Relapse Prevention Tip #1
A missed meal is a frequent cause of relapse
When we miss a meal or have a very low protein or high sugar meal are blood sugars become dis-regulated. To manage our blood sugar, the body releases adrenaline/cortisol to regulate things. This can lead to feelings of anger, fear or dread. When we are emotionally vulnerable, we handle stress of everyday life less effectively. For the recovering person, this can lead to cravings and use to manage emotions and stress. A balanced blood sugar level helps keep us balanced emotionally. It is good to eat six times a day with snacks of vegetables and especially protein in order to maintain good blood sugar levels. For more information, call Christina now. 303-888-9617
Relapse Prevention Tip #2
A slip doesn’t have to become a relapse
Some people consider any use after the beginning of abstinence to be relapse. We do not! This is partly because we make a distinction between abstinence and recovery. We believe that you can have abstinence from a substance or addictive behavior but not be in recovery; and conversely, you can be in recovery and have not yet attained full abstinence. See Articles for more information on this. Recovery is a process of growth and learning, which leads to transformation of the whole self. Sometimes in this process, stress or life events overwhelms your coping skills, and use happens briefly. The key word here is “brief”. You have two possible responses to this brief episode of using. You can get up, brush yourself off and learn from your mistake. It’s like a fisherman who snags his net on a rock, creating a hole whereby that day’s fish escape. He then pulls the net out, repairs the hole, and fishes in a different spot with less rocks! This is part of the recovery process. Or, you can fall down in despair and allow shame to convince you that you are hopeless and will never attain true sobriety so you may as well give up now and keep using. You thus move out of recovery and into true relapse. Don’t let your next slip (if you have one!) turn into relapse. Call Jan now for support. 303-718-6853
Relapse Prevention Tip #3
How’s your sleep?
Many people start using alcohol, THC, and benzodiazepine medications, such as valium or ambien, to aid sleep. Addiction then takes over and you realize you have to quit these drugs. You stop successfully, and now can’t sleep!!! Sound familiar? This doesn’t happen to everyone, but does happen to some people. One reason for this is that the sleep promoting neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or GABA are now even more depleted than they were when you first started using. Amino acids such as GABA, tryptophan or theanine may be very helpful here, to rebuild and support these pathways. Call Christina now for nutritional help with sleep. 303-888-9617
Relapse Prevention Tip #4
I once had a client who is an atheist. He told me one day he did something strange. He decided to pray. I asked him what happened and to his amazement he found it was beneficial. This makes sense. People have been praying for millennia in many different ways and cultures. If people had found prayer to be useless, then prayer would have ceased a long time ago. This is because prayer gives us a sense of connection to something beyond ourselves. In the first three steps we are asked to realize we have a problem and then connect with something, greater than ourselves. We need to step out of ourselves and our own egos and begin to make connection between ourselves, others and God. If we see ourselves as our own higher power how can we get out of or beyond ourselves to make these crucial connections? Prayer does not have to be long or convoluted. It comes from a simple willingness to reach beyond ourselves and our own perception of reality for help. For more support in your recovery, call Jan now. 303-718-6853
Relapse Prevention Tip #5
How much protein a day should I eat to support recovery and what type?
We recommend that you eat a minimum of 15-20 grams of protein every 3-4 hours. This equals 60-80 grams per day. Petite women might be able to get away with 40 grams a day, especially if their blood type is not O. O’s seems to need more animal protein for optimal health. Tall, robust body builders need much more! 3 eggs equal about 21 grams, ½ c cottage cheese is about 20, as is a piece of fish or meat about the size of your palm. Protein is so important because the body uses it to make skin, enzymes, blood, and muscles along with the brain chemicals that help us cope with stress. If we don’t eat enough protein over time, the brain cannot make enough of these crucial chemicals, and we will start to crave our drug or behavior of choice. Our blood sugar is also more likely to drop too low, and low blood sugar interferes with our ability to remember to use our recovery skills when a stressor hits. Call Christina today for meal planning ideas. 303-888-9617.
Relapse Prevention Tip #6
One of the most important things we need to do in life is to learn how to forgive. As the Bible says forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. This, however, is easier said than done. This is especially true if what has been done to us is bad and painful. True forgiveness is not about letting somebody off the hook. Rather it is about letting go of the pain, memories and the attachments we hold to the trauma. This is not about forgive and forget. It is no longer being dominated by our internal attachment to the pain. Forgiveness is about setting ourselves free. On page 552 of the AA big book it says: “If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.” The book reminds us that those who hurt us are probably as spiritually sick as we were. We don’t want to forget what was done to us because we don’t want to fall back into old patterns where we can repeat the abuse. Rather, we move on and live our life in the freedom of nonattachment to the pain.
COVID 19 Relapse Prevention Tip
I wish you all peace! Finding our own sources of peace in this time of fear and chaos is crucial. It is only by cultivating peace in our lives and in our souls that we can weather such storms with grace, compassion and service to others.
Having an in-balance brain is key. As I’ve said before, “it is our brain’s job to help us cope with stress gracefully, but to do that, it needs to be fed optimally.” We all know that to have a brain-in-balance, it needs to be well-fed and well-supported. Stress depletes our bodies and brains of the very nutrients that allow us to cope with stress gracefully. So, it is crucial to not only practice all of the stress-management and spiritual tools available to us, but to also feed our brains. This is the 3-lgged stool concept I am so passionate about. We need to be supporting ourselves biochemically, emotionally/ socially and spiritually. Interestingly enough, this approach also helps to support a robust immune system! When we don’t, we are more likely to lose our tempers with those we love, and increase our use of addictive mood-altering substances such as sugar, alcohol, tobacco, tranquilizers, etc. This is especially likely if we are stuck at home, feeling bored, scared and lonely, or overwhelmed.
As human-beings, we seem to like to scare ourselves. We like scary movies, we like to ride roller-coasters (well, I don’t!), and we seem drawn to imagine worst-case scenarios. I want to suggest that these responses are so attractive to us as a species because they fire both dopamine and norepinephrine as well as the endorphins. Excitement and anxiety are closely linked, and we all love our endorphins! These certainly can have survival value, but we need to make sure they don’t become counter-productive.
Here are a few reminders on how to nutritionally support our brains to bring peace and calm.
- Keep blood sugar balanced by eating protein every 4 hours, and using L-Glutamine between meals as needed. For those of you doing intermittent fasting, please watch to make sure that low blood sugar isn’t contributing to your anxiety by firing more adrenaline.
- Add a multi-vitamin to your regimen if you are not already taking one. This can help to consistently provide the co-factors which both our brains and our adrenal glands need to effectively cope with stress. (My reading is also suggesting that higher than normal levels of vitamins A, C, D and the mineral zinc are immune-protective).
- Omega 3 fatty acids help support Dopamine as well as Serotonin, and can therefore help to reduce anxiety, worry, depression and thrill-seeking.
- Directly supporting neurotransmitter production using over-the-counter, anti-addictive, precursor amino acids tends to work within 20 minutes or less to powerfully reduce obsessive worry and anxiety, improve sleep, relax muscles and give us energy and focus. We can also use amino acids to support endorphin production and support our ability to comfort ourselves.
- Whenever we experience extended periods of stress, our adrenal glands have to step up, and can use support. There are many adaptogenic herbs which support adrenal function and can be balancing, energizing or calming, depending upon which herbs or combinations you choose. There are several good companies which offer a variety of adrenal support single and combination herbs.
Please call us at 303-888-9617 for more support.