Advice for Living Sober in Chicago | Stairway to Freedom

3 Tips to Conquer Holiday Work Events as a Recovering Alcoholic

Holiday Work Events as a Recovering Alcoholic

While many look forward to holiday parties and end of the year celebrations, this time of year can be extremely stressful if you’re a recovering alcoholic. It can be difficult to integrate back into social events and holidays amplify your challenge to stay sober with open bars and alcohol everywhere you look. You know that staying sober takes effort, patience, and skills to combat difficult situations. So preparation is going to be key as you embark on this holiday season. These tips can help you avoid relapse and come out on the other side even stronger.

Should You Go?

Initially, recovering alcoholics may find themselves asking if they should even go to the holiday work event. At first it may seem that just avoiding the awkward moments, social anxiety, and chance of embarrassment all together is enough reason to make up an excuse not to go. However, more often than not, isolating oneself increases your potential to feel depressed and lonely, which often triggers the desire to drink. Now, you may be thinking, “but what if my coworkers also have the tendency to make me feel just as isolated and depressed?” Below you will find some tips to overcome these social difficulties. However, ultimately consulting with your Stairway to Freedom counselor will help you decide what the right choice is for you at this time. But keep in mind that every day you succeed without alcohol, you get stronger, and the confidence to simply get your foot in the door will carry you another step further from the depths of addiction. If you’re ready for this next challenge in your on-going journey of recovery, these tools can help you conquer the holiday evening.

Work Event Tips for Recovering Alcoholics

Coworkers and newer friends may not know that you are recovering. What is nice about this is you have a clean slate. No one looking over your shoulder and judging your choices. No one is questioning how you’re managing and functioning. No one is making awkward comments about alcohol being “bad anyways” and they should “probably quit too.” You avoid all these awkward stressors, but are confronted with the unfortunate task of how to respond when someone asks to get you a refill or how to not pull attention to your lack of alcohol without going down a personal path you don’t want to talk about.

Mocktails

If you can, bring your own drink to the party, or if there’s a bartender, get to the event a little early and talk to that bartender. You don’t have to tell them your life story, but some interaction to get to know them will help that server remember your face and your drink. Ease into the conversation a question about what types of mocktails the bar could concoct up for you for the evening or introduce them to one of your favorite recipes. Bartenders are usually excited to mix it up and this is an easy creative task that will leave you feeling at ease as you approach the bar throughout the night and able to hold a drink in your hand without discomfort.

Prepared Answers

One of the biggest stressors at a holiday party is knowing how to manage the bits of peer pressure and what to say when someone asks you what you’re drinking. Having answers prepared will help you sail through these otherwise awkward moments with ease.

What are you drinking?
This common question can raise your anxiety, but a plan to answer will get you through it. Let them know it’s a specialty mocktail the bartender agreed to make for you since you are watching your sugar intake. The other person may joke that they should be watching their sugar too, but the reality is they are not going to start tonight and will most likely leave the drink alone. This can also seamlessly lead to other dietary conversations outside of drinks that will quickly get you out of the beverage discussion.

Can I get you a refill?
If someone asks to get you a drink, tell them you were actually on your way over there already or you are on your way to the bathroom and will grab it on the way back. This will help you dodge any further drink questions, get you out of the situation and allow you to go up to the bar and order your mocktail yourself.

Come on, celebrate with us, will you take a shot?
There’s always that one at the party who gathers a bunch together and pushes for a group shot. Keep in mind that though there is a lot of build up in this situation, the actual shot takes seconds and you are certainly not missing out on anything. Bow out of this quick situation with an easy excuse to have to be up early the next morning and find new people to talk to for the night.

Have an Excuse to Leave

It’s important to always have a couple excuses up your sleeve to quickly leave if you get uncomfortable or if you still have a curfew to meet with your chicago sober living community. An excuse to check your phone (like you’re waiting on a call/text) will give you the opportunity to connect with a support group or fellow Stairway to Freedom members as needed throughout the night to provide that extra encouragement to conquer any challenges. It will be helpful to also have an excuse to leave the event early.

You don’t have to spend the entire night at the party, give yourself a timeline that makes sense for you and stick to it. Set an alarm on your phone and let them know you have to go take the dog out, pick up a kid, get to the pharmacy before it closes..etc. Essentially just give yourself an easy out.

Discuss and share these holiday work event tips for recovering alcoholics with your friends and Chicago sober living community. Talking through any anxiety and preparing for any challenges that may arise will help get you ready to take this next step toward a sense of normalcy. Mocktails, rehearsed answers, and an easy out will provide you with little tools to triumph through the night. Take each moment one at a time and remember that your Stairway to Freedom Chicago sober living community is always a text away and will be ready to celebrate your return from the night sober and stronger.

Illinois Marijuana Legalization: An Emerging Threat

The Impact of Illinois Marijuana Legalization

Sober living is difficult enough on its own, but when communities introduce new, easily accessible temptations it becomes even more challenging for those suffering from addiction. 

Illinois was the latest state to join the craze in permitting the recreational use of marijuana, when it was announced that starting in January the buying and selling of cannabis and cannabis products will be legalized. Illinois is the 11th state in the US to allow recreational use of pot, however they are the first to legalize it through state legislature, not ballot initiatives.

While it’s been a few months since the decision to legalize marijuana in Illinois, the state legislature has stayed anxious in their pursuit to monetize the booming industry. They have put immense pressure on the FDA to start regulating the manufacturing and marketing of the emerging market. Every business in the Illinois area has January 1st circled on their calendars, as they have seen what the cannabis industry has done to other US markets.

Illinois’ Who’s Who in Legal Marijuana

Cresco Labs, a medical marijuana company with multi dispensary licenses, is launching their new brand, Sunnyside, in the upcoming months. Cresco projects to transform their medical brand into a recreational, health and well-mindedness one, similar to the nationwide chain Wholefoods. The first Sunnyside opening will take place in Philadelphia in November. Illinois is one of the 7 states that plans to eventually adopt one too. Sunnyside plans to turn their 5 existing Illinois medical dispensaries into dual-use stores, and to open five new shops scattered across the state’s vibrant areas.

The growing accessibility of cannabis is something that will likely prove to be more harmful than beneficial. Marijuana has become more dangerous in recent years due to the increase in its concentration and potency. THC content in pot has increased as much as 300% since the 1960s, which has largely affected the number of people that become dependant on it and abuse it. Marijuana holds the second highest rate after cocaine for emergency room visits caused by substance abuse.

The larger issue at hand however is how this will impact those already suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. 

Illinois Marijuana LegalizationUrban Poison: Problems with Legal Cannabis

The information shared above may surprise a lot of people. Studies have shown, however, that the two are connected in more ways than not. This may lead regular users to newfound addictions and even mental disorders.

While only 1 out of every 10 marijuana users become addicted to the drug, when narrowing it down to just adolescent smokers, the number jumps to 6. Furthermore, concluded from a March study performed by the Lancet medical journal, daily marijuana use increases the likelihood to develop psychotic disorders. Additionally, heavy cannabis users are undoubtedly more prone to memory loss, and developing false memories.

Unfortunately, the road to sobriety only gets more difficult when smoking on the daily becomes a habit. When a consistent cannabis user decides to take a lengthy smoke break, ripple effects are possible. These include depression, anxiety, insomnia and even a loss of appetite.

Illinois adopting a recreational use of marijuana policy will undoubtedly increase the number of daily marijuana users. It could potentially increase the number of marijuana addicts as well. If your addictive habits become harder to break, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a solution for you. Stairway Sober Living is here to assist you on your road to recovery. We are eager to help you get back on track.

Are you (or a loved one) suffering from addiction? Worried about the impact that pending marijuana legalization in Illinois will have on your or another’s sobriety?

Identifying your Addictive Personality

Addictive PersonalityWhat is an addictive personality?

What are signs of the signs and do you have it? These are the important questions to answer when beginning on the road to recovery.

The road to sobriety is lengthy and requires many steps. First, it’s important to recognize your weaknesses, and pinpoint when and how the addiction began. Unfortunately, an issue regarding addictions is that once becoming addicted to one substance, it is likely that another one will follow. Therefore, in order to win your battle against the addiction, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the research on addictive personalities, and its causes and symptoms.

What is an Addictive Personality?

While there is no exact definition for an addictive personality, medical professionals have established different criteria to help answer this question. Michael Weaver, a medical director at the University of Texas, writes that the majority of addictive personalities stem from a combination of one’s genetic makeup, the environment in which they reside and their past addiction history.

Another school of thought, is an addictive personality is the excessive need to perform a particular action constantly, which alters a person’s mind and makes their day-to-day life much more difficult without it.

Signs of an Addictive Personality

Mark Griffiths, a PHD behavioral addiction professor, classified a few different symptoms relating to having an addiction. Griffiths said that:

  1. If the action of addiction conflicts with other relationships and activities. 
  2. If one has withdrawal symptoms when away from the addiction.
  3. If there’s a gradual increase in tolerance of the substance.
  4. If use of the behavior in question alters their mood.

Griffiths believes that these 4 scenarios are calling cards for assistance regarding a person’s current and growing addiction.

Other signs of an addict include:

  1. Constant lying about their medications and behavior.
  2. Claiming the actions or substances are healthy and necessary.
  3. The behavior soothes discomforting situations.
  4. Feelings of guilt are experienced after indulging in the action or behavior.
  5. An inability to stop and in following guidelines that you have set for yourself.

Do you have an Addictive Personality?

Luckily, there are many resources available to help everyone answer this question. Some clues could be:

  1. Genetics.
  2. Prior addictions.
  3. Certain personality traits, having lots of excitement, impulsivity, an inability to quit.
  4. Other mental disorders, ie. depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety.
  5. High levels of dopamine.

Additionally, there are various quizzes on the web that help people self-diagnose themselves. If interested, here is one short examination that can help you in your road to recovery. 

The Next Step:

If you find yourself stuck in an addiction, you shouldn’t feel alone or afraid. Almost 21 million Americans are addicted to at least one commodity, however only 10% of them receive treatment for it. “The important thing to remember is that your personality doesn’t determine your fate” Michael Weaver says, “You can get help and lead a successful, productive life.” “The first step”, Weaver builds on, “is acknowledging the potential problem and asking yourself whether you have an addictive personality.” 

Asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s a necessity of life. Luckily for the people of Chicago, Stairway 2 Freedom Sober Living is the place to inquire. We are established in helping people pass over their hurdles, and assist them in moving forward. Don’t let an addiction take over your life, let it become an obstacle of the past.

Recommended Books on Addiction and Recovery (2019)

Recommended Books on Addiction and Recovery

Recovering from addiction is a process. There’s so much to learn, whether it’s about yourself or ways to help you recover and create healthy habits to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon again. And once you get your life back on track, the journey is not over. You’ve won half the battle and now you must maintain the life practices and habits to win the war. Here are five recommended books about addiction and recovery that can help educate and inspire.

1) A Million Little Pieces, James Frey

This semi-fictional book has the accolades and notoriety, having sold over 2 million copies and was selected in the prestigious Oprah’s Book Club in 2005. The story is told through the eyes of James Frey, a 23 year-old drug abuser and alcoholic who gives us a glimpse of his journey to recovery as he recalls his days at a rehab clinic. This book doesn’t come without controversy. After an appearance on the Oprah Show, it was revealed through journalistic investigation that the originally marketed memoir contained false claims and stretched truths. Despite the accusations, the book has an inspiring narrative that anyone can enjoy and apply to their own life.

2) My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean, by Amy Dresner

If you’re looking for a good laugh just as much as you’re looking for a good story, this is the book for you. Amy takes us through her sex, alcohol and drug addictions through hilarious anecdotes and is as honest and raw as it gets. Dresner herself is a stand-up comedian and a columnist for TheFix.com, an outlet we mentioned in our previous blog.

3) The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D.

Traditionally, addiction treatment has focused on the healing of the mind and spirit. In this book, Dr. Van Der Beek explores the physical aspects of recovery, focusing on scientific evidence to explore how trauma affects the drug and alcohol use has on the body and brain. He also dives into a number of physical exercises that can help rejuvenate the brain’s neuroplasticity. This book is recommended for people looking for a fresh perspective on recovery.

4) The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, Leslie Jamison

This is a popular memoir amongst recovering addicts and is regarded as a must-read within the sober community. The Author of multiple New York Times Best Sellers, Leslie Jamison takes us through a time in her personal life where she was dealing with addiction recovery. Legendary author Stephen King descirbed the book as, “An honest and important book . . . Vivid writing and required reading.”

5) Recover to Live: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction: Your Self-Treatment Guide to Alcohol, Drugs, Eating Disorders, Gambling, Hoarding, Smoking, Sex and Porn, Christopher Kennedy Lawford

If you’re looking for a book with a ton of professional advice from credible sources, look no farther than this book. Lawford brings in over 100 addiction experts who specialize in everything from alcohol and drugs to gambling and sex. He’s spent over 25 years in the recovery field and has a strong desire to help anyone looking to recover from addiction. It is known for being one of the most comprehensive books on recovery and addiction to date.

Whether it’s your own life or a loved ones, learning about addiction and recovery can help speed up and/or maintain the process. The first hand stories above by recovering addicts and scientists passionate about the subject can hopefully inspire and educate for generations to come.

Ready to start your recovery?

These recommended books on addiction and recovery are only the beginning of your journey to a healthier, happier you. Schedule a consultation and tour of Stairway to Freedom Sober Living in Chicago now.

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