Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Tag Archives: addiction recovery


Your body is dangling, your heart racing, your stomach drops and then it hits – euphoria. You just plunged 30 plus feet, literally hanging by a thread – well actually a rope, but you get the idea.

More than two dozen Cumberland Heights employees took part in The Big Swing Event April 15and sure, it was an amusing way to kick off the week, but we did it for much more than the thrill. It was a lesson in trust, peer support and letting go.

“It’s your decision and yours alone,” said Recreation Therapist Jimmy Hudgens.

He was talking about the cable you pull when you’re ready to take the plunge. But for those familiar with AA, we’re thinking, “This sounds a lot like Step 3.” Wait a second! This whole exercise mirrors recovery” (or for others, simply letting go of control).

I was the second person in our afternoon swing group to go. The counselor who went before me did it effortlessly. She even looked relaxed, as if she were swinging back and forth on a hammock. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, this is easy. I have nothing to be afraid of.” And then my friends on the ground started pulling me up. If you’re not familiar with The Big Swing, it’s kind of like those hoisting you up are playing tug of war – everyone is in a line stepping backwards, yanking on a rope to pull you to the top. So, I see them on the ground getting further and further away and all of a sudden, I’m looking down on acres upon acres of rolling hills as if I’m the camera lens on a drone. In my head I’m thinking “Oh gosh this is high.” It wasn’t until I heard people on the ground say “It’s going to be okay” that I realized I was speaking out loud. And then I had made it all the way to the top.

I nervously scream below, “So I just pull this thing?”

I hear a resounding “Yes!”

And I didn’t think. I just did it. I pulled it. And I screamed. I screamed really, really loudly. And I didn’t stop screaming for several seconds. And it was super scary. But it felt amazing. It was a rush like I haven’t felt before. And as you swing back and forth coming down, you just get to bask in the afterglow. All of my friends were happy for me, and then, even better, I got to be a part of their experience when they took the plunge!

Every person there had a job – to spot someone on the ladder, to hoist someone up, to stop pulling the rope when the swinger didn’t want to go any higher. We had to support one another and we had to trust each other.

Others who had done the swing before took it a step further. They put a blindfold on before they dropped. Josh K. was one of them.

“It was a totally different experience because being up there, being that high you can’t see down so you’re just trusting everything is set up right. Here we go. Blind jump. It’s wild,” said Josh.

“Walking by faith and not by sight may be easier than we expect,” said Jimmy.

April R. who organized the event took part in it as a patient at Cumberland Heights a little over three years ago.

“It’s more just fun now since I’m really not afraid of heights, but at the time it was very therapeutic, very special. It was me saying ‘I surrender.’ I just let go and it was emotional and moving,” said April.

She wasn’t alone in her experience. Jimmy says this exercise means more to the patients than we may ever know.

“I had one guy come to an alumni reunion and I recall that patient being very quiet when he was in treatment, but when he came to the reunion he said the swing was his first spiritual experience. It was about giving up control for him. It was his spiritual awakening he said. And you would never know because he never said anything until years later,” said Jimmy.

Recreational therapy is a staple here at Cumberland Heights and I’ve always appreciated it, but I never fully understood it until that day. In treatment you can do everything by the book and go through the steps as you’re told, but it’s usually moments like these when people really find their center, higher power or willingness to let go. Others may find those things in group therapy or in the art room. Everyone responds differently to certain therapies in treatment and Cumberland Heights works really hard to honor that. That’s just one of the things that makes this place so special.

Being mindfully aware in recoveryMindfulness is a practice of mental awareness and has been previously used in meditation practices, as a person focuses on their breath and the present moment. All too often, we’re wrapped up in our thoughts or emotions, or we’re distracted – substances take us away from the present moment completely, as they alter our brain chemicals and bring about symptoms that leave us craving more. Mindfulness in and of itself is not particularly difficult, but it can be challenging to implement; it requires self-discipline, even when challenging thoughts or emotions arise. There are many benefits to mindfulness, such as:

  • It slows your day down so that you’re not feeling rushed from one activity to another
  • It provides you with a sense of calmness from all of the “mental chaos” that can occur
  • It brings you closer to your senses, which are key entryways to our moment-to-moment experiences
  • It provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself
  • And so much more

Despite the many benefits that derive from mindfulness, the question begs to be asked, “How does this aid those in addiction recovery?”

A 2016 study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy sought to explore how mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement (MORE) could improve outcomes for those with substance abuse histories, mental health disorders, and trauma histories. For 10 weeks, 64 participants became actively involved in MORE, while 64 other participants carried out 10 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), another highly effective treatment approach. Researchers found the mindfulness helped reduce cravings and post-traumatic stress – and overall, mindfulness proved to be a very effective treatment for co-occurring disorders as well.

To practice mindfulness, you can “zero-in” on the present moment – whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at, experience it fully. Look around you and embrace the colors, the sounds, the textures – engage all of your senses to recognize just how beautiful this present moment truly is.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Handling the grief of losing a loved one while in recoveryEven while we’re in recovery, life around us continues to move, change and grow. We have control over what we’re doing regarding our nutrition, the way we participate in 12-Step meetings, the thoughts we attribute importance to and so much more, but we don’t have control over what happens around us. Sometimes we’re devastatingly shocked to find out that a loved one has passed – and that’s when grief settles in. According to the Mindfulness & Grief Training Institute, grief is defined as,

“The uncontrollable and natural reaction to the death of someone to whom you feel connected or attached.”

The relationship you had with this person could have been a secure attachment (healthy, loving, trustworthy, etc.) or an insecure attachment (unpredictable, rocky, etc.), but either way, it’s someone you loved – and that’s incredibly difficult to move on from. If you’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one, know that you’re not alone – and while in addiction recovery, there are steps you can take to heal from pain in the best way possible while not jeopardizing your recovery goals.

Grief and Addiction Recovery

Grief can be particularly challenging for a person to work through in recovery, because their previous response to devastating circumstances such as these may have been to rely upon substances like alcohol or other drugs. In 2017, an individual shared their story of how their brother passed away from alcohol-related causes, and how the pain they felt became masked as they abused substances themselves after his death. Here is an excerpt from their story:

“I was at work when they made the decision to cut off his life support…The guilt affected me for a long time afterwards. I resigned from my job. I spent most nights out drinking with friends. I felt like I was lost. One night I drank too much and found myself vomiting in a toilet wondering if this had been what his life was like.”

It’s not uncommon to want to find something to ease the pain you’re experiencing. Many people want to numb that feeling of heartbreak, of confusion, of loneliness – and while substances may seem to be the answer for this, you have to remind yourself of what you’re here for – of what you’re trying to do with your life. Mary Anne Cohen, a writer for The Fix, explained in 2018 the concept of “frozen grief” – which means to stay stuck in this cycle of pain and grief without having moved on or having healed from it. If we don’t deal with the pain of our loss effectively, the hurt – the sadness, the anger, the guilt – it all becomes trapped within us. We suppress it, and that’s when we find ourselves in such a vulnerable state that relapse is of high risk.

The Stages of Grief

Rather than turn to previous patterns of substance abuse to numb the pain, choose to feel your emotions. Give yourself time to cry, to feel angry, to be sad that the person you love is no longer here with you. A 2017 study published in the journal Psychodynamic Psychiatry explained that the grieving process is much like any process of change. There are essentially 5 stages:

Stage 1: Denial and Isolation

We can’t believe that this tragic event has happened. We’re so shocked that we start to believe that life has no meaning anymore. We feel empty, hopeless and in denial of our true feelings.

Stage 2: Anger

As the reality of our lives begin to emerge, we’re hit at one of our most vulnerable parts – and that’s when we become angry. We’re not ready to feel the pain, so we’d rather place blame – at God or another Higher Power, at the Universe, at someone else, at ourselves – we’d rather stay focused on the negative energy of anger because we don’t want to face the pain that comes with the reality.

Stage 3: Bargaining

At this stage, we’re starting to contemplate the “what ifs”. We want to know what could have happened if we did something differently, or if someone else did something differently, etc. We may attempt to plead with a Higher Power that if only we could change something about ourselves, that our loved one may come back.

Stage 4: Depression

We’re mourning now, and we’re dealing with the practical implications of this loss – such as funeral arrangements, seeing family again, etc. – along with more private implications, such as the memories that we have of our loved one.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Not everyone reaches this stage, but for those who do, it’s marked by a period of calmness. A person has accepted that their loved one’s time to pass has come, and they’re able to start focusing on their lives again. This doesn’t mean that they’re happy about their loved one’s passing or that they’ve forgotten them, but rather they’re cherishing the moments they had as a precious gift they were able to experience.

In addition to letting yourself feel these emotions, rely on the support that you have around you while in treatment. Speak to your therapist, your sponsor and others around you who love and care about you. You’re not alone – all you need to focus on during this time is healing and self-care.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

These 2 sayings will help you keep working towards recovery We all need a bit of inspiration now and then, and sometimes recovery can feel like a never ending, uphill battle. Whether you’ve been in recovery for 3 months or 3 years, you’re going to have bad days – as Forbes Magazine notes, self-doubt can creep in and cause us to put up unnecessary walls that hinder our growth in recovery. We may become more reserved, less participatory in recovery activities, more anxious and depressed and less impacted by the tools we learn in therapy. If we don’t stay motivated, we’re bound to slip back into old habits – and perseverance is the driving factor behind sobriety maintenance. If you’re ready to feel inspired today, check out these three incredibly wise sayings:

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint’, then by all means, paint, and shatter that voice.”

This quote is said to have been spoken by Van Gogh, and it rings true on so many levels for addiction recovery. Rather than allowing yourself to fall victim to the negative thoughts that are spinning around, prove yourself otherwise. Embrace recovery and take steps to become stronger than you ever thought you could be.

“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a symptom, a signal of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”

Alice Miller understood the pain of addiction – but far too often we spend time thinking of how resentful we are that it happened, rather than what our mind, body and spirit is trying to tell us. The next time you’re feeling depressed or anxious, or if you’re getting headaches, etc., ask yourself, “What is my body trying to tell me?”

If we take a look at the bigger picture, we can see that yes, addiction can cause so much despair – but there are lessons to be learned from it, and if we take these lessons and channel them into our recovery, we can become unstoppable.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

The stigma surrounding addiction recovery makes it hard for people to get treatment.Addiction is often accompanied by shame in the public eye, as depictions shown in the media portray a less-than-optimal view of someone who is going through more than what is seen on the surface. For those who don’t understand, it’s easy to judge – to assume that people choose addiction. The reality is that addiction isn’t the problem in someone’s life, it’s the solution to other problems they face – and without the right tools, resources and support, many people just don’t know where to turn. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry noted that stereotypes about who people with addiction “really are” makes it only harder to move on, to recover, and to be part of society. The study’s participants provided several examples of this in their statements, such as:

  • Not wanting to be alone with someone’s possessions in fear that someone might think they stole something
  • Feeling as though they’ll never be able to get out of addiction because nobody else believes they will
  • Worried that what they say will be twisted into words that only serve stigmatization
  • And more

What happens for many people with addiction is that the stigmatization they experience becomes pointed inward, and they self-stigmatize; when this happens, they begin to dismiss themselves as valuable people who deserve to be a part of society – and so they withdraw and the continue to abuse substances in order to forget or set aside the negative feelings that come from society’s shame. As The Fix explains it, society tends to view addiction as a moral failure – they stated,

“When people obtain a stable recovery they are always presumed to be on the verge of relapse. The label, shame and stigma of problems with substances is always around – once an addict, always an addict.”

If you’re struggling with addiction, know that you’re not alone – and you deserve a safe, respectful environment where you can thrive.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Experiencing relapse dreamsSleep is an important topic of discussion for those in addiction recovery, both in terms of the quality and quantity of sleep. Since substances can have such a major impact on the mind and body, it’s not uncommon for those in recovery to have difficulty sleeping at night, and this could be for several reasons: 1) for many people, nighttime is when they use substances the most, which means their body is going to be more awake the later it gets, 2) withdrawal symptoms can peak around this time, making it hard to sleep, 3) relapse dreams can cause a lot of tossing and turning at night. According to Tonic in 2017, about 85% of people who’ve been addicted to alcohol or other substances will have a “using” dream – otherwise known as a relapse dream – within the first 2 months of their sobriety.

It can be terrifying for someone to be in the middle of treatment yet have a dream that they’re back where they were when actively using; One woman shared her nerve-wracking relapse dream that had her fearful that she was back to using again. She told Tonic,

“They were never fun. They were always similar: I pick up a drink or serve myself punch that I don’t realize includes alcohol, drink it, and am terrified that I will restart my primal obsession…I would wake up feeling scared, disgusted, and then so, so grateful.”

A 2019 study published in Science Daily found that these types of relapse dreams are most likely to happen in those with more severe addiction histories, but thankfully the frequency of these dreams is likely to decrease the more a person spends in recovery. Dr. John F. Kelly, author and expert on addiction recovery, told The Fix earlier this year that as the mind and body gradually adapt to life in recovery, the psychological “angst” that they experience over relapse will diminish.

When these instances occur, you have to ground yourself and remember that you’re fully in control. At Cumberland Heights, you have the comfort and support system of knowing that you’re where you need to be – in recovery, with minimal to zero triggers. Dreams can feel incredibly real, but in your waking life, you are taking steps towards sobriety. These beginning stages are going to be the most challenging – but once you get through them, you’ll become stronger.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Woman making the most of 12-Step Programs for recovery12-Step programs have been around for many, many years now as Bill W. and Dr. Bob started Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first 12-Step fellowship, back in 1935. Since then, the program has expanded to over 2 million participants worldwide – and for many people, 12-Step programs serve as a strong foundation for living a life of sobriety. A 2015 article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) emphasizes that 12-Step programs are much more than merely “advising a person to go to AA”, but rather encourages attendance and participation, explains the potential benefits of working with a sponsor, explores problems and psychological resistance to attending meetings, guides people in “working the steps”, opens the door to 12-Step related activities (such as social events, retreats and conventions) and more. 12-Step programs provide many opportunities for a person to grow, but how can they truly harness this potential?

If you’re ready to make the most of your 12-Step program, remember that you’re going to get out of it exactly what you put in. For example, if you only attend a few meetings a year, you’re not going to get much – because you’re not able to immerse yourself in the culture, and little time will have been spent understanding the true dynamics of these types of programs. You can, however, get much more out of these programs by doing the following:

Engage in Meetings

In 2016, a person shared their experience with 12-Step meetings via Straight Up, a website that engages young people on advocacy and education related to social change. They stated,

“…The meetings I attended this time had a larger turnout and more people shared, so it was more interesting to sit in, and I learned a lot. I got to learn about people and their experiences and struggles with sobriety and recovery.”

The only way we can grow is to practice being vulnerable around others, to share our troubles and success as well as gain insight from people’s stories. To get the most from 12-Step programs, you need to not only be present – but to participate fully.

Connect with a Sponsor

Sponsorships do take a lot of work on both ends – and the most conducive relationships are those who both work to make the relationship meaningful. The Fix offers several suggestions for sponsorship, such as:

  1. Determining what type of sponsor would fit your needs most
  2. Taking time to meet with someone and get to know them before officially asking them to be your sponsor
  3. Learning about your potential sponsor’s story and what they’ve gone through to get to sobriety
  4. Asking your sponsor about the expectations they have for you
  5. Making it clear to your sponsor what you hope to get out of the relationship

Apply the 12-Steps to Your Daily Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that one of life’s biggest compensations is that nobody can truly help others until they’ve helped themselves. By applying what we’ve learned about the 12-Steps, we are helping ourselves to become stronger and more resilient in recovery – especially by releasing some of the ideals we’ve previously held about ourselves and the world.

Attending the meetings and reading through the Big Book can only get you so far – you have to be committed to working through the 12-Steps in every aspect of your life. By applying the principles learned to your life outside of 12-Step meetings, you’ll be much more invested in your own recovery – and you’ll be able to ask your fellow peers and sponsor for advice when something doesn’t go as planned. The ASAM notes that the 12-Steps are meant to take people on a personal journey where they can learn and grow – and if you don’t actively apply them, you miss out on this opportunity.

Provide Service to Others

In Part III of the Big Book, a person shared their story of 12-Step success and how much service played a role in their recovery. They stated,

“…I have become increasingly more devoted to this program that saved not only my life, but my wife’s also. Eventually I became involved in A.A. service and helped get a central office started for our groups. We both became active in general service…What a joy we found in this!”

When you apply yourself to the program, you’re much better able to become a part of something much larger – much more meaningful – than you ever thought possible. In fact, it’s through service that many people find their purpose and passion in life.

Live with Passion

Recovery is a beautiful chance to start living with more vitality, more energy, more purpose than ever before – and if you’re ready to transform your life, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today to get started. It’s never too late to find healing and restoration through 12-Step programs, along with many other effective components of treatment.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Boy healing in addiction recoveryOur adolescent years are often such a confusing time as our mind, body and spirit is developing, and substance abuse can only further complicate this. Research shows that the adolescent brain lacks critical thinking skills, and teens are at heightened risk to pursue risky endeavors because their brain is still developing these areas that would otherwise help them consider the consequences of these actions. Not only is the adolescent brain still developing during this time, but they’re more impressionable; peer pressure accounts for a huge part of substance use among teens, and their environment – both in the community and at home – can also weigh heavily on their likelihood for substance abuse.

Some adolescents abuse substances because they feel alone in the issues their facing, while others are looking for a sense of direction, and substances may seem to resolve that issue temporarily. The utmost healing occurs for adolescents who experiencing love, community and service in a holistic aspect – their mind, body and spirit.

How Addiction Affects the Mind, Body and Spirit

Mind

DrugFree.org emphasizes that in addition to the mood swings, the brain develops in an uneven pattern, from the back of the brain to the front. Because of this, adolescents struggle with reasoning and impulses, which makes them more susceptible to addiction. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells, and the signals that get passed between these nerve cells are sent through neurotransmitters – some of which send signals of pain or pleasure. When adolescents abuse substances, a surge of dopamine (a “feel-good” chemical) floods the brain, and, over time, the adolescent brain becomes dependent on these substances – and if a teen stops substance abuse, they’re likely to experience irritability, tiredness and other withdrawal symptoms.

Body

The body has become used to these substances, and a number of physical effects may be visible, such as:

  • Noticeable tiredness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Red, flushed color to the face
  • And more

Many parents may begin to recognize a different “smell” on their adolescent or in their bedroom, as some teens may attempt to “cover up” their substance abuse with sprays or perfumes.

Spirit

During this stage in adolescence, youth are still learning about who they are and how they fit into society. Substances can mask some of this development by leading many teens to continue down a path that significantly disrupts their happiness and health in the future; one individual shared his story of struggling with addiction as a teen via DrugAbuse.gov. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“When you’re growing up and you’re falling into a chaotic pit of mental health issues, you can often feel alone. You definitely feel like an outcast. You feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s going through this.”

Spirituality is a topic that goes undiscussed in many families, but treatment that focuses on this – as well as the mind and body – can truly transform an adolescent’s life.

Spirituality and Adolescent Recovery

A 2014 study published in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly found that when spirituality is addressed in adolescent treatment, they’re more likely to not only relate to a more spiritual side of themselves but they’re also likely to remain abstinent after treatment as well. Rather than feeling as though they’re the only one in the world struggling with the issues they face, teens experience more prosocial behaviors when spirituality is addressed, such as:

  • Exhibiting greater care for others
  • Volunteerism
  • Feeling part of a community
  • Experiencing greater clarity of their purpose in life
  • And more

Spirituality can be uplifted in a multitude of ways, including 12-Step programs. In 2017, researchers compared 10 sessions of motivational enhancement therapy/cognitive behavioral therapy to 12-Step facilitation for 59 adolescents in addiction recovery. After 3, 6 and 9 months of assessing the results between adolescent groups, the researchers found that 12-Step facilitation helped teens remain abstinent longer – a sincere concern that many families have while their teen is in recovery.

As The Association for Addiction Professionals notes, spiritual concerns (such as feeling alone in the world, lacking purpose or having trouble caring for others) cannot be fixed with substances. Teens learn that becoming part of a community, helping others and receiving support in return, they can heal from addiction.

Seek Help Today

Don’t wait any longer to get your adolescent help for substance abuse. Recovery is right around the corner, and with a team of healthcare professionals who truly care, they’ll be on their way towards happier, healthier living. Call Cumberland Heights today.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

Woman working through trauma in addiction recovery Peter Levine, a clinical psychologist, once stated:

“The paradox of trauma is that it has the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.”

As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates, 61% of men and 51% of women report having had exposure to a traumatic event at least once in their lifetime. The aftermath of trauma leaves many with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder which can bring about debilitating symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares and more.

Several years ago, The Fix, a website that published information related to addiction recovery, sobriety and more, explained that even adverse childhood experiences can leave physical, psychological and spiritual wounds that can take an entire lifetime to recover from. Recovery from addiction is already a vulnerable time period, so how can a person heal from trauma, too?

Create a Support Network

Dr. Vincent Felitti, former chief of preventative medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, told The Fix,

“I would argue that the person using [drugs] is not using them to have a problem, they’re using drugs to find a solution.”

Social support is crucial before and after traumatic events, and some people feel isolated. This is when substance abuse can come into play – because a person is trying to find a way to lessen the intensity of emotions they’re experiencing. In recovery, healing can take place by doing the exact opposite: by reaching out to people, building connections and building their own sense of community. At Cumberland Heights, individuals can find support not only through their healthcare team and through peers in their group therapy sessions, but also through 12-Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

In 2016, researchers published a study in the journal Substance Abuse Rehabilitation that examined the role of social support in addiction recovery. They found that peer support groups – such as those found in 12-Step programs – can greatly strengthen a person’s commitment and engagement in their treatment. Individuals find healing through this modality for many reasons:

  • They find that many others have gone through similar experiences and/or emotions
  • They rely on the structure of the program to walk them through recovery
  • They develop empathy for other peoples’ hardships as life lessons and experiences are shared

One of the most common feelings that trauma brings to those struggled with PTSD is that a person is alone, and that nobody will understand. Quite the opposite is true – there are many people who’ve gone through traumatic events, and there are people who want to see you heal and become stronger.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care has been a buzzword lately, but for good reason. Self-care is defined as,

“…The actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.”

The University of Notre Dame explains the many reactions that can come from trauma:

Psychological and Emotional

  • Feeling “numb”
  • Irritability, sadness, heightened anxiety, etc.
  • Feelings of “self-blame” that a person escaped the tragedy
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • Feelings of isolation from others
  • And more

Cognitive

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling confused

Physical

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Easily startled
  • And more

Behavioral

  • Hyperactivity
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Insomnia
  • Strong need to talk about the event
  • And more

When a flood of PTSD symptoms come rushing through, it’s often hard to implement self-care. In recovery, however, this is a person’s chance to restore their mental, physical and spiritual health; self-care activities, such as practicing sleep hygiene, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water and more can have a truly profound impact on the outlook of someone’s recovery, as it’s all interconnected.

Apply What You’ve Learned

Treatment provides a plethora of opportunities to not only connect with others, but to develop some meaningful perspectives and tools that can be used when needed. Symptoms of PTSD occur unexpectedly for many people, and, without warning, a person may easily feel taken over. Psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) set the foundation for a person to be able to combat negative thoughts and beliefs with the reality. Here is an example:

Beth was in group therapy when she suddenly felt upset. She had been triggered by what someone said, and it reminded her of a traumatic event she experienced when she was a child. The minute that thought started bringing up physiological reactions, she took a deep breath.

“I can use what I learned in therapy,” she stated.

Rather than allowing the thought and emotion to take over, she reminded herself that she is safe. She told herself that she’s not in that moment, and that’s she’s much stronger now. She looked around her and noticed her peers talking. She grounded herself by planting her feet on the ground, and she reminded herself that one of her peers just shared their own personal story. That was it.

In moment like these, the tools learned in therapy can be of great benefit for healing from trauma, simply because they help us focus on what’s most important rather than what might bring us down. If you’re ready to heal from trauma and regain balance from addiction, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Learning to forgive yourself in recoveryWhen addiction is active, we likely have no idea the ways that our actions have been affecting others. All that we can think about is using – or how to obtain drugs, who we want to use them with, and constructing our lives in ways that place substance abuse forefront and center. Now that you’ve been in recovery for a few weeks or a few months, you may be coming to the realization that addiction didn’t just affect you – it’s affected everyone around you. Loved ones have been hurt in the process, and you may have said or done some things that truly severed some of the most important connections you’ve had in your life. It’s a cold, sobering reality to be facing the past directly and it’s natural for you to wish you could take it all back. The reality is that you can’t – but you can work towards making amends and forgiving yourself so that you can move on with your life.

Self-forgiveness is a major component of addiction recovery because if we blame ourselves forever, we won’t be able to make our lives better. A 2017 study published in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly emphasized that 12-Step programs address resentment and forgiveness as central components to the program – and if you’re able to become involved in this, you’ll be able to not only connect with others who are likely feeling similarly, but you’ll also be able to gain some valuable tools for healing. The 12-Steps help individuals address resentment and forgiveness in the following ways:

  • Facing one’s wrongdoings by admitting mistakes rather than hiding or denying them.
  • Correcting these wrongdoings by asking loved ones for forgiveness and admitting that a person’s life has become unmanageable; kind acts and taking an active part in making amends is highlighted as key to recovery – even if others are not as willing to forgive right away
  • Asking for forgiveness through the writing of letters or talking to loved ones in person – of course, when the situation is safe to do so; in addition to this, calling upon a Higher Power to help guide a person through their recovery
  • Forgiving oneself is considered one of the last parts to this, as those in recovery have now done everything they can to rebuild what’s been lost

We can’t change the past, but we do have a say in the present moment and in the future. Speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today to learn more about seeking treatment.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.


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Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.

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