healing the feeling by feeling the healing

Thursday, April 23, 2015


It’s often difficult to make friends in recovery, but it’s an important part of remaining sober long-term. Use these tips to help make long-lasting friendships in addiction recovery.
Humans are social beings. Instinctively, we strive to connect with other people and require this connection and support to function optimally in the world. But many of us struggle to form these connections and make close friends, especially as adults.

Add recently completing addiction treatment and being newly sober to the mix - and making new friends can seem impossibly overwhelming. However, addiction recovery lends itself well to forming healthy new friendships — it just takes time and effort.
The Importance of Friendship in Addiction Recovery :  Forming friendships, especially sober friends, is essential in addiction recovery. Without friends life becomes lonely, and loneliness can trigger relapse. Thus, those in recovery should proactively avoid becoming lonely. Old friends who are still using will be inappropriate, and although difficult, breaking ties with former friends is necessary for your lasting sobriety. This leaves many people in early addiction recovery with few friends and the need to make new ones. Friendships buffer against loneliness, but also provide different types of physical and emotional support as well as supportive feedback and advice — something we all need.
Making Friends in Addiction Recovery: To make new friends, first we must overcome the common roadblocks that keep us from reaching out.
Naturally, we fear rejection. People suffering from drug addiction often experience low self-esteem, which continues into addiction recovery. This lack of confidence can magnify fears of rejection. But the truth is, we all fear rejection. Remembering that the people around you fear rejection just as much as you do can help you overcome this fear.
Making new friends also requires vulnerability. In early addiction recovery people can feel particularly vulnerable as they enter a world that is different and strange to them as a newly sober person. The following tips on how to make friends can help reduce feelings of vulnerability and increase your confidence when it comes to making friends in recovery.

Where to Meet New People :

Meetings: Recovery fellowships are one of the first and most common places that recovering addicts meet new people who are like-minded. You may have to attend a few groups before you find one that feels right for you, but do not give up! Once you do find a “home group” the consistency is very valuable in forming friendships.
Classes/clubs: Early addiction recovery is all about discovering new interests. Taking a class or joining a club can help you discover and foster new interests, plus meet new people.
Community events: Attend events in your community, such as an art reception, community fair, or even the opening show of a new movie. Volunteering in your community is also a great place to meet new people.
Take a walk: If you have children or pets take them out too — meeting fellow dog lovers or other people with kids in your neighbourhood can be a great way to spark a new friendship.
Go online: The internet is a useful tool to meet people with similar interests and values as you. There are many websites, apps, and online communities designed to put you in touch with people near you, as well as recovery-specific online communities.
Work: Note what you have in common with a colleague and use this as a basis for getting to know each other better. Do you both read books? Like shopping? Want to work out more or already belong to the gym? Watch the same television shows? Suggest getting together sometime outside of work to share your interests.

Remember that not everyone you meet will understand your sober lifestyle. It is up to you whether or not to share your addiction recovery with new acquaintances — but as you meet new people be prepared to turn down offers to meet up for drinks, or attend parties that could put you at risk for relapse – even if they seem like a great place to spark up conversations with new people.
Tips for Starting Conversations : Putting yourself in situations where you can meet new people is only the first step to making new friends. If you go to meetings or community events, but never speak to anyone new, friendships won't come easily. Here are some tips to break the ice when you're trying to make new friends:
Comment on the surroundings or occasion: You always have the space you are sharing in common with others who are there. Make positive comments about the scenery, food, or entertainment to get a conversation started.
Ask open-ended questions: Open-ended questions are those that require more than a yes or no answer. Asking someone “What do you like to do?” can be a much more effective conversation starter than “Do you like reading?
Offer genuine compliments: Compliment people on what you like or admire about them. For example “You seem so confident when you speak, I'd really like to get better at that,” or “I really like your scarf, can I ask where you got it?” These comments offer the opportunity to engage in conversation, as well as make the other person more confident in themselves – and more likely to respond positively.
Note what you have in common: This requires paying attention to other people's interests, then asking follow up questions. “I heard you say you like hiking, where do you usually go?
Learn to listen: Part of being a good friend is being a good listener. Practice focusing your attention on what others are saying rather than thinking about what you will say next.
We are accustomed to fear silence in conversation, but silences are natural. Learn to use silences to your advantage and think about what you are saying before you speak — generally people will appreciate a thoughtful statement or question even after an awkward silence.
Moving from Acquaintance to Friendship:  Forming close, long-lasting friendships takes time. Perhaps you enjoy the company of your colleagues or recovery group, but haven't been able to form what you deem a true and close friendship.  Consistency is key when it comes to forming new friendships. Groups and classes are great because this consistency is built in. The next step is extending your relationships outside the “container” of meetings, work, or classes. Accept offers to meet up after group, and ask others to do the same.
Lastly, practice forgiveness and be aware of how your expectations affect your ability to form close friendships. No one is perfect; being able to forgive yourself and others is imperative to forming close friendships. This does not mean accepting disrespectful behaviour, but rather recognizing differences and keeping realistic expectations of others.  
Many find friendships in addiction recovery to be some of the most fulfilling and supportive they have had. With time, effort and a little courage, you can and will form new friendships.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Friday, April 10, 2015


Overspending and poor money management can lead to stress, and stress can lead to addiction relapse. Learn to manage your money wisely for a better chance at long-term recovery.

Addiction affects all aspects of life. Once you get sober and enter recovery, a lot of time is spent repairing the damage addiction has caused and learning how to live without drugs or alcohol, often for the first time. In recovery you learn how to change your thinking, improve your mood, engage in healthy habits, form healthy relationships, and take control of your life. Amidst all of this self-improvement it can be easy to overlook the importance of regaining practical life skills that contribute to a more balanced life — such as learning how to control your finances.
Addiction and Money : Drug addicts, alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and those who suffer from any other addiction are notoriously bad with money. The addicted brain's motto is “I want what I want, and I want it now.” Often, addicts end up spending any cash that comes their way on feeding their addiction — sometimes to the point of serious financial distress, debt, and homelessness.
There is no reason to believe that once in recovery you will magically have money management skills that were seriously lacking at the peak of your drug addiction. No matter how good or bad you were at managing money before entering recovery, getting sober will change your financial situation – and you will need to change how you handle it.
Anyone recovering from addiction can benefit from learning about financial management, as well as the often-overlooked fact that money can be a relapse trigger.
Money as a Relapse Trigger:  One reason financial management skills are so important for recovering addicts is that money is one of the most common, but least talked about relapse triggers. When you manage money poorly it causes debt and stress - stress that can lead to relapse. Even if you are no longer spending money on your addiction, without proper skills to manage money, addicts often continue spending money recklessly. Having more money as a result of becoming sober can also be a trigger for relapse in itself. Having money can instill a false sense of security, create the urge to celebrate, and trigger thoughts of being able to afford your drug of choice.
For those in recovery, learning about financial management is just as much about relapse prevention as it is about reaping the benefits of being able to pay off debts, stress less, and save money.
How to Manage Money in Recovery : Taking responsibility for your financial situation is overwhelming. Shame and guilt about past irresponsibility can leave you feeling helpless as to where to start. First, you should have a plan for how you will deal with any emotions that come up as you start to look realistically at your finances. Ask someone you trust to help you as you begin to make a plan for managing money. Then, continue with the following:  Start a budget and track your spending. Learning the basics of budgeting, tracking, and saving is a good place to start - especially if managing money is something you have always struggled with. A budget is simply a record of the money you have coming in vs. your expenses. There are many online budgeting tools and resources available to help you get started.

Keeping a spending diary is a great way to see where your money goes and areas you can improve your spending habits. Write down every purchase and expense for at least a month. You may be surprised at how much money you actually spend on non-necessities such as coffee, gum or any impulse buys.

Separate needs and wants.The addicted brain is accustomed to instant gratification. Even when you stop spending money on your addiction, it will take more work for you to change your spending habits that are influenced by a desire for instant gratification.
In order to manage money well, you have to separate your wants from your needs. For example, you need to eat and you need the companionship of friends. You may want to go with a friend to a nice restaurant – but save some money and cook together at home instead.

Make a savings goal. Whether or not you lost a lot of money during the peak of your addiction, the fact is that addiction is expensive and now you will be able to save more. Paying off past debts and managing money so you live within your means is important, as is learning how to save.
Make a specific savings goal. If you know what you are saving for you will be less likely to spend extra money recklessly. Maybe you want to take a weekend vacation or make a larger purchase without going into debt. Write these goals down and remind yourself every day why you are trying to save money.
Avoid having and using an ATM or credit card. Even though debit and credit cards are common forms of payment, they are not for everyone! Especially in early recovery or if money is a strong trigger for you, it may be wise to limit your access to money. Having to physically withdraw money from the bank can be enough to make you think twice about it. You may even talk with your banker about setting up restrictions on your accounts, or consider storing money with a trusted parent or spouse.
Use available resources.There a many resources available to you to help with budgeting, banking, and saving. Just like anything in recovery, you do not have to manage your finances alone. Ask for support from people in your family, community, and support groups — you are not the only one who has struggled with or wanted to improve financial management skills.
Reap the Benefits of Good Financial Management   Getting a handle on your money is not just good for your bank account. When you have your budget under control, start to pay off debts and live within your means, it prevents stress from building up and is great for your journey to long-term recovery.
Always be aware of signs of relapse. Lingering shame and guilt, feeling overwhelmed, and spending money compulsively on shopping or gambling are all warning signs that you might be headed for relapse and should seek extra support.

(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)