(submitted by a wife and mother)

When Life Throws A Curve Ball???

Why are we always faced with some really tough decisions in life?  Life threw me a curve ball back in April and I had to re-evaluate what is really important for me and my well being.  My husband and I separated and I had to make some pretty fast financial decisions.

I parked the truck, started taking transit and decided to start seriously looking for a job in Oshawa where I live.  I had been travelling to Pickering and back at least 3-4 days per week, often times working into the evenings and not getting home until 9:00 p.m.  My travel took 4 hours in a day, what a waste of time!!!!  I applied for a job with excellent hours in Oshawa and I got the job. I was so very excited.  I would miss my co-workers in Pickering but I am so happy to be working near my home.

When I get stressed, I want to keep my mind occupied but I was getting a little too carried away.  I had five jobs (3 at-home dicta-typing jobs) and I also wanted to sing on the weekends.  I had to put a stop to some of these chaotic behaviours because I knew if I wore myself too thin, I would end up getting sick.  What good would that be?  I now realize how hard it was for my spouse because when would we actually get to see each other and have quality time together?  Most of the time, I was too tired to do anything, I just wanted to sleep on my off hours!!   We hardly communicated because we were like two ships passing in the night.

The past few months have allowed me to reflect on what is really important – my family.  My husband is in an addiction rehab residence and he is doing well.  Oh, it WON’T be easy, trust me, I know this!!!  I also know that we are married and my spouse has an illness – actually two of them –  which both affect his mood negatively.  It takes two to make a marriage work and we both have to work at it. For now, because of our poor decisions months back, we are working at it from a distance.

My goal is to be healthy and happy, that is all I want out of life.

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For more information on “How to Communicate Effectively with your Spouse” and also “How to Manage Stress”, please contact one of our counsellors today

Photo credit: cbcs from morguefile.com

Photo credit: Mrooczek262 from morguefile.com

I am sitting in a make-shift auditorium and am choking back tears. Although I have sat through similar ceremonies numerous times, they invariably move me this way. 8 men and 3 women sit proudly at the front of the room – two of them with their young children on their laps. 3 short weeks ago these 11 souls ran, walked or crawled into this inpatient treatment program – most of them dishevelled, beaten down and/or spiritually wounded. This morning they are graduating from what is commonly referred to as ‘Rehab’. It is a symbolic graduation of course, but the pride, renewed hope and healthy fear in each of their voices as they speak is palpable and incredibly moving as is their clear connection to one another. They are a victorious troop – forever connected by their mutual struggle.

There are many misconceptions about what ‘Rehab’ actually is. Many people think of it as a mysterious place where celebrities go when they hit ‘rock bottom’. The idea of ‘Rehab’ is more of an American term and here in Southern Ontario, similar treatment programs are referred to as Inpatient Addiction programs or Residential treatment programs. While the dramatic depictions of ‘Rehab’ in American television and movies involve a good deal of confrontation and ‘drama’ between counsellors and those in the facility, the clinical approach in the vast majority of inpatient programs in Southern Ontario more client-centred, respecting the importance of building a supportive relationship between addiction counsellors and the people they work with. Most programs are 21-days long and most of them are covered by OHIP. Although most programs support either long-term abstinence or moderate use goals, people attending inpatient programs are typically required to abstain while in the program as well as for at least a week prior to entering (so they are not going through intense withdrawal symptoms while in the program).

Most inpatient programs are designed in a way that requires the people in the program to be very busy for much of the day. Some of the day will usually be spent in ‘psycho-education’ groups, which focus on teaching about concepts relevant to overcoming addiction. There are often daily group therapy sessions, physical activity based sessions and art or music therapy sessions as well. People in the program will often have a counsellor assigned to them to help them to successfully navigate personal challenges they are encountering while in the program and to start to make plans for the important changes they will make in their lives after they leave the program.


 Photo credit: mensatic from morguefile.com

Inpatient programs have been primarily designed to help provide a type of jump-start or model for the type of healthy lifestyle which is most likely to allow graduates to maintain their treatment goals. The days are very structured – people eat regular meals and develop regular sleep routines, they engage in regular physical activity, spend most of their time engaging in positive social interactions and try to develop practices which help them to manage their emotions in less destructive ways. These lifestyle-related habits have been well researched and the evidence shows they lead to positive treatment outcomes. This is why these strategies are the focus of most treatment programs, including outpatient follow-up therapy.

The biggest change I usually observed in people after they have completed a 21-day inpatient program was in their ability to have faith in people again – including themselves. While most people seemed to come in with their guard up and their head down, the vast majority of graduates left the program more open to others and with more faith in themselves. I have often said to both my colleagues and graduates of 21-day programs that if we were all required to complete a 21-day inpatient program every few years – addiction issues or not – we would all be more grounded people and our society would probably be a much happier and healthier place.

If you are interested in exploring options for addressing addictive behaviours, either in your own or a loved one’s life, please contact us today.

 

 

Addiction Recovery: Hope May Be A Bit Blurry At First

Entering an inpatient addiction recovery program can be seen as the most difficult step and a very challenging experience in the life of those struggling with addictive behaviour. The full exposure of the person’s history is to be revealed and, depending on the specific program, exposure can be up to fifteen hours daily (most programs average 20 to 45 days). One requires an acknowledgment of and a “breaking down” of the old negative patterns in order to make room for new strengths and healthier behaviours.

Once deconstruction of the old ways occurs, the person recovering now has room to develop a new perspective, receive new tools for coping and to develop realistic and achievable goals. As the more positive outlook develops and an optimistic narrative unfolds, people in rehabilitation can begin the process of rebuilding relationship patterns with loved ones. Life changes need to be made, both during and after recovery, with the person in treatment co-writing the “how to” and positive choices ahead.

Following the short-term treatment program, however, it is a whole new ball game. While residential rehab may be quite intense, “aftercare” can prove to be even more taxing than the relatively brief inpatient process. One explanation is the significant decrease in support outside of the treatment facility. Twenty-four hour support is not possible like it was in recovery. In times of need and temptation, it is easier to feel alone and uncertain. It is very important to put an aftercare support system in place, prior to exiting, with many programs encouraging this to be developed from the very day of admission.

Here are some tips that can help people successfully transition back into the community:

  • Get a sponsor / accountability person
  • Seek a professional, experienced addictions counsellor.
  • Reach out to support groups (AA or SA have meetings every day of the week).
  • Take care of yourself and attend to your feelings and practical needs (food, sleep, work etc.)
  • Rediscover your inner child. You’ll be surprised by the peace and joy that can be experienced by simple, basic playful activities.
  • Work on your relationships.
  • Include  one or two loved ones in your recovery process
  • Have personal conversations about your addiction (e.g. mutually share each other’s thoughts, feelings, the impact of your addiction and hopes and goals)

Life after recovery programs can be quite challenging; Prepare for it in advance. Seek out and rely on the resources available to bolster the effectiveness of your success. Call us today so we can help you with this life transition.