How Can I Explore Practicing Empathy?

Ultimately, addiction makes us very, very selfish. In fact, it’s not even selfishness so much as we become a slave to our substance addiction. Nothing else matters, and certainly, no one else matters. Even if we were well-balanced with our social skills prior to our substance use, when we are active in our addiction, we tend to lose all empathy. When we choose recovery, we have the opportunity to explore empathy in our lives.

Empathy is the capacity to understand how someone else feels, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. A lot of people have problems “reading” other people’s feelings, so we can’t be disappointed in ourselves if it doesn’t come naturally. But it is something that most of us can learn if we make a concerted effort. Learning empathy is a skill that not only helps us in our own recovery, it helps us to be more compassionate towards our fellow human beings.

Make Eye Contact

If the eyes are the mirror to the soul, then we should really try looking in that mirror to understand what someone else is feeling. This can be so hard for so many people! It is not a skill that comes naturally to many of us. And sometimes, even if we try to make eye contact, the other person may not reciprocate. We can only control ourselves, though.

Making eye contact is a non-verbal gesture that indicates to the other person that we care about them. It also provides feedback to us and helps us to match them emotionally. When we make the effort, it is amazing at how much communication is possible without even using any words.

Give Your Full Attention

We as human beings tend to be a little selfish, and sometimes we can monopolize a conversation to make it about us. Empathy is about the other person, though, so we need to close our mouths and give our full and undivided attention when they are telling their story. Even if we feel like we have something important to add to their story, when someone else is sharing, we need to close our mouths and open our ears.

This can also be hard for those of us who are easily distracted. When someone else is talking, it is very important for us to remain focused and listen, even if they like to talk a lot. If for some reason, we get distracted, it is probably better to apologize and ask them to repeat from wherever we last remember than to keep pretending that we know what they said when we didn’t. Ideally, though, we find coping skills to pay attention the entire time.

Listen and Hear

There is a difference between listening to what someone is saying and actually hearing it. Listening means that we pay attention to them when they are saying the words. Hearing means that we understand what they are trying to communicate. Hearing is absolutely a next-level skill compared to just listening, but it is a big part of having empathy.

For example, imagine that we are in treatment and someone is sharing a story about their childhood, something traumatic that happened. If we merely listened, then we might be able to offer some details of the story back if asked. However, if we truly heard them, then we would be able to explain how the trauma made the person feel, too.

Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

This is the action part of having empathy. It is not actually literally putting our feet in someone else’s shoes, it is imagining being in their situation. It is the complex and advanced skill of setting ourselves, our thoughts, concerns, and distractions aside, and imagining what it would be like to be another human being.

What is happening to them? What is their past, and how is it affecting them now? How do they feel about what has happened or what is happening to them? Can we truly step outside ourselves and try to imagine how they are feeling?

Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy, where we feel sadness or pity for someone who is experiencing something that is a negative stressor. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in their shoes in good times and in bad. To feel what they are feeling, no matter where they are on the emotional spectrum.

In order to have empathy, we must open our hearts to another human being and find compassion. We look in their eyes, read their facial expressions, their body language, and listen to their words to be able to understand what they are feeling, instead of how we feel. We set ourselves aside to put ourselves in their shoes.

Anyone can explore empathy when they enter recovery. Enlight can help you or a loved one develop the skills to be more compassionate and to develop empathy for others. Call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.

Health Conditions Caused by Drug and Alcohol Use

We all know that abusing alcohol and other drugs is bad for us. What some people don’t realize is how many significant health conditions are caused by substance abuse. It is not enough that our addictions take over our lives and destroy our careers, friendships, families and more. They can also cause serious and permanent damage to our physical health or even death.

The long list of health conditions that stem from substance abuse begins with serious health problems even in adolescence, all the way up through health conditions that affect people late in life who have used or abused substances for many, many years. Some of the most common physical and mental health problems associated with substance abuse, according to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, are:

Physical Conditions

• Accidental Injury or Death
• Physical/Sexual Violence
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases
• Poisoning/Overdose
• Heart disease/Hypertension/Stroke
• Liver Damage/Disease/Cirrhosis
• Diabetes

It is well known that there are a significant amount of accidents and even fatalities related to driving under the influence of alcohol each year. Lesser known are the other types of accidents, such as at work or home that occur due to alcohol or other drug use. Additionally, there is a significantly larger number of incidents of physical or sexual violence when one or more parties involved have used alcohol or another substance.

Instances of Sexually Transmitted Diseases are higher with those who use or abuse substances due to the increased sexual risk-taking involved when under the influence of one or more substances. This includes cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C. Another big risk factor is using drugs like heroin, where people share needles, or crack cocaine users, whose users often share pipes with people who have mouth sores and could contract blood-borne diseases.

We have all heard the tragic stories of drug or alcohol poisoning or overdose. But what recent studies are showing us is that a very significant number of visits to the Emergency Room for drug-related issues are involving people who misuse prescription drugs, particularly opioids. In fact, prescription drug misuse often accounts for more emergency visits than alcohol now.

The risk of heart disease, hypertension, or stroke seems like something that would only be problematic in older patients, but actually, cardiovascular health is impacted very quickly. Particularly with drugs like cocaine, which immediately impacts blood pressure, the risk for heart attacks is significant. Alcohol, stimulants, heroin, and methamphetamine have all been linked with heart disease and cardiovascular issues, even in younger patients.

Drugs and alcohol can also impact a person’s insulin levels and cause or exacerbate existing diabetes. Diabetes causes many major health issues, including nerve and organ damage and problems in the eyes, including vision loss. Substance use makes these issues much worse in people who are already diabetic and can be the cause of the onset of diabetes, leading to these risks.

Mental Health Conditions

• Suicidal Ideation/Attempts
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Bipolar Disorder
• Panic Disorder
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder
• Social and Specific Phobias
• Oppositional Defiant Disorder
• Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
• Conduct Disorder
• Insomnia
• Dementia

In addition to many of the physical factors which have fatal risks, there are plenty of risks of specific mental health conditions, too. The most obvious risk would be active suicidal ideation or thinking suicidal thoughts, as well as those who actually attempt or complete suicide. Because of the chemical effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, people who use substances are at a significantly higher risk for suicide and also depression. Depression is more common with women than men who use drugs or alcohol, but it is very considerable within this entire community.

There is also a much higher incidence of bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social and specific phobias amongst those who abuse substances. While it is recognized that some may be people who already displayed symptoms of these various disorders and used substances to self-medicate, there is plenty of data to indicate that substance abuse in and of itself can bring these conditions on. All of them are chronic and debilitating and even life-threatening. Additionally, the use of substances when one has a mood or anxiety disorder can make the disorder much worse and more difficult to treat.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also very prevalent amongst those with addictions. Some experience traumatic events that lead to substance abuse to self-medicate, others have traumatic events due to the situations they find themselves in as they use substances. PTSD is from three to six times more common amongst those who abuse substances than the general population.

Adolescents who use substances often develop Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD,) and conduct disorder. These conditions are usually indicated by behavioral issues but are very real medical conditions that make life, particularly learning, very difficult. At the opposite end of the spectrum, elderly people who have used substances for a long time can develop insomnia and are also at a much higher risk of dementia.

Enlight is very aware of both physical and mental health risks that come with substance abuse. Put your trust in our care to help you start your life anew. Call us today at (805) 719-7954 to find the mental and physical help you need along with the caring support you deserve as you begin restoring your wellbeing.

No One Wants to Have a Problem, but Do I Have a Problem?

Denial. Blame. Regret. Guilt. Anything to keep us from facing our addiction. If we can hide behind words or emotions, then we do not have to face the facts. We do not have to do anything about a problem we do not think we have, and we certainly do not have to enter treatment if we can blame our behaviors and actions on someone or something else. Five of the most dangerous words for an addict: “I don’t have a problem.”

Denial

We have all seen a young child “hide” by covering their own eyes. Everyone can see that they are right there. Nothing has changed, except for their sweet, naïve perception: ‘if I cannot see them, they cannot see me.’ Denial works exactly like that. So long as we are unwilling to look at the world, we think the world cannot see our problems. That cannot be further from the truth, though.

The child learns quickly to keep their vision clear to see what is really going on and that hiding is a different game altogether. But our minds are not so willing to learn that our habits and behaviors cannot be hidden from others. That level of denial is most damaging to ourselves. Everyone else can see that we need help, but until we admit that, we won’t get help.

Blame

It is easy to blame our substance use on our environment, family or friends, or other external factors. And most of us have had really, really hard lives, to be fair. But we are always going to be held responsible for our reaction to any circumstances, no matter how difficult. If our reaction is to use substances to deal with life, then we have no one else to blame for that but ourselves.

When we blame other people or things for our substance use, we tell ourselves it is not our fault, which artificially absolves ourselves of our responsibility. Without taking any responsibility, we give ourselves permission to use as much as we want. Whatever the consequences of our actions, we simply blame others. Meanwhile, we are hurting ourselves the most.

Regret

Regret begins by one little thought, looking back on something with sadness or disappointment. Our minds naturally start to put that thought on a loop in our minds, and we have more and more regrets until we can no longer even think about anything else. We find more things to regret, adding to our playlist until our minds are filled with negative views of ourselves and our actions.

When the only video we allow our mind to see is regret, we are immobilized to do anything else at all. Feelings of worthlessness become how we view ourselves. If we were not already using substances, now we would want to more than ever. And the cycle just continues.

Guilt
If regret immobilizes us, our guilt sets us firmly in cement. In a rock quarry in the middle of the desert. Locked in place with chains. Guilt keeps us from being happy, but guilt also keeps us from doing anything we should in order to be healthy.

It is the goodness in all of us that triggers a guilty reaction to something we have done. And feeling guilty is meant to push us toward apologizing, making amends, forgiveness, and changing our ways. But when we are using substances, the guilt is often blown out of proportion. It becomes like that dot… when held far away from us, we can see that it is just a small dot. But when we hold it close to our eye, it is all we can see.

Guilt is helpful when kept in perspective. However, when using and abusing substances, it can become another whole monster to wrestle with. It can lead to depression, self-esteem problems, suicidal thoughts and more. Most importantly, it tells us that we are hopeless and helpless, and that is never true.

All of these types of thinking are negative thought processes. They turn our minds on themselves and create endless loops of adverse thoughts and feelings. Not only do they help us spiral downward in our addictions, but they also cause depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. They also greatly impact our self-esteem long term. And yet this is one part of addiction that we can have some control over.

Responsibility

Denial, regret, blame, and guilt all absolve us of the natural consequences of our actions. We can keep ruminating on the negative things in our heads, or we can take a deep breath and try something new. Instead of saying “I don’t have a problem,” we can listen to that tiny conscience inside of us that has been screaming at us, but drowned out by all of the negative thinking. We can listen to that voice, and pick up the phone and call Enlight right now at (805) 719-7954 so we can help you stop the negative thinking and start living again.

Why Do We Need Recovery?

Some of us have lost everything. Literally everything. All we have is what is left of our health, along with this chronic illness called addiction. Some of us act a little sooner than others, but the one thing we all have in common is that our addiction is in control of our lives, not us. We could continue down the path we are on, and eventually, become just another statistic. But for some reason, we don’t. For some reason, we choose recovery. Why?

Someone Else

We have seen the television interventions, and maybe ours was not unlike those ones. It is often one or more loved ones who care about us and see destructive behaviors and give us the push toward recovery. For some of us, that is enough, but for others, we may not have long term success when we enter recovery because of someone else’s recommendation, no matter how loving it was intended. Still, it is a wake-up call and a catalyst and is always a good enough reason to reach for wellness.

To Save Our Relationships

Ultimatums are very powerful in our decision-making process. It might be a spouse or parent or someone else in our lives that put their foot down and tells us to get help or get out. While this seems like we would always want a loving relationship bad enough to do anything to save it, addiction can be more powerful than even family bonds or other bonds of the heart. But saving a relationship is a great reason for us to choose recovery.

To Save Our Lives

We have had our fun, and now we have health problems. Serious health problems. Maybe even potentially fatal health problems. Perhaps our doctors have told us to sober up or we will die. When faced with our own mortality, sometimes, that is enough to jolt us into action. Despite the power of addiction, there is always a little part of us that wants to live, wants to be healthy. And recovering our lives quite literally is a very important reason to seek treatment.

Because We Really Screwed Up

Addiction allows us to do things that we would never otherwise do. Ever. Perhaps our rock bottom involves criminal activity. Perhaps while drunk or high, we caused an accident or someone died because of our negligence. Maybe we lost our job, our home, our family, and we have nowhere else to go. While in active addiction, we really screwed up, and now we have been startled by our actions into reaching out to get the help we need so this never happens again.

We Want to Be Human Again

Some of us just get tired of being a slave to drugs or alcohol. We get tired of feeling nothing and then numbing the nothingness. Maybe we are tired of missing out on the lives of those we love because our addictions pull us away emotionally and/or physically. Perhaps we just miss feeling… feeling true love, feeling raw, emotional pain, feeling joy and feeling sadness. When we look in the mirror, we don’t even see ourselves anymore, just a vacant face that is tired of having to find that next drink or that next fix. We want to feel human again.

For Us

The best and most powerful reason is when we Recover Life for ourselves. Self-motivation is one of the best recipes for success, particularly when it comes to addiction recovery. We are tired of being motivated only by substances, we want to have our freedom back. We are tired of disappointing or hurting others in our lives, we want to have our credibility back. We are tired of feeling alone, even if we are surrounded by others. We remember that we used to do and be and enjoy so many different things, and we want that person back.

All of the Above

Perhaps our choice is made by a combination of the reasons listed above, or maybe every single one of them. Maybe we have waited until the addiction has impacted every single facet of our lives. There is no wrong reason to choose recovery. We each make the commitment when we are ready. We all have different motivations and different ways we experience addiction. What we do share in common is the will to live, the desire to improve our situations and break free of our addictions. That motivation will drive us to recovery. And the sooner we choose recovery, the more of our lives we have left to truly live again.

These reasons are just a few of the reasons that we recover. But the external reason we choose recovery is not as nearly as important as just simply making the decision and beginning our recovery journey. We really only have our addictions to lose, and everything else to gain in life. What is the reason that you will choose recovery? That choice is yours. To take your life back, call us today at (805) 719-7954.

How Do I Break the Cycle of Addiction?

Having addiction in our lives is difficult enough. But for some of us, addiction is familial and/or genetic. Meaning that to overcome our addiction, we must also break a cycle of addiction that has been part of our families, sometimes for generations before us. We face changing habits that are both learned and genetic, and changing the way we live despite all of our predecessors who were also addicts. It is an uphill battle that defies our very nature.

All in the Family

As human beings, we naturally gather in family groups. We share our lives, our laughter, and our tears. Unfortunately, sometimes we also share dysfunction. Do we even know which came first, the dysfunction or the addiction? It is a question that may not be able to be answered, but far too often, they are gifted to us as a pair.

We learn by what we see. So if adult family members are seen using a substance or even just the behaviors that go along with substance use, then that is what we see, that is what we learn. We often don’t know that there is a problem, especially as children. If grandma’s breath smells like alcohol and she has erratic behavior and sleeping patterns, we assume that all grandmas do that.

Sadly, in many families, our first opportunity to drink or use a drug is given to us by a family member, too. It normalizes unhealthy behaviors and gives us permission to carry on family traditions that can grow into addiction and destroy our lives. Obviously, this is not the family inheritance anyone would choose to give. But if addiction is in our family, sometimes, the choice isn’t really ours to make.

Family Dynamics

Our families do love us, the best they know how to. But if we seek treatment for addiction, then it may put the spotlight on them to perhaps acknowledge and seek treatment for their addiction as well. So many family members are content in their own quagmire, and are not only going to be unwilling to support us but may actively act against us and our choice to enter recovery.

It is not fair for someone to have to choose between their family and recovery. But all too often, especially when we come from unhealthy families, we may have to make that horrible choice. In the end, we should look at the big picture. If we choose recovery, then we are free to be better people, including being better with our families. Even if we are disowned, we are striking the match to light the first lamp of recovery in what is sometimes generations of addiction and unhealthy living. We can be the example, be the catalyst to change future generations so that this disease of addiction does not destroy the lives of any more of our relatives.

Overwhelming Obstacles

We have an addiction, and we have been through enough to know we want to change. We know our family is unhealthy, and that perhaps addiction is something handed down for multiple generations. This is what we have learned, this is all we know. That makes recovery so much harder. Now perhaps our families have disowned us, kicked us out of the house, or cut us off emotionally. All because we want to be healthy. We might feel more alone than ever before. We might even wonder why we are doing this at all.

These obstacles may seem overwhelming. But they are not insurmountable. If we are struggling with an addiction, we need people in our lives who can support us. Our family cannot, that has been proven, especially if none of them have acknowledged or received treatment for their own addictions. And while we love them, we must be able to love ourselves before we can truly love them, anyway. It is a shame if our families are obstacles. But we don’t have to let them stop us from being healthy.

Awakenings

When we choose recovery over our family, over our genetics, and over our heritage of addiction, we become a pioneer. We are forging a path that none of our ancestors were able to, and we are changing the future of our posterity. If we have to prune our family tree for it to be healthy again, so be it. It is not that we are discarding our families or judging them, we are simply choosing a new path. If we are lucky, perhaps others in our family will see our path and see our happiness, and join us. That is the ideal. But even if we walk the journey of recovery alone, we can know that we are giving our family the best gift we possibly can: life.

Recovery is like a rebirth for us, and it can be like an awakening within our families. Whether or not our families choose to support us or even acknowledge us, we have the power to break the cycle. To learn more about how Enlight can help you write rewrite your family history, call us today at (805) 719-7954.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Addiction and Bipolar Disorder

It is difficult enough to come to terms with addiction in our lives. But sometimes, that is not all that is keeping us from experiencing a high quality of life. Some of us have a co-occurring disorder, also known as dual diagnosis. The most common dual diagnosis is an addiction and bipolar disorder. If we treat only the addiction, then the bipolar disorder will likely impact our recovery and vice versa.

Stigma: A Stumbling Block to Treatment

There is plenty of stigma about addiction. Even in the year 2019, movies, the media, and social media often paint a very denigrating picture of people who struggle with addiction. However perhaps even more crippling is the stigma around mental illness. Even for people who don’t place immediate judgment when we tell them we have bipolar disorder, depression, or some other mental illness, there is little education about mental illness or how to help someone struggling with it. People just don’t know what to say or do to help.

Despite the fact that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that as many as one in five people suffers from a mental illness, there is still more fear than understanding amongst the general public. That changes every time we read or learn more about mental illness, and every time we are willing to speak up for ourselves and our loved ones and educate others. Bipolar disorder isn’t a mark of shame, it’s a serious medical condition that impacts “normal” people like you and me.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which the person experiences periods of both mania and depression, or “highs” and “lows.” These periods can last from a few days to weeks, months or even years. There can also be periods of “normalcy.”

Studies still continue as to exactly what goes on in the brain to cause the chemical imbalance which impacts our mood and behavior so significantly. A simple version of what happens in the brain is that serotonin levels are not properly regulated, which then inhibits normal function. Much like diabetes is a disease where so much is impacted by the body’s inability to produce or regulate insulin, bipolar disorder is where normal brain function is impacted by the inability to regulate serotonin.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, based on types of manic and depressed episodes. Everyone is different, some people suffer from chronic and debilitating depression, with only short spells of normalcy or some level of mania. Some people hardly have any depression, others never have a true manic episode, but rather experience hypomania.

Hypomania is a period of time that can span from days to weeks in which the mood is elevated, there is less need for sleep, and these episodes are often filled with high productivity. However, there are often impulsive or risk-taking behaviors, especially spending or unusual sexual activity. However, some people are more irritable and angry when they have hypomania. A true manic episode is similar but more extreme, and often people exhibit a greater distance from reality and there is a higher risk of harm to self or others. For example, some people may think they can fly or do things that aren’t physically possible.

Depression is a little more well known and is more common within bipolar disorder. In fact, many patients are diagnosed with depression only, without realizing that the times that they felt a little too good were actually hypomanic episodes. This is a challenge because treatments for depression can actually worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder. Depression is more than just feeling sad, in fact, many people don’t feel anything at all. It is typically a period of time for more than a few days in which the person feels lethargic, tired, experiences less interest in things, and more. It is a physical condition, not just an emotional reaction to life events, even if some depression is brought on by outside triggers.

How Common is an Addiction and Bipolar Dual Diagnosis?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), up to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder will develop a substance use disorder in their lifetime. People with co-occurring bipolar and addiction have the additional challenges of being less likely to respond to treatment and suffering from increased bipolar symptoms, such as higher highs and lower lows. Frighteningly, those of us with co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction show more instances of hospitalizations and suicide attempts as well.

The most frustrating part of dual diagnosis is that so many of the symptoms are overlapping, so it takes a trained professional to properly make this diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment. Both substances and treatment can worsen both the bipolar disorder and the addiction, and one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is denial, which makes it even harder to get help.

The good news is that there is a solution. For someone battling on both fronts, there are places who understand and can help with co-occurring addiction and bipolar disorder. Enlight has the experience and support needed to help. If you or your loved one believe that there might be more than just addiction going on, call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.

How Do I Learn to Trust?

Trust. It’s a powerful word. For some people, it seems to come naturally. But for many of us who have come from poverty, dysfunction, abuse, and/or addiction, it may be like a foreign language to us. When we add our own addictions, as well as the consequences of them, then it may seem like climbing Mount Everest to even think that we could ever trust anyone. How can we ever trust family, trust friends, or trust ourselves?

However, when we choose recovery, we learn that there are a lot of things we can do that we never thought possible. Finding trust in ourselves and those around us is just one of the many blessings we learn when we do the work to build a new life. These are some steps we can take to find trust in our lives:

1) Surrender

The first step is to surrender. Let go of everything we thought we knew, all of the things we learned with our dysfunctional relationships, and all of the judgments we have been holding onto about ourselves. We might even physically and symbolically step away from the trauma of not trusting others, not trusting ourselves.

We can also pray or meditate and wash our minds clean of the thought processes surrounding trust. We can ask for strength to have an open mind about our future. That as we are making so many changes in our lives, we can have the power to impact our relationships, too, and that we will find people we can trust and depend upon.

2) Forgive

The next step is to forgive. We need to forgive those who have broken our trust. We need to forgive ourselves for any perceived faults for our trusting in them. Just forgive, letting go of the pain and embarrassment or whatever else we are attaching to broken trust.

Most importantly, we need to forgive ourselves for not being able to trust ourselves. Where have we made choices that made us untrustworthy, either to ourselves or others? We need to acknowledge our mistakes and then forgive ourselves for them. We can trust ourselves again because we are making new choices. And we can forgive ourselves for whatever has happened in the past.

3) Forget

It is one thing to forgive, but it is another to truly forget. Erasing the past is hard to do when we have so much pain and trauma attached to it. But if we are truly going to be able to trust again, then we need to cleanse our minds of everything and everyone that has broken our trust in the past. All of those decisions that others made that hurt us. All of the people who didn’t show up for us. All of the choices we made that damaged our own trust in our selves or others’ trust in us. We need to take a big eraser and wipe the slate clean.

Part of forgetting is also to remember to stay in the present. When we are anchored in the here and now, focused on the choices and people in front of us, we are more prepared to leave the past in the past and to be able to trust. Here. Now.

4) Take a Chance

The scariest part of finding trust is to take a chance and trust someone again. This can seem insurmountable. If it is not working, then we probably need to go back through the first three steps and see what we are hanging on to still.

The telling part will be when we notice that we are actually already trusting. We are trusting in our facility or outpatient program to help us heal. We are trusting in the people around us by confiding in them and sharing our stories. We are trusting in ourselves by staying, and by showing up and working every day in our recovery. With these skills in place, we are more prepared to take a chance on ourselves and others in our lives and trust.

5) Reward Faith

To trust in ourselves or others requires faith. We must believe that trust will be fulfilled, and we must be willing to put our trust out there, risking failure. Having lived with failed trust, that of ourselves or others, we of all people should be able to acknowledge and reward faith.

When someone keeps our trust, we can thank them for being trustworthy. Not only will it help them to feel validated for being trusted, but it will help us to remember that our trust has been rewarded, too. The same goes for when we keep our own trust, by making a good choice or fulfilling an assignment. We can acknowledge that we are worthy of trust. This will help heal and reinforce the positive choices we have worked so hard to implement in our lives.

Learning to find trust is part of healing ourselves. Regardless of our past, we can learn new ways of living, including trust in ourselves and others. If we are willing to take these steps, we can learn to trust. That empowers us to build new relationships with others and to be confident in our own choices and believe in ourselves again. To begin recovery and learn to trust, call us today at (805) 719-7954 and speak to one of our admissions experts.

Can Broken Dreams Create a Profound Future?

When we were young, none of us ever said: “When I grow up, I want to be an addict.” Yet here we are, proverbial slaves to our substances. Life rarely turns out according to plans. Yet many people have changed the world by accident, or from hitting their rock bottom. While life feels hopeless when we are awakening from our addiction, it may just be that we are getting ready to change the world. Certainly, we can change our world. From our broken dreams, we can create a profound future.

There are plenty of people who failed, or accidentally found success on their way to changing the world. Consider the following:

1) The Discovery of Penicillin– Penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scottish researcher. He was working at St. Mary’s Hospital in London in 1928, studying the influenza virus. He had a reputation of being a bit careless in the laboratory.

Fleming went on holiday for two weeks, and when he returned, he found that one of the culture plates had been accidentally contaminated and grew a white, fuzzy mold. Upon further infection, he realized that the mold prevented the growth of the bacteria.

Because of his failure to do his job correctly, Fleming discovered penicillin, which has saved countless lives since then.

2) The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll– As a boy, Elvis Presley was not very successful, even failing music classes. He wanted to be a singer, but his father told him he had to get a job. He worked first at a machinist shop, then got a job as a truck driver.

During this time, he tried to join a band but was infamously told that he wasn’t going anywhere as a singer and that he should go back to truck driving. He tried joining a vocal group but was told that he couldn’t sing.

We all know how his story went from here, as he not only became one of the most beloved and iconic recording artists of all time, but he also changed music forever.

3) Unbreakable Glass – Discovered by French scientist and artist Edouard Benedictus, in the year was 1903. Unbreakable glass was discovered when a flask made of glass fell to the floor. As Benedictus was on a ladder, he knocked the infamous flask to the floor. He heard the flask shatter, but to his surprise, it stayed intact without shards flying everywhere.

The flask had a thin film of liquid plastic from a previous experiment. It was from this fateful accident that Benedict created shatterproof glass, which has been saving lives on car windshields and more for over 100 years now.

4) The Queen of Jazz – Ella Fitgerald was a legendary jazz singer with an unmistakably beautiful voice and musicianship that was unparalleled. But she was not born the Queen of Jazz. She was actually born into poverty. Her mother died when she was fifteen, and her stepfather abused her. She struggled in school and spent time on the streets, working jobs with illicit businesses to survive.

It was during this dark time in her life that she decided to sing at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. From this point on, her career spiraled upward and she became the icon we know today. Not only did she bless the world with her wonderful music, but she was also a civil rights activist, winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

5) The Invention of the Light Bulb– Thomas Edison did not believe in giving up. In his efforts to invent the light bulb, he reportedly failed one thousand times. One thousand. Perhaps his determination came from the fact that as a child, he was called dumb and told by his teachers that he would never succeed because his mind would wander when he was in school.

These things could have stopped him, but Edison didn’t let them stand in his way. And the very light by which we are reading this right now is made possible by his determination. He famously said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” The moral of this story is never give up.

All of these people started out as ordinary people, just like us. From their failures and accidents, they changed the world and blessed all of us with their unique talents and strengths. Maybe our path doesn’t lead us through a laboratory or a recording studio. Maybe our path is to simply change our world and become the best version of ourselves we can be. Perhaps our broken dreams will lead to a profound future for ourselves, even if we do not become world-famous for it.

The most important part of our success story is that we never give up. Reach out to us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts and together with the extensive experience of the Enlight Recovery staff, you can change your “rock bottom” into a profound future.

Recovery: A Song of the Heart

Our lives with addiction have felt so hard for so long. Empty and unfulfilling. There has been music all around us, but we have struggled to hear it. Or feel it. Let alone to be able to truly let it move us. When we are active in our addiction, it’s difficult to truly feel anything. But now we are choosing to be present, authentic, and feel again. It may take some time, but eventually, we will be able to feel the music of our hearts again.

Breaking Down Walls

If we are to fill our hearts with music again, the first thing we have to do is break down the walls of our addiction. Maybe we have tried to stop drinking before or to wean ourselves from our drug cold turkey. But addiction is very powerful, and this is very difficult to do on our own. We have built up walls around our addiction, protecting our habits and justifying our behavior, and those walls are difficult to remove on our own.

Those walls have kept us from feeling normal emotions and sensations, even music. Now, we realize how harmful our addiction is, and it has finally come time to sober up and tear down those walls to let the music back in. We can seek treatment to help us not break down the walls of our addiction, but to also help us allow music to flow within us again.

Removing Barriers

Once we are physically free of substances, we will need to remove the barriers in our lives that made us want to numb ourselves in the first place. Whether it be fear, anger, resentment, trauma or whatever else, those barriers are not serving us. They are barriers toward feeling all emotions, positive and negative.

Without using substances, all of those emotions are laid bare, so it is natural that we would want to put up barriers. But when we block out the pain, we cannot feel the joy. It is time to remove all of our barriers so that we can enjoy all of the emotions and all of the music.

A Simple Tune

When we remove those barriers, we might be overcome at times with emotions. Powerful and sudden, they can surprise us at any time. That is okay, though, we want to feel again. We are just learning how to feel so many different things once again, and our minds and bodies will eventually regulate emotions for us.

Something that can help us is music. We can find a simple tune, our own anthem. When we are overwhelmed by emotions, we can keep that tune inside of us and it can be our anchor. Whenever the emotions swell – whether positive or negative – we can listen to that simple tune in our heads and it will help us to navigate those emotions and bring us back to calm waters.

Feeling the Music

Once we start learning to regulate our emotions successfully, we will notice that we are starting to feel the music inside of us. Not just hearing a song, not just tapping our feet or to the beat, but truly feel the music and lyrics as if they were part of us. We can use music powerfully, to help us feel happy, to match our moods, or to express ourselves and where we are.

We can explore different kinds of music, and notice how they make us feel on the inside. We are often drawn to songs that make us feel happy or positive or songs that put a smile on our faces. As we learn to feel the music, it is like opening a door to a life we may not have known before. Music is so powerful, and when we start to feel it, it can help us grow stronger and resist temptations.

A Heart Full of Song

There will be a time in our recovery when we truly are grateful and rejoicing for the life that we have taken control of. We are grateful to be able to feel again, even to feel sadness or pain. We are happy to have discovered our divine power and to find the tools that help us choose recovery every single day.

When we have found our way onto this path, likely, our hearts will be full of song. We will fill our hearts and minds with music that makes us feel alive and brings us joy. Our hearts will feel so many things, and music will feel like the rhythm our heart is beating to.

It is difficult to describe how alive it feels to have a heart full of song. Like taking the first step on a new journey, trying delicious new foods, or hearing a song that speaks to our souls. This is what awaits us when we choose recovery. This is what awaits us when we take that first step to find our own song of the heart. Speak to one of Enlight’s admission experts today at (805) 719-7954.

Creativity in Healing

Some of the greatest art and music ever made was the result of tortured lives riddled with addiction or mental illness. From artists like Van Gogh to Jimi Hendrix, they were innovators and transformed their pain into beauty for all the world to see and hear. But without treatment, their mental health and addiction also took their talents from us too soon. We will never know what they could have given the world if they were healthy, or how much more music and art they could have produced.

Many artists do not want to seek treatment because they feel like treatment will hinder their creativity. Which is an interesting perspective, because serious mental health challenges and addiction can take our lives, and nothing stifles creativity more than death.

We don’t need to use art or creativity as an excuse to avoid treatment. We don’t need to roll the dice with our lives and hope that addiction, mental illness, or both don’t take us prematurely, too. By giving ourselves the gift of a life in recovery, we also give ourselves the chance to create beautiful art and music through being alive and experiencing all types of emotions. We can find our creativity in healing.

Inspiration in Pain

There is something relatable when we hear a song by an artist that was motivated by pain or loss. Perhaps it is that our own pain connects to theirs through the lyrics and music. Or perhaps we may realize that we don’t have it as bad as someone else. Take Eric Clapton’s song, “Tears in Heaven,” which he wrote after losing his four-year-old son in a tragic accident. Hearing someone’s pain through music invokes deep emotion in us as fellow human beings.

There have been thousands of songs written about pain and suffering of another kind: mental illness and addiction. Through the instrumentation and lyrics, we can almost tangibly feel their suffering. Some sing to glamorize substance abuse. They sing as if they are invincible. Others sing about the consequences of untreated mental illness and addiction. Still, others seem to be reaching out and begging for help, even if they cannot seem to help themselves.

Artists and musicians today create amazing work, even while suffering from mental illness or addiction. Whether they are major pop-culture celebrities or unknown indie darlings, pain is such a common theme that some may have even dulled our senses to it. Many of us are drawn to their work because we relate all too well. Or maybe we are those artists and musicians, and our art is a manifestation of our pain, too.

Choosing Healing

The trouble with balancing some degree of notoriety is that we can’t hide. That can also be a blessing, however, because sometimes our being in the public eye forces us to get sober when we might not have otherwise done so. Or it can bring serendipitous moments like for Elton John, who, because of his celebrity status, met an AIDS patient who inspired him to change his life. After years of addiction, John has now been sober for 29 years.

Other famous musicians who chose recovery include Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler. In an interview with GQ magazine in January, he spoke of his substance abuse, “What happens with using is: It works in the beginning, but it doesn’t work in the end.” He has sought treatment for his addiction four different times, but this time around, he has been sober for nine years.

Some musicians use their celebrity to reach out and try to help others. One example is the song by Logic, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, simply titled “1-800-273-8255.” That phone number is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The song talks about depression and thoughts that many can relate to, it humanizes the idea of reaching out for help and ends with a message of hope, which is punctuated by using the lifesaving phone number as the title.

The Co-existence of Creativity and Healing

For those who feel like treatment will dull their creativity, Tyler spoke about creativity and sobriety. He said, “All the magic that you thought worked when you were high comes out when you get sober. You realize it was always there, and your fear goes away… We all got sober, I guess, over ’88, ’89, and those albums were all off the charts. Finally had a No. 1 single.”

Healing provides ample opportunity for creativity. When we choose recovery, we begin a journey full of emotions and new realizations about life, love, and especially ourselves. As we heal, art, music, and other creative outlets are perfect ways to express our emotions and document our journey in recovery.

Without the controlling effects of drugs and alcohol to stop us, our creativity is limitless. We are able to feel again, and our minds and bodies are clearing away the shackles that addiction places on our souls. We can find inspiration in new things that we may not have even noticed before. When we choose recovery, we are alive again. To find out more about how you can seize your second chance at life today, call (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.