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Helping the Body and Mind Recover from a Chemical Dependency

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If you or a loved one is chemically dependent, the first step to recovery is accepting that there is a problem and making the decision to get help. From there, the journey has just begun. Being addicted to a substance affects the body and the mind, and in order to fully recover, you'll have to address all of the physical, behavioral, and mental patterns that have developed over the course of your addiction.

Given that taking the first step is always the hardest, once you decide to seek help there is hope; success can be achieved through determination. When you restore your physical and mental self, you will get more of your life back, chemical–free. Read on for information on how you or a loved one can make a full recovery.

Treating the Body Right

When quitting a substance, it will take time for the body to adjust back to life without the substance. Your doctor will know if you should have medical help while quitting the drug, or if it is safe to quit “cold turkey” without any medical assistance.

Exercise can be a valuable part of recovery. Engaging in exercise helps to release stress and also to strengthen and return your body back to health. Endorphins are released through exercise; these natural chemicals generate positive feelings that can further assist your recovery. When you begin an exercise routine, start small and build up from there. Be careful not to overwork your body limits; use exercise to release stress, not build up stress.

In addition to exercise, good nutrition is important. Make sure you have plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. Work to remove processed foods, additives, refined sugar, caffeine, and high–fat foods. Note that sugar and caffeine can actually increase cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Eating right and exercising will help you sleep better during this difficult time. Make sure you take time to rest, as it will be an essential part of your recovery.

Healing the Mind

Oftentimes, chemical dependency develops as a means to cover or numb the emotional pain one is feeling. When the substance is no longer part of their unhealthy coping mechanisms, people may feel the emotions they have masked for the first time. This is when the person has to put their energy towards learning healthy coping skills to work through and manage the emotional pain. Below are some activities that can help restore the mind to a healthy state:
Write down situations or people in your life that trigger you to take the substance. Avoid them the best you can.

Seek out a therapist who specializes in addiction and recovery.

Surround yourself with people who respect and support your sobriety.

Develop a routine of meditation, visualization, or other relaxation techniques.

Meet and communicate with others at a 12–step program. The phone book or your employee assistance program can help you find groups in your area that can support you on your journey.

Written by Life Advantages – Author Delvina Miremadi ©2012

September is Self Improvement Month: Develop Yourself

Think of yourself as a total person. Don't neglect other needs just because your companionship or friendship needs are not being met.

Make sure you follow habits of good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Don't let academics, hobbies, and other interests slide.

Use your alone time to get to know yourself. Think of it as an opportunity to develop independence and to learn to take care of your own emotional needs. You can grow in important ways during time alone.

Use your alone time to enjoy yourself rather than just existing until you will be with others. Avoid merely vegetating – deal with your situation actively. Recognize that there are many creative and enjoyable ways to use your alone time.

Whenever possible, use what you have enjoyed in the past to help you decide how to enjoy your alone time now.

Keep things in your environment (such as books, puzzles or music) that you can use to enjoy in your alone time.

Explore the possibility of doing things alone that you usually do with other people (like going to the movies).

Don't decide ahead of time how you're going to feel about an activity. Keep an open mind.

In summary don't define yourself as a lonely person. No matter how bad you feel, loneliness will diminish or even disappear when you focus attention and energy on needs you can currently meet and when you learn to develop new ways to meet your other needs. Don't wait for your feelings to get you going. Get going and good feelings will eventually catch up with you.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ©2012

How to Use Your EAP

When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320 . The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.

Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.

At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.