Art Heals

Have you ever felt that there just weren’t words to describe how you’re feeling? No matter how hard you try, you just can’t verbally express what you’re experiencing? In recovery, it can be difficult to share personal stories, to navigate the intense emotions that block effective communication. So, what can you do? Try art therapy!

You know firsthand that illness and addiction are associated with intense emotions. And recovery from them dredges up even more! Art can provide a refuge from these feelings. Tactile activities like painting, sculpting, or drawing are effective in revealing material hidden in the unconscious, promoting outward expression and cathartic release. Art lets you use your imagination and creativity in a positive and productive way. The variety of mediums available expands your ability to articulate your experiences and emotions nonverbally, giving you an additional language for exploring, understanding, expressing, and resolving the issues in your life that caused your need for escape through substance use.

There are several ways to introduce art into your life. Want something quiet and soothing? Try painting. Whether it’s acrylic, oils, or watercolor, painting is a calming activity that allows you to leave your emotions on the canvas. Painting has been proven to reduce anxiety, foster selfawareness, and raise self-esteem, so why not give it a try! Don’t mind getting a little messy? Give sculpting a go. Carve out your thoughts and emotions in clay and bring shape to the problems you’re facing. If all you have at hand is a pen and paper, try drawing – one of the earliest forms of artistic expression. Remember how excited you would get as a child with a fresh box of crayons? Grab some and let loose! If you don’t think you can draw, start with a mandala; start with one central shape and add peripherally to it in layers and soon you’ll have a beautiful work of art made through a reflective and creative process. The best part about art is that you can do it from anywhere. And the methods of art therapy are limitless: you can paint, sculpt, draw, collage, scribble, write, carve, doodle… the limit is your imagination. Just grant yourself permission to try! Adult coloring books may be a good place to start if you REALLY feel that you don’t have an artistic bone in your body; experiment with different colors as you fill in all the empty spaces and see what wonderful pictures you can create!

If you’re open to it, recovery and art therapy can go hand-in-hand. As an introspective process, art therapy allows you to start a deeper conversation with yourself that allows you to explore aspects of your life that words and traditional therapy don’t. It provides an opportunity to work through the emotions, experiences, and issues that contributed to developing an addiction while offering you a safe means of sharing with others. Art therapy also facilitates and strengthens the mind-body interaction, bringing awareness and greater connectivity to the self. Unlike other activities, there are few rules in art therapy. The goal is simply to create and the project is entirely your own, from start to finish. At the very least, art therapy offers a refreshing change from sitting on a couch rehashing the past, a break from hearing, “and how does that make you feel?”

Creativity is an antidote to stress. Using art in times of anxiety can help you fight against the urge to use again, proving an invaluable tool against relapse. Art therapy allows you to go beyond the limits of language, to explore yourself in new ways, and to give tangible form to psychological distress. Use art to give voice to your painful thoughts and feelings and you will find relief from the difficult emotions that seek to derail your recovery. Just the process of creating can calm your mood, releasing dopamine (the “happy” neurotransmitter) in the brain. Finding nondestructive ways of experiencing pleasure that don’t harm your mind or body is vital to recovery, and art is a surefire way to get you there!

Just like recovery, art can be unpredictable and chaotic. But also like recovery, art can be rewarding and meaningful. So, go ahead. Roll up your sleeves and get messy!

How To Boost Your Self-Esteem In Early Recovery

Feeling like your self-esteem is shot? Facing a lot of negative self-talk that’s bringing you down? It’s important not to beat yourself up over every little mistake, particularly in early recovery when you’re bound to slip up. When you have low self-esteem, you may become depressed, enter into abusive relationships, or fail to meet your potential. These are all risk factors that can lead to relapse, so it’s important to work on building self-esteem and self-respect in early recovery. A healthy self-esteem can protect you from being overwhelmed by shame and selfhatred, helping to keep you on the right track. Plus, it’s much easier to engage in positive activities when you feel good about yourself! So, how can you boost your self-esteem?

Challenge negative self-talk. Catch yourself when you say things like, “I’m a total failure,” or “I’m worthless.” Is this really accurate? Can you find evidence against these beliefs? Chances are, you can. Try using more balanced statements that acknowledge your shortcomings while leaving room for improvement. Isn’t “I made a mistake and I’m working on improving” much nicer to hear? Give yourself credit for trying rather than beating yourself up if you haven’t achieved a certain goal. Acknowledge what you have accomplished and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Spend time with yourself. Try meditation or mindfulness to bring awareness to your body and to get in touch with who you really are. Engage in self-care. Show yourself you are worthy of your own love and take care of your body in kind, gentle ways. Exercise daily, eat healthily, get plenty of sleep; you owe your mind and body rest and rejuvenation. And fun! Get a manicure, take a nap, buy new clothes, go on a hike. Do something purely for the sake of enjoyment!

Stop with the comparisons. Don’t judge yourself based on standards you see in others. You’ll only make yourself feel worse! You never know what those “better” people are struggling with, or how their experience differs from your own. Our journeys are all different; no two will look the same! Affirm yourself. Acknowledge the qualities you like about yourself on a daily basis to help boost your self-esteem. Finding positive attributes will help you feel more confident about yourself, which will carry into other areas of your life. Take time to reflect on things you do well and give acknowledgement to your accomplishments.

Practice self-acceptance. You’re going to make mistakes – and it’s okay! Messing up is part of being human. The point is to practice compassion for yourself in times of struggle and learn from where you went wrong. Try to see the good in every situation and realize that you’ve tried your best, even if the outcome is not what you anticipated. Forgive yourself. You’re not perfect. You make mistakes. There’s not one person in recovery who hasn’t. Learn to let go of perceived failings and instead focus on the possibilities ahead of you. Acknowledge mistakes you’ve made, make amends, and move forward. Just take it one day at a time!

Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are unrealistic or unattainable. Break your goals down into manageable chunks and go after them one by one. Congratulate yourself whenever you do meet a goal and acknowledge how far you’ve come.

Focus on the positive. Take inventory of your skills and strengths, especially the ones that have helped you to overcome challenges. Focus on what’s going well in your life – friends, family, school, work – look at where you are today versus where you were in your addiction. Remember, it’s all relative!

Surround yourself with positive people. Choose friends who lift you up instead of dragging you down, who are as enthusiastic about your recovery as you are. Tackling challenges is so much easier when you have a support system in place that believes in you! Let their optimism rub off on you and watch your self-esteem soar.

Self-esteem won’t emerge overnight. It’s going to take a commitment to yourself and recovery to rebuild a strong sense of self. You’re working hard to achieve your goals in sobriety – giving acknowledgement to your efforts can help boost your self-esteem. Some days will be better than others – love yourself regardless. Remember, self-esteem comes from within. You own how you live your life. Be proactive about building self-confidence. Make improving your self-esteem a top priority. Your recovery will thank you!

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Dopamine and Exercise: Beat Addiction By Getting Fit

How Can Activities Such as Yoga and Meditation Serve as Alternatives to Drug Use?

Exercise is typically not what comes to mind when people think about ways to beat addiction. However, exercise can actually help people reboot brain dopamine. There are several ways that exercise can help people fight off addiction.

 

There is a Direct Link Between Dopamine and Exercise

Drugs and alcohol disrupt dopamine production. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the pleasure and reward system. Exercise helps increase the production of dopamine. It produces what people refer to as the runner’s high. The runner’s high is a feeling of deep euphoria. You can experience this feeling regardless of the type of exercise that you do.

This high is not as intense as the one would experience from drugs and alcohol. However, the effects of it are mentally and physically pleasurable. Furthermore, exercise can increase endorphin production. This is another chemical that can also help ease pain and help people feel happy and calm. Exercise is a great way to prevent relapse.

 

A Healthier Craving

Not only does exercise help reboot brain dopamine, but it also helps you develop a craving for something healthy. People like the way that they feel when they exercise, which is why they keep doing it. Studies have shown that exercise can actually help people overcome drug cravings.

 

Improve Mental Health

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol because they want to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, substance abuse worsens these problems. Studies have shown that exercise has anti-depressive effects. It can also alleviate physical and emotional stress. Additionally, exercise can help promote restful sleep. Simply put, exercise is good for mental health.

 

Restore Brain Damage Caused by Addiction

Not only is there a direct link between dopamine and exercise, but exercise can also reverse some of the damage that is caused by a drug addiction. Exercising can restore brain damage. It increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps heal the damage.

 

Ways Different Exercises can Affect the Body Differently

Many people who are overcoming addiction are asking “How can activities such as yoga and meditation serve as alternatives to drug use?” Even though all exercise can help you beat addiction, it is important to remember that certain exercises will affect you differently.

 

Walking and Hiking

Taking a 15-minute outdoors can boost your dopamine levels. It can also help you fight off cravings.

 

Yoga

Many addiction treatment centers include yoga. Although yoga is less intense than other forms of exercise, it is still highly beneficial. Yoga sends your body into a state of meditation. It can also prevent relapse by reducing anxiety and stress.

 

Strength Training

Cardio exercise is often touted for its benefits, but strength training is just as important. Strength training can improve your body’s sleep cycle. Many people who are recovering from addiction suffer from insomnia.

 

Team Sports

Team sports, such as basketball and soccer, are a great way to work out and socialize at the same time. People will be able to develop long-lasting friendships. They can also build skills that help them integrate back into society.

 

RecoveryFit at Launch Centers

We recognize the benefits of exercise for those recovering from addiction. For this reason,  Launch Centers offers a revolutionary fitness program called RecoveryFit.

RecoveryFit is a group fitness and wellness program designed to address the unique needs of substance abuse, mental health, and dual diagnosis clients.

We specialize in treating addiction in young people (ages 18-35) by prioritizing education and skill development in addition to therapy. Contact Launch Centers today to find out how we can help you or a loved overcome addiction and develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.

How to Forgive Yourself? Letting Go of Guilt and Shame in Recovery

Breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be one of the hardest battles you’ll ever face. It’s a life-long journey that involves a daily commitment to staying clean and being healthy. Addicts have often made so many mistakes to feed their addiction that a sudden realization brings on waves of guilt and shame. How many relationships were severed? How many people got burned? How many lies were told?

 

Guilt and Shame in Recovery

It’s hard to look back at your addiction years without feeling deep pangs of regret and intense shame. When you’re starting to sober up from drugs or alcohol, you’ll quickly realize that there is guilt and shame in recovery. The important thing is not to let this guilt or shame drive you back to your addictive behavior.

 

The Shame Cycle

When you’re a recovering addict, there is guilt for what you did and shame for not having made better decisions. Avoiding your past errors leads to more shame, which then becomes a vicious cycle where you feel hopeless, worthless, and even suicidal.

The first step to emerging from your shame cycle is to write down all the mistakes you believe you made and then figure out how you can learn from them. Be proactive in performing positive actions that will create positive feedback. The antidote to shame is pride. If you do things that will make you proud of who you are and how you behave, your pride will slowly chip away at your shame.

 

How To Forgive Yourself

You must learn how to forgive yourself to move on. If you don’t, you’ll beat yourself down to a pulp. You’ll never learn to heal, and you’ll never learn to rebuild your life. This doesn’t happen overnight. Learning how to forgive yourself can take years. But there are steps you can do to aid in the process.

  • Understand why you did what you did: Does your addiction to drugs stem from physical abuse or sexual abuse when you were a child? Is it PTSD? Can you identify the cause? The person who started abusing drugs or alcohol was in pain, and that person is you. You suffered too.
  • Take responsibility for your actions: You were hurt, and your addictive behavior hurt others. You may have never gotten an apology for the pain people caused you, but you can now apologize for the pain you have caused others. It’s time to break the cycle.

 

Letting Go of Guilt

It may be hard to believe but your act of feeling guilty is a healthy step forward. It means you acknowledge that you stepped over the line and broke your own code of ethics. Now that you are aware of how you transgressed, you can grow from your errors and gain some knowledge on how to become a better person. Letting go of guilt is a necessary step so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again and again. You err, you learn, you try again.

 

How To Get Over Guilt

Getting over guilt takes time. You need time to purge, you need time to articulate your addictive past, and you need time to analyze each stage. Write everything down or talk to someone close to you. The goal here is to get it out. Put your entire addict story out in the open and dissect it. Once you can scrutinize it and take it apart, you’ll be able to make better decisions on how to get over the guilt and how to take the appropriate steps towards healing.

 

Launch Centers Academic Outpatient

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults find a path that helps them gain the tools and coping skills to succeed. Our experienced treatment team works with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.

Community In Recovery: It Takes a Village

People have belonged to tribes since the early days of humanity. Being part of something larger than yourself gives you a sense of belonging, purpose, and inclusion. In addiction recovery, having a sense of community provides a lifeline. “It takes a village” is an enduring phrase for a reason. The phrase is typically used to describe raising children, but it also captures the essence of being human.

Alcoholics and drug addicts can’t rely on their willpower to quit abusing substances. In fact, they are in dire need of the love and support of their “village” in order to stay clean. Without communal support, addicts tend to dwell in isolation. This often leads to mental health disorders such as anger, depression, and an increased chance of relapse. A popular saying in Alcoholics Anonymous is “I can’t stay sober, but we can.” This captures the communal essence perfectly.

 

Finding Support in Recovery

In the early stages of recovery, it is advisable to avoid parties and social settings that have the presence of alcohol or drugs. It’s not uncommon for newly sober individuals to withdraw from people and places that increase the temptation to relapse.

Part of a successful recovery is learning to live in a healthy way while establishing meaningful relationships. The path of sobriety requires you to withdraw from unhealthy relationships. You will inevitably need to seek support and fellowship in safe circles. Community can be found and embraced in many settings – family, the workplace, school, church, etc.

The success of your recovery will be intertwined with your ability to seek the companionship of other sober people. Sober friends will likely provide valuable support and insight during vulnerable times.

 

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Recovery is so much more than quitting drugs or alcohol. Sobriety means creating a healthier lifestyle by stepping into growth, rather than defaulting to old patterns and unhealthy behaviors. New relationships must be established with supportive individuals. A sober relationship supports a sober lifestyle. By prioritizing the development of relationships grounded in healthy lifestyle choices you will ensure a successful recovery.

 

Find Joy in Sobriety

In the early stages of sobriety, it can be hard for drug addicts and alcoholics to picture enjoying a social life free of substance abuse. Socializing while sober can be unfamiliar and challenging to the person in recovery. With patience and practice, they will be well on their way to finding fulfillment in activities and relationships that support their recovery efforts. When you make an effort to prioritize healthy living, a deep connection is formed. This lays the foundation for living a more fulfilling life.

 

Give Back to Your Community

Giving back is an important aspect of community involvement. When a recovering addict is held accountable for their loved ones they are given a jolt of strength that aides them in their recovery efforts. Serving your community will help you develop a sense of purpose and belonging. When a recovering addict shares their journey of strength and hope with those around them it can provide inspiration to others. This is one of the most impactful ways a recovering addict can give back to their community and truly overcome adversity.

 

Launch Centers

Launch Centers is dedicated to helping young adults free themselves drug and alcohol addiction. We teach them to cope with the mental health disorders that lead to addiction and illuminate a path that helps them succeed in life. Our experienced team of addiction and mental health professionals work with each individual client to design a therapeutic, vocational, and educational curriculum to meet the client where they are at, to set new goals, and reach them.

We have a network of sober homes and top-tier outpatient treatment program that allows us to provide treatment to each individual based on where they are in their journey.

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Long Term Treatment Supports Long Term Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Yet time and again people seem to view treatment programs as a quick fix or even an immediate cure. However recovery from addiction is a process which involves time, therapeutic treatment, a community of support, and personal growth. It’s almost illogical to assume that someone can do drugs for years, spend 1 month in treatment, and suddenly be a whole new person. Long term treatment and recovery is an on-going process.

While most treatment facilities recommend at least several months of inpatient, followed by a period of sober living, outpatient care and continued 12-step programs, many people leave treatment early, irrevocably damaging their chances at lifelong recovery. Some studies have shown that one of the correlating factors to long term recovery is a community of support, which can’t be readily obtained in such a short time in treatment. While their are many possible reasons for this disturbing trend, the most likely one is that people are simply uncomfortable in treatment. But maybe that’s exactly what they need. After all, taking a hard, introspective look at yourself is rarely fun and never easy. Learning to live sober in a world where negative emotions had previously been dulled by narcotics or alcohol can be uncomfortable.

But the thing that most people don’t realize when they pack up and leave a facility after just a few short weeks is that those feelings of discomfort don’t disappear once you go. They are usually rooted in an addict’s own fears or resentments and the only way to alleviate that pain without relapse is to do the work of recovery. Additionally, addicts have to realize that they will never truly be “cured.” Treatment isn’t a magic pill that can cure you of your need for drugs or alcohol. What it can offer you are tools for living which will show you how to not just find peace, but happiness. Long Term treatment is the path to long to recovery. Start your journey today!

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How Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Family Involvement in Addiction Treatment

One of the most common arguments that an addict can give when asked why they keep using or drinking is, “I’m not hurting anyone.” They have this sense that if others would simply leave them to their own devices, they could get high in peace and nobody else would need to be bothered. Not only is this idea extremely selfish, it’s also just plain incorrect. As painful as it is to realize, nobody lives their lives in a vacuum. Whatever our intentions, our actions always have effects on others. In the case of addiction, drinking and getting high are only a piece of the problem. Most of the issues have to do with trust, communication, empathy, and many of the other interpersonal skills and emotions that we use everyday.

This is why addiction is so damaging to the entire family; it erodes away at the foundation when ever children lie to their parents. In treatment, we can’t simply treat the addict, we have to treat the entire family as an integrative unit. And those bonds of trust, once broken, can be hard to repair. One of the first steps in this process is for an addict in treatment to set up boundaries between their families. In most cases, the addict has been behaving destructively for months or even years. And the family member has had to fill a role as a protector and savior. If the family members are ever to trust the addicts again, they need to realize that they can’t always be there to save them and that they can handle their own problems.

Although the goal is to build greater trust between family members, setting up boundaries also helps addicts feel more independent and confident. Just as their addiction affected their family, in most cases the family also affected the addiction. Recovery isn’t just about abstinence; it is about finding the person that you want to be and striking out on your own.

Family therapy and support is an imperative key to the bigger picture of recovery.  While your loved one is in treatment you can attend the treatment centers Family Program and it is also highly recommended to attend Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is a support group specifically for family members of a loved one with an addiction. There are many chapters and locations throughout the United States.

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Local Al-Anon Meetings in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu.