Tag Archives: addiction

A Great Way to Plan Ahead: Use a Coping Plan!

Thoughtful woman looking toward a bright path

Your path ahead looks uncertain, and it will be full of ups and downs.  Most people struggle with how to cope when their emotions may tend to get out of control.

What is a Coping Plan?

I would like to share a simple worksheet that was developed to help with that.  It will guide you to put some thought into what “triggers” you, and what warning signs would be seen by others when you are upset.

It also helps you explore what is helpful and what is not helpful if you feel like you are losing control.   The Coping plan can be shared with others, so they understand more about you and your needs. And, you will be able to be more prepared  for successful coping if you plan ahead.

How to Use a Coping Plan

Please go to to my Coping Plan webpage to read more about using the worksheet and about Trauma-Informed Care.  It was developed to help prevent people from being re-traumatized because of the reactions of others to their behaviors. To summarize:

Trauma can shape people’s mental, emotional, spiritual
and physical well-being.  Nearly every
family is impacted in some way.  Instead of asking “what is wrong with you?” ask “what has happened to you?” Reduce the blame and shame that some people feel. Build understanding of how the past impacts the present and help you progress
toward healing and recovery

The original link used for the information above was:

WI Dept. of Health Services. (2012). Wisconsin State Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)
Educational and Media Campaign. Retrieved 7-15-12 from
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mh_bcmh/tic/index.htm 

A current link for more information about Trauma-Informed Care is https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/resilient/trauma-informed-practices.htm

You will probably also learn that your behaviors are not so different than many other people who we interacted with as we developed the worksheet.

The coping plan worksheet is available here >>>

Find successful ways to cope

My goal is to help people who are struggling with anxiety, anger, depression, addiction, or other behavior problems to cope better.  There are lots of ideas on the worksheet!

Share your coping plan with people around you

Allow  family, friends, and community be able to help you more.   Things usually seem easier when they are discussed ahead of time and they know what to expect.  Stronger relationships can happen with better coping.

Hopefully,  life’s path will look brighter as you feel more prepared and in control.  I hope this information is helpful to you!

 

Blog Post # 20  written 6-25-20 by Mary Knutson

The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music Therapy in Recovery

Woman expressing herself through painting

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Music and art therapy  can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling. Art therapy is used in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings for recovery. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatments have success with music and art therapy.

Self-expression

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Creative communication can help people in recovery process their thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions. And,  they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.

Art benefits for recovery

People often deny the need for help and may resist treatment.  Art therapy can help overcome this because art therapy can motivate people. They may want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, gain more self-confidence, and improve communication skills. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and anger or rage issues. Those emotional responses often produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Music as therapy

Listening to and playing music creates a certain response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more likely to seek treatment, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Also, music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness. Then, people can cope better with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions.

When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages. And then, the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.

Self-discovery

Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings. They also help you learn to accept yourself, and decrease feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, collages, or other artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of your emotions, both positive and negative.

Art in recovery

For the best results, continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is done.  As they help to relieve stress, they can help you cope with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again.

At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle. It’s important to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Suggested links:  https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music/
or https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

How to Explain Addiction to Children

Little girl child with concerned expression

Protecting and Educating Kids About the Dangers of Drugs

Parents want their children to be unaffected by addiction issues. So, addiction may not be a hot topic within your family. However, at some point, all children will probably face peer pressure or witness someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder. As your child grows, you can help her understand and develop skills that prevent her from going down the path of addiction.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume that your child knows about addiction and related issues. According to kidshealth.org, opening up to your child about the dangers of substance abuse makes it more likely she’ll come to you for help when she faces a problem or encounters peer pressure.

Don’t assume your child already knows the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse, or that she could never fall victim. Though schools may teach students about dealing with peer pressure, it’s up to you to guide her in the right direction. You can do so by modeling behavior and keeping the lines of communication open. It’s also essential to understand the signs of addiction and substance use, and to watch your children closely for changes.

Discuss Family Addiction Problems Openly

If you or your partner is facing an addiction, start a conversation that validates your child’s feelings. Let her know she will always be loved and discuss what steps are being taken for recovery. Customize your discussion for her age group. If a child does not understand what addiction is, you could say that strong cravings can happen over and over throughout the day and night. It is very hard to resist the urge to do what it says. You could compare it to having an annoying song in your head that keeps coming back over and over again.

Acquire Knowledge

 Because it’s not easy to explain addiction to a child, your best bet is to acquire as much information as you can. Be ready to answer any awkward questions that could come up. According to Psych Central, while it’s not a good idea to lie to your child, you may want to be careful to protect young children from the grittier details.

Be as straightforward as possible if your child has questions. If she asks about your own experience with drugs or other addictions, it is best to tell the truth. Real stories can help her learn about consequences. Telling the truth about your imperfections  also establishes a safety net so your child is more likely to talk to you about her struggles.  By sharing information with your child you also reassure her that in life we have choices. Some of her choices could lead to problems, but making the right decisions will likely lead down a healthier path.

Tell Your Child That It’s Not Her Fault

Personality disorders often develop in people with an addiction, spurring them to say irrational things or lash out and blame others. Although addiction is no one’s fault, the addicted person is still responsible for their own behavior, and is the only person who can make recovery successful.  If an addict tells a child that she is the cause of the substance abuse, it is not true and it probably isn’t even how the addict really feels. Help your child understand that she shouldn’t carry a burden of guilt when loving someone with an addiction.

Find support

A support system is crucial in maintaining a sense of normalcy and stability in families. This may include a support group, friends, family and an accountability partner. Parents often face high levels of stress and need to make tough choices that will mold their child’s life. Parents need to seek support for themselves as well as for their children.

Addiction can affect everyone involved, especially a child who doesn’t fully grasp the concept of addiction. Offer support and protection to your child, repeating the fact that you love her. By talking openly about addiction, you can help her to grow up with the knowledge and confidence to just say no.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  February 20, 2018.

Revised for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

3 Stress Relievers for Parents in Addiction Recovery

old shoes made into a flower planter

Being a parent is far from easy. Especially if you are a single parent who also is in addiction recovery. Parents are balancing meetings and therapy sessions with kids’ schedules and routines. They are making all the decisions and being the breadwinner, You face loads of stress each and every day.

Stress in Addiction Recovery

Stress takes its toll on parents in addiction recovery. You need to find ways to relieve your stress in healthy ways to avoid a relapse. Our X stress relievers will help.

Stick to a Daily Routine

While it may sound impossible to establish and stick to a daily routine, you need to make every effort to do so. A routine will help you keep track of where you need to be and when, and it will set a structured schedule for your children. Schedules and routines make children feel safe and secure. And, they help you relieve stress by knowing your responsibilities ahead of time. Daily routines also signify to your kids that you are reliable and accountable. This helps repair relationships with older children who may have been hurt emotionally by your addiction.

That’s not to say that your daily routine has to be rigid. You must allow for some flexibility because rigid schedules can be too demanding and often cause more stress. Kids also enjoy surprises every once in awhile. So, allow for special events on the weekend. Plan a special treat after dinner to reward academic or behavior improvements. Be ready to change your daily routine at certain times throughout the year. Expect change when school begins or ends, when kids start athletic or music lessons or programs, or when you join a support group.

Take Care of Yourself

Parents in addiction recovery often don’t prioritize their own health and well-being because they feel guilty for being an addict. They know they impacted their children with their previous self-destructive decisions and actions. However, stress takes a tremendous toll, especially on single parents’ health and must be managed if parents will be able to take care of their children properly.

Taking care of yourself should include eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You can include your children in healthy eating by looking for and experimenting with recipes you find online. Cooking together teaches your children a new skill and provides you with quality time that will reduce your stress level. You also can exercise with your children. You could play football, baseball, or basketball, go for a family walk or bike ride. Try taking a hike, kayaking or fishing.

Enjoy Yourself Safely

Being a parent in addiction recovery does not mean that you cannot enjoy a night with friends or a social gathering. It is a good idea to relieve some stress and have some fun. It does, however, mean that you need to be smart about your choices and have a plan in place for maintaining your sobriety in tempting situations. If you are invited to a party that will put your sobriety at risk, take your own water or sparkling cider with you. Invite a friend who will keep you in check and who will not mind staying sober for the night with you. If you are concerned about being pressured to drink, tell people that you are a designated driver or that you don’t drink because you need to be available for your children.

It’s also a good idea to plan for a party or other tempting social situation by getting support ahead of time. If you are comfortable enough to do so, tell the party host that you are in recovery and ask whether nonalcoholic beverages will be served. You also can attend an extra meeting prior to the event or alert your sponsor to the event and make sure she will be available if you need her at the spur of the moment.

Parents in addiction recovery must manage their stress levels in healthy ways to maintain sobriety. Sticking to a daily routine, prioritizing self-care, and enjoying yourself safely are three great ways to relieve stress without putting your sobriety in jeopardy.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  8-5-17

Updated for readability by Mary Knutson 5-25-20

Resources for Recovery

Recovery Resources:

Many of the recovery resources were written while working with psychiatric patients. However, they were made to be helpful for recovery from other kinds of illness, or for general wellness or well-being.

Many presentations and learning activities are shared in Health Vista’s resources for recovery.  They are organized under the seven elements of recovery, the same framework used for Recovery Education lessons.

Elements of Recovery:

  • Hope
  • Security
  • Support/Managing Symptoms
  • Empowerment
  • Relationships
  • Coping
  • Finding Meaning

Find resources for recovery from Health Vista

When I was working in Inpatient Behavioral Health, I started developing and writing simple but engaging and effective patient education and learning activities.

Through the years, I also collected a wide variety of free resources for recovery include Powerpoints and many other links for health education and motivation. I wanted to make them available for others to use. Although not all of the Recovery Education lessons are posted online, many of them are.  More may be added in the future, so check back often. Here are some examples:

You can find the Hopelessness to Hope Lesson handout here.

Click to see the Finding Hope Pathfinder. That recovery lesson was made into a video YouTube to help you toward the first step to recovery.  You can also use the Positive Words Discussion Guide.

Finding Hope Pathfinder narrated video

Click the title to watch  Finding Your Way to Recovery

Recovery Workbooks:

I wrote many simple, clear, and short workbooks to share. I have donated some to community groups, but the cost of printing is too high to make them all free.  The workbooks have a cost, but they are on the healthvista.net website. Topics include Managing Pain,  Managing Long-term Pain, Managing Depression,  Managing Anger, Managing Addiction, Managing Illness, Managing Mental Illness, and Coping with Trauma.

Contact me by e-mail if you want to ask if some prices can be changed.  The following coping workbook is available free of charge:

Your Recovery Workbook: Coping and Relaxation  [.pdf] can be downloaded free and printed out. 

As you will see, my website contains many free, but very valuable resources,  Please browse and explore the lessons, handouts, learning activities, and links at https://healthvista.net/health-resources/recovery-resources/

I suggest that you start by Exploring Mindfulness . Then, begin  Taking Recovery Steps:

  • Ups and downs are to be expected – It is best to handle them as calmly as possible, using help and support to get back on track
  • Take small steps – You will get to where you are going (no matter how long it takes) if you go in the right direction
  • You feel more in control when you take the recovery steps at your own pace
  • In life, there is always hope, but sometimes you have to change what you are hoping for.
  • Be open to learning and change as you start your recovery journey

“I am not interested in the past. I am interested in the future, for that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”  – Charles F. Kettering

Updated 5-27-20 by Mary Knutson