Advice for Living Sober in Chicago | Stairway to Freedom

Mindfulness Meditation and Addiction Recovery

Addiction comes in many forms and the effects it can have on physical and mental health can be substantial. Fortunately, there are some practices that those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction can engage in to dramatically improve their chances of recovery.

Most people abuse drugs and alcohol because they believe it provides a “distraction”. It is one of the few things that addicts routinely claim offers them any true comfort – some relief as it were from the irritations and agitations experienced in a normal daily life. Addicts in essence want to “fill the void”, the hollowness that is so incredibly common in modern society – that overwhelming sense that things are just ever so slightly out of reach.

Drugs and alcohol, however mistakenly, are essentially seen and used as solutions to the problem of this inner angst. Regardless of the substance you or a loved one are struggling with, there are better options available that can be used to improve mental and physical health and someone’s station in life – and it has been used for millennia as a way to feel more connected with ourselves and our place within the universe; it’s called meditation.

Any mention of meditation, of course, often conjures up images of yogis sitting with crossed legs on a mountain top, but there are actually many ways to meditate – transcendental meditation, breath awareness meditation, progressive relaxation, and the type that has captured the attention of health and wellness experts the world over recently, mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully immersed in what is happening, what you are doing in a particular moment, and to your surroundings – and nothing else.

Using mindfulness meditation for addiction recovery is a good option because the practice requires people/addicts to be fully present, aware of where they are and what they are doing and not reacting to everything happening outside of their own mind – which can be distracting and lead to situations where less than optimal decisions are made.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of mindfulness meditation and how to go about getting started with the practice.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Addicts

In addition to a generally improved level of health and quality of life, those in recovery that start to meditate also notice reduced anxiety and depression, better concentration and a better ability to cope with typical stresses. With such a strong foundation, it is easy to see how the practice of mindfulness meditation can improve the long-term chances of recovery from addiction.

Mindfulness meditation does have its detractors, of course, primarily because it is seen as trivial, but the benefits of regular meditation are often proven significant and its impact on addiction can be notable.

Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Everyone does mindfulness meditation a little differently, but here are some basics to get you started: + Designate a certain time of day and the length of time you will meditate.+ Find a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.+ Sit up straight with your hands laid gently on one another in your lap.+ Intentionally relax your muscles and take several slow, deep breaths.+ As you exhale, physically imagine you are dropping your worries like a heavy bag. + Focus on your breath; it’s pace, volume, even temperature. + Start with a few minutes each day and keep building.

The Secret to Mindfulness Meditation

As your mind and body have begun to relax, the next (and most important) step is to bring your attention back to your thoughts and feelings; everything – from the memories and images in your mind to the wishes and life plans. That might seem counterintuitive to the concept of meditating but mindfulness meditation is not about thinking about these things but rather being aware they exist and becoming comfortable with them.

Meditation is not a substitute for a formal recovery plan but it can provide those suffering from addiction greater confidence and peace of mind.

Can meditation really help with addiction?

The reason that mindfulness meditation is so powerful is that it helps those in recovery to focus energy on what is most important – your relationship with yourself, a sense of connection with others and the world around us.

Substance abuse is a serious issue but those suffering from addiction have options. While mindfulness meditation is effective, recovering addicts should consider the services of a halfway home, which is where Stairway to Freedom Sober Living can help. Located in the Chicago area, our sober living community is an alternative to a traditional halfway home and offers the support and structure that you or your loved one needs for long-term recovery.

Learn more about our sober living facilities in Chicago and get started on the road to recovery.

What is Substance Abuse?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, illicit drug use costs the United States approximately $181 billion every year, while excessive alcohol use costs the U.S. approximately $235 billion annually, so to say that substance abuse is a problem in this country would be an incredible understatement. Literally millions of people abuse drugs and alcohol on a daily basis, and while substances like heroin and cocaine often are front and center of this epidemic, even the more “innocuous” substances like marijuana and alcohol can be just as problematic.

What is the Definition of Substance Abuse?

The overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.

Substance abuse often is used interchangeably with drug abuse for this very reason, but more and more often people are finding ways to abuse other substances, such as household cleaners and gasoline, in an attempt to get high. In other words, substance abuse occurs when someone is using a substance not intended to be ingested as a means of intoxication.

Drug Dependence & Drug Addiction

For many people who experiment with drugs and other substances, recreational use is how addiction cuts its teeth. What starts as something that could be perceived as kind of fun turns into dependence and a constant need to maintain those highs. This recreational use quickly can turn compulsory, which is where addiction begins to rear its ugly head.

Once a person moves from occasional recreational use into depending and ultimately addiction, the effects on a person’s social, emotional, and physical well-being can be disastrous. By the time addiction sets in, a substance abuser may require serious medical treatment and counseling to kick their habit.

Prescription Drug Abuse

As dangerous as drugs like heroin and cocaine are, one of the fastest-growing areas of substance abuse in the U.S. is prescription drug abuse. Most often, these come in the guise of painkillers that appear safe because they have been prescribed by a doctor for legitimate means. However, people can develop a dependence on these drugs fairly quickly, largely because they are perceived as being safer.

Unfortunately, these can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs. In 2010, opiate painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and morphine were responsible for nearly 60 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. Addiction to prescription drugs is a real and growing problem and is one of the most common examples of substance abuse today.

Getting Treatment for Substance Abuse

While substance abuse obviously is a prevalent problem in the United States, it’s not as if those suffering from addiction are without options. There are a number of options available for people hoping to get clean and sober, including everything from detox to rehab to counseling.

After going through a treatment program or rehab, recovering addicts may seek out the services of a halfway home, which is where Stairway to Freedom Sober Living can assist with the process of getting clean. Located in the Chicago area, our sober living communityis an alternative to a traditional halfway home and offers the support and structure that you or your loved ones need for long-term recovery.

Learn more about sober living in Chicago and get started on the road to recovery.

Four Potential Addiction Relapse Triggers


Getting sober is not easy, but statistics continue to show that staying sober is even harder. Recovering addicts put so much time, sweat, pain and energy into getting healthy, but all of that hard work can disappear incredibly quickly, often without the person in recovery even realizing it’s happening. As many as 60 percent of people in recovery relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and that relapse can start long before someone actually returns to using.

Knowing how fragile recovery can be, we here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living have put together this list of four potential addiction relapse triggers to help those in recovery avoid those drug and alcohol relapse triggers by understanding the warning signs that come along with them. Stress and anxiety obviously are two of the largest problems, but there many others, including:

#1 Overconfidence

There is a certain level of exhilaration that comes on the heels of finishing a rehab program and putting oneself on the right course toward recovery, and self-confidence is a really important part of that process. However, growing overconfident, believing you are “cured” and no longer need to make use of the services that have been so helpful to date, can be a big problem. Be confident, but stay humble. No recovering addict should ever tell themselves they are “cured” from substance abuse disorders. Addiction just doesn’t work that way.

#2 Ending a Relationship

Stress is one of the biggest triggers in addiction recovery, but seeing a relationship of any sort fall apart is the sort of thing that can push someone in recovery to use again. Losing an important person in your life causes a swirl of confusing emotions, and someone in recovery may take that as an excuse to start using again.

#3 Television

We look at TV as a distraction, but escaping from reality and going mindless behind the television can take away one’s focus on recovery. Not only that, but some recovering addicts have found that seeing drug or alcohol use on TV can trigger their desire to begin using again, so there are a number of ways that watching TV could trigger someone in recovery.

#4 Troublesome Anniversaries

There are dates on everybody’s calendars that bring with them a certain measure of grief and stress, whether that be the anniversary of a loved one’s death or an estranged family member’s birthday. Whatever the troublesome anniversary may be, knowing it’s coming, practicing the proper coping skills, and seeking help for those days can help people in recovery avoid a relapse.

While people in recovery will do their due diligence by staying on top of their treatment program and attending support groups, the fact is that there are certain alcohol and drug relapse triggers that can cause big problems for people working so hard to get their lives back. Here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living, we want to see every person in our halfway house and sober living homes making the most of the recovery process, and that means avoiding some of these triggers. Of course, knowing what those addiction relapse triggers are is the first step in avoiding them.


Opioid Addiction Recovery: 5 Important Steps


When many people think about opioid addiction, the first substance that comes to mind often is heroin, and while that is an incredibly harmful drug, even more people die every year overdosing on prescription pain medications like oxycodone, Vicodin, morphine, and others.

In fact, a 2016 study found that over two million Americans suffer from a substance abuse disorder involving prescription pain medications, while almost 600,000 were dealing with heroin overdoses. Deaths related to opioid overdoses number in the in the tens of thousands annually.

It is an epidemic, but those struggling with these addictions are not without help. The following include some of the most important steps in kicking an addiction to heroin and prescription pain pills:

#1 Acknowledgment

In order to solve any problem, there first must be an admission that a problem does in fact exist. As you or someone you love develops a growing awareness of this issue, either through conversations with family members or through developing issues in the arenas of work, health, or money, the time will arise to admit that certain behaviors are destructive and potentially dangerous. Admitting this is the first step to opiate recovery.

#2 Consideration

After acknowledgment of the problem, the addict and their support group will need to move toward a plan of action, which includes making informed decisions about next steps, which includes deciding upon the best fit in terms of detox and rehab – and even in to a sober living community for their recovery such as a halfway house in Chicago.

#3 Detox

Any addict that has gone through the process of detoxification knows that it can be challenging, which is why going through that process with the help of professionals is important. Often, medication-assisted treatment is necessary for kicking opioids, mostly as a means of limiting the negative withdrawalsymptoms that can come with detox. It’s a tough step, but a necessary one.

#4 Treatment

Next comes therapy and support, which help recovering addicts address the root of the problems causing addiction in the first place. Several facilities in Chicagoland offer both individual and group therapy to address each person as a whole, all as a means of helping keep people from the addictive behaviors that led to their problems in the first place.

#5 Maintenance

Finishing rehab and officially entering sobriety is a huge step, but it’s not the end. The quest for long-lasting sobriety is never really over, so aftercare programs and extra support can help ensure that former addicts stay sober and avoid relapse. Narcotics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous are excellent support groups for those looking at a future of prolonged sobriety, and of course we are able to help kick start any such efforts here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living, as we strive to help recovering addicts achieve lasting sobriety.

Our role in all of this comes at the maintenance stage, but there are resources for addicts through every step of this process to ensure they get the help they need. Here at Stairway to Freedom Sober Living, our halfway housing gives recovering addicts the structure and stability they need to make positive strides in their lives.

Learn more about sober living in Chicago and get started today on the road to recovery.

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