in your life to surrendering and going with the flow? How do you walk away from everything that you’ve known, in order to start over and go into the unknown? This is not always easy to do, but luckily there are some simple and easy suggestions available in order to make this transition easier.

The first thing to do in order to let go is to arrive at the understanding that you are not the end all be all of the universe. This means that you truly come to realize that while what you want and desire is important, it’s importance does not rest above the wants and desires of others. Understanding this allows the addict or alcoholic to put their needs into a healthier context and in doing so, it makes the act of letting events unfold as they will easier. Part of the need to control during active addiction was the fear that you would not get what you desired, but understanding that you do not need to get everything that you desire reduces the need to control.

Another thing that you can do in order to help you let go is to start to think about other’s needs above your own. This is not something that comes intuitively to many people so in order to do this there usually has to be a conscious effort. When you put the needs of other’s above your own, you no longer feel compelled to control the situation because the outcome is not in your best interest anyway. Paradoxically, putting other’s needs before your own actually does work in your best interest because you can usually derive a sense of peace and happiness from doing this that cannot be achieved through any other means.

Doing these few things, coupled with the humbling of experience of getting sober usually leads to a level of humility that not many people on this planet experience. Humility in a sense is the key to letting go because it allows for a proportional view of the self that is rooted in reality and not delusion. This proportional view is the antidote for a need to control because it allows a person to see who they are, what they need, and how letting things unfold naturally is usually the best game plan.

Seeking Treatment

If you are tired of trying to run the whole show and think you may need help with your addiction or alcoholism then call the professionals at Coastal Detox at 1-866-802-6848 today. We can help with the process of starting over and show you how to attain the life you’ve always wanted.

post acute withdrawal symptoms

Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms: How You Can Manage Them

There are two stages to the withdrawal process of drugs or alcohol. The first is known as the acute stage, which is the stage that many people associate with the word withdrawal. This stage can last for a few days, weeks, or up to a month, and is when the majority of physical symptoms of withdrawal are experienced. The length and symptoms experienced during this stage will differ depending on the person, the length of use, and the substance being used, but some common symptoms of acute withdrawal are nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and loss appetite.

Once the acute stage is done, the individual then enters into the post acute withdrawal stage. Majority of people coming off of drugs or alcohol experience this to at least a certain extent. This stage also has the same symptoms across the board, unlike the acute phase that differs depending on the substance.

What Are Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms?

Post acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS for short, is a stage in the withdrawal process from substances where physical symptoms are replaced with emotional and psychological symptoms. It is generally caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. This means that as the brain is attempting to repair the damage that was caused by drug or alcohol addiction, it also has to contend with the psychosocial stress that is caused by the person’s attempts to get sober. As the brain is attempting to do this and reach equilibrium again without substances, it can create a number of unwanted symptoms.

What You May Experience

Not everyone will experience all of the symptoms but most people who are getting sober will experience some of them to a degree. The most common are:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood Swings
  • A problem remembering things
  • Overacting to situations or numbness
  • A sensitivity to stress
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Physical Coordination Issues

sick young woman laying on a couch

How Long Can It Last?

Any of these can last up to two years, but they usually reach their highest level of intensity three to six months after complete abstinence begins. This can be frightening to hear, but it is important to understand it. Being addicted to a substance can cause a great deal of damage to the mind and body and so the time needed in order to recover completely can be substantial. That being said, in a majority of cases the body can and will recover and the process is not as difficult as it seems. Managing the symptoms associated with it is important because if they are not, a person could be drawn back to a drink or drug.

How You Can Get Through It

One thing to understand in order to successfully navigate the stage of post acute withdrawal symptoms is that what you experience can come and go, sometimes seemingly without any reason. You could be feeling fine for a couple of weeks and then all of a sudden out of nowhere you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above. Knowing that this is a possibility is a great way to arm yourself against danger because many times when the symptoms occur, a person can begin to berate themselves for feeling that way. They may wonder if they are doing something wrong and that is why they are feeling that way and if it is persistent enough a person could eventually drink or drug again. Understanding that it is just a normal part of the recovery process is your best defense and can help you keep a clear head when symptoms arise.

Another thing you can do in order to successfully get through this is to have the proper supports in place. Whether this means living in a sober living home for a while, or just having a number of close people in your life, having support can make a world of difference. The reason being is that when you begin to experience any of these symptoms you have people who you can turn to so that you do not have to go through it alone. This, many times, can be the difference between success and failure.

It is also important to be easy on yourself during your first couple of years. Many times when a person gets sober they want to make up for what they perceive is lost time. This is sometimes a recipe for disaster because it not only puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the person, but it also is a great way to judge yourself harshly. It is important to remember that recovery takes time and so be as easy as you possibly can be on yourself. Give yourself the ability to take a break when you need and be sure to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating when you should, resting when you should, and taking time out of your schedule to relax and have fun.

Remember that time takes time and you won’t overcome all of these things in a day. Give yourself the space you need in order to heal and your experiences will not be as bad.

Are You Struggling With Addiction?

The first step to achieving sobriety and making it through the two stages of withdrawal is seeking out a good detox. Here at Coastal Detox our specialty is helping you through these beginning stages and equipping you with the tools necessary for you to continue your sobriety. If you think you need help overcoming your addiction or alcoholism then call Coastal Detox today at 1-866-802-6848. We are standing by to offer you the help you need.

how to stop alcohol cravings

How To Work Through Alcohol and Drug Cravings

Alcohol and drug cravings are something that almost every alcoholic or addict fears. During active addiction when they would arise, there was a seemingly insurmountable reaction that would result in drinking or using drugs regardless of whether the person wanted to or not. It was not the same as really wanting a slice of pizza, but rather it was an obsession of the mind stemming from biological and psychological factors that were well beyond the person’s control. When someone gets sober there is a fear that if a desire for a drink or a drug arises they will not be able to defend against it and this will result in a relapse back into addiction.

Just because a desire to drink or drug occurs does not necessarily mean that a person has to fulfill it. In fact having a desire is actually a fairly normal experience for people who are sober, but the difference is that once they are sober and have the tools necessary to defend against it, it no longer has the same power. In order to achieve this though takes some work, and the first thing that is necessary is to understand what exactly a craving is and why it does not mean that you are doing something wrong.

What Is An Alcohol or Drug Craving?

The physical reaction that occurs in the body when a person seemingly out of the blue wants a drink or a drug is perfectly normal for people who suffer from addiction. It is caused in part because when addictive substances are ingested into a person’s body they bypass normal bodily functions that create signals of pleasure, in effect making the hormones that normally produce these signals obsolete. When these substances are ingested enough times, the body will actually stop producing certain hormones because the substances are doing their job for them. When drug usage or alcohol consumption is discontinued, the body does not immediately start to produce these hormones again and so a person can experience extreme discomfort, which results in a desire to use in order to make that discomfort go away.

Also, when addictive substances are ingested into the body they are broken down and usually expelled but some of the substance is left in the body in metabolites. Some of the metabolites end up in fatty tissues and can stay in the body for months or years. As fatty tissue is burned off, the metabolites can re-enter the bloodstream, and when this occurs a desire to drink or drug can occur. Majority of the time fatty tissue will be burned off during stressful period’s in a person’s life and this is why a desire to drink or drug usually comes about during these times.

Psychologically speaking, having a desire to drink or drug after usage has been stopped is a perfectly normal experience, because many times an alcoholic or addict has programmed their minds to associate certain things with alcohol or drug usage. This was not done intentionally but was the result of continuously using and therefore causing the brain to associate certain stimuli with drug or alcohol usage.

Due to this, when they experience that same situation sober, their minds recall theirs usage and a desire for the substance can arise. In time, the brain can learn to unlearn this association but that could take some time to occur.

How to Work Through Cravings

As much as your history might tell you that when you have a desire to drink or drug you will ultimately fulfill it, this no longer needs to be the case. Overcoming a want to use is not necessarily easy in the beginning, but with time and by following a few simple steps, you can learn to neutralize these feelings and finally be free from the obsession of your mind.

image of man having drug cravings

  1. Understand that wanting a drink or drug is normal

After doing the same thing for many years it is to be expected that your natural reaction will at times be to want to use. This want does not mean that you are doing anything wrong, that your program is bad, or that your relationship with your higher power is weak, it just simply means that you are an addict or an alcoholic. Understanding that from time to time your mind will tell you that you should have a drink or drug can take away some of the stress that occurs when a desire to use arises, and because of this you can treat it for what it is, a thought, and let it go.

  1. If a situation is triggering you, remove yourself from that situation

Many times a desire to drink or drug might come out of nowhere, but other times it is the direct result of being in a certain situation. If this is the case then remove yourself from that situation as quickly you as possibly can. You will notice that once you have left the situation, the desire will subside and with it the risk of possibly relapsing

  1. Call someone as soon as you can

This suggestion goes hand in hand with the first suggestion. Many times when a desire to drink or drug arises, the person experiencing it will think that this means they are doing something wrong and so they will be hesitant to share about it. When you understand that having that desire is normal, it will make it easier to call someone and expose it to the light. Talking to someone and not letting the idea fester in your mind can many times remove a desire instantaneously, so if you start to experience a desire to use, call someone as soon as you can.

  1. Work the 12 Steps

The goal of the 12 Steps is to allow the alcoholic or addict to have a spiritual awakening which will expel the obsession to drink or drug. By working the 12 steps not only will the obsession, which is essentially one continuous desire to use, be expelled, but it will also give you the tools necessary to combat any thoughts that could possibly lead you back to drinking or drugging.

Overcoming Cravings And Seeking Treatment

The period when the desire to drink or drug is most potent is usually during the detoxification process, so if you are planning on stopping using call Coastal Detox today at 1-866-802-6848. Our trained professionals can help you make it through this often dangerous time and get you on your journey to being free from the obsession to use.

how long does it take to detox from different drugs

Timeline Detoxing Off Different Drugs

Detoxing from drugs and alcohol can be possibly the most difficult thing that someone attempting to get sober can do. The uncomfortability that comes from withdrawing from a substance that you have become physically dependent on can be overwhelming and it is this that keeps many people in their addiction longer than they need to be. As frightening a proposition as withdrawal is, the medical community at this point is well equipped to handle anything that may arise and can offer a comfortable and safe environment in which to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Part of the fear that comes with detoxing is not knowing exactly what to expect, or even how long you will experience withdrawal symptoms for. This not knowing, many times, can be worse than the actual withdrawal symptoms because our minds can create scenarios far exceeding reality. If you are currently at the stage where you are thinking about going to detox, but are worried about what to expect, don’t fret, below is information that will allow you to go to detox with a full understanding of what’s to come, and in doing so, hopefully will make your detox process easier.

Timeline for the Detox of Different Drugs

Depending on which substances you are addicted to the detox process will vary as different substances require different medical components for a safe detox. For instance, opiate withdrawals are very uncomfortable, but usually do not result in life-threatening conditions, whereas withdrawing from alcohol can be exceedingly dangerous. Regardless of what substance you are withdrawing from you will experience some level of uncomfortability but with the right supervision, these symptoms are manageable.

Opiate Detox

Withdrawal from opiates, whether that be heroin or prescription drugs usually results in flu-like symptoms which present themselves anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours after the last usage. These flu-like symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Yawning
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea

These symptoms usually persist for 24-72 hours and begin to diminish after the 3rd day. At which time your appetite will start to come back and the hot and cold sweats should begin to dissipate.

Many times in a 7-10 day detox setting you will receive Suboxone or an equivalent for the first few days, with a decrease in dosage every day. This tapering off allows for a slow transition to complete removal of the opiates from your system and usually makes the detoxing process easier.

There are a few instances where withdrawal symptoms from opiates can last longer and that is usually with extended usage of Suboxone or Methadone. These substances used for an extended period of time can result in withdrawal symptoms persisting for a few weeks and methadone detox may require special medical attention.

detox timeline image

Alcohol Detox

Detoxing from alcohol can be dangerous and so it is always suggested that you seek the appropriate medical supervision when attempting to quit. If the correct measures are not taken, withdrawal from alcohol can produce seizures that can result in death.

Withdrawal from alcohol usually takes 5-7 days and it can be broken down into three stages.

Stage 1

  • Stage 1 usually begins about 8 hours after the last drink and it is characterized by an increase in anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Stage 2

  • Stage 2 lasts from 24-72 hours after the last drink and without the proper medication a person can experience an increase in blood pressure, body temperature, and confusion.

Stage 3

  • Stage 3 is the most dangerous time for alcohol detox and is mostly avoided due to medication that a person receives upon intake at a detox center. In Stage 3 a person can begin to experience hallucinations, fever, seizures, and increased agitation. This stage usually begins at around 72 hours after the last drink and can persist for a few days.

Due to the dangerous nature of this withdrawal process, medications like Librium and Valium are used in the detox process in order to avoid seizures or other serious complications. This regiment is usually followed for 5-7 days at which point a person will normally begin to feel better. 

Benzodiazepine Detox

Like alcohol withdrawal, benzodiazepines are also a dangerous drug to withdrawal from. Its effects are similar to alcohol and a person can experience seizures that can result in death if the proper medication and medical supervision are not followed. The difference is that the detox process from benzodiazepines is longer than it is for alcohol and a person can experience seizures weeks or even months after their last usage. Due to this, it is extremely important that if you are attempting to get off of benzodiazepines you seek professional help so that they can make sure you do this safely.

Cocaine Detox

Cocaine is different from many other illicit drugs in that there are no severe physical withdrawals from discontinuing its usage. That being said this does not mean that withdrawing from cocaine is easy. Many times the mental aspect of detox is equal to, if not worse than the physical symptoms experienced, and this can be the case with withdrawal symptoms from cocaine.

Withdrawing from cocaine can result in depression and restlessness that last for 7 to 10 days and these symptoms can be treated and lessened if they are experienced within the confines of a detox center.

Seeking Treatment for Substance Abuse

While going through withdrawal symptoms is never pleasant, it does not need to be an impossible task. Knowing what you are going to face and then getting the professional medical help you need is a great way to help alleviate some of the struggles that occur from withdrawaling from substances. Many people who attempt to do this alone are unsuccessful and this is because when the proper support is not in place getting sober can be exceedingly difficult. If you are afraid that is okay because the trained professionals at Coastal Detox know exactly what you are going through and know how to best help you through this trying time. So call Coastal Detox at 1-866-802-6848, and begin the process of recovery today.

mistakes to avoid in early sobriety

Mistakes to Avoid in Early Recovery

Early recovery can be an exciting, confusing, and difficult time. On the one hand, there is a great sense of elation, as you no longer have to wake up and experience the pangs of withdrawal or fear what you will have to do that day in order to get high or drunk. There is a restored sense of hope that the nightmare that had become your life may finally be over, and many start to have a social life after extended periods of isolation. It is also a time when emotions start to flood back in, as the substances that blocked their expression begin to leave the body. This can cause a tremendous amount of stress and discomfort for people who are newly sober, as one of the reasons for usage in the first place was to blot those emotions out. Early recovery is also a time when there are great upheavals in a person’’s thoughts and beliefs, as old ways of thinking are cast aside for newer, healthier systems of thought. All of this can come together to create an amalgam of emotion that can cause a person to make mistakes that they may not have otherwise made. Many times these mistakes are innocuous, but sometimes they can jeopardize a person’’s recovery. Below is a list of the most common mistakes that people make in early recovery, and hopefully by reading about them you will be able to avoid them and in turn ensure your new found recovery.

Common Mistakes in Early Sobriety

  • Expecting Instantaneous Results

Recovery is a process that takes time and this can be difficult for people in early sobriety to accept. Understandably they want their families back in their lives and they want to feel better right away, but that is not the way that recovery works. It will take time to rebuild relationships and it will take time to readjust to a life without drugs and alcohol. So try not to fall into this mistake by believing that you should be somewhere that you are not, or feel someway that you don’t. Allow your recovery to unfold at the speed that it is going to and believe me you won’t regret it.

  • Not Finishing the Steps

This one may sound like common sense, but it can happen quite often among people who are in early sobriety. Sometimes this means that the person only works up to the 3rd step and then continues to “work” on their 4th step for the next forever, or it may mean completing their 5th step but then not continuing with the rest of the steps. The latter form of not finishing the steps is usually the result of the person experiencing the wonderful effects of the 5th step and then believing that that is enough. The problem is that without the rest of the steps people can often relapse after a period of time because the foundation on which they built their recovery is not complete. So remember to work all of the steps to their completion, regardless of how you feel half way through.

couple holding a broken heart

  • Getting Into A Relationship

There are differing ideologies when it comes to the idea of getting into relationships in early sobriety. Some say to stay away from relationships for the first year, others say wait until you’’ve completed your steps, and others don’t think you have to wait at all. The thing about getting into a relationship in early sobriety is that all too often it can become the focal point of a person’s life when their focus really needs to be elsewhere. It is difficult enough to take care of yourself in early sobriety, with the constant changes and erratic feelings, so adding another person into the equation, with all of the confusion that can occur in the beginning of a relationship, can be a recipe for disaster. So if you can, try to avoid getting into a relationship for a little bit, and if not then go into with the understanding that your sobriety must come first.

  • Believing That They Can Get Loved Ones Sober

Many people who are newly sober also have a loved one who is currently drinking and drugging. Now that they have found a way out of their addiction, they want to help their loved one, and many in early sobriety fall into the mistake of attempting to get their loved ones sober. It is a valiant idea, but it can often lead to disappointment and strained relationships. It is important to remember that when you were actively drinking or drugging no one could get you sober until you were ready, and so as painful as it may be, you have to afford your loved ones that same opportunity. The best you can offer is to be a sober example for them and hope that in time they will seek the help they need.

  • Comparing Yourself To Others

We are all guilty of this, but in early sobriety, this can be an especially costly mistake. It is easy to look at other people in the rooms and believe that because we don’t feel the way they appear to look, we must be doing something wrong, but the reality is that anytime you compare your internal life to that of a person’s outer life you are setting yourself up for failure. Many people can become discouraged because they believe they aren’t doing as well as others and this, in turn, can lead to a feeling of hopelessness that can result in a relapse. Remember that you are recovering at your own speed, from your own demons, and it will look different from others. So try to not compare yourself to others and just focus on what you personally need to accomplish.

Seeking Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Whether you have been sober in the past and made these missteps in early sobriety or you are just attempting recovery for the first time, call Coastal Detox today at 1-866-802-6848, and allow our trained professionals to aid you in getting the help you need. Many people have been where you are and have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind, so give us a call today and begin your journey to recovery.