Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Survival Guide For those in Recovery for an Addiction

This week's Random Resource ThuRsday is about Getting Ready for Next ThurSday ~ Thanksgiving!

Found this wonderful Survival Guide for Thanksgiving (from Crying Out Loud's Blog) and things that we can all do to prepare for what could be a challenging time.  Let's not let a day of which we should reflect and be grateful for those we have in our lives be turned into a day or relapse.  Read on!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Thanksgiving is two days away.   Holidays can be difficult for sober people, or people struggling to get or stay sober.

Now is a good time to prepare.

We thought we'd share some tips.   You can not only survive Thanksgiving, you can enjoy it.   All you need to do is plan ahead.    Please add your own in the comments below; this is by no means a comprehensive list.

  1. Think ahead.  Is it hard for you to be around alcohol?   Be honest with yourself.  Now is not a time for heroics.   Keep your expectations realistic:  if it is going to be too difficult, maybe this year is a time to do something different for Thanksgiving.   Don't set yourself up to fail.    You can spend a quiet time at home watching movies or hanging out with other friends, volunteer at a shelter serving food, or go to a meeting instead.  
  2. Thanksgiving is usually about family.  If there are people in your family who trigger you, be ready.    You don't have to go to every fight you're invited to .. plan what you'll say or do if someone gives you a hard time.  
  3. Have safe people to call - program their numbers into your phone in advance, and tell them you're going to call if things get tough.   If everyone around you is drinking and it starts to bring you down, talking to someone else who is sober helps you remember that you are NOT alone.
  4. Bring your own beverages.  This is especially important if you're going to be around people who don't know you're sober.   If you always have a drink in your hand, people won't hand you alcohol or ask if you want something to drink.  
  5. You don't have to over explain.   If someone is pressuring you to drink, be ready with an answer.   A white lie is totally acceptable - tell people you're on antibiotics, or you're watching your calories and so you aren't drinking.   
  6. Have an escape plan.  If you can, bring your own car.    Plan to go for a post-turkey walk - fresh air and exercise will get your endorphins flowing and help tamp down cravings.
  7. Plan your exit in advance.   If everyone is going to settle in to watch football and drink and you don't want to be part of it ... don't.   Tell whoever is hosting that you have to leave at a certain time so you don't get drawn in to staying longer than you want to.
  8. Remember to be proud of yourself - shame and guilt are huge triggers.   Give yourself credit for staying strong.
  9. Think about the next morning, when you'll wake up hangover-free and rested.    Think about how horribly you felt the morning after drinking, and how sober you don't wake up and think, "I wish I drank last night."
  10. Think through the drink.   If you start romancing how nice "one drink" would be, remember how many times you told yourself you were only going to have one and failed.    Having one is harder than having none, because once alcohol is in your system the obsession comes alive.
  11. Remind yourself that Thanksgiving is just one day.    A simple 24 hours, just like any other day.   Don't put more importance on this day over any other.  
  12. Go to bed.   If the day is harder than you expected, go to bed early just to put the day to rest.   Tomorrow is a new day.
  13. Believe in yourself.   Getting sober and staying sober takes serious guts - you are brave and strong and true.   If guilt, shame and remorse start talking to you, remind yourself that it's your disease sneaking in the back door.   Let your sober voice ring loud and proud in your head.
  14. Forgive yourself for wanting to drink.   Don't expect that you won't be hit with a craving; it's natural.   Prepare for how you're going to handle the craving instead of berating yourself for having one.
  15. Be grateful.    Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks.. make a gratitude list and carry it with you.   Try to focus on the gifts you have in your life, all the possibilities that lie in front of you, instead of all the things you can't have.   Sober, you can do anything
Please add more thoughts and ideas in the comments; we want to hear from you.    Addiction thrives in the dark, and together we bring the light.

You are not alone.

And don't forget, add your Lights into recoveryBox, and let your sponsor see how awesome you did!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Version 5.1 and A Few Changes

Version 5.1 is soon to be uploaded to the Apple Store for their approval and then release.  It's coming peeps ~ I promise!

What is new?

Background/Logon Privacy Screen
MANY users asked us to blank out the screen when the app goes into the background mode and also for when it's brought back into the foreground.  This visual "hide" was asked for privacy purposes and we felt this was very important.  so - added!!  You will see the difference both when the app goes into the background mode as well as when the app brings you back to the logon screen (if you use the password feature).

Facebook Integration is Removed

Another change that you will also notice is that all "Facebook shares" directly from the app has been removed.  While this might come as a sadness to some, we hope that after this explanation you will understand.  As of iOS9, Facebook requires that all apps register with them to get an ID number.  There needs to be a call back to Facebook that checks to make sure this app is valid by checking the ID number.

What this now does is make a permanant connection between the App and your Facebook ID.  In the PAST you could share directly to Facebook and there was no record of the recoveryBox app - In fact, Facebook didn't even know about the app.

With this new change by Facebook, we felt that is intrusive.  We PRIDE ourselves in keeping the data and anything related to recoveryBox completely private.  Because we don't control anything on Facebook's side we decided this was best.

recoveryBox and the developers NEVER see your data as it resides only on your device. We have no backend servers where your data resides - and this is completely for privacy reasons.

And so, while this feature was nice to have, you can accomplish the same thing by taking screen shots and then uploading them to Facebook. Sorry about the extra step - but, well, we hope you understand.

Please note..this does not have any affect on Twitter tweets. They do not have the same requirements as Facebook and so we decided to leave that in the app.

iOS9 Ready
Well, let's just say we did this :)

Bug Fixes 

  • We fixed the bug where users could not edit custom triggers.  Opps.  Sorry about that.
  • Also, added new logo image that was missing for Twitter Tweets
  • Reduced memory footprint

Want to kick the addiction, hurt, habit, or hang-up? Download recoveryBox and be accountable.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Random Resource ThuRsday - Inhalants

Many times when we talk about addictions we immediately think about drugs and alcohol. Thinking about inhaling something is not the first thing that comes to mind but it is one of the most easily accessible of "things" to become addicted to.

Think about it, what's under your kitchen sink? Or in your garage? Sniffing inhalants is an addiction that starts when kids are young. Yes, kids DO go in the garage and sniff a can of paint. And just one time can cause irreversible brain damage or even death. It's a horrible addiction.  Keep reading to become educated on inhalants. Parents when you talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol, don't forget this IS a drug even if it's legal to get.

To find out more visit Drug Free World's Post on Inhalants or visit their entire site.  It's filled with loads of information. 

Below is the post from Drug Free World.  Become Educated!

Monday, September 14, 2015

What are "Lights?" in recoveryBox?

So you are wondering what exactly are these lights?  That's the easy part...they are your daily activities broken into your greens (the activities/habits you want to build), the yellows (umm, these are people, places or things that are putting you at risk for acting out and you want to avoid them), and the reds (activities that are part of your addiction).

The goal of course is to have as many greens as possible.  By taking care of your green events on a daily basis you will see how you are starting to take care of yourself and your yellows and reds will start to lessen.

Next post, I'll explain how to use those greens to track activities.  recoveryBox is extremely flexible with your lights.  It allows you to basically give weight to the green lights for accountability to your sponsor or accountability partner.  But wait, I'm getting ahead of'll have to wait until I
get to that blog post.

Can't wait, check out recoveryBox the site for more info.

Want to download from the Apple App store..thanks.  I'm available for questions anytime.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why Is It So Damn Hard to Change?

Random Resource ThuRsday

This week I blogged about knowing the what's and why's that lead to your acting out.. and that you have to have data to understand your habits. Knowing your triggers is key to breaking an addiction.   When we act on our triggers, we are just reinforcing our trigger/behavior/reaction mechanism. 

Oprah is not where I normally get information for sharing but I thought this was a great article that talks about dopamine ..  you know the chemical released in your body when you do an acting-out behavior.  I cropped out a small portion for you to read but I urge you to read the rest.

Why Is It So Damn Hard to Change?

Read more:

Photo: Hugh Kretschmer
Dopamine teaches your brain what you want, then drives you to get it, regardless of what's good for you. It does this in two steps. First you experience something that gives you pleasure (say, McDonald's french fries), which causes a dopamine surge. Some of that dopamine travels to the area of your brain where memories are formed and creates a memory connecting those fries with getting a reward. At that point, in sciencespeak, the fries have become "salient." And when you're exposed to something that's salient, you may think, "That's bad for me, I shouldn't,"  but your brain registers, "Dopamine jackpot!" 

Which is where step two comes in: On top of creating memories, dopamine controls the areas of the brain responsible for desire, decision-making, and motivation. So once fries become salient, the next time you see or smell them, your brain releases a surge of dopamine that drives you to get more fries. When you succeed, your brain produces more dopamine, which reinforces the memory that made fries salient in the first place, etching it further into your brain. It's a never-ending cycle: The more you do something that's rewarding, the more dopamine makes sure you do it again. This is precisely how habits form. Eventually, if the fries become salient enough, your brain will release dopamine and push you to get fries anytime you see the colors yellow and red, even if you're nowhere near McDonald's.

And this is true for any behavior that results in a reward: Orgasms cause dopamine surges. So does hitting the jackpot when you gamble, winning a race, acing a test, doing cocaine or methamphetamines, smoking, drinking. "Dopamine is motivation," 


But my big question for Volkow is this: How do you get yourself hooked on something that's not inherently pleasurable to you—like living on salads and broccoli or, in my case, exercising? Many people get a natural high from working out. I, however, am not one of them. "Isn't there some way to trick the dopamine system?" I ask her. "Some way to fool my brain into craving exercise?"

Sure, she says: The secret is thinking up rewards. My payoff for working out could be a pedicure or a new pair of shoes. For someone trying to diet: Maybe you get a massage after a week of good eating, or have a friend dole out gift certificates if you stay on track (you pay, but she controls the vouchers). "Giving yourself rewards for a behavior engages the dopamine system so your brain will associate the positive outcome with it, which will help you form the habit."

Read more:

Well, I wish I could reward all the recoveryBox users with something great to help retrain our brains..but hopefully when you earn your badges, that will give you a small sense of accomplishment.

For more information about recoveryBox, visit the website and see if it's an app that might be helpful in your recovery from your addiction.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Porn Addiction Recovery App

Wanting to break free from a pornography addiction (porn) is not easy. Viewing porn creates the same chemical highs in the brain as using drugs or drinking alcohol. But the difference with porn is that once the images are viewed they are in your brain and you can retrieve them at will and thus recreating that high.

recoveryBox - the Addiction recovery iOS App

recoveryBox was created originally for those in recovery from a pornography or sex addiction.  There are different addictions that you can choose from such as Lust, Sex Addiction, Pornography, Voyeurism. These are there as suggestions of the types of habits that need to be broken (called your red lights).  But you can create your own type of addiction that would work better for you by creating your own custom red lights.

By tracking your good habits (green lights) as well as warning situations (yellow lights - people, places, and things) and triggers you can create a clear picture of what habits you have as well as need to break. Keep accountable with your sponsor or counselor or accountability partner. recoveryBox will let you know it's time to enter your daily lights as well will remind you to connect with your sponsor.

recoveryBox works well with a traditional 12 Step Program or Celebrate Recovery.  Try recoveryBox today. Available for any Apple iDevice.

Don't worry if the lights you see here don't match what you need help with. Customize the addiction to match what you need to track. Users will also want to track their triggers (also customizable) so that accountability partners/sponsors can get a good picture of what's going on.

Want to break the addiction? Accountability does work!

And remember, there are multiple sex addictions to choose from OR you can create your own custom
addiction to meet your specific needs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3 R's ~ Staying Motivated or Risk A Relapse

Random Resource ThuRsday!! 

3 R's ~ Staying Motivated or Risk A Relapse

I know from experience how easy it is to start down the road to recovery feeling the high of finally being free from a horrible secret and thinking I've got this licked!!  And then wham!!!  Something in life hits us and we run back to old habits, acting out and then going into relapse. 

And from there it is such a downward spiral.  Does anyone else know what I'm talking about here?!?

But that's why programs like a 12 Step Program or Celebrate Recovery have accountability partners as part of the approach.  Most of us just can't do this alone!  And we need someone to help us, encourage us, support us and motivate us.

This week I blogged about the Motivator piece of the recoveryBox iPhone Addiction Recovery App.  There is a good reason that is part of the's to help us stay motivated.  Part of us as a person wants to please people other people.  It's part of being connected in life.  So when using a tool such as recoveryBox, it's important to stay motivated for compliance...because that IS one of the biggest pieces to addiction recovery.  You can't "cheat" here and there.  True recovery is to not return to those habits.

While doing research for recoveryBox, I ran across this article about motivation and it helped me focus on how can recoveryBox app can be part of that motivation.  Thanks Peggy for authoring such a great piece and for really just putting it out there in honest terms. 

(look for another blog post in a few weeks about another feature to recoveryBox that is all about motivation.  It's my favorite piece too!)

Addiction Recovery

Maintain Your Recovery Motivation Or You Will Relapse By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

People often find their way to recovery in the midst of a crisis. Someone standing at the crossroads of recovery, may have been arrested for DUI, may have been fired, or may have received a scary report from the doctor. He may have heard the bottom line demand from his spouse-- "Get help or we are getting a divorce." Or, the alcoholic/addict may in fact, have a moment of clarity and really be able to see that he does have a problem and that help and abstinence are called for. The alcoholic/addict feels afraid. He feels ashamed. He feels angry at others or at himself for being in this position in the first place.

Fear, coercion or crisis helps him find his way into recovery. Fear is a fairly good short term motivator, but not so good in the long run. Once the fear subsides and the crisis is over, it is very easy to lose your motivation and momentum. At the point where the cycle of addiction is interrupted by failing to take the next drink, dose, or joint, there is a lot of tension, anxiety, and mindfulness of where you are in the process. Detox or withdrawal may occur, with physical and/or emotional symptoms being very consciously experienced.

When you get to feeling better physically and emotionally after detoxing, it is easy to lose your momentum. Your focus on recovery can dissolve. Some of the problems that once motivated your recovery might be resolved now. Because you have quit drinking or using, your spouse and kids are once again speaking to you and are in the process of forgiving you. You may have even won back some trust. Everything seems to be going well.

Under these circumstances it is quite easy for you to take your eyes off the target and lose your focus on recovery. Erroneously, you may believe that your abstinence is not so fragile now. Feeling better, you may think you have it "whipped".

Without actively focusing on your continuing abstinence and recovery, your behavior can begin to drift away from the newly instituted behavioral changes that you have made. You run the risk of returning to old thinking, old feelings, and then ultimately old behavior. The reason why this would happen is that you are not consciously taking steps to continue on a path of recovery. This path involves many changes in your behavior and in your life style. Without making conscious choices in regard to how each decision affects your new recovery life or your old addiction life, you are unconsciously choosing your old life. Choosing recovery is not like jump starting your damaged car battery where once you get it started, it recharges itself as run it. You have to continuously work a program of recovery. Without doing so, your efforts will be short- lived.

You will quit going to counseling. You will quit going to meetings. You will have stopped calling your recovery support people. Your defenses will go back up and you may take exception to the feedback of significant others who tell you that you are acting like you used to before recovery.

You won't be able to see that you are on the road to relapse. You won't be able to understand why they are concerned. You won't be able to identify the behavioral changes that scare them because you will be back in denial. Being around old drinking/using environments and friends don't scare you. You can't understand why it would scare your significant others. After all, you told them that you are not going to relapse. You have learned your lesson. What more do they want?

After awhile, you will begin to think that you have your drinking or using under control now. When you think of addiction as a thing of the past, that you now have it under control, you will begin to entertain the notion that you can now drink or use without negative consequences. If any of this sounds like your recent experience, you are in big trouble. You are in the relapse process and unless you do something now, you will relapse--and soon.

Copyright 2009, Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., Hubbard House Publishing, Stillwater, OK. 

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