Category Archives: Blog

3 Steps for Better Financial Health

financial health

By now you likely know that addiction can take a big toll — on your physical and mental wellbeing, your relationships, your career or education and your financial health.

For many, important money matters like paying bills on time or monitoring credit card use can fall by the wayside while using drugs and/or alcohol. But by committing to recovery, you can take the first step to getting sober and healing all aspects of your life, including your financial health.

And you don’t have be a financial pro to fix your money woes. A few simple steps can help get you started on the road to a solid financial future.

How to Get Your Finances on Track

  1. Get organized. Making a list of recurring bills and due dates is a simple step that can keep you from feeling overwhelmed. After this is complete, you may also want to set up an automatic bill payment schedule or add a reminder to your phone that alerts you several days in advance of due dates.
  2. Rein in credit card spending.  For many people in recovery, credit card debt is common. The first step to take back control is to make an inventory of your current balances. You may also consider calling your creditors to see if you can lower your interest rates.
  3. Make a monthly budget. This simple act can be incredibly empowering. And, there are plenty of free online or mobile planning tools to help you make a healthy financial plan and keep your spending under control.

Looking for Help Overcoming a Life of Addiction?
Created by women, for women, AJ’s House addiction recovery program addresses the unique needs of females who are recovering from addiction. Our medical team, addiction professionals, and administrative staff treat you as the unique and beautiful person you are. Join us today: 855-221-1717.

Alcohol Abuse and Your Heart

alcohol abuse and heart trouble

Alcohol abuse can take a major toll on your ticker, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In fact, researchers found that drinking too much can cause a slew of heart troubles, including:

  • Double the risk of atrial fibrillation
  • A 1.4-fold higher risk of heart attack
  • A 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure

And even people without traditional cardiovascular risk factors are “disproportionately prone to these cardiac diseases in the setting of alcohol abuse,” found researchers. Committing to sobriety is the best step toward saving your heart! And this is especially true for women, who are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men.

11 Habits for a Healthier Heart
You can also care for your ticker by adding these heart-smart steps to your new sober lifestyle. Pick one habit from the list below and start today:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat smarter, limit salt, sugar and processed foods and incorporate healthy fats.
  • Say yes to fatty fish. Try incorporating salmon, herring, sardines or tuna into your diet.
  • Commit to regular exercise. Set a goal of 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.
  • Manage blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Get your numbers tested by your healthcare provider.
  • Quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about a method that might work for you.
  • Prioritize sleep; aim for 6 to 8 hours per night.
  • Meditate daily. Pick a tranquil spot and try to meditate in the same place each day.
  • Manage stress levels by finding a relaxation technique that works for you

Alcohol Addiction Help at AJ’s House
Women face differing biological, emotional, and social issues during drug and alcohol addiction. At AJ’s Amethyst House, we take the context of our female clients’ lives into account throughout each phase of detox, addiction treatment, and aftercare planning. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.

A Little Motivation This Monday

monday motivation

All you have to do is check your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed and you’re bound to find a slew of #MotivationMonday or #MondayMotivation quotes, photos, and posts to give you a little inspiration for the week ahead.

Some our favorites from today:

  • “Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond our reach.” – Unknown
  • “Failure is success if we learn from it.” – Unknown 
  • “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Unknown 
  • “Remind yourself that it’s ok not to be perfect.” – Unknown 
  • “Remember - you only have 1440 minutes in a day - don't give them away so easily.” – Unknown 

Motivation can play a big role in your recovery success. It can help you stay the course and drive you to continue to work toward healthy behaviors and meet your recovery goals. Here’s a little more help for staying motivated along your journey toward sobriety:

Celebrate small successes. Take baby steps and remind yourself that it’s okay to fall once in a while. The goal is to keep going and growing in your recovery.

Create visual reminders. Whether you write thoughts down on post-it notes or cut out inspirational quotes or photos, giving yourself visual reminders about the benefits of recovery (or the great things in your life now that you’re in recovery) can help keep you going. Start with seven reminders, one for each day of the week.

Think positive. Don't think of recovery has giving up old friends or fun times with drugs or alcohol but gaining a new life that’s free of the emotional and physical harm of addiction.

Staying Motivated at Aj’s House
At Aj’s Amethyst House, we help our female clients discover new coping strategies and guide them as they reclaim their roles as healthy, sober individuals. To learn more, call today: 855-221-1717.

Could Complaining Harm Your Health?

According to Stanford University researchers, just a half hour of complaining per day can impact your brain. This is because constant griping peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for problem solving among other functions. And the effects are the same even if you’re just listing as someone else moans and groans.

Constant complaining has been linked to other negative health effects, too, including lower immunity, higher blood pressure, and more anxiety.

Certainly, we all need to vent time and again – and it’s often a great release of emotions – but taking steps to be more positive and more conscious about how often you complain can stop this behavior from becoming yet another habit that’s hard to break. Here’s how.

  • Take a positive spin. Instead of complaining about having to cook dinner or go grocery shopping, for example, think about how prepping a healthful meal will keep your mind and body ready to tackle all of the tasks of recovery.
  • Give yourself a time limit. Again, it’s unrealistic to give up complaining completely. But it is possible to prevent yourself from making it an all-day affair. Set a timer on your smartphone – for instance, 15 minutes for a full-out venting session. When time is up, stop and try to let whatever is bothering you go.
  • Distract yourself. The next time you feel like your complaining is spiraling of control, force yourself to do something more positive. Go for a walk, pick up a book, make yourself a cup of tea – whatever helps you calm down and get your mind off of complaining.

Your Path to Better Mental Health
At Aj’s Amethyst House, we focuses on the unique needs of women in recovery, including anxiety, depression, anger, and other emotions linked to substance use disorder. We help our female clients discover new coping strategies and guide them as they reclaim their roles as healthy, sober individuals. Call today: 855-221-1717.

Tips for a Sober Holiday Season

holiday sober

The holiday season can be extra challenging for women in recovery, especially when it comes to attending any social events where you may be tempted to use again. But it can also be a time when you can empower yourself—to say “no” and to surround yourself with sober supporters who want the best for you.

Start by keeping in mind the following tips:

  • Choose events wisely. It’s okay to decline invitations, especially if you know you’ll face multiple relapse triggers, including people, places, and substances.
  • Recruit an accountability partner. Ask a friend or loved one who supports your sobriety – and who is willing to have a tough conversation with you if necessary – to attend any holiday parties with you.
  • Rehearse a script for saying “no.” This will take the pressure off and allow you to politely decline a drink, smoke, or even something stronger. If the host persists, let him or her know that you don’t drink for health reasons.
  • Develop an exit plan. This will give you an easy out in case the temptation to drink or use becomes too strong or the party turns into a high-pressure situation.
  • Attend bookend meetings. Whether you’re part of traditional 12-step or non-12 step group, attending a meeting before and after the party can keep you strong and hold you accountable to your sobriety promise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, now is also the time to reach out to an addiction specialist or counselor.
  • Be grateful. This is the perfect time to count your blessings and focus on all that you have – and how far you’ve come.

Aftercare Planning at AJ’s Amethyst House
We provide our female clients with a full continuum of care – from medical detox to aftercare planning and sobriety living options – as they reclaim their roles as healthy, sober individuals. For more information, call today: 855-221-1717.

How to Put Spirituality Into Practice

 

practice spiritualitySpirituality isn’t just about religion but about believing in something bigger than ourselves and connecting to the world around us. Whatever your personal view of spirituality, it’s been shown to play a positive role in recovery and relapse prevention. A sampling of the study-proven perks: fewer cravings, less anxiety, increased optimism, and a greater sense of social support.

Here are a few ways to make spirituality part of your every day:

  • Carve out time for quiet contemplation. The easiest way to achieve this stillness is to meditate each day, even if only for a few minutes. You can also make a conscious effort to silence the chatter by turning off the radio while you’re driving or shutting down your cell for a given time each day.
  • Spend time in nature. It’s perhaps one of the most spiritual things you can do – whether you go for a brisk walk or hike or just sit on your favorite park bench and observe the wonders around you.
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you stay in the moment and fully become aware of your actions and feelings (good or bad). Try to truly experience all things you do during the day.
  • Make your health a priority. Part of improving your spirituality is caring for your physical health – for example, eating better, exercising, quitting smoking, and managing stress better.
  • Focus on your inner self. Dedicate 10 to 20 minutes per day to inward exploration, whether via prayer, meditation, or journaling.

A Spiritual Awakening at AJ’s House
A sense of spiritual emptiness is common for women struggling with substance use disorder. At AJ’s House, our addiction treatment helps female clients awaken their spirit and find their own inner path toward peace and happiness. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.

5 Stages of Grief When a Relationship Ends 

stages of grief after relationship ends

Addiction is one of the greatest challenges a relationship will face – and, tragically, dozens of relationships completely deteriorate or dissolve due to addiction. While most experts advise to follow the rule of no major life changes during your first year of recovery, including a major life change like a divorce, there may come a point when you are ready to separate from your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

During this time, it’s important to take the time to properly acknowledge your feelings and experience the grieving process. By understanding what you are feeling and empowering yourself with healthy coping skills, you can feel less alone and avoid resorting to destructive habits like using drugs or alcohol to numb the emotional pain.

Here are some stages you can anticipate while going through a break-up:

  1. Denial: It’s normal to deny that your relationship is coming to an end. You may be thinking: It can’t be true. This isn’t happening! We’ll just work through it tomorrow.”
  2. Bargaining: This stage of grief is all about second-guessing yourself and doing anything to avoid ending it. For example, you may say to yourself that you’ll be a more attentive partner or that you can make everything that’s wrong right, but this is wishful thinking and not reality.
  3. Depression: Mourning the loss of a romantic relationship often results in a period of depression and you may experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, and feelings of self-pity.
  4. Anger: During a breakup, it’s normal to experience anger toward your partner. Even being angry at yourself, though paralyzing and self-defeating, may be part of the grieving process. 
  5. Acceptance: It may take some time to work through all of the stages of grief, but at the end you will come to terms with the end of your relationship. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It won’t happen overnight, but you will heal, have hope, and start to feel whole again.

Don’t Battle Addiction Alone 
Many women who come to AJ’s House have romantic problems as part of their story – you are not alone. We’re here to support you on your path toward sobriety, including giving you the tools to deal with the grief and loss of relationships. To learn more, call today: 855-221-1717. 

Tips for Surviving the “Bad” Days

surviving bad daysSure, your worst days in sobriety are certainly better than your best days during active addiction. Yet, this doesn’t mean that you won’t experience your fare share of terrible, no good, horrible days while in recovery.

An argument with a loved one, a misstep at work, a run-in with an ex, a tough therapy session, a broken promise, etc. – bad days are inevitable and can take many forms. Here are some strategies for staying on the sober path while battling a bad day:

Remember to breathe. It’s sounds simple, and it is. Slowly inhale as you acknowledge the frustrations of the day – and then try to let them go as you slowly exhale.

Be grateful. Remind yourself that things could probably be worse and take a few minutes to acknowledge any positive parts of your day.

Write it down. When something horrible happens, jot it down and let it go. This simple act can help provide immense relief.

Stay in contact. It’s tempting to retreat into isolation when you’re having an awful day, however, studies show that contact with other people can help boost your mood. Call someone whom you can trust so he or she can help talk you down from your bad day.

Exercise. Going for a brisk walk or jog is a great way to literally work out your frustrations. Just be careful of using this time to ruminate.

Distract yourself. Watch a funny movie or TV show or delve into a good book to escape from your day.

Seek inner peace through outer order. Tackle a messy closet or overflowing junk drawer. For many, this type of tangible orderliness can be soothing amongst a chaotic day.

Caring for Your Mental Health
Women are more likely to have anxiety disorders or co-occurring psychiatric disorders, which can make it even more difficult to weather those bad days. At AJ’s House, we address these unique needs and offer our female clients the tools needed to sustain a healthy mind, body, and spirit during recovery and beyond. Learn more: 855-221-1717.

New Study: Family Therapy Leads to Faster Recovery 

family therapyIf you’re a mom in treatment for substance use disorder, family therapy could lead to a speedier recovery, according to a first-of-its-kind study published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Women in therapy with their children – ages 8 to 16 – were found to have a quicker decline in alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine use over 18 months than moms in individual therapy, according to researchers.

"Interpersonal stress, especially within the family, has been shown to be an important factor in drug and alcohol abuse," said Natasha Slesnick, lead author of the study and professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University. "So it makes sense that having mothers and children working together in therapy can help moms with substance use problems do better over time.”

Indeed, there are many benefits of family therapy for substance-using mothers, including:

  • Increased understanding of healthy boundaries and family dynamics
  • Improved communication
  • Better problem solving
  • Greater empathy
  • Reduced conflict

Getting the Most Out of Family Therapy
For family therapy to be successful, it’s important that you and your loved ones take it seriously and that you do the work both in and outside your scheduled sessions. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be an active member. You’re not just there to listen – though being an active listener is an important part. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and express your needs to the therapist.
  • Schedule sessions at a good time. Try to make appointments at a time when you and your family can give them full attention.
  • Keep a journal. By recording your thoughts and feelings, you can reflect on your last session, prepare for your next one, or simply be more mindful during the week.
  • Take care of you. Eating right, exercising, and managing stress can ensure that you enter each therapy session with an open and healthy mindset.

Family Counseling at AJ’s Amethyst House
We know that addiction affects the entire family. As part of our specialized addiction program for women, we take into account the role of parenting and family relationships in your addiction recovery. To learn more, call: 855-221-1717.

Surprising Facts About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

facts about seasonal affective disorderSeasonal affective disorder, appropriately known as SAD, is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that begins and ends at the same time each year, most typically in fall and winter, according to Mental Health America (MHA). It’s estimated that half a million Americans experience SAD – feeling depressed, irritable, and tired as the seasons change and the daylight shortens. This depression disorder not only affects your overall health, but it also impacts everyday life, including job performance, social activities, and hobbies.

People who abuse drugs or alcohol are highly susceptible to SAD – and, in fact, more than 20 percent of patients with any mood disorder are also living with a substance use disorder, notes the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Here are a few more facts you need to know about SAD:

1. Between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women. And if you’re a female between age 15 and 55, you're even more likely to develop the mood disorder.

2. Certain symptoms are more common in SAD than in other forms of depression. These include:

  • Carbohydrate craving
  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Weight gain

3. SAD isn’t caused by a drop in temperature. Rather, many experts link the disorder to a decreased exposure to sunlight. This is because sunlight plays a role in the production of a body chemical called melatonin, which regulates sleep and mood.

4. Seasonal affective disorder is more than the holiday or winter blues. To be diagnosed with SAD, symptoms needs to lasts more than two weeks at least two years in a row. In addition, the SAD episodes must outnumber the non-seasonal depressive episodes in one’s lifetime.

5. Waiting it out doesn’t work. Light therapy, where people are exposed to artificial lights for a certain amount of time each day, has been shown to work in 50 to 80 percent of patients. Also, since seasonal depression has a predictable pattern of recurrence, preventative measures may help to reduce symptoms. These include:

  • Exercising 30 minutes a day
  • Increasing the amount of light at home
  • Aromatherapy
  • Stress management techniques, including meditation
  • Writing in a journal
  • Spending more time outside
  • Loading up on Vitamin D

Women, Depression, and Addiction
Are you suffering from SAD and addiction? At AJ’s Amethyst House, we realize the special needs of female clients and take into account mental illnesses when treating our clients. To learn more, call 855-221-1717.