Advice for Living Sober in Chicago | Stairway to Freedom

Overcoming Feelings of Shame During Addiction Recovery

A woman sitting in a chair.

Recovering from addiction is never easy. It’s an ongoing process that requires a level of introspection that can stir up uncomfortable emotions. One of the most powerful emotions those recovering from addiction may suffer from is that of shame.

Addiction & The Source of Shame

Several things can cause feelings of shame. Perhaps you’re feeling shameful about things done while grappling with addiction. Or maybe the shame you’re feeling stems from the events that led to your addiction in the first place.

Whatever the cause, overcoming shame is necessary to ensure a successful and sustained recovery. Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to alleviate feelings of shame and encourage healing.

Understand the Difference Between Shame and Guilt

The first step of overcoming shame in recovery is understanding the difference between shame and guilt.

Guilt is when someone feels remorse for something they’ve done in the past. In contrast, shame cuts more in-depth and is when a person feels as if they’re an inherently bad person.

Some of the telltale signs of shame include:

  • Self-blame
  • Anger
  • Ruminating over past transgressions
  • Negative Self-Talk

It’s essential to recognize the difference between these two emotions as they can have different impacts on the recovery process.

Guilt is sometimes a good thing to feel, as it can make us consider how our actions have impacted others. With shame, its effects on the recovery process can be counterproductive. For example, if someone feels shameful, they may be less likely to reach out for help. Shame can also lead to uncomfortable feelings that may result in a relapse.

Once you’ve confirmed that what you’re feeling is shame and not guilt, the next step is to start looking deeper into the cause of these feelings—this doesn’t have to happen alone.

Find a Safe Space

One of the most damaging aspects of shame is that it can make us feel like we have to keep our most troubling worries a secret. In reality, the less we talk about shame, the more likely it is to fester. A powerful tool that can help combat this desire for secrecy is empathy.

If you’re suffering from shame, try finding a safe space where you can openly work through your feelings. A safe space can be several things, such as a place for sober living, a therapist, a support group, or even a family member.

Talking about shame within the context of a safe space allows our thoughts to be viewed from another person’s fresh perspective. In time, pushing feelings of shame into the open can help weaken its hold.

Learn to Forgive Yourself

Self-forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools on the road to recovery. While it’s difficult to internalize, it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has regrettable things they’ve done.

A few things you can do if you struggle with self-forgiveness:

  • Reach out to those you might’ve hurt and ask to make amends.
  • View your past transgressions as learning opportunities as opposed to unforgivable errors.
  • Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that mistakes are an inevitable part of the process.

If you still find yourself struggling with self-forgiveness after actively trying, consider reaching out to a therapist or a sober living facility. A trained professional can help you become equipped with the tools needed for self-forgiveness and acceptance.

Need More Information on Overcoming Shame in Recovery?

Working through feelings of shame is a complicated process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our team is highly trained at Stairway Sober Living to help recovering addicts work through their pain and move past it.

Please contact us to learn more about how we can help build a shame-free foundation for your recovery.

How to Stay Sober During a Time of Crisis

Addiction Relapse Triggers

This is a completely unprecedented time in history.

COVID-19 has shifted our way of life and challenged our own fragility. As the world migrated inside in order to shield themselves from the virus, it presented many untold consequences and challenges. Namely, sobriety.

With isolation, depression, and loneliness seeping in as quarantine carries on, the more likely addiction relapse is to occur

Maintaining sobriety is difficult, to begin with. Introducing other problematic elements such as isolation makes temptation inevitable. Nevertheless, there are ways to combat these relapse triggers and ultimately help you take back control.

Monitor Your Physiological Responses

Recognition is a crucial step in combatting temptation and gaining a stronghold over addiction. The longer we go on isolating ourselves, the more likely we are to feel the effects of depression and anxiety. Often this can lead to physical changes including but not limited to sleeping trouble, worsening eating habits, or even decreased immune function. While you may not consciously be aware, these degrading effects may still be present.

Take a step back and assess your own situation. Have you been living by yourself throughout quarantine? Have you been experiencing more anxiety, stress, and or depression than normal? Have you found yourself beginning to lose control of your own sobriety? If any of these questions apply to you, consider seeking comfort from family and friends. Not only will this help fill the void of socialization, but these people who care about your well-being will hold you accountable.

Tips for Staying Sober

Fortunately, there are many amazing resources available to you for maintaining your sobriety. The first being sober living homes.

Seek Built-In Support with Sober Living Homes

If you believe you or a friend has relapsed or come close to, these are great options for sober recovery. “A sober living home (sometimes called a halfway house) operates as a bridge between an inpatient facility and the real world. For a lot of people in recovery, moving into a sober living home after treatment makes the difference between going back to their old habits or continuing on the path of sobriety (Juergens, 2020).” They provide a safe and supportive place where addicts and alcoholics can start their journey from active addiction to sober living.

A great thing about these homes is that you can come and go as you please. You are not restricted to the campus. While there are some rules you must still abide by, they allow for a more informal recovery process and make you feel more in control of your life. Here at Stairway, we make Chicago sober living our number one priority.

Video Chat with Your Sponsor

While COVID has limited our ability to communicate face-to-face, there are still other options available. Applications like Skype, Zoom, and Facetime allow you to still have a similar experience. A sobriety sponsor understands the struggle you are going through and is intended to be there whenever doubts or concerns arise. Most importantly, they are to be a compassionate and sympathetic friend. Together, you can work through your concerns and come up with solutions tailored for you.

If you find yourself slightly overwhelmed and or beginning to slip, hopping on a video call with your sponsor is a good way to find support and combat your challenges to sobriety. For help finding a sponsor, be sure to attend your local AA meetings and establish rapport with others. Once relationships have been established and built, you will be able to choose a sponsor that best meets your needs.

Let a Therapist/Counselor Help Guide You

Counselors and therapists are another amazing resource at your disposal. It is important to find one that specializes in addiction recovery and treatment. They have experience with others similar to yourself and have extensive training and background in treating these kinds of issues.

Make sure to ask around in order to find a therapist that best suits your needs. Often times, word of mouth is the best resource. If you find yourself not having any luck, then take to the internet and do a bit of research on therapists in your area that can be of assistance. Having an unbiased person to let out your frustrations and setbacks can be very liberating in itself. So, definitely consider therapy as an option.

Gain Control of YOUR Sobriety

There is no question that battling sobriety in the middle of a pandemic is no easy feat. It takes will power and determination to continue with sobriety in quarantine. However, thankfully, there are many resources available to you that can help manage your woes and assuage any fears and trepidation you may have.

Here at Stairway to Freedom, we understand that this is a difficult time. It may feel as though there is much to overcome, but we want to help make your journey through sobriety easier. Let us be your guide to Chicago sober living! Make sure to check out our recovery housing facilities and contact us for with any questions or concerns you may have!

Addiction Warning Signs Aren’t Always Obvious: Here’s What You Need to Know

Addiction Warning SignsRecognizing the warning signs of addiction isn’t as easy as you might think. When it comes to loved loves, we like to think a change in behavior and appearance would never go unnoticed, but that’s not always the case. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the initial signs of addiction often go unnoticed more times than not.

Knowing the warning signs in advance is critical to avoid missing the initial indicators of addiction. Stairway to Freedom, a network of sober living housing in Chicago, has put together a list of some general signs of addiction as well as a few substance related addiction signs below.  

General Signals of Addiction

Addiction looks different from person to person. There is no single way for signs of addiction to present themselves, but there are a few general signs to look out for if you suspect a loved one is suffering from substance abuse.

The general addiction warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden disregard for personal hygiene
  • Poor coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paranoia

While there are general warning signs that signal addictive behavior, various substances will produce their own set of symptoms and behavioral cues to look for.

All addictive substances can have fatal consequences, and the risk of overdose increases as time spent using increases. Take all warning signs seriously and seek action immediately.

Heroin Abuse Signs

Heroin warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Constricted pupils for 4–5 hours
  • Disorientation
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unkempt, dirty appearance
  • Track marks on arms or other body parts
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach and muscle cramps or diarrhea
  • Tremors

Cocaine Abuse Signs

Cocaine warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased energy
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Elevated mood
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling invincible
  • Excited speech
  • Dilated pupils

Prescription Drug Abuse Signs

Prescription drug abuse warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss

What to do after Noticing the Warning Signs

Identifying the problem is only the first step. Addressing an addiction with the user is a sensitive subject that will need to be addressed with careful consideration. Bombarding an addict with accusations and anger will only drive them further down the road of addiction.

Prior to approaching concerns of a present addiction, gather a group of close friends and family members to provide support. Approach the topic in a calm and caring tone, reminding the addict that you love them no matter what, and want to help them on their journey to recovery.

Suggest a plan of action to help the addict on the road to recovery. Provide options for rehab centers, and aftercare facilities to promote recovery. Create a recovery plan for yourself too, and learn how to help a recovering addict.

Build A Foundation for Ongoing Recovery

Recovery doesn’t stop after rehab, it’s a constant battle that is made easier in the right environment. Contact Stairway to Freedom to learn more about the Chicago sober living home opportunities.

How to Help a Recovering Addict

Recovering addiction patients just want to return to normal, but they often feel like friends and family are walking on eggshells creating an environment with added stress and anxiety. Intentions are usually in the right place, but often develop an uncomfortable environment for recovering addicts. Stairway to Freedom, a sober living community in Chicago, knows you just want to help, so here are tools from professionals and advice on how to help a recovering family or friend.

Help a Recovering Addict - Stairway Sober Living in Chicago

Educate Yourself on the Recovery Process

Coming into a situation educated and prepared is the best thing you can do for your recovering friends or family members. Recovery is a complicated process, and you won’t know much about how to help a recovering addict if you don’t know anything about it yourself.

Take some time to learn about both addiction and recovery, focusing on triggers, health issues, and the overall steps to a successful recovery.

Join a Support Group

Support groups aren’t just meant for those recovering. There are plenty of helpful groups and resources for those helping a recovering addict that can ease your own stress.

Even if you’ve spent the time to educate yourself, it’s easy to feel lost once you are in the thick of helping a recovering addict. Support groups are there to put you in contact with others in your situation who can guide you through the hard times.

Set Realistic Expectations

The road to recovery is never an easy drive. Don’t come in with an expectation that life is going to go back to normal now that your friend or relative is clean and sober. There is no quick fix or “cure all.” There will be highs and lows. You need to be supportive though every step of the journey. Even if that includes a relapse.

Reduce Stressors

The best way to help a recurring addict is to create as peaceful of an environment as possible, especially at the beginning of the recovery process. For newly recovering addicts, even minor slightest stressor can send them into a spiral leading right beach to addiction.

Instead of encouraging your friend or family member to jump right back into stressful work schedules and busy weekends, suggest participating in some stress-free activities to put them at ease. A few of the best stress alleviating activities include:

  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Meditating
  • Painting or drawing

Remove Temptations

Once you’ve created a stress-free environment, it’s time to create a temptation free environment. At the start of recovery, former addicts do not have the strength to resist constant temptation.

Helping a recovering addict means removing all alcohol and drugs from their home and social surroundings. If it’s not possible to create a temptation free environment in their current situation, consider suggesting a sober living community.

Looking for More Information on How to Help a Recovering Addict? 

At Stairway to Freedom, we help recovering addicts and alcoholics rebuild their lives and build a strong foundation for a successful and ongoing recovery by providing a safe and structured living environment.

Do you you or someone you know need a helping hand down the road to recovery? Get in touch to learn more about the services Stairway to Freedom provides for recovering addicts.

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